Authors note: streets and buildings in L.A. (aside from 777 Tower, Griffith park and the hospital mentioned ) are all made up because I have never been to Los Angeles nor have I been able to stop Google maps from crashing on me every time I try to plot out a course. So please no sending me messages about how these locations and streets mentioned do not exist, truthfully I don't really give a damn. On a happier note I am back finally for the final chapter of I Will Not Bow where everything comes to a close. So get your popcorn (or chips) and settle in a nice comfy chair and get ready to read.
I Will Not Bow
Michael stood on a ledge overlooking the empty throne room. Just a mere hour before the room had been packed with Angels, each hoping to understand why the soulless minions of Samael was at their doorstep, why God no longer stood at his place of honor instead…there was a incarnation of sin, Greed, sitting atop the almighty's throne. Now it was empty, quiet, a desolate waste land where only shadows would see what he was about to do. Michael had not been, nor would he ever be, the son of God who gave him what he asked for; he would always be the rebellious one and for that reason…he was the only one to know how to reopen the gates.
"What we need," Percy had whispered once they were sure they were alone. "is a riot."
Michael looked from Percy to Bob and then back to Percy again, confusion written on his face. But it was Gabriel who spoke first, "A what?"
"A riot is a mass of people running around screaming causing chaos and discord. With that happening the others won't be able to stop you from going back to Earth to find Faith," Percy said. He was smiling as he explained his plan but Michael was still frowning. And Bob was shaking his head.
"Perc, for something like this to work we would need a large number of spirits or souls or whatever on our side. And we don't have that. I told you before that this plan wasn't going to work," Bob walked about the small space as he spoke. "'sides we only have a few more hours to get them down there."
"Why only a few hours?" Michael asked.
Percy sighed, "Because in a few hours Faith, Jeep, and Soterios will be in L.A. and Samael will try to take the throne from God."
Michael nodded, his face a grim line showing none of the emotional turmoil his mind was going through, "Then we have to get started."
The plan was in essence a very good plan, minus the riot, but having to actually do what was required for it to work…well he wasn't so sure about that. He really wasn't ready to lose friends again, and this time Gabriel's, Percy's and Bob's soul was on the line
Michael's job in this plan was to get the keys. Gabriel was working on the gate keepers and Bob and Percy were opening the portal. Percy's plan worked like this, Michael would enter the throne room and find a way to get to the keys, keys which opened the gates of heaven allowing souls to move in and out of heaven. Normally a small bit of the gate was opened allowing for Archangels and higher level beings to pass through, but seeing as heaven was in this state of lock down all passage between earth and heaven was restricted unless of course one had the master key.
But having the key was only a part of the challenge. To get through the gate a soul had to be judge by the gate keepers to get in. To get out you had to have correct pass port. Truthfully it was worse than Airport security prior to judgment day. But once again it was not the normal passage guards, now with Samael running the show, it was probably two of his sins guarding the path. That was where Bob and Percy came in. They had to open a portal to trap the sins in hell again to get through the gates. To open a portal though a soul needed to be sent to hell, or even purgatory if it was done wrong. And as Bob was the only one even close to that point he had to commit a sin that would put him over the edge. In other words he had to kill an innocent soul. Portal opened sins went in and the gate was opened, he and Gabriel would leave for L.A. and save the day. Simple right?
So here he was sitting on the ledge that over looked the focal point of Percy's plan. And it was at this very moment that his conscience decided to kick in. If he stole the key's and ran to Faith he would have to abandon his Father to Samael's plan of murder. But if he stayed and fought then he would lose Faith to the demons that had infested L.A. and the son of God as well.
It was without a second thought that he stepped off the ledge and dropped down into the center of the room. No alarms went off; no guards came rushing in to stop him, nothing. Carefully he stepped into the middle of the room and approached the throne. The key to the gates sat on the throne, waiting. It had to be a trap.
But he needed the key so he slowly made his way over. Nothing happened so far and he was an arm width away. It was now or never and it had to be now. Quickly he reached forward and grabbed the keys. He waited for something, but nothing happened. With a sigh of relief he walked out of the room through the main doors.
How had that been so easy? He wondered to himself and then he stopped. He was Michael; he normally had access to the key and was free to use it. This was the very reason it was his job to get it. He was really happy that no one else was there to see that. Gabriel would never have let him live that down.
Gabriel was having a little more of a problem then Michael was, but only a bit. It wasn't that Salvictor and his men were too strong of an opponent for him to handle, no quite the opposite in fact…they were to slow. Salvictor was the incarnation of sloth and in his previous life had caused the death of millions because he could not be motivated to pass a bill through congress, or something like that. And truthfully he posed as much of a threat as an incarnation as he had while he was alive. None at all.
Gabriel had originally planned to wait until Percy gave the signal to confront the guards but seeing as it was them…well he would be lucky to make it in time at this rate. Gabriel had walked right up to the gate and stopped in front of one of the guards before anyone had noticed him. And then it had taken a full minute (in which he had killed two of them) for any of them to react. He had turn to run, to lead them away but after several strides and no sign of his pursuers he stopped and turned around.
All of them were still at the gate gathering support to venture after him. He sighed and stood there waiting. Five minutes went by and they finally started after him. At a walk, a slow one at that. Three minutes later they had finally reached him and he stepped back. With each step they took he retreated. They were only twenty five paces from the original starting point. He had another four-hundred and twelve to Bob and Percy. Was this even worth it?
