Get Advocated


kristen_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif marjorie_icon.gif pete_icon.gif praeger_icon.gif russo_icon.gif savannah_icon.gif

Scene Title Get Advocated
Synopsis What promises to be a fantastic show turns into something explosive with expletives and booming with laughs. It'll grab rating faster than a …. well you know.
Date November 21, 2010

Studio K

Extra security personnel— tall suited men dressed for success— lines the closed set of The Advocate today. Like last week, there is no audience. There is no non-essential personnel. In fact, things are tighter than normal today. The understated nature of last week’s show holds, and the usual humour of the bright coloured set has been dimmed into muted neutrals, at least for a couple more weeks.

That familiar theme musical number indicating The Advocate is about to begin streams through the studio. Like last week, when the camera starts rolling, Bradley Russo is already seated behind his desk, issuing the camera a lopsided smile. His well pressed sky blue shirt peeks out beneath his navy suit, and draws out the blue in his eyes. A single dimple craters his cheek as he waits for the theme to end.

The desk itself is nothing out of the ordinary aside from the large black ADVOCATE mug sitting atop it. An intern had been sent to examine the fluid contained therein before the show. As an underaged, very wholesome and down-to-earth new high school grad, all she could tell Kristen was that it was clear. The producer can only pray that it’s water. To the right of the desk are five rather (deceptively) comfortable-looking arm chairs (in reality they are firmer than most people would prefer, likely to literally prevent guests from getting too comfortable), blue-ish grey in colour, designated for each of the guests; in front of which is a small coffee table, designed to house water glasses (well ADVOCATE mugs) for the guests. Behind the desk is the silhouette of New York City alight against the ‘night’ sky— it’s a faux skyline— merely a special effect to maintain some place for the set and some context for the new viewer.

The producers booth is visible to the guests and host, higher up than the stage itself yet completely accessible to their eyeline; perhaps to keep the host in check when he refuses to listen to his verbal instructions.

Finally, Russo address his audience, “Good evening folks! It’s a delight to have you join us tonight! I’m Bradley Russo, and this is The Advocate.” His lips twitch into an all out grin. “So I was having a moment earlier today. I drive this truck wannabe. It’s a black SUV. I know, I know,” he holds out his hands defensively, “It’s not a truck. Believe me, I’m well aware. Hence the use of the phrase wannabe. I’m well aware of where I rank on the cool car scale. I just don’t measure up. ANYways.” He rolls his eyes at his own small tangent, “I have to note, even though it’s absolutely not a truck, my love for Stella— yes, that is her name— remains. Or… remained.” Russo arches his eyebrows expectantly at the camera with a heavy sigh. “Well… I had to fuel Stella up. So I drove to the gas station. Unfortunately on my trip I very accidentally got t-boned by… a hummer.” The smile fades as Brad’s jaw drops. “A hummer! Can you believe that?! Out of any vehicle known to man to get hit by I get hit by a pseudo military assault vehicle that essentially destroyed Stella.” He points to a single scratch above his eye. “As you can see, I am more than fine. However…” he forms a cross over himself in the old Catholic tradition. “May Stella rest in peace. I recognize this loss is small and rather insignifcant when recounting the last few weeks’ events, but I was told that if I didn’t address the little scratch above my eye it would turn into tabloid fodder. So. No fodder here.” He winks and shifts behind the desk.

He lets a few seconds of silence pass before regaining the smile. “I have to note that while New York has weathered many storms, I’m glad to say that martial law appears to be working and some semblance of order has been restored to our fine city. Kudos to those men and women who risk their lives everyday to keep us safe in our beds.” He raises his mug as if to cheers it with his viewers, and with his eyes alight with an unspoken and rather unknown mischief, he brings the mug to his lips and takes a long drink.

After swallowing he lowers the mug to the desk. “Regardless, we have a brilliant show for you today. I’m sure everyone was reading the New York Times expose on evolved prison a few weeks ago. I think we have— yes, we have copies of the pictures.”

The pictures of Moab that were in the times are put on the screen, “Take a look at these. As you can see this evolved prison facility that was in operation some time ago and, according to the Times, Tier 3 evolveds were arrested merely because of what they could do. Last week there were enmasse riots through New York. In light of this expose and the riots, our panelists will weigh in on what evolved prison currently looks like as well as what it should look like. Kristen, would you like to introduce our esteemed panel?”

”Thank you Bradley, tonight’s panel is an extra special treat for The Advocate tonight. I’ll start off with our first panelist, the much loved Magnes J. Varlane. Magnes is a regular on our show, most recently employed as an intern to Tracy Strauss, he has had a wide variety of careers that have all had something to do with public service. Many of our viewers have been enlightened by his passionate speeches regarding Evolved rights and how the laws are affecting them on a daily basis.”

There’s a slight pause as the light dims over the head of Magnes only to illuminate over a blonde woman with a bright smile. “Our next panelist is esteemed author Savannah Burton. Miss Burton’s Amplified trilogy is has been on the New York Times’ best seller list. Her research into the Evolved has given her an outsider’s view on the trials and tribulations of the SLC positive and she’s considered something of an expert. Her books are widely available at any bookstore and websites. Savannah has also been on the show before, our viewers might remember her rebuttals on the DHS episode.”

The light dims over the head of Savannah and brightens over a woman with shocking read hair. “Our next guest is piano teacher and candle maker, Mackenzie Mihangle. Most of those who know her call her Marjorie.” Pause. “Marjorie has an extra special viewpoint to bring to the panel today, her brother was an inmate in Moab penitentiary. Four years ago after the bomb, her brother Griffin disappeared. Thinking him dead for this long, Marjorie only recently discovered that he is actually alive. Though she hasn’t been able to find him to make contact, she does have concerns and questions about her brother’s care while inside the walls of the now famous prison.”

