Chapter 238 - Infiltration
"How about we go back to the compound for some more drinks!?" said Clint. "They're all gonna be on me!"
"Free drinks? Sure," said Ace, very much liking the idea of anything free.
"Sounds good to me," said Stella.
"How about you?" Tox asked Aldrich, her body language a bit shy. "Are you free any?"
Aldrich put a hand to the side of his temple, receiving information from the Grave Ward in Desmond's base. "No, looks like I'm busy. When we get back, I have some things to tend to."
Before Tox could respond, Clint butted in. "Haha, a busy man, aren't ya? Well I don't mind, gotta respect the grind. Here, I'll give y'all and express ride back to the compound in my baby!"
What ended up happening was that Clint's car did not work anymore due to suffering damage, so Clint created the brilliant solution of going under his car and carrying it. He sprinted back to the compound with the car over his head, his legs empowered with additional muscle.
Clint was not any slower than his car. In fact, he was probably just faster sprinting, even while carrying the oversized vehicle. He probably only drove the car out of sentimentality, being his first car and all.
"You know, this is a LOT better than his driving," said Tox. "He's a straight menace behind the wheel."
"I do have to agree," said Aldrich.
"I don't get the point of cars. Why not just fly?" said Ace. He nodded. "Though I do like the idea of having a super expensive and shiny car. Or hovercars like the super rich folk."
"Because not everyone can fly, duh." Tox rolled her eyes.
"Still crazy to think we've got the Unbreakable on our side," said Stella. "If he's serious about joining us, we'd be a serious threat. If the AA wanted to class us a villain org, we'd be high up there, touching shoulders with the big leagues like the Dark Six."
"He's that strong, is he?" said Aldrich.
"Yeah, strongest man in the Wastelands," said Stella. She shrugged. "Strongest known man, I guess. There's so much unknown out there that it's hard to tell who or what's the top dog."
"Better to focus on the known, then." Aldrich paused. "You two, Ace, Tox, what do you think about the places you grew up in? The organizations that raised you?"
"Don't give a damn," said Ace. "Meteor Labs can rot in hell for all I can care."
"I don't remember most of my time in Ember," said Tox. "I'm usually always in mission mode there. But I guess since I don't remember, I don't care that much?"
"How would you two feel about taking them down?" said Aldrich.
"Huh?" said Ace and Tox in unison. Stella eyed Aldrich with a raised brow.
"Meteor Labs and Ember are both Dark Six affiliated. You'd be going to war with them if you made a move against either," said Stella.
"According to Casimir, the Dark Six have a long term plan of overthrowing the current world order and bringing it back down to the chaos of the Age of Villains." Aldrich put a hand to his chin. "I'd like to prevent that, if possible.
Withdrawing Casimir from the Dark Six with sensitive information about each of the organizations has stalled their plans. From what I assume, they're moving around or covering for compromised assets.
That will still take weeks to months for them to do, and some assets, they're going to fight to keep. Like Blackwater.
But I've been wondering." Aldrich narrowed his gaze. "What if everything they had was mine? Wouldn't I be able to make much better use of it than them?
Plus, I know the AA-Panop only tolerates villains. They're the lesser evil compared to variants. I could use standing against the Dark Six as a bargaining chip for more influence."
Aldrich himself only tolerated the Dark Six. That alone was an incredible amount of patience considering the Trident was responsible for killing his parents. He had managed to separate his personal vendetta from the Trident because he had to respect the organization's power: taking it down required him to keep a cool and clear head.
But in the long run, Aldrich knew that the Trident had no place in the world. Not in the world he wanted to make, at least.
"Damn, you're being serious here." Stella nodded at Aldrich. She crossed her arms and cocked her head, thinking. She smiled. "Y'know, as a D-lister, I would never have even been a part of a conversation as big as this.
But now? I get to hear about overthrowing the behemoth that is the Dark Six and even be a part of it."
"If you want someone to smash up Meteor Labs, I can always make time," said Ace.
