It’s… Uh, the Crusader? At my front door, with no armor or anything? At five in the morning? In the middle of the rain?
Don’t ask me what time I went to sleep. Just know that these knocks very much woke me up and I did not get enough sleep cycles to function correctly.
“Morgan, hello,” he says. “So nice to meet you again.”
“Good… morning,” I mumble. How did he get my address, exactly? I mean, I know the answer, that stupid metallic know-it-all answer, but I’m confused as to why.
“I’d like to confess something to you,” he says.
“I am not a hero.” His head bows, just like it did when he was looking over Ohata King’s body in J-District a couple days ago.
“Uh.” I don’t know how to respond to a statement like that.
“I intend to hang in my cape.” I think he means literally. “I am the Crusader… No more!”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Of course. I ruined so much of the mission at the festival. I could hardly keep up with the action, and when I did, my foolhardy actions ended with many injured and one man quite dead. Even if he was dark in morals, I cannot accept it.”
I am extremely okay with this turn of events, but out of politeness, I still say, “But we captured so many criminals. All of the Japanese mafia guys there, basically all of the bosses. That Nami chick. Even Yuri Motokawa herself was finally arrested! We did a great job.”
“And the Mighty Slammer is in the hospital because of me,” he says.
“There’s no ‘the.’” When he does not react, I just pretend like I never said any of that. “She’s fine. Just a run-of-the-mill stabbing. And she’s going to prison, too. Basically, we wiped out a whole huge criminal network together. So you should be very proud of that.”
“Do you wish me to keep being a vigilante, then?” he asks.
It takes me a while to skirt around answering that question, but eventually I get him to leave and decide to go back to bed. My empty bed with no partners in it, because that’s just not something that happens in my life anymore apparently.
I put my head on my pillow and… Oh, I’m not falling back asleep. What’s this?
Sigh. My brain wants to wonder about my own heroics. The Crusader failed to save the day cleanly, and so did I. A lot of people got hurt because I wasn’t strong enough, or maybe wasn’t ruthless enough. I’m not sure.
Maybe I should hang in my cape, albeit metaphorically rather than literally. Maybe it’s time for me to focus on my job and my responsibilities in life, and finally say adios to that robot pal of mine.
…That’s what I’d say, at least, if I knew I wasn’t destined for this life. I’ve tried to get out of the hero life before, and it’s never come even remotely close to working. I’m just too stubborn to allow myself to let my powers go to waste.
So, for better or worse, I’m a hero.
And then my brain finally lets me fall back asleep.
“It took me one trip to the local library to figure it out,” R8PR says, gesturing to his robot courier who hands me a few sheets of paper. “I sent my courier out to search the microfilm archives for the word `Skypath,` and guess what? Newspaper entries came up with several matches over the years.”
R8PR, amazing at research as always, even when it doesn’t involve the internet. I wonder if those college classes are helping him out in this area.
I look down at the papers, which have blown up photocopies of the microfilm articles. Some dated from the 80s, a couple in the 90s, and the very last one in 2000.
“Skypath’s mentioned a lot,” I say. “He robbed two banks in one day. Got in a firefight with the police in ‘86. Holy crap, this dude was a Cybermancer, wasn’t he?”
“Not just a Cybermancer,” he tells me. “One of the founders of the Cybermancers. He and Athena Supreme and a few others.”
Athena Supreme. The woman I defeated a year ago who derailed a whole damn train just to prove a point. She and Skypath…
I stare at these documents in shock. “I thought the Cybermancers were over. Moonslash was one of the last ones, and he abandoned his quest, and all that.” Before R8PR has a chance to contradict me, I do it myself: “But that’s clearly changed, or something. Cybermancer gear’s been leaking on the streets. The Dial-Up Demon and Mighty Slammer both got their hands on it, despite being nowhere near the level to use it properly.”
“You think the Dial-Up Demon was a Cybermancer, too?” R8PR asks. “First I’ve heard of it.”
“I’ve got a real hunch that guy was more like a test than anything else. Someone, maybe this Skypath, was baiting me to see how I’d do against a real small threat. I’m not sure how I did. This, though, this had nothing to do with me. But I’m also not so sure I stopped it.”
R8PR shakes his head. “I think our net contribution was almost zero, in the long run. Mighty Slammer broke open countless Cybermancer caches and safe houses, and to what end we don’t even know. Then she subdued and defeated Ohata King before he could begin his terrorist plot. Sounds like we just stood in her way more than anything.”
“She even knew Yuri Motokawa would be there, so she used that super strong magnet and got her arrested. If Motokawa ever gets out, that’s not going to be pretty, but for now it means the biggest mercenary group in the city doesn’t even have a leader.”
“The Japanese mafia is the same way,” R8PR adds. “Clearly, this Skypath man wanted both of them out of the picture, but to what end?”
“Maybe the same end that got the Earth Group clamped down on,” I say. “Donald Blyth did that one to fake his own murder. But it also means that some of the biggest organized crime in the city is completely wiped out.”
“And it means Chief Baranowsky gets a huge victory to boost his mayoral campaign.”
“I forgot about that and now I’m angry that you reminded me,” I say. “…Do you really think he might be behind it?”
“I have no idea. But I think you might want to look at that last article a little closer. Maybe read it.”
The one dated 2000. It’s a bit longer than the rest, because… it’s an obituary. Skypath, real name Randall Lyons, dead at age 57, after an apparent drug overdose. Accidental, the coroners ruled. And the picture they used…
A bald man with an eyepatch and a scar over his other eye.
“Skypath was at the Ascendants meeting!” I shout.
R8PR nods. “Just like you told me.”
“And he apparently died just over ten years ago,” I say. “Obviously not if he’s still plotting around, but what the hell’s his plan if it’s taken this long?”
“We’ll find out,” R8PR says. “If we don’t, we’ll probably die.”
Comforting words from my robot ally.
It’s time to get to the bottom of things. Or rather, it would be if I wasn’t extremely tired. First things first, it’s time to go home and go the hell to sleep. Ascendancies can wait until the morning.