To Charlemagne, life would be simpler without the Antax. There would be no pain, no anarchy, no destruction. To him, the Antax ravaged his life and engraved him to the slave he has become. Everybody demands machinery, but what exactly do they expect from it? Maybe the security they provide, or the satisfaction they ensure. But what security does he provide? Is he merely a machine with feelings? He reached down for the sand on the beach, and gently caressed it in his hand, witnessing it fall away like a sweet dream from another life. Through the hazy grey clouds and the increasingly murky water, he imagined the beach in all its glory, and was instantly reminded that eternity is coming. Like the sand, he too was falling away. He knew that there are men like Voltaire who want him dead. All that was left was to prepare for eternity, and to help others do it also.
He began to stand up, and as his legs extended he saw a crow descend with grace upon the hard pitiable Earth. Though it had much physical beauty it carried the nauseating smell of dried blood on its soft feathered wings. It clutched in its beak a single faded sheet of paper, quickly dropping it at Charlemagneâs feet as it cackled hysterically. He slowly reached for it, and the bird departed in a silent manner. The folded up parchment sat out and with great intrigue he examined the letter it contained.
Iâve known of you for a long time, and ever since the government decided that you were the enemy, I have known that there was something different about you, that you are not what they claim. My father belonged to the Air Force, and I was told that he was shot down when I was at a young age. I have resided at the school on Willow Street ever since.I cannot protect myself as well as the others, so i am often the victim of bullies. My room is assigned to a keeper named Ms. Jordan, who got angry at me the other day because I cried when my nose was slammed into the cafeteria wall by an older boy. She locked me into the utility closet, denying me food for two days.I know that my time is short. I wake up a few pounds lighter every morning, and the smell of fear in my room is slowly replaced by the smell of death.If they knew that I was writing to you, they would kill me. I beg you, if there is anything you can do to help me, please do it!
With much admiration,
Charlemagneâs love for children forced him to grieve. He arose not unlike an angry panther, which sternly stands up to fend off a foe. With a rotation of a dial on his left arm, his body was flooded with Antaxide. He crossed the street in an unwavering manner. The oncoming traffic that could not stop in time crushed into his iron like sides. Trucks began to swerve sideways at the mere sight of him, and military cars ran to pursue him. Knowing that they could not stop him, they dared not exit the vehicle, but followed him along his route. Charlemagne looked backwards, and saw a multitude of government agents. Coming across the water treatment facilities on Vivian Avenue, he punched a hole in the main pipe. The force caused two government cars to be taken out by the immensely powerful water that erupted from the sewer. The other cars became trapped behind. He let a small chuckle of unbelief escape as he continued along his path.
The school on Willow Street was an old facility, built back in the early 1900âs, nearly one hundred and twenty years ago. The aging institution appeared to be in very good shape from a distance, but the up close details revealed an ugly truth about its well being. Along the front rose a giant crack that ran from end to end. The solid concrete floor was divided into segments, with each one at a different elevation. Old roman styled columns were shattered in several locations with many appearing to have survived some sort of major battle. Even though the door seemed to work just fine, Charlemagne assumed that he would not exactly receive a warm welcome.
Upon discovery of a nearby storm cellar next to a small mossy greenhouse, Charlemagne inspected it to ensure it is safe to use. The two wooden doors gave an unpleasant surprise, as the smell of body odor and sour milk filled his nostrils and nestled itself into his psyche. He pressed on through the dark corridors. The end of the tunnel led into an old dining room, most of which was drenched in mold and had the feel of an old 1940âs soup kitchen. The rusted out pots and pans lay out around the faded tile in no fashion, and the remains of what appeared to be an omelet remained half on the cabinet and half over the edge. Charlemagne identified a small gap in the ceiling. He used the Antax to propel him through the foot long crack. The occasional beam proved to be a nuisance, but he was able to navigate quite easily and still see where he was going in the ceiling. Looking down on the populations below through further cracks, he observed the surroundings. Many of the larger children rounded the smaller children up and forced them to hand over any personal belongings. They lined them up in front a room that contained a bee hive and threw disobedient children inside. One teenager in particular grabbed a little boy no older than six and hurrled him to the ground, repeatedly smashing his face onto the broken wooden floor. Charlemagne could not contain himself; he knew that his rage would control him if he did not stop the bully. It took every ounce of strength to not kill him on sight. He narrowly succeeded to contain it.
