AP Productions: Cavalier #13

For obvious reasons, Michael had never met his great-grandfather. Neither had his father for that matter as Arthur was a baby when Reginald Hawkwood died. Michael’s grandmother told him stories before she passed and he remembered briefly visiting Reginald’s widow in a retirement home when he was very young. It was odd that the first Cavalier was the most mysterious to him. Like his grandfather, Michael largely knew him from history books.

As one of the first superheroes in history, he took on Nazis, Soviets and gangsters in New York and later became a member of one of the world’s first superhero teams; the Cavalier and Rex Robinson formed the Allied Front in 1947 alongside the patriotic hero Sgt. Stripes and the French heroine Femme Phantom. As the story went, Sgt. Stripes was an Army Ranger who eventually became an officer and retired his superhero identity. Rex, meanwhile, began pursuing commercial and social ventures and didn’t have as much time to commit to the team so it disbanded in 1960. The Femme Phantom went back to Paris and remained there for decades while Reginald Hawkwood continued fighting crime until 1962 when he died in battle. The man once known as Sgt. Stripes was a general during the Cold War, retired years later and passed away in 1993. With both the original Cavalier and Sgt. Stripes having passed away many years prior, it was often said that Rex Robinson and Femme Phantom were the only members left alive. This was only half true as the Femme Phantom had been dead since 1939.

Sister Marie Elizabeth Champlain was a nun living in Paris in the early 20th century who was devout in her belief and despite being quite young, was elected Major Superior due to her generous nature and dedication to the Church. One day, while tending to the nunnery’s garden, she noticed a man hiding in the bushes. His name was Theo and he was a local gambler. He told her that he was running from gangsters who he owed money to and pleaded for her to let him in the nunnery to hide because he was sure they would kill him if they found him. Despite laymen not being allowed in the nunnery (particularly males), she let him in and, as expected, known gangsters soon came to the door asking about him. She lied to protect him and sent them away. This led to the two of them forming a tight bond that developed into a secret romance. She would hide him from her fellow nuns and make love to him at night despite feeling conflicted over her vows of celibacy among other things. Eventually, she would feel conflicted enough that she would have to make a choice: the Church or Theo. She met Theo outside the nunnery to discuss whether or not they should continue the affair but she was never able to make a decision as the gangsters noticed Theo on the street and opened fire with pistols. Theo was shot down alongside Marie Elizabeth who was hit by the crossfire. In her dying breath, Marie Elizabeth took Theo’s gun and raised it in anger but collapsed before she could fire a single bullet.

She found herself in Purgatory, between Heaven and Hell. An angel explained that while she devoted her life to God and tried to save Theo’s life, she could enter Heaven but her hatred, subterfuge and desire for revenge was keeping her away. Since she never made a decision to leave the Sisterhood, she had the chance to renounce her affair with Theo and enter Heaven. A demon soon appeared with twin golden pistols and gave her the chance for revenge in exchange for renouncing God. She asked to take a third option; she would return to Earth as an instrument of justice, dedicating herself to protecting people like Theo from harm and thus, she would walk the Earth as a phantom. The hosts of Heaven and Hell agreed to the terms. She was given a new form, bestowed with powers and kept the golden pistols: weapons forged in Hell but blessed by Heaven.

Rex and Michael arrived in Paris around 3AM, Rex’s ship hovering above as they approached an old church. Michael looked up and appreciated the juxtaposition of a retro-futuristic spaceship floating over a centuries-old European cathedral. “We had to leave the city for this little venture,” Rex said apologetically, “So sorry for that.”

“I got a free trip to Paris in Hyperion’s Light. I’m not complaining,” Michael told him happily, “It’s no surprise that thing broke a world record for circling the globe.”

“Fastest thing on the planet,” Rex said proudly.

Michael stood in front of the cathedral, gazing up at the massive stained glass window, “So this is where the Femme Phantom hangs out?”

“It was her old perish,” he thought for a moment, “I don’t think I ever brought your father here. Or Hank, either, come to think of it. I wonder if they ever teamed up with her? She hasn’t been very prominent in the superhero community the past several years.”

“How exactly did you contact her to let her know we would be here? I mean, you can’t really call a ghost.”

“I didn’t but I knew she’d be around.”

“So she doesn’t even know we’re here?”

“Don’t worry. She knows now.”

Michael noticed a dark apparition passing through the stained glass window above. She wore a black hood with white trim that resembled a nun’s habit and the black cloak connected to the hood was white on the inside, which contrasted against her all-black body stocking. She was pale with smooth skin that almost looked like it was glowing. If Michael wasn’t aware of who she was, it would be terrifying. She floated down to meet them, her cloak flapping despite the absence of wind. Once she landed, the cloak fell over her shoulder and covered her body, making the nun imagery even more apparent.

