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521 Defying The Fate!

    (A/N: Please read till the end!)

    Inner Zone, Paradox Dimension.

    The ever-changing hellish weather released plumes of lava as the rain. The giants, chimeras, and other species hid in their shelters, gazing at the clouds and sometimes, momentarily, eyeing the direction where the clear sky was visible.

    None of them dared look at the floating castle, afraid of the blood-soaked chains that bound the castle to the ground.

    Rumble...

    Suddenly, intense rumbling raged out as the door leading to the castle opened up.

    Inside, Cosmic Emperor stepped down the dais. Behind, the throne of darkness burst forth into pure darkness and wrapped around his naked figure, turning into a robe.

    As he stepped at the exit, his pitch-black dark eyes pierced through space and arrived on Delta City.

    ***

    In the mid-air, after breaking the void, Kiba arrived before Hope. The enormous finger reached behind her, emitting powerful force.

    Kiba knew what would happen the moment the fingertip touched her. The very thought made cold sweat develop in his eyebrows and drip down his eyelids.

    Clenching his teeth, he stretched his hands out to grab Hope. Just then the finger almost touched her back.

    "No!"

    Despair and helplessness swelled in his heart.

    Outside the castle, Cosmic Emperor opened his lips and said:

    "Infinity Spell: Transcendental Confinement."

    The darkness on his robe seethed and spilled outward, spreading to Paradox Dimension and then Bermuda Triangle. It enveloped the Black Sea, the meteorites, the oceans, the continents... the entire planet.

    Earth turned into a globe of darkness but it didn't end there. The darkness spread into the solar system, wrapping everything, even the intangible laws that governed the very existence of the cosmos.

    Outside the galaxy, powerful spatial creatures shivered and turned into the direction of Milky Way. They found the spiraling galaxy disappearing, replaced by glowing layers of darkness.

    "Eternal Darkness!"

    Despite their strength to swallow planets and destroy solar systems, the spatial creatures trembled violently. But only momentarily for the darkness sucked them inside, erasing their traces of existence...

    On Earth, everything stopped.

    The water in the oceans stilled; the winds stopped flowing; the falling leaves froze; the birds in the sky paused.

    No matter the species, everyone similarly stopped, regardless of what they were doing.

    The couples making love, the mutants engaged in life and death duels, the parents playing with their children... everyone froze as if they were suddenly turned into statutes.

    But it wasn't them that stopped or froze. It was time!

    The moment Cosmic Emperor spoke, the time came to a grinding halt!

    ***

    Cosmic Emperor took a step forward and arrived in Delta City, directly crossing an impossible distance.

    "How long has it been since all this started?" Cosmic Emperor wondered to himself.

    He appeared inside the building and looked around, ignoring the enormous finger.

    Eva has frozen after crashing against the wall with a bitter expression. Agatha after bouncing back from the floor, her expression that of horror.

    Then there was Kiba. His expression was twisted into multiple emotions.

    Fear, panic, helplessness, rage, and despair.

    Cosmic Emperor then glanced at Hope who was tossed into the air.

    Her little face was bewildered by the expression on her father's face. There was also sadness in her small eyes, almost telling her father to not feel bad.

    "Fate... what you want, you shall have. But so would I."

    A tear slid from the corner of his eye as he stepped before Hope.

    "No matter the price."

    He took her into a hand and gently tapped a finger on her forehead.

    Violet rays sprayed out of her eyes, emitting extremely potent life energy. These rays converged into the air above.

    From her chest, strands of darkness erupted and shot into the converging violet rays.

    Cosmic Emperor turned in the direction of Agatha, and simultaneously, from the center of her chest, a glowing Cosmic particle emerged.

    It carried a trace of darkness, and as if resonating with the darkness inside the violet rays, this trace of darkness shot out, joining the mass of covering energy. The glowing Cosmic particle then settled back inside Agatha.

    Cosmic Emperor placed a finger on Kiba's chest. A bolt of golden lightning flashed out and swept into the converging energy mass.

    "Fate... you want her dead... to punish her father for defying you with his existence."

    The Fate was the strongest concept that governed the cosmos. It defined start and end, of every being; living or non-living!

    All paths lead to one ultimate destination set by it. If one defied it and took a new path, ultimately, this path too would join the already decided destination!

    For example, if a planet destined to be destroyed by a series of asteroids survived for any reason, a set of reactions - or coincidences- would start to bring the end of the planet in other ways. The crust of the planet might collapse by natural or manmade factors, or the planet might be discovered by a set of galactic devourers.

    Whatever The Fate wanted, it always happened! If not today, then tomorrow!

    That's how it governed the universe.

    No one could escape from this basic principle, no one! Not even the strongest of the universe!

    "So she would die... but she would also live!"

    The violent rays, the two sets of dark energy, and the bolt of lightning fused together. There was no longer the flow of time so it was hard to say when these fused energies turned into a humane body.

    Hope.

    Or another Hope.

    Everything about her was the same as the former with one exception. Her body stayed between transparent and illusion as if she lacked something!

    The new Hope opened her eyes and found herself looking at the man with pale skin tone, dark eyes, and long dark hair.

    A refined face she was looking for the first time.

    She raised her hands and ran them over his face.

    Cosmic Emperor allowed her to do so while placing back the first Hope in the position she was earlier, barely an inch away from the red finger.

    Inside the floating castle, the strange skeletons weren't affected by the stopping of time. They crawled on the floor and hissed.

