Where The Darkness Knows No Dawn

By Eric A. Burns


The Calabite laughed. And laughed, spinning around the elaborate room. "It's so perfect," he giggled. "It's so wonderful! Already the soft ones have learned to burn! We can set them ablaze!"

Kobal smirked, leaning near Valefor. "He'll do this for five or six hours, won't he?"

"At least." Valefor's smirk echoed the Impudite's, watching his Bandmate spin with joy and hunger.

"Charming," Asmodeus said, stepping into the room, Kronos and Baal following. "I don't suppose anyone brought a hose? We have work to be done."

"Yes!" Belial snapped, whirling and pointing at Asmodeus. "Work to be done! Buildings and peoples and trees and flowers to burn! It's time! It's time! It's timeit'stimeitstimeitstimeits--"

"Silence!" Baal roared, backhanding the Calabite across the room. "Control yourself!"

Belial looked startled and offended, cradling his arm like he were holding a child. "You aren't happy?" he half-whispered. "But Baal -- we've won. We've already won! The damnable Michael is dead, or nearly so! His bride is broken with him. Heaven is falling about, and the sheep hunger to be taught and burnt and killed."

"I think we know your desires," Asmodeus sneered. "But we lack intelligence. In your case, more than one kind."

"What do we know," Kronos asked.

Kobal sat up at that, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms behind his head. "Well, we've learned Archangels should practice safe sex, if that helps."

Kronos cracked a smile at that, which made Kobal frown. "Yes. Yes they should. Simply put, War and Peace reconciled their basic conflict, fell in love, married and joined in unity. The finest Fates are those born in the best intentions and highest principles, don't you think?"

"This was Fate?" Baal looked skeptical. "You know something."

"Of course I know something. If nothing else, I know that the balance of conflict -- of Factions, which will make Malphas smile I'm sure -- is there for a reason. When the Lion and the Lamb lay down together, it makes beautiful poetry but doesn't serve flock or pride, does it?"

"Spare us the philosophy," Asmodeus snapped. "What we know is what our agents have drawn out of the Cherubim and Malakim so diligently combing the Earth, along with our other methods. Novalis and Michael had their little wedding, and decided to spawn a child. That child fledged Grigori -- the first confirmed Grigori in Heaven since they were cast out for using the penises they were given."

"And as we all know, Grigori are supercelestials capable of bitchslapping Malakim like we'd bitchslap a puppy," Kobal said sardonically. "How'd a newborn angel of any Choir take two Archangels down. Much less God damned Michael?"

"From the evidence, little Gog was able to tear the Forces from them. As they were off their guard--"

"Michael is never off his guard," Baal said, very quietly and very menacingly. "His attunements would not permit it."

"And Novalis can lay Peace down like a damn tarp," Valefor threw in. "Clearly, Gog didn't play by the rules."

"They were at their most vulnerable," Kronos said. "Their most intimate. In giving Gog their Forces, they opened themselves to having the rest taken. Both lie near death, now."

"That's right," Asmodeus said, then looked at Kronos mildly. "How did you know that?"

"Which brings us to the point!" Belial cried. "They're weak and defenseless! Let loose the Dogs of War! Heaven cannot stop us now, they can only burn and die! Baal, you don't ever have to worry about Michael again! You've won, don't you--"

Baal's arm blurred, faster than even Valefor could easily track. It slammed Belial into a wall hard enough to crack the infernal granite, Baal's blood red sword at the Prince of Fire's throat. "HE WAS MINE TO KILL!" Baal screamed. "MINE! GOG WILL PAY FOR THIS INSULT!"

Belial's eyes were twice as wide as Kobal had ever seen. The Impudite even thought he saw the Calabite tremble, though even Kobal would be stupid enough to say it to Belial's face afterward. "Not to rain on this happy scene of tranquility," Valefor said in the silence that followed, "but why aren't we recruiting this happy little Skulker? When we find him, I mean. Seems to me he's got information we need and power we want."

Baal let Belial go, turning on Valefor before gaining control. "Of course," he hissed. "Adding Gog to our forces is the first priority. Once he is with us, we can dispose of him however we feel is appropriate."

"Listen to big red talking smack," Kobal snorted. "'Adding Gog to our forces is the first priority.' How do you propose we do that without adding our Forces to Gog? He's already a ton more powerful than Michael was. Am I the only one in the room who remembers Legion?"

"No," Asmodeus said. "You certainly are not. I would recommend watching what move Gog makes next, with the possibility of a temporary alliance with the Host to eliminate Gog if necessary and expedient."

"No!" Belial snapped. "No no no! I remember Legion too! I hated being so close to them, to having to help them! Hated it! I won't--"

"Won't what," Baal asked quietly. "Tell me, Belial. After all this time that we've worked together, are you really thinking you'd do better on your own? You don't want to... take over for me, do you?"

Belial smoldered, then looked away. Kobal smirked. He loved it when they forgot Baal was a Balseraph before even being a warrior. "Right," he said. "So what's the plan, Boss?"

Baal glanced at Asmodeus and Kronos, then back. "For now, we wait and see what happens next. If Gog really is a new Legion, we figure out how to deal with him without putting ourselves at risk. Don't forget, as distasteful as cooperating with Heaven was then, in the end we rid ourselves both of Legion and of Raphael. Gog has already essentially destroyed two Archangels. Played correctly, he could win the war for us."

"I couldn't put it better myself," Asmodeus murmured. "Shall we take our leave, then?"

And that was that. Ten minutes later, only Kobal and Valefor were still in the room. Kobal put a hand on Valefor's shoulder before he could leave too. "Did you notice?"


"Kronos didn't answer Azzy's question. How did he know what happened to Michael and Novalis?"

Valefor looked at Kobal for a long moment. "Yes," he finally said. "I did notice. Hands off the leather, joke boy."

Kobal let go of the coat. "So-rry."

Valefor nodded and withdrew. Leaving Kobal.

Who smiled.


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