Blood stained armor plates stood boldly atop a pedestal, greatly resembling a larger than life statue, standing two and a half meters tall, one boot raised in a pose that gave the impression of a forward lean, the other foot planted firmly in the ground, actually embedded in the granite, adding to the illusion of it being carved from the stone. Only a native would know differently, having seen the creature moving late at night. The mythos surrounding it varied widely, was it carved by a witch? Cursed by the church? Brought to life by some Voodoo ritual? Perhaps it was sent down by some pagan demi-god to protect the city it stood in. No-one knew the true story, why it had been placed on that pedestal, how it managed to move, and occasionally gain new blood streaks, or even why it hadn't been moved to a museum somewhere.
They called it The Guardian, and Night Soldier, and Shadow Guard, and Dark One, all those names, all those identities. None were the true name, none were the true story. None made it clear what it truly was. The only real constants were the pose and the glare etched into the armored visage. Removing the helmet revealed only an empty suit, far too large for any man to wear, though many had tried. The joints seemed to be fused when anyone tried to move it, even with hydraulics, and the machines would break down before the metal bent even slightly. It never seemed to corrode or warp, or suffer the indignities of pigeons that plagued the other statues in the park, sculptures of great men, that were constantly under repair from the elements.
It only moved after the setting sun, though location seemed to have no bearing on that time, and moving it indoors only meant that it stayed until the sun disappeared below the horizon, bright lights or not, at which point it would step down and drag the pedestal back to its rightful place before going about its duties. Attempts to see inside while it was active resulted in grainy photographs of the armor, empty and moving, despite physics denying it that capability. People who attempted to find out by sleeping inside it, an incredible feat of acrobatics to get in in the first place, would find themselves waking up inside the suit at sunrise, no recollections of the night before, even if they had chugged enough caffeine to stay awake for a month, and broken bones in both legs and arms.
It had been tracked for twelve centuries, only ever assaulting criminals that the juries could never take in, moving the pedestal almost arbitrarily around the park, maintaining a perfectly dead center location in the city, by population, and shifting to account for larger groups. A visiting family was enough for a three centimeter shift. The concrete slab the platform now sat on stretched almost an entire square mile to allow it a reasonable amount of travel. Visitors to the place would often wonder why the descriptive plaque was sunken into the granite and rimmed by massive steel handles that only the statue could ever hope to hold, and the laws themselves spoke of never tampering with the platform, nor its location. They read of how the only actions to be undertaken after a new blood streak appeared on the statue, was to follow the massive bloody foot-prints to the criminal and get them medical assistance.
This worked wonderfully, until the day the statue disappeared. It had wandered off in the middle of the night, after standing guard over the city and all its residents for fifteen centuries, now it was just gone. The pedestal remained, untouched, with the very clear boot-print of the massive armored foot embedded in the rock. The only sign of contamination to it was that the descriptive panel had been torn out and the letters, individual numerals less than a centimeter high, had been pressed into the dirt on the northern edge, reading out a short message. A residential address in another state. Immediately, knowing that no man in the town could remove the letters from a solid cast bronze plate that cleanly, the mayor arranged a tracking force to take the pedestal to that location. He had grown up in an apartment across the street, watching the towering statue depart every night before dinner, and waking to the sound of its feet clomping across the concrete, and he knew not to do anything that could potentially anger it.
Three men, the police force's top two officers and a native trucker loaded the massive stone platform atop a flatbed truck and set out, keeping close tabs on the platform as night neared. They stopped for the night, being just a few miles out of the city of their destination. That was just barely within two nights walk at the rate the statue had been clocked at, and they established camp there, leaving a fifty foot radius around the truck, just in case.
The morning woke them with the shrieking of the trucks locked brakes being forced to move, ten feet closer to the town before the statue calmly took its place atop the platform, in a pose very slightly different than the traditional one hand raised. Both hands hung at its sides, clenched into tight fists, one clutching a lock of red hair, the other holding a crimped steel pipe, barely recognizable as a toll-booth gate. They had known that the statue would not be stopped by simple doors, but a toll-booth? That was unheard of. Of course, the statue had never left the town to anyone's knowledge.
They continued driving, moving nearer to the destination listed on the dirt, and finally taking a rest at a truck stop just five miles from the final destination, a half-hours walk to the statue, through crowded streets, filled with people and cars. They left one cop outside to guard the truck while the other two went inside to get some dinner, only to be rushed out by the lack of statue. The sun was still up. Immediately, the second cop called the mayor, while the first returned to the truck, out of breath from chasing the statue. Back in town, the sun had indeed gone down, and the driver cranked the engine, knowing that he had to catch it before it did any damage, as the local police knew he was transporting the oversized marble slab and statue. The out of breath cop quickly placed two portable flashers on the roof and stood beside the slab, clinging to a tie rope as the two men in the cab attempted to get through traffic without running anyone over.
