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It's now one month since fire tore through the Grenfell Tower apartment building in London, killing at least 80 people, a number which is expected to rise still further and has been criticised by many as a gross undercount. It has since transpired that the fire began in a fridge-freezer and that both the exterior cladding and the insulation used at Grenfell Tower failed police safety tests, and while it would be inappropriate of me to speculate whilst the investigation is still ongoing, it is clear to me this dreadful crime occurred as a result of the neoliberal obsession with deregulation.

Presently in this country, fire brigades no longer play an active role in ensuring that buildings comply with fire safety legislation. Instead, building owners are required to carry what's known as a fire risk assessment – essentially a self-assessment job – with the onus on them, and not the Fire Brigade, to ensure compliance. These people are often not properly qualified to carry out such assessments and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that a bent owner could falsify his fire risk assessment to make it look like his building was safe when, in fact, it wasn't.

It wasn't always like this. Under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 (as amended), the Fire Brigade would inspect buildings and other premises and give a list of prescriptive requirements that had to be met before they would issue a fire certificate. If the premises were found to be non-compliant, the Fire Brigade would issue a prohibition notice.

Then, one dark day in 2005, the neoliberal hacks of the Blair Government passed the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. The result of this piece of legislation was the repeal of the Fire Precautions Act (as well as many other fire safety laws that neoliberalism deemed superfluous), no fire certificates or inspections ever again and the introduction of our current system of fire risk assessments, where rogue landlords and business owners endanger the public and Fire Brigades can't do a bloody thing about it.

Going even further back, in 1986, the Thatcher Government repealed the London Building Acts and, in doing so, eliminated a requirement that the external walls of all buildings in the capital be fire-resistant for at least one hour.

In addition to the rampant deregulation, there is also a great deal of underregulation. For instance, high-rise buildings in the UK are only required to have one staircase (which is unthinkable in other countries). There are no requirements for separate fire stairs, firefighting lifts or external sprinklers, and although internal sprinklers are compulsory in new high-rises, they are not required in existing buildings. And don't get me started on the laws surrounding cladding and insulation materials!

This is neoliberalism in a nutshell, my friends – deregulation, come what may. No matter what protections get cut, no matter how many innocent people have to die as a result! The dead of Grenfell Tower are victims of deregulation and underregulation. We owe to them to bring an end to the systematic gutting of health and safety legislation and enact meaningful and comprehensive fire safety laws to ensure that such a terrible disaster can never happen again.
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When the Hunters Become the Hunted

Chapter Four: Departures and Arrivals

Disclaimer: I do not own The Incredibles.

N.B.: This fanfic is dedicated to the late Elizabeth Peña.

 It was just after 7:30 a.m. on the morning of July 23rd 1977 and already, Mirage’s day was in full-swing – she had just finished a quick breakfast of strawberry yoghurt and orange juice, and was now meticulously packing her bags in preparation to move out. In the two weeks since she had received Chris Humboldt’s ultimatum, the white-haired woman had already put in a successful offer on an apartment in New York, sold the possessions that wouldn’t fit in her new home and had even persuaded a friend to house-sit for her until the lease expired. In short, all the necessary arrangements had been made. Soon she would be leaving her one-bedroom apartment in Metroville’s Downtown for her new job and a new life in the Big Apple.

 By 8:00 a.m., the last of Mirage’s belongings had been packed. Half-an-hour later, the removal men arrived, along with her soon-to-be ex-landlord and Simon Faulkner, the man she had convinced to look after the apartment for her in her absence. He was a tall, slender, ginger-haired man in his early thirties who had met Mirage through work and was one of her few allies in the NSA (aside from the Parrs and Rick Dicker, of course).

 “Alright, Simon, here’s the keys,” said Mirage, handing her keys over to Faulkner, as the removal men set to work. “Take care of yourself, you hear?”

 “You too,” replied Faulkner, at which point a car horn sounded from the street below.

