Chapter 258 Ready to Go
Aldrich woke up in his hotel room bed, mind completely refreshed. The dark of night was gone, rays of golden early morning sunlight streaming past white curtains. On one side of his bed was Valera, cuddled up close to him. On the other, Chrysa slept, curled up in a ball with her tail touching her head, kind of like how dogs sometimes slept.
He had spent much of the night into five A.M. planning the kidnapping with V. In total, he had gotten 2 hours of sleep, but as an undead, sleep itself was an optional luxury. He mostly did it for Chrysa's sake, as she, though an undead, seemed strangely different from the norm, needing sleep to grow and get stronger over time. Just like a human child.
And she slept better with Aldrich by her side.
As for the kidnapping, Aldrich had finalized all the details, picking out where to go, what to do, and who to use.
The slimy little rat in Gerard's tribe was, as V said, nobody really important. A nomad by the name of Alden Smith who had no real influence. He was just a runner, someone that muled supplies here and there, and even then, he was not authorized for any important jobs.
A guy that laid low, mostly, doing the bare minimum of what was required of him and scraping by. But maybe that mediocrity act was just that: an act. Something to drive attention away from him.
In any case, Aldrich would figure that all out soon.
Gerard's nomads routinely stopped at Westpost, a free city, so called because it was not officially recognized by the Panopticon's tiering system and thus did not have the super organization's signature walls, drones, and general support. AA presence was also minimal to nonexistent there.
Free cities were sweet spots in the Wastelands where people could gather and build something, but still too unstable that the Panopticon could not register it as a spot suitable for one of their own cities. Technically, they were under jurisdiction of the U.S. government, but in practice, they were almost like wild west lawless zones where men and women of the underworld, from nomads to bounty hunters to the hunted themselves, came and went by or even settled.
At Westpost, Gerard's nomads would take a break, settling down and eating some city foods they missed, catching up on the news, getting proper repairs or supply themselves with the latest tech, or even hitting up brothels.
Things did get lonely out in the Wastelands, even for the most seasoned of nomad loners. Humans were inherently social creatures in the end, after all.
But where the other Eagle nomads relaxed, Alden informed, meeting his Dark Six handler, a guy that went by the codename of 'Feather'.
Feather was more careful than Alden, preferring to get his info solely through in person talk, preventing surveillance as much as possible.
Unfortunately for Feather, Alden was far less careful, a nobody rabble rouser that often spent his afternoons getting mildly drunk and adding fuel to a dumpster fire of a gambling addiction, the same addiction that probably had him working with the Dark Six in the first place.
From what Aldrich could tell, Feather operated out of a bar in Westpoint, and he had quite a few tough men under him. He was similar in standing to Joe Peperelli, the Dark Six captain in Haven whose squadron of elite soldiers Aldrich had slaughtered with the cold might of his undead.
Aside from that, Alden's personal devices had no more records of Feather, leaving Aldrich in the dark about Feather's exact capabilities. As a result, Aldrich assembled quite the task force for this.
Kat for her invaluable espionage and assassination experience. Ace, Chiros, and Tox for serious firepower in case things went awry. Damian for getaways and utility as his ability to conjure up flight platforms was always useful.
And, finally, Fler'Gan for his Mind Eater brainwashing abilities.
The mission was simple: capture Feather alive and mind control him.
Aldrich had a mission of his own to finish today too. He got up out of bed briskly, though he was careful not to wake Chrysa. He wanted to give her a few extra minutes of sleep. He manifested his spiritweave dress shirt, suit jacket and pants over the simple undershirt and briefs setup he slept in.
The black clothing materialized over Aldrich's body in faint blue waves, as if his body was a digital canvas and each wave was a brush that added a preset layer over him.
Valera silently got off the bed as well, stretching her arms over her head, both the soft curves of her hips and chest and the hard curves of her athletic musculature hugging against the tight fabric of her dress.
