Author: Macca Dyszel
The club was dark, dingy, and cramped, yet it was still packed to capacity and beyond every night. Visually unpleasant, yet the patrons didn't care - they were there for the music. Usually jazz, sometimes blues, a bit of rock, the house band would go with wherever the mood was flowing. They tended to go for improvisation, drawing inspiration from wherever, whatever their musicians had been listening to recently. The audience tended to love it.
Amongst the varied crowd this night was the dark-haired angel, sipping on a double Oban on ice - one piece, no more, no less. He was relatively new to the city; he'd been there a few weeks, and already this place had lodged itself as one of his favourite haunts. The people there were often as entertaining as the music. After some time spent relaxing and enjoying the sounds, he would look around for a stranger to talk to, and there would be an abundance. Most would be reluctant at first, though something about him charmed them and they would open up, taking him for just another average, albeit friendly, bar-goer. None of them would recognise him as the man who might have filled in for the missing horn player, the sick bassist, or just the random guy that turned up to jam with the band every so often. The band wouldn't recognise him either, he made sure of that; they just found themselves the lucky recipient of an unusually skilled fill-in when one was needed. Tonight, he was content just to hang out and enjoy the music of others.
It was the reason he was there; not just in that small club nobody seemed to know the name of, not just in Boston either; why he was on the earthly plane to begin with. A primitive doctor when he'd been alive centuries beforehand, Macaziel - as his angelic name had come to be - had naturally gravitated towards the Coda, the seraphim of healing and music, the heavenly house of Raphael. There he'd learnt to channel his newfound holy energies into healing, found that the calling of his afterlife was similar (though vastly more effective) to that of his mortal life. Whilst learning there, time spent listening to the musicians of the Coda had inspired him to try it for himself - and, to his surprise, he found that he had a hidden talent for music. From then he split his time between his two specialities, working passionately to improve each. Of course, the passage of time means little to the immortal and he had centuries to improve them. He found himself as perhaps not amongst the very best of what Heaven had to offer, but still a well-regarded, talented healer, and he was coming to also be a fairly skilled musician, even when not harnessing the pure and holy power he was capable of using.
The music of the humans was something that fascinated him. Whilst Heaven is capable of beautiful, perfect music, mortals tend to have much more imagination. Perhaps the greater influence of evil gives more motivation for escapism, inspiration for the more restless vengeful songs; after all, they say that the devil has the best tunes. So he took a sabbatical. Over the many years, he'd made a number brief visits back down to Earth, some to keep the balance of good and evil in check, some to heal, and others just to learn what he could from the humans; no matter the cause, he'd find the time to seek out music to listen to, occasionally to join in with. This time that was the entire cause, and for an extended period; he'd been down for at least 12 years, wandering from place to place, attending all sorts of concerts, clubs, bars - whatever he could, whatever type of music. He loved it; away from the pleasant but strict environment of Heaven, there was much more freedom in the music, more expression - not to mention the extra freedom he was able to enjoy on a personal level. Sometimes he'd meet people, various creatures that needed help medically, or a moral push in the right direction. He did what he could, and just by virtue of these chance encounters he managed to spread a great deal of good, but that's what they'd be. Chance encounters. The rest of the time was all about sound.
So, he'd found his way meanderingly to this nameless club where a moderately attractive blonde woman was sidling up to him by the bar as he waited for his second Scotch to arrive. "Hey, sugar..." she purred - the cigarette hanging from her lips was obviously just one of many she'd had over the years if her voice was anything to judge by, though it added to her appeal in a strange way. "We were just wondering..." Her eyes were wandering down his body with an obvious desire. Being an angel, he was able to choose his appearance, even his sex, on leaving Heaven. As he always did, he went with something similar to what his mortal body had been. Still male, maybe taller, a few touch-ups. His choice had been a good one, at least to the taste of the female now coming on to him.
"Yes?" Macca looks up with an innocent smile to the woman, one which she returned - though innocence was absent from her own suggestive grin. Her mouth was open just enough to let her tongue poke out a little, dragging languidly along her top lip. Over her shoulder, he could see another woman - brunette, slightly more attractive, with a sprinkling of freckles - watching the pair intently. As he catches her gaze, she flashed him a cute smile. It was unusual enough for someone in this place to approach him first, considering the low profile he would keep. Two women at the same time? That was pretty strange.
