A religious war—the likes of which has never been seen—is about to break out on Earth. An angel has chosen to lend his strength of manipulating the physical world to a fallen individual in the hopes he will kill off those who are evil in order to help the rest of the people achieve salvation sooner. This poses a particular problem…
What will happen when one dies? This is quite possibly the oldest question that exists for the reasoning human being. Much debate has occurred over the concept of how one will be saved in the eyes of God/gods. Many religions have been formed around the differing opinions of what one must do to live right for salvation in the end—whether that be eternity with God, nirvana, a blissful end to suffering human existence, etc. Salvation has been the subject of much deliberation among humans for millennia.
Salvation, however, is an interesting concept—with far more information to it than humans, or angels, are aware. For a rudimentary understanding, at the most basic level the universe is composed of two substances—physical matter and cognitive matter. In addition, matter—physical or cognitive—cannot be destroyed; it can merely be broken to smaller and smaller forms, or the pieces can come together to create new, or change old, forms. What is called the universe—the whole vast expanse of space and the matter that resides within—was not created. Matter has simply always existed, erupting and collapsing in enormously long episodes—not too unlike the Hindu's cycle of creation.
Gravity is the will of matter to be joined together—call it a natural attraction—and that force applies to cognitive matter the same as it does the physical. When gravity has re-collected all the matter in the universe and the resultant explosion causes all the physical matter to start expanding outward again, so, too, does the cognitive matter.
Cognitive matter is that which is capable of intellectual reasoning, memory, sense, and will. This matter—though not tangible to humans—superimposes itself like a shadow, or aura, upon the physical matter it chooses. This is, most commonly, referred to as the soul.
Though it is quite a bit more complicated, a simplistic analogy would be to think of cognitive matter like the human operator that climbs into the cockpit of a sophisticated piece of machinery. The machine, though capable of performing a great many functions, remains motionless and dead without its operator. It is also requisite for the human to gather parts in order to build the machine. This cognitive matter, when condensed to form a being, acts in the way Thomas Aquinas describes the soul. That is to say the soul is the primary organizing principle of the body, that which drives the assemblage of biochemical elements to form a body capable of interacting with its physical environment. Were that soul to travel to a planet, galaxy, realm, what have you, where the basis for life was silicone—not carbon—it would simply gather the necessary local materials and organize, for itself, a machine in which to operate. This is how the term soul is to be understood.
Typically, by the time enough cognitive matter has come together to form one of these original souls, the matter in the universe is well spread but still in the early stages of expansion. The first beings that coalesce and evolve from cognitive matter—to form conscious, self-aware souls—tend to steer the rest of the matter within their reach to being fashioned in the manner in which they desire. Of course, gravity is still ultimately in control, but these beings are able to take quite a few compositional liberties.
To further truncate and summarize—in order to impart the pertinence of this information in regards to Earth—it is sufficient to say there is a hierarchy to the universe not dissimilar to that which exists on Earth. Older beings shape and manipulate cognitive matter into younger beings. Those younger beings are given a portion of their creators’ dominion with which to interact and to shape, and so on, and so on.
Indeed, the manner in which human civilization has come to order itself is no accident. From the order of operations and respect within familial groupings to the hierarchical order of society, humans are inundated with a doctrine of understanding. It is an understanding that there are ranks (subordinates, peers, superiors) of authority to everything—each demanding the appropriate level of respect and obedience. This is true not only in human interaction but in nature as well. This is a state imposed by the higher, universal blueprint—and more directly, by the being who created Earth.
So you see, Earth is a microcosm for life in the universe; it is a training ground for teaching newly formed conscious souls how to be responsible citizens of the universe. Look at the havoc an infant or two year old can wreak upon a household. Look at people, not willing to love one another, devising evermore vicious and clever ways of killing each other. Look at people, unwilling to shed their selfish desires, pillaging and hoarding resources at the cost of millions of lives. These are not the type of beings anyone would want operating at a universal scale. This is why they are trained in a form that can do no damage to the landscape of the universe as a whole.
