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Aegis Part II
The lawyer got no sleep the day prior to his second meeting with Perseus. It had been over two weeks and he still couldn't forget the conversation he had with Perseus. It had unnerved him more than he wanted to admit. Perseus had been given fifteen minutes and he had made the lawyer question an omnipotent truth he had never questioned his entire life. The kid was something different, something special. And it was driving him insane. As he was driving back to the jail, he honked at fifteen different cars, cut off five more, and hit two others. By the time he pulled into the jail's parking yard, he was the not-so-proud owner of four traffic infraction tickets. Taking all events into consideration, he should have been in jail himself as well.
He got out of his car to find himself confronted by the same teenage hoodlum.
"Hey!", he shouted, "I remember you! You that mad fancy lawyer who was saved by that mall cop. Well lemme tell you right now that he ain't here no more. Me and my boys did him in a few days after your visit so he can't save you now. The new guard is too scared to come out so don't expect no help from him either. So Imma give it to you straight now. Your car is mine now. Back the f*** off unless you want to get cut."
The lawyer was appalled but stepped back with the keys still in his hand. The teen walked up to him, took the keys, made a lunging motion, and got into the car and drove away with a squeal of tires and the odor of burnt rubber. The lawyer was left wondering what in hell had just happened and he walk in slightly shaken. The car wasn't the problem; he had more than enough money to buy about 50 more of the same car. He just could not believe how easily he had been robbed. What was the city coming to?
He walked into the jail to find the same graying receptionist with the same dead expression. He was waved in again but this time, he found Perseus balancing himself in a strait jacket. The lawyer blinked to make sure he wasn't seeing wrong and sat down wearily in front of him.
"Why hello there Mr. Lawyer. How are you on this fine day in this s*** city?" asked Perseus.
"Perseus? Why on earth are you in a strait jacket?" asked the lawyer. "Oh this." said Perseus, "Yeah, well I attempted to escape." He had a very matter-of-factly air as he said this so the lawyer decided to ignore it. "Oh don't let it bother you." continued Perseus, "I'm not insane. They simply realized how well an escape attempt can go when you have access to your arms, some stew, and a spork." He flashed a cocky smile as if to show he wasn't joking but he quickly replaced it with his usual apathetic look. "I'm surprised you came back Mr. Lawyer. Most of your profession wouldn't return to a case as hopeless as mine, you know?" The lawyer shook his head and responded, "It's not as hopeless as you try to make it out Perseus. Didn't you say yourself no other lawyer had tried to ask for your story before or bothered to dig deeper? I am, therefore, I might actually be able to find something that can help you make a case." Perseus narrowed his eyes and, for the briefest of instants, looked scared. He then regained his usual condescending look and said "Careful though; Try to find out too much and people will be hurt." The lawyer found the remark a bit odd but decided to ignore it, as he noticed he was doing so often today.
"Perseus. I would appreciate it if you would continue with your story. We left off when you had recruited Henri." said the lawyer.
" And I was a small step closer to my dream. Those were the last words of the story I said to you. " he said. Then , the lawyer sat back and immersed himself in Perseus' words...
And indeed, it was only but a small step. My plan was so grand, so naive, and so powerful, that it seemed nothing but a fool's dream at first. To me, it allowed me to escape reality for a bit. For Henri, it meant he had someone to talk to. Aegis wasn't a shield yet. It was but a bit of tape to bind two distinctly different people together. I was the adopted son of a rich old man. Henri came from a very stern home. All we had at common in the beginning was school. Then we had Aegis. But that was as far as we knew each other. And, Mr. Lawyer, you cannot reach the stars without someone to give you a boost. You cannot and will not reach high enough and eventually, you'll fall. Painfully.
We decided that a loud lunchroom full of screaming monkeys throwing food around was not optimum for planning the city-wide dominion of the streets so we decided to eat alone on the roof. It was against school rules but nobody actually bothered to enforce it. I always ate on the rooftop or in the classroom, which was much less noisy than the lunchroom but not as secluded as the roof. Henri loved it and would usually lean on the fence of the roof and look down at the view. Granted we were only about six stories high, but he loved it.
I noticed that aside from me, Henri barely had any interaction at all with the people around him. It wasn't that he hated everyone else or that he was rejected by them; rather, Henri simply had no interest in interacting with other people. He carried a very indifferent attitude to everything. He had no reason to care for anything at school. He had lost his arm because of his stupid schoolmates. He placed blame for the loss on the environment that the school created and he was determined to bring it down. To him, Aegis was nothing more than an opportunity to destroy the system. Whether or not it was a noble goal was disputable. Nevertheless, he was kept motivated and committed to my dream. And I needed him.