Once again the lights grow dim over the panel and then flare up again over the head of Pete Varlane. “Our last panelist is Pete Varlane. We were very lucky to get Pete tonight, due to his busy schedule as the director of operations for the Commonwealth Institute of Massachusetts' Cambridge Research Facility in Cambridge MA. He’s got a lot on his plate. Pete is also a former professor of theoretical physics at MIT as well as the father of fellow panelist Magnes J. Varlane.”

The studio lights come on to illuminate over everyone and the camera pans to Brad just as the disembodied female voice intones, “Back to you Brad.”

«Alright, let’s get this show on the road… Did someone switch Brad’s mug before he walked out on stage? I don’t want a repeat of last week. Dirk? Did you get that one thing I asked done?»

”Welcome, panelists,” Bradley shoots a small smile to each in turn before returning his gaze to the camera momentarily. “As usual we are pleased to have you with us and I’m sure our viewers will find your insights particularly useful in the evolved prison debate.” He raises the glass to his lips again and takes a thoughtful swallow, as if considering where he’d like to begin. He clears his throat as his smile melts away, transforming into a humourless straight-lipped expression. “Perhaps we should begin just by hearing your thoughts and comments on this recent development. MoAB was a facility designed specifically for housing and imprisoning evolveds. What do you make of its conditions as well as the allegations that Tier 3 evolveds were arbitrarily confined within its walls without having committed any crime?” Again the mug is brought to his lips.

Pete Varlane is generally a classy gentleman, from his manicured pinstriped suits and stylish neckties to his avante-garde 50s-era demeanor. Tonight on the set of the Advocate he looks like he has fire-ants crawling up his spine. Unable to sit still, cradling a mug of water like it was a flash of bourbon. He stares down the line of guests, his attention locked on the young man that he had absolutely no fore-warning was going to be on the show, the young man that — had he deigned to go into the green room at all — he would have run into.

No, Pete Varlane is presented with the most awkward family reunion in the history of family reunions. Staring from his position on the opposite end of the row of seats, Peter Varlane's attention is locked entirely on his son Magnes.

The son he abandoned.

The son he tried to tell people died in the Bomb.

At least until he started making a name for himself.


Magnes' eyes widen when he suddenly sees his father lit up on stage, a man he hasn't seen for a good four years. And then it's confirmed, Cardinal was telling the truth, he really is with the Institute?

He came wearing a black unbuttoned suit jacket, with a shirt that has a large picture of John Constantine smoking a cigarette on the front. "Well, in any other situation, I'd start with 'Where the hell have my parents been for the last four years', but I'll stay on topic." Yes, his son swears and has opinions now, with minimal stammering as long as no breasts or Nina Dobrevs are in his immediate field of view. "I've known about Moab for a long time, I actually mentioned in when I was on Glenn Beck, but at the time the public simply considered it an urban legend. I also know someone who was in Moab, but I'll have to respect their privacy since I don't have permission to talk about them on television. But what do I think? I think it's disgusting. It's as if the government is saying that all the ways our current rights are being taken away, just isn't enough. They have to take our rights, crap on them, then stuff our faces in it and spit on us for good measure. That's what I think about Moab."

«How could anyone ever think it’s a mistake for insisting that Magnes be on the panel every week? We need to get Kincaid started on the betting pool… how long until DHS picks him up to get the name of the person he knows.»

Marjorie isn't necessarily comfortable. But this is her mission - this is how she can help. This is how she is helping. If she does well here, perhaps her face will be known. Perhaps her voice will be heard. Perhaps she'll be called back, so her voice can be heard again. She has her hair curled in a 1940s style, her lips painted red. Her dress is brown with little flowerbuds all over it, with puffed sleeves. She wears strappy heels. Her hands are set on her lap, ankles together.

As it comes time for her to talk, she opens her mouth a little. In her shyness, she blushes, and glances down a moment until she composes herself. It only takes a moment or two. "I'm sorry, I'm not used to speaking on television. But…Mr. Varlane…." she glances between the men, as she is sitting in between them. "The…the younger Mr. Varlane is correct in saying that the crimes committed against innocent Tier 3 citizens that were confined at MOAB were and are entirely unconstitutional. Worse, they are inhumane, and they go against every societal notion we as a country are raised upon. We would not lock up African Americans because their skin is darker, nor would we lock up women because they have the ability to reproduce. What was done to Tier 3 Evolved individuals was a violation of civil and human rights and…perhaps with this discussion.." she looks between Pete and Magnes, apparently totally out of the loop, "…we can eliminate the possibility of these grievences ever occuring again."

Savannah Burton's eyebrows raise slightly at the odd situation of father and son. The blonde is dressed in jeans, which have been dressed up with a white ruffled blouse black jacket as well as tasteful jewelry. She glances down at her mug to make sure it does actually say 'The Advocate' and not something that might be airing at 11am on a weekday, before she looks back up and around at the other panelists.

"Honestly, just the idea of Moab is offensive. It's a violation of civil rights, and I'd like to see someone answer for it. Regardless of their abilities, you do not lock up someone for their potential to cause harm. You don't put them in prison and take away their rights for the potential they have to cause harm. If that's the stance we're taking as a country, I could give you a whole list of people who don't have Evolved abilities that have a great deal of potential to cause harm."

