Matt waited anxiously in the New Orleans airport for Anna’s return airplane to arrive. He was in the baggage area and could see other passengers starting to stand around the turnstile which had ‘Orlando’ flashing on it. Her plane must have arrived, but he didn’t see her.
Although she didn’t call him once while she was away, he had been praying for her almost constantly the entire time she was gone. Was she scared during the flight? he wondered. Was she finally totally cured of her fear of airplanes? She had been confident at home before she left, but to actually get on an airplane could have been a totally different situation.
When she came into view in the baggage area, it was a captivating image that both reassured him and also made him realize that she was again gaining her independence. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
She was walking with her one crutch, and her backpack hung over one shoulder. To her side was a man walking with her and talking to her. She was laughing and joking with him. Matt felt a little jealousy at seeing her so friendly with another man.
When she saw Matt, however, she gave him her full attention.
“Matt, thanks for coming to pick me up. I wasn’t sure who would be here. I tried to call you from the airport in Orlando before we departed, but I got distracted before I found an available phone, and then it was time to leave.”
“Did you have a good trip? How was your flight?” he asked.
“On time and smooth – what more could I have asked for?” she assured him cheerfully.
“It’s good to have you back, Anna.”
“Thanks. It’s good to be back. Truthfully I wasn’t sure how I would do on the plane, but I was fine. No more fear,” Anna told him with a smile.
“So you’re OK to travel by plane from now on?”
“I guess so,” she realized.
Anna got very quiet after that. Matt wondered what was going on in her head. He wondered if something had suddenly upset her.
“What’s wrong, Anna? What are you thinking?”
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking that if it weren’t for me having a problem flying last time, Jackson might still be alive. You would still have your best friend, and I would still have my boyfriend.”
“While that may be true, you can’t look back,” Matt told her. “There was no way to predict that the train was going to have a problem that one night that we were on it. Some things are just in the Lord’s hands.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that, Matt. It means a lot to me.”
“You mean a lot to me, Anna.”
She looked at him for a few minutes before answering. “You mean a lot to me, also.”
“Just because I’m your link back to Jackson?”
“No, because I think I’ve gotten to know you better. Back when Jackson was still with us I was focused on him. You were just his friend. Now I consider you my friend also, not just his.”
“Just your friend,” Matt asked her, hoping that her answer would give him some hope of growing even closer to her.
“Friends for now,” she told him. “Who knows what the future will hold for us.”
“Do you think you could ever see me as more than a friend?”
“I don’t honestly know. I’m not telling you ‘No’, but for now please just enjoy being my friend.”
“Every minute with you is enjoyable, Anna.”
“Oh, brother, Matt! And to think I was believing you there for a minute,” she said teasingly.
“At least it lasted for a minute,” he joked.
“Yeah, maybe you’ll get two minutes next time,” she laughed.
Andri-el watched the young couple enjoying each other’s company. She smiled as she thought of where their relationship might eventually end up, especially if she could keep the demons from interfering with them. Lu-seth would never be a problem again, but there were plenty of other demons more than willing to take a shot at her. She was still the Chosen Princess, and as such would continue to be a key target of the enemy. Just because Lu-seth failed didn’t keep others from thinking they would be successful.
Even as she was thinking these thoughts, she saw the Arch-demon, Lu-manic, suddenly appear in the airport baggage area. Andri-el recognized the true danger this time. Lu-seth was one thing, but this arch-demon was another threat entirely.
Anna and Matt were totally unaware of their danger from this creature that they did not see. Lu-manic started to move toward Anna, and was just about to pull her crutch out from under her arms. The resulting fall could have easily injured her leg or arm again.
Before he could trip her, however, Andri-el blocked his progress with her sword.
“Thou shalt not harm my Anna,” Andri-el commanded.
“Out of my way, you lowly ’el,” the arch-demon spat back at her, as he swung a club that tore Andri-el’s robes and wounded her arm.
Andri-el instantly swung her sword up and sideways, slicing a large gash across the side of the demon.
He laughed ferociously, as he said, “You’re bold, I’ll grant you that much, ’el. Stupid, but bold. Do you not realize how much power and authority I command, you miserable ’el?”
“You err if you consider that I am alone, or that I am protecting this daughter on my own. Thou shalt not harm my Anna,” Andri-el said with authority.
Lu-manic circled his target, considering how he might out-wit this minor angelic interference. Andri-el circled with him, keeping herself between the threat and her charge. Blocking him was easy while Anna and Matt waited for the luggage to arrive. Once they were moving it might not be as easy.
