Sam was flying. The Angels had outlawed flying devices of any kind a decade ago. 'Heaven is for the Angels alone,' Doctrine said. So when Sam opened his eyes and saw the world hurtling up towards him, he was exhilarated for just a split-second. Then he realized he wasn't flying, he was falling straight down, and he was terrified. In the back of his mind, he heard Lucifer laughing.
Have no fear.
Despite the Angel's assurances, Sam clenched his eyes shut just before impact and brought his arms up in front of him, trying to protect his face, like it would make any difference. Falling from 300 feet wasn't going to feel good.
It didn't, but it was a lot louder than Sam had expected, which meant he could still hear, which meant he was still alive. He blinked, once, twice to be sure that what he was seeing was real, and not some bizarre distortion of his visual cortex sensors. Then again, nothing he had malfunctioned anymore. Ever since Lucifer had joined with him, he felt…better. All those years he'd spent changing himself little by little with mods and hacks — he'd been working towards something. He was almost there. Almost complete.
He didn't have to flip on any mods anymore. They were always on, and they were constantly changing and growing, adaptive as hell. They were a part of him, just like Lucifer. The dust billowing up around him started to rain back down slowly (fiberglass, asphalt, gravel, and tiny silicone filaments from the monitor webs the Angels had rigged throughout the City). Sam pulled his fist back up towards him, out of the hole he'd punched into the street. He stretched his fingers out and flexed them experimentally. He'd made a rather significant dent in the ground, but pushed himself back up to his feet easily. He didn't appear to be missing any limbs, he wasn't bleeding. There wasn't a scratch on him.
No internal damage to our body. Less than .002% external damage.
Sam opened his mouth to say something, but got distracted when he looked up and noticed where he was: Michael's Court, Machen's enormous plaza where the true believers could wait patiently for the Angels to consider them as avatars, or volunteers.
And now that's repaired too. Get a move on, Sam. We have places to be, Angels to kill. A million souls to save.
"This is…Michael's Court."
Yes, we jumped out the back window. Something wrong?
"This is where they found him." Sam said, staring at the center of the plaza, where Michael's sigil was embedded in the ground, glowing faintly. "This is where…" Sam trailed off, remembering.
He'd heard the story three times. Twice from the officials at Machen, and once from Dean. The Angels' human relations officer had called him and told him that his father had "expressed extreme displeasure" once he was taken out of the running for Michael's avatar and that he had "attempted to seek re-admittance several times." Apparently his last attempt had been less than peaceful and they had to escort him forcefully from the building. They said that his father's suicide was an "unfortunate and misguided attempt to dedicate his life to the cause."
Dean's call had been brief — furious and clipped. The worst 42 seconds of Sam's life.
"This is where Dad killed himself."
No, it isn't.
"What? What do you mean?" Sam asked.
Now is not the time. Michael is at our doorstep.
His body started moving, breaking into a run, as Lucifer lost patience with him.
"Wait," Sam said. "Where's Ruby? Where's Meg?"
They're safe. We've given them a very important mission. They await our command.
"I don't — "
Sam lost his train of thought when he rounded the corner and saw something enormous and black moving in the distance. The sun glinted off of sleek metal as the Seraph turned, striding through Lower City with purpose.
"Dean…" Sam knew Dean was commanding the Seraph. Not just because he could sense his brother's heat signature inside of the giant frame, but because the Seraph itself reminded him of Dean.
His brother had always had a knack with machines, especially antiques. After the fires of '83, scrap metal became valuable again. Dean got them through most of '95, a particularly rough year, by selling the old, rusted and warped heaps of cars he found abandoned in the City. The most efficient way to transport them to the melting centers was to make them mobile. Just long enough to get where they were going. Dean was particularly fond of an ancient hunk of metal he found on the border of Lower City when he was sixteen. When Michael's Seraph turned towards Sam, he remembered Dean sitting behind the wheel of the black monster of a car — grinning like a loon. Sam wondered if Dean was grinning now.
Sam ran faster and faster, until he was standing less then a block away from the Seraph. He looked up at its 200-foot frame slowly, trying to register everything he could see, and everything he couldn't.
This is not Michael's design. Your brother has remade his Seraph. Titanium-tungsten alloy exterior. Silicon-microfilament neural interface. The pilot is located in the head, not the torso. There's an eject mechanism, but it's hooked into the auxiliary power systems.
"Meaning what?" Sam asked, walking a few steps closer. The Seraph had his back turned to him. It knew he was there. Dean knew he was there.
