History

An Angels-Verse fic.

Maiyri
Set approximately 200 years post-Angels.
I do not own Maximum Ride. By popular consensus, nathan-p does.

This is set in the Angels Verse, following (mostly) one of Nudge's descendants. It switches between first and third point of view, and has a whole pile of other snippets in there. Basically, it's Angels format.

This monstrosity clocks in at 5755 words. So it's not really that monstrous, it's just a little bit.

Dedicated to supergirrl, and all my reviewers for Angels. I have to admit that there are a few parts in here inspired by nathan-p's Echo Flux, and nightwingstar's Army of God.

--

From the Fifth Class of the Revolutionary History Module.

Church Of Angels Grand-High Institute of Learning for Preachers of The Faith.

Revolution And the Angels.

Instructor: Brother Maurice D'Angel

While little is known about certain events during what we now know as the Revolution, there are a few things that we can be absolutely sure of. The existence of the Angels, while seemingly impossible, has been well documented by dozens of credible sources of the time. These eyewitness accounts have spoken in great detail about the Six Angels and Their Faithful Companion, and the events of their lives.

The time in which they lived has not and quite probably never will be pinned down to an exact date. During the Revolution, and the Sickness and the War that preceded it, many records were destroyed, either deliberately or through neglect. What we can be certain of is that the first documented appearance of the Angels was in a City now in the Eastern Wastes called NuYorke, in the year known by the old Calendar as 2005 AD, or in the new Calendar as approximately 5 PR. Eyewitness reports suggested that the oldest of the Angels appeared to be in their early teens, while the youngest was still a childlike five or six. At this point in time, there is no mention of The Faithful One, and while I will not be discussing the suspected origins, the definitive paper on the matter is The Faithful One, by Laurense Baker-Smythesson.

The trail of eyewitness accounts over the next year are found all over what we now call Amerka and Eurippe, the most bizarre of these being the Batchelder Papers, found in the High Mountains...

--

The Great City stood on the banks of one of the few clean rivers left after the machine age had come again. The Industrial Revolution of fifty years ago had set the People once again on a course of destroying what was left of their irradiated world. But of course, they wouldn't figure that out until they were too late. The other Cities, as she'd heard from her oldest brother, were destroying their Lands.

Aymee Heward hadn't ever been to the City before, partly because nobody from Cities liked people from the Plains, and partly because she hadn't been interested. She was, she believed, like all her family – meant for the freedom of the open Land and the endless Sky of the Plains. They were farmers for two hundred years back, eleven generations, and that was that.

Unfortunately, the Gov'mint didn't give two beans for what was what to a Plainsman, and she'd been called from among hers to serve in the Church of Angels' Recordshouses. She hadn't been much pleased to hear of her summoning, less so that she had only a week before she had to leave. But The Gov'mint and the Church had been in each others' pockets since the Industrial Revolution. After all, that had been when the Church had set up the Gov'mint, trying to appease those who talked of corruption and all other things bad in the Church. The Gov'mint was supposed to make things better for all, but things seldom worked that way when you added another body to annoy a person. And everybody knew that it was the sons and daughters of the Old Churchmen that ruled the City and the Goldenfield Plains and all the people in them.

Aymee arrived at the City by horse and carriage. Fancy, she'd thought, useless frippery. What was the point of being born with a perfectly useful pair of feet it you didn't use them? What was the point of binding and caging the horses when she could travel perfectly well on her own? On the Plains, all animals were respected for what they gave the People. Here, she could see, they were not.

One of the Sisters of The Angels was waiting for her in front of the biggest building she'd ever seen. And she couldn't even see all of it. She knew what it was. The Citadel. The home of the Church in all the world, the largest Recordshouse, and a place of learning for those who could pay for it. All at once.

Aymee was, well, she wasn't greeted by the Sister, because a greeting required some sort of welcome in her eyes. The Sister merely confirmed her identity and then gestured for her to follow. The meaning was clear. She was not welcome among the Sisters, and she was not welcome in the City. She was too Quaint, they were thinking, like all Plainsmen. Too Quaint, too Stupid, too Uneducated and Rough, and Immoral too. Someone's friend's cousin had heard that Plainsmen did something horrible. Everybody knew about that though, because everybody knew about Plainsmen. Only Citymen were Learned and Holy.

If only they knew.

She was glad for the two-hundred-and-sixty like her, like their ancestress, that they did not.