Bob sat back and waited. This was the one part of Percy's plan he didn't like. That because his survival all hinged on the two angels getting back here alive and clearing his name. And truthfully he really didn't trust Gabriel at all. And his delay was making it even worse.
"He should have been here by now," Percy said slowly pacing back and forth in front of Bob. He had been doing so for the last ten minutes because Gabriel was supposed to have arrived that long ago. "Do you think he's hurt?"
Bob laughed. Leave it to Percy to worry about an angel that had tried to end the human race and kill his friends. "No, Perc, I think he is a worthless piece of s…"
"Are we really reverting back to name calling?" Gabriel's voice echoed around the quiet area. He backed up slowly under the arch way and Bob stood up to confront him.
"Now listen here you. We're not the ones who are late. Mike is probably at the gates now wondering where the hell you are and…you're not listening at all, are you?" Bob said, his thunder stolen when he realized that Gabriel was still approaching slowly and with his back to him.
"Not really, no. Is the portal open?" Gabriel asked. He glanced over his shoulder to see that the answer was no but waited for Bob's confirmation of that to continue. "I would suggest you open it then. We only get one shot at this."
"What are you…?" It was at that moment that Bob finally got his first look at Salvictor's men. He laughed and got up. He picked the knife up off the table and walked over to Percy. "Do I really have to do this?"
"Yes, Bob, because it's the only way we are ever going to make sure that everyone down there gets out of this alive. He brought the knife to his chest and positioned it over his heart. "Now all you gotta do is push."
Bob nodded, tears streaming down his face, "I'm sorry Percy," he mumbled and tightened his grip on the knife. He pushed forward but lost his balance as he did so. The knife drove into Percy's heart stopping it, and dropping his soul into purgatory, and he fell backwards under the weight of Bob. Bob landed on Percy, his body weight driving the knife deeper and Bob lost the battle and started sobbing. A bright light encased the two of them and a wind started up. Gabriel jumped away but the Sloths were not so lucky. They were sucked in and with a flash the portal closed.
Gabriel looked one last time at the location the two friends had landed in and then ran off to meet Michael. He had more important things to do then worry about their souls and what would become of them. His sister was in trouble and that was all that mattered to him.
The gates were open when he arrived and Michael was waiting for him. "Are you ready?" he asked looking to his brother to see if he was alright. Michael had, had a stronger bond with the two then he let on and had felt the pain far more then Gabriel. He needed to be sure he was okay to proceed into a battle zone. Michael nodded and the two of them stepped through the gates.
A light surrounded the two of them and when it dissipated they found themselves standing in the middle of a destroyed city block. It was quiet, far too quiet for them to be in L.A. something had gone wrong. Gabriel reached for his mace as Michael pulled the sword from his back. Both of their attention was focused on a building not far up the road, toppled over by a counter war many years ago. Something was moving towards them, something very much alive.
I will not break
They traveled for two days before reaching the outskirts of the city. Whatever Los Angles looked like prior to the end of the world, whatever it had aspired to be, none of it mattered because now it was a mass of crumbling buildings and broken dreams. The five of them stood on a small hill looking down over the city. At one point it had been Griffith Park.
"Alright so where exactly are we going?" Jeep asked. They were under shelter of the Observatory and were studying one of the maps that Alchenam had brought along with him. Faith looked at the skyline as the sun began to set. The sun behind the buildings cast a light that looked like the glow that Samael had projected around every building. But one stood out. The glow pulsed.
"That one," she pointed to one of the buildings near the center it was small and crumbled over, what had probably been a building at a decent height was now ruins, ruins that could still be used as a ladder of sorts to get them to where they really needed to go.
"That, that is just a law firm. There's nothing in there of great importance. Why do we need to go there?" One of Alchenam's men, his name was Calcifur, asked as he looked up from the map.
"It's not that building specifically that we need, the one we need it the one that it's leaning against. But we can't just walk into that one because whatever bomb blew that building over took out the lower floors. But as luck would have it, that building braced itself up against it at the level that we can get through." Faith explained. She never took her eyes off the sky line and watched as it grew increasingly darker.
"And how exactly do we get to the top of said building to get to the level might I ask?" The other man, Mitchell, asked.
"Simple we go through it, climb in through the front doors and make our way up either stairs or, if they're positioned right, we can climb up the elevator shafts using the original pulley systems as guide lines." Faith explained. She crouched down near the two men who were studying the map. They had brought out a small lamp to see by that didn't cast enough light to be seen. Faith slowly traced a path through marked roads and alley ways. She was going by memory of how she got there in the dream, but the problem was this map only showed roads not buildings or any other obstacles. "We should go this way first," She said tracing her finger alone the map. "Change to this street, then here, next come this way, hide out here if we get over run, stay off this road to avoid cutting to close to the hospital and then finally come in to the building this way."
"That takes us right by the Good Samaritan Hospital; we can't go in that way." Calcifur said.
"But we have to, there's a building down over here," she pointed to a street right next to the building. "We have to go around it, or through it personally I'll go with the around."
