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Avenger Assembled

No One Mourns the Wicked

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Christmas 2018 

 

Dr. Alex Zorka

Born 1882, Lugosi, Romania, died 1956, Los Angeles (See Adventures of Centurion #143Whatever Happened To - Dr. Zorka?) 

'Cause of death - "NO, CENTURION, YOU ARE THE FOOL-" 

The Nethercutt Collection

Los Angeles 

 

Anna Cline stood in front of a robot head as large as her entire body, staring sympathetically into closed eyes of bronze and steel. "Hey, you crazy old Hungarian bastard," she said with a smile as she looked at the biggest legacy of the old man who had taught her how to cheat at cards, read super-science gauges, and the proper way to cook goulash. He'd been an old man when she'd known him, which meant he was about a decade younger than she was now. Sixty-two years earlier he'd finally rolled the dice and sent his army of giant robots against the West Coast of the United States - only to perish in an explosion of his own design when the Centurion had intervened. She'd paid the latter back for that a few times, but it didn't make Old Man Zorka anymore alive. She was alone in this wing of the museum, which was sadder even than thinking of Zorka going up in a flash of atomic fire. Sixty-two years after the Robot War, nobody cared. 

 

"You'll be glad to know that I've finally living around people from the Old Country again. Not many of us left in Bedlam but we're doin' all right." She sipped the hot chocolate that you weren't technically supposed to have in the museum, but what did she care? "There still ain't nobody like you out there. Well except that Japanese guy Otaku, but like I said last time it's just some kind of, you know, wackadoo thing with him." She waved her hand, then decided to focus on more pleasant things. "Merry Christmas, you crazy old man." She cleared her throat and unfolded from her jacket a short, handwritten prayer that she'd spelled out in phonetic Hungarian. 

 

"My dear friends, let's pray for the soul of this poor man, whom Our Lord liberated from the prison of that false world. Whose body we are burying today. To let the Lord place him with his grace into the slay of Abraham, Isac and Jacob, to on the day of judgement, with his relatives, resurrect him..."

 

She was pretty sure that Zorka, who'd been an atheist and kind of a Red when she'd known him, wouldn't have wanted the prayer - but what the Hell. If he popped up to tell her so, that wouldn't be so bad.

 

 

Randall Schmook 

Born 1917, South Side died 1982, der Schattenwelt (See Eldrich Adventures #31The Amazing End!) 

Cause of death - soul drained of energy

 

"...so all right," said Anna as she sat in a coffeeshop on the Waterfront, as close as she'd ever been able to get to wherever Eldritch made his home. She'd heard that guy was dead too, as well he might be. "I guess I was a little bit queer back then. That still don't justify all the come-ons, you know. I mean, why would a girl who cut her own hair be more likely to be caught dead with you?" She knew the real answer, because Randall had been kind of a pig and not in the way that she liked a man to be, but he'd been dead a long time now and she was willing to let bygones be bygones, talking to him like she was eighteen again and he was sitting there in front of her. "You'd like Nicci. She's a real firecracker, and she knows her spells and fairies and stuff." She sipped her new cup of hot chocolate, stirring it with a candy cane. 

 

"Why couldn't that bastard have even brought your body back home?" she murmured to herself, glad that the Christmas crowd in the coffeeshop was such that nobody ever actually looked  her way. "Eaten by shadowstuff my ass, at least he could have given us something to bury. The man could pull a rabbit out of his hat that shot lasers from its eyes and traveled in goddamned time, the least he could do is not leave you there in the cold and the dark." Randall had gotten a little crazy as he'd gotten older and his magic had faded, and had turned to some really bad places to get them back, and he'd died of it - but wasn't it a hero's job to save everybody, not just the people he'd liked? 

 

Ted Daniel

Born 1925, West End, died 1990, New York City (See Smoke Out Tobacco #2)

Cause of death - lung cancer, exposure

Hart Island, New York City 

 

It was cold in New York City's Potter's Field, cold enough that Anna was keeping herself warm inside a thick down jacket as she sat by a grave in the middle of a row of graves. She could faintly hear Christmas music from somewhere else on the island, some place where mourners actually gave a damn - but here, by the grave of a pauper who'd been dead almost thirty years, nobody gave a damn except her. Ted had died when she'd been locked up - if she'd been free, she could have gotten him off the sauce, and maybe on some real medicine, and maybe gotten him to stop smoking so goddamned much - 

 

"I'm still keeping up my exercises. I run fifty miles a day when I'm not working, and it's more like five thousand on the days when I'm workin'." She'd certainly run her ass off this Christmas long weekend. "And I cut out fried foods and most of your red meats, which if you ask me is a damn Christmas miracle seeing as how I'm livin' in the heart of dairy country these days." She rubbed her hands together to warm them, then commented, "I can still feel the years catchin' up, though. I can barely break the damn sound barrier these days and I'm so...old." She shoved her hand under her hood and ran fingers through blonde hair that was about halfway dyed these days. She knew she was being vain, she knew she looked thirty-some years younger than her actual age - but still. But still. 

