51 Chapter 51 Gathering in Peijing

*Authors note*

The background details are not things I made up, this was mentioned very briefly in the manga and anime.

Chapter 51 Gathering in Peijing

Considering it was the only phone in the country that still worked, Rayleigh wasn't surprised when his phone started ringing.

After picking it up, Rayleigh answered, "Hey Gon, how's life?"

[Ray! How'd the plan go? Is Killua alright?]

"The plan went as well as it could have all things considered and Killua is next to me. It's time to regroup, so I'll send you Knuckle's location. You can go there first and we'll meet up afterward." Gon was closer to Knuckle at the moment than Ray and Killua were.

Although Rayleigh made sure every cell phone call made in the country besides those with his number would go to a busy signal, GPS functions built into the better phones like Gon's worked perfectly fine.

The same was true for texting capabilities, but in a backwater country like this, even if their city looked fancy, the cell phones sold in the country didn't have texting so other than the phones of foreigners, few if any could make use of their ability to text.

Gon explained, [I met that Chameleon you told me about and he wants to help kill the King.]

"Cool. I don't know much about him other than the fact that he'll be really helpful for our plan. I'll call Knuckle and tell him we're on our way."

[Gotcha, see you then.]

Before calling Knuckle, Rayleigh called Morel to give a status report and get an update from his side.

"Hey, how are things on your side?"

[You dare ask that so casually after making such a big mess?!]

"Asking at least shows I care."

A low huff was heard from the other side before Morel continued, [Every military vehicle was sent to fix and unblock the roads. The news channels are going crazy because they can't contact anyone outside the city. All the closest towns have already emptied themselves. When I heard that last part, I thought they had started the selection early in the nearby areas until Knov confirmed there were no bodies.]

"Yeah, I'm pretty convincing when I need to be. I traveled to the villages and towns near the city and persuaded them to evacuate west."

[But thanks to that, I've become completely tied up. That cat-girl Chimera Ant, Neferpitou. She called fifty guards to the palace and turned them all into puppets to chase down the citizens that were heading west. The only reason there hasn't been a massacre is that I've been using my Nen ability to combat them and keep them in the city and reduce their numbers. If I leave, all that work you did will be for nothing.]

"So you might not be able to hold down one of the Royal Guards then?"

[I'm stretching myself thin as it is and if I have to keep this up for a week, I may not have the reserves to hold one of the guards. Knov is the same, he's been using his Nen ability to help the fighters created with my Nen ability get ahead of Neferpitou's puppets. It's possible that you five may need to hold down all three Royal Guards on your own.]

"Can't we up the time schedule and attack before you get tired?"

[Not possible. The reason for waiting isn't because we need to ambush them or anything. Last I heard from the Chairman, he needed this time to warm himself up for the fight against the King. He wouldn't ask for time if he didn't need it, not in a situation like this.]

"Alright. I'm about to meet up with everyone now and we'll head over to the city to figure something out."

[Good, I'll text you our address.]

The call ended and Rayleigh dialed up Knuckle next.

[Yoo! I've been waiting for your call you little punk! You did it you crazy bastard! Where the hell are you right now, there are tons of things I need to ask you?!]

"Killua and I are heading for your location together and Gon is on his way from another direction. Stay where you are and we'll all meet up and head for the city to make a new plan with Morel."

[Alright. I'm surprised you were able to stop the selection like that, but I'm glad that I haven't found any more villages with piles of corpses, though I've seen plenty of guys heading west in groups. You did good you little brat!]

"See you soon."

Rayleigh hung up the call while heading for the mountain. Thankfully, all the Chimera Ant foot soldiers weren't tracking the refugees. One of the reasons Rayleigh needed Killua to make a mess was so that the Ants would devote the resources needed to kill him. That little army they faced was likely a majority of the weaker ants capable of moving around. Unfortunately, there would still be Chimera Ants that traveled on their own and would likely kill the refugees they encountered, but Rayleigh had already accepted that he could not save everyone. He did what he could and the rest was up to chance. At least compared to before, they had a better chance since previously, their chance of survival was only one in one hundred and the survivors would have had their humanity taken from them anyways.

As predicted, Gon arrived ahead of them with a new chameleon-looking Chimera Ant that introduced himself as Meleoron. Knuckle was also followed by a large number of injured dogs he rescued from the slaughtered villages he found.

