The Idealist and the Free Press

May 08, 2018:

Danny Rand goes public about Rand Industries' stance on registration at a press conference.

Rand Industries Press Conference Theatre


NPCs: Various reporters (NPCed by Emma Frost), Joy and Ward Meachum, Rand Communications Officer (NPCed by Danny Rand)



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

A company as large as Rand has a room dedicated to holding press conferences. Granted, sometimes it's used for speeches or team meetings, but the set-up is clearly geared first-and-foremost to allow reporters decent angles, and to let everyone hear the speaker. Everyone who secured a spot has to be an accredited journalist, but there are a few highly coveted wild card spots for independent bloggers. Those spots are given away (after a basic screening and security check) by lottery. It's a nod in the direction of new forms of reporting that are growing more and more legitimate.

The back of the room features long tables, with fair trade coffee on offer. The baked goods are from a bakery in Harlem that employs underprivileged youth. There have been all sorts of (some would say 'hippie') touches like that in the last few months as Daniel Rand has grown more comfortable in his authority.

The press conference starts on-time. A communications officer steps out and offers a brief overview. Every reporter present (there's only around ten or so) will be granted one question. Follow-up questions will be permitted at Mr. Rand's discretion.

Then, Danny enters the room, clad in an understated but well-tailored suit, facial hair trimmed but not shorn, curly blonde mop more 'stylishly disheveled' than 'bed head.' He's flanked by Ward and Joy Meachum, and the president of the Rand board - a severe-faced older woman who looks like she just sucked on a mouldy lemon.

"Good afternoon. I hope you tried the cupcakes back there. Super tasty. The dark chocolate ones are vegan." The line might come off as cheesy from someone else, but something about the way he delivers it suggests he really does hope they'll try it. He shuffles the papers in front of him and tries not to look nervous, which means a lot of smiling.

"I uh, in my time since I've taken the helm of Rand Industries, corporate responsibility has been my priority. Despite the excellent stewardship of my family friends and the children of my father's business partner, Joy and Ward Meachum," he motions behind him, "…I've felt that some of our policies would not be keeping in the spirit of my father's wishes. That's why you've noticed some changes. From our internship program that focuses on getting young women into roles within our pharmaceutical division on the technical side, to various outreach initiatives for underprivileged groups, to increased worker protections in our factories and more regulatory oversight for our overseas operations, we've been dedicated and focused on making Rand a more responsible corporate entity."

Danny pauses a moment, then reaches for a sip of water, "Am I boring you to tears yet?" He flashes what is, despite his awkwardness, a rather charming smile. He clears his throat. "In that spirit, I wanted to make a firm statement on an issue that has been in the news a lot lately." He pauses, takes in a breath, and makes eye contact with reporters. Joy watches him approvingly. 'Historically, the first step to oppressing a people is to identify them. At some of the ugliest moments in our history, that identification has taken the form of religion or a lack thereof, of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sometimes the people in power have to work to identify the people they want to hold down. At other times, people doled, and continue to dole out, hatred and discrimination based on the colour of someone's skin."

"That is not our world anymore. At least I desperately don't want that to be our world." He looks down at his sheet, at the words, but there's a moment when it's clear the young man is veering from the carefully prepared remarks to speak more plainly. "Registration of metahumans is a dangerous, slippery slope that invites discrimination, persecution and hatred. We've seen from our own history what happens when we start down that road. And I cannot in good conscience, keep Rand on the path of being a better corporate citizen without speaking out against registration. "

The words cause a flurry of shutters and flashbulbs to go off around the room.

"Questions?" He points to one of the reporters.


It has been a long time coming since Lois had set foot inside a meeting space where a press conference was held. After the few long years, she’s back to doing something that was her meat and potatoes, sitting among the throes and preparing herself for the biggest story that rocks the world itself.

The overall room itself was nice and cozy, Lois having partaken of the pastries that were offered, arriving early to get the best seat which was right in front, staring down her particular competition with an eye and rubbing shoulders with those whose work that she’s admired from afar. Old rivalries and new were made in this moment, and each of them were met with handshakes.

All falls quiet when Mr. Rand approaches the room, the little bit of levity to his announcement by way of mention of treats were taken with a slight smile and a brief lift of the wrapper. Yes, she has partaken of the goods. And yes, she will take more when she leaves. As of note, the large coffee container balanced by a hand and knee which marks this, as well as a sip and a place upon the ground.

And now to the guts of the situation, there were no questions that were already written or planned out, just scribbled words in shorthand that only she could decipher. Her brow works and lip worried, and soon her hand lifts. Finger wave.. Was it her turn?

“Mr. Rand.” Lois says with a little bit of authority, rising from her seat with a tug down of her jacket, pad and pen at the ready as she pulls her shoulders back to project her voice as she does.