Moving ever so slowly directly above where the bully was, he let the Antax extend his arms. When the bully was about to hurl another punch at the downed childâs body, Charlemagne threw down his fist, breaking through the ceiling and grabbing him on the belt. He lifted him up to Charlemagneâs location, and was reeled in inches away from his face. He stared into his eyes and watched fear creep into his soul. The bully knew that he was in serious trouble, and his intense fear crippled his vocal cords. âGo ahead buttercup, make my day! Cry you indigenous grunt, donât you know itâs bad to pick on people smaller then you?â he commanded in a cruel and aggressive tone. âIf I EVER see you touch another boy again, then I will personally ensure that your fat little ass is on the first express way to Satanâs private mansion. Donât worry, I keep my promises,â he said in a threatening manner as he hurled him to the ground. His body fell with such acceleration that the floor smashed underneath him, and a giant ripple formed in the wood around him. All the other children ran in terror, fearing they may be next.
Charlemagne picked up another boy and demanded that he tell him who Ms. Jordan was. His tone was much calmer and almost had a smooth and relaxing feel to it, but tension was still present when he spoke. The small child described her as a tall, slender woman whose skin was painted a very distinct shade of tan. He was brought back to a small remote room in the back of the building and lowered to safety. Charlemagne advanced back to the location where he propelled the bully through the floor. By now, most of the staff had quarantined the children into small rooms, and had equipped themselves with whatever guns they could find. Charlemagne had to be careful around guns. A bullet could easily destroy the Antax and quickly kill him. He observed the environment to find a way to dominate. The main hallway branched three ways, each one leading to a different wing of the facility. On the first wing the dining room had a series of old microwaves on the wall. He understood that if timed correctly, each device could go off every other second, creating a major distraction for one or two adults. That was not enough; he needed all four adults out of the way. Once he was sure that the brigade abandoned the dining hall, he snuck in for further analysis. Beneath a rotted out table he discovered a large bottle of window cleaner and inspected its ingredients. Seeing that it contained Hydrochloric acid, he raced to look for an item that would provide results when mixed with it. He glanced through the windows into the halls, and saw the adults coming. They had weapons drawn and were ready to unleash. He hurled a punctured fire extinguisher at the window. A thick smokey fog engulfed the room. Ensuring he was safe, the hunt continued. With the armed adults hot on his tail, he had to hurry! Charlemagne was barely able to make out a canister of baking powder containing sodium on a decomposing wooden shelf. The baking powder and window cleaner were quickly huddled together and shoved in the far back microwave. He darted to the front, and had to bend down to avoid being spotted as he pressed the quick start button on every machine.
The adults looked in shock as Charlemagne escaped back to the ceiling. They began to inspect every single machine, and cowered in fear that something may be behind them. Hustling in uncertainty they attempted to shut them all off, but they were not quick enough to finish in time. The fog made them lose perspective. It was a difficulty standing up, and a terror to shut off the timers. As the smoke cleared a shape in the back microwave emerged in sight. The heat had completely melted the window cleaner, and as soon as the hydrochloric acid touched the sodium in the baking soda, the entire microwave exploded. The force knocked one adult out cold, and sent the rest into frenzies.
The fire alarm provided Charlemagne with a protective layer of sound. With more freedom, he ran towards the second hallway. He grabbed a fire extinguisher out of the corner of a hallway. The bathroom on his right provided amplitudes of paper towels. Taking the extinguisher, he sprayed the ammonium phosphate foam on two of them. The remaining foam was used to form a path from the kitchen to the bathroom he was in. The remaining adults had trouble focusing in all the chaos, but instinctively noticed the trail Charlemagne set. As they proceeded with caution, he prepared for action. Jumping back up into the ceiling, he made a mental note of which person Ms. Jordan was.
He targeted the other two adults first. They inched closer and closer, and Charlemagne watched them with an ever so discerning glance. The first man approached directly underneath his locale. With a swift down stretch of both arms, he wrapped his left arm around his neck while using his right hand to hold the ammonium phosphate towel around his mouth and nose. It was only a matter of seconds before he passed outâŚand bullets started flying Charlemagneâs way. He threw his arms directly behind him, and they extended fifteen feet to the nearest support pillars. He flung himself straight backwards and out of view of the combatants. With his body still in full momentum, he refocused his arms to a groove in the nearly torn down wall and flung himself towards one of the unsuspecting assailants. The collision was so strong that the gunman went flying, breaking through the rest of another wall in the process.
