AP Productions: Cavalier #1

“It was a quiet night, all things considered. Pretty rare in New York but it happens. At any rate, I got bored so I started picking up litter; that’s how slow it was. After an hour or so of that, I got a ping on my alarm system: some guys were trying to screw with an ATM over on 32nd. I took the Dragon there and saw two idiots tying a chain to an ATM outside a gas station and apparently planning to use their truck to yank it out of the wall. I thought about turning on my searchlight and firing up the turbines to whip up some wind, really scare the shit out of them, y’know. They’d probably take off on foot, though, so I decided to land on the other side of the station and -“

“Dad, can you get on with it?”

“Mike, why do you have to cut my story short like that?”

“I need you to tell me how it happened, Dad.”

“I’m getting there. Just stop being difficult.”

“Sorry for showing concern. Continue.”

“Smartass… So, I landed on the other side of the gas station. There was only one street lamp which gave me the perfect light source, so I decided to use the Shadow-Walk Technique. That means, I -“

“- Slowly crept through the shadows so that your armored boots scraped along the pavement. I know all about it. Keep going.”

“You’re taking all the drama out of the story but whatever. It got their attention nonetheless. They were both freaking out, looking into the shadows and too scared to move. It was perfect.”

“… And as you emerged from the shadows, they saw the ‘Black Knight’ armor and gave up, right?”

“No, they froze.”

“And then -“

“You asked me about what happened tonight.”

“Okay, fine. Just tell the story, Dad.”

“I’m trying… I pulled the broad sword from my hilt and slowly pointed it at them without saying a word. Y’know, the Sword-Display Technique.”

“They gave up, then?”

“Nope. That’s when I had the heart attack.”

“Finally!”

“I started feeling it in my arm, just like they always say. I thought the sword and the armor and everything was just too heavy at first but that wasn’t the case. That’s when I puked in the damn helmet. Smelled awful. Next thing, I know, I was as on the pavement, watching the truck peeling out of the parking lot. I felt like a chump but at least they didn’t -“

“Did they attack you?”

“Of course, not. They were practically wetting themselves. Besides, I had the armor. That thing can take punches from the Kodiak.”

“I know, Dad.”

“So anyway, I managed make it back to the Dragon and put it on auto-pilot because, y’know, I needed to get home and take everything off.”

“You decided to change clothes instead of calling an ambulance?”

“I called an ambulance!”

“Eventually, yeah.”

“I’ve survived a lot worse than a heart attack, you know this. I’m not calling an ambulance until I get my gear off. …So like I said, I managed to hang on long enough to stash everything.”

“So then what?”

“I’m in the hospital, talking to you right now. Do you see the armor? No, I’m wearing a gown with my ass showing and I got this tube up my nose and I’m really pissed about it, so please -“

“Dad, could you try to stop being a badass for a second?”

“My helmet still has puke inside it. I think it’s in the Dragon. Driver’s seat. Do you mind – ?”

“Dad!”

“What?”

“We’ve talked about this. You’re…”

“No, Michael!”

“… too old to be doing this. Okay? Give it up. You just had a heart attack. You’re over 60. You can’t go out at night, beating up criminals, even if they’re just some idiots trying to steal an ATM. You don’t -“

“This is my first heart attack.”

“Doesn’t mean it won’t be the last. In fact, it’s very likely for you to have another one. Besides, what about the time you threw out your back with the grappling hook gun?”

“The gun was crap.”

“It wasn’t. I tried it out myself after you got hurt and it worked fine. You used to use that thing all the time and you know who made it. The gun was fine. It’s you that’s -“

“The Dragon’s better, anyway. I have a hovercraft, so what’s the point of a grappling hook gun?”

“Okay, well… That’s another thing. Your eyesight has gotten worse and you’re still flying that thing between buildings. You can deny it all you want, but I know you can’t see for shit anymore. It doesn’t help that you don’t even have a pilot’s license.”

“Secret identity, remember? The Cavalier has a hovercraft. Artie Hawkwood doesn’t know how to fly anything!”

