A Call for Justice

July 30, 2016:

Iron Guard goes to the Hall of Justice to talk with Captain Marvel about the Avengers

The Hall of Justice, Metropolis

Built in the same architectural Art Deco style of buildings such as the Empire State Building and Union Terminal in Cincinnati, it harkens back to a simpler time. With its wide open rotunda as the lobby and carpeting gracing the marble and granite floors, the Hall of Justice seems to embrace the concepts of Liberty, Freedom and the Rights of all Humanity.

Characters

NPCs: Sadie Sinclair

Mentions: Nick Fury, Black Widow, Falcon

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

A few days ago the Justice League was ‘disbanded’ by the US government. The Watchtower has been confiscated in what according international laws is pretty much the first incident of space piracy in the history of humankind. Lawyers will be fighting for that space station for a decade or two. But the truth is the JLA members did not dispute the takeover of the US government agents, despite they probably had the right to use force to do so.

But when the same men-in-black came to the Hall of Justice to confiscate the building, they did find resistance. Sadie Sinclair reacted quickly and now the Hall is owned by non-profit organizations, there are talks it will be a museum, there are lawyers using the US law to keep the DEO out. The Hall is still a place for the heroes of the League, and therefore it is also a place to talk with the heroes of the League.

Nathaniel Richards is one of the few that foresaw the DEO move. He wasn’t surprised, and barely half an hour after the news were out he sent through official channels a request for a meeting with Captain Marvel.


Carol Susan Jane Danvers is one of those heroes who seriously considered armed resistance to said acts of space piracy - and she knows well that it is not the first incident of space piracy in human history, as she is quite human, and has been part of space piracy - for good, and for ill - more than once in her life. But when those at the top of the League said to let it go, she let it go. It's the US government, after all, and Carol takes zero pleasure firing on agents of her government. Doesn't mean she never does it, but it doesn't make her happy.

With the Hall still safely in League hands, Carol has continued to operate from there despite the upheaval. She is one of those who has been most public about continuing to operate out of the Hall in spite of the chaos. So it's easy enough for the co-op to send her a message for a meeting. And soon enough the city-desk editor of the Daily Planet makes an appearance as Captain Marvel.

"Afternoon, Sadie. I'm headed to the commissary for coffee. What's this about a meeting? Who is this guy, anyway?"


Sadie does not know much from Iron Guard, but no one does. Apparently he was ‘Iron Lad’ about six years ago, briefly. Then he vanished until very recently, when he reappeared with the new codename. He has been active as a crimefighter in the Metropolis area.

Nathaniel is waiting for Carol at one of the smaller meeting rooms the JLA members used to meet reporters or government officers. He is wearing an armor obviously inspired in Iron Man’s, but he has left the helmet on the table. “Captain,” he greets, “I am Nathaniel Richards, it is an honor to meet you.” He offers her his hand.


Captain Marvel comes into the meeting room, coffee in hand fresh from the commissary, having had her briefing from Sadie. She eyes the armored hero she does not know, and offers a nod of her head as she then lifts the cup to take a sip, then another. "Mister Richards. 'Iron Guard', that's what you're using now, yes? How can I help you?" She steps closer, still measuring him up, and extends her hand to take his, a brief but firm shake.


After the handshake, Nathaniel invites Carol to sit down, doing the same if the woman does. “It is a complicated story,” he begins. “It begins in the future, in a possible future centuries from now. I came to the current time a few years ago, you see, believing the early 21st century was my best chance to avoid a fate worse than death. I knew the current heroic age had some of the greatest warriors in the history of Earth. But my very presence and the machinations of time travelling criminals altered the timeline. I was forced to flee into the far past, and when I finally returned I found myself in an alternate timeline. And now I am trapped here.”

Complicated. But Carol is a veteran hero, he hopes she can handle it. “All good. I began rebuilding my life. Then I met other time travellers that reminded me this heroic age ends very badly. Or rather, could end very badly. I did some psycho-historical analysis and the prognosis is catastrophic. Unless the societal and economic trends change radically the heroic age will end in a genocide and the global political power will be left in the hands of corporate police estates. We are heading into a Dark Age, Captain.”


After the handshake, Carol takes the offered seat, sipping her coffee as she sits, calmly and quietly, letting Richards lead. She listens, intently. She doesn't interrupt; she may not be a journalist, but she knows how to talk to people, and when listening is better. Just taking it all in. She doesn't even twitch visibly at the mentions of time travel, and that takes a good bit of self-control; no hero worth her salt doesn't hate time travel and everything related to it.

