Reginald Hawkwood stood in his garage, a punching bag hanging from the rafters. His son Hank stood before him with boxing gloves that were slightly too large for him. Reginald nudged Hank’s feet with the tip of his shoe, “Widen your stance a bit,” he told his young son, “And mind your breathing. Now, go.” Hank began throwing quick punches into the bag.
“Excellent,” his father told him, “Very soon, if any enemies attack while I’m away, you’ll soon be ready to protect your mum.”
“And maybe one day, I’ll be a hero like you,” Hank said with a broad smile.
“Hopefully, you’ll never need to.”
Hank Hawkwood wore a jeet kune do uniform while his son Artie wore a smaller version. They bowed to each other in the living room before taking a stance. “Now, attack,” Hank ordered. Artie leapt forward, grabbing his father’s arm before throwing him to the floor.
“Nice job,” Hank stood to his feet, “The next time those kids at school give you any guff, you’ll be ready for them.”
“I was good, right? Just like Bruce Lee, huh?”
“Yeah, but just remember, this is only for self-defense. You don’t need to be a hero.”
Arthur Hawkwood stood on the rooftop of the family hardware store, wearing sweat pants and a tank top. His son Michael wore shorts and a t-shirt. “My grandfather was a champion boxer in the British military,” Arthur began, “He trained my dad, your grandfather, in boxing. Years later, your grandfather got caught up in the kung-fu craze and trained in jeet kune do on top of that. Needless to say, he taught me everything he knew.”
“I know, dad,” Michael shivered, “You told me about fighting the bullies at your school,” he clutched his shoulders, “It’s really cold on this roof.”
“Trust me, you’ll work up a sweat. So anyway, I have training from both those men plus I’ve learned a few new moves from Rex Robinson himself. Stuff that not too many people know.”
“Really? That’s so cool!”
“Hell yeah, it is. Tonight, you’re gonna learn.”
“And then I can be your sidekick?”
“More than that. One day, you’ll replace me when I’m too old for this shit… just don’t tell your mom.”
Michael was supposed to be working out. Dr. Ansari agreed it was a good way to work through his recent issues. While she also suggested he try dating, he knew physical exercise was optimal. As a bisexual man, he had dated mostly men but his most intimate relationship was with his college girlfriend whom he told certain secrets to. Too many secrets. He always felt that hiding his father’s secret identity was paramount, which meant that he had trouble confiding in anyone about his private life. Especially after what happened to his mother. Exercise was a much better outlet as it involved less talking. He was just going to lift a few weights.
That was the plan at least. Michael joined a gym and after putting in some graphic design work, lifted weights for an hour, then noticed a boxing ring where some amateur boxers were sparring. He asked to spar, convincing himself that it was for exercise. He laced up his gloves, took the proper stance and got absolutely pummeled. After the session, he spoke to the man he sparred with.
“You did good out there today,” he assured him, “You said you boxed when you were younger? Was it a high school boxing league?”
“Sort of. Like I said, it’s been a while but I wanted to see if I still had it in me.”
“You do. You honestly looked good out there. You just need to get back into practice. You probably had a great coach.”
“One of the best,” he said with a bittersweet smile.
“Really? Who was it?”
“Is he still practicing?”
“… In a way. But, I’ve been trying to convince him to retire.”
Across the city, Arthur Hawkwood sat in his living room. Once he returned from the hospital, he found it necessary to recuperate at home. As he was retired and a widower, he had little to do in his house and decided to go out on patrol once more despite his son’s warnings. After a day, he decided to go downstairs and remove the shelf, exposing the secret door leading to an underground tunnel. He was an older man but still had a great deal of stoutness which allowed him the ability to move shelves and open vault doors easily enough. He took his time walking down the tunnel that once belonged to an abandoned New York subway system. The underground lair was called The Castle and there had been versions of it since his grandfather first adopted the Cavalier identity. It was a spacious room with automatic lights, a landing pad for the Dragon (with the Knight-cycle usually parked beside it), a massive computer display and a wall that held his armor as well as those of the previous Cavaliers. Once he came to the black hovercraft, he noticed the helmet was no longer there. He last saw it inside the cockpit but since he asked his son to clean it, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. Along the far side of the wall stood three small stages for his armors: the first was his grandfather’s, the second was his father’s and the third section was meant to hold his armor. It wasn’t there. “Dammit, Mike,” he muttered to himself.
In Costa Triste, the man known only as Nadie sat waiting in the garden of his villa with Mano, as always, standing behind his wheelchair. One of his staff members appeared with a middle-aged woman.
“The men checked her, sir,” the staff membered reported, “She has no weapons.”
“Of course not,” Nadie chided him, “You can go.”
The man disappeared and the woman was left alone, nervously fidgeting and avoiding eye contact.
“Please tell me why you’ve come to my villa,” Nadie requested, “You are among friends here and no one will judge you.”
“My husband…,” the woman began, “… doesn’t know I’m here.”
“I assume you want to keep it that way. No one will speak of this meeting. Tell me what brings you here.”
“… I-I want what’s best for my daughter.”
“What is best for your daughter?”
