Aftermath of a hero’s tragic death
By Jackson Turner
Senior Times Correspondent
Steel Canyon, September 14, 2005 — With yesterday’s long awaited release of the Paragon Emergency Management Office’s (PEMO) Siren’s Call Report, attention is once again focused on the devastated coastal district. According to the joint PEMO-Nuclear Regulatory Commission assessment of the area, in the ten months following the disaster radiation levels have fallen from a high range of 6000 - 5000 rads to below 150, and regulated access can now be granted to Siren’s Call.
Almost immediately, Siren’s Call Councilman John Chard issued a statement regarding the partial lifting of quarantine. “While the PEMO-NRC report is indeed wonderful news, the first order of business before opening Siren’s Call back up to the general population, is containing the criminal element that has infested the area in the last couple of months. In coordination with the FBSA and Freedom Corps, I have established new security level guidelines for qualified heroes who wish to aid us. More information about qualifications and procedures will be released in the near future.”
Not everyone in Paragon City is thrilled by this developing situation. For a few people it brings back all the pain and sorrow of that horrific day last year. To one man in particular, it’s a bitter reminder of loss and ongoing recrimination. Robert Danner is that man, and he bears not only the heavy burden of losing his only brother, but also the uphill battle to clear that brother’s name and reputation. From his apartment in Steel Canyon, Robert Danner’s aging eyes often wander toward the east and the distant shimmer of Siren’s Call, and often those eyes glint with barely suppressed anger. To Robert, his brother Tom was a hero, nothing less. “Sunburst does not deserve the reputation history has given him. Tom was a true champion, devoted to protecting Paragon City, to selflessly serving its citizens. I don’t know what happened to him in Siren’s Call, but I emphatically refute the official position. He did not cause that massive explosion. I know for a fact that the authorities are aware of this and yet they have done little to acknowledge the truth. Sure they put up that statue of Sunburst near the explosion site but it’s more of warning—a cautionary statement about the irresponsible use of power—than a real tribute. I find it offensive.”
Nearly a year ago, Sunburst was involved in the pursuit of a small-time burglar that took him out to the docks of Siren’s Call. What happened next is not disputed by anyone. An explosion, equal in magnitude to a half-megaton nuclear burst (with peak-overpressure at 10psi measured in a 1.8 mile area), completely disintegrated both Sunburst and the criminal, destroying the coastal War Walls and leaving a massive partial crater and a district contaminated by fallout. According to the FBSA, the cause was an uncontrollable chain-reaction of Sunburst’s powers, resulting in a brief but lethal release of thermonuclear energy. “This was but the tragic consequence of a hero’s inability to harness his own powers,” read the official report.
“Thomas Danner, a.k.a. Sunburst, had shown recklessness in the past, resulting in collateral damage on numerous occasions. The Siren’s Call event proved to be the fateful culmination of his disregard for proper protocol.”
Robert Danner calls it a cover-up. “I think my brother was lured there. I think it was a trap. The FBSA knows this. Statesman knows this. They all do. But they don’t want to do anything about it. Now after almost a year of quarantine, after all the evacuations and dire radiation warnings, they’re opening up the place to heroes. The War Walls are still down and criminals are overrunning Siren’s Call.”
Despite repeated inquiries to the FBSA, they have refused to comment on Mr. Danner’s allegations. Other questions remain as well. It is well documented that within days of the explosion, Councilman Chard requested aid from FEMA to help repair the damaged War Walls. He later withdrew this request. When questioned about this reversal, Mr. Chard at the time cited the NRC’s initial report that the area was still too hazardous to work in. Now that the radiation levels have fallen to within an acceptable range, the Times asked the councilman if he was reconsidering FEMA’s help. “Not at this time,” he said in a phone interview. “What we do need is help with the various criminal organizations that have benefited from this tragedy. We need higher-level heroes to come into Siren’s Call and reestablish law and order before we can even think of rebuilding.”
The dubious nature of the district’s historical origin notwithstanding—founded as an early pirate lure for unwitting merchant ships—the residents of Siren’s Call have been at the forefront in the war against crime and injustice. From its importance as a major oil refinery to its burgeoning high-tech industry, Siren’s Call was a vital part of Paragon City’s recovering economy, and could well be again. Though the government’s questionable actions in the hours and days that followed the disaster warrant closer scrutiny, it seems that finally the recovery of Siren’s Call has begun in earnest. To the thousands of affected residents, this is welcomed news. For Robert Danner, the questions, the doubts, and the fight to clear his brother remain. The Paragon Times will continue to investigate this unfolding story.