Chapter 263 An Unseen Cold 2
Aldrich switched comms channels in his earpiece by tapping it, linking with V.
"V, we're under attack," said Aldrich as he tapped his earpiece. He took out his shades and put them on, trying to scan for AC signatures. Nothing. "You scanned this area before.
Are you sure there was nothing here?"
"Shit, you're under attack!?" V sounded panicked, completely blindsided. She had probably been working on something else after believing that Aldrich was safe once she confirmed that nothing was wrong in the area with her scans.
"H-hold up, I swear there was diddly squat there! I jumped through every camera in the area, every phone, every little bit of audio reception and image recording capability out there. And not to mention, if your attacker had even the slightest bit of tech on them, I would have sensed that too.
Whoever's attacking you, they have to be doing it cold."
"Cold is right," said Aldrich, glancing at the ice all around him. Even under the bright daylight, the ice did not show any signs of melting.
But when V said cold, she meant that the attacker was not relying on any tech at all. No communications either. A completely isolated Alter.
Then likely a multi-class Alter. The type that had multiple abilities in one. Like Seth Solar or Solomon Solar who had flight, powerful bodies, and heat generation all packed together. "Blackout this area. Cut off net signals, phones, whatever you can.
I don't want cops and low ranking heroes to get here, if they even do bother with edge districts like this."
"I'm on it…wait-," V's voice crackled.
"What is it?" said Aldrich.
V spoke again, but her voice came out in a static filled garble. She was being jammed. Before Aldrich could worry, though, her voice came through again. "Something's starting to black everything out already.
It tried to cut me out, too, but this, at least I can deal with. I'm still linked to your earpiece and the visuals from your shades.
Shitty thing is I can't access any of the tech nearby anymore because it's all disabled.
It sucks to say this, boss, especially because I sold myself as a do it all expert, but I'm basically blind right now as far as helping you navigate is concerned.
Can't spot you any visuals by hijacking cameras or audio.
Fuck. I've never been this useless in my life! I'm so sorry-"
"Don't waste effort being sorry. I still believe in your capabilities. Trace the blackout source," said Aldrich, calming V down. He had heard that geniuses tended to break when their talent was questioned, and he could sense that from her.
So, he guided her, making sure to keep a firm but understanding tone to make her know he was not disappointed. "If they're shutting us out, then they want to stay and fight. To isolate us and hunt us down.
But it also means they're not running cold. They have to use some kind of tech for this.
Either for that, or for the cloaking they have running. In any case, it means they're trackable now, and you specialize in infiltration.
Hunt them down. Take them out if they're cybernetic."
Aldrich was fairly confident in this assessment.
Multiclass powers generally all fell under one overarching main power. The Solar family, for example, generated their power, flight, and heat beams with their main solar battery power.
It was extremely rare, if not impossible, for an Alter to have powers wildly unrelated to each other.
On top of that, it was a general rule that Alters with body boosting powers usually never crossed over with Psionic class powers that related to the mind or interfacing with technology.
Cloaking, ice beams, and tech disruption was a combo that just did not work together.
V spoke with the strain of wounded pride and disbelief. "I can't find them."
"What?" Aldrich said. By now, even he was in surprise, not expecting V to get pressed to this degree.
V was top shelf talent.
Where she was trained, the Den, was famous for producing underworld technos so capable that they could threaten mega corporations and major governments. Case in point, Z, also Den produced, had indirectly ended the 2077 Corpowar almost single-handedly with her bug, infiltrating a Fortune megacorp's servers which made finding a needle in a haystack look like child's play.
Not even Blackwater, the equivalent of a prestigious hero academy for villains, could get more than one Den spawn. That being V herself.
And V was specialized in infiltration, in invading and taking over tech and infrastructure in the Cyberverse, and everything that connected to the Net was connected to the Cyberverse, exhibiting a cyberspace structure or signature that one could interact with or, in V's case, infiltrate, corrupt, or destroy.
There was no way this could be beyond her.
"This is beyond me," said V. "Whatever tech they're using isn't something I've ever encountered before. Totally alien. Not as freakshow as that glitchy server, but still wack.
I'm in the Cyberverse right now, but I can't pinpoint a source for the interference. Shit! I've never, ever been this useless!"
This was probably the very first time V had felt so useless. She was always loud and cocksure, and for good reason. Her resume gave her the right to be like that.
"No, I'm better than this." V was defiant. "I'll give this my max effort. I'm not letting ANYONE be better than me. I'm going to think out of the box."
Aldrich waited a few tense seconds before a small screen showed up in the periphery of his vision. A minimap of the surrounding area projected by V.