The final adult, Ms. Jordan, began to spray ammunition in Charlemagneâs general direction. Seeking to avoid being injured, he quickly vaulted behind a rotting piece of metal. In the corner of his eye he found a sharp piece of rusted steel and hurled it at her, puncturing her foot. Screams of agony accompanied her weapons descent to the ground. Charlemagne arose once again, but this time he did not rise as if he was angry, but rather as one who is Victorious.
His rage and anger turned to ash as he became a solemn mass lurking through the hallway to where she lay.
She cried out to him âWhy? Why must you do the things you do? Why must you be this…this monster”?
He looked at her for a minute as if he was about to have her put to death, and began to have pity on her.
âIn these days,â he articulated, âJudgment has been turned backwards, and justice stands far off. The world we live in is falling apart, and men cry for a savior and women cry for a healer. Truth has fallen in the street, and prosperity cannot enter. For the actions of people like you are the gates for bile and evil, dooming those you command. You masquerade like leaders, but lead like lions dragging their sheep to the slaughter. Whatâs a man to do? Must I sit back and wait for my round on the chopping block? Or rather, must I cut the strings that hoist up the blade? Am I the monster? Do I hold small children up without food nor water? â
His voice began to grow stronger and his words replied faster.
âYou foul beasts contain no ounce of decency, look at this place!â he commanded as he held up an old comic book laid out on the floor, drenched in blood and body fluids. âYou expect a small child to thrive with a magazine that is more likely to kill him then it is to entertain him? Do you demand a bright future as you abuse those who can enable it”?
He pointed to the roof, and with anger in his persona he foretold her that,âIf these children donât die because of conditions in this facility, they will die because of the lack of emotion and the lack of social needs that remains a basic right of all human beings, and are basic well being’s of all living creaturesâ.
All that the sobering adult managed to blurt out was âYou act like one who has authority, but what you really have is cowardly fear! You’re no icon, youâre a pest, a vermin. You must be treated as such”.
With careful thought he decided to make one last statement before finishing his work. âLeaders are elected, not selected. You have failed because you lack the ability to have proper discernment. You have allowed your heart to harden. Rather then uplifting the human spirit, your heart shreds it like as if it was a bad check,âhe said sympathetically.
With the conclusion of his words, he grabbed a giant metal beam with the assistance of the Antax, wrapped it around her so she would not leave until he so desired. He began to walk away, but digressed halfway out the hole in the wall.
He yelled back at her âHeroes are made because they are moved, not in their head where thoughts and ideas can trap you, but in the heart, where your path is set and where eternity tangible.â With his final words he left her sight.
His footsteps echoed as he marched towards the exit. It was not long before he could hear what faintly sounded like a second pair of feet trailing behind him, directly in step. The echoing became a hallowed thud as the dissidence decreased and the volume grew stronger. A familiar voice beckon from behind him. He stared the source straight in the eye, only to receive a cold yet agitated glance staring back at him.
âDonât you know it is rude to walk out on an old friend without stopping by to say hello?â Voltaire commandingly beckoned in a scolding manner. Unsure of what his proper reaction should be Charlemagne merely opened his jaw as if his words were stuck in the back of his mouth. He glanced with a hint of uncertainty and curiosity, as Voltaire put his hand on Charlemagneâs shoulder like a father would do to his son , and sunk his eyes into his psyche.
âChildren are wonderful thingsâŚare they not?â he quizzically questioned with a hint of wittiness. âLook at this little guy!â he exclaimed with excitement as he manhandled a small child and sat him in front of him, stroking his hair gently. âSuch curiosity, such innocence, such…âhe paused ââŚinexperience, such potentialâ.
Charlemagne intensively stared with disgust, fearful that Voltaire would strike him down at any moment. Even with the Antax, Voltaire was naturally much stronger than Charlemagne.
“Don’t you know, he reminds me very much so of the child you tried to save before I excommunicated you out of the army? He has that same ‘I don’t care what you do to me’ mentality! It’s kind of funny when you think about it. Here you are trying to save this little fella, yet he already went through the worst of it! Look, I understand you may be bitter because I crushed what ever life you had….or that I had my soldier kill your family in cold blood. We can mourn later, most likely at your funeral.None the less, later. I know we agree that today is all about that punk, but I really must know this. Was it hard being a high ranking Colonel under me, then plummeting all the way down onto my most wanted list? These things truly mess with your mind after a while…It’s driving me bonkers here!â Voltaire quizzed.