The blonde tilts her head to indicate the other woman to him. "Sarah and I were wondering if you were here alone tonight... If you wanted to
change that?" She giggles playfully, and he catches the smallest glimpse of a couple of particularly sharp teeth. Fangs? he wonders to himself. Vampire? Turning his head to thank the barman as his beverage arrives, he notices the mirrored surface on the wall behind the bar. Neither girl appeared in it, and when he turns back to look with drink in hand, they were both still there; 'Sarah' still trying for the sweet look, and blondie looking lustful and anticipant.
Just as Macca opens his mouth to reply, a piercing scream breaks through a quiet passage of the music, silencing the bar, even the band. A brief second later as the ears of the bar-patrons adjusted, they heard the other, quieter screams in the background, though more were starting to sound out, and much closer. Then the floor started to shake, and it didn't start subtly. There was a violent jolt, quickly continuing into a solid shaking of the room. The smashing of the glasses and bottles as they fell to the ground were barely audible as those inside the small club were now screaming at the top of their lungs, all scrambling to get to the stairwell, some climbing on top of others in their panic to get outside. It was a foolish pursuit as all they would find up there was utter destruction. Fallen buildings where large pieces of rock had hit, fire, bodies - and, of course, the rampaging armies of Hell. They had been vaguely protected inside the club - it was in the basement of a small building that was surrounded by larger ones in the metropolitan area. They'd been lucky. Or, more accurately, most of them weren't as they were alive briefly to see the horror and the utter evilness of those that would quickly cut them down, dismember them, gut them - some of Hell's beasts would even ravage their dead bodies, taking their dignities as well as their lives, though others would go on searching for the untouched to mow them down like the helpless beings they were in the face of such seemingly unstoppable force.
Down in the club still, Macca swore in frustration as he tried to help those still piling into one-another, dragging out those that had been trampled to the side where he'd leave them before going back to the crowd to find more of those less fortunate to drag out, occasionally stopping to gather them and heal them as best he could with the limited time he had. Three weren't able to be saved - two young women, and a boy - he could only have been 15. He'd obviously used a fake ID, but it was the sort of place where they'd barely check that you weren't just showing them a piece of paper. There was no time to mourn their loss - there were still people he could help. By the time the stairs had cleared, there were a few more still lying on the floor. Alive, still breathing, but unconscious. With his help, they would wake up alive, although with the situation, only a very few would last long.
The angel ran up and out into the street into the darkness and confusion, though there were no free demons to greet him. The majority had spread out into the city, and the others were busy with those that had been quicker to leave. "What the fuck..." he breathes, his eyes wide in anger and surprise. The Apocalypse? Already? He hadn't been warned. They hadn't known where he was. "I'll be on Earth for a few years. Just working on the music, ya know? Inspiration." Of course, it had been a longer conversation, but that was the gyst of it - no contact details left, no indication of where he'd be and when besides the rather unhelpful generalisations. They hadn't counted on such an event, and sabbaticals to Earth weren't uncommon.
He swivels around at the sound of a close-by grunt, realising that 'Sarah' and the blonde were teaming up on a single demon and doing surprisingly well. Their small frames hid their considerable strength that came from being undead, and the pair of them were attempting to beat a fiend that had made a swipe at one of them into submission. Of course he didn't submit, ploughing on as best he could to continue the slaughter. That lasted up until he realised he had a fist, which was attached to Sarah's arm, inside his throat via a hole that certainly hadn't been there a moment beforehand. Eyes of flame glared down at her; she simply smiled that same cute smile she'd earlier offered to Macca, uncurled her fingers inside the fiend's neck, and jolted it to the side with such force that it ripped through the skin, bone and muscle there, leaving the nameless slave of Hell to topple over as his blood sprayed from the wound. When he landed with his head dangling lifelessly from the skin and muscle remaining on the other side of his throat, joining the countless other bodies sprawled on the floor in the area - not the first of demonkind there certainly, but one of a much smaller number - the ladies of the night had already moved on, and were tugging Macca along with them.
"You're not one of them. You're not one of us. And you're definitely not one of the cattle," the one without a name said without looking at him; her eyes were instead focussed on the area around them, and she wasn't the only one looking around. They were all, understandably, paranoid. "Who are you, and what's happening?" she asked as they slip down an alleyway with a slightly low wall blocking off the end. Each of them knew themselves capable of making the jump over if they needed to, and it meant they only had to be on the guard from one side.
