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(OMTB) Interview: Cobalt Templar


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"Well," Paige asked puckishly, looking down at the sullenly unresponsive camera, "have we tried hitting it with something yet? That usually works."

 

Fred gave her a look of unutterable weariness. "Paige, my dearest darling, I know you are a psychic, but that doesn't mean you need to channel Richard for us when he's not here."

 

"Oh no!" Paige took two steps back, laughing, both hands over her heart as though mortally wounded. "Why would you say such a hurtful thing to me? Now I'm going to have to redo my makeup before I can go on camera."

 

"That's probably okay, it's looking like we're going to have some time," Dave predicted glumly. "Damn thing was fine yesterday."

 

"Are you sure you didn't drop it?" Eamon asked, mock-solicitously. "Cause mine's still working just fine, and the only difference there is operator skill..." Dave gave Eamon an eloquent reply by way of finger, though his heart clearly wasn't in it.

 

"Can we do the interview with just one camera?" Vivi asked anxiously, hugging their elbows and looking from person to person. The youngest member of the team by a couple of decades, Vivi was not quite used to the on-set byplay.

 

Paige took pity on the intern. "It'll be tougher, but we'll do all right," she said reassuringly. "We'll set the camera up over my shoulder to focus on the guest, and just cut the final together so we don't need any footage from me in this one. If we absolutely have to, we can cheat and edit in a shot or two of me from another interview we did in here, since I'm asking a lot of the same questions anyway. We just can't afford to waste time getting the camera fixed today, and Cobalt Templar is presumably well on his way here already. Everyone ready to go?"

 

"Wait, wait!" Dave called, "I think it's starting up! The red light- no, it's gone again." He sat down at the offstage table with a defeated look.

 

"How's your camera phone?" Eamon suggested. "You could always try filming with that." Dave's response was just as eloquent as before.

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Outside of the PBS building, a faint dot on the horizon quickly resolved itself into a blue-and-red blur, which slowed down to reveal a large man in faintly-glowing blue armor with a handful of dark red highlights, and a flowing cape to match. Blue flames flickered out as he touched down, his steps as light as a feather. Once on the ground, he walked up to the building's door and knocked. He gave the slightly dumbfounded security guard a smile and nod as he was let in.

 

"Thank you! I have an interview in a few minutes.

 

He was quickly guided to a hallway on the second floor, often having to turn sideways to let others past. When he was outside the studio, he stopped and knocked politely, speaking through the door.

 

"Hello, this is Cobalt Templar. I'm here for an interview with Supercrime!."

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The door was quickly opened by a young person, maybe college age, wearing a black SuperCrime! jumpsuit and a nervous smile. "Hello! Great! Yes! You're in the right place!" they told him, stepping back from the door to allow the hero into the studio. "We're just about ready to get started, just adjusting some camera angles. I'm Vivi, I'm the PA, can I get you a snack, a drink? Will you be wearing a mask for the interview or will you need makeup?" The small studio held the rest of the SuperCrime filming crew, which seemed to consist of two arguing cameramen, a woman with a whole tableful of microphones, a man with a very large computer tablet, and Hologram herself, touching up her makeup in front of a small mirror.

 

Paige Cline waved to him as he came in. "Hello, thanks for coming in!" she called. "Sorry, we had a little technical problem, but we'll be ready in two shakes."

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Colbat Templar tilted his head a bit to one side. With a few wisps of ethereal flame, his helmet and cape were gone, leaving a large domino mask in that dark red tone that highlighted much of his armor. 

 

"I can adjust things on the fly, though I'm keeping at least this much of my face covered. My identity's not public, and I'd prefer to keep it that way. As for the refreshments, let's just stick with water for now; don't want the camera catching a bunch of stuff stuck in my teeth. I don't really know cameras and makeup needs, so you tell me if this will still need makeup?"

 

He gestured at his still-masked face. Paige waved hello, and CT smiled at the other staff and gave them a nod before heading over to Paige. He offered her his hand to shake.

 

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Cline. Your show is, if I may be so bold, one of the best history-oriented programs out there."