“Lois Lane, Daily Planet.” Blah blah, she thinks.

“With this announcement, what are your thoughts on the other corporations who have taken a stance opposite of yours? Are you afraid that they would take your political reasonings to not back the government's choice to allow registration as a means of hiding a secret of your own or within your corporation?”

"Ms. Lane, if you believe even a quarter of what the media says about me, you'd come to the conclusion that I'm pretty lousy at lying," says Danny. This produces a chuckle from a few gathered, most particularly Joy and Ward, though theirs have a nervous edge to it. "An elaborate plan like that?" He shakes his head.

He shifts, grips the podium and then, "Now, I want to be clear that I'm not saying Rand will break the law. Part of being a good corporate citizen is being lawful. But that doesn't mean we won't use our resources and clout to lobby against this kind of legislation or refuse to do business with companies taking a hardline stance."

He looks around the room again, then points, "Next question."

So, when's the last time Peter Parker has been at a press conference?

The answer is 'almost forever ago, literally.'

When's the last time Peter Parker has been at a press conference with really good food?

The answer is 'never ago, as in all the food is usually terrible.'

So, this, this is pretty nice. Nice enough that Peter Parker, intrepid photographer for the completely legitimate newspaper that covers totally legitimate news known as the Daily Bugle, has been left spending much of the time leading up to this conference's official start time wondering why, exactly, he ended up here and — and this is the important part — just how he's going to end up paying for it in terms of vicious karmic retribution in the future.

Considering how good even just this coffee is compared to what they offer at the Bugle, he's pretty sure one of his loved ones is going to die tomorrow.

For him, this is a pretty legitimate worry.

But for right now, at least, all this self-conscious worrying is overpowered by his overwhelming curiosity and wonder. Even for him — there's enough big names in press, and in business, to make the young college-student-slash-freelance-photographer-slash-daily-bugle-web-designer-slash-and-nothing-else feel deeply uncomfortable and out of place. Dressed up to the nines ('the nines,' to him, being a second-hand jacket his aunt insisted would make him look professional and instead is like a size too large for him so now he looks a little like the kid at the end of the movie 'Big' which at least helpfully covers up his 'AVOID NEGATIVITY - F(X) = |X|' t-shirt he was stuck wearing because JJJ sprung this on him at the last minute), Peter stays near the back for now, taking the occasional snap shot of the man of the hour as he makes his speech with faint, scrunched up brows. Even Lois Lane is here. He feels like a total amateur trying to wear the big kid pants. … The suit isn't really helping.

It's a thought, though, that doesn't linger in the face of a larger problem. Registration. That lingering worry, ever on the horizon. For mutants, and… The thought trails as Peter chews on the inside of his cheek, hazel eyes considering the heir of the Rand Industries as something approaching a level smile touches at his lips. His head tilts curiously. A second passes.

"He looks like a big, scrappy puppy," he says, largely to himself.


"Oh, uh, sorry. Just. Photograph guy. Just, um… talking my way through some photo-"


"R-right. Yeah. Sorry. Again."

Of course, there are numerous people among those gathered who would easily file the (in)famous Lois Lane as a professional rival. Peter… not so much. One of the reporters who got bested in the race for seating casts a heavy side glance in Lane’s direction as she asks her question, but his pen is a dutiful flurry as he sketches notes alongside his MP3 recorder.

In the next gap that follows Rand’s answer, there’s a clamor as dozens try to get the anointing of the scion’s pointing finger.

It’s the man in the row behind Lane, just behind her left shoulder, that gets it. And he doesn’t hesitate.

“Carl Strand, Village Weekly. The current proposed legislation seems to only be mutants who are violent, convicted criminal offenders. We also have other criminal registries. With the ongoing instances of ‘meta human’ crime,” and the fingers of his non-writing hand claws through the air in an elevated display of air quotes, “and the everyday risk experienced by law enforcement officers, would you like to elaborate on why we should deny our men and women in blue the additional information that could help prepare them and keep them safe in the field?”

Joy Meachum has a rather excellent poker face. She can hold a neutral expression in the face of good or bad news. But that mask slips a little in the face of the reporter's very pertinent question. She looks to Danny and stares at him a little bit too long.

Danny for his part, takes a moment to consider the question. He motions at Strand, "We'd assume that someone who is a violent metahuman offender used his or her powers in the process of a crime, right? Then that information would be freely available and in that violent offender's file. Presumably, there's no law against putting the facts of a case in someone's record."

That comment provokes a bit of a chuckle from a few in the room. Joy relaxes a little.

"So I don't really see why a separate registry is warranted, or why we're talking about widespread application of the tests for the X-Gene. Why couldn't the existing flags on an offender's file be enough? Other registries exist to catalogue people for what they’ve done, not for who they are."