Lu-manic decided to test his adversary’s abilities. He swung his club at her on one side, while he moved in the other direction. Andri-el anticipated his move, and once again struck with her sword. It found its mark in the club, slicing it in half. During that movement, Lu-manic switched sides, and was now on the opposite side of Anna and Matt. Andri-el also anticipated that movement, and again strategically placed herself as a shield.
“You’re good with that sword. I could use you on my side. How about dropping the goody-goody act, and joining the one bound to be the winner in the end.”
Andri-el did not answer his taunting. Joining the forces of evil was never a temptation to her. Also, never would she abandon The One, The Son, or Anna.
He continued with his offer, “I’ve been authorized to offer you control of half the empire, if you join up with me. I’ll tell you what, I can see where you might be opposed to joining me. Just step aside for the briefest of a second, and we’ll call it even. You won’t get hurt, and this lowly assignment of following around a cripple will be over. A creature of your skills and ability is much too important to waste time baby-sitting this human who doesn’t even appreciate you. In fact, she probably doesn’t even know you exist.”
Again Andri-el remained silent and continued to position herself as a shield between the two humans and Lu-manic. He no longer carried a club, but instead held a type of spear with a point and hook on the end. Andri-el recognized the danger that it represented – danger both to herself and to Anna and Matt. Such a weapon had been used against many an angel to render them disoriented just long enough to work the devilment of its carrier.
He saw her looking at his new weapon. “You recognize my stinger, don’t you Andri-el? Maybe you’re smarter than I’ve given you credit for. Also, I can feel the fear radiating off of you. It is wise to show fear in the presence of a superior being.”
“If you feel anything from me, thou worker of evil, it is merely my reinforcements crowding around you, blocking your escape.”
Lu-manic laughed again. “Who taught you to lie so well? I knew you belonged on my team. You know as well as I do that you are on your own here without reinforcements. You also know that your pitiful sword is no match for my stinger. So step aside, and I just might let you live another day.”
This time Andri-el did not answer. Instead she unfurled her seldom-used wings around the two humans as she lunged forward, striking the stinger in Lu-manic’s hands. The sword did not penetrate the shaft, but the unexpected attack surprised the arch-demon. He swung the poisoned tip away from Anna and toward Andri-el, to counter-attack her forward lunge. Yet instead of striking with her sword again and spinning away, like he expected, she instead maintained a firm grip on it with both of her hands, and drove it through his armor into his chest. Even then she did not stop, but followed the sword into and straight through this enemy. It was a risky move because it forced her to leave Anna exposed for a moment.
However, it quickly became obvious that the deadly move was not what Lu-manic had expected. He might have expected Andri-el to maintain a defense to the end, but not strike with an offensive move. In stunned silence, he missed his chance to strike the briefly exposed Anna. His attention was focused on the crazy angel who had the gall to attack him in a way which he least expected.
Too late, he realized how deadly the attack had been. Now his arm holding the stinger refused to move in attacking the ’el. His reflexes were sluggish. She could see that he didn’t understand the full extent of how severely she wounded him. He didn’t realize yet what she had done to him in that attack.
Looking down at his proud chest to inspect the wound, he finally started to realize the problem. Where once he had displayed a chest of strength and honor, now there was a gaping hole. Where once he had been able to withstand the strongest of enemies, now there was a shamble of broken body and spirit. Where once he had been able to command a direct link to his evil boss, now he was isolated and alone.
Does he still not comprehend what I’ve done to him? Andri-el wondered.
Finally Lu-manic looked behind him. The majestic wings that had once distinguished him as an arch-demon now lay tattered and broken at his feet. He screamed in rage, as he lunged for the angel with an attempt to use the same move that she had used against him. He tried to drive his stinger through her angelic heart. She held up her sword, totally relying on the sword of the Lord to block his advance.
This time his stinger shattered into dust at touching the holy weapon. Not knowing how else to defend himself, he screamed in rage again, and disappeared from the airport.
Andri-el turned her attention back to Anna and Matt. As before, and as it should be, they were totally unaware of the struggle for power that had just transpired. They still laughed and joked with each other. They were still unaware of her presence.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” Andri-el heard, as she sheathed her sword. Never had she been alone in her defense of Anna. The same power that defended Anna also defended her. The same God that loved and cared for Anna loved and cared for her.
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