Aldrich nodded as his laptop finished booting up. It was metallic white and sleek in design as most things were these days, probably trying to market to a sense of futurism to make up for such an uncertain present. Or maybe it just looked cool, either way, it worked.
The white coloring and industrial grey dot logo indicated it was eye-tech property, the leading corporation in consumer end electronics. A higher end model, too, fetching a cool three thousand credits. And most importantly, modified so that it did not have the liberal amounts of spyware and bloatware jammed into it.
"This little thing can access the sum total of this realm's humanity's knowledge?" said Valera. She leaned forward like a curious child, her red and black eyes narrowed in scrutinizing intensity.
"No, there's this virtual space called the Net that holds all that. It's a place where everyone can upload information and the aggregation of it all means that you can practically find anything there," said Aldrich.
"...I do not follow," said Valera. She hung her head in shame. "I am sorry for the incompetence."
"Don't be sorry. You'll pick up on it over time. Here, let me explain it better terms for you," said Aldrich. "You know…"
Aldrich glanced over at Diamondback. The man seemed pretty occupied feeding himself and Chrysa donuts, but Aldrich did not want to spill info about his and Valera's otherworldly natures.
So he spoke telepathically. 'You know the soul stream, right?'
'Of course,' said Valera.
'It's a massive spiritual swirl where practically every mortal soul flows in when their physical bodies die. Because of that, it's packed with information, the memories and experiences and countless many across vast stretches of time.
Spiritcallers can dip into the soul stream and fish out memories from any of the countless souls in there. Atleast, until they're wiped clean and entered into reincarnation.'
'Ah, I see, so this Net works on similar principles.'
'Right. Except you don't have to die to add info to it. It's completely in the realm of physical.'
'But I cannot see the Net as a space?'
'It's completely in the physical but it's also not tangible. It's called virtual space. A little difficult to fully explain. Once we have time, I'll let you explore around the Net. It gets easier to figure things out when you spend time on it.'
Valera nodded excitedly. 'And I do not need any ritual to access it? No mystic mark to grant me access? Simply one of these devices?'
'That's right,' said Aldrich. 'Not just one of these, but smaller handheld ones called phones as well. Practically everyone goes in and out of the Net; it's part of their daily lives now.'
Valera rested her chin on her hands, leaning on the coffee table. "I am disappointed, to be honest.'
Aldrich inserted a security key into a port in his laptop. This would let him link to V in a secure manner. 'How so?'
'You say the humanity of this realm, every single one no matter how insignificant or great, holds access to this vast treasure trove of information. I can see that they have accomplished great marvels, and yet, I would have thought man with their wit and urgency would have achieved even greater.
Always, the kingdoms of man held advantage over the likes of us vampires or elves or other long lived peoples for those traits. Their short lives mean they must aspire to accomplish in the span of decades where other peoples were content to let their accomplishments build up over centuries.
I would have thought that man, with this much information to wield, would have become masters of their own world, at least. But they still seem to bicker among themselves, to squabble in their differences and live in fear of monsters.'
'Humanity has always been fractured,' said Aldrich. 'That's one downside of mortality. You never get to see man learn from their mistakes for very long. They scramble to achieve and go high, and all too often, they stumble over the same traps that others did throughout history.'
'...Perhaps you can change that, master,' said Valera, an eager glint in her eye.
'What do you mean?' said Aldrich.
'Perhaps…perhaps you can grant them all immortality? All undeath? If you are to be their conqueror, then would it not be wondrous to have an undying kingdom? One that spans across an entire realm?
You may even reach out towards the stars, toward other realms like the ones the old gods or demons hailed from. You could have it all in your palm forever.'
'Now that sounds like something straight out of a villain tyrant's playbook. Like some kind of immortal overlord,' said Aldrich.
'But that is what you are, no?' said Valera. 'A lich, immortal walker of death. And in time, lord over death too.' She smiled, imagining a future where Aldrich ruled everything. 'Lord over all realms. Forever. With me by your side.'
'I thought you considered retiring at one point,' said Aldrich. 'Living a quiet life.'? ??? a ???e?
Valera hugged Aldrich's arm, drawing it into her chest. 'I can do that too, master, as long as it is with you. But I am willing to fight for your conquest as well, because I know deep in my heart of hearts that you are fit to rule over it all.'
Aldrich mulled over the thought for a brief moment. Ruler of everything, huh? He felt neutral about it. Such a goal felt so far away. And was there even life outside of this planet anyway? At least, life that was not some unfathomable light year scale distance away?
Sure, there was the Elden World realm, but there was no guarantee it was even possible to access it either.
'Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I don't know if I'm cut out to exactly be a ruler. If that's what I have to do to make sure the world's safe, that it's a world where nobody will have to go through the same things I did, then sure, I'll do it.
But I haven't even gotten close to taking over this world, let alone others.'
'Yes, yes, true, I am simply getting lost in my fantasies,' said Valera.
"Glad to see you doing well." V's voice crackled out from Aldrich's laptop.
A black screen took over Aldrich's laptop, as if it had shut down. But the laptop's near imperceptible hum made it clear it was still on.
Aldrich popped in some wired headphones for privacy. Valera did not need any because she could easily sync her hearing with Aldrich's own.
V's face flickered into display, her flickering LED blue eyes narrowing a little in faint disgust as she saw Valera leaning into Aldrich. "Doing very well, actually."
"Nothing seems to have changed about you. Still in that dark control room of yours," said Aldrich.
"Not alone, atleast. I finally need some help. I got your other techno, Fisk, I think his name was? He's not good enough to handle himself with higher security stuff, but he's pretty legit at sifting through data.
Better than having to make a bot, at least."
"Good to see Fisk still has things to do. Anyways, to get to the point, how are things there? As far as I'm aware, Casimir's side, that includes you and the Blackwater students, are all on the move. All the other nomad chiefs have separated other than the Spearhorns that are with us, correct?"
"Yeah," said V. "Aside from the Spiders, the other chiefs have plans to regroup just before the hearing as well. Speaking of, you've got a hell of a stage for that.
I don't know what magic wand you waved, but Aarav Singh's going mega top gear for you. He might just be the CEO of a biotech corp, a big one sure, but his personal wealth means he's got solid boardroom say in quite a few social media and news media companies.
The Thanatos hearing is all anyone talks about these days."
Aldrich glanced towards the telescreen, where Diamondback had the news on. As V had said, the news just talked about Thanatos, a large headline stating 'THE THANATOS HEARING: WILL THE HAVEN SAVIOR FIND JUSTICE?'
? ?? ??-??? ??, ?,?,? V continued with enthusiasm, absolutely loving to be part of somehting so big. "And I've got to say, you're like the second freaking coming of Jesus here, though I guess if Jesus really cared he'd have popped on down from the clouds during the Monstering, but I digress.
Almost nobody's against Thanatos.
People are out there in all tier cities protesting and wondering where the hell Thanatos is.
They think he's humanity's superweapon against the variants, especially with the new attacks. There's this clip of you raising Locus-44, the name they use for Shrimp, that's going absolutely viral.
Saying 'Serve' and all, totally badass.
Shit like this has never happened before.
Ever. Controlling a Locus? That's crazy. Impossible. Scientific nuttery.
And it just happened. Nothing like a miracle to really get public morale up in a time of crisis.
Everyone thinks Thanatos is what's going to turn the tides once and for all. Scratch that, you practically are like the second coming of old Jesus, miracles and all, except instead of water into wine and white robes and halos there's more armor and necromancer and dark lord energy.
Of course, positive media always nets a negative response too, but the negative here is just an aftershock of the much bigger impact the positive has."