Michael, Archangel and humanity's greatest ally, walked the perimeter of the vast protective wall that served as the defensive shield for what was left of the human race. He could fly, but today felt the need to exercise his body the way human's would, feeling his muscles expand and contract as he exerted them to propel himself forward.
With a telecommunications device plugged into his ear, he received constant updates from his Senior Officer's who comprised Vega's elite Special Forces unit. South patrol report received and acknowledged. All clear on the south side of the Mojave, over, fed through his earpiece, accompanied by a generous dose of static. The Archangel Corps was his contribution to the safety of Vega. His contribution, he mused, was the everlasting gift that just kept on giving. But such was his faith in this flawed race. They were not above reproach, but his belief was that they were worth saving.
Standing atop the colossal wall, Michael could see far into the distance. The blazing sun shone brightly in the desert, glinting off oppressive waves of heat that rolled like mist through the endless wasteland. Sentries were dispersed along the entire circumference of the reinforced, concrete structure, constantly scanning the surrounds for any eminent, winged threat.
A disturbance in the central marketplace has been reported. Witnesses confirm there have been no 8-ball sightings. I repeat, no 8-ball sightings. McNamara and Williams have been dispatched from central, over.
Michael's eyes narrowed, scanning the skies restlessly. Gabriel was out there somewhere, amassing zealous followers and preparing his armies for the day when he will wage war upon mankind once more. My brother. It had been so long since he had seen him as such, conditioned after all this time to accept that he was nothing more than an enemy that needed to defeated. But he had made peace with his choice. Gabriel's death would be the unfortunate, but inevitable consequence thereof. His eyes hardened with little sentimentality at the acknowledgement.
General Reisen and Senator Thorn have left the consulate and will be journeying along the eastern border to survey the construction of the agri-tower. Unit 4 will accompany the envoy. Standby watch-tower for co-ordinates and route confirmation, over.
Michael's attention was drawn by the communication. Becca Thorn. He frowned, displeased with the growing affection he was unable to contain for her. Desire was a distraction, one he was too weak to resist. In this way, he was as mortal as man. But acknowledgement of his weakness was not acceptance thereof. The guilt he felt after sex with any woman was retribution for his dissolute actions. Affection however, was forbidden to someone like him.
It was for this reason - affection, attachment, a connection - that Becca was not the only woman he took to his bed. His intention had been to avoid favouritism of any kind, establishing an exchange of mutual, carnal pleasure. There were many women who enjoyed the rush of sex with an archangel. Their silence and discretion was paid for handsomely.
But Becca was frustratingly different. She had never taken money from him and seemed to lay with him because it was a choice born from attraction. He wasn't sure what bothered him most. That he was unable to pay her, therefore ensuring she was kept at arm's length, or the opposite – that she slept with him because on some level, she cared. He was her choice.
From his vantage, he could see the large white clock tower at the top of the consulate building. For reasons he refused to examine, he unfurled his wings, leaping from the wall, the rush of air causing his coat to billow out behind him as he took flight. Landing effortlessly on the roof adjacent to the building, he stepped into the shadow cast by the opposite tower and scanned the street below.
It was just past midday and despite the oppressive heat, the streets bustled with people. Vendors sold their wares in caravans arranged in an orderly manner. Citizen's rushed along, catching something to eat before heading back to their designated place of work.
Waiting on the senate steps, Becca stood in conversation with Reisen, listening attentively to something the General was saying and then replying with passion, her hands gesticulating to make a point. Reisen listened; eventually he nodded, seemingly conceding to her point.
Becca pushed her auburn hair from her forehead, lifting the heavy mass in order to allow the faint breeze to hit the back of her neck. With her purse, she fanned her face briefly, looking around, he assumed, to what could be keeping the vehicle. Despite the heat and her apparent discomfort, she looked professional - and beautiful, he conceded - in a tight, green dress, offering an enticing view of legs elongated by nude pumps.
He touched his earpiece, speaking sharply. "An update on Unit 4's ETA?"
