I mentioned to Doyce offline that I would bring this up here for broader discussion, esp. since the disposition of heroes in the city has a couple of impacts on Alycia and her Scion/Respect stuff. Feel free to correct me on anything here, anyone – I mean this to be collaborative, I’ve likely forgotten stuff, and if Doyce has nascent fiendish plans for What’s Actually Going On, I’m more than okay with those prevailing.
The HHL as a group
I described the HHL as largely “moribund”, as a team and also, to some degree, as individuals. The group Took a Powerful Blow, so to speak, in a couple of events – being out of it for the Winter attack, but, more importantly, the scandalous revelation that they were a key part of the Vyortovia coverup thing, fooling the world in order to avoid a panic. Both those elements have damaged their outward reputation (with the public, but also with other metas, law enforcement, the government), but also, in many cases, their self-images. Likely results :
- Withdrawal: It’s too embarrassing, stressful, guilt-reminding, depressing to go out and do heroics, or face my peers across the table, or answer those questions thrown at me by the media. I’m going to sit at home and do, um, useful research. Or maybe take an extended leave of absence away from the city.
- Revolt: This team sucks, but I wasn’t (as) responsible (as others) for what happened. I quit (or at least don’t care if the team’s not meeting right now). I’ll fight solo. Maybe here, maybe somewhere else.
- Resurgence: We’re heroes, dammit. We need to meet, organize, and get back out there. So pick up your damned voice mail and let me know when we can get together. Please?
Meanwhile, there’s the base, all that lovely equipment, and both formal and informal planning on fighting crime, fending off alien invasions, etc., that assume the HHL are around in some fashion. When the deep-space radar light starts blinking, and nobody’s there, what happens? If someone breaks into the trophy room to abscond with the Dragoon’s Ghost Rifle, and nobody’s on monitor duty or picking up calls from the alarm company, what next?
Things change. Nature abhors a vacuum. If the HHL aren’t defending the city, some will take advantage of that, others will step up. The Menagerie (and the other youth teams, and solos/stand-alones) have been taking up the slack, but that’s not enough by a long shot, as the Rookbot revolt demonstrated.
(The irony here is that this would be a perfect moment for Rook to exploit, but her organization is hamstrung by that whole fiasco. But if she can’t, others might.)
The HHL as individuals
I want to look at the HHL individually, and speculate on what’s been going on with them. Again, this is just me; feel free to suggest otherwise in any case.
Golem - (drug-based walking powerhouse Transformed) Was already withdrawing from the group prior to the scandal. Doing some solo work (because they’re addicted to heroics), but not a lot.
Nautilus - (power armor science guy Brain) - Always a bit quirky, always willing to work alone, nobody’s real friend. He’s doing a lot of solo work (which was always more his preference). Not likely to be rehabilitating the HHL image.
Oya - (weather witch Nova) - Never had close relationships with the team, and while she was okay with extremist action like the spell to make people accept the history of Vyortovia, she’s not going to take responsibility for it. Has moved to Brazil, where she has a cult following.
Silver Streak / Tempest - (speedster / weather manipulator) - They are definitely around, but between Silver Streak’s Keynome problems and guilt, he’s been largely out of the picture (and possibly not that interested in getting back in). Tempest seems to be keeping things together, as far as doing some heroics, but Streak was always the gung-ho HHL enthusiast, not her, and her attention at the moment is more on her husband’s recovery and her son’s growing career. She would rejoin / participate with the HHL if need be, out of duty, but she’s not going to force things or step up as leader.
Transcendent - (erratic alien race psychic projection usually-hero) - Powerful enough that they don’t need the HHL for what they do. Arguably Halcyon’s most powerful hero. I’d like to keep him around as they’d be someone that Alycia needs to earn the respect of, after that incident when Dr. Chin actually captured and used Transcendent as a power supply in one of his plans, as that creates complications for Alycia’s public rehabilitation; on the other hand, she’d find Transcendent irksome and unfitting of the publicity they get, which make the conflict more delicious. So, yea, Transcendent is still around, but not doing anything to bring the HHL back together (it’s more interesting watching how they fall apart).
Blackbird - (flying brick Protege/Beacon) - Has made the most efforts to try and rally the team back together, but her youth and non-PR focus has hampered her efforts. Still going into the base on a regular basis, reaching out to others, and trying to figure out how to make this work again. Still active in the city. Disappointed by what the team did, but that makes her all the more determined to put things right.