"Why are we worried about Hospitals?" Jeep asked. He had been on the other side of the room with Soterios. He had been trying to get the boy to fall asleep, but like everyone else in the room he was worried. "It's not like they're zombies, they don't congregate around a location that might have had a lot of people in them. Do they?"
"No they don't, but there are more of them in that location, or at least more likely to be. The sick, occasionally mentally ill patents you find in locations like that are not something you want to deal with as a possessed. To make matters worse a city like this, so close to the gates of heaven and hell, becomes a breeding ground for scum to collect. It's been thirteen years now and these things have had a chance to evolve or convert animals," Alchenam said. It was now dark where they were and the last of the light was fading behind the city. "See those things are what we have to worry about."
From one of the smaller buildings a swarm of birds flew up into the air. From this distance they looked to be the size of crows. They were in reality the size of a small child, and able to carry one off if it was needed.
"What the hell are those?" Jeep asked. His voice shock with fear and it had every right to. The creatures were terrifying and menacing.
"Hell birds, average wing span is six feet, height is about four feet. They can carry off a small child on their own or two of them can grab a medium sized human. They have three eyes, and are better hunters then eagles, only they hunt at night. They can't see during the day at all, so they sleep then. Truthfully they are the reason we are staying here tonight." Faith said. She sighed deeply and stood up. "I would advise you get some sleep, we leave at dawn. It should only take two hours to reach the tower but I don't want to get stuck in any tight situation and have no time."
They each took watch to make sure none of the possessed snuck up on them. But no one got any sleep that night and the dawn seemed to take forever to come. Faith was the last one on watch; she sat outside on the balcony overlooking the city. The semi-automatic machine gun that rested in her lap felt like an awkward weight as she watched all of the horrors make their way back into the buildings, back into the darkness to hide. Her heart felt heavy as she watched a flock of Hell birds fly into one of the buildings close to the tower.
Calcifur was the first one of the group up. He walked out onto the balcony and sat next to her, but something seemed wrong. "What aren't you telling us?"
Faith looked up and then out into the city before she answered, "None of us are going to make it through this alive."
"Not even the boy?"
"No, not unless there is a miracle. We will all die on the way, there's too many of them."
"We've handled odds worse than this with these things. What makes you think that we can't handle then now?"
"The mutations, some of them have been here so long that it's changed them, it's not as simple as it was before. I've only seen a mutant once, thirteen years ago, it was in the first stages of the change and had no idea of what it was capable of. It went down easy only for that reason. These ones in the city they know what they can do and they have a very strong grasp of what they are capable of." Faith said she sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She curled her knees up to her chest and buried her face in her hands.
"You mean the ice cream man don't you?" Jeep asked. He had been listening to the conversation on the other side of the sliding door. It was beginning to worry about what she was saying. "He wasn't that bad, creepy but he couldn't really have been that bad could he?"
"Did you watch the first Resident Evil movie with Soterios a few years back?" Faith asked. Jeep nodded, of course he had Charlie refused to and someone had to watch it with him. "Do you remember the bunny thing? Every time it bit someone the DNA changed I believe the terminology used was 'making it a stronger, faster hunter."
"Yeah but what does…you don't mean that every time that one of those things kills someone it mutates and gets better at killing do you?"
"Sadly, Jeep, that is exactly what I mean," Faith stood up and brushed her pants off. "Get the others up, we have to get moving."
The first hour ran smoothly; no distractions, no confrontation. But after that first hour, well everything went south. They were on West Street walled in by buildings, it had once been one of the main business sections of the city, and they had to follow it for two more blocks. Problem was half way down the road one of the buildings was down blocking the whole of the road. In most cases it would be a straight through; it would be if there were unblocked windows on both sides of the building. You break one, maneuver around the crap in the center and break another.
The only problem was the building only had windows on the front and back of the building (since it had been walled in by to larger brick buildings not many people wanted the view from the office/cubical row to be a brick wall so the original planning made since) and neither of those two sides were facing the group.
But it seemed like luck was still running on their side because in the center of the road (or where it used to be) was a hole where the mortar on the bricks had given way and an opening had formed. Calcifur and Mitchel had produced military issue glow sticks from one of the smaller duffel bags they had brought with them, and threw them into the opening.
The glow sticks slid several feet once they hit the ground on the other side. From the light of the glow sticks they could make out a plaster caste wall that was somehow still standing.
"It must have been a hallway; there are probably cubicles on the other side of that wall, or at least they were," Mitchel explained. Faith trusted his judgment; he had been an army officer prior to his "commission" to the prophet's body guards. He still acted like a solider and still could think like one. If anyone could navigate them through the building it would be him. "Shall we venture in?"
Alchenam looked to Jeep, and Jeep looked to Faith who nodded her approval before motioning for him to go first. Mitchel smiled and reached into the bag. He pulled out a hand full of the sticks and cracked them. He then pulled several strands of string from the bag as well and tied one around each person's waist.
"Only look down at them if you desperately need to see where you're going, elsewise look at the ground several paces in front of you and don't look directly into the glow stick, it will kill your night vision and without it you're blind. I'll throw a glow stick down every couple of feet follow them and the person in front of you. And stay behind me," With that Mitchel stepped into the building followed by Jeep, then Soterios, Faith and Alchenam with Calcifur in the rear.
