From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
THE DESTRUCTION OF GALAXY CITY: A PERSONAL LOOK BACK
It's to no one's surprise I met Grace in Pocket D. Whiskey in one hand and a much-abused sketchbook in the other, she parked herself next to my usual haunt, making a snide comment about my shoes. It was on, as they say, as we exchanged remarks. I introduced myself as a writer (giving her easy access to barbs on the legitimacy of news bloggers) looking for a subject to start a new series of articles. Being relatively new to the meta scene and a Galaxy City survivor, Grace seemed like an ideal candidate so long as she was eager to share details on her past. Grace made it clear through her words and myriad tattoos -- her life was an open canvas. Over the course of several interviews, I dug into her past, learning how events known to us all helped shape the meta she is today.
GRACE OF HEARTS
Grace Galder is a young meta who acquired her mystical gift just a year ago. From her blue-and-purple hair to her numerous prominent tattoos, Grace makes a nonverbal statement not to take her lightly. She tends to be standoffish, but is fiercely loyal to those she calls her family and friends, evidenced in how she talks about them, and they about her. Ash, a fellow witch describes her as "loyal, dependable, and a great friend". The year 2020 prompted many changes for Grace, who works weekends at Oasis, a resort spa located near Peregrine Island. She lives in the resort itself, recently moving from Skyway where she works at Bad Kitty Ink as a tattoo artist, specializing in colorful, flowing designs.
A GALAXY OF DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS
As a young girl growing up in Galaxy City, Grace Galder dreamed of someday becoming a superhero. Living in a 3rd story apartment above The Wizard's Well with her mom, Sabana, they had a "lovely" view of Hotel Geneva's service entrance and loading docks. However, on warm summer evenings, Grace would sneak out her window, climb the fire escape and sit for hours staring at the Galaxy Girl monument towering over Freedom Corps, dreaming of superpowers, cool costumes and fighting bad guys!
It's hard to put into words how important Galaxy Girl is to Grace, even now. "We have the same initials!", she joked as she regaled me for hours with Galaxy Girl exploits and stories, most certainly embellished by the rose-colored memory effects of time. Even so, the verifiable actions and deeds of this hero are to be admired. Even after being revealed by Protean in the late 60's as Kelly Graham, Galaxy Girl continued to be a symbol of virtue, strength and community to everyone in Galaxy City throughout her long, unblemished career.
Galaxy Girl is likely the most loved and cherished superhero in Paragon City, if not the world. For those who aren't Galaxy City natives, a quick summary. Throughout the 50's, Galaxy Girl, along with her sidekick Dauntless, was a constant reminder to the residents of Paragon Heights, later renamed Galaxy City in her honor, that evil was conquered, not only by might and energy bolts, but by caring and compassion. In addition to her heroic accomplishments, Kelly spent her life in service to others through charity work, mentoring, and representing the Paragon Heights community. I don't say this lightly: Galaxy Girl was one of the few heroes who truly lived up to that title in every sense of the word.
As a child, Grace grew up with Galaxy Girl, constantly hearing stories of her adventures at home, at school and in her neighborhood. She faintly recalls being introduced to Kelly in a local park when she was 5, just two months before the Rikti invasion took the heroine's life. For nearly a decade after that fateful day, Kelly's legacy was made even more substantive. The statue erected in her honor, countless organizations and projects initiated and launched to continue her selfless deeds, and of course renaming the district after her were testaments to how much everyone loved and missed their hero and neighbor. Even today, the love and admiration of Kelly Graham lives on with the newly erected Galaxy Girl statue in King's Row. For Grace, Galaxy Girl was everything she aspired to be. Strong. Determined. Helpful. Pretty. Driven. The countless drawings Grace showed me and the many daydreams she shared from that time attest to that.
Looking at a photo of Grace when she was 14, you would hardly recognize the person she is today. Almost gangly, with mid-back-length straight russet hair and unremarkable features, she looked like the American every-girl, average in almost every way. She got decent grades and had a small circle of friends, but mostly kept to herself, spending her time reading or engaged in various artistic activities, such as sketching or painting.
