Friday, May 28, 2010

Superheroes, LAN, pt. 1, 424 words

The hero once known as LAN is a telepath and a technopath both. Given his rare mixed gifts, he found a place aiding other heroes as a sort of one-man "mission control," offering the ultimate in secure communications and information support, and prospered.

Then, one day, he was found next to a pile of dead bodies.

The deceased were all members of a small organized crime family, apparently all murdered in spectacular fashion in an abandoned warehouse. An anonymous tip sent the police to find the bodies, and when they arrived, LAN was still standing over the pile of corpses. His costume had blood from the dead all over it, and forensics found only the finger- and footprints of LAN and the deceased in the area. There was too much blood everywhere, in such a horrendous mess, to make a good survey of genetic evidence.

The trial was a media circus. LAN had to go in with inhibitors strapped to his head to keep him from trying to influence the course of the case with his powers, and his real name was revealed and dragged through the mud. He maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and claimed that he had gotten a similarly anonymous tip -- telepathically, and breaking his personal "encryption" -- to investigate a meeting of local crime heads, a prime opportunity to listen in and learn any number of things to exploit against them. The tipster, he said, had offered some vague reason why he or she couldn't listen in him- or herself, so LAN decided to give it a look, because the opportunity sounded too good to pass up. LAN and his lawyer pushed the point that his registered powers had only minimal offensive and defensive capability, certainly not enough to murder a dozen men and women and come away unscathed. The prosecution countered by pointing out that many supers, for one reason or another, failed to register all their powers, or changes in their powers.

Prosecutors and the police blamed what they called the "CSI Effect" for LAN's eventual acquittal. The lack of comprehensive forensic evidence of LAN's participation in the murders -- his finger and footprints only established that he was there, and he claimed the blood on his costume was from trying to check for survivors -- put enough doubt in the jurors' minds as to whether he did it. He got off, but not cleanly. His reputation would tarnish him forever, and in a fit of melodrama he took on the new hero name of Pariah.

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