When people think of angels, I’m pretty much certain that they think of perfect, winged beings that look like humans, always dressed in white with halos hovering over our heads. And, to be honest, they are right. Except for one detail.
We are in no way completely perfect, but some are worse than others. And unfortunately, I fall right at the bottom of the ‘some are worse’ category.
I suppose I should explain a few things first. One – Heaven. Yes, it’s a separate plane of existence to yours. Yes, its where the angels ‘live’ and where those who have been ‘saved’ go after they die. And yes, it does have ‘pearly’ gates – if by ‘pearly’, you mean ‘fifty-foot-tall-ten-feet-thick-solid-gold-gates-inscribed-with-so-many-protective-angelic-runes-it-makes-your-eyes-hurt-just-looking-at-it’.
Two – us. The angels. We have this whole ranking system that I should probably explain sooner rather than later, just to make my position clear to you. At the top, you have the archangels – Gabriel and Michael and so on, the top dogs. Really powerful, you don’t mess with them. Each of them is in charge of a ‘Legion’ of angels, which can vary in number. Each Legion has tasks assigned to it, different duties it is supposed to fulfil – but outside that there are all the special dominions of angels, like the seraphim etc. Each Legion has several commanders, who each have a few lieutenants under them, who in turn have some sergeants who command a squad. Me? I’m the twelfth angel in the twelfth squad, under the twelfth sergeant, serving under the twelfth lieutenant – well you get the idea. Essentially, I am the lowest ranking angel in the legions. Aka, I suck.
And three – only the messengers in Gabriel’s Legion are allowed to Earth, the world of man, with a few other exceptions that have to be approved in triplicate – twice. That’s not just because of the damage a single angel could do by appearing, but also because the journey to Earth itself is dangerous for celestial beings. Even the fallen ones.
If you haven’t quite got your head around that, then tough. I’m not exactly in a position to repeat it. Just mull it over a few times, think it through, I’m sure you’ll get it eventually. Although I’m now realising that this explanation still hasn’t accounted for my current situation. So I’ll start from a little bit ago.
There are few sights in Heaven that can rival the sheer beauty of the place itself – it was made to be God’s domain, after all. But even so, I think that when I saw Arias earlier, she may have been cutting it close. The way her curly hair bounced off the backs of her wings, how her pinion feathers seemed so delicate and how they matched her slim frame – all of it looked so beautiful (I mean, we’re all angels, so you can’t really call any of us ugly). She had distracted me so badly; I didn’t see Geldiel swinging his spear at me until it was to late to do anything.
The force of the blow sent me sliding across the marbled floor, leaving scuffs on my breastplate where the blow had landed. I flexed my wings and kicked my legs out, spinning upright and landing on my feet. My hand was already at the hilt of my sword – but that didn’t do me much good when Geldiel had already moved forward and had his spear point at my throat.
“I think that round goes to me then,” he chuckled, taking a step back and allowing me to exhale the breath I had been holding. “Shall we say best forty-five out of eighty-nine?”
“Not fair” I huffed. “That one doesn’t count – I got distracted.”
“And you do so every single time she goes past.”
“Does that have anything to do with the fact that you always want to have another round whenever we go up here?”
Geldiel smirked, passing his spear from one hand to the other like it weighed nothing, then stepped back into his ready stance. “Maybe.”
I drew my sword, and tucked my wings into my back so they wouldn’t act as a nuisance. “Well it isn’t going to work this time.”
“We’ll see.” Geldiel came in low, swinging his spear across my legs. I jumped up and over him, swinging at his head with my sword.
Sparks flew each time our weapons met as we duelled up and down the battlements.
“So why are we on ‘guard duty’ anyway?” I questioned as I blocked a particularly devious attack, and gave out one of my own.
“Because our squad – or rather we – suck, and therefore we get the boring jobs.”
“But come on, nothing has attacked heaven for the past few millennia. We should certainly know – we’ve been on guard duty for more than half of it.”
I ducked under a high swing and came in close, but he was ready for me. He swung his spear across his body, blocking my strike and sending me spinning round. He kicked me in the back and I went down, my sword skidding just out of reach and I felt the familiar sensation of the point of a spear hovering over the back of my neck.
“What’s your excuse this time?”
“Sun was in my eyes.”
“What sun? Get your mind out of the human realm – no wonder you suck at being an angel.”
“Well that’s why I suck, what’s your excuse?”
Geldiel rolled his eyes, and stared down at the procession that Arias was part of. She was carrying seven scrolls, each sealed with wax and a different stamp, down one of he walkways towards a platform where all seven archangels were gathered. As with all of the walkways that weaved their way through the angelic part of heaven linking the platforms, they were just wide enough to walk easily on – to either side was a drop veiled by clouds, which eventually led down to earth.
