“This is an emergency broadcast, we now take you the President of the United States.”
The screen with the Presidential Seal gave way to a view inside the Oval Office. It was dark and the lone light shown down on the Presidents and it took a moment for the audience to recognize him under the bloody and bruised face. The President sniffed a trickle of blood back into his nose and adjusted his rumpled tie. His suit was dirty and damaged, several fingers were clearly broken. He fixed his posture and trained his non-swollen eye on the camera. A shadow stood behind him and the perspective made it obvious the President was on his knees.
“My fellow Americans,” he composed himself and spoke “…my fellow American’s… I am… proud… to announce my resignation.” His voice was strained and hoarse as he clearly read from a prompter.
The words struck a note of panic in everyone watching.
“As of this moment… I am resigning my post… as The President as well as title of Commander and Chief of the United States of America… and am turning over all rights, powers… and responsibilities to Master Sargent Lane Wells… also known by the codename “Brace” from the Honored One-Hundred.”
A black gloved hand reached from the shadows and grabbed the top of the President’s head. As it squeezed blood began to run from each place where a finger grasped. Finally blood trickled from the eyes and nose of President before a loud cracking was heard and the President fell limp to the side. The shadow shook the blood off his hand, stepped over the body of the fallen President and grasped the camera lifting it to so he could look directly into it. The camera showed a short blonde crew cut and the black and yellow stripped eyes of an Honored One. He was clean shaven and square jawed.
“I am Brace of the Honored One Hundred and I am now the head of the United States of America. Tomorrow I will dismantle the three branches of the government. All members of the central government will submit to interviews to determine usefulness, continued employment and reassignment. I will then tour the country and revise all government structures. Make no mistake, you are not living in a democracy anymore, you are now living under a benevolent dictatorship. There will be changes and there will be progress. Anyone who obstructs progress will be removed, forcefully, if needed. I welcome any challenges to my authority.”
He paused and stared intensely into the camera as if he were making eye contact with every person watching at home.
“Let this be a warning to the heads of all other nations. If you prove unable to handle the responsibility of running a nation that privilege will be taken from you and I will take on the burden of running your nation correctly.”
He dropped the camera and as it hit the ground the feed cut off and the Seal of the President was shown again. The high pitched beep was all that lingered for several minutes before the regular programming resumed.
Brace slowly paced back and forth looking out the large floor to ceiling window high above the city. Two rows of well-dressed men sat on either side of a long table.
“You’re going to do what?” One of them asked as the rest chuckled. The audacity of the request was absurd bordering on humorous.
Just before Brace arrived, late, this conclave of some of the most influential business men in America were speculating about their future. Most of them were sure nothing was going to change. After all they were the bread winners, the rain makers, the job creators and Brace surely had his price.
It had barely been 90 days since the fall of the U.S. democracy and no one knew what Brace was capable of doing. He eliminated the bureaucracy, started a process to jail those guilty of political corruption and began installing a chain of command similar to the military with a senate of citizen representatives from each state seated in the capitol.
Brace stopped and spoke but continued looking out the window. “This new world I am creating needs funding, vast change requires vast wealth. I am telling you that you will accept a salary cap of $100,000 a year, which I believe is plenty generous. There will be no bonuses and I will be taking 60% of your net profits in order to achieve the goals I intend to accomplish and you will submit to any changes or oversight deemed necessary.”
“And what do we get in return?” the spokesman asked incredulously.
“You keep your position in the company and you continue to make the salary cap comfortable in the knowledge that you are helping your nation.” Brace said casually still looking out the window.
“Nonsense! You can’t do that.” The spokesman said looking around the room for support.
“You don’t understand.” Brace finally turned and looked spokesman of this group of business men. “I am everything now. If I want something I take it and if I want to keep it I will. Your lawyers can’t do anything because I won’t let them do anything because I tell them what to do,” Brace began walking towards the spokesman and as he did the spokesman stood to meet him “I am not asking, I am telling you. You will capitulate or you will face the consequences for non-compliance.” Brace finished as he put his hand on the shoulder of the spokesman.
