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The Mantle of Freedom [Vignette]


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Down in the Riverside, people are having cookouts in their backyards, swapping stories with their neighbors and generally just celebrating the holiday. Being the relative new guy on the block, Eric was at one of the cookouts, using it as a meet and greet… that and he was a horrible cook.


The discussion eventually led to what everyone does for a living. Charlie was a construction worker, Amy was a DJ, Dan had a desk job at an insurance firm and so on. Just about everyone had a normal every day job, except for Eric. He had the pleasure of saying “I’m one of the lead developers for Darts Inc.†Someone knew that it was a weapons company and the conversation got a little more strained. It seemed that people didn’t mind the destructive power the Freedom League got handed, but if someone worked at getting the ability to make something blow up, suddenly they were the dangerous ones. It’s not they had more practice and knowledge or anything.


Eric excused himself from the festivities and returned home not too much longer. He walked down into his basement, and got in to the secret elevator, whistling “Let Freedom Ring†as he rode it down. When the door opens, the lights kick on and Eric’s eyes come to rest on his own personal, multi-million dollar death machine. “Heh. If they only knew.†Seeing the suit reminded Eric, yet again of why he did what he did.


Not a day went by without some Technicolor wonder being lauded over as if they were a national treasure. These heroes were thought of as the nation’s, even the world’s, defenders. Eric knew the real truth however, these so called heroes were the true tyrant rulers of this world. Every time the heroes “saved the world†Eric knew all they were really doing is protecting their own property, which is what any man would do. These heroes had taken over the world by sheer laziness on the part of the rest of mankind. A select few were randomly bestowed great powers and vaulted themselves to near god status, while the rest of mankind just sat back and let it happen.


Eric refused to let that stand. He had been making these weapons for all these years to give the masses a way to rattle their cages and to take back their freedom, but this was in vain. The laziness was all consuming, and they did not even gather the energy to truly think about what this world was coming too. So, if the people were too lazy to act themselves, then a champion needed to arise and lead them to victory. Eric would be that champion. He became a crusader for freedom, fighting a war that the rest of the world wasn’t even aware of. To them, Malice was just another megalomaniac abusing his power for personal gain instead of a higher calling. That irony hurt Eric more than any of the broken bones, more than the shrapnel he pulled out of his body, and more than the humiliation of any of his defeats, but he would endure. He needed to endure, for the sake of humanity, for the sake of freedom. Eric looked at the suit for a moment as if he was truly seeing it for the first time.


“It’s missing something.â€Â


A half hour later, Eric stood back and admired his handiwork. The Arms of Malice was a bad name as it turns out. True, Eric did hate the supers, but he hated them for a reason. He hated them for robbing mankind of its drive and its freedom. That is why the Arms of Malice is now called the Mantle of Freedom, and Eric will wear its red, white, and blue proudly as he starts the new Revolution.

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