The God King smiled radiantly, a bluish aura began to glow more profoundly around the King as the world applauded, until eventually that blue light had encompassed all of God, the Prince, the Pope, and the Throne of the World.
The angel roared at Cade as it charged him. With all of his faculties to bear, Cade swore he could see the angel moving in slow motion. The creature was, without question, a work of physical art. It’s movements were both cat- and dragon-like. Smooth, efficient, extremely fast. He only missed the swinging fist by millimeters.
Before he even registered it, despite his advanced systems, Cade found himself on the ground, the angel’s gigantic hand over his throat.
Cade arched his back somewhat and reached behind him, grabbing the blade that he’d been given by Dr. Caleb. He shoved it through the angel’s wrist and twisted the blade. He felt the damage as he heard the Fallen angel scream. Twisting the knife again, he ripped it from the angel’s flesh, silver blood splashing everywhere. The move had the intended effect and within a split-second, Cade was on his feet, moving quickly around the angel.
Cade strafed behind the angel, then launched himself some thirty feet into the air. He took the blade in both hands and pointed it down, aimed at the base of the angel’s neck. The angel knocked him against the wall hard enough that Cade landed on his hands and knees, in an extreme amount of pain, artificial or not.
He cursed aloud. The entire plan had been simple: kill it very, very quickly, otherwise, you die. And the plan had failed spectacularly. But rather than waste time thinking about it, Cade remembered what would happen if he failed. If Dr. Caleb wasn’t at least given the chance to change his mind, then there would be, in some literal way, Hell to pay.
The microphones that served as his inner ears could pick up a sparrow breathing at a hundred paces. Thus Cade heard the angel. As the arm of the beast rushed toward him, Cade reached up his right hand and caught that arm.
As the King of God took to the podium to speak, all the world hushed.
“Once you were all no more than sinners in the hands of an angry Father. I was much the same as you then. Our Father, who Himself put the Heavens into being and motion, desired that His Sons and Daughters follow harsh laws, laws that even He admitted were impossible to adhere to no matter our uprightness. And yet to you He gave an even harsher sentence: to exist within a 3 dimensional world, a world full of temptations and dangers; He filled you with enough knowledge of yourselves to have desire, yet no manner in which to truly deal with your own sentience.
“I was the first,” the King of God continued. “I risked our Father’s wrath in order to enlighten His Creation—you—so that you might rise above what I’ve always seen as His limited vision of you. I sought to set you free!”
Applause came from the world over. The King of God allowed it to ring for a full two minutes.
“What I have desired for you from day one is the ability to find your true selves; to understand your godlike nature. Our Father has never wanted this to happen. And why not, I ask you? The same reason that every Ruler has for denying His people the Truth: He feared you would rise up against Him!”
Again the world applauded, and again, the King of God allowed this.
Cade grabbed the arm with both hands, and yanked with all his strength as he stood, flipping the angel onto its back. He dropped down, wrapped both legs around the arm. It was the same arm he’d stabbed and he noticed that the wound was no more. Quickly he twisted the arm, then angled it, tightened his leg grip, then broke the angel’s arm.
The sound the Fallen let loose was enough to set Cade’s artificial ears ringing. He wondered if Luke was temporarily deaf from the howl. He unwrapped from the arm, grabbed his blade, and dove at the angel, intending to drive the blade into its neck and cut its head off before it had time to heal. But he never got that far.
The angel lifted Cade high into the air. It held him there as Cade tried his best to break free with no luck. The angel rotated its its broken arm and Cade watched in disbelief as it reset the arm itself with a deafening ‘POP!’ and then immediately used that arm to break both of Cade’s artificial legs. He howled in artificial pain that was more than real to his mind.
The Angel then peeled one of Cade’s arms free and broke it. Then it dropped him and looked down at him.
“Human. Arrogant. I am a god, fool. Did you really believe that you could end me?” The angel then looked at Dr. Caleb. “And you. Should I now count you a traitor, and end your life once I end his?”
Dr. Lucius Caleb said not a word. His mind would not function.
The Fallen creature smiled. There was mirth in it. “No. I won’t. I will simply relay what you have done, that you called your agent here to see me killed. I will send another to retrieve the work which you have done and you will be ended very slowly, very painfully.”
Cade listened to the words. He had been working on a way to shut off the false pain communicated by his synthetic body to his mind, and the angel’s damage to him had finally given him the catalyst to hack into his own system and do so.
“You’ve failed. How does that make you feel?”
Cade heard the words and hated the damned Fallen thing. He’d never felt such hatred in his whole life.
Then, the angel took its foot off him and walked away. Cade simply lay there. He wondered if Luke had built in any kind of rapid healing into his system. His ears picked up on his old friend’s breathing and heart rate as it increased rapidly. The angel was walking over to Luke.
“What did you think was going to happen here, Doctor Lucius Caleb?” the Fallen asked. “I must admit that your human experiment, currently lying broken, is a masterpiece of technology. You have skill, otherwise, we would never have agreed to treat with you, a human.”
Cade heard the angel’s steps as it walked. It was circling his old friend, intimidating him, like some mob boss that just wanted an underling to squirm, and squirm real good. That made him hate the damned thing even more. Coward, he thought.
“But did you think that you would win? That you would get away with this? Your arrogance is astounding. You believed your design was enough to kill one of the Sons of God! I rebelled against the Father, you fool, and survived being imprisoned for so many generations that you could not comprehend it, and yet you thought that this, this chimera you created, this hybrid, could kill a god?”
