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 Chapter 6

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Jayde
Warlord
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Posts : 107
Join date : 2010-05-30
Age : 42
Location : Wintermist

PostSubject: Chapter 6   Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:35 pm

Alexander awoke, lying on his back, feeling a cool, light breeze blow across his face. He opened his eyes to see the sun had just begun to unleash its magic on the world and the early morning sky above his head was a mixture of red and purple, with scattered wisps of clouds. He sat up slowly, his muscles protesting in manner he was unused to. His armor ground against the earth, the noise loud in the stillness of the morning. His hands throbbed in time to his heartbeat and he brought them up in front of his face, looking at them curiously, unsure what he was going to see. They were the same, but trembling still from the fight. Gathering his strength he gradually got to his feet, muscles aching in protest. He frowned in consternation, then stretched his body first one way then the other, trying to get the tenderness to go away. Glancing around he found he was standing in the center of a small crater, the sides slightly sloping and reaching just above his head. He began to haul himself up and over the top. A jolt of unpleasant surprise shot through his body as his head breached the rim. He hauled himself over the top in a single, graceful move, aches forgotten, his body falling into a guarded stance. In front of him on the ground a few feet away, shoulders slumped and chin resting on his chest sat an unwelcome enemy, whose black armor was covered with dirt and blood, bright red and still fresh from the fight.

"Barbatos", Alexander said flatly.

"God Damn that hurt." The dark warrior said, bringing a hand up to rub a sore spot at the back of his neck. His other hand grabbed his jaw, moving it slowly from left to right. It made a grotesque popping noise. He dropped his arms and brought his attention to bear of his old comrade.

"It's been a long time old friend."

"Don't call me friend." Alexander responded sharply, a scowl crossing his features.

"Ouch. Such hard words. How long have we known each other…old friend"? Barbatos stressed the last words, a sneer in his voice, before softly answering his own question. "Since the beginning of time."

There was an uneasy pause as they stared silently at each other and it was Barbatos who dropped his eyes first, his gaze scanning the area. They were in the middle of a wheat field, at the east end of which stood a rustic wood farmhouse, with barns and a corral. The sun was just rising over a line of trees behind the homestead, sending rays of light through the early morning mist which still clung to the ground in lacy patches. He did not recognize anything and turned abruptly back to Alexander.

"So, do you have any idea what happened? We are about to take the Kingdom and the next second I land here, on this rock." He sneered his contempt for his surroundings, sweeping his hand out in a grand gesture, knowing exactly where he was.

Alexander gave a brief laugh. "Did you honestly think He would just let you take the Kingdom? He has cast you out, Barbatos, you and the vermin who fought with you."

"If that was so Alexander, then why are you here? Why is his loyal ," the sarcasm was heavy as he stressed the word, "warrior sitting here beside me? And where are my comrade-in-arms. If that were the case he did not just cast us out." he stressed, "Open your mind, Alex. Stop holding on to those asinine, outdated concepts you and the rest of the Kingdom Guard hold so dear. It is not you who is doing His bidding, but us. He stands with us."

Barbatos paused, a thoughtful look on his face as his mind correlated possible explanations. "No, I think it was Michael or perhaps Gabriel. One of the Archangels, I'm sure. They are the old regime, desperately trying to stay in power, not realizing that just like the creatures on this pathetic rock we to need to evolve." He nodded his head in emphasis.

"Has it not occurred to you that His most beloved, His archangels, defy you and all of your kind? Does that not say something?" Alexander demanded.

"It has been over 2000 years Alexander! 2000 years and no one, not Michael, not Gabriel, not even Satan has heard his voice. That doesn't seem strange to you? Even on this tiny little science experiment things have evolved. Does that not make sense to we, too, should evolve as well?" Barbatos snapped back.

"Faith, Barbatos, faith. You either have it or not," Alexander retorted.

..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Barbados shook his head sadly and dropped his eyes. An edgy silence fell on them, broken only by the soft rustling sound of the wheat in the field as a gentle breeze blow through it.

"Honestly, I've missed you Alex. You should have come with us." Barbatos said softly, his eyes rising to Alexander's once more.

"The feeling is not mutual Barbatos." Alexander responded calmly. "Sometimes you just have to obey and I could never have followed you."

"Good Lord Alexander, it is so obvious why can't you see it. Why can you not accept that we are suppose to take our destiny into our own hands. We are suppose to rule the Kingdom."