Gon didn't say anything, he only gave Rayleigh a puppy dog pout that wasn't cute at all, but Rayleigh still sighed and got to work. Dark Transfer could be used very well in a lively forest like this so it only took a few minutes for the pack of precious puppies to be restored to full health.

Seeing Rayleigh heal so many injured animals, even the chameleon dude was like, "You're a good guy."

A few hours later, Ray, Killua, Gon, Knuckle, Shoot, Meleoron, and the Octopus were all gathered in the office room of the hotel Morel and Knov were staying at.

First, they recounted their experiences.

Knuckle started, "I tagged that Cheetah with my Hakoware and sensed he was getting closer, but before we could ambush him, he headed in another direction because he seemed to get some warning from a flying Chimera Ant."

Killua asked, "You can sense the location of the guys you use that ability on?"

Knuckle nodded, "Yeah. The interest only rises while it's close to me, but I can sense its direction and distance pretty well as long as it isn't that far. The thing is, I can't sense it anymore. I think they got a nen remover."

Killua said, "Ray and I fought that Cheetah guy before meeting you."

Morel asked, "Did you kill him?"

Killua was about to speak up, but Ray answered first, "No, but the situation was complicated. We'll explain last."

Morel nodded and Knuckle continued his story, though there wasn't much else to tell besides his observations from the fallout of Rayleigh's plan.

Morel then began his side, "Everything here is paid for by one of Diego's Generals. He agreed to turn against the palace after confirming Diego was dead and accepting a safe haven after this is over. After the tv broadcast where Martial Law was declared and Rayleigh turned everything upside down, he's been helping to delay things by giving orders that seem good but will slow everything down. Knov and I have been trying to get assistance from the Hunter Association so we can have more Pros when the time comes to face the Royal Guards and the King. So far, only one request went through correctly."

Morel turned to Killua and said, "Your grandfather agreed to a contract on the King and he'll be striking with Chairman Netero."

Killua looked pretty surprised at that, not expecting his old man's old man to show up.

Morel then shook his head and his face hardened into a sneer, "Other than that piece of good news, everything else is shit. None of the Hunters I asked for or recommended were given the job, instead, they only gave the job to those fucking Temp Hunters."

Gon asked, "Hey, what are Temp Hunters?"

Morel seemed too angry to speak, so Knov pushed up his glasses and answered from the side, "Temp Hunter is a somewhat derogatory term for Hunters that only take missions directly from the Hunter Association, and do not go out and act on their own to gain experience. Such missions are forwarded to the Association by governments or corporations and guarantee a certain amount of compensation regardless of the job's success or failure. There are often many applicants for such jobs and there is a committee responsible for sorting through these applicants and evaluating each Hunter's capabilities and aptitude to determine who is most suitable for the job."

That confused Gon even more. He asked, "That doesn't sound so bad, what's the problem?"

Morel was practically growling at this point and grinding his teeth.

Knov decided to answer this as well, "The problem is that the committee responsible for deciding who to send is a bunch of obtuse incompetents with their own agenda."

Morel couldn't take it anymore and shouted at the top of his lungs, "Those bastards they sent haven't caught a single one of the Squadron Leaders we've directed them to! We've been spending this whole time gathering information from the general and using it to help, but those fucking shits can't do a single damn thing right!"

Knov patted Morel's shoulder and continued the explanation of what happened in the city. "I've been using my Nen ability, Hide and Seek, to make doors across the city that can be used to move from one to the other. My goal is to get close enough to the Palace to make a door that can be used by the ambush team to quickly get close to the King after the Royal Guard has been lured away. Ever since Rayleigh's evacuation started, I've been making doors further from the city so that the fighters created with Morel's Nen ability can take out the puppets made by Neferpitou that are leaving the city."

After Knov finished summarizing his experiences, Gon picked up and described his little adventures. It turned out that Meleoron wanted to see if Gon could fight the King, so he sent some Chimera Ants that deserved to die over to him and watched how Gon beat their asses. Next, Meleoron approached him and wanted to use Gon's strength and his own abilities to assassinate the King. As for what those abilities were, Meleoron demonstrated.

