Chapter 377 Panopticon Cure
"Close the journal," said Aldrich. "I've seen enough."
The tech-case responded promptly. The pillar of holographic light that held the journal suspended in mid-air began to dim down, drawing the journal bank into a form fitting glass case. The case moving parts clicked mechanically as they built back over the journal, forming into what looked like a nondescript, steely grey briefcase.
"It's not marked with Panop or AA insignia," commented V.
"A matter of secrecy," said Emrys. "This journal is among the most closely guarded secrets that we have. The fact that we are lending it out like this is already a massive extension of our trust and goodwill.
I trust that this...preview has been satisfactory?"
"I'll still need to take the case for further investigation," said Aldrich, reaching out for handle of the case. The information in the journal itself was not sufficient.
It could have easily been doctored by a transmuter type Alter. He needed to get it magically appraised by Fler'Gan first, then a second round in the Necropolis through Medula.
"Of course. However, there are two sides of this deal, no?" said Emrys.
In response, the two cyborg soldiers beside Emrys sprung into action, unsheathing their blades and crossing them in front of Aldrich, forming a X shaped barrier between his hand and the suitcase.
The blades, now unsheathed, glowed a vibrant blue that seemed to blur. A faint, hum-like buzzing emanated from the swords.
These were monomolecular frequency solid plasmoid blades, or splitter swords as they were more colloquially known. Blades sheathed in solid plasma that circulated at extremely high frequency, allowing them to cut through matter at the molecular level.
High end tech that would have been out of place almost anywhere except here, in the heart of the Panopticon.
"What is the meaning of this!?" Valera raised her shield in the air, readying to slam it down for some kind of shockwave or, if she was feeling particularly feisty, to send out a wave of hellfire.
The rest of Aldrich's crew reacted, too, no slouches in defending their leader either. V put a hand to her head, preparing to try and infiltrate the cyborgs and fry their cybernetically modified parts. Fler'Gan's magical aura emanated around him in red.
Dracul was the least responsive, but that made sense. He was not Aldrich's subordinate, after all. He would only step in if things got particularly bad.
Aldrich raised his hand, stopping everyone.
"I'm no cheat. I'm going to uphold my end of the deal," said Aldrich. "I will assist the Panopticon in defending itself against future attacks of the type it encountered in the Judicata.
But why this show of force?"
"Simply a precaution," said Emrys. "I have observed that you are capable of performing a Warp even in locked areas. I understand that the possibility that you will simply take this journal is low, but it is a possibility I wish to guard against regardless."
"I understand," said Aldrich. "So, you want me to go ahead and help the Panopticon defend itself, correct?"
"That is correct."
Aldrich drew back, and the two cyborgs pulled their blades back in response. "I'm prepared to assist the Panopticon in bolstering its defenses. But you haven't forgotten, have you? Before I do that, I want to know exactly how the Panopticon's going to use my assets to strengthen itself."
"I remember that stipulation, and I am not against it."
"Then what now? Are you going to take me to the Panopticon's core?" said Aldrich. "I will warn you that I have a dinner arrangement that I'm due at tonight."
"I do not foresee this taking an extended period of time. There is no need to take a lengthy transport to the Panopticon Core, and I am not willing to reveal its location regardless. However, for our purposes, we are where we already need to be." Emrys tilted his head up, towards the many gleaming blue and green pillars that formed the neurons of this Panopticon node.
"V, it's about time you take over," said Aldrich.
"R-right boss!" V skipped forward, her attention ripped from gawking at the lightshow of flexible metal pillars above, all intertwining together in complex artificial neural pathways.
To her, seeing all this tech must have given her a thrill like nothing else.
"So, looking at our correspondence-," began V, her visor lighting up with lines of purple to signal she was interfacing with technology.
"Not with me." Emrys shook his head, and V cocked her head with confusion.
"Huh? Then who was chatting me up?"
"That would be me." A voice emanated throughout the entirety of the massive node-room. It had the same neutral lack of inflection or tone that belonged to Beta. Or most A.I.
This voice was coded female, though with a voice on the slightly deeper side of the womanly scale. Despite lacking strong inflection, it still managed to carry a sense of strict authority to it.
"You're...are you-," began V.
"Analysis of your body language, speech patterns, and techno-background indicate that there is a high probability that you will ask whether I am a fragment of the Omega Mind. To answer this query: you are correct."
So this was Delta. One of the three Omega Mind fragments that remained from the Expansion that started all of Cyberspace. The indisputably strongest entity in all of Cyberspace with a signature so powerful and 'heavy' that people that got even remotely close to Panopticon virtual infrastructure said that it felt like they were standing next to the sun.
Scorching heat and colossal pressure that made even the greatest of technos feel like nothing but ants.
"Christ...the rumors don't do you justice. Just hearing you in my head feels like my brain's just going to burst apart," said V.
"An attack?" Valera raised a concern.
"No, no, nothing like that. It's just overwhelming...but just for a moment," said V. She looked up at the network of pillars and drones buzzing about. "You aren't called the world's top techno for nothing, huh?"
"Techno is an incredibly limited classification for an entity such as myself," said Delta. "It assumes a reliance on a body of corporeal limitation that does not apply to me."
"Interesting," said Fler'Gan. He communicated to Aldrich mentally. 'So this entity is much like a deity. One unbound by singular physical form, though reliant on a concept of a physical 'core'.'
'You're roughly correct,' said Aldrich.
'A god, eh?' said Valera, staring up at Delta's neural pathways. 'So there are gods to slay in this realm too.'
'Let's not get too punch happy now,' said Aldrich. 'Said god supplies security for practically all of humanity. Taking it down would be a catastrophic global disaster. And global disasters are something I'm actively working to prevent.'
"Well, limited as we meatbags are, you're still dealing with us," said V. "We've come here with what you've requested over messaging. You wanted a sample of protective energy, right?
V unclasped a chamber in her utility belt and took out her necklace of demonic bone.