A red dot flashed in and out of existence in intervals.
The dot circled around Aldrich about a hundred meters away, taking a tracking pattern reminiscent of a lion moving about a wounded impala. Predator eyeing prey.
"I can't track the bastard down directly - the tech's MIA, even in Cyberspace - but what I've noticed is the tech they use blacks out in omnidirectional waves pulsating from single point, as if someone's constantly setting off EMP charges," observed V. "Pinpointing the center of those waves gets me the tricky little shitter's location, but be warned, because I'm following the blackout waves to their center, the tracking is delayed.
Think of it like bad ping in a game. 300 ping, give or take."
"Forward the location to Diamondback," said Aldrich.
"Good job. Switching." Aldrich tapped his earpiece to reach Diamondback. "You see that?"
"Yeah," said Diamondback. "I can get right up there in one jump if you need me to."
"Do that. Expect a three second delay in positional data. From how the dot's moving, the target's shifting in and out of cover, probably trying to get a good shot on me.
Flush the target out.
If you can manage to grab them, good, but if not, focus on making distance. Don't try and go behind them. Keep yourself between them and me." Aldrich reached at his hip and withdrew a pistol from a utility belt holster.
The pistol clicked into action with a low buzz - the hum of stored energy.
It was a bolter type pistol, but unlike the clunky, prone to jam, prone to explode in your hands type that were a dime a dozen, this was compact.
Still on the heavier side, but sleeker, with a shining coal black and bloody red paint job that made it obvious that whatever factory had pumped this gun out had done so with proud experience in the art of killing things by blowing holes through them via massively supersonic rail.
This was ARMA red grade. The elite, high end weapons line of the military tech mega-corp.
Same type that made Joe Peperelli's techno goons from the Red Circle attack, most of them no better than D listers, into veritable super soldiers with aimbot that had put bullets through half the heads of Casimir's men.
Since Aldrich could not rely too much on his powers to conceal his identity, he had to fall back on his training. Guns and martial arts. Explosives, too. He had a whole utility belt on him right now.
Was that going to be enough, though?
Conventional firearms, even if they were solid, could only take you so far.
Against the real top tiers, the A rank and above, you needed ultra futuristic tech from top end technos or weapons designed to counter them.
It was impossible to tell so far what level of threat Aldrich was dealing with. At the very least, the frost blast alone was enough to tip them over D rank or even C rank.
"Roger. I'll give you some space. You better have an answer to this cloaking soon, though," said Diamondback.
In the distance, Aldrich saw Diamondback back leap into the air, sparkling bright blue under the sun's reflective rays. He landed right where the red dot should have been, steering himself in the right direction through an eye scanner that V sent coordinates to.
Diamondback punched down as he landed, creating a shockwave blast of force that sent a group of roughshod cars and bikes flying away, tumbling and making a wrenching ruckus as their metal bodies rolled on hard road and pavement.
Area of effect to try and flush the target out. If the shockwave hit the target, it was possible it could even distort or disrupt their cloaking as well.
However, there was nothing behind that cover.
Aldrich saw the red dot go backwards on the minimap with considerable speed. Even with a few seconds of advance notice, dodging a hit from Diamondback's superhuman physicals was no small feat.
But overall, the situation was good. Diamondback driving the target back meant Aldrich had time of his own.
He took this time to counter the cloaking. He raised his palm up and summoned a [Grave Ward]. Because the creature was invisible to begin with, he did not worry about it getting spotted.
The [Grave Ward] spawned above Aldrich's hand, forming from a lump of malformed flesh and quickly growing into its three eyed, floating form.
'Go find the attacker' said Aldrich. He directly connected mentally with the [Grave Ward], manually piloting it.
The [Grave Ward] floated out towards the red dot obediently, its large, bulbous directing their unblinking stare in the direction.
With its area of effect vision that spanned a radius of twenty five meters, once it reached the general area of the red dot, it could reveal the attacker without the 'ping' that made them hard to directly catch.
Then, it was just a matter of having Valera hold down the attacker for her and Diamondback to slaughter.
Aldrich sincerely doubted anyone short of an A ranker with a purely physical power boosting ability could deal with both of them.
And the presence of a powerful ice generation ability severely undercut that possibility.
This fight was over the moment the [Grave Ward] got to the red dot.
Especially because there was no counter to magical stealth.
Aldrich sent the [Grave Ward] past Valera, beyond her protective range, confident nothing could strike it down.
Aldrich blinked. Valera almost dropped her shield.
The [Grave Ward] splattered apart, blasted asunder with an accurately placed shot of blue energy that made it very clear that there were, in fact, counters.