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[Social] Stolen Valor, Part I

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August 15, 2015
Allies of Freedom Memorial and Museum
11:00am EDT

It was a mostly cloudy day, nothing of notice on the comfortable but humid day, storms were expected later, but it wasn't raining on anyone's plans for now. But it was a strange day for one of Freedom City's time displaced and newest additions to it's growing collection of Heroes. Mary Masterson, the public heroine starting to be known as the Seaworthy Sentinel Torpedo Lass was dressed in a uniform, but not of modern times. An exhibit opened up commemorating V-J Day, and the sacrifices not only of the brave soldiers, sailors, and marines of the Pacific Theater, but the many women of the war as well, those that operated in intelligence, or moving supplies in the rear which was still hostile. And Mary knew and looked forward to seeing what she had missed before being unceremoniously taken out of the effort by a whim of time and space.

She straightened out her WAVE uniform she decided to get out of her storage locker in her closet at home. Something she keeps all her personal effects from the war that she had when she was found by a research ship. Collected as much trash that was being swept up.

Some wondered if Mary was a person working at the museum at first, until it was obvious who it was... her return to modern times did end up in the news once she discharged from the Navy. Her time there felt to her like paying back her time away.

She looked at a old picture of her team, mounted in a sealed case. Near the end of her time in what is now the past, she was part of a WAVE flight that handled moving aircraft about in the rear from their maintenance point to the USS Enterprise and other carriers in the Pacific. It was weird seeing herself in this manner... it created a feeling like Deja'vu.

When she read the text on the picture, it made her start to tear up. A Japanese plane took advantage of the disarmed nature of the aircraft as they were being flown over and shot down the rest of her team, 6 months after Mary's disappearance... there were no survivors.

She looked up for a moment to collect herself as she looked over at the other exhibits. "Shoot..." She said in a whisper, taking off her cover, looking at the WAVE badge on the front. "Seems I'm over 70 years too late, girls..."

What Mary didn't know was she wasn't alone... there were others, but not as displaced from the past...

Edited by The Osprey

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Henry Mason was the last of his kind. The last surviving veteran of the first world war, as far as he knew. All of those he'd served along side and fought against had long passed from the world. The last of them faded from life a few short years before he returned to Earth. He had missed the second world war entirely, and would have been too old to serve anyway. 

He had learned much of the Allies of Freedom since his return to Earth, and felt a strange sort of kinship with them. If he had returned to Earth sooner, they may have been comrades. He may have found himself pulled into another war, alongside superhumans much like him. However, that was history. 

Now he was in costume, walking solemnly through the halls. As solemnly as a blue and gold costume would permit, admittedly, but he did often state that he was a veteran, just never of which war. 

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Fall 1945

"You have come to spoil this land! You dogs! You filthy vampires of men!" Frost paced in front of the Japanese colonists, visions of Red Fox, of Spitfire, of Lady Celtic, dying in agony in his mind. He was acutely aware of the terror on their faces but he truthfully cared very little for that now. The Allies of Freedom were dead. Heroism was dead. What else mattered but his duty? "It is ONLY through intervention of the heroes of the Soviet Union that you have been allowed to LIVE! Now! The skilled workers among you will proceed to the train that will take you to Siberia for processing. After that, the rest of you will be repatriated to your embarkation port in Korea!" 

"But that's two hundred miles away!" shouted one colonist, braver than the rest, still wearing the work fatigues that meant he must have been a mechanic for that Datsun corporation that had been headquartered up the road. Most of the executives, as was the way of things, had fled before the arrival of the Red Army. Frost decided the man was lucky as he spun to look at him - another member of the People's Heroes might have had him beaten for his pains. 

Frost instead laughed and pointed down the railroad track, smashed a few weeks earlier as the Red Army had steamrolled through Manchuria. "WHY SO IT IS!" he declared, throwing up his hands. His escort, the rear-guard troops who had been charged with keeping the Manchuko colonists from being murdered by the surrounding Chinese guerillas, laughed too. No one else did. 

