“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because if you don’t you are not a human being, you’re nothing but a little louse,” Jonathan replied.Astrid Lindgren, The Brothers Lionheart
…just over five years later…
GARDEN STATE PUBLIC RADIO TRANSCRIPT SERVICE
USBC-1 NEWS’S 11 AM HEADLINES AND LOCAL NEWS BRIEF
From the United States Public Broadcasting Service in the Capital District, this is USBC-1 News. I’m Madalyn McCartney.
Today is the three month anniversary of the end of the so-called Apocalypse Agenda, and all over the world people continue to dig out, clean up, and try to make sense out of everything that’s happened. While some nations such as Japan, Korea and much of the Pacific Rim in Asia, most of Australia itself, and almost the entire continent of South America avoided direct attack or destruction from the various powers, only suffering worldwide catastrophes such as the All-Coastal Tsunamis, they continue to be the exception instead of the rule. USBC-1’s Jason Labrie reports:
LABRIE REPORT: THE APOCALYPSE AGENDA BYSTANDERS
After the Apocalypse Agenda’s first deadly manifestation in Greystone City; after Freya – who had left the United States and Justice Wing the year before – and her followers and loyalists in the Falkens Bataljoner had their first action during the Siege of the Kremlin and the fall of the Soviet Union, and then ended up sweeping through Western Europe and back East, then through the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Rim up through China; after the Ogralin Fastness and the En’hairi Imperium launched opposing invasions that turned the African continent into a battlefield overnight, followed by the Pa’lita Guard reinforcing Earth’s defenses but escalating the conflict; after the Unimaginable’s first strikes forged the core of their mind-controlled armies and their supervillain generals led them to conquest in the United States, Canada, Mexico and points south; and finally after the Mad God Urizen’s true designs were revealed and a surge of the unholy terrors we now call Urizen’s aberrations and leviathans rose up out of the depths of the Apocalypse Agenda, powered by the very energies unlocked by all life on Earth itself, it’s no wonder that the past twelve weeks have been a blur of emergency services, first responders, and super heroes where legally permitted, while hazardous waste cleanup crews have tried to address destruction whose loss of life can be expressed in at least the hundreds of millions and whose monetary value can be expressed in the hundreds of billions. However, a few nations – whether through good fortune or low strategic value – came through the horrors of the Apocalypse Agenda far more unscathed than their neighbors. These so-called ‘lucky’ nations range from Canada, America’s neighbor to the north and her most important trade partner, which like the United States, Mexico, and most of Central America’s other nations was conquered by the parahuman terrorist organization known as the Unimaginable but which experienced far fewer destructive attacks than their southern neighbors. Ruby Brockhouse, a representative of the Canadian Superhuman, Parahuman, and Parawildlife Service, spoke to reporters in Ottawa:
No one here would ever want to minimize the suffering of our Canadian brothers and sisters in Windsor, Toronto, Halifax, Victoria, Ottawa, or Calgary. However, ironically thanks to our defenses being compromised in the Unimaginable’s initial assault, most of the rest of our nation endured little damage compared to the rest of North America and the world. Even in the final days of the Agenda, the destruction and horror wreaked on Canada by Urizen’s aberrations and monstrosities mostly concentrated on airports, bridges, rail lines, and border crossings. At that point, Urizen’s clear goal was to cut the United States and most especially New York’s Hudson River Valley off from any aid from allies or reinforcements. Having survived the Agenda with comparatively light damage, it now falls to us to not only rebuild our cities and defenses, heal our wounded, and mourn our dead but to extend all the help we can to our neighbors both across the border and around the world.
While Mexico and Central America were hard hit by the Unimaginable all the way down to the Panama Canal and bore the most vicious attacks by Urizen’s aberrations, the nations of South America did not draw the Unimaginable or any other enemy action before the Allied Counterattack, and further suffered few attacks by Urizen’s aberrations, with only South America’s coasts suffering damage during the All-Coast Tsunamis. Some South American government officials credit their nations’ good fortune to a combination of swift diplomacy in the face of the Unimaginable’s conquests and their swift action taken to shield South America during Urizen’s initial direct assault. Bolivian Government Representative Mauricio Rojas spoke today from the Palacio Quemado in La Paz:
(file audio spoken in Spanish, ducked and replaced with USBC-1 Translation inc. in broadcast and transcription. Original language transcript on file. Please note later broadcasts had a better chance to properly translate Rojas’s speech, deprecating this version.)
