Chapter 375 Journal Entries 2
Aldrich finished reading the introductory page. Vanguard was pretty coherent here, nothing at all like the madman wall scratchings that Aldrich would have expected from a man that went, according to Emrys, certifiably insane later in his life.
By this point in time, Vanguard was already a decade retired. After ending the fourth Corporate War in 2092, he was never seen again, at the very least, not outside of faint whisperings where he saved a person or two and then disappeared in mystery.
Which meant that Vanguard had gone insane in the timespan between 2100 and somewhere around the present of 2117.
What struck Aldrich the most, though, was Vanguard's origins. His surprisingly humble ones. The story he and many millions others knew was that Vanguard was a former war veteran decorated for his heroism, someone who had been larger than life from the very beginning.
"So that's how it was," muttered Aldrich. "Vanguard never was a decorated veteran, was he? Purple heart with a golden heart - that all a marketing scheme?"
Emrys nodded. "Vanguard was a symbol. Of infallible humanity's infallible strength and nobility. Infallibility by definition cannot have failure. Can't very well have that symbol come from any ordinary street rat, no?"
"And he wanted this? To erase who he was?"
"He did. He wanted it more than anyone. Because he knew that without that symbol, he was nothing. And, perhaps, because he himself wanted to cast who he had been to the void. It is difficult to dig up too much information about Vanguard's origins as information Pre-Altering, before the Omega Expansion, is difficult.
But from Supermind, I knew that Vanguard a criminal by desperation. A petty thief who scrounged stores and streets for scraps to live and feed a heroin addiction. He had long been out of touch with family and friends, leeching off them to fuel his habit.
I do not blame him for wishing to cast such weakness aside. I would have done the same were I in his place."
"I see." Aldrich came to the realization that Vanguard was for more a man than hero than he had once thought. A broken man struggling under the yoke of addiction. Aldrich did not have any personal experience with it, but it was easy enough to see its effects on the streets of every major city.
Countless men and women moving about with listless eyes and languid movements powered by the sputtering engine of getting their next hit, their next rush. The proliferation and demand of powerful recreational drugs to escape life as it got harder and harder and society as it got crueler and crueler was inevitable.
Vanguard had been one of those dead eyed walking corpses.
At least, before he obtained his power. But even afterwards, it showed in his writing that he had made mistakes. He was, after all, just a man. An imperfect, once broken man.
There seemed to be quite a big incident involving the former Valkyrie and her husband. Aldrich knew that Valkyrie's husband was killed during the fourth corpowar, but the details were hush hush.
By design, too.
The AA was quiet about any operations that Vanguard failed, choosing to cast Vanguard as someone that had as close to a 'perfect' track record as possible.
It was jarring to find Vanguard a man who was, as Emrys said, a symbol, a symbol that Aldrich looked up to during his youth, be just a man. But in hindsight, it was obvious.
Everyone was just human, after all. There was only so much a man could take. So much weight they could bear.
Everyone now except Aldrich. If a man could not bear the burden of the world, then a Lich would have to.
Vanguard's introduction brought up other interesting points, too.
Vanguard had felt the Severing that happened in 2000. And he felt that a great danger had come with it. One great enough to push him to find a successor.
"You can access keyword searches to pinpoint information you are looking for," said Emrys. "A localized A.I. in the case can also respond to more complex vocalized requests as well."
"I see. Then I'll make a few more searches, if you don't mind."
"Go ahead," said Emrys.
I did it. The power, the key - I sent it somewhere else. I saw it with my own two eyes. It left me, the red key, it left me in a shining blaze. From my heart, it shot out into the skies, like a shooting star, like the same shooting star that I saw that day, that day I overdosed, wanting to end it all as I looked up at the star filled night.
I don't know what I did. It just happened. One moment, I'm sitting on this island, thinking maybe the power's in my blood and I have to extract it, and the next, the island's sunk, and the power's out.
There's still a little bit of the power left in me.
I can still fly. Stay strong. And I can sort of feel it. Its energy. Its presence. I know it's out there, but it hasn't chosen anyone.
Just have to wait.
Hopefully, I can teach the new guy how to use it better than I did. Stop him from making the mistakes I did. Or her, I don't mind that either.
-October 1, 2110
The power's fading from me. My body's desperately hanging onto the last little bits of it. Flying's hard. Feels like I'm sinking in mid-air. My whole body feels heavy.
But I knew this was going to happen. Embers can't burn forever, after all.
The thing is - there's nobody to take up the torch. The key, it's still up there, somewhere. I can feel it. It hasn't come down and chosen anyone.
I don't know. I don't even know why or how it chose me. Maybe I shouldn't have let that power go. Without it, I'm nothing. At least with it, I was somebody, I was the best hero out there.
I just hope it'll choose soon. Before the rest of my power fades. I need to know that I gave it up for something good. Some greater good. I need to know that it wasn't all for nothing.
-June 4, 2115