“Yeah, yeah. I know.”

“I’m gonna get better, Mike. I’ll get off this hospital bed, find those idiots who tried to steal an ATM, and I’ll punch them in their goddamn faces.”

“No, you won’t because this is the end. This is where the Cavalier retires. Or more to the point, this is where the third Cavalier retires and manages not to die in the process.”

“Even if I retired, it’s no guarantee that I wouldn’t -“

“Enough, Dad!”

“If you recall, my father tried to retire.”

“I know. I know. That’s not the point. You need to at least try to… stay alive, alright?”

“You’re gonna talk about the Curse now, aren’t you?”

“Why bother? You won’t listen,” Michael Hawkwood leaned down and hugged his father, making sure not to get tangled in the tubes and monitor wires attached to him, “I love you, Dad.”

“I love you, too,” Arthur Hawkwood (Artie to his friends) smiled at his son, “I’ll be out of here soon and we’ll talk about it some more. Okay? I’m listening to what you’re saying. I am.”

“Yeah.”

Michael Hawkwood made his way through the hospital corridors and try as he might, he couldn’t help thinking about the curse that had plagued his lineage for centuries. “You don’t believe in it, so why did you bring it up, Dad?” he bitterly thought to himself. As far as he knew, his father considered the family curse to be a silly myth but over the years, Michael began to entertain the idea much more. The Hawkwood family had its origins in Medieval England, a surname associated with one particular bloodline that was surrounded by legend. The Knights of Hawkwood were a particular knight order consisting of a group of brothers that supposedly slayed a sleeping dragon but were subsequently cursed by a witch who was attempting to wake said dragon. It was a thing of fairy tales until more recent decades led to a stronger belief in the supernatural as well as the extra-terrestrial. Legend had it that the Curse would affect the men in the Hawkwood bloodline. “Bloody deaths for bloody lives” as the story went; they would be cursed to lead lives full of violence and then their deaths would be equally violent, never having any rest. Going by the few scant records on hand, most, if not all the knights in that order met a gruesome end.

Michael’s immediate family certainly gave credence to the Curse of Hawkwood fable. His great grandfather was a World War II vet from England named Reginald (Reggie) Hawkwood who found his platoon under attack from a group of Nazi spies that managed to find their way to London. The men were killed by the highly trained Germans and he found himself the lone survivor in a museum, shivering in fear as the Nazis searched for him to remove any witnesses. As luck would have it, he looked up and saw a replica of a knight’s armor and instantly recognized his family crest. It was the armor of his ancestor. Somehow, he found the courage to don the armor and sword, then defeat his enemies. He tried to keep the situation a secret but the mysterious knight was still seen by the public, taking out German spies. This earned him the nickname ‘The Cavalier’ in the newspapers despite it being historically inaccurate. He made his way to the US after falling in love with an American nurse and lived in New York. They had a son (of course) and he soon found himself embroiled in battle against Communists and Gangsters, so he decided to build his own suit of armor and continue fighting crime until the early 60s.

Michael’s grandfather, Hank Hawkwood, would don the Cavalier armor after his father died in battle against a Soviet villain. After bringing the Soviet to justice, he dedicated himself to the Civil Rights movement in the mid-60s to the early 80s. He actually had two sons (of course). One son was a bit of a troublemaker and was Michael’s uncle Kevin. Kevin would drink and gamble and eventually died at the age of 25 when he got into a barfight. As for Michael’s grandfather, he tried to retire from “the superhero gig” by running a hardware store. One day, a man came to rob the store and Hank, being a true Hawkwood, decided to fight. The police were amazed that the old man took a bullet to the gut but still managed to stay alive long enough to punch the younger man out with one hit before collapsing. His surviving son was Arthur “Artie” Hawkwood who donned the costume in the 90s.

Arthur’s armor and cape were all black and he was known to be a more brooding and violent version of The Cavalier; he was often referred to as “The Black Knight” but his image softened in later years. He was also more tech-oriented thanks to having much of his gear made by Rex Robinson. He had one son (of course), named Michael.