When the Unimaginable’s mind-controlled armed forces first attacked Mexico and the United States, the Bolivian government in conjunction with authorities from our neighbors reached out to the Unimaginable, offering to declare neutrality and to keep our parahuman vigilante population within our own borders. It was our hope that this would provide time to prepare and support a counterattack when the right time came. And then, after Urizen’s own destructive campaign clearly centered on American transportation hubs at least initially, we and our allies and neighbors realized that air traffic flying from our nations to the United States, Europe, Asia, or Africa did so at great risk. Here in Bolivia we acted fast to ground flights and put a moratorium on incoming or outgoing air traffic until the emergency was over. It seems likely this decision spared Bolivia and her neighbors from the wrath of Urizen and successfully protected our people. We now seek to help our neighbors around the world rebuild, thanks to our ready access to resources many of the worst hit nations desperately need.
However, not everyone agrees with Senor Rojas’s interpretation of Bolivia’s actions and the actions of their fellow South American nations. Ken Buckner of the United States’s Federal Emergency Management Agency had this to say:
Mister Rojas claims that by declaring neutrality and encouraging their fellow South American nations to follow suit, they ended up in a better position to help the rest of the world recover later. While there may be some truth to that, it’s undeniable that Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and most other South American nations including Bolivia themselves had sufficient military power to successfully flank the bulk of the Unimaginable’s military, forcing them into a defensive position that could have stretched them too thin and prevented their early consolidation of power. And, what’s more… those same countries acted in concert to block and ground scheduled air travel. And let’s be clear: we’re not talking about them grounding their own northbound air traffic. Heaven knows I’m glad they did that – we couldn’t have protected their planes and other transport while being so hard pressed to defend our own citizens. However, by closing their borders to all incoming transportation they forced inbound planes already in the air to land at whatever airports were closest at the time, ships to turn around and head back to their home ports, and forced trains, buses, trucks, and all other motor vehicle traffic to stop where they were. As a result, flights going south to Brazil, to Paraguay, to Venezuela, to Columbia or, yes indeed, to Bolivia were turned away or warned to ground at the nearest airport in whatever nation they were flying over. That put dozens and dozens of planes on the ground in the southern United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and other Central American nations all the way down to Panama. Those planes were sitting there, often still full of passengers, when Urizen’s leviathans and aberrations rose up and destroyed everything around them. I mean, for all we know the fact those planes were grounded led to the attacks on those airports. That blood is on their hands.
Japan, though admittedly hard hit by the All-Coast Tsunamis, was perhaps the most prosperous nation to avoid much if not most of the impact of the Apocalypse Agenda. Speaking to reporters after acknowledging their own good fortune. three month anniversary of Urizen’s destruction and the end of the Apocalypse Agenda, Minister Shinsato Osamu, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, acknowledged the good fortune their nation enjoyed during the Agenda and accepted, in their words, Japan’s obligation to help those who suffered so much worse during worldwide destruction:
(file audio spoken in Japanese, ducked and replaced with USBC-1 Translation inc. in broadcast and transcription. Original language transcript on file. Please note later broadcasts had a better chance to properly translate Shinsato’s speech, deprecating this version.)
None of us will ever forget those tense hours, watching as the battlefronts moved along and through China to our west, wondering how long it would take before they crossed the sea and made landfall in Japan. Our Self-Defense Forces were prepared, as were our Enhanced and Heroic assets, but the Falkens Bataljoner had decimated much more powerful militaries and broken the ranks of some of the great heroes of the world. […] Though we were hard hit by the tsunamis triggered by the Ogralin and – as we later learned, enhanced by Urizen himself – our inland cities were almost entirely untouched, even by the Leviathans of Urizen. […] Obviously we are relieved, but we are also aware of the terrible responsibility we bear to ensure that good fortune be spread all across the world to all the nations worst hit by this terrible scourge.
In Africa, the Government of Rwanda has taken the anniversary of the end of the Apocalypse Agenda as an opportunity to issue a statement demanding significant additional reparations and aid from the rest of the African Defence League for those parts of the newly established Bandari ya Nyota Free City-State and Territory that were ceded from Rwanda as part of the New African Star Initiative. The Bandari ya Nyota Free City-State and Territory, or Nyota Bandari as it has become colloquially known, was founded after the liberation of the massive Ogralin Beachhead established at the summit of Mount Sabyinyo along with the surrounding territory off the mountain, with the advanced technology of the Beachhead being shared and administered jointly by the African Defence League, who also take responsibility for administering Nyota Bandari itself. The Honorable Agathe Bizimungu, member of the Rwandan Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies, had this to say in support of the statement.
