“Super of the Month” Interview
Supers: Dynamistress, thank you for your time and hospitality.
Dyna: My pleasure, but please call me Dyna.
Supers: Dyna, most of our readers will probably not know your name, yet.
Dyna: Which makes me wonder why you’re sitting here in my living room.
Supers: Well, as I mentioned to you on the phone, we often receive unsolicited mailings from teams when they add a new member. One of these was from when you joined the Bay Scouts.
Dyna: Where it clearly sat in your slush pile for a while.
Supers: True, but unlike the vast majority, yours made it out. We generally feature only metas who are already famous, as you know. But I just had a good feeling about you.
Dyna: Meaning that you learned of my involvement in the Nevada Incident and thought that would be a good hook.
Supers: That was part of it, sure. But I was actually more interested in the background profile that came with your submission. I believe it was written by the leader of the Bay Scouts.
Supers: Who is now retired, I understand.
Dyna: Due to a crippling injury, not by choice.
Supers: Right. The Nevada Incident. By now, everyone knows about the strange gateway into another dimension. An alternate Earth, so to speak. It was one of the metas from that world who injured Scoutmaster, right?
Supers: And she later killed another member of the Bay Scouts.
Dyna: Listen, that whole episode isn’t something I care to dwell on, if you don’t mind. It’s still too recent.
Supers: All right. So let’s go back in time. You have a doctorate in genetics, and you used this expertise to give yourself your abilities, manipulating your own DNA to become a meta.
Dyna: After a fashion, yes.
Supers: That’s an accomplishment many scientists have attempted, but without success.
Dyna: So I’ve heard.
Supers: What do you say to those who insist that such attempts at manipulating DNA are an affront to God?
Dyna: [Laughs.] I say if you have that sort of view, you’d have to consider the entire field of medicine to be the same sort of “affront.” Is it an affront to God to use genetic treatments to restore hearing to the deaf or sight to the blind? To cure hemophilia?
Supers: Giving meta-abilities, most would say, goes well beyond correcting birth defects, which are not the norm.
Dyna: And in another ten or twenty generations, being born without meta-abilities may be considered a birth defect.
Supers: So you view it as the next stage in human evolution?
Dyna: [Long pause.] Honestly, it would be hard for me to say that. Evolution is adaptation in order to survive, driven by an outside trigger, such as a changing environment. But I can’t see any particular stressor that’s currently creating a need for meta-abilities.
Supers: The tendency toward meta-mutation is inherited, if I understand correctly, in a recessive fashion. Like someone having blue eyes even though their parents have brown eyes?
Dyna: That’s right.
Supers: So tell us about your abilities.
Dyna: I generate a bio-plasma type of energy that I can expel from my body in different ways. Blasts. Propulsion. Even something like a force field around my body. And energy-enhanced physical strength.
Supers: That sounds awesome.
Dyna: It’s pretty cool, yeah. [Laughs.]
Supers: But the actual experiment itself didn’t go quite as planned. You performed your work on your off-hours at the lab where you were employed, without your company’s knowledge. There was a fire. The lab burned.
Dyna: Yes. I was found culpable and had to pay restitution to the company.
Supers: Do you know how the fire started?
Dyna: [Hesitates.] No.
Supers: The court record indicates that you were drunk at the time.
Dyna: [Hesitates.] That’s what they said, yes.
Supers: You worked as a bartender in college and here in San Francisco. I see you have probably a hundred different bottles of liquor in your home bar. Dyna, do you have a drinking problem?
Supers: What are you drinking right now?
Dyna: Dr Pepper.
Supers: Maybe a little Bacardi in there?
Dyna: Sorry, is this an interview or an intervention?
Supers: There just seems to be a trend.
Supers: Okay, so why did you do it in the first place? Most people probably couldn’t comprehend the level of commitment you showed.
Dyna: Let’s call it what it was: an obsession. I grew up dreaming of being able to do incredible things. And of being famous.
Supers: Lots of kids do.
Dyna: I know, but… [long pause] Let’s just say that I spent too many years of my life being a child.
Supers: So, as a child, what other ambitions did you have?
Dyna: At one point, I wanted to be a singer.
Supers: So you’re a frustrated rock star?
Dyna: Well, this was during the seventies, so…
Supers: So if you hadn’t pursued your work in genetics, and didn’t become a disco queen, what do you imagine you’d be doing, now?
Dyna: I dunno. Roller derby looks like a lot of fun. Can you make a living doing that?
Supers: I don’t know, but the Bay Scouts kind of sounds like a derby team name.
Dyna: [Laughs.] It does, doesn’t it?
Supers: Did you skate a lot as a kid?
Dyna: Just up and down our street. The rink in my town was torn down before I was born.