"Are you sure? This all sounds so big and dangerous," said Tox. "We-we're not even an official organization or anything, right? We're still hiding."
"Six days," said Aldrich.
"Huh?" Tox looked confused.
"We have six days until the hearing with Thanatos. Six days where the Dark Six will not expect us to make a move," said Aldrich. "The sooner we strike, the more unprepared they will be.
Casimir's information against them gets less and less reliable with every passing day."
"So we're gonna get in on the first strike?" said Stella.
"Yes," said Aldrich.
"I don't know." Stella furrowed her brows. "I like the idea of taking on the Dark Six, but whole reason we're even out here is to try and get the chiefs' support, right?
I feel like dunking them into a hot war so soon will make them get cold feet. All of them except for Clint."
"You're right. That's why I haven't been making any moves so far. I wanted to wait until the chiefs were fully on my side. I thought maybe they would take my side when they realized the Dark Six cut them off, but aside from Clint, most of them, especially Gerard, seem to want to maintain some level of neutrality.
For the chiefs to really commit against the Dark Six, there needs to be a casus belli for them to rally around," said Aldrich.
"Cass Bell?" asked Ace.
"Casus belli. It's a latin term meaning 'cause for war'" explained Aldrich. "The Dark Six needs to hurt them first. Give them a wound to nurse and feel the pain of so that they have the will to retaliate instead of running into the Wastelands."
"…Are you suggesting making this cause?" said Stella.
"I'm not suggesting anything," said Aldrich. "I'm just making an observation. But I do have a feeling that quite soon, we'll have to be battle ready. Enjoy your drinks, but make sure you stay alert.. Get used to these new bodies and test your limits. Keep up your training.
You might need it much sooner than you think."
Aldrich stood in his base's control room. Everyone was gone except Svetlanna who could man the entire thing herself using her powers.
Spybird was right. In pure processing power, Svetlanna was a monster, able to match Casimir's tech crew by herself.
Svetlanna sat there on the metal floor with her legs crossed and hands on the ground, her posture almost childlike. Coils of her wire and cable hair radiated outwards like a spiderweb, connecting to monitors and other devices.
"Hacking into Desmond's cyberspace? Now that's ballsy," said Svetlanna.
"Can you do it?" said Aldrich.
"I could. Infiltration's my specialty, after all. But it'll be dangerous, even for me," said Svetlanna. "You know how Cyberspace works, right?"
"I have a rough idea," said Aldrich. He knew that technology had fundamentally changed along with the Altering.
Nobody knew exactly how it happened, but at one point, all the networks and programming that connected and moved tech merged into one massive virtual space now dubbed as 'Cyberspace'.
Cyberspace was essentially a virtual reality. An entire world of its own. Or rather, a mirror world to the real world, or meatworld as technos called it.
Cyberspace looked like a three dimensional world where code and programming could be built up into tangible blocks, and those blocks could be formed and stacked to create infrastructure.
Anyone could enter Cyberspace with brainjacks and neural decks, but technos had the most 'processing power'. That is, they could more easily manipulate or create the countless blocks that built Cyberspace up.
Technos with higher processing power could manipulate the blocks to higher degrees, essentially becoming reality warpers in Cyberspace.
That was why Fisk got outscaled by Svetlanna. He had far less processing power, meaning he could not interact with the blocks to nearly the same degree as her.
"Alright then," said Svetlanna. "Because I was going to say you shouldn't expect too much from even me. A lot of people think technos basically just work magic, but it's far from that.
For an Infiltrator like me, I'm basically like a spy or assassin. Except in virtual reality. There's a lot of dangers that come with the job like surveillance and security.
Desmond's territory is pretty heavily guarded. In cyberspace, it looks like a damn near fortress. It's got some grade A defense, probably because he's storing a lot of sensitive information in it.
Without access keys, I can't do anything, and I bet he guards that with his life and more."
"I have the keys memorized," said Aldrich simply.
"You what now? How'd you even get that information!?" exclaimed Svetlanna.
Aldrich smiled lightly. "You're not the only one that knows how to spy."