We all stood around the courtyard, too stunned to do anything but listlessly mill about. I stood with Uriel and Zarachiel who talked in hushed tones. I vaguely paid attention to their conversation. Mainly, I kept my eye out for your return. More and more angels of all choirs were filing in, crowding the first level of Heaven. I had never seen this many angels gathered together in one place at one time. It was stifling.
They were here because you were making your decision about Lucifer’s punishment. And like moths to the flame, we all wanted to see his reaction.
The gates to Heaven were open. They were never open. Our eyes kept shifting past the gates to the dusty plain of Purgatory beyond. Lucifer sat out there, a shadow in the haze, on the Edge’s Wall, where the limits of space met the edge of Purgatory. He was hunched over, waiting as we all waited, for your decision.
Finally, I saw you. The others immediately noticed too. This could only mean one thing – you had decided. The angels around me squirmed with anxiety and anticipation. The tension stilled the air, making us pant shallow breaths.
Your wings opened and in one swift motion, lifted you into the air. Above our heads you sailed, searching and scanning the vast crowd. We all watched your flight with heads turned to the skies. You flew through the gates and across Purgatory. You landed silently but quickly at Lucifer’s side and immediately started talking to him in a hushed voice.
Slowly, he turned towards your voice, like he cared little for your words. You both were too far away for any of us to hear, and no one ventured closer to eavesdrop. Undulating lights from the space storms far below illuminated Lucifer’s face so that even from our distance, we saw his emotionless expression.
You, on the other hand, spoke with vehemence and intensity. You stood close to his shoulder with head bent, focused only on him. The conversation looked too intimate to have such a large enraptured crowd as an audience.
When you finished delivering the news of his punishment, Lucifer continued to stare emptily into your eyes. You paused, confused. You struggled to gauge his reaction; we all did.
With an easy motion, Lucifer eased off the wall and stood before you. You refused to step back from his close proximity. He leaned in even closer, ducking his head to your ear, and placing his hand on your arm. His words caused your mouth to drop in shock. Your eyes darted to his, searching for the truth of his words. You stood paralyzed.
Lucifer looked over your shoulder. He stared into the crowd of people, like he was looking for something. I watched him tuck his pointy chin to his chest in the slightest but deliberate motion of a nod. He was signaling something.
Instantly, my blood spiked through my veins. An internal siren went off in my head. For a split second, my muscles froze me into place. In that second, my attention refocused solely on you.
You reacted the same way. Reaching out, you grabbed Lucifer’s arm and shook your head. I couldn’t make out your words or even feel what you were saying to him. He looked at you coldly and jerked his arm away.
And then all hell broke loose. They appeared out of nowhere. They came from the shadows behind us. They came from the friend standing next to us. They came from everywhere and they attacked us.
Many of our fellow Holy Angels turned against us, their own blood.
Mass chaos broke loose. People shouted and struggled all around me. Everyone was caught off guard. We didn’t even defend ourselves at first. But we soon realized the other angels’ intentions. We had to fight back.
Zarachiel was yanked backwards onto his back. Uriel screamed and lunged toward him only to be thrown violently into the column next to her by a burly looking angel with a strange, excited fever in his eyes.
In one step, I closed in on him. Before he could defend himself, I brought his face crashing into my knee, crumpling the bones. As he stumbled backwards, already healing, I brought my foot to his chest, kicking him back into the crowd. Swiftly, I turned and started moving in your direction. Every step of the way I had to fight against bodies of a mob that struggled and grasped at me in fear and attack. Punches and kicks landed hard against my body. I ducked and dodged what I could, but I felt more blows than I deflected. I hardly noticed the pain or the angels fighting around me. I focused only on you.
Our eyes met for a second. I had somehow reached a break in the bodies, managing a clear view of you. You didn’t fight, which surprised me. You stood utterly still, taking in the mutiny before you with glazed eyes. Lucifer moved away from you, slipping into the crowd as the fight spilled through the gates and into Purgatory. The crowed, like a tide, carried me closer to you.
Finally, you saw me, and your face crumpled. Tears threatened your bright eyes. Our world literally crashed down around us as columns fell and tiles crumbled beneath our feet. Our dearest friends ripped and tore at each other. I knew how awful it must have been for you, because I knew how awful I felt inside.
