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Author Topic: American Masks: In the Shadow of Two Towers [MxA|romance|superheroes]  (Read 253 times)

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Offline karlaTopic starter

"It's kind of quiet around the country.
We like quiet.
It's too quiet."
-Mark McEwen, The Early Show, airdate September 11, 2001

FROM THE DESK OF George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence
Maya Christchurch, Deputy Chairwoman, Task Force on Masked Vigilantism, Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis Special Branch
Emergency IC Quorum Memorandum, 11/31/01

"We spoke.
In principle I have no objection to your organization's desire to reintroduce the Goetz Act to legislature even considering the multitude of concerns facing our senators and congressmen.

In practice, have you lost your fucking mind?

3100 Americans are dead. Allow me to reiterate that number for you, Deputy Chair: thirty-one-hundred, or, better yet, three-thousand one-hundred. The people responsible are either already dead or at large, laughing at us over midday fucking tea. 3100 Americans are dead and you want to, of all thing, start going after Masks again?

Let me tell you something, Deputy Chairwoman. I believe in the government of the United States of America. I believe in its laws. I believe in its provisions. And I believe in due process of law. Which means I believe in your prospective bill's predecessor, and all its provisos for whomsoever wants to put on a mask and hunt down the bad guys in their own time--just so long as they obey the law. Masks are goddamn near an American tradition, anyway.

And if they weren't? Even if they weren't? I'd still take them over the Opposing Force. Any day. Why?

Show me a Mask that can snap their fingers and in less than two hours kill 3100 Americans. Just show me. Maybe on that day I'll find a little fear of God in me for a Mask."

It is November 31st, 2001. President Gore's National State of Emergency has just ended, and the backlog of prospective policy in legislature is taller than the shadow of the fallen towers. The
Goetz Act
Instead of repealing the
Ozark Act
Dating back to the Reconstruction period, state governments (on both sides of the political spectrum, unfortunately) found that masked vigilantes often enforced policy more effectively than any legal state enforcement agencies. In embattled territories where "lost-cause" raiding was still reasonably common, law enforcement eventually came into the habit of deputizing posses of masked vigilantes, no questions asked. As this process was further formalized, masked vigilantism became less ad-hoc and more institutionalized and culturally ingrained. Masked vigilantes gained personas over time, depending on their ideological backgrounds, places of origins, or even, frequently, their masks. An explosion of racial violence in the Ozark region of Missouri caused the formation of the Bald Knobbers, who not only quashed all comers, but rapidly integrated themselves into local government. This culminated in the election of a Bald Knobber, anonymously and wearing his mask, to the mayor's office of the small town of Marmaros. Concurrently, masked vigilantism had been steadily growing in the urban centers of the East Coast, leading Missouri State Senator George Graham Vest's proposal of the Ozark Act, which provided for the legal maintenance of an anonymous public persona for the purposes of governmental support.
, the Goetz Act was meant to eliminate "extralegal vigilantism," a necessary qualification, since by 2000 it was fairly common practice for local law enforcement to employ masked employees with secretly-filed identities.
, maybe the hottest issue of Gore's first hundred days, is snowed in under intelligence reorganizations, subpoenas, official complaints, and the odd bit of filibustering. For now, the
Though dozens of names have been applied to the members of America's masked vigilante community, "Masks" has been the most pervasive and most divisive. No one can quite decide whether "Mask" is a neutral, pejorative, or lionizing term. After all, it is a fairly commonplace and decently descriptive word--but some argue that it reduces the complexity of masked vigilantism to a simple notion of cowardice or hiding.
have been granted a bit of a respite. After all, America has more pressing concerns than a bunch of freaks in costumes running around playing
The “superhero” is still a reasonably popular, if rather diminished figure in Amrican pop culture. Special focus is given in superhero media to the exceptional powers and circumstances of the main characters; they are in point of fact closer to demigods than vigilantes.
. They're saying the US might invade Pakistan. Hundreds of Americans are camped out front 1600 Penn night and day, demanding retribution for the attacks. The Koch brothers are quietly woolgathering for an impeachment--citing a "gross dereliction of duty" on behalf of the not-so-newly-minted President and his "treehugging" politics. Governor Bush, to his credit, is keeping quiet; has reportedly taken up painting with a renewed verve.