-

"Ah, Manchuria!" declared Frost, looking up at what was a fairly minor part of an exhibition that devoted itself after all to primarily American and Western European superheroes. "I remember it well. What a pesthole." A tourist was taking his picture, and somewhat distractedly he waved. "Yes, it is I, famous Comrade Frost, fellow in statue right over there." Looking around, Dimitri was acutely aware of how young the crowd was. The men and women with whom he could have shared jokes, memories, the common experience of war even if they had fought very different wars at the same time, were now mostly gone - even in the Motherland, where veterans had once been as thick as the Siberian snow. "Glad to be here to see museum of capitalist heroes and their war against the forces of fascism - and also Soviet!" he declared brightly, pointing to a handful of nearby displays, rather cattily. "So glad to be remembered. What do you think, Lady Talya, did _your_ war make it into American history books?"

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Torpedo Lass remembered the young girl she was about to convince of the error of her ways... a fellow metahuman as her, one forced into her role by emotion, barely 15 years old, forced to fight in just her school uniform and given all but a kapok life vest for protection... but then time and space had other ideas for them... Mary scratched her head. "Then again, Comrade Frost, times and people change, don't they? I just missed out on the ugly parts." Mary said, walking over with a smile. "At least I could say I tried to convince at least one citizen of Imperial Japan that they were making a mistake... without resorting to a bullet before I was so rudely interrupted by the universe having a hiccup. Mary Masters, Petty Officer with the WAVE in WWII, Master Chief in the modern US Navy... Probably hadn't heard of me, I didn't get as far as the Chinese mainland and the WAVE weren't allowed to assist the Flying Tigers. Missed out on a lot of the Pacific action to be honest."

She put her hat back on and looked over the man before her. "Time tends to be kind to superheroes, eh? Well at least those left to carry on?"

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"My war didn't make it into any history books, Dimitri. That was rather the point of my division, at least," Talya replied, the words arch as she turned back towards Comrade Frost and away from the statues she was eyeing. Talya, certainly, was easy to place as she had dressed - most likely deliberately - in a dark skirt and jacket that was near identical to one of the pictures from the British display. The incomparable Bombshell might be cool and composed but her smile was a little too sharp and the look in her bright blue eyes was distinctly dangerous. She never enjoyed this particular trips down memory lane but every year there were less familiar faces. Talya had lived long enough to know the discomfit of memory was a price she was willing to pay. "But I do see a few familiar faces in the memorials."

Her heels clicked on the floor as she turned away from the statues, and towards the young woman that had approached Comrade Frost. Her smile curved faint and bright red, "Time is kind to no one, I'm afraid. Perhaps heroes least of all. But some of us show it less than others, it's true." Talya didn't touch the discussion of the 'ugly' parts of the war, although she did arch one brow. See, she could avoid dragging the conversation to dark places if she tried.

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Henry overheard them, all of them came from a time not unlike his own, survivors of a far away, long ago time. Someone he could perhaps talk to, relate to. He walked over. 

"Apologies for eavesdropping, but I heard that you are veterans. Solar Sentinel." He said nodding to introduce himself. "I served in the army during WWI, fought in the AEF. I was off planet from 1922 until 2010. Fighting another war." he'd heard of Torpedo Lass since her return and nodded. "It's a strange thing, isn't it, to return to a world that's like and not like your own." 

He still struggled to speak normally to people, especially in costume. Though he suspected this crowd might be easier to do so with.

