Fall of the Absolutes
:from the Chronicles of Purgatory Station
Scott William Foley
The Nocturnal Knight sits on a wooden chair in the attic of First Redeemer, his headquarters. He remains motionless with his elbows positioned upon the armrests and his chin propped against his interlocked fists. How did everything go so very wrong?
Months ago, the United States of America incarcerated Freedom, perhaps the truest Colossal in Purgatory Station. With Freedom gone, the Knight knows no one else he can trust to watch over the city. His is old. He doesn’t have much time left. Death looms.
Sydney is out of the picture. She doesn’t speak to the Knight, nor does she operate as Devil Woman. The press isn’t sure how to interpret Devil Woman’s sudden appearance and even quicker departure, but the Nocturnal Knight knows the truth. He knows what made her lose heart. He blames himself. Like with so many others, he failed her.
The Shadow Serpent returned soon after Nocturnal Knight resorted to the unthinkable, thereby losing his last shred of integrity. The MegaMal’s reemergence establishes the villain’s superiority. Not many can walk away from a sniper-shot to the forehead. The monster continues to kill innocent citizens while making the Colossals look inept. If the Knight didn’t know better, he’d think it a well-calculated conspiracy.
Pastor Irons, his confidant and only friend, abandoned him soon after the Nocturnal Knight’s last encounter with Sydney. Irons knew the Knight put that young woman up to cold-blooded murder, and a man of God could not live with that. Irons gave the Knight an ultimatum: hang up the cloak or lose Irons forever. Like so many times before, the Knight took the only option he believed viable.
Irons soon disappeared.
Though the meagre space between the attic and First Redeemer’s sanctuary separates them, they might as well be on different planets. The old pastor kept his promise by leaving the Knight’s life.
Staring at the dark, wooded floor, the Nocturnal Knight thinks of one other time in his life when things were so bleak, so hopeless. Seventeen years ago. On that awful night, the Absolutes, a team he helped found, were massacred.
On that day, they fell like amateurs, and he didn’t even have the honor to die with them.
The Nocturnal Knight just finished preventing the knife-for-hire MegaMal known as Slit from assassinating Ulrakistan’s visiting ambassador when his transmitter sounded. Each member of the Absolutes operated independently, so when a call came in it meant a critical situation threatened.
He met the rest of his team in a seemingly abandoned, overgrown bunker at the top of Forlorn Mountain in Wilderness Park. It remained as a relic from the Second World War. Solar Flare owned the bunker, though he never bothered to explain how he’d come to do so. He also never told them where the state-of-the-art technology within the bunker originated.
When the Nocturnal Knight entered, he observed the rest of the Absolutes sitting at a round table with twelve seats. One of those seats belonged to the Knight.
Seven remained unfilled.
“You’ve arrived,” Solar Flare said.
“So I have,” the Nocturnal Knight responded as he sat down in a whoosh of cloth and a clank of equipment.
He took stock of those surrounding him.
To his right sat young Firestreak. Unlike the Nocturnal Knight, most of Firestreak’s red and black uniform served no purpose other than to hide his face. He did have one interesting feature, however. He wore a pair of jet boots that probably belonged to the Meta-Agent Program. The Knight heard rumblings MAP discovered antigravity properties and thus become lax with rounding up archaic flight technologies, such as Firestreak’s boots. MAP’s disinterest in fueled flight methods served as the only possible reason Firestreak operated unfettered with them, unless, of course, MAP claimed him as one of their own … … The Knight felt assured they did not, though Firestreak’s acquisition of the equipment would remain a mystery until the Nocturnal Knight found time to solve it.
Little did the Knight know that by daybreak, the United States government would recover those boots … but little else.
Next to Firestreak sat Dr. Density. The doctor swore up and down that his blue and red costume facilitated the proper functioning of his Densometer, but the Knight didn’t see why that included a giant atom sewn onto his chest. Like most of the Absolutes, Dr. Density hid his face in order to retain anonymity. While he allowed his brown hair to remain exposed, a pair of red goggles and blue cloth obscured the rest of Dr. Density’s features.
