[size=9]Batten Tower, Sublevel 7[/size][/i]
The elevator opened on a long corridor the width of one you might find in a hospital, only nearly twice as tall, and covered in slate gray hexagonal tile from floor to ceiling. He recognized the configuration easily enough. Before the Manor was destroyed by Renna, the basement level had been outfitted the same way.
Batten Industries OmniProof armor tiles.
The entire building above them could collapse directly on top of this, every level driven downward, and this level would remain completely intact.
Stepping out of the elevator, he started down the hall, noting the doors on either side. If the distance they were spaced was any indication, the individual vaults were fairly large. Each had the Batten Industries logo and the vault letter emblazoned on the door, and biometric security panels next to each. In an earlier time, he might have been curious enough to pry. He still could, he thought. Executive level access meant that Ed trusted him enough to see all of his secrets, which most likely meant he could probably open any of the doors down here.
He wasn't here for that, however.
He reached the vault door labeled G and stopped in front of the door, looking at the logo, the letter, the tiling of OmniProof armor covering it. He didn't need what he was certain he would find behind this door. Things had changed quite a bit since the last time he was in Rhy'din, after all. Five years ago might as well have been another lifetime for him.
But then, it wasn't a matter of need. He wanted it, just as much as he had then.
He took a step forward into scaning range of the biometric security panel, holding still while it scanned him, feeling the electromagnetic waves permeate his body. A moment later he heard D.I.A.N.A.'s voice.
"Leonidas Heracleides. Identity verified. Access granted."
He looked up towards the sound of the voice, a slight frown on his face. It was definitely the same voice, but...different. It took him a few moments to realize what it was. There was no breathiness, no sultry tones like a seductress. This was a cool, clipped, professional voice, though it was still undoubtedly the same. "Diana, did Batten change your programming?"
The holographic projection of the construct flickered into view. Blue, he saw, rather than golden in color. "No, Mr. Heracleides. I am a different version, from another timeline. The D.I.A.N.A. that you knew was destroyed by the entity you know as Renna. I have taken her place."
He frowned slightly, staring for a moment. This was a new development. "And...you were created by, what? The Edward Batten of the timeline you're from? How did you get here?"
The glowing blue hologram regarded him for a moment before answering. "I was brought to this timeline by Isabella Batten, who is the genetic offspring of the Edward Batten of my timeline of origin."
Surprise rippled through him as he stood there a moment, shocked. "Ed...has a daughter...?"
"That is correct, in a manner of speaking, though not technically precise."
He shook his head. That was going to take some explaining, he thought. "And did I exist in that timeline?"
The hologram nodded. "Yes, Mr. Heracleides. However, in the timeline I am from, your counterpart is deceased."
Another tingling wave of surprised emotion swept through him. "Deceased? How did that happen?"
The AI hesitated a moment, as though unsure of whether to provide that information, before she spoke. "Your counterpart was killed by the one we called Shadow in my timeline."
"Shadow." That was Katt's codename. He was about to ask if that was the name of her counterpart in the alternate timeline when he heard a heavy metallic thump from within the door and it swung open to reveal the inside of the vault, and the subject was ushered out of his mind for the time being.
It appeared that Ed had taken everything from the penthouse he'd lived in when he was still an employee of Batten Industries and stored it here. The furniture, his clothing, even the decor - neon signage, posters, pictures of himself and his father, some other personal items - it was all here, neatly arranged for storage. Even the Desert Eagle he carried for his sidearm was here, set in a display case.
He barely noticed all of it, though, as he walked into the vault, his gaze fixed on the back wall. There, standing in an alcove by itself, was the thing he'd come down here hoping to find.
The Spartan Combat Exoskeleton.
It looked brand new, just as he remembered it, without a hint of damage from plowing into the ground the last time he'd worn it. He wondered to himself if Ed had repaired it, or simply made a new one. It took up most of the alcove, the crimson and gold armor of his own design gleaming in the lights that shone on it. A grin came to his face as he remembered what it was like, strapping on that suit and flying like a bat out of hell. "Diana?"
The hologram shimmered into sight next to the armor. "Yes, Mr. Heracleides?"
"Is this thing combat ready?"
"Yes, sir. Mr. Batten took the liberty of making some upgrades in your absence. Would you like to go over them now?"
He arched an eyebrow at the AI, but nodded, the grin widening on his features. "Tell you what, Diana, let's get it on and you can tell me all about it."