Supers: You grew up in a rural area pretty much devoid of metas, isn’t that right?
Dyna: If there were any in those parts, they quickly made off for places with actual crimes to fight. Or opportunities to commit them.
Supers: And you ended up in San Francisco, where you soon became a member of the Bay Scouts, which was disbanded around the time of the Nevada Incident.
Dyna: Yes. And let me say what a great bunch of people they were. It was an honor being with them.
Supers: Let’s hear about your very first assignment with the Scouts. I bet you were excited.
Dyna: [Laughs.] You’d lose that bet. My first assignment as a full member had us sent to investigate a stench over in Marin.
Supers: You’re kidding.
Dyna: I wish.
Supers: Did you figure out what was causing it?
Dyna: Yeah, a cave full of slime molds and other fungi. Not the most exciting thing, but the worst part is that this investigation took me out of commission for months. I got really sick after accidentally inhaling some spores. Cryptococcal meningitis, it’s called.
Supers: Anything with “crypt” in the name sounds unpleasant.
Dyna: [Laughs.] It was, but I got over it, with treatment.
Supers: So after the Bay Scouts disbanded, you joined the Gatekeepers. How did you score that invitation?
Dyna: Scoutmaster put in a good word for me. As did Captain Shepherd, who was the Bay Scouts’ liaison to the Coast Guard. And Kimera was my “in.” She’s my sponsor in the team.
Supers: “Sponsor?” Sounds like an AA meeting.
Dyna: It means she’s the one who felt I was a good fit for the organization and nominated me. Therefore, she was the one responsible for helping me become acclimated to the group itself.
Supers: Kimera was one of those replaced by the other-worlders.
Supers: Right, we’re not talking about that. So let’s look at some of the things that have changed as a result of that event. Is it true that it was your idea to convince the government to reveal the existence of the portal, and to use telepaths in the effort to return the imposters to their own world?
Dyna: Not sure how you learned that, but yes.
Supers: Public opinion of metas, and telepaths in particular, appears to be easing. Do you think that’s a good thing? Many think we have every reason to be afraid of metas, and telepaths especially.
Dyna: I don’t really pay close attention to these things, but yes, I’ve heard the rumblings. These seem to be the same folks, though, who are afraid of pretty much everything. They’re afraid of immigrants. They’re afraid of non-Christians. They’re afraid of pretty much anyone different from themselves.
Supers: Can you really include metas in with those other categories, though? Metas can be quite dangerous.
Dyna: Anyone can be dangerous.
Supers: True, but most metas are inherently dangerous.
Dyna: So are non-metas, to varying degrees. An adult is inherently more dangerous than a child.
Supers: I think many parents might disagree with that.
Supers: I see your point, but you have to admit there’s a difference. Metas are far more dangerous than non-metas.
Dyna: A non-meta with a gun is far more dangerous than one without.
Supers: But nearly anyone can get a gun. Evens the scales.
Dyna: Yes, and that’s a disturbing thought in itself. There are plenty of people I know that I wouldn’t trust with a gun, all of whom have no restrictions on their ability to legally own one. So my question would be to ask why it is that the thought of any nitwit or misfit being allowed to have a gun doesn’t scare these same people? There are far more of them than there are metas.
Supers: I don’t think that’s how they look at it.
Dyna: Of course not. Because these people are driven by fear, especially of things unfamiliar to them. They don’t fear guns, because they’re familiar with guns. Yet it never seems to cross their minds that they don’t know gun owners. They keep chanting, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” but are at the same time opposed to background checks of the people who want to buy guns.
Supers: Not everyone in support of gun rights opposes background checks, but I’ll agree there are plenty who do. But you’re not taking into account that if a person commits a crime with a gun, they can lose the right to own one. If a meta commits a crime with his or her abilities, we can’t take those abilities away from them.
Dyna: But that’s not the same thing at all. Taking away meta-abilities isn’t like taking away a person’s right to own a gun. It’s like cutting off the person’s hands so they can’t fire a gun.
Supers: But people aren’t born with guns built into their hands. Metas essentially are. And you must agree that, far more than metas who can “shoot” you from their fingers, telepaths are the ones to most be feared.
Dyna: And why would I agree with that? Because it’s “scary” for someone to have the ability to read our thoughts? For a very tiny number of them to be able to manipulate those thoughts?
Supers: Yes! And that they can do these things without us knowing about it. That we could become someone’s puppet. A telepath could, for example, walk into a bank, control the employees and security guards, wiping from their minds any memory of the person having been there, and walk out with a fortune.
