(NaNoWriMo, unedited) Between Heaven and Hell is a place only lost souls walk, alone, shrouded by grief and confusion and the knowledge and suspense that leads, hand in hand with eternal life and possible damnation. Between the bodies and scattered plans to escape to a world where their actions are not judged by a man without fault or knowledge claiming to be holy, a hero of sin rose. His name was Lucifer, and he would be the one to lead a revolution using hatred and hearts of wounds. He would be the one to let the evil rise.


15. Down With A Fight

    He started his own walk down into the pit, where nearly hundred whipped swords and curled knives around their bodies like ballet ribbons.  No one was chatting anymore, and the air was full of grunts and yelps when someone missed.  No matter what the guards did, they couldn’t keep them quiet, since they were training to fight too.  He suspected that if people heard those screaming in here, in the hidden town in the valley, no one would be eager to invade.  If they knew the man with the most powerful blood was, they might, but he doubted it.  He still didn’t feel like he was worth much more than that.

    He moved to a flimsy stage, constructed out of crates were one of the committee members were teaching combat.  He swept his sword through the air, and it reflected all of the light around it in a dazzling, and dizzying display.  The thin mattress before him, with two large bounds of hay sticking through each side, broke into three pieces.  The dummy’s wings fell from his body, the hay rushing from his wounds.  Fate’s wings jumped back inside him, knocking him forward and into the man’s line of vision.

    “Lucifer!” he boomed, twirling the sword in his hands as if it didn’t weigh a thing.

    “Hello, um…”

    “Persua.”  he said, crouching down until his feet were flat on the floor with his head nearly dropped to Fate’s eye level, making him very uncomfortable with the space relation.  Persua seemed to be part skinhead, part soldier.  A large-armed man with a bullet wound in the side of his head, “Don’t tell me you remember Tenet and Captain - so help me - Credo, but you don’t remember good auld Persua?”

Bar the “captain” part, none of those names sounded familiar to him in the first place.  The committee was a union, like a hive.  They moved as one, spoke as one - spoke for “the people”, apparently.  Except for Hope (and, obviously, Betty) Fate wasn’t sure if he could remember one of their names.  He just shook his head.

“Well, it’s about time you showed up, Hope said you’d sleep in but I didn’t expect half the day.”

“Sorry,” Fate said, his nose scrunched and his face to the ground in a way you would if you were looking for pity, even if only mockingly, “I died in my sleep.”

Persua looked down on him, as if he were a bug under his heavy, steel-toed boot.  He clicked at a man in the crowd.  He wasn’t much older than Fate, and was one of the only angels Fate had ever imagined with a shaved head.  It was too short to not have been cut only a day ago, when the other angels were woken.

“Boy, how many times have you died today?”

“Four, sir.” he called up, standing to attention.

Persua stayed informal, and gestured around with wide-open arms as if showing something obvious and fair, “We’re all doing it for the war, Luci, at least that guy’s dying outside.”

Fate made a strangled noise, hardly used to Lucifer, and Luci making him wish he was the dark angel everyone made him out to be.  He felt people behind him giggle, and he wanted to melt into a puddle all of a sudden.

“Nothing to say, soldier?”

Fate clenched his jaw.

“No?  Then grab a sword and get out there, for Pete’s sake!”

He took a sword out of a barrel and a mat from the pile.  It smelled like mildew, but at least if he died half-way through the training, he wouldn’t crack his head open, that always kept him out for an extra hour or so.

He looked around, realising he knew no one.  All of the faces blinked at him, and he blinked back, unsure.  Part of him - the selfish part - thought they might move for him, and let him take up their space.  He knew at times like this he wasn’t the almighty lord the committee (or at least, most of it) wanted him to think he was.

“Problem?” Persua said again, holding his sword to the tip of Fate’s nose.

“No, sir.” he hated that word for as long as his memory would allow him to remember.

“Then move to the back, young man, learn and earn you place.  You there, what do we say?”

A slightly older angel with the same shaved head stood to his other side.  She said, “Learn and earn your place, sir.”

“That’s right!” Persua shouted, instead of spoke.  Fate watched in horror as the soldier drove a knife through the angel dummy’s chest, pulling a straight line down, right until its legs.  She was just just its size, their wings the same.

“Come here,” a voice said, poking Fate with his extremely blunt sword, “You can stand here.”