They traveled through a series of lefts and rights until Faith was sure she would never be able to retrace the path, had it not been for the glow sticks. As they ventured further and further in to the depths of the building Faith was reminded of a story from Greek mythology, about a boy in a maze. She couldn't remember all of it, something to do with glowing string to find his way back out and a creature waiting for him as well. As they turned the corner Mitchel stopped and sighed. They were faced with three paths again. The hall ended in three doors, all turned sideways. Normally the answer to the riddle was gained because the other two doors were either stuck shut from all of the stuff behind it or they were locked.
This time two of the doors opened. The first one led to a staircase, the only way to get through was to crawl under the railing. The ceiling had caved and everything had fallen. Mitchel backed up and turned to the group, "We're not going that way unless the other doors don't open." He tried the other door and it moved half an inch before striking something metal. The group let out a collective sigh of disappointment. He pulled the other door and it swung in towards them.
The room beyond was dark, but open. Mitchel scattered a total of twelve glow sticks around the room. Something seemed wrong, very wrong. As they entered the room Faith was struck again by the comparison of this to the maze. Something was in here, something big, "Guys we should get…" But before she could finish something creaked across the room.
All of them stopped. Jeep reached for Soterios' hand and pulled him close. Calcifur, Mitchel, Alchenam and Faith all circled around them. The room was to open, it might have one point been a main lobby, high ceilings, ledges, ramps, stairs all of it was covered in shadow. All around them the shadows seemed to move, they were seeing things everywhere and this was exactly what Faith was trying to avoid.
Mitchel cracked one of the glow sticks and threw it up onto the upper level. When it came to a stop Faith's heart stopped. Sitting on the ledge was a large animal, or at least it could have been, she really didn't have a chance to look at it because seconds after the light hit it, it roared. The cry filled the room and drowned out Soterios' whimper of fear and Alchenam's cry to run. From the whole front half of the room poured swarms of possessed. Faith grabbed Soterios and ran for the door they had just come through.
She knew by instinct that the others were following her. Ducking under the door she quickly pulled the other door open and shoved Soterios inside. "Go start moving!" Faith yelled. She turned and began to fire on the possessed that had slipped out in front of the others. In the chaos Jeep and Alchenam slipped through but the creature slammed into the door and it began to cave in. "Move, move, move!"
She could hear the screams of Mitchel and Calcifur as the creature ripped them to pieces. Shortly thereafter it let out a scream as it changed shape. Faith looked behind her; the others had climbed in and were ready to cover her from the other side as best as possible. The door was ripped off the hinges and she was unable to get a good look at it before she shot it and dove for the door.
She landed on her back and began to crawl backwards firing all the while, only this time she was aiming at the supports for the wall. It caved seconds before the mutant could reach it. Slowly she got to her feet and looked at the other two. "We have to keep moving. The door will only hold them for a few minutes maybe a half-an-hour.
They had been so close. If Mitchel had actually followed his initial instinct to go through this door they would have all gotten out okay. After the climb around the stairs it was a matter of following a short hallway to an emergency exit door, and if that didn't open a window above it that showed a clear path.
"What the hell was that thing?" Jeep yelled once they had secured the door to the stairs. He held Soterios in his arms, the boy was in shock. Alchenam was leaning up against the wall shaking his head and talking in a language not of this world. Faith sat on the floor, knees curled up to her chest and head hanging. She hadn't know the two men for very long but she felt there loss none the less.
She looked up at Jeep and sighed, "A stronger, faster hunter. Exactly what I was talking about this morning,"
"That thing was huge, no way in hell did that start off as a human, no way! It, it had to be a…a demon or something. That can't have been one of us," Jeep said. His voice was losing power as he spoke. Faith could tell by the way he was looking around the room (everywhere but at her) that he realized that what she had said this morning was true. And this had only been one of three buildings.
Faith stood up and walked over to him. She placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a small reassuring smile, one he hadn't seen since Paradise Falls, telling him that everything was going to be okay. He went to speak when something moved outside, and by the looks of it through the window, multiple something's.
I Will Shut the World Away
Michael moved to the building first. His steps made louder by the crunch of broken glass of the splintering of wood under his feet. But he was not the one to attack first. He stopped a few feet short of the door and let Gabriel advance before him, as a mace is far more useful in the art of beating down doors then a sword. Gabriel let out a battle cry as he swung the mace to bring it crashing down, in an attempt to splinter the wood. Shouts could be heard from the other side but neither of the brothers paid any attention to what they were saying, possessed mumbled and groaned out what sounded like words to throw their attackers off some times. But when Gabriel's mace came down the thing he saw on the other side of the door was not at all what he was expecting.
Jeep walked slowly to the door, in the window he could see the things outside getting closer, and they were moving pretty fast too. "Get behind me," he whispered advancing towards the door slowly and cautiously, while pulling a smaller hand gun from the holster on his belt. Something seemed off to Faith as he moved closer to the door. She couldn't explain it but it just did. Jeep was reaching for the door knob when she heard a battle cry. And she knew who it was on the other side of the door.
"No, Jeep," She yelled as she ran forward. She pulled him away from the door just before it was broken to pieces. Before them stood Michael and Gabriel, well he was crouching more than standing at this point but…, and they looked just a puzzled to see the four of them as they were to see the two of them. Thankfully Jeep was able to break the awkward silence for them.
