Goodbye: Part Seven

From the Story Arc: Battle Stations: Aftermath

Previous Story in the Arc: Goodbye: Part SIx by Russian Battler (Sunday, April 23, 2006)

(posted Sunday, April 23, 2006)

John Murdock

John Murdock climbed the small set of steps for the platform, walking solemnly towards the podium. He wasn't wearing his customary scarf and vest, instead opting for a modest black suit. Looking distinctly uncomfortable, he began to speak.

"There's nothin' I can say here that hasn't already been said more eloquently or succinctly than anything I can come up with." He paused a moment, finding his family sitting with the rest of the crowd. He met the eyes of each of them in turn. Shuma, uncharacteristically subdued, Ratt as uneasy as his adopted father. Sera, eyes gone as stormy as a wave-torn sea. The three youngest, JJ, Astra and Aedan, bulked up by bandages--they weren't clinging together, but they might as well have been. What they had shared out there had strengthened the bonds among them as only facing real death together could. His kids, his babies; all grown up in an instant.

Taking a deep breath, he continued. "So I'm gonna borrow someone else's words right now." He glanced down at the scrap of paper in his hand, and continued with the quote from Robert Fulgum he had chosen. "'I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history -- dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death.'" Now, he looked over his audience. "I believe that. Well, someone pretty close to me once said, 'Belief is nothing. Acts are everything.' So--I more than believe that. I've been tryin' t'live it. But what happened here is somethin' that shakes everything down to the core of you. We've all lost some part of ourselves. Ain't nothing that can change that. The friends and family that aren't with us anymore can't be replaced; the void where they used to be in our hearts can't be filled."

He swallowed. Hard. "But a lady name of Amelia Burr had somethin' t'say about that too. 'Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.' These folks all loved life, lived life, without holding back. What we can do...what we can do is to remember them, to remember what they stood for. To honor their lives and their accomplishments. And their---sacrifices." Mojiotok... "We need to make all of that count, to keep it up. They expect our names to shine as brightly as theirs are, now. It's up to us. They've passed on the torch. We gotta keep it lit." Red in the face, John walked off of the stage, rejoining his family where they were seated.

It was going to take a lot of time for the wounds caused during what was being referred to as 'the siege' to heal...but they would. And John planned to be there for when they did.


Nova Requiem, Belladonna Aura, and Seraphic Flame

Nova Requiem paced back and forth in a tight circle, nervously tugging at the ends of her gloves and otherwise fidgeting with her attire. She had never been this anxious before a performance in her life, what made this time any different? The occasion, more than likely. This was a somber affair, to be sure, but also one of celebration.

No, that wasn't it.

She had never before been asked to say or do anything at a funeral. She had attended a few, and knew what was expected. But would they judge her as being only a child in the eyes of many in attendance?

The wasn't the issue, either.

Then it dawned on her. This was her first time since she became... what she was. A mutant. Since become Nova Requiem, the New Song. And she was scared.

"You're gonna do fine, Tasha," grunbled a friendly voice behind her. The Russian girl looked up at Santorini and gave him a huge grin. Even these simple words from the kind-hearted giant put her more at ease. She opened her mouth to thank him, but caught herself just in time. Nataliya didn't have her mouthguard in place, and although she was sure that Santorini was made of sterner stuff in the literal sense, she didn't want to risk it.

It was the mouthguard that she was waiting for. Some last-minute modifications were being made and she was waiting for it to come back to her before going on. Nataliya gave Santorini an imploring look.

Santorini chuckled. "Relax, Tasha. Keet may be crazy, but she's good for her word. She'll be here."

"And here I am!" exclaimed Keet, brandishing Nova's headgear. "Took a bit longer than I thought it would. It's quite the complicated piece of electronics you've got here. But I took your recording and made the modifications." She held out the headgear and grinned. "Go on, give it a spin."

Nataliya silently giggled and slipped the mouthguard into place. Keet reached over and carefully flipped the newly-installed switch and stood back with a smile. Nataliya cleared her throat and asked, "How is it sounding?"

"Clear as a bell, little songbird," replied Santorini, giving the girl a thumbs-up.

Keet nodded in satisfaction. "Kind of a pity, though. I rather liked the electronic distortion. Had a distinctive sound. That's why I put in the switch."

Nataliya nodded and took a deep breath, warming up with a lilting rendition of Agnus Dei. The song came through crisp and clean, like the mouthguard wasn't even there.

"Is wonderful, Keet. How can I ever repay you?"

Keet smirked and said, "Tell you what, girl. Get me a packet of GoodBuni cookies and a bottle of Yoo-Hoo, and we'll call it even."

Nataliya raised an eyebrow and her lips curled in a hidden smirk. "Alright, Is deal."

"Now go knock 'em dead, Tasha," said Santorini.

The Russian girl nodded and turned around. She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. The gathered assembly was waiting. It was time.

This had taken a lot of thought. Words were not enough. And when Bella had been unable to find the words to express herself, she had invariably turned to music.

This--this had come to her the instant she had known there was going to be--there had to be--a public memorial. This piece, and no other. Music for two female voices, children's choir, and orchestra. The Paragon University Orchestra, the King's Row Children's Choir--and Tasha, singing for the first time in public since her powers manifested. Oh, and herself. It was listed in the tiny program book as "Meditation: End Title: Apollo 13."

This was her, their, real goodbye. And it was something more. She had repressed her telempathic powers up until now, wanting people to feel their own emotions, and deal with what had happened in their own way. Now, though... the music would be her farewell to the dead, but it would carry her message to the living.


She waited for the conductor's signal, took a long, controlled breath, and began. Tasha joined her...then the chorus...then the orchestra. And as she sang, she dropped all shields and radiated and felt Sera join her, two suns of hope shining down on the sorrow-darkened crowd.


One wordless, profound affirmation.


They are with us, always.

And we will carry on.