Meanwhile, New York has never burned brighter. And why shouldn't it? Leviathan, leader of Axis, and self-appointed protector of the Manhattan borough, is an unexpected favorite for Mayor. Shit, he could do it, too. Clearly's got the money. Suncat, whose star had been waning since the novelty of a celebrity Mask died away, is on the cover of Italian Vogue and will probably get a third movie out of Paramount come 2002. And maybe get up on the catwalk again, like before, heh... The partnership of Calavera and Artillery, Cal and Art to their enthusiasts, has somehow become front-page news; no longer fodder for the back pages of Soldier of Fortune magazine. They're publicly vowing to work under US mandate, and "bring you the heads of the sons of bitches that did this to our great nation." Never mind that they were just cooling their heels in Havana, avoiding extradition for hitting Halliburton back in February.

Maybe it's a sign of the times. The voice of America can't remember a time when Masks weren't a fixture--if, admittedly, an esoteric one--of daily life. Maybe now--afraid, angry, you could even say confused--America needs Masks more than ever. And since the Goetz Act was tabled in favor of more pressing interests, it looks like Masks aren't going anywhere--at least not for a while.
But a mask, like a face, is identifiable. You can take a picture of it. Mark it up. Describe it. Build it, break it, or change it. A shadow? A secret? A whisper? Nothing doing.

So when individuals all over the country--individuals like John Wayne Kolchak, of Monument, Georgia--begin receiving envelopes, at work, at home, at play, or tucked someplace impossible, that address them not by their legal names, but by the names of masked vigilantes, hitherto anonymous and thoroughly unknown... no one speaks.

Because to do so would break the terrible silence; cast light on the ever-tall shadow.

Nobody speaks, but each and every person--how many are there? who are they? how are they together bound?--takes grim note.

Because the letters' author--or authors, given that they are simply signed The Shadow Cabinet--know who they are. Who they truly are, when he's not pretending to be John Wayne Kolchak, or anybody else, and are instead snatching up cold cases and missed trails, and bloodily feeding their raw, wet hunger. The cold and the slickness of a hundred empty hearts through a glass darkly has been, by an unknown unknown, revealed--

And they want you to come to New York.

A note about content
I just want to note that I know that the subject matter is touchy. 9/11 was recent. Everyone here probably remembers it in some capacity, and we all probably remember it differently; in different ways. That said, my interest isn't to jot up some exploitative bit of lemon. The post-9/11 milieu is aggressively ripe for narrative and thematic interpretation: for drama, for angst, and for the excellent conspiratorial, murky storytelling we all know and love.

My Character
As you might have guessed, I intend to play as
John Wayne Kolchak
, known in his other life as
. I intend to throw up a better character sheet soon, but this for now will give you a rough notion of who you'll mainly be playing off of.

Kolchak is a 37-year-old Assistant District Attorney of no real regard who lives and operates chiefly within the city of Monument, Georgia (think a cross between Atlanta and Savannah). In his day to day life Kolchak is a frigid, unpopular, almost socially awkward man with a mediocre case record and no arc for promotion.

At night, Kolchak strips off his mask and reveals himself as Looking-Glass, a brutal, exacting detective with a thirst for his own personal brand of "justice." In fact, though he'd never admit it to himself, Kolchak might deliberately torpedo his own cases so that he can dispense a private sentence under cover of darkness.

Looking-Glass is much more verbose and eloquent than Kolchak, who is not known to mince words, almost to a fault. Though possessed of no particular physical abilities, Looking-Glass is a vicious and thoroughly dirty fighter, and an incredibly perceptive investigator. He is possessed of an almost eidetic memory for evidence and minute details, and an incisive approach to interrogation.

Kolchak has never known serious, adult love. Excepting a brief, failed relationship with a police lieutenant, Kolchak's solitude has chiefly acted to compound his cover as Looking-Glass--and it is as Looking-Glass that this man feels most comfortable. Perhaps it is because he has never met someone with Looking-Glass's intensity and vigor that he has for so long been alone.