Clearing his throat, Peter looks up to Bradley and then clears his throat before taking a sip of water. "Alright, you'll have to excuse my son, I didn't raise him to be a knuckle-dragging chimpanzee but apparently that's what 'living on the edge'," his fingers waggle in air-quotes, "will do to someone in the absence of a college education." Shifting in his seat, Pete looks askance down the line at his son, then back across to Russo.

"So this whole Moab thing is a pretty big deal, yeah. I work in a contractual position with the Department of Defense, have for the last eight years. I never knew about Moab, and I can bet you a shiny nickel that a lot of other people didn't either. Now the government hasn't come out and made a press statement about it yet, probably because they're still reeling from the Chicken Little leak about the damned sky falling or whatever…"

Taking another sip of his water, Peter swallows audible and runs his tongue over his lips. "So," his brows raise, "Moab. You know this all sounds like something we had come up in the media this summer. This sounds like the Company, truth be goddamned told. Now this is just conjecture on my part, admittedly not the tin foil hat kind my son has practically trademarked," another look to Magnes, "but really when you add two plus two and get four it makes sense. The Company was a clandestine organization operating outside of the bounds of government law, secretly squirreled away in practically every branch of government. Could they have built Moab to hide their crimes?"

Pete nods his head and emphatically states, "Yes."

"Could they have kept it covered up with the influence they had?" One brow raises and Pete looks to Bradley. "Yes."

Then, glancing at his water Pete adds, "Can I prove that they did it? No. But if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and by God if it floats like a duck…" Peter takes a long, drawn out sip of his water.

"Odds are it's a duck."

«Dirk, find out what Pete’s schedule is for the next six months. I think I could build a show completely out of those two… Sorry Russo, but they might just outshine you this week. Better work on some gold material of your own. Open this one up with questions of rights. Where do yours end and mine start. Do the rights of evolved that have the capability to destroy life take precedence over ordinary people just because they have the capability to kill?»

Russo’s eyebrows furrow briefly as he looks up to the production booth, an unuttered question tugs at his lips and eyes— one directed at a producer who can read the expression like a well memorized book. The expression quickly transforms to a playful lopsided grin, semi-secretive like some concealed joke. He tacks onto Varlane’s comment, “Or a witch. If you like Monty Python.” He shoots the camera a quick grin. Yes folks, he is kidding.

He blinks hard twice and then forces his most charming grin. "Interesting thoughts folks— and intriguing two of our guests actually knew about the prison's conditions prior to the expose." He presses his lips together. "But it begs a lot of other questions. What should the rights be of someone capable of wiping out an entire city? The nuclear arms race and impending doom between nations kept people in line, but what consequences exist for the kind of person who can single handedly destroy an entire city? Is it just being smart as some might suggest?” He brings the mug to his lips again and swallows. “Simply put: Do your rights end where mine begin or should the right of another bomber potentially snuff mine out?”

"I'm so sorry, Mister Russo. I haven't started going to college yet, except for a few months of online courses. Maybe I'd have finished college by now, if my parents didn't decide to abandon me when Midtown exploded. But I guess making sure I know that when a quantum field as a whole is considered as a quantum mechanical system, and that it's observable from an infinite set, because r is continuous, that makes you a good father, huh?" Magnes shoots right back at the older Varlane, and continues on with answering the question.

Clearing his throat, he shifts his focus back to Russo. "I'm for Evolved rights as much as the next person, especially one in my position. So let me talk as someone who did cause a lot of destruction. True, that other guy caused more damage than me, but if I had more control, I could have handled it much better. My ability is far from being a nuclear bomb, I'm no more dangerous than someone with a license to operate a small wrecking ball. But speaking purely as someone who did something like that, without meaning to? No, I wouldn't have wanted to get thrown into Moab, but I'd have accepted some sort of temporary suppression, until they could have taken me somewhere safe to teach me about my ability. But if I had the power to destroy a whole city? If I was a walking nuke? I still wouldn't deserve to be locked away, but this is where millions of lives comes into account, and the only instance where permanent suppression might be considered a mandatory option, in my opinion."

«Dirk, are you writing any of this down? snap snap I want you to mark the Varlanes off for preview commercials. Get those dirty looks in there.»

Marjorie waits her turn politely, hands twisting a little on her lap, nervously. "Anyone can be a danger, though," she says, countering Magnes' point. "Timothy McVay was, as far as we know, unevolved, and yet he caused a great deal of devastation. It is people with intent we should fear. And while it is true that accidents happen, accidents also happen in other aspects of life. Chernobyl, for example. Quite simply, the answer to accidental power mishaps is open discussion and open, available and unbiased education. Evos and Non-Evos alike should learn at a young age what a manifestation is, what it looks like, and how to try and control it or mitigate it if it ever happens to them. We can be a preventative society instead of a reactionary one without violating a single person's rights. And let us remember that putting a single person in MOAB doesn't punish or prevent that one person from being hurt or hurting others. They leave families and friends behind…" Marjorie's voice wavers, her soft brown eyes growing softer. She pauses a moment, looking at her lap to hide her face until she is able to control herself. It seems as though she might cry a moment, but she manages to reel it back in. Her face lifts again. "They leave families and friends behind. Who are our politicians who believe that they have the right to devastate not just individual lives, but the lives of families, of entire communities?"

«Education keeps coming up, Bradley… Let’s quit beating that dead horse and get onto something new. We’re going to bore our viewers with it. People want sensation, not lectures. Dirk, cue Praeger, we’re going to get him out here… move him from the green room and tell him no, he can’t rise from the middle of the stage in a cloud of smoke. If he asks why, just tell him it’s not in the budget.»

