AP Productions: Cavalier #2

1993…

Arthur Hawkwood hid in the tree tops, his black armor hidden in the shadows while the moonlight occasionally bounced off its surface when he moved. He checked the scanner in his palm and saw the signal getting closer. He was happy that the tracking device was still attached to the beast. All he had to do was wait for the proper time. It wasn’t long before he heard dry branches snapping under heavy footsteps.

The Kodiak lurched toward his den, the fur around his mouth and claws stained red. Nightvision lenses slid into place in his helmet and Arthur reached into his belt, removing a handful of tranq-pellets. Then he waited for just the right time before dropping down on the humanoid bear’s shoulders. Instinctively, the creature opened his jaws and Arthur shoved the pellets in. Massive teeth clamped down on the metal gauntlet and the Kodiak flung the Cavalier through the air, end-over-end. He bounced off the side of a tree and fell into some bushes as the Kodiak pursued, snarling and roaring in fury.

Arthur pulled his broadsword and waited for his target to come closer. Normally, he only used it for intimidation but when it came to powerful threats like the Kodiak, he made an exception. He rolled to the side as the Kodiak passed and ran the sword across his back. The Kodiak spun around, throwing a backfist which Arthur ducked under, then came up with a slash across the beast’s chest. He wasn’t sure if the sword even cut the monster’s thick hide but it certainly made him angry as it punched Arthur in the chest, sending him flying into a tree hard enough to break several layers of bark. “Ow!… Come on, I put enough drugs in you to put Ozzy Osborn to sleep,” Arthur groaned as the Kodiak came at him again. He dropped to the forest floor just as Kodiak took a swing, breaking the entire tree in half. Part of the trunk fell forward, striking Kodiak across his snout which forced him to stumble back. As he was now at a safe distance, Arthur stopped and ignited the tasers in his gauntlets, electric bolts running along his knuckles as he prepared for another attack. He leapt on top of the fallen tree, then launched himself into the air, striking Kodiak across the face. Once he landed on his feet, he began pummeling Kodiak in the chest. Kodiak roared and stumbled back, but quickly regained his balance and snatched Arthur up in his claws, then lifted him above his head. “Dammit, go to sleep!,” Arthur pulled an arm free and shoved his fist into Kodiak’s massive jaws, then grabbed his tongue, letting electric currents run through his body. The creature finally dropped him and collapsed in an unconscious heap.

“Time to wake up, Mr. Hawkwood.”

Present Day…

A nurse opened the curtains, allowing beams of sunlight to enter the hospital room. Arthur sat up in his hospital bed and squinted while his eyes adjusted to the light. “Did you have a good night?,” the nurse asked cheerfully. He ran his hand through his thick grey hair, “I’ve had better.”

Dr. Ansari was a middle aged woman residing in New York who specialized in providing therapy to metahumans; particularly superheroes. In the case of Michael Hawkwood, he was neither a metahuman nor a superhero but his case was still in her purview.

“So you got in a fight this weekend,” she said as she removed her glasses and looked at her notes, “… and the fight happened a few hours after your dad had his heart attack. That’s a bad night.”

“I’ve had better,” Michael brushed his hand through his thick brown hair, “Thankfully, Dad will be out of the hospital this afternoon.”

“Tell me about the fight. How did you feel afterwards?”

“Honestly, I felt pretty good about it. Not that fighting feels good… The guy was an asshole.”

“This man was harassing two woman and you had every right to be angry about that, no doubt about it. Were you angry before that point?”

“Yeah, like I said, Dad won’t give up on this whole superhero thing. He’s too old. He’s been doing it since the 90s so what else does he have to prove?”

“Is that the only reason why you were angry? Did he bring up your mother at all?”

“Not as such… he mentioned the Curse of Hawkwood and that got me thinking.”

“Whether or not the Curse is real, there is violence in your past. Bringing up certain topics brings up memories we’d rather forget. Your mother’s passing is part of that history.”

Michael sighed, “… And my trauma.”

“Do you think your father might suffer a similar fate as your mother?”

“Of course. It’s a miracle he hasn’t already. I mean, it’s always been in the back of my mind but he just suffered a heart attack during a night that he admitted was slow. What happens when he goes out again? What if a serious threat shows up? And then I’m over here thinking about how to get him to stop and the only solution I can think of-“

“Is what?”

“… Taking up the mantle. Being the next Cavalier. It’s a stupid idea, I know. I didn’t seriously consider it.”

