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Night City(1): Setting the Stage

"...in what's being called the most brutal defeat of a superhero group this century. This again was the scene this afternoon at the Greenfield Observatory. This is so difficult to watch; the cold-blooded brutality of the killers is sickening as they stand gloating over their victims..."

The film quality is poor -- grainy, black and white. Enhanced videotape, obviously. Another stunning crime of senseless brutality caught on tape. The tape shows a half-dozen figures, one apparently riding a horse. Dark shapes move among them, but it's not clear whether these are people or just shadowy shapes. A glaring figure, like a renegade piece of the sun, flies overhead.

The ground seems to be littered with colorfully-attired bodies. As the camera watches, one of the bodies -- a woman in a cheerful blue uniform -- is lifted in the air by snakelike black tentacles. She struggles feebly. One of the moving figures, a man in a red and gold costume, holds out his hand, and something black and sinister drips from it. He puts his hand on the woman's midsection, and it starts to smoke. After a moment, a ragged hole has been burned or dissolved through her body, and daylight shows through from the other side. She isn't struggling anymore.

"...calling themselves the Doomguard. Who are these Doomguard, and what do they want? We take you now to Dr. Joyce Brothers..."


"...funeral for the fallen hero Michael Sargent, who was brutally murdered earlier this week in a tragic battle at Greenfield Observatory. Here are gathered some of the Sunshine State's most powerful superheroes, gathered to pay their respects to their fallen comrade. At the side of the grave we can see the chrome red armor of Modulator, the only member of Vanguard to survive the attack. His teammates were all killed: Blue Star, Dryad, Nemesis, even the nigh-indestructible Hercules. We have attempted to contact Modulator, but thus far has not granted any interviews. Wait, something's happening. Pete, zoom in --"

Around the grave are gathered some thirty or fourty people, some in garish costumes, but most of them in tuxedos. The camera zooms in on a young man in a tuxedo who is lunging at a ... man? ... in chrome red armor: the hero Modulator. Modulator doesn't move or speak as the young man breaks free of those trying to hold him back, hurling himself against the hero's armor.

"You killed him! You made him become a superhero! Why are you alive, you should be dead and my brother should be alive! God damn you you freak, you freak of nature! My brother's dead because of freaks like you! He's dead! You...."

Modulator doesn't move; the young's man's fists beat against the armored man's chest, but they are no more than gentle raindrops falling on a statue made of red chrome. Eventually the young man's family pulls the young man away. He is still screaming. Modulator doesn't move.


"...announced today that he intends to rebuild the group Vanguard. Civic leaders across the city are denouncing the action, saying that enough blood has been spilled in Los Angeles..."

"Obviously these so-called 'superheroes' and 'supervillains' are more concerned with fighting each other than anything else. I say, fine, but let them do it somewhere else. In the last twenty years, what has Vanguard done for Los Angeles? Did they help quell the riots? Have they done anything to stop earthquakes from destroying buildings and hurting innocent people? have they done anything tangible for the City of Los Angeles, or the entire United States? Get rid of them, I say. I'm as sorry as anyone else that the paranormals in Vanguard were killed, but I say they made themselves a target; they practically invited these Doomguard criminals to come attack them. Allowing this Modulator person to recruit new members is just asking for another bloodbath."
- G. Gordon Liddy

"The Lord our God clearly shows in His Word that we are to depend on Him to solve our problems, not on some supernaturally empowered so-called 'super heroes.' These so-called 'heroes' are nothing more than an attempt of the forces of Satan to distract us from the True Light of Jesus Christ..."
- Pat Robertson

"Ladies and gentlemen, the liberal media would have you believe that Vanguard's defeat -- well, let's call it murder, 'cause that's what it is -- Vanguard's murder the other day by the superpowered criminals called Doomguard was entirely their fault. I won't go that far, but I will say this: what else has this 'Doomguard' group done? Now there are paranormals that go out and fight crime and whatnot, and sometimes they do actually succeed in stopping violent criminals from preying on innocent people."

"But it's clear to me, and I think it's clear to any right-thinking person, that this paranormal thing has gone too far. If we let it continue the way it's been going, where will it end? I'll tell you: we'll be living in a battleground, where these superheroes and supervillains are slugging it out, demolishing buildings, endangering innocent people's lives, and you and I will be bystanders, just hoping that we don't get hit by a stray radiation beam or a flying car."
- Rush Limbaugh


The faceplate of the crimson armor reveals nothing as it stares at you from the television screen. The red chrome entity known as Modulator could as well be a statue standing behind the many microphones clustered in front of him. The voice that emanates from the armor is entirely synthetic, a hollow monotone with no emotion or inflection. It reminds you of a cross between Spock and Robbie the Robot.

"WE FORMED VANGUARD TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES. MY TEAMMATES GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THIS CAUSE. I WILL NOT ALLOW THE CRIMINALS KNOWN AS DOOMGUARD TO DESTROY THAT CAUSE. VANGUARD WILL CONTINUE. I WILL REBUILD THE TEAM, AND WE WILL CONTINUE THE FIGHT MY TEAMMATES STARTED."

"VANGUARD WILL CONTINUE."

Reporters babble questions, clamoring for explanations, apologies, denials from the chrome red hero.

"THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY. THANK YOU."

He turns to leave, wading through the paparazzi. He is implacable, unstoppable, moving through the media vultures as if they were strands of wheat.

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