Cometress could be found across from Dr. Density. Her eyes glowed red and her hair crackled yellow and sparked orange as it shifted and shuffled with the predictability of an open flame. She wore no mask, but with gold sheen passing for her skin, the Nocturnal Knight wasn’t convinced she even belonged to the human race. Her orange and black body suit utilized unknown elemental materials, which supported the possibility she arrived from elsewhere. The Knight surmised she had no identity to protect
Finally, Solar Flare sat next to Cometress. But for the red and yellow emblem upon his chest, a malleable silver shell covered him. It fit perfectly the contours of his body and formed points at his shoulders, fists, and outer calves. A red visor hid his face, which, along with his otherworldly appearance, prompted the nation to speculate wildly as to his origins and consequently nickname him “the cosmic man.”
Solar Flare said, “Now that the Knight is here, let’s begin. The PSPD notified me an unknown MegaMal has taken the Gaiman Observation Deck hostage. They’d like us to intervene and stabilize the situation.”
The Knight questioned, “He’s taken the Gaiman Observation Deck hostage, or he’s taken hostages on the Gaiman Observation Deck?”
Solar Flare shifted in his seat before saying, “Just the deck. He allowed the visitors to leave.”
“That seems odd,” Dr. Density commented. “It’s certainly not consistent with most MegaMal behavior.”
“Are we even sure this is a MegaMal?” Firestreak asked with his palms up.
Cometress ribbed, “What? You think he’s a tourist?”
Firestreak glanced in her direction, but said nothing in return.
“The PSPD’s primary concern is the six-foot, glowing axe he’s wielding. MegaMal or not, we can’t allow that,” Solar Flare said.
“Finally, we agree on something,” the Nocturnal Knight grinned.
“So if he hasn’t taken any hostages, what does he want?” Firestreak asked.
Solar Flare answered, “He won’t say. Apparently, he’s just standing there with his axe, waiting.”
“Waiting? This case grows more peculiar by the moment. He’s waiting for what?” Dr. Density inquired.
Cometress snapped her fingers, which emitted a red spark, then bounded from her seat and said, “Let’s go find out.”
Before everyone followed Cometress’ lead, Dr. Density quickly said, “I think we should recruit Turf for this mission. I spoke with him a few days ago. He wants to be part of the Absolutes. He wants to be one of us.”
“I already told you,” Solar Flare interjected, “he’s too inexperienced.”
Firestreak argued, “So was I in the beginning, but you all helped train me.”
“You just want someone on the team younger than you,” Cometress teased.
Dr. Density blushed beneath his mask. He said, “I all but promised him.”
“You had no business doing so,” the Nocturnal Knight chastised.
“We could use his power,” Dr. Density continued.
“I’m with Density,” Firestreak assisted. “With this unknown MegaMal and his ‘glowing axe,’ we might need some extra muscle. Turf has power to spare.”
Cometress huffed, “We’ve got the power of two suns. Isn’t that enough?”
The Absolutes flew in—Firestreak carrying Dr. Density and Cometress hauling the Nocturnal Knight. Solar Flare took point. They first saw the axe. It burned red as though forged in Hell. As they moved in closer, the figure holding the axe came into view.
For some of them, this figure was not a welcome sight.
“Density,” Solar Flare called out over the bay’s winds. “You talk to him. Firestreak, I want you behind him. Open fire the minute you think we’ve got a problem. Cometress and Knight stand on opposite sides.”
“And you?” the Nocturnal Knight questioned.
Solar Flare stared at the mysterious individual as he replied, “I’ll stay above and cover all of you. Be ready to find shelter in case I have to fry the guy.”
The Knight sneered, “Take cover while we’re on top of a bridge in the middle of Massachusetts Bay? Great advice.”
Solar Flare ignored the Nocturnal Knight’s comment.
They landed and took their positions according to Solar Flare’s instructions. He hovered a distant twenty feet above.
Dr. Density allowed fifteen feet of buffer space between the stranger and him. “Looks like something out of a Tolkien novel,” he muttered to himself.
