Issue 9 Review

Rising Stars 9 Synopsis

"Choices Made"

The cover of the July 14, 2012 issue of Mediaweek magazine bears the headline "Ten Years After - Our National Nightmare Continues" over a photograph of Critical Maas carrying Dr. Welles from the government prison. Other captions promise a history of Generation 'S' in photos and an interview with Ravenshadow.

"Anniversary of Terror", the first article, reveals that Jerry Montrose (Pyre) has returned to his former profession. He is providing protection to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. While some are thankful for his protection, others are worried about what he might do if he loses his temper. Twenty-three other businesses have hired Specials for protection. The article also reveals that Critical Maas has taken over Chicago. No information gets in or out, and everyone fears the worst for those trapped in the city.

The next article reveals the lack of understanding among the American public of what transpired ten years earlier. The testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Jason Miller and his co-conspirators is still sealed. Little is understood of what happened in the weeks after the Stanwick Powers Act was invoked and subpoenas and warrants were issued for the Specials. Special Prosecutor Hamilton Sinclair has led the fruitless effort to find answers through two congressional hearings and a Senate investigation.

Mediaweek secured an interview with Randy Fisk (Ravenshadow) in a hidden location. Randy explains that the army attacked the Specials at their Colorado compound with no warning and no negotiation. Six soldiers and an undetermined number of Specials were killed. He adds that they were already on edge because several Specials had recently been murdered. An anonymous source from the Senate Judiciary Committee retorts that the Specials have never produced any proof that someone involved with the government was associated with the murders of the Specials. The source goes on to wonder if the Specials killed their own kind just to provoke the situation.

Attorney General Luanne Michaels makes her first statement in over a year about the Specials. She admits that mistakes were made while detaining the Specials, but the officers had legal authority and the right to defend themselves when attacked. Michaels refutes the claim that infrared video indicates that soldiers fired on fleeing Specials. She says the FBI has demonstrated that the hot-spots are merely sunlight reflections. The Justice Department justifies the heavily armed soldiers because the Specials themselves are living weapons. They also feel that the battle in Colorado proves that the Specials were lying all along about their varying power levels. They are obviously all high-power. Randy explains the transfer of powers when a Special dies, and reveals that when critical mass was reached, the Surge increased their powers by differing amounts from ten-fold to several hundred fold. While the government dismisses Randy's claim, scientists are divided over the issue.

"Aftermath" looks at some of the destruction caused by the Specials. Stephanie Maas (Critical Maas) went to Chicago and declared it her private domain. She tore up the streets and bridges and destroyed all communication lines. Occasional escapees have told stories of destruction and excess. Military campaigns have been met with deadly force.

Nineteen Specials are believed to be in California. About twelve have closed off Griffith Park. Los Angeles Mayor Julius Cohn has worked with them to ensure the peace. Other Specials are scattered throughout a dozen states. Matthew Bright is still a police officer in New York, and he sees to it that he is the only Special in that state. A few months after the Surge a dozen rogue Specials landed in Atlanta and interrupted the World Series. When the police attempted to arrest them, the resulting battle burned Atlanta a second time. Most of downtown Atlanta was leveled, and the corporate headquarters of TNT were destroyed.

"Stepping Outside" looks at how the Specials live now. Dr. Quentin Mallone explains that whether right or wrong the Specials felt they were oppressed. It is only natural to strike out against the perceived oppressors when given the opportunity. He points out that the terrible damage was done by only 25 to 30 Specials, so it could have been much worse. Some Specials fled the United States and are using false identities. They think of their powers as a burden and only want to live in peace. Mallone says others "stepped outside" of the system. They no longer work or use money. They just quietly take what they need without being violent.

Jason Miller (Patriot) still works for NexusCorp. Randy Fisk helps small cities pro bono if they can't afford Jason's help against rogue Specials. The government has threatened to prosecute him for this. Other corporations are rumored to have Specials on the payroll. Some nightclubs compete to have Specials for clients.

Many young people treat some of the Specials like rock stars. The Specials are a symbol of rebellion to teenagers who don't feel normal. There is a subculture of youths who dress and act like Specials. Reverend William Kane, the father of Joshua Kane (Sanctuary), is worried about the emulation among the youth. Since some of them are criminals they shouldn't be treated as role models.