 “Right, I’ve got a taxi waiting for me downstairs, so I’d best be going now,” declared Mirage upon hearing the taxi’s horn. “I’ll call you when I get to New York.”

 With that, the dusky-skinned Super picked up her bags, along with a couple of boxes of essential items which she intended to send as air freight, and proceeded to make her way down the stairs (as Supers aren’t allowed to use the elevators anymore) to the waiting taxi. Once outside, she loaded the suitcases and boxes into the trunk, before promptly getting in the back of the taxi and driving off.

 Unbeknownst to Mirage, sitting in an orange 1973 Ford Econoline on the other side of the street were two plain-clothes members of the Bonneville Guard on a mission to assassinate her. The local Black Cross Movement were not happy at being forced to destroy much of their arms cache and had authorised their paramilitary wing to eliminate the Hispanic superheroine by means of a car bombing. To that end, they had planted a limpet mine on the underside of a yellow 1974 Volkswagen Dasher that they believed belonged to Mirage, not realising that a): Mirage drove an E3 BMW 2800; and b): said BMW was already on its way to New York on the back of a low loader.

 “Any sign of the target yet?” asked the taller of the two men, as his colleague peered through a set of binoculars.

 “Can’t get a good enough view from here,” said the shorter man, who was sitting in the driver’s seat. “There’s a moving truck parked in the way.”

 “It doesn’t matter,” the first man replied, “we’ll get a sighting of her soon enough.”

 At 9:00 a.m., the actual owner of the Volkswagen Dasher, forty-five-year-old Phillip Raymond, emerged from the apartment building with his teenage daughter Cheryl in tow. A bank manager by trade, he was a tall, broad-chested man with thin brown hair and glasses who was taking his daughter, a very pretty young lady who wore her long blonde hair in a ponytail, to the local shopping mall for a spot of retail therapy.

 “Thanks for agreeing to take me out, Dad,” said Cheryl, as she and her father stepped out into the sunlight.

 “Don’t mention it,” responded Phillip jovially, “I’m just glad I can finally spend some quality time with you. Now come one, your carriage awaits you.”

 With that, the father-daughter duo got into their car, fastened their seat belts and began the short drive to the mall. At the same time, the Bonneville Guardsmen in the Econoline saw the yellow Volkswagen Dasher pulling out. Thinking it was Mirage, the taller of the Normal supremacist militants (who was also the most senior in rank) immediately called out, “Target on the move! Go, go, go!”

 Not needing to be told twice, the van driver floored the accelerator and the two would-be bombers sped off into the distance, while the Raymonds headed in the opposite direction, completely unaware that fascist terrorists had booby-trapped their vehicle.

 Elsewhere in the city, the Incredibles were busy attending a fire at a pro-Super community centre with persons reported. Normal extremists had attacked the first floor[1] of the six-storey building with Molotov cocktails and now Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Transforce and Lightspeed were desperately trying to rescue the people trapped inside. This was their first major emergency since Mirage had left and they had to admit that there was something indefinably wrong about not seeing the Swiss-trained superheroine on the fireground in her distinctive KSD Zürich[4] turnout gear, but the superpowered family were still giving their best. Even so, it was several hours before the fire was finally contained and despite the best efforts of both the Incredibles and the fire department, the incident had not been without loss of life.

 “Four dead, twelve in a bad way,” Elastigirl declared grimly, as Transforce and Lightspeed slotted empty SCBA cylinders into their storage rack. “Apparently, the bastards responsible fled the scene before they could be apprehended.”

 “Nothing’s sacred anymore,” grumbled Mr. Incredible. “They’ll probably be targeting us next.”

 “Anyway,” said Elastigirl, “let’s just get our things stowed and go home already.”

 Mr. Incredible and the others all nodded in agreement and to that end, the Incredibles set about loading their equipment into the back of their Volvo 145 in preparation for the journey home.