"What is it with you and smashing things first, asking questions later?" He was nearly screaming as he detangled himself from Faith's grasp and got to his feet. Gabriel shrugged and smiled, Jeep was pissed but in spite of it all he wrapped his arms around the angel and hugged him. "What the hell took you two so long?"
It broke the ice in a heartbeat. The other three had climbed out and began to rejoice at the apparent godsend, literally, that it was for the two to have shown up when they did. Michael had grabbed hold of Faith when he had a chance and didn't want to let go. He had been unable to see her for long extended periods of time during the past thirteen years and now he was trying to make up for lost time. After the extended hug he left one arm wrapped around her shoulder as the others talked. It was the only reason he felt, or even noticed, the shudder that raced through her.
"Faith, what's wrong?" he asked looking down at her. She was looking quickly between a watch and the sky. Something was wrong.
"We can't have lost that much time in that place, no it's only been two hours, but this shouldn't be happening something is wrong, what's going on?" she muttered to herself. Michael looked up at the sky as well. His eyes grew wide as he realized just how dark it was getting. The sunlight was fading fast. A storm was blowing in and it was as dark as night. "We have to find shelter away from this place."
They were hidden away in an old brick shop, probably a small mom and pop store, by the time the sky had opened up. There was a large front window that the glass had been knocked out of; the rest of the shop was blocked from its view by the counter that the cash register once was on. Behind the counter Jeep, Alchenam, Soterios and Gabriel sat round a small fire. It was to keep Hell Birds away and it also kept the old place warm and cozy.
Out front, sitting on either side of the window was Michael ad Faith. Faith had been the one to suggest that she keep watch, and Michael had insisted on sitting with her. Both sat, looking out the window in a comfortable silence. But Faith soon caught herself glancing over at Michael and then looking back out the window. Her mind was not at all where it should have been. And one thought kept bugging her. One question she really needed to ask him. She looked over to the counter where she could hear the faint conversation of her brother telling Soterios one of his old war stories.
Content that they wouldn't hear her she asked, "Michael?" she got a small grunt in response. She paused and waited for him to look at her, which he did thoughtfully when he realized she was not asking him anything. "Why did you never say anything before that night at the diner? You obviously knew who I was, probably did the second I singled myself out after you go out of the car. Why did you wait?"
"I wasn't sure, you were so different, and three years on earth will do that to anyone,"
"So you waited for me to talk, to say something," Faith shook her head and snorted, she exhaled sharply and then chuckled under her breath, only seconds later she covered her mouth with her hand and sobbed quietly. "We're not making it out of here you know that right? All you and Gabriel are doing is adding to the body count."
"Faith what do you mean, you have me and Gabriel and Alch…"
"Alchenam broke his contract with the prophets the second he walked out of that camp and the prophets left earth. Right now he's as good to us as a mortal. Jeep is just that, a mortal, he may be devoted to protect the child that he raised as a son but in the end he can still be killed. Soterios, though he may be the son of god or the next god or the present one is just a thirteen year old boy. He has no idea how to use any of his powers and has never fired a weapon outside of a virtual one."
"Yes but you can protect him, you're a guardian angel you…what?"
"I was taken away from him. Uriel is plotting to get rid of me and the rest of the human race. I have no power to protect him."
"You're still an angel, which makes three of us."
"I'm not though. I can't even summon my wings because I was an idiot and jumped from heaven with my brother without taking necessary precautions. The short and long of it is Michael that I am technically mortal as well, the only thing saving me right now is Raphael, and should father convince him otherwise or he is killed, I'm dead. So in reality it's just you and Gabriel keeping us alive, and by the looks of things…I hate to say it but that's not going to be enough."
Michael watched her as she studied the area. The rain was stopping, the sky clearing, but the place seemed changed. There was a vibe in the air that was not there before. It spoke of malice and death, to anyone who ventured to close. Michael knew what it as, he had felt it once before. It had been seconds before Samael had called his soldiers to arms against their father. Seconds before he had raised his hand, the signal for his men, Michael could taste the betrayal in the air.
This was not the same flavor. The call was not for the same reason; he knew this, because Faith had told him the reason. She knew, and had known, that this day was coming, and if she knew then He knew. But He had done nothing to stop them, why was there no enemy descending upon them as they sat here. It was unlike anything he had ever felt and yet very similar to every other time. Faith was okay with what was going to happen, Death was inescapable to a mortal, but angels did not die. So what did she know that he did not? Where was the attack she knew was coming? When would they strike and take her away? He didn't have the answer and if he had been listening closer to her words he would realize that she didn't either. It was all a part of one large game of waiting and there was no way for him to win.
They moved when the rain stopped. The path to the tower was empty. Michael was nowhere near at ease. It was the calm before the storm, and he was not prepared at all. Everything seemed dead. The trek into the building was fine, Faith's plan for stairs and elevators worked brilliantly. There was just one problem that none of them had considered. How to get over to the other building? Truthfully it had been an excepted fact that if a building was leaning against another they touched at some point. Problem was the floor where they met had given way over the course of thirteen years.
