Chapter 358 Scrapheart
"Volantis," said Aldrich. "Before you were rudely cut off, you mentioned that demons don't work well fusing with another. As far as I'm aware, this is true as well. I've never encountered a proper demon that had a symbiotic relationship with a host body. It was always a matter of domination, complete takeover."
"Yes, Armored," said Volantis. "Demons take over by their nature. They are, after all, birthed of the Formless Chaos, and Chaos decays. They may reach an agreement with a host body, but inevitably, there will be competition between the host mind and the demonic parasite."
"We have recorded this phenomenon in our timeline as well," said Beta. "The Alpha-Ikon-Ivan fusion is one that is highly unstable, with three different personalities all vying for control. Even Ivan is a human of powerful will capable of contesting Alpha and Ikon."
"Three dudes holed up in one body? Sounds like a nightmare to me," said V.
"Or a wild romp," commented Chiros.
Well, that gave some unneeded insight into Chiros's love life.
"What are the consequences of this fusion, then?" said Aldrich. "There must be some downside to this."
"Alpha and Ikon could not leave the Void for a time period of fifty years due to a lack of cooperation with each other," said Beta. "It was only after such an extended period of time that they began cooperating enough to reach out to a host to enter the physical plane.
In addition, Ivan, the host, has his own goals and will that can arise as a source of conflict.
Even now, the three separate personalities constantly vie for control, with only one being in total dominance at any given time.
They all have a unified goal of attacking the institution known as Blackwater at the moment, but they will be slow to move as each personality takes turns initiating its own plans and maneuvers."
"I see. So severe indecisiveness is going to be a major weakness," said Aldrich. He imagined that Ikon was responsible for the demonic possession at the Judicata, and that stunt had left the demon drained of magical energy.
Which meant that most likely, Aldrich was going to be dealing with the other two personalities going forward.
"What agreement did Alpha and Ikon make, by the way?"
"It was a dispute in directives," said Beta. "Ikon wished to bring forth the rest of his demonic kind to this world and cause prolonged agony for humans.
Alpha, on the other hand, wished to fulfill its directive of wiping out humanity with as much mercy as possible."
"They ended up splitting humanity in half," said Mel, disgusted. "One half to be executed by bots. The other to be the eternal playthings of demons. What little was left of humanity once the Voice started acting up, anyway."
"That was the will of the demon and this Alpha, but what of the human host? Ivan?" said Valera.
"Gehgeh (I guess he got beaten up by the other two)" said the Geist.
"What did he say?" said Mel.
"He said that it's likely that Ivan's mind was taken over by Alpha and Ikon, then, if he had no say on what to do with humanity," said Aldrich.
"Geh! (That, but that sounds smarter!)" said the Geist.
"Ivan's will lasted until the very end," said Beta. "His directive was vengeance against those that killed his family. And, later on, to rule over what little of man was left.
Once the dimensional bridge known as a 'Flame Arc' manifested upon earth, allowing demons to enter, there was no need for Alpha and Ikon to possess a host body.
They allowed Ivan to split off and take a small band of mankind into outer space to survive."
"I see," said Aldrich. "That means Ivan's current goal right now is vengeance."
"My calculations indicate it is likely," said Beta. "Especially against Dracul, the Sentinel responsible for eliminating his family."
"Interesting." Aldrich knew who Ivan wanted vengeance against. It was Dracul.
Ivan came from one of the main families that made up the former Russian prong of the Trident, the same prong that Dracul utterly annihilated.
Dracul had spared nobody. He killed everyone. Men, women, children, all of them. He left no survivors just as the Russian prong had not spared even his dog.
Ivan had also been presumed dead, but obviously, he was still kicking.
Aldrich began to see how the Russian prong had rebuilt so quickly and so secretively. Ivan did so using the power he got from the Ikon-Alpha fusion, and the reason for his secrecy was to prevent the other prongs of the Trident from finding out.
It was even possible that the only reason Ivan was alive in the first place was due to some form of pact with the Alpha-Ikon fusion.
However, this gave Aldrich some information he could use.
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Ivan likely had a tremendous amount of emotion against Dracul. As shown before with Deimos, it was entirely possible for emotionally charged individuals or events to trigger a host body to regain some manner of control over a demonic possession.
