Interview: Edirin Okoloko

alleyWe had a chance to sit down with Edirin Okoloko, former member of The Protectorate under the name of Knockabout. Currently in town on a diplomatic mission for D’habu where he serves as a senior member of the state security force, Ku’whinde, we were delighted to catch up and reminisce about his time in Cobalt City. We caught up with him at the Capital Club and he was gracious to allow us a few minutes of his time.

Q: It seems like it’s been a long time since you’ve been back to Cobalt City? When was your last visit?

E: In an official capacity? It’s been a few years. Unofficially, I still have a few friends from my Protectorate days who live here, and I’ve been known to jet over for a long weekend to visit from time to time.

Q: Next year will be a decade since the Protectorate officially dissolved and you returned to Africa…

E: D’habu.

Q: What?

E: D’habu. It’s the name of the country, my homeland. When you say Africa, you’re referring to the entire continent which is huge and has countless distinct nations, languages, and cultures.

Q: Sorry. No offence intended. If there was anything you wanted the casual reader to know about D’habu, what would it be?

E: (Chuckles) That we’re not your enemy? I mean, I know things are tense and there’s a certain degree of xenophobia and technological envy, especially after some of the recent events in the area. D’habu has been insular for hundreds of years. It never fell victim to the colonization that has been the legacy of the rest of the continent, and we’re quite aware of the position that puts us in. We’ve done what we can to provide aid to our neighbors as needed–Rwanda to the north, Uganda and Burundi to the west, Tanzania to the south. But for the most part, we’ve isolated ourselves. Now that that policy is changing, it changes the game board for a lot of nations, and people are nervous.

Q: Why now? What’s brought about the change in policy?

E: Because aid from other nations, the World Bank, and multi-national corporations has, historically, come with significant strings. King N’kala and his cabinet have gradually come to realize that the stability that comes from providing aid without conditions outweighs any threat to our own security that isolationism provides. The vast resources of Africa have been plundered by others for centuries. The only thing that’s really changed has been the method. We believe that African resources should remain African, and that upsets the status quo. But in exchange, it’s enabled us to help empower tech regions and economic turnaround in places that desperately need it. It’s helped enrich not just a powerful few, but entire communities. Twenty years ago the idea of the Pan-African Space Program would have been ridiculous.

Q: Now it’s a reality.

E: Not only a reality, but a competitive reality. The first rockets were a huge success, and construction of the orbital platform is on track to begin late next year. It’s entirely within the realm of possibilities that we’ll beat everyone else to a Mars colony.

Q: Is that part of what brings you to Cobalt City on official state business?

E: (chuckles again) It’s related. There are certain overlap with what we’re trying to do with the orbital platform and work that Jaccob Stevens has already done with Starcom Industries, though on a very different scale. We’re trying to broker an agreement that benefits everyone.

Q: Would access to Tascinarium be part of these agreements?

E: It’s no secret that Starcom Industries, along with virtually every other tech company in the world, has been eager to gain access to our national Tascinarium reserves. But it’s not something we consider lightly. D’habu has been the only place in the world where the metal has been discovered. It’s rarity and unique properties have been the subject of much speculation since it was discovered in the eleventh century. But whether you consider it divine providence as we do or blind luck or even extra-dimensional intervention, the fact is that no one else has Tascinarium, and that distinction and our determination to protect it has made D’habu the power that is today.

Q: What is it about Tascinarium that makes it so special? Is it just the rarity?

E: Its weight and flexibility to start with, plus its reactive and conductive properties.

Q: Reactive?

E:  It responds to certain wave-forms in a way that no other metals have been known to do. Tascinarium is not entirely of this world. It’s a true Nth-dimensional metal. We’ve had centuries to try and understand it, to experiment with its potential. We’ve seen enough of that potential to know how it can be abused. It’s our responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Q: On lighter topics, do you have any other plans while you’re back in Cobalt City that you can share?

E: This is very much a work trip, so it remains to be seen. I haven’t had good crab cakes in a while, so fingers crossed I get some soon. And I have a friend whose son wants a Goblin Records t-shirt, so I’ll probably swing by their store in Ruby Tower since it’s right there near Starcom.

Q: One last question?

E: One more.

Q: Is there any chance of the Protectorate getting back together?

E: Considering how things ended almost a decade ago, I doubt the city would want us back together. Anyway, most of us have gone off on our own directions, started very separate lives. We stay in touch. Most of us, at least. But it’s up to the next generation to show us what they can do. It’s one of the things I love most about Cobalt City. There is always another hero waiting in the wings to show you what they can do. I have every confidence that the city is in good hands.

 

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Ask a Villain: Nicodemus Candledark

desk With cold and flu season around the corner, Cape and Cowl Magazine has approached noted virologist and mass-murderer Nicodemus Candledark to field a few reader questions.

Q:

There seems to be a lot of conflicting and confusing information on the subject of vaccines and their link to Autism. Who do I believe?

