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 in "Back to the Table".
(The Stallion is present but silent. Grant enters.)
Grant: Good afternoon, "Mr. Stallion".
S: Grant. Shall we sit?
Grant: Please, thank you.
S: I called off the strike.
S: So… you said once the strike was called off, you’d enter back
Grant: Yes! And here we are.
S: And… I assumed you’d be bringing a proposal?
Grant: Of course. I would propose that we go back to the way things were
before the strike, and pretend none of this ever happened.
S: What?! You’ve got to be kidding me!
Grant: I wouldn’t kid you, not about this. You saw what happened out
there- you were disgraced. You had no public support. They looked at you as
traitors. You had no choice but to call off the strike.
S: Oh really?
Grant: So why would I even consider giving you anything you demand? It was
a clear victory on my part. My machine was able to spin events our way. You
people didn’t even bother making a statement. In the court of public
opinion, you bastards were tried and hung while we came off Scott free.
S: You’ve got a thing or two to learn about the Guard.
Grant: Oh yes? Please, teach me.
S: We don’t do this for the public’s adoration. We do it because
it’s right. We couldn’t give two spits how we look in the public
opinion- as you’re so fond of pointing out, we’re not the ones
who have to get elected. You are. You can make us look however you want to-
we fight for what’s right because we believe in it.
Grant: Oh yes, you’re so damned idealistic that it hurts- hence the
desperate need for medical care, right? If you’re all about ‘what’s
right’, what do you need Government collaboration for?
S: Our relationship with you benefits us, sure- but it benefits you as well.
Possibly even more. Clearly, you learned nothing from the strike.
Grant: On the contrary, I learned quite a bit. I learned that you really
are as naïve and goody-goody as you claim to be, which is why you’re
going to go back to work with no additional coverage and thank your lucky
god damned stars that I haven’t taken more from you! You can’t
S: Then you’re a fool. The lesson of the strike was this: you need
us desperately. You’re right about one thing, we don’t want to
see people get hurt. We came in and saved all those folks from Attractor,
and if we hadn’t, what would you have done? You had exactly zero chance
of taking him down without people dying. Let’s say, for just a moment,
that we disbanded. Or we go on strike indefinitely-
Grant: You’d never dare.
S: Let’s say we did. How many times do you think the public would blame
us for the innocent deaths before they start thinking maybe they should cover
our health care if it means bringing us back? How long before they decide
they might want to elect officials who will keep them safe?
Grant: You couldn’t. There’s no way you’d allow that many
people to die.
S: Then what if the Guard and the American Government parted ways? You don’t
seem happy funding us, maybe you’d feel better if we were all on our
own? Then we could go back to saving people on a regular basis, winning the
adoration of the public, and you people wouldn’t be able to claim any
of that glory for yourselves. I always thought you liked being able to say
the US Government was helping to protect their people. Of course, if we didn’t
take your funding, I suppose we could feel free to criticize you whenever
we wanted to. We could let the public know that you were helpless to defend
them. Do you think they would side with the helpless Government, or the people
who actually protect them?
Grant: You mean a choice between their elected Government or showboating,
S: All right, if you’d like, we could explore that possibility. We
go our way, you go yours. See who does better. I know I wouldn’t want
to make enemies with the planet’s most powerful heroes, but that’s
Grant: If that’s what it takes to put you in your place, so be it.
I have full authority in this case, the President and Congress have both put
full faith in my abilities in this matter, and will support whatever decision
S: Even if it means cutting the Guard loose?
Grant: Even so.
S: Well, I suppose you do have a record of doing that, now, cutting people
Grant: What are you babbling about?
S: At the Power House. They couldn’t even hold Attractor for one measly
day after we went to all the trouble of capturing him.
Grant: I have nothing to do with the Power House.
S: Oh, I’m sorry… I could have sworn-
Grant: Then you’re mistaken.
S: Hm. Well, that’s certainly a good thing for you. Him getting out
was a pretty monumental screw up. He’s a class A villain, and we’d
put a priority warning on his detainment papers. See? (Produces paper.)
Grant: I assume that’s standard. What’s the point of all this?
S: Of course it’s standard. He’s a very deadly villain. Class
A. Has to be kept in a special power dampening cell, and whenever a Class
A is being transferred anywhere, one of the Earth Guard is always present.
