Friday, May 8, 2015

New Feature: A Guest Post

SPOILER WARNING for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Scars” (2x20)!

Today, a guest post from the recently departed:


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Are you planning your first meeting with the leader of a highly secretive race consisting of the super enhanced descendents of a group of alien test subjects whose civilization predates your own by millennia?  Do you want advice to ensure that your meeting goes smoothly—and doesn’t end with their highly xenophobic leader turning you to stone as part of a plot to incite war between your peoples?  Well, you’re in luck!

My name is Robert Gonzales and I used to be a leader of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division (“S.H.I.E.L.D.” for short; you may have heard of our TV show).  However, my meeting with a leader of the Inhumans—that highly secretive race consisting of the super enhanced descendents of a group of alien test subjects whose civilization predates my own by millennia—did not go well.  So I’m here from beyond the grave to tell you how you can learn from my mistakes with…

Bobby G’s Rules for Negotiating with the Inhumans:

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Rule #1:  Ask for a Meeting; Don’t Demand One

Would you just pop in on the President of the United States one afternoon?  The polite thing to do is make a request for an audience and allow him the courtesy of setting a date and time—and refusing if he so desires.  Show the same courtesy to the leader of what is essentially an independent nation of incredibly powerful people.  Demanding a meeting is a good way to get that meeting off on the wrong foot no matter who it is with—the leader of the free world or the leader of the people group that could enslave the free world if they had half a mind to!  With the Inhumans, it is all the more important to request instead of demanding.

The Inhumans are extremely xenophobic.  They maintain their independence from all outsiders with almost a religious fervor.  Before now, it is highly unlikely that anyone has even known that they existed as a group—much less met with their leaders.  If they are not interested in such a meeting, demanding one will damage any chances you have of fostering a positive relationship.  And not having a positive relationship with the Inhumans is not a good idea.

Rule #2:  Pick a Neutral Location

The Inhumans value their privacy.  They value secrecy.  Why would they build their sanctuary in an inaccessible area of the Himalayas if they did not want to be left alone?  The fact that their primary means of transportation is a teleporter—who is the only member of the group who knows the city’s location—should be evidence enough that they do not want to be found.  Even if you know where their secret sanctuary is, don’t show up on their doorstep for your meeting; at least let them retain the illusion of secrecy.

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Rule #3:  Don’t Bring a Small Army to the Meeting

This point is not rocket science.  In the history of this group, they are more accustomed to being taken away by stormtroopers than to being the ones taking others away.  Men with guns showing up at the Inhumans’ front door generally means that some human is going to try to do something bad to them.  Is that really the first impression you want to make?  A show of force will not get your meeting off on the right foot.  It will not make you look like a threat they do not want to mess with.  Instead, it will get you lumped in with all of the other groups that have shown up to attack the Inhumans for being different and scary.  And that cannot end well.  For you.

Rule #4:  Don’t Compare Vivisection to a Limp

These people have experienced horrors you cannot begin to comprehend.  Among other things, Hydra scientists have vivisected them in an attempt to unlock the key to their powers.  Those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to survive—thanks to a little help from the local mad scientist—will bear the scars of those horrors for a lifetime.  Torture and vivisection is not the same thing as being shot and walking with a limp.  You may think that shared suffering at the hands of Hydra will endear you to the Inhumans’ leader.  It will not.  She will take it as comparing your Yugo with minor hail damage to her Ferrari that was torched in a gas station explosion.

Rule #5:  Treat Them like Israel, Not ISIS

This is an independent people-group with their own system of governance and culture.  This isn’t a bunch of people who started playing with a kids’ chemistry set, gave themselves bat wings, and ran off to form a commune last week.  This group has existed since long before your ancestors were born.  Treat them like they have as much right to exist as you do—if not more.

Above all, do not treat them like the terrorist group of the week which you need to deal with before you can go golfing for the weekend.  It won’t end well.

Not a good plan” -Tony Stark
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Rule #6:  Trying to Brand Them…  Not a Good Plan

You have no authority to “Index” these people who form an independent people-group/nation.  They have never submitted to anything of the like before; what makes you think you can exert that power over them now?

These people have never had a good experience with regular humans knowing about them.  No one has ever offered to put them on a list and then not turned around and tried to exploit or dissect them.  If you offer to “brand” them by registering them as enhanced people, you will meet resistance.  And you will break.  Into pieces.

Rule #7:  Offering to Put Them Down when They Step out of Line…  Also Not a Good Plan

Would you walk into a foreign country uninvited and offer to hold their citizens accountable to your standards—to which they have never agreed—by becoming their de facto police force?  Would you do that if every single citizen of that foreign country might have the ability to snap your neck like a twig—and most probably do?  The very idea is absurd.  These Inhumans prefer to govern themselves and police themselves.  They have the ability to govern and police themselves.  They have been governing themselves and keeping their own people in line by themselves for millennia without any interference from your kind.  Kindly give them the dignity of continuing to do so.

Rule #8:  They Hold All the Cards

When you walk in like the conquering general and expect them to roll over and let you have whatever you want, it can make them angry.  And when you act as though you hold all the cards and they can’t do anything against you, it sets you up for failure.

What cards do you have to play?  These people are vastly more powerful than you in ways you can’t begin to comprehend.  You don’t know anything about them; they know everything about you.  Their history stretches back into the ages before your ancestors could write; your organization is younger than their leader.  All you have on them is the location of one of their cities—a city they can vacate in a matter of hours, which is something they have done more times in their past than you can count, and for less reason than some human would-be king waltzing in like he owns the joint.

Ultimately, you do not have any leverage over the Inhumans.  If you pretend that you do—and act that way in front of their leader—then it will just make you look that much stupider when they pull the rug out from under you.

Rule #9:  Working Together is the Name of the Game

You cannot hope to control these people; trying to do so will just offend them.  You cannot expect them to allow you to “Index” them; trying to do so will ruin any chances you have of success.  All you can do is try for peaceful coexistence and cooperation in areas of mutual benefit.  Trying to do anything more is suicide.

Long story short:  Try to work together!


I hope that this guide will prove useful in your future dealings with the Inhumans; I sure wish I had known half of this before I wound up on the wrong end of a Diviner-infused synthetic Terrigen Crystal!


What do you think of the late Agent Gonzales’ advice for negotiating with the Inhumans?  If he had done these things, do you thing he would have survived, or do you think Jiaying had already made up her mind to start a war with S.H.I.E.L.D. the moment Skye said they were looking for a meeting?  Personally, I think if either Coulson had come himself or Gonzales had approached her with more deference then all of this might have been avoided, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

How do you think the season finale is going to go?  I’m excited for the two-hour length and the promise of a massive super-powered fight scene.  That Cal might be going full Hyde is just the icing on the cake!

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