The New Age
Continuous murmurs swept through the gym like auditorium of the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, as the athletic World's premier sporting complex played host to a massive media turnout. Set to unveil, as leaked press releases had reported, a new age in innovative heroics that would serve as an inspirational ignition that would launch the Superhero movement down the fast lane of legitimate corporate capitalism. Slowly, the lights deemed, the whispered faded, and a large screen descended behind the podium...
"Huh! Huh!!! What a display ladies and gentlemen, what a displayed." A well dressed man proudly proclaimed. Emerging from off-stage before taking up a confident position behind a microphone podium. "Ladies and Gentlemen of our esteemed press, and the millions around the World tuning in on our closed circuit broadcast, welcome. My name is Neal Feinstein and I am Nike's media relations liaison as well as the exclusive agent of the Rated R Superstar, Garrison Grail. What you have just witnessed is our first, but certainty not last, commercial for Nike's new Superhero Initiative. Corporate sponsored heroes is the way of the future. We're talking guaranteed contracts, benefits, 401k and retirement packages, endorsements, and probably most important of all, official state sanctioned training and licensing. Nike has been the forerunner of innovation for decades now and with this new ambitious endeavor it will continue down a remarkable trailblazing road. Our heroes should be....need, to be, celebrated as the courageous paragons they are. But only if they themselves allow it. Vigilantism can no longer be tolerated, our heroes can no longer hide behind the fabricated wall of anonymity for the sake of safe-guarded loved ones. No! They must come forward. They must step out, man up, and provide the country with recognizable role-models. They may not look like us. They may not eat, sleep, or walk like us, but dammit, they are one of us."
Cellphone captured images and streamed video had laid siege to the social media outlets. Trending Twitter topics such as #IAMHERO and #MOTIVATION were already being turned into Nike trademarked t-shirts and merchandize. "Garrison Grail will be recognized as the World's first Professional Superhero but he will not be the last. Others will follow in his footsteps as they allow themselves the humble distinction of being a hero of the people, for the people, by the people. We as a nation have to be able to discern our heroes from the criminals. That line must hold strong in its integrity otherwise we've allowed the criminal a safe harbor in which to hide from the full force of the law. As Professional heroes their licenses will carry the support of Governmental insurance. That means if your property is damaged or destroyed during a battle in which a hero was on scene, no longer will you, the public, have to bare the responsibility. Heroes, if you are injured or heaven for fend, killed, your families will be able to collect on your life insurance policy. Your weapons, gear, vehicles, all insured and if within reason, replaceable. You do not have to shun the system, no, not any longer. You can now trust the system, allow the system to embrace you, work with you instead of against you. Its time to understand that if you want to act like a hero, you should get paid like one. Thank you!"The monologue speech concluded with the young man's arms raised high above his head in triumphant glory. Nike had premiered its latest vision, blending its sports-marketing genius with the heroic age the World had evolved into. Marketing the selfless acts of Super-humans as a profession, a trade craft, as opposed to a virtual act of sacrifice for the greater good. There was no need to the two to be mutually exclusive....not anymore.
Dedicated to insuring the monetary value of today's modern superhero, Nike has established a new subsidiary predicated upon the fundamental principles of free money capitalism. Training, sponsoring, and paying high caliber meta and super-humans in an effort to legitimize the Wolrd's Superhero community. Recognizing that these individuals with extraordinary talents are today's undeniable rockstars, the move to insure their financial stability through guaranteed contracts is a mirror image of athletic world of the professional sports. In and where each Superhero under the umbrella of the name brand becomes his or her own corporation. Free to trade and receive monetary compensation for their name, likeness, and trademark slogans. And like the pro-athlete, the pro-superhero's contracts are determined by a number of analytical statistics based off age, powers, abilities, and psychological profiles.
The MVP's -Nike's first flag ship squad. They are the first and only registered Pro-Heroes under contract at this time. Though they are free to engage in a variety of extra-curricular activities, if any of those activities violate the strict provisions documented in their structured contracts, then they may be subject to the full penalties of the criminal justice system and terminated from their sponsorship as well as accountable for repaying their original signing bonus.
The Shadow Squad -Beneath the surface of Nike's proactive image campaign rests a stark contradiction in physiological portrayal. Comprised of some of the most violent and uncontrollable superhumans in existence, the Shadow Squad is everything the MVP's can not be. Ultra-Violent, Uncontrollable, Morally Bankrupt, and down right angry. While the MVP's are the public face, the shinning example of Professional Heroics, the Shadow Squad are its hidden step child. Carrying out the missions that must remain in the shadows away from public perception. They kill, they kidnap, they destroy, and then they disappear. One does not simply sign up for the Shadow Squad, they are forced into service. Each captured members has been surgically chained with a small explosive tracker buried deep within their cerebral cortex. Ensuring obedience and loyalty for as long as the individual remains in service.
The Field is the name of the MVP's main facility located on the grounds of the Nike HQ. It is a state of the art training complex complete with a lavish series of unique penthouses for its members. Its outer perimeter is protected by a four pronged telekinetic shield that when activated, dispenses a long range pulse capable of forcefully removing any unwarranted visitors and or intruders. Each member of the MVP's has been issued a special computerized bracelet that nullifies the shield's effects. Beneath the flamboyant facility the lower levels have been dedicated to the Shadow Squad. Its obvious architectural design leaves little to the imagination but hey, it beats prison.
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