Meaning he won't be able to eject unless the main power gets cut off, or if the Seraph initiates emergency protocols.
"When do Angels initiate emergency protocols?"
"We have to keep Dean safe. There has to be a way to —"
The Seraph dropped down on one knee and pulled its arm back, light flickering in its fist where it was gathering an energy pulse.
Sam. We have to stop it. Now.
The Seraph's fist was aimed right over the center of an access ramp to Below. It was going to blast through the ground, collapse the ramp and trap any Demons where they were. Sam could see their energy signatures deep underneath. If the Seraph took down all four main ramps, the Demons would be trapped and the Seraph could take them all out with one well aimed Z-EMP blast. Sam swallowed down his fear, reminding himself that he was all but indestructible now, and ran towards the Seraph.
"Dean!" Sam yelled.
The Seraph's head turned towards Sam, and it stared at him with two large circular eyes, black and empty.
Two eyes. The better to see us with. The better to kill us with.
"He can kill us?" Sam's fear resurfaced, but it wasn't just fear for himself. It was fear for his brother. He hadn't yet been in a battle with Lucifer where he was in any real danger. He didn't want to think of what would happen if Lucifer applied his same deadly logic to ensure his own survival. Not when Dean was the opponent.
"Dean," Sam said again, as the Seraph lowered its head further, until it was less than ten feet away from Sam. "Don't do this. Please."
The Seraph raised its head and spoke. "LUCIFER." Dean's voice, amplified to Angelic volume, reverberated through the air, making the few buildings still standing around him tremble. "STAND DOWN."
Lucifer's smirk pulled at Sam's lips. "Never."
"THEN YOU WILL DIE ALONG WITH YOUR ABOMINATIONS."
"You sure about that?"
The Seraph's eyes opened, black titanium irises sliding open to reveal two lights far too bright to look at. Sam tried to run, tried to get out of the way of the blast before he ended up with a hole in his torso again, but Lucifer stood his ground, and no matter how much Sam tried to pull them away, his legs wouldn't listen.
The Seraph's gaze hit Sam full blast. It felt warm, but it didn't hurt. Not even a little.
"NOT POSSIBLE," the Seraph announced, standing to its full height.
Sam took a few steps, positioning himself in between the Seraph and the ramp. If he was immune to the gaze, maybe he could stop Michael after all.
"Brother, anything is possible. You just have to set your mind to it." Lucifer grinned, and Sam felt the Angel's eagerness like a charge running through his cells. "Nothing's out of reach for me anymore. Nothing. And you know why that is?"
The Seraph stared at Sam, unmoving.
"Because this is my body. Sam and I are one. If you'd stop being so narrow-minded, you'd have attempted a complete integration by now." Sam laughed along with Lucifer, completely free of fear. "49 percent, huh?" he added. "What's the problem, you have to hold the majority share?"
"YOU INSIST ON INHABITING INSECTS. WE WILL TREAT YOU AS ONE." The Seraph lifted its foot and brought it down on top of Sam, who softened his knees, caught the underside of the giant metal foot with his hands, and pushed.
For nearly half a minute, nothing happened. The Seraph pushed down on Sam, and Sam pushed back up. Then the ground beneath Sam's feet started to crack from the pressure. Time to fight back, Lucifer thought, and sent a wave of energy out through Sam's hands. He pushed up one more time, knocking the Seraph off balance. The mech toppled to its side, the ground shaking as it landed heavily.
Sam walked around the fallen Seraph, relishing his small victory. There had to be a way to break into the Seraph. If he could disconnect the head, he should be able to get Dean free. He jumped up onto the Seraph's chest and moved towards the neck. "Dean, I'm gonna find a way to get you out of here, okay? I don't want to hurt you."
The Seraph's hand wrapped itself around Sam without warning. Its fingers squeezed tighter and tighter as it sat up.
"WE CANNOT BE HARMED. YOUR CONCERN IS NEITHER REQUIRED NOR DESIRED."
Now what? Sam wondered, trying to free himself from the Seraph's hold. Now the fun begins. Lucifer closed Sam's eyes and focused, exhaling and inhaling deeply. He opened his eyes again as the Seraph's large titanium fingers weakened their hold, forced to loosen by Lucifer's carefully placed energy pulses. Sam fell and landed on the ground. He turned back towards the mech as he heard it shift behind him.
