Saturday Evening, 6:07 PM EST…
'I do not want to do this.' she thought sadly, looking onto the park basketball court at him. 'Damn the Inquisition for making me do this.' But she knew it was too late to turn back now.
Gabrielle sat on the old, rusted playground swing, the cold winter breeze kicking up the dead dark brown leaves on the ground around her. She could barely feel the bite of the chill, her thoughts completely occupied by other matters at the moment. Like how much she hated the Head Inquisitor for handng this assignment to her, the infuriating fake smile given to her still fresh in her mind. Or more importantly, the young man playing basketball she had been following all day and was now intently observing as the sun began to set. 'He does not deserve what is coming. This is not fair!' She sighed deeply and stood up from the swing seat, the collar of her black leather jacket and white scarf flowing in the sudden gust of winter air. 'He is so young, full of life and promise. So…innocent. Divine Father, why do I have to kill him?' She cleared a lock of her long curly red hair from her eyes, thinking back to how it all came down to this.
The Day Before…
She walked down the dimly lit stone hallway, the only sounds to be heard were the harsh winds of the eternal storm howling outside and her footsteps echoing on the cold black marble floor and walls. The torches lined along the walls of the long hallway cast eerie shadows that seemed to move like living things, making her wonder if the tales about the Citadel of Judgment were true. The running story was that the souls of those judged and found guilty by the Divine Inquisition were trapped in the walls of the Citadel to suffer for all eternity. 'Knowing the sadistic Head Inquisitor, it is probably all true...' she thought grimly as she continued down the hall. 'And now they want to see me. Oh, this cannot be good.'
She came to a stop in front of the two tremendously sized black iron doors at the end of the hall. Two powerfully built figures dressed in black and silver plate-mail armor and robes bearing the insignia of the Inquisition stood guard on either side of the doorway. The two carried huge imposing halberds that were almost as long as the owners were tall, and they looked like they knew how to use them well. They both turned and looked down towards her as one, brightly glowing red eyes trying to bore a hole into her through their helms.
"State your name and your business!" the guard on the right demanded in a booming voice.
"The Archangel Gabrielle." she answered, returning his gaze. "I am here to see the Head Inquisitor."
"Has your presence been requested?" the other guard asked.
'I am definitely not here by my own choice.' she almost said aloud, but kept to herself. "Yes, I am expected."
"Wait here." the guard stated as his glowing eyes died out and looking like the life had left them. A minute later, the glow returned to his eyes and the doors swung open inward. "You may enter, Archangel Gabrielle. May the Creator have mercy upon your soul!"
"Thank you... I think." The room she walked into was large and spacious, lit and made warm by the roaring fire in the grand fireplace to the far left side. Gabrielle stepped onto the plush blood red carpet and turned around as she heard the doors slam shut behind her. 'Abandon all hope ye who enter here.' She looked around and took notice of her surroundings. Horned and fanged evil looking skulls and heads were mounted on the walls, presumably gathered from the Archangel of Judgment's demon hunting tours of duty. The flickering light of the flames gave illusion to the long dead orbs and empty sockets that life still played in them. 'There's probably already a spot all picked out for my head.'
Her eyes came to the only thing she found she actually liked in the room, an enormous ornate wall mural depicting in loving detail the Fall, so detailed she could pick out and name some of the angels seen fighting at Heaven's Gate in it. Surveying the mural she found the leader of the Divine Inquisition knee-deep in the battle, swinging away with that damnable whip sword. What disturbed Gabrielle most was that there was the Head Inquisitor, killing those that had once been brothers and sisters with what almost looked like glee. 'Sometimes I wonder if we cast one great evil out and left one in just as bad.' Shuddering a little at the thought, her eyes came to rest on the battle scene between the leader of the Creator's armies Michael and the great Dragon Lucifer, locked in bloody combat that literally shook the heavens that day. 'Wait. Something is not right on there...' Gabrielle took a closer look at the picture and then it came to her. 'I do not believe this! I was left out of the mural! Of all the petty, pathetic...!'
"Gabrielle. How good of you to come." The voice snapped her out of her silent rant and brought her back into the room. She turned to the direction it came from and saw the massive desk covered with neatly piled over sized tomes and scrolls positioned in front of the window that took up most of the wall on that side of the room. There was a throne-like, handsomely carved mahogany chair with gold trimmings behind the desk and standing beside it looking out the window was a hooded figure. The figure had their back to Gabrielle and was cloaked in black and crimson robes, the sign of the Divine Inquisition emblazoned in silver on the back. "I'm so pleased you could make it. Please, have a seat." A motion was casually made to the chairs seated in front of the desk without turning around to face the summoned Archangel.