"So we jump," Jeep said looking out over the side, his shirt was being whipped around by the wind at this height and he slowly edged back. They had thrown a handful of rocks and lose stone at the window across the way, which was broken open so the crossing was all that was left. Michael and Gabriel still had wings, they could fly over but it was not safe to make that many short trips, too much attention would be drawn. Soterios would never be able to make the jump though. So it was decided that Gabriel would fly over with the boy. When they landed Jeep would jump across, and if need be Gabriel could catch him, at this Jeep was not thrilled. Alchenam would jump and then Faith. Michael would stay until last. This was in case of a worst case scenario in which the possessed were to arrive, the side with no angel might become overrun and then they would be out that many people, not good.
So Gabriel picked Soterios up and flew across. They landed with no problem at all. Once Gabriel had set Soterios down he motioned for Jeep to jump. Jeep jumped across but seconds after he landed something flew across the gap. Hell Birds, a small flock passed by. And they defiantly had seen them. Before his jump, Alchenam poked his head out and looked for the birds. When he didn't see them he readied to leap across. Mid-flight they came back again. The birds didn't even hesitate; they shot right at him and as a collective group grabbed him and carried him off.
Faith was not sure if he had called out for help at all because all she could hear was Soterios screaming. He was clinging to Gabriel's leg, begging her to not jump, he could tell that they would be back and they would be coming for her next. Faith assured him that she wasn't going to jump, that Michael would fly her over, to this Michael firmly agreed. But something seemed off in her words and again Michael tasted the betrayal. He lunged for Faith's arm seconds to late. She took off at a dead run for the gap. Soterios was yelling for her to stop. Pleading, begging, crying, but none of it seemed to matter; none of it slowed her down. She jumped, she was clear; there was no sound of the birds, there wouldn't be because they hadn't finished fighting over the remains of Alchenam. But something collided with her side, something moving ungodly fast.
That something had black wings.
That something was as tall as Gabriel.
That something was as dark as a starless night.
That something had white tattoos covering its face.
That something carried a Scythe with them.
That something was really a someone named Azreal, the archangel of death.
Michael reacted faster than he had ever thought possible and had leapt from the opening and had begun the chase before his mind had even registered that it was his brother carrying Faith and not a Hell Bird. Azreal was attempting to lose him in the maze of buildings but Michael would not be shaken. He was not going to lose her. Upwards they climbed; Michael was gaining on them but his window was closing fast. He was in arms reach of Faith's extended hand, just one more beat of his wings and he could grab her. But something stopped him. He had slammed into a barrier.
"No!" he yelled slamming his fist against the wall that stood in his way. He watched as the two vanished from view in a binding light, helpless to save her. It was now just the four of them. She as gone and Michael had finally lost faith.
I Will Not Fall
Faith screamed as Azreal flew ever closer to Heaven. She beat against his back, pulled at his feathers, cursed him with every known name, in ever known language, and some not so known, under the sun. None of this affected the angel in the least. She fought with him as they flew through the halls of Heaven and was still shouting curses as he threw her to the ground in God's throne room. It was only then that she was silenced.
She looked up in shock at her father sitting upon his throne. Uriel on his left, Raphael in Michael's position on his right. Azreal stood above her ready to carry out the Lord's sentencing the second he commanded it. This was how it would all end. This was how she died.
"Faith, welcome home," God said. His words seemed to carry around the room on inhuman level. He leaned forward slightly and studied her. Seemingly satisfied with what he saw, he relaxed again. He knew that she knew she was beaten. The question was how long would she drag this out for?
"You are being condemned to death, or life in purgatory, however you with to survey it, because of your attempted upheaval of my reign as God. You and your brothers, Michael and Gabriel, have deliberately set out to replace me with this Soterios, in hope that you could extend the suffering of the human race, a subject I have already taken up with Michael, and my stance on the matter is final. Regardless you have not only gone against my wishes but you have plotted with Samael to take over until the boy is of age."
"Silence!" the room shock with the force of his voice. You dare to lie to me, I know every last inch of your heart and know your mind better than even you do. But if you still require a test to prove my power, well then so be it." As he spoke Faith collapsed to the ground in pain, it felt as if nails were being driven into her skull.
"Look," God ordered and she did so. In the center of the room stood a life sized image of her, she could barely make out the background as another wave of pain raced through her mind. He was pulling the memories of her dream from her very head and projecting them from the whole room to see. A gasp rose from Raphael as Samael appeared.
God cut the image and Faith gasped for breath. She brought her hands up to her head and cradled it, until Azreal reached down and dragged her back to her knees at his feet.
"Now," God said dismissively, as he cast away the image in the middle of the room. "The threat of Samael has been dealt with and he and his sins have been sent back to Hell where they belong only you remain. But now you shall be taken care of and Michael and Gabriel will be left to rot on Earth as was there choosing." As he spoke Azreal removed his scythe from his back and backed up to bring it round her neck. He would behead her in one swing and she had been content to let him, until her brother and lover had been brought into this.
"No," she whispered under her breath. "They will not!"
She felt more then heard Azreal draw back to swing and just before he brought the scythe forward, she stood. Instead of catching her in the throat the scythe gashed her side, but she danced away running on adrenaline as she turned to face Azreal. The angel smiled and twirled his scythe. Very rarely did a victim put up a fight against him, and he so loved a challenge. Faith pulled one of the celestial knives from her belt and got into a fighting stance. Azreal made the first move and charged.
