And I Feel Fine - Part 1: Beginnings of Distress

By Earl Wajenberg (


"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of distress." -- Matthew 24:7-8

For ages, there were the Big Four. Before the Fall, before the feudalities of Archangels and Princes formed, before Words proliferated, there were still four preeminent angels. If you mentioned "the Four Archangels" in Heaven, no one asked which four -- you meant Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Michael. They were the paragons, and friends, a team of champions. That was long ago.

Michael has weathered the ages best, and even he has suffered demotion and disgrace. Uriel is gone. Raphael is dead. And Gabriel is desperately sick.

Some think her role as prophet, as God's mouthpiece, is part of her madness. Maybe, in a way, but the madness of God is healthier than the sanity of men, or of angels. Gabriel says a lot of strange things, but more than once she has said that it is only God's grace that keeps her going, only knowing that He loves her and she Him, and, amazingly more, that she can serve Him. This keeps her alive in her torment. So far. No, it's not being a prophet that throws a spanner in the spokes of the First Wheel; it's just plain Word-friction with Belial, ages and millennia of it.

Gabriel has gone into convulsions, deep in the fires of the Earth. The whole Pacific Rim has opened up, and tsunamis ripple back and forth, from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Hawaii is gone. The Badlands have erupted in pyroclastic flows, not seen since the dinosaurs. The Mississippi has doubled in width, in a series of earthquakes, and Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans are gone. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge has sprouted volcanos from Iceland to Antarctica, the tsunamis taking out the coastal cities of the Atlantic. Greece is a mass of flame, and Thera has erupted once more.

The dust kicked up has brought dark days and a global winter that began in August. The falling dust poisons the oceans, and the rising ions send auroras dancing from the poles to the equator.

Scientists talk of orogenic episodes and point to the geological records. All that is part of the truth, but the bigger truth is Gabriel.

Gabriel is, first and last, the Herald of Heaven, and even her final agony heralds something momentous.

Roleplaying seed: Holding On

The PCs are trying to hold their previous plots together while the world blows apart around them. They may spend a lot of time finding out what's going on. What's causing the planetwide Disturbance? Is this the Big One? At what point is your current assignment a lost cause? Angelic PCs will very likely have people to protect; demons may, too, if only because they're not done using them, or are trying to cut losses.

One up-side: The ongoing Disturbance storm from Gabriel means lesser celestials can use lots of special effects with much-reduced chance of detection. An opportunity to get in some last licks, or settle old scores, or try that really neat idea that would otherwise be too noisy.

Roleplaying seed: Arks

Jordi and Novalis are having fits. This is the worst wave of extinctions since the end of the Mesozoic, and looks like shaping up into the worst since the end of the Permian, or the worst ever. They have sent down Noah himself and St. Francis of Assisi, the one crotchety, the other laid-back, both of them maxxed-out Saints, to draft any angels of Animals or Flowers, plus all the help they can get from Lightning, Creation, and Protection.

They're building arks. Not just big boats this time. No, Noah has kept very current. He wants genetic samples. He wants artificial wombs for gestating anything from pygmy marmosets to blue whales. He wants hibernation chambers in secret space stations. He wants an insane number of reliquaries and artifacts. He wants you to help gather specimens and build things.

Roleplaying seed: Dying Senechal

You have a friend who is a Senechal. Their Tether has been destroyed. Can you evacuated the Dissonance- and Discord-ridden wretch to Heaven? In Heaven or on Earth, can you get the attention of their (doubtless frantically busy) Archangel to help them? If they are the Word-bound species of Senechal, they may be dying and not even interested in surviving the experience.

Soldekai: "Your holinesses, she is dying. She is not losing strength, more's the pity, but she is losing control. Soon, something will tear her apart -- herself or Belial ... or us."

Dominic: "If it must be one of those three, let it be us."

Murmurs and gasps echo through the chambers. Novalis is distinctly heard to say, "Bastard." But the Elohim present nod sadly, and even Laurence admits, "It would be the most merciful of those three." Yves sits silent, looking blank and bleak, and this is perhaps the most frightening thing. But then Michael raises his voice: "There is another option. Take out Belial."

Dominic: "The balance of the War--"

Michael: "*I* am the expert on War. And the old balance is doomed anyway. Either Belial or Gabriel must die, soon, tipping the balance. Let it tip our way, then."

Jean: "How?"

Michael: "First, are we going to try?"

A chorus of "Yes!" goes up. Only Dominic, Yves, and Jean hold back.

Laurence: "Dominic, please! It's *Gabriel*!"

Michael: "It's either Gabriel or Belial."

Dominic: "Yes. Let the balance tip our way."

Jean: "Yes, certainly, *if* we can succeed without worse loss than failure would bring."

Michael: "Very well then. Litheroy -- leave now. Heaven needs secrets, too, you know."

The young Archangel of Revelation looks affronted, then scans the faces of his seniors and notices that now Yves is smiling. He bows his head, raises his wings, and vanishes back to his Cathedral.

Gabriel appears in the middle of the lava-lake that had been the American Badlands. She, he, it is a woman, a man, a wheel, a bird, a ball of fire. She raves for four days. Jean's angels make sure that satellite images show only a massive gout of fire. There is no other human observation. After the fourth day, Belial takes the bait.

And is promptly ambushed by Michael, Laurence, Janus, Khalid, Jean, and, a nanosecond later, David. Gabriel gets her own licks in. Belial dies in moments.

Soldekai, Novalis, Zadkiel, and Yves are at Gabriel's side before Belial's last spark sputters out. She is healed and sane with almost indecent speed, so she can help with the next move.

Belial was hot, but not bright. Still, he didn't come to take out his old boss and rival alone; he had legions of demons at his back. Therefore, they are all there to see what *looks* like Gabriel's own death and the deaths of Michael and Laurence. They see all the other Archangels appear to retreat with massive injuries. In truth, all the Archangels, including Novalis and Yves, take some damage in the battle, but none are slain. And Gabriel is back.

Roleplaying seed: Fire Showdown

The PCs are in on the showdown between Gabriel and Belial. (None of these Superiors shows up at the battle alone.) Fire angels can just be there, at Gabriel's side, in the midst of the lava and flames. Angels of War, Sword, Wind, Faith, Stone, or Lightning can be fighting in heat-proof tanks or mecha-suits provided by Jean. Lightning angels can also be off scrambling human probes of the fight. Angels of Flowers, Protection, or Destiny can be running celestial M.A.S.H. units uncomfortably close to the main battle.


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