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Standing in the late fall rain, looking at the hole in front of him, Marcus Cole wondered if anyone had ever realized how difficult it could be to just hold still.

The entire situation was sketchy to begin with. Blitz was a madman who’d held most of the world hostage to prop up his dwindling little dictatorship for years. To think that someone who’d essentially declared himself dictator of his supposed “country” by nuclear extortion would agree to give up the sole thing keeping him in power was all but impossible. But there were always alternatives. Justin thought that potentially Arachnos had found a way to shield themselves from Blitz’s nuclear missiles If so, the “peace conference” was just a play to get the rest of the world to protect Warburg and Blitz from Arachnos when Recluse inevitably decided to punish his traitorous ex-Marshall. From that viewpoint, Blitz’s demand for Alexis as the opposing negotiator also made sense. It was a hostage situation to ensure that the heroes were not just trusted, but forced to negotiate in good faith, as neither Marcus nor his granddaughter Megan could risk the ambassador’s life by attempting to stage attacks on Blitz’s missiles while Alexis was under Blitz’s guns.

However, no one anticipated Malaise’s involvement, and the illusionist's powers had rendered Alexis’ protective detail completely useless while Blitz’s men kidnapped her. While a rescue attempt had been launched immediately, led by a still injured Manticore, they had been too late. Marcus wondered if he could have changed things by acting personally. Certainly, he could have saved the rescue team time by intercepting Blitz’s nuclear launch himself. But Blitz could just as easily have reacted to Statesman bearing down on him by launching all his missiles at once, killing millions. It was almost ironic. Blitz’s launch codes and the threat they posed to the world if he was displeased had made Marcus more powerless than anything that Recluse had ever achieved with the WEB. While Recluse had never ceased his attempts to harm Marcus and those close to him, Blitz had done more damage in a day than the master of Arachnos had in decades.

Around him, Marcus was aware that not everyone had been able to attend the funeral. The Sinclairs were both missing, with Shalice currently interrogating Malaise in the Zig while Justin recovered from his injuries and worked on tracking down any remaining leads to the greater plot he suspected this had all been tied into. More likely than not, both were also avoiding the funeral because they felt responsible. Shalice blamed herself for Malaise slipping back into his villainous ways without her noticing, while Justin doubtless was spending every free minute not dedicated to his current task going over the events in his mind in exacting detail, finding a dozen ways he could have prevented Alexis’s death, even though he’d had no idea of what was really happening until it was too late.

This wasn’t to say that the hero community was underrepresented. There were dozens, hundreds of them present. From Marcus’s personal associates alone, he knew that Raymond, Steven, Michael, Tammy, and Citadel had attended. Megan stood beside him, stoically showing little emotion along with her father Patrick. There would be open displays of grief later, certainly, but for now Marcus suspected his granddaughter was suppressing more violent surges of emotion now, much like himself. Megan was the commander of Longbow, the most visible anti-villain force in the western hemisphere. A contingent of Longbow arriving to “escort” Malaise and Blitz to a new location wouldn’t be questioned, and while investigations would be filed, it would be doubtful if anyone in Longbow or the federal justice system would particularly grieve if both conspirators were to mysteriously reappear as corpses. Assuming that Justin’s own operatives didn’t arrange an “accident” first. Marcus himself felt the urge, deep within, to simply go into the prison and snap both men’s necks with his bare hands, but both grandfather and granddaughter were here instead, willingly, because it wasn’t what Alexis would have wanted.

And more than that, Marcus refused because he knew the danger of what would happen if he were to simply give in to the drive that he could feel pulsing within him. For all his power, he was still one man, but Statesman was a symbol, and one that would drag down others with him if he were to pursue a course of retribution. Megan would come with the minute she found out, while Justin’s own sense of failure and long-standing battle with his own sense of vengeance would be sure to follow. Others might even come less full-heartedly, but out of a sense of obligation to Marcus himself, or worse, try to get in the way. A super powered battle between heroes would be the second worst thing that could happen in the midst of the war with Praetoria.

The first being what Marcus had rushed to prevent as soon as Justin had limped into Fort Trident to inform him of what had happened to Alexis. Few knew that the three sisters that Marcus regularly interacted with were in fact the Furies of Greek legend, though they possibly predated even those legends. Desdemona’s recent investigations into Praetoria’s First Ward had revealed that they far, far more than even that. The Well of the Furies which had contained the power of the Incarnate used them as enforcers of its ancient will, protecting against the misuse of its power...and the abuse of the ideals it had held when they encountered it for the first time, eons ago.

Malaise’s involvement in Alexis’ death had been a betrayal, and a grievous one. A similar betrayal had happened in Praetoria, and resulted in the summoning of the Furies’ most terrible servants: the Talons of Vengeance. They were a bloody sword that upheld the tenants of the age in which the Furies had been born: retribution for betrayal, swift and merciless. But the Talons were indiscriminate, and the misery and woe that they spread across wherever they touched was meant to drive the innocent into punishing the guilty by whatever means necessary, if only to gain respite from the torment of the Talons’ arrival.

And while the father in Marcus wanted nothing more than to tell the Sisters precisely where to find Malaise and where to let their bloody carrion birds loose, he had become a hero to uphold justice and fairness. His wife, his daughter, and his granddaughter had all taken up the mantle to fight alongside him for the same cause, and after their time on the front lines had passed, to uphold those same ideals as ordinary people just as well as they had as heroes. Alexis had died trying to bring peace and safety to the world...and the Talons would only take that away and ten times more. That was why Marcus had begged the Sisters not to intervene, however much their retribution might have been deserved by the betrayers now rotting in the Zig.

And so Marcus stood and watched as the solemn pageantry of the funeral proceeded and they laid his daughter to rest in the earth below. He waited, holding back the surge of anger and rage that burned inside him as his mind called forth every image of Alexis with the crystal clarity he’d possessed since he first drank from the Well. He waited, and hoped that Justin would be successful in his efforts to track down the true perpetrator.

And that for once, no other hero would arrive there before he did. Because somtimes justice and vengeance could work to the same ends, and right now, Marcus Cole felt a deep desire for both.
"Oh, silver blade, forged in the depths of the beyond. Heed my summons and purge those who stand in my way. Lay
Must be the denouement of "Who Will Die?"

Very evocative.
''We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat
them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.''

-- James Nicoll
Foxboy Wrote:Must be the denouement of "Who Will Die?"
Very evocative.
Part 3 of 7, yes. Sadly, it wasn't quite as invocative in the game, since no one is actually emotionally attached to Miss Liberty's mother. She's pretty much a non-entity in the game, so her death was hardly noticeable, from a player's standpoint. 
Ebony the Black Dragon

"Good night, and may the Good Lord take a Viking to you."

dark seraph

*finishes reading* ... OM, this is wonderful, do you post this stuff on the official forums?

If not, please do, I think even the Dev's would love this.