All this is to say humans are infant offspring—so to speak—of an evolved being laid within a hierarchy of order. And, if they learn and grow appropriately, they, too, will evolve to the point of being able to orchestrate matter as they see fit in their little part of the universe.
Since we are speaking of Earth, we will refer to its creator by the most common name her inhabitants have taken to calling him—God.
God is one of the earliest souls to have formed in this cycle of the universe. His domain is vast, and he is liege to countless vassal souls operating throughout the universe. God did create Earth as a nursery, and, though he has elevated several souls from Earth to higher beings, he is currently unwilling to do so because of the conflict taking place there. The system of nurturing souls he set up does not so much have rules; it more relies on the impression a soul makes upon him, and currently things have gotten out of hand.
To explain, God’s idea was fairly simple. A soul experiences the Earth in a few lesser forms for a period, to get used to physical interaction—tree, fish, dog, etc. Then, would be imbued upon a human body; taught to understand the order of things; taught to be kind, loving, and respectful; elevated to the rank of angel, to spend some time helping guide others through whispered encouragement; enlightened as to the true nature of Earth, and her role; and then allowed to reign over its own piece of the universe. If one has not been properly enlightened upon the death of their physical body, they would be afforded as many attempts as needed.
God had interjected now and again to impart his desire and guidance to the humans. Unfortunately, each time he did—though the message would stay pure for a bit—it wasn’t long before a level of fanaticism spawned the creation of a codified religion—with all the rigidity and absolutism that they entail. One of the greater ironies being that the souls inhabiting Earth have taken to killing one another over whose message of love, kindness, and mercy is correct or more accurate.
As it turns out, one in no way requires religion to achieve God’s reward in the end; religion can serve a purpose and can be very useful to the masses—but it is not necessarily required. However, God never told this to the humans or angels. To be fair he wanted the souls’ development to be as natural as possible, so he could trust that the understanding was valid.
The situation that intrigues God now is twofold. The souls seem to have stagnated; they are not progressing. Most have already gone through their phases as lesser beings and are now repeating cycles in human bodies—hence the population growth on Earth. Furthermore, the angels—apparently out of frustration—have begun taking far too active of a role in the physical world. This has hindered their possible progression as well.
Jason Anderson is one of the individuals involved in instigating this new Crusade. In regards to the mortal world, he is now the principal architect. He has been contacted by an angel and endowed with permanent use of its powers.
He is now capable of superhuman feats; what he is not aware of is that it is not really him performing any of the extraordinary acts. He is being shadowed by the angel. He cannot see the ethereal, non-corporeal figure following him. When he grabs a car and hurls it into the air, he simply believes he has channeled the power of the angel. He does not realize it is actually the angel, directly, who is doing the hefting.
The angel Gideon has chosen this fallen individual, because, by his account, the man has no hope for salvation. Gideon has declared him a Son of Perdition.
(End of prologue)
The Double Jacks is a seedy bar, owned and patronized solely by members of the motorcycle gang known as the One Eyed Jacks. Among a long list of nefarious and malicious deeds, this particular gang is managing a fairly lucrative drug smuggling operation.
One night, during the party that is customarily held after the club leadership meets, five dark figures enter the bar through the main entrance—slamming the doors behind them. Whether it was this last action, or the fact that five strangers had just entered, that captured the attention of everyone present in the bar is neither here nor there. The fact remains, each of the previous occupants of the bar are now glowering hard at the five intruders. The music, and all other activity, has ceased.
The figures are draped in black hooded trench coats—that were clearly designed to look much more like monastic robes than they do a traditional rain coat. Their hoods are donned—hiding their faces—and their hands are concealed in pockets at their navels. Each of the five stand at different heights and have varied body types. Two are tall and large; two are average height—one of average build and the other is stocky—and the last is tall and slender—very tall.
With little to no hesitation, the five figures walk—shoulder to shoulder—up to the bar, with the tallest standing in the center.