“… That she go to a good college. She is almost out of high school. Her grades are so good but… we have very little money and what we do have is kept by my husband. He… drinks too much. And when he drinks…”
“What region do you live in?”
“There’s a university there. I’ll have someone speak to the dean.”
“Oh, thank you, sir. I’m… just afraid of…”
“-Your husband. Yes, I’ve gathered as much. He will probably be upset if your child is not at home, correct? Perhaps he might take his frustration out on you or maybe go looking for her?”
“Give his name and address to my men and I assure you, you will no longer need be afraid of him. Meanwhile, you will live in the dormitory with your daughter on campus. Rent free, of course.”
“Oh! Oh, thank you, sir,” the woman began weeping and kissing him as Mano pulled her away, “You’ve saved my family!”
“Spared at no expense. My men will see you out.”
Nadie’s men entered the garden and escorted the woman away while Mano returned to his prior position.
“It is beneficial to take care of any local person who comes to us for aid,” Nadie told him.
“Of course, sir,” Mano nodded proudly.
“Our priority is to our people.”
“On to other matters. Tell me about our shipment to the United States.”
“It should be reaching New York harbor as we speak.”
“Good. Contact our men in the US and see to it that the product is secured with my specifications. If our business partner causes trouble, I want you on a jet to New York as soon as possible.”
“I’ll see that it’s done.”
Four Days Ago…
The Broken Sword was a small bar in Brooklynn. The man tending this bar was known mostly by the name Sleazy. In fact, the bar was initially unnamed with many patrons calling it “Sleazy’s” or sometimes “Our Place”. The patrons were mostly members of the American underworld, particularly metahuman members. The bouncer was a large man standing seven feet tall with granite-colored skin and a square-shaped head. He was usually known as Blockhead and was tasked with keeping the peace. The rules were simple: no fights and while you can “talk shop”, you can’t do business on the premises. The local police and crimefighters respected the rules (with one exception in the past). To remind the patrons of this, there was a wooden plaque above the bar showcasing a black sword which had been broken in two; this was the origin of the name The Broken Sword. Under the broken sword, the words “Don’t go after family” were inscribed.
The villain known as Ohm sat at a booth in the back. He had been a low-level criminal and drug addict that was mutated by a power planet accident using Neutronium as a power source. Across the table sat Big Fun and a few of his men.
“This shit comes straight from Costa Triste,” Big Fun told him, “It’s top shelf. Best we ever had. The shipment should be here in a few days and I’ll give you a call when it does.”
“I heard the old man doesn’t like to do business outside his little island,” Ohm was in his human form but his voice displayed a strange crackling sound as if it were coming from a radio with a bad frequency, “I’m surprised he’s letting you take the reigns.”
“C’mon, it’s me. Big Fun can do business with anyone. So like I said, if you’re interested, I can give you a call when the shipment gets here.”
“I have the money ready. Let me know.”
At a pier in New York, a shipment arrived from Costa Triste, sporting the logo of a flour company. Workers began removing boxes and placing them on palates to be moved to distributors. A few boxes had a yellow label on the top and were set aside for “further processing” according to government regulations from Costa Triste. Once everything was unloaded, the marked crates were placed on a forklift to be moved elsewhere. A few workers finished unloading everything when they received unexpected visitors.
“Hey, is that the shit?,” Big Fun arrived with his men, “The old man said it would be here.”
The pier workers said nothing.
“So it’s our product now, right? We’ll take it and sell it. Your boss gets a cut, just like everyone agreed,” he paused and waited for a reply and when none came, he continued, “We’ll be taking it off your hands now.”
Again, they said nothing.
“Look, we got a problem?,” Big Fun reached into his jacket and his men followed suit, indicating their weapons “I thought we were doing business together.”
“No problem,” the pier foreman explained and motioned for the forklift driver to step down. The other workers backed away reluctantly.
“My man!,” Big Fun had his men take the crates off and move them to a nearby rental truck. The truck drove away while Big Fun and a few bodyguards left in their SUV. The workers watched them drive off with the shipment with the foreman quickly making a call. “That’s the problem with these foreigners,” Big Fun told his men while he sat in the back of his vehicle, “Think they can come over here and run the place. Just gotta show them what’s up.”
“The old man ain’t gonna be happy,” one of his men spoke up.
Big Fun laughed, “Old guy in a wheelchair from some third world shithole? What’s he gonna do to me all the way over here?… Nah, I own this operation. He’ll be pissed at first but once I give him a nice cut, it’ll all be smoothed over. Now, we got a client expecting business tonight. Set everything up. Let Ohm know we got his shit.”
Hours later, Ohm ran through the streets of New York in his powered form, peels of electricity leaping from his body as he reached over 90 mph. Street lights exploded, cars came to a stop once they were hit by EMPs and burn marks were etched into the pavement. A police cruiser turned the corner with sirens blaring. Ohm stopped running, sliding along the street before coming to a stop and launched a bolt of electricity into the ground that flipped the car on its side. Once the car was wrecked, he stared at the damaged cruiser blankly before darting off with a trail of blue light following. He wouldn’t be coming down for another four hours.