"It is not as if I had any real choice in the matter," she said as neutrally as she could manage. "And I prefer to stand, thank you." That last part probably didn't help make her sound neutral, she thought, but it was the best she could manage considering whom she was dealing with.
"This is true...you really don't have a choice these days, do you? Very well, as you wish. Let's get down to business then, shall we?" The Archangel of Judgement finally turned around and removed the hood. The woman underneath was strikingly beautiful, although Gabrielle would burn an eternity in Hell before she admitted that to anyone. Her long straight black hair was combed back from her face, dark red lips nearly matching the hue of her slightly glowing eyes and making a striking contrast on her bone white skin. She looked delicate, almost fragile, but Gabrielle knew better. Other then Michael, there was no one more dangerous in combat in all of Heaven.
'Well, no one other then me.' she smiled to herself for a moment before putting a blank emotionless look back on her face. "Why am I here, Dominique?"
The robed woman sat down behind the desk, looking at the summoned Archangel a moment with what she could almost swear was a predatory stare before speaking. "I have an assignment for you."
"For me? I am not one of your Inquisition lap dogs. Why not use one of them to do whatever it is?"
"Because all of my loyal agents are at the time being occupied, and this matter needs to be handled quickly." she replied coolly, a smile as devoid of warmth as the halls of the Citadel spreading on her lips. "And more importantly, dear 'Gabby'," Dominique added emphasis on her hated nickname. "Because I said I want you to do it."
Gabrielle stiffened while trying to contain the nearly overwhelming urge to swing at the other Archangel. When she thought she had her anger under control, she breathed deep and spoke in a forced calm tone. "Very well, 'Nique'…What is my assignment?" She took a small amount of pleasure as she saw the Head Inquisitor bristle hearing her name butchered.
Dominique recovered quickly and her ice like smile returned. "You are to go to the material plane and find one…" she began while reaching into the desk and pulling out an ivory scroll tube. She looked at the writing on the side before tossing it to Gabrielle, who caught it smoothly. "…Zakeil Morgan. A Nephilim."
"You have got to be joking! You want me to do gathering duty for a Nephilim? Besides, is that not the Cherubim's duty?"
The Inquisitor leaned back into her chair and her smile grew even wider as her eyes became glowing red slits. "'Gathering'? I don't recall saying anything about you 'gathering' anyone."
"What do you mean?" Gabrielle felt something was very wrong, yet had no idea exactly what. "You just said I was to find the Nephilim and..."
"But I never said bring him back." Dominique interrupted. "Your orders are to destroy him."
"Destroy him? But…why?" The Archangel was stunned. She knew the standard procedure was to now find the Nephilim and bring them back to Heaven to live among the Divine, instead of considering them abominations and slaying them as the Archangel Melos had once decreed. That bloody practice had continued for centuries, until the Creator became aware of what was going on and commanded that Melos cease the hunting and destroying of the Nephilim. The Creator then decreed that they were now to be harvested into the care and custody of the forces of Heaven. It was thought that a half celestial, half mortal child would be better off living on the Divine plane then the earth plane. That, and they wouldn't have the chance to be tempted to use their gifts and abilities for the side of darkness.
"'Why' is information given out on a need to know basis, Gabrielle. And you don't." She stood up and rounded the desk to stand right in front of the stunned Archangel, the two eye to eye. "All you need to know is that this is your mission, and failure is not an option. Understood?"
"But I do not understand why…"
The leader of the Divine Inquisition leaned forward, smiling that predatory smile again. "Of course, if you feel you aren't up to this task, I understand. Perhaps we can find something more suitable for you. Something…simpler."
Cold fury swept through Gabrielle as her eyes flashed with an angry golden light. "No. It will be done."
"Are you sure? If it will be a problem…"
"It will not be a problem." The Archangel of Heralds stressed the words, glaring at her. "I will leave to take care of it immediately."
"Gabrielle, is something wrong? You seem…tense. Is there something else on your mind?" The Inquisitor smiled sweetly at her.
"May I be totally honest here?" She asked through gritted teeth.
"This is Heaven, darling. If you can't be honest here, where can you be? Speak freely."
"I hate you with an undying passion!" Gabrielle said heatedly, her eyes glowing brightly with her ferocity. "You know how I feel about killing innocents!"
"Oh but I do know, darling. Why do you think I picked you for this particular mission?" Dominique laughed at her. "I mean, I do realize the body count won't be quite what you're used to but those were the good old days, weren't they?"
"You are such a black hearted bitch!"
The robed Archangel moved back to her chair and sat down, staring at her with blazing red eyes. "Perhaps. But more importantly, I'm the bitch in charge. Now run along, Gabby. Dismissed."
