Clara Grey was perched on the railing at the edge of the observation deck. A gust of wind pushed her hair back, and showed off her pointed ears, sharp facial features, and steel-grey eyes that gave her an elfin look. Clara had been blessed with the body of a prima ballerina with the exception of a larger pair of breasts. This trade off suited her just fine, enabling her to turn some heads, while remaining deadly with a sword.
She loved this particular vantage point, the one place that gave her a pristine view of the mortal realm below. Even from this distance, she was able to make out landmarks, and even individuals going about their lives.
From here, she had no trouble witnessing the chaos that reigned on the mortal plain. People continued to be born, grow up, fight wars, and die. The only difference were advancements in technology and medicine. Funny how that only served to make life more complex.
That curiosity and drive to understand the world is what interested Clara. She often wondered how life would have turned out if she had been born in the twenty-first century. All of that knowledge available at her fingertips, which appeared to be a blessing for those curious like her. Still, would she have made use of it?
Everyone here could access the knowledge of creation, but many remained blissfully ignorant. Would she do any better without her educational foundation? Or would she employ this knowledge to achieve her goal of committing the perfect crime?
Sure there were many who avoided this place, for fear of being reminded of what was lost. Clara did not share their views, as one of God’s soldiers, her interactions with other souls were to be kept to a minimum. From here, she dreamed of the good she could do, if only they loosened her leash.
Instead of answering her questions, she kept on observing the world. Wait! What was that? Were her eyes deceiving her? Clara could have sworn there was a shockwave emanating from North America’s Eastern seaboard.
“I thought you’d be here,” Gabriel said.
Clara did not turn around to look, but smirked before she said, “The easiest way to be found is to stay in one place. What brings you here Gabriel?”
This was a tall man who was also built like a Da Vinci’s David, a perfect rendition, except for the lack of flaws. His hair was always perfectly trimmed, his muscles developed and cut. Even his wings were flawless, white, and without a single feather out of place. Was this the angel Gabriel from scripture and lore? Clara did not know, and never bothered to ask. Curious how that particular question never came to mind until now?
“There’s been a violation,” Gabriel said flatly.
Clara raised an eyebrow. Any violations on the mortal plain people were not playing by the rules. Free will was an aspect respected by both sides. So a violation meant that someone was denied the opportunity to choose.
With her curiosity sufficiently piqued, Clara looked over to Gabriel. Before her eyes settled on him, she saw something behind him that made her question reality.
“That’s impossible,” Clara said under her breath.
In the background, she saw two women, a stunning ginger caught in the embrace of an older woman. It was the latter that caught her eye, since the details of that face were burned into her mind. That was Edith, her best friend, and she looked exactly like she remembered.
They last crossed paths in Mexico, after an attack on the Tower left it isolated from the rest of the world. An ideal time for those remaining to regroup, to forge alliances, build a base of operations, and launch an offensive against those responsible.
Plans changed when Edith’s lover was caught up in the crossfire, killed by Drusilla, their long-time foe. Edith, the steadiest ship of the fleet, even in the heaviest of seas, finally broke her keel. That much became clear, when the grief stricken Edith made one last request.
“Kill that bitch,” Edith ordered.
That was exactly what happened two weeks later at some luxurious railway hotel. There, Clara had managed to put down that thing, using deception, holy water, a well-placed stab along with some divine intervention. The latter came at the cost of her life, but that was forfeit the moment she stepped through the front-doors of the Grand
“Clara,” Gabriel asked.
“Sounds serious,” Clara said absentmindedly in hopes of getting more information.
Gabriel looked behind him, but saw nothing. He did note that Clara had the appearance of someone who had seen a ghost. Despite years of experience Clara had in concealing every genuine emotion, a great shock always managed to slip through that cool and calm exterior.
Unsure on what to do, Gabriel chuckled before responding, “You look down all the time and yet you cannot see.”
“And miss out on the opportunity to learn from your wisdom?” Clara asked.
For a moment, there was silence, which permitted Clara’s discomfort to grow. The image of Edith haunted her, and Gabriel’s silence only made things worse. Did she manage to get under his skin?
For a moment, it looked as though Gabriel was facing in two directions. That behaviour was common when dealing with them, the creatures known as homo striga, or colloquially referred to as vampires. So why was she seeing this type of behaviour in an angel now?
When the illusion settled, Gabriel smirked before breaking the silence, “A soul was torn away from the light of God.”
Clara wondered if Gabriel was toying with her in some way. Either way, it was clear that there was much to learn. Death did not make her an expert in all matters, much to her disappointment. She knew that many chose to forfeit their souls in exchange for everlasting life in the mortal realm. Their baptism of sorts, meant they turned their backs on God and his divine light. Such bargains had been struck with humanity since time began.
“So what am I missing?” Clara asked.
