The baron’s gambit
Baron Helmut Zemo—the 13th in a line of Sokovian Zemo nobles—believes that superheroes are a pox on society whose superpowers make them agents of supremacy. He also believes that those powers make them anathema to rule and order. One he’d be more than happy to orchestrate once all superpowered heroes have been expunged.
As unprecedented nations gathered in Manhattan for a peace summit, Zemo enacted his latest gambit. All at once the countless Superpower Supermax prisons within New York state were sprung, releasing a flood of the world’s worst villains. Manhattan was quickly seized. At the conclusion, Zemo stood to claim responsibility.
“Manhattan belongs to us now.”
“Failure to respect our borders will result in consequences far beyond those born this day,” he continued.
“Any attempt to rescue foreign dignitaries, and the same fate handed New York will be dealt to your lands.
Any heroes or would be rescuers found within our borders will be executed on sight. The nations which bore them would be branded enemies of the state.”
Russia was the first to disobey the newly-crowned villain world power. Using backchannels they offered citizenship and pardons to any who would turn against Zemo’s horde, and return their ambassadors. A revolt that was swiftly and bloodily put down. The insurrectionist villains were executed, as was every last Russian ambassador. Several days later reports came out from what had been Moscow that villains from all over Eastern Europe had taken control.
The Nation of Unified of Evil now controlled one of the largest nuclear stockpiles in the world, as well as megatons of newly acquired negotiating power.
As the stand off between Zemo’s collection of villains—The Thunderbolts Army—and his police force led by Flag Smasher and ULTIMATUM left those heroes with their hands tied, Zemo took the streets.
Sentiment amongst the people begins to turn as citizenry everywhere rally against the supremacy of superheroes. Lured by the impassioned and charismatic mantras of Baron Zemo, people begin to don Zemo masks, unifying under the same cry:
“We are the barony.”
To many he’s still a villain. Still a power-hungry despot decrying the same ideals in heroes that he champions for himself. To a growing number of people across the globe however, he’s a peacekeeper. A beacon of truth, showing the error of believing in the goodness of those with powers. Countless rebranded villains join the cause as do everyday people, flocking to New York, Moscow, Madripoor, Symkaria. Joining the Nation of Unified Evil. The heroes they once believed in now seem impotent against a masked baron who speaks of unification and peace that seemed strangely elusive during the age of heroes.
Long live villainy.