In Grace's words, she had the typical teen relationship with her mother Sabana and a good, loving home with the expected arguments over homework, chores, sleep patterns and boys. Sabana was always looking out for her daughter's best interests, wanting nothing but a quiet, normal life for Grace. Looking back, Grace admits that her mother had good intentions for many things she did, except one.
In Sabana's eyes, a life steeped in magic, spells and potions was not a future she wanted for her daughter. Unbeknownst to Grace, magic was hereditary in her family. Maternal, it was passed down from mother to daughter. Her mother tried to keep that knowledge from her, but when her grandmother died, Grace inherited a necklace which activated a mystical conduit to her lineage.
THE NIGHT EVERYTHING CHANGED
The padded envelope arrived in the mail at her place of work. Grace didn't even remember it until late that night after a particularly annoying customer. Her station was clean and equipment sterilized. Bad Kitty Ink had closed hours ago but she hung around working on a new design. She had decided to call it a night when her eyes rested on the package. Absentmindedly, she ripped the pull cord and emptied the contents into her hand. The instant the fashioned glyph touched the flesh of her palm, she says it was as if the walls of the studio melted to black, replaced by a rushing, thunderous cacophony. She was surrounded by a tornado of black flame. Furious wind whipped around her as fire and electricity threatened to envelop her. She felt the heat of the flames. Her muscles violently contracted, her fingers convulsed around the intricate silver rune as daggers of lightning stabbed at her. She screamed in surprise and fear, no clue as to what was happening. Slamming her eyes shut, her clenched fists flew to her ears, trying to block out the noise. She bent forward, doing her best to protect her face and front from the apparent attack.
It was then she heard a voice. A small, wise, soothing voice that seemed to speak to her, piercing through the tumult. She couldn't make it all out, just a word here and there. "...choose..." and "...focus..." Blinded and disoriented she reached out and fell against her work station. She grabbed at it and her hand closed around one of her pigment bottles. Her medium of focus had been chosen.
Instantly, the tornado coalesced into a murky substance with seeming weight and form. It poured down around and on her falling to the floor where it dissipated. To Grace, it looked like ink, but it didn't feel like it. She wasn't wet. There were no stains on her clothes. No residue. Just...power.
Grace's everyday existence was suddenly changed.
Over the next few weeks she deduced the powers were awakened by the necklace, and that it was a gift from her grandmother, but her mother refused to speak on the matter. Within a week she had registered with the FBSA as Ink Witch.
An entirely new world was opening to her. Her childhood dream of becoming a real-life superhero instantly became a definite possibility. But she had an obstacle, an Oranbega-sized roadblock preventing her from realizing her potential. She had no way of understanding her newfound powers. There was no mentor, no guide, no instruction manual nor coven to help her discover how to use them. All the knowledge and secrets died with her grandmother Robinitha.
Over the next few months, Grace followed every lead she could. She spent hours researching mystical tomes in any library she could get access to. She spoke with other heroes, witches, teachers, even ghosts. Every so often, she would make a small breakthrough and understand her craft a little more, but most nights would find her falling asleep draped over books, wishing she understood her powers and dreaming of an alternate future where she had mastered them nine years prior...
GALAXY CITY DESTROYED
On that day in September, the early morning sky was set ablaze by the start of what we would eventually call "The Coming Storm". Grace was abruptly woken by her frantic mother. Sirens were blaring and explosions could be heard both in the distance and seemingly just next door. Together they raced down the stairwell. Had they not lived just across the street from Freedom Plaza, they most likely would not have survived.
As they exited the building, a large chunk of concrete falling from the neighboring skyscraper narrowly missed them. The air was thick with smoke and ash, and the sky was a hazy dull orange. Here and there they could barely make out the glow of flaming meteors descending from the sky. Destruction was everywhere. In front of them, the street and steps leading to the Freedom Corp building were replaced by a field of broken asphalt and meteorite shards, jutting from the ground as if the earth beneath had exploded upwards. The short distance they had expected to travel had become a near-impenetrable war-zone.