Michael heard static before a reply was relayed. Enroute, Sir. ETA less than 5, over.
Michael frowned, displeased with his increasing consideration for her. He did not respect the instincts and intellect of many humans. Far too many of them had proven that greed and power were corruptive, insidious forces which contributed to their inevitable demise. General Reisen was principled, balanced, in stark contrast to David Whele. Michael's jaw tensed at the thought. Whele was dangerous and wily. His grapple for increasing power and authority did not go unnoticed within the senate. But delayed action could not be avoided much longer. He was fast outliving his usefulness. But Becca had proven consistently that her main responsibility and duty was to the people of Vega. In that way, they were alike, he grudgingly admitted. His respect for her was inevitable, growing with each sitting of the senatorial committee.
His attention was arrested by her laughter. Becca had stooped down, teetering expertly on her heels in order to be at the same height as a child. The boy was likely around four years of age, his dark hair combed behind his ears by her fingers. He was too far away to hear what she said, but the image sent a shiver of unease down his spine.
She was like most humans; she desired a family, a husband, children. He could give her none of that, it was not within his power to do so. The past few years had seen Vega, and by extension its citizen's, prosper. Humanity was no longer focused solely on the quest for survival, they now looked to live, to laugh and to love. In order to secure the race of men, those of appropriate age were encouraged to bear children and increase the footprint of man.
While the horrors of the Extermination War would never be forgotten, Vega was a beacon of optimism to man, encouraging hope and the belief in a future. Becca was one of those people. She worked tirelessly to improve the working and living conditions of others. Healthcare was of primary concern to her. And she seemed to champion these causes without any direct benefit to herself.
"Vega needs children," she had once said to him. Visibly, his features hardened. Inside, he shuddered. Nephilim, the children of angels and human women were forbidden, an abomination. It was the one thing he feared. His only fear. It was also quite possibly the one thing she would come to want.
Unit 4 has arrived at the consulate. Standby for route update, over.
Michael watched as the escorting envoy arrived. Becca waved goodbye to the parent and child before descending the steps, emerging out of the shade of the building. Her hair blazed like fire in the sunlight, matching her fierce spirit. He knew no other woman like her. She was fire and ice, bold, intuitive, passionate - his eyes briefly shut at the memory - intelligent, yet surprisingly vulnerable in private moments. Without much effort, without his conscious knowledge, she had found a place inside his beating heart. Michael shifted uncomfortably. Emotion was a weakness that enemies could exploit. He had been right to caution her.
He needed to put an end to their liaison. There were others who could satisfy his needs. None however, he admitted, like her.
Michael was about to turn away when a shout down below delayed his departure. As Becca reached the car, her name was called. Ready to take defensive action, his eyes tracked the direction of the call and he saw a man wave, then approach. He frowned.
Static, followed by his Senior Officer's voice. Mr. Holden, Sir. Microbiologist at Vega Medical. No eminent threat. Day visitor at the consulate twice in the past week.
Michael felt his gut twist, his jaw tensing when he saw Becca smile, hugging the other man briefly before exchanging words. It was obvious they knew one another. Michael hated the way the other man's hand rested on her elbow. He hated even more that she did not seem to mind having it there.
He had other lovers, less frequent of late if he was aversely honest. He had never considered that she might have other lovers too. The reality turned his eyes dark, his hands balling into tight fists. Michael turned from the sight and lept off the side of the building. He felt angry, unsettled, jealous.
This has to stop.
His wings flapped harder and he soared higher.
This has to stop.
Could he stop? The answer he realised, was yes. He could. He had, with many others before.
Wind rushed over his face, whipping his hair into a frenzy, the cold air cutting into his skin. He relished the pain, pushing himself faster, higher still.
Did he want to stop? The answer was complex and simple at the same time. No, he did not. But he should want to. The reality frightened him. He had become too attached.
Update to protocol. Senator Thorn has requested the company of Mr. Holden on the agri-tower visit. Company of three. I repeat, company of three, over.
He should not want her. The ice around his heart flexed. But he did. He wanted her.
He wanted only her.