I Will Not Fade
When Michael landed inside the building he found himself in a small war zone. It seemed that everything was waiting on Faith to be taken from Earth before happening. Gabriel and Jeep had already been carving a path through, still attempting to get to the upper floors. But they were fighting a losing battle. Every possessed they cut down another three or four stepped into their place. Jeep was running out of bullets fast, and he didn't have another gun. Michael fought to his side in a short amount of time. But even with him there, there seemed to be nothing they could do.
The door was right there. They were so close. Once in the stair case they could run for the roof and were home free. Gabriel had grabbed the door knob and had pushed Soterios inside before fallowing him as protection. But as with every other fleeting second of hope that day, someone was about to die. From the far side of the room a mutant advanced. This one seemed to have the uncanny ability to extend its arms to reach for prey and drag them across the room, as it had been doing the entirety of the fight. Lucky for them it kept grabbing one of the possessed. But no the horde had moved, allowing for it to have a clean shot.
Michael saw this and grabbed Jeeps arm, and threw him into the stair way. He followed shortly after, but the creature had gotten a grip on his leg and began to drag him back. Michael turned as he fell, landing on his back and grabbing the gun he had tied around his waist he fired. He knew he was as good as dead, but he was going to try to take this ugly son of a bitch down with him. He felt his sword get ripped out of his hand as he was pulled along, that didn't matter though, and all that did was his shooting.
Something shot passed him on the right hand side and it took a few seconds for him to realize that it was the other hand; he stopped firing and looked behind him as best he could. The creature had caught another target in his grasp. Jeep.
Michael struggled to release himself and when that didn't work her focused on shooting the creature, this time he was actually aiming. An anguished cry from in front of him told him he'd hit the target, and if that hadn't the slackened grip would have. He got up and ran firing leftover rounds at possessed in his way. Jeep hadn't been so luck and before Michael could even reach him, he had been dragged off by another mutant. Michael began to fight his way to him, punching and kicking at this point, before someone grabbed him from behind.
His arms locked to his side, Michael tried to break away, but two words spoken to him in the heavenly tongue caused him to stop. "It's enough," Gabriel whispered as he pulled his brother into the stair well. When the door was shut Gabriel let him go, and he collapsed to the ground. Through his tears he could see Soterios pounding on the door screaming for Jeep. But something was wrong. His once white t-shirt was covered in specks of blood, but that wasn't the problem it was actually to be expected considering what he had just been through, it was the fact that one spot in particular was growing every time he move.
With each passing second the boys pounds grew weaker and his voice grew softer, but it was not because of exhaustion or anguish. It was because he was dying.
I Will Take Your Breath Away
Faith spun, dodging Azreal's blow and successfully landing one of her own. He stumbled back several steps, a large gash running across his stomach. Faith stood back up and faced him. His face was covered in a shocked expression, she was calm.
He lifted his scythe to strike again. Instead he fell to the ground dead. The room filled with silence. Faith was visibly shaking she was crying so hard. She looked up at God, hoping against hope that he would call of the rest of his sons, her brothers, but he was unaffected. A war cry filled the room that would have sent chills running down the back of any mortal.
Uriel, who had been sitting on Gods left, had taken to the air, his bow drawn, ready to cut down the traitor. Faith dove and rolled once she hit the ground just as the spot she had been prior had burst into flames. She had enough time to look up at Uriel to see that he was firing another shot before he did so.
She dodged again only this time when she came to a stop she grabbed the celestial knife off of her belt and spun. When she was facing Uriel she threw it blindly up at him. She heard the twinge of the bow as another arrow was sent her way, and she feared that she had missed completely. But as she maneuvered out of the way she heard the distinct sound of a body falling accompany the crackle of the flames. Tears were streaming down her face as she noted a second brother killed by her hand.
A shadow fell over her and she looked up. Raphael stood looking down on her, not carrying a spear or a weapon of any sort. She knew he would be the hardest for her to kill. He extended a hand to help her to her feet; he was smiling as he did so. Faith took it and pulled herself up. But when she finally stood at eye level with him, or as close as she could get, Raphael let out a gasp of pain. His form slumped onto her left shoulder and she shrugged him off trying to let her sorrow stop her from continuing. He hit the ground, her second celestial knife buried to the hilt in his heart.
Faith looked up to God. He was not shocked or appalled or devastated by the loss of three of his five sons. He stood and began to walk towards Faith, she did the same. But she stopped. "I should have known you would be the only one out of all of them to survive, you always were so much like your brother, determined and head strong," God said stepping closer. Faith's breath was still coming in ragged pants and something was slowly making its way down her nose and to her lips. She reached fingers up and felt it, when she pulled them back they were red. She was bleeding. "Did you really think you would survive this? Faith you know as well as I that no mortal can stand in Heaven, breath its air, feel its freedom, taste its power without being killed by it."
Faith knew that by this point not only was her nose bleeding but her ears and eyes were, as if she was crying blood, as well. The wound on her side from Azreal was gushing blood again. God extended his arms to her, almost as if welcoming her back. She advanced forward and collapsed to the ground, coughing up blood several times before being able to breathe again. He stood over her, but she did not look up. The pain was too great and the world was spinning, she didn't have much time left.