"Alright, Richards. Let's assume I buy all this." Carol's a hero. She believes it's possible But it could be a setup, almost as easily. Sucker, she is not. "So what? I'm sure as Hell not going to just lay down and let any of that happen. And neither is anyone else in this building. So. Why are you here? What do you want from me?"


Nathaniel smiles briefly when Carol states she would go down fighting, “that is it, the main reason the heroes were unable to prevent the end of the Heroic Age was they did not see the enemy until it was too late. They focused in super-criminals, or in openly hostile organizations such as Hydra. Those were the just tip of the iceberg.”

He leans back, consideringly. “Actually Hydra was more the rough first draft of the enemy. A failed prototype, if you would. Hydra is an international criminal organization with ties to organized crime and the technological black market. Violently hostile to the status quo, they are labelled terrorist and openly warred on by all the legitimate governments of the Earth and the United Nations itself. Unfortunately a large number of extremely powerful international organizations are now realizing the current status quo is not beneficial to them and they are quite able to change it. Learning from Hydra, they will not be openly hostile at first. But they will strike nevertheless, and once they are aware of each others, they will ally against the defenders of the present status quo. That is people like you, like the Justice League.”

Nathaniel stands up, “I believe Nick Fury is also seeing this happening. He withdrew SHIELD support to the League. SHIELD, which is also an international organization, but a law-abiding one. Hmm, I will talk with him soon. Regardless, this also leads us to your question. What can we do about it? A few things. One of them is organizing a team of super-humans outside the reach of the DEO and aware of the incoming danger. I know who you are, Captain. I have access to historical records of what you, or rather, the version of you in my timeline did and what she was able to do. Which is why I want to invite you to the new Avengers team.”


Carol frowns at Nathaniel and shakes her head. "Fury didn't withdraw SHIELD support from the League. SHIELD was forced out by the politicos, who pushed for DEO oversight instead." Not that Carol has really worked with SHIELD much, but she knows who they are and respects their work, far more than she does the DEO, especially given how the DEO has handled the League.

"Something as big as what you're describing, Richards, can't be taken down by a mere group of heroes, even one as big and power-heavy as the League. We don't kill. And if we don't kill the enemy, when they're like what you're describing, they will get back up. They will have material support. And they will keep coming, putting civilians at risk in situations where even our powers and training won't be enough to save them." Carol admonishes, firmly. Carol is ex-military, and she knows the difference in those mission types.

"If you want to beat something like what you're describing, only something like SHIELD, with international cooperation and support, can possibly achieve headway. We're not intel specialists. We're not spies. We are, at best, tactical weapons with consciences. Artillery with a heart." A bit disparaging, perhaps, but at least Carol is baldly, frankly honest.

Carol resists the urge to ask about her counterpart from his timeline; as far as she's concerned, it doesn't really matter. But her blue gaze sharpens as he tries to use it to butter her up for the pitch. "Avengers?" For a woman coming from the Justice League, that name doesn't instill her with the sense of heroism or grandeur she's expecting. "What do you see these Avengers doing, Richards? Who's in charge? Target selection? Mission control? Op orders?" Her military streak of jargon shows through heavily.


“Yes, you are right,” and that makes Nathaniel smile again. “SHIELD is the group able to fight this kind of massive organizations. Which is why we will be working closely with them. But the Avengers are needed because some super-humans that will threaten shield would deal too heavy losses to SHIELD agents if confronted. Also, their technology needs to be improved and upgraded so they have a major advantage over their enemies, and I will make sure it happens.”

As for the rest, “we will have the best spy in the world among us, the Black Widow herself. Who is in charge? We will vote that when the team is fully active. You are a good candidate as field leader, as is Falcon. But it is too soon to say. Intel will be provided in good measure by SHIELD, but also by what for some people living in the current time is past history. We will respond to emergencies like the Justice League did, but we will also have an agenda to find, unmask and destroy those who would steal the future.”


Carol cannot help but frown a bit at that. "I don't mean to be offensive, Richards. But that just doesn't sound like a heroic agenda. It sounds to me like a military and intelligence objective. One I agree needs doing. And worth heroic assistance. But not the mandate to put behind a heroic team." Because in her view, a team with that mandate behind everything they're doing wouldn't be heroic.


Nathaniel shakes his head, “Captain, I believe we can both protect the world as a reactive force, and investigate organizations we suspect have long term hostile agendas.” He sits down again, “the Justice League, and for that matter most super-human teams, have a rather passive-reactive mindset. It leaves them vulnerable to political and social manipulation. The DEO has not cracked down on the League out of spite. They are following the orders of politicians, which are themselves pressured by their financers or by the people that has elected them. And said people can also be manipulated and deceived by the media.”