The Sister led her through dark and smoky stone corridors, and then into a small garden. Two older women sat there in cushioned chairs, eating dainty white-bread sandwiches. They were drinking the very rare kofee in daintier cups. It was obvious that these women were important, even if they were dull and greying, like the city itself. Both had soft hands and soft bodies, and her father had always told her, and her brother and sisters that soft bodies meant soft minds.

The women looked up as they approached. Both cast doubting eyes on her, and Aymee did her best to look as demure and obedient and stupid as possible, all the while imagining the dumb but gentle cows she looked after. She curtsied to the women. One nodded her approval, while the other one sniffed disdainfully. City women, Aymee thought. City women mean nothing to me. Plainsmen worked for their bread.

She'd worked since she was old enough to drive the cows. Her father had said when she turned five that she would go to school. Not everyone went; it was expensive to go to the Church-run school the next town over. They had the community school, yes, but that was taught by the farmers for the farmers, and every so often they had to keep an eye on what the citymen were teaching. Every morning, she'd do the milking, and then she'd quickly fly to the next town over for the day, and return after dark. She was different. She was so different.

Everyone in the town, all the cousins learned the Histories from the books in the Hidden Library. Everyone knew the family tree, because everyone was related. It was only a town of six hundred, and near everyone could trace their line back to one of the Eight Children of Marika Hayward. Sicknesses had weeded out those who were true-human, those who weren't like them. Plague came at least once a decade, and nobody asked why they were so lucky, because nobody cared. And it kept things simple. If everyone was related, then the Secret and the History could be kept amongst themselves. That was what was taught in a Plains-town school. They could have their learning, their schooling, all of her siblings. But she was the one chosen to watch the Citymen. And now it seemed that the Citymen had brought her here. But who was watching whom?

She was risking everything by being here, among the fanatics. If only she hadn't been the top student in her class, then maybe they wouldn't have noticed her. If only. But she'd had no choice. Nobody defied the Gov'mint.

--

Miss Aymee Hayward, of the Plainstown of Goldenfield.

It has been brought to our attention that you are a diligent and capable student in the Church-school of Grainstown. You have been awarded a place in the Service of the Church in the Recordshouse of the...

--

They give me the clothes of their Order and show me to the bare cell that will be my room for my training. All of my possessions are locked away into a small chest that is placed at the foot of my bed. Except for the small diary that I am quick enough to hide in the folds of my habit. The diary is important, not to me, but to all, for it is a part of the Histories, for what is now, will pass.

I am somewhat grateful for the robes. They are concealing, and the only time I must now worry for my Secret is when I wash. Modesty is one of the tenets that I am expected to obey, so I don't doubt that I can be private. I think, maybe, that being a Plainsman will keep the other girls out of the small washroom while I am there. They have heard stories.

The Chest is fitting. It's a reminder of the things we must sacrifice to be true to ourselves in the face of the Angels, as the Sister says, because they sacrificed themselves for us, giving us the cure for the sicknesses. To me it is a reminder of how I am caged, shut away, locked up.

Maybe not caged.

--

When she'd been five, she'd been told the Story of the Statue. When her grandfather's great-grandfather had been the age that she was now, there had been talk of digging up the Graves.

So there we were, facing the dilemma. We could let them dig up the Graves of the Flock, or we could try to do something to stop them. Of course, nobody wanted to let the Church know about the winged ones. The whole thing was happening because Arch-Father Haedus wanted to prove that the Angels were divine and therefore left no earthly bodies, and we sure didn't want him to find out about ours. And then good old Markie Ward figured it all out.

So when the Churchmen decided to try, the following summer, we were ready. We sent out a party to watch, not unlike every other town on the plains. They were going to do a proper excavation, they said, with all their fancy terms, and they were going to stay. Set up a Church, and a town, everything. Expected all the pilgrims to help. I myself helped to put down the first roads. Then the dig proper started, and everyone was cleared away, tape put up, everything. They took aside the marker, and they dug.

I couldn't help but laugh. It seems ironic that we play the part of guardian Angels to our ancestors, but the winter before, we'd moved the marker. Not far, only about thirty metres. It was Niqua that had done it, with her mind-moving Ability. And we'd covered up the tell-tale signs, and taken down some of the trees. Nobody knew. Nobody figured it out.

The best part? That fancy church of theirs was built right on top. They'll never find the Ancestors, and that's our gift to them. They have done enough for this World, let them rest undisturbed.