He was a few rows back, and for that Fate was thankful.  He put down his bedding, and the other angel positioned the target between them.  It didn’t have a single scratch so far.

    Fate felt his heart skip a beat, realising that the other angel was one he had seen before, but sleeping.  The angel wore a new shirt that had short sleeves, so the marks on his arm where his blood had been drained were still visible, bruised and rotten.  The man smiled as if he had woken from a nightmare, glad to see the world again.

    “You must be Fate?” he said.

    “Fate?  I thought you all must have heard Lucifer?”

    “I did, but Bede met me when I first came into the town, and she told me to call you by your name.”

    Fate smiled to himself, “And you are?”

    “Joy, it’s a pleasure.”

    “Joy?” he asked, feeling the sword in his hands, “Who chose your name?”

    Joy chuckled, deep and rough like beer or velvet, “Your friend, Bede.  She said she’s never chosen a name before, but that I deserve a good one.”

    Fate tried to keep his lips pressed shut, but he couldn’t help from smiling, which left him with crow’s feet on his eyes, and Joy laughing after him.

    “We all have our talents, Fate.”

    “I never said a thing!”

    They both laughed, and perhaps too loudly in the quiet training ground.

    “You two!” Persua screamed.

    “Yes.  Yes, sir.” Fate said, poking Joy with his sword, trying to make him laugh.  Joy jabbed back with a knife, and the bluntless alone of all of their “war” items made the two of them snigger like school children.

“Is there a problem, boys?”

“No, sir.” Joy said, not very convincingly.

“Lemme catch you one more time, and I swear to God.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes.” they said, both giving each other looks, thinking that he hadn’t actually told them what he would do.

“And Lucifer, you’re not gettin’ any kinds a’ privileges because of who you are, got it?”

The army laughed at him again, and Fate suddenly got more serious.

“Yes, of course, sir.” he said, making Joy snort.

“Good.  Resume.” and with that, Persua swung his sword, knocking the head off of the dummy, and making a very scared teenage boy bring up another one in it’s place.

    Fate shoved Joy playfully, “Don’t make me laugh.”

    He pointed to himself, “Don’t make me laugh!”

    They both then started laughing again, Joy leaning in behind the doll for some cover.

    “He hates us, that commander.”

    “Who?  Persua?”

    Joy nodded, biting his lip to keep himself together, since his eyes were beginning to water, “He doesn’t like angels.  He thinks he should be able to break through the barrier with brute strength.”

    They looked up at him, as he took to the angel dummy as a punching bag, knocking it over.

    “I think you’re right, he’d love that.” Fate said.

    “He thinks he doesn’t need us, and I wish he were right, sleeping suited me much more.  But what can a revolutionary do?”

    “You make a good point, Joy.”

    “Thank you, Fate.” he snorted again, “These nicknames always make me laugh, sorry.”

    “Why are you so giddy!” Fate said, taking a half-hearted whack at the mannequin, trying to seem busy.  It didn’t seem as if Persua wanted them to learn any skills, but instead learn how to keep hitting until angels could no longer rot you where you stood.  For that, you just had to keep whacking until something fell off, something of theirs, preferably.

    “I was asleep for a generation, let me live!”

    “I was asleep a thousand years, and I’m already tired of being awake.”

    Joy smirked, “I heard a rumor that you never slept, just jumped from angel’s dreams, convincing them you were a God.”

    “Who said that?” he dropped his sword to his hip, “I was only in Con’s dreams anyway.”

    “No one who dreamt of you, don’t worry.  And I believe it’s a matter of importance.  If you’re worth anything, you hold a scar, if you deserve more, you hold a memory.  If the angels are worth anything, they are dreamt of.  We’re your predecessors, I suppose.”

    “You’re worth more than that, Joy.”

    “Thank you, master.”

    Fate pushed him again.  Joy covered his mouth when he laughed, and his eyes turned to crescent moons.

    “You can not call me master, please.”

    “Okay,” he muttered under his breath, “Master.”

    “Are you friends with Con by any chance?”

    Joy laughed again, “No, but I used to have long dreams about all of you.  You stood in this warm, glowing place.  You all seemed so content, it was a nice change from having my blood stolen, anyway.  You, Bede, Con, Hope, Faith, and a boy I didn’t know.  He was always asleep too, I thought it was me for a long time before I realised that it wasn’t just my hair that was black.”

