Dupes: Part 2

As we sat down at the table, Travis said, “Handle them? We don’t see them as a big threat yet. We don’t want them to know who we are obviously, but they’re not targeting us. The Executioner and that gang? Those guys have to be handled.”

Agent Torres smiled back. “Then I should ask what operations you’re running right now.”

Cassie caught my eye at that. From her expression she seemed just short of laughing aloud.

Given Cassie’s sense of humor, I considered whether Torres had made any unintentional double entendres. She hadn’t. Then I guessed that Cassie had to be responding to the way the question made it sound like we “ran operations” as opposed to getting stuck in big, confusing messes.

Travis said, “Well, let’s see… You’re taking care of the Executioner. That whole team’s in jail, and if anyone isn’t, we don’t know where they are. We’re listening in on Russell Hardwick and the others, and we’re preparing in case that gang we fought a couple times last week decides to strike back. That’s it.”

Agent Torres nodded. “We’re going to have to coordinate our efforts. If you are going to move on Hardwick, we’d like a heads up. For the moment, power juice isn’t illegal, but conspiring to hide an escaped prisoner is. We want anything you can get us on that. As for the gang, if you’ve seen our records, you know that they’re likely a remnant of the Cabal. We don’t currently have a specific reason to go after them, but that could change. Keep us informed about them too.”

Travis said, “We’ll do that.”

“Good. We’ve got one other issue to bring up. You know about the Cabal’s breeding program, and you know that Red Lightning took over their program in Grand Lake. The other populations were located in small towns that we’ve been able to isolate and monitor. Grand Lake is too large for that. We need you to get to know new power juice users, especially the ones who become capes.”

I thought about people I knew who were using it and said, “Why?”

“Superhuman Affairs has two missions. First, it’s to keep criminals with powers in check. Second, it’s to keep all of you people from going at each others’ throats. We’ve found that putting people with new powers in touch with people who have been at it for a while helps them adjust.”

Next to her, Agent Adams said, “You’ll want to talk to that new group that’s forming here… Justice Fist. It seems they go to your school, and they’d be interested in meeting you.”

“I’ve already met them. No.”

Adams said, “The fight. Right. If it’s any consolation, they’re really into you when you’re in armor. Especially the girls.”

I’d never noticed, but then, I spent most of the time I was in armor trying not to die.

Agent Torres raised an eyebrow.

Adams laughed. “He deserves to know.”

Travis said, “He’s dating my sister.”

Adams laughed again. “Then it’s good that he’s not interested. But seriously, you need to talk to these people.”

Travis shrugged. “I guess we could.”

I considered being quiet, and just not saying anything about it until they left, but I couldn’t quite do it. I opened my mouth. “You know that they’re the kids of Hardwick’s group, right?”

Torres nodded. “That’s why we need you to do it. I’ve seen personal quarrels between supers destroy half a city.”

“I don’t think that’s likely. I’ve actually worked with Sean in costume, and I see him too much already. I don’t want pretend to be his friend or something.”

Agent Adams cleared his throat. “In this case, it’s ‘or something.’ I’m sure they think that you’re a kid underneath, but when they look at you, they’re seeing fifty years of history. You’re an authority. Use it.”

“An authority? I think I’d have noticed that by now.”

Adams brushed some hair out of his eyes. “I’ve been using mobile suits for the last five years, and I’ve never had people look at me like they do in this one. Your grandfather… really, all of your grandparents, were legends. Give people a little push and you’ll be surprised at what happens.”

I thought about it. It seemed like cheating somehow to trade in on people’s goodwill toward Grandpa to manipulate them. On the other hand, if it solved problems without fighting, that was good, right?

“Hey,” Cassie said. “You said that power juice was legal ‘for the moment.’ Is it going stop being legal?”

The agents looked at each other.

Agent Torres said, “After everything that’s happened, the Attorney General is going to make it a temporary Schedule I controlled substance soon. Then the DEA will consider adding the drug to the list permanently.”

Cassie nodded. “And after it’s illegal, what do we do then?”

Torres said, “You’ll use your influence to discourage people from using it.”

24 thoughts on “Dupes: Part 2”

  1. Outlawing the juice seems like a questionable idea to me. It may cut down the number of Sunday supers a bit, but in exchange it makes everybody who wants powers a villain by default so they’re essentially just trading damage done by wannabe-super cluelesness to damage done by wannabe-supers resisting arrest or committing crimes to fund their illegal substance abuse habit.

