To my Lady, Queen and Country,
If you are reading this I am likely dead.
I was a hero once. The name they gave me was Hero 1. There were others before me and will be others after, but this is who I am now and forever.
I have been blessed with an amazing life. Ever since I found the cave and the Lake, nothing has ever been the same. I have tried my best to live up to the ideals of the Table and those who once sat around it. I draw my power from them and I've always believed that meant they have some way of knowing who I am and what I've tried to become in their shining image.
Our world is under attack by an alien threat. The invaders come through portals and few can do anything to stop them. I believe I can help. I've talked with Statesman about a plan. These Rikti are vulnerable to magic and I intend to lead a team and travel into their portals to shut them down from the inside. It's a one way trip and I won't be coming back.
Statesman, in true form, wants to do nothing more than to attack these creatures head on. He doesn't fully agree with my plan, nor do I agree with his brazen America approach to the problem. But, if I succeed, someone will have to stay behind to protect humanity from itself. Who better than the indomitable Statesman?
We are now two teams: Alpha and Omega. Everything is always Greek with him. I have left the sword Excalibur with his granddaughter, Ms. Liberty. She reminds me the most of myself at that age and I know she'll protect it well. There was no way I was going take such a sword to an alien world so far from my Lady. I hope such a choice does not weaken me.
If this is truly my last entry to this world I want to say that second chances are possible. I'm living proof of that. I had no right to enter the Lake or to speak with Her. I was angry, arrogant and upset at the course my father had laid out for me. Yet, She wasn't upset, but was calm and soothing. She saw me and saw what I could become - what I have become.
When I hold that sword I know who I am... I'm a hero. The first, the last... the one.
To whoever reads this.
My name is Ajax. All my life, all I've wanted to do is save people. That's just how I was raised. I don't have a tragic past, lost parents, or a vengeful arch nemesis. I've had a great life, to be honest.
This is what I wanted to write, what everyone would want to hear. However, you all deserve to know the truth. I know at this point I will have been gone for many years. After all this time, you all deserve to know this. I am not the real Ajax.
My real name is Ralph Valetti. The real Ajax is dead and buried somewhere on one of the islands off of Talos. Given when this letter will be read, he will have been buried there for nearly fifteen years.
I killed Ajax. I shot him and he died. I don't know how - he was supposed to be invulnerable. I didn't even mean to do it. I was scared, I was petty - I was a coward. Ajax stared into my eyes before the life left his body. In that moment his power was somehow transferred to me.
I buried Ajax and ran. I was terrified. I stayed in hiding for weeks, testing these new powers. I really couldn't be hurt - believe me, I tried. But how then did I kill Ajax? This is something that I still have not figured out.
It was in my fourth week of hiding that I saw on the news people were searching for Ajax, wondering about his disappearance.
I returned to where I buried Ajax and took his outfit. He always wore a helmet, so no one knew his identity. We both had a similar look in the outfit - anyone would have, really. I looked at his body one last time before burying him. Maybe I did it out of fear of being discovered. Or maybe I really wanted to be a hero. I still don't know.
I took Ajax's life, his powers, and then finally, I took his name.
I can only hope those reading this now can forgive me for what I've done, for who I was. I did everything I could to redeem myself, to fill in Ajax's shoes. I even forced my way into the Omega Team. I was one of the few who found Hero 1 and told him I was going to join.
Hero 1 told me that this mission will be one that we will not be coming back from. I knew that from the start. My one wish is that when this begins, I will be able to save as many lives as possible - as an indestructible man going in with a team of magicians, it's the one thing I'm there to do.
If everything goes according to plan, the rest of the Omega Team will be reading this now, with myself stuck somewhere on the Rikti homeworld. Whatever you do, please do not come looking for me. No more heroes should die on my behalf.
No matter what happens, just please keep living your lives, even if it is as the forfeit of my own. That's what the original Ajax would have wanted. It's what I would want.
Letter to No One.
I don't know why I'm writin' this; it ain't like anyone's gonna read it. I'm not leavin' anyone behind; least not anyone that would want to remember me. You know that old sayin' "Someone people are born to greatness; others have it thrust upon them"? Well, some of us don' got no greatness at all. That's me. I don't even really know what I'm doin' here.
I ain't the most powerful of heroes; hell, you can't even really say I'm much of a hero at all. Time was I ran with the Hellions, happy to drop some 'Dine and do some crimes. Then some cape came bouncin' in to mess with us one day. I forget just who that cape was but he was knockin' us around good and I got thrown into the magical dingus that we was tryin' to steal. It let out with a burst of swirling wind, a bunch of crates fell on me, and things went dark. When I woke up, everyone was gone but that charm thing was still there so I grabbed it..
