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Zhang Dong entered the opulent interior of the villa, his senses immediately assaulted by an otherworldly ambiance. The air felt heavy with an indescribable power, and the walls seemed to ripple with the essence of something beyond mortal comprehension. Yet, in a matter of moments the feeling subsided and everything returned to normal as if his spiritual sense was just playing games with his head.
Before him, a grand staircase ascended to the individual who appeared to be the owner of this opulent place. The person stood adorned in relaxed attire, resembling a bathrobe with intricate golden embroidery. Yet, Zhang Dong's attention was not fixed on the luxurious attire; instead, he found himself unable to look away from the man’s face.
“Like it? I enhanced the old look a bit, I think it came out well, don’t you agree?”
“... Who are you?”
“Ah yes, this must be new to you, I bet you would like to have an explanation, why don’t you walk with me…”
This individual bore a striking resemblance to Zhang Dong's old persona, Matthew, albeit with enhancements to appear more handsome. While it was undoubtedly the previous version of himself, Zhang Dong couldn't fathom the purpose behind this display. It became evident that this person was the god responsible for the existence of this world, capable of altering his appearance at will. However, what puzzled Zhang Dong was the odd sense of familiarity with this god-like figure. It was akin to the connection he felt with his own clones, yet slightly different - the bond was not as intimate.
As Zhang Dong walked alongside his god-like counterpart through the luxurious halls of the villa, a flood of questions filled his mind. He couldn't help but wonder about the motives behind creating this temporal paradox and trapping Earth in a peculiar pocket of time. The bigger question that he wanted to ask was about the uncanny resemblance which at this point, he expected to be some type of mind game. The god-like figure was seemingly unperturbed by Zhang Dong's presence and he spoke with a nonchalant tone as they strolled through ornate corridors adorned with priceless art pieces.
“You must have a million questions, Matthew. But let me assure you, I have my reasons for orchestrating this little experiment. I must say that you did take a while to get here, I was beginning to get bored but now that you are here…”
“Experiment? What do you mean? Who are you and why do you look like me?”
Numerous questions swirled in Zhang Dong's mind as the person resembling his old self spoke in a nonchalant manner, seemingly unperturbed by Zhang Dong's sudden appearance or the advancing armada outside the solar system. Following his awakening from the previous memory wipe, Zhang Dong had swiftly contacted his forces, initiating their advance while he confronted the godlike being in this place. It was likely that the being was aware of the unfolding events but chose to ignore the situation. Even as the two spoke, Zhang Dong was in a constant back and forth with the immortal beings there.
“Ah yes, I guess it’s explaining time… but this could take a while, maybe I should just show you everything directly otherwise this will take too long…”
“Well, we could have a nice long talk over dinner or I could prepare a movie to show you how my life had unfolded but why not go directly to the source instead? It will have a bigger effect!”
The man proclaimed, pointing his finger into seemingly empty space. Zhang Dong sensed a massive surge of power emanating from that finger. He traced the motion as the man slashed through the air, creating a colossal black gash of energy that split the very fabric of the universe, forming a rift.
“Now, if you want to hear the truth, just follow after me~”
In an instant, the man leaped through the rift before Zhang Dong could react. The energy emanating from within the rift felt peculiar, unfamiliar to him. The universe he knew adhered to specific rules and energy types, yet this place carried a different energy signature. It resembled something he was aware of - a portal that could transport individuals from his inner universe to an external one.
Zhang Dong contemplated the risky venture he had tested before - bringing citizens from his inner universe to this one. The owner of the universe could forcibly create openings, enabling others to depart. Stepping through such an opening would lead him to a location different from before, possibly beyond the reach of his family and allies. Yet, this method came with a significant drawback; if the person lacked sufficient strength, their body would disintegrate, unable to endure the conditions of a higher realm. The decision to follow through with this method weighed heavily on his mind as he stood before the rift.
‘This rift might lead out of my inner universe to the outside, where this guy's real body is… This will probably be it…’
While contemplating he contacted the armada along with his most trusted family members.
“Gramps, Liena and everyone else, are you there?”
“Yes, we have managed to break through the blockage and are advancing towards the third planet as you wished.”
Liena responded quickly, her concerned tone quite palpable.
“Good, I have encountered our target but he has moved to a different location… I will follow after him but this might be it… For all it is worth, it has been a privilege to lead and fight alongside all of you. No matter what happens next, remember that I will cherish the memories we’ve created together.”
