A bit of Fridge Horror: In Atsuro's route, Amane dies. According to Remiel, Jezebel was remote-fragged by Belberith, and what happens to Amane if Jezebel is killed without Amane being freed and given a chance to escape first? Exactly. Even at the end of the route, Remiel is still in control of Amane's body and according to the Shomonkai & Atsuro, Remiel has been talking to people and identifying him/itself as Amane even after Jezebel is gone and Amane would have woken up if she was still alive.
Playing through Atsuro's route and comparing Remiel to Sariel (there's a missable scene with Sariel in Shiba Park on the last day before the choice, too) is the best proof you can get without having Overclocked that there really is a difference between Remiel and the other angels: despite the other party members saying how selfish Remiel is (and it's true that the angels' dogma is incredibly selfish) earlier in the game, Remiel is incredibly nice for an angel, and actually says that he hopes that humanity can overcome the ordeal without needing to be taken over by the angels instead of regretting the missed chance at a world of law.
The Eighth days show that compassion and forgiveness, as well as actually valuing human life, all things that Remiel has or sees as virtues, are… Not really things the other angels apply unless they have to. Since Remiel can control Amane's body even after her soul has been destroyed, it's clear that he didn't have to go out of his way to try to save the soul of a demon worshipper, picking a fight with a Bel demon in the process & putting himself at risk.
This version of Naoya hates Remiel on principle because Remiel is an angel and actively trying to get Naoya to blame himself for something that God deliberately entrapped him into, but at certain points in Atsuro's route Remiel seems to have more faith in Cain's fundamental goodness & trustworthiness than the party does, including Naoya's own apprentice who does admire him very much. I do think that Remiel's desire to help humans is genuine, and that likely means that Naoya would be willing to admit at least that much on account of when Remiel has helped him.
"How to be certain I'm not working magic to escape… Now, there's an interesting question," Naoya said, getting comfortable in the bed as his mind finally woke up. "You did use a comp, so you are aware of auto abilities and race abilities? Humans do have race abilities of their own, and mine are strong for obvious reasons." He decided not to mention that his auto ability induced awe and adoration, like Kazuya's, similar to the effect angels, god himself and Aunt Lilith had on humans. "I also haven't had a chance to test whether or not the parts of the curse that didn't involve him constantly spying on me are still here: besides the immortality, there's also the part that kills all my plants." Something that seemed half resentment and half-grief flashed in his eyes. "So a spell that just checked whether or not I was doing magic would say that I was, all the time, even if I deactivated all my protective spells." And an arsenal of others, quite a lot of them woven into his haori.
"As for blocking my ability to do magic, unless you have some powerful demons you're willing to trust, you'd need to find quite a few devil summoners with holy powers derived from gods other than that one," Naoya said, nodding at the sky. "The kind that get lumped in with demons, like Amaterasu. Right now, I'm certain that all of Japan's are busy reinforcing wards and seals, and it wasn't just his servants that were trying to wipe out the followers of other gods throughout the world." China's cultural revolution had decimated its defenders. "To make matters worse, God was quite jealous with his title. Metatron, the four archangels: there are quite a lot of beings in this tradition that would qualify as members of the pantheon, subordinate gods, in other religions."
"Including you?" Izuna asked, certain what the answer would be.
Of course. "The devas themselves called Belberith a god, and how many more believe in me than believed in? Of course, he does have a large fraction of Abel's power, and the children of a god are often gods themselves." Cain looked at the arm he had wrapped around his brother. "The one that betrays the child of God and is doomed to wander for eternity: I seem to have picked up Judas' belief as well, since our legends have become blurred together and I'm fairly certain he didn't exist. I can't testify to that: I was in China and South America around then, but if there really was a new covenant made with humanity, one centered around forgiveness instead of death, it's obvious that no one told the angels." Or perhaps God had made the mistake of telling Metatron and Metatron, jealous, simply hadn't passed it along? Ha, now Naoya was the one finding excuses for his grandfather.
"Megalomaniac," Kazuya accused him almost fondly.
"I didn't say I wanted to be a god, I'm just more powerful than quite a few who do call themselves that. And you're the one who was worshipped." Kazuya made a face. "That was your reaction back then, too. In private, at least. Not in front of your adoring fans."
"Adoring fans… You make it sound like Haru."
Naoya just smiled to himself.
"You know something I don't know, huh?"
"I know a lot of things you don't. It's one of those 'big brother' things." Naoya's smile was soft. "And didn't you wonder why the angels were trying to make you into the Messiah? The anointed one, king and god, a benevolent god-king both human and divine, god's child who dies because it is god's will: it seems I'm not the only one who had humanity's memory of them bound up into a new myth. It seems they still remember the truth of your reign, on some level, despite everything the angels did." And Naoya was glad, because his brother deserved that. But damn them for using his brother's kingdom, the kingdom they destroyed, to make themselves look good after doing everything they could to blacken its name!