HON. AGATHE BIZIMUNGU
We recognize that all of Africa bore the brunt of Earth’s defense during the Alien Invasions. And we further recognize the need for Nyota Bandari to be a truly African city, instead of belonging to any one African nation, tribe, or people. However, Rwanda’s contribution to the Nyota Bandari’s territory is drastically disproportionate to the contributions made by both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Uganda gave up one half of one percent of their territory to support Nyota Bandari. The Congolese gave up just seven hundredths of one percent of their territory. But Rwanda, which had been at the forefront of Terra’s defense and has suffered tremendous losses and damages at the hands of the Ogralin, has contributed two point eight percent of our total territory to Nyota Bandari! Given all we have sacrificed, and given how disproportionately we have willingly yielded territory we can ill afford to lose, proper compensation for that loss and aid in the rebuilding of our infrastructure and nation alike is hardly too much to ask!
General Emmanuel Kasongo, Chief Congolese Delegate to the African Defence League, denied that the compensation given to Rwanda for their territorial contribution was unfair.
GENERAL EMMANUEL KASONGO
After the unimaginable ordeal all of Africa endured together while we stood as Earth’s only defense against multiple technologically superior invading armies, it is disheartening and frustrating alike to hear our Rwandan allies claim fraud and chicanery when tens of thousands of Congolese, Ugandans, Kenyans, and Tanzanians died to retake Rwanda from the Ogralin horde. What is more, almost all those nations were intimately involved on several other fronts throughout Africa. Fronts where Rwanda was entirely absent. I do not blame our Rwandan brothers-in-arms for this – they were an occupied country – but to have them claim injury and misuse when we suffered far more on their behalf than they did on any of our behalfs is insulting. None would have faulted us had we annexed Rwanda outright in the name of our losses, but we never so much as considered such a move. It is not in the spirit of the African Defence League and it would dishonor our fallen warriors from all of Africa. Their play with numbers adds insult to the affair – our Ugandan allies contributed almost thirteen hundred square kilometers of their territory to Nyota Bandari – almost twenty eight percent of Nyota Bandari’s total land. And as for us? My countrymen, without complaint or expectation, yielded two thousand and twenty eight square kilometers of territory to Nyota Bandari. That is almost fifty-six percent of the whole! What did Rwanda begrudgingly contribute? Four hundred and sixty square miles. Less than seventeen percent of Nyota Bandari! And almost none of that land was suitable for agriculture. Indeed, Nyota Bandari’s mandate to restore the ecology of their region and especially the critically endangered mountain gorillas native to Mount Sabyinyo has direct and significant impact on all Africa! Those efforts will also rejuvenate and restore a significant percentage of Rwanda’s own national parks and environmental heritage along that border at no extra cost to their government! We are unimpressed by their miserly ways now!
In the end, Freya’s Falkens Bataljoner, the Ogralin and other alien invaders, the Unimaginable, and even the aberrations and leviathans raised up by the Apocalypse Engine’s own power struck not at random or out of any sense of fair play, but instead struck strategically. And, given how close we all came to literal multiversal destruction, it’s clear their strategies were tragically well thought out. In that horror’s aftermath, many of the countries still under States of Emergency or even Martial Law will be looking for those nations fortunate enough to come out comparatively unscathed to step up now during the reconstruction process. Jason Labrie, USBC-1 News, in the Capital District.
THE UN COALITION TASK FORCE RECESSES
The UN Coalition of Nations Task Force on the Review and Reformation of Superhuman Vigilantism wrapped their current session earlier today without making any recommendations. This was a planned recess, though some members of the Coalition have raised concerns with breaking at all before a comprehensive plan for the international regulation of superhuman affairs has been at least publicly proposed. In response, Rosemarie Haney, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, says that the process is proceeding exactly as expected and warns against rushing either to judgement or to imposing rules that can’t possibly succeed.
AMBASSADOR ROSEMARIE HANEY
For decades we have relied on our heroes, be they Justice Wing, the Excelsiors, the Pantheon, the Protectors, the Canadian Legion, les Souverains, or others far too many to count. And of course in the midst of all this carnage we have to remember that it was still our heroes who rose up to save us. Justice Wing suffered terrible injuries in stopping the Falkens Bataljoner. The Excelsiors and the Protectors were decimated from within, but still stood up when we needed them. And the Guardians of Actuality, despite trauma and tragic losses, saved not only our lives, not only our world, but existence itself. […] While it is clear that proper oversight and accountability needs to be put into place, we need to give both our heroes and our allies a chance to work out the means while not putting our citizens at renewed risk.