"You claim to know His mind, what He thinks. Stop guessing at what He is thinking and just do what He says. Do what you were told. We are soldiers. Soldiers obey commands. Time has no reference and you have challenged the command." Alexander answered as he began to rise to his feet. "It is you who have defied the command and this has made you a traitor."

"A traitor….again, you hurt me with your words." Barbatos rose to his feet, facing Alexander. "Well, lucky for me history is written by those who are victorious." Barbatos' muscles began to flex and ripple as he spoke. He leaned his shoulders forward and a pair of leathery, dark wings expanded from his back. "Traitor," he said questioningly, "No, I prefer the term liberater."

Alexander stared as Barbatos' dark eyes turned red and filled with fury. He ached for the friendship that had once been, his mind seeking a way to bring Barbatos back into the fold.

"Can you not see what you have become. Don't you feel it? Are you so blind with power and greed that you cannot even see yourself?" He demanded earnestly, his eyes searching the other's face for any sign of remorse.

"I have evolved." Barbatos said, his voice full of anger. "Just like the monkeys here. Even you must admit to that, Alexander. Every single one of us who have become liberators is twice as powerful as he once was. As soon as you embrace ,truly embrace it, you can feel the power flowing through you. Does that not prove we are right?"

"No Barbatos it does not. It proves nothing. Your lust for power and greed may have indeed increase your strength, but at what cost. You are an abomination. You have fallen from His grace. You act without conscience. This is not why we were created. We were created to do His bidding. We were created to be His soldiers, His messengers…His servants. He gave you the gift of free will and you have repaid Him by challenging His throne. You are a disgrace." Alexander's frustration showed clearly on his face.

"Well, we both can't be right Alex." A slight smile crossed Barbatos' lips. "I really have missed you."

Raising up his right arm toward the sky, a crack of lighting came from the heavens striking his hand where a sword appeared. The blade was black with angelic script adorning it. The words carved into the blade seemed to burn like hot embers and smoke drifted upward as if from a flame. But Alexander knew that, should the edge reach flesh, it would not burn but be devastatingly cold.

In answer to this threatening gesture, Alexander stretched out his own, white feathered wings. "Let us understand one another. You are no longer my brother. You are no longer my friend." He stated flatly. "Hear me, Atrocity, I am the wrath of He who creates all! I am no messenger, no watcher, I am His weapon. Look upon me with awe and see His divinity. I accept your challenge and I will defend His throne." Alexander's right hand raised skyward also and, as if to give weight to his words, lightning crashed into his hand leaving behind a sword wrapped in blue white flame.

"You always were long winded Alex. Eloquent, but very, very, long winded. Can we fight now or do you have another verse to add?" Barbatos retorted sarcastically.

Simultaneously they swung their arms, the swords crashed between them and the thunder of it boomed out in a wave over the wheat, making it ripple like a wind kissed green ocean. They swung viciously at each other, blocking then striking again, the air around them vibrating with each hit. Barbatos, using his wings, left his feet and dove at Alexander. His body spun in the air, a wing catching Alexander behind the knees in an effort to knock his opponent down. Alexander, with a quick flap of his own wings, managed to jump over the attack. Upon landing Barbatos used the momentum of his lunge and continued twisting, his right wing spread wide to catch at Alexander's head. Alexander immediately mimicked Barbatos' movement and swung his own wing into the path of the attack. Their wings crashed together, sounding like two wooden boards colliding. Each looking the other in the eye, as if in mutual agreement, they pulled their wings back behind them, each stepping back out of arms reach.

"We don't have to do this Alex, stop holding on to the old ways. If I am not the way of the future, then why did He not take my sword? Why do I still have the gift?" Barbatos queried, shaking his sword to emphasize his words..

"I don't claim to know what He thinks; I just do what I am told." The anger swelled in Alexander as he looked at the creature that was once his friend. He could taste the disdain in his mouth and he spat at the ground toward Barbatos. "Enough talk. Let us finish this……old friend."

"Really!?" Barbatos responded his voice laced with sarcasm. "Enough talk! I never thought I would hear you say that Alex. Normally I can't get you shut up."

Alexander launched himself toward Barbatos, thrusting his sword at his opponent's head. Barbatos quickly leaned to one side and pulled his head back just as the fiery weapon passed by. Not able to thrust his sword from his current stance Barbatos drove his right wing into Alexander's chest lifting him off the ground, then followed through with a spinning side kick to Alexander's face that caught the side of Alexander's head as he tried frantically to roll aside. The blow knocked Alexander to the ground and he lay for a second, stunned. Barbatos, swung his sword, bellowing in triumph, aiming for center of Alexander's body. Alexander attempted to move out of the way, but he was a fraction too slow. His opponent's sword tip caught him just below his shoulder, and a thin line of red appeared, causing a growl of pain to escape as the freezing cold of the blade bit deep.

