"…A sponsor?" Minuteman raised a brow as he looked at Aldrich questioningly. "Let me hear that again, you want me to be your sponsor?"
"Yes," said Aldrich.
"I would be more than happy to sponsor you, considering the pure color of your willpower and how much good you've done tonight, but I have to ask: what for?" said Minuteman. "If it's for a Hero Consideration Hearing, I don't think that's going to be necessary for someone like you.
As long as you have a relatively crime free record on your CID, hell, even if you haven't exactly been on the straight and narrow path, so many corps are going to see what you did and try to snap you up.
And they've got a lot more power than me to fast track you to top hero status in the AA.
All the powers you've used today probably exceed any power regulation license you have, but the corps and their lawyers will get that cleared from you in a flash.
Once that's done, you can submit an application to the AA with a corporate backer and then it's smooth sailing from there.
You'll start out in the B class at the minimum with a strong and well funded backer like a Corp.
Probably A class honestly speaking, considering you took down that monster of a Locus.
But with someone like me, well, I'll vouch for you, but my voice alone isn't going to match the strength of a multi-billion-credit company, and there's no telling what'll happen at a hearing."
"That won't work for me. I need the hearing." Aldrich understood where Minuteman was coming from.
But the process that Minuteman outlined, getting a corp to sponsor him, submitting an application normally, that was not for him.
Generally speaking, it would be much better for Aldrich to just sign with a corporation and have them back him.
Like Minuteman said, as long as Aldrich's past wasn't completely horrible, the corp would fast track him into hero status and probably bump him into high ranks with their money and influence.
Hero Consideration Hearings were another way for Alters not affiliated by the Alterhuman Agency to enter the supers industry, particularly after incidents where they used their powers in a way beyond what they were licensed to do for the sake of public safety.
However, where Minuteman's confusion arose was in the fact that Hero Consideration Hearings were used mostly for villains, mercenaries, and other criminal entities that had less than favorable pasts or, in the case of Nomads that did not live in any governed walled city, no traceable past at all.
The hearings were meant for people like these, people that lived in the dirt and shadows, to have a chance to step into the light, have their criminal records wiped clean, and enter the supers industry with a fresh new start.
That was why for these hearings, established heroes needed to sponsor an Alter for a hearing after determining their character and strength to be solid.
In the hearing, a panel of higher ups in the AA, government employees, and Panopticon members would judge whether the Alter in question could actually fit in the supers industry complex. If not, then depending on how bad the Alter's past was, they could get arrested right then and there to answer for their past crimes.
With a lightened sentence, of course, but no self-serving Alter mercenary or villain would want to risk going to jail just for the chance to be a hero when in all likelihood they had just as good if not better lives using their services for the criminal underworld.
In that sense, Hero Consideration Hearings were basically like court trials. You win the trial, and you're allowed to put on a cape and join the AA. If you don't, you get arrested and one more potential menace to society is out of the streets.
That was why Hero Consideration Hearings practically never happened.
On top of that, it was difficult to get one authorized in the first place. Heroes of all ranks could sponsor others, but only a sponsorship from a hero B ranked and above meant anything because it guaranteed a hearing.
"…So you are a criminal. Or a villain," said Minuteman. He did not have any real judgement in his voice. Just some minor surprise that his suspicions had been confirmed.
"A villain? No, not exactly," said Aldrich. "I have no real traceable criminal record. You won't see my threat ranking listed anywhere. Nobody knows who I am or where I came from. And I want it to stay that way."
Technically, Aldrich was dead. And he wanted the anonymity that death provided. That gave him far more secrecy and safety. Afterwards, if things went right, then he would also wipe any records of him in Blackwater, rendering him completely invisible.
The less information there was around him, the better.
"I'm still not sure this is a good idea," said Minuteman, concerned mostly about Aldrich's wellbeing despite knowing for sure now that Aldrich was in all likelihood not someone with a clean past. He truly was a good man. "Once you step into that hearing, your identity, or lack of one, will be made known anyway.
They'll force you to reveal everything about yourself. Your powers, your past, your team - all of that's going to come under scrutiny."
"There's always room for negotiation, no?" said Aldrich. "Don't you remember the case with Dracul?"
"…" Minuteman paused for a moment.
Dracul had been an A ranked villain based in Eastern Europe who had been the leader of an infamous mercenary group known as the Night Raiders widely known for their brutality and efficiency, wiping out their targets stealthily in the cover of night, hence their name.
Dracul and his team had wiped out dozens of well-loved heroes personally for the sake of the Dark Six.
However, Dracul had a change of heart one day when the Echelon, one of the Dark Six organizations at the time, betrayed him, killing his team, his family, and his dog.
Since then, Dracul single-handedly broke down Echelon, eradicating one of the six strongest criminal organizations in the world, and also played an instrumental role in fighting against variants alongside heroes during the Sinking of Moscow that Spybird survived.
Dracul since then was considered like a heroic national icon of the Russian people, and all of that contributed to Dracul going into a hero consideration hearing with the upper hand.
Dracul could negotiate with the AA on his terms, granting himself much more freedom and status in the AA to do what he wanted.
"That could work," said Minuteman. "Your situation is a little similar. But it's no guarantee even then. The AA and the Panop might be on high alert in light of these attacks. They might be a lot stricter on you. Or they might not be. It's just unpredictable.
On top of that, you've got Seismic here working with you, don't you? His sponsorship will mean more than mine."
"An argument could be made that Seismic has been compromised," said Aldrich. "Considering the nature of my powers."
Minuteman glanced at Seismic.
"If you think I'm being controlled, then no," said Seismic said simply.
"I just want to make absolutely sure I get this hearing, that nobody can question my valid claim to it," said Aldrich. "And for that, I need someone 'clean' like you. I understand you might not want to be associated sponsoring me, especially with that neat image of yours-,"
"It's not that," said Minuteman as he shook his head. "My image is something I don't care about. I've never micromanaged it to tailor it into something that I'm not, and I would sponsor you in a heartbeat. I just don't want to see you locked up in response to all the good you've done.
They'll be afraid of you, I'm sure of it. Your power to control corpses is something that's never been seen before. Making a few zombies here and there, that's been done, but this, controlling an entire Locus, this is something far beyond anything anyone's seen.
To be honest, when I saw your power on screen, I felt a chill run down my spine. Not because I was afraid of you, but because I knew just how much your power could change, well, everything.
And everyone in that hearing will be feeling the exact same way I did. They'll fear your power, your potential. And if they don't think they can control you, I'm afraid they'll try and destroy you."
"I appreciate your concern for me," said Aldrich genuinely as his voice lightened. "But trust me, just give me this hearing, and you won't have to worry about anything. I'm quite confident in my ability to be persuasive."
"And if that isn't enough? What if they try to round you and your team up?" said Minuteman.
"Then that's my problem to deal with, isn't it?" said Aldrich.
Minuteman nodded. "You're right. It's not my place to be worrying about this for you. Sorry about that. It just always hurts me to know that there's the potential for someone's good deeds to go punished."
He smiled and reached out a red gloved hand. Aldrich shook it.
"Alright then, we've got a deal," said Minuteman with a smile. "In exchange for saving my sorry ass, I'll be your sponsor… And if those bureaucratic AA sons of bitches try to mess with you, I'll do my best to vouch for you."