Seven Archangels: Annihilation, страница 1
Seven Archangels: Annihilation
Heaven is forever—or so we thought. What would happen if Satan could obliterate an eternal soul?
All angels have known since their creation that they cannot be killed, but now Satan is convinced the impossible can be done. Demons abduct and are able to tear apart the Archangel Gabriel's soul, leaving Heaven in stunned grief. If angels can be killed, where is God's justice?
Can Gabriel be saved from the void? How can Michael stop Satan from winning this final victory against God?
Copyright © 2014, Jane Lebak. All Rights Reserved.
By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the author.
Cover: C.K. Volnek
Print version ISBN: 978-1-942133-00-1
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014950436
Boston, MA USA
Table Of Contents
To Pauline Griffin,
who always encouraged my writing
Special thanks to my beta-readers: Ivy Reisner, Wendy Dinsmore, Amy Deardon, and Normandie Fischer, without whom this story would be one convoluted sentence that had too many adverbs (Jane gushed thankfully.)
I would like to thank the hard work of everyone at The Sword Review and Dragons, Knights and Angels and Mindflights magazines, who encouraged my efforts by "releasing my angels into the wild" starting in 2006.
Many, many thanks to Madeline and Evan, who know why without my enumerating the reasons.
A special shout-out to Stephen, Caroline, Thomas and David, four awesome children who are brilliant, sensitive, energetic, and also just happen to be my own. And finally, much love to James Lebak, who married a work-in-progress but doesn't seem to mind the editing process.
A note from the Archangel Gabriel
November 8, 2007
I trust this finds you growing in God's love. Angels and our stories are a lot of fun, and I hope you will enjoy the time you spend with us.
That said, human beings fail to correctly interpret a significant portion of our interactions with you, and rather than allow confusion, I've asked to compose the forward to this volume. Feel free to proceed directly to the story. If you find yourself confused by our terminology or social structure, return at that time to my introduction. I will lay it out below.
One can divide creation in a number of ways. For purposes of this forward, we'll consider angel versus human. You, presumably, are human. I am an angel. That's a division in rough strokes.
One can divide angels into two groups as well, the first being angels with a lowercase A, meaning any angel, and the second being archangels, also in lowercase, meaning angels in a position of authority. The Seven all qualify as archangels, as do the heads of the choirs .
The most frequent and useful classification system divides the angelic world into nine orders or choirs. (We do sing, but don't read too much into that unless you also believe fish go to school and lions are proud.) The nine choirs are, in order from most powerful to least: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels, Angels. Relax. You won't be tested on that.
Each choir has its own characteristics and responsibilities. Seraphim are the "fiery ones." The word Cherubim means "fullness of knowledge." I'd give an exhaustive list, but Jane is only allowing me 800 words, and you'll figure it out for yourself if you pay attention.
Here's where I start getting a headache. I didn't invent English, so don't complain to me. (The one who invented English doesn't have a comment box out, so don't complain to him either.) The last two orders, you'll notice, are Archangels and Angels. With capital letters. Why this happened is beyond me, but I think the purpose was to test our patience. The upshot is, if you're referring to Raphael, you can call him a Seraph, an archangel, or an angel, and you'd be right; not every angel is an Angel (although every Angel is an angel); Michael is the only archangel who's also an Archangel. Where's my Excedrin?
Another point of order: you know those baby faces with miniature wings at the neck? Those are not Cherubim. I'm sure Satan wanted to stick it to me when he came up with those cutesy figures. A real Cherub could blow the roof off your house with one beat of his wings. Looking at him, you'd be transported with awe, not ga-ga and wanting to give him a smooch.
And while we're on the topic of Cherubim, the -im suffix is how you form a plural in Hebrew (ימ). It makes me nuts when someone says "Cherubs" or "Seraphs." It's not that hard. Seriously. Raphael asks me to be patient because how are you supposed to know if no one tells you. Well, I'm telling you now.
Next: for the love of little green apples, please quit calling me Gabbie, Gabe, Gabey, or Gabri. We won't even discuss what happened to the woman who tried calling me "Brie." Just, don't. God gave me a perfectly good name. Two, in fact, so if you're feeling really formal you can call me Gebher'el rather than Gabriel, but the rest of the time, my given name is just fine. It means Strength of God, and it's perfect the way it is. The only one allowed to use a nickname for me is my Creator, who substitutes 'el with 'li to make it Strength of Mine. (May all of you be so blessed as to one day hear Him say something similar.)
Similarly, Remiel is sick of hearing Rem-ee-yell. She's Ree-mee-el. I never trifle with her, so be sure to pronounce her name correctly. For that matter, archangel is ark-angel and not arch-angel. I didn't invent spelling either.
