Narr: The Earth Guard - the planet's most powerful heroes united
in the common goal of protecting the innocent people of planet Earth and
from threats of all kinds. From the Guard Tower, their base of operations,
they watch over the citizens and spring into action at any sign of danger.
To that end, the Guard take shifts monitoring events all over the globe.
Sooner or later, they all have to take a shift of… Guard Duty. This week: The
Stallion and Broadband in "Checks and Balances".
(The Stallion and Broadband are present.)
BB: We have to tell him, we’re not going to accept-
Stal: I know what I’m doing, Bob!
BB: I’m just saying, make sure you-
BB: Chuck, you’ve got to admit, in the past you’ve given in to-
Stal: Bob! (pause. Broadband says nothing) Thank you. I have it under control,
Bob. I’m having you with me on the negotiations to show solidarity,
to show a united front, but it’s still my meeting. I’m going to
do the talking. Understood?
BB: Understood. But keep in mind-
Stal: If I need backup, I’ll ask for it. If Grant asks you anything,
just answer the question succinctly. I’m the one doing the negotiating
BB: Fine. I am an adult, you know, Chuck. I know how to behave. I’ve
done my share of Government negotiations.
Stal: Your contracts, sure, I know that, but this is a different sit-
Brainframe: The Stallion, Warren Grant is teleporting to the Guard Tower.
Stal: All right, he’s here. Get ready.
BB: Oh, I’m ready.
(door opens, Grant enters)
Grant: Good afternoon, Gentlemen.
Stal: Mr. Grant. Welcome to the Guard Tower.
Grant: I must say, it’s something of a thrill to finally see it in
person after having read so many reports.
Stal: You’re welcome to come back any time you like, of course.
Grant: I might just take you up on that, thank you. Now, shall we get to
Stal: Absolutely. Have a seat.
Grant: Thank you. So, what can I do for you?
Stal: As I told you on the phone, we need to discuss the Earth Guard’s
current arrangement with the government. Specifically, the cuts you’ve
Grant: Unfortunate, but unavoidable. I’m sure you’re aware of
the current budgetary situation. There have been rollbacks across the board.
Something had to give.
BB: That is unacceptable.
Stal: Bob… Mr. Grant, I understand that, and I appreciate your situation… regardless,
the Earth Guard is an indispensable organization. The service we provide for
the general good-
Grant: Is appreciated. And I’m sure you will recognize the substantial
funds we put into the running and maintenance of the Guard, not to mention
collateral expenditures, which invariably come out to be more than budgeted,
regardless of how we adjust figures year to year. Can you explain how that
is? We spend 100 million one year, so the next we estimate for 100 million,
and we spend 150.
Stal: It’s the villains that do the damage, we minimize it by stopping
Grant: And disease kills many patients, but if a doctor could have stopped
it, the courts have found-
BB: That’s not even a remotely fair comparison!
Grant: You’re right- Doctors bring in money with their work. Since
the Guard doesn’t charge for ‘Superheroing’, the burden
falls to the public. If you check the figures, I’m sure you’ll
agree that the substantial amount the Government provides for the upkeep of
the Guard is-
BB: Is nowhere near sufficient! It doesn’t even match what I’ve
put in myself, and I’m just an individual! Hell, I had to fund the building
of the Tower entirely on my own- your type would have had us meet in a damned
Stal: Bob… (quietly) relax. (normal) The issue we have isn’t
with the dollar figure, or with the hardware or cleanup. It’s with the
well-being of the individuals who serve. Yes, you’ve done a good job
of taking care of the citizens whose homes and businesses are damaged, and
we’re quite happy with the upkeep of the Brainframe and Tower-
BB: Which I did my-
Stal: But the members of the Guard need more. As you may have heard, Binary
Girl was injured recently, and while her treatment was covered, no allowance
was made for either work she would miss in her personal life, or even for
Guard duties she would miss. In order to make the money she needs to live,
she’s had to continue performing both duties while injured.
Grant: There are two of her. Only one was injured, right? So it should be
Stal: Luckily, yes. It is easier for her because of her powers, but it has
caused other problems. She can’t join her two selves back up, because
the broken arm would spread to both bodies. When she’s split, she grows
tired at twice the rate. It’s quite trying, especially while maintaining
Grant: Look, sympathize. I do. But we’re already doing what we can.
You said we covered her treatment. Her personal life is her own. We didn’t
hire her for this job, it’s something she chooses to do, knowing all
the risks that come along with it. No one is forcing her. We appreciate it,
and we take care of any injuries in the course of her duties. But we didn’t
hire her. She wasn’t elected. We don’t know her at all.