In front of everyone, the hoodie-wearing Chameleon vanished. Rayleigh extended his Force saturated En. It wasn't very large since he didn't have his Lightsaber out and wasn't using Babylon, but it was working.

It was then that Rayleigh felt a teeny tiny force presence on his shoulder. He turned his head and saw nothing there. A moment later, Meleoron appeared before them all, his hand on Rayleigh's shoulder. That had Rayleigh's attention. Meleoron had touched his shoulder but Rayleigh couldn't even perceive it.

Meleron on the other hand freaked out a bit since Rayleigh turned his head and faced him before he released his ability. He asked, "How did you sense me?"

Rayleigh answered honestly, "It's a unique ability of my tribe to sense certain things that has nothing to do with aura. I had it even before I unlocked my Nen."

Knov stated, "I was unable to sense you with my own En. How long can you maintain that state?"

Meleoron answered, "A minute if I'm standing still, half a minute in a dangerous situation. Gon said this guy had something he could use to kill the King."

Rayleigh nodded and said, "Yeah, it's a stronger version of that Healing technique you saw me use on those dogs."

Morel asked, "Can you use that to kill the King?"

Rayleigh nodded, "Definitely. The ability ignores the difference in power. The only catch is that I must touch the target and maintain contact for a while."

Gon shouted, "That's why Meleoron is the perfect partner for you!"

Everyone looked back at Meleoron who stated, "Wait, wait, that might be true, but there's a catch. I can't do that unless the person trusts me and I trust them."

Rayleigh said, "I trust you."

Meleoron shouted, "You can't just say that to people you just met! You'll get tricked in the future!"

Rayleigh shrugged, "That's future me's problem and I trust future me to deal with it. For now, though, I trust you."

The hoodie-wearing chameleon sighed and said, "Fine, let's try. I trust you at least since you told Gon about me. But it's not my fault if this doesn't work, it only works if you really trust me!"

Meleoron kept his hand on Ray's shoulder and took in a deep breath before holding it. He seemed surprised for a moment and then motioned for Rayleigh to get up but stay in contact with him.

Everyone in the room started looking for Rayleigh since he had vanished with Meleoron this time. Meleoron started poking the Octopus and gesturing for Rayleigh to do so as well. Rayleigh placed his head on the octopus and confirmed his health status.

Even though the octopus really did just look like a normal octopus, he was still a chimera ant and there were some tell-tale signs according to Rayleigh's Shatterpoint. A Chimera Ant was not a natural-born creature, but one pieced together from many parts. The stronger the ant, the more parts it was made up of, it's just that the pieces were smaller. Ironically this meant that in the view of Shatterpoint, the stronger ants were more fragile. They were highly complex machines intricately built with the pieces of hundreds of other, different high-end machines. If Shatterpoint used with Dark Transfer was done gently, the space between the pieces could be cleaned and smoothed out with the Force, essentially healing the structure. When done violently, the Force would cause the distance between the pieces to increase, causing the structure to disconnect and break apart. To Rayleigh, the Chimera Ants were basically Legos waiting to be disassembled.

Not that his Shatterpoint was unstoppable. Far from it. It was only useful on things that were assembled, and the more stable the assembly, the fewer cracks he could use to break it and he could only use the ability while directly touching a crack. He couldn't use it to break water or dirt. There were also Nen abilities that had indestructible conditions, and if he couldn't figure out how to get around those conditions, he would not be able to break those either. Its biggest weakness though was how long he had to touch the object he wanted to break. Even though he said he'd be able to kill the Royal Guard and the King with this ability, he'd have to maintain contact with them for a while. First, he would have to softly flow as much Force as possible into the cracks and then gather a massive amount of Force and finally force that into the already saturated cracks to cause them to burst like a flooded dam.

But with Meleoron's ability, it wasn't impossible to succeed.

Meleoron released his held breath and the pair appeared, startling the Octopus and causing everyone to give a few nods of appreciation.

Finally, it was time for Rayleigh and Killua to share their stories. By the end, Morel was once more gritting his teeth as he complained, "Fucking rat bastard. He's doing this on purpose. That lousy piece of shit doesn't know how bad this could go if we don't stop this!"

Killua asked, "Who is he talking about?"