There was no point hiding it at this point. "I'm an angel, and it looks like it's the Apocalypse. You two are vampires." The reply was in a steady tone, his focus on the entrance to the alleyway ensuring he didn't see the surprised looks his statement of fact was getting. "You'll probably last better than the humans, as long as you keep your heads down, get away from the fighting."
"Those were demons?" Sarah says after a quiet moment with just a hint of fear in her voice. "But where are the other angels then? Wasn't it supposed to be a war? Does this mean the wor-" The rest of her question was blocked out by a sudden blast and a crash of bricks as one of the walls of the alley suddenly exploded, one of the flying blocks hitting her in the chest and sending her forcefully into the opposite wall. Just as she fell down, clutching at where she'd been hit two tall, looming creatures stepped through the rubble and the dust, stalking towards the trio with huge, malicious grins showing rotten yellowed teeth; the only visible feature of otherwise blackened faces and bodies. They were just a few metres away, and already they were snarling viciously. They were taking it slow, however, enjoying the obvious shock they'd caused, the pain Sarah was in, and the fear in the blonde vampire's eyes - they wanted to enjoy it, to play with their victims and revel in the suffering. Taking them all to be scared, mortal humans, the demons didn't notice Macca's silently moving lips or the glow building in his right hand. It was holy energy, blessed healing as he did a modified, silent version of his healing chant, and by the time the leering beasts were raising their fists to pummel the two still standing, Mac was ready. He lunged straight for the nearest one, driving the glowing fist towards its chest with a yell, pushing the energy into it; as he had suspected, the creature of Hell recoiled, injured by the blessing as if it was holy water. This was enough to distract the second of them, and the blonde vampire pounced it in a flash, tearing at its throat until it fell down lifeless, spurting black liquid from its wounds. Injured and confused, the first demon saw its fallen comrade, turned around and fled the alleyway as best it could, black smoke pouring from the contact with the angel's fist.
It was just then that a fanfare cut through the air, a strong harmony promising glory, and the dark sky filled with light for a brief moment - as the three looked up, a sight winged army wielding bows and flaming swords greeted them. At the front Macca could make out a single figure leading them downwards. He knew it would be Michael even if he couldn't see the angel's face. "Get out of here," he said with a glance at the vampires. Sarah had struggled up to her feet, and her friend had gone over to give her support. "Hide somewhere 'til it's over." Without waiting for them to reply he straightened up and tensed for a moment, unfurling large, pure white feathered wings from his back which tore the shirt from his body. With a flick to shrug the material away, he crouched down before pushing off from the ground, the powerful wings pushing the air behind him as he flew up to meet the army. He could see he wasn't the only one, with other angels, individuals usually but with the occasional pair, flying up at the same time from various distances, the flow a little sparse but went on as far as he could see. Others that had been visiting the mortals. There were a few arrows fired down towards some of the ascending - when he looked around in surprise he saw that they weren't hitting his own kind, but the other foul winged things that were falling back to earth, the demons capable of flight that had been trying to pick off the individuals.
Trusting in the archers to watch his back Macca flew on upwards without looking behind him, the familiar rush of freedom flight always brought him mixing with the adrenaline the situation gave; despite the seriousness, he was grinning. All too soon he was there, reporting in with the latecomers' hastily formed squadrons at the side.
"Macaziel of Raphael's seraphim, sir!" he said with a salute to one of the officers directing the newly arrived fliers.
"Fifth battalion, the seventh to my right. Next?" came back the barked, dismissive reply and Macca flew over to said squad, his eyes catching on the weapons held by the others he passed. A lot of flaming swords were being held ready by the sides of the angels. He'd probably have had one himself if he'd been prepared; in the situation all he had was a small knife he kept with him.
He'd barely got in line with his assigned battalion, just had time to nod to a few familiar faces, when the fanfare sounded again, rousing a loud cry from the assembled: "CAELITUS NOSTRUM VIRES!" With a great fluttering of wings the angels charged down as one towards what appeared at the distance to be a rising dark cloud. The rest of the winged creatures of darkness were approaching them at speed, a much deeper roar from them mixed in with a steady background clanging of metal against metal getting louder as the armies met. As soon as the frontlines collided there were yells, horrible crunching noises as the demons, some of them heavily armoured while others had no need for it with their exceptionally tough skin, drove easily through the first wave of the angels swinging about all kinds of weapons - blunt, edged, spiked, cursed, and everything in between. A few of the demons were taken down but in that first assault Macca saw mostly bright white figures falling downwards - ones that he and many of his battalion flew down towards, the medics of the Heavenly army, to aid those that they could catch before they fell to a squishy landing on the ground far below. Himself, he managed to grab two and push his healing energies into them enough to get them flying back up on their own through the mix of falling angelic and demonic bodies, of hovering wings of actively healing seraphim, and of the blurs that were the other seraphim pushing themselves down faster even than the falling in order to catch up with those needing the help.