The central of the hooded figures says to the bartender, “A Lutheran, a Mormon, two Catholics, and a Jew walk into a bar and tell the bartender they’re here to kill everyone in the place, and the bartender says…”
There is a short pause.
“Huh,” the bartender snarls. “Is this some sort a joke?”
“Only between me and my friend, here,” the central figure says.
Just as the bartender is about to respond, but before he has the chance, the central figure removes his left hand from the pocket of his coat and thrust it forward like a whip. Standing strong, holding the bartender’s gasping body up with a blade through its throat, the central figure shouts, “You have all been deemed worthy of expedited judgment, and we are here to end your mortal lives.”
“And so it shall be,” the other four figures shout in unison, as they turn and whip their hoods back.
Outside the bar, several similarly robed men are stepping over the bodies of the few dead bikers that lay sprawled across ground in order to barricade the door and windows.
A giant metal X is hoisted by two of the figures and held against the double door that gives entry to the bar. It spans all the way across to make contact with the wall at all four ends.
Another two men come walking up; the first one takes the pistol shaped tool he’s holding and slams it against the bottom left point of the X, and proceeds to fire an anchor into the wall. He quickly maneuvers over and repeats the process on the bottom right.
Without saying a word, the fourth figure squats on bended knee. The man holding the tool steps on the outstretched knee and hoists himself up on the shoulders of the other. The lower man rises, and, together, they secure the top two points of the X.
A similar process is being repeated—by similar teams—on each of the three windows. Only, for the windows, the teams are securing a somewhat screen-like mesh; still metal, but with much smaller gaps in its barricading abilities. After all, the doors are solid; no one’s crawling over or under the large bars holding them shut.
This is not a quiet performance, but, then, neither is the one taking place inside the bar. The screaming, the bottles breaking, the occasional gunshot, and the rarer body-sized smash against the windows—causing the mesh to bulge—could not be mistaken for anything but a slaughter.
The figures outside the bar have all lined up side-by-side, with about an arm’s span between them and their backs to the bar.
Finally, the noise from inside the bar tapers to a complete silence. It isn’t long after that the words, “It’s done,” are called out from behind the door.
The line of men break their formation and begin walking across the street to a couple of vans waiting on the other side. One of the figures removes a small device from his pocket, and he depresses the tiny protruding button.
The large metal X explodes off the wall and falls forward to the ground. The doors push open, and five hooded figures come slowly walking out.
“You owe me five dollars,” one of the five states. “He said, ‘Are you joking?’”
The tallest figure, without changing anything about his stride or where he is looking, says, “He said, ‘Is this some sort of joke?’ You get nothing,” he ended sharply.
The group continued to the vans.
The reporter on the television was recounting the known details of last night’s massacre, when I was alerted to Gideon’s presence in the room by the, now familiar, BAMF! sound—followed by the accompanying shock wave that tends to shatter anything glass within a couple meters and dishevels everything else.
I remember the first time the angel appeared to me. I was sitting in a rundown, low-life type, neighborhood bar—that was rarely ever populated with customers—attempting to drink away my memories. I had been a soldier, and had done some pretty terrible things.
People tried to tell me to comfort myself by saying it was for God and country, but therein laid the rub. I had nightmares about many of the horrible things I had done almost every time I closed my eyes, so I had plenty of opportunities to examine the situations. The fact was, my country was in no way benefitted by the bodies I left dead and brutally disfigured. No, vengeance was pretty much the only reason for me being there. And, as far as God was concerned, I never had any right to be killing in the first place.
I was raised in a Christian household. I had been forced to read the Bible. I can’t say I really remember all the particulars too well, but I did remember God saying vengeance is His. I remembered the commandment, thou shalt not kill, and I remembered Jesus being a total pacifist—telling us to offer no resistance to the wicked, and if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well. It took a few years, but I had since become well aware that I was beyond redemption.