 At the same time as all this was going on, Phillip and Cheryl Raymond were returning from a particularly successful shopping trip in their yellow Volkswagen Dasher. With the section of 29th Street between Green Avenue and Carmichael Boulevard reopened to traffic now that the fire at the community centre had been extinguished, Phillip decided to take a more direct route home, a route that would take them past both the fireground and the Incredibles on their way to their apartment building. They had just turned left onto 29th Street when, at 12:30 p.m., the limpet mine underneath their car exploded.

 The blast reverberated through the concrete and steel canyons of Downtown Metroville as it tore the five-door family hatchback apart, engulfing it in a ball of flames. Bits of shrapnel were sent flying in all directions, killing and maiming indiscriminately. The whole scene was one of complete carnage.

 The Incredibles had just booked themselves mobile and available and were ready to head home when they saw the explosion from their car and immediately rushed over to the scene of the bombing to help.

 “Transforce, Lightspeed, give me a hand with the wounded!” yelled Elastigirl, as she and her family leapt into action. “Mr. Incredible, put in a running call – suspected bomb incident, and for God’s sake, use a landline! If there are more bombs, a radio wave might trigger them! No radios within a hundred and sixty-four feet!” she added.

 Transforce and Lightspeed didn’t waste so much as a nanosecond. Leaving their portable radios in the car, they grabbed a first aid kit and a resuscitator from the Volvo’s trunk and, together with Elastigirl, began tending to the victims of the bombing, many of whom were suffering from horrific injuries.

 Because of this latest incident’s proximity to the community centre fire (which was now pretty much out), fire crews, EMS and police were quickly on the scene, but there was nothing that could be done for Phillip and Cheryl Raymond, who lay dead in the twisted, burning wreckage of their vehicle, the blast having killed them instantly. Four people who were nearby at the time of the explosion had also been killed, making for a total of six fatalities, with another twenty-two seriously wounded. It wasn’t until 4:36 p.m., some eight hours after they were originally called out, that the Incredibles were finally able to leave the incident ground.

 “Right, I’ve just had word from Rick Dicker,” said Elastigirl, as Mr. Incredible, Transforce and Lightspeed loaded their equipment back into the Volvo for the second time that day. “Turns out the two people in the Dasher were from the same apartment building that Mirage lived in before she left town. I can only assume that this was meant to be a reprisal bombing, with Mirage as its intended target, and that the offenders must have misheard their briefing or something of that sort and planted the bomb under a VW instead of a BMW.”

 “Any idea who’s behind this?” asked Lightspeed.

 “The Bonneville Guard, families of people she’s put away over the years, some grief-stricken madman who lost a loved one in Operation Kronos, who knows?” replied Elastigirl. “It’s not as though she’s got a shortage of enemies.”

 “All this because of mistaken identity,” remarked Transforce melancholically. “What a tragic waste.”

 “Indeed,” said Elastigirl, nodding. “Now let’s go home before we caught up in another major emergency – I’m starving!”

 With that, the Incredibles packed up the remainder of their gear, got in the Volvo and, pausing only for Mr. Incredible to book them mobile and available (again), began the long, slow drive back home to the northwestern suburbs.

 That evening, the Parrs were trying to have a nice, quiet night in after a long and particularly stressful day. Jack-Jack was sound asleep upstairs, Helen was on the phone with Rick Dicker, Bob was watching TV with Dash, while Violet was busy reading promotional literature for the City College of New York, which she had just been accepted into and where she would commence her higher studies later that year. Obviously, this would entail the raven-haired youth having to move to New York, but since she and the rest of the family had to be out of Metroville before September 1st anyway, this didn’t particularly bother any of them. Besides, it gave them the ideal opportunity to leave town without raising suspicion, and if they were lucky, they might even get to see Mirage again.

 It was just after 7:30 p.m. when Helen hung up the phone and turned to address the others.

 “That was Rick Dicker on the phone,” she announced. “He says they’ve found evidence that proves beyond doubt that the Bonneville Guard were behind today’s car bombing.”

 At that moment, the doorbell rang.

