Maybe they were right. Maybe things do look like Hell here. Scores of people dead and dying. Maddened masses tearing their hair and flesh.
Maybe it's just the voices in my head. The hundreds of espers in Phi sector who are screaming "THANK YOU!" and the overwhelming sense of relief that we're still alive. Still cogent. Still kicking ass.
Scanner's not around anymore. Probably took off once the Order arrived in force. Weird girl, Scanner. But fun as hell.
Hey! Those are *my* thoughts. Perv.
Well, there's not much more I can do here. Should head back to Phi sector and see about what can be done in the refugee efforts. Strange, I could've sworn Hemelshot was up to something nefarious when he headed back to HQ.
:Yes, but it will help.:
Ah. Well, I've never known him to be more than slightly crazy.
:He is crazy.:
But in a good way, yes?
Well, regardless, he made a point. We can't go back into hiding or seclusion after this. We made an effective fighting force today, yes?
:We were designed as weapons.:
That's not the entire point. There's more to our abilities than combat. Here, take this for example.
*Yiska transmits an image of an XSERT—eXtra-Special Emergency Response Team. The image consists of a Tsunami, where there are mages who are trying to calm the weather. Espers who are building and reinforcing walls, moving trees off of buildings, redirecting mudslides, etc. Clades sniffing out survivors amidst wreckage. Priests attending to the wounded. etc.*
:That's not just us.:
That's the point though, right? When I said 'we' earlier, I meant everyone at the bridge. Segregation and secrecy is what led to the catastrophe here today. I think the Institute should be open to all peoples.
:Why? I mean, they hate us.:
They fear us, and that's different. I think living to a higher standard of conduct—a public standard—will take us far in the minds of people. If we can get them to applaud us, instead of boo us, then I think the battle's won. And I'm not talking about overnight, either. The Institute from the other dimension took about a hundred years to build. But they isolated themselves from the general public. I think the Institute needs to be at the forefront of humanitarian efforts. Because, well, technically we're all still human. Compared to Entities and whatever lies beyond in the stars, we're all pretty much human. And if we concentrate on using our abilities for humanity instead of just us, well, I think the general populace will grow and accept us. With great power, comes great responsibility.
:Cute. A fan of 20th century literature, are we?:
But it's appropriate, right? We have abilities normal people don't. That doesn't give us the right to lord it over them. The same as if a rich man kicks dirt in the face of a beggar. We can't be like that.
:Well, we can see your point. How are we going to build this though? Money doesn't come from thin air.:
OK, so the idea is that the Institute will be a nonprofit research organization, coupled with an orphanage, a grade-school academy, a college, and a graduate research program. Basically, we invite every altruistic researcher to come and do research here. Create the golden rice/soy/algae. Design a cure for cancer. All without the interests of mega-corporations and profit. They'll bring in research funds, and some profits from the things they research. Startup costs for the humanitarian efforts should be provided by our nefarious friend Hemelshot. If we continue to use our powers in this crisis, we'll become an invaluable asset to this city, and we can start to use some of that as leverage to fund other sorts of research and technology.
:That is of course, unless the UN decides to shut Angelus down.:
Well, we'll just have to make sure that doesn't happen.
Not sure yet. Not by force, or subterfuge. We'll have to see if Hemelshot can get done what he needs to.
:Agreed. And the backup plan? Force?:
Hopefully not. That's Plan C. Plan B would be to declare our independence as a free city-state. Flex our muscles a bit and say: "Stay away."
:Eh... we're talking about the UN here. US, China, etc. I doubt they'll be intimidated.:
Well, they were intimidated enough to sign that no-army treaty bit.
:That's true. You mentioned the golden rice project. What other things did you have in mind? The point of the nutrient-rich foods is that they are given away... they won't bring in much profit.:
No, but I had a few other ideas as far as technology. One of them is what I'd like to call SensaTech.
*Yiska transmits an image of a person donning a helmet, and gloves. Through which, he connects seamlessly into a virtual reality environment. Instead of watching, say, an action film, the user would actually get to play the part of the hero. Using a combination of latent esper abilities, and technology based off of telepathic and empathic transmission, the user gets to experience every bit of the adventure. The adrenaline rushes, the weight and feel of the gun in their hand, the smell the leather car seats... etc.*
:That will most definitely sell. It has other possibilities as well.:
Ah, yes, well, maybe not for the socially acclimated.
:No, but those sales will probably be higher.:
Maybe. On the other hand, it could be very useful in rehabilitation and education as well. Wouldn't need so many cadavers if we could simulate it perfectly. Experimental surgeries could also be practiced so there are less malpractice events.
:We see. You mentioned an orphanage as well, why?:
Well, the problem with a lot of state-run orphanages is that the children almost always get the leftovers. They're treated as second class citizens. On the other hand, if we have a well-supplied orphanage, it should be a blessing to be an orphanage here. Supplied with the boarding school or academy, these orphans will receive proper medical treatment and good education. They won't be a drain on the economy.
:We also get to indoctrinate them.:
Ah... maybe in not so many terms.
OK, so the point is to have a percentage of the population that does not fear esper abilities. We educate them, get them to college, and they go out into the workforce as elite individuals. Going from less than nothing as orphans to business majors and scientists... if we can start supplying influential individuals through our academy, then we'll have less of a battle to fight in regards to social acceptance.
:So who do we accept into the academy?:
The idea of the academy is that it is a boarding school. Run by the Institute's funds. Basically, for underprivileged families who cannot support all their children, we would board them for free and give them a better education and physical training.
:So just anyone?:
Well, at first. I dare say we won't have many people eager to send their children to be surrounded by espers for years on end.
:True. What about internal corrections within the Institute? Would we be disciplining ourselves or what?:
I'm not sure what you mean.
:So, for instance, we find that an esper teacher has been applying subtle mental control over his female students. How does this get handled?:
Well, publicly. We would present his case to whatever legal system is in force on Angelus. Teachers already do this through threatening to give students bad grades, paying them, and verbal manipulation. Esper mind control would just get added to that list. The key thing to remember is that our abilities were developed as weapons. Same as the tongue can be a weapon. Davies was a good example of that, we need to be in check with our own abilities. To that extend, each esper associated with the Institute would need to get registered and their abilities documented.
:Isn't that an invasion of privacy for some of us? Why should we subject ourselves to such scrutiny?:
Well, our abilities were intended as weapons. Just as you need a permit to carry a concealed firearm, we should be as stringent with our abilities as well....