Grace and Sabana were quickly covered in ash and cement dust as they began to climb over the jagged concrete, re-bar and twisted metalwork, their hands and exposed skin scraped and bleeding. Explosions, screams and sirens filled their ears. Grace was the nimbler of the two. She scrambled up a large block of the uprooted street and turned back, extending a hand to her mother. A rescue copter screamed over their heads. Grace looked up as it flew past only to see it suddenly erupt in a ball of fire as a meteor hit it square-on. Grace screamed, ducking and closing her eyes tight as helicopter fragments and debris hurtled towards them. Instantly, the din around them became a muffled throb. The wind stilled. Grace opened one eye, and then the other to see an electric blue glow crackling around them. Pieces of helicopter were creating trails of sparks as they slid down the sides of the immutable barrier. Grace looked wildly about until her eyes focused on Freedom Court and saw, on the plaza plateau, a Freedom Corp hero struggling to maintain his force field around the two. Realizing they were safe for the moment, Grace turned back and frantically shook her hand at her mom until they held each other by the wrist, and Sabana climbed up alongside her daughter.
Field Officer Blake Sullivan was dispatching a squad of flying heroes to search for endangered citizens. They had just taken off and he turned his attention to the comms, trying to make sense of the nearly-incoherent commands in his left ear. A bridge was in danger of collapse to the north. Instinctively, Sullivan turned in that direction, his eyes falling on two small figures making their way across the rubble that once was the street running along the north side of Freedom Plaza. He ran to the edge of the plaza and quickly assessed the situation.
From his vantage point Sullivan could see the direct line they were traversing between them and the plaza was not going to work. There was a ruptured gas line and the crevice they were heading for was too deep. He was trying to determine a way to signal them when a helicopter racing above the street was taken out by a meteor. Instantly realizing the danger the two were in, Sullivan thrust out his right hand, generating a force field beam out to the street, hoping they weren't beyond his reach. Luckily, his beam coalesced into an electrically charged sphere around them, protected from the hurtling wreckage. It was a struggle to maintain at this range, taking every shred of concentration to maintain its cohesion as helicopter debris smashed into it.
From their higher vantage point, Grace and her mom could see more Freedom Corps agents guiding residents who had made it to the plaza into a cordoned area where workers were setting up portable emergency teleporters. The hero protecting them had one arm extended, generating the force field. With the other, he was motioning wildly that they should move, not towards him, but to the west. Between them and Sullivan was a deep chasm where the street had split open, exposing a ruptured pipe. They couldn't see anything, but they could smell. Grace and Sabana looked at each other knowingly. Gas. They turned to their right. The worst of the destruction was in front of their apartment. The path was clearer in the direction the hero was waving. It shouldn't take them long to reach the plaza and their rescuer. And that's when Grace saw it.
The shattered remains of Galaxy Girl.
Grace had taken a deep breath to collect the resolve needed for them both to make the final push to safety. The end of this ordeal was in sight! A smile of relief began to spread across her face as she looked to Galaxy Girl's statue for the courage and determination she felt she needed. The smile was replaced with shock. Her lifelong hero wasn't watching confidently over Galaxy City any more.
All that remained were her boots. Apparently struck by a meteor, the rest of her had fallen, crumbled and shattered, across the plaza and street, completely obliterating the Up-N-Away Burger that used to stand next to their apartment building. Grace trembled, tears streaming down her cheeks leaving dark tracks through the layers of dust. Her knees gave way and she collapsed, sobbing uncontrollably as she saw what had become of her childhood idol, her symbol of all that was good and true in this world. In the flattened remains of the building, Grace could see Kelly's face cracked and split open, still facing up towards the sky. Grace was inconsolable. Sabana pulled at her arm, screaming that they had to go. Grace twisted away, falling to her side and pulling her knees up into her chest. She clenched her eyes shut, wanting everything to disappear. Nothing moved her until a firm, heavy hand rested on her shoulder.