    Also makes the impregnator very appealing. Replace your illegal drug use with a permanent legal high? Sure, you might go crazy or die or something but that never stopped people from doing crack…

  2. And we mustn’t forget, forbidding something makes it more enticing. Look at how prohibition worked out. It isn’t so different with power juice – “it’s harmless!”, “It’s fun!”

  3. I wanted to make a bad pun on Justice Fisting, but I couldn’t come up with anything.

    So instead I figured I’d just manage it, and it would be enough to get the bad groan out of people.

    Now for Nick to accidentally cause a city wide fight with JF. “I swear, they turned bad.”

  4. They have to turn juice illegal and find a way to control its creation, otherwise people all over will develop powers and do whatever they want. It will make law and order a joke. Creating legislation about its possession will allow the government to control the substances that go into its creation and make it harder for anyone to develop juice at all.

    Once it’s scarce, the only people who will be trying to make any will indeed be criminals, and because juice is illegal then the government can prosecute them. Anything else will be anarchy.

  5. I’d have to disagree with you there, G.S. Even if people all over develop powers, they can only “do whatever they want” without responsibility if their power is so great they can’t be stopped and if that is the case, making them criminals does absolutely nothing to help. And what comes to scarcity, just how scarce and hard to get are illegal substances now? As long as there is demand, there will be supply and in this case, the supply will be pretty much by definition the ones who have most powered people on their side.

    Smarter than banning the juice, in my perception, would be to treat it like a gun. People with juice-enabled powers would be required to register them and get a licence for juicing or refrain from doing so under penalty. Benefits over outright ban include constructive and profitable use of superpowers in the society and not encouraging everyone who wants powers to take up a life of crime.

  6. Whew, these last few episodes give me the sense that “Dupes” is taking the story in a new direction. The game has definitely changed in Grand Lake and nobody’s quite sure where it’s gonna go.

    First off, no matter how intelligent Travis comes off in a ‘board meeting’ the fact still is that he’s NOT qualified to lead this team on the very obvious basis that out of 10 fights he’s only had a major presence in 4, at most. I’m not sold on Travis, Commander of the Heroes League just yet.

    Y’know, is it me, or is Nick’s plight strangely similar to that of Chuck Bartowski, the title character of “Chuck”?? I never thought Nick had an issue with the super-fighting aspect of being a hero, but I see him having a ton of trouble with the covert ops part of it.

    He lucked out with Chris Cannon, but I see the situation with Sean degrading fast.

  7. Bill: Chuck is one of those shows that I’ve intended to watch, but haven’t yet. I guess I’ll see it on DVD. And I can see some resemblance in a general way. Nick’s good with fighting and thinking things through. Outside of that, he has some areas of weakness.

    On the Legality of Juice/Travis as leader: There’s lots of stuff I’d to comment on there, but I can’t, so I won’t…

    Hyudra: Oddly enough, I’ve done some graduate and undergraduate study of Prohibition (in sociology), and I’ve always thought that Prohibition gets a bum rap. On the one hand, I don’t think it was a good idea, but, the level of drinking after and during Prohibition was much lower than before it.

    An illustration of the sort of thing that was socially allowed prior to Prohibition: Constant drinking to a degree that would shock you.

    For example: I read about a pastor’s ordination that was a big party essentially and the people didn’t drink were regarded as party-poopers.

    Another example: I read of a trial in which a jug of hard liquor was passed around to the judge, jury, lawyers, and the person on trial…

    The impression I got while reading about this stuff was that these weren’t freakish occurrences at all.

    So I’d argue that Prohibition (and the Temperance movement) did some good even if it wasn’t a particularly good idea.

  8. It is deliberate in that dupes is short for duplicate and the people who get fooled by the duplicates have been duped/are dupes themselves. Whether people other than that get duped remains to be seen.

    Whatever happens though, everything that occurs in this section results from the fact that the duplicates were brought in, even if the connection is indirect.

  9. Requiring people who use juice to register with the government actually makes it necessary to make the unregistered illegal. Similar to handguns in the States: if you don’t register it and have a permit, you get arrested for carrying it. It’s creating legislation that makes both the legal and illegal uses possible — because they’re defined in law.

