Chapter 265 Unanswered Questions
"Purge protocol? What manner of witchcraft is this golem speaking of?" said Valera, brows knitted together in thorough confusion.
"Get that thing out of here!" said Aldrich. He gestured to the sky, and with just that, Valera knew what to do, picking up on the rare urgency in Aldrich's voice.
Valera grabbed the android's dented head in her hand, her black claw tipped fingers digging into the metal for a firm grip.
"ORA!" With a bellow, Valera spun to build momentum before throwing the bot high into the air where the machine ragdolled for a bit before its core overloaded, completely enveloping it in blue light.
The bot self destructed right afterwards, its core shattering and unleashing a nova of energy decorated with scattered metal bits.
But before the explosion could fan outwards, potentially dropping parts to analyze, the energy collapsed upon itself, sucking into a singularity point where everything disappeared.
No traces left. Nothing to use.
"Whoever created these golems must be quite possessive of them," said Valera as she stared up at the fading explosion. "To use such extreme measures to prevent their designs from spreading."
"It's actually quite common.
The 'golems' of this world aren't like the ones in Elduin, where golemancers spend their lives building up constructs that they treat like dear art pieces that they would never think about blowing up," said Aldrich. "But here, golems are created with utility in mind, not passion.
Most of the time, that is."
It was actually concerning that this bot had a self destruct function. That meant whoever had built these treated them as expendable tools. Just two units out of many. And these things were no joke.
Aldrich determined that they could kill a C rank hero with medium difficulty. Even someone like Minuteman who ranked, say, around the 70th percentile of the B rank in terms of power would struggle against them.
Whatever this was, whoever was behind this, Aldrich needed to get to the bottom of it. He grimaced. He had come here to answer questions about Elaine's server, but all he left with were more questions and Randall's cold, frozen corpse.
Aldrich went over to the ice tomb holding Randall and punched it in uncharacteristic frustration. Even then, he vented his frustration out productively, shattering the ice to free Randall's body, for he intended on taking it to analyze.
Still, disappointment and anger wracked Aldrich's mind. He did not feel this way with practically any human, but for Randall, someone that Elaine cared about so much, he had enough mortal empathy to suffer loss.
That loss solidified Aldrich's decisions. Once he found who was responsible, they were going down.
No questions about it.
Diamondback landed beside Aldrich, his heavy crystal body crushing the pavement beneath his feet. In the distance, a secondary blue explosion flared in the sky.
"I handled the other one. Couldn't capture it intact, though, for obvious reasons," said Diamondback. "Damn near lost my right arm in the self destruct blast."
"I understand." Aldrich knelt down and picked Randall's stiff, still frozen body.
"…" Diamondback and Valera both stood in silence, watching Aldrich hold Randall's corpse in quiet.
"Did he mean much to you?" said Diamondback.
"To me, personally, no. But he was my friend's father. A good friend," said Aldrich.
"If it's going to be hard for you, me and my boys can arrange a burial," said Diamondback.
"No need. I can handle it." That, and Aldrich knew that Alan had more of a say on how Randall's body was buried.
"V, you there?" Aldrich tapped his earpiece.
"Ugh…feels like someone whopped my head in with a hammer, but yeah," said V, reeling from having her mind booted from the android. Most likely, the android had a self destruct function for both its body and its data, and V, poking around in its memory space, had been caught in it.
Thankfully, V was good enough to get out quickly. Less experienced infiltrators would have gotten suck and had their brains fried in the purge protocol.
"Good, you're alive," said Aldrich.
"Hey now, I know I was a useless piece of shit this time around, but sometimes I'd like a little more than that for comfort," said V.
"You did as well as you could have. I don't hold anything against you."
"Really? Do you actually mean that?" V's normally peppy and confident voice wavered, and it was then that Aldrich could sense that the confidence was more a veneer.
A veil covering over something much more fragile, much more tender.
"Of course. Part of growing up the way I did was knowing exactly what I was capable of. And that came with understanding that disappointment is a massive waste of time and energy.
You work with what you have when you can. That's what I expected for myself, and that's all I expect from you."
"Huh, that's an interesting way to think about things. You sure it doesn't just make you lazy?"
"Do I look lazy?"
"Good point. Well, I should be getting off my ass instead of sulking as well. I did manage to get some data.
Obviously, cracking the bot's memory wasn't something I could do just like that, but there was a bug floating around from an outside source that I managed to get a good look at."
"A bug? The android was hacked in some way?"
"I'm not sure exactly how much the bug was doing, just that it was there. It might be something like my V parasite, just chilling low key. Once I'm done scanning it, I'll fill you in on the deets."
"Got it. Keep me informed." Aldrich sighed as he disconnected from V. He got up, still holding Randall's corpse in his arms. The elderly man felt like a rock - that was how deeply the frost had seeped in.
"Shall I carry that body?" said Valera.
"No, that's too conspicuous." Aldrich turned to Diamondback. "This has drawn too much attention already. Go back to the hotel and get our stuff. Regroup with me by the southern exit."
Diamondback grunted and jumped away.