"So how do we start your Aegis, Perseus?" asked Henri one day, "We've just been sitting up here and chatting idly. I don't see how that's helping the cause."
"Well. We need to know each other. If I'm going to conquer the world with someone, I sort of have to know what their favorite color is, you know?" I responded. He cracked a grin and quickly continued "Seriously though. What on earth are we going to do?" I stroked my chin and said, "Well. We need a home base. Somewhere that we know, no matter what happens, will be safe. The school seems an ample choice, don't you think?"
Henri furrowed his eyebrows and nodded agreement. "But where do we start?" I thought about it for a second. Then I had an idea. "Well Henri. We have to get into this business by going in as one of them right?" I asked. "Yeah..." he responded cautiously. "So. We're starting our own gang then." I said casually. "Okay then." he said, "We need a crest, uniforms, members, etc, etc. And I know just the guy." He then took a glance at his watch and said "It'll have to wait until later. We have classes now."
I sat idly in class, occasionally taking notes so that the teacher believed I was paying attention. If I didn't, the teacher would get furious and involve my guardian, in the process making me furious. The whole teacher-student, adult-child system also bothered me to no end. Half the time our idiot History teacher had no clue what they were talking about. Most of the time my Mathematics teacher couldn't properly convey whatever the hell we were trying to learn. The administration of the school was half-assedly upheld by the local school district. I say half-assedly because the teachers could do whatever the hell they wanted without any successful charges brought on them. The school had to look good to preserve its reputation as one of the elites of our city. I swear, I would have enjoyed tearing down the school first but the school was protected. The administration was protected. So I had to wait.
I met with Henri after school and followed him to another class. "I take it we're going to see this guy of yours." I said as he lead us into the "Special Needs" area of the school. "Yes we are." he said. He flashed some sort of I.D. at the security guard and he waved us through. I looked back at the guard and looked at Henri and realized he had been in this area of the school too. It was a mystery to me how he had gotten out and returned to the normal school area. But I didn't ask.
We stopped at a door labeled "Mute" and Henri walked in. I followed him in and found myself in the most noisiest classroom of all time. About fifteen kids were running wild and although they couldn't scream, they were banging everything in their paths. The teacher was tied up and gagged and looked at us with a frantic look in his eyes. He made vigorous wriggling motions but Henri motioned at me to leave him alone. We weaved our way through the mute kids and made it to the one kid that was actually sitting down and looking at his laptop screen. He seemed to be of Caucasian descent with wavy brown hair, a thin face, gray eyes, and glasses. He was somewhat pale and had a thin build. He would have seemed weak were it not for the manic fury visible in his eyes as he used his laptop. He had two other computer units linked to the laptop he was using as he typed rapidly on the keyboard and as his eyes darted hungrily across the screen.
We stood there watching him for a full five minutes, at Henri's insistence, before he looked up at us. He raised an eyebrow questioningly and raised the other when he saw Henri. He clicked a bit more at his screen, powered it down, disconnected the two units, and brought out another laptop. This one had two small speakers jutting out at the side and after he powered it up and typed, and much to my surprise, a voice rang out.
"Pardon the time it took to power this up." said the laptop, "I was in the middle of watching something when you came to me." The kid looked up at us and stared intently. He then returned his attention to the laptop and, as he typed, the laptop 's speakers said "But you didn't interrupt me. That's always a good sign. How's it going Henry? Have you been keeping well? I haven't seen you in forever." The kid's fingers flew across the keyboard as the laptop spoke and, as he looked up at me, continued "Do you like it? It's a speech synthesizer I programmed myself. It permits me to communicate with you despite my, ah, little handicap. Which is very good. I have a lot to say you know? But I doubt you came here to make small talk or listen to the program's very digital but sexy voice. Can I help you with something?" He stopped typing and waited for our response.
"Ahhhh... Henri?" I said. I'll admit, the first time I met him, I was very unnerved. I mean, anyone would be if they were supposed to be talking with a human but conversing with a machine. The kid himself remained emotionless, but the way he talked; he should have had a wide and deranged smile on his face.
Henri shook his head and said "That's everyone's first time reaction to Gilbert. Don't worry about it." Gilbert glared at Henri and typed "I prefer to be called by my online tag: Gills. It sounds much cooler than Gilbert. Don't you think so, Perseus Omediakis?" I was startled at the fact he knew my name. I was completely baffled he knew my real last name. Who was he?
