A beacon in the night
by Martin Tremblay
from the doctor's office, Cavalier was lost in his thoughts. Troubling
reports from all over the city had made their way to his desks, one
of which involving O-Lan being reported missing, another mentioning
the murder of city counsellor Parkinson on Valor Bridge, a Brickstown
prisoner escaping without a trace. All these events by themselves,
combined with the bombing of the Centaur building had him wondering
what was gonna happen next. His train of thoughts were pulled away
by his cell phone ringing. It was central dispatch.
"Sorry to disturb
you sir, but we have recorded magical activity in Orebanga earlier
this morning. We tried reaching the boss, but he was unavailable."
Said the female voice over the phone.
"This is odd, was any experiment
or study group scheduled in the ruins today?" Asked squared jaw Cavalier.
"None that we are aware of sir, but we can say for certain that the
event lasted only a few minutes, than stopped." Continued the base
"Send a team out there, and have them report any findings.
Turbo and a group of Knights recruits were visiting there this morning,
and I would hate to think someone pulled a rabbit out a hat while
they were there." Answered the scrapper, with a bit of laughter in
the voice. If anything went wrong down there, more than likely Turbo
had dealt with it promptly. A lot could be said for his teaching abilities,
but when the chips were down, even Cavalier wouldn't dare go toe to
toe with the boss.
Exiting for Talos Island, he directed his car towards
the HQ. Another duty awaited him this morning, one he disliked every
time he had to do it. The burial ceremony for Akritar Bane was scheduled
to start in a few minutes, and he was to be making the eulogy. Some
of his classmates would be talking before him, which was good, because
he didn't take the time to know every one of the students at the academy
anymore, too many had come, too many had gone. Was he growing complaisant
and distant? He recalled a time when everyone he met was important
to know, everyone brought something to the supergroup. Nowadays, it
feels more like a routine of waving helloes and being an image.
the underground parking lot of the academy, he stalled his car in
the place reserved for it. Was it possible that time had made him
indifferent to the needs of others? So many friends had passed away,
Page of Sword who had disappeared, Bloodrock who fell in the void
during the Zulu war, Star-Crusader decommissioning himself and trying
to be a normal person. So many more that had left without saying a
word. Yes, he did feel cold and separated from the newcomers.
down the corridor, heading for the Hall of Heroes, a room created
by heroes, for heroes. There, Apocalypse people assembled for ceremonies,
official duties, and...Eulogies. The room was furnished with taste,
reminiscent of the House of Lords in Britain. Beautiful woods and
selected tapestries garnished it, long tables and comfortable chairs
were present to sit close to three hundred people. There was enough
space to accommodate five hundred people, if some were standing. The
high domed ceiling was copied from a sixteenth century chapel. Paintings
of fallen heroes were presented on the walls, Halcyon, Foalmir and
others were there to remind people that sacrifices made for the greater
good, was a goal to be achieved.
The doorman opened the doors, to
let him in to an empty room. He stopped on the footstep, taking aback
by this. He couldn't recall when he ever saw this room empty for an
eulogy. Only a handful of recruits were there, sitting in the front
row, close to the coffin. They turned to look at him, so he continued
walking towards the front of the room, to reach the pedestal, without
faltering. No heroes, no family present for this kid, who had died
heroically, saving someone else instead of saving himself.
anyone like to say anything?" He asked the few recruits that were
present. They looked at each other, then back at him, nodding negatively.
Cavalier cleared his throat, this was taking him by surprise, to say
"Does anyone know if Mr. Bane had any family, were they
informed of his passing?" The recruits remained quiet, but Cavalier
heard one of them mumble something.
"What's your name recruit?" He
asked the girl who had just spoken under her breath.
"They call me
Psyphoon, sir, third year recruit, graduating next week, sir." She
answered with a sharp voice, a bit nervous.
"All right, Psyphoon,
could you repeat what you just said, so we all can hear it?" Cavalier
took the tone he used with first year students, when he wanted everyone
to know and understand that not speaking your mind was a lack of faith,
trust and intelligence.
"I said..." she hesitated "I said who would
want to bury the devil's child, sir" She blushed and looked at the
"The devil's child..." Repeated Cavalier, almost amused.
was well known that Ak Bane was Voyager's son, sir. We liked him and
all, but being the son of the turn coat who betrayed the Riders made
him unpopular." She spoke in a small voice.
Cavalier took in that
last statement like a slap on the face. He looked at the coffin, looked
back at Psyphoon, then looked at the empty room, the pictures of the
fallen heroes, the atmosphere this place was supposed to bring in.
"So, the sins of the father fall on the children now?" He took a stern
voice. "Voyager may have betrayed us, but only because he thought
it was the right thing to do. None of you were there, during the Firebase
Zulu war, but I was. And for anyone in this room, this academy, or
even this city, to pretend to understand the magnitude of the sacrifices
made during those battles, for anyone, they would have to have been
there, and have been faced with the same choices we were then. The
sheer unforgiving nature of war, makes us all killers, makes us all
monsters waiting to be unleashed." Cavalier pressed the all call button
on his belt, which transmitted a signal to the head secretary, who
would in turn summon all people present in the school to the hall.
"I saw this kid die, and what he did that day, deserves a hero's send
off. He gave his life so that others might live, and most of his team
was injured too seriously to be here today, but I am sure they would
say of him, that he wasn't a coward, or a traitor." He was getting
angry, at the ignorance that fed on ignorance. Yes, Voyager won the
title of Arch-Villain during the war, but did he really deserve it.
The man had followed the orders that Turbo had given him, nothing
more. No one, but a chosen few knew this. People were starting to
arrive in the hall, to fill up the empty seats that should’ve been
full in the first place.
"What is courage? Surely, not the simple
fact of arresting the bad guys. Surely not following blindly orders
or beating the snot out of low ranking Hellions." The room was almost
full now, teachers, students and heroes were listening to him. He
started walking on the stage, his voice being carried by the room.
"Fear, is the reason behind courage, it's the fuel that makes you
burn inside when the others run. It's the tightly wound, unbending
resolve that let us say to ourselves: "I will not give up". Without
fear, we wouldn't need each other, wouldn't call out for each other
when dire times come. We would not wonder if our actions, or lack
of, would endanger innocents, or friends. We wouldn't decide, in the
blink of an eye, that this life" And he pointed to the coffin "is
worth more than mine."
The silence in the room was palpable. Cavalier
didn't come here to make a speech about the duties of a hero, but
"You people should be ashamed. None of us deserve the treatment
you bestowed upon this recruit. He died a hero, and we bury him a
villain? Shame on you, shame on the principles that made you decide
that he wasn't worthy to be in the same room as you." Oh yeah, he
"How dare you treat a Fellow of Apocalypse like this, how
dare you?" He screamed that last one. "We come here to learn from
each other, to be brothers and sisters, come what may. But what do
I see here today? I see a bunch of complaisant people, who would have
left Akritar Bane's cry for help unanswered. He stood by his team,
died for them, doesn't that say something about the man?" The room
remained silent. He looked at them, defiantly staring everyone present
"Today, we must renew our vows to each other. Today, we have
to look to one another and trust in the fact that we are a supergroup.
We are united in the battles to come, and we have to believe that
each of us" he pointed to himself, then to the people present "are
here, watching the other one's back. Today, we stand as one, and tomorrow,
we fight as one! What say you?" He asked to the room
A few mumbled
voices were heard.
"What say you?" He yelled once more, pounding a
fist on the podium.
"Aye" More voices answered this time
you?" He looked at them
"AYE!" screamed the room in unison