Chapter 363 Balar, the Eyed
Aldrich did not look at the symbol for no reason. Normally, it was hidden, but the moment he had come into extended contact with Mel and Beta, he found it reacting for some reason. He could hide the glow by having Volantis cover it over with an additional layer of metal, so Mel and Beta did not know about its existence yet
"Volantis, you can't read this thing's energy signature? Even with your new eye?" said Aldrich.
"I am afraid I cannot, Armored," said Volantis.
When Aldrich tried to analyze the symbol using the helmet interface Volantis provided, nothing happened. A white circle rotated around the symbol, indicating that Volantis was loading an analysis, but that was it.
"Yet another mystery to be dealing with, hm?" commented Aldrich.
"Are you sure it was wise to hide it from the ones hailing from the future?" said Valera. "Perhaps they would have known about it."
"Maybe," said Aldrich. "It's true, they knew Elaine, and she was the one that sent me this. But it was the Elaine of my timeline that did so. I want to keep this matter close to me. This thing...it's important, I know it, I can feel it."
"Vally has a point, though," said V. "That's an Omega Mind fragment we're talking about. It probably has enough information crammed into its dot-bod that it would put an obsessive hoarder to shame. And its from the future.
It must know SOMETHING, right?"
"I'm not too sure," said Aldrich. "Logically speaking, you're right. Beta should know quite a bit. But that's also the issue here. I don't think Beta is revealing all the information it does know. I'm good at reading faces, and because of that, I know Mel's intentions are genuine.
She thinks in a fairly straightforward manner. She wants to fight to protect this world, and her fighting has a rough, violent undertone to it, her swings fueled by loss just as much as it is by the drive to protect.
She's a person I can relate to and understand. Someone I can read and predict
But Beta is entirely different. A faceless entity born from an even bigger faceless entity that wanted to destroy the entire world. It seems peppier than other A.I., but you heard it at the end. It doesn't trust me to destroy the Scrapheart.
That alone is reasonable enough, but it was the way it said it, coldly analytical, that bothered me. It was entirely unlike the warm, accommodating voice it usually spoke with.
Which makes me wonder, which voice was real, and which one was fake?"
"Yeah, you're right," said V. "The way Beta's voice and wording shifted from polite to, well, murderhobo bot thought, was sorta creepy."
"I'm going to have to add another layer of defense here," said Aldrich. "V, you're the center of all my operations. That necklace you have protects you from demonic influence, but I want to make sure you have a failsafe incase, say, Beta does try to hijack you."
"You think that's going to happen?" said V, worried.
"Probably not, but it's always good to have safeties, no?" said Aldrich. "I can't think of a way to beat Beta in Cyberspace. But if it is telling the truth and it's limited to acting just in Mel's proximity, teleportation should give you a good way out."
"What're you planning? Are you going to have a warp capable Alter by me 24/7?" said V. "I gotta warn you, it's insanely boring to a non-techno to be here. They'll just see me sitting down all day, reverse tanning."
"Beta and the vast majority of threats here are most familiar with Alter based threats. Beta has some experience with demons, but hearing the name Ikon confirmed to me that it isn't from Elden World. But I want to double check. Valera, Chiros, what do you think?"
Valera shook her head. "I am no scholar, but no, I have not heard of such a demon."
"They spoke of the demon fragmenting itself. Only an Archdemon can do that," said Chiros. "And I am learned enough to know the names of all of them. Yet, Ikon is one that escapes my knowledge."
"Gehgeh (I don't know who that guy is, but I'll beat him up if he gets close!)" said the Geist.
"I'll have to confirm this with Medula, but I'm fairly confident in this regard," said Aldrich. "Which means, simply put, I'm going to assign you with an undead unit capable of teleporting you when you need it."
"You got someone like that?" said V.
"I do." Aldrich clasped his hands together, causing green energy to shroud them. A magic circle appeared in front of him. The same complex circle that marked the summoning of the Mistknife and Adan.