At any rate, the drinking wasn’t really helping me forget, but the time spent in dimly lit, sparsely populated, third rate bars gave me momentary lapses in the nightmare that was, then, my life.
The evening Gideon appeared was no different. No different, that is, until a beautiful young woman walked into the bar.
She was alone, and from the look of it that was on purpose. She sauntered into the bar, her hips sashaying to and fro as if independent from her upper body. Her skirt was grey and tight and didn’t even drop halfway down her thighs. It hugged her hips and buttocks so tightly it could have been tattooed to her skin. Her waist was slender and breasts large and firm. The white button-up shirt she wore was short sleeved and struggled for all its worth to contain her torso. It seemed as if it would fail each time she inhaled. The shirt appeared to end exactly at the top of her skirt while exposing no flesh, for, if it was tucked in, it left no visible seam lines in the skirt—nor did any panties, if there were any. There was no need to imagine what her naked body would look like; it was veritably on display. There just seemed to be an additional layer of skin that didn’t happen to match the milky, supple skin of the rest of her body.
As she undulated over to a table near, but not quite in, the darkest section of the room she definitely gave the impression of one of those women who lives a pent up, proper lifestyle of higher society. From her confidence and mannerisms she could easily have been some mid to high level executive that is used to being treated with a certain degree of respect—something the saucy smirk on her lips was definitely not encouraging in this particular venue.
At the time she entered, not including myself and the bartender, there was only three other patrons. This wasn’t uncommon for this establishment, especially this late on a weeknight. There was the archetypical failed door-to-door salesman drinking at the bar—paying for his drinks with piles of change scrounged from the pockets of his tattered suit. There was the bald, bigger than average, late twenty-something man wearing a black leather jacket and torn blue jeans sitting two tables away from her—facing right towards her. It is not too farfetched to think she sat down facing him on purpose. And then, there was the difficult-to-describe ambiguous figure seated in the booth that was nestled furthest into the darkness of the room. I don’t know if the light bulbs in that section of the bar were perpetually burning out, or if the proprietor simply kept that section of the bar dark on purpose. At any rate, every time I came to the bar that guy was already ensconced in his dark little corner.
Even from my position, seated at the far end of the bar, away from everyone else, I could see the woman was here to fulfill some fantasy of being manhandled by some rough-and-tumble character—the likes of which she had read about in one of her trashy novels or had lusted after while watching some acted-out assault in a pornographic film. This was not difficult to discern, what with the way she was provocatively engaging the bald fellow in front of her.
Her sultry eyes were locked on her target as if there was no one else in the place. One hand was cupping and massaging the side of her breast, and the other was under the table. Her legs were spread and she was gliding her finger tips up and down her inner thigh. The big man was no more oblivious than I was, so, of course, he rose, walked over, and sat down beside her.
As I was no more concerned with her sexual endeavors as I was anything else in that shithole of a bar, I continued to lean headlong into my drink—ignoring their flirtatious interactions.
There were no upstanding citizens in the bar—a fact that became ever more noticeable when her seduction elevated to full blown fellatio, and not only did no one in the bar say anything to stop the performance, but everyone—the bartender included—seemed to be more than happy to watch.
Unfortunately for her, the big man was not fully sated when she decided she had taken the fantasy as far as she had desired. Though I hadn’t been looking, I did vaguely hear her say something along the lines of, “That’s it big boy. If you want the rest, you’ll just have to wait and see if I come in here again.” I do believe she may have been the only person in the bar to be surprised at how quickly the roles reversed—how quickly she went from predator to prey.
My training, as well as my survival instincts, forcibly made me aware of everything going on in any given room—whether I wanted to pay attention or not—so I could hear very distinctly when the woman had been thrown to one of the tables—knocking over the table and two of its chairs. Her blouse ripped audibly; I could hear a couple of the buttons bounce their way across the room.
The woman didn’t scream. I can only assume she had gone into some sort of shock at the reality of her rapidly disintegrating circumstance. The salesman ran over to the door, but it turned out he was not planning to leave the scene of what was surely about to become a rape. He stood at the door, peered out the tiny circular window for an instant, then locked the door, and turned to continue watching the scenario as it unfolded.
