“Just tell me what I want
to know. I’m not mad.” The Arbiter appeared relaxed.
“But sir, you…you
just ripped an arm off of...” The Dragoon quivered and stuttered just
a bit but finally muttered the location of the warehouse.
green eyes narrowed. “I said I’m not mad, as in, `not crazy.’ However,
I am extraordinarily upset with you. And it is time for you to be
Matthew Stone’s life had been far from ordinary.
Star athlete, class president, law degree by age 23. Assistant District
Attorney, age 27. He was a brilliant young prosecutor, and by age
35 he had received his first appointment to the bench. It was only
to a low level criminal court, but it didn’t take long for him to
make a name for himself. Not long at all.
It was a cool spring morning
in Paragon City, and the trial of Marcus Talbot was set to begin.
Talbot had been arrested for allegedly killing an eight-year old child,
Sarah. She was an only child. The young girl’s parents waited on the
steps of the courthouse for a glimpse of their baby’s killer. Matthew,
Matt to his friends, and Stone to his country club friends, almost
made it past them before Sarah’s mother stopped him. Aware of the
cameras nearby, he gave her his best smile.
“Are you going to put
this bastard in jail?”
“You must be little Sarah’s mother. I’m very
sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you. Are you going to put this man in
“I’ll do what I can,” he said, and hoped he sounded sincere.
A flash went off. I hope he got my good side, he thought.
lasted for three weeks and saw countless hours of testimony. The prosecution’s
case was airtight. Talbot’s DNA matched samples found on the lifeless
child, his fingerprints were found on Sarah’s Hello Kitty backpack,
and two witnesses had observed Talbot lurking near her school. The
police obtained a confession by Talbot which was questionable, but
Stone had allowed it to be read into evidence. He was a parole violator.
The District Attorney was expecting a conviction, and court watchers
all expected a victory for the young girl’s parents. The jury didn’t
disappoint them. After four hours of deliberation they returned with
a conviction. Guilty. Talbot was guilty.
On sentencing day, Stone
knew it was his chance to make an impression. During a trial, the
judge can not make his opinion known, but he can make a statement
during the sentencing. Stone had practiced his speech for hours the
night before, and thought he sounded convincing. “Years in jail can
not bring back that tender young life…Society demands justice and
I hope with this conviction there can be some small comfort…yes, I
think I’m ready.”
The courtroom was packed as Stone began to read
his speech. In impassioned tones he criticized the parole system for
letting Talbot out of jail. He lashed out at Talbot for snuffing the
life of an innocent child. By all accounts, it was the speech of a
Man Who Cared. Stone sentenced Talbot to the maximum…25 to life.
was released from prison eight years later. While in prison he had
learned to do machine work, and he was recruited by Nemesis to repair
Jaegers. On the side he stalked playgrounds, and eventually struck
again. And again. Seven times. One of the young victims had her father’s
green eyes and was dropped off at school by her nanny because he was
too busy that morning. Her name was Elizabeth.
When the news got to
Matthew he was in his study, reading past cases ruled on by a rival
for a State Supreme Court position. He felt hollow. Disconnected.
Elizabeth was his only daughter, and until that moment, he hadn’t
realized how much he had loved her. All of the years wasted on politics
and ambition. He stood up from behind the desk, hands trembling, and
the legal brief fluttered to the ground. He began to weep.
“I dunno, Mikey, it looks like it mighta been a helmet.”
seen a helmet the size of a thimble?”
“No, but I also ain’t never
seen anybody actually twisted like a pretzel either.”
of sweat rose on Matt’s clean-shaven head as he struggled to raise
the bar overhead. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He reopened
them as the rage took over and he threw the barbell where it lodged
in the cinderblock wall. He stood staring at the damage as his body
cooled and he shook just a little from the cold. Six hundred pounds.
I can do better.
“More. Hit me again.”
“Look man, you’re
tough, but you got to realize you got limits!”
“More.” Jimmy recognized
that look. It was dangerous. It was the look that you saw on the dead...glass
eyed and without feeling…but he knew better, Jimmy knew it was a mask.