"Are you saying that he's… the Messiah?" Izuna asked, somewhere between questioning his audacity and actual wonder, because she'd met Kazuya herself.
"Don't ask me, ask Remiel. Oh wait." They couldn't. Because, "My stalker is gone. He won't be constantly following me around, telling deceptive half-truths to blacken my name to anyone who dares befriend me, trying to seduce-" Naoya coughed, deciding that it would be a little much to go into the programmed adoration angels had for God and how that could lead to some rather… disturbing actions on their parts, on several levels, when it came to those whose souls were made exactly in his image. "Have I mentioned that that was the most wonderful day of my lives?" Thank goodness he had enough control of his limbs back to noogie his little brother. "In any case, Captain Izuna, don't worry about me trying to break out. I certainly don't have any objection to staying in protective custody." Given how many poor fools would want to kill him as word spread of God's abandonment to people who hadn't seen firsthand evidence of what the angels were like. "As long as no one's threatening to declare war on Japan in order to get you to hand me over for a nastier fate. I have no intention of causing more devastation to this country."
"That's not your concern," she told him, eyes narrowed. And he'd already caused too much devastation to act so noble now. And yet, the comps, the harmonizer Kazuya had explained to her… No, it wasn't her department and it hadn't been his decision to make. "What's your assessment, Priestess Kuzuryu?"
"He is very powerful," Amane admitted, standing back in the corner shyly. She wished she hadn't had to be here to hear all of that, and she reproached herself for feeling almost jealous of Kazuya. Her father had told her to suppress her emotions, while even Cain cared for his brother's true feelings? "I could tell you when he casts any major spells, but if he did something like that, I'm sure he would wait until there wasn't anything I could do about it." Or the guards. "I'm sorry, as a priestess I serve as a vessel for holy and profane voices, and without their power I'm almost powerless."
"Tell me something," Naoya said, cutting off Kazuya before he could try to tell her that wasn't so. "Had you already heard Remiel's voice when you asked me to stay with the Shomonkai?"
She glanced at Izuna, but it seemed harmless, so she answered, "Yes."
"And he wanted you to try to become my friend. Told you that I would help free you from Jezebel, kill Belberith and save humanity from failing God's ordeal, but it was just a matter of redeeming me, turning me onto the right path, something that you could accomplish if you had a 'pure heart.'"
Naoya sighed. "That's my stalker for you. Do you have any idea how many people he's flung at me? Calling me a poor sinner yet loved by god, and so they'll have his favor if they manage to seduce me or find some other way to win me over." With Remiel in their bodies at the time… How God had programmed the angels really was creepy. Brilliant, Naoya had to admit simply as a professional matter, but creepy. "But joking aside, what really angers me about Remiel is that he's one of the best angels left. Unlike most of them, he's actually seen humanity instead of just listening to other angels, who hate us because God liked us better at the beginning, or valued our submission more since we actually could choose whether or not to give him our souls and mindless adoration. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd gone along with plans to end the ordeal that didn't involve the other angels conquering us. He's spent thousands of years trying to induce Stockholm Syndrome in me, force me to swallow the dogma of my captors, but he's developed a little Lima Syndrome himself, a little compassion for the poor mortals and their brief, unenlightened lives wracked by hunger, disease and desperation. Listen to Sariel: 'all humans do is break God's heart, they must be punished,' and not a thought for what we endure because of all God has inflicted on us, what drives us to sin.
"It wasn't like that at the beginning: Lucifer was thrown out of heaven for saying things like that about my father. Then things changed in the centuries after I was marked and all the angels who came to teach humans things that would make their lives better, all the ones who actually helped humans or loved them as God's children, as they had been told by God: they were labeled fallen, one by one, or confined to Heaven if they were too powerful to lose. It says something about Remiel that he's warned other humans away from me because he's been worried about them, instead of just to strip me of allies." To cost him jobs, to…
Regardless, Naoya had to admit that, "It says something that he still believes in redemption by love instead of forcing humans to admit that they're weak, dirty, inferior creatures, nowhere near as good, glorious, obedient or worthy of God's love as angels. So yes, he was using you, but he genuinely was trying to help you, if that makes you feel better. He definitely was trying to save humanity from the consequences of failing the ordeal, either of them." Subjugation or mass starvation caused by inability to communicate. "He really would have tried his hardest to save you from Jezebel. And that," Naoya realized, frowning. "Is why he's going to be used as heaven's scapegoat for this and made a fallen angel. Angel programming being what it is, he'll convince himself that if he can just 'save me,' God will love him again." So damn, he wasn't rid of his stalker after all.
