Interview with Shannon Wharton
Excerpt from a video interview with Shannon Wharton, CEO of Wharton Steel, for the Titan City Herald web site:
Herald: "What our readers would really like to know is what lead you to make such...unusual security arrangements."
Wharton: "Take a look out that window. That's Ironport. You can see dockyards, warehouses, and industrial plants. What you can't see is the organized crime that controls it. Mostly the Black Rose and Five Dragons, with other gangs and even a few master villain groups here and there. When the economy tanked a few years ago, that was just when we came up with the specs for Harty-Plate, but we didn't have the equipment to make it. My predecessor- my father- took out a loan. From the Black Rose."
Herald: "Those loans were reported as having been from the Bank of-"
Wharton: "I don't give a DAMN what the reports were. Dad LIED. That's why I asked for this interview. To set the record straight- about that, and a few other things. I found out about it when I took over, after his 'accident.' Paid those mobsters back, every penny. But they had sunk their filthy roots into the mill. They controlled members of the board. The union bosses who wouldn't put in with them started getting threats, to their FAMILIES. Little 'mishaps' started happening. Then they got bigger. Six months ago, the electric-arc furnace went berserk. We would have lost people that day if not for a group of local heroes that arrived just in time."
Herald: "Yes, I remember that mishap well. It was ruled accidental."
Wharton: "That was no accident. It was sabotage, by the Black Rose, as a message. ‘Sell the mill.’ I've got nothing but admiration for all of this city's heroes, but they can't be here all the time. The crime bosses aren't afraid of the police. So I went and found someone they WERE afraid of."
Herald: "You hired what some have called a team of super-powered villains. Those Pyromaniacs."
Wharton: "IFRIT. Their name is IFRIT. International Fire Response/Ignition Team. And I prefer to think of them as highly capable mercenaries, with unusual talents."
Herald: "So talented, they claim dominion over a South American country, the, uh … Free People’s Democratic Republic of Surguery?"
Wharton: "I traveled to Santo Grosso to negotiate our arrangement with them. Talked to the locals. IFRIT are practically national heroes down there. The Chaser drug cartels and rebels are tearing the country apart, and IFRIT are the only ones actually keeping order, protecting the people. I offered IFRIT the opportunity to take their fight with the Chaser trade to a major U.S. city. They jumped at the chance."
Herald: "But still, you have allowed what may be a major international terrorist organization to use your facility as a base of operations, in exchange for-"
Wharton: "For security. For myself, my family, my employees, and their families. Talk to the other business owners around here; they'll tell you safe lies about how great everything is. I'm telling you the truth. Because the mobsters know that if they touch me, or anyone associated with this mill, they'll need skin grafts."
Herald: "So, besides their fees, what is it like having the Pyro-- IFRIT operating here?"
Wharton: "We have provided their leader with a fully equipped combustion laboratory, and complete access to the mill's equipment, for his research."
Herald: "You mean Dr. Torch, the mad scientist with the flamethrower?"
Wharton: "Dr. Alegra is brilliant. So far he has developed sufficient improvements in our combustion processes that we expect to increase output by ten percent within the next month."
Herald: "While he finds new ways to set whole city blocks on fire, no doubt. And that grey metal man I saw on the way here?"
Wharton: "That would be the younger Mr.Johannesen, Thermight. Despite the titanium body, he's actually quite mellow when you get to know him. Much more so than the others, especially his brother."
Herald: "He was BATHING in a cauldron of molten steel!"
Wharton: "He does that."
Herald: "So, you are actually becoming friends with them?"
Wharton: "I would not say that, exactly. I talk with some of them. Many of them have... issues. They may well be better behaved here at the mill then they are in normal society. They can satisfy their, uh … love of combustion by just looking around, after all."
Herald: "You're not worried that you, or this city, will come to regret that you've invited them here?"
Wharton: “It is a valid concern. But when, and IF, that day comes, it will be on my head.”
- Eric "Beamrider" Pawtowski, MWM Writer