The Bradshaw Tapes #07: Jason Dante

Transcript of Rec#000438 21/08/15 (continued): After grabbing an energy drink for himself, Dante sits back down and resumes the conversation.

DANTE: Well. We’re kind of back where we started. What do you want to hear?

OCTOBER: Let’s see… how about… what do you think is the biggest problem we need to deal with? Where do we direct the fight?

DANTE: Problems of the “Fancy” variety you mean? Because if not, then climate change.

OCTOBER: Okay, “Fancy Problems” then.

DANTE: Well, if there’s a god or gods, I’d love to take them down.

OCTOBER: I think you’re relying on your survival mechanism again.

DANTE: No. Really. I think we need to start at the top. The problem is, we can’t see the top from where we are. We’re little bugs in the grass, trying to see what’s up in a tree because we know there’s something nesting up there that flies down and eats us, but we can’t see make it out. The distance is too great.

OCTOBER: And how do you think we should fight something so far away?

DANTE: Well, my personal preference has been to just sting whatever I can reach. It’s like the bugs are students in a school and…


DANTE: …they get an F on their report card, right?

OCTOBER: The bugs do?

DANTE: Just listen. We’re the bugs. We get an F because we have no control over the world around us.

OCTOBER: I was never graded on my control over the world.

DANTE: Just listen though. We get Fs. The civilians. But there are higher grades. Who’s the Mayor here in Port Nadine these days?

OCTOBER: Ethan Barbet.

DANTE: Okay. Barbet gets a D. He has people who work for him, support him, he gets some control in the world. Not just politicians, though. Maybe some of the more famous celebrities, they get a D too. I don’t know, religious leaders most of the time probably. Oh, and organized crime types like LeSauvage. Most of the “people in charge” are Ds.

OCTOBER: Still a lot of grades above that.

DANTE: Right. You know who gets a C?

OCTOBER: Royalty?

DANTE: Hmm. Probably some, and maybe the heads of state of some of the real superpower nations. But I was thinking corporations. These days, they outrank royalty.

The Wistley family, that asshole kid who bought Atomical, the directors of Technolocorp. Any one of those people is so rich they’re basically above the law. Whole industries that feed into their wealth and millions of employees who take any of the punishment that should be directed at the bosses. Their money means they can do anything within our society. I bet that whoever the vice president is at Worldful could come to Port Nadine and tell Mayor Barbet on camera to swallow a bug and he’d probably do it. “For the economy.”

OCTOBER: So we’re not the bugs anymore.

DANTE: Of course we’re not. That metaphor is over.

OCTOBER: Then, who gets a B?

DANTE: These are the ones that have all that supernatural power you love so much, and they want to use it to influence world events. Usually in secret. A lot of these are the groups we called the Secret Factions.

OCTOBER: The people who made Gladys?

DANTE: Right, the Secret Government was one. Though, they were one of the stupider Factions. Didn’t stop them from causing a lot of problems. Actually, I’d say we’ve been lucky so far because the Bs I’ve encountered have all been a bit stupid. They must overestimate themselves or get lazy or something. Good thing too, because with that much power in the hands of someone more competent, the world would be screwed.

OCTOBER: Because a B with that level of awareness could be an A?

DANTE: Exactly.

OCTOBER: So you don’t think there are any As yet?

DANTE: Actually I think there are. I’ve seen their shadows, but they’re at the top of the tree and I can’t see from the grass.

OCTOBER: Adam was right. You’re hunting Magic Astronauts. (A moment of silence as Dante drinks his drink and gives no reply) A friend of mine, my mentor I guess, used to say there were these “Magic Astronauts” that controlled the world. Virgil was his name. He had seen so much, maybe not as much as you, but he also believed almost exactly what you’re saying here.

DANTE: And he was trying to kill the Magic Astronauts?

OCTOBER: Well, he was trying to find them. He wanted to understand the world so we could improve things. I guess I don’t really know what that would have happened if we’d actually found them.

DANTE: Well, I see it like this: if there’s someone with the power to control the world and the world we live in is the result of it, that person or group of people needs to be killed.

Look at our world. If they have the power but leave it like this, they’ve clearly got a personal stake in keeping things this way. We need them out of the picture.

OCTOBER: Hard to argue with that. So you’ve spent all this time trying to find and kill someone or something so powerful you can’t even see it. How’s that working out?

DANTE: Fuck. Not great if I’m being honest. I’m tired. Like I said, I strike at what I can reach, but at best I’m killing Bs and scaring the shit out of Cs.

When I’m trying to get to sleep at night, I tell myself that at least I’m holding the line. Right?

