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The Angel of Victory (IC)

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Memorial Day, 2011

Fens Veterans Memorial

Long after the parades and families and school children were gone, the angel finally landed at the veteran's cemetery. It was late dusk, enough that not many people were out in the Fens, a neighborhood so poor that even most criminals spurned the streets unless in desperate need of gain. For the moment, the angel of Freedom had no eyes for that, for now he focused simply on the old Union war memorial that loomed over his head. The rather weather-beaten soldier there had been standing on guard for quite some time, long enough that even the angels in Heaven had taken notice. "You've done your duty well," said the angel to the silent watchman, thinking not of the stone but of the soul that had gone into it. "Here, let me help." He flew up and landed on the top of the monument and began working with the cleanser he'd brought: angels knew a great deal about caring for marble statuary, and he'd researched ahead of time. And like all of his breed, when he set his mind to something, he did all he could for it.

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Even on Memorial Day, the threats to Freedom City take no break. Crooks,criminals, and wanna-be villains always think that, with the police on parade, that would be a good time to make their move. Of course, they never take into account that heroes don't take the day off, either. As much as he wanted to be out there to march, he had a job to do, and he would do it vigilantly.

Fortunately, things began to quiet down, and Victory was able to take the time to pay his respects. His usual roaring rockets were quieter as he approached the veteran cemetery, before coming to a stop just outside the gates. Going in quietly, Victory removes his helmet, holding it under his arm.

His heavy steps sink into the moist ground, and, as victory begins to walk slowly among the graves, taking time to read each and every name, he keeps some distance from the graves themselves. He wouldn't want to step too close, for fear of harming the bodies buried below.

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Up above, Victory caught sight of a winged man in armor working on the statue on top of the Civil War monument: a few moments later, he recognized Freedom Angel, the so-called angel who was a recent inductee into the Freedom League. When he had finished his work on the statue, polishing the marble to gleaming perfection, the angel made a perfect landing on the walkway below, soon catching sight of the approaching man in armor. "Hello," he said, his voice warm with reassurance. "I am the angel of Freedom. I am sorry if I have disturbed your meditation here, I simply wished to make sure the monuments were well-preserved."

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Major Factor was rather deep in his thoughts as he walked among the graves of the fallen, and, at first, he thought the winged figure was just another statue. At first paying the figure little mind, when he saw it move, he took a closer look. His eye flashed for a moment, as his database brought up the file for Freedom Angel. Shaking the image out of his head, he saw normally again a moment later.

Damn....they're happening more often....I didn't even have the helmet on the whole day this time...

With his little "glitch" gone, Victory greets the winged hero, but with a much quieter voice than he usually speaks, out of courtosey for the resting. "I was thinking of it more as prayer, but I'd imagine someone like yourself would know a bit more about the topic than I do."

Victory extends his hand as he got close enough, momentarily getting rid of the somber look he had while walking through the hallowed ground, with a professional smile. "You're the new Leaguer, right? I'm Victory. Sorry I couldn't give my congratulations earlier, but it's been busy for me lately."

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"I have been away for some time myself," answered the angel. He looked around the cemetery, glancing in particular at the weeping stone angels so popular on the elaborate 19th century graves. This area was taken well care of by the neighborhood, but even here the decay of the Fens was visible in the pollution that marred the marble, and the monuments left chipped and unrepaired. "It is good to know that those who died for a cause, righteous or otherwise, are remembered by those for whom they fought." He looked back up at the monument and added, "Heaven's position on war is a complicated one. Men and women on both sides, who pray to the same god and go to kill each other in His name the next day. The American Civil War is one of the few exceptions." He focused on Victory and said, "You wear the name of Nike. It's a proud tradition." He smiled thinly. "Though I am no friend of the so-called pagan gods, I can commend her for wearing the style and colors of an angel, and for being the best at what she was."

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"If I remember correctly, Heaven's had wars of its own. I can only imagine what is done to remember the fallen from such a war."

Victory takes a moment to go over another grave, his discussion pausing for a moment to continue his own personal vigil. As he passes another, he turns his gaze back to the angel.

"Nike, eh? I'd studied some of the classics, myself. Greek goddess of Victory. Famous statue. But also daughter of Styx, and there's a thin line between attaining victory and taking a trip down that river. In fact, I was pretty close taking that long boat ride, myself, if it weren't for modern miracles and the grace of God...."

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"Mm." The angel looked down at the graves himself, momentarily lost in thought. Samuel Huntsman, 3rd Infantry...Hey, I know that guy! "So you are as grateful to the genius of your mortal doctors as the infinite salvation of Providence?" He smiled a little at that, and added, "Don't worry, I don't say that to trap you. It would be a hard reward for physicians and scientists like those who helped in your creation to hear that their work was not actually important." He looked again at Victory and asked, "I confess I don't know you as well as you know me, brother. Did you fight in your country's wars?" There had been so many in the past, and some ongoing now, but he was too diplomatic to talk that way.