By the time I had turned to look, the man had removed his leather jacket and hoisted the woman up on to a table adjacent to the one at which he had thrown her. He had bent her over the table, chest down, and hiked her skirt up to her waist. As I was watching, he grabbed the collar of her shirt and tore it completely free from her body—tossing it off to one side.
As I had suspected, she was wearing no panties. That detail mattered nothing to me as any kind of point of arousal; however, since her previous efforts had already made her attacker erect, it did mean it was mere seconds before she was being forcibly penetrated.
Admittedly, I was not as bothered by the fact that the woman was being raped as I was at the disruption to my wallowing, but nonetheless it bothered me. However impure her original intentions may have been, it was clear this was not what she had desired to happen. It was at this point I realized that since there was no hope for my salvation, it would cost me nothing to kill the man, right there and then, and stop his current, and any future, wrong doings.
It was that simple. The decision had been made. He was slightly bigger than me, but I was no slouch. Prior to the little bit of weight I had gained, due to drinking and lack of exercise, I was fairly muscular and well-built for a man standing at six feet tall. The bald man had a couple of inches on me, and probably forty pounds, but he had a much larger gut than me. His size didn’t really matter, though, because his back was to me.
I simply stood up, grabbed the neck of the bottle of vodka resting on the bar next to the shot glass I had been using as a delivery mechanism, and strode over to the man. It is unlikely he even heard me walk up behind him, given the grunting he was doing and the accompanying gasps from the woman he was holding face down on the table.
In one swift motion I simultaneously reached my left hand up over his left shoulder, and cupped his throat in my hand, while I swung the bottle and shattered its base over the back of a nearby chair. Before he could even have thought to do anything, I thrust the jagged melee weapon directly into the center of his spine—using the force of pulling back with my left hand on his throat to aid in driving the edges further in—and twisted it to sure of an instant kill.
As anticipated, the man slumped instantly, and then proceeded to fall forward on top of his victim. With that, she let out the slightest of high-pitched whimpers. It was slightly disconcerting to see the look on her face with his head dangling off to the back of hers, so I gave a measured kick to the man’s lifeless body and shoved it to the floor. This left the woman bent over the table, fully exposed.
I was in no mood to play nursemaid to some woman who had come begging for more than she could handle, but I was also unable to walk away and leave her in such a sexually provocative position. I glanced around at the other occupants of the room. The bartender was frozen, holding a dirty rag and wet glass he had been drying before I killed one of his patrons. The salesman had scrambled his way backward to a booth, as far from me as he could get. And, as always, the figure in the darkness was difficult to make out, but he didn’t seem to be moving. Regardless, it was clear, given their willingness to spectate, that I would have to be the one to remove her from this scene.
I attempted to pull her skirt down to cover her ass, but, due to the limp state of her body and the skirt being unreasonably tight, this proved to be a useless endeavor. Frustrated, I picked her up and hefted her up to my shoulder. As I walked to the door, I yelled over to the salesman, and ordered him to unlock the door. He did so with frightened but fervent speed.
As I left the bar, there was a very strange crashing noise inside almost immediately followed by a loud BAMF! in front of me on the street—the concussive force of which blew me back a half step. Before me, stood a very imposing figure.
Though I thought I was going crazy, I recognized him immediately as an angel. He was semi-transparent, hovering slightly off the ground, and had large, powerful wings attached to his back. Yep, it was an angel.
“Put the girl down, and come with me,” he said.
I hesitated. I’m not sure whether out of fear or concern for the girl, but I hesitated nonetheless.
“Put the girl down,” he repeated. “She is inconsequential to you now.”
There was a nearby bus bench, so I placed the woman on it and stepped toward the angel.
“My name is Gideon,” the angel said, “and I have a mission for you.”
Ever since that first encounter, I have come to enjoy his visits.
(End of Chapter 1)