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Avenger Assembled

And Carnal Forbearance (IC)

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1PM 

Philosophy Class 

 

"All right, everybody," said Judy Smith, smiling nervously as she looked around at the others in her four-person study group. (Well, three if you didn't count her sister.) The large room was full of the chatter of small groups as the divided students discussed the packet of documents the instructor had handed them; or alternatively peeked at their phones, or chatted when the instructor was across the room. "The first one says 'You are a superhero in the United States in 2020. A law has passed that says everyone with superpowers must register with the federal government. Your friends are divided on the subject - some of them think the law is a good idea because it will keep people safe, other people think the government can't be trusted with that information. Do you agree with the law? What'll you do about it, whether you agree or disagree. And there are the longer arguments...so what do you guys think?" she asked, looking around at the others. "This seems pretty easy."

 

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Leroy snapped his fingers "This is merely the prelude to tyrannical takeover. We must lure the agents and collaborators enforcing this into one place, capture them, find out who has pushed for these orders and take them down! Then we follow the web of influence until we discover the true mastermind behind all this, expose them and reclaim what little freedom this world can know!"

 

Leaning back into his chair, the towering boy nodded gravely to the next member of the circle. "Your thoughts?"

 

He was dressed to the nines as usual, though currently in his version of the Claremont Academy uniform: a three-piece suit in deep blue and rich gold with the scholl's crest on his left breast. Also as usual, he wasn't wearing anything on his slim, elegant feet. 

Edited by Ari

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Adam leaned back in his chair slightly. "Anyone who doesn't view their authority figures with suspicion is a fool. Not to say you can never trust a government, just that you shouldn't trust them too much." He shrugged. He was wearing a nerdy t-shirt, jeans, and his usual work boots. 

 

"I'd make sure to know exactly where the information was kept, who had it, and what the registration contract looks like. Not sure if I'd sign it or agree with it, but the terms must be abundantly clear. I wouldn't want to sign such an agreement only to find that they expected me to go overseas and overthrow a dictator." 

 

He realized it wasn't an answer, but he also felt that a real bill like that would require some more context. 

Edited by Thunder King

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Janus flipped through the packet when their copy was distributed, absently twirling a pen between their fingertips as they glanced over the paperwork in question. "Are we assuming that the current oligarchy running this country is still relatively benign?" Janus asked, their accent more pronounced as they split their attention between reading and speaking. It was a lot harder to translate two streams of information at once, rather than one, even if Janus spoke the language with a high degree of fluency. They paused, giving Leroy a bemused look from bright violet eyes, the starburst scar around one crinkling with their moment of amusement. 

 

"Personally, all of my information is registered with multiple governments so, technically, I'd already be compliant." Janus pointed out, since part of the question is where they would fall in the spectrum, "That, said, if the government remains benevolent, there will be a process to abstain or conceal information as needed. If its the first step in an autocracy, registration will be mandated. Personally, I'm always a bit leery with a government that changes so terrifyingly often. How does anything get done, how does anyone know that what was agreed to, will remain agreed to. Its a little terrifying really."

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"Pfft, pity the poor fool who tries to make _me_ register," said Ashley from around the toothpick she was chewing on, one of the longer sentences her classmates had heard her actually say aloud. Ashley rather regretted that she couldn't have a real discussion with the teen supers about this; but this was not a subject where dimensional refugee turned outlaw vigilante Watchdog would be particularly reasonable. It occurred to her that she had no idea what Judy thought of it, until the latter spoke. 

 

"Hah-hah, that's funny," Judy laughed nervously when Leroy finished. When the others had gone, she said, "Ah guess it just assumes it's in America, since that's where most supers live." Judy tapped the paper in front of her with a neatly sharpened pencil. "Ah'd like to know more about why the law passed; if there was a big disaster, or meta-terrorist attack or something like that. That's a pretty big change, and laws don't just pass because people feel like it - somebody must have wanted it." She tapped again, then said, "Even if it's not a good law, it's a superhero's job to follow it, isn't it?" 