The Histories had spoken often of the Abilities, but this had been the first time that she was brave enough to ask of them. Her great-uncle, who wasn't actually her great-uncle, had laughed. "Fancy yourself an Ability, little one?" She'd frowned. Adults were dumb sometimes. "There hasn't been an Ability in the family for generations!" He'd continued. Apparently, it seemed that whatever else was passed down the blood, the Abilities weren't.

And the Dig's little village became a town, and that town became a city, while that little village at the centre became the Church of Angels. That little church that covered her Ancestors bones still stood, in the garden, where the Marker was replaced.

--

Junior Recordskeeper Standard Schedule, for Class 96

Rise 0500
Personal Chores 0500-0530
Dawn Meal 0530-0545
First Service 0600-0700
Class One 0700-1200
Midday Meal 1200-1230
Recordshouse duties 1300-1800
Chores 1800-1900
Night Meal 1900-1930
Second Service 1930-2100
Lights out 2200

Sundays are to be spent in service from 0530-1900.

--

Her first chore had been in the Laundry, and her second in the Kitchens. She had only spent a week in each, because, as a Sister said, she was "too lazy" for the Laundry and "too stupid" for the Kitchens. She had grown rather accustomed to ignoring the prejudices of the City-Sisters. She was a plainsman, and she was proud of it. In reality, Aymee had been lost and ignored in the huge, humid, bustling mess that was both Kitchen and Laundry. The Recordsmistress in charge of her Class of fifteen had sighed and assigned her to general duties. She would scrub the corridors of Class 96's cells, but that only took three days of a week. The rest of the time, she would be in the Church-run Orphanage, doing what the Sister there needed her to. She'd been told to refrain from dropping any babies by the hard-eyed Recordsmistress, and, knowing a dismissal when she heard one, Aymee had curtsied gracefully and left. As she closed the door, she heard the Sister mutter that it was all that could be expected of a stupid, plain, boring plainsgirl.

Even after that, they hadn't sent her home. The Church of Angels kept what it believed was its due.

--

The Recordshouse was her favourite place. She, and the others, were assigned various duties – reading and cataloguing, cleaning, transcribing fading records, or being part of the group of Sisters who administrated the daily paperwork that the Church required. Aymee was considered too stupid for the administration, and too energetic for the transcription. She was assigned to the care of a lively Sister named Rosa D'Angel, who enjoyed reading the records as much as Aymee did. Her official job was to catalogue; to find records for the Scholars. She was supposed to know what was in every record in her section, know where to find it. Over five thousand records, and this was not even a tenth, a twentieth, of what was to be found in the enormous Recordshouse. She learned quickly, though, for her section contained the records of History, the Church's version of what had happened in the past two centuries. The Pre-revolutionary History was under the charge of Rosa's friend, though, another record-lover, and they frequently exchanged records.

The Orphanage was a hopeful place. It was clean, and well run, with sisters who loved children, and didn't mind her. Except for the manageress, Sister Faith, who was a hard, pinched old woman who liked nobody and prayed at least twice an hour. She frowned on anything that was not holy and approved by the Arch-father. The orphans were separated by age, and she was assigned to the sister who looked after the five-to-seven year-olds. They loved stories, especially the children who had been abandoned by parents who couldn't care for their disabilities. Aymee couldn't help but tell the stories that she had been told, changed a bit, as to not be heretical. No one trivialised the Angels by speaking of a winged one in such a way.

--

When I had a spare minute, I'd politely asked Sister Rosa if she could visit another Section to retrieve my favourite childhood book, which I was sure that they would have a copy of here, even if they didn't know its true significance, and the references to the Angels at the front. Sister Rosa had agreed, and so I had tracked it down, "The Tales Of A Wanderer" by Garren Wright, who I better know as Gazzy, one of Ancestress Marika's family. We don't know if he's an "Angel" himself, Marika's diary says that he had no wings near the end, but suggests that he does at the beginning. Either way, we don't know much about the Flock, the Angels. Marika says very little about what happened before. But what we do know is a lot more accurate than what the Church knows.

The Tales is exciting; it talks of travels to far off lands, when civilised people still lived in far away places like Ashurr and Eurippe. Now only savage tribes live there, according to Avit Dattenboro, whose records I have been reading.

I take the book to the Orphanage, and read it to the children before bed, one part a day. The Sisters smile, and let me, because it makes their jobs easier, getting the little ones to sleep. Sister Agnar tells me that they play Adventurers and Tigers in the playground now. Sister Faith disapproves, of course, and asks me why I was reading impressionable children such a book. I have prepared for this.

