I remember Lucifer.
I'm not surprised that he managed to get so many to follow him: the Light that was in him to the very end could blind the unwary to his faults and mistakes. He was everywhere in those days, talking and cajoling and raising those ever-so-polite points in Council debate. He talked to everybody, in the end, which is something that my colleagues decline to publicly remember. And he knew what to offer people: Lucifer always had that knack.
What did he offer me? No, that's not an impudent question: I'm just not going to tell you. You see, while he knew what to offer people, he wasn't nearly as good in making offers that others couldn't refuse as he thought he was. Frankly, aside from everything else, what he offered me in exchange for my support was so insulting that I nearly laughed in his face. Even if I had agreed with his central thesis about the nature of Man, the clumsy way that Lucifer tried to seduce my allegiance would have been enough for me to send him on his way. Soon afterwards, the First Revolt made everything moot.
He tried coming for me during that time, you know, but that didn't work out nearly the way that he thought it would. I led him on a merry chase, right from the start, until his pursuit somehow, unaccountably, led him straight into Michael's path. Amusing, that was: I wonder if he thought about it, during those lonely years afterwards? I wonder if he suspected that I had tricked him into underestimating me?
Aside from that, the First Revolt was just as bloody, just as traumatic and just as pointless as the records show. Those poor fools were fighting against God, after all: I noted their eventual fates, and made quite sure that I would never fall into their foolish pride. It was all so, so ... futile.
But it did do wonders for my career, not that I thought in those terms at the time. With so many Archangels dead or gone, the Seraphim Council needed new members, and I was more than happy to put my shoulder to the burden. Those centuries afterwards were wonderful: we saw what needed doing, and did it. We moved among humanity and protected them without stifling them. No one opposed us: true, we noticed after a while that Lilith was still somehow alive, but she wasn't considered a real threat. Indeed, she was a most interesting conversationalist.
Why, yes, I spoke with Lilith during the Golden Age. I still do, in fact: there's a certain - commonality of circumstances - between us.
Unfortunately, not all of my colleagues saw things the same way. The Council doesn't exactly publicize the fact that it was an overzealous Janus that persecuted Lilith to the point that it seemed she would be destroyed. I've never really understood why they hate each other so. I know, Janus says that he wishes she would change sides, but that's only so that he could get a clear shot. At any rate, it finally reached the point where Lilith apparently felt it necessary to release the prisoners in Hell. I thought that this was wrong, mind, but I am not completely surprised.
It was the response of Heaven to the new condition that opened my eyes. It was as if the First Revolt had never ended, merely ... expanded to all three planes. All of my fellow Archangels went mad, it seemed - except for me, and I had to feign madness with the rest. The First Incursion became the Campaign, then the War, and it has never, ever stopped since then - and it remains under the thumbs of those least suited to do what is necessary to stop it. They would much rather battle and fight their opposite numbers until the end of time, and never mind those poor humans who were in the way.
This could not be borne, so I began to plan.
The first step required inhuman patience, but then I am not a human being. I spent millennia crafting my persona, refining my Servitors, watching my opposition. It is no accident that Michael and Dominic do not like me much: my public face is designed to aggravate them to the point of insanity. Of course, my status as an Archangel makes it possible to block their Seraphic gaze, so they do not know my inner Heart. Making myself pleasant to most of the others was an easy enough exercise: it helps that I am a genuinely friendly and helpful entity. I simply have hidden depths and motives. The only one that could see through my ... outer shell ... was Yves, and he has never said anything. I am unsure why, but I stopped concerning myself with that a long time ago.
But no Archangel can hope to change things alone. I needed Servitors to be my arms, eyes and ears. However, there was the Inquisition to deal with; Dominic could not penetrate my glamour, but none of my angels were so blessed. It took me a while to consider how to work around the Archangel of Judgement.
When I finally did, it was so obvious. Dominic's major obsession is rooted in his desperate need to keep angels from Falling, no matter what. Most of his work involves sniffing out those with a hidden agenda along those lines. It never seems to have seriously crossed his mind that someone might have a hidden agenda about anything else. By now, the collective perception of my Servitors is that they, aside from a tendency to work with the Enemy in an inappropriate manner at times, are fairly harmless. It has taken me centuries to foster this belief.