Maintaining his grip on his own sword, Alexander's left hand instinctively went to the wound. He could feel bits of ice on his palm left behind from the blow as he managed to get to his feet and stumble backward. It was a sickening cold that rippeled through his entire body. It felt unnatural. Barbatos pressed home his attack in a flurry of perfectly coordinated sword strikes and sweeping blows from his wings, forcing his opponent to give ground.

Alexander managed to dodge one death blow after another until he was able to regain his balance and his own momentum. Calling on all his strength, he parried the next blow, swords coming together and catching at the hilts, both men now so close they could smell each other's breath.

"I hope that cut didn't hurt to badly Alex" Barbatos said mockingly. "I will try not to play with you to much, for old time's sake."

Both men pushed away, springing apart. Alexander was the quicker in attacking this time, leaping toward Barbatos and spinning his body like an Olympic diver, his spread wings hurtling toward his adversary head. Barbatos watched the impressive display clinically, his defense automatic as he squatted slightly and threw his own wings upward to ward off the attack. Their wings again collided with a shuddering thud, the sound vibrating like shockwaves in the air. Alexander, who had used his spinning wings as a distraction, took both hands and drove his sword into an exposed thigh. Barbatos screamed with pain as the flaming sword both penetrated and burned his flesh.

Alexander then began to hit the now kneeling Barbatos in the face with several pile driving, haymaker-style blows with his fist with his right hand still firmly holding the sword in Barbatos leg.

Recovering his wits in a surge of adrenaline, Barbatos grabbed Alexander's sword hand and ripped the still buried blade from his flesh. It was an unnecessary reminder to Alexander of just how strong Barbatos had become. Barbatos stood quickly, ignoring the pain of his wound and drove the top of his head into Alexander's chin. The impact of the collision and the freeing of the sword from his leg and sent Alexander backwards, his arms milling wildly to maintain his balance.

The blow had been hard enough to rattle his brain and he staggered like a drunken man as the vision of Barbatos swam before his eyes. Still backing he struggled to regain his wits.

Fortunately for the dazed warrior, Barbatos did not press the attack as he, also, needed a moment to overcome the pain from the leg wound. They circled each other warily, each waiting for the other to move until finally they came together again, swords clashing, sparks flying. Five minutes passed with only the sound of thundering crashes in the field, and the grunts of the men as the continued to seek out a weak spot in their opponent. Both were beginning to move heavily now, the length of the fight finally depleting even these stalwart warriors' reserves of strength.

Through deep breaths Barbatos spoke, "That last swing was a little slow Alex. You're getting tired, we both know it. Why don't you give in to the inevitable? I am twice as strong and skilled as I was when you and I fought side by side."

"Doubled. Well, thank goodness, I was concerned for a moment. If it's just doubled then I am still several times your peer," was Alexander's rejoinder.

Barbatos smiled for a moment at the joke, "I know you don't want to die. Join us and end this fight…. Or…. die by my sword."

Alexander was tired. He had still not fully recovered from his ordeal prior to falling and his strength was being sapped quickly. He had always been the type of warrior to give his all in battle and have little left at its conclusion. For the first time in his long life be wondered if he might lose.

"My entire life I have lived by the sword. It is what I was created to do. Fitting it would be for me to end my life by one." He answered defiantly. "Of course if you think you can take me so easily, what are you waiting for? You talk a lot Barbatos, but this is no time for feeble words. Bring your fight. I stand waiting for you."

So intensely engrossed in the other, neither warrior heard the rumble of a car engine. It was Barbatos who first noticed the ugly Pacific Green car and only because he was facing it and it careened toward him, pushing its way through the wheat like an ice breaker through an icepack. The supercharger engine screamed as the car hit a hillock and all four wheels left the ground, the vehicle now airborne heading directly for the two fighters.

Seeing the widening eyes of his quarry and realizing from the noise that he was being attacked from behind, Alexander made a lightening decision and rose straight up into the air with several powerful sweeps of his wings. Barbatos, now directly in the car's path of travel, narrowly avoided the collision as he desperately flapped his own wings and dove to the side, landing heavily on his left arm. The car seemed to move in slow motion as it topped its trajectory, its nose dropping, then crashing into the earth where it buried its front bumper in the loose dirt of the field. Metal screamed at the impact, then subsided into popping and hissing as the radiator voiced its objections.