"The only thing that was saving you before was Raphael, and now he's dead. So you're just another foolish mortal about to be poisoned to death by heaven. Pity isn't it? That something so sought after and beautiful kills so easily," He said calmly, his voice filling the room. "So you will die and your soul will go to Hell. But after what you've done it's only what you deserve."
"Do you think it's over yet?" Gabriel asked. His back was to the door and it was the only thing stopping the possessed from entering the room. They had been so close; they were only three floors down.
Michael looked up from the boy cradled in his lap, "I hope so." He had whispered it, as if Soterios could still hear him. "He's not going to last much longer." As if called Soterios blinked back the darkness he had fallen into. He was cold and scared, they were all gone, all but Michael and Gabriel, and he knew he was going to be leaving them soon to.
"Is what over?" he asked, his voice was quiet and weak from the strain his body was under to even utter those words.
"The end of God," Michael replied. He saw the question in the boy's eyes and continued. "If all faith in God is destroyed, and if the embodiment of that faith is gone, if no one believes in him he will fade into nothingness."
"He will do it himself, he already is," Michael replied his eyes were shinning with tears as he spoke. "If Faith, your guardian angel dies…"
"…then you will die with me,"
God looked down on Faith and finally understood. All that Michael had been trying to tell him for years, everything all made since. His time was over. As was hers. Faith smiled and took one last breath, her eyes widened as her heart seized up. She could taste the poison and she closed her eyes, she wasn't going to fight it anymore, and she let go. She fell backwards, dead long before she hit the floor. And Heaven faded into nothingness.
It was at that exact second that Soterios took his last breath as a mortal on earth.
AN: This was really never supposed to have a happy ending so. But I felt bad after looking at that end for a while and decided that the story might just need a little bit more to go along with it. Something that didn't make Michael's sacrifices for mankind useless and gave just a little bit more closure. The above text truly is the end of I Will Not Bow, a ungodly long songfic that shows that one's Faith in something is the only thing keeping them from crossing the wrong line, or something like that, truthfully I thought the song went pretty well with Michael the rebellious son and his not really caring what happened to him. Anyway below is a look at what could (not necessarily what did or does) take place after the fic is over. A far happier note then the one we just ended on and one that kept me from crying as I wrote this.
One Year Later:
The loud and continuous sound of a large rubber ball hitting pavement broke the silence on the hill. It was shortly followed by the shouts of "pass it here" or "I'm open, I'm open" from the children down on the court. Ten months, it really had been that long since the last of the possessed had faded away and civilization had gone back to normal for the most part.
"Five months' worth of study and I still have no idea how to play this game," Gabriel's voice joined the sounds filling the air. Michael lay curled up in a ball by Gabriel's side, under a large apple tree. It over looked the basketball court and also provided shade. Michael opened his eyes, realizing that taking a nap now was never going to happen. He sighed and sat up.
Slowly he ran his figures through his now shoulder length blond hair and watched the kids play before beginning to explain, "One kid starts out with the ball, bounces it all the way down to the opposing teams basket without stopping if he does then he has to pass. If not then he can take a shot. You make a basket you get a point and the ball goes to the other team, if not then the other team has a chance to recover and score on the other sides basket. It continues until one of the teams reaches the preapproved score first."
"You know Michael you have a very bad tendency to simplify too much," a voice said from behind them. Michael jumped and turned around to see a figure leaning against the tree trunk. They had long black hair that reached to mid back if it was allowed to flow free, were wearing a long sleeved black shirt and pants, it also looked like they wore light battle armor. To top it off the figure, who they could now tell was a woman, looked up and had the brightest pair of blue eyes that either man had ever seen. But none of this was the most intriguing quality of the woman. No that had to be the pair of jet-black wings sprouting from her back and hovering around her figure as if for protection.
"Faith," both brothers whispered, neither of them wished to be the one to break the calm and find that it was not the person, or angel, they thought it to be. The girl smiled and sat down between the two. With no further warning she hooked her arms around their necks and pulled them into one armed hugs, as she did this her wings wrapped around them to complete the circuit.
"How are you still…?" Gabriel started but stopped, again afraid of the answer.
"Soterios, he made me the general of his armies," Faith answered very matter of factly. She puffed up her chest as if the title gave her a new level of importance. She looked at the two's expression and laughed. "He had to pick five new archangels, and you two bone-heads seemed to be ignoring him so he picked the only other five people between heaven and hell, and purgatory in one case, to fill the spots. To put it into perspective; I'm Michael, Jeep is Gabriel, Bob is Azreal, Percy is Raphael, and Charlie is Uriel. General, Guardian, Judge, Healer, and Fighter."
"So he made it, everything worked out in the end?" Michael asked. He was about to begin to laugh triumphantly when he realized one key piece. "Why are you here then?"
"I'm here for you two. Soterios said something about making two new archangel positions to get the two of you back with the rest of the family." Faith said leaning back and lying in the grass. Her wings fell limp on their shoulders, felling like a soft blanket. "So…what do you say?"
"Is that supposed to be a trick question?" Gabriel asked, he was smirking at the thought of being back home, or at least something close to home, he really couldn't understand mortals at all.
"Then let's get going," Faith said. She leapt to her feet and began pulling the other two along with her. Once they were out from under the trees branches she kicked off and propelled herself into the air, with no warning sent to the others, who were clinging to her for dear life, and began to fly up. Only to be incased in light seconds later.