Goodbye: Part Three

From the Story Arc: Battle Stations: Aftermath

Previous Story in the Arc: Goodbye: Part Two by Red Saviour (Sunday, April 23, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Goodbye: Part Four by Bestial Boy (Sunday, April 23, 2006)

(posted Sunday, April 23, 2006)


Petrograd

For a while, it would have taken a careful observer to see that Petrograd was there at all. Near the back of the lot, by a tree, with his stealth generators running at about half power, just enough to cut the shine off of his armor. It also tended to ward off fellow grievers... but one might call that a benefit.

Funerals were always hard, and he'd been to far too many in his day. Still, when the podium emptied for a moment, and about halfway down the bottle in his hand, Ivan stepped up.

"You know, when we first came to Paragon City, we were invincible. Am remembering, one of my first patrols, was only me and Moji... we were full of ourselves, and decided to go to Skyway City. To clean gangs off highways in one fell swoop. Of course, this plan fell apart at our first Clockwork Prince.

We destroyed it, but at the end, I was barely limping, and Mojiotok had... what is new word... "planted," waiting for teleporters to kick in. We did nyet know much of teleporters back then, did nyet know how much we could take, how much was fatal. He was always tougher than me, but he had taken brunt of hits... had saved me from that thing. My armor was shattered, and one of my arms had detached, so I merely slumped next to him on embankment, lit a cigarette, and drank vodka from my flask, waiting for medics to come.

He was barely conscious, but still, he spat some blood and said, "You know old man, I saw you in Moscow once. You came to youth camp for rousing patriotic speech, and I could not help but to think 'It is sad that such heroes will die so soon.' So smoke your nekulturny cigarette and swig your vodka, because I'll be damnded if you outlive me."

I laughed until he was back from hospital with repair kit. Well, here's to you, tovarisch..."




Garent

Garent stood at the center of the gathered crowd. He had made no effort to stand and watch from afar as he often did. Garent immersed himself in the situation. He did not know the ones who had died, never even heard their names before now, but they signified something.

"I never expected to see you attending a funeral," Garent heard the voice in his head speak to him, "It's not exactly characteristic for you."

"What took place here has made me question some things. I wanted to see it for myself," Garent thought, knowing the voice would hear.

"Do you think that the choice you made was the wrong one?"

"No, well, it must have been wrong or I wouldn't be questioning it now," Garent responded.

"That's not necessarily true."

"I'm not explaining this very well," Garent closed his eyes and continued to speak in his mind, "I felt all of this before it happened. I knew a full ten minutes before it happened that there would be a struggle that led to deaths. That may not be long to you or especially your daughter, but that's the furthest ahead I've ever seen something. If I had known these people better I would have known that it involved them. Ten minutes would have been plenty of time. Most of the ones who died fell in the initial surprise attack. I could have changed that."

"That's just it, you don't know these people. They're just part of an organization that you've been a part of for a little over a month. It's a loose connection at best."

"I suppose it's because this is the closest that a tragedy of this city has ever been to me. Like everyone here, I wish that things had happened differently. They're lucky that so few people died in the attack, but that doesn't make it any easier."

The voice paused for a second, churning thoughts in its own mind. "Would you have gone to help them?"

Garent didn't have to give thought to it, he knew himself too well. "No, I wouldn't. After I warned them I would have fought the Circle, and I would still be standing here regretting what I had done, but I would do it anyway because I would know I would regret it more if I hadn't fought the Circle there. It's all about the big picture. Like you told me before, that small amount of effort in that time and place would make the difference in the future. But sometimes...I think that I'm focusing so much on the big picture that I ignore the loss of others right in front of me."

"It sounds like you're weighing yourself down with regret and self-doubt. You're no good to anyone if you do that."

"Right," Garent opened his eyes; a different speaker had taken the podium during his mental conversation. "I'll keep my eyes on what needs to be done. In the meantime, I think I know a way to make sure that the next time this happens, it ends differently.




Corporal Laser

"Arm yourselves...and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar." he quoted to himself softly, the words of Winston Churchill back in 1940, lost among the throng of those paying their respects to the six fallen heroes.

Matt Jameson, otherwise relatively newly known as Corporal Laser, scratched softly at his beard. Completely unrecognizable outside of the powered armor that was his powerful weapon against the forces of corruption, he could nearly pass for your average citizen, aside from the powerful stance and the pride with which he carried himself, throwbacks to his days as a Marine. Few would've recognized him even in the armor, he thought to himself with a quiet chuckle. Let's not start putting ourselves on the level of these others.

No, Matt knew that he was a virtual unknown. He didn't know these fallen heroes, had never met them. He'd read their exploits in the papers, sure, before he had donned the mantle of a hero himself. He'd respected them, certainly, without meeting them. Matt wasn't here as a friend mourning for fallen comrades. He was here as a citizen himself, paying his last respects to a group of people who had given their all to help add a little light to the world. The last respects that anyone with a working brain cell knew that these heroes deserved.

Whispering a silent prayer, Matt turned and began to make his way out of the gathering. He had needed this, he knew. That was another part of the reason he had come. It was dangerous business, stepping into the fray in defense of justice. He had needed this to remind himself that no one...superhero or not...was truly invincible. It was a needed reality check. As he slipped out of the gathering, another quote came to mind that seemed to set everything in complete perspective.

"What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?" he whispered with a glance back over his shoulder. Stopping in his steps, and turning back to look over it, Corporal Matt Jameson saluted the fallen heroes crisply before turning back and being on his way.