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Birth of an Empire (One-Shot)

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Birth of an Empire (One-Shot)


Sentinels of the Multiverse: Birth of an Empire

Time is everything. It is the most abundant resource we have, but it is also the most precious. It takes time to make a dream a reality and even more so a nightmare. Time, for me at least, has lost all meaning. Most people look at their lives as time ticking away, but for me, I do not worry about such things, not for nearly a century. When you don't worry about death or how long something will take, your ambitions have no end.

I don't remember much of my former life, but I do remember wanting for nothing. I remember my father, Jonathan Pike, as a generous man. Our home was always full of people as he and my mother hosted parties for the elite of the city. People would dance and drink wine as they enjoyed the rich atmosphere that my parents created. Their children would compliment me saying that I was so lucky to have such a wonderful life and wonderful parents. The truth was they were right, but I found the entire ordeal quite dull. I often wondered what would life have been like had my father's successful business not have flourished. Would those whom now dined and laughed with us even look at us with the same loving eyes. I don't think they would. People love money and crave power, without both, you are just another rat in Overbrook City.

Everyday I would be chauffeured to school in our Bergdoll automobile, passing through our small city that continually expanded, I would see children playing in the streets. They had barely anything, yet they were happy. Many of them I believed would never do better in life than what their father's trades were and that was pending that they survived any diseases that may find their way to them thanks to the growing rat infestation in the sewers. For me, the sky was the limit. Like my father, I was very keen to the sciences of the day. Chemistry especially fascinated me as the mixing of various chemicals to form concoctions that had both lethal and curative properties seemed like an alchemist's dream. Yet in our modern day of science, new discoveries were being made for such things to be possible.

The years passed by quickly and I grew into a fine young man. I continued to study the sciences and chemistry after my schooling ended and even began to work for my father in his company. Naturally, many assumed I would take over Pike Industries when my father retired, but the thought of the energy business bore me. Life in general continued to be a bore as there was nothing that caught my fancy. As a handsome young man who was up and coming in the world, I had my choice of local debutantes, yet few seemed like a good match. That however did not stop my personal interest in carousing and sampling the local flavor from time to time. Yet when it came time for business, there was nothing out of place in my life. I would come in to work at 7 am sharp and leave promptly at 6 pm everyday. Like a machine in my duties I would finish my work and spend my free moments continuing my scientific study.

Eventually, my scientific interests caught my father's attention. I explained to him that with the rate of scientific discovery and alchemical studies that soon we would be able to live forever. While the thought of an immortal life seemed like zealotry on my part through my father's eyes, he believed that my intentions were pure when it came to wanting to better people's lives. He shared with me a vision of a future where people need not fear ailments as they were vaccinated from disease, had strength renewed, and even recovered more quickly thanks to products from Pike Industries. While these products would ultimately have a high production cost, my father wanted all to be able to experience these products. From those whom could afford our products ten times over, to those who did not have a penny to spare. We would be the leaders in the field and help our fellow man. It was a glorious dream that finally came into fruition in 1921 with the opening of Pike Industrial Complex.

By 1923, after pouring a small fortune into the base capital of the complex, Pike Industries became even more successful. People praised my father for his humanitarian efforts and he was even given a key to the city. All loved my father's work and generosity. For those who couldn't afford our products, he personally set up a foundation to help cover the costs of medicines and vaccines. He was a good man that was leading the city to become a utopia. Overbrook City no longer stood in the shadow of its sister city Megalopolis and soon it seemed, Megalopolis may know what it was like to be in ours.

It was early in 1924 that things took a turn for the worse. Financially speaking, the company was one of the richest and most profitable companies in the entire world. With great wealth, both the good and the bad are attracted to the source. While charities sought my father's help, which he gladly contributed to regularly, a new gang of ruffians made their way through Overbrook City. Calling themselves the Crackjaw Crew, a pun on both their favorite method of torturing individuals and the subsequent problems that followed those poor fools, they approached my father with a business proposition. They attempted to extort my father for money so that “accidents” would not occur in his company. My father met their demands with words only by throwing them out of his office and warning that they would face penalties up to the full extent of the law if they ever set foot on our property again. My father would not stand for injustice, but the Crackjaw Crew would not take the insult lightly either.

My father and I left work together early on a late-March evening to join my mother for an outing. We enjoyed a nice meal and dancing at a local charity function where my father yet once again tried to give away my inheritance to the underprivileged. Upon leaving the gala, we decided to take a walk to clear our heads as we all had a little too much wine. As we rounded a block, my father could hear a woman crying in the alleyway. Always the knight-in-shining-armor, my father approached the woman to see what was the matter. As she turned, he felt a hard stinging in his gut. As he looked down, he could see the handle of the knife covered in his own blood. My mother screamed in horror and another 3 grabbed me from behind and took her. I was beaten over an over again, but given a message.

“Your father and mother are dead, but you get to live. Either pay us what we want, when we want, or you will meet their same fate.”

As I could barely turn my head after that beating, I recognized the person speaking to me as a member of the Crackjaw Crew. He dropped me in the gutter and shouted at a local police officer. As the crew ran off, the officer wanted to give chase, but knew I needed help. I was taken to the hospital where I remained for a week as my injuries healed. It wasn't until two weeks after my parent's deaths that I was finally able to bury them. The whole city attended their funeral, mourning the loss of a great philanthropist and visionary. The condolences received did little to deaden the pain, but a plot of revenge grew in my mind.

