Justin Proper’s path to the Council was a little unusual.
He was thirteen years old when he talked himself into membership in the Council. He was able to do so because he was a genius whose intellect could not be estimated by any existing standards. He solved Alpha Dog’s longstanding feud with an extra-dimensional being in a matter of minutes, and that effectively served as his entrance exam. He’d already brought about peace in thirteen countries, completely unsolicited, and brought a hundred criminals to justice from throughout the United States, even though he was born and raised in England and had no formal experience on the North American continent at the time of his first investigation.
To say that his abilities were unprecedented would have been an understatement, but Proper would have been the first one to explain that to assume that anyone as young as he was at the time would only have been expected to serve in a supporting capacity not only devalued the concept of ability but also responsibility, which in many cultures expected boys to be men well before the limited standards being considered against him. And if you asked him nicely, he might even explain that again.
Needless to say, he was a boy wonder and a full-fledged partner in the Council, and the world accepted him because they accepted the rest of the Council, and he accepted their rules because he saw a greater chance at succeeding in his long-term goals with the kind of support it provided than attempting to continue on his own. People grow tired of individuals, not ideas. The Council was an idea, and that fascinated Justin Proper more than anything else, its intangible quality, because that was the world he existed in, manipulating hard facts and making them malleable. He was lucky enough that his contributions were recognized. A champion cannot be a champion unless they are championed. Such are the paradoxes of life.
The problem was, the more time he spent with the Council, the less effective he became. He began hedging his instincts, to better align with the interests of the group. He accepted compromise without questioning the ramifications. He may have been a genius, but even he was foolish enough to trust those who said they had his best interests in mind when they sabotaged his efforts. That’s human nature. He was aware of it, of course, and became increasingly pragmatic. When the time came to choose his squires, he was more careful than he’d been in years. At fifteen he fell in love with Ellen Encanto. She was dead by the time he was seventeen, and returned when he hit nineteen. In terms of increments, the six years it took for him to have joined the Council and to see the rise of a rebellion against it was an eternity. He alone was prepared to deal with it.
That was why he had selected Meme as his second squire. Meme was his own act of rebellion, a moment of irony and subversion the Council could never have anticipated. It was just assumed that their original impression of him would always be true, that he was in essence predictable, owing to the fact that they still thought of him as a boy, even if an extraordinary one, who could be controlled. In fact, he had been biding his time.
Meme’s function was to assimilate the basic role of the squire, something the Witch Doctor would never be able to do, and unwittingly serve as Proper’s agent within the circle of friends he knew to exist well before the later alliance. No matter the pressure the Council would exert, no matter the expectations, Meme could be trusted to do the expected, which was follow whatever subliminal instructions were necessary.
The rebirth of the Witch Doctor, and the careful placement of the Biker to discover it, was something Proper had counted on from the start. He knew that she would never love him, but had used her affections to guide her in the right direction. The Widowmaker incident was unfortunate, but had to happen. The squires would always fight the battles for the Council, until the day something happened that would change that.
Justin Proper sat back and awaited the moment where he could return to action.