Jimmy weighed his options and decided it was safer for Jimmy to just
hit the man like he asked. Gambling debts are a bitch to pay off,
and this fool paid well.
“Alright, this is the last round. And you
owe me for the two aluminum bats you broke.”
The last Jaeger
stopped twitching and a figure emerged from the debris, dusted itself
off and calmly walked away.
“Look Matt, I know it’s been
rough on you these last few years-“
“Five, sorry, since
“She was murdered.”
“Yes, terrible thing it was. Look,
Matt, I know the last five years have been rough, but you need to
get yourself together.” Larry was the unlucky one. He drew the short
straw and was slowly sweating through his shirt in the big man’s presence.
“They’re going to take you off the bench.”
“Maybe you could
just take a little time off, you know, take a vacation or something?
Hit the gym, perhaps. Ha ha. Ha.” Matt was already opening his briefcase.
“I mean, you’ve worked so hard to get here, maybe a little time off
would do you good. Nobody could blame you.”
“You’re right. I could
use a little free time. See you around.” His few possessions tucked
away, Matt dropped the key to his office on the desk and walked out.
Larry breathed. That went well.
Matt turned the corner
and scanned the warehouse room. Sniper, hmm. A couple of hunter robots.
Hmm. He cracked his knuckles and walked towards the unlucky Tirailleur.
It’s been five years.
Matt tucked the little
Pooh bear into a pocket inside his black suit jacket.
I’ve found you
Talbot, and it’s time…
“…you were judged!” Flames from
Nemesis rifles roared around him as he pounded his way towards the
10 foot tall suit of steam-powered armor.
Talbot’s laughter was tinny
through the suit’s speakers as twenty Jaegers scuttled across the
concrete floor to block Matt’s advance. Bullets sizzled the air and
danced a line towards him. Coldly, methodically, Matt smashed the
robots with his incredible strength. Gouts of steam flew from holes
torn open by the avenging father’s fists, and he slowly marched forward.
“You think you can take me? Come and get me!” A bolt of energy flew
from the Nemesis staff and crashed into Matt, knocking him back into
the debris from the robots. Pieces of metal were lodged in his back.
He was bleeding badly. The world started to close in and turn gray.
“I remember you...you’re that judge who put me away. I remember your
little girl too. We had a good time until I broke her.” Matt heard
the dull thud of the armor’s footsteps and felt himself being picked
up by cold metal hands.
“What’s this? Aww, a widdle bear! What’s the
matter, big boy needs his dolly?” Dazed, Matt watched as Talbot’s
Nemesis armor held the little bear in front of his face. Talbot threw
Matt. He crashed through a wall and slid across the rough floor, finally
coming to a rest face up. Talbot broke through the hole in the wall
made by Matt’s body and stood over him. He tossed the little bear
and it landed on Matt’s chest. Wracked with pain, Matt rolled on his
side and stared at the little doll. Talbot raised the staff high overhead.
“And now you’re going to die, just like your little bitch did.” The
staff was aimed at Matt’s head and descended in slow motion as the
image of his daughter rose.
The staff struck the ground and
sent a shockwave through Matt, knocking him into a pile of crates.
The world was beginning to come back into focus. Slowly, the battered
man stood up.
“Her name was Elizabeth.” Matt wiped at the blood and
tears in his eyes and felt the rage build. “And you, Marcus Talbot,
are about to be judged.”
“10-13, sounds like we got meta-human
activity in this warehouse, I need backup here forthwith!”
Over Cast was the first to find him, sitting on a wooden box, the
mask of a Fake Nemesis in his hands.
“Are you okay friend?”
“Want to tell me what just happened here?”
“He got away.”
“Oh, I see.” The mists swirling around Over Cast
faded and the man became more visible. He sat down on the box next
to Matt. “You know, we could help you find him.”
“Who is `we’, and
who are you?”
“My name is Over Cast. I work with a group called Top
Ten. You might say we’re heroes.”
“Top Ten. I’ve heard of you.” He
looked up. “Can you really help me find Talbot?”
“Yes, I think so.
And what should I call you, friend?”
Matt looked at the mask in his
hands. He crumpled it into a tiny ball and dropped it.
“Call me The