Chapter 304 Attack on the Judicata
Chaos unfolded all around Aldrich as machines turned rogue. The cacophony of lasers and energy weapons from Panopticon bots made up a wild lightshow of zig-zagging blasts, some of which managed to bore through examiners, burning out sizzling, scorch lined holes in them.
Thankfully, the blasts did not burn through the Judicata's walls because they were shielded, but the self-destruction sequence rendered that a moot point for celebration.
Aldrich briefly assessed the situation with the examiners.
First, the United Front -
The S class heroes, as expected, were holding up just fine. Mushin and Machine Emperor protected the Asian Alliance.
Mushin used his invisible sword and expert agility, darting from bot to bot with superhuman physicals, erasing chunks of the bots out of exsitence with swings so fast that Aldrich could not even perceive them.
Machine Emperor had gone from tacky purple and gold two piece suit to his signature silver mechsuit in an instant using nanotech. A glowing gold core shone at his chest, showcasing the star reactor that powered it.
With energy beams of his own, Machine Emperor annihilated hordes of bots with ease, his golden rays melting through the Panopticon machines like a molten hot knife through butter.
"Chain lightning!" Indra shouted as he blasted bots with bright blue arcs of electricity that bounced from bot to bot, causing them to short circuit before turning molting hot and exploding.
"Chain lightning!" Indra flew around rapidly, his body half physical, half energy, as he spammed the same move over and over again.
Star Spartan guarded both the Eastern European Block and the European Union, flying around rapidly with his spear struck forward, turning into a living comet that blew apart bots at extreme speeds, swiftly changing direction even at awkward angles.
Kinesis guarded the United States using her signature mind constructs - bright white energy structures made with force of will. A forcefield was erected all around the U.S. representatives while she created a machine gun construct that gunned down bots en masse.
It was hard to tell whether Kinesis was putting in any effort considering she always had a visored mask on, but Aldrich doubted it. The world hailed her as the next Supermind, someone who, given time, could stand near, if not at the top of the hero world.
Though it was hard to tell anything more about her. She was secretive. No interviews. No publicity. The fact that she was even here was a surprise in of itself.
The rest of the United Front states did alright, even without S class heroes. A rankers combined with bodyguards did just fine against the rampaging bots.
The Antarctic Settlers, in particular, were in their element. As a nation state of mutants that valued strength, their representatives were all tough in their own right. They were their own bodyguards.
With claws, jaws, tendrils, spikes, and tails, they tore through the bots like they were scrap.
Then, the Fortune CEOs -
Jin Woo sat in calm against the torrent of lasers. His bodyguards protected Imugi's personnel with ease. There were only six of them, all armored in head to toe with sleek black combat armor lined with bright blue energy lines. Their helmets had single horns jutting from the sides.
These were the Six Serpents, Jin Woo's personal security detail that was said to have never failed.
With energy swords, shields, and a combination of Alter powers that, from a quick glance, Aldrich identified as telekinesis that could blow things apart from the inside out, threads of energy that could control bots like puppets, and an ability to project after-images at superspeed to cut down bots, the Six Serpents annihilated any rogue machinery that came near their vicinity.
One of the Serpents knelt down with a hand on their chest, and in a few seconds, a spatial distortion rippled out, but then fizzled out, the warped space quickly returning to normal.
Aldrich understood what had happened. Jin Woo had tried to warp out, but the Judicata, like all Panopticon Pillars, was Warp-Locked.
Nothing could warp in or out as a security measure.
"Hm." Aldrich punched a bot that got close to him in the face, knocking its head off. He fired a few [Death Bolts], destroying several clusters of drones.
Energy bolts rained down on him, though they could not get through his energy resistant [Death Essence Barrier].
But the fighting was just routine habit, like taking a stroll in the park - his mental energy was diverted to figuring this situation out.
The higher tier bots, armed with serious, explosive firepower, would be up here soon. Those were no joke. The class 2 and 1 drones, for example, were said to be capable of taking out A rank disasters.
The Judicata was shaped like an ordinary Panopticon Pillar, that is, a lengthy, roughly cylindrical structure with bots and drones packed into every nook and cranny from top to bottom.
The hearing room was situated at the very top while the strongest bots were packed at the bottom. If the whole Pillar was taken over, then the bots were on their way up.