With that the massive ebony iron doors swung open and Gabrielle stormed out of the room, Dominique's laughter following her down the hall, only serving to fan the flames of her rage further. 'One day, witch…one day there will be a reckoning between us. Count on it!' The Archangel was so full of anger and hate for the Inquisition leader she didn't even notice she was no longer alone in the hallway, not until she walked into someone and knocked the other over. The sound of books falling to the floor followed by the impact sound of a body against the hard surface brought her back to her surroundings.
"Please, I'm so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going and... Gabrielle?" The young man on the floor started fearfully, pausing from gathering up the books and scrolls he dropped to look up at her.
She reached down to help the other angel pick up his dropped materials and then pulled him up to his feet. "No, I am sorry, Marcus. I was not paying attention."
"It's OK. I'm just glad it was you that ran me over and not one of the Seraphim guards." He adjusted his glasses and took a good look at her. "Must be a lot on your mind."
"Yes. It is about my latest assignment...from Dominique."
A low whistle escaped from Marcus' lips. "I was wondering what you were doing in the Citadel." He said, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "But seeing the Head Inquisitor? That I wouldn't have guessed. I thought you two had problems after the whole Raizel mess?"
"'Problems'. I suppose that is the polite way of putting us trying to kill each other." She stated in a low menacing tone, her hands balled up into fists and eyes glowing bright as her fury at the other Archangel returned.
"Damn, I'm sorry. I forgot that's an off limits topic."
"Never mind. Forget about it." For a second Gabrielle forced herself to calm down, and when she did she resumed speaking. "I will speak with you later, Marcus. Perhaps we will get together when I get back from this mission. I could probably use the company to help take my mind off of it."
"Sounds good to me. What's the job anyway?"
She took a deep sigh, looking at the ivory scroll tube in her hand. "Believe it or not, I am to hunt this Nephilim down and terminate him."
"What? But...we don't do that! We haven't killed a Nephilim in ages, not since Melos!"
"I know. But apparently the rules have changed yet again."
"OK, something very wrong is going on here."
"I agree. I do not want to kill anyone." 'God, I had hoped and prayed to never have to do this again!' She thought, an involuntary shudder running through her body at memories of the past she wished she could forget, but never would.
Marcus looked around the hallway then leaned in near her. "For awhile now, Dominique has been requesting everything she can from the Grand Library concerning an old prophecy." He whispered conspiratorially "It talks about 'One that shall be responsible for either Creation's salvation or utter destruction'."
"I think I have heard that one once. What about it?"
"The 'One' in the prophecy..." he answered in a low hushed tone, "Is a Nephilim."
"But that is madness! If she knows the prophecy, then why jeopardize existence by having any of the Nephilim killed?"
"I don't know. Yet. But you can't go through with this mission!"
She closed her eyes and turned away from him, hugging herself. "I do not have a choice. It is a direct order, and I cannot afford to get into any trouble with the Inquisition. I will be damned if I give Dominique the pleasure of prosecuting me! I am sorry, there is nothing I can do." She said sadly, turning to walk way.
"Wait!" He grabbed her arm to stop her. "OK, then carry out the job, just don't be so…well, 'efficient' about it."
"Are you asking me to purposely fail?" The Archangel asked in a whisper, looking at the other angel as if he had gone completely mad. "You know that is tantamount to treason to the Creator's word, and you suggest that here, in the Inquisition's Citadel? Do you truly wish to be destroyed that badly?"
"No! I'm not saying fail your mission!" He looked visibly pale as he glanced around to make sure they were still alone in the hallway. "Just…don't be in such a hurry to complete it, is all. Observe him for awhile and see if he's 'the One', if there's anything special about him. While you're doing that I should be able to find out what's really going on with Dominique, and then maybe we can stop whatever she's got planned."
She hesitated, torn between what she felt was right and her sense of duty. "I do not know, Marcus. I have never disobeyed an order." 'Not even on the one night I should have.' she thought somberly. Could she live with herself for almost doing the same thing again, and winding up with more innocent blood on her hands?
"But Gabrielle...!" the angel started.
"Very well. I will hold off and observe…for awhile. I can do that much at least. The rest is up to you, or I am going to have to carry out my assignment."
Marcus let go of her, looking relieved. "You're doing the right thing. I just get this feeling we're doing something very important in not killing this Nephilim."
"I hope so. I would like to know that what we are risking our eternal souls against the Inquisition is worth it. Watch your back and good luck." She said walking down the hallway. 'Please do not fail me, Marcus. I do not ever want to go back to being what I was…ever!'
A/N: Yeah...don't know what the hell I was thinking with 5000+ word chapters, so sorry about that. I promise to try and keep my chapters in more manageable chunks from now on, so I won't fry the eyes of potential readers. Heh.
Anyway, I'm just experimenting, trying to branch out from some of my other stuff. My first fantasy type deal, but a very dark violent fantasy, of course. Comments and criticisms always welcome, of course.