Michael entered his home, a heavy backpack slung over his right shoulder. As he came through the door, he kicked off his shoes and dropped his bag with a loud THUD!, reminding him that he had far more studying to do now that he was a freshman in high school than he ever had in middle school. The lights had been turned off in the living room, so he assumed his dad was still at his store or possibly out on a mission. His mom wouldn’t be home for a few more hours.
He moved through the dark room, reaching out to a nearby lamp. Suddenly, a strong arm wrapped itself around his neck and pulled him back. He didn’t panic. Instead, he rode the momentum and then crouched down, throwing the assailant over his shoulder. Once safe from his assailant’s clutches, he put some distance between them and took a fighting stance. The figure stood and calmly turned on the lamp next to him, revealing a smiling Arthur Hawkwood.
“I knew it was you, Dad,” Michael said with a smirk.
“Yeah, well, we’re not done,” Arthur took a stance, “You got the enemy off your back and now you’re squaring off. What happens next?”
Michael leapt into a flying kick which was swatted away by Arthur. He landed and immediately twirled into a leg sweep. Arthur stepped back to avoid being tripped, “Nice recovery.” Michael stood to his feet and threw several jabs which were blocked by Arthur. “Give me something I don’t expect,” he told his son as he backed up to the couch. Michael ducked down, wrapping his arms around his father’s waist before throwing both of them over the back of the couch where they bounced off the cushions and fell on the floor. As Arthur landed, he kicked the lamp and quickly sat up to catch it before it shattered on the hardwood.
“You didn’t expect that one,” Michael said with a wry smile as he stood up.
“Nice job,” Arthur replaced the lamp, “Maybe doing a training session in the middle of the living room was a bad idea. We can probably stop here. One more thing…,” he snatched a throw pillow from the couch and slapped Michael over the head with it, “… You didn’t expect that one, either.”
“You always gotta have the last hit,” Michael retrieved his bag from the front door.
“Don’t worry. One day you’ll be able to kick your old man’s ass,” he checked his watch, “Ah, I gotta go, Mike. I have a mission tonight but your mom should be home soon. Do your homework and help her with dinner, huh?”
Arthur hugged him, “Love ya, Mike.”
“Love you too.”
That night, Michael had dinner with his mother, Nancy. She was a petite woman with short brown hair who worked as a designer. She even helped design Arthur’s armor shortly after he made the decision to become the third Cavalier. She was initially hesitant but knew Arthur was determined to avenge the death of his father and help fight crime in New York. His alliance with Rex Robinson and the NYPD helped calm her fears but when it came to their son, she was adamant that he not follow in his father’s footsteps. Arthur betrayed that trust; something he would deeply regret.
“How was school?,” she asked Michael who made sure not to tell her about their training session earlier.
“It was fine,” Michael poked at the food on his plate, “Hey Mom, you know Dad is on a mission tonight, right? He’s fighting some criminals or something right now.”
“Yep,” her smile was bittersweet, “He’ll be home tonight. He always comes home.”
“I know, but… you worry about him, don’t you?”
“Of course. Even with all his gadgets and armor and skills, I still worry. Do you worry about him too?”
“Maybe, I guess. Dad’s kinda badass, though.”
“Excuse me? Language?”
“Sorry. He’s like really tough and everything.”
“So I figure he’s gonna be alright.”
“Look, you know the family history. You never met your grandfather but he was something else. Your father takes after him so much. I know I could never stop him once he made up his mind.”
“What about me? Do I take after Dad and Grandpa?”
Her face dropped a bit, “In a lot of ways, yes,” she reached out and held his hand, “Your grandma is a lovely person as you know, but she was never able to stop your dad from getting into this superhero business… and she wasn’t able to stop your uncle from taking his path. I’m doing everything in my power to stop you from getting into a violent lifestyle, regardless of what it is. I’m serious. I don’t want you getting into trouble, okay?”
“Yeah, Mom,” Michael brushed her off as he began to eat his dinner, “Don’t worry. I’m not getting into fights or anything.”
“Good,” she said with a smile.
