Chapter 371 The Journal 2
The two iron plated machines walked up to Aldrich and placed the case down in the space between him and Emrys. They returned to Emrys but stood behind the president. A power play move that indicated that Emrys had no issue standing at the forefront of any negotiation.
Not that Aldrich did not think any less of those who sat behind underlings. That was what those units were for; he knew that better than anyone as a summoner type mage.
But what Emrys did was still notable. It showed confidence in his own power.
'Give me a scan of his power,' Aldrich mentally communicated to Volantis. Emrys's frame, muscles and wide shoulders straining through his elegant two piece suit, lit up in a silhouette of red as Volantis analyzed him.
'Formidable. He would have the strength of a level 40 warrior,' said Volantis. 'Approximately equal in energy level to Mollusk or Refraction.'
'Interesting. So a low A ranker at base when we consider pure AC count,' Aldrich knew that Volantis's assessments were not exactly accurate when it came to pinpointing someone's power. He could determine someone's 'energy level', and he determined that metric by measuring the total output of latent energy that their Alter cells gave off.
However, this was not the best way to determine someone's power. An Alter's strength primarily lay in the uniqueness of their superpower, not the sheer energy level fueling it.
Granted, higher energy levels meant higher base physical stats and more stamina in using said power, but it told a very incomplete story.
But the fact that Emrys was low A rank just in sheer AC count was formidable enough. It put Emrys within the top 1% of the world's population which was not too surprising.
The founder of the Alterhuman Agency was Roland Du Lac, one of the Gilded - one of the toughest of the tough back in the Golden Age of heroes that Vanguard belonged to, when Alters were culled from eras of chaos and conflict so that only the strongest of the strong, the fittest of the fit, rose to recognition.
Roland was the world's definitive number 2 behind Vanguard, and though his children never took up hero mantles, it stood to reason that they would be strong too.
In fact, all things considered, Emrys was actually rather weak compared to his grandfather.
'Scan the two guards,' thought Aldrich.
'Analysis complete.' Volantis paused. The red outline around the twin ironclad soldiers was incredibly thick, far denser than that around Emrys.
'High A rankers. Not quite S class,' thought Aldrich. 'They would outclass me in a physical brawl. And, let me see...,'
Aldrich activated his Death Sense and detected that they were not simply bots, but had life within them. Either they were cyborgs or Alters in Frames.
As it so stood, Frames and heavy cybernetics that turned Alters into borgs was mostly done for Alters who were not Augmenters or Mutants. Alters that were not physical powerhouses on their own like technos.
However, borg and Frametech were not used at the highest level of security because it left those relying on it susceptible to techno interference in Cyberspace.
Was no good to have a bodyguard fitted with the best cybernetic implants if their wire jacked brains and synthetic lungs and neosteel-aramid fiber muscles could just spontaneously explode due to a techno fucking with them through Cyberspace.
That said, considering this was Panopticon tech, very few, if any technos had the chops to infiltrate it.
A.I.I., though, was one of them. Which put pressure on Emrys to seek Aldrich's help to reinforce the Panopticon against demonic possession.
Which put Aldrich, for now, on the upperhand here in terms of leverage.
"Let me see the journal," said Aldrich. "Open the case up."
"Are you doubting that I am upholding my end of this bargain?" Emrys raised a bushy white brow, his shining white pupil narrowing against the dark of his black iris.
"I'm quite a fan of Vanguard's, you see," said Aldrich. "I just want to see his journal with my own two eyes. You understand, don't you?"
Emrys nodded to one of his soldiers. They wordlessly stepped up and placed their palm on the case. A pulse of faint blue light shimmered out from the point of contact, washing over the silver case.
Lines in the metal of the case lit up before a sealing mechanism unlocked.
"Instant Touch Interfacing," commented V under her breath. Her face was hidden under her mask, a helmet with a shining purple V shaped visor, but Aldrich could tell she was surprised. "No need for cables. Clunky jacking in. Guess that's Panopticon tech for ya."
"The Panopticon has made many advancements," said Emrys. "But, as the Judicata attack shows, not enough."
The case clicked and clacked, a pressurized hiss escaping as it unraveled down the middle, revealing Vanguard's journal.
It was a ragged old thing suspended in midair in a faint purple pillar of anti-gravity light. Leatherbound, the faded brown cover in patchy tatters, the spine frayed, showing exposed binding like a patient on a street cyberdoc's grimy operating table.
The paper, visible beneath the holes in the caver, was crumpled, yellowed, scrawled over with messy, barely legible handwriting.
Aldrich did not know what he was expecting. He had idolized Vanguard, the most Gilded of them all, perhaps a bit too much. He thought the journal would have been pristine, the handwriting at the very least clean.
This looked like something you would fish out of the dank basement of a conspiracy nutjob that juggled mental illnesses like a carnival performer.
"Is that really..." Aldrich trailed off.
"Yes, it is." Emrys nodded. A slow, sad nod. "I told you. Vanguard was not in the best state of mind in his later years."
"Then it may be that those writings are simply the ravings of a madman," said Valera.
"There is often a method in madness. A pattern in chaos, if you study hard enough," commented Fler'Gan.
"Of course you would say that," said Valera.
Aldrich raised his hand, bidding silence to this amusing yet unprofessional talk.
"She does have a point," said Aldrich. "How do I know these isn't just lunatic script? That the predictions you base off this journal are no better than figuring out aliens built the pyramids?"
Aldrich said this, but now that he knew aliens were definitively real, he had to entertain the vanishingly slight possibility that the pyramids of old, before they were wiped out during the Monstering, were indeed alien constructs.
"I myself do not know," said Emrys. "I, too, had difficulty determining the veracity and reliability behind these writings. But, as I have said before, I trusted Supermind, and he trusted these words fully."
"I'd like a look at the journal if you don't mind," said Aldrich. "While we're here, you can tell me exactly where you've drawn your conclusions. The six months projection for Vanguard's power reappearing, for example."
"Of course." Emrys nodded at one of his soldiers again, and they knelt by the case and pressed their palm to it again, interfacing with the surprisingly advanced tech.
From simple glance, the case looked like any ordinary case, but inside were many moving and intricate parts. Top shelf Panopticon tech.
A holographic menu appeared before the soldier, and he began touching options, prompting the journal, still suspended by anti-grav beam, to open, pages flipping in air.
"As you can tell, the journal is not in the best of conditions," said Emrys. "Many pages are already torn or too far gone to decipher. I would not risk touching it directly.
But as for the six month prediction, here-,"
Emrys stepped forward, and the soldier moved away giving the president free reign of the menu.
"You will get a glimpse into Vanguard's mind," said Emrys as he scrolled through the menu, the pages flipping with the movement of his finger. "A thoroughly broken mind."