I guess that’s something else that would stop if we weren’t working
with the Government.
Grant: Is that supposed to scare me?
S: It scares me, I must say. In fact… take a look. (another
paper) It seems the reason Attractor escaped was that he was being transferred without
one of us present. Here’s the emergency transfer order, from the evening
we called the strike.
Grant: Where did you get that?
S: I’ve always fancied myself something of a detective, and I had nothing
better to do during the past few days, did I? Being on strike gave me a lot
of time to look into things I would usually never get around to. You see here?
Thompson, who wrote this memo, says they’ve received orders to put in
an emergency transfer. But his boss has no record of requesting the transfer.
You see here, (paper) Thompson’s phone records show he talked to two
people that night, his wife and Ed Miller. Now, I’m assuming his wife
didn’t order a prisoner transferred, so I checked into Ed Miller- you
know Ed, he works in your office, right?
Grant: This is completely illegally obtained- inadmissable-
S: Not in the court of public opinion, it’s not. And if you thought
that was illegal, wait till you see this… (paper) the only thing more
illegal than me having hacked Eddie’s email is what this one seems to
imply. I’d wait for you to read it, but it appears you wrote it. "Warrengrant@osha.nsa.gov",
that’s you, right?
Grant: You’re going to blackmail me?
S: (takes paper back) Let me see… "We need to assure there’s
an event as soon as possible. Show these people we have them where we want
them." Ect, ect. "Arrange an emergency Class A transfer, ASAP." Blackmail
wouldn’t work, right? I think everyone will understand you did what
you had to to put us superheroes in our place. There’s nothing to blackmail.
Grant: (Quiet.) What do you want?
S: I think you know. Full restoration of the Moore provisions, and official
recognition of the Earth Guard charter as binding.
Grant: I can’t just back down like that, the president will-
S: He has full faith in your abilities in this matter. He will support whatever
decision you make.
Grant: Questions will be raised about my-
S: So you resign. Come to think of it, that’s one of our terms as well.
Moore provisions, Earth Guard charter, and your resignation. I like it.
Grant: Of course, if the government is going to recognize the charter, you’d
have to abide by it as well.
S: Of course. We always do.
Grant: So the Jack is being removed from the Guard?
Grant: It’s right in the strike section. Any member of the Guard found
to have broken a strike will be removed from the team.
S: No, the Jack- he didn’t break the strike. I called it off. He was
just first on the scene.
Grant: Really? Before Dr. Fast? That’s odd. Not to mention that the
Jack appeared on the scene live on television, a full minute before your communication
came over the Guard communicators.
S: The Jack is a member of my team. I’m standing behind him.
Grant: Even when he goes against the Guard. Excellent. Then we’ll have
no trouble- the Government can recognize your charter, and then show that
the Guard does not. It will be thrown out in a week, to be replaced with a
new one which we can insist we have a hand in drafting. Sounds like a plan.
S: Why are you doing this? Why the Jack?
Grant: You’ve got me in a corner. You expect me not to bite? I’ll
take what I can get.
MF: (incoming message) Hey, uh… Stallion? You there, Stallion?
S: (sigh) Is this an emergency?
MF: Yeah, I think so. I mean-
S: What is it, Mr. Fahrenheit?
MF: Are we on, or what? Cause Disastress is over in Brooklyn, and it looks
like she wants to start something. I wasn’t sure if I’m supposed
to go at it or… what.
Grant: What do you say, Stallion? Are you on?
S: (pause, tough decision, then,) We’re on the job. Put out a call.
MF: All right. (beep) Attention Earth Guard, Disastress blah blah blah, Brooklyn
blah blah blah, I think you get the point. Let’s kick some ass. Mister
Grant: So we have a deal?
S: You’ll return all the Moore provisions, and recognize the charter.
Grant: And I’ll resign first thing tomorrow morning.
Oh, and I’ll
take these little trifles with me, if you don’t mind. (gathering
the papers) And all you have to do is lose the Jack. Congratulations,
Stallion. Looks like you made out quite nicely. I’d say it’s been
a pleasure, but I’d hate to give the impression I think you’re
any better than the scum you fight.
S: The feeling’s mutual.
Grant: Good day, sir. (he leaves)
S: (sigh) Is it?