Rumors Of War
War In Heaven
"We need to get him in the pod, immediately!" Lumial exclaimed as he propped me up. The lone doctor on duty seemed completely caught off guard. I couldn't blame him, of course. I was bleeding all over his pristine floor.
"What happened?" He replied, anxious but under control. The anxiety must have come from how young he looked, while his control was what I took as the mark of a good doctor. He advanced toward us, his eyes set on the wound in my side.
Lumial took on a tone of impatience as he explained, "He was examining Gabriel's blade when he tripped and impaled himself," He rushed me around the doctor and toward the nearest medical pod as he went on, "We don't have time for chatter. I need to get him in the pod and take care of his injuries."
"Let me handle that," The doctor insisted with sudden confidence, "I am the doctor here."
"Listen, son, I'm as qualified of a doctor as you can find, and I was there when it happened. It will go a lot quicker if I handle this." Lumial replied with the same impatience as before, but even as he started to get me situated in the pod, a little bit of the real Lumial came out as he sighed and said, "While I respect that this is your medical bay, you're most likely still working out of my medical journals. I'm Lumial, Michael's son, perhaps you've heard of me?" It was not spoken in arrogance; it was simply a matter of fact, an impression that was not lost on the doctor.
"Heard of you or not, I am not going to let a patient in my medical bay get treated without my assistance at the least," He offered in compromise, and the last thing I saw and heard before the pod closed around me was his reassuring smile as he nodded to Lumial and said, "You're right though, no sense in chattering away while a patient bleeds to death. Let's get to work."
I awoke some time later to the sound of an argument, and as the pod slid apart I heard Lumial say, "You've been watching the whole time, haven't you? Keith, hold him!"
"Wha… what are you talking about?" The doctor stammered as he slowly backed away from Lumial. A moment later his backward momentum stopped completely as Keith latched onto him with his telekinetic power. His fearful look changed to one of absolute horror as he realized his trap.
"You were following everything I did on the computer. Somehow, even though I blocked you out, you still managed to follow me." Lumial said with exasperation, "Don't pretend that you don't know!"
I quickly rose from my laying position in the pod, and took a step toward Lumial, keeping my eye on the doctor as I did so.
"What's going on, Lumial?" I asked, still watching the bound angel turn his look of terror toward the new sound. Whatever he had found out, it must have been enough that he thought his life was now in danger. I was almost surprised that he hadn't wet himself yet.
"He was watching what I did. He knows the truth." Lumial replied, his eyes never leaving the doctor, "We have a problem, Michael."
"What should we do with him?" Keith asked, his own glare somehow managing to be both frosty and fiery at the same time, "Do we kill him? Tie him up and stuff him in a closet?"
I shook my head as Lumial said, "We'd be found out if we took either of those options."
"What if we made him disappear entirely?" Keith continued, still not completely finished with his train of thought, "Isn't there a way we could shove him out an airlock or vaporize him?"
"Maybe, but do we really want to kill someone just to save our mission?" I replied, though I was surprised to find that I was actually considering the option. It didn't take me long to realize that Michael's memories were starting to kick in again, and those memories warred with me about how to solve the problem at hand. Eventually, my true self won, and I said, "I realize how important it is, but I've never really liked killing people. I know it may be in your area of expertise, Keith, but it's not something I do easily."
"I think we need to do what we can in order to preserve the mission. If we have to, we have to," Keith replied in a serious tone then added with a shrug, "Casualties of war."
"Wait! Don't kill me!" The doctor shouted, suddenly, "I won't tell anyone, I promise. I'm just a first year medical officer."
"Ha! And we can trust you based off of those credentials?" Keith replied incredulously. He walked toward the doctor until he stood directly in front of him and lifted his chin telekinetically to force him to look into his eyes.
The angel shifted uncomfortably in his invisible bindings, but wasn't able to struggle much at all. He was unable to tear his gaze away from the druid. He was clearly afraid, but there was nothing he could do except stare into Keith's eyes. Keith apparently saw or felt that the angel was sufficiently terrified, and he finally released him as he turned to walk away.
"Try to run and I won't think twice about killing you," he said quickly over his shoulder as he walked back to where he had originally been standing.
"While I am more open to trusting you than he is, I too question what will happen if we just let you go free," I again drew his gaze as the words left my mouth, and I tried to give him a reassuring smile, though I never felt the corners of my lips turn up as I went on, "As soon as we're out of sight, you could just run to Raphael and tell him what we're up to. We can't have that."