Gabriel resumed his disconcerting silence from earlier. Since they were both immortal, there was no reason to hurry things along, and yet there was something unnatural about the experience. For her vantage point, it seemed that Gabriel was having another conversation, but was not privy to the other half.
In the background, her eyes caught something, but could not explain the phenomenon. Edith and the ginger were visible again, as though Clara were looking at an echo in time. She caught another glimpse of their passionate embrace, one intense enough for Clara to feel a twinge of jealousy.
“Clara?” Gabriel queried.
She kept her eyes focused on that general area, and refused to look Gabriel in the eyes. There was nothing, until Edith reappeared in another location with her wings tucked in. Moments before she dove towards the mortal plane.
“It was not voluntary,” Clara guessed to keep the conversation going.
It was an educated guess of course, if their kind could banish anyone they wished, then that would alter the balance. All of their actions were guided by the need to maintain an equilibrium, so a deliberate disruption meant a correction was due.
“What are the ramifications?” Clara queried.
“Our agreement is null and void,” Gabriel said. “We can wage war if we so choose.”
“I sense a but in your statement,” Clara said.
“It would forfeit the wager,” Gabriel answered.
Clara knew very little about this wager. Many, mused about a game of chance being played for supremacy over all outstanding souls. Some aspects of these stories were likely true, while others were nothing more than details added to dress up the truth. All Clara knew for certain was that no one talked about it.
“So the Council decided to send an agent,” Gabriel said.
“Me?” Clara guessed. “Why me?”
“Can’t send one of the seven,” Gabriel said. “That would be tantamount to going nuclear.”
“So why choose your most junior conscript?” Clara asked.
The ability to experience life once again, set her heart aflutter. It would likely not be permanent, but nothing down there was.
“You were mortal, you knew how to fight them,” Gabriel said. “Besides, we knew you’d be willing.”
“Can’t hide anything from you can I? And to think I once believed that nuns were unsurpassed at mind reading!” Clara exclaimed. “I’m in. So what do I do?”
“Fall,” Gabriel said.
“That’s it?” Clara asked.
“That’s it,” Gabriel replied.
“Anything I should know?” Clara asked.
“Keep your true nature concealed as much as possible,” Gabriel said. “Your powers will be limited, and that varies from person to person.”
“So act and behave as though I were mortal and everything will be fine?” Clara asked.
“That would be a safe bet,” Gabriel said. “Ready?”
“Always,” Clara said.
Without hesitation, Clara looked down and leapt from the railing. At first, she floated in mid-air while she freed her mind. On command, Clara dropped like a stone, reaching higher and higher speeds until she glowed in the atmosphere.
“What a rush!” Clara shouted while tearing through the atmosphere like a meteor.
The world before her grew in detail. While she had no idea where she was headed, that did not bother her. Clara sensed that her drop was guided.
Smudges of grey against the terrain became cities, followed by streets, buildings, and finally, people. No one seemed to be aware of her descent, even though she must have looked like a shooting star against the night sky.
“Will a little girl wish upon me?” Clara asked with a giggle.
Clara made out her destination, a nondescript courtyard nestled between multi-story structures. There would be no one around to witness her arrival once she made contact.
“Three… two… one…” Clara said.
Right on cue, her feet hit the ground and absorbed some of the impact. Unfortunately, that had not been enough, so the concrete beneath her deformed, cracked, and was scorched by the heat.
She took a moment to adjust, stood up, and then straighten out her back. While no longer visible, a set of majestic wings could be seen folding in the shadows. How fortunate, since her wings would have drawn a few errant stares had they remained visible.
“Just as much as not wearing a stitch of clothing,” Clara muttered while eyeing her bare body. “At least I’m no worse for wear.”
Gabriel should have mentioned how her clothes would burn away as she fell to Earth. Then again, life on Earth was not without its challenges, and this was bound to get a few laughs back home.
Clara looked over her landing site, in the hopes of finding a lavish clothing store. On first glance that seemed unlikely, since all of the doors were boarded up.
“Just ducky!” Clara said aloud.
Just then, she noticed something nearer to the corner. Clara walked over the cool pavement, while the evening air clung to her skin and gave her a chill.
“That means it’s going to get really cold soon,” Clara said.
Upon closer inspection, Clara found a second set of scorch marks and indentations that looked similar to those she left behind. The surface of this landing site was still warm, so this damage had been recent.
“So that echo was real?” Clara wondered, but dared not consider it a possibility.
She was pretty sure that Gabriel would have sent only one champion to fulfil the mission. That man was not known for hedging his bets, or risk escalation.
“Besides,” Clara said. “Why not tell us ahead of time, to coordinate our search?”
When the wind picked up, Clara shivered. Reminded of her nudity, she made up her mind to solve the most pressing matter. It was going to get cold tonight, and she would need to find some warm clothes.
“Wonder if I’ll be able to charm someone into giving me their coat?” Clara asked while sauntering down towards the courtyard’s exit.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!
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