The figure held his axe horizontally with both hands, utterly at ease. He was mammoth, at least seven feet tall, and with his medieval cloaks and helmet sculpted to appear like the fleshless face of a demon, he did indeed appear like the villain of a demented fantasy.
The axe-wielder seemed to study Dr. Density for a moment, then looked to his left at the Nocturnal Knight, then slowly faced the Cometress, and finally glanced over his huge shoulder at Firestreak.
His weapon, which discharged red flickers and embers, remained lowered but at the ready.
At last, the intruder propped his axe against his body and pointed through the night sky at Solar Flare. He then used the same gauntleted hand to wave away the rest of the Absolutes.
The Nocturnal Knight dared not remove his eyes from the obvious threat, but nonetheless yelled up to Solar Flare, “Looks to me like he wants you one-on-one, Flare.”
The Cometress quickly reminded, “That’s not how we do business, Knight. We work together.”
After chuckling morosely, the Nocturnal Knight quipped, “Oh? The power of one sun may not be enough? That’s news.”
Dr. Density demanded, “Let’s get this over with.” His heart raced as he shifted from foot to foot. His lower back grew moist with sweat. Density did not suffer superstition, but when he woke up that morning he had a feeling he would never see his wife and children again. Such unsubstantiated misgivings were as foreign to him as the metal constituting that radiant axe, yet the feeling persisted.
“Talk first; show of peace,” Firestreak prompted.
Cracking his knuckles, the Nocturnal Knight added, “Action if he doesn’t comply.”
The Cometress grinned and said, “Always.”
Solar Flare said nothing. He watched … and waited for the inevitable.
Adjusting the Densometer encircling his right forearm to the point his body could withstand a tank shell, Dr. Density next calmly held up his hands as a sign of nonaggression.
They faintly heard a helicopter approaching in the distance.
“It’s obvious you’re not from around here,” Density began. “We’re the Absolutes. You might say we’re the protectors of Purgatory Station. We don’t want trouble, but, unless you have a permit for that thing, we need you to hand over the axe.”
A slight breeze arose and then, almost too fast for any of them to follow, the immense man rushed at Dr. Density, his cloak flailing behind him, and swung his axe at the Absolute’s emissary. Beneath his red goggles, Dr. Density’s eyes grew huge as he realized his end surely arrived. Luckily, at the last second, the stranger pivoted the axe so that its blunt end nailed the doctor square in the chest and made a sound like the crunch of stone against stone.
Relief flooded Dr. Density’s heart until he realized the force of the blow sent him careening through the air and over the guardrail of the Gaiman Observation Deck. He fell.
Though the attack took only a fraction of a second, Cometress scrambled to intercept Dr. Density’s plummet. In a blaze of orange hair and red eyes, she alerted, “I’ve got him.”
Solar Flare kept still during the episode. After the assault against Density, he finally yelled, “Attack!”
Firestreak ignited his jet boots and lifted off, gaining the high ground against the stranger. Just as the rival turned to face him, Firestreak’s forehead emitted a series of interspersed white dots before firing a psionic concussion blast strong enough to pulverize a minivan.
Their enemy caught the discharge upon his axe, twirled it like so much cotton candy, then flung it at the newly arrived WPUG news helicopter.
When Firestreak’s redirected barrage struck the helicopter, it—and all within—were ravaged.
“No!” Firestreak screamed with his head in his hands and his eyes wide. “No!”
Nocturnal Knight looked up at Solar Flare and muttered, “I think we’re definitely dealing with a MegaMal.”
The murderer rested the blunt end of his axe upon the ground. Again, he pointed at Solar Flare, then waved Firestreak and the Nocturnal Knight away.
Reaching behind his back, the Nocturnal Knight pulled out two escrima sticks, ready to battle. He assumed an offensive stance, then called out to Solar Flare, “What is this? Does he know you?”
Still hovering above, Solar Flare spoke no words.
The Nocturnal Knight glanced at their leader then quickly formulated a few theories, none of which he liked.
Suddenly Cometress reappeared with Dr. Density in tow as he punched a series of commands into the Densometer. She dropped him to the ground and when he landed, the cement beneath his feet cracked. He’d take no more chances with axes.