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Group 2

 

"First off, ah ain't makin' no one sign a piece of paper they don't want to," began Lulu in her group as she shook her head. She was wearing one of the sweaters Mrs. Harrow bought her, a white one that went well with her plaid shirt and low black boots. "That's just a gimme. Now, as far as how ah feel about the rule...ah think she's need a little context, know what she mean? Like how does the ACLU feel about it? Why do we have this law now?"

 

Leaning back in her chair, she used a bit of the Sight to look over at the first group, where both Adam and Janus were seated. If only she'd gotten here earlier, she could've been sitting in the Cute Boy group...

Edited by Heritage

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Micah rolled his pencil around in his hand for a moment before he spoke, glancing at Lulu a few times as he did so before returning his gaze to his mostly-still-empty notebook.

 

"I guess before I made a decision about support or oppose, I'd want to know what 'registration' really means. I...I thought Freedom City already did something like this? Heroes go in and sign some paperwork, as their, their hero-self. Then they can, like, testify in court and stuff? So is this supposed to be...more thorough? Or the same kind of information, just everyone has to file it?"

 

He scratched out questions in his notebook for a moment. Even if the telepath could "hear" what he was thinking, he needed to organize his thoughts. 

 

"I'm not a huge fan of requiring something without much consent. But if it was just their hero name, maybe a bit about what they can do, I could sort of understand?"

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"I believe it would have a chilling effect similar to Moore Act in Freedom City," Abigail added quietly, looking up from the notebook she'd been doodling in and brushing some of the hair out of her eyes.  "But setting that aside, how would that work with visitors from other nations or governments?"

 

She didn't really know the other people in her group, and they didn't really know her.  if not for the fact that they were at Claremont she wouldn't know any of them had the potential to be a superhero.

 

She shrugged.  "I'm... Canadian."  That was a lie, sort of.  "Would I have to declare at the border?  My government might object, insisting I have a right to privacy.  Never mind the sheer logistics involved in assessing everyone that lives here, let alone visits.  I mean let's face it, America is reluctant to pay for the health of it's own citizens there is no way a program like this gets funded without serious blowback."

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Kam looked between Lulu and Abigail thoughtfully for a moment, "Setting aside for the moment the logistics and specifics of such an act of governance."  he slowly replied, "To focus on the ethical question at the root would be the question of when a person has the moral right or duty to stand against a law they perceive as unjust yes?"  he questioned curiously.  

 

He glanced to Micah with a small nod, "The law may be unjust, many here have been historically."  he agreed readily, "I think the question is less as to if such a law ever could be just and more to the point of what does a person of honor do when confronted by a law that is unjust."  He thought for a moment longer, "Civil disobedience certainly has it's place, and the most effective way under current US statute to undo such a thing would be to refuse and publically that you may gain standing to challenge the law in court."  he finally settled upon looking to the others for thoughts.  "To merely refuse and hide would be impossible for those with obvious powers leading to further injustice while only the physically changed or detectable powers are forced under the yoke of such a statute."  he shook his head sorrowfully, "No it is the responsibility of those with power to use it for the betterment of all."

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Group 2

Veronica Danger

 

Veronica had been listening as the others in her group expressed opinions on the question presented to them.  "I agree Micah, there is a bit of context missing regarding what exactly the law entails.  But, I think the fact that the question states the law requires registration with the federal government and that there is concern about them having information on those with powers suggests it is more than just providing information about a heroic identity and what abilities one has.  If AEGIS and other governmental agencies are in any way competent, they should be able to gather that information just by monitoring reports of a powered individuals’ activities.'  She stated.

 

"I have to agree with Kam."  She then added.  "Civil disobedience is valid choice in challenging unjust laws, even when those laws might have been validly enacted.  I think this has the hallmarks of such a law.  While there may be an argument that such a law is necessary for public safety, but will it really accomplish that?  Those that are likely to use their powers in crimes are not going to be ones to register.  So there is one more crime to charge them with.  But for those that would not use their abilities for crime, they are the ones that are being unfairly targeted.  What about those that have some minor powers and never intend to use them at all?  I would say for me, I would have to go the route of civil disobedience."

