Charlotte, Miranda, Nathaniel and Angelo were complete strangers with only two things in common: they all lived in London and, unbeknownst to them, a freak set of circumstances was about to throw them into the Angelic world, which until then they didn't even realize existed. As new Angels however, they need to learn how to "luminate," or use their inner light to help others and protect themselves from their biggest threat: Fallen Angels. But the four of them were in good hands. As head of the London Angel Islington branch of H.A.L.O, it was Danielle Constantina's job to ensure their safety and oversee their training. But it was going to be a tough job, as all four Angels were from completely different backgrounds, with clashing personalities, and so persuading them to accept their new lives was just the first hurdle.
To any normal passerby, the "Whitegates" was a ten storey, multi-purpose office block, consisting mostly of legal departments and police units for the London district of Angel Islington. To a select few however, floors eleven and twelve were the location of H.A.L.O, the Headquarters for Angelic Laws and Orders. Presiding over H.A.L.O was Danielle Constantina of the Dominion Order, but ensuring harmony between the Angelic, Human, and Fallen worlds of London, as well as being ultimately responsible for coordinating all other divisions across the U.K, was one daunting task, and it never seemed to get any easier. On this particular occasion, Danielle's day had been thrown into even more chaos than usual, and that was saying something! Time to reassess; Danielle had called a board meeting.
"Okay, let's get straight to the point. Today is going to be a challenge to say the least," Danielle informed the board. She stood at the head of the oval, onyx table in her pristine, white suit, with her long, dark, shiny hair starkly contrasting with her clothes. Her eyes were also dark, an unusual coffee colour, and they shone brightly as she spoke to her colleagues. The members of the board were wearing mostly white too, although some had touches of colour on collars or sleeves. The long table took up most of the room, but the fact that the walls were cream in colour, meant that the room appeared to be more spacious than it was. On the wall facing Danielle there was a huge plasma television, and on the other walls were a few photographs of previous members of the board, but apart from that, there was little other decoration.
Placing both hands flat on the table, Danielle leant over it towards the board members to stress the seriousness of the situation. "We're having problems with the Cupids again." There was the general sound of frustrated sighs around the room. "I'm afraid that our newest recruit, Katrina, has declined and passed on her duties," she informed them.
"Well, I cant say I'm surprised," one of the Guardian's, Mike, spoke up. "We did warn you that she wouldn't last."
"Yes, I know," Danielle replied, running an agitated hand through her hair, "but what choice did we have? We had to at least give her the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, what's done is done, and yes, we will have to go through training the new recruit again, but there is one saving grace in this whole situation: she couldn't have found a better person to pass her duties onto. Ralph, fill everyone in on her profile will you?" she said, finally taking her seat.
A short, slightly plump, middle aged, blonde man, with curly hair picked up a file from off the table in front of him and opened it, referring to a page inside.
"Miranda Pickering. Aged twenty two. She works behind the bar in a pub in Kensington. Katrina had no success with finding her a match but she is very enthusiastic about love and what's more, she has already matched a few couples of her own accord. It seems that people generally warm to her, come to her with their relationship issues and she's more than happy to help." He closed the file, "She'll make a perfect Cupid."
"Thanks," Danielle smiled at Ralph. "So, our biggest worry now is keeping her safe from the 'Fallens' because, as you all know, as soon as they get wind there's a new cupid on the block, they're going to do anything and everything to drag her down to F.I.R.E."
"We'll keep a watch on her," Eleanor assured Danielle.
"Thanks," Danielle answered. Eleanor was a kind hearted Guardian, if not a little too naive at times. "But Miranda is by no means our only problem. We have another new Cupid."
"What?" two Guardians exclaimed together, whilst the others looked at each other in confusion.
"Yes, I know, it's unheard of. Two in one day is ridiculous. I've sent Gabe with several messages for The Boss, suggesting that he change the rules concerning Cupids. They shouldn't have the choice to back out of being a Cupid once they've been transformed, and it certainly makes our lives more difficult. Nevertheless, Gabe tells us that The Boss is not willing to change anything, and everything happens for a reason. So, like it or not, we are stuck with training two new Cupids."
"Which other Cupid declined?" Mike asked.
Danielle hesitated then, as if not really wanting to disclose more, before running her hand through her hair again and answering, "Muriel."
"Muriel!" Mike exclaimed. There followed a shocked silence in the board room.
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
"But Muriel was our best Cupid," Eleanor pointed out. "Our longest lasting Cupid. Why would Muriel pass on her duties?"
"Well, she didn't exactly," Danielle replied. "She sort of…" Danielle cringed. "Died."
All the Angels stared blankly at her as if just spoken Swahili to them. "It happens sometimes," she added.
"When?" Mike asked. "When does it happen?"
"Well, once it did," Danielle admitted, feeling as if she'd let the whole department down. "In the U.S.A I believe."
The board looked unimpressed.
"How did she die?" Mike asked.
Sometimes Danielle wished that Mike wasn't quite so inquisitive. "A heart attack," she replied.
One of the Angel's sniggered but was met with disapproving looks from the other Angels.
"A heart attack! You've got to be kidding me. Now I've heard it all; a Cupid has died of a heart attack!" Mike spoke out.
