Authors: Jay Phillips
Tags: #Science Fiction/Superheroes
Kingdom of Heroes
Text Copyright © 2013 Jay Phillips
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
To Christy for always keeping me on my toes.
To Alyssa for being the best writing buddy a dad could ask for.
To Jacob just for being my little man.
Final Journal Entry
[Found on page 100]
Note: The following was written ten years after the war and three days before my death. May all who read this forgive me for what I have done and what I have yet to do.
Twenty years ago, the world changed forever; that’s when humanity’s first genetics altering virus spread across the world. We still have no idea where the M-Virus, as it came to be known, originated from. Terrorists? The government trying to scale back the population? An act of a vengeful and hate filled God? We don’t know and will probably never know the how’s or the why’s behind it. The M-Virus infected almost the entire world; 99.9% of the Earth’s population found themselves contaminated. Most of these people experienced flu-like symptoms, felt sick for a week or two, and then went back to their daily business. A small percentage, less than one percent, died. Another small percent, even less than the lucky ones who died, suffered something else: they found themselves mutated.
The mutations manifested as enhanced mental and physical skills; eventually, they became known as superpowers. Each mutated individual was granted/cursed with different sets of abilities. Some found themselves with super strength; others could run past the speed of sound, and some could read and control the minds of their fellow man. Many of these people tried to keep their powers a secret; some couldn’t. A woman in Peoria accidentally burned her husband alive when her ability to manifest flames turned on as she was climaxing during sex; a college student in Houston inadvertently lobotomized his History professor while searching the teacher’s mind for the answers to a test; a child in Denver was killed when he unknowingly teleported himself onto a major highway.
But others did what television, movies, and years of comic books told them they should: they crafted fancy costumes, gave themselves theatrical code names, and took to the streets as costumed crime fighters. Many of these, especially in the beginning, were cruelly gunned down by career criminals. One time, a man whose sole power was to levitate three feet above the ground (he called himself “The Levitation“) tried to single-handedly take down a meth lab. The police found him with twenty bullet holes after he had been left for dead in a ditch five miles from the lab itself. This wasn’t an isolated incident. All across the country, ordinary people with abilities they didn’t understand and couldn’t control were either dying or being critically injured when they tried to play hero.
Some, though, were better at it than others. Bruce Rogers, a thirty year old former special forces soldier, woke up one day to find he could lift a car above his head, and his skin had become essentially bullet-proof. He draped himself in a red, white, and blue costume and mask, dubbed himself Agent America, and took to the streets of Metro City, fulfilling a lifelong desire of wanting to clean up the city of his birth. The Agent, as he was commonly referred, fought organized crime, foiled bank robberies, and helped little old ladies retrieve their precious kittens out of trees. Eventually, he amassed his own rogue gallery of costumed villains, people insane enough to dress like clowns (or scarecrows or giant scorpions or hammerhead sharks, the originality of these people was something to behold) and match their powers against his. The world became enthralled by this “Superman” and his daily larger than life adventures.
Then, like some convoluted plot from a bad action movie, others began to take up the mantle of the costumed crime-fighter and succeed as Agent America had before them. In Shore City on the west coast, two beautiful teenage girls, one with the power to manipulate flames, the other able to project ice from her hands, called themselves Fire Maiden and The Ice Queen and fought crimes throughout California, while simultaneously finding the time to stop and pose for any and all paparazzi willing to take their pictures, becoming the country’s first true celebrity superheroes.
In poverty free Connecticut, the forty year old headmaster of a upper crust private school realized he could invade the minds of others, manipulating their personal thoughts anyway he saw fit, making them do or believe whatever he wanted them to. Coincidently, his prized student (and the prettiest thirteen year old on campus) discovered she had the ability to change her skin into an unbreakable metal alloy. Calling themselves Psychosis and Metal Girl, they left school together to partake in an oft debated “partnership.”
Elsewhere, wanna-be comedian Billy North went for a run one morning, and in a matter of minutes, he found himself almost three states away from where he started. Realizing he could run faster than anyone else on the planet, he created a costume covered in lightning bolts and began calling himself Speed Demon. Billy fought crime across the country and amassed a collection of mentally disabled villains (The Killer Kangaroo, The Spanker, and The Umbrella Master easily come to mind) whom the other heroes were too ashamed to actually take seriously.
Finally, a man named Anthony Barren discovered he had the ability to invent anything he could possibly dream of. The man who could have built an invention to cure any disease on the planet or an inexpensive replacement for fossil fuels decided to build himself a nuclear powered armored battle suit, a machine which contained more firepower than the love child of an Abram’s tank and a stealth bomber. He called himself The Iron Knight and began to use his armor to attack and destroy terrorist outposts across the Middle East, targeting any country which considered itself an enemy of the United States.