From 20 feet up Alexander saw his advantage and, gathering his remaining strength, hurtled down onto his fallen foe, attacking Barbatos as furiously as his now trembling arms would allow. Barbatos, still attempting to get back onto his feet, could only defend himself, blocking fist, foot, sword and wing of Alexander's attack, his own strength almost gone. Although rattled from the attack, he appeared to be weathering the battering but knew he was weakening fast. He throw himself forward and wrapped his arms around Alexander, effectively pinning his opponent's arms against his chest. From the corner of his eye he saw a man pulling himself from the partially buried car and steady himself by resting a hand on a fender. For a split second Barbatos stared into the man's eyes testing his soul. The man was now steady on his feet and in the process of swinging up a shotgun, the muzzle aimed in their direction. Barbatos abruptly let Alexander go and jumped backward as a flash erupted from the end of the gun. He felt a solid punch from the bullet as it struck his chest, pushing him further back and knocking the wind out of him. He barely kept on his feet.

Alexander was momentarily distracted, but quickly used the diversion created by this unexpected help and closed the distance between them.

A second shot hit Barbatos, but this time he leaned into it, maintaining his balance. Although struck twice, there was no sign of blood from any wound. Flexing his chest muscles, arms out to the sides, he snarled at the shooter and took a couple of steps towards him. There was a whistling sound followed by a thunk, Barbatos stopped abruptly, his face leaching of all color. He slowly raised his right arm and found that his hand had been severed; all that was left was a bloody stump at the end of his forearm. He frowned, and then his eyes followed the stream of blood that was spewing from the stump down to the ground, where his hand lay, still clutching his sword. The runes in the sword now colorless.

His head suddenly felt very heavy and he struggled to raise it, his gaze searching out Alexander, whose face held a look of profound sorrow. There was another crack of gunfire. The slug thumped into Barbatos' chest and, this time blood began to flow freely from the wound. He stumbled, his eyes began to dim and fear entered them as he slowly toppled forward. He was dead before he hit the trampled wheat.

"Good bye…old friend" Alexander said standing over the body. Then his legs failed him as what little strength he had left deserted him and he collapsed awkwardly onto his backside, his wings tucking themselves tidily out of sight behind him. He sat with one knee bent, resting his weary arms on it. After a moment, he lifted his head and looked at the man with the gun, which was now pointing directly at his chest, summoning words to a throat that was tight with grief and heartfelt disgust.

"Thank you for your help. I am Seraphim Alexander. To whom do I owe my debt of gratitude?" he said.

Carpenter had moved to within a few feet of this extraordinary being, holding the shotgun at half rest, but with the muzzle still pointed towards the angel. He was feeling off balanced with the day's events and not prepared for the polite, but oh so ordinary question. His answered was habitual and automatic. "James Carpenter, Captain, United States Army".

Louis and Jessica had finally crawled from the crumpled, but still running vehicle, just in time to hear Carpenter speak.

Jessica stared, mouth partially open, blatantly gawking at what she could not believe.

Louis continued to walk forward; he too was mesmerized at what he was seeing. Before him stood an honest to goodness Angel. For his entire life he had been told of their existence but, of course, he had never seen one. The idea that his life had been dedicated to God, something he had never seen or touched or could felt, all at once it was justified. He continued forward until he was standing over this unbelievable sight and like a child at a museum slowly reached out his hand to touch what sat before him. "Can….can I touch you?" he asked hesitantly.

Alexander frowned, his tired brain trying to understand the logic behind this request. "Is he serious?" Alexander said wearily, looking at Carpenter, his voice deep.

Carpenter shrugged, his brain still sluggish over the last few hour's events.

"If you feel you must." Alexander directed his answer at Louis.

Louis was still in the awe of Alexander's existence. Many times he had heard of miraculous things and been told wondrous spiritual events, but none of those ever seemed real. They never touched his soul. Now in front of him was a wonder that had to be real. He could feel it down to his very essence. What sat before him was definitely a creation of God. He could feel it, almost like a warm fleece blanket covering his body with a sense of peace.

He first touched Alexander's arm, only daring to put a single finger on him. The skin beneath that finger was warm and smooth to the touch. After a moment, he placed his whole hand on the arm, tentatively resting it there. Alexander twitched and Louis removed his hand as if the flesh had burned him. But then, as if drawn against his will, he slowly reached out again, this time toward the top of Alexander's wings, just visible behind his shoulders, his eyes round with wonder. He barely touched the feathered surface before withdrawing his hand moving a few steps away.