Thanks to the beating, my speech was impaired and I had to walk with a cane due to a deformity now forming in my leg. I made my way to my company and began to inquire of our most brilliant scientists of our progress with a regeneration serum. To my utter dismay, they dismissed my inquiry saying that no such thing exists and any attempts to create one would do more harm than good. I cursed their unwillingness to press on for the sake of science and threw them out and closed Pike Industrial Complex for a week as I studied my chemistry books. After countless experiments and calculations, I believed I had found a way for a serum to work. Obviously, a mind as brilliant as my own could not be risked on a test, I knew what I had to do.

The complex was opened once again and I had my scientists begin work on creating the vat of chemicals necessary to hopefully restore my body to the condition it was before the attack. Each week, the same member of the Crackjaw Crew came to my office and took money away laughing with each extortion. After three months, the vat of chemicals was ready to test and I knew the perfect test subject. When the member came, I told him to bring the woman who had stabbed my father as well with him next time and there would be more than double what I paid on a weekly basis for him alone. Of course he didn't accept my offer, but for another three months, I would make the same offer while paying the extortion money until finally one day he gave in and brought her. It was at that time as I laid the money out on the table that I sprang my trap. I had security come in and hold them both, but I wasn't going to turn them over to the police, oh no, I had much bigger plans for them. These were the ones responsible for killing my parents.

My cane had a custom handle on it in the shape of what I used to look like before my broken jaw and deformed leg. Without my cane, I would fall to the floor easily with my full body weight and it would take me a bit to get back up with each movement being quite painful. I looked at the two of them square in the eye.

“You killed my parents, now I will have some fun.”

I lifted my cane and struck the woman with my full weight as I fell to the floor. She screamed in agony as the solid gold bust struck her. Blood poured from her mouth as I stood up slowly. I then struck the man with my cane and he too cried out.

“You will continue to feel pain, for as long as I continue to feel it with each agonizing time I stand!”

Over and over for three hours I continually beat them both until I couldn't feel my body anymore. Both were unconscious when I was done. Bones were broken, pulse was slow, breathing barely could register as shallow. I had missed dinner which was a pity.

Down to the complex we went with the scientific staff waiting for us. We strapped in the woman first as my security made sure the man was watching. According to my calculations, upon full restoration she could emerge out of the vat herself and be just fine. If I was wrong, she would drown and the experiment would be a failure. Either way, I was satisfied. We tossed her into the vat of chemicals, not knowing what would happen. Thirty seconds passed and we couldn't see anything underneath the thick liquid. Two minutes. Things were not looking promising for the restoration. After five minutes she emerged from the vat, vomiting up the liquid. Her wounds were healed completely. In her weakened and confused state however, she was easily apprehended by my security force. The scientists did a full examination of her. Everything appeared to be normal with the exception of increased muscle mass.

In my excitement, I threw myself into the vat. I could hear the cries of the science team and the security force calling for me. The vats magics began their work. I could feel my body breaking apart and reconstructing itself. My deformities restoring me to the point I was before the attack and making me even better by increasing my muscle mass and somehow, my intelligence as well. I realized that I could breath under the liquid. I could feel my cells regenerating and becoming better. Once I knew I was healed and even stronger than before I emerged from the vat. Everyone stood in awe as my body had reached perfection. I took the barely breathing man and asked him his name. Nothing came out, shoved his body into the vat for thirty seconds and pulled him up. Again I asked his name, to which he replied “Donovan.” I again dunked him for another two minutes, just enough time for his body to heal and nothing more. As I pulled him out, I could see the look of fear in his eyes as I stared at him.

“Donovan, you are a ruthless killer who took away my family. For that, you will pay every single day of your life. Your punishment will be that you will never again taste the restorative properties of this vat because I know that is what you want and the power it gives. You work for me now. You and the rest of the Crackjaw Crew work for me along with any muscle and connections that you have. All money, weapons, anything collected come to me now. I own this city and if you or anyone else don't comply, I will kill them. Do you understand?”

Donovan nodded in terror as he knew I was powerful enough to make good on my threats. I told everyone to leave except for the woman. She sat on the ground looking at me with terrified eyes. I picked her up and threw her on a table as I began kissing her. Our passion ignited until finally I crushed the life out of her with my arms. She went limp and didn't breathe. I waited ten minutes to make sure she wasn't breathing. It was then I took her corpse and threw it in the vat. Five minutes should be enough time. After she didn't emerge, I reached down and grabbed her. She still wasn't breathing.

“Hmm, looks like dead is dead. Pity. That's one secret no one should ever know but me.”

Father.  Mother.  You are avenged.  I disposed of the body in one of our acid baths and made my way to my office where Donovan was waiting. He began to tell me everything he knew. Soon all the rackets that the Crackjaw Crew ran were under my control, Pike Industrial Complex and more continued to flourish and all money flowed to one person, me.

As time passed, I noticed that Donovan and I began to age slowly. I decided to use him as a control in my experiment and denied him the ability to enter the vat ever again, but I would dip in about once a year. My physique remained that of a 26 year old and very few ever saw me, Donovan became my right-hand man. After a few decades he eventually fathered a son named Jack. I will have to keep an eye on Jack as I refuse to father anything that might try to take control of me. Then again, Donovan does know how I stay so young and my try to take that away from me. If it weren't for his ruthlessness, I would have done away with him decades ago, but perhaps it is time to find an operative who is even more ruthless. One I can shape and mold without remorse.

Go forth noble heroes!