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The question's a bit of a strange one for someone like him. The way pilots contribute to war efforts tends to be quite different from soldiers on foot. But he had done his own sort of fighting.

"I was too young to fight during the last major wars. And when I did join the armed forces, I was a pilot. It's not quite the same as the men who went in and fought on the ground. But I was there to make sure we'd have to send as few men in there to give their lives as possible."

Going over a few more graves, Victory finishes the row and speaks more as he moves to the next row.

"After my accident, and when I became what I am now, I did help during the war against the Grue. My very first mission was to stop the landing ships. Fortunately, since they had no way of knowing that human technology could create something like me, I was able to catch them off-guard."

"And what about yourself? Were you involved in.....how shall I say it....the heavenly split?"

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"Even angels have generations," said Heyzel seriously. "The Adversary's fall happened before even my mother was born, and when my aged father was much different than he is now. But Heaven has wars aplenty, as those who would take the glory of love and righteousness for their own have laid siege. But we triumph, as we always do." He admitted, "That's part of what drew me to Earth. This is a place that _needs_ that love and righteousness, one where Good's triumph must be fought and strived for every day."

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"Angel children and elderly....quite a thought. Generally people tend to think of angels as ageless. Makes me wonder if Michael is still around and what he'd look like by now."

When he reaches a particular grave, he turns to Angel again.

"Excuse me a moment."

He stops, and turns towards the grave, crouching down.

"Sorry it took so long for me to get out here this year. It's been....a pretty eventful time for me. The project finally finished. But you'd probably be able to see that, huh?"

He reaches his right hand over to his left wrist, which opens a small pocket. Removing a tiny object from inside it, he turns it over a few times in his hand.

"I finally managed to find it. It was in one of grandma's old jewelery boxes. We knew you'd want it."

Leaning over, he's careful to put as little of his body weight on the land in front of the grave as he can. He had moved the object back to his left hand, and, using the massive strength in that arm, he presses the object into the headstone, the pressure embedding it in, before standing up again.

"There we go. Much better..."

Once he stands, the Angel could see the headstone. The new object was an unusual little design, like a coat of arms. Perhaps a family crest? And the name was quite a bit more telling: Nathan Factor.

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Freedom Angel said nothing as Victory spoke to his departed grandfather, having seen moments like this all too often. When he was finished, the angel said, "A sage once said, 'I would rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not.' If you loved Nathan Factor, then be at peace, my friend." He put his hand gently on Victory's shoulder, not seeming to mind the great heat that came from the cyborg's body. "I know your record, Victory. Have no doubt that he is proud of the man you are today, wherever his soul rests."

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His body has cooled a bit, since he had only been walking, but it was still noticeably warmer than a normal human. Even without the heat, a hand up against the metal can feel the whirring and humming of machinery beneath the shell.

"It may sound arrogant to say, but I always felt like he'd be happy with where I am now. I know he wanted me to go with whatever I dreamed. And since I've always been in love with the sky, I know he'd want me up there."

He stood again, lightly dusting his knees off, the dirt falling easily from the metallic "skin".

"But it'd be good to know exactly how he felt."

He turned to the Angel, his eyebrow slightly quirked.

"Do you ever....go back up there?"

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"My work is here," replied the angel, "but my family is there still. An ambassador cannot simply go home when he misses his mother's cooking, or the sound of his people's children playing by a creek. I am on a holy mission to spread the Word of justice and peace to humanity by dint of action and example, Victory. I cannot simply leave that behind for the sake of homesickness." He smiled thinly. "Even if i wanted to." He hadn't been directly asked the obvious question he sensed might be on Victory's mind, so he opted not to give an answer that might have been disappointing.

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Victory seems to find the answer somewhat more agreeable than he thought he would. A small smile and a nod says as much. Looking at the grave a moment, he lets his gaze drift to some of the others, particularly glancing at the various names.

"That...is a fair answer. And I guess it's the one I expected,too."

After reading a couple more, he looks once more to the angel.

"And the one that sounds the most like one of ours. None of our soldiers can just go back whenever they please, either. I suppose the only real difference is the physical divider, eh?"

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"Let our differences unite us, rather than divide us," agreed the angel. When their solemnities seemed finished, he shook Victory's hand. "Thank you for spending time with me, my friend. It's good to be reminded of the struggles for virtue in which all men are engaged...and that the wars between men need not be fought inside the human heart. Good evening." And with that he was off, wending his way up into the sky as the evening sun glinted off his wings.

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Victory returns the hand shake, using his more flesh arm, as is his own personal custom.

"Besides, I get the feeling that we have more similarities than differences. Anyway, good luck out there. I'm sure we'll see each other again before too long."

After their shake, he gives the angel a salute, before watching him fly off. Once he was gone, Lance turned back to the grave, and he kneeled down once more.

"Sorry about that. Good guy, though, eh? Anyway, I got a lot to tell you about this year...."

He spends a good, long time speaking with the grave, and when he's finally done, he moves on, paying respects to the rest of the graves.

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