Knov answered, "Pariston Hill, the Vice President of the Hunter Association and a member of the Zodiacs, twelve of the strongest Hunters chosen by the Chairman. Pariston holds the position of the Rat." Knov turned to Gon and said, "Ging holds the position of the Boar." He then continued, "Pariston and the Chairman are complete opposites. That's actually why the Chairman picked him to be Vice President. For that reason, Pariston is infamous for making a nuisance of himself but is very charismatic and commands a strong following. A majority of the Committee members responsible for selecting Hunters for jobs like this are loyal to him, and most of the Temp Hunters work for him either directly or indirectly."

Morel stated harshly, "That Rat is at the heart of everything wrong with the Hunter Association and right now he's trying to stab Netero in the back! Since the Chairman is the head of this operation, its success or failure will reflect heavily on his position. That piece of shit is trying to sabotage everything to make the Chairman look worse so Netero will have to retire from the position of Chairman, leaving Pariston in charge!"

Seeing his teacher so enraged, it wasn't surprising that Knuckle shouted, "What?! That bastard! I'll kill him!"

Knov stated calmly, "We have no evidence of any wrongdoing. Even that Jones fellow, Pariston's disciple, he could just claim to have made a mistake that allowed the Chimera Ants to flee. At least you both did very well up until then."

Meleoron nodded, "That's right, you killed Flutter. His surveillance abilities are even better than Neferpitou's in some situations. Her En can cover a large area, but Flutter's ability to telepathically communicate via long distance made him essential for scouting and planning. It also sounds like you took out most of Leol's men. They liked to collect human weapons and were some real bloodthirsty bastards. Even if Cheetu and Leol got away, they are not as big of a threat when planning things out."

Killua asked, "What are we going to do about the Temp Hunters?"

Knov shook his head, "Nothing. They can't openly impede us and will stay out of Peijing. That simply means we will have to take care of this ourselves."

Rayleigh added, "We can help kill those puppets with Morel."

Knov shook his head, "Perhaps later. I doubt any of you have had a rest in a few days, so after dinner, you guys need to rest up and you can help us tomorrow."

The trio of thirteen-year-olds nodded their heads and found a room with a bunch of beds. Though tired, that didn't stop them from chatting for a while longer.

Gon asked, "Do you think we'll win?"

Rayleigh answered, "Yeah. There are people in this world capable of seeing into the future. If shit was really going to hit the fan, they would not be trying to take advantage of this."

Killua asked, "Do you know what is going to happen?"

Rayleigh shook his head, "Not really. Once the fighting starts, the future splits off into thousands of directions, but the Ant King dies in each one. The problem is keeping the loss on our side minimal. Most of the means of killing him require a sacrifice. Usually, it is Netero or your grandpa. I haven't seen a single time I've killed him. If Meleoron could hold his breath indefinitely, I might be able to, but there is no future with me causing his death, though there are a few where I get killed."

Killua asked, "And you're gonna avoid those, right?"

Rayleigh nodded, "I'll avoid any 100% kills, but there are situations where not doing something dangerous leads to a worse outcome, and if I see one of those where I at least have a chance of surviving, I won't avoid it. I'll just avoid the guaranteed deaths." Even if the Tavern brought him back to life, dying wasn't something he wanted to experience.

Three Players had died already doing things Darwin would not approve of and Players learned the cost of death in the Tavern.

When a Player died, they could return back to any world their Classes came from or the MCU at the same age with the same name and appearance. To other Players, it was like they simply respawned. But the penalties for death were quite severe. First, although all unlocked classes remained unlocked, Players would have to restart the progression in training their Classes from scratch.

That meant if Rayleigh were to die and respawn, he would have to start meditating to reconnect to the Force from scratch. He'd have to reopen his aura nodes and start accumulating Nen from scratch. Thankfully, his well-trained physique would remain, but he'd lose a majority of his strength.

Next, all Easy Masteries purchased after the beginning of the Game would be lost. Rayleigh had not purchased any because he didn't need them, but many Players had done so to speed up their training. The Easy Masteries they acquired during Character Creation would be fine, but items converted into Inventory Items after the game began and the Easy Masteries purchased using Mission Points would be lost.

And the final and cruelest thing that occurred was what happened to your previous character after you died and respawned. Your new character would share your appearance and name, but none of your old NPC friends would recognize you.