Danny takes a breath, then flexes his fingers against the podium. "The danger here, as I mentioned before, is a slippery slope. What about some kid who has a power, through no fault of her own, that happens to be dangerous? My worry is the police could argue that she represents a threat, even if she hasn't yet done anything wrong. She gets put on a registry and maybe then she's less likely to get help to control her powers. Now, imagine if this girl is also from a poorer neighbourhood, and also maybe a religious or racial minority? The system would be setting her up to fail in the worst way. And also," there's a gentle fire in his eyes as he hits on another point, "…would a metahuman be labeled a 'violent offender' if their powers hurt someone accidentally? Or if they're just learning to control them? I'd like to see provisions for that in legislation, or we're going to be persecuting people when we should be helping them."

He shakes his head, "I'm not saying we don't need new laws to help prosecute these new kinds of crimes and protect law enforcement officials. I just think we need to be very careful about how we go about it so people who could use help don't get caught up in it and mislabeled. I just worry it would be too easy to expand registration once it's in place. With good intentions, but bad side effects."

Danny's prepared statement was read in a way that suggests he was extensively coached. That's only apparent when he's veered off-script in his answers and gets more plain-spoken. He does seem to be speaking from the heart. For good or for ill.

"Next question?"

Lois remains standing, even though there is a recorder going within the clutch that remains at her foot to capture the entire press conference as it were, taking note of who asks questions in shorthand on her pad, flipping the paper, quickly scribbling here and there as an eyebrow shoots up.

A hand raises there after, and once again she’s on the line of questioning Mr. Rand.

“There seems to be a lot of idyllic situations that you’re presenting here, Mr. Rand. Exceptions to the rule, as it were. What about those meta-humans, mutants, and so forth who suffer from mental illness who were either arrested by the authorities or placed on psychiatric hold by their family members or medical personnel. Would you say that those types need to be registered as well as a precursor to incidents that members of the public would see as crime?

"I'm sorry, Ms. Lane. We're sticking to one question per reporter at this time. Please allow another reporter to ask a question," says the communications person before Danny can open his mouth.

Danny gives a little apologetic shrug, then looks for a reporter who hasn't yet had a question answered.

Trish Walker is no stranger to a press conference. She had been to plenty when she was off chasing her NPR dreams. Some had been pretty high class and there had been two very memorable disasters. This one is definitely in the former category. Trish helps herself to a coffee and decides to skip the muffins to avoid crumbs on her tailored, slate grey pant suit.

She smiles and nods to those she knows, both personally and by reputation. She’d be lying if she said she didn’t feel a little out of place in company including Lois Lane. The young man in the coat just a bit too large gets shushed and she sends him a quick grin with a bit of an eye roll, because she had thought something similar herself at Rand’s entrance.

The first questions asked are great, the sort of thing you would expect from one of the best reporters. Trish holds up her own recorder, hanging on every word. Danny gives thoughtful, concise answers, and hits on points Trish herself had made on her show.

Trish bites her lip and raises her hand to ask a question of her own.

“Trish Walker, WNEX, thanks for having me. Given your rather open opinion about Registration, are you not concerned about other companies choosing to take a hardline stance, and refuse to do business with Rand Industries?”

"Oh, hello Ms. Walker. Welcome. I listen to your show when I'm jogging sometimes. It's very good." Danny seems to mean that, even if he phrases it in a way someone might if they were delivering an empty platitude.

He pauses a moment to sip from a bottle of water. "Well, yes. That's a concern." He looks over his shoulder at the Meachums and his board president. "But if a company is going to take a hard line pro-registration, maybe we shouldn't be dealing with that company. There are plenty of ethical partners out there who are doing good work. And, uh, I must add, that I do mean hardline. I totally understand if companies are still figuring things out, or if they're too small to face the scrutiny that being strongly against would bring to them. But Rand is a big fish. We can afford to be a leader."

"And uh, going back to Ms. Lane's question. I know it's breaking the rules, but it's a good question. And to that I'll just say, I'm not a legislator. There are things that need to be figured out, for sure. And I'm of a mind that…sick people should be helped. And just because a metahuman has a mental illness doesn't mean they're automatically dangerous. Plenty of people suffer from all sorts of mental health issues without ever hurting a soul."


It wasn't easy being an "independent reporter" in the Tri-City corridor. During the short wait before the communications officer stepped up to the podium, the cash-strapped bloggers had to squeeze in a desperately-needed free meal and as much networking with teams from the more traditional publications as possible. How many lined up just to shake the hand of Ms. Lois Lane?