"Okay, well then. Why don't you tell me why you're here?" The doctor pleaded, and then when no one responded immediately he went on with greater confidence, "You might find that I'm open to helping you. Maybe I can prove that I'm trustworthy. I assume you're here to assassinate Raphael or something. A brilliant plan if that's the case. No one from the surface has ever made it aboard the Adam before. I assume you're a demon, by the fact that you're not really Michael but are genetically identical."
Lumial's eyes widened as he replied, "You almost sound as if you'd like my brother to be assassinated. I'm willing to consider this option. What do you say, Michael?"
"I don't think this is the best idea…" Keith answered instead, but I cut him off with an upraised hand, and I was surprised that he quieted almost immediately and nodded in deference.
"Lumial has a point, and as I said, I would prefer if we didn't have to kill him." I explained, "Let's give him a chance. If we have to, we'll do what needs to be done." Keith nodded, once again deferring to me. I made a mental note to ask him about it later, if we ever got a chance.
Once again I turned my attention back to the doctor and said, "So, first let's hear why you'd be willing to help us at all. Most angels are fanatically devoted to the leadership. Why aren't you?"
"I've never really been a fanatic. All I wanted to do was to help people. It was what drew me to medicine in the first place. Raphael likes to kill things, I like to heal things. It has never really meshed well. I'm sure that Lumial could probably sympathize with that mentality," he explained and then turned his gaze toward the only other true angel in the room and said, "It's all over your medical journals if you know what you're looking for."
Lumial's eyes widened in surprise for a second time, "It does tend to come out in everything I write. I'm surprised that you picked up on it though," he replied with a new level of respect, "Even when I taught medicine before I left Eden, no one had ever confronted me on it. I wonder how you pieced it all together."
The doctor looked embarrassed, but he continued his explanation in a confident voice, "You often mentioned your frustration with the fact that our technology seemed to be focused so much on war, instead of bettering our health even further. It was evident that you found our medical technology insufficient, despite it being advanced enough to grant us extreme longevity, and the ability to revive dead tissue within a given time frame," with a touch of reverence in his voice that seemed to wipe away all other emotions from his face he added, "All of the advances in medical technology over the last three thousand years were either yours, or rooted in your research."
Lumial nodded in approval, and then shared a shrug with me. Our eyes met and I didn't have to read his thoughts in order to know that we were thinking the same thing. The doctor was winning us over, and we were both ready to let him go.
Keith, on the other hand, had other ideas. "Okay, so you've proven that you're intelligent and perceptive, but that does little to help me trust you. In fact, all it shows me is that you may be cunning enough that Michael and Lumial will fall for this," he said with a smirk at both of us, "Trust me, you're going to have to do a great deal more than prove that you can understand Lumial from his medical journals."
The doctor shrugged helplessly in response and replied, "Well, we'll see what I can do then. I've answered one of your questions; maybe you can answer one of mine. What is your goal here? Do you intend to assassinate Raphael?"
"No, actually. It wasn't in the game plan." I replied, despite the question being directed toward Keith. I wasn't sure the druid would answer, "We're actually here to stop Lucifel, and not you're commander. This was just our first stop. If we can get Raphael behind us, we might be able to win."
"Well then, why would I not support that? Everyone knows that it's Hell that has caused the largest amount of killing to occur. Well, except the fact that we've been just as guilty," he finished the sentence in a mutter, then with renewed confidence he added, "Why would I not want Lucifel stopped?"
Keith looked slightly amused as he answered, "A valid point, but that doesn't mean that you'd betray Raphael to do it."
"Although our religion is against lying, we do not consider lies of omission to actually be lying at all. I would be betraying nothing by simply not mentioning this conversation."
Keith shook his head and laughed mirthlessly as he said, "Once again, you've only proven that you have a way with words. I still don't trust you."
"Bah! What do I have to do then, Gabriel? Or, maybe I should give up now and start calling you Keith! Just blast it to the whole ship!" The fear was back in the angel's eyes, but it was buried under a great deal of frustration and anger. "I would understand this kind of scrutiny if you were talking to my twin sister, she was the fanatical one, until she up and joined Hell."
Keith stopped laughing and seemed to look at the doctor as if with new eyes. "Wait… judging by your age, you wouldn't happen to be talking about Verina, would you?"
It was the doctor's turn to look surprised. "You've met her? Is she alright? You didn't kill her did you?" Suddenly, all other emotions were replaced with anger and defiance as he said, "I swear, if you laid a finger on her I will do everything in my power to stop you."