Charlemagne analyzed Voltaireâs hands which still remained on his shoulder, and cautiously moved his upper body to groove out from underneath him.
âRelax,â Voltaire softly uttered, âI’M not going to hurt youâ.
âThen what could possibly be your motivation for this”?
âQuite simple, I want you to meet my new friends!â
âYour friends are never the social typeâ.
âThatâs exactly why I had you come to them! I just had that instinct one of them would squeal eventually. I know you canât deny a child. So I waited. Here you areâŚsurprise”!
Voltaire flipped the boy backwards to reveal a scar on his back, followed by a hideously familiar machine planted in his spine.
âYou ugly fool!â Charlemagne spewed in shock. âYou think this will fix anything? Do you feel you can control children and manipulate them like this?â He continued.
âIt appears I already have. Would you like to see?âVoltaire kindly responded with a grin. âYou are a powerless weak degenerative!âhe popped off, circling Charlemagne as he spoke. âUnable to save a mere child from the same life you live. I told him it would be hard, living like this. I assumed the kicking and screaming he did was because he didnât want to have this life anymore, to be rid of the orphan era, not the immense agony he was in. Whatâs a couple of open back surgeries among friends anyway? I mean come on, the little punk is happy now!â he chuckled lightly.
âHeâs just a child! He has not done anything to deserve this, He is not me! In no way is this acceptable. You have taken what you think is right, and totally demonized what little moral you have had left. Have you no shame”?
âMy morals,â Voltaire sneered âLie in just how many little peons like this child jump at my every command, run at my every whim, and dance at my every note. Donât you see? He ..â Voltaire bent over as his whole body twitched ââŚcompletes meâ.
âSo thatâs it? You wanted me to see thisâŚTo see how Iâve failed again? You wanted to see me destroyed, desolate, and weak. I may be desolate, and I may be weaker than normalâŚbut may god be with you if you think youâve destroyed me. You have been living well, a life full of luxury and strength. Starting today it is finished! If you escape I will find you. I will hunt you down until your final breath. I will torture you; I will kill you if I must. I will make Voltaire, Richard Jarvis, the greatest General to walk the Earth, cower in fear. You think Iâm a hero? Let me show you my brand of Justice. A swift kick in the ass and a bullet to the brain is not enough. You send your army and all their little toys; Iâll have them shipped back in small containers so you donât have to worry about filling that many casketsâ.
Voltaire grinned, and began a hearty chuckle as he descended gracefully to the floor, and placed his mouth near the childâs ears. âWhy donât you go ask Mr. Charlemagne to play?â he addressed the child promptly.
The boy looked up and smiled widely. Step by step, he wobbled towards Charlemagne, and comically bopped his head as if an inaudible song tickled his inner ear. He began to whistle, and advance quicker. Stopping suddenly before Charlemagneâs torso, an arm slowly reached out to touch Charlemagneâs abdomen, and fingers were brushed along his finely toned muscles. As he did this, his eyes rushed to match Charlemagneâs. Moving urgently, he left his right hand on his stomach, but his other hand formed a fist and collided remarkably hard with a majority of his lower body. The force was too much for him to contain, and his limp body went flying through the halls, bashing through weak structures and old broken down support beams.
âYour brand of justice is about as effective as spam at Thanksgiving dinner,â Voltaire bellowed to him.
Charlemagne chose to brush his narcissism off, and refocus on the child. He approached the kid dead on, but the kid jump kicked him in the chest, instantly flooring him without delay.
âBehold I give you,â Voltaire bellowed out,âthe Dark Antax!”
Re-evaluating his strategy, Charlemagne began to look for some form of weakness. On the childâs back, the Dark Antax turned pure black, a color very distinct from the light blue Charlemagne’s emitted. He was unsure of what it meant, but assumed that it was nothing good. He decided to vault towards the minor again, but used the Antax to jump behind him. Gripping the youthâs machine, he pinched a nerve in his neck, causing him to flail wildly. With semi control over his actions, Charlemagne directed the child to where a shocked Voltaire remained standing. His enormous strength collided with Voltaireâs impeccable structure and physique. A loud crunch was heard as the childâs head collided with Voltaireâs ribs, crushing countless bones in his upper body. He doubled over in pain, and looked up with an aggressive look at a constrained Charlemagne. The smell of blood filled the air, and the slippery liquid guzzled down his face. The child was disoriented, and stayed close to the ground for comfort and safety. Charlemagne was unsure of what to think, as the kid could just as easily be manipulating him.
