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Aegis Part I: Ignition
The young lawyer tapped his fingers nervously on the dashboard as he was caught in the typical 5 P.M. rush hour traffic. It was bumper to bumper and the din caused from the honking suggested everyone else felt the same about the traffic. He would have to have a word with his secretary about setting up his meetings during such a stupid period of time. This was his first major case and he couldn’t afford to mess it up because of traffic and a silly secretary who cared more about gossiping than actually getting her work done. After a while, the traffic cleared up and the lawyer sped away to the county jail as if his life depended on it. And in a sense, it did.
It was 5:45 P.M by the time got out of his car, a half-hour later than his appointment was scheduled. He was fixing himself up by looking in the side mirror when he noticed a young teenager approaching him whilst twirling a chained razor. The lawyer looked at him apprehensively as the teen walked up to him leisurely.
“Yo pops! That’s a nice car you got there. Want me to take care of it? Only $100 an hour.” He said while sitting down on the hood of the car and extending and retracting the razor. The lawyer knew he was being mugged; it had happened so many times since he became recognizably wealthy and the state of the city didn’t help to make his status any less noticeable.
He was about to reach into his pocket to fork out the money when a security guard that was standing outside of the jail walked up with a hand on his holster and asked “Is there a problem here, gentlemen?” He stared at the teen fixedly with a hand on his holster. The teen looked at the holster, laughed, and responded “Not at all. I was just offering my services to the mister here. But I don’t think he’s interested…so I’ll just be out.” He walked away quickly with his hands in his pocket and the security guard exhaled in relief. “If he had tried to cause any trouble that would’ve been the sixth kid I’ve shot this week.” He then turned to the lawyer and asked “Can I help you with anything?”
The lawyer quickly regained his composure and said “I have an appointment with the defendant of my case today so if I could just be directed to him, I’ll be on my way as well.” The security guard said “Well then, go right inside and check in with the receptionist.” The lawyer entered the building and signed in with the graying receptionist at the desk. She gave him a key and motioned indifferently down the hall. He stopped at the door labeled “Perseus”, took a deep breath and went in.
The room was small and dimly lit. The only furnishings it had was a table and two chairs. Perseus sat in one of the chairs with his legs propped up on the table and rocking back and forth in the four-legged chair. Two guards snapped to attention as the lawyer walked in but they obviously had been chatting with Perseus. Perseus regarded him coolly, as if he were analyzing his weak points and figuring out how to best exploit him to his own ends. The lawyer, not wanting to seem weak, held his gaze as well and used it as a chance to study him back. He had a slim build but had excellent balance, as evidenced by the fact he was balancing himself without any effort despite the fact that the chair was tilted at a precarious angle. His shaggy brown hair and unkemptness suggested an average teenage boy, an appearance that would have been believable if it weren't for his black eyes. They were the kind of eyes that shone with a malicious intelligence of the likes the lawyer had never seen in the common city folk. They suggested a boredom of the kind that made a person want to take a part an animal and put them back together just to see what it was like. They showed a cold, manipulative mind that was constantly judging its surroundings to be beneath them. They also burned with a furious flame that simply wanted to destroy everything in its path. They were the eyes of a king, the eyes of madman, and the eyes of someone destined to rule.
The lawyer took a seat in front of him. Perseus simply continued to rock himself as the lawyer stared at him. The lawyer was, after all, only one in the dozens of others in the case that had been sent to Perseus to try to negotiate terms for his conviction. Yet none of them had succeeded. The young lawyer had been sent in the vain hope that he would get through to the kid. He put his briefcase on the table, opened it, and took out Perseus' files. Perseus Omediakis, sixteen years old, born on December 9th, and in foster care. A scholarship student at one of the most prestigious high schools in the city, a great athlete at any sport, and an all-around genius.
"Are you quite finished reviewing me, or do you expect for me to wait for a longer period of time?" said Perseus. His voice had a melodic sort of ring to it that was both pleasant and commanding. The young lawyer put his papers down and looked at him. Perseus had put his feet on the floor and was seated correctly. He stared at him even more intensely now and the lawyer had to swallow before being able to talk to Perseus.
"Uhm, yes Mr. Omediakis," the young lawyer started, "I'm here to continue negotiations with you regarding your sentence-"
"What sentence? I have not been convicted yet. You are here to also try convince me to plead insane, am I right?" interrupted Perseus. The lawyer's face flushed at having been figured out so easily. He cleared his throat and said "Yes. That is exactly why I am here, Perseus. I see we don't need to beat around the bush here." Perseus smiled and said "Glad we got that out of the way. Well then, I suppose you may exit now and return to your lawyer buddies with the message that there is no way in h*ll I'm going to plead insane. Come back when you have a more creative explanation. I'm sure you doctorate-degree adults can come up with a better solution than insanity."
