"I don't get it.", Tara stated. She and Kim walked into the remnants of Kim's house. "I mean, I'm glad to be here. I'm happy to see you up and about considering...well, you know. But I had heard you weren't talking to anyone. Why me? And why just me and not the whole squad. You know they'd be happy to help you."
Kim led her to the living room of the house. "Can you not panic? I need to tell you something, and it's going to sound crazy. But just hear me out."
Tara glared at her. "Is this a 'one of your missions' thing? Or is it a you actually snapped thing? Because I can be here for you either way."
"Maybe I could help explain.", the spawn stated simply.
Tara whipped herself around to stare aghast at the figure solidifying out of the shaded room. "Kim, did you have that boy genius of yours build you a love doll of Ron? Because that's really creepy."
Ron's eyes dripped a tear of poisonous, emerald fire. "You have no idea how creepy this is."
Kim touched Tara on she shoulder. The blonde jumped as if physically thrown. "Sorry! Sorry.
"Look. I know I don't have a real right to ask you. But it was the deal I was told.
"First, let me explain. As far as we know: Ron was ruled the greatest murderer in the world by the powers that be for saving the Earth from the Lowardians. Something killed him, we still don't know what. Hell offered him a deal, become a hell's spawn in exchange for seeing me again. It should be obvious that he took it. Heaven hasn't taken kindly to that and now they want to kill Ron. I'm selling my soul to Heaven to keep them from trying to destroy Ron and damning him to hell.
"The angel I spoke to said that she wanted to see you as part of the deal. I wanted to be up front with you about that, and that's why I brought you over."
Ron guided a stunned Tara to Kim's couch. "I want you to know, I don't approve of any of this. I don't like the idea of anyone having KP's soul but KP. I certainly don't like the idea of involving other people in a problem this big. But from what I've been told by...'one of those mission things'...a hell's spawn is a pretty big deal. I can't tell you what the consequences are of getting involved just as much as I can't of not getting involved."
"Oh, God.", Tara exclaimed. "It is you."
The girl reached out to touch him. The phantasm leaned away. "This is a disguise, Tara. My true form is no longer the boy you remember."
"Don't be. It's not your fault. I can't remember anything that's ever been your fault."
"Is that why this Angel wants to talk to me?"
Kim spoke up. "We don't know. Ron doesn't really remember much. His soul technically belongs to hell right now. That seems to include his memories as well as his dreams. It may include his will, hopes and who knows what else."
Tara smiled sadly. "Well, it can't include his love." She looked up at Ron. "I can't think of anything that could take his love of you away.
"I remember when Ron saved us all at Camp Wannaweep. I knew then that he was going to be a hero. I think I knew back then that I would never be a part of it, either. But if I can talk to this angel to help...well, at least I finally get the chance."
Kim threw her arms around her. "Oh, thank you so much Tara."
"I still don't like it.", Ron said ominously. "I bet if you ran this by Yori or Will, they wouldn't either."
"Ron, we're dealing with the good guys here.", Kim told him. "And after who you dealt with, I think you'd like the opportunity to deal with the good guys."
"That's just it.", the monster replied. "What kind of heaven bargains?"
Then Kim's doorbell rang. Kim furrowed her brow and answered it.
The room lit up as the angel brought her halo floating as gently as she did into the room. At the sight of Tara, she sheathed her flaming sword.
Tara ran her eyes up and down the angel. Then she thought of something and blushed.
"I am sorry.", the angel stated. "We have not eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and therefore know no shame."
The angel's barely there armor slid out plates that began to cover her more and more until she was as modest as a cheer leading uniform.
"Ms. Angels?", Tara asked.
"I had thought I asked you to call me 'Angela'.", the red haired angel stated.
"You know each other?", Kim asked.
"My cover in order to uncover the demon's slave was Tara's friend's English teacher.", Angela answered. "But explanations of the past is not why I am here.
"I will now lay out the terms that the heavenly host is offering. Adhering exactly to these terms is the only option for our entertaining this bargain. Am I clear?"
The hell's spawn stood. "Ron!", Kim warned. "Go on, Angela."
"First, we get Tara, right now. She is actually sinless...so far. But that very nature allows evil to easily take advantage of her. I experienced Bonnie directly for a few days and already I revel in her slide to the Pit. Tar has managed to be her best friend and curtail some of that evil from being inflicted unto the world. Inevitably, that evil will bleed over onto her. We seek to preempt that. However, in order to do so and gain such a purity, Tara cannot commit suicide. And we will not end her mortal thread. So she must be murdered, immediately.
"But not by you Kimberly. You gambled correctly. You are actually the most charitable person on this earth. You help anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they deserve it or even ask. You ask for nothing in return. And you manage to inspire everyone you affect to pay it forward. The world has been brought closer to our side due to your work.
"Murdering Tara would tarnish that. So first, that must be accomplished by someone else.
"Secondly, there is your own death with equal terms. You cannot kill yourself or be taken directly by us. Upon your demise, we will have you sign our contract. It will state that heaven will not attempt to hasten the damnation of the hell's spawn that has earned a sapphire shroud, that should it escape that damnation its soul's final determination will be self set, and that where the war effort against the Great Adversary is not jeopardized heaven will aid where it can. This contract will have other terms, our terms. You must accept these terms on faith alone.
"Outside of that, you may also want to inform Saito and William that Father may forgive them for they know not what they do. But if they continue their plans to assault me, I will only be able to pity the fools that they are."
Yori and Will walked into the room rather sheepishly.
All eyes were focused on Tara though. "You want me to die.", she stated. It was no question, but a realization.
This was the first time Angela showed anything approaching the mercy heaven was reputed to hold. She glided to the couch and sat down next to the girl. "I want you to be happy. We all do. Your soul will inhabit paradise for eternity. And it will help us defeat the Enemy. I know that you think you'll miss the people you know, but the righteous will join you and sinners will burn eternally."
"You think Bonnie burning in hell is going to comfort me?", Tara spat.
"No.", Angela replied honestly. "It is just that as an angel, I do not have a free will of my own. I know that evil must be destroyed and cannot bring myself to care otherwise. I know that hurts you but I feel that it should comfort you. It comforts me...but that is only because I have been created that way."
"What about our deaths?", Kim interrupted.
Angela scoffed. "You have a perfectly dirty netherghast, right there. I am certain the world's finest murderer can use some of his ill gotten ability to sin his alleged love and the innocent into an early grave. That is what they sign up for."
"Ron's different!", Kim shouted impatiently.
Angela shook her head. "I cannot believe that. I suspect that had I a will free enough to assess the situation, I would not hold a different opinion of a soldier of hell. They are, after all, volunteers."
"I'm not going to kill KP.", Ron affirmed.
Angela laughed. "You tried to be the death of her as soon as you signed the parchment, monster. If you want to be the obstacle that keeps your soul punished infinitely for eternity for that signing, I will be the last to mourn your folly."