Chapter 16 - At the Gates of Heaven
Separated by a cloud they each faced on either side, it roiled angrily as though aware of the turbulent events it depicted. Gabriel the Announcer and Michael the Archangel stood at the head of the Control Room, studying the translucent display of Par Amor’s map intently. There were icons on the display-cloud, “battlemarkers” is what the Archangel called them, they were everywhere on the map. Many were colored red while others were white and still others were yellow; the red ones indicated lost battles whereas the white acknowledged near victories, yellow recognized those battles in a stalemate, with no clear victor, as of yet.
The siege against Par Amor had now lasted for what was an eternity of time outside the Pearly Gates. It came in waves – with the demons attacking then pulling back, and then re-attacking – each wave more fierce and crazed than the time before. This particular attack now lasted the longest of all, and with no apparent end in sight.
Gabriel moved around the floating display to stand beside Michael, as he did so, the cloud continued to churn while drifting away toward the nearest wall.
“What does all this tell you?” asked Gabriel, he sounded weary.
Once the cloud reached the wall, seeming to bump it and causing the image to blur momentarily, Michael replied, “Things are not going well.”
Gabriel rubbed his forehead, “Why hasn’t the Almighty intervened? He could just end this madness, right now.”
“You know better than to ask that. He has a plan, whatever it is. It’s not our place to question. Ours is to serve and accept.”
“Does the plan have to include the destruction of Par Amor? Look at all the red. How many true-deaths does it take?”
Michael became visibly angered by the retort. Turning to face the Announcer, and after placing his hand casually on the hilt of his sheathed sword, he said, “It’s all about faith Gabriel. Faith in the midst of all this chaos. A blind and irrational yet unconditional faith.”
“Don’t talk to me about—”
“Why? Because your daughter is on Earth, somewhere. You don’t think I’m worried too? Carol is at risk as much as Lily.”
“Please,” said Gabriel, turning away and walking to the head of the massive, crystal table, “that doesn’t even come close to comparing.”
“Oh really?” asked Michael.
“It’s not your daughter being chased by demons.” The Announcer pulled a glass chair from the table then plopped onto it heavily.
Several long seconds of awkward silence followed. Michael stood tall, handsome, and self-righteous by the cloud, staring at Gabriel, who in turn stared idly at the far walls of the empty Command Room. When it became evident Gabriel wanted no more of the discussion, Michael turned back to face the hovering display.
“I think it’s obvious Par Amor is not their real goal.”
“What’s that?” said Gabriel, he leaned on the table and rested his face on an open palm.
“Look at those battlemarkers,” said Michael, motioning a hand at the lucent map, “the yellow ones. They’re trying to get at the gates of Heaven.”
Raising his head, Gabriel looked at the map with some interest, “You’re right.”
“I think,” continued the Archangel, “I’ll send some reinforcements from inside Heaven and get word to Uriel.”
“I’ll get the message to him,” said Gabriel. Looking like a beaten man, he rose stiffly from the chair. “What do you want me to say?”
“You’re in no state-of-mind to be going,” said Michael, shaking his head. “I’ll take care of it. Just stay here and think about what I said.”
“About faith? Sure.”
Michael grimaced and bit his lip, “Anyway, this all is beginning to seem eerily familiar to me.”
The Announcer’s head pulled back slightly in reply.
“I suspect Zephon’s behind this,” said Michael.
“Oh, I see.” Gabriel’s expression turned blank.
“This time, I’ll finish him.”
“You will? Just like you and Zadkiel tried last time?”
Michael had just taken a couple of steps toward the room’s exit when the question made him pause. Without turning around, he replied, “It was different then, a lot of time has passed...and leave him out of this.”
“The three of you were inseparable, after what happened to Zadkiel, I’m not surprise of the mercy—”
“Don’t worry about me, Announcer,” interrupted Michael abruptly. “I’ll do what I have to do.” He turned slightly and looked over his shoulder, the glare he shot was devoid of all friendliness, “You stay here and worry about your daughter.” The Archangel then stormed out of the conference hall; the last Gabriel saw of him was of battle-armor appearing around his torso.
Alone in the sterile surroundings of the room, Gabriel was left to his thoughts. Slowly, he sat back down, replaying the lack of faith he had shown the Archangel. Sinking into the seat Lily came to the forefront of his consciousness. The thought of her still down there – missing – tore at his heart. So much time had passed since the four angels were sent to retrieve his daughter. Why was it taking so long?
Indeed, he was losing faith, precious faith, by the passing moment. He prayed for forgiveness to the Almighty, but a part of him did not care. All that mattered was Lily – her safety, her return, her life.
Caught between the eroding loyalty to his Creator and the ever growing, boundless love for his one and only daughter, Gabriel the Announcer broke down and cried.