The Story Behind the Capes Moratorium, Ch. 1 of 4




“What Makes a Hero?”
The Story Behind the Capes Moratorium
Chapter 1 of 4
By: Richard Tingle

England, Mid 80s

Statesman’s eyes followed a bluebird flying by as he peered over the white cliffs of Dover, taking in the amazing beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. He inhaled deeply, the salt air filling his nose and the spray of the ocean coming through the wide eye slits of his facemask. Despite seeing the Atlantic Ocean so many times from his own favorite perspectives, atop Valor Bridge in Independence Port to the cliffs of the many small islands in Talos, seeing the Atlantic Ocean from this side of the world always amazed him.

Statesman’s eyebrows arched in surprise seeing the shadowy outline of a mass in the distance. He held the edge of his hand against his helmet like faceplate, “Is that…?”

“France?” Hero 1 quickly replied. “Yes. They say on a clear day that you can see it from the cliffs here.”

The heroes stood together on the cliffs, shoulder to shoulder, both living tributes of their countries and their celebrated symbols. Statesman was covered in mostly blue, with thick red contrast stripes down the front, arms and legs of his costume. Thirteen stars were placed on his costume. Of twelve, three were down each arm and leg, the thirteenth the largest, being on his chest. Wrapped around his waist was a reminder of his days from World War II, an infantryman’s belt with a gold buckle. The seal of the United States was engraved on the front, a bald eagle - wings spread, in its talons were a cluster of arrows. On the back was another, more personal engraving, an inscription to the Statesman from Franklin D. Roosevelt. The ocean spray condensed on the silvery, almost gladiator like helmet of the Statesman. Over the years, it was his most recognizable feature of his costume and white it may have changed over the course of the many years, it basically stayed the same.

“It’s incredibly beautiful.”

“Of course, having enhanced senses to see that far doesn’t hurt either.’ quipped Hero 1.

His lips curled into a smile, “No, they don’t” Statesman closed his eyes and again inhaled deeply. The sounds of the waves on the shores below echoed in his ears. For the moment, all was peaceful with the world. If only these moments lasted longer he thought to himself. The winds gusted and the snapping of Hero 1’s cape brought him back from the moment he was about to have daydreaming.

Statesman looked back over his shoulder, grinning, “You fill the cape rather well.”

Hero 1 did indeed look impressive as he stood on the cliffs. His feet squared with his shoulders in a firm stance, arms crossed. And that magnificent cape flapping in the wind all around him snapping occasionally when the wind suddenly changed direction and billowing in the breeze as it calmed. Hero 1, like his colleague was washed in the colors of his country. Unlike the Statesman though, Hero 1 was quite literally wrapped in the flag of his country. It was his cape and it came from down off his shoulders, and flapped in front of him. Large and flamboyant, the edges of it snapped as the wind blew harder. Under the massive cape Hero 1 wore a dark blue costume. Elements of gold capped the edges of his wrists, the edges of his boots, and the belt of his waist. Beyond the gold braces, his hands were bare, as he liked them. Atop his head was a helmet, much different that Statesman’s. The pattern was of his countries flag, the lower half opening at his nose, and then fully exposing his jaw. The largest of the red bars of his helmet, placed across his eyes, was a deep dark red ruby visor that he could see through with no trouble at all. His ears, although covered, were still incredible sensitive thanks his countries technology.

His lips, straight and emotionless suddenly dropped at the corners into a grimace, “Ahem.”

“Let me rephrase that.“, Statesman chuckled.

Hero 1 quickly smirked, “No need, I understand the thought behind it.”, then turned his attention away from Statesman.

Statesman thought best to himself to go about this another way, “And how do you like it?”, he asked.

It may have been only seconds, but to both Statesman and Hero 1 it seemed like minutes. Statesman waited for a response as Hero 1 struggled for an answer that he thought would be appropriate. Hero 1 kept looking into the distance, and kept his face still. He tried not to move in the slightest showing aggravation, or any other emotion . He was grateful that a helmet covered most of his face and could hide the squinting of his eyes, the furrowing of his brow in anger. He kept his face grim, his jaw locked until something finally came to mind, “I’m honored.”

