Friday, February 25, 2011

The Strange and Storied History of Silence Do-Good, part 3: Reconstruction of Nation and of Mind

The 1860s, as a whole, were not kind to Silence Do-Good.

After the formal surrender of the Confederacy at Appomatox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, her condition began to improve as the nation was whole once more. It was hoped that not only could she be used as a bellwether for the health of the nation, she could heal herself by working towards a peaceful reunification and reconstruction. As a skilled diplomat and maternal figure, many plans for the Reconstruction of the South hinged upon her role as symbol of a unified, nurturing United States.

These hopes lasted for approximately 5 days. On April 14, John Wilkes Booth fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theatre -- the first ever assassination of a U.S.President. Instead of madness, Silence fell into a deep melancholy, blaming herself for being unable to protect Lincoln. The symbol for the wholeness of the nation had failed the symbol for its head.

At a loss for how to proceed, and unwilling to write off one of their greatest assets as a lunatic, Silence Do-Good was quietly subsumed into the fledgling Secret Service as an intelligence analyst, where she was able to lose herself in her first love:  learning. All historical traces of her were subtly obliterated, or altered to appear as artistic license and hysterical hyperbole. The Franklinian Giantess was an artifact of historical mythology, much like Washington being unable to lie about cutting down a cherry tree as a young boy.

The Secret Service was America's first domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency, and Silence was able to submerge herself in data from across the country. She was a living computer a century before the term gained its modern meaning: a lighting-fast mind, photographic memory, and over a hundred years of experience enabled her to remember disparate details and reach conclusions faster than an entire department.

Left alone in a basement office for over 40 years, she had become the secret weapon of the United States' intelligence community, and in the process had developed another ability: the power of "earth perception." As she explained it, Silence was able to extend her senses outward to any point on American soil, perceiving it as a person would perceive the nose upon his face or the small of his back: feeling its status, as if the nation were an extension of her own flesh.

It is interesting to note that this power is entirely symbolic; any place designated as "American Soil" is vulnerable to her perception. This was discovered during the creation of the Panama Canal, as the principal engineer, John Findlay Wallace, needed her expertise on how to overcome several structural difficulties. Upon looking at the designs, Silence realized she could perceive the entirely of the Canal Zone, which was a U.S. Territory at the time.

Desiring to see this great undertaking in person, Silence manifested another power: that of "earth teleportation." Any spot of American soil, no matter how symbolic or far away, could be the the terminus for her transit. She is simply absorbed by the earth, much as how a person would step into a swimming pool, and reappears instantly at her destination. It is unknown exactly how this transfer works, other than the simplistic explanation of "Magic".

Upon her arrival at the Canal Zone -- the first time she had left the Secret Service basement in 40 years -- she immediately tendered her resignation and took control of construction efforts. There were three Chief Engineers of the Canal between 1904 and 1914, but there was only one foreman: Silence Do-Good.

Silence at the Panama Canal during its formal dedication on August 14, 1914.

This marks the second, and perhaps more influential, divergence from our timeline: the Panama Canal in this world was built more efficiently and with much less loss of life than in our own. In addition, while it did not open any sooner, under Silence's guidance the canal did not need the later improvements of the 1930s, such as Madden Dam or a third set of locks; foreseeing the need for them, they were integrated into the original design.

She remained in Panama, overseeing the operation of the Canal and making fine-tune adjustments to its engineering, until 1916. 

Next: The First World War

The character of Silence Do-Good is copyright Erin Palette 2011. All art in these sections is either public domain, or machinima from the City of Heroes MMO. I do not claim any ownership of art.

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