• hcmills

Chapter 141: Obey gravity; it's the law

As far as I’m aware there’s only one Spatial Energy Skill available through the Skilldream Shopping Window, and that’s Distort Space.

However, I’ve shrunk myself down countless times and never started floating. I refuse to believe Dominique has that Skill at a higher level than me... Even if she did, the third level only adds an extra dimension to distort, it shouldn’t do anything like this.

Crap, what if she has some kind of hidden Skill that I haven’t unlocked the requirements for or something?

If that were the case though, there’d be little point in Suri taking the risk of hinting at me. No, realistically speaking, it has to be Distort Space she’s using, probably even just the first level. Which means it has to just be an inventive use of the Skill, like the stuff I do with Breath Control. Some crazy way to use Spatial Energy that I haven’t thought of, that allows one to float.

Then again, maybe I’m overthinking this. After all, the floating caused by the portal seemed to just be an unintentional side-effect.

Don’t tell me...

My initial attempts all fail and, limited by the speed at which my Qi regenerates, it takes a couple of hours for me to get it right, but finally, my hard work pays off.

Soon, I find myself laughing my ass off as I float upside down through the living room in a shimmering, nearly invisible bubble of Spatial Energy.

My laughter has the unexpected consequence of propelling my head backwards, which causes me to spin around my centre of mass, located roughly behind my bellybutton. This just makes me laugh harder, which makes me spin harder, which makes me laugh—

“Emma?” Kaitlynn calls out from somewhere behind me, bewildered.

My laughter halts for a moment as I try to find where her voice is coming from. I notice a blue blur passing by in my field of vision. That just sets me off again.

Oh man, I’m getting dizzy.

Kaitlynn mercifully manages to slow me down rather gently by applying resistance to my foot as it passes by a few times, until she finally catches it in her hands, holding me steady as I float right above her.

She stares up at me in wonder. “You actually did it?”

I finally manage to get my chuckles under control. “Yup! I figured it out,” I say through an exuberant smile. “She was using Distort Space all along!”

She cocks her head to the side. “Really? Well, how does it work?”

I grin. “Why don’t I... show you!”

I pull her towards me, as I stretch out my boundary to envelop her as well.

Her eyes go wide as she enters my zero-g field, her hair fluttering every which way and her feet reaching for ground suddenly out of reach. “Wait—”

I blow out a jet of Aether to the side, sending us spinning like figure skaters on the ice, clutching onto each other for dear life.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard Kaitlynn’s clear laughter, and my chest tightens a little as it washes over me.

“Okay, this is pretty fun,” Kaitlynn admits, a little breathless, after I slow us down to a lazy spin by directing my exhale to the other side, “but it’s not an explanation.”

“Well, Space and Gravity are Yin-Yang opposites,” I start distractedly as she wraps her arms more comfortably around my neck, and I shift mine to her waist. “Ehm, s-so the thicker you make a Spatial Boundary, the more Gravity gets excluded by it. Honestly, I feel like an idiot for not figuring it out sooner.”

Seriously, I even used a Spatial Boundary to break the grip of Bruce’s Gravity Field on me, for Pete’s sake...

Kaitlynn shrugs, brushing some free-floating hair from my face. “Well, hindsight is 20/20.” She smiles impishly. “Not to say you’re not an idiot.”

“Hey!” I exclaim, trying but failing to keep my lips straight as I narrow my eyes at her. “In my defence, I never really noticed the effect before because I tried to be efficient with my Spatial Energy by making my boundaries as thin as possible. I kinda regret that now, ’cause this is way more fun!

I reach out with one hand and push off from the ceiling towards a nearby wall, dragging Kaitlynn along. From there I kick off again under an angle, and Kaitlynn squeals then laughs as I start bouncing us through the room.

Finally, my control over the boundary slips, and I’m unable to prevent it from collapsing in on itself as I’m about to push off a wall. Luckily, we’re over the couch as it happens.

Kaitlynn lands heavily on top of me, collapsing in boneless laughter.

I let out a happy sigh, and tug her a little closer against me.

You okay?” Kaitlynn asks eventually, the sound muffled by the pillows crammed against the sides of my head.

I shake my head. “You flattened me. You’re going to have to roll me up and carry me into the next Trial. I might still be of use as a bludgeoning weapon, I suppose.”

Kaitlynn snorts, looking down at me with a small, soft smile, that makes my heart skip a beat.

“What?” I deflect reflexively as I feel my cheeks heat up. “Is there something stuck to my face?”

She shakes her head. “No, it’s... nothing. Nevermind.”

My stomach twists, and just when I’m about to foolishly push myself up and kiss her, she climbs off me.

There’s no denying the disappointment I feel at that.

“Anyway, this is good, really good!” Kaitlynn says, as I sit up next to her. “You’ll need a better way to move around though. Do you think you could take a Skilldream for Boreum Manipulation and learn how to make mid-Aether platforms like Dominique?”

“Hmm. Suri, time?”

[You have 16 hours, 57 minutes, and 3 seconds left before you have to start the Trial.]

“Really?” I raise a brow. “That’s a little less than I’d expected.”

Then again, Kaitlynn did already finish her five-hour Skilldream. Man, time flies when you, well, try to fly.