Brace left his hand there, he let the sheer weight of it linger. Brace stood 6’6 and weighed close to 300 pounds which appeared to be entirely muscle. He was made all the more intimidating due to his completely black attire. Under his black canvas coat was a Kevlar tactical vest that added to his bulk. He also wore a pair of black tactical cargo pants which were tucked into ankle high heavy steel toe/steel sole combat boots. The boots gave his steps a heavy, purposed sound when he walked. Eventually Brace added weight to the spokesman’s shoulder driving the spokesman unwillingly back into the comfortable looking, high backed leather chair. The spokesman looked up as Brace moved his hand from the spokesman’s shoulder to the spokesman’s chin. Brace grabbed the spokesman’s chin and forced the spokesman’s head up. At this point no had reacted but there was a nervous energy in the air as they anticipated what would happen next.
“You are impeding progress.” Brace said as he extended the gloved index finger of his other hand.
Brace slowly moved his index finger until it was pressed against the forehead of the spokesman. There appeared to be no effort on Braces part but soon the spokesman was screaming, his brow furrowed trying his best to cry out despite the hand holding his chin and mouth. Before anyone realized what was happening Brace drove his finger into the spokesman’s head. The assembly reacted with groans and terrified yelps. They turned their heads and some felt like vomiting while one or two did. He tossed the limp body to the ground and sat in the chair putting his feet up on the table. Brace grimaced and pulled a handkerchief from his inside coat pocket. He cleaned the blood off his finger and tossed the handkerchief onto the table, the metallic smell of blood in the air.
“Do we understand each other?” Brace asked.
There was just shocked nodding in response as they looked upon the fallen body of their spokesman. There was a sense of dread and powerlessness, sensations that they were not used to having. In a single terrifying, horrifying moment they were put in their places and they understood.
The Honored One-Hundred was a program comprised of a ten nation coalition. Each nation submitted ten volunteers, five male and five female, each volunteered in silence but after they were Honored, after they became a team, they were introduced to the world at large by their codenames. Using a Coalition designed super drug called “Virtue” they were able to perform miracles. People given Virtue were able to perform the awesome and the bizarre but powers were assigned completely at random much to the frustration of the scientist and nations involved who were unable to design beings tailored with ultimate power. All this was done under the watchful eye of scientists and personnel of The Coalition of Nations. Of course it didn’t come without a price, the program experienced a 25% instant fatality rate. To honor those that died a memorial was erected in the lobby of The Coalition Headquarters in Switzerland where all the names of the fallen Honored were engraved.
Those that survived the process were put into reeducation and training programs where they were taught politics, philosophy, sociology, world history, ethics, economics, law, martial arts and how to control their powers with the goal being to create a multination police force dedicated to world peace. The members were stripped of their previous identities, given code names by The Coalition and were introduced to each other by those code names with the other Honored not knowing them by any other name. The program was ultimately shelved after experiencing problems. After an additional 25% lost their powers and a final, disastrous, mission the program was disbanded. The members returned to their respective nations with the assumption that, given enough time, they would all lose their powers due to the unstable nature of Virtue. Honored individuals were given government jobs if they wanted them, depowered or retired individuals were given a generous pension and allowed to return to the general population to live normal lives if they so chose but they would constantly be monitored, evaluated and forced to check in and debrief once a quarter. The way you could tell The Honored apart from normal people, Honored or depowered, was the eyes. They all shared yellow and black striped pupils. Honored individuals eyes shimmered and glowed. The more powerful the individual the brighter their eyes.
At the time, by chance, Private Lane Wells ended up with the most power, the last one given Virtue he received the ability to use any two of the manifested powers at will. Because of this he was given the code name “Brace”. Brace took the training and reeducation very seriously excelling in every aspect. After the nearly four yearlong experiment and many peace keeping missions he quickly rose to the head of the active members of the Honored One-Hundred and when it disbanded he took it the hardest seeing it as the death of hope for the world. When the program was disbanded he was adopted back into the US Military where he led the remaining active American Honored from the front line in any military action. After another three years something inside him changed… When he decided to make his coup it was easy for him to recruit other members of the One-Hundred.
Brace stood in front of a small assembly of the surviving Honored One-Hundred. A very small group of empowered One-Hundred were known to him and were accessible to him without raising the attention of The Coalition. They stared back at him shocked by his previous statement.
“This is our chance to change the world, to bring peace, just as we were created to do.” Brace said finally.
“Why should it be you?” Hammer, one of the Russian Honored asked.
Brace leaned forward “Listen to my plan,” he said looking around the room at those gathered “and if you disagree with my reason, my vision or my ability to follow through on it then anyone here is welcome to challenge me.”
The room was silent, a moment passed and Brace continued with his plan.