The curb depth holes punched into the asphalt made tracking it easier, and they managed to catch up, just as the night rose in this city. The truck had to slow down to avoid people. The statue had no such limitations, and trudged merrily through the hordes of people like they weren't even there. Finally, the cop in the cab grabbed one of the flashers, stuck it on his hat and started pushing after the hazard. He caught up, running full tilt for several seconds to reach it before gripping the knee-plate and fixing his position on the toe of the boot. The statue didn't even slow down, but the flashing light and the cop desperately hanging onto the front of the leg made people get out of the way, until it stopped in front of a huge apartment, thirteen stories at least, and it seemed to be looking up.
The officer switched off his flasher and released the leg, following at a safe distance as it trudged up the stairs, more crawling than walking because it kept bending the simple wooden stairs. It finally seemed to be satisfied with the staircase at level six, where it began crawling down the hall, head still grazing the ceiling fixtures. It turned carefully in the hall and gripped a doorknob, ignoring the cop calling for backup and reciting the address and apartment number. The door didn't open, even as the doorknob came out in the statue's hand and it pushed the door inward, tearing it off the hinges like they were made of wet tissue paper.
He followed up to the edge of the doorway as the second officer arrived, "They're setting up a perimeter around the building. I tried to explain that we were tracking a resident of our town who behaves like a vigilante, but they just told me to make sure it didn't hurt anyone."
The loud crunch from inside the apartment drew both officers in, where they saw the statue holding what appeared to be a refrigerator in one hand. Standing in the door-frame was a man they recognized. He had been chased out of town after being brought in for attempting several horrible crimes. The statue held out the red hair and dropped the clump on the floor silently, at which point the man looked over at the two officers, "Help!"
They turned their backs, "We are. The Golem found you guilty. We can't change that."
The statue turned its head to the officers and for the first time in any of the recorded history of it, spoke. The voice was deep, and sounded rough, with a buzzing undertone that made it sound like a life-long chain-smoker gargling rocks on inside a washing machine, "Innocent eyes must not be tainted. Innocent ears must not suffer. Innocent guardians must depart."
The two officers fled from the doorway, bouncing off walls in the staircase to get down faster. They reached the bottom just in time for the window of the apartment to shatter and the criminal to be held out the window by the hand not embedded elbow deep in a refrigerator. The officers at the bottom looked at them, "That your guy?"
Both officers looked at the native police, "Yes."
"Did you even try to stop him?"
"Didn't take. You can't stop it. You can only stay out of its way."
The criminal began descending rapidly, followed by the statue leaping from the window and ramming into the ground with such force that the splatter that had been the criminal was spread up both walls on either side before it began trudging towards the pedestal. Every officer in attendance watched the giant suit of armor take a firm grasp of the rear bumper of the truck and begin walking away. The driver wisely put the truck in neutral and let it get dragged as the officers joined him in a cruiser a minute later, "These officers cannot follow us all night. Do you think you can keep straight long enough for us to climb on-board?"
"I can. Run." He knocked the doors open and moved to the middle as the cruiser stopped and the two officers made a valiant sprint to the sides of the truck, jumping in at the last second. They both waved goodbye to the officers they were leaving and looked at each other, "That was strange. It pursued a criminal across state borders. That's definitely going in the write up."
The driver looked at them, "Great. So I guess we camp in the truck tonight? I'll switch on the hazard lights." He slipped out the door at the back of the sleeper and jumped onto the trailer, where the tent was strapped firmly down beside the rock, and the tow-lights were seated just behind that. He carefully placed one tow-light on either shoulder so the statue was visible to oncoming cars before noticing that the road wasn't underneath them anymore. The truck was a logger fortunately, so it could take it. He finished setting up the camp-site, the two tents atop the flat-bed, tethered firmly to the log-poles before kicking the cops out into their tents as he took his own place laying across the seats.
They all dozed off in the rocking of the truck, the driver waking up first in the morning. He checked the GPS to find the nearest road, and took off, trying to get home before the night fell again. He was lucky, and managed to pull in just outside the park just before night fell, and get the cables unhooked before the sun vanished. The statue arose before the eyes of half the town, cementing the idea that it wasn't a hoax as it set off into the night again. Local crime from the direction and purpose though. That was good. Together they managed to place it in the normal spot, marked with a large black X before turning in for the night.
The next morning, the statue showed off two new stains, one with a small piece of bright red hair adhered to it. Life went on. Life always went on.