CALM IN THE STORM
Sullivan hadn't known what was going on, but he saw they had stopped moving. Determining they were in minimal danger at the moment, he deactivated the force field. He left the plaza and raced to their side. Sabana had fallen back on her knees, frantic, not knowing what to do. Sullivan approached the huddled mass that was Grace and rested his hand on her. "Miss," he said in a firm, but soft voice. "You're not safe here, we need to move. It's not far." He looked back at Sabana who was sobbing herself, arms crossed tightly over her chest. Knowing they were still in danger from meteors or worse, he carefully picked Grace up and motioned to Sabana. "Follow me!"
Blake moved deftly and confidently over the rubble, carrying Grace and guiding Sabana what to hold and where to step. It wasn't long before they reached the plaza. Other heroes generating force fields had set up a perimeter, protecting the plaza from the continuing meteor barrage. He motioned for Sabana to sit on the step and set Grace down beside her. He let Sabana know he'd be right back and quickly returned with some first aid supplies. He dropped to one knee and handed some antiseptic wipes to Sabana, who held them loosely in her hands, staring in dismay at the wreckage all around. Grace was trembling beside him, as he gently took her arm and began tending to her cuts.
"We'll get you out of here soon, Miss." he spoke in that same relaxed voice. Grace stared ahead, eyes unfixed. "I'm Field Operative Sullivan, Blake Sullivan. What's your name?" he asked in a subtle method to elicit a response. Grace muttered her name and winced as Blake applied some antiseptic. "Pleased to meet you, Grace. I had a cat named Grace. Terrible mouser." Grace slowly turned to look at Blake for the first time, speaking quietly. "I never had a pet..." Blake smiled and replied "Cats aren't pets, really. They just want you to think they are so you give them food and a place to sleep." Grace smiled faintly.
"Do you think you can stand?" Blake asked, offering his hand for support. Grace looked unsure, but nodded as he helped her up. He then coaxed Sabana to standing and escorted them to the portable transporters, which had started transferring people to Atlas Park.
For many years after, Grace kept in contact with Blake who became something of a father figure to her, always eager to lend an ear or advice, even during her darkest times.
SKYWAY: A TURN FOR THE WORSE
After Galaxy City was destroyed, Grace and Sabana moved to Skyway City.
No one much cares for Skyway. Grace says the only reason to visit is to get someplace else. "It's a dirty, twisted knot of roads and highways connecting one area of Paragon City to another." Many of the buildings and skyscrapers were populated before the War Walls went up. After that, most businesses moved to safer areas and Skyway turned into a transit hub. Grace hated living there with a passion.
They moved in with Sabana's uncle in a Pinnacle Apartments building in Vista Plaza. Sabana got a housekeeping job at a Hotel Geneva across the street. Grace's favorite pastime was ruined. There was nothing to see but streets, squalor and smog. The only statue view-able from the apartment building was some unknown heroine a few blocks away. It was almost entire blocked by the hotel, but you could just see her head if you stood tiptoe at the very far corner of the roof. Not that the monument was anything to look at. Years of neglect had taken its toll. The statue was covered with cracks and stains. The name plaque had apparently been stolen or missing for so long that no one could reliably remember who the statue was honoring. At least there was a record store nearby. And pizza. But crime and Trolls were rampant.
Grace's artwork became bleaker and pessimistic. Drawings of Galaxy Girl, superheroes, and sun splashed parks became depictions of the Galaxy City destruction, desolate landscapes, and macabre images. The colorful pastels and bright inks were replaced by blacks and shades of gray. Regardless of the subject, her love of drawing and art remained constant.
Growing up in a single parent household with little supervision, Grace grew to be independent and rebellious, winding up with less-than-ideal friends. She started experimenting with her hair color when she was 15. At 16 she began shoplifting. She got her first tattoo, honoring Galaxy Girl, when she was 17 by using a fake ID. During this time, Grace began distancing herself from her mother. More and more, the two didn't see eye to eye. Grace wound up spending most of her time getting into trouble with her friends. Blake would try to steer her down a straighter path, but he had been redeployed to patrolling the Rikti crash site. There was only so much he could do over the phone.