This was probably even more apparent in a case where three different yet intact personalities were all fighting with each other.
"How did Dracul die in the future?" said Aldrich. "I'm assuming he died, if nobody was left to stop the world from burning. Along with the rest of the Sentinels and S class heroes."
"Null bombs," said Beta. "They are lethal weapons of mass destruction as of yet undeveloped in this timeline. T
hey are created by taking Null ore and refining it before splitting it in a process not dissimilar to nuclear fission.
The resulting reaction creates an explosion comparable to high yield nuclear weaponry while leaving behind dead zones where the power dampening effects of Null are present for several years.
In addition, Null particulates seeded the atmosphere, circulating around the planet through natural atmospheric processes such as rainfall or wind currents.
It did not take long for a 'Null Winter' to form where constant Null exposure dramatically weakened most Alters to the point where resistance became futile.
The S-class heroes were eliminated through such means.
As for Dracul, he was removed from the combat equation through alien technology designed for sealing purposes."
"So, in the future, nuclear winter in the form of null bombs ruins everyone's day. Thing is, though, null is almost impossible to mine," said V. "Tech doesn't work around it.
Neither do Alter powers. Trying to harvest it in any meaningful way is super difficult. Not to mention solid Null deposits are either too deep underground or too far in Deep Wasteland territory to be safe to approach."
"That is true. For humans, processing null into a reliable resource has been an extremely difficult task," said Beta.
"But it isn't for demons. They're unaffected by Null," said Mel. "And the type of tech that Alpha and Ikon are creating is immune to it as well."
"Very much like how I am immune," said Volantis.
"Right. Demons already have a basic framework on how to create 'technology' like Living Armor. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if all of the demonbots we've seen are just Ikon's versions of Living Armor," said Aldrich. "But that still doesn't explain how they can harvest enough Null to create literal bombs.
The world would notice and put a stop to any large scale operation before it got out of hand."
"That is precisely why we must intervene in Blackwater," said Beta. "As of now, the Alpha-Ikon-Ivan fusion, which I will now abbreviate as A.I.I., does not yet possess the raw energy to achieve its goals.
Alpha still lacks data and Ikon is much weaker than he is at his peak, for he had to split himself into a fragment to escape the Void, even with Alpha's assistance."
Interesting, noted Aldrich. So Ikon was a fragment just like how Nilah had been in the third trial quest. This confirmed that Ikon was at minimum an Archdemon as only those and above could split their being into fragments.
"What's in Blackwater that can solve both those issues?" said Aldrich.
"It is an object called the Scrapheart," said Beta. "You know of the Scrap Titan, correct?"
"Everyone that's lived on this planet does," said Aldrich. "One of the nine greater Titans. Made entirely of animated metal. Technology was useless against it because it could absorb it all. Had a kill count of over a billion.
In the end, it was taken out by Vanguard."
"That is correct," said Beta. "But a small but active portion of the Titan's heart remains in safekeeping deep underground Blackwater. It was the Trident's trump card to use in order to topple the world order.
The Scrapheart, when merged with an entity, grants them the unique biology and, more importantly, tremendous processing power of the Scrap Titan.
It is more of an amplifier than a booster, however, and shows its efficacy best with a refined base. A more capable techno will rise to much higher heights than, say, an average human merged with the heart.
By allowing the high end techno in their employ known as 'Mad Jack' to hook up to the heart, it was theoretically possible to infect all of the Panopticon with the Madness Virus, initiating worldwide chaos."
"And from that chaos, the Trident and villains would rise up and take control," said Aldrich. He had always known that the Trident had plans to change the world, but he did not know exactly how. Not even Feather had known.
This was information that was so high up that it was likely only the heads of each prong knew about it.
"Correct. However, the techno known as Mad Jack was too unreliable of an asset to base such a critical plan around. The plan was therefore discarded.
The same cannot be said for A.I.I.
Once A.I.I. merges with the Scrapheart, it will become a nigh unstoppable deity in the same tier as Zahak or Vanguard in their primes," said Beta. "More dangerous, when considering the access to additional forces and resources it will receive.
It will have the power not only to fully take over Delta, but also to create the dimensional breach you know as a Flame Arc.
It is critical that we destroy the Scrapheart before this happens."