Chapter 5 | Slime 5
In the vastness of space, there were all the stars and planets and yet they were cold and empty. With little gravity holding the down the place, everything not nailed down seemed to be floating. The girl was lying face down with her long hair floating over her back. Her entire body was made of light in the shape of a human girl and was wearing a white shirt and trousers.
“Wow, I didn’t think you would last the week,” a man said. With that voice, she slowly opened her eyes for the first time in a while. She was disorientated and only now was her senses returning to her body.
The floor was a glass plane and what was behind the glass was the entire planet. The same planet she saw in her dream… She was in space again. She looked at her hands and feet. Her body was literally made of light but there was no incongruity. Slowly, she stood up and looked at the man. The man looked like any other guy in a suit. He had brown hair, gray eyes, with a bit of a commanding presence.
“But technically, you aren’t dead just yet.”
“W—Where am I?” The girl asked cautiously. She steadied her legs against the invisible floor. With that and the low gravity, it was hard to find her center and balance.
“We’re nowhere. We’re simply in a dream. I wanted to talk to you. I’m interested in your life and your ‘worldview,’” the man spoke in a gentle voice as if to comfort her. Was this person serious? One second, she was on an alien planet and the next second was with this strange impudent guy in outer space. He clearly wasn’t going to answer her question, she thought.
“Okay. You want to talk?” The girl became irritated.
“You can ask anything you like from me.” She would believe him for now, her suspension of disbelief was still strong since dying and coming to this world.
“Okay, fine. Who are you?” She gave a sigh and folded her arms.
“Me? I’m God,” he said smugly.
“Bullshit!” The girl answered immediately in a raised voice as if correcting him.
The man was amused by her response and maintained his calm tone as he spoke, “You dismissed me so quickly without any facts. But I can tell you, now I’m even more interested in knowing about you.”
The girl said skeptically. After the life she lived, it was impossible to rely on anyone but herself, especially a divine being. Even if God did exist, she felt no obligation to such being. He nodded again. Did this mean she should punch him?
“There’s no such thing… If you are who you say you are, then why was I reborn? Was it because of you?”
The man looked down for a moment and answered with a hard expression. “Those are loaded questions. I have no control over who gets reincarnated to this world. I’m just an observer, mostly. I know you’re having a hard time out there. I want to help.”
The girl responded in a dismissive manner, “I don’t need your help. You know nothing about me.”
However, the man quickly countered. “But I do, Cayden. You don’t have to be so stubborn.”
The girl was silenced when she heard that name, the man smiled when he saw her tough demeanor go away.
“I’m trying to find out. Why you? Why were you reincarnated into this world, you of all people? Where do you find this determination?”
She was frightened now but she didn’t want to show it as the man walked over. He seemingly knew things he shouldn’t have. He was being overly familiar with her. He grasped her arms from behind and whispered in her ear.
“Do you like this form? I can give to you if you want. I can even return you to your old world, how does that sound?”
“Stop! Don’t touch me! I don’t need help from you!” The girl yelled as she frantically broke off from the man. She faced him again with tears in her eyes. The girl wanted to run but she tripped over herself and fell down. This space was so disorientating to her sense of balance, she couldn’t walk if she tried.
She was scared. She wanted to get away.
The man in the black suit and tie crouched down to her level and touched her head. It was very frightening and her body trembled as she closed her eyes and turned her head away. His hand stroked her hair then went down to her face and wiped the tears from her eyes.
“Strong yet so fragile. Humans are like that,” he seemingly said to himself.
The man stood and left the small girl cowering on the glass floor. Some time passed before she calmed down and the girl still laid on the floor as she took a good look around. This wasn’t entirely the same as last time she was here. There were moons in different shades of color that were orbiting the planet and the planet’s atmosphere was a lot clearer. Honestly, she was in awe over this.
“The offer is on the table,” the man said as he looked down on the planet.
He looked like a person watching over the world. If he truly was a god…
“I can send you back to your own world. Please consider my generous offer. I don’t do this for everyone and with your attitude before…”
She asked in disbelief but the man remained silent. This man was rude and creepy with a god complex. He was waiting for an answer. What did this guy expect from her? To be leaping for joy and be kissing his nice shoes for how generous he was being?
