Chapter 169: Imprisoned
Aldrich said those last few words without any hint of threat in them.
The intent was, of course, a threatening one.
At face value, it seemed like Aldrich was telling Solomon Solar that he was one of the few genuine ones out there, but in reality, it was a jab at the fact that Solomon Solar, the golden hero who everyone looked up to, was anything but clean.
Still, Aldrich did not want Solomon to know that Aldrich knew this. That was why he kept his tone neutral. He would keep the rank 1 hero guessing until it was too late, until Aldrich had Solomon dancing right in the palm of his hand, at which point Aldrich would close his fist and crush Solomon.
All the knowledge that Aldrich knew about Solomon, about Blackwater, about his criminal involvement, about his son, all of that would come crashing down on the golden hero soon enough.
But now was not the right time. Solomon Solar's smile cracked for the slightest of moments as he stared at Aldrich with a questioning gaze. But his usual smile returned right afterwards so that the media could never capture him without It. "Further delays will not be tolerated," said the two Guardians that came back to Aldrich's sides. "Please proceed to the transport or face retaliatory force." "Ah, looks like my time is up here," said Aldrich. "I'll keep you to your word, Solar. Once I get out, I want to see you here, in Haven, so that we can work together. You called me a 'friend'.
I'm looking forward for you to prove that."
Aldrich looked over to the crowd and spoke up, over the din of the carrier above. "Before I leave, I want you to remember what happened tonight. Solomon Solar promised his assistance to me, and with that, Haven's renewal is all but guaranteed.
Until I come back, though, keep yourselves safe. Keep yourselves healthy. I just sat down and got to know all of your names - I'd feel bad if I couldn't see some of you again."
Aldrich stepped away and let the Guardians escort him. They marched behind
Aldrich, pushing him towards the open carrier. "Remove all armor and armaments from your body" stated the Guardians. "This armor is a part of me," said Aldrich. "It cannot be removed." "Initializing confirmation scan...," One of the Guardians pointed their mechanical hands at Aldrich, and the hand broke down into a cloud of grey particulates that then quickly reshaped into a cylindrical scanning mechanism.
A green light streamed out from the mechanism, washing over Aldrich. "Physical scans show an irregular skeletal system covered by unidentifiable metals and organic matter," said the Guardian. "Attempting AC scan..." "Forget the AC scan," said Aldrich. "My powers are automatically concealed.
You won't get anything out of me even if I wanted to show you."
The Guardian ignored Aldrich and continued to scan Aldrich. After a few seconds, it reported, "Scan unsuccessful. Unable to determine whether removing armor from the target will cause physical distress.
Erring on the side of safety, we will allow you to maintain possession your armor. Be warned that any hostile action will be met with appropriate force and-" "I understand, so get on with it." Aldrich nodded and stepped forward, right below the square shaped opening that led directly into the black and purple light of the Iron Box.
He looked up at the glowing darkness above expectantly. He had removed his
Materius, stripping away his physical flesh to leave nothing but his skeletal form covered by Volantis.
This made it seem that Volantis was a part of Aldrich's being or, at the very least, absolutely necessary to keep him alive.
Aldrich saw as a sudden blue beam projected downwards in a pillar that completely covered him.
Aldrich felt weight push down on every inch of his being. The Guardians stepped aside, and as they did so, the weight bearing down on Aldrich suddenly completely faded, instead turning into the direct opposite sensation of complete weightlessness.
A fast retrieval gravity beam. A high-tech piece of equipment located on new transport aircraft that allowed them to easily pick up personnel or key targets on the ground. Normally reserved for high level military or hero operations.
Aldrich was in the big leagues now. Any force used against him was going to be near the highest end. High tech like this, the Guardians, S rank heroes, those were all free game to use against him.
It was both a compliment and a warning.
Acompliment in that it confirmed Aldrich's power and potential influence.
Awarning in that if Aldrich made a misstep, then all this force would rain down on Aldrich with no restrictions.
So be it. Aldrich had never been the type to take risk before. This was the first time he had ever taken as much risk as he did, but he had to admit, he was not opposed to it.
It made him anticipate just how much sweeter his victory would be.
The gravity beam picked Aldrich up, taking him in with surprising speed. In just a quick second, he was within the Null Box. Beneath him, the hatch of the carrier slid shut, followed by the heavy metal floor of the box sliding shut right after.
With that, Aldrich was now in complete and utter isolation, locked inside a metal cube of lined with nothing but darkness and an eerie dark purple blacklight glow.
The walls of his prison were just plain, solid metal with the Null Ore lining the edges of the cube structure in strips.
The space around the Null Ore seemed to be vaguely distorted. An odd visual property of Null Ore that nobody knew the cause of.
The box was deathly silent, and Aldrich could hear absolutely nothing outside of it. The place was so quiet that had he been alive, he could have probably heard his own heart beating.
This was another property of Null Ore.
Whatever enclosed space it was lined isolated itself from the outside world. It did not create a completely different dimension, but it did distort space in such away that it was extremely difficult for anything outside of an enclosed Null
Space to interact with anything within it.
Aldrich had heard stories of some prisoners that went insane when they were isolated in a Null Box for too long. Many of them killed themselves, believing that the sound of their heartbeats, of the gurgling and churning of their very own innards, was too loud to bear.
But to Aldrich, this complete and utter silence was calming. It was a good change of pace from the hectic chaos of the night. It gave him time to think and focus.
Aldrich had long since theorized this, but just based on how his abilities seemed to circumvent every known rule for Alter powers, he figured that Null based containment methods did not work on him either.
Aldrich was half right in this regard. He could still circulate mana through his body and he could feel that if he tried, he could cast spells. He imagined the same went for Volantis, too. His personal combat capability, therefore, was not affected by Null containment.
However, Aldrich realized that he was not entirely unaffected either.
What Null containment did hamper was his telepathic links. He could not look into the minds of his units in a way very similar to how he was disconnected from his units when they entered a separate dimensional space like the Nexus or Necropolis.
But Aldrich did not worry much. He had made sure to keep mental tabs on
Casimir and Valera and their respective forces, and he had confirmed that
Casimir had made it well out of the city and Valera had entered the Nexus.
By now, the Red Circle had also been reduced to ashes, leaving zero leads to ever reach back to Aldrich.
This just meant that all Aldrich had to do was wait. Wait until he was transferred over to a proper grounded prison.
There he would have one whole week to himself.
Aldrich prepared himself mentally. It might have seemed like he had an entire week of isolation and silence to himself, but that could not be farther from the truth.
Null based containment had one glaring weakness: it was impossible to keep surveillance over anyone inside of it as it disrupted technology too. That meant that Aldrich could do whatever he wanted while he was imprisoned without fear of anyone watching him.
Plenty of free time for Aldrich to use the Sign Stone gifted to him from the
Death Lord to enter the Nexus and clear his Trial Quests.
In the end, Aldrich's 'prison' would be nothing more than just a nice and isolated space to power level free of potential distractions and dangers..