The old man arose from his meditation, a shift in the sun's position marking the time. He stretched for a moment and adjusted his robes, and walked out of the temple and into the surrounding garden. His lips bowed into a slight smile, and he felt himself fortunate to be blessed with such abundant natural beauty.
As he walked across the grass, he allowed himself the luxury of savouring the sensation of the grass beneath his feet. It was still early enough that the heat of the day had not yet evaporated the morning dew, and the slightly damp coolness was invigorating.
He felt a sudden breeze, which jarred loose a shower of petals which cascaded over his head. For a moment, his world became a blur of colour before the cause of the breeze became evident when something blocked the warming sunlight from his face.
The old man looked up, to see a figure standing, suspended in the air, before him. The superhuman's long face was hidden by the brim colonial helmet he wore, and was trimmed along the bottom by a distinguished handlebar moustache. He stood at five foot six inches tall in the starched and brass polished commander's uniform. The tip of the slicked and polished boots reflected the sunlight. "Captain Empire," the man said, "I wondered when you would appear. Come, walk with me."
"Why do you loathe me so?" asked Captain Empire as he descended, like a bright and an accomplished son who felt his father did not appreciate his successes. However, his issue was not about low self-esteem on his part. On the contrary, he thought a lot about himself. Instead it rested on not receiving the gratitude that he arrogantly believed was deserved to him and he made a point of it. He was in fact the longest serving Captain in the entire corps, he had single handed put down invasions on several realities and even took on Eternity in one reality and won. "I have done what my people asked of me. I have brought all the nations of Earth and the Mars colonies under the British flag," he bragged. "Now, I sense that you scorn me."
"I can only scorn you as I can scorn myself," admitted the old man dryly. "We have both dedicated our lives to the service of our people. We have simply chosen different paths in doing so. And yet, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration.
"At least I know for sure where you and I stand," stated Captain Empire to the man who walked aside him. "I'm a man of war. Every so-called atrocity I committed was in the act of war."
"I am a man of peace. What do you wish of me?"
"I wish you to cease your rebellion against the British Empire."
The old man opened his empty hands. "I could sooner cease to breathe."
"As you wish," Captain Empire said, drawing his pistol. The quiet of the garden was broken by the sound of a gunshot, and Mohandas Ghandi's head was pierced by a bullet, leaving a splatter of blood which matched the red of the flowers which had fallen to the walkway.
Robert Doherty sat at his desk, and he glanced at the ceremonial baton that he had taken as a souvenir from his victory over the great General Patton of America.
"That was a good tiff," he thought.
He swivelled in his chair to the world map that was up on the wall. In his time as Merlin's enforcer he had retaken the Americas, tamed China, humbled India, snatched Europe, subdued Africa and held Japan. The British Empire never fell as it had in other reality levels, in fact it grew outwards yet more till it ruled everything on the planet. "Well done," he thought.
It was on the stroke of noon that a bulletin came over the wire stating that there was a revolt in Wakanda. The Governor of Wakanda was deemed to have perished in the rebellion. A lanky officer regurgitated the further details of the bulletin to Doherty.
He looked out the commander office window for a moment. A military barracks lay out before him. Officers in tan uniforms darted about on foot or in noisy jeeps. The union flag was held in a stiff mid morning breeze. Administration and sleeping quarters were neatly lined in rows. He could almost smell the fresh spring air that was on the outskirts of the barracks.
"Notify the regiments in the surrounding countries. I want them on standby, so order can be quickly restored once I'm finished," he said.
"Yes Commander," said the officer sharply.
Doherty rose unhurried from his desk; checked his lion-visaged pocket watch and went to the balcony window. The watch began to glow, and soon he was surrounded by a golden chiaroscuro; and like that he disappeared into hyper speed.
In moments, Captain Empire arrived in the small African country. The mere fact that a rebellion hadn't taken place in a while had Captain Empire excited. The lull had bored him. And he applauded the audacity of the rebels since everyone knew from the last failed rebellion in the empire that such activities were eradicated in hours. Everyone knew the rumours that Captain Empire saw rebel tunnels that were deep underground, that he weeded out conspirators by just looking at them and using his enhanced perceptions.