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"That hasn't been my experience with power," the green-eyed girl replied.  "Not to say that the ideal is wrong," she added, "but humanity always fails to measure up."  My mother is proof of this, she thought.

 

"Since having no power at all is not an option, perhaps registration is the wiser course?"  It was a statement contrary to her peers, and one she had just made, but it was a thought that started to gnaw at her.  "Considering the numerous moral failings of man, can anyone with power truly be trusted without being watched?"

 

She looked thoughtfully at Kam and Veronica and shook her head a little, less at what they said and more the idea of civil disobedience.  "Mother would not tolerate any dissenters," she quietly murmured, not noticing she spoke out loud.

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Group 2

 

Lulu listened to what the other students in her group said, occasionally nodding along. "Ah think you're touchin' on a big thing there," she said as she pointed at Veronica with her pen. "There's some powers that might have more potential for abuse than others; should that impact registration? Like, ah can read minds, and do a whole lot of other stuff; ah can understand why some Fed might think that makes me dangerous. And believe me, it...can be abused." She closed her eyes for a few seconds to compose herself, as unpleasant memories rose to the surface.

 

"Or if you can, ah don't know, shoot fire out of your eyes," she continued. "Is that so different than havin' a gun in your pocket all the time? And how does that compare to someone who can just...change the colors of stuff? Like that's their only power."

Edited by Heritage

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"My biggest opposition to the idea of a universal power registry is if we can't have one for guns, which people have to go out of their way to own, why do we have to have one for people who didn't have the option of not having powers in the first place?  I know I didn't go out looking to find a way to generate magnetic fields with my mind and I'm willing to bet most of the people in this school weren't seeking their powers when they got them," Selena said.

Adjusting her seat she added, "I could see if this was superhero registration instead of just superhuman."  Her tone shifting to an impression of a politician she continued, "Want to fight crime?  Cool, fill out these papers, get training from AEGIS and the Freedom League.  You want to lift I-beams on a construction job and be left alone?  You got it."

 

"I'm with Kam on this, civil disobedience and protests would be a good start.  But wait until someone tries to enforce it on active heroes, either folks will quit and go into hiding or actively rebel.  Neither is a good option for the civilians in the crossfire."

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"That would depend what is in this registry and what happens should you refuse to participate. Real names, faces, locations, powers? The people draughting such a law would have seen Dr. Stratos revealing Captain Thunder's true name, after all, they cannot fail to know the risks. What this is in aid of matters as well, is this a time of disasters wrought by climate change? Perhaps Mr. Cahill and Ms. Harper are in dispute? Mysterious disappearances in the powered community?"

 

Leroy shrugged his powerful shoulders, scarred face grimacing "Precedent is not kind to this idea, and it would require extraordinary circumstances to make it a good one. Even then, I should like to examine the brains behind it to test for tampering. They never did find all the pieces of that mind-virus."

 

"I share your concerns, Sri Danger." he added gravely to Janus "A few years? It is a war for inches, such ghastly waste. What is meant in good faith by one administration could become a deadly weapon in months if someone foolish and unstable enough took office."

 

At 'deadly weapon' he'd beamed at Ashley. The shirt under his vest was open enough to spot, if you knew where to look, the faint bruises he'd taken at the last sparring session. Watchdog had never met anyone who took being beaten to a pulp so well. The smile cut abruptly as a shadow flickered across his face.

 

"Come to think of it, what counts as "superpowers"? My mentor Dio is a dragon who knows magic, which most dragons don't, would that make him superpowered? Should this only apply to citizens or to all powers living in the United States?"

Edited by Ari

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"Well, ah mean, this is America," said Judy, her cheeks darkening slightly. "Ah don't think something like that is very likely." 

 

After a moment's consideration, her face a mask of teenage ennui, Ashley said, "Could set a precedent, amirite?" She looked around from one face to the other, eyes almost closed, as if she was assessing their take on her words. "Government pushes us around - we push back." From the lazy confidence in her voice, she was looking forward to such a battle. 