    A definition of some kind needs to take place in order to control the situation to any extent. Registering superheroes is currently a big issue in Marvel comics — see Ironman and the death of Captain America. Being a vigilante is seen as criminal, while registering with the government makes you essentially a government agent, with rules, just like police officers.

  10. Both in story, and in real life, Am I the only one disturbed by the fact that they can declare something illegal WITHOUT going through the legislature and getting an actual law passed— as the Constitution requires? We tolerate too much from our would-be rulers.
    It is not government’s duty to enumerate our rights. We do not need laws to define our rights, but rather to express the limits of government’s authority to infringe upon those rights.

    And as to “government registration”— guns as an example— it requires you to gain permission from the government to exercise an inalienable human right. And forcing people to play “mother may I” with the government has always been the first step towards taking away rights entirely. Plus, as has been observed, Prohibition has been a dismal failure both in the past and today…. and that just for recreational substances. How will people react when it dawns on them that the government is banning Power Juice for the populace, yet pouring it by the gallon down the throats of their hired guns? Nations have rioted over less.
    Power to the People, indeed.

  11. All I can really say about this is that this particular storyline/theme is far from over… We’ll likely see more reaction from the populace as it goes on.

  12. temporary Schedule I controlled substance
    i dont know if there is a mistake in that or if it is a term that i havent ever heard before

  13. I know my opinion at this point won’t matter, since I am reading through the archives and decisions on future plot have already been made, but I really don’t like the way they’re treating the juice.

    By making the juice illegal, they are creating a caste system where those with “real” powers are allowed to be super heroes, but those who would require the juice are not allowed to do so. Without knowing anything else about the individuals, why would someone born to power have more right to it than someone who uses the juice in order to obtain it? I would think they should instead encourage and train the juice users, to make sure that they are able to use their powers responsibly.

    1. A good point. My general way of handling the actions of the government basically amounts to imagining a likely result given the history of that universe, and not automatically taking the result I’d imagine to be most sensible.

      Personally, I’d agree that finding a way to use is and make it available would make sense. You don’t want to throw something that away.

      On the other hand, people often act to protect the status quo, and to control the results of a new technology. That’s more what’s going on here.

  14. Making it illegal will have no effect on the truly unpleasant characters getting it and will just turn a lot of “powers for fun” people into criminals with tons of property damage and injury resulting to no real benefit apart from a few less heros

  15. I have to comment on the Prohibition thing here. Before prohibition, for hundreds of years people drank alcohol in large part because drinking alcohol was safer than drinking water. Especially in places where there were large populations of people. A lot of people thought this was because alcohol was good for you, rather than the water being bad for you.

    I don’t know how much of an effect the prohibition had on drinking as opposed to people simply discovering that they could stay healthy while drinking other things. The time period around the prohibition was full of new understandings of disease and sanitation.

    Once it became clear to people that alcohol was not required for health, it became a more recreational substance.

    I don’t know of any real studies about this though, so I don’t have anything to quote.

    1. As someone who has a couple degrees in sociology, an interest in history, and has written a couple papers on prohibition, I can go on at length about this, but I won’t because I’m writing on an iPad.

      Personally, I wouldn’t forget that the rise of prohibition coincides with the industrial revolution. Operating heavy machinery while drinking is not a good idea.

      Also, don’t forget prejudice against immigrants. Pubs were associated with immigrant workers and controlling those workers was a major theme among those interested in the Temperence movement.

  16. Actually some memories of twenty-plus year old US history courses led me back into a wild little ride through a bunch of wiki articles, as well as few studies and papers about both the drys and the wets. Fun stuff.

    There were so many reasons for the Prohibition that I didn’t remember at all till I started digging again. It’s probably correct to say that most people who initially argued for Prohibition had benevolent intent. Most of the benevolent intentions backfired horribly. What little social improvement was gained by Prohibition was quickly erased by organized criminal activity and breweries that commonly put out rotgut illegal alcohol that was actually poionous.

    The dream of a strong, sober workforce and more law abiding men and women went straight out the window almost as soon as Prohibition was enacted, because one of the stupidest things it’s possible to do is tell people that it’s illegal to do something they actually enjoy doing, which doesn’t have a direct and immediate harmful impact on others.

    Thanks for helping to poke memories of good arguments of decades past 🙂

  17. The idea of making power juice illegal is hilarious. Heroes get to ignore laws. Power Juice makes you a hero. While under the influence of the Juice, you are immune to the law about the Juice.

    In other words, the law effects literally nobody.

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