 

The second-to-last man she'd slept with had called her Grandma at an intimate moment - which was maybe one reason why she'd had a dry spell before Set, and then Nicci. 

 

Robert Vaughn, 

Born 1934 , Freedom City, died 1993, Freedom City (See Terminus Crisis #3 - It All Ends Here!

Cause of death - killed by an Omegadrone 

 

"I'm sorry, Bobby." This was a grave lovingly attended by a family that had cared about its patriarch, one who had died before his 60th birthday when a monster from another dimension had shoved a pike through his head and murdered him in his front yard. Bobby Vaughn hadn't even had his powers in forty-some years before that day. "I'm sorry I flirted with you when you didn't want me to, I'm sorry I thought it was funny when we turned ya into the Caveman." She ran her fingers over the marble, remembering when Vaughn's surviving daughter had chased her away from the front door with a gun. Well she'd deserved all that, hadn't she? "I thought it was funny and I liked that you would do whatever I wanted, but it wasn't right." She sighed softly. "I was just a kid. And so were you." 

 

It was a good thing, in retrospect, that she'd viewed the Teenage Caveman as her personal puppy rather than the romantic partner he'd wanted to be. In retrospect, well, that was the sort of thing her soul didn't need on it. She was already tainted enough. 'Your grandson's doing real fine. I hear he's gonna make Captain soon, if the Internet's tellin' me the truth." She closed her eyes, and suddenly wished more than anything that on the day the world had been ending, she'd gone to check on the people she'd cared about before she'd run away. But then she'd had those particular regrets for a long time... 

 

Brian Nisbet 

Born 1923, Lincoln died 2018, Freedom City (See Lady Horus #15 - The Bee-All and End-All

Cause of death - Stage IV pancreatic cancer

 

It was snowing now, and she was cold, but she didn't care. "I just feel like it's all slipping away, Brian. Bryant's dead, my boy's got his own life, my grandkids are like somebody from another planet half the time..." She ran her fingers through blonde hair dappled with thick, wet flakes, and remembered the months of watching Brian slip away whenever she could make the run from Bedlam. "I'm doing what I can for these kids in Bedlam but I look at myself in the mirror and I'm just some old broad with a magic hat trying to keep it together and I'm scared to death half the damn time..." She scrubbed the back of her hand against her eyes, cursing her weakness as she held back her tears. "I just don't know what I'm supposed to be doing..." She leaned back against the gravestone, closed her eyes, and just about jumped out of her skin when she heard a familiar voice. 

 

"Hey, Ma." She gave a short, embarassing yelp, and looked up to see her son standing by her side, two mugs of freshly-brewed, still-steaming hot cocoa in his hand. He was wearing a leather jacket, and had a woolen hat slung over his arm as he sat next to her on the frozen ground. Wordlessly, he handed her both hat and mug, then put his arm around her. 

 

"...Dickie, what the hell are you doing here?" she asked, giving him a baffled look. "You're supposed to be with yer family on Christmas Eve." 

 

"I am with my family on Christmas Eve," Richard told her firmly. 'And in a couple of minutes, we're gonna head for Port Regal and we're gonna put our feet up. It's too damn cold for you to be out here." 

 

"I'm payin' my respects to the dearly departed," said Anna stubbornly. "Even if they were just a bunch of low-life and thugs." And some of the best friends I ever had. 

 

"They were family. And you never give up on family," said her son mildly. Giving her a more searching look, he said, "I know you're doing something. You don't have to talk about it, or think about it, but...is it right?" 

 

She hesitated just a moment, watching his breath frost in the cold air, and suddenly remembered holding him, wet and bloody, back when he'd been the only thing in her life, and she'd been the only thing in his. "It's the best I can, Dickie." 

 

Richard Cline kissed his mother on the forehead. "I love you, Ma."

 

"I love you too, Dickie. Merry Christmas." 


 

 

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