Two cats entered the battle. Both of them collapsed in the end.
Yet the difference between the two was that one cat's life had already begun to fade, while the other cat was as vigorous as ever!
The Kinslayer magnificently fought against Zeigra, the Mech Cruncher and one of the fastest-growing huge cats released onto the Asco Continent!
Many sensors spread around the battle site beforehand captured every second of the final confrontation between the Felixia Catstrikers and Zeigra!
Such recordings held a huge amount of value as they proved Lady Miralix's courage and valor against a powerful foe! They also proved that Lady Miralix played the leading role in this difficult and risky hunt!
Inside the cockpit of the dormant and half-broken Kinslayer, Lady Miralix quietly wound down from the excitement that carried her all the way to the end of the battle.
Despite her lack of awareness of what took place outside her mech, she already knew she fulfilled her greatest wish. If Zeigra was still alive, then the cat would have continued to savage her Kinslayer!
Since nothing of the sort had happened, Lady Miralix knew that she had finally proved herself to be worthy to fight in House Laterna's name!
\"I did it.. we did it.. Zeigra is dead...!\"
From today onwards, she became a true potency of House Laterna! She could lift her head high and leave Felixia in order to take part in the wider Sentinel Kingdom as one of its most prominent noble mech pilots!
\"The victory I've achieved today will continue the prosperity of my house!\"
As Lady Miralix quietly immersed herself in her exultation of completing her challenge, Ves did not have time yet to celebrate.
He still needed to secure his own gains from the destructive battle between the two cats!
At the moment of Zeigra's death, his spiritual presence in the imaginary realm abruptly started to falter!
Ves recognized that the moment he had been waiting for and working towards all this time had finally arrived!
\"This is my chance!\"
He immediately stopped resonating with Vescas. As much as he wanted to experiment with it further, the act continually drained his spiritual energy, something which he intensely abhorred!
Ves mentally patted Vescas' back as he withdrew his spiritual projection from its spiritual presence.
\"Good job. You really helped us all succeed. Now give me some of my energy back.\"
He forcibly siphoned some of the spiritual energy that originally belonged to him back into himself. Though he encountered some resistance, Vescas still held him in high regard, so it didn't resist as much as it could have despite the pain it experienced.
Besides, even if the spiritual product did put up a fight, its strength was still lacking against its creator!
\"Don't be so bummed out, Vescas. If Lady Miralix continues to pilot the Kinslayer, then you'll eventually make up for the loss!\"
The spiritual energy he drew back into himself did much to replenish his earlier expenditure.
Energized by the recovery of some of his spent energy, Ves began to move his spiritual projection towards Zeigra's spiritual presence.
Whereas before it projected strength, brutality and cunning, now it started to unravel! The death of Zeigra meant his spirituality lost the foundation that sustained its life!
Just as he expected, a spiritual entity that lost its physical body could no longer sustain itself!
Even if pieces of it might be able to persist in the form of broken fragments, most of what gave the spiritual entity its identity would be lost because there was simply too much that couldn't be retained!
This was what happened to the Dragon Cat days after Ves managed to access its frozen corpse. A lot of time had passed upon which the Dragon Cat's spirituality had gradually broken apart and most of its pieces either blew away into other parts of the imaginary realm or deteriorated completely due to the spiritual corrosion they endured.
Still, Ves also kept an open mind and considered the possibility that Zeigra's spirituality might persist even without a physical body. He had seen stranger stuff, of which the most eye-catching was the paradoxical existence of his dead mother.
Was the spiritual ghost that claimed to be his mother truly what she claimed to be? If so, how in the hell did she manage to keep her spirituality intact and somewhat lucid throughout all of those years since her corporeal death?
\"Am I able to do the same?\" He mentally asked.
Ves considered this question many times. He believed that not even expert pilots and Journeyman Mech Designers were able to retain their spiritual existences after their bodies were laid to rest. A lot of places would have been haunted by spiritual ghosts by now if that was the case!
From the signs he gathered so far and the guesses he made, he tentatively concluded that life after death required a special technique. His mother probably utilized a sophisticated method that halted the degradation of her spiritual existence.
Still, even if she managed to preserve a sliver of her life, Ves doubted that her condition remained well throughout the years. Only until Ves arrived at the Glowing Planet did she manage to regain the strength to mess with his life and wander off after stealing the corpse of the crystal builder leader from his possession.
He was still rather cross about that theft!
Ves mentally shook his head. Not everyone could replicate his mother's feat. She was the exception rather than the rule.
Zeigra was case in point. As the genetically-engineered beast met her end at the hands of Lady Miralix and her Kinslayer, his spiritual presence increasingly started to lose cohesion!
Bits and pieces of Zeigra's spirituality even detached from the presence the cat maintained in the imaginary realm! The corrosive spiritual winds feasted upon the debris and whisked them away from this site!
If the damage that Zeigra's spirituality suffered in the imaginary realm was already this bad, then the damage it suffered in the material realm was probably just as bad!
\"I can't let Zeigra's spirituality continue to fall apart!\"
Though Ves briefly thought about capturing the bits and pieces that detached from Zeigra's spirituality, he pushed it aside in favor of an even greater possibility.
