And I Feel Fine - Part 1: Beginnings of Distress
"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
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 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."
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
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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