“How’ve you been, Lizzie?,” Rex asked.

The Femme Phantom didn’t smile but her voice had warmth to it, “Hello, Rex,” she turned to Michael, “Is that the grandson?”

“Um, no ma’am,” Michael cleared his voice, “I’m the great-grandson, Michael.”

“Please remove your helmet,” she asked politely and once Michael did so, she studied his face for a moment before speaking, “You have Reginald’s eyes.”

“Thank you.”

“He never knew Reggie,” Rex explained, “I was hoping you could regale him with some old stories. Maybe some that he hasn’t already heard.”

“I think I know of one,” she gave Michael a blank stare, “Reginald made a vow after the second World War to not take another human life. He was glad to fight injustice but he would not kill again.”

“I’m aware of that one.”

“Did you know that Gregori Rasputin did not die in 1916 as commonly believed?”

“Okay, yeah, that’s new.”

“He used knowledge of the Occult to transplant his soul into a pregnant mother, effectively ensuring he would be born again. Over forty years later, he was a high ranking official in Soviet Russia with no one realizing who he truly was. Rasputin was using his influence to manipulate the Soviets into a world domination plot.”

“And Reginald Hawkwood uncovered that plot?”

“He did. He needed my help and together, we defeated Rasputin but we weren’t sure what prison could ever hold someone that dangerous. Reginald, keeping his vow, refused to take his life even though Rasputin had already died before.”

“Wow, so what did you guys decide to do?”

“I killed Rasputin myself,” her voice seemed regretful but her face remained unmoved, “I took the burden from your great grandfather. He stayed true to his word. It was the last time I saw him.”

Michael turned to Rex and noticed even he was a little surprised.

“This mission wasn’t long after the Allied Front disbanded,” as the Phantom moved, Michael noticed she was gliding and never completely touched the ground, “I know I was very sad about the team disbanding and the way Reginald and I departed, but those emotions are difficult to recall now. I remember hearing of his death after a long absence as I spent years fighting an enemy in various realms. By the time I returned, the mantle of the Cavalier had been passed down to his son. I remember feeling saddened when I learned of this. It has been so many years and there are so many sensations I have not experienced in so long. I don’t know when the last time it was that I felt blood in my veins or knew the warmth of a hot summer day. So much has been forgotten to time and mortality. Sometimes, I recall a man named Theo who was the reason for my current state but I have to think hard to remember his face, much less how I felt about him.”

Michael once again turned to Rex who appeared sad, as if missing an old friend.

“So much has changed since Rasputin’s death,” she said finally.

“Don’t shed a tear at my expense,” they heard a voice say. They turned at once and saw a young man with long black hair and a beard, wearing a suit that appeared to be a century out of date, “What is that old saying? Speak of the Devil and he shall appear?” Michael quickly replaced his helmet and Phantom opened her palms, her guns materializing in her hands a second later.

Rex squinted as he studied the figure approaching them, “Rasputin?”

“At your service,” he said in a deep voice, “Towards the end of my second life, I realized inserting myself into Russian aristocracy wasn’t working out regardless if it was the Monarchy or the Soviets in power,” he pointed a finger at Femme Phantom, “I had a failsafe. With the Femme Phantom and the Cavalier bringing my carefully crafted plan to ruin, I was unsure if I would survive. I didn’t want to be reborn this time,” his eyes darkened and his voice got deeper, “I wanted revenge. I used them as two parts of a resurrection spell: when next the Femme Phantom and the Cavalier met, I would be brought back,” he smoothed his hair back, “…In my physical prime, of course,” it was then that he noticed the ship hovering above, “And what year is this? How long did it take for the two of you to be reacquainted? I thought it would’ve taken much sooner.”

“This is impossible,” Michael explained, “The Cavalier has been dead for over decades.”

Rasputin stepped forward, looking him up and down, “I see a man dressed as a knight and…,” he sniffed into the air, “… There is a familiar scent. You share his lineage and his identity. Lucky for me, the spell worked all the same.”

“Supposedly, it’s not the only curse my family has,” Michael pulled his sword and turned to Rex, “What happens now?”

“We fight,” Rex told him as he took a battle stance.

“And we make sure he stays dead,” Femme Phantom added.

Michael should have been nervous. Fighting an undead historical mystic was far beyond his very limited superhero experience. And yet, in the back of his mind, he thought, “I’m teaming up with Rex Robinson and the Femme Phantom. This is so badass!” He wondered if there was something wrong with him.

3 thoughts on “AP Productions: Cavalier #13

  1. I kind of wish we would at least have had a flashback chapter to the Phantom making her deal with heaven and hell. Sounds like good stuff to have seen!


    1. I might do a special with her that explores het past. I made her up on the fly but I realized she was kinda cool. She will definitely pop up again.

      Liked by 1 person

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