That changed things for me. I dunno know what that charm was, but it controlled light and the wind. I could use it to ride the winds, blast fools off their feet, and pass unseen. It had some major invisibility mojo in it. Suddenly, hanging out with the Hellions didn't make a lot of sense; their whole Satanist thing just seemed like a bunch of bull****. I left 'em behind and tried to change my ways.
I ain't sayin' that I became a good guy, but I ain't sure I stayed a bad guy, you know? I mostly spent my time messin' with the Hellions and Skulls, bouncin' in on their drug deals, destroyin' the drugs and keepin' the money. A dude's gotta eat, you feel me? Oh, I helped out the occasional straight who wandered into the wrong part of Atlas Park, but it wasn't like anyone really knew that fancy new name - Ill Wind -- I had picked out for myself. I was just another faceless powered dude, doin' his thing.
Then Rik came to visit and everythin' changed. Man, how could I stand by and keep doin' my stuff when we was being invaded? So I did what most everyone else did; I stepped up and fought against them dudes, just another face in the crowd helpin' out. Things were goin' from bad to worse and unless something changed, we was gonna lose this war. That's when Hero 1 dropped by.
At first I was impressed and, hell, honored. It was a thrill that this Hero 1 dude knew me, knew my name. He described what the Omega Team was gonna do, and then told me they needed my help, that they couldn't do it without me. I got all puffed up with pride until I realized that they just needed me to use the charm to make 'em all invisible. And that's what I'd be doin', man. Concentratin' to shield the mob of heroes as they went off to try to save the world.
No one made any bones about it; this was gonna be a one way trip. If we was lucky, we'd do what we needed to. If we wasn't, we'd fail. And in either case, we'd never know if we won or not. But it's somethin' that needed to be done, so I said yeah, I was down with this Omega Team stuff.
I dunno know why I'm writin' this thing; I'm not leavin' anyone behind. I'm just a dude who fell into some powers and didn't do anything much with them. I always thought I'd have my shot, have my time to make my mark. That soup can dude says everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame. I just didn't think that mine would come after I was dead, man.
Screw it; I'm goin' off and I hope we succeed so you suckers can read this, the only fame I'm gonna get. Remember me, remember Ill Wind, 'cause that's all I got left.
--Calvin "Ill Wind" Jefferson
To my Dearest Darryl,
We've never been a close couple, I know that. We both know that. We've always given each other plenty of space in our lives. When I married you I did it because I knew you would be a good, strong man for me. You'd be secure enough in who you were to not need a doting housewife. You'd let me be me and I in turn saw no reason to 'change' you like so many other women tend to do. Our marriage was an elegant arrangement between two adults with lives, jobs and ambitions that couldn't be held back by antiquated notions of devotion, duty and loyalty. I don't think any of this comes as a shock to you. We both knew this going into it and I think we've both enjoyed the past five years of this marriage together.
But still, I'm embarrassed to admit that the things I need to say to you - have needed to say to you for years, I have to say in this letter. I'm as much to blame for this as anyone. I left you that note yesterday saying I was going to be away on 'business' for the next couple of days... how many times over the years have I used that excuse? Now, I realize I won't be back in a couple days. In fact, I won't ever be back. I wish I had time to tell you in person. I wish I had time to sit you down and explain all of this to you, but I don't. It'll be seven years before you know the truth about where I went, who I was and why I did what I did, but you deserve to know the truth.
You've known me as Mrs. Hannah Dyer, but the world knows me as Mystic Maiden. I don't know if you ever deduced this yourself, but you have acted so blissfully ignorant to this point I can only assume I have kept my identity secret even to you.
I am sorry for leaving you the way I did, but Hero 1 has a plan to end this insane war against the Rikti aliens, and he personally asked for my help. He laid out the plan and it looks like it will work, but it also looks like we won't survive its success.
The fact that this mission is a one-way trip made my decision even harder. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never see you again. The fact remains that if this seven year old letter is the only way you discovered where I really disappeared to, you probably would never want to see me again anyway.
It might surprise you to hear this, but I've been rethinking what's important in life. I had started to plan out a life... for both of us - together. After we'd stopped the Rikti, I was going to retire being a hero just to be with you, I think I might want a child. I think I might want us to become a family. Now, with the speed at which we are losing to the Rikti, I don't see a future where that can even happen, so instead I am going to make sure that the world can survive, even if I do not.