“So what’s meant to be going on? I haven’t seen all of the archangels gathered in one place for over a decade.”
“Haven’t you been listening to anything I’ve been saying to you for the past few weeks?” Geldiel scorned me, narrowing his eyes in annoyance.
“To be honest? No, I’ve just been trying to stop you from kicking my butt.”
“And a great job you did of it too. But you seriously didn’t hear about the increased activity in Hell, more demon sightings on Earth, how the archangels chose to split the seven seals from Revelations into seven separate scrolls?”
“No, not a word of it – how can they split them like that? I thought only the holy and innocent Lamb could crack them.”
“Well yeah, they had his help – but he agreed with them, having them under the safeguard of the seven most powerful angels around is a lot safer than binding them all together when it looks like Satan is going to stir up trouble.”
“Yeah, I suppose it makes sense.” I swung my sword up over my shoulder to slide it back into its sheath across my back, and then once again looked down at Arias.
“I’m gonna go down and say hi” I announced to no one but Geldiel in particular – the other angels usually left us alone, and this occurrence was no exception to the rule.
Geldiel’s face clouded over with worry. “Hey, I don’t think that’s a good idea…”
“Relax, all I’m going to do is say hi, maybe try to pluck one of her feathers, then fly out of there before she can say ‘holy ghost’ – back in a sec.” And with that, I stepped off the battlements, opened my wings out wide, and started to glide down towards the ceremony.
Geldiel was about to copy me – whether to aid me or halt my actions, I’m not sure, probably the later – but he saw what was happening much before I did, and shouted a word of warning.
Another short explanation – the angels from Michael’s Legion are generally considered the douchebags of the Angel Corps. Michael himself was great, but we all think that his warrior reputation got into his Legion’s heads a little. So when they saw me flying down towards the procession, they couldn’t resist having a go at me.
The first thing I knew of this was a gust of wind, a shadow falling across my vision, and then I was being buffeted by several pairs of wings, with mocking laughter being the background music for my torture. Obviously, you don’t have wings, but I can tell you this about them: they’re really strong, it hurts to get hit by them, and having someone hit you with theirs makes it really hard to fly straight. Or at all.
After a few seconds I was falling, spinning out of control, spiralling down towards the procession. Arias, who was holding all seven of the scrolls, looked up only moments before I crashed into her. I saw her extend her wings to fly out of the way, but I was too close. We collided, and ended up lying spread-eagled on the floor.
I rolled onto my front and winced in pain – my wing was bent out at an angle that shouldn’t have been natural. Some of my feathers had come loose – a few of which were now decorating Arias’ hair. I couldn’t tell how many I had lost – I was still seeing double. Or triple. I was too dazed to even count that. But what I did notice was the silence – and Heaven is never silent.
As my vision focussed, I could see why everyone was silent. Because their mouths were hanging open, looking at me. Well, not exactly at me – just slightly down the walkway.
I looked. And oh *gah* it was the worst sight I’d ever seen. (Also, another side note, angels cannot swear. If we try to, we choke a little.)
The seven scrolls that Arias had been holding had fallen from her arms, and were rolling down the walkway. One by one, they rolled over the edge, down into oblivion.
Of course, being me, I didn’t think rationally. I didn’t think that the archangels would organise a search for them. I didn’t think that it would be safer just to have stayed rooted to the spot like everyone else. I didn’t even think to apologise to Arias, who wasn’t even totally with it yet.
What I did think about was how much *cough* I would be in, even if it wasn’t really my fault – that’s what you get for being a sucky angel. So what did I do? Well, I didn’t hesitate. I threw myself over the edge with them.
Just to clarify, this wasn’t a suicidal act – I just wanted to fly down and get them back. But I completely disregarded to aforementioned facts. One, my sprained, if not broken, wing, and how dangerous the trip into the mortal realm is.
Flying from Heaven to Earth is not like flying from A to B in one plane. This is moving from one plane to another. Bodies have to change when they move through the barriers – and it hurts. A *urgh* of a lot.
But I’ve done that now. I’m now freefalling to Earth, and I’ve caught up with the scrolls. They were quite spread out, so I went for the nearest one – the one that had fallen last. As I reach out to touch it, a spark jumps from it to me – more than a static shock, but nothing nasty. But it does do something terrible – it knocked my sword from its sheath.
As it spiralled away, picking up speed as it plummeted downwards, I realised there was nothing I could do. It was either go for the sword, or go for the scrolls. And with my ass on the line, I chose the scrolls.
When I reached for it again, the same thing happened, but I didn’t pull back this time. I closed my hand around it, but suddenly started to feel cold. I felt something hit me on my head, and then slip off and shoot past me. My halo was gone.
By this point I didn’t have time to lament this loss – I turned my attention back to the scrolls. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see them any more. What I could see was the ground coming up to meet me.