That was the year Grace's life reached a turning point. During her shoplifting phase (she insists she never swiped large-ticket items) she got busted by a local low-level hero while stealing some makeup. Had it been a cop, she said, she may have continued down that path towards a criminal life. However, the fact she was nabbed by a hero shamed her greatly and afterwards Grace vowed to never steal again, clean up her act, and change who she associated with.
CATS AND SHARKS
Once she turned 18, she began increasing her body art and piercings. She showed some of her artwork to Ruby, her favorite tattoo artist who got her an apprenticeship at Bad Kitty Ink. Grace and Ruby quickly became good friends. "Grace has been through a lot, but she's still standing," commented Ruby as she opened up Bad Kitty on a Thursday morning. "A lotta people I know would've shot up and drifted away after the shit she's been through, but not her." After three years, Grace completed her apprenticeship and began working there full-time, which she still does to this day.
Oasis is one of the many party destinations available to Paragon City residents. Converted from an outcast refuge, the remote isle is part of the Peregrine Island archipelago, welcoming guests throughout the week and holding weekly parties on Saturdays to promote the Oasis resort. Run by the newly-appointed Dallas Kessler, Oasis is a welcome respite from the hectic and life-threatening lives of so many metas. From the tranquil docks to the languid pools, the peaceful vibes are what initially drew Grace into seeking employment.
"I was needing a change, you know? Until recently, my life had been very much in-your-face. I needed a change. More peace.", Grace confided as we watched several sharks she feeds daily at the resort. "I heard about a recruitment drive and decided to go. I ran into the Oasis crew and we kinda hit it off." Grace attended one of their parties that same day and before the night was over, had joined their ranks.
She quickly fell into a routine, feeding the resident sharks, engaging in various Oasis activities, and regularly bar-tending the pool bar during their Saturday parties. Many of the group quickly befriended her and it wasn't long before Grace was calling Oasis home.
As a group, the Oasis members have an interesting conversation style, but it seems to be a dynamic that works for them. And while their conversations at times appear to be bizarre and amusing, those who are part of Oasis seem to be in sync. United. "We aren't co-workers." states Dallas. "We are family."
Today, Grace is a dedicated and loyal member of Oasis. Willing to lay it all on the line for those she holds dear. That's a far cry from the aloof and detached rebel who ran the streets of Skyway six years ago.
The destruction of Galaxy City greatly affected us all, but it had a profound effect on Grace, one that could have negatively altered the course of her life. Like most of us, through determination, strength and will, and support, Grace rose above the wreckage of that day and has built something stronger and brighter.
It's been a few weeks now since the recent resurgence of metas here in Pocket D. I've held back my writing until now for several reasons. Some of my closer followers will know the main one. The other is my hesitation to bring attention to myself again. I know Freedom Corps and I have this detente, but who's to say how tenuous it is, or how quickly attitudes will change. In the current political climate where fact is apparently stranger than fiction, all bets are off.
Pocket D is livelier, more upbeat, despite the uptick of dark themes I see many metas sporting currently. I've seen some old faces, but mostly new ones - all trying to figure out the new state of things. I get the vibe that folks aren't as willing to open up as they once were, but it is just that. A vibe. I haven't really put myself out there yet, which will surprise most of my readers. See Reason 1.
Do not fear. I'll be posting more to Paragon Unmasked. You, my friends and readers, deserve it. Paragon City deserves it. Anyone thinking this new "world order" would bring with it a clearer, black-and-white reality where heroes are truly heroes and villains are just out for cash and death will be sorely disappointed.
There's not a thin, defined line in the sand. There never was. And the truth needs to be reported now more than ever.
There is one thing I greatly dislike about this new popularity of Pocket D.It's increasingly harder to find my favorite spot open and available.
