“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.”
---Whistler, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“I’ve seen violence in TV and in the movies,” Max pointed out, throwing open the door. He would later remember it as one of the last occasions where he had bounded ahead of his Guardian and his mentor.
“Mighty One, no!” Norman shouted.
Norman’s warning came too late. Max had opened the cabin door, and now stood on the threshold--both metaphorically and literally. He had casually pushed the door open, only to accidentally step out of his innocence...forever.
Though Max was only eleven, he knew, on some level, that he could never go back.
His eyes were wide with fear and shock, and his normally pale skin went chalk-white. For the first time in all the days his companions had known him, Mighty Max was speechless. The gasp caught in his throat, and he stared, imprisoned by the sight before his eyes.
…this isn’t TV….
…this is real.
His thoughts swirled in his mind, meaningless drabbles of thought that made no sense. He did not hear Norman coming up beside him, moving far more quietly than anyone of his size had a right to. He grimaced in disgust, clearly angry at what he was seeing, the spirit of violence triumphant over an innocent life. Max had known Norman for awhile now, and the Guardian’s expression gave everything away.
Now he understood. Norman’s anger and frustration were clear as day to him, for whatever good it did.
Max said nothing as he felt Virgil take him by the arm, leading him away from the door.
A sudden snap made Max look up, and he saw that Norman had shut the door. Even so, it may as well have remained open--Max knew he would never forget what he had seen.
Virgil had led him to a nearby patch of grass, where he wordlessly indicated that the young hero should sit. For once, Max obeyed Virgil without question.
Norman joined them a moment later, after making sure that there was no sign of Lockyar in the area. “He got away again!” the Guardian snarled. “When I get my hands on--”
“Norman, control yourself,” Virgil said, with a touch of impatience. “There is nothing we can do for the poor creature in the cabin anymore. Remember, the Mighty One is your priority.”
Norman nodded curtly, looking as though he’d much rather be charging after Lockyar. But the ancient fowl was right, as always. Duty came first.
“Some Mighty One,” Max said quietly. “I’m supposed to be a hero, right? But I couldn’t save--”
“You won’t be able to save every life, Mighty One,” Virgil replied almost gently, laying a wing on Max’s arm. “It is, perhaps, the hardest part of being a hero. However, by keeping to our task and recapturing Lockyar, we will at least ensure that the innocent we can’t save don’t die in vain.”
Max knew his mentor was right, but he couldn’t help the grief that swelled in his chest, for someone he had never met before, and never would again.
“Why?” Max asked, wiping his eyes and standing up. He turned to look at the door again. “What did they ever do to him?”
Virgil sighed, seeming a good deal older than he really was--quite a feat for a 10,000-year-old fowl.
“Nothing, Mighty One. As you know, Lockyar is the embodiment of pure mindless violence. He needs no reason to kill, for his thirst for blood is his reason.”
Max’s fists clenched at his sides. “Then we have to stop him. They…they died for no reason at all, and he’s not going to do it again.”
“Don’t worry, Mighty One,” Norman said, his eyes narrowing. “We’ll avenge their spirits--we will repay Lockyar tenfold!”
“Norman! That is not our way!” Virgil chastised him. “Besides, if I may remind you--again--you cannot kill what does not live!”
Max shut his eyes. No, not again. No more fighting.
“No, but I can make him suffer!” Norman roared, the rage threatening to overtake him again.
“NO!”Max shouted, his young voice echoing throughout the clearing. Both of his companions turned to look at him, startled into silence.
He was breathing hard, his head bowed. Blond hair fell into his eyes, temporarily obscuring his face. When he finally looked up, his eyes were shining--but no tears fell.
Max turned to Norman. “Listen, Normie, I’m with you. I wanna take that guy apart…but Virgil’s right. We’re here to trap him, so he’ll never be able to hurt anyone else again. That’s our mission, right? Not revenge.”
“You speak the truth, Mighty Max,” Virgil said at last. For his part, Norman nodded. His anger was still present, but it was--at least for now--controlled. Max returned the nod, knowing that this would be more difficult for Norman than any of them.
Hang in there, big guy--we’ve got a mission to finish. But we’ll do it together, like always.
My first Mighty Max fanfic! Tell me what you think! :D