With my ever growing love and admiration,
How the years must have passed by! Without a doubt you must have the looks and fire of your dazzling mother!
How it pains me to write this final message to my dear, dear Ana! It filled me with such pride as you learned to walk and speak with such vitality. Never have I seen such confidence on the face of any child, a Cantu without a doubt! Years pass, and you are now a beautiful young woman, full of potential. You must be embarrassed by your papa and his overwhelming pride!
It saddens me deeply that I might never see my adorable chiquita become a woman. College, marriage, career, your own family, and the happiness that you will experience, I regretfully cannot share with you. And I apologize deeply for this coming absence.
To ensure you have the same things that have made me so happy mijita, I must do what I can. And I can only ask for your forgiveness, for I can no longer guide you along the path that so many other daughters are privileged with. Believe me when I say you are not alone, my dear, and I will always watch over you.
I have one last gift to give you, mijita. It has brought me nothing but the best of luck. I hope you will use it when you need it the most. Close your eyes and say:
Nuestros corrazones arden,
Con el fuego en el cielo.
Bailamos en las flammas,
y nos incendiemos,
con el espiritu del fuego.
The Amazing Alejandro J. Cantu
- I. I often dream of things unbidden, secrets reveal'd and secrets hidden,
Future, past, or not to be, I cannot say with certainty,
But in case I won't return, these visions from my letter learn,
And so before Omega leaves... I here entrust you with these dreams.
- II. The glor'ous monarch will defend, his homeland to the bitter end,
An army built to soothe all doubts, but ripples show in upstart bouts,
Make you choice: red blue or gray, choose who to spurn and who obey,
You'd like to think there's no price dear, but the real world is not so clear.
- III. I saw a mirror torn apart, thousand-spiraling work of art,
Behind a veil was once a fool, now its creation is its tool,
Suffered from a mighty fall, seeks again to consume all,
To face it our heroes prep, to win just watch that first step.
- IV. A peaceful race comes from afar, a living message in a jar,
Find they cannot grow any more, into new flesh they are reborn,
Silence breaks by the gods thunder, coexistence cast asunder,
Now just one culture slow to change, not evil pure but surely strange.
- V. Bloated life which has not a peer, gobbles all that mankind holds dear,
The hive will grow to rise and fall, all will battle the monster tall,
Across the way a mirror flow'r, has no such foes slow its devour,
Not placated with scraps to eat, it's rage shall spark leader's retreat.
- VI. A thousand men with javelin, fight to compound their master's sin,
Darkly corrupt by twilight gaze, a secret deal to end our days.
Hero, villain, that time forgot, what do they know that we do not?
Side-by-side both sides excel, fighting for time-warped parallel.
- VII. Time's river's course is left to run, till shattered by the million suns,
Eternal gear comes back to warn, all must beware the coming storm,
From ice and flame and tests of will, forgotten deeds one can fulfill,
Has he made strong by accident, those whose acts will despair prevent?
- VIII. No purse to snatch or kid to nab, is fashioned by a novel lab,
But legends writ and lore create, as cohorts play and strangers rate,
Easy to praise; the virtues plain, of fighting just to entertain,
Endless time spent in sirens dens, yet who will save real citizens?
- IX. The iron turns into crystal, their doomsday shall be missed til,
When a pair of fives arrives, power flows and power drives,
The spinning rod lives again, then destroyed in evil's den,
Mere prelude to what bright hell, comes from drinking of the well.
- X. Man kills brother; sets into motion, a hundred lifetimes of commotion,
Meticulous manipulation, attempts to take this very nation,
Within mirrors glow he finds a pawn, his trick forces them to take us on,
We shall fall for his games no longer, that which challenges makes us stronger.
- XI. The web is formed in careful craft, since fatal rescue on a raft,
Wraith- beast- hulk- thief- prepare for war, the mastermind will hide no more,
Let loose the tide of villain mix, heroes will gain their own new tricks,
And in the end; a world fini, unless the one stops destiny.
- XII. Create new thing which heals or harms, accelerate the race of arms,
A million more to buy and trade, the inventors must all be paid,
A flood of brains rain in the town, but evil lurks to bring all down,
The helmed one strikes with draining web, the war comes to a crucial head.
- XIII. You may have seen all that I say, or await it another day,
Of many things I have not dreamt, events the gods have not yet sent,
And do forgive this awful curse, the fates decree I write in verse,
Wish I were there to interpret, but battle calls and must be met.
Branforth the Seer