The next part of the article deals with what is being done now about the Specials. Most local governments have adopted a policy of noninterference with the Specials. Unfortunately, this does not work with the nearly twenty Specials who operate as criminals. The FBI is frustrated. It often takes too long to call in an allied Special to arrest a criminal. They sometimes catch the ones who can't fly, but there isn't a prison strong enough to hold them. The only solution is to drop them in a remote area where it takes weeks to walk back to civilization. A photograph shows Carel Tyce walking back from the South Pole. When the Specials make it back to the United States, they are usually more dangerous than before.

The government does not want to use military force against the Specials. Apparently several attempts shortly after the Surge met with failure because they were still expecting pre-Surge power levels. They believe a tactical nuke will kill some Specials, but that is obviously not an option in a city. Senator Edward Farrell argues that the government hasn't done enough. If a foreign country had invaded Chicago, the government would stop at nothing to expel them. This situation should be no different. Farrell thinks the Republican party could do a better job.

At least 11 Specials are dead. The remaining Specials have to deal with having so many childhood companions killed. Chandra has lost all of her contracts and wealth. Randy can only sell his artwork underground and the government seizes his money whenever possible. Paula Ramirez, the singer, is living on the streets in Montana.

The final section of the article looks to the future. Dr. Mallone says that society has come to accept the presence of the Specials as the status quo. However, the powers of the Specials have never transferred to their children, and the Specials are growing older. Some scientists even believe that the energy may burn them up faster resulting in shorter life-spans. Within a few decades, they will all be gone. The article asks if the mishandling of the Specials has been a national nightmare or a series of missed opportunities.

Patriot stands proudly in a NexusCorp ad, which proclaims "NASDAQ's Leading Growth Stock for Six Years Running!"

John Simon contemplates the Mediaweek magazine on his desk. Randy Fisk enters and sarcastically comments on the decor in John's house, which is mostly composed of unopened cardboard boxes.

No one has heard from John in over a year. It took a lot of effort for Randy to track him to Pederson, the last place anyone would think to look for him. Randy knows John's powers are energy based and assumes they are harder to control since the Surge, so he looked for a pattern of utility outages.

Randy says he has a job for John, but John isn't interested. Randy is tired of living as a wanted man and thinks it is time for a change. John says he doesn't have any business helping because he failed everybody ten years earlier. Even if that were true Randy believes everyone deserves a second chance, but John disagrees. He thinks he should have figured things out faster and stopped Jason before the Specials were labeled as criminals.

Randy follows John outside and recognizes the swing set from their childhood. He sits on a swing, wondering if it will support him. John says they are stronger than they look. Randy says John is too.

Chandra comes through the gate and agrees with Randy. John confesses that he has been out of contact because he is ashamed. Chandra says she is getting in on the action, and John finally asks what is going on.

As Randy relates his plan, he casually walks up the side of the building then leaps to the ground. Randy wants to rescue Chicago from Critical Maas' reign of destruction. He has legal documents from the government offering amnesty to himself and any Specials who help him in Chicago. Once they are back inside the system they can fight for further legitimacy and the truth in the courts and media. Randy thinks Maas has made Chicago a safe haven for the worst outlaw Specials, so they could be up against a strong opposition. That's why they need John's help.

John says he can't go because he has Dr. Welles hidden in town. He is very ill and if John leaves there will be no one to take care of him. Randy says he can have a nurse for the doctor by morning, so John agrees to help.

John goes to the bedside of Dr. Welles and tells him that he is leaving to help Randy but promises that a nurse will be there soon. He apologizes for letting Welles down and hopes he can get things right this time. John says Welles has been like a father to him and he hates leaving him. Welles gathers enough strength to say that he will be OK. John tells the doctor he loves him, and Welles says he knows. John leaves with a charge from Welles to give them hell.

Since Chandra can't fly, Randy carried her to Pederson, but she wants John to carry her the rest of the way. Randy jokes that he never touched her. The two men fly off with Chandra in John's arms.

In Chicago, Critical Maas questions a severely beaten FBI agent tied to a chair. He reveals that a group of Specials will arrive in Chicago soon. Maas asks her four comrades if they are ready for a war.