The odd woman out was quite odd indeed: a pale sprite tottering around in mommy's stilettos and a black tailored suit more appropriate for Janelle Monae's closet than a boardroom. Goldie Madrigal (according to her name tag) was a caricature of a Millennial, from her pink leather briefcase that she wore strapped cross-body, to her oversize thick framed glasses, to the edgy bleach blonde mullet-hawk that she tried to make presentable with a simple bun. She frittered away the press conference pre-game customizing the settings of her budget DSLR camera.

In the rush to find good seats, Ms. Millennial finds herself at the very back of the small group of 10. She takes a few pictures of Danny when he first steps up to the podium and then they're in the thick of it. Everyone has their recorders and memo pads out, pens scribbling away, hands waving as they fight to be chosen for the next question. Who will care about the weirdo in the back when she begins to move around so that she can get better pictures? Madrigal is very precise about the pictures that she chooses, mostly snapping during the pause between a reporter's question and Danny's answer. Of course, lots of other people are taking pictures, most of them dedicated photographers for the print publications that were invited to the press conference.

"Goldie Madrigal, The Oculus. What do you expect to achieve, for metahumans or for Rand Enterprises, by speaking out against registration? Are there any groups this message is meant for directly, anyone you support or are in opposition to?"

"It's uh, it's more about stopping harm than achieving something. If that makes sense?" says Danny. He's relaxing a bit and so is his team. He hasn't done many of these, so it's difficult to know what to expect. "I believe that if you think something is wrong, you should speak up about it. The harm would be caused by saying nothing."

Then he shakes his head slowly and grins, "No, this isn't a message at anyone. I'm not taking stealth shots across anyone's bow."


Another hand raises into the air, waiting to be acknowledged. And when it is, the balding man who owns it pulls the chewed up pencil out of his mouth and drawls his question. “Joe DiCaro, Business Times. So, what do you think about those outside of law enforcement? A public registry, like the sex offenders registry, demands a certain transparency to the communities where mutants live. Is Rand gonna start weighing in other public security matters? Kinda outside the wheelhouse, ain’t it?”

"Mr. DiCaro, did you just tell me to stick to business?" Despite the slightly barbed nature of the words themselves, they're delivered by Danny with a good-natured grin and a broad smile. "Look, I understand why this would seem outside of what we do at Rand. But I don't believe that the business world is divorced from what's going on in society at large. And one thing my father taught me is that if you have a platform, you should use it."

He looks around the room. "I don't know if anyone remembers, but my father made a point to hire and retain HIV positive people during the AIDS epidemic. That was to show that people who had the disease were no danger to others in everyday life. I look at this much the same way."


Feeling eyes on him, Peter Parker's hazel gaze turns just so to see Trish Walker of all people looking his way; his response, of course, is an eloquent "a-heh" coupled with the most awkward of smiles as he rubs the back of his neck. Great. Well, it could always be worse. JJJ could be here, throwing a cigar in his face and yelling at him about the heinous audacity of vegan cupcakes. The Daily Bugle's headline would probably end up reading 'RAND CEO SUPPORTS CRAPPY CUPCAKES; TERRORISM' instead of anything useful.

Peter's found it's important to look at the bright side of situations like this.

The freelance photographer's attention shifts, then, back to Danny as he fields those questions. Brown brows press inward in mild thought as Parker lifts his camera and takes a shot of Danny sporting one of those guileless grins of his; might as well get the man at his best side. … At least Peter thinks it's his best side. Maybe he should get one where Danny looks serious, too. Lord knows what kind of field day JJJ might have with someone daring to have an honest look.

So he takes his photographs, and he listens silently, for now, a look of what one would assume to be concentration over his work possessing his expression as he lines up another shot. For running a company, Rand seems very… sincere. Maybe a little naive. It feels hypocritical to him, thinking that. But maybe a little earnestness isn't a bad thing.


There's a couple of more questions, but they're softball-ish or just make Danny answer the same question in a slightly different way. After a few minutes, the communications person steps up. "Ladies and gentlemen, that's all the time we have for today. Thank you all for coming."

Danny smiles and waves at the reporters as he's led out the side door with the Meachums and the board president.

No one's giving the reporters the bum's rush. They can linger and chat, and partake in fancy baked goods if they so desire.


Pensiveness washes over Madrigal's elfin features. She appears to be so absorbed by Rand's answer to her question that she fails to ask a follow-up, or to stitch together the other reporter's questions with further picture-taking. The reappearance of the communications officer is the cue that brings the young blogger back to the present moment.

"Oh, I-" Madrigal lifts her hand, scowls as she realizes that she's too late. Well, she'll just have to get the best final shot! She kicks off her expensive stilettos and climbs onto her chair - much to the chagrin of security and the photographers behind her - snapping a picture of Danny Rand waving boyishly to the reporters before his entourage ushers him out of the conference room.

As the reporters and their teams move to converse or avail themselves further of the baked goods, Madrigal grabs her heels and makes a hasty exit.

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