As Michael made his way to his car outside, he began to think about his father’s turn as a superhero. When Michael was younger, Artie loved talking about the adventures of his father and grandfather, as well as his own. Michael had reason to be proud but he had concerns as well. Aside from the safety of his father, there were other thoughts he was never comfortable with. Thoughts of his mother. Thoughts of his own time as a sidekick called the Squire. His jaw tightened and his fists clenched. “Why did you bring it up, Dad?” he once again thought to himself as he wiped a tear away. He knew he should probably schedule a session with his therapist now that he was dwelling so much on the past. He stopped mentioning the curse to his father, partially because his father always argued and partially because that line of thinking always brought up the past. He sped off through the night, wondering how he could convince his father to retire so that he wouldn’t meet the violent end the rest of his family had. “Dad won’t give up the Cavalier that easily,” he thought to himself, “It has to live on in some fashion for him to be satisfied. He’s too proud of the family…. The family that seems destined to get itself killed. If he couldn’t be The Cavalier, he’d want someone else to take up the mantle at the very least.”

He didn’t want to dwell on it anymore. He had a life that was already complicated enough without all the “Superhero Drama”. Being the next Cavalier would be foolish, not that he ever considered it as an adult. He tried being a superhero once and he knew he would just get himself killed even without a supernatural curse plaguing his family. “The only way I would do it would be if it meant Dad would stop,” he told himself, “But I’ll never do it so I have to figure something else out.” He began to think back to the first time his father told him about the Curse of Hawkwood. “I’ll be around for a long time and you’ll never have to deal with it, so don’t worry,” his father told him, “The whole thing is just a myth.” The curse began to seem more real as time went on and Michael began looking into the family more, first out of curiosity and then out of concern. “I’m not a superhero,” he told himself, “There’s no way I would put myself in the position to get killed fighting some psycho.” He decided to forego going back to his apartment and went to a nearby bar instead for a drink.

As he pulled up, he spotted two young women hastily leaving the bar, followed by a young man with an obnoxiously tight shirt. He sighed to himself and got out as he read the body language of everyone outside. “I just asked for your number,” the man slurred as he followed one of the women into the parking lot, “Why you gotta be a bitch? Just say no. Don’t be a bitch.” One of the girls turned around and shouted, “I did say no!” Her friend spoke up, “Get away from us!” The drunk man stumbled forward and grabbed the arm of the first girl, mumbling something incoherent. The girls began to struggle with him, so Michael approached.

“Go home, dude,” Michael called out, “You’re drunk!”

“You wanna be a white knight, huh?,” the man stumbled forward as the two girls began to dial a number.

Michael chuckled at the irony of being called a knight, “Not at all. Just go home and sleep it off. That’s all I’m asking.”

The drunk man raised his fists and slurred something Michael could not decipher but it was obviously a threat. It had been a long time since he had gotten into a fight. He wasn’t entirely confident in his skills but then again, this was not some supervillain. It was a drunk bully. The man threw a wild haymaker and Michael was relieved to know his muscle memory was still functioning as he trapped the man’s arm and dropped him to the pavement, putting him in an armbar instantly. While his skills were there, he soon learned he did not have the strength he would have had if he continued to work out as the man began to wrestle his way out of the hold and elbowed him in the ribs. Michael released him and stood back as the man scrambled to his feet and prepped for another attack. Michael did a spinning hook kick that caught him across the jaw and put him on the ground where he remained, groaning in pain. His adrenaline was pumping and he felt a smile spread across his face. It felt good. “It’s good to help people,” he told himself, “That’s all it is.”

The police arrived soon after and Michael made sure to stay behind to both make sure the women were alright and to give his testimony. While he wasn’t brought up on any charges, the officer on the scene warned him, “It looks like you can handle yourself, but next time, just call us. Don’t engage. You’re not a superhero.”

Michael nodded in agreement, “You’re absolutely right. I’m not a hero.”

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