Cloudhawk led Hellflower to the God Tree, where the Shepherd God’s altar had been erected. The altar’s main purpose was to augment mental power, but it could also sustain dimensional rifts. Autumn’s altar was what allowed groups from Greenland to travel to other worlds and bring back resources. Because Cloudhawk had been gone for so long, the rift from before had collapsed.
Hellflower’s proposed location for their plant was not anywhere in Greenland, Woodland Vale, Imperia or anywhere else on the planet. It would be exactly where no one else could get to – the space between spaces that only Cloudhawk could access! Hellflower, with her close relationship to Wolfblade, knew all about Cloudhawk and his gifts. She also knew that war between him and Skycloud was just a matter of time.
But Skycloud wasn’t Cloudhawk’s ultimate aim.
On the contrary, Skycloud was the beginning of a long, bloody journey of conquest. If one day Cloudhawk succeeded in taking Skycloud, he would then turn to other Elysian lands. And all that was just the surface. Sumeru was the final prize.
Once Cloudhawk’s strength and presence was exposed the gods would not sit idly by. They would dispatch champions to try and stop him.
A war of this magnitude went beyond the understanding of mere humans. The Great War of a thousand years ago was to be repeated and who knew what would remain in the aftermath. Places like Woodland Vale and Imperia were strong, but were they strong enough? With this in mind it was only prudent to move some bases, factories and even people away from danger.
On one hand, the best idea was to exploit transdimensional power to ensure safety. On the other, if the worse were to occur humanity might be able to survive extinction by hiding on some other plane.
Cloudhawk felt Hellflower made a very good argument. He had the talent to make this a reality, so why not? The places he’d traveled to had their own ancient civilizations and resources to support them. If they could employ these treasures not only would their forces grow stronger, but also expand exponentially.
Hellflower turned to him. “From what I hear you’re at least ten times stronger than when you left. Your old injuries have all been healed. If that’s true I don’t imagine it would be difficult for you to open several portals. I am very anxious to see the result for myself.”
Without a word Cloudhawk stepped up onto the altar. He summoned his dimensional powers and right away the air around him began to warp. As the energies condensed, a large portal came into being before him.
Already Hellflower was impressed. Though Cloudhawk could open portals before, the previous ones were only large enough for a couple of people to pass through at a time. This one was large enough to allow for a large amount of materials and energy to pass through. Exactly what they needed to develop their spacial expansion!
Peering into the gate one could only see a vast, pitch-black expanse. From time to time and with close inspection there appeared floating slabs of rock the size of continents. It was the first layer of space Cloudhawk had been able to visit reliably and where he stored much of his things. It was a mystery what happened to this world, but the results were obvious in its shattered appearance.
It was not suitable for their purposes. Cloudhawk summoned more of his power. The portal’s surface shimmered like someone had dropped a pebble into a well. A new scene was revealed.
It was not unfamiliar. Revealed to them were vast tracts of land with towering mushroom trees. It was where Greenland had found their main source of sustenance, as well as the foreign Temple and the spirits that protected it which they used for spirit beads. This planet had been instrumental in Greenland’s development.
He could do better. Cloudhawk focused in an attempt to delve deeper into unknown territory.
Hellflower watched the image behind the portal change once again. Her eyes peered through the limited window unto a limitless rocky plain. Ruins slowly crumbling to dust, massive abandoned airships… this had to be the site of some frightful battle. Much to her delight much of what she saw looked largely intact, in stark contrast to the ruins of their earth which had been picked clean.
During this process Cloudhawk learned that the deeper he tried to delve into these dimensions the more difficult it became. Arriving at this third layer, he was struggling to maintain control.
However, he had enough strength left to reach further, into a fourth layer. He did so without pause, revealing someplace new. Hellflower’s eyes went wide as she gazed upon a picturesque forest. Dense and beautiful, the floor was carpeted with exotic flora and fauna.
Cloudhawk remembered this place.
Years ago he’d slipped through reality and ended up here. If he was not mistaken, this was the world taken over by those strange creatures that turned violent – the same world where he’d found Oddball. The sprawling forests and its bloodthirsty denizens made the world too dangerous for their factory.
This was as deep as Cloudhawk could manage, anything further was too unstable.