 

Judy swallowed, definitely blushing now, and shot her sister a look as she fidgeted with the gold cross around her neck. "Ah don't think fighting the government is such a good idea, Ashley. And going around probing people before you decide to follow the law, that doesn't seem right either. If super-people start...start deciding what's fair and what's right for everybody, just because they think they can, how are we any different than New Freedom?" It was one of the longer sentences anyone had heard her say; and certainly one of the more impassioned. 

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"Well, it isn't like America is currently a purely equal society as it currently stands and the illusion that it is, is a dangerous one," Janus pointed out to Judy, trying to find a gentle way to point out that the existing system wasn't perfect. "My citizenship was fast tracked due to my family's connections. I spent my summer in my grandfather's manor with a private beach while, I am certain, that when your sister crossed to this dimension; her vetting process was likely considerably different. Any sort of registration - no matter how benignly meant - is going to have similar inequalities even if implemented perfectly - and such levels of bureaucracy are rarely perfect."

 

Janus waved their hands slightly, the light catching their rings with the gesture as if to emphasize the point that the teen Danger was facing. Clearly, while Janus had been raised to a life of privilege; their mother had taken great pains to point out its existence. "From what I understand - and please correct me if I am misunderstanding as I am certain their are nuances to the laws here that I am missing - but isn't that the actual meaning behind one of this countries pillars; that it is the duty of every citizen - powered or no - to protest and ensure that their government listens to the needs of all of its people?"

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Group 2 (Full)

Veronica

 

Veronica listened as several of the others in the group reacted to the various points brought by herself and the rest of the group.  It was clear that the questions had everyone thinking a great deal on the subject, and while there was some agreement, if not by all, there was still room for some counter points. 

 

Looking first at Abby, the teenage Danger gave a small smile.  "'Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'  There is certainly something to this saying Abby, and while I agree complacency can be a problem, I also question whether registration of those with powers is the only way to keep watch over them."

 

Veronica had been about to respond to Lulu's comments about how some powers were more dangerous than others when Selena responded to that.  When Selena mentioned an alternative registration requirement for those that wanted to be super powered crime fighters, she nodded in agreement.  "See, a law crafted more like that would be something that seems more reasonable."

 

When Abby made her quite comment about her "mother" not tolerating any dissenters, Veronica looked at the other girl with a slightly raised eyebrow, but did not verbally respond to the comment.  Like a number of current Claremont students, Abby was one from which Veronica was able to sense very strong magic, but the teenage Danger did her best not to try to study that too closely, not wanting to feel like she was prying into their personal matters.


Then a look came to Veronica's face as if she just realized something and she looked over at Kam, her voice lowering slightly.  "Kam, I just had a thought.  What if there is a Machiavellian purpose to this exercise?  Maybe it is not just designed to facilitate thoughtful debate on the subject, but is also means for the Headmistress to identify students more likely to challenge her recent statements about intending to more strictly enforce both the existing and newly added restrictions on leaving campus?"

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"Ah understand that, but having powers and putting on a costume means you're not-not like other people." said Judy, a faint tremor in her voice. "And they know it, too. Maybe that's how the whole thing happened. What if normal people just got tired of special favors for super-people," her hand tightened around her cross, "and said if they're gonna have all that, we deserve the right to keep track of them and know who they are." 

 

Ashley opened her eyes and sneered, "Supers didn't accomplish a damn thing where we're from. Maybe ones here should be more proactive." In her head she was thinking of her great-grands dying in a ditch outside Saigon and the stories her grandfather had told about the re-education camps before they'd come to America; but she wasn't going to let herself get baited. Much easier to play the witless thug; even if she couldn't push it too hard around Judy 

 

"We're, um, we're getting off-topic," said Judy nervously, looking from face to face in her group. "It sounds like we think the law is unjust, and that it's okay to protest it. But what if you're called on to enforce it? Can you just decide a law is unjust if enforcing it is your job?" 