"There's no doubt that there are people with dangerous abilities. Moab wouldn't have built if people didn't feel that there was a threat." Savannah peers into her mug for a moment before looking to Magnes, then at the others. "There's a very valid point there. The idea is… why are these abilities considered dangerous? Is it because of their potential for destruction, or is it because they cannot control it? I think for Tier 3 individuals, the idea is control. You have an ability that could be potentially destructive, and if you don't know what you are doing, you're dangerous, simple as that. If you have the training and you choose to say, blow up something, that's you choosing to be stupid and harm people."

Savannah pauses for a brief second before continuing. "When teenagers learn to drive, there's caution taken. They don't know how to control a vehicle yet. They're trained by someone who knows how, and eventually, they take a test and are given the privilege of driving that vehicle. Cars are dangerous. Look up the statistics on vehicular related deaths. It's pretty bad. But we trust people by giving them a license and saying, 'Hey, we've taught you all we can, be safe'. And if they screw up, if they drive drunk or hit pedestrians, they're punished. I don't think people with abilities should be treated differently. You learn to use your ability, you're considered a safe member of society. If you choose to use it to the detriment of others… you should expect to face the consequences. Don't lock people up for the fact that they possess these abilities, lock them up because they've used them wrong, by choice."

"You know it's funny you mention McVae, because there were laws trying to prevent people from doing what he did too. Laws against assembling home-made explosives, laws against doing what he did. Laws he broke. Now I know," Pete motions his cup to Marjorie, "whatever doctorate or PhD you have in PolySci probably makes you a better judge of how the government should run things from me," all this said in blatant deflection of Magnes' commentary, "but I for one think that comparing one shed-bound manifesto-typing looney-toon to someone who can create a thermonuclear chain reaction by being angry isn't even on the scale."

Pete leans to the right in his chair, crossing one leg over the other. "Theodore Sprague, the man behind the man. Media didn't cover his death much, post-midtown, but most of us who followed the media trail closely know he was one of Sylar's victims, snatched right out of police custody. Sprague— well we didn't know it then, but we know now— was Evolved. Living nuclear fusion." A sip is taken from his cup, as Peter uncrosses his legs.

"The man killed his wife inadvertantly by giving her radiation poisoning because he was about a thousand Curies too bright for their relationship. How, exactly, are you supposed to police that? I don't know, and I get paid to figure out solutions to that sort of thing. Nobody has a good answer, nobody."

Lifting his cup to his lips and sipping again, Pete's brows furrow. "Adynotyline will be one good solution, but that won't come out until the spring and then that also assumes that everyone with a dangerous, uncontrollable urge to kill all humans will willingly medicate themselves. We can't even get people with diagnosed medical conditions to take their frickin' medicine half the time."

Pete lifts one brow. "You know them, uh, not Mormons… I don't recall exactly, but the churchy people who don't believe in medicine? What happens when one of them manifests the power to kill all their friends and family, but refuses to take a negation drug?" One brow raises. "What happens then? They haven't killed anyone yet, but at any moment lets say they could sweat nerve gas and kill a classroom full of students on accident."

Pete looks down the line of panelists. "Do we let them go, knowing that they could kill someone in a single moment? Do we lock them away until they learn how to not kill everyone with one sturdy fart?" He then looks to Bradley. "Do we violete their religious freedoms and force them to medicate?"

Pete slouches back in his chair, rolling his shoulders. "I get paid to come up with solutions to these problems. Viable solutions. I don't have any. What does that say about the world?"

Peter's brows raise slowly as his lips hover near the rim of his mug. "What does that say about the people who hired me?" That's almost a joke.

«Off religion, get Praeger out here… He didn’t ask about the smoke? Good. Keep it moving, camera three follow him, closely.»

”Now, as most of you know, we always have one ace up our sleeves here on The Advocate. I’m very pleased and honored to introduce tonight’s special guest, Secretary Raymond Praeger.” Brad actually claps his hands at the announcement of this new guest. “The secretary of the Department of Evolved Affairs recently had an attempt on his life by an evolved, yet has maintained support of the civil rights of SLC positive citizens in our country.”

His fingers tap absently on the desk. “It seems appropriate to flush out these ideas of rights. Should we wait until people with more violent abilities purposely use them on others or are there other measures that should be taken to suppress such abilities? Beyond which, how can such people be reigned in when they exercise immense bouts of power? Are there strategies citizens should employ when encountering such evolveds?”

«I swear to god this program is going to top sex as a passtime. Look at him… Yeah right there, Three move in closer, get a shot of his face… That’s right. Right there. Look at that. This guy was made for television.»

Ace up the sleeve is, as ever, impeccably dressed — all navy and white, tonight, frameless glasses glinting faint glare beneath studio lights as Raymond Praeger takes his place on the stage, looking happy to be there and healthy. Hands lace together once he's smoothed out the deep red and gold of his tie— colours of the DoEA seal— and ticking an analytical glance over the faces he shares stage light with. Pausing, notably, on Pete Varlane, before Russo has his attention.

And it seems he has ready words. "To talk about rights, it's my firm belief that Evolved citizens have the right to live comfortably and to manage their own ability. Education and awareness are vital componants towards managing powers that might not presently be under the control of certain individuals — however, there's been a lot of research to support the idea that all abilities are within control. It's a matter of learning and patience. The strategies that others need to employ in cases where this is not yet so is to not assume danger, and let the authorities intervene when absolutely necessary.

"And might I just add that it's an honour to be invited on the show! I look forward to contributing my own point of view to your wonderful discourse," he adds, his voice warm.

