Chapter 167: A Deal
Aldrich sensed a shift in the crowd behind him as they started to look up at Solomon, getting sucked into the magnetic charm and personality he had worked to build up over the years. They were not on Solomon's side yet because they likely still resented him in some capacity for not helping Haven, but Solomon navigated this resentment well by showcasing humility. Solomon admitted he could not save everyone, and offering to rebuild Haven with his personal foundation made him seem like someone that truly cared. At the very least, even if Solomon had not won over their hearts, with this move, he managed to get them to see him in a neutral light. But Aldrich had a response for this. If Solomon thought that this was enough to get Aldrich to back down, then the rank 1 hero had sorely underestimated Aldrich.
"Oh, did I hear that right?" said Aldrich. "You want to help Haven? You want to rebuild it?"
"That's right, Thanatos," said Solomon. "Seeing a city as beautiful as Haven laid so low like this just breaks my heart. Most of you don't know, but Haven holds a special place in my heart. It's where I-," "Excellent," said Aldrich, cutting Solomon Solar off from going into some heart wrenching anecdote about some bullshit one off experience he had in Haven. Or perhaps he did have genuine memories in Haven, but memories about making deals with criminal syndicates and Blackwater probably didn't work here. "That's wonderful to hear."
Solomon smiled down at Aldrich with a nod. "It's good to see your heart is in the right place, Thanatos. I appreciate that you want to see this city built back up to its former glory, and I promise you, the Sunshine Foundation will do its very best to make good on my words." "Right, I look forward to working together with you to rebuild Haven," said Aldrich coolly. Solomon paused for the smallest of moments, a moment imperceptible to the average crowdgoer, but a moment that Aldrich did not miss. A slight show of wealmess. Of surprise. Aldrich pressed on with his own attack Solomon Solar did not expect Aldrich to co-opt the rebuilding effort like that, and by announcing it in public, Solomon was pressured even further to accept Aldrich's 'offer'. "You see, I've promised to the people of Haven here that I would rebuild the city as well," said Aldrich. "I will be honest here, at first, I didn't know if I could make that happen by myself. I knew I could come close with the manpower I had, but with you supporting me, I now know that this project is all but a guaranteed success. The Sunshine Foundation, as far as I'm aware, has done great things around the world, rebuilding broken homes and giving relief to hundreds of thousands. It would be an honor for me to work with the Sunshine Foundation to let the people behind me call this city their home again.
Wouldn't you agree, 'my friend'?" Aldrich put pressure on Solomon now Solomon had not agreed at all to help Aldrich, but since Aldrich had voiced it directly like this, in front of citizens and the news, now Solomon was backed into a corner where he had to support Aldrich.
Solomon stopped levitating and flew downwards, standing close in front of Aldrich.
Aldrich was impressively tall at this point, reaching slightly over two meters, but Solomon Solar was bigger even than that by a fair margin. Standing against each other like this, the stark contrast in image between Solomon Solar and Aldrich stood out.
There was Solomon Solar. A hero through and through. Shining gold and bright like the sun. Costumed and caped in sky blue with a shining sun shaped sigil on his chest. The favorite darling of this country that everybody knew about.
He was the light incarnate. Then there was Aldrich. Armored in black and blood and bona Spikes jutted from his armor, and no fancy sigils or symbols graced his body. The only decorations visible on him were strips of beating red, raw flesh and blood from his living armor. His hands did not end in gloved fingers meant to hold others up, but armored claws designed to shred and tear. Nobody knew who Aldrich. He was a complete and utter unknown.°
He was the darkness. 0 Yet, thought Aldrich, it would be so very difficult to know who it was here that truly stood in the light and who truly stood in the dark Countless flashes burst in an array of little lights form the many media drones circling above, capturing this near cinematic moment. There would be countless headlines about this moment, but what those headlines would read out depended on who held the upper hand coming out of this conversation. Solomon Solar stared at Aldrich in muted surprise for a moment before smiling brightly again. He held out an inviting blue gloved hand for a handshake.
"Then it's a deal," said Solomon Solar. Aldrich shook Solomon's hand, and he felt Solomon grip his hand tightly, almost malforming the metal of his hand. This was either a display of displeasure or a petty way to try and assert dominance over Aldrich. In any case, it was even more wealmess that Aldrich started to see from Solomon.
Though, notably as Aldrich stared at Solomon's face, the hero's smile still seemed incredibly genuine. 'Shall I engage in battle preparations, Armored?' came Volantis's voice. 'The strength of this grip warrants more than a mere friendly gesture.' 'Relax, Volantis,' said Aldrich telepathically. 'Let me handle this.' Aldrich did not expect Solomon to give in easily, though, because from the very start, whatever Aldrich said did not particularly matter much. In Solomon's mind, Aldrich was in a checkmate position from the very start. "But, my friend, I'm sorry to break this to you," said Solomon as he withdrew his hand and shook his head with disappointment. "You're needed in custody. I myself would be honored to work with you, the man that saved Haven, but until you're out of custody, I'm afraid we'll have to put our collaboration on hold.."