He sighs, shifting in his place. “Once I gather a couple other time travelers, we will do a longer exposition of the nature of these hidden organizations. But I doubt it will surprise you.”


As interested and engaged as Carol seems to be, there's clearly a discord with her perception of the mission at hand. If Nathaniel is any reader of people, he'll be well aware that thus far, Carol is holding herself back. She's not onboard. "Richards, as I've said, I respect what you're saying is a concern, and agree that things need to be done. But no one elected us. We don't - and shouldn't - have the authority to decide who is right and who is wrong. We stop people from being hurt, any way that we can. Anything more than that leads to the slippery slope of might deciding right. These evils need to be addressed. And if SHIELD needs backup to take on the tough nuts, they know where to find us, how to reach us, and know that we'll come running as best we can when they call. I know I certainly will."

Carol considers Nathaniel for a bit, just sitting quietly. Then she shrugs her shoulders. "You're putting together a new team. You feel that the League has been marginalized by the politicians and their activities, and you have a point. I don't like it. At all. But they /are/ the elected officials. Their words are law. I'm former military, Richards. I don't overrule civilian authority just because I don't agree with it. If the orders given are bad orders and violate the rules, then fine: I will refuse to obey, and I will face the consequences of that choice. But I will not stage a coup, either. You think these new global threat organizations you've alluded to need to be addressed? Go to SHIELD. Give them your intel, let them follow up. If they find something, and need to hit it, they're as capable as calling in the League as any other citizen."

"What I'm not hearing, here, is what is going to make this team stand out from what the League has now become, in this post-DEO situation, while still remaining a /heroic/ organization, rather than just a powered extension of SHIELD."


“Well, I have studied Sinclair’s plans for the League,” admits Nathaniel. “It preserves it purpose, but the resources and operative capabilities will be inferior to the previous League.” He looks at Carol, “to be frank, to optimize response time and operative capabilities, a team needs resources akin to SHIELD’s. The League no longer has them. The Avengers will. And in the other hand, SHIELD also needs us. Super-powered allies close at hand. As well as the advanced technology I will supply. SHIELD needs to be far stronger than it is today to be able to change the future.”


Admittedly, Carol isn't feeling the pinch of a lack of tech resources; she didn't need teleporters or jets, and really never used them while she has been with the League. As such, she hasn't felt the pinch of their loss. But she can acknowledge that resources like that would be of great use to a heroic force. After all, one of her proteges is incredibly strong - stronger even than Carol - but cannot fly. "So, why are you not engaging Sinclair to dovetail her efforts with the resources you have in mind? She has the heroes, as well as community support and intelligence gathering. You apparently have connections with SHIELD and others, and believe you can provide the tech and means the League is now lacking." Hey, maybe they can retake the WatchTower?


Nathaniel hmm, considering Carol words. “I will, of course, help the League and of course share as much intel as possible. But there is not much to do in the technology department. No armor or weapons, no surveillance systems, no vehicles. You could retake the Watchtower, you do not need me for that. But I am quite sure the DEO would have stationed part of their super-human team, Wildcore, up there. You would have to fight the US government.”


Carol shrugs. "I have no desire to fight the US government, Richards. Even if I think they're in the wrong. Those they assign don't get any more choice than I do. I don't want to have to take them out, just to overrule the policymakers." But she would. If she felt it was important enough, she would. But it's not, just yet. Is it? "So, part of the reason you want to establish this as a new team, under a new umbrella, is to prevent having that immediate conflict?"


Nathaniel nods. The League choose not to fight the DEO. At least not with force. He understands why, but it makes the League useless for his project. “Under the umbrage of SHIELD, the Avengers are away from the DEO’s grasp. At least for now. If the political situation changes, we might be able to work something else. But the political situation is not going to change unless we make a concerted effort to change it, Captain.”


Carol frowns a bit, once more, and shakes her head. "Alright. So you set up this other team under a separate umbrella with a different mandate to avoid that problem." She sighs. "I don't love it. But I get it. Alright, Richards. If you can put it together, I'll join up. But if I see this turning into some paranoiac's gestapo, you know I'll go just as hard to bring it down as I would to support it."


Nathaniel shakes his head and stands up, offering Carol his hand again. “Of course. I think you will like the others, and we the team statutes will include the utmost respect to international law.” And address and a schedules will be provided to bring the Captain up to date. And Nathaniel shows himself out of the Halls. No time to social talk, he needs to be in the Middle East in three hours.

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