The Hero Interviews Part One: The Ultimate
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He looks different than the photographs. It's a subtle thing. He's human, sure, but not quite. The barrel-like, three sizes too-large chest, the chin that looks like it was carved from stone, the way his costume clings to him- they all look wrong in motion. Something instinctual in you screams that this shouldn't exist. But when he smiles and shakes your hand, it all fades away. You realize that this is The Ultimate here, and you have nothing to worry about.

Jordan Martell: Wow. So first, I'd just like to say what an honor is to meet you. You probably get that a lot, but you have no idea how awesome this is for me.

The Ultimate: (laughs) Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

JM: Really? I'm not bothering you or anything?

TU: Not at all.

JM: Oh thank God. I was worried you must hate me for this or something.

TU: I don't hate anyone.

JM: Really?

TU: Yes.

JM: What about the Umbri?

TU: No, I don't hate the Umbri. Dislike? Yes, that's only reasonable. But hate, to me, implies a dwelling on the emotion. It makes it seem like I spend my days thinking about my dislike for them. As if they're a force in my thoughts I can't get rid of. In truth, I don't think about them much these days. That's just the way I am. I try to focus on the moment.

JM: Aren't you worried that they'll come back one day?

TU: Of course I am. But dwelling on that won't change anything. We drove them back once, and since then we've only became stronger. More and more people are accessing their Mezz each day. We've already replaced everyone killed in the invasion three times over. And outside of that, there are people more suited to planning for a second attack than me. Overwatch, General Steel, and Subterfugian have daily meetings on the subject. I feel that my energy is better focused elsewhere.

JM: Like Mexico City.

TU: Yes.

JM: Why fix Mexico City and not, say, Paris?

TU: Two reasons. One, I wanted to show that we care about the world outside of North America and Europe. We don't just care about the rich and privileged. We care about everybody, and every country. Two, Mexico City was the only city destroyed after I manifested, and I felt that a large part of the blame for its destruction was on my shoulders.

JM: I guess wouldn't be very helpful to say it wasn't your fault, would it?

TU: No.

JM: Well it wasn't.

TU: I'm glad you think that. It doesn't change the facts.

JM: I can see this is just going to go in circles. Moving on, what are your thoughts on the situation in Africa?

TU: I think it's disgusting. That someone would be given as much power as we have and then do what Radium did is the most despicable thing I can imagine. If he wasn't effectively holding the entire area hostage, we would already have done something about it. As it stands, he has control of the entire continent and if we try to stop him he'll eradicate the whole thing. You have no idea how much we want to do something, but there's nothing that can be done.

JM: It sounds to me like you know where he is, you just can't get to him.

TU: I never said that.

JM: Yeah, but you implied it.

TU: You're reading too far into it.

JM: Maybe. Okay, last question. Have you read Dr. Kleinstein's book “The Mezz: A Scientific Anlaysis”, and if so, what is your response to it?

TU: Yes, I've read it. Dr. Kleinstein is a very smart, well meaning man. He's also completely wrong. Not just wrong, but his ideas are dangerous.

JM: Because of the deaths?

TU: That's partially it. The last thing we need is to give lonely, depressed people more reasons to almost kill themselves instead of seeking help. No, the problem is he doesn't mention that it's impossible to manifest your Mezz without dying.

JM: I thought it was a near-death or similar experience?

TU: The manifestation is triggered by intense emotions, often brought out by a near-death experience, yes. Perhaps “dying” wasn't the best word choice. It would be better to say “complete obliteration of self.” Most people think that when you manifest a Mezz, some part of your consciousness stays behind in control. They think that you are, aside from the appearance and superpowers, still essentially you, when you're not. It's true that a Mezz may have some aspects of your identity, since we're created from people's subconscious emotions, but that doesn't mean anything. Blade Magician and I both don't like chocolate, but that doesn't mean we're the same person. The same goes for your Mezz. It's not a transformation of self, it's a replacement. There is nothing left of the man I once was. It's not even correct to say that he's the man I once was, any more so than it would be to say that a baby was once its mother. The day I manifested, Donald Drupe died, and I took his place.

JM: I… uh…

TU: It's something to think about, isn't it? I've been trying to spread the message about it, but Kleinstein's book isn't making it any easier.

JM: Does that mean that when you and the rest of the Guardians create Mezz, you're knowingly killing people?

TU: No, because we don't create Mezz. They occur naturally as people go about their lives, and we recruit the best ones. I don't even want to imagine what it would take to create Mezz of Guardian caliber on our scale artificially. You would need millions of people, and all but a few hundred would die.

JM: Jesus…

TU: Yes.

JM: Well. Um. That's it for the talk. Thanks for coming.

TU: It was my pleasure.

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