When a Player died and respawned, with the exception of the other Players, all memories and records of that Player would be replaced with something else. And this did not just happen in the world they died, but all worlds that had records or memories of that Player.

If Rayleigh died, made a new character, and found Gon and Killua again, they would not remember Rayleigh Rush. Their memories of him would be replaced by someone else and they would remember that person dying. The person that replaced them would be completely different. So if Ray died and came back and asked Gon about his friend that just passed away, Gon might describe a bald-headed guy who skillfully played the guitar and had an extreme temper.

Of course, much of that could be avoided. A Player's Mission Points were not affected by their death. A Player could even use Mission Points to partially negate the effects of their death. They could spend points to retain the mastery of some of their skills, and their progress in their class, or purchase an identity that inherited the possessions of their former identity. As long as you had enough points, anything could be discussed short of reviving the character directly.

Even without paying, simply due to prior experience, a respawned Player would be able to get stronger much faster than they did originally, and if they got lucky, they might even catch up to the current players as long as they had enough Mission Points.

Yes, everything went back to Mission Points. As long as you wanted to become strong, live a good life, and stand out, you needed Mission Points. They could be used to fight strong opponents, purchase Easy Masteries or Inventory Items, get a good identity, or retain your abilities if you die.

Rayleigh's stock of Mission Points had been mostly emptied to convert the Paladin's Necklace into an Inventory item. If he died, he'd lose the item and would not have enough for a nice identity anywhere so he'd have to start from scratch. He could do it if needed. That was the reason he didn't have Wing unlock his aura nodes manually. He did it on his own so he could do it again if needed. But just because he had a safety net, didn't mean he planned on falling. His foundation was built strong so he could continue to climb up confidently.

After pondering over death for a moment, Rayleigh asked Killua, "What are you gonna do when this is over?"

Killua asked, "Why are you asking?"

Gon added, "I thought we were all sticking together."

Rayleigh shook his head, "I'm heading off on my own once everything is settled." He looked over at Gon and said, "I'm sure there will be an election for a new Chairman once this is over, regardless of what happens to Netero. Ging will have to be there in person, so you can just meet him there."

Gon frowned, "That feels cheap."

Rayleigh gave Gon a deadpan stare and said, "Your father is the cheap one. You should have succeeded in finding him when we used Accompany. He's the one that cheated and made it send us to Kite. I don't think he left any other ways of finding him. If you locate him in the future, it won't be because you skillfully tracked him down, it will be because he wasn't paying attention and one day you ran into him. It won't feel satisfying no matter how you do it."

Gon pouted, not liking the logic but unable to argue with it.

Killua said, "I think I'll head back. There are some things I've been thinking about and things I need to do back home."

Gon asked, "Are you gonna become an assassin?"

Killua shrugged, "I've been doing a lot of killing these past few days, but I've saved a lot of lives doing so. I was surprised when I heard that grandpa was hired. Morel sounded like he really respected him. If even the Hunter Association hires guys from my family, it might not be so bad."

Ray asked, "What kind of things do you need to do?"

Killua sighed, "It's my little sister. Not the one you met with my mother when you came to visit, my other one. I've never been able to do anything to help her with her situation, and the needle Illumi put in my head kept her out of my thoughts. But with it gone, my head is clear and I know I need to protect and look after her. If I become the head of my family, I can protect her."

Gon asked, "Oh? Can I meet her?"

Killua answered, "Not yet."

Rayleigh then asked, "Gon, what are you gonna do after seeing your dad?"

"Well, I'll go back home and see Mito and tell her about my adventures. I'm not sure what to do after that."

Killua added, "Maybe ask your father for some ideas."

Gon looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding. The trio spent the remainder of the night chatting about various unimportant things until they fell asleep. They had a busy schedule ahead of them after all. Rayleigh wanted to ask Knov and Morel about their abilities and maybe steal a few ideas to incorporate into his own abilities. He couldn't wait for morning.

*Author's Note*

Yay. reviews and stones have magically brought another chapter to life. Perhaps more will fuel another chapter coming out in 48 hours.

90% of the content of this arc is descriptions of nen abilities, internal monologue, and descriptions of events. I know most like to read the character dialogue and interactions, but even the source material barely has anything so it's tricky to come up with stuff for it.

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