 “I’ll get it,” said Helen, who then promptly went to answer it, wondering who could possibly be paying them an unannounced visit at this late hour. When she came to open the door, however, she was shocked to find the Bergmann family standing on the doorstep in the pouring rain with suitcases in their hands.

 Judith ‘Judy’ Bergmann was Bob’s younger sister and the matriarch of the Bergmann household. She was a tall, somewhat voluptuous woman with emerald green eyes and bushy, jet-black hair that fell just below her shoulders. Like her older brother, she had superpowers, specifically telekinesis and eidetic memory, and was an active-duty superheroine under the name Kinetic. Following the implementation of the Superhero Relocation Program, Judy had settled in St. Louis and married a Normal by the name of Lawrence ‘Larry’ Bergmann. In stark contrast to his wife, Larry was a short, thin, nervous individual with wavy, medium-length red hair, greyish-blue eyes and Aviator-style glasses. He had met Judy through his work as an NSA agent and had gained a reputation for doing things by the book even when the situation called for initiative, preferring instead to take orders and hope for the best. Together he and Judy had a daughter, Jenny. At fifteen, she was a kind, outgoing, fun-loving girl who always had a positive word for everyone. Appearance-wise, she was reasonably tall for her age and sported the beginnings of an hourglass figure, a freckled face, grey-blue eyes and long, flame red hair that she wore in a ponytail. In common with her mother’s side of the family, she too was a Super, possessing the ability to shoot white-hot balls of plasma from her hands, and served alongside her mother as the superheroine Plasmalass.

 “Jesus Christ, you guys, what the hell are you doing here?” remarked Helen in disbelief at seeing her in-laws at such short notice.

 “Helen,” said Larry, almost hyperventilating, “you’ve got to help us. It is not safe out here – there are Black Cross spies everywhere!”

 “You’re the only people left who we can trust,” added Judy.

 “But what are you doing here?” enquired Helen. “Are the Bonneville Guard after you? ’Cuz if they are, NSA procedure is that you don’t contact your family, as it puts them in danger as well as yourselves. You should know that!”

 “We’ll explain everything once we’re inside,” said Judy, who was doing her level best to maintain her composure, “now would you please just let us in already?”

 Helen sighed. She knew she couldn’t just turn them away, but if what she suspected was true and they really were on the run from the Bonneville Guard, she’d potentially be putting her own family at risk too.

 “Very well,” she replied, and with that, the auburn-haired mother of three ushered the Bergmanns into the house, before calling out, “Bob, Vi, Dash, emergency family meeting in the dining room, now!”

 Bob, Violet and Dash promptly made their way to the dining room and were as surprised as anyone to see Judy, Larry and Jenny standing right in front of them, sopping wet and clutching brown leather suitcases that bore unmistakeable signs of having been packed in a hurry.

 “Auntie Judy! Uncle Larry! Jenny!” exclaimed Violet, scarcely able believe what she was seeing. “What are you guys doing here?”

 “It’s a long story,” smiled Judy, clearly glad to be able to see her brother, niece and nephew again. “Just sit down and we’ll tell you all about it.”

 The Parrs and the Bergmanns then took their seats at the dining table, whereupon Judy began telling the story of how she and her family came to be in Metroville.

 “As you know, the Black Cross Movement has been growing in both size and strength for some time,” she said. “In November last year, Black Cross candidates won the municipal and state elections in St. Louis and Missouri respectively and since then, there’s been a whole host of anti-Super measures coming out of both City Hall and Jefferson City – they even annulled our marriage for God’s sake!”

 “And that’s not to mention the dramatic spike we’ve seen in violence against Supers,” Jenny interjected in her distinct St. Louis accent.

