In an unknown location in Earth's upper atmosphere -
A powerfully built man who looked like he could have been a bodybuilder stood tall with his hands clasped behind his back. Despite looking like he could break a bear's neck with one hand, he dressed with reverence to the word 'elegant' in a black suit and tie outfit.
Creases and wrinkles of age were set throughout his face, making him straddle the line between middle aged and elderly, though with his shoulder length white hair and bushy beard and moustache, he tended towards the 'elderly' side of the scale.
Most notable about his appearance, however, were his eyes. They were like two black voids completely lacking pupils, filled in with solid darkness.
These strange eyes gazed forward at several large holographic screens all showing scenes of carnage wrought by variant attacks across the entire world.
Hell, there had even been an attack on the U.F. (United Front) Arctic Base.
A variant threat of this scale had not been seen since the Monstering, when the Titans still made their horrifying presences known in the world.
Humanity, after decades of safety from Vanguard and the sealing of the Titans, had grown complacent. And the price of this complacency was clear in the millions of lives lost throughout the world.
As the man stared at these screens, a younger woman's voice echoed from his side, emanating from a floating spherical grey ball with a blue dot glowing at its center.
"Regardless of the initial damages, I have assessed that the situations in most major countries have largely stabilized. Worldwide stability will return in approximately sixty-six hours.
The emergency mobilization of S class heroes under the 'Superior Defense Matrix' protocol has proved highly successful. However, it is likely that the S class will ask for even greater influence following this usage of their powers," said the sphere. "How do you intend to approach this problem?"
Emrys, the current president of the Alterhuman Agency, a man of mystery who almost never showed himself in the eye of the public, responded coolly. "Let them make their demands. I'll entertain them."
"The Fortune Council and the United Front will request your presence as well," said the sphere, its tone neutral and yet leeched with a slight hint of interrogation. "Both will place pressure upon your agency on top of requests for additional security.
It is well known that before the Superior Defense Matrix's mobilization, many heroes did not stand to the call of duty, abandoning their posts in a mass amount of recorded instances too numerous for Netwatch programs to censor.
Public support for the AA will take a dramatic 34% drop utilizing conservative number estimates.
World leaders in the United Front and Mega-Corporation executives in the Fortune Council alike will request significant reforms within the AA.
How do you intend to approach this problem?"
"By making reforms," said Emrys simply. His words seemed like he was mocking the sphere, but the firmness behind them made it very clear that he was dead serious.
It was high time for a change in the AA. The amount of corruption and incompetence that had slowly festered within the AA after entering an age of peace and hyper commercialism needed to get rooted out.
Especially now. When the future was so uncertain. When disaster could rain down from the heavens with the unexpected snap of a finger.
But with these recent variant attacks to use as an excuse, there was nothing that could stop Emrys from cleaning the AA up if he played his cards right, and he had spent years making sure that his card hand was unbeatable.
"…Very well. There are other matters that require my attention. My communication with you will now end," said the sphere. "As always, the Panopticon will support your endeavors within reason, for the safety and stability of this world is both within our prime interests."
"Then this channel will terminate. For Order."
"For Order," said Emrys, and the sphere's blue light blinked off, leaving him in pure silence as he watched the screens in front of him.
Among the screens, there were playbacks of the S class heroes like Solomon Solar, Valkyrie, Qinglong, Lightspeed, Star Spartan, Dracul, Wave Master, and so on and so forth all swooping down and single handedly saving the day in tier 1 cities.
The B and A class heroes struggled to stand against Loci with their incredible power and newfound power and intelligence. But the S class heroes were on a different league of power. It did not matter whether the Loci and their variant armies were land based, sea based, or subterranean - the S class triumphed over them.
Of course, there were a precious few S class heroes in the world. 44 S class heroes with only 25 of them having powers focused solely on strength. Not enough of them to save every city in the world.
Just the important ones. The tier 1 cities.
As such, most of the broadcasts Emrys saw now were from tier 1 cities.
These screens, however, Emrys did not really pay attention to.
What he paid attention to was a smaller screen he had personally brought up of a stream broadcasting an aerial view from Haven, a no name tier 3 walled city and unlucky victim of a Locus attack.
By all logical metrics, Haven should have fallen. But against reason, it stood strong.
There, it was not a S class hero that saved the day, but a stranger. An unknown variable nobody, not even the Panopticon, could have predicted.
A man in dark armor wielding fantastical powers that seemed to defy every single known rule.
So far, because there was so much chaos across the world in bigger cities, the stream had not gained much traction, drowned out by streams and news broadcasts from tier 1 cities and shiny and famous S class heroes across the world.
Even afterwards, it was very likely that few people would believe everything recorded on that stream.
It was simply too ridiculous.
A man raising the dead, controlling variants, leading a personal army on par with large scale hero teams, and holding considerable personal power on top of all that - nobody would believe it, even with video evidence.
But Emrys believed it.
And he paid attention.
He paid very, very close attention.
Because, as Emrys stared at that man in black armor, at the red dot gleaming on that terrible helm of spikes and blood and darkness, he saw in his mind the vast emptiness of an infinite void.
This was something he had not felt since laying his eyes on Vanguard, before the great hero disappeared.
A Black Spot indicating something that was not of this world.