Now, if you’ve been thinking, “All this sex and violence is good, but what this story could really use is some religion”, you’re in luck. We’ve reached that portion of our story.
Assuming you are a person who goes out into the world, one could also assume you know the story of God, the Devil, and The Fall. Logistically, that story is all true. I mean, that is basically how it all went down.
But, as they say, it’s really all in the presentation of the story. And angels are really good at PR.
Because, likely, that story has a lot to do with how you view the Devil. The Devil, ruler of the all that is evil, defiler of humanity, rebel against God.
There is one critical thing to note: At the time of the Fall, Satan’s greatest crime was not agreeing with God.
He killed no one, harmed no one. He simply didn’t agree with everything God was pushing.
Now, if you are a God-fearing person, that might seem like reason enough to hate him.
But if you know what I know about God, the angels, and how Heaven actually works, you know it wasn’t.
You might even agree with him.
As I said before, anyone who asks for forgiveness from God gets it. That means anyone asking for forgiveness for anything. From swearing to genocide.
That how a lot of bad people still end up in Heaven and a lot of decent people end up in Hell. Instead of being judged on a lifetime of actions, it comes down to one, singular choice.
Well, a choice and a little bit of pull.
Remember when the Church sold indulgences? Not in-your-lifetime-remember, but read-in-a-textbook-once-remember. It was the quite the business. Took the Lord’s name in vain? $5. Sneaked a handjob with your beau? $25.
Murdered seventeen people?
Officially, churches haven’t been selling forgiveness or spots in the afterlife for centuries.
But, just as those entering the Great Beyond can barter with the Devil, sometimes someone among the living will offer God something that grants them...extra perks.
In the case of my mark, that meant protection from an archangel.
Which was, frankly, pretty fucked up.
I stared at War and the Madame.
“What happens now?”
They looked at each other.
“We continue our pursuit,” War said. "If you are willing."
“Carefully,” the Madame added.
“I’ve never even seen an archangel before.”
“Which makes you well-suited for this case. They won’t know you either.”
“They are very powerful themselves, but likely the archangel himself will have delegated the protection detail to lesser angels. That’s what we are hoping anyway.”
I paused. “Are you sure it’s me you want? Surely someone else has more experience.”
She nodded. “I know. It is you we want. You fit the profile. You have a good track record. And the monitors trust you Above. If you agree to this, we will move forward.”
She nodded again. "The next step is to make a formal request, but we didn't want to start the process until we knew if you were willing."
Frowning, War cut in. 'There is an additional complication."
“Yes," the Madame continued. "Last night, our hit plan triggered an alarm On High and the Registrar informed us of this... status.”
The Madame misinterpreted. “Yes, normally these designations are in our systems to prevent things like this from happening, but apparently this protection detail is...special.”
“Special,” I repeated, my mind going over the heinous photos is the hit file.
“Off the books,” she continued. “They really didn't want us to find this one.”
That set a knot in my stomach. "All the more reason to get him."
"I'll file the request tomorrow," the Madame said. "It will probably require a formal hearing."
My jaw set. "Good."
Her expression didn't change. "I'll arrange for it as quickly as possible."
"Excellent," she said.
They both stood and moved toward the door.
"We still have some time left, War."
He turned back with a dry expression. I smiled.
But after they were gone, my smile fell. I went to my schedule-screen to check out the rest of my day. As I scanned my appointments, my mind clung to the fact that I could not remember one successful mission that had faced an archangel.
I was suddenly very glad I had the weekend off.