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"Point taken..." Mary said to Bombshell. "Too many memorials and not enough old friends to re-unite with, if only for one more time. I've got none left, personally. It's like some weird pulp novel dealing with time-travel... except I'm the protagonist and I'm marooned in some weird future." Mary said, keeping her smile, forgetting she had been crying a moment ago, the drying tears still slightly glistening on her freckles. The Purple-haired girl kept her hair short, almost bowl-cut in a way. Although from what has been spoken of in the media, Torpedo Lass spends enough time in the water not to get hair into her eyes, she seemed too youthful to have fought a war, although the evidence in the WAVE memorial spoke for itself. "It helps to know there's some of us still walkin' about on this mudball."

She put her hands in her pocket. "I... don't get this uniform out enough... not anymore. It's as if everything about my past is dead, in a way. Even my more fond memories." She said. "My crew was a real bunch of banshees, happens when they're a bunch of pilots. But... I guess tradin' in my modern navy whites for a costume is just a change of uniform, eh?"

She blushed. She didn't know if she was starting to get a little boastful herself. Then Solar Sentinel showed up.

"I... guess you caught the whole Sci-Fi quip I made, eh? Solar Sentinel?" She said. "Sorry we didn't make "The Great War" the last war after all, bud." She said with a sigh. Then her eyes lit up. "War on another planet? I mean I know there's aliens and stuff, I was fishin' AEGIS starfighter pilots out of the drink during the Incursion, but you actually took it to the more nastier Aliens that aren't about Living long and Prospering and stuff?" She said with a whistle. "Well, Thanks for your service... and then some!"

"I'd wager you're catching up with History too, eh?"

Edited by The Osprey

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Henry shook his head. "Can't be helped. I read the history after I got back. Too many hands in the candy dish, too many problems. Depression hit like a train and tore the world apart, then things got worse. We were fools to think we fought the last one. We fixed it with stitching but the seams weren't right, and it didn't take long for it to all break open."

"I had my eyes opened, universe is so much bigger'n what we thought it was." A bit of his old accent leaked through. "Everything is beautiful and strange. But today ain't about me, it's about you folks, and the good you did tryin' to stop the world from coming apart. Way I see it,  it's still here. That's what counts."

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"Well well well, Solar Sentinel! Say, I never asked, are you like American astronaut, only goes to Sun at night to avoid flames? Ho-ho-ho!" Frost clapped Solar Sentinel on the back, perhaps a trifle too hard, and looked Torpedo Lass up and down. "Yes, I remember you." He assumed she must have dyed her hair in the years since - no respectable woman of their generation would have gone out looking like that. Or maybe she is not respectable? That has always been my favorite kind..."Heard of your resurrection. Pleasant you are still alive." He waved his hand. "When so many heroes are dead, is pleasant when some remain." His hands in his pockets, he looked up at the statuary. "Seventy years is long time. Children we saved are old men and women now. Their children are some of them grandfathers and grandmothers already." 

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"Resurrection? I wish. Nobody gets that lucky." She said. "Not unless you're really, really lucky or some villain."

She looked at the floor, looking like she's pushing dirt around. "I did find out one of my team did have a couple kids back home. Their family line got pretty truncated after that what with Vietnam and things. Military families tend to keep military." She said. "There's just a couple left on some maternal lines."

She looked back up. "Oh well, we're okay, for the most part. It's the 21st century, what sort of trouble can we get into?"

Her smile was almost mischievous. "I've not had a proper drink in a while... although the drinks never seem to get to me."

"How ya think I could drink with the boys at the base one night, and be up bright and early for duty the next morning?" she said with a wink.

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"We are - some of the few left alive, at least," Talya inclined her head to the Solar Sentinal, the gesture regal. She offered her hand to him first and then Mary, "The good Comrade and I both served in the Allies for a time. The gave me the codename Bombshell as they weren't terribly original sorts. I kept it, because I happen to be a stubborn sort. Natalya, if you prefer. I was in the SOE, British forces. Western front mostly, though much of my work was, politely put, in espionage."