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Paige beamed at him as she shook his hand. "Thank you so much! We've really tried to make our show educational as well as entertaining. And you shouldn't need to worry about makeup, the lighting here shouldn't be intense enough to wash you out." As the cameramen finished their argument, the assistant provided Cobalt Templar with a bottle of water and Paige escorted him to the stage. It was set up simply, a living room theme with two comfortable chairs angled towards each other and a small table between them. It could've been the set for a thousand public access shows, and probably had been.

 

"I don't know how familiar you are with television interviews," Paige began, sitting down in the stage-right seat, "but this should be a pretty uncomplicated one. Eamon here has his camera set up on you, and Dave here will be using a steadicam to get overall shots of the stage and of both of us. I'm going to ask you some basic background questions, then we can move on to talking about the Curator's infiltration. If there's ever any question you don't want to answer or that makes you uncomfortable, you can let me know and we'll go a different direction and edit around it." She gave him a disarming smile. "I'm sure if you've watched the show, you know we don't try to make our guests look bad. We'll probably only end up using a small portion of the interview overall because we're packing a lot into one show, but you should use as much time and detail as you like to tell the story. Do you have any questions before we start?"

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Cobalt Templar's grip almost shockingly gentle for a man of his size as Paige shook his hand. He gave the chair he was supposed to sit in a look with a tilt of his head, with the look of a man lost in thought. Then he shrugged his shoulders and a thin wave of ethereal blue fire washed over his body, starting at his right hand, shining from a ring on the middle finger. Paige's eyes, sharpened by years of life on one side or the other of the super-community, would very briefly catch the sight of a simple gold band on his left hand, the color mostly washed out in the wave of fire as it swept over Templar's extremities.

In their wake, rather than an imposing suit of plate armor, he was wearing a sturdy garment that was somehow simultaneously antiquated, yet also with hints of the future. It was primarily in muted shades of blue, with the belt matching the dark maroon of his armor's cape. His mask had morphed slightly, covering a bit more of his face, seemingly to compensate for not having a helmet to mute the lines of his head overall. His black hair was just long enough to look a bit ruffled after being set loose. His blue-tinted brown eyes reflected the smile on his face as he gathered his robe about himself and sat down. 

 

"Thank you, Vivi," he remarked to her as she handed him the bottled water. He took a quick sip then set it to the side, and folded his hands in his lap. His attention was fully on Paige now.

 

"The margin to keep history interesting, without inventing things whole-sale for the sake of entertainment, is razor-thin, and your show has walked it for 15 years. That's quite impressive. As for talking in front of a camera, I've done a couple of on-the-street interviews personally, in the wake of one event or another. As for a sit-down....I can't say that I've ever done one quite like this, no. I'm happy it's with such an accommodating group, though. Sounds like an entirely reasonable format."

 

He pondered her question for a moment before answering. 

 

"Is there a preferred signal or the like if I need to 'skip' a question, or will you just worry about that in your editing?"

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"You can just tell me," Paige assured him. "We can either just move on to something else or we can turn off the cameras for a minute so you can take a break. And don't be worried about asking for one if you need it. I know this is hard stuff to talk about, even after all these years. You definitely would not be the first person to take a few minutes if you find you need them." 

 

With the preliminaries out of the way, there was a few minutes of activity involving setting up a lapel mic for each of them, then adjusting the lights one  more time, then doing final sound checks. Finally the director nodded to Paige, who turned to Cobalt Templar with a smile. "Just to set us in the moment, can you tell us a little bit about what sort of heroic work you were doing in those days? You were part of a hero team, weren't you?" 

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The large man in blue just nodded and smiled at the clarification about how to stop the interview. He sat patiently and moved as requested while they got the mics and lights set up. Paige couldn't gather much telepathically from him, in a way that suggested he knew one or more psychics very well. What she did pick was an instinctual sense of his body's space; the sort of self-awareness and self-caution that many larger people (who cared about those not sharing their size) had.

 

Her first question caused Cobalt Templar to look thoughtful for a moment.

 

"Yes, though it's been a much less formal thing than some such groups. I've worked a lot with the group who's taken on the mantle of the Liberty League. While I cannot trace my own heroic legacy to the Second World War, I knew several members before the team's formation, and so I found it natural to work with them. We were doing fairly "general" hero work. Probably more super-powered criminals than unpowered gang types. My own powerset does not exactly lend itself to overly subtle operations."

