Chapter 331 The Entity
"This one sees that you are surprised, Kindred," said Zahak. "And at unease."
"You easily have the power to kill me as I am," said Aldrich. "Your battles with Vanguard reshaped entire landscapes. You by yourself could have wiped out all of humanity.
Hell, after dying, you almost did with the Monstering.
There's no reason I shouldn't be on guard."
"You do not have true physical existence here." Zahak, to prove his words, reached out a hand covered in so many layers of cloth that it was impossible to see the skin to Aldrich.
Aldrich raised his arms in a guard, but Zahak's arm phased through him.
"There is no means by which this one may harm you," continued Zahak. "And the connection we share now is but fleeting and unstable, generated in the brief instant where your Outer might overwrites my own, intertwining our essences in the slightest of moments.
A connection far too weak to offer you harm to the mind.
And this one is not here to harm you, Kindred."
Aldrich had heard voice recordings of Zahak before, and they distinctively presented the villain as male, though due to the nature of the villain's ability to consume and take on the forms of others, that voice could shift freely.
But...it did not feel like this was Zahak. Granted, information about Zahak's actual personality was sparse. At best, there were statements from the AA and the Triune stating that Zahak was a psychopathic mass murderer, and his insane kill count gave plenty of credence to that.
However, Aldrich did not make his judgment based off that. It was simply by the fact that this voice did not particularly feel like anything human to begin with.
The detachment in its tone was similar to 22, the guard that colonel Fletcher had brought as insurance against Thanatos during the trip to the Crypt.
"What are you doing here, Zahak?" Aldrich motioned to the dark cavern around them. "Are you even Zahak to begin with?"
"Zahak? An old name. That is not who this one is, though this form may suggest so."
"Then who are you?"
"This one holds no singular identity. In the past, this one was Zahak, that cannot be denied. It was also known briefly as Lyanna.
Now, it is something beyond both."
"Lyanna?" Aldrich questioned, sifting through his memories to try and find a match for that name.
"A kin of the one you knew as Zahak."
"I see." Aldrich narrowed his eyes in contemplation, finding out who 'Zahak' was talking about.
Details about Zahak's personal life were extremely difficult to come by.
What he did, who he killed, how he was stopped - that was well documented, eulogized, and memorialized.
But what kind of person he was and who he was close to was a mystery.
A mystery by design.
The Panop-AA complex kept it a secret, though for what exact reason, it was hard to tell.
The reigning theory was that it was to villainize Zahak in the eyes of the global public.
But Aldrich had always thought that theory strange.
Zahak had personally killed over a billion people.
Throughout human history, he was probably the single most prolific killer both during life and after death if you counted the Monstering to be caused by him.
If ever there was someone that did not need help getting villainized, it was him.
But Aldrich did know who Lyanna was. She was Zahak's daughter from before the Altering, though beyond her name, nobody knew really who she was or how she had ended up after the Monstering.
She presumably died before the Altering as there were no records of her past it.
"That still answers almost nothing," said Aldrich.
"Let this one make it clearer." Zahak placed a robe covered hand on his chest. "Originally, this one was Zahak. Then, this one was Lyanna. Then, this one became something more."
"What are you, then, some kind of entity that switches between bodies?" said Aldrich.
"In a way, yes," said the entity.
"In a way? Anything more specific you can offer me?"
"..." The entity did not respond. Either it could not, or it chose not to. The result was the same.
Aldrich chose a different branch of questioning, breaking down the entity's statement. "Originally? That implies you were someone else before Zahak."
"Before, this one was formless. Mindless. Without memory or thought."
"Then what are you, exactly? Right now?"
"The World" declared the entity, its neutral tone rising.
"....The world?" Aldrich did not quite know what this entity meant by that.
"The Voice of the World. Of Life."
"If you couldn't tell by me line of questioning, I don't like dealing with cryptic messages."
"This one's memories as 'Zahak' and 'Lyanna' are unclear, but this one will attempt to enlighten you, Kindred.
In the event humans consider as the 'Altering', energy from the deep cosmos seeded itself into the planet, instigating the rapid development of powers and environmental changes.
The seeding process involved the coalescence of energies in the planet's core, and from there, this one's current form was born.
A nascent egg of power.
This one remained dormant, mindless, slumbering, empty as humanity waged senseless slaughter upon itself on the world's surface. with their newfound might.
War that this one now knows as ingrained within humanity's self-destructive nature; a cruel nature that seeks to bring all those around it into its own inevitable demise.
One of these humans, the one you knew as Zahak, emerged possessing great power. Power touched by the Outer.
Power that was me.
He consumed many, taking them into his own body, Including his own offspring, for he greatly desired her power.
A power to shift her consciousness into another.
But before Zahak could finish consuming that power, he was struck down into the depths of the planet.
Into the slumbering egg at the center of this planet.
There, it was the will of 'Lyanna', Zahak's offspring, still holding onto her own will in the endless sea of lives her parent had absorbed, that reached into that empty egg.
This one awoke, then, for with will entering that empty vessel, there was form where before there was nothing."