James Sutton – Logarithmic Time Traveler
Troy Miles – Scanner
Ashley Rust – Increasingly Powerful Magician
Jegudiel – Divine Servant of God
The Janitor – Invincible Omnicidal Interloper
A severely wounded angel fell down out of the sky and crashed in the wooded outskirts of a small suburban neighborhood. Desperate for any assistance, he called out to the three nearest people: James, Troy, and Ashley. James, a Catholic priest, was praying reverently when the angel reached out to him, and he immediately went to his side. Troy, a film student at the local university, was out enjoying a pleasant evening walk and happened to be close by when the signal of distress struck him, and he ambled over to the apparent source to investigate. Ashley, a dangerously ill squatter hiding out in a condemned house, heard the angel’s request and, in the hopes that he might cure her in exchange for help, wandered out into the night to the divine being’s aid.
The trio arrived at the angel’s side at roughly the same time, leading to a moment of confused glances between them and the winged, battered, dauntingly tall entity standing before them. James fell to his knees, hands clasped in prayer; the others merely stared, awestruck. The angel then spoke, explaining to them his plea. An abomination from outside of Creation had intruded into Hell, and the expeditionary force of angels from Heaven sent to investigate the situation had been eradicated entirely by it, save for him. From what he could gather, the loathsome creature was exterminating all of Hell’s denizens, purging them from existence completely and, most horrifyingly, irreversibly; thus far, his brothers’ combined efforts – including those of the honorable archangels – had failed systematically to restore even one of the damned souls. Rather than returning directly to Heaven to regroup, the angel decided to seek help on Earth. There were certain forms of magic at the disposal of the angels, though the use of one had been forbidden except in times of dire need due to its destructive and potentially fatal – even to the divine – unpredictability. Should the three who had gathered to him be willing, he would empower them with this magic, and then escort them to do battle against the monstrosity. Naturally, should they agree, they’d be granted entry unconditionally into Paradise at the end of their mortal lives.
During this explanation, Troy had readied a camera and started recording the angel and his plan. Ashley began to agree to it, but James interrupted her, inquiring as to how there could be things that dwelled outside of Creation, and why God Himself had not promptly obliterated such an offending intruder in any case. The angel’s eyes flashed, and he sharply rebuked James; how dare a lowly human presume to question the LORD’s actions? After a moment, the angel resumed his previous cool demeanor, and again posed his proposition. Ashley quickly agreed, but asked that one additional condition be satisfied for her assistance: That she be cured of the disease that was slowly killing her. The angel nodded, and then a fierce white glow enveloped her, forcing the others to shield their eyes. The light faded, and Ashley stood now clad in a plain black mourning dress complete with a veil, holding a gray, thin, slightly conical rod roughly two feet long. She looked herself over in confusion; she stared at the rod in her hands as though listening to something coming from it, then, after a moment, pointed the thin end of it toward a nearby tree. A ball of lightning shot out of the end of the wand and struck the tree, exploding violently. James and Troy gaped as the tree collapsed into a furiously burning pile of rent wood; even the angel seemed surprised, though not taken aback.
James requested also to serve this most righteous of causes, though without any selfish or petty conditions. The painfully bright illumination swept over him and faded, revealing that his outward appearance had not changed visibly. The priest blinked, tilted his head as though trying to hear some faint voice, then suddenly and wholly vanished. Ashley was too enraptured with her newfound toy, dress, and health to notice, but Troy jumped in shock, rubbing at his eyes and glancing around in search of him. James reappeared equally abruptly, his eyes wide with disbelief and shock; by God, he could travel through time at will.
Troy volunteered to act as a holy mercenary as well; a similarly brilliant light enveloped him, and as with James his appearance remained unchanged when it departed. After straining his ears like the others, he turned to face the angel. Troy clenched up, and an inverted vortex of dim, gray-white light surrounded the angel for a moment, then faded. As it vanished, a snippet of text appeared in his mind:
Divine Servant of God
Current threat: 1/10
Current vitality: 3/10
Troy objected, asking why the homeless girl got a ball lightning wand and why the priest got time travel powers while he was stuck with some crummy informational light show. The angel again expressed that the results of the spell he was using to strengthen them were completely outside of his control, and that he should be grateful that the spell had not exsanguinated him, blown him apart into a gory mess, or worse. At this, the trio paled in unison; could that spell truly have done that? If so, why would an angel even consider using it on one of God’s children?
* * *
“The time for action is upon us, my companions. Before we depart, I must return to Heaven to learn of the monster’s whereabouts, as my brothers may have managed to seal it back whence it came during the time I spent here waiting for you.”
Troy narrowed his eyes. “Wait, so you cast a spell on us that could’ve killed us even though the thing we’re supposed to fight might alrea-” The angel rocketed up into the sky, wings spread. In mere seconds, he was indistinguishable from the few stars that outshone the neighborhood’s light pollution.
“This… this doesn’t make any sense.” James paced back and forth, pinching the bridge of his nose. “A monster from outside of Creation? Something that defeated an entire army of God’s angels? How can such a thing be? There is nothing outside of Creation… And why would it want to slaughter devils and the souls of the damned? Moreover, what hope do we stand against something that the might of God cannot stop?”
“Oh, this is simply super! I’m cured! I don’t feel like I’m dying anymore! And I have superpowers now! Wheeeee!” Ashley spun around and fired several more lightning balls, narrowly missing Troy and James. The blasts detonated loudly against other trees, toppling them into mounds of flame; one struck a streetlight in the distance, twisting the neck of it and destroying the head in a shower of sparks and shrapnel.
“Jesus, fuck, watch where you’re shooting that! That thing isn’t a toy; you just about barbequed me and Father Time there!”
“Oops, hehehe. Sorry about that. I got a little carried away.”
“Whatever, just put it away before you kill someone. Look, Father, I don’t know what’s going on either. From what the angel said, though, it seems like God hasn’t really taken any action directly against… whatever it is that’s raising Hell in Hell. I mean, God wants Satan and all of the demons dead anyway, right? Perhaps this is part of His plan, or something?”
“No, that’s not it. Not even the loosest interpretations of the scripture could account for something like this. No creature can slay the armies of Heaven, nor is there magic that angels can bestow upon humans like this. None of this makes any sense… I’ve seen the truth of the scripture before my very eyes, yet I have also seen things that contradict it.” James began mumbling to himself, confusion and concern straining his expression.
A car pulled over next to the ruined streetlight. The driver stepped out of his car, staring dumbfounded at the misshapen trunk of metal. Several of the people living in the neighborhood wandered out of their homes to look likewise. As a woman took pictures of the molten wreckage littering the street, a police car rolled to a stop at the scene. The officer exited his vehicle and, after a jolt of surprise at the sight, began speaking with one of the bystanders.
“Looks like I gave the yokels a scare with the mess I made. If we stick around, it’ll really be a party once someone spots our bonfires.” Ashley stood warming herself in front of one of the conflagrations. “I hope our feathery friend shows up and takes us out of here soon. The cops and I don’t get along too well.”
“Oh, wow, shocker. Could you please take this a little more seriously? Who are you, anyway?” Troy stopped recording the gathering crowd and turned to face her.
“I’m Ashley, and you are?”
“Troy. What about you, Father?”
“My name is James. I’m a priest for St. Martin’s Catholic Church.”
“Ooh, so that’s why you’re all shaken up about this. I guess the sheep farmers who wrote that dusty old book of yours left a couple of things out, huh?”