BB: Just what do you need to know? She puts herself at risk doing something
that benefits the whole of society- hell, the whole of mankind! Isn’t
Grant: But who is she? For all we know, she could be a criminal in her civilian
identity. Maybe if we knew who you people were, we could-
Stal: Are you suggesting that the Guard all reveal our identities?
Grant: Of course not. As you know, we don’t have the authority to tell
you what to do.
BB: But that’s your implication, and we’re reading you loud and
clear. Rather than appreciate that the Guard does a vital job for the American
people and help them when they’re in need, you’d prefer to blackmail
us into falling into line. God bless America.
Grant: If you’re right, if the Guard really does fulfill an invaluable
public need, then you shouldn’t have to fall back on the Government
for support. If the public knew that Binary Girl needed help, wouldn’t
they offer a hand? But, since they don’t actually know who Binary Girl
Stal: Oh, please, Grant- don’t insult us. The government of the United
States of America acts on behalf of the public interest. If the people support
the Earth Guard, Government funding is a good idea- and much better than the
BB: Not to mention that if villains knew who the Guard’s real identities,
they’d never be safe! Their families, their friends, hell, every street
they ever walked down would be in constant danger! Not everyone can afford
the type of security I can.
Grant: All right then. Let’s stop beating around the bush, here. What
are you asking?
Stal: We want a return of all provisions negotiated by Davis Moore. Specifically,
additional pay to compensate for civilian income lost because of injuries,
a lessening of requirements for the receipt of the normal Guard stipend, and
the return of universal health care.
Grant: Universal- now you want us to cover everything?
Stal: If a member of the Guard is injured in their civilian life, or suffers
from some other… mental trouble or ocular deficiency, it affects their
performance on the Guard. It needs to be taken care of.
Grant: You see? This is exactly what I meant- if there is a member of the
Earth Guard, the world’s most powerful superheroes, who is having mental
trouble, I think there is a problem beyond health care! This is precisely
why we should know who you people are, and have some sort of oversight on
your operations and roster!
BB: But you don’t! The Guard runs itself, and if the Government wants
us to continue to-
Stal: We need the coverage. I’ve met with the group, and I’m
afraid I must insist that you restore the Moore provisions.
Grant: That’s not going to happen. You’re lucky to have kept
what you’ve got. We can present a new proposal next quarter and maybe
the committee can reconsider-
Stal: I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough.
Grant: Well, you don’t really have any other alternative.
BB: Like hell we don’t! We’re going to strike!
Stal: He’s right. If you can’t meet our requirements, then the
Earth Guard will have to stop operating.
Grant: You can’t do that.
BB: Of course we can- there are provisions for strike clearly outlined in
Grant: A charter the US government has never officially recognized as binding.
This will not be stood for. And you accuse me of blackmail?
Stal: Believe me, we don’t want to strike. We want to do our jobs.
But we wan fair compensation for that job. If you can just get us the medical-
Grant: Forget it. This is an outrage! The American government will not be
bullied. This strike will be declared illegal before you finish your first
BB: Oh, I see! Suddenly, once we’re not going to do our job, now you
realize how indispensable we are?
Grant: Striking is not the way to get things done. We can negotiate more,
and we can make a new proposal at the next budget meeting, but if you strike-
Stal: Whether we strike or not is entirely in your hands at this point, Mr.
Grant. We’ve told you our terms. You have yet to make even a counter
Grant: Then how’s this for a counter proposal? If you strike, you’re
not going to get a single dime more. In addition, we will make it perfectly
clear to the public that it is YOU who decided not to help them any more.
That the Earth Guard is so selfish, that they were willing to allow innocent
people to be attacked and killed by super-villains just so they could squeeze
more money out of the American taxpayers. I will personally see to it that
every single one of these citizens sees you for the glory-hogging, self-centered,
superior, egomaniacs you are! You’re messing with real power now, boys.
We’re not going to be trifled with. Now, it’s up to you. Are you
going to continue with this farce, or are you going to do what’s actually
best for your people and toe the God Damned line?
Stal: I’m sorry you feel that way, Mr. Grant. (hits
the comm) Earth
Guard! Mr. Grant has chosen to ignore all our demands, and in fact threaten
us in return. I’m afraid the strike is on. We’re off the job until
the further notice. Stallion out. (comm off) Happy?
BB: I think that’s his way of saying you can shove your counter proposal
right up you-
Stal: And another thing Mr. Grant- it was the Earth Guard’s intention
to keep the strike quiet. We’re not trying to embarrass anyone. If the
Guard’s villains were aware of the strike… there would be chaos.
If you choose to make it public, it’s on you.
Grant: Oh you bet we will! Every person in the damned country is going to
know about this! Know that you abandoned them for money.
Stal: Good day, Mr. Grant.
BB: You can show yourself out.
(Stallion and Broadband leave. Pause.)
Grant: God dammit.