"Whoa there, hang on, no. She's actually here with us," Keith replied, and then with a softer tone than he had spoken with the whole time he said, "I'm surprised that she didn't come visit you. You sound close."
"No… not really. But family is family. She actually doesn't like me very much," he admitted quietly, looking down at the floor. Keith raised an eyebrow until he continued, "She joined Gabriel's squadron to get away from me actually. She thought I was an abomination, once I told her… well, I guess if I'm going to die anyway, I might as well say that she left because I told her I was attracted to a young male officer who was a friend of hers. I guess she loved me enough to not betray that to everyone else."
I couldn't help but smile. Here was an angel, a member of the race that hated what they considered to be sexual impurity, and he was admitting to us freely that he was guilty of the same attractions. There was no longer a doubt in my mind that he was not content with the current regime.
"Well, I can assure you I don't have a problem with that," I said with the same smile, "The demon prince we're here to rescue is actually my lover. You might be surprised to find that your sister's viewpoint may have shifted as well. She's completely abandoned the faith of your people."
His eyes widened even further than they had before. "That surprises me, but it would be interesting to see," he said, then with hopeful eyes he pleaded, "Any chance that before you kill me you'll let me see her?"
"Actually, even though I still don't trust you, I think we may have found the answer to our problem," Keith replied, and the doctor turned to him in surprise. "You're going to be spending an awful lot of time with your sister. I think we'll let her keep an eye on you while we go about our business. What do the two of you think about that?"
Lumial and I shared a nod and then he answered for both of us, "I think that might be the best idea I've heard so far. Let's hope the two of you can reconcile your differences, or this might get quite uncomfortable for you."
"Do I have any other choice?" The doctor replied, suddenly a little unnerved by the possibility.
We answered in unison, "No."
Despite protests from Keith and Lumial, I eventually managed to convince them that I would be okay heading back to the room on my own if they would take charge over the doctor, whose name we finally learned was Vallum. They left the medical bay with Vallum in tow, heading toward the quarters where Verina would be able to watch over him, and I was left with my thoughts as I walked through the corridors on my way back to my own quarters.
If I had thought reconciling myself with the memories from Michael I had had before this new implantation was difficult, it now seemed like child's play compared to what was running through my head now. Michael had changed a great deal over the years since Lumial had left Eden. The memories had previously experienced matched the callous nature of the man who killed my lover, but the new memories didn't. The new memories were of a very tired veteran, who just wanted things to end.
All of a sudden I was able to relate to him, and that did not set well with me. Before, as I had passed people in the halls, I had remembered fighting alongside them, and shared glories in battle or political victories. Now, I had the memories of them growing older with me; memories of the births of their children, still living on the ships instead of having a world to call their own. These people had become my people.
Their reactions were different as well, now that I was wandering the halls alone instead of with the group. They saw that I wasn't on important business, and they would stop and talk to me. I knew then that Michael had been more than a commander to these people, he had been a friend, if one that was a bit distant. He had taken his role of leadership seriously, but he had loved his people, and his people had loved him.
And now I loved them too. I couldn't help it. The memories were too powerful to ignore, and my distrust and anger toward the angelic race as a whole was dissipating, even though I tried to hold onto it. Slowly but surely, with each angel that stopped me and welcomed me back, I was losing my hatred for the people that I had blamed my troubles on.
However, there was one thing that made it easier. We shared a great deal of anger toward one particular angel, and she was the focus of both the memory and my own reasons for being there. Lucifel. I couldn't let the name cross my thoughts without feeling betrayed and wrathful. Both my own feelings and those of Michael were directed in a common purpose, that of stopping the devil. I had known the base details of what she had done before, but I had never stopped to consider how that had impacted Michael.
He had loved her, deeply. Love was something I could understand, and so was betrayal. Though I hadn't felt the betrayal to the degree that Michael had, I had certainly experienced it when I felt that Marc had switched to siding with Shatan. The part that surprised me wasn't that we could relate on how we felt about people though, but it was that the person I had seen as a monster could have such depth of emotion. He understood love even more than I did, and not only was I earning respect for him, but I was starting to feel a bit of love toward him as well, almost as if he were a close relative.
Close relative. The thought made me smile. Michael really couldn't be much closer to me than he was now, with me practically having him in my brain. I knew almost every intimate detail about his life, from how he felt about Lucifel and the rest of his family, to his thoughts on the angels around him, and even his thoughts about humanity.