Soon enough he joined them, diving down again to catch his next angel to save. Angling himself to aim towards a close set of white wings, arms outstretched and wings close to his body to help streamline his fall, he reached out as soon as he thought he was close enough. Sure enough he managed to wrap his fingers around his target's arm, but immediately he sensed something was wrong. Instead of a limp limb, the arm was tensed - and within a moment the image of the angel faded, replaced with the wicked grin of a pale but red-eyed demoness who was already swinging a serrated blade at him with the arm he wasn't holding. He let out a yell as it slashed across his shoulder, cutting deeply and forcing him to release the grip he had, making him instinctively fall back with a push from his wings while the new wound spilled blood towards the ground. The demoness kept coming, seemingly wild slashes having an uncanny accuracy while all the angel could do was tug his own smaller blade out and try to retaliate against the vicious onslaught. Despite getting in a few hits, a couple of slices, he was at a disadvantage from starting off-guard - and while he wasn't that well trained for melee combat the demoness was clearly an expert, and just as clearly enjoying it.
The whole thing was over within a few seconds as a surprise blow from her fist drove into his stomach, and as he doubled over her blade came over to slice across the base of his right wing, cutting a connecting muscle. Immediately it stopped flapping, going limp as the angel yelled out, beginning a long plummet to Earth. He could see his assailant in pursuit with a predatory grin, steadily gaining on him. Her evil-looking blade was poised to stab right into his chest, was inches from it when the shadow came from behind her, engulfing the light. A split second passed and she rose up - or from his perspective, fell away - screaming profainities as arms tugged her away, a flash of white wings identifying his saviour as another angel. His relief was shortlived however, as he whipped his head around, his single working wing beating uselessly. Something rose up - there was just time to work out it was a building that zoomed past before a sickening crunch, a moment of intense, white-hot pain and then... nothing.
A weak groan was the first and only thing Macca heard as he woke up. His chest was the first part to complain at him and he realised the sound was from his own mouth, just as the rest of his body rushed to shout its agony at him. Slowly he opened his eyes, dreading what he was about to see - surprised, in fact, that he wasn't back on the celestial plane where he'd have felt nothing like the torture his body was giving him. Oddly, he didn't seem to have broken anything. His first thought at the vision was that he'd fallen too far. Not just to Earth, but fallen spiritually, arrived in the domain the demons had sprung from themselves. As he got used to the atmosphere though he recognised it for what it was - the aftermath of a huge, bloody battle. Semi-demolished buildings burned in the background, the ones that had survived at all - but the main thing he saw was bodies. Still, lifeless bodies of all sorts - human, angelic, demonic, some others he didn't even recognise - littered over around the streets, most of them damaged horribly. Aside from the crackling of flames, it was eerily silent. He turned, every muscle used to do it aching in complaint, and found himself right by a brick wall of what looked like it might have been a small garage, and found an exquisitely written note on the back of a slightly burned flyer. "Angel - we saw you fall. After the demon from earlier we owed you... You should be mostly healed by the time you read this. If not, sit and rest a while. It will come."
He started to push himself up but his muscles screamed some more at him until he took the note's advice, stopping to sit for a few minutes, letting his body come to terms with the punishment it had endured and staring out at the vast destruction. There was no sign of the vampires. The pain faded faster than he'd thought, down to a dull throbbing, so experimentally he tried to rise again, this time managing to stagger to his feet. Slowly he started to wander down the road strewn with bodies, searching for any signs of life. He only found one - the slight rising and falling of the chest of a small androgenous child. He bend down to it, shutting his eyes and placing his hands on it as he chants, light shining from him as his energy goes into the child, healing up the wounds, the broken bones it had suffered. As soon as he was done, the child jumped up, gave Macca a terrified look, that of a soul that had literally looked into the heart of Hell, and sprinted off before he could stop it. It turned a corner and vanished, hidden amongst the wrecks - the exhausted angel didn't have a chance of finding it. He heaved a heavy sigh and trudged onwards, out of the fallen city - looking for a place he could actually help.