Sister Faith, do you not believe that we, and these children, should see and know the World that the Angels gave themselves to save? How wasteful of us it would be to deny Their sacrifice, and reject all learning?

Sister Faith glares, and walked out. I refused to smirk, for that would be undignified.

--

Faith. Modesty. Chastity. Kindness. Honesty. Morality. Cleanliness. Humility . Grace. Integrity. Benevolence. Selflessness.

And the D's, the favourites of the Sisters - Dignity. Diligence. Duty. Discipline. Devotion.

All women and girls in service of the Church are expected to be mindful of their behaviour at all times. If the Tenets are not obeyed, the full consequences of disobedience will result...

We are expected to be many things. We are expected to be one thing.

The same.

--

The Children are learning the songs, and we are too, in our lessons. We are taught to interpret them, as we are taught to interpret all records. We, after all, find the records for the Scholars, and any reference, even the smallest, tiniest piece of implied information must be found, or we are not doing what is required of us. The Oldest of the Songs make the least sense, as knowledge and Languages change. Many words have fallen from use, some from memory, and I cannot even begin to guess what some mean. At the very least, no one speaks like this anymore.

--

In Their eyes,
Shall we see the Truth?
By Their ears,
Shall we hear the Truth?
By Their lips,
Shall we speak the Truth?
But with their hands,
we will make the truth reality.

--

I have been moved to cleaning other places, for I prove to be less stupid and lazy than originally thought, and Sister Faith refuses to allow me to spend another chore-hour in her Orphanage. Mainly, I scrub corridors, as it is believed by the recordsmistress that I require a little more manual labour to tame my temper and heathen plains ways. This is supposed to make me learn humility and dignity, although I see little of either in this.

It lets me hear things, for the Brothers talk freely in the corridors, and do not think much of a novice-Sister doing Sisterly things. I tell these things to Sister Rosa, who does not venture far beyond her section in the Recordshouse, the Sisters' Church for Services and her cell. Sister Rosa, and her friends, they all love to gossip, like the old Aunts at home. It makes me feel better, and more welcome here. I still have no welcome among my class. They think me odd and uneducated. They think that they are better than me.

Today I must clean one of the smaller corridors that run between the Church-proper and the separate recordshouse buildings. I don't expect to see anyone at all. I don't expect to hear what I hear.

"The Batchelder Papers say..."

"The Batchelder Papers are heresy, and if I hear you speak of them again, Brother, then the Papers shall be destroyed, and you shall be cast out of the Order!"

"Heretical to what, Father?! To whom? They were written in the Time of The Angels, before the Sickness and the War! You must realise..."

"No, Brother Faran! You must realise. These Papers do not speak the Truth. The Angels are the Angels, and that is the Truth. They came from Above to Save The World, not from some shack in the High Mountains as a part of some accident!"

The speakers are just around the corner, and they have stopped to argue. I am silent, still, scrubbing brush halfway into the bucket. They do not know that I am here, but I do not fear discovery. Things of the Church stay within the Church, and the Father and the Brother would expect my silence, if not my 'forgetfulness'.

The second speaker clears his throat, and footsteps resume.

"Now, we shall say no more of this. And the Papers shall be destroyed, I do not want to hear of anyone else finding this document and taking it for anything other than the nonsense it is!"

The two men turn the corner, and spot me. I spring into motion, as if I have never paused. A Sister would never eavesdrop.

"You there!" The Father calls to me. "Novice!"

Respectfully, I stand and curtsey, smoothing the white sash around my black habit that identifies my rank. "Father," I murmur demurely, just loud enough to be heard. A Sister would never shout. "How may I be of service to you?"

They halt in front of me, and the Father shoves a sheaf of papers at me. "Take these to Sister Martha in the Kitchens, novice, and tell her that I have ordered that they be burned. I will be checking!" he says in that teacher-voice that all the Brothers and Sisters use to novices. He hands me a token, one that is stamped with his sign. It will confirm his orders to Sister Martha, although I doubt the kitchensmistress will take me at my word, as she did not before, when I worked for her.

I curtsey again, "As you wish, Father."

The Father takes the brother by the arm, and all but drags him down the corridor. The Brother, Faran, looks at me, dismayed, over one red-knotted shoulder. I cannot meet his eyes. Instead, I stare at the gift that the Father has just unknowingly given me.

The Batchelder Papers.