Eight Months Later…
Arthur pulled a bookshelf back from the wall, revealing the secret passageway to his headquarters. Michael followed him down the stairs to the underground corridor, automatic lights blinking on as they made their way and turning off behind them. He had seen his father’s headquarters before but it was normally off-limits. “School’s out so I thought I’d start you on your summer internship,” Arthur told him jokingly. They came to the docking bay housing the Dragon which his father and Rex Robinson had recently built. The Knight-Cycle sat off to the side next to a cluttered work bench and computer setup. Along the opposite wall stood his father’s armor, his grandfather’s armor and his great-grandfather’s armor. It was there that he noticed the small box.
“It’s time for the Black Knight to have his Squire,” his father told him as he took the box into his hands and opened it, revealing chainmail armor. Michael lifted the suit, getting a better look at it. It was gray chainmail with a black tunic over it, similar to his great-grandfather’s armor except the color (Reginald Hawkwood’s costume was silver and red). In the box, he also found a knight’s helmet, gloves, and boots that were also black and gray. “It’s bulletproof and fireproof,” Arthur told him, “The helmet isn’t tricked out with all the little bells and whistles but you’ll be with me anyway. No need for them.”
“Seriously? I’m finally gonna do this?”
“I think you’re ready for a few minor missions. Nothing too dangerous. What do ya think?”
“I think Mom will kill you if she knew about this.”
“Yeeeeah…,” Arthur brushed a hand through his thick brown hair, “Like I said, only a few minor missions and at the end of the summer, you’ll just go back to school. It’s a little father/son time.”
In the coming months, Michael came along on certain missions, calling himself The Squire. On the first night, Arthur let Michael chase down a purse-snatcher and tackle him. On another night, they fought a small biker gang that was bullying local residents. Behind his helmet, Arthur beamed with pride as he saw his son duck under a biker’s punch and take him down with a punch to the solar-plexus. On another night, Michael sat in the Dragon and waited for the signal to turn on the Dragon’s Roar (a deafening high-pitched noise) outside an abandoned warehouse where arms dealers were doing business. The men rushed outside where Arthur was waiting for them. Michael smiled brightly as he watched his father take down the small crowd of criminals. At the end of the summer, Arthur let Michael come along on a mission dealing with a super villain.
Springheel Jack was a thief who underwent an illegal Neutronium operation and was granted with the ability to cling to surfaces and superhuman agility. He was considered low-powered and since he was a thief, he avoided assaulting anyone, rarely causing any serious physical harm despite enhanced leg muscles. “He’s harmless,” Arthur told Michael, “The worst thing about him are the lame jokes.” They had intel that the villain would be stealing rare diamonds that night and hoped to catch him.
Hours later, Springheel Jack leapt over parked cars in the street, a bag full of stolen diamonds bouncing around in his backpack. Michael pursued; he pulled the shield-discs from his belt and hurled them at Jack who spun into the air to avoid them, “Would it help if I sat down and let you hit me?” Jack landed in the street, directly in front of Arthur. “What is this, anyway?,” Jack asked, “Bring your kid to work day?,” Jack readied himself for Arthur’s attack. Arthur raised a gauntlet, activating his armor’s launcher which shot more shield-discs. Jack backflipped away from them, “You guys need to figure out something new. I’m almost getting bored.” Arthur lunged at him while Michael quickly approached form behind. Jack leapt in the air one last time, grabbed their helmets, and slammed them together with a loud CLANG. He then summersaulted across the street and disappeared in a dark alley, his voice calling out from the shadows, “Knighty-night!”.
Michael sat up, “Sorry, Dad.”
“It’s fine,” Arthur dusted himself off, “That guy’s always hard to catch.”
“But I did get these,” Michael smiled as he held up the bag of stolen diamonds.
“That’s my son!,” Arthur patted him on the back and took the diamonds in his hand, “He’ll probably feel like an idiot once he realizes they’re gone. Let’s go return them.”
“Won’t he come back for them or try to steal something else?”
“Yep and we’ll be ready next time.”
“I don’t get it. Don’t all these guys hang out at the same bar? What’s it called?”
“We can just go in there and drag him out.”
“Yeah, but the idea is that we don’t bother them and they don’t cause trouble there. It’s the principle of the thing.”
They returned the diamonds that night and a few minutes later, climbed into the Dragon. “It’s a bit later than I realized,” Arthur said as they took off, “Hope your mom won’t notice.” They flew back to their headquarters, not noticing that on the underside of the hovercraft, Springheel Jack clung to the surface in hopes of getting his stolen diamonds back.