However, Designated United States Military Observer Lieutenant Colonel Garrett Carver, speaking separately, took a harsher tone.
LT. COL. GARRETT CARVER
Am I grateful for everything Justice Wing did for all these years? Of course I am. It’s insulting for anyone to claim otherwise. But just because they usually acted in our best interests doesn’t mean Justice Wing itself was ever in our best interest. Every soldier under my command has a specific chain of command, set of military regulations, and a firm military code of justice they have to follow, all the way up to me – and from me up through my superiors all the way to the President of the United States. When Freya turned – who were we supposed to call? She spent almost all of her time as a hero in America – was she under American law? Norwegian law? Rabbinical law? I had no idea then and I still don’t know, now. What about when she effectively raised and drove an army through Europe and beyond? Was the United States supposed to stop her? NATO? The European Union? I don’t ever want to tell Paragon he can’t save lives – but come on. Not all those guys are exactly Paragon, are they?
THE LIEUTENANT UNDER POLICE FIRE
In other news: Justice Wing’s Lieutenant Jason McCallister – perhaps better known simply as the Lieutenant – came under fire from the National Association of County Sheriffs, the Empire City Police Benevolent Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police following his criticisms over police conduct in handling parahuman suspects and threats in the wake of the Apocalypse Agenda. Monument City Deputy Police Commissioner Holly Skinner had this to say:
DEP. POLICE COMMISSIONER HOLLY SKINNER
For years – for years – Lieutenant McCallister told us again and again to let them handle it. To let the heroes handle the heroes. To let the Excelsiors handle it, or Justice Wing, or whoever. And for years we’ve raised concerns! Concerns that ranged from the clearly out-of-control brutality that vigilantes like Foolhardy, Rubicon, or Vermilion call heroic, all the way through to completely unsupervised fourth tier heroes I personally believe were trying to do their best but lacked the training, experience, or discipline to succeed. But McCallister and Justice Wing? They came back. ‘Oh, no. We’ll handle that. It’s best that we handle that.’ And when vigilantes stepped outside of due process and legislatures effectively endorsed that behavior, we raised more and more questions and they kept coming back and saying it would be fine. It would be fine. They would handle that. And laws would get passed and governors or mayors or senators or presidents would tell us that it would all be fine. Leave it to Justice Wing. Leave it to the Excelsiors. Leave it to the Pantheon. They’ll handle it! Well, it’s not fine, Lieutenant McCallister. We left it to you and you failed. You couldn’t even keep one of your own founding members from slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Europe and Asia, and you sure weren’t here when the Unimaginable were enslaving this country and mind controlling our citizens into cattle fodder! So maybe I don’t appreciate hearing your opinion yet again on these matters. Maybe for a while we’ll handle it. How about that, huh?
Broadhead, Justice Wing’s often-controversial super-archer who was credited with uncovering and revealing the manipulation and deception that led to Freya’s defection from Justice Wing, had this to say in response to Deputy Commissioner Skinner.
Yeah, that’s a really great soundbite, huh? Really [BEEP] great! Only you know what, Commish? While we were fighting and dying in Europe, you had your chance to step up, didn’t you? How’d that work out in Monument City? Did you get reports on the Unimaginable’s tactics out of Grantham and Viejo Bosque and get those PATER shock troopers setting their psi-shielding? Because DETAILS issued those reports so you sure could have! Did you coordinate with DETAILS? Or the National Guard? Or Anyone? Did you do a damn thing? Seems like that’s a no. But you know who did? Vermilion, who died saving a school full of prosahuman kids, and as near as I can tell you’re the first official of any kind to even say her name publically, and that was to trash a woman who stayed topside fighting a solo partisan war the whole time the Unimaginable had the country by the [BEEP]! And now that I think about it – you were the cop who worked most closely with Freya in the first place, weren’t you? In fact, when she was being flayed by the court of public opinion for having the gall to save the world without violence or getting anyone killed, where were you? Oh, right! You were calling her a [BEEP] and saying she was unfit to be around children! How many times did she save your miserable hide before you backstabbed her in the press? It hurt like Hell when she turned on us, but never forget you turned on her first!
