War In Heaven

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Isis

Isis

I hear laughter and twinkling glasses down the hall toward the ballroom. The reception drags on as drunks and philanders linger with mindless self-indulgence. I turn my back on it, walking the empty passage toward the private portion of the hotel. I swipe my card against a security checkpoint and meet the soldier on duty.

Slapping the folder against his chest, “I’m going out.”

“I’ll prepare the car.”

“No. Alone.”

He stiffens uncertainly, quickly whispering in a com against his ear to seek approval from Matthias or my new captain but neither are available. Since he can’t argue with me, he dutifully bows his head, “Yes, Madam.”

My footsteps abruptly stop and he stumbles to catch himself. I look him over, “You were with the crew from earlier when that strange man arrived.”

The young soldier proudly stiffens his jaw. “Yes, Madam.”

“The one with the eye necklace, the one who put his hands on the Supreme Chancellor, what is his name?”

His eyes fasten to mine and I only smile.

“I.” He swallows, “I. It’s Charlie, Madam.”

I step forward and with nimble fingers climbing up his jacket, I straighten the buttons with a half-smile curling my lip, “Tell Charlie that if he ever does anything that senseless again, I will feed him to blood-drooling hellhounds.” I part the fabric of his jacket and my fingernail nudges the necklace.

His Adam’s apple bobs in tangible fear as I eye the medallion with interest. “If you are so proud of your heritage, Charlie, then learn who your ancestors are. Metatron is the only living Soul from the beginning of humankind. And you laid your impudent, unearned hands on him. I should burn a reminder into your skin so you never forget your folly.” Running a hand along his cheek, he shrinks. “But don’t fear, darling. I am an Erelim Angel and I love you despite your mistakes.”

Trembling, he murmurs, “Thank you, Madam.”

I shove away, snatching a necklace from the wall and enter the courtyard. It’s a wide open space with only fake shrubbery to decorate the side walls and sidewalks. It’s a place where my bellhops, custodians, and hospitality staff like to get fresh air and smoke. Upon spotting me, a couple waitresses tuck away their cellphones and dart inside, refusing to meet my eyes.

I distance myself from the building and stand in the center. The night sky is barely a hole with the multiple buildings surrounding me. I can only make out the glow of the moon. I place on the necklace and flip the little switch on the side. It hisses and hums on activation but slowly becomes silent. The blue light glows in the darkness and I watch it waiting for it to convert to a blood red.

It’s time consuming, I’ll admit, not one of Tymician’s best inventions but I’ll be able to access the Source and my Light will be disguised to an unrecognizable shape and hue. I hate using his products more than the man himself but being trapped for all time because of fear isn’t really my style.

And now that he is dead, I’ll gladly use his creations. If only to spit on his ashes.

Exiting the Dust, I arrive on a dirt road with only a stray streetlight flickering, illuminating the single lone building on this desolate road. The air in Brazil is far less smelly and I’m sure if I could feel heat it would be humid and ungodly. It’s quiet here. Almost like all the world doesn’t exist anymore. I chose Rio Grande do Norte as one of the locations to conceal Dane Monte for the purpose of ignorance. No one cares about this part of the world.

I twist up a side stairway, a pathway barely visible and congruent with its surroundings. After stumbling once upon their uneven steps, I remove my heels and hold them in my hand. Scrunching my nose, I continue on bare feet up the many steep steps turning around and around, eventually coming inside a small flat, escaping the brutality of the sharp wind.

Candles decorate the impoverished abode. A rickety old dining table is all the furniture applied to the outermost rooms. Pots hang from steel hooks. The kitchen is an outsized hearth and a fire brews strong. Along the mud brick floors are heavy woven carpets to reduce the chill.

I remember well what it was like in these ancient times. I hate them even more so now that I know much better accommodations exist.

A human greets me, kneeling down, humble upon my visit. The creature is a seer. It knows I am an Angel though it does not know who I am or how important I am to its heritage. She holds out her hands for my shoes and I oblige. She sets it beside three other pairs. She does not speak, keeping her head bowed low as any being should within my sight. She leads me into the back, holding out a hand so I may take the lead down the hall. I should get a seer. I never knew they were such obedient hounds.