"Hm? Do you want me, master?" Valera threw a mischievious glance Aldrich's way.
"We're busy right now," said Aldrich. He grabbed his phone from a circular charging pad on a coffee table and nodded. V had mapped Randall's location to him and also identified as many known hunters or villains she could find in the area.
Surprisingly, not too many. Aldrich figured that, like Diamondback had said, most of the hunters were in the tier 2 or 1 cities.
"Ah, no fun," said Valera. She then cracked her knuckles and her neck in thoroughly un-ladylike, more 'ready to beat something' like fashion, an excited, fanged smile gracing her dark red lips. "But I suppose slaughtering enemies with my dearest master shall always be a favorite activity of mine."
"The goal is to not get spotted," said Aldrich. "Go get dressed, Valera. I have spiritweave clothing, but you don't. I brought over some stuff that'll let you fit in, though. And make sure to throw on a cloak."
Aldrich pointed to the hotel room closet.
"My, I am eager to try on clothes that you have picked out for me," said Valera as she zoomed over to the closet.
Aldrich pocketed his phone, made sure his earpiece linking to V was set snug in his ear, and then knelt beside the bed, putting a hand on Chrysa's head.
Chrysa stirred, unconsciously uncurling from her ball-like sleeping position. She hugged Aldrich's hand, murmuring the faint word, "hero".
Aldrich patted Chrysa's shoulder, surprised. She woke up, her sleep-droopy green eyes blinking slowly, lazily. She smiled brightly when she saw Aldrich.
"I'm sleepy…but it's adventure time, isn't it?" said Chrysa.
"It is," said Aldrich. "Why did you say that word, Chrysa? The word 'hero?'"
"…Hero?" Chrysa murmured, confused. "I…I think I heard it on the people box." She pointed at the telescreen.
"Telescreen," said Aldrich. "That's what it's called. And there aren't pepole in there, it's just images."
"Oh, right, I knew that," said Chrysa. "And…and I remember it in my dream. I was playing with someone little like me. But a boy. He had black hair and black eyes and a big smile, really big, and it made me really happy. I think I heard it from him as well."
Aldrich patted Chrysa's head. "I hope it was a good dream."
Chrysa nodded, enjoying the head pats.
"You should get ready to leave, Chrysa," said Aldrich. "It's time for an adventure."
"Okay!" said Chrysa. She hopped off the bed, patting her plain white dress clean. It seemed to be a part of her body, manifested using the Chrysalis's limited ability to create things. As a result, it was always clean, which made things easier for Aldrich parenting wise.
Aldrich briefly wondered about Chrysa's dream. That boy she had met, he had little doubt it was him. Was this an effect of the soul synchronization? Before he could think more about it, Valera barged out of the closet with a proud smile.
"Master, here I am," said Valera, doing a light twirl to show herself off. She was dressed up casually in a baggy cream colored t-shirt with jeans that really brought out her long legs and nicely shaped, exercise toned butt.
"You look good," said Aldrich. "Human fashion suits you. As does a casual look. Or maybe I'm just used to seeing you in a formal dress all the time."
"Indeed," said Valera. "And it is quite comfortable, too. The leggings stretch with my movements and this upperwear should not restrict my punches at all."
"Again, the point is to not draw attention to ourselves. Now here-," Aldrich tossed a sandy brown cloak towards Valera from atop a dresser, taking one for himself as well. He handed a smaller one to Chrysa.
"Ah, to dress so differently only to hide it all with a bare cloak like this." Valera held the cloak over her body, and it really did hide everything.
"That's the point," said Aldrich. "We can take the cloaks off later, after my errand's done. For now, we've got to do this. Think of this like a disguise." Aldrich put on his shades.
"Disguise!" Chrysa put her cloak on and jumped up and down. "I'm invisible!"
"You're only invisible while you stay close by me, understand?" said Aldrich. He held out his hand, and Chrysa took it.
"Okay," said Chrysa with an understanding nod.