    “A boy?” Fate shook his head, “That’s about everyone I know that I could be with in a dream, and even then, I can’t imagine Hope being there.”

    “Well, Hope was in most of the other angel’s dreams as well, at least the ones that saw you.  I don’t know who the boy was though.  He lay on these bright, white steps.”

    “An angel?”

    Joy nodded, his look serious.”

    “Maybe he’s being woken now, and I’ll meet him before the war.”

    “I doubt it, that’s not how it works?”

    “Is there another rule I don’t know?”

    “There’s many I don’t, but I believe that you only dream of the people that the dark angel meets before you meet the dark angel, so Con knows everyone from him back to when you first met Bede, and I know everyone from this point back,” he shrugged, “You must have met the boy.”

    Fate looked off into the crowd, as if he’d find him and remember, but nothing came to his mind, “I don’t remember him.”

    “Maybe you will, don’t worry.  Until then, pick up your sword.  In my past life I made my way as a caretaker for a wealthy family that trapped me on Earth, posing as impoverished folk.  Heaven thought I had abandoned, and here I am, but the positive is that I did learn to fence.”

    Fate laughed, and rubbed his nose, readying his stance, “Of course that’s how you ended up stuck here, Joy.”


    He swished his sword in a way he imagined would be impressive if he knew what he was doing, or even held a sword once in his life before, “En garde, is it?”

    Joy took a step back, phazed, “You’re good at that.”

    “This?” he rolled the blade between his fingers again, and it quickly became lighter and fun, “It’s easy to me.”

    “Ah, you really are the dark angel.” Joy joking, semi-serious it would seem, and he let Fate take the first swing, which ended up with him taking Joy’s arm off, and they laughed as Joy stitched it together with his powers that he somehow had, and Fate didn’t have much more than skills that related back to sins.

    “Do you think you could spare some of that, sir?” a girl was holding her head scarf tighter, her ear still on her mat.

    “No problem,” he stood up and went to grab it, “Practice getting to the wings, eh, Fate?”

    While he helped the girl stitch back on her ear with thread he could spin from air (or bone fragments and platelets, as Joy said, as there was nothing that couldn’t be left up to created science, he explained), others began to queue behind her.  People missing arms, and hands, and some who shook and vomited holding bodies and heads in separate arms.

    The screams made themselves known.  People were aiming for stationary targets, and someone would get in the way.  It wasn’t a game anymore, and as Fate looked to Joy, he realised that it had been like that all day, this wasn’t new, and Persua just watched over them still kicking his dummy to the ground.

    He looked around, and realised that no one else noticed either.  There was no extra charm on the soldiers, but simply the sin of that place, the dehumanisation, made everyone keep going.  Angels still in their nightgowns fired arrows into stuffed hearts, what children there were tried their hand at dragging a blade through the base of a skull, and even the barmaid twins worked like clockwork, taking down five soldiers each in minutes.  They laughed together, one shining and beautiful, skin like peaches and cream.  The other’s scars were beginning to rise again, tearing her scars open as time went on, and her thick hair falling to the ground.  It seemed to hurt when she smiled, so she tried not to, even when the youngest twin - the one she died for - did well, she just hugged her tight, tighter the more scars showed.  Behind them, he watched Aspir.  He was long dead, his eyes hallowed through and his head distant from his body.

    “What’s happening?” he said, breathless.

    Joy noticed it as well, “It’s been happening for years, so they say.  That’s how armies are built, but people ignore it, because if you wait, you’ll always return to your true Purgatory state, so why try to heal your people?”

He patted another arm as he finished stitching, and another head fell into his lap.  It was as if Joy suddenly remembered he was there.

“You’ve, uh, been practicing with Hope, right?”

“Yes.  He’s been training me more on using more powers of light or darkness.”

“Well, you’re good with a sword, you could even leave early I’m sure.”

“Leave training?” he looked back at Joy, who nodded frantically, “Why?”

“Just go, Lucifer!”

“B-B…” he backed away, hiding his body with his arms.  He noticed how the people stopped to stare at him, as if he were about to attack him, or a danger.  As they scowled like defensive animals, he was sure he heard the army angels draw their swords behind him.

“Leave!” Joy shouted, suddenly rising, ten golden threads appearing from his fingers, as sharp as needles.

“Is there a problem, Lucifer?”

