"I'll spare all of you the lecture on the...
mechanics of it."
Marc joined in on the general chuckle. The class of angels studying for their first tour of Earth duty was finally starting to relax from their unexpected teacher: granted, fairly solid rumor intimated that the Archangel of Trade was known to speak at these sessions, but it was still surprising to see. Not to mention nerve-wracking, at least at first: however, Mercurian charm was beginning to win out over mild awe.
The Archangel of Trade leaned back against what, for lack of a better word, could be called a podium. "Yes. The mechanics of human sexuality were no doubt explained to you - in very great detail - by the team of biologists, chemists, psychologists and physicists retained by Lightning for just this purpose. Be grateful: Jean used to teach the classes himself." Another quietly-muffled mass chuckle: even the Dominicans in training smiled. "It is useful knowledge, though: never forget that. Among other things, it might serve as some intellectual comfort when one of the people that you're trying to help does things for no apparent reason.
"However, what I'm here for today is to try to explain to you why it's necessary to saddle all of you with a simulation of such an odd set of processes. Like everything else we do, the justification is part science, part art, part sheer practicality and a large helping of improvisation. And, also like everything we do, doing it right the first time will save lives - including, incidentally, your own."
Marc narrowed his eyes. "Yes... Hodniel, Elohite Servitor of Dreams. You had a question." The Elohite blinked: it had not actually indicated yet that it wanted to ask a question. Still, it stood up.
"Yes, Lord Marc." The Archangel of Trade raised an eyebrow: Hodniel went blank for a moment and nodded.
"Excuse me. Yes, Teacher." Marc smiled and inclined his head. Hodniel continued.
"Judging from past events, it would seem only logical to avoid possible complications when performing one's duties. While sexuality is a natural part of human reproductive behavior, it is not natural for celestials. I grant that specialists would require a working simulation for specific tasks, but why provide it as a default for all Servitors serving on the corporeal plane?"
Marc nodded. "That question is always asked, and it's important that it be always answered. There are several reasons, actually.
"The first is pragmatic. When on Earth, most of you will find it necessary to blend in with your fellow humans for long lengths of time. This will include those of you without formal Roles, incidentally. After the example of the Grigori..."
The class stirred quietly at the forbidden name. Marc smiled, slightly bleakly.
"Get used to hearing that name on Earth: demons are in the habit of saying it, the better to sniff out angels on their first tour of duty. As I was saying, after the Watchers' example, the Seraphim Council seriously considered mandating that all vessels were to be created without sex organs from then on. The notion didn't ever take effect: it would have made it too easy to detect angels. It would have also completely warped corporeal medical research, but that's another issue. The less anomalies our presence causes, the better.
"Now, I know what the next question is: 'But why make those organs functional?' Again, there was a practical reason: very few Roles require vows of celibacy. Fornication is a fact of life down there, and indeed is one of the most popular hobbies in most human cultures. We have to blend in.
"However, it's not just practical: there are emotional reasons, as well. I'm going to ask all of you to do me a favor and take on your Approximations of human form now. You Kyriotates, feel free to doze off at this point: you'll be getting this lesson when you do your first Dominations. We'll wake you up when things become relevant for you again."
Needless to say, no Kyriotate 'dozed off', but they did add to the amusement as the assembled angels took on as much of the form of their primary vessels as is possible on the celestial plane. As they did so, the local area shifted to become more accommodating to humanoids. When the class was finished, Marc nodded: he had himself shifted to resemble a human male in his late thirties.
"Right. Now, the signals that you're getting from these vessel-Approximations are currently not as complex as the ones that would come from a regular vessel on the corporeal plane. They certainly aren't as complex as the ones that would come from an actual corporeal body! The fact that some of you are finding the experience disconcerting is merely from lack of practice in interpretation. That will fade ... but not completely.
"And that's a good thing, because now we go from science and practicality to art and improvisation." Marc sat down and paused for a moment. When he looked up, his expression was serious.
