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426 Needs Must When the Devil Drives

    Six months later.

    Without the help of the Mindhive, the government's effort against the Brutal were gone to waste. No matter how big of an army, or how expert of a mental warrior was sent, nothing but mutilated corpses and rumors came back to explain the changes in this particular son of Iewah. At the same time, the news of the death of the Mindhive was spread far and wide, reaching new ears every single day.

    Unwilling to face, or even know what the repercussions of killing one of Iewah's mature children was, instead of attributing his death to the female explorer, the universal government had decided to blame Daniel, who ironically enough, was the actual perpetrator.

    This event caused the fame of both Daniel and his group to grow as quickly as the infamy of the Brutal, turning the two into the most talked about children of Iewah of their generation.

    -----

    Daniel's planet.

    Thanks to the disappearance of the mind system, the underlying connection between the Mindhive and Heimart's mind had disappeared, and a few weeks after Aeron's treatment, Heimart had been able to reunite with his family and friends as a loving father, and charismatic leader that he had always been.

    Aside from treating Heimart, the entirety of Daniel's and Aeron's time was spent studying the Door to Dream State, the artifact created by the mind system, for the mindhive. In the past six months, each discovery shocked them more than the last, leaving them in awe of the mythical powers of the systems.

    However, along with shock and awe, came exasperation.

    "We have been trying for months! I've told you, it's a matter of depth!" Said Daniel with irritation to a similarly nervous Aeron.

    "When did you get so stubborn on matters regarding the mind?! Listen to me! Focus on refining it, and we can get this over with!" Responded Aeron with exasperation, showing that the two had had this conversation multiple times in the past few months.

    Ever since obtaining the Dream to Door State, Daniel and Aeron had tried to find a way to make a bigger use of it than just helping Aeron to cultivate. Unfortunately, as an item created by a different system, Daniel's system was unaware of how it worked, forcing them to have to experiment with it in a trial-and-error process.

    After refining the artifact for himself, Aeron had discovered that the Door to Dream State was not actually an artifact which absorbed, and developed mental power, but an object which could absorb any type of power, and through a form of artificial cultivation, would produce a similar power which could be used to cultivate.

    The only reason why Akkah had set the artifact to absorb and produce mental power, was due to an option suggested by his system. By offering a beautiful dream, he would attract those who were too untalented to cultivate, and offer to them a life which they could have only dreamt in exchange for their lives.

    This discovery was shocking, to a point where numerous theories and ideas had come to both Aeron's and Daniel's minds. However, amongst these ideas, one stood out.

    Daniel's true essence was equally composed by ki, spiritual essence, and mind power, making it one of a kind and inimitable, but what would happen if it was used to feed the artifact?

    Unfortunately, the artifact needed to permanently a type of power in order to refine it, and reproduce it back. In order to do that, Daniel needed to refine the artifact, and feed it his power until the artifact itself would start to produce an ownerless true essence.

    Amongst the many obstacles to this, was the fact that the artifact would strip the person away from its power. However, that did not mean that there wasn't a way around it. Daniel's planet emanated his own essence, and while it was impossible for the inhabitants to cultivate it, it was very useful in helping Daniel to keep track of it, or control it.

    If he managed to insert his planet into the Mindhive's artifact, the planet would constantly feed the artifact with Daniel's power, while his consciousness was safe and sound within his own body. If successful, they would create a secret domain where cultivators of true essence would be born.

    Alas, it was only after forming a plan, that things started to go wrong.

    In order to produce Daniel's power, the artifact needed to be set by someone who could emanate it, and since Aeron only owned mental power, there was no way for him to do it.

    For weeks Daniel's and Aeron's focus has revolved around how to help him refine the artifact, but unfortunately, they had yet to have any amount of success in that.

    According to Daniel, the artifact was too complicated for his mind power to resonate with, while according to Aeron, who had a better understanding of the artifact, he was not focusing enough on it, making it harder for himself.

    "I just can't! It's like trying to break a rock using eggs. What don't you understand?" Asked Daniel with sheer anger.

    "You are looking at it the wrong way! It's not a matter of power, it's a matter of understanding. You'll never understand the rules of chess if you keep banging the board with a damn rock!" Retorted Aeron for the umpteenth time.

    The two could not come to an agreement because neither of them had a clear understanding of the other person's perspective. Daniel felt that the artifact was too difficult to comprehend with his power, while Aeron felt that there shouldn't have been a reason for Daniel to be unable to understand it. Had they been in each other's shoes, they would have likely understood where both of their complaints were coming from.

    After weeks of failed attempts and nervous breakdowns, the two were left without the will to speak another word to each other. For hours the two remained quiet, until Aeron finally gave in, and said, "Alright. Let's try to develop the complexity of your mind, then."

    -----

    Universal Government's territory, Senate.

    "I can't believe your people couldn't even survive a damn encounter with him! We have lost thirty explorers and a battalion of the army, and for what? You idiots couldn't even get back with a bit of intelligence!" Shouted the Speaker with a rage that was shared between the many members of the senate.