"Yes, it's a bit embarrassing but it's happened, so now let's just deal with it," Danielle replied firmly, as practical as ever. "I've been thinking about this and I'm going to put things right, or rather Charlotte Laroche is; she was the one who caused Muriel's heart attack. As you all know, Muriel did a fantastic job, but I believe it was Charlotte's sorry excuse for a love life that caused poor Muriel's heart to break."
"So she never did match Charlotte in the end then," Ralph said sadly.
"No sweetie," Danielle replied, "but she's with The Boss now, and at least she can rest. I've sent a message up with Gabe to give her our love and Gabe assured me she's at peace."
The Angels sighed and nodded.
"Who's going to take her place?" Mike asked, breaking the silence. Whoever it was, they'd have a hard time filling Muriel's shoes.
"Charlotte Laroche is," Danielle replied.
"What? Charlotte was the one who broke Muriel's heart because she was so bad at relationships, remember?" Mike pointed out. "How on earth are we going to train her to be a Cupid?"
"Well, I know she seems an unlikely choice, but I want her to account for what she did to Muriel. I've been looking into her case, and there's one thing going for her, she's determined. Whatever she puts her mind to, she succeeds. And you know, I think deep down she would like a little love in her life. She tends to flit from one man to another, but she never allows things to develop into something more meaningful. You never know though, a little time working as a Cupid may change her ways and that would be a wonderful tribute to Muriel."
"That's all very well," Mike cut in, "But how are we going to stop her from simply passing on her duties immediately to someone else when she finds out?"
Danielle had thought about that too. "Ralph, I want you to research Charlotte's background and find us a first case for them to complete. We're going to let both new Cupids work on this one, who knows, some of Miranda's enthusiasm might rub off on Charlotte. But the case you choose is crucial. Choose someone a little older than Charlotte who has wasted love opportunities, like she has. We need to make her realise what she's heading for if she doesn't change her ways, and if we also appeal to her competitive nature, I think she'll stay with us," Danielle concluded.
"How are we going to transform her?" Kyle asked. "I thought they could only be transformed by their Cupid's arrow."
"You'll be glad to know that Muriel left her bow behind," Danielle replied, clicking her fingers to reveal a bow in one hand and a quiver of arrows in the other. The bow was transparent and shining, as though it were made of glass, but there were flashes of pink, turquoise and yellow running over it's surface. The arrows were made of the same material, but each arrow end had a different colour. Danielle placed both the quiver and bow on the table and clicked her fingers again to produce a small, glass pot with a white, screw on lid. All the Angels watched with fascination as she unscrewed the lid, placed it in front of her and withdrew one of the arrows from the quiver. She shook the arrowhead over the pot and a few drops of iridescent liquid sprinkled into the pot. After screwing the lid back on the pot, she clicked her fingers and the pot, bow and quiver of arrows disappeared from in front of her and reappeared on the table in front of Ralph.
"Would you be a dear and make sure that Charlotte somehow drinks that for me?" she asked Ralph. "I know they normally have to be pierced with the arrow, but I think it will be easier for you to get her to drink the liquid. Cloak her bow and arrows for me too, and put them somewhere close enough for her to be able to call on them when she's transformed."
Ralph smiled and nodded. He loved it when Danielle gave him important jobs to do.
"Now, we are going to set them up in an apartment in Islington together, but because this is an unusual case, and what with all the other work we've got on at the moment, the Boss is concerned about us being able to protect them properly from here. Therefore, he's transforming two new Angels to live with them, a Guardian and a Restorer."
"New Angels?" Mike frowned. "So we'll have more training to do."
"I know, but it's The Boss's will, and Gabe said he told him to tell us…"
"Yes, we know, 'everything happens for a reason.' Do you think that one day we'll ever find out what that reason is?" he asked.
"I'm sure we will," Danielle replied with a positive smile. "The new Angels have been specially chosen and Gabe assures me they will be wonderful at their jobs. The Guardian, Angelo…"
"Nice name!" Eleanor exclaimed and everyone laughed.
Danielle smiled. "…yes that's what I thought. Maybe there was an Angel in his family line, who knows, anyway, Angelo is a bodyguard and a good one I'm told. The Restorer is Nathaniel, or Nate. Guess what job he does?"
"Don't tell me, he's a secret agent," Eleanor said. The Angels chuckled.
"Not quite, but I like your thinking. No, he's a magician," she laughed. The board fell about laughing too.
"Well, he's had good practise trying to cover things up then," Eleanor pointed out with a grin.
"Precisely," Danielle replied. "But he's going to have a bit of a shock when he finds he can turn back time and really make things invisible though, as will Angelo be surprised to know he can detect evil and shield people from it. We need to bring them in and train them as soon as they are transformed," Danielle stressed. "I do also want to assign some of you to oversee each new recruit. Ralph, you look after Charlotte, Kyle, you can cover Miranda, and Mike, choose someone from your department and both of you can look after Angelo and Nate. Are we okay with that?" she said, looking around the table. The Angels nodded their approval. "Great. Let's get to it then; we have a lot of work to do. If anyone needs me, I'll be with Gabe in my office. He's getting more details on where and when the transformations will take place," she informed them. "I'll see you all later, good luck," she smiled, clicking her fingers and disappearing from the room.