Aldrich walked outside of the Red Circle, and surprisingly, despite the heavy appearance of his armor, he did not make much noise at all.
As he approached the blown apart neosteel door leading into and out of the club, he could hear raging, whistling winds outside along with the roar of heavy rain and the occasional crackle of lightning.
Aldrich's newly raised undead comprising of the swordfish variant, a few dead aquatic variants, and much of the Red Circle's staff, followed around him, forming into an entourage of zombies.
Outside, Aldrich saw a truly apocalyptic scene unfolding before him. The clouds above had formed a thick veil of dark storm clouds, and from them, rain and gale force winds raged downwards. There was enough rain that it had flooded the roads, overloading the city's drainage systems.
The water reached to Aldrich's knees, and considering how tall he now was, that was more than enough for cars, phones, papers, and countless miscellaneous city objects to float about.
Everything was dark, nearly pitch black.
Haven City's usual collection of brightly lit billboards, holo-, and building lights had sputtered out as if under a blackout, with only the occasional emergency generator powered streetlight illuminating much of anything.
The air felt heavy. And not simply because of humidity.
There was a weight to it that was unnaturally dense, and any human that needed to breathe would likely find themselves short of breath within half an hour of being here.
It was probable that this air also affected technology, disrupting it greatly.
It was to the point where there were few, if any news drones or hovercraft in the sky. And even if there were, they would not have survived.
Several large flying manta rays hovered above the city, the skin on their white bellies rotund and stretched out. When they opened their gaping maws, sea variants poured out, landing down below as ground troops.
On top of this, there were floating sea serpents and flying fish variants that hovered in the air, raining down spines. The constant rattle of gunfire and explosions rumbled in the distance, and bullets and shells in the form of bright streaks of light shot up, gunning down variants.
Humanoid battle drones sent by the Panopticon zipped through the air, engaging in a losing battle as they got swarmed by sheer numbers.
Countless sirens blared out a piercing wail that echoed through the whole city, ordering emergency evacuation or retreat into designated Panopticon Bunkers.
This was an absolute warzone.
An attack of this scale was a horrific disaster, perhaps one of the worst known in a decade. At the very least, the worst attack made on Haven in fifty years.
Something like this warranted a S-rank hero's response, or at the very least, several dozen A rankers. But the fact that this disaster continued meant that either the heroes were late, already dead, or not coming.
Either way, Haven was left to fend for itself.
Especially the poorer Southside district where the Red Circle and Dud ghettos were.
When Aldrich tried using his [Death Sense] passive, its range greatly enhanced by his Lich status, to see if there were freshly dead or near dead mortals around him, he registered that everyone in the nearest street blocks were all dead.
Most of the corpses were those that had been torn apart in their apartments or hiding spots by variants, and they had died merely half an hour ago. Most likely, variants had swarmed in from the eastern coast and now funneled down south, towards the Projects where the Duds were defenseless in their ghettoes.
At best, the Projects had just one functional Panopticon bunker, and maybe two hundred people could be crammed in there.
Overall, though, there were over five thousand Duds living in the Projects - all of them soon to be casualties.
Aldrich sensed stares zoned in on him. There were variants everywhere, crawling on building walls, perched on roofs, on the streets, anywhere they could find purchase, they did. All of them stared at Aldrich with inhuman fish-like eyes that gleamed yellow or red.
Most of the variants, Aldrich noted, were bipedal fishmen type monstrosities with four arms, hunched backs, and scales of varying colors, some red, some blue, some white, it did not matter - all of them were weak.
The quadrupedal types that Aldrich had seen in the Red Circle were larger and seemed to be mounts or attack dogs for these fishmen.
Each fishman was a head taller than the average human, even with their hunched backs, and their imposing frames meant that they could easily rip the normal human limb from limb with no effort.
Several fishmen, those nearest to Aldrich on the streets, hissed as they sprinted at him, utterly unfazed by his imposing appearance.
"So inconceivably stupid," said Aldrich. "Can you not sense my power, even now? Well, I suppose that's a good thing, in a way."
Aldrich punched one fishman in the head and literally blew its head off like he had fired a shotgun point blank at it. Then, using the decapitated corpse as a club, he violently brutalized all other fishmen that neared him until his convenient club was reduced to a mangled mess of flesh strips attached to a cracked and twisted spine.