Your reverie snapped, and you noticed Lucifer’s stealthy and timely retreat. You spun around, springing after him. Within the second, you were at his back, dragging him to the ground like a panther after its kill.
And with that final glimpse, I lost sight of you. I was hurled backwards by a foot slamming into my gut. Viciously, I landed on the ground, sending up a plume of dust that choked me. Between the fists that rained down upon my body, I saw the face of the angel who beat me. His eyes were no longer clear as glass. They were smoked over, completely black from hate and malice. I didn’t recognize him.
I yanked his face down. The sudden propulsion made him stagger. I used his momentum to flip him over my head. My wings spread out beneath my back and pressed me into the air. Without breaking my hold, I somersaulted through the air above him, landing with my feet on either side of his body, hands grasping his face. I lifted his torso far enough off the ground to slam his skull back down. I felt the sickening sensation of his head crushing beneath from force. But I didn’t stop. I pounded at his face with my fists. All I could see was the broken look that had filled your eyes. Like I could beat that look away, I pummeled the angel’s face even more unrecognizable.
I don’t remember much after that. It was all such a blur of bodies, screams, and devastation. But at one point, I clearly remember looking down. My feet stuck in muck and filth. There was no more dust, because the ground was wet with our blood.
Feeling sick, I looked at my own body and saw cuts and holes throughout my skin that oozed the golden blood of our kind. It streamed to the ground in torrents from everyone’s bodies. I looked like a warrior statue dipped in gold, not like an angel.
We all, good and bad, stopped dead in our tracks, when we heard the horrible metallic screeching sound come piercing through the air.
I clamped my hands over my ears, forgetting the fight. Others fell to their knees in agony. The sound split through my skull, and rattled everything around inside. I thought my eyes would pop out of my head. I tasted the bitter sound in my mouth. The sound seemed to set the air itself on fire, burning a horrible stench that gagged us.
Immediately, we found the source of the sound. It wasn’t hard to miss. We stood aghast, stunned, mouths gaping.
You had Lucifer pinned against the Edge’s wall, chest pressed against the hard crystal that made up the wall. His arms gripped the edge, clinging. He stretched so far over the wall that his head hung face-down into the nothingness. He screamed in agony. But the horrible metallic sound was because of you.
You stood behind him. One leg was planted in the center of his back, viciously pressed between his struggling wings. Your firm grip held a wing in each hand. At first none of us understood your attack.
But with a quick, horrifically powerful jerk, his wings tore from his body with a spray of gold blood and gore. They twitched slightly in your hands. You stood for a moment, victorious, above him as he crumpled at your feet.
The moment passed and you tossed the great, bleeding, broken wings over your shoulders. With one swoop you pulled the struggling Lucifer in your arms. At first, I thought you were embracing him. Instead you swung his prone body over the Edge. He was completely exposed to the void now.
I thought you had let him go at first. He would fall to the earth, broken and shattered, forever unable to fly. But then I realized you were still struggling. He clung to your arm, yanking you against the wall, begging for mercy.
In an instant, I realized what would happen. You couldn’t shake him off. He would pull you down with him. I started sprinting towards you, shoving shocked angels out of my way, leaping over still forms at my feet. I was the only one moving. Everyone else looked like horrified statues.
“Michaela!” I t was reflex. All my instincts forced me to get to you. But I physically could not. So, I flung my words out to you.
You were distracted by my panicked tone. No doubt your hard-wired reflexes had you jerking your head around in my direction. But Lucifer saw your moment of weakness.
He reached his other hand up and wrapped it around your neck. It was all too easy for him then. With one strong jerk, you tumbled over the edge into the oblivion with him. Together you both disappeared, falling into nothing.
As I saw you vanish over the Edge of Heaven, I wanted to die. My heart shattered into a million pieces. I knew you were physically still capable of flying. But I also knew Lucifer’s tenacity and the hatred I had heard in his screams. He would stop at nothing.
And he was taking you down with him.
I sprinted to the edge of the wall. Without slowing even the tiniest fraction, I leapt onto the edge and soared into the air. Arching my body into a streamlined dive, I fell after you.
For a moment, I was scared. I didn’t know what was happening back in Heaven. I didn’t know what was happening below me as you struggled in Lucifer’s hating grasp. I was scared because I knew I was going to lose one of the two – you or Heaven.