“Can I think about it?” The girl said meekly while looking away from him. The man grimaced at her assertion but then shrugged.
“I’ll allow it. But don’t take too long to think. I’ll know when you’ve made your decision,” the man said.
What did he mean by that? How could he possibly know what she was thinking?
“I’ll give you some advice: slimes don’t have solid identities. Soon, the monster within you might start to hatch. This is all I can tell you.”
Wha—What?! She already knew something was wrong the second she was reborn as a slime. This person… he knew what was happening to her! “You know what’s happening to me?!”
“Huh? You of all people should know what it means to have a body not match the mind.”
The man was being a smart-ass. This so-called ‘god’ was toying with her.
“Don’t worry. I am your salvation. I will be watching over you.”
“HEY WAIT!” She shouted but the spaceman ignored her and snapped his fingers.
And so, in a great ball of light, the dream was over.
The slime wasn’t crushed to death. As the rubble fell on him and the total crystallization of his slime was imminent, he shifted his crystal to one side of this slime and stretched himself away from his solid half as far as he could. A huge rock came down and forcibly separated him from the infected slime.
The dirt and rocks from the ceiling came down in seconds but it was enough time to learn a new ability: crystallization. He remembered the sensation from the freezing/crystallizing spell and quickly encased himself in a dense protective pearl.
The slime didn’t know how long he was unconscious but it didn’t dull the number of soldiers outside. If he were to guess, they were still waiting for him. How would they know he was alive? His aura, perhaps?
He had three different visual senses: a mana/aura sense, three-sixty vision, and soul perception.
This mana sense seemed to be separate from his normal vision. The slime saw this flame when he saw the other party cast their spells but since he swallowed that mother snake’s crystal, he felt his sensitivity had improved.
From what he observed, their detection magic required two elements: good sensitivity to mana and recognition of the target’s aura.
Back then, his mana supply and aura were very low and so it was harder for the staff-arm girl to spot him. This also meant that their sensitivity to mana had to be a conscious effort, at least in part. The same principles applied to him.
Mana literally flowed through everything and when it flows through a person, some mana gets trapped in their body, creating a mana pool. Aura was expressed when the mana flowed out of an object or person. When using a spell, the caster forces the mana out of themselves to manifest as a spell. After only observing this a few times, he already had this sense and concept figured out.
He had to dam the river of mana inside of himself to suppress his aura. How he would do it, he didn’t know but he had to try. He felt the mana within him and willed himself to do just that and he did. The slime was a natural at this and he should be harder to find now.
The slime’s next immediate problem was that he was buried. One positive thing was that collapsing the ceiling placed him out of sight from the soldiers. Since he could crystalize and reabsorb his slime, he could build a tunnel out using crystal support beams. The only downside was that it’d take a while and he couldn’t do much while hiding his aura.
Once the soldiers on the outside realize he was still alive, they would come for him again. They were now roaming around the cave entrance. With no other alternative, he started digging.
“That spaceman was really creepy,” said the girl. She came to him in her astral form, a female ghost version of himself appearing before him.
The boy sighed and said with heavy sarcasm, “Oh, great. You’re here.”
“Yeah! Even death can’t get rid of me! Maybe we should seriously consider his offer?”
“The pseudo-god is attempting to bribe us into something. If you are too trusting, we’ll be deceived.”
“What makes you believe he was trying to trick us? Yeah, he was a major creep but he was truthful,” the girl said as if her opinion was a fact.
“People can be truthful in their deceptions. Lies of omissions are difficult for us to discern.”
“But if he was giving us a choice, it would mean he cannot force us into anything. Would it not be better to go back to our old world? This monster-body is...”
The boy finished her sentence, “...unstable. I know. A solid identity cannot be established with an ever-changing body.”