As Talya rattled off her own particular part, some of it route, her accent sharpened, crisping up almost absentmindedly as she referenced her time serving Queen and country. Her gaze transferred back to Mary then at her commentary about resurrection. An amused smile quirked Talya's lips but all she offered was, "Quite. It does take some significant luck, doesn't it? Regardless of the how, it is nice to see that you've rejoined those of us still ambulatory. Drinks would be lovely. All museums should offer a stocked bar, don't you think?...It would certainly make some of this more palatable."

Talya added the last in, half under her breath as she took in the requisite Ace Danger little display with vague aggravation. Her fingers tightened slightly on her clutch purse as she repressed the urge to perhaps pilfer things from it. Possibly to mail back to the international man of mystery. Talya was still vexed with Ace. 

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Klara wasn't really someone who could fade into the background especially as she was a good head and shoulders above everyone else. She had gone for a simple dress, in a respectful black, rather than wear flats she was walking around the museum barefoot. The memories of this time, both good and bad, were a good reminder of why she had left her home back then and why now she was thinking of being a hero again.

She hadn't expected to meet anyone from those times but a familiar face from those times got her interest and she went to investigate.

"You were lucky with such a name they just called me Warrior Woman." her English was almost flawless with a hint of a strange accent "Though you may call me Klara."

She gave all of them a warm little smile, except for Comrade Frost who got a curt little nod. 

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Frost looked up at Klara, icy red eyes flaring wide as he took her in. and said with sharp, pungent disgust, "Oh, it's you." The temperature in the room dropped noticeably when he made eye contact with the former Warrior Woman. He knew full well who this was, what she had done, and what the consequences had been for everyone else on the People's Heroes afterwards. He sneered in contempt at the notorious traitor and turned solicitously to Talya, deliberately turning his back on Klara. "Lady Talya, I have flask of finest vodka martini in coat pocket," he said, patting the parka he wore over his old military uniform. "Will you join me out of the way and share a toast? With such a crowd, place begins to stink." 

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"Yea, sadly with the US Navy being scared of having a female meta getting killed or captured in the Pacific becoming a morale sinker I was kept... well, near base and out of such teams." She said to Bombshell before things got interesting... "Thank god for modern feminists though, aye?" She said with a grin. 8 years in the Navy was a welcome familiarity.

Mary looked over to Talya as she stepped away slightly from the brewing conflict.

"Umm... you know what just happened there? The air conditioning just got upgraded, and there's seeming lightning between those two." She said, gulping. She's not had any encounter with these people, at least when it mattered. Comrade Frost seemed to have been wronged in some manner by the new person who stepped in. 

She actually hoped a fight wouldn't break out... she loved this uniform...

Edited by The Osprey

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Talya watched the once-comrades re-unite with the expected, and in Frost's case literal, chill in the air. Her blond head cocked to the side with some mild interest before Mary drew her attention with a question, "Hm? Oh. There's no feud quite like a Russian feud - especially if it involves opinions about service to the Motherland and ideologies," Talya replied, giving an absent minded wave of her hand, "I wouldn't worry, much, there might be shouting but no one's going to damage a memorial. There's not going to be a fight. Well, unless someone suggests taking things 'outside'. Then it might be reasonable to grow concerned that things might turn physical. On the plus side, that would make for an entertaining afternoon!"

She gave Mary a small, bemused smile that failed to convey whether her last statement was meant to be a joke or not and then turned to Dimitri, "Well, as your people say, Будем здоровы!*"

For the Russians, Talya's mastery of the language was flawless down to having the faint inflections of intonation indicative of a native of central Russia. She took Dimitiri's arm and the promise of vodka, despite the chill he emanated and offered the other veterans a friendly smile, "Klara, we must catch up sometime. It's been ever so long since I've stepped foot on British shores. Soon!"

Russians, in Talya's experience, always brought the best vodka to a party. 

 

*(bóo-deem zda-ró-vye) - To our health!