It was a sin, but I prayed it wouldn’t be you.
I didn’t even pay attention to the fall. I’m sure it was horrifically beautiful to watch the cosmos flash by, to see space up close, zooming by at the speed of light. But I was honed in on your disappearing shadow. I only felt the air rip into me, rushing past my skin, across my body, through my wings.
The earth came into view as we all crashed closer and closer. The light from the sun illuminated and burned us all. Now I saw you clearly as you fought with everything you had.
Lucifer was desperate. The huge gaping wound at his back added to his fanatical strength, fueling his rage with pain and the salivating desire to bring you down with him. He got one good hold on you, and that was all it took. He snapped your right wing, breaking it like an old door dangling from its hinge.
My scream matched your own. I felt your pain as the heat soared across our right shoulder blade. It felt like the bones were being set on fire and slowly burnt down to molten liquid. I screamed for your pain. You screamed in rage.
You pounded into Lucifer. He had never stood a chance against a warrior like you. He had just gotten lucky. Now, he didn’t bother trying to escape your sadistic embrace. Weakened from the blood pouring out of him, he merely braced against your blows.
You both crashed into the soft earth a moment or two before me. Ironically, we landed in a field eerily similar to ours in Heaven – the one where I had first awoken and met you. That time felt like lifetimes ago, like it had happened to different people, not us. We were so far from that moment now, I could barely recall it. Our landing left smoking, burning holes in the ground.
The landing jarred you two apart. Before you could stand and before I could finish racing to your side, Lucifer was up and running away. Once a few feet away from your attack, he dove into the earth, making the ground shake and crumble.
I reached your side. Carefully, I tucked your shattered wing firmly against your back. I’m sure it must have hurt you beyond compare, but you didn’t say a word. You just stared blindly at the hole left by Lucifer’s escape.
The rest of Lucifer’s fallen angels were not far behind me. I assume they had been cast out or beat their own hasty retreat after your ferocious excommunication of Lucifer. But either way, they were showering down around us now.
You wanted to follow them into the hell they created with their burrowing, clawing hands. But I held you back. I shielded you the best I could, pushing us into a crouch close to the ground. We were completely vulnerable and isolated with no form of defense if the others chose to attack.
Real rain followed the fallen angels to the earth. It was like the skies had opened up and let everything fall out, including its angels. The deluge came down harder and harder. The sky was black and hard from the drilling storm. Thunder and lightning sounded across the heavens. The terrible storm shook and rattled the earth.
I couldn’t believe how many angels Lucifer had managed to recruit. We watched some of our closest friends disappear into the earth – into Hell. I felt your heart break more and more beneath my hands as each different angel passed.
Once the storm was over, I lifted your shattered body in my arms and flew into the air back to Heaven. I didn’t know what we would return home to, but I knew things were forever changed.
Most importantly, though, was that I had you. And I couldn’t find any more room in my head or heart to care about anything else.
It didn’t take me long to return us. You didn’t say much. I wanted nothing more than to glue you back together. But you were broken in more ways than one. I was devastated, so I held you tight to my chest, which probably only caused your wing more pain.
I reached the limit of the skies, easily ascending the Edge’s wall and stepping into Purgatory. Everyone left was gathered in the main courtyard inside the gates. At the sound of my wings, they all turned weary, battle-worn eyes to us as I flew us through the gates. When they saw it was you, relief poured over them like a baptism. I sat you down and you immediately walked toward the angels that remained.
You broken wing hung awkwardly behind you. You tried so hard to look brave and commanding. But with each step, you winched in excruciating pain. You didn’t feel brave. I felt the question in your mind. You tried to smile reassuringly at everyone, but it faltered. You didn’t bother to speak.
We mourned together. Standing in the ruin of Heaven, we realized a war had begun. We were all worried about what would become of us.
In that moment, I clenched your hand. The feeling I would lose you was stronger than ever. I felt that I would fail you somehow. That feeling would forever me haunt after Lucifer’s fall.
It haunted me until the day it became true many years later. The day was very similar to the one we experienced with Lucifer’s fall. It was the day Lucifer returned to Heaven. You made a horrible, awful mistake and let him in.