While there were other, less noteworthy, costumed adventurers working throughout America, these seven were the flag-bearers, the top line of American superheroes. Recognizing their potential to do more “good” together than apart, these seven came together to form a group of crime fighting do-gooders, vowing to protect the innocent and right the wrongs for a country they loved so dearly. They called themselves The Seven (let’s face it, all of the good names had been used up by the comic book industry years ago), setting themselves up as the most prominent line of defense this nation had ever known.
For a while, America slept at ease knowing super powered men and women across the country were watching our backs, making sure criminals paid for their crimes, confident in the fact that our “heroes” would be instantly willing to defend their home nation from any enemy trying to do it harm. And for a while, the promise of a nation of “Supermen” held its weight; for a moment, our own personal kingdom of heroes kept our country safe, “for a moment” being the key phrase in the equation.
The end of the goodwill came five years after The Seven formed. A fifteen year old boy in Wichita, Kansas, who had the power to physically explode his body and reform it later, became angry after a teacher scolded him in front of the class. Young William Wilson exploded himself three feet from the teacher’s desk, destroying the school and killing six hundred and forty-seven people, most of whom were little Willy’s fellow students.
William Wilson’s body managed to reform itself a mere two hours later, and he was taken into immediate custody by the police. He admitted to his actions, attempted to show remorse, and when that failed to convince the police or his parents to let him go, he began to glow, signaling another explosion was imminent. Two police officers shot young Willy Wilson in the head before he could explode, saving the lives of over five hundred people in the immediate vicinity. The two cops were hailed as true heroes, and little Willy became the poster child for everything inherently wrong with the country.
“How could that happen?” the people asked.
“Something has to be done, and the Government has to do it,” the people demanded.
Congressional Committees were assembled; experts were questioned; answers were sought. The country found itself abruptly under siege by people who couldn’t control the freakish powers that some God forsaken virus had granted them. Ads appeared on TV, urging you to call your local representative and force them to put laws into place. People with powers had to be controlled, monitored, placed on a leash, for all of our sake. Without warning, there became two sides: us and them. Everyone had to be sure where they sat. John Doe in Middle America had to be sure his kid wasn’t one of those dangerous super powered types. Normal, all of a sudden, had become stylish; normal was vogue.
A bill was sent to Congress, a bill proposing that all super powered individuals would be forced to register with the United States Government, giving up their costumed identities (if they had one), and placing themselves under direct control and supervision from several separate government agencies. All children displaying unique abilities would be removed from their homes and would not be returned until properly trained in their powers. If the abilities were deemed too volatile to properly control, the children would not return home, but instead, they would be placed into the custody of several super power containment centers being built across the country. The bill passed into law by unanimous votes from both the House and the Senate.
Exactly five years and three months since the day they joined together, the United States Government deemed The Seven to be an “unlawful conglomeration of unregistered super powered individuals.” The country’s greatest heroes had unwittingly become criminals. Agent America refused to become public enemy number one in a country he had given his blood to defend as both a soldier and as a costumed crime fighter. Something had to be done, and he saw himself as the only one truly capable of doing it. So he did.
He brought together the super heroes of the country alongside the so-called super villains, and he proposed a truce, both sides viewing the Registration Law as a larger threat than either side could possibly be. Old enemies became friends, and one time aggressors put aside their differences to fight a common foe. Together, they would join forces and take the fight to the one true enemy of all super powered kind: the United States Government itself.
Some members of The Seven, most notably Fire Maiden and Speed Demon, questioned the logic of defying the will of a country they had all tried so hard to protect, but their erstwhile leader, The Agent, assured them it was the simple choice to either fight back or be imprisoned for being who they were, who they couldn‘t help being. It was no different, The Agent told them, than being imprisoned for the color of their skin; it was racism; it was criminal; it was sin, and it needed to be punished. They were no longer super heroes and villains; they had become the Hands of God, those who would make this country into the nation it was supposed to be. And they all believed him.
Shore City, California was taken first. The fight itself was minimal, since no one actually expected an armada of costumed adventurers to invade the state capital. Only a few casualties occurred on the side of the normals, with zero deaths among the super powered. The Agent, while sitting in the governor’s office (the governor himself, along with most of the other state officials, had been declared enemies of the people and placed into the already overcrowded local prison), broadcasted himself across live television to the entire nation, declaring California as property of The Seven and as a safe zone for all people with abilities. He urged all super powered individuals to make the trek to California’s capital and join the coalition, becoming, as he said, “part of the solution.”