"So, has my offering been satisfactory here?" said Aldrich, sarcasm leeching through his voice. He looked up at the necklace, now so far up in the complex weave-work of neural pathways that if he did not have superhuman zoom-in vision from Volantis, it would have been impossible to see.
The necklace copy up there was still the real deal, as far as benefit to the Panopticon was considered. Aldrich did not want the Panopticon to get taken over by demonic influence. It was just too big of a goldmine of technological resources and stored information to risk A.I.I. ever taking over.
And, as Delta stated, the Panopticon was necessary for global security. For now. If Aldrich got a hold of the machine heart, it was entirely feasible for him to take the Panopticon over himself, and at that point, the whole world would be in the palm of his hand.
If the attack on Blackwater this coming Sunday did not work as well, then he would still try to pursue an alternative to the Panopticon. Even if Delta meant well, Aldrich had the gut feeling that she was too limited by her directives.
Aldrich, if he needed to take control, knew he needed to initiate a top down radical change of everything. Change that the Panopticon would oppose.
The necklace copy was a contingency against that. It was called a Hollow. A projection of an item that Fler'Gan could create with his material alchemy. The item was, as the hollow classification might suggest, inferior to the original.
But not by much. The necklace hollow still provided immunity to demonic possession. Possession Immunity was not actually all that high tier a passive and, generally speaking, Elden World players would never have to worry about themselves or their allies getting possessed by demons.
In the game lore, any form of invasive magic was not cost-efficient and difficult to make work. The more invasive and remotely casted the magic was, the harder it was to make it succeed.
This was because all living beings naturally circulated magical energy through their bodies, constantly flushing out impurities that tried to take them over.
Mind control, for example, generally only worked when it was directly physically applied such as with a poison or, say, a Mind Eater's grasp. It was why Fler'Gan's Judicata potion could only impart hypnotic suggestion for a temporary time period whereas as the one that Casimir directly ingested was basically akin to full mind control.
Demonic possession was not just mind control, but attempted control over the soul and the body too. And it was remotely cast most of the time as well.
For existences above level 30, demonic possession was basically a non-threat.
There were some fringe cases where demonic possession was a real threat. For example, it got to be an issue was with extremely powerful demons trying to possess extremely weak beings, and that just generally was not worth it as weak possessed bodies severely nerfed the entering demon as well.
Another case would be when there was a Flame Arc, a physical conduit for demonic energy to surge at a far greater level. That could slowly break down natural resistances and allow possession to spread freely like a virus.
But A.I.I. had no Flame Arc. And the stunt he pulled with the Judicata had cost a massive amount of magical energy, proving just how inefficient it really was.
The Panopticon could easily buffer itself with the fake necklace against A.I.I.
Where Aldrich benefited was in the fact that Fler'Gan had imbued some of his personal magical aura into it, and with his expertise, he had made it so that his aura seemed near identical to the energy that repelled demonic possession.
When the Panopticon incorporated that energy into its neural network, it would also incorporate Fler'Gan's aura.
This did not do anything on its own. At least for now. Fler'Gan's aura was made as 'colorless' as possible to prevent the Panopticon from realizing it was off.
But when and if the time came, Fler'Gan could activate that energy and use it to channel a spell to the Panopticon's brain directly.
Now, neither Aldrich nor Fler'Gan were sure that they could actually take over a super-intellect as fortified as Delta. But Fler'Gan believed that if he had time, he could meld his Mind Eater brainwashing capabilities with a technological virus to at the very least shut down the Panopticon temporarily.
This was a plan that Fler'Gan hatched after he saw the Judicata attack. If A.I.I. could mix demonic magic with technology, then why could Fler'Gan not do the same?
No, his pride as a pioneer scientist dictated that he HAD to match it, if not exceed it.
"This is not an 'offering' but a simple transactional exchange of equivalent value." Delta's voice resonated. "And this transaction has been conducted to satisfactory levels. This sample will suffice In accelerating global security maintenance considerably.
After the projected forty two hour synthesis process, this necklace will be returned to your possession."
"When the time comes, contact my trusty techno here," said Aldrich, nodding over to V.
"Yeah, trusty ol' me," said V, pride in her voice.
"Your preferences have been recorded," said Delta. "I will now divert my operational processes towards accelerating object synthesis."
"In other words, you're done here," said V.
Delta did not respond.
Aldrich took the silence as a not so subtle code for 'yes. He looked to Emrys. The giant of an elderly man was staring up at the brightly lit neural pillars above, the blue-green glow shining brightly off his black eyes.
"That's both sides of the deal upheld," said Aldrich.
"Yes. Yes, that is," said Emrys, a fleeting moment of distraction leaving him. He gestured to the case almost dismissively. "You may take the case now. However, as agreed upon, this is a temporary exchange."
"I understand," said Aldrich. The correspondence with V had indicated that Aldrich would be trading the necklace for the case. When Delta was done analyzing the necklace, it would be returned, and Aldrich would have to return the journal as well.
Which gave him just under two days to study the journal. With a time crunch like that, especially when every single day counted leading up to the Blackwater raid, he needed to consult with the best of the best to get the fastest results possible.
He was due to make a trip to the Nexus.
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