Ben was completely overwhelmed.
The Fallen were more than attacking him, they were totally bombarding him and making him push out everything he had. He wasn't used to fighting like this, but he didn't have a choice. He had to put away his logistical thinking and use his small gallery of self-defense to help with this war. He was swinging around his knife like a cheerleader with a baton. Without his computer, he felt useless, and without his numbers and coding, he might as well be dead. What good would he be for then?
Ben didn't want to be a part of this. It wasn't an issue of being scared to fight, or not being totally sure he wanted to help out Heaven. It was an issue of hating Daisul for all that he had done to Ben. What right did that stupid Fallen have to come into his private life, send his sister swooning, and totally throw him into a war he didn't want to be in? It wasn't right.
He gritted his teeth and stabbed a Fallen through the heart. All of the angels in his corridor had abandoned him without a word. No "I have to go" or "Going on a date, be right back". Just a light, and then complete silence. All the men had died almost right away. Ben had a feeling not all of them had actually shown up. Everyone can vote on a reason to fight a war. Not everyone actually fights it.
He had finally gotten all of the ones behind him that were moving to Daisul and Michael's section. He turned around, ready to face maybe a few of them. What he got was so much more.
They were swarming the hallway, completely obscuring his view of the other side. Snarling, they charged at him. He starting stabbing, hearing shrieks all around. That's when he felt a sharp pain on his shoulder and his back hit the wall. A stupid Fallen's claw had pinned him to the rocky corridor.
It laughed maniacally. "You're the best fighter we've seen so far. You have practice with this, I assume."
Ben smirked through his excruciating pain. "Yeah, you could say that. Just go back to Hell, okay? I don't have time for you."
"Oh, attitude," the Fallen scolded. "Watch it. I could kill you in an instant."
"So, why don't you?" Ben sneered.
The demon glared. "Because then I'd have an Archangel following me until I was dead. Your life just isn't worth that much to me. I'd rather just wound you so you bleed out, and then it won't technically be my fault."
Ben laughed at him. "You coward. You could save all of your little friends here if you just killed me now, but you're scared of an Archangel? Archangels aren't as fierce as you think they are, idiot."
"You're the idiot, kid. I suppose you haven't seen one fight in your many years. Just shut up and bleed out."
Ben grimaced and wrenched his hand up to stab the demon in the back. It was simply too easy. These demonic things were far too cocky for Ben's liking. As it screeched and fell to the floor, all the others froze. That one must have been especially powerful, because they all stared at him in shock with their black eyes.
"Yeah," Ben taunted. "What now? Your leader dead? Come and get me."
They started towards him, and his heart picked up. He couldn't take all of these on with his little pig-sticker. Glancing around him, he looked for resources, but it was just a stone corridor. Damn, why couldn't the carvers have come up with something clever?
That's when he saw the torches. In a Fallen stronghold, he doubted this would work, but he had read somewhere that angels could be held at bay by a Holy Flame. These torches had to be kept on this long by something other than wood. It must have been completely lit by oil. What kind of oil he was unsure about, but it could help him nonetheless.
He took a torch off the wall and cracked the bottom of it against the stone. It broke, and he poured the oil along the floor, making a straight line completely across.
Taking a deep breath, he watched the Fallen walk closer and closer, glowering at him. If this didn't work, he'd be dead meat, no matter what. There's no way he could take them on with his knife, but there wasn't a chance he could make it with just his fists and regular fire.
He dropped the torch on the oil, and it lit ablaze. The line came up to about mid waist, and a smile showed on his face as the Fallen screamed and held back from the fire. It worked! They couldn't penetrate the flame.
"What!" he shouted with pride. "Take that, you filthy demons!"
They growled at him like crazy, hating him so much that he hoped the flame would never go out.
Now, to business.
He took out a small canister from his pocket and shook it at the Fallen. They looked at him, confused. He popped the lid and took out a small, unassuming silver object. They all laughed hysterically.
"Laugh while you can, demons," Ben chuckled darkly.
He took out his qeres bottle and they all stopped short. He smirked to himself as he dipped the silver in the melted gold. Waiting for a reaction, he froze until he saw a Fallen's eyes widen.
"Back away! Back away-"
It didn't say anymore, because Ben threw the silver tool, which was actually a small throwing knife, with deadly accuracy right into the demon's forehead. It shrieked and screamed until there was nothing left. The skin around the knife began to turn to ash. The rest of the skin didn't stop turning until his entire body was flying down the corridor with a draft.
They all froze and watched each other. The tension in the room was so think you could cut it with a dagger dipped in qeres. As he stared into their black eyes, he could see the disbelief they held. How could a mere child outsmart them like this? A human, no less?