I'll be posting soon, but I just wanted to wish everyone in the U.S. a Happy Fourth of July. And to all my friends and readers across the pond, Happy Traitor's Day!
I wonder what it was like when writing didn't involve electronics and bytes. The smell of ink. The feel of type as you load it into galleys. Now we deal with FTP and HTML. It's amazing how much you forget about this stuff when you've been away. It's been too long. My fingers are rusty as is my writer's mind, so please bear with me as I get back in the swing of things.
Sitting in Pocket D again is nostalgic, to say the least. Zero is as hospitable as ever, and I thank him every chance I get. I owe the man too much. It seems busier these days, but still with the same parade of wannabes and trolls (unfortunately not actual trolls) that try their best to ruin the prime relaxation spot and watering hole for many of our metas. The names have changed, but the vibe is mostly the same. People just trying to connect.Stay tuned. More to come once I remember how to transfer that file again.
And so, to those brave people. I thank DJ Zero for the courage he has shown considering and granting me asylum. I thank Marcus Solomon, for his vigilance and demand that Freedom Corps justify their actions. I thank everyone, from close friends to colleagues to acquaintances for their support and well-wishes.
To the supporters and sources of Paragon Unmasked, whose courage and commitment and loyalty have seen no equal. I also have a debt of gratitude to the staff of Pocket D, who have shown me hospitality and kindness despite the threats we all received.
Last Wednesday, there was an emergency meeting of government officials in Paragon City to address this very situation. Freedom Corps sent a team of metas into the D, intending to take me into custody. DJ Zero and many a meta here that night stood up to their illegal act, forcing them to acknowledge the legal amnesty I claimed. While several of them remain, waiting for me to step foot into their jurisdiction, Zero has strictly set forth the rules by which they must abide to surveil me in the Pocket dimension.
As Paragon Unmasked is under attack, so is the freedom of expression and exposure of corruption in all societies. We must use this moment to clarify the choice that is before Freedom Corps and the United States of America.
Will they return to and reaffirm the values and truths they were founded on, or will they fling themselves off that cliff, dragging all of us into an oppressive, dictatorial world, in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark?
I say they must turn back. I ask Miss Liberty to do the right thing. Freedom Corps must renounce its witch-hunt against myself and Paragon Unmasked. The United States must close its Justice Department investigation against me and turn its attention to where the spotlight must truly fall, verifying the video posted by Paragon Unmasked and investigating Manticore and his dealings with the Rogue Isles.
Freedom Corps must vow that it will not seek to prosecute myself or my supporters. They must pledge before the world that they will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.
There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization; be it Paragon Unmasked, or any publication or broadcast. The war against journalists and their exposure of crimes and misdeeds must end. What will be your next move? The world is waiting, Freedom Corps.Thank you.
The Justice Department, in considering whether and how it might indict August Welles, is now looking beyond the Espionage Act of 1917 to other possible offenses, including conspiracy or trafficking in stolen property, according to officials familiar with the investigation.
Attorney General Evan Hinders acknowledged this week that there were other statutes with regard to Mr. Welles, the founder and writer behind Paragon Unmasked.
A government official familiar with the investigation said that charging Mr. Welles and Paragon Unmasked might be facilitated if investigators found any evidence that Mr. Welles aided the person responsible for taking the video, who is believed to be the same meta who helped Welles during the Wyvern expose back in 2008 - for example, by directing him to look for certain things and providing technological assistance.
If Mr. Welles did collaborate in the original disclosure, then prosecutors could charge him with conspiracy in the underlying leak, skirting the question of whether the publication of the video constituted a separate criminal offense. But while investigators have looked for such evidence, there is no public sign suggesting that they have found any. The main reason for this could be the identity of Mr. Welles’ “Deep Throat” is still unknown.
