Merely Human

In Memoriam of Light

by Thomas Scrivener

The world stopped one year ago, on this date. We all recall where we were when the news broke. Some were at work, others at school, still others at home. I happened to be sitting behind my desk typing an article due in an hour. My boss leaned over my shoulder…well, not literally. From across the office, however, I felt his scowl. Then the television switched to a live news update.

The burning wreckage in the background drew my eyes immediately. My gut shriveled. I swallowed, but I gagged instead. There was no moisture left.

Behind the reporter, the remains of a plane sprawled across an elementary school. Emergency crews rushed into the carnage. Thankfully, no bodies appeared on screen.

It’s been one year, and still we remember.

Many of us cried out for vengeance. We wanted the person responsible to hang. The police, the FBI, even the CIA searched for the culprit. The Agency found him first.

No one had heard of the Agency until a few months after the event, the tragedy. The S.P.Q.R. hunted enhanced humans and they were good at it.

And yet, no one expected them to discover the culprit. We all wanted them to; we just didn’t think they would. Ever. You can’t track an enhanced human. They look like everyone else until they use their powers. Yes, there are some exceptions; it’s more of a guideline.

The Knight—our most trusted hero, the leader of The Inner Circle, and a champion of justice—fell into the Agency’s trap. The evidence against him mounted. He refused to run, to hide, or to fight. He let them capture him.

After that, Washington demanded all capes, all enhanced humans register. “For the safety of mankind”, they said. Most capes dismissed the bill and refused to unmask. I didn’t blame them, not then and not now. “For the safety of those we love,” they claimed. So, the President declared war on supers.

Not directly, he’s not insane.

The president outlawed the use of any ability at any time. Of course, the villains didn’t respect that law—not that they respect any laws—but the heroes did. I guess they figured if we didn’t want their help, they would let us fight the villains alone.

None of the Inner Circle came to our aid. Chaos and anarchy reigned. Until Negato. Until The Numinous. They restored order. They filled the void left by the disappearance of so many capes.

There are still those who resist the rule of The Numinous, the harmony they’ve given the world; though there are less and less each day. We’ve come around. Not like cattle who need a master; like a stream diverting around a rock.

Supers are here to stay. They’re not all capes. Not all capes are bad. The Numinous doesn’t rule, they only protect. Some times against ourselves; mostly, though, against other enhanced humans.

I still wonder, however, would the world look any different if The Knight hadn’t surrendered. Would he still defend us? Would he have registered?

I only know one thing for certain: we know what the world looks like when he didn’t.