 “Anyway,” continued Judy, “on July 9th, the city and state authorities began forcibly removing all known Supers from the state of Missouri, no doubt as an act of revenge for our supposed ‘responsibility’ for the Traction House disaster. I can only assume that someone at the NSA must’ve betrayed us, because, at four in the morning, the police and Bonneville Guard arrived at our house and ordered us to leave. We were only allowed to take one non-lockable item of luggage per person, with each bag being limited to just thirty-three pounds. Then they marched us and the other Supers they’d rounded up out of the city and dumped us across the state line with Illinois.”

 “One old man didn’t want to go,” said Jenny lugubriously, “so the Bonneville Guard just shot him, right there in front of us, and left his body in the street as a warning to others.”

 “That’s terrible!” cried Violet.

 “Wait,” said Judy, “there’s more. Apparently, the powers that be in Illinois didn’t want to deal with us either, so for the past two weeks, we’ve been living as refugees in our own country, sleeping in farms and factories, relying on the kindness and generosity of strangers for such basic things as food and water! In America! In this day and age! I’ve never been so humiliated by anything in my entire life!”

 “The world has abandoned us,” declared Jenny disconsolately, tears rolling down her already-wet face. “Nobody cares about us. It’s like we’re not even human anymore.”

 “Well, we care,” said Helen reassuringly, as she wiped her niece’s tears away with a handkerchief. “Now let’s get you out of those wet clothes; you must be freezing. Judy, Larry, same goes for you,” she added, redirecting her attention towards the girl’s parents. “Get yourselves a shower, then change into some fresh clothes. And don’t worry about your bags; we’ll take care of them for you.”

 “Thanks,” said Jenny, as she, Judy and Larry handed their suitcases over to the Parrs. “It’s nice to know that common decency and compassion are still alive and well in this country, at least in some people.”

 “Think nothing of it, Jenny,” smiled Helen. “We’re just glad to be able to help you guys out.”

 “Helen, can I have word?” asked Larry, just as the Parrs were about to lead the Bergmanns upstairs. “Alone please?”

 “Certainly,” replied Helen.

 Bob, Violet and Dash filed out of the room with Judy and Jenny in tow, leaving Helen and Larry free to discuss important matters with each other in private.

 “OK, Larry,” began Helen, “what was it you wanted to talk to me about?”

 “Look, before we go any further, I want you to know that what I’m about to tell you is strictly off the record,” said Larry nervously. “If anyone finds out…”

 “Just get to the point already,” groaned Helen, somewhat annoyed at her brother-in-law’s failure to stay on-topic.

 The bespectacled NSA agent took a deep breath to calm himself down, before resuming the conversation.

 “Following our forced removal from St. Louis,” he explained, “it came to my attention and that of the NSA that Judy might not be the loyal, trustworthy person we think she is. Fact is, we have reason to believe she secretly registered Jenny with the St. Louis Supers’ Affairs Department. Apparently, she’s been trying to pass herself off as a Normal by collaborating with the Black Cross Movement. The ‘innocent victim’ may not be so innocent after all.”

 Helen was appalled by these accusations. She simply couldn’t believe that Judy Bergmann, of all people, would sell her own daughter to the Supers’ Affairs Department (and, by extension, the Bonneville Guard). It just didn’t seem plausible to her, given what she knew of the woman’s moral character and the strength of her maternal feelings towards Jenny.

 “You don’t honestly believe these allegations, do you?” she said incredulously.

 “I didn’t want to believe it either at first,” replied Larry, desperately trying to convince Helen of his veracity, “but gradually, I began to put the pieces together and it all started to make sense. Someone betrayed us in St. Louis, and it certainly wasn’t me or Jenny! Who else could it have been, Helen? You tell me!”

 “I still don’t get why Judy would do such a thing!” responded Helen. “Where’s the gain in betraying her family? More importantly, if Judy really is so dangerous, why did you bring her here with you? Why didn’t you just turn her in to Internal Affairs and have done with it?”

 “I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say,” answered Larry. “What I will say is that you should keep an extremely close eye on her from now on – she’s not to be trusted.”