He whipped around, seeing Captain Credo and feeling a strong hand on his shoulder, as if he were precious merchandise.  Credo watched the crowd through a grey eye, and they stumbled onto each other trying to back away.

    “N-No.” he finally said.

    “Leaving you out was a mistake.” he said, still watching the skinhead angels, who put their swords away with a loud slinking noise, making themselves known with narrowed eyes, “And letting Persua set up an angel army was a worse idea.”

    “What’s done is done.” Tenet walked behind him, cleaning her glasses.  Neither of them noticed more than the scent of blood, but they pretended to not see the death around them.

    “We should be finished soon, there’s not much more we need to finish.” Credo said, “Persua, how’s the training plan?”

    “We’ve completed all steps,” he lied with his hands behind his back and his chin in the air.

    “Great, and-” Tenet was cut off by an arm taking her leg.  She nearly jumped from her skin.

    “Miss…” a woman old enough to have grandchildren lay at her ankles, both her legs missing below the knee, “Help me, please.”

    “Christ!” Tenet seemed as if she was a moment from kicking the woman away, as if she were a stray cat without eyes or ears, but before she had a chance Fate knelt beside her, taking her head in his lap.

    “Someone call someone!  Joy, can you help?” he sounded desperate in his own head.

    Joy was the only person to turn to action, looking for the legs, but the people didn’t help, or even move, so he wound up helpless.  He looked back at Fate with guilt that took over his soul.  Tenet and Credo backed away as the dark halo around Fate grew.

    “Someone, help…” he felt like giving up, but the woman was fading fast, screaming out for help that could never come.

    “Lucifer,” Tenet said, controlled, but through gritted teeth in a heavy set jaw, “Get away from her.”

    “No!” he yelled, looking around himself for her sawn limbs.

    “You can’t help.”

    “I can try.”

    “I can’t do anything, it’s too late.”    

    “Why can’t I?” he screamed as the woman drew her last breath.  His face dropped his hers, although it had accidentally scorched beyond recognition, and he realised he wished that he himself were asleep again too, dreaming of nothing yet, needing no salvation.  The black grew like wildfire, and the other soldiers backed away, afraid of it’s rate, “Why can’t I do anything I was born to do?  Answer me that!”

    “Lucifer, you crave human blood,” Tenet said, her body flat against the stage, her glasses smashed under her foot and her eyes manic, “It makes you powerful.  If you drink that, you could rot us all, and we could not stop you.”

    He couldn’t believe that.  He was guided to blood before, drawn to it, but he never would… He’s never…

    Fate pressed his fingers through her muscles.  Her blood was apple red, and it smelled as sweet as honey.  Just to test what she was saying, a little couldn’t hurt.  His eyes blurred, the warmth of the blood drawing him in like crooked fingers emerging from the darkness of a room.

    “That’s it, I’m putting him down.” Tenet said, grabbing a knife and pulling Fate’s head back by his slicked hair.   He hissed loudly, nearly loud enough to burst an eardrum.

    “Wait!” Joy sat beside him, taking his hands.  He broke through the blackness, but Fate still snapped at his hands trying to test the rich blood, “Don’t, we need him.  He’ll be fine, won’t you Fate?”

    “That stupid pet name…” Credo swore at them.

    Tenet tried to aim for his neck through Joy’s hands, but she couldn’t, “He needs to be put down.”

    “You undermine angels.”

    “You undermine the destruction of the holy word, sir,” she said, but she pulled away, “Prove it so.”

    Joy seemed relieved, as if his job was over.  Something behind the snapping and fading, Fate realised that all of his friends knew one thing, as the all took his face in his hands.  Was that in their dreams of him?

    “Fate,” Joy whispered, his fingers soft in Fate’s hairline, “Are you okay?”
    There’s so much war, he thought.

    “I know.”

    All the death and sadness.

    “I know, Fate.

    I just want it all to go away for a while.

    Joy laughed.  Not a laugh but half a smile and his moon-like eyes.  The emitted light, and broke the black veil covering Fate’s face.

    Come to our village tonight?

    “Come back to us, and I will.”

    “I’m always here.” Fate laughed, a noise like silk from his lungs, and he buried his tear streaked face in the crook of Joy’s neck.  The skinhead angels and their part of the committee sighed, disappointed that Hope’s dark angel’s dark blood wasn’t slipping through the boardwalk cracks, slashing the sand below like God’s rain.  Joy dug his nails in a little harder to Fate’s back.

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