"We should certainly send people to Moab with the Evolved ability to abandon their children, using the largest crisis in American history as a cover. Oh, wait, that's not an Evolved ability, that's just bad parenting." Magnes crosses his arms, sitting back in the chair, offering Praeger a brief nod. "I'm all for Evolved education, that's been one of my main points whenever I come on this show. But when it comes with people who have the power to be a nuclear bomb, education just isn't enough. Yes, we can give them control, but after that, it's like saying 'Alright, we trust you to not blow up an entire city, move on with your life'. That just can't fly. I can look past most dangerous abilities, any potential damage is minimal at best, but my beliefs, my morals about Evolved when WMDs for abilities? There has to be a solution beyond education. Not Moab, not locking them up, never that, but something."

He motions over to Pete. "Maybe this shining example of a father who'd never abandon his son without calling for four years, can enlighten us on at least some theories, even if he doesn't have outright solutions?"

Praeger! Marjorie gasps like a little fangirl, or perhaps like a housewife who is looking at Leonardo DiCaprio. At the very least, she's polite about it, covering her mouth with a hand when she does so. And then it's her turn to speak, and she's all aflutter again. "Well…it is certainly a pleasure to have Secretary Praeger here. I…" She blushes deeper, her train of thought lost. But she does gain it back.

«Someone grab Mihangle a wetnap, I think she’s about to have a joygasm.»

"Mr. Varlane - the older one, not that you're terribly old, dear, you look like you're right in the prime of life - has a very difficult job, to be sure. I'm sorry for Mr. Sprague and his loss. But you say he was killed by Sylar, snatched out of police custody? That is true? If that is the case, Mr. Varlane, it's clear that those in power failed Mr. Sprague. There was no open discussion about being Evolved, no safe place for him to learn to control his ability or to even find out what was happening to him and why. And yet the alternative - being in police custody - seems to have failed as well. May I be so bold as to ask what measures you are considering or advocating that will make the tragety of Mr. Sprague - both in his inability to find help for his ability as well as to be protected from society? One hopes that these things are being considered, and that you are only teasing when saying that you have no answers. That does not help incite a great deal of faith for the system."

"Welcome," Savannah says, nodding towards the Secretary. She, on the other hand, isn't flustered in the slightest, pursing her lips as she speaks again. "I agree that prison isn't the correct idea. Prison is for criminals, people who have willingly broken the law. There's the risk for someone who has an ability that's far too dangerous, like a nuclear bomb, but there has to be a solution. I can't say I know for sure, but just locking them up is a violation of rights, no matter what label you stick on it. Once there's a clear solution, there needs to be a clear definition of who is someone who is absolutely too dangerous to let their ability go unchecked."

"I'm going to take a step back to Marjorie's comment to explain one point. Sprague got killed in an age of relative ignorance," Pete explains with a motion of his mug to Marjorie, "he died the day of the Bomb, before the world at large — except for apparently the Company — knew a flying ford focus about people like us. Now if anyone failed Ted Sprague, it was the Company." Then, with a look down to his lap, he amends, "any failures since, rest squarely on our shoulders."

"But, you know I will go out on a really long limb and admit that Magnes might have some good ideas. Maybe all that political strife he caused in Japan by trying to play super hero also ground some political know-how into his head by osmosis?" Pete flicks a look to Magnes across the seats, then down to his mug of water. "We can't always keep people with destructive abilities at bay. But you know what's even worse? Trying to determine what abilities are destructive and just how much."

Pete lifts his mug up, taking a sip. "You know, Linderman-Act registration relies solely on what basically amounts to trust. You trust someone to explain what their ability is fully capable of, trust them not to lie, trust them to keep the DoEA up to date. But you know what? They don't."

Pete shakes his head slowly. "When I had to Register, it was a hassle. Six hours in demonstration of what I could do, six hours and discussion before I got labeled a Tier-1, which means I don't need to have my ability made publicly available, which means you aren't getting to see my Registration card today." There's a flash of a smile at his secret kept.

"But you know, I could have lied. Did I? No," and that much is said before Pete takes another sip of water. "Have other people? Without a doubt. There's no book we can refer back to, either. See, we can't just go 'oh, you manipulate fire so you must be just like this other fire manipulator.'" Eyes roll, "No, it's like apples and oranges and cinder blocks. Not even the apples and oranges relate exactly to other apples and oranges too, the analogies all go out the window. One pyrokinetic is different from the next, is different from the next."

Somewhere in this rambling, however, Pete finds his point. "That, is what my work does. Research, cataloguing. See, the Commonwealth Institute is a research company, and we analyze information given to us by the DoEA— all anonymous— about different Evolved who demonstrate their powers. We're trying to come up with a comprehensive database of all of the variations of abilities, trying to find commonalities. That's what the offices in Braintree research, at any rate."

Clearing his throat, Pete lowers his mug from his mouth. "We're in baby-steps mode here, this country. We're trying to come up with solutions to a scary problem, and we're making toddler mistakes. It doesn't help that the only adult in the room — the Company — was also lying to us through their dirty teeth. So we're kids, kids trying to learn, making bad mistakes on the way because we were taught wrong on purpose."

There's a look over to Magnes, then back to Russo. "Would that be a thing, raising a kid wrong just to see what happens?"

Psychological warfare, thy name is Pete.

«Get me everything you can on this Company, I want one of their ex-operatives on camera next week. Russo lead in with the clip we got from in the mail… lets get that out there before the news gets old, we’re the only ones in the country with this footage, let’s not let it go to waste.»

