Chapter 180: Into the Crypt
Aldrich felt magical energy rising around Volantis, rising up in blood colored steam from all the red runes around his metal body.
As a being of innate mystical power, Aldrich could immediately tell through sheer instinct that the amount of magic emanating from Volantis was considerable. He briefly worried whether it could be sensed by even those that were not magically sensitive, but he pushed that concern away.
If nobody had been able to perceive Aldrich's mana up to this point, then nobody would sense this now.
Still, Aldrich prepared his own magic, green strands curling around his skeletal fingers. Just in case something happened that required him to defend himself.
But nothing more happened.
Instead, the steam-like magical energy around Volantis suddenly dissipated.
The glowing red runes lost their light and faded away. Volantis reformed back to his full self, but instead of his eye dot being red, it was now a simple blank white. "Volantis?" said Aldrich cautiously. "This armor is undergoing forced repair to correct internal issues" said Volantis in his usual smooth, controlled tone, though it was very evident to Aldrich now that this voice was not actually his.
It was a voice that the demons had implanted within him. "It will still be operational, but some functions will be compromised until repairs are finished.
Sensing Armored in vicinity."
Volantis opened up again, and Aldrich asked a question. "How long until this armor is repaired? What does a repair entail?" "Estimated time of repair completion: unknown," said the voice. "Query: repair function registered. Answering: A repair indicates a full return of internal systems to their most recent state before corruption in order to preserve accumulated battle experience and Armored compatibility." "I see," said Aldrich. So it was basically like a computer rebooting itself to its
Jast known good configuration. In this case, Volantis would return to how he was exactly before he had started to remember his past fully. "It is recommended that the Armored still wear the unit," said the armor. "Repair functions are greatly enhanced and stabilized by anchoring to an
Aldrich tentatively stepped back into the armor. It was not that he was not cautious about Volantis's sudden shift and the possibility that something might go wrong wearing him.
But Aldrich did not want to reveal his true form or even his Materius human appearance.
So, Aldrich took the risk. Volantis's metal strands closed in around Aldrich, knitting back into a full, regal armor.
Aldrich felt nothing was off. He sensed no danger. The only issue was, as whatever runic mechanism present in Volantis had said, some functions were unavailable. Aldrich could access the enhanced stats that Volantis offered, but not any of Volantis's stitching or anything really that Volantis himself operated.
It felt similar to working with a Frame that had it's A.l. shut down.
Well, this had been utterly surprising.
Aldrich sighed as he leaned back against the wall of the Null Box again. He was not an omniscient being. He could not predict everything, but usually, if he planned or thought hard enough, he could expect what kind of surprises he would face.
But this was completely out of his grasp. Aldrich's lore knowledge about demons was good but not perfect. Legion Necromancers had very little reason to travel to Helith. He did not know all the tiny details that went into forging a
Living Armor. Had he done a playthrough as a Warlock, then he might have known more, but there was no use thinking about what ifs.
All Aldrich could really do was wait and see if Volantis returned back to normal in time. If not, he could still go to the Nexus and reach out to the Death Lord or, if the Trial Quests were still there, kill and raise Deimos the warlock who probably knew more about this than Aldrich did.
The biggest thing that annoyed Aldrich was that he lost his talking partner for the rest of his trip.
It took a total of roughly twelve hours for Aldrich's transport to arrive to its location. He did not know exactly when the transport moved or stopped because of the isolating nature of the Null Box, but he figured that when the box's door opened up, revealing Colonel Davos again, that it was time to get out.
Aldrich had put the High Threat Null Restraints, or, more easily known as null cuffs, back on to remove any hint of suspicion from himself. The null cuffs, thankfully, did not have any complicated tech in them that could track whether they had been taken on or off. "We're here," said Colonel Davos. "My cell, I assume?" said Aldrich. "Consider it protective custody," said Colonel Davos. He narrowed his eyes at
Aldrich's helmet. "What happened to your face? I heard you mentioned to the
Guardians that this armor of yours functions as a life support system of some kind.
Has anything changed about your condition?" "You try weathering a twelve-hour plane ride with nothing to do, Colonel," said
Aldrich. "Don't worry about it. The color of the dot on my helmet doesn't mean much. This just represents my boredom." "Well, you better get prepared for more of that," said Colonel Davos. "Where you're going, it'll be pretty much the same. Now step out of the Null Box."
Aldrich did as asked and stepped out, and when he stood by Colonel Davos, he stood a full head taller than the man. "Hold out those cuffs for me," said Colonel Davos. He took out a baton froma sheathe on his hip, and with the press of a button on the handle, it glowed a bright white, humming with energy.
Aldrich held out his cuffed arms, and Colonel Davos struck the center part of the cuffs linking Aldrich's arms together with the baton. A burst of electricity ran through the metal, and the metal of the cuffs dissolved away, breaking apart into countless little rice grain sized particles.
All that was left of the cuffs on Aldrich were two large, surprisingly thin rings that emanated blacklight. This was the Null Ore. They loosely clattered against
Aldrich's wrists, giving him ample space to just slip out of them.
Colonel Davos took the baton, pressed another button on the handle, turning it purple, and hovered it above the ground. The little grains of metal that the cuffs had dissolved into all drew towards the baton like it was a magnet, merging together into a metal case around the structure.
Nanotech, Aldrich noted. Specifically, memory metal. Advanced nanotech that utilized any external connections or internal processing did not work in proximity to Null Ore, but memory metal only required a specific charge to run through it to fix itself into pre-determined shapes. In this case, that shape had been cuffs. "T'll take those." Colonel Davos took the Null Ore rings, fixing them to a utility belt. "You're not afraid, Colonel?" said Aldrich as he looked right down at Davos, completely uncuffed. In Colonel Davos's eyes, Aldrich was now completely free to use his powers.
It was possible that Davos was incredibly strong himself, but though competent as a fighter, Aldrich could not feel the same amount of threat he would feel from someone genuinely strong as, say, Seismic or Solomon Solar. "If I was, I wouldn't have this job," said Colonel Davos. "I also do have some backup. 22, show yourself.."