Heaven’s Shine, Chapter 22

August 5, 2011

A fierce stab of pride and love shot through Sarah as she watched Gabriel step toward Michael.  With his blonde hair tousled over his forehead and his wings stretched taunt on either side of his shoulders, he took her breath away.  He was smaller than Michael – much smaller – but he was muscled and sinewy, and she felt a strength radiating from him that the other angel lacked.  She breathed deeply through her nose, inhaling his determination.

And this is the one they say went bad, she thought.

She felt Tawny’s hands on her arm and reached down to help her friend stand.

Her white dress torn and hanging precariously by one shoulder strap, Tawny pushed her disheveled red locks from her face and stared as Michael and Gabriel circled each other.

Tawny pointed and whispered shakily,  “Your boyfriend has wings.”

Although she was trembling with fear, Sarah smiled.  “Yeah.  He does.”

“Will he save us?”

Sarah turned and the women stared at each other.  “I believe so,” was all Sarah could say.  She hoped she was right.

They both gasped as the first clash of swords split the air with the force of a lightening strike.  The vault of clouds overhead flashed orange and yellow in sympathy.

Gabriel took a staggering step back under the force of Michael’s blow and managed to raise his sword again just in time to parry the next strike.   He was suddenly aware of how terribly overmatched he was.  Michael is a warrior, his mind screamed.  Michael was made for this.

The Archangel Michael continued to move forward, landing blow after blow against the sword that Gabriel only just managed to raise in time to defend himself.  Again and again he struck, driving Gabriel back until the weaker angel stumbled and fell to one knee.

Michael lowered his sword in disgust.  “You’re a fool, brother,” he said angrily.  “Do you want to die like this?  Do you want to die in defense of – of what?  Humans?”

Gabriel staggered to his feet.  He gestured at Michael.  “Come again,” he urged.

With a low growl, Michael advanced again, swinging his sword powerfully again and again.  The crowd of demons drew back with a cry as Gabriel was driven into their midst and once again stumbled to his knees.

“There,” Michael shouted.  “That’s where you belong, among the Dark Ones!”

Az slithered over and helped Gabriel to his feet.  “Dude, he is so gonna kill you,” the demon muttered.

Gabriel put out a hand and pushed Asmodeus away.  “I’ve got this,” he panted.

“You’ve got this?”  Az flapped his hands in disgust.  “You’ve got your ass in a sling is what you’ve got.”

“Come forward then,” Michael bellowed.  He held his arms out to either side, leaving himself open for a blow.  “Come then, Fallen Brother!”

Gabriel rushed forward, striking his sword against Michael’s armored breast.  The force of the blow almost knocked the blade from his hands, but Michael barely flinched.

Michael reached out and grasped Gabriel by the back of the neck, flinging the angel aside like a rag.  He glowed with a blinding golden light as he stared at Gabriel.  He swung his fiery sword in for a death blow which Gabriel only managed to partially block.

There was a searing pain across his bicep and Gabriel looked in wonder at the blood flowing from his shoulder.

“You even bleed like a human,” Michael said.

Gasping for breath, Gabriel managed to regain his feet and raise his sword as Michael came at him, striking again and again, once again driving him backward.  The sky was on fire above them.

Michael drove Gabriel back into the crowd of demons and continued coming after him.

Gabriel stumbled against a wet mass and Leviathan hissed in his ear, “Hurry up and die.  I have plans for the scarred woman.”

Crying out in fury, Gabriel brought his sword up to block Michael’s next thrust.  He knocked the demon out of his way.   “Get thee behind me,” he shouted.

Michael struck relentlessly, continuing to rain blows down against Gabriel’s upraised sword.  “You should have listened to me,” the golden angel roared.  “I tried to save you, Brother, but you wouldn’t listen.”

Gabriel braced himself against the blows as best he could.  “Listen?” he shouted back at Michael.  “Listen to you?  You failed as a Guardian, Michael.  You failed.  You’re still failing.”

Another swing of Michael’s fiery sword and blood began to pour from a stinging wound across Gabriel’s chest.  “I kept Sarah alive!” Michael roared.  “And the dog, too!”

Tawny stared in horror as Michael worked Gabriel in a circle through the crowd of demons and back to the center of the fight.  She groped for Sarah and the women clutched at each other’s hands.  “He’s going to die,” Tawny cried.

On Sarah’s other side, Roni stepped forward, growling deep in his chest.  Sarah put out a hand and restrained him.  “No,” she said softly.  “Not yet.”

She searched the crowd of angels beyond the fight and saw Shine.  The little girl had lifted her hands and was praying fervently, her eyes squeezed shut.

Michael drove Gabriel to the ground in front of the archangels with a battery of thrusts and blows.   He smiled grimly.  “What a waste, Brother,” he growled.  “All of this, for nothing.  For nothing!”

Gabriel fought to keep his sword between him and Michael.  He couldn’t catch his breath and blood was flowing freely from half a dozen wounds.  He managed to raise his sword a final time, but Michael was too strong.  The golden angel struck again and Gabriel’s sword fell clattering to the ground.

Gabriel looked up at Michael’s raised sword and felt a sickening sense of defeat.   Shine, he thought miserably, Sarah!  My loves and my life.  I’m so sorry.

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