Chapter 336 Lightspeed and Valkyrie
Aldrich waited atop Arcadia's head, his cloak of souls flickering behind him as he stood tall high in the sky, a figure of imposing black armor that fit the archetype of the 'dark king' character to a T. Behind him, Valera and Chiros stood in formation, weapons raised in anticipation.
All three presented representatives of Haven. Mollusk and Refraction stood back more tentatively in case anything went wrong.
In the distance, Aldrich could see an incoming Halo Carrier, noticeable with its distinctive design of a lengthy main structure surrounded by an array of rotating rings that glowed a bright blue.
He was distinctly surprised. Carrier class ships were enormous, more akin to small floating fortresses than regular aircraft. They could man crews of hundreds with a completely self-sustaining ship environment.
Generally, they existed as mobile space stations, never really entering into the atmosphere.
And they were predominantly Panopticon tech, though some wealthy nations and companies could manufacture their own with the biggest example being the Black Dragon belonging to Imugi War Arts.
The white metal and glowing green magnetic lock strips indicated that this was definitely Panopticon tech, however.
"Is that also a human creation?" said Valera.
"Incredible," she muttered. "It is nothing at all like the flying ships that men made in our realm. No, it surpasses even that belonging to the dwarves."
"Humanity has come very far in this realm," said Chiros. "It does make me wonder whether they would have done the same had they not been in fierce competition with so many other peoples in ours."
"Any people who have a monopoly over all their resources can get far," said Aldrich. He also knew that monopoly bred complacency. Entitlement. Humanity felt like they deserved the world's resources, and because of that, it was going to be hard to ever get them to stand down against the entity.
Somehow, though, Aldrich needed to make that happen.
"Will that ship be a threat?" said Valera.
"I don't think so," said Aldrich. "If it wanted to attack us, it could have done so at that range. If they were hell bent on it, they might have been able to hit us from orbit."
"High up. Beyond the world's skies."
"Truly? Humanity has such capabilities? Then we must prepare our city to fend against it."
"Orbital strike capabilities are heavily regulated and easy to track," said Aldrich. "And extremely rare. If someone hit us from orbit, we would know who it was. Everyone would.
At this point, we're important enough in the world where nobody can afford to hit us with anything like that."
"So this, too, is why you have decided to show your strength to the world."
Aldrich nodded. "Recognition is a form of protection in of itself."
The Halo carrier stopped several kilometers away from Aldrich, quite high up in the sky still. It was cloaked, though he could track it with Volantis's Truesight.
From the carrier, another aircraft shot out. This one was more reasonable, being the size of a large jet.
'Still impressive, though,' thought Aldrich.
The jet was a class 1 Panopticon mech called a Dominion. It was thrice the size of Casimir's jet and outfitted with far superior technologies, its four wings packed with nano-restorative missiles and autocannons.
At the front of the jet, a triad of gleaming blue barrels emerged, each capable of firing high intensity plasma beams.
Casimir's jet looked like it belonged in this modern era, but the Dominion looked like it was ripped right out of a science fiction movie.
Like most higher end Panopticon tech, the Dominion also had a white metal ring floating around it packed with supportive drones that could repair the Dominion using nanobot infused rays that printed new parts at will, even customizing the Dominion on the fly.
When needed, the Dominion could also shift into its mech form, and it was widely considered a symbol of the Panopticon's strength.
'And, thankfully, not possessed,' noted Aldrich, unable to sense any demonic energy coming off of it. 'Still, quite odd. I didn't think the Panopticon would make any moves until they figured out how to deal with the Stranger's possession.'
As the Dominion flew down to Aldrich, he spotted a human figure flying behind it. He immediately noticed this one as Valkyrie.
Valkyrie soared down in her battle armor of gold and green, her two signature colors.
Majestic wings of leaves and golden flowers spread out from her sides, providing her with a means of flight. She approached Aldrich with a neutral, blue-eyed gaze, her face expressionless in its calm focus.
Valera tightened the grip on her shield, the sound of metal groaning under her powerful hold spreading through the air.
Chiros stiffened in alert, his blade readied.
"That one…is dangerous," said Valera. "And strong. Incredibly so."
"You can sense her strength?" asked Aldrich.
"Not directly. Sensing the strength of Alterhumans is still difficult. I do not know when a human here is born powerful, gifted with their far-ranging abilities.
But I know a fighter when I see one.
I know the poise of one who knows battles. I can tell when one does not hold the light of the fight in the eyes, when they have yet to hold their blades properly or wet them in blood.
That one…is experienced. She has seen a thousand battles."
"Not just that," said Chiros. "The way she carries herself - she knows she is unparalleled. And that confidence is not wrought from nothing - it is confirmed in the rite of countless fights.
Fights she has won, no doubt."
"I agree, Armored," said Volantis. "I can sense levels of 'energy' now within the humans of this realm, and that one holds a tremendous amount that is the highest I have encountered thus far.
It outstrips the warrior of the sun. It outstrips the warrior of the dark that you have allied with. The difference is not great, but it is still there."
"She's that strong, huh?" muttered Aldrich. He knew Valkyrie was powerful. She was in contention to be the world's strongest, after all, with her biggest competition being Huanglong from China and Ravana from India.
Together, those three were known as the modern day Triune, though Aldrich felt that was an insult to the Triune of the past. The old Triune worked together for the betterment of the world.
The new one was simply a title shoved on to the three strongest in the world, and none of them did much other than rule their own cities or, in Valkyrie's case, fight powerful beings.
Valkyrie approached first, outspeeding the Dominion. She hovered in front of Aldrich.
Her long white hair and piercing blue eyes emanated a feeling of ice that contrasted dramatically with the warm, life-radiating colors of green and gold that her powers gave off.
Close up, Aldrich could also see that her battle armor was not made of metal, but rather a gold hued wood. Though he had no illusion that said wood was probably far more durable than any metal known to man.
"…" Valkyrie simply stared at Aldrich.
The silence cloyed in the air, threatening.
When silence came from strength, threat was never far behind.
A flash of golden light burst out from beside Valkyrie, the flash expanding and forming into the silhouette of a woman. The silhouette then filled in, revealing Lightspeed, current number 2 hero in the Superboard top 100.
Lightspeed was a powerfully built woman with the curvature of her muscles showing underneath her skin-tight white and gold bodysuit. Emblazoned upon her chest was a shining white star, but aside from that, her suit was quite simple.
Classic in its design.
Like Valkyrie, however, Lightspeed's face contrasted with her suit's bright hues.
Her bright gold eyes were underlined with tired, dark bags, as if she had not known a good night's sleep in years. Her long golden hair was a ragged mess with split ends and clumped chunks from a complete disregard for maintenance.
A curtain of messy bangs fell down her forehead, covering her eyes, and she annoyingly blew air up to part them.
Lightspeed stared at Aldrich, then at Valkyrie, and sighed.
"Say something, will you?" said Lightspeed, elbowing Valkyrie. "Or do I have to do everything myself?"
"..." Valkyrie floated backwards, letting Lightspeed handle things.
"Whatever." Lightspeed hovered in the air, a faint golden silhouette surrounding her. She looked at Aldrich with an utterly bored, disinterested look. "So, here's the thing, officially, we're here to investigate a massive energy reading, the biggest the AA's registered since the Locus Raids.
I know what you're thinking, two S class heroes is overkill, but we have to give the pea-brained public some kind of confidence, yeah? Nothing like two shiny sexy strong ladies to do that, I guess.
But anyhow, the main reason we're here isn't cause of the energy readings. We figured that was you. We, well, he-," Lightspeed pointed at the Dominion as it approached close now. "Wants to meet you, Thanatos."