"I've been giving this speech for five decades or so - ever since the previous teacher went off to do ... whatever it is that he's doing, in fact - and this next part has always been the most important piece of wisdom to impart. Like all great pieces of wisdom, it's pithy, short and hideously easy to misinterpret. Ready to hear it?" The class nodded, not quite in unison. Marc smiled, slightly crookedly.
"You asked for it, and here it goes: Humans are weaker than celestials."
The room went absolutely silent: this was worse than speaking the name of the Watchers. Marc waited for a moment, to let the silence go from looming to actively towering, then continued.
"Relax: I haven't suddenly sprouted batwings. It's considered... uncouth... to say it, but the fact remains that humans are, on the average, physically weaker, slower, and sicklier than celestials. The arguments about whether they're less intelligent have been going on forever, and mostly depend on what yardstick you use to define intelligence. Certainly they pick up corporeal survival traits faster than we do, and trying to decipher their various cultures takes up thousands of celestial analysts. I should know: most of the angelic ones work for me. Note, too, that I used the words 'weaker than', not 'inferior to'. There's something ... ineffable about human souls. They have something that we lack, and we've never been able to reproduce it. The closest approximation turned out ... badly.
"However, it's still a Truth that it's easier to hurt, wound or kill a mortal than it is to do the same to an angel. That is the fact that we cannot ever, ever forget, lest we cause an unintended injury. Not understanding humans can have fatal consequences.
"I see the Kyriotates and those of my own Choir nodding. Good: I'm glad to see that the instructors are still making sure to pound that fact into your collective heads. You may have the most immediate concerns in this issue - but the rest of you are hardly immune to the problem. Failure to tread lightly around humanity is one of the primary causes of Falling." Every Virtue in the room suddenly straightened, each certain that Marc was looking them in the eyes (a perfectly accurate feeling, actually). "And don't think that not being in danger of Falling will protect you from inflicting unneeded pain, or suffering it yourself. To use a human phrase, we're playing with live ammo down there.
"And this is why we incorporate sexuality into vessels. We don't dare give them the same drives and needs as corporeal bodies, but too many human activities make no sense without sexuality to give them a frame of reference. Having these urges will, I guarantee you, cause you to feel a peculiar sort of pain at some point in your careers. This is a good thing: it will allow you to properly emphasize with your charges."
The Archangel of Trade smiled. "And, of course, it's a pleasurable experience when everything works right. Now, I'm not going to actually suggest that some of you listen to gossip and rumor" - a pause for the chuckle - "but I should tell those reprobates among you that both major rumors on the subject are wrong. Corporeal sex is neither the most ecstatic experience available anywhere nor a pale shadow to the closest equivalent on the celestial plane. Like all corporeal activities, it cannot really be compared at all to what goes on in Heaven. I make no comments about Hell, of course, but they're a bit degraded over there anyway.
"And that leads me to my last point." The class became silent again, only now with less worry and more anger. "Yes. Demons and sexuality. It's one of their favorite weapons, of course: they appreciate the influence it has over humanity quite as much as we do, albeit for completely different reasons. Where we use it to heal or to bring people closer together, they use it to destroy and alienate. This, of course, allows them to prop up their delusion that humanity is not worth the cost of fighting the War, and none of them - none of them - can be trusted not to pile up human bodies in their vain quest to justify their Rebellion. If any of you encounter a demon using sexuality as a tool - no matter how innocent it seems - it is your duty to stamp down on the practice, hard. This transcends Choir. This transcends Words. Humanity has enough problems as it is.
"One thing more - well, more like a codicil to the last point. You might encounter a demon that wishes to indulge him, her or itself sexually with you. This may not necessarily seem like an active or passive problem: in fact, sometimes this desire will, indeed, be symptomatic of a desire to Redeem. Don't take the risk. Remember: there is a Prince that automatically promotes his servants if they manage to perform a consensual sexual act with an angel. Obviously, he thinks that such activities serve the cause of Hell.
"This is possibly the only time that you can share a Demon Prince's opinion on anything."
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