“Is it not enough?” Kaitlynn asks.

I purse my lips. “Boreum Manipulation is a medium-grade Skill I have no experience with, so just getting it would take quite some time, and that technique of hers looked pretty advanced as well—I’m pretty sure she only partially solidified the Boreum, somehow. I can’t be sure the first level will be enough to learn how to do that. I have a feeling I’ll be better off trying to figure out my own method of moving around, perhaps with the help of Negative Inertial Energy.”

There may be a part of me that just stubbornly wants to find a better method to move around rather than just copy her, but it’s mostly that I don’t think it’ll be practical. No, really.

“Anyway, how’d it go on your end?” I ask. “Did you gain the second level of Increase Momentum?”

Kaitlynn nods.

“Sweet, up top.” I hold out my hand, and after a beat, Kaitlynn obliges.

I frown at her lack of enthusiasm. “What’s the matter?”

She swallows and looks down to where she’s picking at some imaginary lint on her pants. “I’m just worried about the next Trial, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, your breakthrough is great news, as is my progress, but we’re still...”

“Nowhere near ready,” I say with a sigh. “I hear ya. You’re right, we need to stay focused. How’s this: I’m going to spend some time on a way to move around, you practise your new Skill, then we’ll reconvene to work on a combination attack. Sound good?”

She looks up, a determined glint in her eye, and nods.

“Good. That’s settled then. But first, let’s eat something.”

After our meal, Kaitlynn faces one of the target dummies and starts to practise throwing her knives with Increase Momentum level 2. While she’s physically quite capable of throwing the spear I gave her, she’s far more accustomed to tossing her throwing knives, so it’s probably a better idea for her to focus on those, and save the spear for melee.

I watch for a while, as I wait for my Qi to fully restore. One downside to this new technique of mine is that it takes a lot of Spatial Energy to make a boundary this thick, which in turn takes a lot of Qi. Currently, I can convert 1 Onkh of Qi into 4 Onkh of Spatial Energy. Making a regular boundary usually takes up between 20 to 40 Onkh of Spatial Energy, depending on the size. Making one this thick takes at least 80 Onkh, preferably more.

At first, this meant I was refilling my Focus Crystal with fresh Qi while trying to maintain the boundary I’d already produced. Then I realised I was being an idiot and took out the medium-sized Yin Focus Crystal we found in the conquered Hoig-village. That one holds up to 25 Onkh of Qi, which turns into 100 Onkh of Spatial Energy.

Unfortunately, just creating it isn’t enough. The boundary is constantly under the pressure of the surrounding Gravity, which eats away at it, so it requires a constant influx of energy to maintain its Gravity-repelling function. I estimate it to be around 10 Onkh of Spatial Energy a minute meaning 2.5 Onkh of Qi at my current conversion rate.

With my current Qi Pool of 65 Onkh, I have about 40 Onkh left after forming the barrier, and I regenerate about one Onkh a minute. That means it currently costs me about 1.5 Onkh of Qi per minute to maintain the barrier, so I run out in about 25 minutes.

Converting my Toxic Energy to Qi with Reconversion, I can get back about 15 Onkh of Qi, granting me 10 minutes of extra flight time at most. Of course, that’s all hypothetical as it assumes I manage to control the energy for that long in the first place. In practice, I definitely won’t be able to fly for 35 minutes right now. Moreover, in a combat situation, I’m going to need Qi for other Skills as well.

If only I could buy some friggin’ Qi Pearls. Bastards.

Anyway, I’ll need to practise maintaining these thick boundaries for as long as I possibly can, because I cannot afford to replace them in combat. However, I also still need a way to move around, which will likely also take some amount of Qi if I want to use Negative Inertial Energy somehow...

I’ve never even tried to use Inertia Manipulation and Distort Space simultaneously before. It should be doable, as a Focus Crystal is really only a convenient tool to collect and convert Qi. And I have spares to boot.

Feeling the worry gnaw at my insides, I take a deliberately deep breath. One problem at a time, Emma. Let’s start with a way to move around while I float, as without one, the ability to do so is pretty useless.

One thing my laughing fit demonstrated is that I can use Breath Control for propulsion. The problem is, that’s not a very controlled method. Combining that with Negative Inertial Energy would definitely make me capable of accelerating really quickly, but I’d have very little steering capability.

Another way to gain momentum would be to bring things with me and use them as accelerants. For example, I could bring a rock up with me, try to extend a field of Positive Inertial Energy towards it, then push off on it.

All right, that may not be the easiest way forward right now, as I don’t have Inertial Manipulation level 2 yet, and projecting Inertial Energy away from myself is still pretty difficult. Moreover, I’d have to collect rocks from somewhere and carry them around, and constantly produce new fields of Inertial Energy, which would probably eat up Qi at an alarming rate. Not sure if I’d be able to react quickly enough to dodge ranged attacks like that either.

I sigh. Guess it’s not that easy to come up with a different way to fly.

My eyes widen as I’m hit by a thought. A different way to fly... That’s it!

Author's note:

Thanks for reading! ^^

(Title pun isn't mine, though I do have it on a shirt. What can I say, I used to teach physics. ;) )

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