Captain Empire flew over the burning Governor's House. The building was like a huge bonfire and it lit up the night and the surrounding streets. Sirens were blaring in the rest of Al-Qahirah, the capital of Wakanda. He scanned the immediate vicinity for supporters of the rebellion; usually such people surrounded destroyed government buildings and cheered. But there were none on this occasion.
"A pity," thought Captain Empire since he would have received information on the culprits and taken out his rage on the supporters.
He sensed movement on his far right. "What's that?" he pondered.
In an instant a blast of sound waves bombarded him. The high frequency pierced his ears and he covered them in anguish with his hands. He let out a scream of pain that surprised him because it had been a long time since he had experienced an injury.
Something moved like the speed of a comet in the night air. He was too disorientated to make out the object that moved towards him and he couldn't dodge it. Within moments the object struck him and it left a gift on Captain Empire's legs before it departed.
"What the bloody hell?" he thought, and he looked at his legs. They were in metal stocks.
Gravity then came upon him. The stocks felt like divers weights; hence, he lost his ability to fly. He began falling. Mentally he tried to command his body to stay up, but to no avail. He was still clutching his ears when he plummeted to the debris-laden street. He felt wetness on his palms and he looked at them. It was blood.
"I fell right into a trap," he thought.
A strange scent came to him. His lungs felt like they were on fire like the Governor House. His vision blurred and he staggered like a drunkard. His temperature rose like an inferno. The strength in his body waned.
"The air is poisoned," he thought. "I have to get away."
With that mission in mind, he attempted to remove the stocks from his legs. His fingers fiddled with the weights and then became tired. He inhaled noisily and he finally collapsed.
Slowly he made out four persons walking up to him. They wore gas masks and one of the combatants held a double-edged sword.
Khanata held the sword over Captain Empire. The rebel leader had waited for the moment for five years. In that time he had studied the man that was presently under his blade. One reason was to emancipate his country from the Empire. The second reason was vengeance for the taking of T'Chaka's life.
T'Chaka was the king of Wakanda when Captain Empire came to the country. And he was also Khanata's uncle.
For the mission Khanata recruited his relatives Joshua Itobo, Ishanta and Zuni. Itobo was a short man and the most scientifically inclined of the group. He was given the task of developing the magnetic leg stocks and the rocket packs that were used by the person who applied the stocks to Captain Empire.
Ishanta worked on the poison. He had created it from herbs found in the Kanga Mountains. They worked by burning and they had been placed around the Governor House.
Zuni was an overweight middle aged woman. She operated the sonic wave cannon, which had impaired Captain Empire.
Khanata had forged a sword from vibranium. The metal was special in that it was likely the only substance capable of piercing Captain Empire's skin.
The four saw themselves like the musketeers who were an army's first line of attack. Their army waited for Captain Empire's demise before they fully emerged from the population.
Khanata positioned the sword over Captain Empire.
"For Wakanda," he shouted.
The blade came down over Captain Empire's head and by warrior instinct he caught it in clasped hands. He inhaled sharply and painfully. The blade sank into his palms. Nevertheless he mustered his strength and pulled the sword out of Khanata's hand.
Then in a fleeting motion he directed the weapon to his legs and he sliced them free from the stocks.
"Rise," he willed himself.
His body levitated quickly and he swung the sword wildly. The blade slashed Khanata at point blank range. With a loud warrior cry, Captain Empire charged into the blurry black clad bodies. When he was finished, the four rebels were lifeless at his feet.
He removed a gas mask from one of the fallen and placed it on his face. Afterwards he staggered down the street to get out of the poison's range. "I … had some respect for you, T'Chaka," he said, his wind slowly coming back to him. "A pity your family never lived up to your standards; they didn't give me a quarter of the trouble you did. Unless they've got a son hidden away somewhere, being raised to hate everything English, eh?" He chuckled to himself at his jest, and slowly began to ascend once more into the air.