Large, grasping tentacles poured out from the circle, and V yelped as she rolled backwards, dodging a tentacle from narrowly trying to grab her.
"Huhuhu, I always am amused by that reaction." A voice that oozed delight emanated from the circle. The green tentacles completely covered the circle, wriggling about in the cramped confines of the circle before stopping. "Ah, it appears I am stuck. O Lich, might you widen this portal?"
Aldrich sighed as he held his hand out, reaching his will out to interact with the mana comprising the magic circle. He expanded it, and out plopped a sizable floating sphere of grotesquely veiny green flesh. The tentacles were attached to the sphere, and it was obvious that the sphere was the creature's main body, and the tentacles were its limbs.
Each of the 12 tentacles ended in orb-like protrusions that housed glowing green eyeballs. Speaking of eyeballs, the creature's sphere body housed one giant eye with a toothy maw beneath, smiling with mischievous intent.
"Wh-what is that thing?" said V. "It looks like it came straight out of a h-anime! Not that I watch them!"
"Ooh, scared of these, are you?" The tentacle ball wriggled its tendrils out again, and V shrunk back further.
"Now you know how I feel when I see tentacles," sighed Valera.
"This is Balar, the Eyed," said Aldrich. "A high undead that's the best 'mage type' unit in my command'
[High Undead Limit: 3/5]
Balar turned around and bowed its floating sphere-eyeball body to Aldrich. "Good to see you again, my master. It has been long since you have called upon me."
"Good to see you too."
"And you, my lady." Balar eyed Valera, wriggling his tentacles.
"Don't even think about it," said Valera.
"You are no fun." Balar sighed. Despite his monstrous appearance, his huge eyeball and large, spike toothed mouth were actually very expressive. Almost cute, in a sort of oddly twisted way.
"Apologies, little lady." Balar turned his bowing body to V, making sure to respectfully bend his tentacles back and away. "I am simply amused by reactions like yours, hehehe."
"Wait, so what you're suggesting is that I stay with a giant, immature tentacle monster? 24/7?" said V, pointing accusingly at Balar.
"Excuse me? Immature? I am at the very least, five hundred years older than you, miss." Balar put two tentacles and crossed them in front of himself, just like how a human would cross their arms to show disapproval.
"That makes it worse. You're a perverted old man!" said V.
"Goodness, nobody can have a laugh nowadays," said Balar. "Humans, I tell you." He looked about, seeing the server room and the technology around him. "Hm...everything seems rather...unfamiliar. Uh, where are we?"
"V can explain that to you," said Aldrich, gesturing to V. "You're to guard her with your abilities. Do not get cocky, though, and focus on teleporting her away rather than fighting off threats in the case that they breach this area.
If anything can get here in the first place, they'll be a sizable threat I don't want to risk, and V is extremely important. I won't tolerate failure in this."
"I understand," said Balar. "I will have my [Teleportation Ray] ready, though I do have to figure out where to send this sweet little damsel to."
"You don't, uh, have anyone else?" said V.
"No, this is about as good as it gets," said Aldrich flatly. "Despite appearances and, well, personality, Balar is a powerful undead. Among the more powerful and versatile in my arsenal. His eyes can fire rays that range from disintegration to freezing to acid to, most importantly, teleportation.
He can also provide you buffs by staring at you."
"Expect me to stare at you for quite some time," said Balar, smiling.
"Great," groaned V. "But it's chill. As long as you respect my personal space, I'll respect yours."
"Of course," said Balar. He floated about, looking at the unfamiliar objects around him. "But must I stay confined here? I sense this is a new realm. I should like to explore."
"I can help with that." V tapped one of her cable hairs and projected a holographic screen in front of Balar.
"Ohh, what is this?" Balar poked at the screen, but his tentacle phased through it. "What sorcery is this? I do love gazing at and absorbing magic. Huhu, interesting...we will get along better than I thought."