Ancestress Marika had spoken of them, of the man who had been like a father to her when she had been a child. A man named Batchelder, who had rescued them from the place of their creation. Batchelder, who had helped to create them. Batchelder, whose papers could answer so many questions.

Batchelder, whose papers I was ordered to destroy.

I had a piece of History in my hands, a piece more important than anything save Ancestress Marika's own diary. History that would make me a hero, if only I could return it to my family.

If only I could save it from destruction.

Once the Father and Brother were out of earshot, I began to run.

--

The Kitchens were the nightmare that I remembered, the smoky, steamy, overpoweringly smelly caves with dozens of cook fires, and drains running everywhere. They never closed down, always open, always ready, always cooking for the thousands of Churchmen and women.

Sister Martha is never hard to find, for she is the one shouting out orders above the noise in her bullish voice. I take the folder to her, and the token. She does not recognise me, and she ignores me, but then I do not expect to anything otherwise. I press the token into her hand, and I have her attention. She looks at me. "What do you want, novice?"

"A Father asked me to bring this to you, asked me to tell you that it be burned." She nods at my words. This is not the first time that something... potentially problematic has been brought to her for destruction. She eyes the folder in my hands, then gestures towards the nearest cookfire. Without hesitation, I drop the papers into it.

The cardboard curls and blackens, and then, whoosh, the papers burst into flame.

Destroyed forever.

--

The specimen known as Maximum has proved to be the most interesting. She has already displayed her strength and her determination, but now she is showing extraordinary concern and caring, of mother-like proportions towards the younger trio of experiments. Contrary to predictions, she has also assumed leadership of the group, who are now beginning to call themselves 'The Flock', despite the specimen known as Fang being the strong alpha male. Fang has, for all intents and purposes, accepted this leadership without any comment, however, it seems that Maximum relies on Fang's opinion of plans, and readily accepts his ideas.

--

I open the lock on the trunk. Lockpicking is a handy skill, and it was taught to me by a cousin, who said I might need it to get out of somewhere someday. I put the newest piece of the histories in there, under everything else, and then I close and lock the trunk again. It wouldn't do for me to be casual about opening it, and I can bear with it a little easier if I know that this is what I'm protecting.

The bells ring and I head for my meal.

It was not easy, and I do not feel guilty, but I switched the papers, the Batchelder papers for a few blank pieces that I keep at Sister Rosa's desk to take to the little ones to draw on. The Father will never know the difference – Papers brought by me to the kitchen were burnt. No one will suspect a sister, or a novice especially, of such conduct. Of such a crime.

--

The oldest subject of the younger trio, who is known as Nudge has proved that she indeed does have an extraordinary grasp of language, and is quite capable of speaking for long periods of time. The other experiments seem to have a low tolerance for her 'chatter', and often have to silence her. It seems that Nudge idolises Maximum, and she often follows Maximum around, and mimics her actions. The most notable of these is the imitation of Maximum's caring for subject eleven, who has since been aptly named Angel.

--

After a year I take my first vows, and I am now called by the title Sister. The white band is replaced by a green one with yellow inlay, signifying me as both a junior sister, and as one of those who keep the records. If I am to stay, then in five years time I will take my final vows, and I will enter the Sisterhood proper. Then, I can never leave. Even now, I cannot without extremely good reason.

As I change my sash, I change many other things. I leave my small cell, and am put into another small cell, one closer to the Recordshouse. I no longer need to perform chores, and I have only one lesson a day. I miss the little ones in the orphanage, but I cannot visit them now. I am not a novice any more.

The trunk stays locked. I turn eighteen. There is no one there to celebrate with me. I receive a letter, and I send one. I know what it is like for my family – they do not have the time or the money to have letters delivered to me here.

Then the plague comes.

--

Can you see the Angels,
They're up there - each a star,
And in the sky, they're up so high,
And they can see so far.

They can see the little ones,
And keep them safe for day,
For in the night, they shine so bright,
From oh so far away.

And when the sun is shining,
The brightest star of all,
Angels are here, so do not fear,
With them you'll never Fall.

--

The city burns with it, the smoking fires of death and disease. I have not seen a plague like this before, for in my town, we are all descended from Marika, and we do not suffer from things as the people who are truly human do.

The Church-City's gates are closed, and the rest of the City is forced to fend for itself. I watch from a spire's window as the fires are lit, burning bodies, burning houses. I see riots over food, as the people begin to starve.