“You should be.”, Statesman said as he smiled at Hero 1.

“I don’t like capes.”, Hero 1 grumbled, “Their excessive, unnecessary.” Despite being presented with the cape by Hero One in a ceremony, to Hero 1, he wished he could just store it away somewhere and forget it. He wanted to be his own hero, which is why he insisted on being Hero 1 instead. All that cape did was remind him of the huge pressure that he faced, living up to the one hero that came before him.

“Hero One was known for his cape.”

“And I’m Hero 1...” he said holding up a single finger, ”Besides…” Hero 1 said in a dismissive motion to Statesman, “You don‘t wear a cape.”

Not working out quite the way he had hoped, Statesman yet again decided to change tactics, “That cape really is two capes.”

“Two capes?”

Statesman nodded, “Your fathers is the shoulder portion of the cape.”

Hero 1 dropped the folded arms and took the edges of the flapping cape in his hands. It was light as silk, almost parachute like, then raised his hand to his shoulders and ran his fingers across the material of the cape that rested on his shoulders. It was indeed a different, thicker material. “Great.”, he thought to himself, “His weight is on my shoulders.”

Before he retired, Hero One helped work out the arms reduction agreement between the super powers of the world. The legacy of that moment weighed heavy on him. Hero One along with a select few had made the greatest change for the better of Earth’s future. As the United States went forth with plans for a space station armed with nuclear warheads, Russia took it a step further and in a “defensive” move, launched a ware of nuclear warheads towards the station. Stepping in between the madness and bringing the world back from the edge of insanity and doing so without raising a fist, Hero One and many other heroes changed the course of history and peacefully saved the world’s countries from its own greatest danger - itself. How could one ever top that Hero 1 thought to himself?

“We discussed it and thought it was fitting that something get passed down from him to you. Rather than just hand you down his old cape, he wanted to present you with something unique. Something old, yet new.”

Hero 1 had yet to be persuaded or interested.

Statesman continued, unaware that Hero 1 had his attention turned elsewhere at the moment, “Considering that Britain wanted someone else in the role of Hero One I‘m surprised that…”

His eyes suddenly grew wide at that moment, and his head whipped towards Statesman, “What?”

“Well, it had gotten out that you weren’t interested in carrying the mantle of Hero One and the British government had started a secret training program looking for someone to fill the role and wanted your father to supervise it and…”

His hands turned white as they clenched, he tried his best to keep his cool and to stay calm, keeping his fists perched on his hips, elbows akimbo, “My father…” he said angrily.

“… refused to be apart of their plans.” Statesman interrupted, “And insisted that you were the only who could, should, and would be the one to take his place.”

Hero 1’s jaw was held open, he looked for something to say and was caught speechless yet again.

Statesman crossed his arms and slowly hovered into the air, “Your father used to tell me something all the time, that he wasn’t Britain’s Greatest Hero, but the father of Britain’s Greatest Hero.”

Hero 1 wrapped himself in the cape and held it tightly, “It really is rather elegant.”

Statesman peeked under the edge of his glove and saw the time and thought to himself for a moment, seeming to count something in his head, “I have a meeting I have to rush back to Paragon City for, we’ll talk more later.” Statesman hung in the air, he had yet one last bit to say, “You know, the world may be different in this day and age, the Cold War over, our friends now our allies, one wonders the place of heroes these days.” He held his arms out, “Your moment will come” he said reassuringly as he began to ready himself for the long flight back to Paragon City, “And I hope you do decide to keep wearing the cape when that moment comes, besides… whats a hero without his cape?” Statesman winked, gave a casual salute to Hero 1 and launched himself into the sky.

Hero 1 watched Statesman soar away, until he was a speck, then disappeared. He made sure and stood on that spot 5 full minutes to make sure Statesman was gone and that no one else was finally around. Then he smiled.

End Chapt. 1