His Magnificence

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A gentle breeze fluffed Jesse’s parted hair as he stood in front of a microphone at a wooden podium. He took a moment to glance to his aunt’s casket on his left, draped on one side by the former American flag and the other by the DRF flag. The bright sun highlighted the holographic and paper-made sympathy messages next to the flower bouquets flanking the coffin.

Hundreds gathered at Endgame Memorial cemetery on this warm 2 October Tuesday morning. Most sat in white plastic chairs and more stood up behind the seating rows as they watched Jesse, dressed in a black suit and tie, speak about his beloved aunt.

 “We used to bond over everything,” a quivering Jesse stated. “Football, family trips to the Jersey shore, history, life.”

 He took a moment to peek at his uncle and cousins, seated in the front row, all dressed in black. Bob and Mary were wiping their eyes with tissues, and a catatonic Matt slumped his head.

 Then, in a departure from his recent anger and sorrow, Jesse grinned and chuckled. “You know,” he began, “it’s funny–one thing we bonded over in her final days is, well… her birthmark! That angel-looking turd under her chin.” Random chuckles ensued from the attendees. “I would tell her, ‘aunt Stacy, it’s appropriate it’s shaped that way, because you’ve been nothing but an angel to me and my cousins.’” Jesse composed himself. “Yet, deep down, I feel it’s too good to be true to be a coincidence. I mean–an angelic symbol on her face–you never see that in a movie or on TV!”

 Jesse studied the rest of the crowd. He peered at a grieving Sarah sitting next to her parents in the row behind his family, then scanned toward the uniformed military personnel standing in the back, including members of her platoon. He remembered the forthcoming draft, and he became somber again. The black hover hearse parked in the background Jesse highlighted his mood.

 “You know,” he continued, “I look my aunt’s old platoon members back there, who fought alongside her in the Endgame, and I’m reminded of two things. One, we–we’re battling New Alaska soon… and… they KILLED HER!” Jesse pounded his fist on the stage, triggering deafening feedback from the microphone. Commotion ensued. “And… she was okay that morning!” His neck trembled as his eyes reddened. “SHE WAS OKAY, FOR JOSHUA’S SAKE! HOW COULD SHE DIE?!”

 Bob and Matt approached the podium along with the afro-Freedomian Joshuan pastor and attempted to console Jesse. As they patted him on the shoulder, Jesse slapped his hands on the wood, then shot a devilish scowl towards the crowd.

 “So help me, I will find out the truth!” he growled. “AND THOSE BASTARDS FROM NEW ALASKA WILL PAY! THEY WILL PAY!”

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