Working with the Enemy is, of course, something that every non-Malakite Archangel does (and I have my suspicions about David at times). This insane War has made such activities a regrettable necessity. So I let mine do the same, and make sure that their activities are almost hidden from the Inquisition. You see, there is nothing that makes a policeman more suspicious than a person with nothing to hide. Give them an obvious thing to see, and they gratefully concentrate on it.
Dominic's agents could uncover my activities in an afternoon, if they asked the right questions. It simply never occurs to them to ask. Why should they? They have enough trouble searching out Heretics to worry about political machinations. All Archangels play politics. I am careful to avoid doing things that would result in even a reliever's Fall (if such a thing is even possible): by now, the concept that whatever actions me and mine do in Heaven are essentially meaningless has become institutionalized among Servitors of Judgement. The records that would reveal my plans languish unread, kept only because none dare throw them out. Of course, no Servitor of mine assigned to Earth duty is ever involved in ... other matters. Things are kept separate.
And what is the thing so cleverly hidden in clear sight, the thing that has caused me to blur my true face to all? Not much of a thing, really. I - insinuate myself into Heaven. My Servitors are everywhere by now - and they are so genuinely friendly and helpful that others are more than happy to be helpful in their turn. Each little act of favor and counter-favor, seen by itself, is insignificant - but multiply it by a million times, and you could see my daily round of influence-gathering. Instead of one great lever to move the world, I have a multitude of little ones.
And I use them. Everyone - except for those in Hell, of course - has at least one entity for whom they would do a favor for without hesitation. My Servitors are often those entities (or know someone who knows someone who is that entity). They do not see the big picture, naturally: most do not even know that there /is/ a big picture. But they are always ready to make me smile and thank them for helping. Especially helpful are those whom I have Redeemed (and I Redeem many, many demons): they know, as well they should, that I am the one who has brought them to this blessed state they now enjoy, and few can bear to not show their appreciation. It helps that I love them all, of course: I could not hope to fake that, and have no intention of ever letting myself get to a state where I would have to try.
But I can hear the inevitable question: "Why"? Why have I woven strands of influence and patronage throughout Heaven? It's a simple answer: I wish this War to end. The mindset that my colleagues labor under has produced only stalemate. Every second that it continues is a second where countless human lives are at risk. It must stop.
It has been only recently that I have developed hopes of accomplishing this. I do not command any Superior's organization beside my own, but I can exercise limited control over most of them. A word in the right ear, multiplied a thousand times, and policies can be subtly shaped, priorities reassigned or pointless activities abandoned.
Very few issues are brought up in the Seraphim Council that I do not know about months in advance: with such knowledge, I can prepare, shape, control the agenda.
For example, Christopher is an Archangel because I decided that he should be one: that was merely one of my more dramatic successes, and all the better because no one, not even the Seraphim Archangels themselves, detected my delicate touch. They could, of course, if they thought to ask the correct questions: but again, no one ever thinks to. Clear sight is useless if one does not bother to look.
But that is only the first step. Now that I have the tools, after millennia of patient effort, I shall use them. Those amenable to my fifth-hand assistance will rise in their respective organizations. Some will even reach the Council themselves. A few may eventually become Archangels. All of them will be predisposed to look upon me fondly, as the Superior of their dear friends. I am growing my own political allies.
And, when I have enough, well, there will be some changes made around here.
It is not easy, of course: I sit in the center, surrounded by my loyal and loving angels (and give them back that loyalty and love tenfold), and try to steer the course of a creaking and clumsy ship from the metaphorical cafeteria. I am on a one-Archangel quest to save the Earth, and there is no one yet who can help shoulder my burden. If I fail, then we will fight and slay until we will all be dead for nothing. It is lonely, at times.
However, when times are at their most chaotic and confused, I take some comfort in an old human saying. It may just be the most profound thing ever said on the corporeal plane, in fact:
Mother Knows Best.
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