    In the middle of the room, were the representatives of the army and the explorers, who looked down in shame due to their multiple failures, as well as their losses.

    The only person who could afford to look up with pride, was the representative of judges, who observed as the two others were reprimanded for their failures.

    Exasperated by everything that went on recently, the Speaker said, "I don't know what the hell is going on lately. First that damn tree starts kicking his disgusting children out of his faction, then they start to kill each other, and now one of them has gone crazy! Is there anything more that can go wrong? Isn't a war between civilizations enough of a problem already?! I-"

    The enraged rant of the Speaker went on for a few more minutes, until finally, he took a deep breath, and after turning to look at the grand judge, said, "We are breaking protocol. I don't care if this matter regards explorers or military, just find him, and come back alive with an explanation for whatever the hell is going on! Bring the artifact of the Deathbringer if you have to. Just come back alive."

    After a faint nod of the grand judge, the Speaker turned to look back at the other two representatives, and said, "You two have disappointed the government.. Greatly."

    While these words did not mean much for the explorers, they were a hard blow for the general, who was deeply loyal to the government. In his mind, all of these expeditions had failed due to bad leadership, which had been left to the explorers.

    After hearing these words, something broke in the mind of the general, who lifted his head, and said with anger, "Mr Speaker, if only you had allowed us to lead our troops, I guarantee the result would have been different!"

    "How dare you say that." Said the representatives of the explorers while slowly raising his head. "Do you believe that I will slap you twice before you can even see me? How can you lead a fight against an enemy you can't possibly hope to defeat? You are soldiers. Intelligence gathering is our job." he then said before starting a staring contest with the furious general.

    Once again, the Speaker looked at the two with disappointment. Their childish behaviour and lack of cohesion was likely the reason why their missions had failed so spectacularly.

    Ready to put an end to the discussion by hammering his mallet over the sound block, he was stopped by the general, who said, "Your poor decisionary skills have stopped you from sending the only person who is guaranteed to survive a deadly encounter! Why don't you send that brat with the judge?"

    The mention of 'a brat who was guaranteed to survive a deadly encounter' immediately reminded the senators of a young man who had appeared in one of the many schools that had been created by the universal government in preparation for the competition between civilizations.

    The general's words enraged the explorer more than he already was. However, he knew that starting a fight in the senate, would be a suicide for both of their careers, so instead, he turned to look at the senators, and with a respectful tone, he said, "Senators. The kid has just graduated the Patriot Academy. We are training him for the competition, and even before training, he was a guaranteed win in the junior individual competition. We can't risk losing our future best explorer in this sort of mission."

    "I thought that the survivor's gift would help him stay alive no matter what." Added the general, adding salt to the wound.

    "That doesn't mean that he can't be captured, or forced to recover for tens of years. We don't even know if a gift of high immortality can counter the odd powers of Iewah's children!" barked the explorer with dissatisfaction. It was clear to him that the general wanted to damage the explorers' faction, and the best way he found to do that, was to remove the biggest promise of their faction from the equation.

    Unfortunately for the explorers, the senators were already tired of failures, and the assurance that someone could eventually get back from that ordeal with information regarding a cancer that was eating their government from inside, was exactly what they wanted.

    "What level of power has he reached?" Asked the Speaker, already aware of this person's existence.

    "The.. the eightieth phase of high immortality, mister Speaker." responded the explorer reluctantly.

    "Already.."

    ".. incredible."

    "What a prodigy!"

    The senators were in awe of such an unmatched talent, causing them to be inclined to not send him into a truly dangerous situation.. But alas, the general was a man of quick words, and retorted by saying, "A sword that never leaves its sheet will never kill, no matter how sharp it is."

    After a few minutes spent muttering amongst themselves, the senate came to a decision.

    "Take the kid along. I want both of them back, and with something useful about that damn monster. So it is dec-" Said the speaker to the judge before being interrupted by the hall's large double doors which shut open, welcoming in a man in guard clothes who walked in in haste.

    "SENATORS! My apologies, but there is someone who wants to join the next party against the Brutal." said the man before approaching the open area where the three representatives were standing in.

    Slightly angered by the guard's poor timing, the Speaker said, "I was about to conclude this session. You better speak, and speak fast, before I send you to guard the stables of the explorer's beast companions. Who is it?!"

    "Well.. sir.." muttered the guard as a tall shirtless man walked into the senate hall. Strapped to his back, was a large single-edged sword with veins that extended through the entire blade. The aura emanated by his body seemed to be able to cut everything it encountered into shreds, causing the powerful senators to suddenly feel uncomfortable in their seats.

    Known for not being a man of few words, this man shocked everyone as he pointed his sharp eyes at the Speaker, and said with a deep voice, "Father sent me. Kill whoever is possessing brother."

    This man was none other than the Swordsman.
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