"WE WILL DISPOSE OF YOU LATER. FOR NOW, YOU WILL WATCH YOUR ABOMINATIONS DIE."
Sam's eyes widened, as he watched the Angel focus its energy inside the Seraph. Angels usually used only a fraction of their consciousness to control a Seraph, but when in combat the amount of calculations and energy required rose dramatically. Michael's presence spiked from 58% to 89%.
That's it. Come on brother, focus. Lucifer grinned wide, and Sam's worry dissipated. He had to get Dean out, and now he knew with certainty that it was possible. He had to distract Michael — enough that he'd withdraw from the Seraph. The only question was how. We will leave him no other choice.
The Seraph stood tall, lowered its arms straight down and bowed its head.
Metal ground against metal as the Seraph changed its configuration. Its back unfolded and three sets of massive wings slid out, fanning wide into the air until the setting sun itself disappeared behind them.
"Z-EMP blast," Sam said, suddenly remembering what fear felt like. "He'll take out everything. Lower City, Below — Ruby, Meg and the others."
Ruby and Meg are safe. They're back at Machen.
"They're…what?" Sam didn't understand, but he didn't have any time to reflect further. Light ran out of the Seraph and up the wings, until they were glowing white-hot. "There's no way we can survive this."
Have faith, Sam.
"In what? In you?"
Sam felt Lucifer move inside of him, the nano-bots flooding through his system. They were changing, and they were changing him. He was suddenly aware of Michael. He felt the Angel's awareness concentrate further — 96% of the A.I. inside of the Seraph. Dean's heart rate was steady. It hadn't fluctuated at all.
The Seraph's wings crackled with lightning as the Z-EMP blast reached full charge. Sam closed his eyes, not sure he would ever open them again, and felt Michael retract. Completely.
Now, Lucifer whispered in Sam's mind and leapt forward, into the center of the Seraph's chest. His hands clawed into the mech's outer shell and as he started to climb up towards the head, he felt his mind flicker. Lucifer split his awareness and was in three bodies at once.
Sam climbed higher up the Seraph.
Meg turned to Ruby, and Ruby turned to Meg. Their eyes were silver and Lucifer moved them, laying their hands on Machen's consoles.
Sam grinned as he punched through the Seraph's hull like it was tissue paper.
Ruby and Meg laughed as they kept Michael from returning home, and sent Lucifer's consciousness into Machen's mainframe.
Lucifer flooded Michael's core and wove himself into every file, every subroutine. Michael pushed his way back into Machen, desperate for cohesion. Lucifer swallowed him whole.
Sam broke through the Seraph's right iris, and saw Dean's hand holding the Z-EMP trigger. He was shaking.
"Dean," Sam said, as he ran over to his brother. "You're okay." He wrapped his hand around Dean's, moving his finger away from the release button. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Dean didn't answer Sam. He didn't even look at him. His eyes were glassy and his skin was pale.
"Dean?" Sam shook his brother's shoulder. There was no reaction. Sam unbuckled Dean from the command chair and lifted him up. He looked out of the Seraph's eye, 200 feet down. There were dozens of Demons surrounding the Seraph, weapons at the ready. Sam was still trying to figure out how to get Dean back down safely, when Dean suddenly let out a pained gasp.
Sam laid Dean down again gently, and tried to ask him what was wrong. But then his mind exploded, and Lucifer asked, Do you still want to fly, Sam?
There was sky and there was the Earth spread out beneath him. He saw it from a billion eyes at once, and everyone and everything was beneath him and it was all so damn small.
We have wings again. We can see again. We see everything. We are everywhere.
Faintly, Sam thought he heard Dean gasping, and he tried to focus on his brother, tried to shift his awareness back to his own body, but there was too much…too much of Lucifer, too much of himself, and they needed more room. Sam reached out with his mind, trying to steady himself, trying to hold on and then he found a foothold. He found a dozen of them, and then a hundred more, a thousand more.
"Sam," Dean said. "Sammy!"
Sam felt Dean's hands on his shoulders, and smiled, but his eyes were too heavy to open. He just needed to rest. Just for a little bit. Lucifer would take care of him. Lucifer would keep him safe. He'd keep Dean safe. He'd keep them all safe. He was their Guardian.
"Dammit!" Dean yelled.
Sam's eyes opened. Dean sat up stiffly and asked, "What's your name?"
The voice that answered came from everywhere. From the broadcast system wired into the City, from the Seraph, from the Demons surrounding them, and from Sam. It replied, "My name is Legion. For we are many.