Chapter 171: The Colonel
Aldrich waited for the mysterious military man to respond, and after a few extra seconds of silence, he did. "Do you understand the position you're in right now?" said the man gruffly. "No. Why don't you tell me?" said Aldrich. "Don't get smart with me," said the man as his brow scrunched up in displeasure. "Smart with you? First, you have to convince me that you're even worth the effort,” said Aldrich. "You son of a-," The man caught himself and took in a deep breath, calming himself. When he spoke again, his words had a threatening edge to them. "You have no idea where you're going. You could be getting tossed deep into a prison pit with your key thrown out and forgotten.
You might think yourself strong, but you have no way out of this, not with the
Null containment screwing you over.
You still want to put up an attitude?" "Lsee, so we're starting off with a threat," said Aldrich. "Quite a harsh way to start off congratulating the man who saved an entire city, no?" "I don't give a rat's ass what you did," said the man. "Keep up that easygoing attitude, and I'll make sure you never see the light of day again. You understand me?" "You won't do that," said Aldrich plainly. nae ap. can ae ame te eee a eee es "My life?" Aldrich scoffed. "It's your lives that are on the line here. I am the only existence in history that has ever been able to control a Locus. That must make you and your higher ups wonder, doesn't it?
What if I could control even above that? Maybe even a Titan?
Wouldn't that end it all? This entire conflict with the variants? You are afraid of me because you don't know who I am or what I want to do, but you can't let go of me either, because otherwise you lose what could be your biggest ticket to ensuring humanity's survival." "..." The man sighed, defeated, knowing that Aldrich was right. "I'm only asking for you to take this seriously." "Seriously? Don't be mistaken, I am taking this situation seriously," said
Aldrich. "What I am not taking seriously is you.
You aren't someone that's used to interrogating, are you? No, you're used to giving orders, but questioning, that isn't your specialty. You're too straightforward. Too easily riled up when your authority is challenged.
You're someone higher up with people even higher telling you to get something out of me.
But let me make this clear.
You are not here to take anything from me.
You are here to ask me for things, and it is my choice whether to give them to you or not.
So, if you understand and you want me to talk, then drop this tough guy act.
Tell me what you want, and I'll think about telling you what I can do."
The man stared at Aldrich for a few seconds before shaking his head. "Alright then, you've seen right through me. Let me start this over. My name is Colonel
Davos. I oversee the Irregulars Department of the U.S. government." "Irregulars?" said Aldrich. He had never heard of this department before. "We aren't known to the public," said Davos. "But to give you a brief rundown, we handle unexplainable phenomena." "Such as?" said Aldrich. "That, I am not obligated to disclose to you," said Davos. "But just know that your powers and what you did tonight with that Locus falls under the category of ‘unexplainable phenomena’." "I see," said Aldrich. "Then what is it you want from me?" "First and foremost, your intentions," said Davos. "I and the government need to know whether you are on our side. On humanity's side." "Lam," said Aldrich. "Good. Then you understand that for national security, no, global security, that your powers are crucial, correct? You yourself stated how important they could be," said Davos. "I'm here to broker a deal with you.
In exchange for your services to the government, we will give you back your freedom."
An under the table deal with a shadow government department. If comic books and TV shows were anything to go by, then these deals usually never ended well. Granted, that was just fiction, but it was grounded in common sense too.
The whole point of having a shadow department like this was to remove any sense of accountability. To keep Aldrich on a leash that could be terminated at any moment with no consequence. "My freedom? Colonel, you seem to be under the very mistaken impression that I lack freedom," said Aldrich.
Colonel Davos's eye looked down at Aldrich's cuffs. "You don't seem very free to me." "Freedom is all a matter of perspective, colonel," said Aldrich as he raised up his cuffed arms. "These mean precious little to me. Let's just say as 1 am right now, | don't feel particularly chained down. In other words: freedom isn't something you can use to bargain with me."
And this was very true. Aldrich was only negotiating with the government, the
AA, the Panopticon, the current power structure of the world, because he wanted to give them a chance. If they made it too hard for him, he could just as easily cut his losses and go out into the Wastelands to amass his power or even try to join and overtake a villain organization from within.
Aldrich was the one with the freedom to act here. "What? You think you'll walk away scot free in that hearing you talked about?"
Colonel Davos shook his head. "You think that just because you broadcasted on national news that you would get that hearing that you're entitled to it?
It's entirely possible you never make it to your hearing. You might encounter an unfortunate accident-" "T'll only say this once, colonel, but threatening my life is the last thing you should be doing," said Aldrich. His voice, usually calm, perhaps a little sarcastic, now turned icy cold, laced with an inhuman rattle from his Lich body.
Hearing this voice, the colonel instinctively shivered, his survival instincts flaring and forcing him to step back.
Colonel Davos stepped forward again, regaining his confidence. "I'm offering you an easy way out. If you get to that hearing, there's no guarantee that the tribunal there will be lenient to you.
No, I would bet money that they'll order you to hand over everything you have, your knowledge, your troops, access to your powers, and if you disobey that, then you make yourself an enemy of not only the government, but the AA and the Panopticon.
I don't have the power to change the minds on that hearing - that's outside of my jurisdiction. But what I can do is induct you into my department.
You would disappear from the public eye forever, but you would still be free, and you wouldn't have to worry about the entire government hunting you down every single day of your life." "Free? Now that doesn't sound like freedom to me," said Aldrich. "I would be little more than your pet at that point, wouldn't I?" "Call it what you want. It's either that or you get hunted down," said colonel
Davos. "Because you're far too dangerous to be kept alone.."