By: email@example.com (Redneck Gaijin)
Corporeal death took on an entirely new horror in the immediate aftermath of the Last Battle. It's gone from a painful but transitory condition to something to be avoided as much as Celestial death for the majority of Angels still running around Earth.
With the fall of Heaven, most of the Hearts stored there were captured by the Demons and collected into the center of the Eternal City. There, while they built the Celestial barrier closing off Yves' Library from the rest of the Universe, the Demons also caused a great dark ampitheater to come into being, with each seat in the giant stadium housing a single Heart. The keening from the -thousands- of Hearts stolen from their hiding places rings through Heaven, audible in Lucifer's Lighthouse as a faint, mournful cry on the winds blowing towards the Marches.
One by one, demons pick up the hearts, sensing through them its angel's location. then sending squads down to hunt down and slay that angel's vessel. When the Traumatized Celestial form of the angel appears by its Heart, the demons hustle it down to Hell, to be kept either in Hades (for those with valuable information or who might be persuaded to Fall), Abaddon (for those considered useless by the other Demon Princes) or Tartarus (for Vapula's experiments on live Celestials).
Malakim who suffer Corporeal death will immediately find themselves in a Celestial battle when they return to Heaven. Nine out of ten, roughly, will be killed. The tenth will be left alive but unable to fight, often stunned or bound in some fashion. That survivor will be taken straight to Vapula - he may even get a glimpse of David on Vapula's vivisection table before they are strapped down to their own beds.
However, not all surviving Angels have Hearts anymore. When Heaven was overrun, before the Eternal City fell, Laurence, Michael and David destroyed the Hearts of their Servitors, insuring that they would escape capture. Those Angels will end up trapped in Limbo if Corporeally slain, untouchable by both sides, but in grave danger of their sanity. Furthermore, Blandine's Servitors lost their Hearts in the collapse of her Tower; virtually all of these Angels are in deep hiding, unable to return to Heaven and terrified of discovery by the Demons.
A few Hearts were not found by the Demons - specifically, those few that Eli gave into the trust of his most favored Servitors, those he did not loan out to other Superiors before his descent into the mortal world. However, if one of Eli's chosen dies before he can move that Heart to safety within Lucifer's Lighthouse, he will probably be found by the Demons occupying Heaven before he can come out of Trauma. (Eli's Malakim have it the easiest of all angels.)
Every time an Angel manages to contact and link up with the Preservers, his chosen new Superior makes a new Heart for them, breaking the link between them and their old Heart. The new Heart is kept safe in Lucifer's Lighthouse - even those for Servitors of Gabriel, who is still too weak to make Hearts on her own.
On the 'neo-Angel' side of things, defecting Demons may wilfully shatter their old Hearts and have new ones made by their new Superiors. Nybbas and Andrealphus also took all their Servitors' Hearts with them when they defected to Heaven, and those of their Servitors who chose not to defect with them were quickly given new Hearts by their new Superiors. For the most part, Demonic Preservers have it better than Angels, Corp-death-wise.
Already there's a very large number of Angels in Limbo, biding their time, collecting tiny wisps of Essence for an attempt at re-entry into Reality. There's also a very large number of Angels in Hell, captured, in torment, praying for rescue. There's also quite a few Angels running loose on Earth who haven't linked up with the Preservers yet, and one by one the Demons are coming for them...
... and for better or worse, Lucifer has vowed that the first strike he makes against Hell will be to destroy the rest of the Hearts stored away by the Demons.
Still, even if all the Angels in Limbo and Hell were freed, and all Angels and neo-Angels were gathered together, Hell would -still- outnumber them... Heaven's losses in the aftermath of the great Battle were incredible, and not every Angel has survived Tartarus, Abaddon, or Limbo...
* Angels with Hearts (except those of Eli's Angels who hid theirs separately) have had their Hearts gathered up by Hell. They lie under guard in the occupied Eternal City (not Hades as I originally planned), where Servitors of Kronos await to hustle Traumatized angels down to Hell (Malakim take some persuading- only 1 in 10 can be stunned into capture without killing them. Malakim never go willingly into captivity.)
* Demons who served Nybbas or Andrealphus have had their hearts taken to Lucifer's Lighthouse in Heaven. Free Lilim who posessed their own Hearts and defected along with Lilith have also moved them to Lucifer's Lighthouse.
* Other Demons who defected shattered the Hearts sitting in their old Masters' vaults and have had new Hearts made by their new Superiors.
* Angels who manage to regroup with the Preservers have new Hearts made for them; their old or new Superiors shatter the individual Angels' hearts from a distance by breaking the old link between them.
* The very first thing on New Heaven's agenda - even before any rescue mission to Hell - is to get back into the Eternal City long enough to destroy all the captured Hearts therein.
Under the original premise, Lucifer had enough problems getting three Superiors or ex-Superiors out of Hell, along with dozens of captured Angels from Hell and Abaddon, that he could spare no effort for those Hearts.
I like this new situation much better, and it fits closer to canon regarding Hearts than the original.
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