Instead of scavenging a few scraps and merging them into a feeble spiritual fragment, why not capture the whole thing?!
Although Ves still wasn't quite sure about how he would sustain the spiritual entity's life, he formed a few theories that he wanted to test!
He quickly extended his spiritual projection towards Zeigra's faltering spiritual presence. He did so to see how much of an awareness it still retained.
Okay, that was pretty lively still! Even as Zeigra's spirituality deteriorated, it still remained lucid and unresigned throughout the process! Ves sensed an entire wellspring of anger within the spiritual entity.
He was really angry at his defeat! He hated the Kinslayer and he hated his own weakness at failing to overcome the metal cat!
Ves did not hear Zeigra explain his feelings in words, but instead inferred it through the jumble of violent emotions swirling inside the spiritual entity.
Seeing that Zeigra might not be able to comprehend human speech, Ves tried to bring his spiritual projection closer in order to convey a simple message.
\"I can save you. You don't have to die. Cooperate with me and I can bring you back to life.\"
Zeigra's spirituality mindlessly lashed out at Ves! Even as Zeigra's spirituality fell apart, it still recognized one of the antagonists that contributed to its death!
Knowing that Ves didn't have the time to persuade Zeigra's spirituality gently, he decided to take a firmer approach.
\"We won. You lost. Your body may have died, but your spirit still lives on, for now. How long can you last, though? Surrender to me. As long as you allow me to bring you away, I promise I will craft a new container for you to come back to life, both in spirit and in body!\"
Trying to articulate his intentions through a non-verbal exchange seemed difficult, but Ves adeptly conveyed his meaning to the intelligent spiritual entity.
While Zeigra was still a beast all considered, its spirituality wouldn't have grown so formidable if it was stupid!
Unfortunately, even if Zeigra was capable of higher-level thinking, it was still a huge cat! Its grief, hatred and animosity towards his killers vastly exceeded his other considerations!
Though Ves detected that Zeigra still possessed the will to live, his desire to deny his killers as many prizes as possible compelled him to remain stubborn to the end!
\"Do you really want to die?! Do you really want to depart from this existence without leaving behind a legacy in the form of offspring?\"
Ves appealed to the huge cat's baser instincts. He continued to coax the spiritual presence with offers of salvation and a chance to live a new life!
Still, Ves knew he faced a very tough customer. Zeigra's spirituality stubbornly maintained his unyielding stance, seemingly determined to deny Ves to the very end!
Time passed. The corrosive spiritual winds continually assaulted the weakened and fading spiritual presence. More and more spiritual debris separated from the greater whole and got carried away to parts unknown.
Most of the debris would eventually break down. One or two pieces might survive as hardy fragments, but even they might fall apart after enduring decades or centuries of continued battering.
The weak had no place in the imaginary realm!
Even though Ves occasionally wanted to capture the increasing amount of debris that separated from Zeigra's spirituality, he resisted the temptation.
Instead, he persisted in coaxing Zeigra's spirituality to give in to his demands.
\"Does it feel good for you to die? I bet it doesn't! Save yourself the agony of death and open yourself up to me. Now that our battle has ended, I am no longer your opponent. I'm your savior! Accept my help and your life will no longer be forfeit!\"
Though Zeigra kept up his resistance, it became increasingly harder to do so as its spirituality accelerated its degradation.
His spirit was really dying!
The closer he got to death, the more his resolve and his instincts wavered. The rage that Zeigra held towards his killers began to seem more and more distant as the threat of spiritual death became more acute!
Eventually, Zeigra's spirituality finally ceased its resistance. It had implicitly given in to Ves! Deep down in the core of his spiritual being, Zeigra still wanted to live!
\"You've made the right choice!\" Ves mentally smiled.
Though Ves privately ached at all of the spiritual energy that Zeigra lost, he knew it was a necessary step to gain the huge cat's acceptance.
The weak had no right to contend against the strong!
Now that Zeigra lost a substantial portion of its spiritual strength and continued bleeding even now, it fully recognized that it was in a weaker position.
Therefore, when Ves attempted to grab hold of Zeigra's spirituality, the beast did not resist.
\"Oh.\" Ves mentally muttered in surprise.
He thought he would face a lot of resistance in his attempts to move Zeigra's spirituality. Even if it did not put up a resistance, its anchoring in the imaginary realm would certainly be hard to overcome!
However, the truth turned out to be different!
\"His anchors have weakened!\"
This made his next step a lot easier! While Ves fumbled around a bit, he eventually managed to drag Zeigra's spiritual presence back into his own mind!
\"I want it all! I don't just want the portion of your spirituality in the imaginary realm, but also what's decaying in your dead body's mind!\"
Fortunately, the spiritual presence was connected to the spirituality locked in the dead Crown Cat's mind. While Zeigra's death had caused the bonds to loosen, Ves still managed to tug it from its place and drag it all the way back to his mind!
As soon as Ves captured every last bits of Zeigra's spirituality within his range, he quickly returned to his mind.
Only to encounter a massive headache!