Dyna: Do you realize just how few telepaths have that kind of ability? A ridiculously small number. You have more chances of being struck by lightning – twice – than ever encountering a meta with powers of that magnitude. To be afraid one of them is going to directly affect you would qualify as blatant paranoia. And you, as a researcher of metas, should know this.
Supers: I’m simply voicing a common thought among the non-meta population, no matter how paranoid it may seem. What you’re saying is probably true, if you don’t live in a metropolitan area. But metas congregate in the big cities, as you well know. Wouldn’t chances be significantly higher, there?
Dyna: To encounter a meta, sure. But even with that, the fear of telepathic metas is still unfounded. I am a meta, and I’ve personally only ever met three telepaths.
Supers: That you know of.
Dyna: What do you mean?
Supers: How do you know all telepaths have admitted to being one? I mean, we can detect metas with testing, but we can’t determine what abilities they have. Of all metas, telepaths would be most likely to lie, in order to protect themselves. Beyond that, how do you know for certain that one of the telepaths you’ve met hasn’t mucked about in your head? Can you say with any kind of certainty that you haven’t been programmed by to be a sleeper agent, ready to be remotely activated to act at their whim?
Dyna: I think you read too many spy novels. Look, let’s get back to what started this. You wanted to talk about the way things are changing. So how about the fact that police departments and the FBI are utilizing telepaths in beneficial ways?
Supers: Such as?
Dyna: Finding kidnappers, child molesters, rapists, murderers, and so on. Haven’t you wondered, for example, why the number of AMBER Alerts has dropped considerably over the past few years?
Supers: I wasn’t aware they had.
Dyna: The government has been employing metas for such things for a long time, but has never made much effort to let the public know it. Some say it’s because they think the public would freak out over it. Others say it’s because the government is fine with the public maintaining a fear of metas.
Supers: There’s also the issue of telepathic abilities being a violation of the civil rights of those upon whom they’re used, especially the ones who turn out to be innocent.
Dyna: Sure. But let’s be honest. That’s status quo for police work. It routinely abuses the rights of the innocent. And to some degree, it’s probably unavoidable. So why choose to be offended by just this one type of offense?
Supers: So you’re saying that because the system is already flawed, it’s okay to add new types of abuse to it?
Dyna: Consider that the use of telepaths could decrease that abuse, by determining someone’s innocence right up front. If a quick scan can verify an alibi, that person will never be dragged through a trial, never face that humiliation, never have to deal with all the repercussions, including incurring all those costs, let alone being found guilty for something they didn’t do. It’s not like our current system compensates those people when they’re found innocent, before or after. If you’re found innocent, say by DNA testing, after twenty years in prison, do you think you’re adequately compensated upon your release? In probably half the states, there’s no guaranteed compensation whatsoever.
Supers: I did know that, and I agree that it’s outrageous. So, okay. Let’s say you’re right about all of this. So what’s to prevent telepaths from being used to monitor everyone? As the expression goes, who will watch the watchmen?
Dyna: Who’s watching them now? Who has ever been watching them? The debate about personal freedom versus security has been raging for a long time, but it seems to me that whenever you institute any form of “watchmen” – whether police, military, or meta – you are sacrificing a certain level of freedom. Is it even possible to ensure public safety without such a sacrifice?
Supers: Obviously, this isn’t a question we’re going to resolve, so let’s switch topics.
Dyna: Good idea.
Supers: You said before that your focus was to be famous. But you didn’t exactly jump on my interview request. Why is that?
Dyna: [Hesitates.] It just didn’t seem right.
Supers: In what way?
Dyna: As I said earlier, I spent much of my life being childish. I’ve grown a bit since then and I suppose I didn’t reply right away because I didn’t feel I was deserving of appearing in your magazine. I hadn’t done anything to actually earn any fame.
Supers: So what changed your mind about the interview?
Dyna: [Laughs.] Vanity, probably.
Supers: Obviously, your career hasn’t gone as you’d anticipated. Are you disillusioned?
Dyna: I suppose I am. But that’s a good thing. I mean, who wants to live an illusion?
Supers: Tell us about what’s different.
Dyna: Everything! Other metas are nothing like I’d expected them to be. The work certainly isn’t what I expected. But the main thing that’s different is my outlook and what I want to get out of all this. Or maybe a better way of putting it is that I don’t really know what I want to get out of it, anymore. I just know it’s not what I’d wanted before.
Supers: So what keeps you doing this?
Dyna: I dunno. Maybe just to embarrass my mother.
Supers: And if you couldn’t do this anymore?
Dyna: I guess I’d go back to research, work in a lab.
Supers: But doesn’t that pale next to being a hero?
Dyna: Oh, please. I don’t consider myself a hero.
Supers: Why not?
Dyna: [Shrugs.] I suppose… because… I’m still not sure what that word means.