"Alright then Gills." started Henri, "We need a favor." Gills stared intently at Henri for a while, creating an uncomfortable silence. After a bit, he typed "What do you need?" Henri cleared his throat and looked at me. He seemed to be asking whether I should tell Gills about Aegis or not. I shook my head ever so slightly so Gills wouldn't notice. Henri then focused all of his attention on Gills again and without skipping a beat said, "We need designs for this club we're going to be starting. Since you are a master in all things computer, I figured a bit of graphic design would be a breeze for you." Gills looked at Henri with a bit of apprehension and slowly typed "Or else you'll..." to which Henri nodded. Gills looked dejected and typed "What do you want it to be like?" Henri flashed me a mischievous grin before telling Gills "It has to be awesome. Lots of gold and silver. A classic feel. And the club's name is Aegis."
Gills looked at us and typed "Like the Greek shield?" Henri nodded again. Gills looked at me now and typed suspiciously "And this is for a club? What is it about? Acting out Greek plays? Bashing each other with shields? Or is it something more? Something much more grand, perhaps?" I stared Gills down and was about to respond truthfully when Henri interrupted and said "Relax bro. You were spot on with the first guess. We're a two man drama troupe and we named ourselves the most badass thing we could think of. It's nothing more and nothing less." Henri looked at me and signaled for me to agree. But here's the thing Mr. Lawyer. I cannot, for anything in this universe, say a lie. Everything I say is true, it's always been that way and it will always stay that way. So naturally I stared Gills right in the eyes and said "No it's not for a drama troupe. But it's not something I can let you onto just yet, Mr. Gills. Your background seems much too fishy for me to let you in right now. But I will be judging you and will deem you worthy or not of letting you in. Now, I will kindly ask you to refrain from asking anymore unnecessary questions and get back to the matter at hand. We have an organization. We need emblems, colors, t-shirts, the whole collection. And if you're truly the tech-genius Henri is making you out to be, it really shouldn't be much of a hassle for you should it? I'll make it worth your time. Just do what we've asked." Gills and Henri stared at me as if I were from some other planet but while Henri kept gawking, Gills regained his composure and typed "If you were anybody else, I would've DDOS'ed the s*** out of all your electronics, given your info to various shady organizations, and /or have entered you as a high class criminal in the Police Server. But you were upfront with me, unlike Henri over here. Plus, you've made me intrigued in your organization as you call it, something that rarely happens when it comes to the real. So, I'll have your stuff done within a couple of hours. Meet me after school to pick up the files. And because I like you so much, it's on the laptop. As in on the house. Get it?" I laughed weakly as Gills shook his head and typed "There's never any appreciation for my jokes. At any rate, it's getting done and I look forward to hearing from you. And Henri?"
Henri snapped to attention and responded "Yeah?"
Gill's laptop projected a giant fist with the middle finger sticking out at Henri as the class laughed and Henri's face reddened. I shook my head and said "Cut him some slack. He didn't know I didn't want him to lie. Although from here on in, he should realize lies get us nowhere. Understood Henri?" Henri scratched the back of his head with his arm and stared at the ground as he nodded sheepishly. "Well then, I'll leave you to your work, Mr. Gills and I'll return to mine. See you after school." Gills typed "Adieu mon ami. Et Henri."
We exited the chaotic classroom. The instructor had managed to get off his gag by this time and shouted "Please don't leave me here with these maniacs!" A random student then came by and put another gag on the teacher. His muffled screams continued as Henri and I walked out the door nonchalantly and as Gills focused his attention back on his screen, occasionally batting a random flying object away without looking up. Henri still looked miffed so as we walked back to class I said "I don't mind that you tried to lie. But just know, I can't speak a falsehood. I don't know why. I just can't." Henri nodded and looked up. He had his usual sullen face and not his moping, sullen face. After a bit he asked, "Back in the room, Gills called you Perseus Omediakis. I thought your last name was Schmidt. Why did he call you otherwise." My face must've gotten noticeably dejected because he added hurriedly "You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I'm just curious is all." I shook my head and stopped at one of the open air hallways. The sky was gray again, as if it wanted to rain. A slight breeze ran through my hair as I leaned against the railings. Henri stopped walking as well and leaned on the railing as well. I stared out for a bit. Mr. Lawyer. You'll be the second person I've told this story and one of the few who know about it. It's not an easy thing to talk about. It's very painful and to this day the memory haunts me. Some nights, I'll wake with a start because I've relived that scene and I stay awake wondering if that hadn't happened, that perhaps things would've been different. Perhaps I wouldn't be in this cell talking to you Mr. Lawyer. Perhaps I wouldn't have met Henri or the others. Perhaps Aegis would never have happened.