About angelic bodies: we have some control over our forms, so we can turn insubstantial, semi-solid, or solid. Usually we stay in a semi-solid angelic body, no need to sleep or eat, and unable to be killed. We cannot become human without God's help. Nor can humans become angels. Perhaps in my next 800 words I can ruminate about the theoretical three "choirs" of humans (Saints, Martyrs and Innocents) but I'm out of space.
800 words isn't a lot. If any of this doesn't make sense, email me, but I've covered the basics.
Enjoy the book. Be God's own, and remember I pray for you.
PS: Raphael wants to say hi with my last ten words.
The mirrors around the semi-circular studio reflected endless variations of a dancing angel, the only angel to have cried when she received her name. Unleashing the power of a tornado, Remiel spun to music loud enough to rattle all twenty windows. Arms, legs and six gold wings pumping to the rhythm, she whirled about the room.
During a pause in the cacophon
He inclined his head, as if to say, You can continue.
She opened her hands, communicating reassurance in the nonverbal manner of angels. Then, a smile still adorning her angular features, she shrugged.
"What were you playing?" Saraquael, like Remiel, was one of the Seven archangels that stand directly before God.
"I'm not sure. Israfel said it's a trend poised to dominate American radio, so she asked me to figure out if it fell under her dominion as the angel of music." She rubbed a hand through her cropped hair, then along the gentle slope of her neck. "I can dance to it, so I'd say yes." As she lowered her arm, a half dozen bracelets jangled. "What brings you?"
"I just wanted to stop by." He gestured at the dance floor. "Keep going."
"I'm done." Her clothing changed from a black leotard into jeans and a red t-shirt, but her hair remained the same, standing away from her neck to reveal a row of piercings in each ear. "Are you sure everything is all right?"
Saraquael squinted, his six teal-speckled wings opening. "Is something the matter?"
"I just… I get a sense, a danger." She shook her head. "It's probably nothing. But the universe keeps vibrating with tension like an overwound violin string."
Saraquael moved closer to her, concern clouding his green eyes. "Do you have any idea why?"
She shook her head. "No, and I'm tired of banging my head against the problem. The music didn't make it go away." Her eyes glinted like garnets as she slapped his arm. "Tag. Find me."
She vanished. Saraquael grinned before flashing away too.
He appeared in a dark exhibit hall of the New York Aquarium at Coney Island. Remiel's presence, although dampened, sparkled like a repressed giggle. He let his attention expand to cover the whole hall, all the tourists. Focusing on one end of the hall, he concentrated in turn on each of the people and things. He turned his attention to one golden fish in a lighted tank. Gotcha!
Remiel's laugh sparked in his mind, and again she vanished. The whole search had taken five seconds.
He followed. This time, the place where Remiel felt strongest was a barred-spiral galaxy about 700 million light years from the Earth. He "felt" around for her signature, the wild smile and the trail her thoughts left in reality like the wake cut by a lake-faring sailboat. He could sense how compressed she wasn't, how she shed power like a star, how she almost wanted him to find her. Her heart felt like a beacon, but for the moment he couldn't settle on a method of pinpointing her.
All right, he prayed. How am I going to do this?
It's your game, God replied. We already know I know how to find her, Saraqua'li.
"Need some help?"
Saraquael turned his attention to a square-jawed angel with only two green wings. "Hey, Michael. Remiel's trail leads to here, but I'm stumped."
It had taken ten seconds so far. Michael added his strength to Saraquael's, who used the Archangel's power to enhance his senses. As he opened his heart, Michael served as a lens to focus his thoughts, and in that moment Saraquael felt one star out of place. He targeted it with his will. Tag!
"You stinker." Remiel appeared before them as the manufactured star system vanished. "You'd never have found me without help."
Michael ran a hand through saffron-toned hair. "It would only have taken him a minute or so."
"Yeah, I'm sure." Remiel smacked him on the shoulder. "You're it!"
Both Remiel and Saraquael vanished, and Michael flashed after in pursuit.
- + -
The Heavenly sunlight streamed through a window in the library of the Cherub Gabriel, lighting the pages of the book holding all his attention. He remained in a hush interrupted only by turning pages.
Some people don't understand why angels might read books. For himself, Gabriel didn't understand how Heaven could be Heaven without them.
Gabriel didn't look up when Raphael entered the room, just continued reading while extending a welcome to the Seraph. His soul flooded into Raphael's, and the two of them mingled for a moment with Gabriel's sedate and logical Cherub nature curling around Raphael's zealous Seraph-soul in a perfect fit, before it withdrew all the stronger.