Dane Monte leans up against a well-worn desk, one large foot crossed over the other with his arms folded upon his chest, staring at the crusted ruby carpet. Contemplation riddles his gray brows. He scratches the growing hair upon his chin and flicks gray hair off his forehead. The fact that he has not yet noticed my presence tells me exactly what I need to know. He is in disarray. Any rude comment I have of Anna, I need to expel it from my lips. Dane Monte will not be an enemy of mine.

I step into the room and his faded blue eyes flip up. “Isis. What brings you here?” He leans his hands back upon the desk, sighing.

I prefer men to cower and women to whimper at my presence. I would never accept this from a man as powerful as Dane Monte. It is I that needs to impress and I dutifully commit to such a position.

“I want to apologize.” His brows knit. “Central Park is not my jurisdiction but it is within my territory. They knew something was happening but because they were unable to react to the situation quickly enough, by the time they arrived it was too late.”

The only lie in this is my grievance. I knew Anna would reveal her fangs again. How could I expect it to be so soon and within my own providence? It is too good. I wish I had seen her downfall with my own eyes. It must have been a delightful spectacle.

His eyes drop to the floor, “Then is it true? She was attacked?”

“You.” I suppress a smile, “You don’t believe her? You called me and told me she was.” I quickly continue, “I looked into it personally on your behalf. The security cameras do not witness much but there were four Fallen and Alu surrounding her and a Yazata. They let the Yazata escape but she was left behind. After that there is too much movement and they go out of the camera’s viewpoint.”

He guards any facial responses. “Did you do what I asked?”

“I secured the video feed. I had a team searching for the Yazata but Arch Remeil denied them any interaction. He would like a full report as soon as possible. He asks for Anna’s presence.”

Dane reaches for glasses that aren’t on his face and throws his hand away, dismayed. “I will journey to Heaven soon enough. It seems all arrows are pointing in its direction.”

I convince him further by alerting him of Metatron’s unanticipated appearance at the hotel.

“He actually came in search of me?”

I step back, wondering which door Anna is cowering behind. I received little information when Dane called me hours ago. He said her hands were maliciously torn and burnt. He refused to explain but I only asked to push the issue.

I knew why.

I have witnessed the terrible atrocity that the Sheol Dust can do to an Angel’s Soul. Whether they attempt to pursue an enemy or curiosity builds, stupidity is usually the highlight of the transaction. They throw themselves against the portal and find themselves in an inferno, electrifying their skin, sucking at their Soul, slowly killing them until their screams go hoarse and their cries burn into the crisp of their wilted skin. And just as quick as it began it ends and the door drops them, leaving them alive. It’s an insult to the wound. Who would want to live after such a horrid deformity?

“Has Ariel or Gula come?” I know this answer already but I can’t have him know how much of his movements are watched.

Dane is silent. I believe wholeheartedly that Ariel is dead, but Dane refuses to give up on her. I call out to him, gaining his attention and asking my question again.

“Ariel is as lost as always.” He waves a hand indifferent. “I should have known better. Gula was here. Her dogs were plenty. Anna wouldn’t let them near her.”

Gula is a grand healer to be sure, taught by Arch Raphael himself, a rather high-end Apothecary. However, she is not known for noteworthy praise. Witches of black magic twisted her Soul from a once beauteous young maiden, into a horrid and wretched beast. She fled from Heaven unable to withstand the whispers and now hides herself amongst the world.

As I recall, she uses herbs and prayer to heal her patients. Anna, I know, will have little faith in such practice, glaring at her ugly face all the while. I could only imagine the disgust riddled upon her lips as she ingested the medicines. The thought of it brings a smile and so I hurry to turn my head from Dane’s sight.

A knock on the door fastens both our attention.

“Matthias?” Outrage blares in my eyes, pinning him where he stands.

He readily drops to his knees with his fists pressed to the floor, “The matter is urgent and I bring it myself. Please pardon this unseemly interruption, your majesty.”

