Shadows of Giants 6.3

Honnete was met with an uproar of applause as he entered the room. He cut a striking figure, suit crisp, face framed by a sharp widow’s peak. He thanked the woman who had introduced him then gave a genuine smile to the audience, welcoming the adulation of the crowd. From where I sat I could make out just how tall he was; there was no platform behind the podium that he stood on, as I had expected, he actually just was that tall.

“Almost his entire staff is here,” Gregor whispered as the crowd applauded. “That suggests that something big is going down, but nobody has any idea what. Sources suggest he’s going to try for something big after his victory with the amendment.”

“Thank you,” Honnete said. “Thank you. I’m glad to see so many friendly faces here, especially after our little, ah, administrative blunder.”

He gave an embarrassed half-grin. A laugh rolled through the crowd, and his smile widened.

“There are a lot of notaries here, way more than there should be for a simple political event, including the chief of police and a good portion of the Mayor’s office,” Gregor continued.

“Joking aside, I think you all know why I’m here today. Before I get to that, I’d like to give a few thank-you’s. First, to the Collswell Convention Center for hosting the event. I prefer smaller venues myself, but what can you say, I draw a crowd.”

The crowd laughed again, and some applauded.

Honnete continued. “And to commissioner Blaine, who took the time to be here tonight. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but it means a lot that you’re here.” Another round of applause. “To the office of Mayor Banks, for not chasing us out of town with torches and pitchforks.” Another laugh, more applause.

He knows how to work a crowd.

Honnete’s voice turned more solemn. “And finally, to the former members of the Wardens of Justice, for their years of service. They were an inspiration to the world.”

He paused for a moment, and the crowd was quiet for once, and for a moment the room was silent.

He continued. “I had the opportunity to work alongside director Jamisson during the drafting of UMBRA, and would like to send my best wishes. Get well soon.”

“Bastard,” muttered Gregor. I was taken aback for a moment by his animosity. Jamisson was put in the hospital by one of them, albeit indirectly, I reminded myself.

“Now, to business. I would like to officially condemn the actions of Brandon Lim and his followers. Their actions were illegal, unjust and, morally abhorrent. Their ideals are not what Virtue stands for. As of this moment, I am permanently revoking their membership with Virtue. We will not condone these acts of terrorism against fellow Americans.”

Terrorism? I wondered, but thinking about it further, I realized that “terrorism” was an apt description. Breaking up the Wardens of Justice, hiring villain teams to try to kill the youth team, I’d say that counts.

“This kind of vigilantism, this conflation of justice and revenge is exactly what we stand against, and any similar actions by any of our members will be met with similar severity. Further, we will not be coming to the legal aid of those responsible for these acts of terrorism and will assist with the investigation in any way we can.”

The crowd had an interesting reaction. Most of the crowd applauded, some even standing, judging from those had marked, but some looked sullen and stayed silent.

Woah, that’s quite a divide. I guess we know who the metaphobes are. Most of the city still loves the Wardens, but it makes sense that a power regulation group would attract a different crowd.

“However,” Pierce said, tone changing, “this leaves the Collswell City branch without leadership. I do not intend to leave this city without a presence to represent our interests. And so, I would like to introduce the new head of the Collswell City branch of Virtue, Mr. Robert Banks!”

“Rob Banks? Really?” I said with a smirk as the crowd applauded. I clapped along for appearances, as did Gregor.

“He’s the mayor’s son,” Gregor said. “Adrian Banks-”

“I know that, I just think it’s an unfortunate name,” I clarified.

“Ha. Rob Banks. I can see it now.” He chuckled under his breath, and continued explaining, “My sources suggest that he’s planning on running for office, though they didn’t have details. I suspect he wants to be president someday.”

“That’ll be the day,” I said. “It’s pretty clear what his platform is.”

“I won’t vote for him,” Gregor agreed. “And besides, his family hushed it up, but I’m reasonably sure his family got contributions from Homo Purum. Word of that gets out, he’s going to lose a lot of votes.”

Up at the podium, another tall, charismatic man joined Honnete, though he looked short next to the leader of Virtue. Robert Banks was well known in the political arena, speaking publicly against metahuman integration into society.

“Homo Purum, that was the hate group?” I asked. When Gregor nodded, I continued. “And they chose this guy to lead the branch? That doesn’t make sense.”