It’s moments like these Russo is thankful he’s never got to know his father; sometimes a life without family is just much simpler.”Thank you all for your insights. Obviously the idea and concept of rights is particularly important and up for debate, particularly in terms of collective versus individual rights. And there is certainly validity to every perspective, particularly in terms of registration and registration lies. Last week it was proposed that suppressing genetic expression of abilities is the solution. Thoughts on that?” Even if he wants opinions, he’s moving along. With a quirk of his eyebrow he’s glancing at the production booth and then back to his guests. “In terms of rights we need to remember that abilities can get out of control not just in terms of intentional harm…” His eyebrows furrow, “Can you please cue the footage for me?” And then, there’s an unusual cut-in in the show…

A camera is set up in front of the statue of liberty, in a position that would likely require someone else to be filming… and flying. But it's perfectly stable where it is, and the image of the White Knight standing on its head with his arms crossed can be seen. His American flag scarf is even dramatically blowing in the afternoon wind. "I'm sending this video into the Advocate, since right now it's one of the few media outlets that I actually trust." he explains with his voice modulated to be like three speaking at once, at different tones instead of one deep one like a typical modulator. "I want to make a public statement, to clear up a few things. I go by the name White Knight, for a few obvious reasons that I won't waste your time going into. I won't be a bad impression on children and call myself a superhero, I'm a vigilante, what I'm doing is illegal, and children should not try this at home. The real heroes are our police and firefighters, EMTs and doctors.

He walks a little closer to the camera, arms still folded as he speaks. "Me? I just have my ability, I can't sit home while so much is going on in the city. I have to be out there, I have to help. I'm not here to grand stand, to gain publicity, to make money, or anything else like that, I just want to help. I'm not going to get anyone hurt, I'm not going to interfere with the police, I even plan to tip them off first because I know busting a drug house could completely ruin an investigation. I'm just here for the average Joe. Stopping muggers and bank robberies, save people from burning buildings until the firefighters can get there, and if I have to, I'll even help an old lady cross the street. That's my mission statement, I'm here to help with immediate dangers and things that the police can't touch, not interfere. And in case you were wondering, I don't kill, I don't even carry a gun. None of this makes what I'm doing any less illegal, that's not what I'm concerned for, I just want everyone to hear what I'm doing from the horse's mouth."

He suddenly crouches, doing a dramatic pose. "I don't have a catchphrase yet, so… I stand for Truth, Justice, and the American way!" and then, the video cuts.

The screen returns to Brad. Russo arches his eyebrows again. “Some would say that such vigilante justice is precisely what this city needs in light of the recent riots. Yet, vigilantes also operate outside the purview of the law and governmental control. What do you make of evolveds seeking such a role? Who is to police people who are trying to police others?”

«Excellent… It’s like who watches the Watchmen. Yes Dirk, I saw that movie… Don’t even start.»

"Some might say that, Bradley." Praeger glimpses a glance over the tops of his glasses towards the host. "But we— and by we, I mean the Department of Evolved Affairs, and I can safely say that the rest of the government would agree with me— do not. Vigilantes believe they can deal out justice without a jury, without a fair trial, and though this gentleman here assures us that he will in no way interfere with our justice system and work with police, there is no fair way to judge that. I would implore he stop. To wait, unless he wishes that Evolved become even more feared than they already are since 2006, exerting power over other people outside of the confines of the law. Pete Varlane— "

A breath of a chuckle here, a little deprecating, Praeger raises a hand to adjust the sit of his glasses. "Mr. Varlane makes an excellent point, at the very least, when he says we are learning. Curbing uncontrollable abilities does not end with illegal imprisonment and legal education, no, but we can't well mandate psychological treatment or medical solutions, for example, without thorough research. Without time. Rushing would be inhumane — and I think Moab is a perfect example of that.

"As for Evolved seeking to apply themselves towards heroism, I would ask they take the same page from non-Evolved seeking to do the same. Earn an education. Follow a career path. Equality goes both ways."

«Stay in school, hugs not drugs… This guy needs to be on public service announcements.»

"My father is correct, if that was his point. We can't base an entire system on trust, and that's what most people don't understand about registration. It doesn't really help, anyone who's going to cause harm, is in no way going to bother registering, why would they? And I've seen some scary things out there, things that make nukes look like waterguns, things that registration couldn't possibly stop. As most people know, my ability is gravity manipulation, and do you know what I felt a few months ago?" Magnes looks up, his gaze scanning over the entire panel, then rests on Russo. "I sensed something horrifying. It had to be an Evolved person. It was a gravity pull so strong, so condensed, it was like feeling the entire planet in one spot. I felt a black hole, and then it just disappeared, and I never saw who did it. To this day that scares the hell out of me, and currently no measure makes me feel any safer. Unfortunately, I'm at a loss for what to suggest, because my father is right about medication, you can't force people to take it, or know that they will."

"But you shouldn't force people to take it," Marjorie insists, glancing back at Praeger with a little blush. He's really here! "To force people to register or to take medication is to violate their liberties, even if they are committing a crime, as our vigilante there was. There have been many other vigilantes in our country's history. Do we force them to take drugs that will render them unable to walk? No, they go to court and receive the proper punishment there. As an Evolved, we ask for no different treatment. Anyone can commit a crime, or set off a bomb, if they really want to. They can take the necessary steps. There are laws against it, but we can't arrest people before a crime has been committed. The solution is not in larger government regulation and control of our daily lives, but in giving citizens the tools to help themselves. Making education and understanding free, available and widespread will help everyday Americans understand better how to live as an Evolved or beside them. The people who want to commit murder or other horrible acts of violence, Evolved or otherwise, aren't going to voluntarily register themselves, as Mr. Varlane - the younger one - has said. Citizens who are evolved are still citizens, and should be held to the exact same legal standard as any other citizen. If the entire criminal justice system needs to be reformed then that's one thing. But there has been no push for that, so we can only assume that it is operating at or near expectations. If it's good enough for American citizens, it should be good enough for all American Citizens."