"Well those doctorate adults are h*ll-bent at making you agree to their terms. They want to win this case and humiliate the 'Emperor of the Four Cities' by making you plead insane. You are going to jail, there isn't a doubt about that. How long you want to go is entirely up to you." explained the lawyer.
"And what do you think about all this? Do you believe I should plead insane?" asked Perseus. The lawyer was fully expecting this question and was about to answer when Perseus held up his hand. "You know what? Hold on a second. You're about to give me a pre-fabricated answer. And that's no good. You need to give me your answer, Mr. Lawyer." Perseus said. The lawyer had been anticipated yet again and he was getting sick of it.
"Okay then Perseus. Tell me your side of the story. What led to your 658 charges of assault, 1027 charges for destruction of property, and four charges of first-degree murder?" the lawyer asked.
This time Perseus laughed and said "That is the first time during this three-month trial that one of the plaintiff lawyers have asked for my back story. Don't you have it all in your reports?"
"I want to hear it coming from your mouth. What exactly led up to the title 'Emperor'?" responded the lawyer. Perseus sat looking at him. He gave a slight smirk. Then, he started his tale. The lawyer took out his notepad and listened.
First off, Mr. Lawyer, let me ask you this. If you could eradicate every piece of scum on this planet, would you not? Ever since I can remember, this city has been a piece of s***. The police, who are supposed to be our guardians, accept every little bribe to ignore crimes they see happening right under their noses. They allow the strong to eat at the weak when it is their duty to protect them. Is that not what separates man from beast? Personally, I've never been wronged by the scum. They always left me alone if I paid them off. But that was back when I was weak. It was before I met the other four people that I founded my empire with. It was before the foundation of Aegis.
Now a second question. Did you know that gangs are essentially the same as countries? Territorial, power-hungry, abusive, there isn't a single thing they don't share in common. So as I sat in school, learning nothing, I thought to myself: What if a country existed in which their sole purpose of existing was to be stronger than the strongest but weaker than the weakest? To attack and defend but never to take control. Once such a country existed, it would only be natural for order to follow, no? I became obsessed with creating such a country. A country in which the weak wouldn't have to be abused. A country in which no one had to suffer because they weren't strong enough to fight back. A country in which no mother or father would get killed for their money. In which no sister would be stripped from his only brother and separated forever. A country in which justice would not be obstructed, where it would be carried out with diligence and force. A government for the people by the people was no longer good enough. It had to become a shield for the people, by the strongest they could give. But I couldn't create this country alone. I had the intellect, intellect I had in surplus!, but I needed a blade. Someone who would fight for our cause blindly and passionately. The problem then lay in finding such an idealist. Fortunately the answer came sooner than I expected.
It was drizzling the day I met Henri Yuan. Or rather the day he saved me and my dream. I had been walking home from school when I was stopped by two guys in leather jackets. Their ludicrously outdated appearance was only supported by their equally old hairstyles. One had a mullet and the other a perm. Both had several piercings and a red triangle on the top right corner of their foreheads.
"Yo, Shorty. I'm pretty hungry right now and you're one of them rich kids here. Spare some money for us, eh?" the mullet one said. Not only did they look ridiculous, but they spoke ridiculously as well. But I knew their gang. The Red Blade was currently the most respected gang of our neighborhood and the most feared. They could be easily be identified by the red triangles they carried around and the darker the shade of red, the more higher up in the chain of rule they were. They had bright red triangles which hinted at new recruits out searching for prey with which to increase their street credit.
"I already paid Wolf," I started and showed them the red wristband that signaled I was under official Red Blade protection, "So you two should find someone else to bother."
Faster than I could possibly have followed, the perm guy drew a knife and sliced the wristband clean in half while making a gash on my wrist. It instantly began bleeding as the two just laughed. I fell to my knees and they simply began walking away. "Next time, if we ask for money, you give it to us." he said as my vision began clouding. I looked up, wanting at least to remember who ended my life in such a pitiable fashion and take the image with me into the afterlife. I will confess to you, Mr. Lawyer, that incident was the closest I've ever been to death. With my blood turning the water pink, I was close to collapsing when Henri arrived.
He had no umbrella and his long hair covered his face. He had on our regular uniform and had no distinguishable features when I first saw him. He pressed a cloth to my bleeding wrist and ran ahead to catch up to the two gang members. Through foggy eyes, I wasn't sure if the fact that both went flying in different directions after simultaneous punches was my imagination or not. But when I saw them lying unconscious on the floor, as I passed out, all I remembered was him picking me up and carrying me to safety.