Paragon Unmasked founder August Welles posted a video Monday alleging Freedom Phalanx member Manticore of sharing U.S. secrets with Arachnos operative Black Scorpion. Since that time Freedom Corps has wanted Welles for questioning and his whereabouts are unknown. Paragon Unmasked has been in tight spots with law enforcement in the past, most notably in 2008 when the blog made claims that Manticore was secretly funding Wyvern.
When Paragon Unmasked founder August Welles posted a video alleging Freedom Phalanx member Manticore of sharing U.S. secrets with Arachnos operative Black Scorpion, he intentionally harmed the U.S. government, Freedom Corps, the Freedom Phalanx, and several other meta organizations sworn to protect the United States, officials from Freedom Corps claimed in a statement released today.
“The law Mr. Welles violates is the Espionage Act of 1917. That law makes it a felony for an unauthorized person to possess or transmit ‘information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”
The video in question, posted on the Paragon Unmasked website Monday morning by Mr. Welles, who writes articles for the meta-centric blog under the pseudonym Kermit, is a low-quality handheld recording, allegedly recording a conversation between Manticore and Black Scorpion in an enclosed room. In it, Manticore appears to be informing Black Scorpion that his information on defensive positions in Peregrine Island is incorrect, and proceeds to show him those strategic locations are, as well as offering to provide schedules for the repositioning of mobile defenses.
Rhode Island law enforcement is also investigating whether any of the state’s laws were broken by the release of the video, officials said.
“From our point of view we think there are potentially a number of criminal laws that could have been breached by … the release of this information,” Phillip Listerman, Rhode Island’s attorney-general, said on Monday.
“The Rhode Island State Police are looking at that. Clearly, I don’t want to make any guesses as to the outcome of that advice.”
The video is potentially embarrassing for the Freedom Phalanx, who has been under strained relations as of late with the recent demise of Statesman and Sister Psyche.
“Obviously, we are providing every assistance to federal authorities and they are aware we could be expected to provide every assistance,” Listerman stated. Rhode Island would also support any legal action taken by the US as a result of its inquiries.
Efforts to take down the video or the Paragon Unmasked website entirely have so far been unsuccessful. Welles has created an elaborate web of protection - with servers in several countries, which have strong laws protecting whistleblowers like Welles.The FBSA has declined to comment on the grounds that what is in the video is classified.
The investigation centers around a video posted yesterday on Paragon Unmasked, which appears to show Manticore discussing defensive locations in Paragon City with Black Scorpion. Below is a transcript from that video:
Manticore: “...defensive locations are all wrong.”
Black Scorpion: "Those locations were given to me just yesterday from Silver Mantis herself! And you're telling me her intel is incorrect?!"
M: "Yes. And I can tell you exactly where she got them. Freedom Phalanx runs several fake data servers with breakable encryption. They're honeypots, used to draw in hackers and track them back to the source. They're filled with authentic-looking data and info to keep hackers in the system long enough get a lock on them and capture them. A hacker breaks in, thinks they've hit the mother-lode, and downloads everything they can. Silver must have hired someone to do the job, got the intel, and provided it to you. I guarantee those defense locations are fake."
BS: "Maybe...maybe not."
M: "Look! Ask her where it came from. She'll tell you they got it from server 27B6! Peregrine Island's main defense outposts are here, here, here and here. These two are mobile, and shift position every 5 days, and that -- has the future locations for the next six months."
BS: "I will verify ALL of this. If you are lying, so help me Manticore, you can throw every single Paragon hero at me and I'll still find a way to rip you limb from limb!"
M: "Do it. You'll see I'm telling the truth. Then maybe we can get this over with."
Freedom Corps and Longbow declined to comment on the investigation at this time, saying more information will be forthcoming. Attempts to contact Kermit have been unsuccessful.Paragon Unmasked has been in tight spots with law enforcement in the past, most notably in 2008 when the blog made claims that Manticore was secretly funding Wyvern, a private security organization owned by Delia Huntley. Those claims were never proven.
The video was posted by Kermit, the founder and writer of Paragon Unmasked, a blog-style news site which focuses on meta news and events. Within hours, links to the video had been posted on several social media sites and was called to the attention of Freedom Corps.None of the meta groups contacted were available for comment.