Hellflower was finding it hard to fathom. She had no idea how it was Cloudhawk was able to pinpoint these specific locations. Was it that his powers were somehow connected to them? Or were these planets existing in simultaneous space, occupying the same location but never touching?
Both theories had their merits. The former would make sense since these places all appeared to be locations the former Demon Prince had visited and left his mark. Maybe there were beacons he placed which allowed subsequent travelers to find these spots specifically.
Her second guess also seemed plausible. Based on what she knew of the calamity that destroyed their world, its early upheavals were marked by gravitational chaos. Strange creatures not native to this reality began to appear which might suggest this planet and the others in multidimensional space had begun to collide.
Quantum mechanics postulated that gravitational forces could manipulate space-time. That is to say that a planet’s gravitational well could impact and disturb another, even in an alternate dimension, and disturb it enough to obliterate ancient civilizations. The Demon King’s stone allows the bearer to slip between these layers and occupy the same space in a different dimension. It sounded like fantasy, but it seemed as likely as anything else.
The question that occupied Cloudhawk’s mind was how many more places could he visit? If he kept pushing himself could he reach Gehenna, Sumeru, or even some other mysterious reality? What was the nature of this world? The phase stone had been the most important part of the Demon King’s endowment. What other secrets did it hold?
He didn’t have any answers to these questions right now. Step by step, eventually knowledge would come.
The blasted world and the world of mushrooms Cloudhawk had visited on several occasions. While he’d only explored a small area of either and had only a rudimentary knowledge of them, he at least knew their climate. This time he would take Hellflower with him to learn what they could about the third and fourth layers.
The stony plains were a dead land rich with discarded technological treasures. Within the ruins were weapons and contraptions that were in very good shape. However, thousands of years had passed and time had taken its toll. Many had succumbed to rust or were otherwise destroyed. What’s more, whatever civilization had made them had a very different style of writing and other habits, making their tools difficult to use and decipher. However, that would not stop their scientists from trying.
The jungle world, in contrast, was a rare place where vitality thrived.
Cloudhawk had been many places and traveled to other worlds, and nowhere else had he seen a place with so much life – be it vegetation or creatures. At least eighty percent of this planet was choked in forest, while the other twenty percent was ocean. It was a world of remarkable abundance and unchecked wilderness where nature prevailed. Its complex ecosystem was home to countless species vying for dominance, making it a place both rife with danger and opportunity.
It was crazy, but if these two worlds could be connected and exploited, it would be of great benefit to Greenland.
Hellflower and Cloudhawk spent several days exploring and eventually decided to build their factory on the stony plains. The first batch sent to build a base was comprised of a couple thousand scientists. In addition, another group of five thousand soldiers was sent to the spore planet to establish a settlement. Established in other planes, they would be at Cloudhawk’s beck and call when needed.
Cloudhawk could summon a portal and call on them whenever he needed. By the same logic he could gather whatever resources were required from these places in an instant, including weapons. At Cloudhawk’s current strength, so long as he had the energy he could call boulders from space, soldiers, or anything else he needed – just as he unwittingly did in his fight against the Silverwing Monarch.
Over the next few days Cloudhawk vigorously recruited for the effort. Much to his surprise there was considerable interest in the posting, at least ten times what he was expecting. Perhaps they were bored with the lives they led, or were pessimistic about the times ahead. Maybe that had ambitions of living life as an influential pioneer. At any rate, after just a few days he had thirty thousand volunteers.
What was thirty thousand to Cloudhawk? Well, how many were under his control?
The answer was several million, but if he subtracted the citizens of Imperia and only counted Nox, the Dark Atom, Sandspire and Greenland he had less than a million people. Thirty thousand from that number collected in just a few days spoke volumes to the peoples’ interest in this project.
Spacial immigration was not cheap. Cloudhawk hoped these initial groups could learn and develop quickly so that they could get settled quick.
With so many interested Cloudhawk was saddled with trying to decide who to choose. Cloudhawk looked over the forms and came upon a very interesting group. The Wendigo King and his brood had expressed interest in going. The motivation was to make sure that whatever happened in this world, some of their species would continue to thrive.
Cloudhawk nodded his head. So shall it be.
The wargs were a power one could not ignore. They were especially capable scouts, spies and trackers. By allowing them to immigrate to somewhere else they would have the peace of mind to fight with more loyalty and ferocity. They would have their own place, and a sense of belonging.