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"In the Soviet army women were snipers and pilots, everyone worked together to defend the Motherland. Or at least among the common people, though that's an old discussion for another time." She gave a little shrug showing impressive muscles, then gave a little smile at Talya

"I have also many pictures and stories of my daughter's to tell, maybe I will be a Grandmother soon! I don't feel anyway near old enough to be a Grandmother." 

She had never told anyone her age but she hadn't changed at all since they had known her.

<"For what it's worth Dimitri I have missed our discussions. I am here remember all the men and women who fought against the Axis, I have a bottle of fine Vodka to toast to there memories. I'd like you to join me if only for old time same. If not we could always give them the fight there worried about!"> despite her time away from home her Russian still hadn't lost her Altai accent.

 

 

 

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Already walking away with Talya, Frost froze, stock-still, when Klara addressed him. His hands, loose at his sides, clenched into fists - an autonomic reflex even though if he was going to strike Klara, he certainly wouldn't use his fists to do it. When he spoke, his Russian was free from the avancular perversion that usually infused his English. "<Not now. Not here.>" Without extending an invitation, and without refusing one either, he kept walking away rather than vent his grievances at Warrior Woman all over the exhibit hall. "Here," he offered Talya, "I keep vodka cold, just for warm lady!" He winked at her as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a shiny silver flask, polished mirror-bright for the special occasion - the German words still clearly visible on it identifying it as once belonging to Wilhelm Kantor. "My personal mix," he offered Talya as they headed for a big, open-air balcony that provided them with a view of the city below. It was screened off from tourists, but the velvet rope was no barrier at all to either Dimitri or Talya. "Will have to tell me how it is." 

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"A toast, sounds good." Henry said, glad the situation was defusing. "I have some fine aged whiskey at home, I'll go grab a bottle." He said, following them out. He seemingly vanished into a burst of azure light, a blue contrail the only sign that he hadn't simply teleported away. He returned only a few seconds later, carrying a dusty bottle of whiskey. "Nine years old, bought ten bottles over the first few months after I got back to Earth. Every Armistice Day, I pop one of those bottles and have a drink on the rocks in honor of the soldiers I didn't get to take for drinks when we came home. Join me in honoring your fallen allies?" 

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"Now there's a man who deserves to burn in a very special part of hell," Talya commented as she turned the silver flask over in her hand, her thumb brushing over the smooth silver surface and the old lettering. The smile she turned to Henry was welcoming, "Tell our new friend how you ended up with this flask, Dimitri. It's a good story."

Of course, it was Talya so 'good' could have any number of a wide variety of meanings. While Henry joined them, Talya took a drink from the flask like she was used to sharing vodka with Russians. Just like riding a bike, really, that was. She handed it back to Dimitiri as her throat burned.

"Tastes like fire and death, my dear," it sounded not unlike a compliment. "And like it is very likely not legal in this country."

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Klara resisted the urge to shout something back the old goat was actually right about it not being the time. Instead she swore quietly in herself in her own tongue, though it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t pleasant. Instead she turned to Mary and gave a sad little smile.


“So little one I guess you are confused as to what is happening? It is a long sad story that I may tell someday though as you’ll understand when you leave you leave people behind and they suffer when you go. Especially when you leader is a paranoid tyrant with trust issues.”


She’d been around long enough to be pragmatic about all this and she didn’t feel like causing more hassle than she’d already caused.

“But you don’t want to stand her and talk to me Dimitri tell grand tales of glorious Mother Russia, Talya ones of daring do with sparkling charm and I’m sure the American has Buck Rogers like tales of space. I only have tales of my children growing up and many, many pictures.” she gave a sigh little sign “And this is all he has in the world whilst after this is over I will go home to my wife and maybe talk to my daughters.”

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Mary crosses her arms. "I see... decades of... history." She said to Talya.

"And an apt observation of Buck Rogers... wasn't he a test pilot who ended up transported into the 25th century by forces beyond?" She said. Putting a hand on her hip. "Or maybe that was the Television canon... I dunno. I'm still grasping the concept of an alien travelling through time in a blue British Police Box... Yes, I'm a budding geek... just me."

