Speaking of reviving old ideas, remember The Hero? How about it's sequel, Interview? Or the sequel to both, The Bar? Remember how I said in The Bar that I wouldn't write for this universe again until March?
I just remembered what month it was.
Someone in a heavy black robe checked his jetpack at the desk. After taking a card from the leather-clad attendants, he found an empty seat next to a large man dress in what resembled the uniform for hell’s football league. Gingerly he waved at a woman in a tarantula-styled costume two rows ahead of him and sat down.
From his podium, Venom looked faced the crowd. Count Corpse and the rest of the Bleak Consulate had asked him to give an introductory seminar to some new hopefuls to the super-villainy game. It was a strange feeing to be known as Venom, professional super-villain, former leader of the Golder’s Gangers, and guest lecturer at the B.C.’s San Francisco base, but image was everything.
He tapped his papers on the wooden platform and coughed, adjusting his microphone. Fifteen minutes had passed; his talk needed to continue. “Well now, let’s resume, shall we?
“I had spoken before about the concept of Going Rogue but hadn’t quite explained it. I feel as though I owe you a more… ” He paused for effect, “detailed description of what I mean.” Someone high-bosomed in a psychedelic pink leotard sighed lovingly at his dramatics; he tried to ignore her.
“Now, when you hear the word rogue, you are struck with a number of images of policemen turning in their badges to fight as vigilantes, or perhaps a traitor to a cause; a turncoat or a spy. ‘He’s gone rogue!’ we say of someone who has deviated from a cause. The very word implies aberrant behaviour, straying from the herd to become something unpredictable.
“By that definition, everyone in this business is a rogue. Flattering as it may be –” he joked, pausing to let his audience laugh, “– in our line of work, it means something far more.
“For us, the idea of Going Rogue means violating the Treaty,” he tapped the podium, “It means damning the guidelines laid out by the competition. Not only does this look bad for us, but it also means that we become fair game for those among the competition who have chips on their shoulders. Some heroes even set up bounties, placing prices on the heads of the unaffiliated – a rare instance of the competition taking a page from our book.
“Meanwhile, Hero Groups like The Liberty League or The Autonomy Alliance –” he stopped and put his hands up. Instinctively, the crowd grumbled. A man in a leather jacket and a gas mask booed.
“Now, now, let us be respectful,” he pleaded, casting his voice across the room. Slowly, there came a begrudging acceptance of his demand. When his audience had settled, he continued.
“As I was saying, Hero Companies are bound by similar sets of rules. Say I rob a bank; someone representing The Liberty League is allowed to capture me, if possible, and put me away, but I’m allowed to keep some of the money I’ve stolen so long as the public is presented with the… illusion that justice has been served.
“Our relationship, therefore, is formalized – symbiotic, even. Should anyone break the rules of engagement too many times, they’ll be cast out. They are not as cruel with their own as we can be, but there are certainly… stories.
“I’m painting too grim a picture,” he admitted, pensively, “Going Rogue does not always mean a death sentence. Anyone can return to a company on either side, but the price is high. Marvellous the Hood was accepted back into the AA after an eight-month tenure as a Rogue, but his re-registration fee put him debt with the bank for four years and counting.”
He paused to adjust his tie, staring at a man made of stone two rows from him who was checking an iPhone he wasn’t supposed to have on. Venom coughed at him; the man shot back to attention. The mastermind continued.
“Keep in mind that some do well for themselves by Going Rogue, but this is rare. For a recent example, consider The Army of None, the international crime syndicate led by Bleak Consulate renegade General Vidal. We know how they turned out,” he said, pausing again to let the words hover in the air before shattering them, “but they should never been seen as a model.
“Why? Because though we break the laws of ordinary people, our laws keep the true peace. This is not a war; it is a trade, a trade that balances the scales of justice. We could all say ‘to hell with the Treaty,’ and meet each other on the field of battle this very minute –” his voice rose in pitch, but then began dropping to a grim tone.
“But with fifty thousand-plus empowered around the globe, it is safe to say that,” he paused one last time, “there would not be much of a world left to save. Or rule.
“Are there any questions?” he finally asked, looking out at his people.
A sea of hands raised in the air. He smiled.
If you've been following along, then I think you know where this is going. Or do you? I haven't decided yet. We'll see.
See you next time,
EDIT: May 20, 2012. Why does this one have over 30 views? Edited.