“He’s okay,” Cometress declared as she took position next to Solar Flare. “I caught him before he hit the water.”
“Not that it would have mattered,” Dr. Density hissed as he stared down the fiend with the glowing weapon. “I prepared for impact. Still, it’s nice to stay dry.”
“Yeah, and it’s nice to strain every muscle in my back hauling you up,” Cometress added.
Firestreak, still reeling from the devastation of the helicopter and all within, landed next to Dr. Density and shook his head. “How can you joke? I don’t believe what he did … What he did with my … How?”
“Enough talk,” the Nocturnal Knight said.
“Agreed,” Cometress added. “Let’s finish this.”
As though in accordance, the brute leapt through the air, catching Dr. Density and Firestreak by surprise, and swept their legs out from under them with the six-foot handle of his weapon. He next raced to meet the Nocturnal Knight head-on. Cometress left Solar Flare’s side in order to reinforce the Knight.
Solar Flare shrieked, “Knight, no! Quietus is too powerful! Do not engage!”
Though rare while combatting, the Nocturnal Knight became distracted, turned his head a fraction of an inch, and demanded, “How do you know his name?”
The Knight’s lapse provided Quietus an opportunity. He flung his axe in a wide arc and tore through the Knight’s gut with the ease of a lightening bolt through the sky.
The Nocturnal Knight collapsed.
“This can’t be happening,” Firestreak moaned as he climbed to his feet.
“It’s happening,” Dr. Density replied. “We’ve got to end this.”
Cometress landed in front of the slumped Knight. Her hands radiated with energy, urging release. She wanted nothing more than to crack the monster’s skull-faced helmet in half, as well as whatever hid beneath.
“Get him to safety,” Solar Flare ordered her.
“Now, Cometress,” Solar Flare insisted, still aloft. “Other than me, you’re the only one fast enough. I can’t leave, which makes you the only chance he’s got.”
Cometress growled at Quietus, “You’re mine when I get back.” She then scooped up her ally and whisked him away to Purgatory Station’s mainland.
The behemoth appeared unafraid.
Solar Flare finally descended and hung a few feet above the ground, directly before Quietus. “Take position,” he commanded Dr. Density and Firestreak. “Triangulate and surround the target.”
“About time you got involved,” Firestreak said. He then questioned, “Can we do this without Cometress?”
Dr. Density assured, “She’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Solar Flare declared. “Density, are you up to full capacity?”
“Any more and I’d fall through the concrete,” he replied.
“Good. With the Knight gone, Firestreak and I can cut loose. No mercy, all right?”
“He’ll get the same compassion he gave those people in the helicopter,” Firestreak answered.
The air crackled with unbridled power, and before all Hell broke loose, Dr. Density swore he saw Quietus’ shoulders convulse, as though chuckling.
With the Nocturnal Knight cradled in one arm, Cometress used the other to throw open First Redeemer’s attic skylight. She descended and laid the Knight down upon a nearby daybed.
“You’ll be okay?” she asked as she looked out the skylight with her mind on other things.
Grunting, the Nocturnal Knight replied, “Fine. The axe cauterized the wound. Didn’t seem to hit anything major. Just need time.”
Preparing for takeoff, Cometress said, “It’s safer for you this way.”
“But not for you.”
Looking over her shoulder, Cometress asked, “What?”
“He knows him,” the Nocturnal Knight said though gritted teeth. “Solar Flare—he knows that monster. He called him by name.”
Cometress turned to face the Knight. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying we’re fighting Solar Flare’s battle for him. He knew he couldn’t take this character down on his own.”
“We’re a team, Knight,” Cometress replied matter-of-factly. “Solar Flare doesn’t need to fight alone. Teamwork is what we do … Most of us, that is.”
The Nocturnal Knight looked away.
“I’ll see you soon,” she said before blasting off.
The Knight turned and watched her trail of energy dissipate, then whispered, “I hope so.”
The wind roared in Cometress’ ears as she careened between skyscrapers, but once she’d cleared the city and approached the Gaiman Observation Deck, her screams of rage roared far louder.