Zhang Dong’s voice resonated with a mix of determination but also sadness. His family members on the other end of the communication link were left in stunned silence for a moment, realizing the gravity of his words. In the face of uncertainty, they knew their leader was venturing into uncharted territory.
“Now, you can ignore Earth, the true core of this universe is the star in the middle, after I'm gone, attack it if necessary…”
“Father… Please, come back.”
His son replied and was quickly followed by his daughter.
“Dad…, give him hell.”
Soon all the other family members and his friends were cheering him on.
“Dong’er we had a full life together, we lived for so long but we must protect this world for the sake of the new generation.”freewebnovel. com
“I know gramps, I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Dear, please be careful.”
“I will… Now, I must go, I’ll see you all later!”
Without further delay, Zhang Dong took a deep breath and leaped through the rift. The transition was instantaneous, and he found himself in a new realm. This place lacked any signs of life, and he drifted in the vast emptiness of space. The only illumination came from a single bright light, emanating from the godlike being. His appearance remained the same, but here he wore a pitch-dark robe, a stark contrast to Zhang Dong's preferred white attire.
“That took you a while, behold the true universe, the start of it all… or at least what was left of it…”
“There is nothing here… did all the stars die out?”
“Quite. I am what is left of this empty void, with nothing to entertain me other than my own little creations, come let me show you something interesting!”
In this strange realm, Zhang Dong felt an unusual sensation. His body could manifest, but he experienced strain, requiring a substantial amount of energy to resist being torn apart by the governing laws of this place. Things felt rather new and he quickly started taking in the new and superior energies of this new realm. The godlike being continued his explanation, flying toward one of the lifeless planets in the distance. It became apparent that this universe was utterly devoid of life, with all its stars extinguished - a grim fate that perhaps couldn't be averted.
“Are those buildings… Wait, is this…”
Before they even landed, Zhang Dong noticed something peculiar. The size of this planet closely resembled that of the Earth he grew up on. Absent were any other planets from the solar system, and there was no sun for them to orbit. It wouldn't have been surprising for them to drift apart or be destroyed after the star's extinguishment. The desolation of this once-thriving solar system became increasingly evident as they descended onto the eerily familiar-sized planet.
“You are quick to catch on, but that’s obvious for someone with the same traits as me. As you can see this is the real Earth or at least what is left of it. The civilization that once existed here is no more, just like everything else… I tried to recreate the essence of it. I think that I did a good enough job, don’t you think?”
Zhang Dong was left speechless, grappling with the realization that this godlike being had created a mere imitation of Earth, a nostalgic playground. The god continued to lead him through what seemed like remnants of cities and landscapes which were eerily similar to the earth that he remembered. Yet, he did not know why he was brought here, what was this being trying to do, it was probably not only for entertainment as he had claimed.
“What’s the purpose of this all, why did you make something like the system and why did you remake this Earth to produce those system holders… and me?”
“Haha, I guess from your perspective I am the villain of this story but I’ll have to disappoint you, I was just desperate… desperate to get out of this hell hole!”
The air around this version of Matthew started shifting. He could feel his emotions getting the better of him and the air around him trembling. The nonchalant expression had started to vanish and was exchanged with something different, a hint of malice.
“Hell hole? I don’t understand…”
“It’s fine, you’ll understand soon but I think I have postponed this long enough. I must say, I have to commend you for your work, this would have probably not been possible without you… now, return to me, my shard after we are rejoined, I shall finally be free of this place and the truth will be mine to know! I will ascend!”
Zhang Dong’s confusion deepened as the godlike being's demeanor shifted. The once casual tone was replaced by an intensity that sent shivers down Zhang Dong's spine. The revelation that the purpose of this entire experiment was the god’s desperate attempt to escape this desolate realm left him with more questions than answers.
“Do you think that I’ll just let you use me for whatever twisted plan of yours?”
“Oh, my dear shard, it’s not a matter of letting me… You see, you and I are intricately connected. You don’t really have a choice…”
Zhang Dong's body tensed up, immobilized by a strange technique. The godlike being moved in closer, beckoning him with a hand as their merging process began. This allowed Zhang Dong to peer into the being's true memories, unlocking a glimpse into the enigmatic truth that had eluded him until now.