Superior Victory: Animals

By Moe Lane


If you can't beat them, join them.

As the twenty-first century dawned, Jordi was starting to become desperate. Species were regularly going extinct, habitats were going away left and right, and the ecosystem was finally starting to show the strain from the number of humans on the planet. The Archangel of Animals was ready to look for a desperate solution, when one was handed to him on a silver platter.

Influenza-Calcutta 2009 was a nasty example of the disease: it had (using only corporeal treatment, of course) a 40% fatality rate, knocked survivors flat for at least three weeks, and laughed at normal containment methods. Better (or worse) it had a variable incubation rate (anywhere from one week to a month), making normal quarantine procedures insanely difficult. The resulting pandemic would scythe through the human population: the best case scenario postulated the complete collapse of most human medical infrastructures, with all that that entailed (including additional plagues that would erupt, due to the lack of any organized countermeasures). The worst case suggested that the human population would stabilize at somewhere around half a billion (if that). Most importantly, the only ones who knew about the oncoming disaster were Jordi's own Servitors.

Jordi doesn't like to talk about how much he was tempted to simply keep his mouths shut about the entire thing and Let Nature Take Its Course. Maybe he would have done something about the upcoming pandemic anyway. It's hard to say. The temptation would have been so strong... but there was one problem. The Servitors had, upon encountering this disease, also found (through heroic, frantic effort) a reliable vaccine. There was just enough time to duplicate it and disseminate it among human health agencies.

Well... there was a difference between letting humanity get decimated and actively conspiring to decimate humanity, wasn't there? Try as he might, Jordi couldn't quite find a justification to so actively flaunt God's Will. He tried, though: he tried very, very hard. But, when all was said and done, Jordi was an Archangel, and he was not a Damned rebel against God. He might have skirted the line a time or two, but he couldn't force himself to step over it. The image of the Archangel of Animals deciding to not let humanity get wiped out is a bemusing one, of course, but it's overshadowed by what Jordi did next.

He went to Jean.

The Deal (as it was later called) was never fully disclosed by either Superior, but the broad details became fully clear. Jordi offered Jean a trade: Jean got the vaccine (and Jordi's support) in exchange for ... the Earth. Jean could have the rest of the Universe, but Jordi wanted the planet. Jean, after some thought, agreed.

The combination of the coldest Archangel and the most inhuman Archangel did not mean that the crisis was averted, naturally: instead, it was ... used. By the time the first plague reports had come in, Lightning-dominated human agencies were poised to effectively counteract the threat. There were glaring exceptions. A shame about the outbreaks in Southern California, of course, but when you're mobilizing against a pandemic, sometimes quality control isn't all that it could be. Ironic, though, that Hollywood's blatant attempts to monopolize the first batches of vaccine could backfire so spectacularly, no?

Then there was that unfortunate business with mixing politics and medicine: not that anyone intended to hold up shipments to certain dictatorships, but accidents happen. The inevitable conspiracy theories were promulgated, but nobody on Earth took them seriously: after all, every country ended up being affected. Surely a government intending to wreck their enemy's power structures would have avoided wrecking their own in the process: you couldn't even truthfully say that the medical community was behind it all, as they had lost too many of their own before it was all over. True, there was a lot of rioting (and ancillary property damage) taking place at the pandemic's height, but only the most paranoid could suggest that they were somehow planned, worldwide...

Well, Hell could, but by then they had their own problems. Jean and Jordi had managed to identify and destroy the most 'public' Diabolical outposts (including over 67% of known Tethers), and without their most influential human pawns, the Princes were hard-pressed to hold what they had. Jean had logically concluded that exposing to disease any human authority figure not provably in the service of Heaven would be an efficient method of eliminating Diabolical influence. Those going to Heaven would be immediately given a vessel and sent right back down in time to make a 'miraculous recovery': those going to Hell anyway... well, good riddance to bad rubbish. Those revealed as celestials by a negative reaction to the 'inoculation' were quickly identified and sent into Trauma.

The other Archangels started screaming right about that time, but the problem was that the method worked. By the time that Jean and Jordi were put on trial by a snarling Dominic, Hell was retreating from areas formerly considered unassailable. Dominic could thunder about willful disobedience of the Council and Novalis could weep over the innocent lives lost all they liked. At least half of Hell's fingers had been pried off the metaphorical throat of Earth ... and certain other Archangels were starting to see the advantages in the new situation. The trial ended in stalemate, despite the wishes of the Archangels of Flowers and Judgement (who, nonetheless, insisted on the ending of the controlled plagues).

The situation might have stabilized, even then, if it wasn't for the fact that Hell took the opportunity to promptly erupt in civil war. Saminga, swelled with the boost to his Word, became so dangerous that he had to be put down - but doing so claimed the lives of many Princes (including a greatly weakened Nybbas and most of the minor Princes) and countless demons. The defections started about that time, too: no Prince successfully got away, but destroying Belial and Vapula took resources that Hell couldn't afford to lose (including Haagenti and Valefor).

And, through all this time, Gabriel kept sounding her Horn. By the time Armageddon came, the two sides were wildly unmatched. It wasn't a walkover, by any means, but Heaven prevailed.

Several centuries later, the two Archangels have divided the universe between them (the Deal has been expanded: Jordi gets the ecosystems, Jean gets everything else). Most of the human race has moved off of the planet, and is now slowly spreading across the nearest star systems. Those that remain are putting the finishing touches on rebuilding the ecology. Jordi has been restoring species left and right, using the flimsiest excuses to justify having the needed DNA for cloning. Jean has allowed humanity access to a variety of interstellar drives, carefully creating rational societies that will properly develop the new planets that they discover. Half a galaxy over, several planets have been terraformed by Lightning and Animals to make space for the oldest human species.

Hell has been reclaimed: those demons that remained after Armageddon were given the choice between destruction and Redemption. Novalis has voluntarily relocated there to try and bring the remaining damned souls out of their collective self-degradation. She has not left her self-imposed exile since the end of Armageddon, despite all entreaties: she (and certain others) refuses to endorse by her presence the means used to justify this end.

It's a very pragmatic world, actually. True, there's still a lot of dissension on how this victory was accomplished, but there's also the fact that, all in all, Heaven won. There were a lot of deaths, true, and some of them weren't particularly justified, but the humans involved are either in Heaven or being ministered to in Hell. Surely the ends justified the means, in this one case. This was the best way things could have turned out: this was the only way things could have turned out. In hindsight, there wasn't any other way to win.

There couldn't have been any other way to win ... could there?


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