“I agree. You’d think they would choose someone with less extreme views.”

Banks shook Honnete’s hand and turned to the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to be chosen by Pierce Honnete himself to lead the Collswell City branch of Virtue. I have a hard task ahead of me in restoring our reputation here, but between myself and the hard work of you dedicated people out there, I think we can do it.”

Banks wasn’t as eloquent as Honnete had been, but the crowd still applauded uproariously.

As Honnete and Banks turned to leave the podium and the sounds of conversation spread through the room, I realized, this is my chance. The crowd won’t be looking at him now. Checking on the sample of the guests I’d marked, I confirmed that most of the tables were talking among themselves now, not watching Honnete.

I extended my arm and covered the paracord that wrapped my arm with darkness, then teleported it to my hand. A slash of black cut through the air between my hand and Pierce Honnete, the tip just brushing the back of his suit. As fast as possible, I pulled it back, tying it back into a bracelet around my upper arm. I quested out and could feel a tiny speck of darkness moving down the red carpet away from me.

Got him! I thought triumphantly.

It was only because I was tracking my marks that I noticed the disturbance in the back of the room, where the people I had marked started leaving their tables, fleeing. I turned and saw what was causing the strange behavior. A figure of indeterminate sex stood in the back of the room, one arm raised.

Holy shit, that guy has a gun!

There was only one person they could be aiming at.


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18 Responses to Shadows of Giants 6.3

  1. A little late, and a bit shorter than usual, but midterms stole a big chunk of my time (including most of my editing time, unfortunately.) The ending is much rougher than I would have liked, I wanted to get it up. May be subject to change.

    Vote on Top Web Fiction, please! That would be awesome! I’m up at 11! (though I still need to figure out how to get my banner there.)

  2. jackmandu55 says:

    I fought it was good! Good cliffhanger! I like the new toy will has that could be pretty useful in the future. Could he technically transport people hes touched because hes been able to transport objects to his hand so he could basically f some people up by transporting them all over the place like into the ground repeatedly. Just an idea but it could be cool.

  3. jackmandu55 says:

    *thought. And sorry that was a really long confusing sentence. Good thing I’m not a writer

  4. Mian says:

    Notaries is not the right word. I think you mean notables?

  5. Michael says:

    Rereading, I find it amusing that the paracord did not, technically, cut through the air at all.

  6. Charles Rowan says:

    I started reading today, and well I like the story, It’s your world but if most of the young teams were disbanded, that means that supercriminality will raise, fast, I hope do you take that into account for the future. (if you want to know why I say this just ask but I think is sort of obvious)

    • Yeah, that’s actually part of the point. You’ll see.
      But from a time perspective, it may actually take a bit longer than expected. The main thing that’s going to increase right away is the vigilantism rate, as the former youth heroes just keep doing what they did before, but you are correct in assuming that a fair number of kids who now don’t have that opportunity may start using their abilities for crime instead.

      Another important thing to remember is that the youth teams normally didn’t actually fight super villains. Normals, maybe, but nothing really dangerous that should be handled by the adult team. Collswell was the exception, because there was a youth team but no adult team for a while, which made the situation more complicated. This means that there won’t really be a significant increase in Metahuman crime immediately because the adult teams are still around.

      Over time, these factors will compound, though, as fewer people would have the experience from being on a youth team to become heroes, and the lower number of heroes would increase Metahuman crime in a never ending cycle. In theory.

      However, is hat worth putting the lives of these kids at risk? At best, it’s child labor. At worst, it’s reckless endangerment and criminal negligence. Is that a moral burden society should have to bear? (Or so virtue says.)

      • Charles Rowan says:

        You need to remember several points, what we consider child labor is skewed by our society, teenagers work and most of this teams, at least how you have put it are teenagers getting a work done and at the same time doing an apprenticeship, with an adult keeping an eye on them so that they dont get to fight a supervillain and get killed.

        Also child labor is either kids lower than 12 or teenagers that are forced, (if the teenagers are willing and have permission from their parent or legal guardian its not child labor)

        Leaving the kids for themselves would mean more super gangs, more bullying by supers, since the kids were taking part of the load by doing some work that was considered not dangerous but necessary, now the adult teams would need to cover those kind of jobs, in as little as 3 months you will see first an increase in normal criminality and when they start asking the adult team to help the police, that means less resources from the adult teams to fight super criminals, in as little as six months the whole situation will be in a very steep downward spiral.