From below, Aldrich saw thousands of drones and humanoid bots flying their way up, forming a massive locust swarm of white plated metal bodies - an apocalyptic plague of mechanical destruction.
Three minutes until this place blows!" shouted the techno from before.
Not to mention the looming threat of self destruction.
Aldrich manifested his new cloak and flew into the air, landing on Supermind's platform. Dracul landed beside him. Several combat medics followed, thrusters from their boots and the backs of their combat suits letting them fly in. They knelt over Supermind's body, their compound eye like green goggles emitting scanning beams all over Supermind's body.
A dome of shadows rose up around everyone, blocking out blasts.
"Can you see in the dark?" said Dracul.
"Yes" said Aldrich. He inspected Supermind. The elderly man's heart was completely pulverized.
Yet, remarkably, Supermind was still alive, though barely. The perks of being a top tier Alter. His eyes, now blank, roughly focused on Aldrich. "Ir-Irregular…"
"His condition's too far gone," said one of the medics. "Initiate cryostasis. The least we can do is preserve his body."
Aldrich's [Death Sense] triggered, and he could see Supermind's body lit in a green silhouette, near death. However, he could also see something else. A gray tint to the silhouette.
Supermind was cursed.
Aldrich had theorized before that the way that the Stranger's attacks seemingly had a curse like function to it that rendered whatever it killed, such as Randall, unable to be raised as an undead.
Or rather, one could raise them as a corpse, but not with their soul intact.
However, it was impossible to tell. The soul purging was like the purifying or curse effects in Elden World, but other than that, there was nothing to tie it to the game.
It could have been an Alter power that did the same. Or an alien one.
But now, it was more obvious. This energy was very much like the curse effect in Elden World, registering as such in his [Death Sense].
'Volantis, tell me, is that demonic?' relayed Aldrich. 'Your ability to sense energy is the best there is. The best even among the Necropolis.'
'It is. But unlike any demon I have encountered before,' said Volantis. 'But I must you remind you, O Armored, that demons are creatures of many realms. They are spread across a wide breadth, many of them in realms so far from each other that they know not the slightest bit about each other.
Over time, these differences, especially with our ability to adapt to new realms, may grow to such extent that some demons may be unrecognizable from others."
'I see.' It was basically divergent evolution. Demons that settled in different realms over time could develop so many differences that they essentially became new species.
'Our power, 'curse magic', as the Elduin Realm called it, is one that predates the realm. It is a primordial force of erasure that represents the inevitable end of all things, and it can take many shapes and forms across many different realms.
This cursed energy is unlike any I have encountered before.'
'So a demon from another realm,' said Aldrich.
'That is my guess.'
'Good. Then I know more about what I'm dealing with.' Aldrich mentally took note that the Stranger had tried his best to conceal his demonic origins before.
With the frost bots, their energy was more concealed. 'Cleaner' as it were, harder to trace. But with this, a direct attack, probably from the Stranger himself, his energy signature was right here in a much stronger concentration.
It would be possible to identify the Stranger by analyzing the energy signature. He was sure Medula and the Death Lord could focus on using Supermind's body far better than Randall's.
However, that meant taking Supermind's body - the body of a worldwide treasure and hero.
"Get the cryo-injection" said the medic.
"Wait" said Aldrich.
"Will you restore him?" said Dracul.
"No, once he dies, he dies. But I can track his killer down with the body."
"If you can do that, we can too. We can't just give up his body to you," said the medic.
"You can and you will, if you value finding the killer at all. There are things that I alone can do." Aldrich nodded to Dracul. "If I have his body, I can take the next step in breaking the Trident apart as well."
"Listen to him" Dracul ordered. "On my authority as a Sentinel."
"…" the medics looked at each other, unsure what to do. Even with Dracul ordering them, handing over Supermind's body was something they were hesitant to do.
"It's…fine." Supermind spoke softly, the last inches of his life barely staying together. "A long time ago, back when I fought Zahak, Vanguard, when he still smiled, said something to me. He said, 'it takes an Irregular to beat an Irregular'.
I thought...it was stupid logic. But now, I think...maybe there is some truth to it.
Take my body. Hopefully, it will help you see."
Supermind's breathing slowed, his gaze drifting from Aldrich to the ceiling. "Soon, my old friend...I will be there."
The old hero, one of the three greats of old, drew his last breath.