Expecting the worse, he removed a scrap of metal from the uprooted support beams sprouting out of the destroyed wall and began to forward onto the childâs locale. When he discovered that the child was not conscious, and Voltaire was left to his own devices, Charlemagne reached for a needle full of the drug Tibertin which resided along the interior of the busted in medical room. Moving quickly, he stuck it into the childâs chest and injected the liquid into his body. The color faded from the Antax, and his eyes remained shut. The child for all effective purposes was dead.
Rising from the ashes surrounding him, Voltaire quickly became engulfed in a fit of rage and wrath. He lunged for Charlemagne in a desperate plea to knock him over. Charlemagne dodged him and escaped his jump, forcing him through the final support pillar. The floor above both of them began to collapse, and covered Voltaire before Charlemagne could get him out of the way. Charlemagne himself narrowly escaped the collapse.
The children on the upper floor flooded down, and began to pillage Voltaireâs unconscious body from the rubble. One by one they piled on, and littered his body with bruises upon removal from the debris. Many of them grabbed bats, others snatched old pans. They pounded his body with brute force and proceeded to get retaliation for the terrible acts he committed on some of them
A small boy began to speak up among the scoffers.
âWAIT!â he hollered. âThis isnât what we wanted! I didnât call Charlemagne here for revenge; I called him here so we can be set free. If we kill this man, what makes us better than him?â he questioned intensively. âLook, Iâm just as angry as you, but we cannot do this. We can be better!â he urged.
Another child threw a rock at him, bruising his head. He fell down in anguish. âWe will do what we feel is just!â another hollered.
âThis beast deserves death! Look what he did to Alexâ, a boy in the back exclaimed.
âLook what he did to Brayden!â another added to the chorus.
âDo you not see what he had performed on Jacob?â a third boy cried.
âIf you truly wanted freedom and revengeâ, Charlemagne interrupted, âThen you would have stood up sooner. This boy here, Addison Ott, came to me out of fear, but became brave in the act. You cowards would not do it. You became weak. You lack two vital things,âhe preached. âYou lack the will to act, and the direction of your heart. If you kill this man, you will become what he is. Your friend is right. Step down nowâ Charlemagne asserted strongly.
The kids moved aside slowly. âGo on, move!â he boomed. The mass hustled out of the way, and Charlemagne slapped Voltaire in the jaw, waking him up. He barely was able to take in what was happening.
The dead childâs body lay on the ground in a crooked shape. Charlemagne slowly picked him up, being careful to not let his head sag. If Voltaire were to leave the child alone, he had to get rid of the body, or to trick him into believing it. He returned into the old kitchen and grabbed a giant potato sack. The body was cautiously slid perfectly within itâs parameters.
âI understand the pain, but I need you to know that I did what had to be done. He would not have wanted to live like this,â Charlemagne whispered . Addison merely attempted to restrain his emotions. âYou trusted me once and I need you to trust me here, because I have a plan. I will make the people who put you in this school go far away. I will make the man responsible for your friendâs death come to deliverance. Stay strong, and know I am busy,â he promised.
Addison merely nodded his head.
âHis name was Emmanuel. He had a life, a personality. If you must address him, please address him by his name,â Addison whispered.
âEmmanuel,â Charlemagne whispered, âIt means god among us. What a beautiful name!â
In the corner of his eye he saw Voltaire flee. He let him go, but only because he knew where he was going. He was going away, to hide….to recover. Charlemagne hit him where it hurt, his test subjects. Even if he would finish designs on the Dark Antax, it wouldn’t be anytime soon he could use it. The only other prototype was believed to be dead. For now it was over, the children were safe for the time being. Tomorrow would be different though, for he Is no longer unique.
In the depths of the river, the bagâs tie came lose. Out of it came the small childâs body, as perfect as a guardian of heaven and as peaceful as the birds of the sky. The silver moon limelight covered his body in bliss as he ascended closer to the surface. There was no sign of movement from his body other than what the current produced, but along the surface above his body, a single bubble emerged. A hand emerged into the water and hooked the boy up to the surface. In the dimmest shade of blue possible, the Dark Antax barely glowed.