Consider Protection

By Moe Lane


I hear what the Faithless call me, of course. Their whispers come to me, eventually.

They say that I am redundant. They say that I do nothing that other Archangels cannot do, and better. They say that I am eternally pushed to the sidelines, perpetually forced to subside on what scraps more powerful Archangels permit me. They say that I am useless. I do not tolerate such whispers.

I encourage them. What one laughs at, one cannot take seriously; and what one cannot take seriously, one eventually forgets about. I am more than content to be forgotten.

None of the Faithless has ever really understood me, and I have no desire for this to change. They dimly know that I am a Shield, but they do not contemplate what happens when you look into a Shield: you see not the Shield, but your own distorted reflection. They look into me, and see instead themselves. When they laugh at my supposed degradation, they are instead laughing at their own.

If I was in Hell - a disgusting thought - I would, indeed, be the most pitiful creature in existence. Hell does not take well to the concept of the sharing of power and responsibility: every demon is constantly trying to rip strength out of everyone's hide and prevent the same from happening to him. In such an atmosphere, I would be a kicked and abused fragment of my potential: I might even be dead by now. But I am not in Hell. I am in Heaven, and among the Faithful. And I know my purpose.

And what is that purpose? It is ... to bide. Michael, Laurence, David, Janus, Gabriel - these Archangels are the primary fighters of the War, and it is meet that they shoulder the responsibilities accordingly. I am not a primary weapon. I have never seen myself as one.

But if Laurence is the Sword of Heaven - its katana, if you will - then I am its wakizashi. I am the holdout weapon in the ankle holster. I am the hidden knife in the belt buckle. I am the backup generator. I am the ceramic inserts in the bulletproof vest. In short, I am the unlooked-for strike that comes when the enemy is at the moment of anticipated triumph, and thus at his most vulnerable. When the Last Battle comes, the second to last thing that will go through more than one Prince's head will be surprise that I am there and somehow unaccountably past his defenses.

The last thing being, of course, my knife.

I spend my apparent free time caring for it, and it is sharp.


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