    "Cosmic Emperor... you have already broken many rules of existence!"

    "And now, you have destroyed the equilibrium between the Three Primordial Concepts of Cosmos - Fate, Space, and Time!" A skeleton with eight arms and six heads shouted. "If you continue, the entire cosmos would pay the price!"

    "You have no right to risk the cosmos!" A skeleton carved with precious jewels thundered.

    "Even if you defied Fate, the time wouldn't forget your actions!" Another skeleton hissed. "She would vanish from existence the instant she loses what little stability she has!"

    "And you can't stop this forever!" The other skeletons reminded. "So stop messing with time!"

    Inside the building, Cosmic Emperor looked at the old Hope and then the new.

    "Time?  We shall see."

    Cosmic Emperor replied while grabbing the unstable Hope.

    "But for now, what the world indeed needs is the stable flow of time, without any diversion!"

    Cosmic Emperor and the unstable Hope vanished from the building and appeared in a restaurant not far away.

    The restaurant was empty and collapsing from the shockwaves earlier. But when he arrived, it returned back to its original condition. Though from the outside, it disappeared, as if it never existed.

    Cosmic Emperor placed Hope on the chair and sat across her while looking in the direction of Kiba and Agatha.

    "Haah~" Cosmic Emperor let out a heavy sigh. "Some things can't be avoided."

    He gazed at the unstable Hope and snapped his fingers.

    "Just wait for some time."

    Whoosh~!

    The moment he snapped his fingers, the darkness retraced back from the entire galaxy and returned to his robe.

    Earth started revolving again and the flow of time returned.

    The water followed its natural movement, the winds flowed with soft whistles and the floating leaves aimlessly drifted into the air.

    Inside the building, Kiba's pupils constricted as the finger moved further and pressed on Hope.

    Strands of pure power Cosmic swept out of her and entered the finger, and then she...

    "NOOOO!"

    Kiba screamed. All his stretched hands caught was burst of blood. Some of it splashed on his face.

    "Hope!"

    He couldn't move his eyes away from the blood.

    "Such power from this child!" The ancient voice ringed out of the enormous finger. "It is enough to revive me for now!"

    The voice awakened Kiba. He lifted his eyes and looked at the finger, his eyes flashing with hatred as deep as the ocean.

    A terrifying aura exploded out of him and crushed the finger.

    BOOM

    The finger exploded into astral shards and vanished.

    At the same time, Agatha collapsed on the floor. Tears streamed down her face as she stared at the patches of blood.

    "No... this isn't real."

    Agatha refused to believe what her eyes made her see. She got on her feet and forced herself to step ahead.

    "Agatha..." Kiba suppressed his emotions and turned towards her.

    "Where is she?" Agatha demanded.

    "She..." Kiba couldn't bring himself to continue. So all he could manage to say was, "I'm sorry..."

    Agatha's face turned as white as a sheet of paper. She started falling and Kiba hurriedly stepped to support her.

    In the process, the blood on his hands dyed her. And the moment she felt the blood on her, all her strength disappeared.

    She pulled his shirt and said, "You swore you will protect her!"

    He could feel her grief and sadness. It was no less than his even though he suppressed it and didn't allow it to erupt.

    "You promised me twice, Kiba! Twice!" Agatha reminded him. "Or have you forgotten! Answer me!"

    Kiba wasn't able to answer. He has broken his promise.

    And no matter how much he wanted, there was nothing he could say to reduce her sadness.

    Besides, was it even possible to console someone who has lost everything?

    He didn't think so.

    "Answer me!"

    Agatha left his shirt and fell on the floor. She didn't have any strength left to wait for an answer or even open her eyes.

    Some distance away, Eva looked at her with a complicated expression. She felt bad for Agatha but couldn't understand the extent of her grief.

    She never cared for anyone, at least to not an extent that she would lose her will to live.

    "Sighs~"

    Eva let out a heavy sigh and crouched before Agatha.

    She has heard what the ancient voice from before said, so she knew the true culprit was reviving.

    After thinking about it, she felt it would be natural for the culprit to return with full force to consume Kiba and Agatha's powers.

    Knowing a crisis was imminent, she took Agatha in her arms and jumped on her feet. She then turned towards Kiba and said, "Let us get out of here."

    Kiba looked out of the broken wall and gazed at the horizon.

    "You two leave. I have to kill that bastard."

    Eva was startled.

    "But..."

    She has barely spoken when teleportation force enveloped her and Agatha. They disappeared in a flash.

    Kiba's aura surged out in the form of boundless golden energy. The floor under his feet exploded and then the entire building.

    He shot into the sky and charged towards the Sky Fiend Group Headquarters.

    "Death."

    His eyes glowed violently.

    BOOOOM

    Intense rumbling sounds filled the sky. The air turned turbulent and chaotic winds burst out.

    On the ground, everyone raised their heads and peered into the sky.

    "What's going on!?"

    Everyone was astonished as they saw dark clouds gathering into the clear sky, turning the weather into stormy.

    "Isn't this similar to the golden lightning phenomenon from the wasteland?!"

    "What?!"

    "Oh god!"

    "Run!"

    From the exploded building ruins, Rhea's phantom from the past observed the stormy sky and Kiba.

    Inside the restaurant, Cosmic Emperor brought his eyes from the unstable Hope to Rhea's phantom from the past.

    "Very soon."
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