Appalled, I look to Dane for mercy. He however seems uninterested, staring at the carpet. “This is my Second, Hikmah Elder Matthias. He is usually sufficient and qualified, though, mistakes do happen.” He keeps his head bowed holding up a sealed document in his hand.

Dane waves an unbothered hand, “It’s fine.”

I snatch the letter, scolding him mutely. Apologies express on his features and he hurriedly backs out of the room.

Smoothing out any wrinkle in my blouse, I face Dane. “I reassure you, your safety is my top priority. I would not reveal such information to just anyone. No one knows but him. Please forgive his irrational actions. If you’d like I can have another location--”

“Isis, enough.” He moves from the desk to land roughly in an archaic maroon leather chair. The wheels squeal under the weight of his ginormous form and he rolls with it, resting his elbows upon each side.

I blink, quite unsure how to respond to such a boorish demand.

Does he know how much I do for him? Does he care? I am not some pestering bug nipping at his ear that he may slap at when he’s annoyed. I am an Erelim. I will have respect if nothing else.

He’s calling my name and though it takes a moment to quell every bit upset, I lift my green eyes. “Forgive me. I tire from many things but it is no excuse. You do me an honor, Isis. It will not be forgotten. What does the letter read?”

I swallow, clearing my throat, smiling. The recognition is all I desire. When he Transcends, he will remember how I took care of his Soul and I will be revered. We are the next generation of gods. Metatron will soon step down and Dane will take his place. I will become the leader of the Merci with Dane’s recommendation and we will rule Heaven much differently than it is done today.

Unfolding the parchment, I curl my lip.

“It’s for you.”

“I’ve misplaced my glasses. Please read it.”

As I quickly scan it to give a summary to Dane, my blood boils and my mouth tightens. “It’s from Dion.” I growl, folding up the piece of paper only to clench it between my fingers. It isn’t the information that gnarls me. It’s the fact he’ll say he’s sorry to Dane but those words have never once reached my own ears.

“He wishes to apologize for the attack on Annamartholow. It was done without his knowledge or his consent and he has confined those that took part in it. However.” I grit my teeth. “Fallen Cleophas has been killed.” Dane rubs his mouth, leaning his head back to stare at the ceiling. “Annamartholow was the oldest on the scene, she was the only one with a weapon, and given her past history, Dion will seek permanent expulsion from Earth.” I release the letter upon his desk, “He’ll give you till morning for a response then he will send his request to the Ruling.”

It is exactly what I would have done. Dion has every right to do this. She should not have been brought back to Earth. She is sick and she requires containment. Dane needs to face that.

“Did you know?” He still has his head leaned back, exposing the thick Adam’s apple of his throat. His blue eyes roll over to me. “When he began to Slip? Did you feel it?”

The stillness skips a beat and if only to shatter the ear-splitting silence, I blurt out, “No.” I smile warmly, “I didn’t feel anything. I still don’t.” Bowing, I excuse myself and catch the entryway, to steady my wobbling knees.

I snatch my shoes from the seer’s grubby hands and sprint down the stairs, nearly tumbling, sliding off the last step. I land roughly on my backside. With a curse in a language long since dead, I grip the edges of the stone slab wall and haul myself back upon my feet.

Every hasty step puts more distance between me and the horrific reality. I can’t seem to get away from it fast enough. I stumble as I put my heels back upon my feet in the sands of the road and produce a ready Dust. I clumber into it, ready for home.

But the home I arrive at is not the home I am ready to face.

The sun begins its rise in the early morning dawn of Egypt, pouring onto elongated meadows displaced by nine thousand years of human evolution. Where there was once only water, yellow stone buildings now stand in intricate rows off into the distance. I stand in the middle of a wheat field, surrounded by beautiful lush green and golden stalks.

We used to call this land the Tei’ag-e. ‘The liquid snake of many heads.’ The Nile had countless rills and gullies to assist in our cultivation and our livelihood. It shaped us into the type of people we would become. The Nile gave selflessly and it stole selfishly. To look at it now so far from where it was, brings bitterness to my mouth.

