Ch. 53

Mount Nebo, Amman, Jordan

Sunday, April 2, 2029

Filled with a new vigor and purpose, Kuto makes his way quickly back to the entrance. We finally have a way to fight back! He thinks excitedly. He comes closer to the entrance of the dark hallway but to his surprise it is shining brightly as midday, a sharp contrast to how dark it was minutes ago when he had first come from outside. Old fashioned curiosity guides him even faster along until he emerges to a scene that can only be described as Biblical.

There, fifty feet in the sky, are two angels—actual real-life angels—that are fighting each other! One is Azazel, but the other; who is that? He wonders. It is now, after the original shock of the sight starts to wear off, that he feels a sensation. The Key is reacting again, like it had with him; shining white and pulsating like a heartbeat. Kuto looks back up in time to see the two angels skewer each other.

At that moment the crystal releases a blast of energy, so bright and engulfing all Kuto can do is hide his eyes behind his arm and point his staff outwards. The surge of power that erupts from the staff shoots forwards, engulfing both of the divine beings in its light. Two cries ring out in the sky, resonating for miles and miles around, but they are different. One is a cry of agony, pure and unadulterated pain while the other is a shout of victory. The surge continues for another few moments until finally dissipating, leaving the air itself charged like static electricity and the earth beneath it black, bare, and charred.

"Fire from Heaven," Kuto mutters under his breath. Descending before him is a single angel; his four wings shining even brighter than they had when he first witnessed them. The angel lands and speaks.

"Thank you, Kuto." He says in a voice so familiar, but he can't place it. It is otherworldly; raw with authority and power. "It is I… Gabriel."

"Wait, wha? What? How?!" Kuto asks, honestly stunned. The angel—er, Gabriel—is slow to answer. He raises the visor of his helmet and it is Gabriel indeed. His face is wracked with sadness however.

"It's the way the angelic link works here on Earth, Kuto. Our true forms cannot be released unless our true name is spoken by a mortally ill or dying mortal…" Gabriel stays quiet, letting him puzzle it out for himself. When he does his eyes go wide.

"Natasha!" He says looking up the hillside to the top of the mountain.

"She was stabbed to death by Azazel." Gabriel says as a sob overtakes him.

All Kuto can do is bow his head in sadness. "All she wanted was to make a difference."

"She did, though. If not for her foresight, the Key would still be buried and I would not have been able to hold off Azazel." Gabriel says, trying to convince himself as much as Kuto.

"Speaking of Azazel. What was that? What happened to him?" Kuto asks, even as he begins climbing back to the top of the mountain.

"I don't know. All I know is that when the light hit me, I started healing. It was like it was somehow an extension of myself. It is hard to even try and put into words. It seems like the power also obliterated Azazel." Gabriel answers, soaring past Kuto and landing on the platform that now has the bronze serpent statue split perfectly down the middle. When Kuto finally crawls up the last ledge he stands to see Natasha prone on the ground, lifeless. Kuto lets out a cry of anger and pain at the sight and Gabriel's enormous form lands at her head and gently lifts her up into his arms. The way she hangs, completely limp, sends shivers down Kuto's spine.

As Kuto nears he can see that Gabriel is crying. His tears are glistening and they crystalize like diamonds and he watches as one falls to Natasha's face. The moment it hits, he feels a low deep vibration reverberate through the staff. As if driven by instinct, he brings the Key up to Gabriel's attention. "I don't know how I know this, Gabriel. But I know, I can feel it… I can fix this, however, it will cost you." He says pointing the head of the staff at Gabriel.

"I do know how. Yahweh's Judge is given almost divine powers by the Key. Essentially you are able to transmit Heavenly energy through time and space using the Key as a conduit or link. Doing this allows for divine feats even an Arch Angel is unable to achieve." Gabriel says, somewhat grudgingly.

"Then I can bring her back?" He asks in awe.

"Somewhat, but at great cost. It will take so much energy from me that I won't be able to stay in this form." Gabriel states.

"And you are willing to endure it?" He asks, knowing full well the answer before even finishing the question.

"I don't care what happens to me. Save her!" He shouts desperately.

"Very well," Kuto states. He stands back and brings the Key up to Natasha's chest. "Yahweh; Almighty God of Heaven and Earth, your servant and judge has need of thine power in this moment. Grant thine healing might to me for this woman. I pray in your almighty name that you allow her to return to us. At least for a while longer… until your task for all three of us is complete." As the last words leave his lips he feels a surge through the Key and a blinding light encompass all three of them. The Key drains him, quickly.

When the light finally clears Gabriel is standing there, human again, still holding Natasha in his arms, cradling her as if she might fall and shatter. He looks like he's gone a month without sleep and gotten the snot beat out of him all at the same time, but whatever toll he had just endured, to his credit, he hadn't made a peep. He is looking down at her and for minute they both hold their breath. Then the petite woman takes a shallow breath. "Kuto it worked!" Gabriel exclaims with elation.

"Yes, seems like it." Kuto says, between gasps of air. The rite had left him completely out of breath. Even restrained by the staff itself, the power of the Key is taxing on his body. Upon closer inspection, Natasha's wound itself seems to have closed and the only sign of the trauma is a slightly jagged scar on her belly. Gabriel tries for a few minutes to wake her simply by calling her name, then when that fails, he lightly slaps her cheeks as he had done before. Still nothing happens and the two men's spirits drop.

"What's wrong Kuto? Why didn't it work?" Gabriel demands.

"She is alive Gabe. Beyond that I don't know where her consciousness is…" He tries to explain. Gabriel gently lays her down, then charges at Kuto. Gabriel grabs him by the collar of his shirt and slams him backwards into a guardrail.

"You were supposed to bring her back!" He growls viciously, and Kuto can read the pain in his blue eyes. "You lied!"

"I did what the Lord allowed, Gabe," is his gentle answer. After another second, Gabriel lets him go and slumps down on his behind by Natasha; who remains breathing but unresponsive. "I know it's not what you want to hear, but perhaps her consciousness remains in another place. Being gifted with the Sight, means one has a different connection to the next world than the rest of us."

"Well then what do we do? Just wait?!" Gabriel says, and Kuto thinks even he himself heard how whiney that sounds, because he cringes.

"I don't know, Gabe. I suggest we bring her back to Dr. McMann's and see what we decide as our next course of action." Gabriel agrees. So the three of them; Natasha being lovingly carried by Gabriel, head back to the bus. Kuto feels an odd mix of emotions as they make the short walk to the bus. It is a feeling of relief and foreboding. Relief comes as a large sigh that he is now in possession of the Key; but also an ominous feeling that their journey has only just begun, and that the evil they have overcome is only the beginning.

To be continued . . .