It was three weeks after that incident when I was discharged from the hospital and was able to seek him out. During that time, I was able to remember the one distinguishing feature my savior had. He only had one arm. And using this point, I was able to locate him quite easily. As a matter of fact, he had been in my homeroom class. Henri Yuan, a quiet Asian boy, extremely plain. He would always just sit reading a book in class and participate in lessons when the teacher called on him. So I couldn't find an explanation for how he had taken down two gang members in mere seconds. Any attempt to approach him was followed promptly by his taking leave. I gave up on attempting to approach him because it was getting to the point where people could view my approaches as weird. Thus, I was resigned to following him after school. Once I did, I wished I had thought of it earlier. It would have saved me a lot of time and spared me from those quizzical stares I despise so much.
I tailed him after school to one of the Red Triangles' favorite hangout spots. It was in a junkyard close to the school and well-hidden from passerby. Perfect for doing illicit drugs, beating up people, and for general gang-related activities. So I was ridiculously surprised that he marched in like it was nothing. I followed closely behind, doing my best to avoid attention which was easy because at that moment, all eyes were on Henri. In the heart of the junkyard lay the den which consisted of a giant fire, a throne, and little seats for the regular gang members. Wolf, my Triangle consultant, sat in the throne, recognizably superior by his crimson triangle and studded bronze knuckles. He regarded Henri with surprise. What idiot walks straight into the wolf's den?
"Can I help you?" asked Wolf.
"Come down here. And fight me." replied Henri.
At that point Wolf began laughing so hard he rolled off his throne. He got up and said "Okay wow. You want to join the gang? We need a court jester and you're HI-F***ING-LARIOUS!"
"I wasn't making a joke," continued Henri, "I'm here to destroy every single one of you. Starting with you Wolf."
"Can I at least have the honor of knowing why?" asked Wolf getting up.
"So you don't remember me," replied Henri, "You drunk f***." He took off his jacket revealing his bare chest and only one arm. Wolf recoiled and yelled at the assembled gang members "What are you waiting for? GET HIM!" In that moment, Henri closed his eyes and I knew Wolf had just sealed their fate. Within five minutes the dozen gang members or so lay out across the graveyard, unconscious, and Wolf was kneeling before Henri, shivering in fear.
"What- kind- of- monster- are- you-?" asked Wolf through his profuse bleeding. Henri simply responded by kicking him under the chin and saying "One you created after depriving me of my arm." Wolf's neck visibly snapped and he too fell. Henri then took out his cell phone, called an ambulance and began walking back. Then he spotted me.
"What are you doing here?" he asked with a bewildered look. I looked around and realized one thing: he was the blade I needed.
"That fight was ridiculous," I said, "But why all of a sudden? You've been missing an arm all year."
"Not that it's any of your business, but I was waiting for Wolf to reach the height of his power. To keep busy, I simply beat anyone that might inhibit Wolf's rise to leadership. Now leave me alone." he replied. I ran after him, wondering how I would persuade him to join my cause.
"Hey. Was revenge really all you wanted? Are you going to stop going after those scumbags now that Wolf's done?" I asked.
"Yes. I'm finished." he said and continued walking.
"So you're going to let your entire prowess go unused?" I pressed.
"No point to it being used. I trained for three years to take him down. It's over." he replied with a dangerous edge to his voice.
"So, not only is Wolf finished but you are as well?!" I exclaimed.
"I don't see what else I can do." he said and when he looked back, I could practically see him begging for a new purpose. A human is not a human unless they have a purpose and whatever had happened between Henri and Wolf obviously had been completed.
"You can join me. My purpose hasn't been fulfilled yet." I said
"What's your purpose then?" he asked.
"I want to get rid of everyone like Wolf. All those gang scum need to go. And not just gang members but everything that makes our world scum has to go."
"That's quite the grand goal."
"With you, it could be completed easily."
At that point, the rain picked up and I said "Join me. Together we can end them all. Together we can create a perfect world."
Henri actually laughed. He then said "And how do you intend to achieve this?"
"By creating our own gang as the first step to our utopia. But our gang wouldn't be for our own profit. Our gang would be a barrier for everyone else against the other gangs. An establishment of protection over our soon-to-be domain."
"So a shield essentially, right Perseus?"
"Exactly. A shield."
"What would it be called?"
"I've codenamed my plan Aegis. So are you in?" I responded as we reached the exit of the junkyard.
"I'll get back to you on that." said Henri. But by the way his eyes lit up, I knew he was sold. The first two of the Founding Five of Aegis had been formed. And I was a small step closer to my dream.
"Excuse me sir?" interjected a guard, "Your time is up." The young lawyer couldn't believe it. An hour had passed already and he had barely scratched the surface of Perseus' story.
"Guess that's it then Mr. Lawyer. Good bye." said Perseus.
"We're not quite finished yet," said the lawyer, "I'm going to return. And we will finish that story of yours."
Perseus grinned and said "Well then, in that case I look forward to your return."
The young lawyer exited the room, already imagining all the possibilities Perseus' new world held. And what had to be done in order to reach it.