I inhale a thick breath; the air is dry, stale and as always full of decay. I used to love this land, more than I should have. But it swallowed me and spit me out with such cruelty time and again. Now all I crave is its death.

Stepping from my heels, I dart between the lines of crops seeking an exit. Even though the sun barely rises, the harvest begins promptly. People emerge from their homes and notice my trek through their property. They question each other and holler in my direction but I’m at the end of their acreage now. My toes dig into the sand as the humid wind blows. Not far from where I stand the ground hardens, cracks and shrivels from a time where water once soaked its land. It runs west and I imagine a village that used to exist, one made of thatched roofing and mud walls.

There are no traces of its life. There would be none after so long. Nature is brutal, destroying all remnants of human existence. If she could, we would have all been long deceased by now. Her desire to destroy us all has been postponed by her love of God.

Love. What a wicked and wonderful thing.

To my left I envision my first life, the start of my Soul. Two little girls play near the water’s edge, chasing one another in the sand, splashing up water. Femi is just about eight, and has long black curled hair like mine. She wears a small skirt at her waist as is customary of our culture. Khepri is three, naked and covered in dirt. She rolls upon the ground, laughing more as sand throws upon her. Abasi, my firstborn son, stands strong and fierce beside his warrior father, with his thin arms crossed over his sunken chest, only ten not yet a man. It isn’t long until Femi weans her way to her brother’s side and cajoles him into the fun, forcing his otherwise impassive features into a grin.

Dion is young in my memory. There is hardly any muscle around his arms and not so much thickness in his stomach. Scars dance upon his skin from battles fought and won and he shows them proudly. Though he stands with the air of a beast, I can see the slow rise of happiness twinge the edges of his eyes. He meets my gaze, content and satisfied on the life we have managed to create.

To my right, I witness myself grieve as I bury each small cocoon; three faceless bundles wrapped in linen. I lay in the ditch copper tools that their father worked with and clay bowls that they had eaten with not the day before. I could hear around me cries and screams from others and I knew I was not alone in my pain.

Dion stood silent, holding his children’s toys in the palms of his giant hands.

If I only knew our first life would be the less painful one, I would have never let my Soul fall in love with him in the first place. If I had known that after everything that we went through together, the four lives we suffered through, Dion would leave me in the end, I would have denied him my Soul from the very beginning. How could I have known? We were happy in our smothered grief. We pretended well and carried on despite our losses.

Dane is lucky. When Anna Falls, it won’t be so devastatingly shocking.

I turn suddenly and find a man cautiously coming upon me. A turban wraps his head and clothes drape over him in sheets. He speaks Arabic, questioning, “Are you okay?” He skims over my clothing with a confused expression. No doubt, my outfit is rare.

He is a distraction. I stare at him with a pleasant smile but I am far from seeing his face. I sense what others would not. I do not need to access the Source to feel crouching Angels looming in the shadows or the hidden Fallen sneaking behind stone. There are five of them, working together as a modified team.

Their job is simple: Capture the lone Erelim.

I used the Source to get here and as this is the place of four of my lives, this area is closely watched by the seekers of my Soul. They felt my presence the moment I stepped from the Dust. Despite using a diffuser, when I’m standing directly in front of them, the necklace is moot.

It’s too late I realize to flee. I’ve stepped into a Rune.

The Messiah is clever and skilled in stealing Light. There is rumor Ariel is one of their victims and if she can fall to their sinful hands, I am not above such violation. Without my clan to protect me, I am bountiful prey.

There is a difference however between Ariel and I.

I don’t mind shedding blood to save my Soul.

I smile adoringly to the human, sauntering up to him. I release my hair and it pours over my shoulder, bunching up against my jaw. Licking my lips, I inquiry, “Do me a favor?” I touch his cheek, lovingly and I tap into his freewill, forcing him to do my bidding.

Behind him, they emerge.

I wonder what they will do when I give them their opponent. It will be fun to stand back and watch.

“Kill for me.”

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