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"That's why I'd read the contract in full. If they're going to force me to enforce a law I think is unjust, well, I'm seeking asylum in another country." He gave a shrug. He knew what he was made to do what he was created for. After that, he decided he would find and establish his own purpose. There were things he was not prepared to tolerate at all, and one of those was being forced to become a government agent.

 

"I'm dubiously okay with registering as a superhero or a person with superpowers. I am not okay with being forced to serve as an agent of the government. I'm not an agent of any government. That might change someday if I agree to it, but if they force me, well, we're no longer the land of the free at that point, are we?"

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"But we are like other people, that's why registration becomes an issue," Janus said, gentling their words as they didn't want to make any classmates angry. "Segregation of anyone as 'other' for certain characteristics is divisive and serves no purpose. It creates two categories and ascribes inherent value. One is 'better', one is 'worse' and those are the first lines that battles are drawn from."

 

It sounded like Janus was quoting something, or at least translating a quote that they had heard before. With a feminine flip of their wrists, Janus indicated them-self, the expression sobering. "Either all citizens need to be registered or registration of American citizens is unacceptable. As to protesting it, unless one swears oaths or takes up arms officially for their kingdom - excuse me, country - then there is no onus to enforce anything. Most heroes, from what I gather, protect people based on their own sense of justice rather than any mandate. After all, those with meta abilities can't join the police force," Janus pointed out, as Phalanx's outing was one of the things that had made it into the summer of media consumption. From Janus tone, it was clear they disproved, "And joining most military forces is fraught at best. I think we're already on that slippery slope of us versus them and its abhorrent. At what point does one draw the line, what if one is merely a phenomenal chess player - no one else can match their skills? So should they be barred from competition?

 

Their hands went up into the air, their voice sharpening, their accent deepening as the conversation moved towards things Janus had stronger feelings about than the abstraction of the exercise, "It's arbitrary and stupid and worse, we're not supposed to point out that it is both arbitrary and stupid. If laws are not just, then one has a moral obligation to challenge them before good people die because of them."

Edited by alderwitch

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"You're thinking too small.Dammit Well this was one way to keep the heat off Judy, anyway - and keep Judy from saying something to Janus that might give them away. "Maybe system has a right to know if a tank with legs is about to walk into the mayor's office - just makes sense. Your job is to keep the proles in line, you need to know about the ones who go outside the line." She smirked and spread her hands as if she was speaking wisdom. "That's why you need to get rid of the system." Ashley smacked the table lightly for emphasis. "That's what's keeping us down.

 

"Well Ah really don't think anarchy is gonna solve anything either. All that gets you is the biggest and strongest fighting." Judy swallowed. "Ah just think that if you're gonna go outside the law, even if it is for a good cause, you can't call yourself a superhero. Once you start making decisions based on what you think is right, and using your power to push 'em on other people, you are sayin' you're better than other people because of who you are. Just because you have super-lungs doesn't mean you have the right to yell so loud nobody else can hear." 

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"True enough, Smith the Elder. Time and again powers have felt constrained by social and legal norms to avoid taking just action." Leroy had lounged even further back into his chair, staring thoughtfully at the ceiling. "My mother, the Lioness, met many of them while finding comrades back in the 80's. She was not encouraged."

 

Sliding back into a normal seating position, he addressed Judy "If you will permit a low blow, Ms. Smith, you have heard of the segregation laws against people looking quite like myself, yes?" He smiled politely "Thankfully, those laws did not see the end of the last century, but only because people pressured their rulers. People like me might still be second-class citizens in the Southern States if not for that."

 

"If there is even a chance that something like that might happen to people with powers, they would react very badly. They currently own significant property, wealth, social and political capital...and mostly look like the rulers." He grinned "It would be no simple thing to make such people, or even the less-advantaged members of this newly-minted class, give up the rights and privileges they have thus far enjoyed."

 

"And should they? As I said, it would take special circumstances to make handing over such information across the board seem like the lesser evil, or the greater good. As Sri Danger said, and I mentioned, who this law applies to is in question already. I stand by my first answer."