Within Monument, Looking-Glass is a divisive presence. An almost biblical approach to justice, only somewhat tempered by deference to the Law and the mandate of the Ozark Act, has made him an avenging angel to some, and a bloodthirsty thug to others.

His response to the Semptember 11 attacks was uncertain. Hardly fitting into a black-and-white worldview, Looking-Glass in fact felt thoroughly conflicted about what occurred. Certainly he believed the attacks were barbaric and the deaths unnecessary--but neither had he any respect for the liberties that were taken with civil rights following the attacks.

Where do we go from here? I think starting with discussion and outlining is a good first step, though there's nothing I love more than sinking my teeth into a meaty bit of prose. Unsure of the habit here I think either a PM or public reply would be fine if I should be so lucky. I view this, prospectively, as a bit of collaborative storytelling (for example: I deliberately haven't thought much about The Shadow Cabinet as a figure in the plot--room for us to build then together) more than exclusive erotic role-playing--but storytelling that is free to pursue as many sexual liberties as it pleases. After all, as disturbed as the notion of masked vigilantism is--especially in the aftermath of a nationally traumatic event--it's also ripe for erotic opportunity, both psychologically and physically.

Obviously I listed romance in the title. I think there's room for an antagonistic romance, or one that's rife with conflict and tribulation. As noted I'm open to playing with any gender identity, but will admit that historically I've usually preferred femme-presenting characters (though, gay men, I also have some very particular buttons for pushin' it's not too hard to suss out).

I'm not necessarily a prodigious writer. Compared to some, sure. Compared to others, perhaps, for whom role-playing is a major hobby? No, not at all. If we play together, please bear in mind that outside of having general life responsibilities (and a rocksteady relationship), writing is my full-time job.

With that out of the way... I'd gauge my replies at 3 longer paragraphs minimum, or even up to a couple pages. Depending on how much we're writing, I might make an entry to the RP once a day, or maybe once every other day. If the nature of the thing demands speediness and brevity, who knows, maybe twice a day!

I love grammar and punctuation; footnotes and parentheticals; ellipses and em-dashes. I'm a big ol' sloppy kiss of a writer and I have been accused previously of overmuch density. To that I say poppycock.

What do I expect from you?

That you roughly match the amount of effort I put into the roleplay in terms of quantity and quality. With detailed worldbuilding like this I sometimes like to write notes both diegetically and non, and might like to have a live chat about that or where the plot is headed (though that's not mandatory). In fact, the only thing that is mandatory is a respect for my consent. If I set a hard limit, please don't even approach it. If I break character to take umbrage with something you've written, please treat that seriously--I wouldn't do it if I didn't think that doing otherwise would actively harm the roleplay.

NB: As I'm new I don't presently have an O/O thread so this can give you a very brief, very incomplete notion of my turn-ons. Note that functionally none of these are mandatory, though I question how the sex might pan out if all of these were absent. Will amend pending an O/O presently.

My kinks? Submission/Domination, Physical exertion, Sweat play, feet, ass and body worship, spandex, nylons, latex--all the stereotypical superhero materials--anal, medical play, a bit of peril, and, for the first time ever, simmering erotic tension!

Your Character?
Who is your character? Another Mask? A "hero?" A "villain?" A police officer tackling the murky legality of masked vigilantism? A politician? President Al Gore??? Just kidding, please don't play President Al Gore. I've left the notion of Masks somewhat open to interpretation--most of them are probably just oddballs like Looking-Glass, but your character--or another--could certainly have some sort of unexplained superpower. Hell, one of the things that makes Watchmen so compelling to begin with is placing a single superman in the context of a bunch of paunchy, over-the-hill crimefighters.

My point is I don't want to dictate to you at all. The above are just some ideas so that you don't feel you have to play a character I've set up for you. Again, not to beat a dead horse, but Watchmen is such a wonderful book because of how comfortably (and intelligently) it sets "normal" people next to superheroes.

For thematic and narrative inspiration, think Watchmen (obviously [the book, not the movie]), Redeployment, Gibson's Blue Ant trilogy, LeCarré's Little Drummer Girl and A Most Wanted Man (for this one the movie is actually totally good).