Firestreak’s skeletal remains smoked in the corner of the deck. Only his equipment and bits of tattered red and black uniform clung to his charred bones.
Solar Flare hung above Quietus, pouring every ounce of cosmic force through his fists against the murderous MegaMal.
Quietus did not wane nor relent.
Standing as far away as possible, Dr. Density shielded his goggled-eyes with his arms and did his best to evade atomization by Solar Flare’s intense power.
Drawing her closed fists to her chest, Cometress beckoned every reserve of power at her disposal and prepared to add to Solar Flare’s onslaught.
As she neared, though, the unthinkable occurred.
Quietus absorbed everything Solar Flare fired at him, brushed it off with a shrug, and then hurled his axe at the leader of the Absolutes.
It tore through the silver shell with ease.
The Nocturnal Knight remains seated in his attic, reliving that terrible night. Solar Flare’s rupture eviscerated Gaiman Observation Deck and most of Kirby Bridge. No one, not even the Nocturnal Knight, could have guessed the cosmic man housed so much raw, devastating energy within his heart.
Though incinerated before the explosion, the United States government managed to locate both of Firestreak’s jet boots. The right boot landed on a shoreline in Boston. The left one traveled to the middle of Purgatory Station.
They found not a shred of Dr. Density. Only his Densometer survived. They discovered it directly beneath the site of the explosion at the bottom of the bay. Why the Densometer dropped straight down while Firestreak’s boots traveled miles in either direction proved a mystery to most. The Nocturnal Knight had yet another theory, however, and if ever proven correct it would mean Dr. Density suffered a horrendous fate—perhaps still suffers.
Of course, Solar Flare and Cometress were obliterated as well. In seventeen years, there’s been no reason to believe either survived their encounter with Quietus.
Quietus entered the chronicles of infamy the day he brought about the fall of the Absolutes. They even made a movie about it. Of course, no one present at the scene survived those last moments, so the producers took quite a few creative liberties. In fact, other than the Nocturnal Knight, no one even knew what Quietus truly looked like.
The Knight has never spoken a word about that day to anyone.
Even now, the Nocturnal Knight doesn’t know Quietus’ origin or purpose. As always, he has ideas, but he likes none of them, for they all revolve around and incriminate Solar Flare. During his darker moments, he wonders if Solar Flare always planned to sacrifice them to that monster.
“It’s time to hang it up,” the Nocturnal Knight mutters under his breath. “You’re no good any more, old man. The Knight’s time has passed.”
A sheen of light suddenly illuminates the attic as a ball of fire crashes through the skylight in a shower of glass.
The Nocturnal Knight jumps to his feet with fists raised. His eyes widen as he struggles to create explanations for the impossible sight unfolding.
The light subsides until the Knight sees a silver cosmic man standing before him.
“Get yourself together, Irons!” Solar Flare cries. “It’s only a matter of time before Quietus finds me again!”
To Be Continued …
Copyright © 2008, 2015 by Scott William Foley
All Rights Reserved.
Originally Published at WWW.SCOTTWILLIAMFOLEY.COM
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.
Also By Scott William Foley …
Short Story Collections
The Imagination’s Provocation: Volume I
The Imagination’s Provocation: Volume II
Dr. Nekros Electronic Serial
Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian (1 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Phantasms and Chicanery (2 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Bloodied Pistons (3 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: An Unforeseen Calamity (4 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: A Nightmare Realized (5 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: An Abhorrent Culmination (6 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Monstrosity’s Dawn (7 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Demons Within (8 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Lineage (9 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Inevitable Demise of Anton Hall (10 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Diatribe and Divulgence (11 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Peripeteia (12 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Realm Within (13 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Depths of Fate (14 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: A77 (15 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: A Catastrophic Convergence (16 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Devil’s Ashes (17 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Requiem For the Redeemed (18 of 18)
About the Author
Scott William Foley is a proud husband, father, educator, and writer. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in English Secondary Education and his Master’s degree in Reading from Illinois State University. Foley currently lives in Normal, IL