“Sounds to me like there’s a part of you that has. You mentioned it felt good beating up that jerk at the bar.”

“It felt good to help someone in need.”

“Has your father made similar statements? That it feels good helping people and fighting bad guys?”

“Yeah. So did his dad and his dad before him. Like I said, it’s a curse.”

“It’s a cycle. A cycle that you’ve found yourself in again.”

“Y’know, I haven’t been in a fight since I was a kid?”

“I’m sure of it. This situation with your father can be a little triggering but remember what I always tell you, he will make his own decisions and there’s nothing you can do about it. Ultimately, you are only responsible for yourself. It’s hard when our loved ones go down a path we don’t want to see them go down and we need to give as much support as possible, provided they accept it, but we should never enable. So… word of advice, stay away from the bars for a while. Alcohol is one of the worst ways we can deal with trauma. Wrap yourself up in your work or get a hobby.”

“I thought about hitting the gym. Good idea or no?”

“You can start working out again but be sure it’s for the right reasons and I think you know what I mean by that.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do. No dojos or anything.”

“How’s work?”

“Busy. I’m designing a website for a startup right now and a law firm has just asked me to redesign their logo, so I’m doing pretty good.”

Dr. Ansari gave him a knowing smile, “Have you thought about dating again?”

“Nah, with everything going on… Y’know, it’s still hard to find someone to confide in.”

“Put yourself out there, Michael. See what happens. Have some fun.”

Elsewhere…

“Who’s ready for some Big Fun!,” the large man in sunglasses burst into the main room of the mansion, eliciting a roar from the small crowd gathered around. They had previously been playing video games, drinking, and listening to the in-house DJ. The man’s real name was Eugene Johnson but most people who knew him called him Big Fun on account of his girth and his disposition. His personal entourage followed him into his home where he clasped hands and bumped fists with his friends and employees. “What’s up, Fun,” a member of his crew slapped his back, “We goi’n to The Broken Sword tonight. I know a guys who’s interested in the product.” “Hell yeah,” Big Fun moved past him, “I’ll be back. I gotta make a phone call.”

In his room, he faced a large screen as his associates made a call. Soon, a young woman answered, “Thank you for calling. One moment, please and I’ll connect you.” Big Fun waited patiently until an older man came onscreen, sitting in a wheelchair. He was on what appeared to be a balcony overlooking a coast with a young, lean man in a suit standing behind him, staring intensely into the camera. The old man was typically referred to as Nadie (Nobody) and the man behind him went by Mano.

“The shipment is on its way,” Nadie informed him, “I will ensure its safe-keeping once it reaches your country and see to it that it is properly stored.”

“No disrespect, sir, but my boys can take care of everything once it gets here.”

“I told you I am particular with how my business is conducted. I will ensure the product is safely kept. You can move it any way you see fit as long as I get my share.”

“Yeah, I know but I figured you would just let us take care of it once it got here. I mean, you’re the distributor but I’m sell’n it. But-but don’t worry, man. We got this.”

“I only ask that you allow my men to store it for safe keeping. I have the means to hide it from American authorities that, no offense, are beyond your abilities.”

Big Fun’s smile faded slightly, “Listen, I gotta go take care of some other things. When the boat gets here, I’ll call you and we can figure it out. Later.”

The nation of Costa Triste…

The screen went black and the staff member quietly closed the laptop and left. The old man looked out over the balcony at the beach while Mano came around to speak to him face-to-face. “I don’t like the way that man talks to you,” Mano told him in Spanish, “It’s disrespectful.”

“He’s an American and a criminal. It’s to be expected,” Nadie motioned for him to bring him inside his villa, “As long as he performs the tasks needed, he can be beneficial.”

Mano brought his wheelchair across the balcony and through an open door, “I don’t think he’ll listen to your instructions. He might be a liability.”

“Perhaps. His business is useful and as always, if he becomes a problem, I’ll send you,” Nadie smiled as he patted the man’s hand affectionately, “Make sure the Ambassador is notified. I want his security team ready.”

“Yes, sir.”

“What time is it?”

“4:30.”

“The president will be here in thirty minutes for our dinner arrangement. Help me get ready and give instructions to the staff.”

“What do you want me to tell them?”

“Make the president wait an extra hour… Sometimes, it’s good to remind that idiot who really runs this country.”

“Costa Triste is all the better for it, sir,” Mano assured him.

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