I spent a couple months once tracking down and killing these four wizards who were helping this guy Dr. Necromancy gain power. I won, so sure, I prevented a guy I rank a B from becoming even more powerful, but does that improve the world at all? For all I know the As want me killing off Bs like him to keep them safe.

But I can’t not do it. If the wrong one slips past me, things might get worse. As far as I can tell, I’m one of the few people on this planet capable of making sure there’s a barrier keeping assholes from omnipotence. I need to keep at it. It’s my responsibility.

Believe it or not, kid, I’ve got loved ones. Family. Even a handful of friends. I want their world to continue. I want their lives to be easy.

But I’m tired. There’s so many people out there who need to die. And all I can do is hold the line.

OCTOBER: So… you lose sleep at night because you wish you were killing more people?

DANTE: (sighs) Shit, this is not where I expected this conversation to go, but since we’re here…

I don’t think I’m an evil person. But I enjoy killing. I have killed so, so many. Humans, animals, robots, other. They say it gets easier, but honestly, I never found it hard. Never lost sleep about it anyway. Actually, every time it’s a thrill. Adrenaline or dopamine or whatever. I don’t deny it: I enjoy it.

But I am not indiscriminate.

If I am killing someone, you can be sure that I put thought into it and I earnestly believe that this person’s absence will improve this world.


DANTE: No arguments? Adam gave a speech about how we have too many enemies that we can’t afford to kill them, and I haven’t made sense of that yet.

OCTOBER: Well, I’m not here to argue, I’m here to learn, but anyway you’re making sense to me so far. You know why?


OCTOBER: Because you include yourself among the Fs. It scares the hell out of me when cops or politicians demand the right to kill their enemies, who I guarantee always have less power than they do. But killing oppressors? It’s not my go-to move, but they’re the ones who take away our power to do anything else, right?

DANTE: Fuckin’ right.

OCTOBER: I don’t love assassination, but I won’t cry over a dictator’s grave. I’ll be honest and admit I came in here thinking of you as a bad person. Everything I’d heard made me scared of you. But now I see why Adam wants you here.

DANTE: I play it up. I want my enemies to be afraid. It helps to be thought of as a mythic killing machine, so I make sure I’m seen to revel in it. But also, I actually do revel in it, you know?

How many people can feel like they have a useful purpose in life? And that purpose makes the world better? I guess maybe parents feel like this? Well. The joy a parent feels seeing their baby say its first words? I find that joy in stabbing a bad person in the face.

OCTOBER: And imagine the joy you’d get from killing the right target.

DANTE: There is nothing I want more than to kill one of your Magic Astronauts.

OCTOBER: Well, Mr. Dante, I can offer you one bit of advice.

DANTE: Really?

OCTOBER: Yes, really. I want you to recognize that you are with Adam’s team now and that means you have a chance.

You see what he’s building here? We’ve got you. We’ve got Gladys. Myrtle and Clint and the Snakes. I know we just got together, but I can already tell we’re onto something. We’ve got some amount of supernatural talent, right? If I had to look at our raw power and place our team on your own scale, we as a team, as Adam’s Extra-Fancy Honey crew, we are surely and appropriately Bs. We just need to increase our influence on the world.

Adam’s right that killing shouldn’t be our first option. You know the thought experiment where you ask if you could go back in time to kill a bad person before they did their bad things? Strangle a baby in the crib before it grows up to be a tyrant? I’ve always hated that one because it presupposed that you have access to time travel and the only idea you have to use it for is killing. I know that’s not the point of the moral question they’re asking, but really. Time travel! If you can go back in time you could put solar panels in the desert a thousand years ago and come back and use all the power they’ve stored up to solve the world’s energy needs and fix climate change after all. The only idea given in the question is killing, but it isn’t the only idea.

Rest assured, you’ve convinced me. I don’t think your violent actions make you evil, I could even see standing up for you against Adam about it, but it is a lesser option. We don’t have time travel, but we’ve got a team that seems capable of keeping up with you and we’re also really good at investigation. If there really are Magic Astronauts out there, and we don’t kill every lead we come across, this team is going to find them and I will personally point you in their direction.

DANTE: I was on a team in the War and they didn’t make it. What makes you think this group can do better?

OCTOBER: Adam brought me onto this team to solve mysteries and this is the exact mystery that Virgil was training me for. Even if we can’t do it, I intend to go down trying. I’ll last longer with your help.

So, if you’ve got more time to keep talking, I say we get started right away. Tell me about the first time you saw the shadows of these A-level threats.

(Continued in next transcript)

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