She grinned. "Otherwise. Probably after this meeting I might put on the costume and do some good old-fashioned "cape" work. Never know when a bank's gonna get robbed or a distress call on the Atlantic will come in. Although I'm not just some old sea-salt. I've found that jumping is a good way to avoid traffic in town."

She looked over to Klara. When she elaborated on the situation. "Yeah... the Cold War." She said looking at Dimitri. "I have a thumbnail of understanding about it. Thank god it's over with. I'm glad I'm not standing in a nuclear slag-pile right now of a city..."

"To be honest you two, you achieved a lot, politics considered. History is history. We're standing in it." She said, pointing to the displays. "We created this. We made this possible. That is the measure of our character. Let's leave the politics out of it."

"I'd be up to coming along and catching up with everyone. Even if it is to get some dinner together. We're alive, we're here, and toasting friends. I think we do have a lot to be grateful for. To be honest... the 21st Century has a good collection of Heroes standin' here."

Mary was obviously trying to shift things. There was some tension and she was trying to deflate it like a beached life raft. "Besides if one of you guys have a hunger for Russian cuisine I'm willing to try it out. Had my first taste of Sushi in it's homeland in 2011, after all... the restaurant owner was grateful for the support after the quake."

"So... happy...dinner...friends? Please?"

The look on her face was telling... she didn't want anyone present fighting and she was honestly hoping they could see past their differences.

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Outside, Frost silently poured Talya a healthy libation of vodka martini - right in the convenient cup that acted as the flask's cap! "To our health!" he declared sociably, knowing he'd get very little out of the super-chilled drink himself. 

Standing at the balcony's rail, he looked down at the city below - glad that DuTemps money had been enough to allow this building things like balconies that opened to the air. "Ah, Talya," he said in Russian, "There are so very few of us left. Old enemies like Nacht-Krieger and Kantor still breathe, and even the Katana has his new body, but those we once fought for..." He waved a hand. "Another thirty years, and they will be gone. And then people like you and I, and those two in there, will be all that is left.

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"It's not fair but then, life has never been known for its fairness," Talya replied, easily switching to Russian as she took the cup in hand. She lifted it at the toast and then turned away to watch the city below, one elegant hand on the balcony railing. "But it does seem a special sort of cruelty that Amanda and Hank's children grew up without their parents and here you and I stand seventy years later. What's that old song... only the good die young? I don't know, Dimitri."

Talya turned then to hold out the empty flask cap to Comrade Frost once more, her urbanely serene mask never slipping from her features despite the weariness in her words. "I hate these sorts of things. It grows more depressing every year."

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Mary looked over to Henry. "I'll pass on the drinks." She said, leaning on the doorway to the patio.

"I'm not big on drinking. And to be honest my connections to the past are pretty much gone." She said, starting to step out. "It's weird knowing you're a simple foot-note in history but suddenly you're relevant again."

She sighed. "Aw Heck, if you can spare a swig I'd welcome it, Solar. To be honest it's the future I'm always uncertain about..."

"Yeah... that's the thing isn't it? What we're gonna do from here on. Spaceman over here has his thing, I've got mine."

She grinned to everyone with a slight glow to her eyes. "What's your night-lives like with the masks on?"

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Henry passed the bottle over and handed her a shot glass he'd been holding. "If you want it, I'm happy to share a drink with a sailor." He said. "That's well aged bourbon there." He shrugged. "I keep myself busy. Don't really patrol the way some folks do, more just fly around looking for trouble to stop. Sometimes on quiet nights I go visit the moon or one of the planets and just stare at it. Remind myself what I'm here for. I'm still here and I can still fight. This right here?" He motioned to the city below them. "That's as good a reason to wake up in the morning as any, to keep 'er safe."

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