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"That's right, I seem to recall quite a few of the members of the Liberty League came from Young Freedom." Paige nodded, sliding easily into the rhythm of the interview. "So it would've been sort of a natural way to graduate onto an adult team, but you were all still fairly young, I imagine?" The actual mechanics of Claremont's superteams were not made public, of course, but just looking at groups like Young Freedom and Next Gen made it clear that they were teen teams. Paige's own math put Cobalt Templar at probably no more than nineteen, with his teammates not much older. "You were working a mission together on the Day of Wrath, right, even before everything started changing?" 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cobalt Templar nodded at the first question.

 

"Yes, we weren't teenagers but we were still young."

 

He gave a slightly odd smile.

 

"Most would say we still are rather young. Even if we've seen a lot and done a lot."

 

He grew more serious and focused in on Paige's questions. 

 

"Yes. We had received reports of some extremely shady and illegal things happening at a large corporation, that were right in line with other rumors. Most of the team received word of the intel simultaneously."

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Paige nodded along as her guest spoke. It was hard to be sure of anyone's age behind a mask, but Cobalt Templar looked the nearly thirty that her personal knowledge put him at. Not old, certainly, but not exactly a stripling. She wondered what he meant by the comment, but decided to focus on the narrative. "So that part probably wasn't too unusual, at least at first. When did you first start noticing that something strange was going on?" 

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"Hm. Well, I would say that things felt 'off' when our team was discussing the situation. Wander seemed agitated, and too focused on 'the mission'. Everyone else was kind of off-balance from that. But honestly, considering our ages, I chalked it up to more mundane causes. Conflict with friends and family, things like that."

 

Paige could tell he was skirting a few details, but it was more about not giving out details of Wander's own life.

 

"We headed downtown, and things seemed to be getting back into rhythm again. Up until we caught a piece of conversation from the board room that seemed to set Wander off. She charged in on her own, angry and aggressive, in a way I'd just never seen her act like before."

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This was tricky ground; Paige knew as well as anyone that Jonathan Grant was dirty to the core, but SuperCrime had already gotten an entire episode killed in development five years ago due to network pressure. Nobody wanted a lawsuit, and Paige didn't want to derail the entire finale episode on one or two details. One day, she figured, just not today. "I understand that the attack from the Wander replica severely injured the CEO of Grant Pharmaceuticals, then went on a rampage through a subway station. What did you and your teammates do?" 

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Cobalt Templar looked a bit thoughtful as he thought back to the exact order of events. 

 

"So the replica made the attack, and immediately left. We thankfully were quick enough in pursuit to prevent further major injury to bystanders. At the same time that the Replica was starting to perform structural damage, a member of Grant's....security team...made his presence known. This engendered some confusion."

 

Templar's expression and projected emotions told Paige exactly what he thought of that situation.

 

"In the midst of that, the Replica enacted major structural damage to that subway station. While most of my team worked to pursue the Replica, I myself elected to stay behind and work to maintain the structure to allow for evacuation."

 

He smirked and held up the hand with the glowing blue ring; he even wiggled his fingers a bit to show it off.

 

"I was by far and away the best-equipped to do so."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Keeping the station from collapsing saved a lot of lives," Paige agreed with a nod, remembering the research she'd done. "That seems to have been a common theme among the replacements; they caused plenty of damage on their own, but the collateral damage that arose from fighting them or from villains around them taking advantage of the situation was often as bad or worse. What happened after that?" 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Cobalt Templar shifted in his seat a bit and sighed. 

 

"The security team member from Grant Pharmaceuticals elected to aid me in holding up the roof as the rest of the civilians evacuated. Once the area was evacuated-"

 

He paused here, almost chewing his next words before they came out. Paige could sense he was self-editing his wording.

 

"The other individual elected to leave the premises. The rapidity of his exit meant that the structure collapsed. I was physically fine, but delayed. By the time I met up with the rest of the team, the duplicate had been stopped. The mechanisms inside meant that what had been intended as a less-lethal option, triggered some sort of self-destruct. We discussed the immediate situation, and I went on overwatch while some of the others did some follow-up recon at Grant."

 

He scratched his chin with a sigh.

 

"After that, I was mostly just helping keep a lid on things in the city. Midnight helped with the recovery efforts, but I don't know a ton of the details there. I just know we got everyone back."

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