Chapter 266 Emergency
"I'll have Chrysa store the corpse," said Aldrich, making sure Diamondback was gone. He was fully on guard now after this attack as he had no idea how and why the bots had targeted him.
Had they been lead to him via information leak? Aldrich did not distrust Diamondback, but he did become a suspect in this regard.
Did they know who he was?
What did they want from him?
Where had they come from in the first place?
All new and dizzyingly annoying questions to deal with.
"In time, we will find answers to everything," said Valera, sensing Aldrich's thoughts. "And when that time comes, I will take great pleasure in tearing the spines from those that dared to destroy our date."
"I hope so." Aldrich put a hand to his chest, over his phylactery, and telepathically communicated with Chrysa. 'Chrysa, can you transport this body?'
There was no response.
Aldrich tried again, closing his eyes to focus more on establishing a mental link and to read her status. 'Chrysa?'
His mental voice echoed out in the dark mental landscape conjured up by his closed eyes, and heeding his voice was not Chrysa, but instead a rapidly approaching mass of writhing, tendriled shadows that stood out even darker than black, like a black hole made manifest into some unholy abomination of a creature.
When Aldrich beheld that thing approach him, he opened his eyes, emerging from his mental landscape. He felt a distinct sense of numbness in his head, and he touched a pale palm to the side of his temple.
What was that? He did not know.
So many things he did not know just popping up one after the other.
Valera took Aldrich's arm and looked up at him, worried. "Is something amiss, master?"
"Chrysa, she's…asleep?" Aldrich wondered out loud, seeing that when he checked her status, she seemed to be in deep sleep. Unharmed physically in the boundaries of his Domain, but in a sleep that he could not prod her out of, even when he tried to control her using his master-familiar privilege.
The sleep was not peaceful, either.
Chrysa tossed and turned atop the couch of the domain's living room, sweat trickling down her silvery hair as her breaths quickened and slowed erratically, struggling with some phantom danger. Darkness trickled out from her body in little water current like waves, slowly splotching her pure white dress dark and tinting her moonlit hair the shade of night.
Or perhaps it was not illusory at all.
Again, Aldrich did not know.
What he did know was that Chrysa was also interfering with him. A likely downside of being synchronized together. Spatial distortions shimmered around Chrysa's body like heat waves in the desert.
It was her innate power going out of control, warping the space of his Domain, twisting and blurring colors together, taking the fabric of space and pulling it hard so that little tears showed here and there.
And from those tears, darkness dripped out. The darkness of the basement.
Aldrich had little idea what the risks were to let this damage keep going on, but he knew it was not good. Already, he suffered from one massive drawback - he suffered a debuff called [Spatial Lock] which prevented him from teleporting himself.
[Spatial Lock] in PvE was useful for trapping rare teleporting creatures to farm them or, in PvP, to prevent people from warping away to dodge spells or escape from encounters. To beat [Spatial Lock] required a spell on the 8th circle and above, and Aldrich's [Mist Phase] fell quite short, sitting at the 6th circle.
The only teleportation that Aldrich could access to overcome the debuff was through a Sign.
Signs were considered a 'game mechanic' spell that spatial lock could not affect. The only thing that could hinder Sign related teleportation was being in combat to prevent easy fast travel inside battle encounters.
The biggest issue here was where the Signs were.
So far, Aldrich had Signs at the now burned down Red Circle, the forests outside Blackwater, and the Crypt.
Going into a city, especially Haven, posed too much risk. There were too many bounty hunters on the main roads. Panopticon and hero presence in Haven was also especially high right now incase variants attacked again.
Going to Blackwater took too much time. Same issue with the Crypt.
There was a way around this, though. Fler'Gan had arcane type spells, spells relating to utility, that could dispel [Spatial Lock]. From there, it was an easy [Mist Phase] out to a Sign to get to the Death Lord.
However, Fler'Gan was all the way back in the compound, almost ten hours from Redrock. And getting farther away by the minute.
Valera closed her eyes, and by virtue of her strong bond with Aldrich as his chosen, she could sense Chrysa too. "She is suffering- we must tend to her." She looked to Aldrich, but saw in his eyes the same confusion she had. "But if even you do not know what ails her, then the only one left we can turn to is that snake."
The Death Lord. Aldrich knew Valera was right. If there was someone that knew what was going on with Chrysa, it was her.
"We need to go. And we need to do it now. She's not suffering any physical damage I can heal, but if this is hurting her mind, I don't know how much she can take," said Aldrich urgently. His jaw set in simmering discontent.
Aldrich laid Randall's body down and pointed to a tarp hanging from a shack. "Wrap the body in this and carry it out."
"Yes, my master," said Valera.
As she went to tear the tarp away, Aldrich contacted V.
"What, missed me or something?" said V.
"Get Casimir on the line," said Aldrich.
V sensed the seriousness in Aldrich's voice and immediately did as he asked.
A few seconds later, and Casimir smooth voice flowed into Aldrich's ear piece. "Ah, Mr. Vane, I trust things are going remarkably on your end, no?"
"No time for small talk," said Aldrich.
"I understand." Casimir's tone shifted, and though it kept its friendly fluidity, it was easy to tell that if Aldrich saw Casimir now, the emote on the mask would have shifted from a smile to a straight lipped, focused gaze. "What is it you desire of me?"
"I'm going to send you some coordinates. Get an Airbird to me," said Aldrich. "Emergency evac. In the meanwhile, stop the base until I get there."
Air flight was strictly regulated in the post-Monstering era, so nobody in the underworld attempted it. It was an easy way to get the hammer of both the Panopticon and AA beating down on them.
Regardless, Casimir had two Airbirds, medium sized transport jets, as an insurance policy for a quick and desperate getaways. It was always better to travel by land and not draw attention, but when push came to shove, air travel was faster.
If possible, Aldrich would have sent Ace over, but he was busy on the mission to capture Feather.
This was risky. Even if the airbird took Aldrich outside of the city, he was still in range of Panoption/AA surveillance.
But it was a risk Aldrich was willing to take.
"The airbird?" said Casimir, surprised. "Airspace is quite tightly controlled around walled cities, even if they are a meager tier 3 - are you certain this is the only way?
You will no doubt draw lingering gazes not only from rabble bounty hunters and underworld eyes, but also Panopticon surveillance and the AA itself.
A breach of city airspace may warrant quite an unpleasant response.
Normally, you would not get more than a few inquiring drones and perhaps a C rank hero, all annoyances you can swat away, but in light of the Locus Raids, you may end up dealing with an ill disposed B, no, perhaps A rank hero."
"Get Clint on board," said Aldrich. Clint was a natural deterrent. His reputation as the 'Unbreakable' was not just limited to nomad communities.
Heroes would know of him too. Even an A rank hero would think more than twice before trying to chase a flight with Clint on it. "And tell him I owe him a favor and a drink for this."