Everyone has different definitions of what constitutes a hero. City of Heroes features plenty of them, after all, and even then there's a breadth of different elements that make them heroic. Some of them are bravely fighting against the odds with unreliable powers or no powers outside of training. Some are heroes who have all the power in the world, but they consider the needs of society to be greater than their own needs. But there's one unifying trait so simple as to be almost comical to state.

Heroes do the right thing. No matter what.

So it's kind of silly to try and glorify the actions of Emperor Cole's jackbooted maniacs, rallying under the "loyalist" banner as if stomping on people were something to be proud about. The fact of the matter is that Cole has been named Tyrant pretty appropriately, crushing any chance for an entire world to make its own choices and mistakes and steps forward. And the reward for handing him control has been paradise, sure -- if you consider what he's offering a paradise.
Here's a question for you: let's say a man walked up to you with a suitcase full of bills. You don't have time to count all of them, but there are obviously several million dollars contained inside. The man tells you that you can have the money and any house or car you want, provided you do one very simple task first. Then you're handed a pistol and told to kill your entire immediate family.

Sound like a fair trade? If so, congratulations: Cole's new world order should sit just fine with you. If you're even remotely heroic, odds are high you'll say that's not a fair choice, not a fair exchange, not right no matter what you're getting out of it.

People are safe in Praetoria in the same way that zoo animals are safe. They don't ever have to try or think or do anything. No one triumphs over adversity, because there's nothing to struggle against. An entire world is full of people who behave with the mentality of sheep, and they act as if some great favor has been done for them. All Tyrant asks is a few lives here and there, right? Sacrifices for the greater good, benefits for the whole of society.

Surprise, surprise, anyone who might challenge his rights to take control of anything he sees gets branded as a traitor. Anyone who doesn't agree with his methods is a traitor. Anyone inconvenient is a traitor, and that makes the only salient difference between him and Mussolini the fact that one of them has gotten the trains to run on time.

It's wrong. There's no way to convincingly spin it as anything but wrong. No one man can decide the fate of an entire world, and freedom of choice is more important than freedom from any sort of fear. Death is better than life as a robot. And anyone who chooses to live as nothing more than a cog is part of the problem.

Understand something. No one rebelling against Emperor Cole is doing so because being a malcontent is infinitely appealing. If he offered alternatives to being his lapdog, to pamper or kill as he sees fit, there's hardly a soul in the resistance who wouldn't just take the opportunity and be out from underneath. But Tyrant's a classic dictator, and that's essentially a bully with state backing.

The only thing a bully understands is a bigger bully.

People are going to die in the process. Some of them are going to be police officers or superhumans who decide Tyrant is worth protecting, and there's no point in shedding tears over them. Others are going to be bystanders. A car bomb doesn't distinguish between targets, and neither does turning a parked car full of gas into a makeshift bomb. That's probably what stops the loyalists who still have a shred of decency in them, thinking that they'd be targeting innocent people.

But the people getting blown up, despite appearances, aren't innocents. They're just as much at fault for what's taking place in Praetoria as Tyrant and his overpowered lackeys. Oh, sure, they're not actively stomping anyone's face in... but they're making up the great silent majority, sitting there and waiting for things to change around them.

It's not part of anyone's goal to kill them. But even just putting them out of this miserable excuse for a life would be a mercy. Setting them free, getting them out of a world they gave over to an oppressive maniac -- that's good. Even if you have to kill people in order to do so.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Countless revolutionaries and heroes have based themselves on that principle, that no matter what costs it might involve, being free is worth fighting and dying for. All of the romanticism surrounding the founding of the United States of America rests on the idea that a group of men banded together to oppose a tyrannical regime. These men, wealthy individuals who would have at most been inconvenienced if they simply submitted, decided that freedom was more important than life or respect or obedience.

Now Praetoria faces the same fight. There's no room for the sidelines or the passive. You're either against the fascism that's taken over, or you're supporting it through silence. And if you don't want to think of yourself as a complacent herd animal, it's time to stand up.

Anyone can do it. Pick up something sharp, or something heavy, or something flammable. Scream as loud as you can. Smash a window and let them know that you're not going down quietly. They might kill you or you might make it out -- but anything is better than living under the will of a tyrant.

Take back the world. By any means necessary.

As always, comments can be left in the comment field, or mailed to eliot@massively.com. I hope people have enjoyed these looks into the philosophies of the two major factions -- judging by the feedback I've gotten from both readers and the development team, the last one seems to have been a hit. Next week, it's a community highlight, so be sure to send along any and all interesting discussion threads you come across.

This article was originally published on Massively.