Alexander watched the three humans with as much curiosity as they were watching him. It took a few moments for him to realize that their stares were beginning to make him feel uncomfortable and he slowly rose to his feet.

Carpenter had been looking at the dead thing, noticing the blood that had been pumping from the open wounds. He frowned. He had initially thought that this being was the one they had encountered earlier, however, he could see, close up, that it was not. He turned his head towards Alexander as the angel rose. "We saw another one of these earlier." He said, nodding his head towards the body.

"What do you mean you saw another one?" Alexander's tone was sharp.

Carpenter pointed to the dead creature on the ground. "One of these. Although the one we saw was damn near invincible. This one seemed to go down easy."

"Where did you see it?" Alexander demanded.

"Some distance back on this road. At a military base."

Alexander dropped his head in thought, a troubled frown on his face. "I don't understand, why did this happen," he murmured, his tone showing his puzzlement. He slowly raised his head and drew in a deep breath. The frown disappeared. He let out a long sigh. "It is His will," he said calmly.

"His will? Could you shed some light on what is going on here?" Carpenter asked, frustration clear in his voice.

Alexander looked up, the frown returning to his handsome features.

"I am afraid I don't fully understand it myself," he said patiently. "Sometimes He works in mysterious ways."

"Ok, look, I am just trying to catch up with what you do know. Unless I am mistaken you are an Angel. Is this correct? Cause if you're not, I am dying to know what the hell you are?" Carpenter struggled to keep his tone even, and was pleased at how well he managed to do, considering that his heart was thumping so hard in his body that he was surprised the others couldn't hear it.

"I am a Seraphim." Alexander responded gravely.

"That's an Angel." Louis interpreted, relief in his voice. He had been standing just behind Carpenter and now took a step forward, exposing himself fully to Alexander.

"Thank you Louis. I have read the bible once or twice myself." Carpenter said dryly, turning his head to look at the Lieutenant. He turned back to the Angel and pointed to the dead creature on the ground. "What is that?"

"That is a traitor."

"A fallen Angel!" Louis exclaimed.

"If that is the term you prefer." Alexander responded, inclining his head regally.

"This Fallen Angel…" Carpenter was cut off.

"Barbatos," Alexander interrupted.

"Excuse me?" Carpenter asked, his frown deepening. What the hell did Barbados have to do with this.

"His name was Barbatos." Alexander stated in a tone demanding respect for his former brother.

Carpenter paused. He understood what Alexander was doing. Carpenter had always hated the "body counts" that people discuss. When his troops died they were not bodies. They had names.

"I'm sorry," he ground out, "I didn't mean to offend you. I hope you will excuse my next statement as well." Carpenter continued with a tone of diplomacy. "The Angel we fought at our military base seemed unstoppable. Yet, Barbatos seemed to fall much easier. Perhaps you can explain why that is"

"I had taken his gift when you shot him." Alexander responded cryptically.

Jessica had been standing to one side listening avidly, but she was growing more and more impatient with what she saw as Carpenter's lack of control over the situation. They really needed to get some questions answered, and fast. She stepped up next to Carpenter, putting her hand on his arm and asked the next question herself. .

"His gift? What is that?"

Seeing the confusion in the faces before him, Alexander explained. "At the beginning He gave all of my kind a gift. It lies within our right hand. It is the hand we use to heal and guide. It is the hand we use to command and it is the hand we use to enforce His wrath. Lose this gift and you become free."

"Free from what?" Jessica questioned.

"You will no longer fall under His grace. You are no longer obedient to His command and you are free to do whatever you wish without His wrath. Of course you also lose all the strengths He has bestowed upon you. I took the gift from Barbatos before you shot him."

"By cutting off his right hand?" Carpenter interjected, twitching his arm from under Jessica's hold.

"Yes."

"How many more of you are there?" Jessica said quickly interrupting Carpenter.

"I don't know. I can feel some of my brothers, but I am not sure how many. There is one in that direction, but I am not sure how far." Alexander pointed as he spoke and Carpenter turned his head, following the pointing finger and looking towards the west.

"We are heading in that direction ourselves," she said.

"And I sure wouldn't mind a Guardian Angel with me if you would like to travel with us," Carpenter added half in jest. Alexander did not appear to see the humor.

"I don't mind traveling with you, but I am not that kind of Angel."

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Chapter 6
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