A little celebration.
About seven in the evening the same day the Avengers saved Manhattan, the team arrives at Victor's castle. Alfred has prepared one of the spacious and comfortable lounges for the gathering. The bar is well-stocked, and a table full of food has been laid out. Alfred greets the heroes warmly.
"All is ready," he says. "Please, make yourselves at home. If you should require anything, please ring." Alfred indicates a cord hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the room.
As Alfred re-enters the kitchen, he finds his chair and takes a seat in front of the radio. Turning the dial on, he listens to the end of a baseball game. The after-game report tells how the Yankees, with the help of Roger Maris, have clinched the AL Pennant and will head to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A smile crosses his face as Victor watches
Alfred revel in the man's one guilty pleasure of American sports.
Alfred was a busy man, when not running the manor here for Victor. His 'manservant' was involved in civic affairs from the Parks Commission to the Committee on the World's Fair which was to be held next year in the city. Victor thought that perhaps it was he who could learn a thing or two from his older friend.
Victor reminisces over the last few years spent with the older man. He met Alfred in January 1961 downtown as seventeen year old chess player Bobby Fischer, played Hungarian grandmaster Pal Benko to a draw. Later that year, both he and Alfred met again at a fund raiser for Mayor Robert F. Wagner's re-election. It was then that Alfred and Victor turned down a new road in their relationship, that of employer and employee, though their friendship managed to remain strong regardless of the new arrangement.
The year after, they were both saddened when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt died in New York City. Through Victor's political connections, they were both able to attend her funeral. At 78, she was an old but tough and beautiful woman whom they both respected and admired a great deal.
The last nine months of this year had brought a whirlwind of events with the International Typographic Union going back to work after four months on strike of which, after Alfred's prompting, Victor had provided funds to the Union to help the workers while they were picketing. The highly reported double murder of two policemen in Jersey and then the murders of Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie. The men responsible, Frank Falco and Thomas Trantino led the police on a chase throughout the entire city. When the officers surrounded Falco, he went down shooting. Later that same day, Victor, once again at Alfred's urgings, donned the persona of the Specter and caught Trantino and surrendered him to the police.
That same year, at Alfred's prompting, Victor joined the staff at Mount Sinai Hospital in the city and helped pioneer a sequential combination chemotherapy treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. Though lauded with the most of the credit, he insisted to the press that most of the work had already been accomplished prior to his joining the research project.
It had been a busy few years since they had joined together in friendship and now Alfred was seeing to his estate...in Victor's death. As executor of the estate, Alfred apparently had everything under control. He was positioned to doll out the funds and control the properties. His long time friend had shared his will with the Avengers and now they were here to utilize his house no doubt.
Perhaps, he thought, he could get Ravdna or even Doctor Connors to somehow perceive his presence. Surely, this was his first and best opportunity since returning to the material plain. Victor walked casually into the main room where the Avengers were to meet and waited for the rest of them to arrive and then to position himself into their point of view as much as possible.
Adrian takes the subway to Long Island, letting the feeling of fatigue from a hard job well done linger in his body. _I don't want to get too accustomed to this thingthough I certainly feel more energetic now than I have in years. Besides. it wouldn't do to have Union always appearing right over my shop. That might get suspicious_ Adrian finds a secluded spot on Long Island and quickly activates his suit and dons his armor for the short jaunt to the Dumas estate.
Once there he steps in with some hesitation, only to be warmly greeted by Victor's former manservant. "Hello again, Mr. Pennington. I hope you don't mind our dropping in like this..." His eyes sweep over the food and drinks arranged for the gathering. "You certainly didn't have to go to such effort."
Union greets the others as they arrive, congratulating them on the day and urging them to relax and celebrate. He spots Ravdna with a huge glass of stout and smiles to himself, making do with sipping ginger ale through a straw. "I see you're getting into the spirit of things," he says warmly, looking up at the huge Asgardian woman. "How are you adjusting to...um...this mortal coil?"
"I have walked this plane much in the past but never joined in this fashion...would that Walker and I had our freedom...Dumas' loss seems to have dashed many of our hopes for a cure to our malady" She pauses not wanting to add more sorrow to this place. She smiles and raises the tankard to her lips. "Fortune smiles upon Walker in that we do not share more...I fear she would sleep for days anon after this night!"
Oily, black globules appeared in open space, looking much like droplets of ink floating on water. The space between them decreased as a denser pattern began to take shape, one that was roughly humanoid. Dark Angel appeared silently, wings folded behind him. "We have done the Lord's work today," he said aloud, wearily, a man with much on his mind.
Union nodded, positioning himself between Dark Angel and Ravda to prevent another theological debate, "Amen to that, my friend. Amen to that. From what the others have been telling me, you're a lot of the reason Manhattan is still standing. That certainly sounds like a reason to relax and celebrate. Let your, um, wings down."
Union slowly tries to move Dark Angel towards the food and drink, hoping that the Avengers most powerful and troubled member might take the occasion to lay aside some of his concerns. "Have you thought about when you're going to move into the mansion as our full time member? The mansion has got to be a step up from what you're affording on a foreman's salary. Much as I have against the class system, you could probably get comfortable here. Mr. Pennington is around somewhereyou should make arrangements with him..."
"Yes," Dark Angel said, drawing the word out into sibilance, "that would be good. Less worries for Samuel; he is in need of comfort." He took several steps away from Union, then pronounced, "Dark Angel needs only to serve in the Lord's name!"
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© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al