Support for Lieutenant McCallister and Justice Wing came from an unexpected source. Charles Foster Thorpe, better known in Meta’D and rap circles as I.Q. Nu., made the following statement in response:
CHARLES FOSTER THORPE
There are few who’d call me a fan of Justice Wing, or of the brand of parahuman related law enforcement they brought to the table after Paragon first appeared in the skies of Crown City, but that is not to say I oppose either their intent or their values. Every government of every developed nation on Earth has tried to come up with some one-size-fits-all solution to the infinite problems raised by the very nature of parahuman crime. While other so-called super-groups were content to go out and smite parahumans in the name of a prosahuman status quo, Justice Wing and their associates saw that the real problem was one of training and education, not just of parahumanity but of prosahumanity as well. They recognized early on that as popular as they – and all their caped and cowled brethren – may have been in the moment, in the longer term what society needed was a real solution. And for years and years and years, despite contending with literal megalomaniacs and madmen who seek the very destruction of the Earth, Justice Wing continually sought to build a new understanding between parahumanity and prosahumanity. That it failed is tragic. That so many parahuman and prosahuman lives were lost in the process is agonizing. I understand losing faith. But seeing the so called ‘new response’ that police at all levels of American society have been bringing to the streets – the ‘new response’ of baton and pepper spray, water cannon and tear gas, of PATER units bringing military weaponry to bear against unarmed and often unresisting parahumans without regard to circumstance or even truth? Jason McCallister and I have our differences, but when he speaks of justice, I know he means it.
HARLAN THE BRISTLECONE PINE GRANTED US CITIZENSHIP
Harlan, the intermountain bristlecone pine who revealed their sentience and magical abilities when they used wards and other magical defenses to protect and shelter a group of hikers caught in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest area of the White Mountains of California during an attack by Urizen’s leviathans, has been granted conditional United States citizenship. Harlan, estimated at being more than five thousand years old, has expressed some interest in sharing some of his perspective with researchers and the public. After the apparent destruction of Sweden’s Old Tjikko, a similarly sentient and magically aware Norway spruce thought to be nearly ninety-five hundred years old, Harlan claims it is time for sentient flora to take more of an interest in the nonarboreal world. Freya’s forces claimed that Old Tjikko was destroyed by the original Beacon during an early battle against Falkens Bataljoner, but it is now believed that Sindre Nordness, at the time thought to be a teenaged prodigy Seiðmenn or Norse Seer, attacked and either incapacitated or destroyed Old Tjikko when the tree divined his true intentions. This is USBC-1 News.
OVER TO LOCAL AFFILIATE NEWS WHERE AVAILABLE
Garden State Public Radio News Feed
From Garden State Public Radio News, I’m Presley Finley with this hour’s news from New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Transportation has rejected a local parahuman’s offer to help repair the significant damage to the New Jersey Turnpike. Self-described geomancer Aibreán Vertex claims to have a magical affinity with both geometry and geology, allowing her to reshape stone and the byproducts of stone, create new solids or images, and otherwise manipulate her environment. Ms. Vertex is not known to be a practicing hero and has no record as a villain, but instead uses her parahuman magical ability artistically, in renovation, and in the construction of unique stoneworks. Albert Grossman of the New Jersey DOT thanked Ms. Vertex for her offer, but declined, saying, “We’ve had just about enough super powers on the pike for one year. This time, we’re going do this ourselves and do it right.” Ms. Vertex could not be reached for comment.
With last month’s announcement that the Las Bendiciones Junior Olympics will be held after all, athletes near and far have been training in preparation for the event. New Jersey’s own Eve Shapiro will be among those competing for Gold in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics in what is seen as a dry run for the New Zealand games in just a couple of years’ time. Shapiro’s coach, Olympic bronze medalist Emma Earhart, says that Shapiro has been training straight through the recent crises just hoping for the chance to compete. This is Garden State Public Radio News.
RETURN FROM LOCAL FEEDS – FINANCIAL REPORT (CLOSE)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 436 points in heavy trading even as the NASDAQ posted its worst drop in history in the wake of the collapse of the tech, xenotech, and paramystic sectors and a sharp drop in Japan’s Nikkei overnight. Temple Industries was one of the big losers in the wake of founder and visionary Mason Temple’s continued coma. The Dow finished at 10,208.25 – that’s a drop of about 4.1%. The NASDAQ dropped 6.3% to 1,923.38 for a loss of 120.40 points, and the S&P 500 entered its first bear market in eleven years with a drop of 53.26 to 1,180. That 4.3% drop puts the S&P’s loss at 22.7% from its high a year ago, officially making this a bear market. This is USBC-1 News.
Support for USBC-1 News is provided in part by the Colin and Juniper Church Foundation. Additional support provided by Anodyne Pharmaceuticals and by listeners like you. Thank you.
LOCAL CONTINUITY NARRATOR
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