Guardian - (inertial manipulation) - Finally acted on his jokes about quitting and retiring. Writing (having ghost-written) a tell-all about what a bunch of assholes the HHL were, hoping to earn enough money to pay for his divorce settlement.
Hecate - (magic-using TERF) - Has not been seen by anyone on the team, or by the public, since this all came down. She’s still alive, they know, but whether it’s out of shame or because she has something else more interesting/important she’s doing, she’s off the table for the moment [until the GM brings her back]. Nobody seems to be going to any trouble to find her or recruit her back.
Paladin - (exosuit and tech thief) - He backs Blackbird’s desire to get the HHL on its feet again, largely as a publicity thing for his own career. He’s doing interviews again because there’s nobody to stop him; these rarely go well (largely because he always seems to bring the subject around to his toy line, and because he’s one of the few HHL who is vocally politically partisan).
Phantasm - (illusionist Delinquent) - Still hanging with the group, but half-heartedly with neither Tempest nor Sigrun around. Shows up for fights, usually; for meetings about half the time.
Sigrun the Valkyrie - (flying brick Bull) - She’s the one who might have pulled the team together (she was practically running it toward the end), but she was never happy with the Vyortovian plan, esp. given Hecate’s push behind it, and she took the opportunity of its exposure to leave town and sign a contract with the Superstars in Los Angeles.
Tatanka - (telekinetic Native American Legacy) - Still doing what he was doing – showing up when called, ignoring the team the rest of the time. Spends most of his time spying on his niece’s new boyfriend [j/k]. [Actually, Tatanka is someone whose respect Alycia would want; I just don’t know if he’s prominent enough of a hero to make it impactful from a PR/game standpoint.]
Vigil - (mysterious living trope Outside) - Still working with the rump HHL, but in the same maddeningly mysterious support role they always have. Efforts to get them to engage more in this time of organizational crisis have been unsuccessful.
So, to summarize, the active HHL consists of Paladin, Blackbird, kinda Phantasm, with as-needed participation by Tatanka, Vigil, and Tempest (and, if explicitly called on, Nautilus and Transcendent). That’s not a healthy organization (even in comparison to the issues of the pre-scandal HHL). They can probably fight off some serious bad guys (if everyone shows up), but the business meetings are neither pretty nor productive, and sooner or later something will either need to change … or the group will close up shop.
As I’m writing, I’m thinking of volunteer organizations / groups gaming guilds I’ve been a part of that have gone through something big and disruptive, lost many/most of their members, including the most prominent ones, and then stagger on for a while mostly on inertia. Either they reorganize and revitalize, or eventually everyone else will wander off to something more productive.
Part of the mid-range answer may be recruitment – possibly bringing up some of the young heroes in the city [honestly, I can see Mercury “graduating” there], or going to other heroes in town or from outside. The problem there is with such a small core team left, and such uncertainty about the group’s future, that takes either more organization or stronger leadership than they currently have.
There may also be some organizational gridlock going on, too. Voting requirements, bank account access, vault access, etc., that are tied to the formal, named “Primary Members” or that require certain minimum quorum to vote on, and can’t be worked around without folks’ participation or certain paperwork being filed or a court order. That could further hamper the group’s recovery and effectiveness, or even their ability to recruit new members …
This has not escaped the attention of the city’s leaders. There may be efforts to engage with the rump leadership of the team, or go to some of the folk who have drifted away to see if they can be persuaded to come back. They might even help with a recruitment effort.
But the HHL brand has been seriously tarnished, and it might not be politically or socially wise to engage too much with them. An ambitious mayor might launch an initiative to sponsor a new superteam in the city (one more under civic control, by the by). That same effort might happen under the auspices of a group of businessfolk with their own agenda (not necessarily a sinister one, but not necessarily to the good of all the citizenry); Rook probably can’t act alone, but she can round up some other similar-minded corporate leaders … Other powerful groups (social, political, activist) might do the same thing.
Individual heroes, or even small teams, from elsewhere may see an opportunity to get into the big leagues and move to Halcyon. They would bring their own baggage, their own goals, and possibly clash with the locals in some fashion.
And beyond Alycia’s Scion stuff, or the direct links to relatives that some of us have … how does all of this affect the Menagerie as it continues to evolve?
author: *** Dave H.