 “I’ll bear that in mind,” said Helen half-heartedly. Truth be told, she didn’t know what to believe anymore. Hell, if she didn’t know better, she’d say it was Larry who betrayed the Bergmanns and that he was just trying to manipulate her by framing his wife, but that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

 “Anyway,” said Larry, “we’d better get upstairs before the girls use all the hot water.”

 On that somewhat lighter note, Helen took the red-haired man’s suitcase (which was surprising heavy) and, despite her own misgivings, proceeded to escort him out of the dining room and up the stairs to rejoin the others on the second floor[1]. She smiled to herself as she thought back to what Jenny had said earlier – even amidst all this violence and mistrust, it was nice to know that there were still decent people left in the world.

End of Chapter Four

Author’s notes:

  • [1]: To avoid confusion from switching back forth between floor numbering systems, this fan fiction uses the US system throughout.
  • [2]: See Chapter One.
  • [3]: See Chapter Two.
  • [4]: KSD Zürich is a German language abbreviation for Kantonssuperheldendienst Zürich, AKA Zurich Cantonal Superheroics Service. (Hooray for German compound words!)
When the Hunters Become the Hunted: Chapter 4
Yes, it's that time again, comrades! Hot of the digital presses, I give you Chapter 4 of When the Hunters Become the Hunted!

This is by far the shortest chapter I've written so far (and still it manages to be nearly 3,500 words) and also boasts the shortest interval between chapters being posted, at a mind-boggling… eight months – yeah, I know, I'm a slow writer. (Damn you, learning disabilities!) It's probably suffered in terms of quality, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

To all you Mirage fans out there, don't worry. This is NOT the last you will see of Mirage in the fanfic. In fact, there's plenty more of her still to come in later chapters. Watch this space, my friends.

This chapter also sees the first appearances of the Bergmanns, but in case you haven't noticed yet, one of the Bergmanns is hiding a very dark secret. Can you guess which one?

As always, :iconcommentplz:.
Please comment and fave, but remember; racism, neo-fascism and Holocaust denial/obfuscation will NOT be tolerated! If you espouse these things, I will block you! You have been warned.

The Incredibles (c) Disney/Pixar.
The Volvo 140 Series (c) Volvo Car Corporation.
The BMW 2800 (E3) (c) BMW.
The Ford Econoline (c) Ford Motor Company.
The Volkswagen Dasher/Passat (delete as applicable) (c) the Volkswagen Group.
The Black Cross Movement, the Bonneville Guard, the St. Louis Supers' Affairs Department and all OCs (c) Swissair171. (ME!)
If you could turn Sunset Shimmer into an animal (feral or anthro), what would you turn her into and why?
No deviants said Please comment
Just so you know, I'm going to be in London from Friday through next Wednesday and I'm afraid I won't be able to access my DeviantArt account during my trip due to Wi-Fi restrictions at the place where I'm staying. :(
Who should be the voice of Alexei Volkov?
2 deviants said Daniel Brühl (Rush)
1 deviant said Rutger Hauer (Escape from Sobibor, Hostile Waters)
No deviants said Colm Feore (Hostile Waters)
No deviants said Other (please comment)


SR171 (IATA) - SWR171 (ICAO)
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
Current Residence: Stockton-on-Tees, England, UK
Favourite genre of music: Rock, Irish folk, Celtic punk
Wallpaper of choice: Violet Parr
Favourite cartoon character: Violet Parr; Helen Parr; Mirage; Sunset Shimmer; Applejack; Sonia (Sonic Underground); Gadget Hackwrench; Amy Mizuno; Catzi; Sora Takenouchi; Rebecca and Molly Cunningham; Peg and Pistol Pete; Paloma (from Atomic Betty); Beatrixo; Tanya Mousekewitz
Personal Quote: In the words of the Supreme Being, I AM THE GOD OF HALON 1211, AND I BRINGETH UNTO YOU...

If you could turn Sunset Shimmer into an animal (feral or anthro), what would you turn her into and why? 

No deviants said Please comment


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okay. Any thoughts on the new story idea? 
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