When Aldrich moved towards Shrimp to raise the Locus, those that watched him did so with bated breath.
The crowds in Haven that had cheered and cried out in relief and joy when they saw Shrimp fall now stood in silence, wondering what would happen. Would the terrifying Locus that once threatened their entire city come back to life as the many fishmen and variants had done?
Would the creature even be under their savior's control?
In Neo-York, Solomon Solar's twisted frown smoothed over for a moment as he also held his breath, his golden eyes glued to the large screen in front of him as he pondered the very same things the average citizen in Haven did.
Would this no name upstart in black armor actually tame a Locus under his control? Nobody had ever been able to achieve anything remotely close to that.
Much like the immensely powerful Titans of the Monstering that almost ended the entire world, there was something about Loci that safeguarded them from a good number of powers.
Their minds were impenetrable to all but the mightiest of psychics, and even among them, none could control a Locus for very long.
Locus corpses also could not be controlled fully intact. This was a fact that Solomon Solar was privy to as a S rank hero who had insider information about the association and its more confidential research.
The Alterhuman Agency had captured strong Loci and kept their bodies in storage to perform experiments on. Among these experiments were those involving Alters who could control or animate corpses as this black armored upstart could, but all of them ended in failure.
At best, the AA knew how to harvest the genetic material of Loci, but any attempts at cloning also invariably failed or produced misshapen, uncontrollable monstrosities.
The greatest success that the AA produced was to fashion mechanical hybrids utilizing the corpses, but these fell short of the original's strength and required the specific employ of Fleshcrafter, an extremely powerful techno whose genius was plagued with bouts of mental instability common among the best Psionic type Alters.
If this upstart could fully raise a Locus and employ it as his own without compromising on the Locus's strength, then there was no doubt about it.
Whoever this man was, he was going to rise to be a superpower in the AA.
Solomon Solar set his jaw in irritation. If that happened, that meant he had even more competition to deal with. Just when he thought his night could not get any worse.
First, there had been the attack on Neo-York from an army of Geists headed by a Locus of definitive S ranked strength. That had taken much of the night to settle.
Then, when Solomon heard that Haven had been attacked, he had tried to contact Blackwater to make sure his asset Seth Solar had not been compromised.
If Seth had been killed tonight, then Solomon had lost an asset worth an invaluable number of credits.
But that and the competition that this upstart posed was actually the least of his worries.
It was the fact that this upstart controlled Blackwater students under him that deeply unsettled Solomon. That could only mean that Blackwater had been infiltrated and compromised somehow, the students either willingly following this man or killed and turned into puppets for him.
And if Blackwater was compromised, Solomon Solar's connection to it, to Selene, the headmaster and mother to Seth, was at risk. If that happened, it would take a massive amount of effort for Solomon to smooth over the damage to his image.
Granted, Solomon was funded extensively by the Dark Six, the largest criminal organizations in the world, and they could likely bury a reveal even of this scale to the public with their power and influence.
But it would cost Solomon. Pile atop his already near bottomless debt to them.
Solomon could not fly over there himself and see if things were fine. He was too public a figure to do that. That was why Selene, the headmaster and Seth's handler, was there in the first place. That was her goddamn job; to handle all the nasty criminal elements tied to Solomon so that there was no risk to him.
So why the hell was she not taking any of his calls?
Why were things going so wrong, so very quickly?
From his viewing room, Emrys stared at the unknown man raise his hand towards the corpse of the Locus. All other holographic screens that previously had shown world leaders or S and A class heroes fighting across the globe had been turned off, leaving just the screen showing the stream in Haven open.
This was how important this stream was to Emrys, president of the Alterhuman Agency. More important than any other conflict in the world. Than any world leader. Than any mega corporation CEO. Than any hero, regardless of how high their rank was.
What would happen, thought Emrys, if two Black Spots collided with each other?
Whose power would triumph over the other?
The only time a situation like this had ever occurred was in the beginning of the Altering. When Vanguard and Zahak stood against each other in a clash that had carved its marks into both the depths of the planet and the memories of mankind.
In the aftermath of that colossal conflict, it had been clear that the right one had won with Vanguard.
Vanguard had steered humanity towards its survival to the best of his extraordinary abilities, and the golden age he had started, though now faded into near death, had been the foundation for mankind to rally their strength around.
Had Zahak won, humanity collectively would have faced a fate worse than death.
The answer was not so clear.
If the armored one triumphed, then what did that mean?
Did the man stand for humanity? Or against?
Could Emrys be staring at the biggest hope that this planet could look towards to since Vanguard himself?
Or its greatest downfall? Something that Emrys would have to personally stamp out before it became too much to deal with?
All Emrys could do was to watch, wait, and observe.
Observe as he had done for over a century for the sake of Order.
Aldrich stepped up to Shrimp's corpse with his arm stretched out and palm open, ready to raise the strongest undead he had ever taken yet. Thankfully, both his health and mana were at relatively stable condition. His health was still topped off due to his conservative no hit playstyle, and his mana hovered at slightly below half.
Very likely, this would be enough for Aldrich to fully raise Shrimp even with the drain that boss level entities seemed to impose on him.
"Serve," announced Aldrich. From his black and bone gauntleted hand, a green silhouette of energy flashed.
But nothing happened.
"…" Aldrich paused for a few seconds, waiting to see if it just took some time for the spell to cast. He had used it, that was for sure, he had felt his mana go down.
Valera immediately picked up on this and stood right beside Aldrich, manifesting her huge cross shield in wariness.
That was when Shrimp's corpse turned bright white. It happened so quickly that he had almost no time to react. Two of Shrimp's arms, the ones that held claws instead of fists, began to vibrate rapidly, and all throughout Shrimp's body, a massive buildup of energy occurred.
The air around Shrimp began to distort heavily from this energy accumulation, concentrating particularly heavily around his claws.
Shrimp's body turned so brilliantly white that it blinded everyone in the vicinity, emitting so much light that for a moment, to anyone nearby, it looked like the night had turned into day, as if the sun itself had dawned on the desolate, dark warzone.
Aldrich made immediate move to evacuate from the vicinity. He had defensive maneuvers planned in the case that anything strange like this happened, and he executed them now. But just before he could put his thoughts into actions, something he could not have foreseen occurred.
"This one is disappointed in you, Kindred." A voice echoed from Shrimp's corpse. It was not Shrimp's own voice.
No, it belonged to a woman's, though unlike any Aldrich had heard before. There was somrthing about it that was distinctively inhuman in its tone and feeling.
The voice was directed straight towards Aldrich, ringing only in the confines of his head like the telepathic communication he had between his units.
When it spoke, its words took up only but a fraction of a moment, slowing down Aldrich's perception like time itself had slowed to a crawl. "To bear witness to a Kindred for the first time only to see that you raise your precious, Beyond given strength against your own is a disappointment.
But no matter.
If you do not know who the true enemy is, then you are an enemy of this one as well."