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that many of the heroes who stepped in to fill the gap left by the Icons’ departure less than a year earlier are no longer active in Cobalt City.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.
Senior Features Editor