In an abandoned subway station, 200 meters away from the Red Circle -
"Yeah, I've blown this fucker up," said Dynamite Girl as she exhaled deeply, her glowing orange blood vessels fading from her skin. She looked at the seared stump where her right arm had been.
Countless bullet holes riddled her chest and stomach, leaving her already tattered costume basically reduced to nothing now. "And I really, really need a new costume now unless I'm going to be flashing everyone in this whole damn city."
"Excellent work, Dynamite Girl," said Hirondelle as she perched over the melted, blackened, blown apart wreckage of Clank's giant metal body.
When Clank first ported here, by nature of the Cubehead's warp power requiring teleported units to be in an empty space, Clank could not immediately be ambushed.
But down here, in this abandoned subway line, Spybird's War Eagle, his strongest drone, had engaged Clank in a long-range battle of missiles and bullets.
Clank, a thorough maniac for gunfights, had obliged, distracting himself.
Clank eventually overpowered War Eagle, disabling it, but at that point, Dynamite Girl leaped down from a maintenance hole in the ceiling, using a Bunker Buster to open Clank right open. Not before Clank's automated guns had made a whole wreck of Dynamite Girl, but her undead body let her shrug off the piercing damage.
Once Dynamite Girl had opened him up, Hirondelle, who was also hidden in the ceiling, had finished the job, reducing herself down into the size of a swallow before launching herself inside Clank, shooting from internal surface to surface at ultra-high speeds to wreak havoc.
There, Hirondelle eventually killed Clank. He had ended up being a Mechman, someone who integrated their bodies entirely into robotic shells.
Hirondelle pinged and ponged around the insides of Clank's fortified armor until she finally shot through the weak human body held deep within.
"Fucking Mechmen, they always freak me out," said Dynamite Girl. "Once you pry them outta' their shells, I hear they always look real nasty. Bald and skinny and pale like literal corpses. Moment you unplug em', they just shrivel up and die. Plus it's super illegal too."
Mechmen integrating with their machine bodies resulted in their physical bodies atrophying into frail biological husks kept entirely alive by their mechanical armor.
This was thoroughly illegal in most countries because it heavily increased the risk of Technomania, but among villains and others that took the law as more a suggestion and not a rule, it was not entirely uncommon.
There was even a massive terroristic cult called the New Machines that believed in discarding the weakness of flesh and becoming full mechanoids.
"You'll find that within this line of work, the word 'illegal' holds precious little meaning," said Hirondelle. "Still, I can respect heroes like yourselves that put your lives on the line against variants.
Though, maybe it wouldn't be too far off to call you a variant yourself now.
I thought you were dead to the Geist attack, but look at you, standing here alive and well. Slightly paler, perhaps, but not much worse for wear. And far, far stronger too."
"Yeah, it's a perk of working for Mr. Vane," said Dynamite Girl. "And huh, I didn't think you'd recognize me. I was just a random C class, after all."
"Of course I would," said Hirondelle. Her body of violet energy coursed like living fire while her eyes, twin bright dots of light purple, shone like bright embers. "I do not keep track of most heroes. I find the job thoroughly tacky and self-obsessed. But real heroes that put down their lives for others, now that, I can truly respect.
All those that died to the Geist attack that you fell to, I committed to my memory."
"Well, thanks, I guess," said Dynamite Girl, a little shy at the praise.
"At the same time, I do wonder how you can continue to work with that Variant after it bested you, let alone even fathom how Mr. Vane is capable of raising the dead and bending not only Natural Variants, but also Geist Variants to his will.
Nobody, not even the brightest minds in the entire world, has managed to subdue a Geist."
"I don't know the details, and I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to share them yet, even if we're working together and all," said Dynamite Girl. "But the Geist? I don't have many hard feelings for it.
It was just an animal following its instincts. If it hadn't killed me, I would have killed it.
All there is to it, really.
Just how nature is."
"Nature, is it?" said Hirondelle.
"Yeah. Nature's all fucked up now with Variants evolving and whatever, but the basics of it all are still the same. Human or Variant - we all got base instincts we cater to, and the most basic of that is the instinct to survive." Dynamite Girl shrugged. "I grew up in deep variant countryside.
Wastelands, technically, though with a whole lot more green.
Living out there, that close to raw, wild nature, you start to learn that at the end of the day, everything's just trying to survive. You win, you live another day, you lose, you die and let something else live. There's nothing personal about it. Just the way it is."
She then put her hand to her temple, her expression growing serious. "Sh*t. Something's come up. We gotta' regroup now."
"What about the other target groups?" said Hirondelle, referencing the three groups meant to fight the Blackwater faculty after they were isolated.
The first group was Fler'Gan and a menagerie of stronger Variants to trap down Darius Fletcher in the sewers. The second was Hirondelle, Dynamite Girl, and Spybird's War Eagle against Clank here in this abandoned subway. The third was the Geist, Smoke, and Walters against Colette.
"Group 1 trapped Darius. We're good to go. Group 3 failed and Colette's escaped, but they're all alive and relatively unharmed. They're regrouping now," said Dynamite Girl.
"Then might I ask what the emergency is?" said Hirondelle.
"Large scale attack," said Dynamite Girl as she listened to Valera's mental communications. Just like Aldrich, Valera could also communicate to the undead, though that seemed limited only to Aldrich and his proper chosen undead. "Variants. Enough to threaten overrunning the entire city.
Red Circle's already under attack."
In the Necropolis-
As Aldrich felt his body grow heavier, he closed his eyes. He heard the last remnants of Seth's agonizing cries of pain as Adam and Elaine finished devouring him. Then, those sounds faded away too. His entire body felt numb. Every physical sense he had started to flee him, and yet, the feeling was not alarming, no, it was…liberating.
When Aldrich opened his eyes, he found himself standing over his physical body. He hovered in the air as a ghostly green silhouette of himself, and when he looked at his body, he saw that it remained standing, but it stood frozen to still that it appeared almost like a mannequin.
The green glow in his body's eyes was gone now, returned back to the natural black that he had almost forgotten he had.
At his body's chest, the purple phylactery had turned completely dark, crackling as it seemed to yawn open, ready to receive an offering.
[Objective: Obtain the Obelisk completed]
Aldrich still saw status messages in his vision, and as soon as the message faded, a sphere of darkness roared in front of him, drawing him in. He reached out with his hand, and when he grasped it, he saw the darkness meld into him, sinking into his spiritual body, forming a webwork of black circuits that completely covered him from head to toe.
[1x Obelisk consumed]
A chilling energy spread throughout Aldrich, infusing into his very fundamental essence, and it felt invigorating, like feeling a cool breeze in a hot summer day.
"Congratulations, Death Walker," came a familiar voice.
The Death Lord materialized in front of Aldrich, and she too, was in a spiritual form. She did not wear her armor, simply her royal robes with a crown of glowing green shards hovering above her head.
"I've obtained your Obelisk. I've killed those I needed to kill. I've destroyed my attachments… I've Now, I'm here for my ascension," said Aldrich.