My partner in justice, who you know always remains nameless, has provided me with compelling evidence that … well, it’s better if you just watch the video and see for yourself.
As for disclosure, due to the sensitive nature of the video and its content, I felt unsafe approaching, well, any meta or governmental agency while this video was still unpublished for fear that, should the wrong people learn about it, my life would be in danger. Now that it’s out in the world, focus can turn to verifying its truthfulness. I have taken steps to verify the validity as far as I could. I can guarantee there has been no video manipulation, editing, or modification. This is the raw, unadulterated video stream I received.
And there you have it. Manticore is working with Arachnos, detailing Peregrine Island defenses with Black Scorpion.
I urge any and all meta and government agencies to move quickly on this. Validate this yourselves as quickly as possible and determine what Manticore is up to and what allegiances he might have.Don’t shoot the messenger.
Just don’t look too close.
If you do, you may see something different, about me. For want of a better meme, I’m changing my status to “In A Relationship.” In an effort to cool the rumor mill and derail any miscommunication, I’m letting everyone know here, in my blog that I’ve got a girl. Yes you heard me, Flaming Ninja, a girl, so you can finally stop spreading those rumors about me once and for all.
“Annie” is one of those rare finds in this jaded city - someone who is fresh and positive and sincere. She is the Spring I have so looked forward to in a never-ending Winter. She brings the warmth and the rain to melt the cynicism and hardened shell I’ve encased myself in.
Although my private life has been the topic of many entries, this relationship will most certainly not be. Sorry folks, you won’t be getting any salacious details from me. However, I know many of you (Grover) are insanely curious and Need To Know Stuff About Me, so I will share these salient facts.
- What are her superpowers?
If I told you that, she'd have to kill you.
This will come as a shock to many of you. She is not a meta. She is deliciously and unabashedly not meta. She’s a phenomenal gal with her own natural talents. No mutation required. And no assembly required, nor is she inflatable. Yes, MechaPinocchio, she’s a real girl.
- How did you meet?
We met through a friend of mine. Annie delivered a message to me and I was intrigued. Then she was gone with just a single clue to track her down. We ran into each other again by chance in King’s Row, where I was able to get her number. It wasn’t long after that I eventually asked her out on a date.
- Is it serious?
Would I be posting about her if I didn’t think it was serious? While my readers know that my mythical infrequency of relationships indicates an inability to commit to anything long-term, this one is different. So, yes, I’d like to think so. It sure seems that way. Time will tell.
I’ll just let this news churn around the blogs, forums, and chats for a bit. Oh, and one more status update I can leave you with.Kermit: Happy.
They held torches on the steps, the unfortunate effect being the gathering looking more like an angry mob.While the Unity Rally certainly showed solidarity, the metas are missing the point. All this rally does is give validity to the “prophecy”. Don’t draw attention to it, guys. The best thing everyone can do is just get things back to normal. Let the rest of us know it’s “business as usual.” That’s what Paragon needs right now. Normalcy. Or at least something close to that.
What’s so important about that date, August 31, 2012? That’s the day I saw metas first show fear.
Everyone knows the ominous prophecy delivered to both Paragon City and the Isles on that day and the immediate dismissing and naysaying by every major meta organization which followed. On that day, our cities and inhabitants were frozen. Unlike any other moment in meta history, everyone seemed to be unable to act. There were no doors to bust through, no bombs to defuse, no final arch-foe to defeat to win the day. Everyone seemed lost. Citizens turned to the metas, only to find them casting about, confused, almost deranged, acting quite atypical.
When a meta needs someone to slap some sense into them, who do they turn to?Now, more than ever, the citizens need your courage and strength. They need to see you standing tall, prepared to fight. Why is this prediction of doomsday any more valid than the last? Have we been shaking in fear because the Mayan calendar ends on December 21? Prophecies come, prophecies go. There’s no reason to believe this one more than any other.