Several fishmen on the roofs, green scaled in color, shot spines from spiked protrusions on their fins. All of them clattered off of Aldrich's armor with as much effect as the rain.
"Pests," muttered Aldrich as he pointed at a group of green fishmen on a roof and fired a [Death Bolt]. The helical blast shot forth like a cannonball, completely blowing up the fishmen group in a mess of strewn apart, mangled limbs.
With that, the remaining fishmen, those that were some distance away from Aldrich, spared of his immediate slaughtering power, saw their kin massacred with ease and shrieked before running away. It was almost miraculous how quickly the fishmen just disappeared, slinking off into alleyways or climbing over buildings to fade away.
It reminded Aldrich of how vermin, rats and cockroaches, scattered under light.
"I don't have time to deal with the low-level grunts," said Aldrich. He looked at the corpses he had made and chanted, "Serve."
They arose, joining Aldrich's Outer Circle army.
"All of you, go down south. Clear out any variants. Protect the Projects," said Aldrich. "And before you'll go, you will need help."
Aldrich reached into the temporary storage that the Death Lord had fashioned to hold Aldrich's summons. He held out an open palm, and within, a bright green sigil formed in the air. In here, all his summons were stored, and by breaking the sigil, he could release whom he wanted to put under his control.
He saw the list of undead he had marked to raise. From there, he filled out his Inner Circle.
A Zombie Giant.
15 members of Blackwater's A class.
The Crimson Knight Captain.
And 15 of the Death Knights under the captain's command.
That marked out Aldrich's Inner Circle to 41/45 capacity, with him leaving 4 spots for strong undead to raise on this battlefield.
Aldrich then closed his clawed gauntleted hand, shattering the green sigil.
An omnidirectional wave of green energy surged out from him, and as it did so, it materialized out of misty matter his promised undead.
A red armored vampire knight knelt in front of Aldrich, as did fifteen black armored, black caped death knights behind him. Some distance away, the large wheel-like form of the Deathwheel's many stitched together bones and corpses as well as the enormous dozen meter tall zombie giant loomed.
"The 80th Immortalis Legion is at your command, my lord," said the crimson armored captain.
"The 80th Legion, is it? What happened to the rest of you?" said Aldrich. In the game's lore, the Death Lord fielded 100 Immortalis Legions. The lower the number of the legion, the fewer knights there were in exchange for having higher leveled individual knights.
As for the 80th legion, Aldrich estimated there should have been almost a thousand knights within it. A rather disposable fighting force of level 20-30 knights when encountered during the late game.
"This is all that remains of us," said the captain solemnly. "But we are still always ready to serve."
"That's all that matters in the end," said Aldrich. "And you won't be the 80th legion any longer. You are the first knights under my service, and so, accordingly, you will be my first."
"First…?" The crimson knight stared up at Aldrich with his vampiric red eyes wide in shock. He then quickly bowed his head. "Yes, of course. We will take this great honor to our undying hearts. You will not regret granting us such a revered position."
"I have no doubts you will live up to my expectations," said Aldrich. "Captain, or rather, what is your name?"
"Chiros, my lord. Of bloodline Adal."
"Bloodine? Vampric nobility, then? There is someone under me that I would have you meet after this battle is over," said Aldrich. "But for now, captain, if you were raised as nobility, then you were taught how to fight and how to lead. No doubt there was a reason why you were a captain within a legion.
Your job here is simple. You will go south and slaughter all fish type monsters with extreme prejudice."
"Your will is mine, my lord," said Chiros with a bow, his white cape fluttering behind him with the raging winds.
"As for who you will protect and how to navigate these streets, I will have these men and women guide you." Aldrich turned now to the 15 members of Blackwater's resurrected A class. "All of you, follow under Chiros. Guide him towards the Dud Projects.
Save all those you can but focus mostly on killing the enemy.
Secure the Projects and the Panopticon Bunker there.
You can finally fulfill your debt to society, to all those you spat on and looked down upon."
"Understood," said Alexis, the storm barrier generator. She seemed to be the de facto leader of this group now that Seth Solar was not here.
"All of you except…you," said Aldrich. His gaze settled on Zayn, or rather, the monstrous giant black crow that he had turned into.