Camera pans up from the center tile floor, slowly drawing over the imposing form of Jimmy Jonnes, journalist extraordinaire. He stands calmly before a green screen and stares directly into the camera until its movements stop and center on him. Flicking a finger toward the green screen, he says, "Folks, you're gonna wanna get a look at this. Now I must warn you, the following footage is graphic in nature, so don't blink."
The green screen lights up with drone footage of a mansion in flames. Dozens of police cars are clustered outside alongside a handful of firetrucks. Firefighters are actively attempting to quench the blaze as local officers drape sheets over strangely shaped objects on the ground. It's impossible to make out from the footage what these objects are, but some of them are roughly the size of a person.
Jimmy Jonnes shouts now, his face turning red, "ELEVEN PEOPLE DEAD! ELEVEN! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" He clenches his fists and continues screaming, slamming the desk behind him with great force. Turning away from the camera but still pointing in its general direction, he continues, "A ruthless, unprovoked, meta ATTACK! Do you know what we're looking at here folks? Oh, I'll tell ya what this is, the first SHOT fired to start a WAR! WAAARRRR!"
Spinning around, he begins pacing as he attempts to calm himself down, "I can't believe this folks, and if Jimmy Jonnes can't believe it then I know you can't! This is- was, the home of respected local businessman Giancarlo Siccone! A good man, an immigrant! They BUILT this country, and Mr. Siccone built his fortune with blood, sweat, and tears in the respectable worlds of stocks and crypto!"
Jimmy strides around his desk now, sitting in his chair and wiping his brow, "A good man! He's now in the hospital- barely survived the attack! And who orchestrated this violence? Who would kill and main and destroy for no reason other than sick pleasure? Oh I'll tell ya who folks, METAS! MEEETAAAAS! But I hear ya, I know what you're sayin'! I know the thoughts inside your heads folks! You ask Jimmy, 'but who! We know Metas are a scourge, but which did this?!' Well folks, there's a reason you come to good ol' Jimmy."
Jimmy laughs a little maniacally for a moment, but it's clearly fake as he snaps back to seriousness in less than a second. Snapping his fingers, he points to the green screen. Two photos are displayed on the screen, one is a grainy, far-away photo of a woman, taken from a drone, and the other is a clearer picture of a masked man with no discernable features. In the first photo, the woman can barely be made out but appears to be covered in blood.
"Metas." Jimmy starts, banging his fist gently on the table, then again, harder, "METAS! Look at these MANIACS folks! Our first photo is the only record we have of the first perpetrator, but I feel I don't need to tell you folks that we are looking at a LOT of blood. This woman apparently raided Mr. Siccone's home alongside dangerous and WANTED CRIMINAL- The Shrike! Now folks if you've been following meta crimes like I have then I know I don't gotta tell you about the Shrike, but in case you've been out of the loop-"
Jimmy snaps his fingers and the green screen changes again, a very blurry photo of what is, probably, a dead man posted on a flagpole is shown for a few seconds before being pulled off the screen. "This woman, although we don't know a lot about her, we can deduce one thing very easily. One word folks, one word. MENACE! She's COVERED in BLOOD! MENACE! And Shrike, well, he got his name for IMPALING A MAN ON A FLAGPOLE! KILLING AN INNOCENT MAN FOR NO REASON AND DISPLAYING! THE! BODY!" Jimmy Jones slams his fist with the last three words for emphasis.
"These two hooligans raid Mr. Siccone's home, his private residence! Kill EVERYONE inside, save Mr. Siccone himself may he heal quickly in the hands of good, non-meta doctors, and then BURN DOWN HIS HOME! Burned to the ground folks! I don't gotta show you the photos but the police could not save anything! Meta fires! Meta powers! Meta attacks end in bloodshed! Call your local congressmen and women, call your local representatives, call higher powers! The senators of other states! The vice president- the president! Metas are DANGEROUS folks! We need laws! We need rules! We cannot keep letting people die from these controlled, inhuman WEAPONS!"