 

 

Edited by Ari

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Group 3 (Monica + 4 Empty Slots)

 

Monica didn’t exactly rush to find a group. While she cared about the subject and generally had strong opinions, she still didn’t really know most of these people, so just grouping up with them took a fair bit of energy out of her. By the time she took a seat and joined in, most the other groups had already started talking. Fair enough.

 

She took the sheet into her hand and quickly read the text, it was simple enough. “Alright, people with powers registering with the federal government for some sort of license. “ She looked up at the rest of the group, sitting straight for once, and looking quite determined.

 

“So, Opinions? ‘Cause personally I don’t see how there’s any positive to this whatsoever. And this is coming from somebody who’s never had any kind of secret identity. Any law like that would be pure pandering and fear mongering.  

 

In fact, the perceptive observer may have noticed that Monica seemed brighter than before, quite literally, as if something was lighting her up ever so slightly.

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"There is always a system," Janus rolled their eyes at Ashley's fist pounding, "Anarchy is just another word for coup. Eventually someone gets enough of an edge - through power or through people - to enforce their will on those around them. Humanity leans ever towards some kind of order; just or unjust, but always a hierarchy of one sort or another."

 

Leaning back in their chair, Janus spun that silver pen from finger to finger, waving the other hand to emphasize one point or another. "Speaking from personal experience, I have given my information to this government. I'm sanctioned to act in the land I grew up in- so, personally, I clearly don't have a problem working for a state that I find just. My family has a history of service to this country - one we're proud of from everything Grandfather and Aunt Rachel have told me - so, I have no issue in enforcing its laws as they currently stand. Were this place to take a turn towards drastically unjust and cruel, then personally, I feel it falls on my shoulders to be one of the first to stand up for others who might not be in the position to do so for themselves. From what is described, I see no justice in it. It is a... what's the word...

 

Janus muttered under their breath in the language of their birth, trying to find English words for a concept that didn't quite translate. "...Where you do a thing to make people FEEL better, but it has no actual use. This registration, as its described, gives the government no additional tools while impinging on the liberties of its citizens merely as a piece of propaganda. The government is, I have no doubt, well aware of where the likely dangers already lie. One presumes they manage to be hopefully at least halfway as informed as my Aunt Rachel... or the headmistress. It is, ultimately, performative more than anything."

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Group 2 (Full)

Micah

 

Micah let the other, more confident students speak up first. He was waiting, listening, thinking. There were a lot of things being said and put forth, and it was hard to wrap his head around all the different nuances of their opinions. Instead, he chose to focus on the core ideas being presented by the assignment and his classmates.

 

"Okay, so we're rolling with the idea that the law presented to us by this is one that requires everyone with a super-ability register with the US government, and that they give much more than just 'hero name and power'. And then what our response is? Hm."

 

He wrote a few questions out; things to perhaps give to the teacher in non-pencil format later?

 

"I think civil disobedience is the best course. A law that requires that level of information be collected, with no alternatives, is....problematic doesn't begin to describe it. This isn't just a Census. It's not even Taxes. This is basically one step away from a Metahuman Draft. There isn't some existential threat like the Axis to give a modicum of acceptability to a draft. And what of the people whose powers aren't like a gun? That are purely defensive? And what of the likes of the Raven, or Daedalus, who have no real powers but can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of the Centurion and Captain Thunder?"

 

He shakes his head.

 

"It does kind of come across as an attempt to control those who ultimately work for the greater good of society. The super-villain types will ignore or flaunt the law either way, and it won't magically make them easy to capture. I would imagine we already keep extensive information on captured and jailed villains. So it comes down on those who fight for everyone who can't. And instead of seeking to make it easier for them to work within the law, this would force them even further outside of it."

 

He frowned.

 

"Might be the best disobedience is to simply hang up your cape and do nothing. Let everyone else deal with the consequences of telling heroes they aren't wanted."

 

Micah had been quiet in many of their other classes; this was clearly a topic he'd thought a lot about. But it probably helped he'd been looking at the center of the table when he talked, instead of making eye contact with anyone at the table.

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