"How do you know that?" Amane asked him, faint surprise leaking past the priestess' trained mask of calm.
"Because I've spent thousands of years watching those bastards and their politics… Oh, don't tell me. It's already happened while I was out, hasn't it. Metatron moves fast, I'll give him that." Naoya sighed. "And now you'll probably forgive him and let him in even though he's a fallen angel now because of what I said. This is all your fault, brother."
"What? Why?" Abel demanded.
"For asking me to help the girl. Now in order to reassure her that she hasn't spent her entire life being deluded and used by one supernatural power or another, I've as good as invited my stalker to spend the entire trial annoying me." Damn it, Naoya thought, pushing back his silver hair. "This is going to be worse than that time he was your wet nurse."
Alright, maybe shocking Kazuya like that was some consolation. "Figure it out, brother. We've incarnated for thousands of years and while the two of us have been watched over, our parents haven't been. Human lives were usually nasty, brutish and short, no thanks to him. This time, I've lost my parents relatively quickly and painlessly. That time, mine died in the plague that wiped out most of our people, your mother died in childbirth and your father ran off without taking her with him and never came back. There was no one left in the village except a seven-year-old, a newborn and a woman who was paralyzed in half her body and wasn't long for this world. Oh, I already knew how to compound formula, but you were underweight, your mother had been infected and you needed all the help you could get to survive… No, let me rephrase that. If you had been anyone else, you would have ended up just one more infant mortality statistic if anyone had bothered to keep track of that sort of thing back then. Most babies died without reaching their third year. That was just how it was in the world God gave us."
Cain clenched his fists. "And of course I can't even pick food from a damn vegetable garden without blighting everything else in it, without having to scavenge from homes with the dead bodies still in them and nearby deserted villages and risk getting infected or killed by the other jackals… And I couldn't have left you alone for that long anyway." He would have had to take a baby with him, expose him to that risk. "Remiel used the woman as a vessel so he had an excuse to restore her health and nursed you: he was in control most of the time because she was so devastated by everyone's deaths she was practically catatonic. I killed bandits, placed a lot of traps and nets for fish and game and made him clean or loot what I caught." Naoya grimaced. "We made it, but I had to listen to a lot of sermons." He looked around. "Patients aren't allowed alcohol, are they. Probably a good thing." And who knew how it might react with the sedatives. "I'd still like some water." He normally didn't talk this much, especially to his brother, who didn't need to know all of this.
"Naoya…" And there it was, the concern, the guilt in those eyes for everything Cain had suffered because of him.
"Don't listen to me, I'm still drugged and rambling. And don't you dare blame yourself, you know who's responsible. This is why I don't talk about it," Naoya grumbled, looking around for his water. "You can't understand anyway, not the way you are now, so be gratefu-And who let him in."
Narrowed red eyes trained a death glare on a blond-haired man around Honda's age, but in a much nicer suit. He just held up a hand to ward off Naoya's hatred. "I'm here as your chief attorney."
"Brother, tell that bastard that I will accept his help over his dead body," Naoya said through clenched teeth, turning away. "Also, all of you are idiots."
"Naoya says," Abel started to say as he observed the man, since it gave him time to make those observations.
"I heard. Under the circumstances, isn't it time to let bygones be bygones? Humanity has finally freed itself from His shackles," the man said, smiling as though he was genuinely happy for them but now that he was looking, Kazuya could see the razor-sharp envy underlying that expression, as though this was something the man desperately craved, and thus wanted to exist, even though he knew very well he could never have it.
"Brother, tell that bastard that his father is not the only person in the universe that matters and once again I am not speaking to him, not after what he did to Mother. And if he says 'it was for her own good,' I will cut out his heart with a trowel, megidoladyne be damned. We both know that's not why he did it, he did it to ruin their lives because he was jealous." Bastard. "And how did he end up my attorney, anyway? He didn't even bother to look Japanese!"
"Do you want me to apologize to them?" the man said, spreading his hands.
"That would be nice, although what I'm upset about is that you used me to get at my husband," Kazuya's mother said, poking her head in through the door. When both the man and Naoya turned to stare at her, she continued, "And Mr. Schiffer is your attorney because your father twisted his arm, so be nice, Nyao-chan. Also, watch your language in front of your little brother. We'll have a talk about you winding up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning later." Just because it was normal for Japanese salarymen to do that kind of thing didn't mean her son was allowed to ruin his liver.
"…Yes, Mother," Naoya said, still shocked.
After the door closed, Izuna said, "I take it the two of you didn't know that your parents," or step-parents, in Naoya's case, "Were key to resolving the last demon outbreak in Tokyo?"
"No," Kazuya said, since Naoya was still staring at the door wondering how the hell he had failed to figure this out before.
