Chapter 320 Capturing the Spider
"What is the meaning of this!?" shouted Desmond in a rage, his eyes flashing bright red. His synthetic dreadlocked hair, made of fiber-net cable, glowed crimson in various segments that lined each lock. He looked around everywhere, and his spider drones spun about, scanning, but they could not identify where that voice came from.
But, at the very least, there was no immediate threat.
"Just business, Des," said Feather. "Our line of work always comes with a hefty side serving of betrayal. You ought to know that best."
"You…" Desmond's lips twisted into a snarl, but he quickly turned to Refraction, needing to get out before venting any anger. "The Warp-Lock's range can't be infinite. Let's go!"
Refraction nodded and shouted to Mollusk. "I'm breaking us out of here!"
Refraction rushed to one of the mobile home's walls, winding back a palm strike to blow it away.
"No you don't." Aldrich materialized behind Refraction in a shower of white sparks, tightly gripping the mercenary's wrist.
"Y-you!" Desmond's eyes went wide as he recognized Aldrich. Or, rather, Thanatos. "It was always you, wasn't it!? The one watching me!? Ever since our meeting, I've always had a feeling of being watched...it was you!"
Aldrich did not respond. He was curious how Desmond knew that, but that did not matter right now. He could tear answers out of Desmond later. What was important was separating Refraction, a warp-capable Alter, from Desmond.
Mollusk reacted to Aldrich, his arm splitting into six suckered tentacles that rushed at Aldrich at impressive speed. The tentacles, however, stopped, clanging against an enormous shield.
Behind it stood Valera, fully armored, the jagged teeth of her hound helm bared.
"I have to deal with another tentacled monstrosity?" muttered Valera. "Gross."
"Not alone." Chiros materialized beside Feather and dashed past the line of tentacles, his orange-red [Hellfire Blade], obtained from the third trial quest, roaring with a coating of fire.
Thin, high-temperature orange lines drew vertically downwards all of Mollusk's arm tentacles before they split apart, neatly severed.
"Gah!" Mollusk withdrew his severed tentacles, smoke sizzling out from their charred stumps.
Aldrich nodded, seeing his legion grow. Chiros, too had grown now to level 45 from some extra Dark Wisdom Aldrich had accrued in the past week.
His appreciation was cut short, however, with Refraction unleashing a backwards kick.
Aldrich dodged the kick and used [Organ Stiching: Giant's Muscles] to pad his armored arms full of bright red muscle fiber. With the extra power, he slammed the back of Refraction's head with a mighty slap like a less than model parent disciplining their child.
Refraction planted into the ground face first, his head burying into the metal in almost comical manner. He grew still, unconscious.
That was Desmond's ticket out of here gone.
"How!? I scanned this entire area! I made sure there were no threats!" said Desmond, shrinking back against a wall as Aldrich approached. Desmond had no real combat capabilities. His Alter power was entirely utility based. His drones could take out maybe D rank Alters, but Thanatos - not a snowball's chance in hell.
Mollusk could not make a move as he faced both Valera and Chiros. .
Aldrich opened a palm towards Feather.
"F-fuck…" Feather grabbed his stomach in pain before it burst open. The Phylactery flew out, landing in Aldrich's open hand. He placed it back into his chest, the armor plating opening up and snugly wrapping back around it.
Feather's gaping stomach wound closed back up in a few seconds with his regeneration.
"Wh-what? What was that!?" demanded Desmond, but Aldrich did not respond. Showing the Phylactery was his way of showing Desmond how he had lost, but Desmond did not understand because it was magic.
And Aldrich was not about to stand here and lecture Desmond on magic.
"There's nothing more dangerous than an enemy you don't understand. Or expect. Take that lesson with you to your grave." Aldrich grabbed Desmond's head and raised him up.
Desmond struggled, trying to pry Aldrich's arm away, but it was like a toddler trying to push back against a fully grown man: futile.
Aldrich reached into his Phylactery and materialized V's Viral Jacker. He clicked a button on the end of the syringe-like construct, and a three pronged needle-port extended out the other end, a line of purple energy glowing bright through it.
Desmond's eyes widened in panic, knowing what was going to happen.
Aldrich jammed the jacker into the back of Desmond's head. Sparks and arcs of electricity crackled around Desmond's head, and he seized violently until his eyes glazed. At that point, Desmond went limp.
V's bug worked perfectly, as promised.
'Good job with the Warp-Lock, Chrysa. I know it's a new technique, but you did great,' said Aldrich. 'Now, can you take this guy in?'
'Thanks father! I trained tons for it!' Chrysa said, though her voice was still laced with tiredness. 'And another one? So many weird guys end up here…but alright, I can handle it for father.'
Strands of white emerged from Aldrich's chest, wrapping around Desmond before warping him away into the Boundary. The viral jacker needed some time to fully work on Desmond, so until then, he would nap in peace and quiet in the Boundary.
"Now then." Aldrich turned to Mollusk. The Alter had regenerated his tentacle arms and shifted his round, unblinking, octopus-like eyes between Chiros and Valera. "About you and your unconscious friend over there."
"With Desmond gone, we've got no reason to fight you," said Mollusk. "Let me and Refraction go, and you won't hear anymore from us."
"Right. But you saw what happened here today. You saw Feather turning over to my side," said Aldrich. "And I have many more plans for Feather. I'm afraid things aren't that simple."
"It's the easiest way to do things for both of us," said Mollusk. "You're strong, no doubt, but I'm no slouch. I'm an A-ranker. There's always an easier way out. Something that works for both parties involved.
If you want us to keep our mouths shut, you could even hire us. That ought to do the trick."
"Such brazen behavior!" said Valera. "You would dare to demand payment even now?"
"Not demand. Negotiating," said Mollusk.
Aldrich recalled back to Medula. "I'm a little tired of negotiating, unfortunately. And-," Aldrich closed his fists, his green necromancy magic swirling around them. "There are other ways to make you two work for me."