"Mr. Varlane, the elder one, is right. Abilities are not the same, even if they're under the same heading. Two pyrokinetics might be entirely different, just like two healers might not heal the same. I think, in something like genetic suppression… it should be a last resort for those abilities that do end up being deemed too dangerous… and I think those abilities should be case-by-case. After all, everyone's a little different." Savannah says, though she purses her lips and moves on to her reaction to the clip.

"The White Knight says he's not about to be a superhero, that he's doing this to help people, and yet he's got a superhero name, a costume, and he's trying to come up with a 'catchphrase'. He might be trying to help solve things, but if he really wants to help people, a costume and a secret identity is not the way to do it." She pauses. "Vigilantism is a problem. It's not something people should jump into. The police have enough to worry about without having to keep vigilantes in check. Sure, I feel like they could make a positive impact… but doing it as outlaws? If you want to go around purposefully helping people cross the street, that's great. There are plenty of ways you can volunteer, or even use abilities to help others that don't involve you breaking the law."

«I like her… get with her agent and see about scheduling more shows. She sort of adds a level head to the discussion.»

"You know who needs to be genetically suppressed?" Pete's brows raise, "The White Knight. That bat-shit insane circus clown puts on his underwear on the outside of his pants, wears a mask and runs around breaking the law and thinks he's doing a community service." Pete lifts his water up, motioning to one of the monitors off-camera.

"This guy, this lunatic, dispenses his own personally-drafted brand of justice however he sees fit. No thought to due process, no thought to civil rights, no thought to whether or not using whatever ability he has recklessly could cause collateral damage. You know what that sounds like to me?"

Pete lifts his brows and one hand to his ear, as if waiting for someone to chime in with an answer, but he doesn't give enough time.

"Crime. Can you imagine what the White Knight would have to say if the government suddenly took up his model for justice? Imagine if instead of Martial Law, we just let FRONTLINE do everything for us. Put a bunch of amped-up super-powered people in tight suits in charge and have them make things right how they think is good. Do you have any idea how asinine that sounds?"

Between words, Peter finishes the last of his water, licking at his lips as he leans forward to set his cup down on the table in front of his chair. "The people think Martial Law is a bad idea because it affects their rights. The government can arrest you for no good reason. Know what the White Knight probably does? He probably — if the internet tells me anything — kicks your ass. That's right, he just kicks your ass because it seems like the right thing to do, protecting innocents or some kind of self-gratifying nonsense."

Pete reluctantly relinquishes his glass and slouches back in his seat. "That guy deserves to go to some secret prison. Where they lock away costumed nut-cases who just want to feel special, but don't want to try and actually make a difference."

«Remember the button when we get into post… Because unlike Eminem, the FCC do bother me.»

”Excellent points, Mister Secretary. Stay in school kids,” Brad swallows and shoots the production booth an ironic smile before adding, “Don’t do drugs.” His eyes sparkle with that same irony as he hones in on one particular issue, “The consensus seems to be that education continues to be key here; it’s a solution to the registration problem and acts as an acceptable stream for would-be heroics.” He glances between his esteemed guests. “What kinds of education programs should be enacted? If people refuse to register how can potential crimes be documented or suspects be rooted out? Further, if people continue to live in fear, how can they be expected to carry out registration or self-police? Even Foucault believed order exists because we internalize exterior governmental policies as there’s always the chance someone is watching. If people are allowed to live off the radar is abuse then inevitable?”

"I would like to remind my fellow panelists that the Registry, unfortunately, has nothing to do with trust," Praeger notes, a hand gesturing, open palmed. "Not any more. Just like any law, it has to do with enforcement, rules, regulation. There are penalties for not registering, and now that we are effectively rolling out equal registration, there are restrictions. There are two kinds of people that do not wish to Register — those that break the law anyway, and those that are scared of what might happen to them if they came out with their ability."

He links his hands together again, after ticking these two points off on his fingers. "And one of our goals is to banish that fear entirely by creating an equal playing field. As for education programmes, we've seen facilities already catering to Evolved education and learning. The Suresh Centre is probably one of the best examples we have of this, a facility devoted towards supporting Evolved being Evolved. I find myself agreeing with Ms. Mihangle and her views about Evolved education and legal fairness."

"I like comic books as much as the next guy, not that I had parents who would let me read that sort of thing, but going out in costume, pretending to be a superhero? That's just insane. It's a complete disregard for the legal system, dying up investigation resources they're probably using to find the guy. His heart's in the right place, but keep cosplaying to conventions and in the bedroom, where costumes belong." Magnes states his peace with a firm nod, moving on to the next phase of questions.

He seems considerably calmer, despite the constant jabs at his father. "Registration in its current form simply isn't the answer. Dangerous Evolved are still running around unregistered, while law-abiding citizens register, get their privacy taken away, and then get punished when Humanis First uses the registry to hunt them down. I'd even compromise. Let's say registration stays illegal, let's say they don't do much to change it at all, since when was the last time the government did anything that wasn't a PR stunt? Tracy Strauss' former intern talking here, by the way. But let's say we don't change any of those things, but we took out the part about people's privacy being put on display for the world to see, I think we'd have a lot more registered Evolved, and the government could keep track of them a lot more efficiently. Right now? It just seems like they're handing us to anti-evolved on a platter."