"It all happened when I was eight. Too young to do anything about it. But too old to be able to forget." I started as Henri stood at rapt attention.
"My parents were very normal people. My father was an insurance worker and my mother was a nurse. Very average jobs for very kind people. My father took pride in secretly helping people out of tight spots in the company he worked at and my mother took care of the elderly. They were amazing human beings. And I was a very happy single child. We had a house in a retired neighborhood in the city and two dogs. My mother kept a garden and my father sculpted in our garage as a hobby and as a source for a little more income. I delighted in helping him out with his abstract works, the line of which he called "Father and Son". For eight years, we were genuinely happy. Then, slowly, bit by bit, our perfect life unraveled.
It all started when my father was fired from his job after a jealous co-worker ratted out his secret help to the customers. He was forced to resign and was sued shortly after for $800,000 in amends money. My dad was able to pay it off without a hassle by dipping into his life's savings and his 401k. He then got another job as a janitor because no other workplace would hire him. His case had given him a bad name despite the fact of how hard he tried to keep it under wraps. And shortly after, my mom got into a car crash on her way home from work. She was bedridden and because of my dad's loss of job, we didn't have any medical insurance. And my dad, heartbroken, was forced to dip into both the mortgage money and my college fund. I told him I didn't mind that he went into it as long as it helped mommy get better.
Two months later, she passed away. My dad by this point was broken. He desperately tried to pick up as money odd-jobs as he could to help pay for our house and bills. He worked day and night, barely eating and barely sleeping. But in the end, it wasn't enough. Eventually, our debt began piling up, higher and higher, and the companies would not stop calling our house. There were nights where my father would sit on the floor next to the phone as it rang non-stop, with his head buried in his arms. Then he would notice me and muster up a smile and assure me that everything would be okay. He tried so hard to be strong for my sake. Eventually however, he too passed away. He was after all, just a human being. And human beings have limits too. Jane and Alexander Omediakis were buried next to each other, and I, their only son, was left with nothing.
After two weeks in an orphanage, a well dressed man in his mid-forties by the name of Christopher Schmidt arrived at the front step seeking to adopt a child. He'd barely stood in the doorstep for ten seconds when he saw me playing with some blocks and chose me. I was quickly pushed through the process and became the adopted son of Senator Schmidt, mayor hopeful. And when word "leaked" that a candidate had adopted a poor, lost child, he took many votes and won office. He barely talked to me, but put me through various disciplines so that I wouldn't be a complete waste of time and space. After his run as mayor, he had assembled enough money and popularity to retire peacefully into his fame and from then on, every new mayor went to him for advice, offering money or favors in return. All of this because he had randomly adopted me.
I finished my story and looked at Henri. He stared at me for a bit and, with his one arm, placed his hand on my shoulder. He seemed to understand how painful it was and noticed that I seemed to have moved on. However, it was nice that he comforted me as I shook for a minute. After I regained my composure, we went back to class and without a single funny look from anyone, resumed our day.
After school, we met Gills in the front patio of the school. He carried a smart phone that seemed to contain the same technology as his laptop. He passed on a flash drive labeled "Aegis Designs" in neat cursive. He then stood looking at me apprehensively. I took him and Henri by the shoulder and, as we walked, told him "Let me tell you about this absurd plan I have..."
Perseus was interrupted as a guard shook him roughly, grabbed him by the collar, and said "That's enough story time out of you. It's probably all bullshit anyways so shut your trap." And then, facing the lawyer, he said "And your time is up. Get outta here." The lawyer stood up angrily and said "That's no way to treat him. Let go of his collar; he can barely breathe." The guard sneered and slammed Perseus on the table while saying "You think I give a s***? What do I care about this kid? He's just a criminal and you're just a lawyer that's been attached to a hopeless case." The lawyer then took his wallet out, pulled out $50 and said "Let go of him." The guard let go of him and took the money saying, "You sure know how to make sense sir." He then opened the door for him and motioned for him to leave. The lawyer began walking out the door and nodded to Perseus, who nodded back.
At the door, and without turning around, the lawyer said "It's not as hopeless as you think it is you f*ing monkey." He then exited the building in a hurry and, remembering he no longer had a car, called for a cab. Once again, all that occupied his thinking for a while was Perseus.
***Author's Note*** Way overdue in my opinion, but I got it done! :D Thank you very much for reading and stay tuned for Part III. Hopefully, I'll have it out soon. As always, likes and comments with feedback are very much appreciated. Thanks again for reading!