Exploring his memories was something like looking through an extremely detailed photo album, with emotion somehow attached to each picture. I skimmed through his thoughts on humanity until a picture caught my eye, and I returned to the memory quickly. It was the thought of another woman, one he loved just as deeply as he had loved Lucifel, but with one major difference. She was human.
Mary. Her name was Mary, and he had met her some two thousand years before. She was pure of heart and lovely, and he couldn't help but fall in love. He had wrestled with himself about falling in love with a human, a race he had taught himself to despise as much as the demons he fought against, but this particular woman had started to change his view. He had appeared to her, attempting to use her as a pawn in his political games, but he had been unable to corrupt her heart. A short time later, she was carrying his child; the first child ever born of a union between an angel and a human.
I couldn't help but wonder if Lumial or the other brothers were aware that Michael had fathered the one who had become the basis for the stories of Jesus. Of course they were aware that Michael had used their half-brother in his plots of gaining control over the world, but whether or not they were aware of the relation was the real question. I couldn't imagine that Raphael would have been comfortable with that detail, though I knew that both Lumial and Belial would have been fine with that knowledge.
Of course, their brother was no longer around. Lucifel had made sure of that, and it was something that caused Michael to resent her even more. He had loved his son, even though he had abandoned his mother out of the need to protect her from his enemies. Somehow Lucifel at least had known about his relationship, and she had taken out the only piece that she was certain of.
It was strange to learn that the stories the Christians told actually had a shred of truth to them, and more interesting was that I was getting a firsthand account. It was definitely a different story than everything I had ever heard the Bible pushers talk about, but at least I knew that mine was truer than anything they had ever said to me.
My memory searching came to a quick end when there was a knock at my door. I called for it to be opened, and Keith and Lumial stepped through. As soon as the door was closed behind them, Alan decloaked and made his presence known as well. I asked how it went, and Keith grunted noncommittally as Lumial assured me that all was well, and Verina was more than happy to take on the responsibility of watching over her brother, but it was Alan's response that shocked me the most.
"He was kind of cute," my younger friend said with an embarrassed grin.
"Really, Alan?" I replied, trying to sound incredulous, though I was secretly happy for him. It was about time he found someone other than me that he found interesting, even if it was an angel. "You're perving on an angel now, and one that is over four times your age!"
He looked a bit hurt, and not the least bit pleased with my wording. "What? Marc is twice your age and I never got after you for it," he replied defensively, and then with indignation he went on, "It's about what stage they are at in relation to the rest of their race. He's still an adolescent! We should be getting after Keith for cradle robbing!"
The druid threw up his hands helplessly, though he smiled slightly as he winked in my direction. I could almost feel him in my mind and reading my thoughts and he agreed with having a bit of fun at his expense. "Hey, don't pull me into this, just ‘cause I'm his future brother in law," seeing that Alan was still a bit pissed off he decided to cut him some slack and said, "As far as I'm concerned Alan, you can do whatever you want with angel boy. Don't let Damien bring you down, and don't tear me down just to defend yourself. Stand on your own two feet and seize what you want."
I chuckled quietly as I realized that Keith had to turn everything he said into a lesson for those around him, but I was also eternally grateful to him for it. Life wouldn't be the same without him around. He proved his usual serious self a moment later when he drew us back to the issue at hand.
"We can talk about Alan's love life later. Although I personally trust that the young doctor won't betray us, it's only a matter of time until someone actually does catch us in a falsehood," the druid said with a glare toward Alan who was about to press the issue. "We need to move up our plan. It's time we scheduled a meeting with Raphael to discuss how to approach Lucifel."
"I'll send him a quick memo I suppose, and we can meet after we've gotten some rest," I replied quickly. Keith was right, but there were other needs that we had to consider as well. "I think it would be better if we hit this thing after we are all significantly refreshed. It will give me some time to process some of the new memories floating around in my head as well."
"That's a solid plan, even if it will cost us time," Lumial agreed, and then offered, "Since I don't plan on joining you when you venture to Hell, I'll keep an eye on you while you sleep, just to make sure no one comes barging in to blow our cover."
"Excellent. I think I'll only need a few hours, but Keith is bound to be tired," I said, giving Keith a once over to see what condition he was in, "I've been in medical pods all day, but he's been up for awhile, haven't you?"
He shrugged in response to my concern and replied, "Yeah, but it really isn't so bad. I'm used to long nights, but I could certainly use a few hours as well."
"It's settled then. Let me send Raphael a message about meeting up when we awake, and then we'll be off to bed," I said with a touch of finality, but I couldn't help but grin as I added, "And Alan can dream of his newfound fantasy boy."
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