Then, Ben smiled. "I've had a little target practice in my day, boys."
He threw another knife into the neck of a Fallen in the front. It shrieked and fell. He tossed knife after knife until each one had gone to the ground and the ashes were blowing away. Ben put his finger in the shape of a gun, blew the top, and placed it by his side.
"Bang, bang, bang," he said to himself.
He spun, ready to walk away, when he bumped into someone. He looked up and saw an angel, with russet brown hair and deep green eyes. The angel stared at Ben, and Ben couldn't tell whether it was a look of disapproval or something much worse. Like smite.
"I am Nathaniel," he said lightly. "What have you done here with our Holy Oil?"
Ben glanced away nervously. "Well, technically, I was helping Heaven."
"You're a lucky one," Nathaniel laughed. Ben let out a sigh of relief. "That was the last torch filled with Holy Oil we had. All the other ones were smashed, along with a few other torches. We placed them periodically through the chambers before you got here."
Ben's eyes narrowed. "Why'd you do that?"
"To stop their forces. If they knocked one off, it would break and start a fire that would kill them. A perfect back-up tactic, which you figured out quite well."
"Well, if you had told us about this tactic of yours, we'd already have won. All we had to do was start Holy Fires down each corridor."
"Your purpose," Nathaniel growled suddenly, "Is the most important thing right now. You still have a part to play. Setting things on fire wasn't exactly it."
"Then what is it?" Ben asked suspiciously. "Is it the fact that I'm serving you even though I don't want to? What exactly do I have to do?"
"I know that you dislike Daisul," Nathaniel said. "I agree. Daisul doesn't deserve a second chance. That's why he got cast down. No one except his closest brothers agreed to let him stay."
"Wait . . . Daisul was voted down? It's a democracy?"
"Not really. You see, before anyone can be cast down, the entire Celestial Council has to vote on whether or not the charge was sinful or not. Since he killed, and it's pretty clear that you shouldn't kill, I said he was guilty. That doesn't deserve a second chance, Ben. Killing is killing."
"Yes. And we're killing Fallen. Doesn't that count?"
"No," Nathaniel said. "They're sinners."
Ben started getting riled up. "What? Just because they're sinners, they should die terrible deaths? I mean, I'm not arguing. I hate these annoying things as much as you do. But still, just because they fell doesn't mean they deserve to have their existence ended."
"Are you defending Daisul?" Nathaniel chuckled. "I never thought I'd see the day."
Ben scowled. "You know what? I am. Just because I hate the kid, it doesn't mean I wish him eternal torture. Just because he's messing with my sister, that doesn't make him on my 'Sinner: burn in Hell' list. You're insane!"
"Am I? I feel rational."
"Well, you're not! You're just accusing him of a terrible crime because he loved God too much. Like you don't love God as much as he did. He's just different. He just didn't know what to do, mostly because he was too young."
Nathaniel smiled. "You are defending him! I can't believe my eyes!"
"You stuck-up angel!" Ben yelled. "You can't be serious! Daisul's not a bad guy! He wants to help you! He organized this entire attack, just to get back home to make up for his mistakes! You know something else that angels should be able to do? Forgive."
Nathaniel nodded. "I have forgiven him."
"I said I have forgiven Daisul. He committed a sin, and I had to be honest in saying he did it. I saw him when he got back after killing that priest. He was completely messed up. But thank you, Ben, for showing me that Daisul really isn't your least favorite person in the world."
Ben started stuttering. "W-what? You made me yell at you, though. That was your fault."
"You got fired up defending your friend. "It's not a big deal. He is your friend, right?"
"N-no!" Ben shouted. "He's my least favorite person. Go away, stupid angel."
Nathaniel nodded. "Of course, Ben. Just remember that I helped you realize your true feelings towards Daisul."
"Whoa, man," Ben said, raising his hands innocently. "I don't swing that way. I just don't think the guy deserves eternal damnation for one mistake."
Nathaniel raised an eyebrow at him. "I didn't say you did. I was just testing you. All you ever think about is how much you hate Daisul for what he's done to your life. You've never considered that the angels and the Fallen have done this to you. Yet you don't even fit them into the equation."
"No, I don't," Ben agreed. "See, before I met Daisul, I was living comfortably at home with my sister, a million dollars in the fridge, and an endless supply of food. I definitely don't need to be fighting this war, and neither do you. What are you doing here, anyway?"
Nathaniel waved to the flames. "Angel of Fire. It's kind of what I do."
"You respond whenever someone lights a Holy Flame."