The nine choirs each embodied a different aspect of God, typifying that characteristic and returning love to God in a way uniquely its own, a diamond with nine facets. As God's light filtered over them all, they lifted and amplified God's infinity in their own ways, Thrones for example by fully engaging in worship, or Dominions by their understanding of systems and strategy. No one angel could perceive all of God simultaneously, of course—but working together, all of them could hope to learn one thing or another about God and over the course of eternity perhaps—perhaps—know him in entirety. At least, so Gabriel hoped.
Raphael's brown eyes gleamed. Gabriel finally looked away from the book.
Concentrating, he reached through their bond to feel Raphael's request: a group of the angels were playing a creation-wide game of hide-and-seek, and Raphael was going too. Would Gabriel like to come?
Gabriel glanced back at his book, at his notes. Michael was concerned about some unusual activity in Hell, and being the investigators of the nine choirs of angels, the Cherubim wanted to figure out what Satan was keeping so shrouded. Generally the demons would brag, but right now the highest-order demons were strutting around creation with only a glint in their eyes, as if they could already taste a victory, and it didn't make sense. No clues. Whatever they'd planned, they'd planned it big.
Then he looked at Raphael, one of the most powerful Seraphim and his fellow angel among the Seven who stood directly before God. The Seraph sparkled at him. He was tall and broad-shouldered even as Gabriel was slight; soft-eyed where Gabriel was angular; chocolate-haired where Gabriel was blond—and yet despite all that, they resembled one another. Gabriel's grey eyes glinted.
Would it be all right if I went? he prayed.
God told him it would make no difference.
Gabriel closed his book, and then both were gone.
By now the game had picked up a large number of players: six of the Seven, plus the leaders of three of the nine choirs. A "who's who" of the angelic world would have been filled with their identities. They hid as flowers in a field, raindrops in a thunderstorm, a painting in a museum, a new Jovian moon, an electron, and a word in a book.
Gabriel had just been located as the PM dot on a digital clock accidentally set for AM, so he joined Remiel and Raphael in a New England barn. He sprawled on the ground floor looking up at Remiel perched on a bale of hay in the loft. The hay's spicy scent mixed with the horsey odor, and the air carried a harbinger chill. Outside, the leaves had just begun to paint themselves orange and red.
"The game was a good idea." Raphael sat on one of the beams above the loft.
Remiel smiled her thanks.
Raphael nodded. "God told me to come—that we should enjoy this world to the fullest for as long as we have it." He paused. "Although now that I think about it, that was an odd thing to say. We don't have to live like humans do, as if every day might be the last."
Shadows haunted Remiel's sharp eyes. "Maybe an indicator of the end times? I've been uneasy."
Raphael glanced between his knees at Gabriel. "What do you think?"
Gabriel was staring out one smudged window at the cloudless sky. "It can't be a terrorist attack they're plotting, because they'd brag about that, and the guardians in the affected areas would know."
Remiel giggled behind her hand.
"You know how Cherubim get when they're engaged with a problem?" Raphael winked at her. "I figured I'd at least try to draw out our absent-minded professor with a theory question."
Gabriel focused suddenly. "A theory question?"
Gabriel leaned against
Remiel asked what Raphael had been up to lately, and Raphael said he'd prevented a convenience store robbery by three armed bandits.
"Three armed bandits," Remiel drawled, going semi-solid and plucking a small handful from a hay bale. "How many of them were there?"
Raphael tilted his head. "Three."
"Three three-armed bandits." Remiel's voice distorted as she tried not to giggle. "That's nine arms total."
Raphael's shoulders were shaking, and he looked down with his eyes closed and his lips pursed. "I wonder how they all met up. Maybe some kind of three-armed support group?'
"They have twelve-step programs for that sort of thing?"
"To have that," Raphael said, struggling to keep the laughter from his voice, "they'd need four three-legged bandits, and there weren't any of those."
Gabriel looked away from the wooden beams and directly at them both. "What exactly are you two talking about?"
Remiel sprinkled a few pieces of hay in the air and flashed them over Gabriel so they dropped onto his hair, then passed through his insubstantial form.
Raphael laughed out loud. He swung from the rafter so he hung from his knees, then grasped the wood and flipped to dismount.
"I'm so mean," Remiel said. "It's not fair to do that to the sense-of-humor-impaired."
"He does so have a sense of humor!" Raphael exclaimed.
Remiel hurled a double handful of hay at Raphael.
Even Cherubim can't foretell the future, but sometimes you don't have to be psychic to know what's about to happen. Gabriel sent his awareness out through the entire hay loft and noted the exact position of every bale of hay, every piece of straw, every bit of rope.
The Blizzard of 1888 might have resembled what happened next if only snow were green and gold.