As Cade lay there listening to the angel’s soliloquy, he worked on getting his synthetic body to do what it had to do in order to fight. The healing process was faster than his human body by an exponential amount. But the damage was substantial. It seemed that, despite the advanced technology, healing a skeletal structure was more than difficult. So he began to reprogram the healing process, focusing his systems on repairing nothing but the synthetic skeletal structure. His synthetic muscles were still ripped and frayed, but if he could just stand, Cade thought he could still end the mess.
Finally, Dr. Caleb spoke. Cade could hear easily how shaky his old friend’s voice was.
“I… I thought you were on our side,” he asked.
Cade had to admit that he was proud of Luke. The doctor could have pointed the finger immediately at him, because Cade had been the one who’d come up with the plan in the first place. Instead, his old friend deflected. When the angel laughed, Cade was surprised by just how human the sound was.
“We are on our side. Humanity is a self-replenishing resource for us. Imagine that you could attempt a coup with a species that, if that coup failed, then one merely had to wait a while, return, and dupe an entirely new set of generations into following the revised plan? The Father created us first. We were His first designs. And then you came along. He retrofitted the entire universe to fit you. You think it ridiculous, a universe so vast, yet tailored for the flawed creature called Humanity. And yet this is the truth, absurd though myself and my brothers always felt it to be, is as real as that universe.”
Cade lifted his broken arm. The synthetic bones had knitted. His legs were still healing.
“You… You hate humanity, don’t you?” Dr. Caleb asked.
Again the angel laughed. “Your doctorate was not for nothing it seems. Yes, we hate you, human. But you fit a purpose too well to ignore you. For, you see, to you the Father has given things that we did not receive. And so that makes you valuable, despite the fact that you usurped everything we ever had.”
Cade heard in the voice what he’d expected to hear: envy, jealousy, sheer hatred of something simply because it had been favored. He pushed his systems hard to heal faster. Finally, he was able to stand, if somewhat wobbly.
“Fallen thing,” Cade yelled, “Let us end this now.”
“We dearly love you,” the King of God said, “that is my truth. That is our truth. It is who we are! For while the Father seeks to control you, to make you feel shame, guilt, and requires that you repress all the things that make you human, we feel that our beloved humanity should break the bonds of such ideas, archaic and no longer in keeping with such an evolved creature as yourself.”
Some noticed that the Prince had taken on the same, bright blue glow as God. He smiled widely as he listened to the King.
“You have educated yourselves, enlightened your species. Thus many of you already know that a time is at hand. A time of what the Father calls ‘judgment’. But, I ask you, judgment for what? For simply evolving into what you were always meant to become? Where is the justification for this judgment, I ask you? Where is the reasoning behind such madness? We have found none, my Creation! And so we have returned, that we might fight along side you. Because the Father will return. And, when He does, He seeks to end all that you have accomplished. We will fight with you, to end the Father’s tyranny, to finally set right His systems of free will, and to ensure that humanity never has to endure the punishment of His yoke again!”
For the last time it would ever do so, the Fallen angel laughed. It launched at Cade who slid to the side. The angel whirled on him and Cade jumped straight toward it. The angel’s hand, then arm, went right through his midsection. He felt no pain so Cade grabbed the angel’s neck and used all the strength he had left to yank the creature toward him.
He shoved his blade into its neck and ripped it to the side, silver blood bursting from the wound. Cade took the blade in both hands, slashed it in the opposite direction. The angel, for a moment, was dumbstruck. It looked at him in utter disbelief.
Then it’s head slowly tilted to the side, and with a peculiar sound, fell away from its body. Cade had to pry himself free of its grip. Both Cade and the Fallen angel fell to the floor. He wasn’t certain if it could heal such a wound, so he crawled over to the angel’s head and shoved the blade through its skull and left it there.
Cade fell over. Dr. Caleb was by his side in a moment.
“Let me get you back to my lab,” Caleb said. “We can repair this!”
Cade heard the panic in his old friend’s voice. He smiled.
“To hell with all that, you son of a bitch,” Cade said. “You know I never wanted this in the first damn place.”
Cade saw Luke crying. Of all the things he’d seen, it surprised him the most to see tears flowing down his old friend’s face.
“What is this crap,” he asked.
Dr. Caleb chuckled. “I know,” he said. “I know you never wanted this.”
“Then why did you do it? You knew I couldn’t save the damn world, Luke. Not even you are that thick.”
“Please, Cade, let me get you back to the lab. Let me fix this!”
“No,” Cade said. “No. Absolutely not.”
For a moment, neither man said anything. For some reason, it dawned on Cade at that moment that the Fallen angel’s blood didn’t smell like copper. He had no idea what pure silver might smell like, but he suspected if he did, that’s what his sensors were detecting. He looked at Dr. Caleb.
“I… I did it because. Cade, I did it because I missed the best bastard of a friend I’ve ever had. I did it because I wanted you to come back, I knew I could bring you back, and I didn’t care about anything else but to see an old friend.”
Cade had no idea how to respond. So he asked, “So why make a deal with the Devil? Why go to the darkest of underworlds to make a deal to fight God?”
“Because, I hated him.”
“I don’t know anymore. Good God, Cade, I can’t say anymore. I just don’t know what to say anymore.”
Cade watched as Dr. Caleb turned away from him. He could see the sobs racking the man’s body.
“Luke,” he said. For a moment, his old friend didn’t answer.
“You’re going to let me die now. Because it’s the right thing to do.”
To his surprise, Dr. Caleb actually laughed through his tears. “All right, old friend,” he said. “But what will I do without you?”
Cade put his hand on his old friend’s shoulder. “You will do the right thing, Luke. Because, deep down inside, that’s who you really are.”
Cade didn’t feel himself die, didn’t feel anything at all. He was simply gone.
[Author’s note: There will be an episode eleven]