Granting Wings

From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame

Previous Story in the Arc: Rage by John Murdock (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Requiem for a Dream by John Murdock (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

(posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Aude aliquid dignum. "Dare something worthy."

Seraphic Flame faced the Fallen.

Knowing now what it was they had tracked, they had reverted to their true forms, but locked in a mortal body as she was, she could only take the form that she wore within the physical world: the classical depiction of an "angel."

She was a Seraphim, the angels of Fire and Love. She was wreathed in fire, yes...but she did not carry the sword in her hand. In fact, her hands were empty.

Their hands were not.

They were shadowy things, androgynous creatures of sullen red and fuming black like an angry lava flow. They had wings, too, but they were burned and battered, "feathers" broken, wings themselves drooping askew. They would not fly on these pinions.

But no one had done this to them. They had done it to themselves.

In their hands were the symbolic versions of the terrible weapons they employed; swords and flails and spears of anger, hate, and self-loathing, of doubt and crippling loneliness. But most of all, of despair.

She felt that despair all around her, burying her, crushing her beneath its weight.

"You are but one, Seraph. And we are legion."

She bowed her head a moment, and armored herself against their power. When she raised her head again, it was to look directly into their eyes.

"I have my family," she said, simply.

A cruel laugh. "Your human mate is surely destroying himself and playing into our hands. Your children have death and blood on theirs, and will soon have a taste for it. They, too, will be ours soon enough. You should bow to the inevitable, Seraph. You should join us."

For a moment, she felt herself weaken, falter. John--the children--

From her side came a faint whisper. I believe in you, Seraphic Flame. I believe in you, and in love, and goodness, and peace. I believe that death will have no dominion.

Instinctively, she reached for the spirit, felt Jessica pour her love, her trust, her belief into the Seraph's heart. Then it was joined by another--Bella--

And another--

And another--

And then a flood.

No she was not alone! If she did not have the Siblings, if she did not have that link to the Infinite, she had this! And they were not "less than the angels"; if anything, they were greater. They believed, through despair, through darkness, through fear and imprisonment, through hell-on-earth here itself--with no cause to believe, to hope, they still hoped!

She felt their trust and hope flooding into her, filling her, and the light grew within her and burst out, making even the fires that wreathed her pale into insignificance. She incandesced, a sun come to earth, and spread her arms wide as the Fallen cried out, shielded their faces, and cringed before her.

I believe....I believe....I believe....

It was a song, a chorus, as great as that of the Seraphim themselves, and she cried out with the hope and the pain of it.

"Oh, my lost siblings, can you not see it? Hear it? The Infinite has not deserted you, you have closed yourself from the Infinite! You have only to wish it, and you will be welcomed home--"

"No!" Her words were met by a roar of denial from the strongest of them. "You strive to seduce us with your false words--"

"Then I will not use words." She spread arms and wings wide, closed her eyes, and opened herself to them.

--which was not as suicidal as it seemed.

For through her now came that flood, that torrent, of belief and hope. She had held it pent within her, now, as if a dam had broken, it poured out on the Fallen.

And with a great cry of mingled pain and joy, four of the seven transformed as it engulfed them.

The shadows blasted away from them; their broken wings mended, and the weapons they had held dropped from their hands. The darkness lifted from their faces, and they looked out on the world with eyes that no longer were aching pits of despair. They were not angels...not yet...but neither were they Fallen.

Now the other three fell upon them all as rabid dogs on their enemies.

The fight was mercifully brief.

Three Fallen, senseless and motionless, were brought to Sera's feet. The first of the newly-cleansed looked to her for guidance.

"We must erase their minds of what has passed here," she said, gravely. "We must evict them from these bodies they wear, and send them back. It is all we can do, really. They are as immortal as we."

"That is wisdom. And what of us?" All four of them looked to her, the fear warring in them with hope.

"You know that though you are forgiven, your work here is only beginning--and I cannot redeem you--" She hesitated a moment, but was rewarded by a nod. Briefly, she caressed the heads that bowed before her. "Very well then. Become the Guardians of the mortals here. You may not interfere with their mortal struggles, but you can and you must, win a corridor through the the Infinite, so that those who hope can pass onward. You can, and you must, give the living hope. So shall you redeem yourselves."

"So let it be written," murmured all four of them. "So let it be done."

She gave them a brilliant smile, and embraced them all. "Now take to the skies again, my siblings, and guard us on our way. We go to open that path for you, for them. for all of us, if we can."

The Sarge came trotting up to the next clearing, his rifle unslung and at the ready. There was no one here besides Sera, now, and the scars of a battle that had just occured. "What's happenin'? Are we clear?"

"We are clear. And..." she glanced upward. "For the moment we have air support, as it were. Scouts, at the least."

He did not follow her gaze, although it was possible that he would not have seen the four demi-angels now aloft. "The kids did good," he said, gruffly, and coughed. "They took out the Huntress herself, and her Hounds, We should be clear to the forward observation post I set up outside the facility where the Portal's housed."

"Then let us make haste before the hunters regroup."