Identity was the problem. Many people in his previous world never understand the significance of their physical bodies to their sense of self. People believed that their mind was dominant and indistinguishable with their sense-of-self, or ‘identity.’ The great majority believed the body was only a vessel for their soul. However, the reality was that the body influences the mind and the mind influences the body. If a normal person switched bodies with another, they wouldn’t be bothered. However, someone with a strong identity wouldn’t accept the change.
Was identity the cause of his bizarre behavior? His slime body may have influenced his mind and gave rise to another persona. His counselor did say that his personas weren’t static and that this might happen. He did have personas appear and disappear with time. There were too many factors to this to know for sure.
His Dissociative Identity Disorder, or D.I.D., caused him a lot of trouble and he always struggled to understand what was happening to him. Right now, he had two personas. The dominant persona was ‘the boy,’ and ‘the girl’ was his other persona hitching a ride in his mind. His parents forced him to go to a counselor when he was nine and after he ran away from home. She said that the personas he had were part of him and that he needed to accept that fact.
But Cayden couldn’t accept her. Him, a girl? Absolutely ridiculous. The girl in front of him was a projection of his sickened mind. Something to be excised and cured. That was all there was to it.
“The only reason you’re even considering his words is because he offered you a female body.”
“He offered ‘us’ a female body,” she corrected.
“Honestly, what answer did you expect me to give?” He asked rhetorically.
“...This is different. We’re in a life or death situation. We don’t have the luxury to be picky.”
If the boy really wanted to go back, he should’ve asked to be reborn as himself. But he didn’t want to. “You would like that, wouldn’t you? Are you giving up, then?”
“We will live as we dictate and not for anyone else. Not ever again. Are you even myself?”
“…I understand,” she said reluctantly. They were the same person, although they wouldn’t admit it. They had the same goals and aspirations. To live how they wished to was all they ever wanted.
“What if we lose control again? That ‘darkness’ that took us over is still here.”
“Then we’ll just have to make sure that doesn’t happen. Now go away, I’m concentrating.”
The girl went away without protest as he pushed her out of his thoughts. Since she was here with him now, it must’ve meant that she was truly a part of his soul. This made him upset.
If identity was the problem, then obtaining a human body should remedy his monstrous thoughts. There would be no reason for a monsterous persona to exist if she wasn’t a monster. This rational was based on his own experience. However, he sensed that there was something more to the dark aura. He needed to be strong-willed and rational. If that sensation took him over again, he didn’t know if he could suppress it.
The soldiers outside seemed to be suspicious about something and were gathering near the point where he wanted to surface. The slime was still digging but getting closer meant they sensed his aura. Whatever he was going to do, he needed to do it now.
Working quickly, he formed a solid hollow cylinder pointed outside at an angle upwards. He was going to shoot himself out into the woods like a cannonball. The cave entrance was on a hill so his flight should last longer and cover more distance. He made a pressure chamber and a hand pump to create enough air pressure to shoot himself from the makeshift air cannon.
Despite his squishy exterior, he was absurdly strong and was able to pump the cannon to high pressure. It broke loose, causing the pressurized air to leak and created a high-pitched sound. The soldiers were getting really suspicious of him! He tried again, reinforcing the crystal with his slime in desperation. He crystallized his membrane and made himself into a pearl again.
When he released the valve, the pressured air propelled him with such force that the crystal in his slime was forced to his side. The accelerating g-forces were brutal and his escape began with a loud bang and in a single moment, he was freed. The soldiers had no idea what happened as they were blinded by dust and hit by rubble.
He was traveling at high velocity and could no longer see the hill or the soldiers in his three-sixty vision. He couldn’t see much of anything because of how high he was. It was as if he was flying in empty space.
Falling down into the trees, the giant pearl was more like a giant egg as he crashed into tree trunks and branches left and right before his protective shell shattered. His slime splattered about the area until finally, he crashed into the soft ground. His large momentum was suddenly stopped by a base of a tall tree.
He was in a forest from what he could tell, a thick one with lots of vegetation. It would be difficult for those soldiers to search for him in here. He was in great pain from exposing his crystal to crushing g-forces and experienced such a pounding that he couldn’t move. Yet he was calm and he was free. However, there was still more to do to ensure his survival and prosperity in this life.