I wish that I could give these people hope – and so I do, in the only way that I can. I strip off my heavy robes, leaving only the light, free undergarments. And I fly, for the first time in over a year, I fly.

I soar above the fires, and I swoop across the marketplace, where only a few people gather to beg for foodscraps from the healer-Sisters who cannot turn their backs on the sick. Only they choose not to join the rest of us in our isolation.

The people see me, and the word spreads. An Angel, they say and point. An Angel. We are saved.

I land, and dress. I hurry down from my tower, and I make sure that I am not seen. I cannot take the risk to come here again, and I am sorry that I have lost this place. I am not sorry that I have given the City-people hope.

--

My new place to visit is the Gardens. As a Sister, I may now visit many more places. The First Church is one of these, the Church which stands atop the graves of my Ancestress' flock. I sit quietly in a pew, alone in the church, and think of them.

I do not know what they would have thought of me, a descendant of one of their own. I am not like them, I have not led their life – war and trickery and betrayal. The only things I know a little of are the sickness, and even then I know very little, and the secrecy. The Secrecy I know.

I would be held up as an Angel, paraded in front of the masses as proof. I have been an Angel once, from afar. I am not going to be an Angel again, not for anyone.

--

The great doors of the Church-City open again, and we leave our isolation. The stories begin, of the Angel of the Market.

I heard it from my cousin, and she heard it from her neighbour, who was there, I kid you not! There was a crowd, like there was usual outside the Healers' buildings. What with the Plague and all, everyone was sick and needing the Medsins, and that was the only place to get them, now that most of the Outsider coward traders were afraid to come anywhere near us starving cityfolk – darn shame that, those lazy Outsiders and Traders and Plainsmen, where were they, when we were in need! Only proves it, can't trust a one of them. All cowards, and wouldn't work a proper day in their lives!

Anyway, Cousin Edwina's neighbour was there, queuing up with everyone else, trying to get something to help out her husband, a honest, Angel-fearing man, he is, and there She was, The Dark Haired Angel. She flew down, out of the sky, and passed right overhead! So low, you could have reached out and touched Her beautiful snowy-white wings. And the whole crowd just dropped to their knees and prayed, and then do you know what? The Angel landed. Walked on the same ground as I have, many a time. And She walked among the people there, laying Her hand on their heads, whispering Divine words. Edwina's neighbour said that the Angel put Her hand on her head for a whole minute. And when she got home, she found out that her husband was well again, the Angel did it, healed him, just like that!

I pretend my interest in the stories. I laugh silently to myself when I am alone. Sisters do not laugh. My wings are a dark grey, like stormclouds, with a few brown flecks, and a few white feathers here and there. My hair is brown, not midnight black, and I have freckles, not the ivory skin that is claimed. My eyes are brown too, not green, or blue, or golden or purple. I do not think that the last two are possible.

I don't say anything. One day the stories will pass into myth. No one will ever be really sure that they saw an Angel that day, not when the City was at its most desperate, not when the people were sick. Delusions, they'll say, hallucinations.

--

There is no longer enough money, because of the rebuilding of the City, to feed all the Sisters. Many are to be let go. I did not want to come here, but now I do not want to leave, because I will be leaving my learning.

Sister Aymee, unfortunately your services are no longer needed. You will be required to vacate your position by the date of the First of the Next Month. If you require travel arrangements, please see Sister...

My former recordsmistress minder opens the trunk with the keys that she locked it with, two years earlier. How much I have changed. I am left alone with the possessions of the life I am to return to. I will take the carriage out of the city in only a few hours time, so I must be ready by then. I dress in my old clothes, they scarcely fit, for I have lost muscle, and, I am ashamed to find, put on a little fat. I pack my bag, tucking in the all important Papers. I am allowed to take my sash, but I must leave everything else behind.

I visit the First Church one last time, and say my farewells to the Flock. I'd like to think that they have been glad of my company. I touch the stone set into the middle of the floor, the simple marker. As I leave the Church, a sharp, grey-eyed man in the robes of a highly ranked father watches me go. I curtsey to him, and he nods to me. It's a nod of understanding, of knowing. He knows what the stone means.

But my carriage awaits, and so I leave my questions unasked. It is important, but so is going Home.

--

A starts the Angels, the takers of our Sin.
N is for Never, they'll never give in.
G is for Generous, which you should be too.
E is for Everyone, the people like you.
L is for Life, the one they gave.
S is so easy, for it stands for Save.

--