Candledark:

I’d like to suggest that if you’re looking at the one discredited study linking vaccines to Autism and weighing it against every other doctor’s insistence that there is absolutely no link, and then turning to a man known worldwide for killing people with engineered viruses for some kind of support, that you’ve already made up your mind. You’re merely looking for support for your own bad decision. Secondly, you are unfit parent. Vaccinate your children. Third, I lost track of several of my dormant genetic experiments before my current incarceration, so if you truly want to be safe, I suggest you stay away from “free range chicken” for the next five-six years until the for-now-dormant Sangrange-11 virus mutates to something that doesn’t cause blindness and explosive anal leakage.

Q:

How effective is hand-sanitizer, really?

Candledark:

Let’s say that any contaminated surface you touch has, conservatively, 1,000 microbes on it. Keep in mind, the number is likely much higher and on surfaces you would never suspect. The best sanitizer I have ever encountered is only 99.9% effective. So that’s at least one microbe that’s getting through. And it’s going to be the toughest of the bunch. He’s angry because you killed all his friends. He knows where you live. He lives where you live. And he only needs to get you once. Just once. And you’re sick. I tell you, sparky, you better bet that on that day it’s just some dumb cold or flu virus and not something I cooked up when I was out of my mind on peyote and ignoring every single safety protocol.

Q:

Are you single? I’m a professional woman in the prime of life who likes pink wine, southern rock, and true crime TV. I also love the scientific bad-boy type.

Candledark:

Yes, I am single. And though I have rocked out to some Gov’t Mule in my time, my current legal situation coupled with the fact that I am more contagious than the abattoir floor in a third world field hospital during a plague makes long-term relationships difficult. Might I suggest loving yourself first. And if that fails, try the Alibi Room in Karlsburg. You should be able to find a scientific bad-boy or someone pretending to be one without too much difficulty. Throw a rock in this blighted city and you’ll hit one. So by all means, throw it hard.

 

Zithyani Breach: Ten Years Later

Commemoration of Zithyani Incursion Memorial, Cannonade, August 1, 2014

Commemoration of Zithyani Incursion Memorial, Cannonade, August 1, 2014

The ten year anniversary of a pan-dimensional invasion attempt by forces of the Zithyani Empire was marked in Armory Park yesterday. Part remembrance for the casualties, part thanks to the heroes who defended the city in it’s time of need, the event was marked with performances by the Whitman High marching band, speeches, and a muted superhero presence. In fact, other than Jaccob Stevens who appeared on the podium without his signature blue and gold power armor and Big Green who has been in stasis on the buildings surrounding Armory Park for the past decade, crowds who turned out to see costumed heroes were likely disappointed. Stevens apologized for the absence of The Protectorate co-founder Wild Kat, citing emergencies elsewhere, serving as a sobering reminder that many of the heroes who stepped in to fill the gap left by the Icons’ departure less than a year earlier are no longer active in Cobalt City.

Big Green: still in stasis. Tamika “Steel Pan” Tesla: retired to pursue science career. Zander “Dart Frog” Tesla: relocated to Seattle. Gato Loco: rumored to be active across country. Worm Queen: retired. In fact, other than Libertine and Huntsman, both of them legacy heroes with a long history in Cobalt City, the only other heroes from the Zithyani Breach are Wild Kat who sees to be less and less active in Cobalt City every year and Stardust.

Long time Cobalt City residents know these things move in cycles. Old heroes step aside to make way for the next generation. Following the formation and implosion of The Protectorate in the three years following the invasion, Cobalt City has been without a significant group presence. Could it be that the era of large superhero unions, with their public meeting halls and clubhouses like The Keep be a thing of the past, as antiquated as the FAX machine and leaded gasoline?

“It’s the fear of us against them,” says police spokesman Dennis Tran. “There’s a general distrust of any group with too much power and no obvious safeguards in place.”

There is even a growing suspicion by some in the community that superheroes should be more tightly regulated if not outright criminalized.

But despite the lack of a large superhero group in the city, despite The Keep having remained vacant for the better part of seven years now, and despite their visible presence in Armory Park for the ceremony, Cobalt City is a city of heroes.

Stardust remains one of the most prominent, both in his public identity as Starcom Inc. founder Jaccob Stevens and as the flying guardian of the city. Wild Kat, Archon, and Gallows may spread their operations out across the globe, but their home remains here in Cobalt City. The Huntsman and Libertine continue to operate as a team and as periodic anchors to the revived Mysterious Five. While an independent operator, Velvet is as present as ever, flexing her considerable might against the city’s larger threats. And despite the atmosphere of distrust, a new crop of heroes are beginning to emerge: Tempest in Quayside, Kensei in Karlsburg, the mysterious Wrecker of Engines in cyberspace and beyond, and perhaps even more.

It took an alien invasion to unite the disparate heroes of the city into The Protectorate a decade ago. If that event taught this city anything, it’s that there will always be heroes here to stand up when the need arises.

—-

Leonard Reed

Senior Features Editor