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Avenger Assembled

Song of Songs (IC)

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"You should stop doing that."

The burglar looked up in shock as a flying, winged figure in ancient armor and clothing came swooping out of the sky to land near him. "Oh my God!"

"Only one of his agents," said Freedom Angel patiently, his sword and shield both absent from his hands as he tried to speak to the criminal with the crowbar. It was very late in Lantern Hill, or maybe very early, somewhere around six or seven in the morning. With his nighttime chores done and no one else in the church that early, Heyzel had taken to patrolling. "What were you doing?" He listened, unhappily to the man's elaborate story about being locked out of his own house, which was why he'd hit the streets in black clothes and a crowbar, to try and get back in.

"You know that lying and stealing is wrong, my brother" He looked the man in the eye, fearlessly ignoring any possible weapons as he put a hand on his shoulder. "You've hurt nothing today but yourself. Go home. Sin no more." They locked eyes for a long moment before the man's eyes widened and he threw away his crowbar.

"Thank you!" he said, something like joy on his painted face. "Thank you!" And with that he turned, and ran the other way. With a deep sigh, the Angel of Freedom watched as the burglar disappeared into the darkness. This was going to be a long night.

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"How can you tell he won't reoffend?" asked a low, gruff voice from behind the angel.

Arrowhawk stood in nearby shadows, hood casting his face into shadow and red eyes glinting from underneath it. He walked forward, showing his long cape to be wrapped around himself, concealing the bow and arrows underneath. "Forgiveness only goes so far. I find most don't extend it to those with crowbars at this time of morning, and who am I to judge?"

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The angel turned, white wings flaring behind him, their perfect sheen almost glowing in the glare of streetlights. "No man's heart can be free of sin," said Freedom Angel patiently. "But that man has seen justice delivered today, and heard the words of peace. I don't believe he'll commit that crime again." A faint smile tugged at his lips. "Besides, my friend, evidently there are those watchful enough to catch even the smallest sparrows." He made a gesture in Arrowhawk's direction.

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"Perhaps noone needs to watch the sparrows, if you can be confident the little buggers aren't stealing your bread," said Arrowhawk with a wry smile, tossing back his cape to expose the white hawk on his chest.

"I'll assume you're that angel everyone keeps talking about. I must say, I was expecting something slightly more Old Testament. Telling someone to go home isn't exactly a powerful smite." He remained standing some distance away from the angel. "What brings you out this time of night, anyway?"

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"I don't sleep," the angel explained. "The church is very quiet at night. Sometimes I bake, or prepare other food for the charity kitchen. Or read holy scriptures. There are so very many, you know." He looked around them at the night and said, "But solitude was unsatisfactory. I felt that I was needed elsewhere. And as for violence, I prefer to draw my sword to defend, not punish." There was no judgement in the words at all, perhaps odd for an angel, just a simple statement of fact. "There is pain enough in this world as it is."

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"Solitude? You'd think one of the many faithful would feel honoured to go spend some time at night with a bona fide angel."Arrowhawk raised an eyebrow under his hood. "Ungodly hours or not. I'd've thought an angel would be a more daytime hero. Night's when all us scary monsters come out and play."

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"Goodness and justice are the same in the darkness and the light both," said Freedom Angel with great seriousness. "The light can be as blinding as the darkness to the wrong set of eyes. Besides, I have excellent night vision." He fluffed his wings a little and added, "I speak to many faithful. Some are disappointed to learn they do not follow the Creator's teachings, particularly those who use the same symbols of His power that I do." The angel's armor was certainly decorated in a Christian style, reminiscent of medieval painting Arrowhawk had seen in Scotland. "It can be easier, sometimes, to deal with others. Like that man I spoke with, who simply needed some persuasion to turn away from the path of sin."

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"Persuasion? Angel, you loomed up over him and placed what is doubtless a highly strong hand upon his shoulder, then looked right into his eyes. An angel." Arrowhawk laughed and shook his head. "Believe yourself to be God's mercy. You're not persuading them. They think you're God's wrath, come to turn them into a pillar of salt where they stand."

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Freedom Angel shook his head, flapping his wings a few times to get himself further in the air. "The wrath of the Almighty would cleanse this universe as it did the Egypt of legend, clearing away the wheat and the chaff with the fires of Creation itself." It might have sounded like a threat from anyone else, but the angel just sounded tired. "But humanity is safe from that wrath, Arrowhawk. You may trust that the Almighty bears no ill will towards his Creation." Or any other will, for that matter. "Do you have business in the district? Or are you finished for the night?"

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"The wrath of the Almighty would cleanse this universe as it did the Egypt of legend, clearing away the wheat and the chaff with the fires of Creation itself." It might have sounded like a threat from anyone else, but the angel just sounded tired. "But humanity is safe from that wrath, Arrowhawk. You may trust that the Almighty bears no ill will towards his Creation."

"He clearly does. This city has the higgest population of superheroes per square mile of anywhere on this whole planet, and apparently a few more besides. And yet... there is still crime. It doesn't run rampant, it is in check, and yet despite all the overbearing odds, the 'triumph of human spirit' apparently instilled in us by our creator has turned to not giving up. So many superheroes, so many trying to foil them, and mostly succeeding, and yet people still do bad things." He sighed, rubbing his forehead. "I don't question your intentions. I know you're trying to do good. But why don't they give up?"

"Do you have business in the district? Or are you finished for the night?"

"My business in this district is over. I found the man I sought, and last I saw of him he was trapped in one of my snares," said Arrowhawk, rapping on his quiver with his knuckles, "Hanging outside a police station with evidence on his crimes. Unfortunately, the night isn't yet over, so I'm needed in Southside in order to make sure nothing sparks off there. There is rest for the wicked, but until daylight I'm not going to get any. But I don't suppose you have that problem, do you?

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"Man's power is great. But so is his power to sin." Freedom Angel looked Arrowhawk over and suggested, "I've only partnered with a superhero once before. I would like to join you in the South Side." As he spoke, a flaming sword shimmered into life in his hand, the blade glowing with the pure, white flame of truth. "Those who see me will repent...or else assume simply that because they've seen one champion of justice, that they've seen all of them."

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"Compensating for something?" asked Arrowhawk wryly. "And Southside is different. The crooks there? They know how to deal with superheroes. Especially ones that announce their presence with huge white wings and a flaming sword. You can't intimidate someone who saw you coming a mile off and decided to postpone his plans until no 'capes' are flying around."

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"Then go in peace, my friend, and do the work of justice and redemption tonight." He fixed his eyes on Arrowhawk and said simply, "Whatever doubts men have had of your nature, you are a man committed to justice for the wicked. Make sure you remember that justice comes from more than arrow and staff, even in the hands of a righteous man." And with that, in a flare of divine light, he was gone.

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Arrowhawk rolled his eyes. "Always with the theatrics. Come down to Earth, angel. Because I don't think you know how much you're needed." The archer gave a wry smile and began jogging back to Southside, ignoring the pain in his leg.

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