        Also if a kid doing something vigilante gets killed, the parents if they have power would blame the senator and organization that made the kid go vigilante so you may see that happening on other parts of the country, meaning honeton and its virtue group would start getting attacked at its offices by “vigilantes”.

        Another point that i’m not sure if you have think about or not, its that government ussually have a monopoly in force, they want to keep a control over thinks that are dangerous like nuclear bombs, military grade weapons, etc. Leaving superpowered kids who might or might not have the power of a nuke without any kind of adult-government supervision will be a big (huge) no-no for the president and its military advisors this could cause civil unrest, riots, millions of dollars in damages, In other words that bill that supposedly is passed by the congress would be vetoed by the president, maybe not immediately but as soon as his analysts tell the president that hey there are kids with nuclear level power who dont have any supervision from the government.

        In little while I can see the congress making this kind of decision because of manipulation, I don’t see the president or his military advisors would follow through.

        I know you may want this as part of making the story more interesting but it breaks reality too much, if the government decided to sponsor the program is because the government though they needed to keep supervision on as many people who had super powers as they could, and keep those person in good terms with the government so if people who hated the government or people from other countries attacked those superpowered people would help defend our society.

      • Actually, a part of Congress’ powers is the power to review the implementation of legislation by the bureaucracy and overrule the decisions of bureaucratic agencies ( see Congressional Review Act). In this case, UMBRA, as a bill, does not actually specifically mention youth teams- they were established by the Department of Metahuman Affairs as a means of ensuring that the adult heroes would have some experience and would already have passed the requisite psychological screenings and power safety training. Congress’ decision was mostly based on the fact that youth teams are not actually within the scope of the law, from a legal perspective.

        Your point about work vs child labor is valid, however you disregarded the danger inherent in being a hero, which makes it hazardous enough that it is considered unsafe for minors (see Fair Labor Standards Act,) and therefore ought to be illegal.

        I’ll address your other points later today, if I can, but I need to go. Faulty government writing in fiction being one of my pet peeves, I assure you I have most of my bases covered (though some suspension of disbelief is nice too!)

  7. Charles Rowan says:

    Well anyways its your story, so far it looks very interesting, I dont think its possible for the government to decide in favor of dropping the youth teams (too many negatives) it may happen temporarily but that kind of measure wouldn’t survive more than 6 months.

    If you decide the measure need to survive longer, just think you need to give answer why a bunch of hormonal teenagers with built in guns are not being supervised, you need to answer to the parents why there is no official training so that their kids dont go vigilante, you need to answer the comunitty that these kids are not going to destroy an entire block of houses just to take out a drug dealer, because it sold drugs to its girlfriend.

    Yeah this senator got the bill to pass, he pretty much set himself up to be hanged by the media and every parent association in america.

    • Charles Rowan says:

      Oh well i’ll wait your for your answer but I really think that you not trusting about the monopoly of force its just too much suspension of disbelief, at 1 point it stop being suspension of disbelief and becomes impossibility.

      • On the monopoly of force, the government most definitely does not maintain a monopoly on all weapons, but I can understand your meaning well enough. A citizen can’t exactly own a stealth fighter.

        This is the most valid of your arguments, in my eyes. I suppose it’s because an argument for why they did it, rather than whether they could (which they can.) I agree that the measure will probably be short-lived, and that the power training is important, but evidently, other concerns were more important to congress at the moment. Unfortunately, I can’t go into the specifics of why, because that would be a major spoiler. There is a reason other than “it’s convenient for the plot,” but I don’t want to spoil that plot point for the other readers just to assuage your doubt.

    • Charles Rowan says:

      Oh and read your last 2 answers to me, you just contradicted yourself, and that means that probably you dont have all your ducks in a row

      • You’re referring to my saying that it’s not dangerous and then that it is? It is confusing, you’re right. I should qualify that. It’s not as dangerous as being on the adult teams, but it is still considered too dangerous by the FLSA. People have died.

        I apologize for the apparent contradiction. I may go back and explain it a bit more when it happened, I mainly just didn’t want the characters spouting pages of legalese at a dramatic emotional moment. There’s a fine line between what is realistic and what the reader will understand/not be bored by.

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