Then, he stands up, offering a Phoenix Wright point directly at Praeger. "Now that's bullshit! Equal playing field my ass. Non-evolved register, but I don't see you taking their privacy away, telling people where they live! Don't you try that PR crap with me, I learned from the most devious woman on the planet!"

«Button on that… But keep on him, make sure the viewers can read his lips after we bleep out the words. Man, I never thought Magnes was going to rise up… We almost lost this ep.»

Marjorie had a nice little speech all prepared. But then Magnes is on his feet and Marjorie is gasping like an appropriate girl. One hand covers her mouth, the other holds the arm of her chair as though she may well fall out of it. "S-Secretary Praeger," Marjorie says, trying to regain control. "I…appreciate that you share my views. Very much that I do. But I think we need to go further than a single center for Evolved to learn about Evolved. I'm talking about classes, available all over the country in public squares and churches - if the churches so deem to invite them - educating everyone on what it means to be Evolved, and how non-Evolved can help support their Evolved neighbors, and visa versa. I think if we put our faith in the American people as a whole, we will see that the more we learn about one another, the more we will be able to support each other in difficult times. Most people do just want to live in peace." And then she goes back to staring at Magnes, her mouth slightly agape. Well she was getting her final point out.

Savannah's eyes cut to Magnes and she lets out a slow, exacerbated breath. "Mr. Varlane, can we be civil, please?" Her eyes dart over to Pete. "Both of you." She takes a sip from her mug, mostly to compose herself. "The fact of the matter is, as far as Registration goes, yes, it's not equal. But that doesn't mean we aren't trying to level the playing field. It doesn't mean that the government just gives addresses to Humanis First. Honestly, until I hear that the addresses of Evolved people have been compromised from a legitimate news source, I'm going to have faith in the government, regardless of the fact that I don't think mandatory Registration is the best option for the American People. I've heard a lot of stuff about the government, but attacking it is just as destructive as Humanis First saying that Evolved people shouldn't exist. If there's going to be equality, then it's not the best idea to get a group of Evolved people riled up against the government—we've already seen the harm that can come of that."

Savannah looks back towards Marjorie. "Part of the reason I write my books the way that I do is to educate people. I'm not Evolved. I can't say I know what the experience is fully like, but through research and spending time hearing about issues and talking with people and establishing these characters… I can give people a perspective on them from my point of view—as someone without an ability. Education is key. They say people fear what they don't understand, and considering the amount of fear out there right now? I think we could all use a good dose of understanding." She pauses. "All of us."

Civility is a good idea, especially—

Wait, someone let a hyena into the studio.

No— wait— that is Peter Varlane.

Laughing probably isn't going to contribute to the debate, but that's exactly what Pete Varlane is doing right now whether he wants to or not. He has a hand clasped over his mouth, face bright red, tears in his eyes and laughter wheezing out of him at Magnes' outburst to Praeger. Every time he tries to stop, he just winds up cracking up more, hunching forward in a doubled-over fold, one hand waving off any concern that maybe he's not laughing but choking.

When he sits up, trying to get his composure, he just breaks out laughing again uncontrollably, rolling back in his chair with mouth agape behind his hand, belly-laughter with a wheeze on each end making him sound like that one, old cartoon dog with the wheezy laugh.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Pete exasperatedly explains with a swallow of his laughter, tears welled up in his eyes and face beet red. "My— " he bubbles with laughter again, wiping a tear from one eye, "my son, certifiably out of his mind."

It's an interesting, hot-button topic, and all Pete Varlane can say in response is those words rasped out between bouts of fitful laughter that he has absolutely no control over. And to think, he held his composure for this long.

Family bonding is an amazing thing.

It takes all of Russo's willpower to fight that smile at Pete's amusement. He even raises his glass to his lips, but he's not stupid enough to actually drink; laughter tends to be infectious when there's fluid to be spat. Once he has a sense of his composure again, he lowers the mug.

”I think— “ Russo begins, but is quickly interrupted. The theme music cues again, a gentle reminder to the host that the show is out of time for tonight. And, with a quirk of a smile shot towards the production booth, he turns his gaze to the camera. “Unfortunately, that is all of the time we have for tonight.” His head turns to his right— where his panelists are seated— and issues another smile, “I’d like to thank our esteemed panelists for sharing with our viewers tonight, and prompt our avid viewers to continue thinking about these issues. In democracy, it’s vitally important each individual understands and contributes to the discursive practice of the issues at hand. Be informed. Read the papers. Write your elected officials. We are a democratic country, exercise the freedoms you have, particularly if you take issue with the freedoms you don’t.” He folds his hands atop the desk and stares straight at the camera, “Thank you for tuning in.” A dimpled grin spreads over his lips, “This is, apparent superhero— thanks to my catchphrase— Bradley Russo telling you to B-Rad America, and have a good night.”

Studio K — Production Booth

Another week, another successful show. This one will certainly be a ratings breaker. Well passed midnight, Kristen sits in the booth with her feet kicked up on the console, rewinding and replaying clips of the show for edits and cuts and segways to commercial and ads. The pad of paper on her lap is full of notes and numbers corresponding to times on several reels of digital tape. She has employees to do this for her but this show… she does it herself.

Freezing on two separate images, one of Magnes and the other of Pete, she kicks her legs onto the floor and leans forward. “You two… Another time…”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License