"We didn't know either, until a member of the American delegation told us." They'd gotten international assistance in keeping up the barrier beyond the lockdown. "According to Steven Hawking there was time travel involved, but since the two cults involved back then had the backing of both members of our government and the American ambassador," who had been replaced by a demon working for the angels according to documents Izuna had finally been cleared for: the whole thing had been a major embarrassment that almost caused WWIII. "Afterwards the miko who led the magical resistance and some of the heroic civilians she worked with disappeared into hiding for their own protection. Your father was another one, Naoya." It was a pity his son had contributed to the problem instead of helping to protect Tokyo like his father, who had become involved in this incident when his girlfriend, and future wife, was mistaken for the miko and kidnapped because they had the same name.
"Unfortunately their identities and the truth of that incident were buried so deeply that we were unaware of their existence, but they'd kept in contact with some of the individuals who assisted them during the outbreak." Including one of the American soldiers deployed during the incident, who had eventually become the Embassy's officer for supernatural affairs. "When they were released from custody, they returned home first and then came to the hospital with some rather strange equipment." Swords, guns, a couple of devices that were probably similar to comps but if Izuna didn't ask, she wouldn't have to try to confiscate them. "They insisted on being allowed to guard you until you woke up."
It embarrassed Izuna that their assistance had been necessary. They only had so many SDF tamers: it wasn't until after one of the officers had put his gun to the underside of Naoya's throat and pulled the trigger that testimony from his soldiers had revealed he'd convinced them that murdering even innocent tamers was the only way for them to survive the lockdown: he'd even fought Kazuya twice. If Kazuya's parents hadn't been there to use recarm and have their demons cast shielding and sleep magic until the confusion over who attacked who first was resolved thanks to the security cameras, they would have lost a key defendant and source of information on the demon threat, in addition to the shame of having a prisoner under their protection killed by one of their own men.
She might have cared more for the loss of life if she hadn't experienced the lockdown for himself. This one would come back to life. So many innocent civilians the SDF had actually had no alternative but to kill because of the demons and the comps wouldn't.
Naoya put his hand to his forehead. If these drugs didn't prevent them, he was certain he'd have a headache. "Just tell me he isn't representing me in court."
"I have people for that," 'Lou Schiffer' said, looking at the door with an expression that one would have called worried if it hadn't been on the Great Darkness' face.
"Good." One somewhat-intelligent person in the audience (or TV audience, if they went for a show trial) and Naoya would be doomed, because who but an utterly evil person would have him for a defense attorney?
Maybe he would have to reconsider just how angry his parents were with him.
How angry Adam and Eve were. When he'd killed their other child and then run away, too ashamed to face them, leaving them to grieve alone.
Maybe it wasn't too late to escape through a wall and run for it?
They were right outside so yes, yes it was too late.
But still he found himself laughing, almost with relief: no, definitely with relief, because at least they were willing to talk to him, at least they would give him a chance. Give Kazuya a chance to argue on his behalf.
Taking responsibility, huh?
Well, then. Facing them was far more important than facing some politically-selected judges. And if he tried to escape them, they'd never let him live it down.
That ran in the family, too.
In Atsuro's route, I basically assumed that Naoya would bust out as soon as they didn't need him anymore, since Sariel would leave after the lockdown/ordeal was resolved, not guard him for the sake of human justice. But in a route where he himself preaches responsibility, it would be better for him to put his money where his mouth is and really, for someone used to thinking in terms of centuries, a life sentence isn't that big a deal.
There is no feud like a family feud.
As in my other fic Wilderness, Kazuya/Abel's parents are Kazuya and Yuka, the MC and Female Hero from SMTI, aka Adam and Eve, although in this 'verse they found a reboot ending and they're going, at least they weren't forced to kill us, or spend twenty years fighting for survival in hell… So whatever Kazuya Jr. went through because of Naoya seems like nothing to write home about by comparison, and they're very understanding about the need to prevent despotic angels from wiping out most of the human race.
Still, poor fallen angel!Remiel.
Like Gabriel in Wasteland, I do think that watching over humans gave him actual compassion for him and he did what he could to help even before the game. Since Naoya's plantbane curse would have been an incredible handicap before the modern era, it's interesting to imagine an Enemy Mine situation between the two of them because while Cain would rather die than ask for an angel's help for himself, especially his jailor's, if Abel needs help he'd do it, or Remiel would offer. Thinking about death rates before modern medicine, it's very likely the two of them effectively ended up Abel's step-parents in at least one life. We're not talking Crowley and Aziraphale levels of Arrangement, but enough that Naoya might miss Remiel if he was trapped in heaven, if only because things that have been around you for millennia grow on you like a fungus. It's jarring when something that was a constant in your life is suddenly gone.