Sighing deeply, Jimmy Jonnes stands up with a small glass bottle of dark liquid, "Now folks you know I show you the truth and nothing but the truth but sometimes the truth is expensive, so that's why I have with me today a bottle of everydayclear bigmuscles nonsteroid! Just two drops a day-"
It was a crime in itself that this, of all ways, was how the Shrike found out the number. He never looked away from the casualties after he was involved in an operation. He didn't hide from the truth. In this case, though, James Jonnes had gotten the official numbers first, and he, the so-called Impaler, had tuned in. After S had sent him the first video, the bulky vigilante had watched several others. As she had predicted, it was only a matter of time before he had been featured.
Now he stood alone in front of the television screen, transfixed by the display, the night air outside the apartment cool and beckoning. His garb was not that of the man pictured in Jonnes' report, but instead, a simple white t-shirt and exercise shorts.
They always showed the photo. Arthur Orange, limp body spiked through a flagpole. The odds alone...
He turned away, and a deep sigh, long held inside, was finally let go. He stared down at his hand, the one which had been pierced by his own knife - redirected towards him by Arlecchino. It had fully healed and left a new scar in the middle of the palm. The golden band still lay on his ring finger. He closed the hand.
It'd have been twelve dead, but for him. The world would never know, and they wouldn't need to. This was how it would always be - and that was OK. He'd known that going in.
For many Japanese, min’yō evokes, or is said to evoke, a nostalgia for real or imagined home towns and family.
Black eyes followed the angry man behind the TV screen, like a cat watching fish in a tank. Curious, without malice – but an undertone of patient violence. His anger was just as performative as hers. It had the same point, too: inspire fear. Instead of ushering in the new world, however, his fear reinforced the old ways. Her goal was to inspire and protect. His was to provoke and attack.
Still, he had a point. Eleven dead humans was a lot. Sloppy. She doubted the metas in the photos had a cause like hers. They didn’t want resonance, or if they did, it wasn’t something general. Their intentions were personal, gone without a message or signature, because the faux-furious reporter would have mentioned it. Everyone seemed to be out for themselves, for their own goals. That’s all this town seemed to be – aimless people living petty lives. Puppets in a shadow play, hiding behind a screen of justice or self-preservation to excuse eating the rich. Small thinkers reveling in one small victory while the normal populace ignored their demons secure in their homes.
Min’yo smiled at the angry man on the motel TV screen, calling for laws. Rules that no one could enforce. It was time to give the City of Steel a show they wouldn’t soon forget. Tomorrow was the prelude, the first movement. Tomorrow, they were firing their first shot.
Big changes were coming, and she had no doubt men like Jonnes would be screaming her name soon enough.
Sam paused in her workout, stilling the punching bag as it swung back toward her. She wiped at her neck and face with a dry towel, moping up the sweat that dripped down her skin. Her phone was dinging, and judging by the tone, it was a ping on one of her watches. She pulled the phone from the pocket of her leggings and unlocked the screen. Popped up on the notification center was a new video alert- for Jimmy Jonnes. She hated the man, but he was a source of metahuman violence, and it kept her up to date on who was in the city.
She paused her music, the strong guitars of "The Last Time" by All That Remains stopping abruptly. She clicked on the video and it took her to YouTube. She watched it, anger rising inside her in a slow crescendo. God, she hated this man. She hated the fear and panic that he spread among normal people for metahumans. This was how Hazel had been murdered. This was why they operated in the shadows and they kept their identities secret. This kind of bullshit was the reason metahumans were treated like they were dangerous.
Not all of them were monsters. You wouldn't know that from the news and the online videos. They were rarely painted in a positive light. Thank god for Vigilante Watch. If it weren't for them, for people like Arcane Eye and Heroic Feats (the Watchers for Pittsburgh and Columbus, respectively) then Sam was worried there'd be no good coverage for vigilantes as a whole. It struck a chord deep inside her, that chord that had driven her to kill before. That chord that said they should be-
No. Never again.
Sam swiped off the app and shuffled her workout playlist again, putting "Hurt" by Adelitas Way on. She turned back to the punching bag, and in one powerful strike, she burst it open, spilling the sand out all over the floor. She caught it as it swung back to her and sighed, leaning her forehead against it. The anger left her body in small bits, with every breath. Her job now was proving that metahumans were safe for others. It was her job to prove they could do good. And so do good she would.