He nodded. "Yes. Usually, whoever lights a Holy Flame is trying to capture an angel and interrogate it. That's how they got Gabriel. Though, the bulk of that mission was to jump on him and tackle him to the ground."
"Why do the Fallen want to win so badly?" Ben asked. "I mean, they're already out of Hell. Why do they need to kill people to get back at Heaven?"
"The Fallen hate Heaven for casting them down and will do whatever it takes to see them tick. It's all part of being a demon, really, to hate the ones who looked down on you. However, most Fallen are completely stupid and can't tie their own shoes. But then there are ones, like the one you just met, that can think for themselves and most certainly will use their intellectual prowess to their advantage."
"So, why did I get dragged into this?"
"You're part of a prophecy, Ben. Your main goal is to use your logistics to help us win this war with your mind. Most can only fight with a knife, or maybe even their fists. But you, you're special, because you can fight with not only a knife but also your mind. Maybe one day, this will be used to your extreme advantage."
Ben started thinking. If he really wanted to use his mind for this, then he'd have to think constantly. He loved thinking, but he didn't want to help the angels. Nathaniel was right; they did drag him into this. It was technically all their fault that he was stuck in this mess. But what would happen to Heaven if he didn't fight? Was he really so important that the lives in Heaven hung in the balance, waiting for him to make a decision?
On the other hand, he could just kill himself and make them learn from their mistakes. Though, if he was as drastically important as Nathaniel had told him, they would probably just bring him back to life. They wanted his head badly, and if they didn't use it, then they'd be angry and the most fearsome wrath of Heaven would bite him later.
He began wondering whether or not all of this was working to his advantage. He probably wouldn't be rewarded or anything, but he certainly wouldn't be rewarded if he didn't do anything at all. If he stood still on the battlefield and watched his friends die, then what would become of him? They couldn't make him fight. It was totally his decision.
He walked away from Nathaniel, still deep in thought. There was still Heather to think about. She really wanted to fight, after she had figured out Heaven was working in her favor. Ben could see that she had wanted to always believe in God, but with all the things that had happened to them it was understandable that she didn't. Now, though, she didn't have a choice but to believe and fight.
Ben thought about where she was right now. Was she even alive? It was stupid to split up like this, especially since half of their army had either bailed out or died. He thought about going to help her, give her a hand. If she had half as many Fallen as he did, he'd be worried sick about her until this was over. He hoped she had a few good angels on her side.
And Lisa . . . he prayed she was holding her own. They all knew that she had the least amount of experience with self-defense, and it was only after they had started fighting that Ben realized that her corridor would be the most crowded. Hers went straight from the hotel to the main chamber, which was the one they had come through in. They'd be streaming in that way. Ben's corridor started outside the hotel, in a sewer about a mile from the Forty-Seven.
Now that he was completely safe, he considered leaving Nathaniel behind to take care of any stragglers and going to help Heather or Lisa. They could probably use it. He knew that Gabriel and Raphael would be holding their own okay, because they were Archangels. They could do anything.
He turned to Nathaniel. "Can you hold down the fort here so I can go help my sister and Lisa? I'm sure they need more help that I need yours."
Nathaniel smirked. "You doubt their ability?"
"Not my sister's, exactly," he admitted. "You see, Lisa, she's new at this. I'm afraid she won't be strong enough to take on all those Fallen on her own."
"You care for her."
Ben looked to the ground. He hadn't really thought about Lisa like that before, but he definitely wanted to, now that Nathaniel had mentioned it. She was pretty, but she was the daughter of an Archangel. That wouldn't make for a happy Prom Night, trying to get Gabriel to let him date Lisa.
"I guess," Ben said. "But we can't be together or anything. I just want to help her."
"I know you do."
"But you can't."
"What?!" Ben yelled. "Why not?!"
"Because she needs to figure out that there won't always be someone to come and save her from impending doom. Same with Heather. They both always have a back up plan. But here? This battle is something they need to do on their own so we can see their true dedication."
"True dedication? They could die!"
"You're not dead," Nathaniel pointed out. "They're smart girls. You underestimate them. I know you're protective of your sister, but I've seen her fight. She's magnificent."
Ben abruptly turned his back on Nathaniel, leaving a brief amount of shock on his face. "I'm going to help them. They need me."
"You try, and I'll stop you," Nathaniel stated boldly.
Ben whirled around, about to explode, but held it in. "If anything happens to either of them—anything at all—you're going to wish you'd never come down from Heaven."
He took out a water flask from his belt and sprinkled the water on the fire until it was totally out. The orange glow dissipated, and he started down the corridor to face more Fallen.
"Now, go," Ben said coldly. "Help someone who wants it."