Belial should have been happy.
It was just like Sheol, down to the breeze. As he inhaled, he could feel the robust tang of carbon monoxide, the sultry warmth of burning hydrocarbons ... and even a faint teasing hint of asbestos, dark and rich and lingering on the tongue. There was smoke everywhere, coyly framing the lascivious flames that caressed the rubble. It was good rubble, too.
So much like home ... but not quite.
Where was the Tether?
Belial had felt the link spark into life, broadcasting the appearance of yet another fragment of Hell on Earth, and had eagerly jumped up to stabilize it ... but he had been temporarily distracted by yet another - oh, wonderful day! - fireball to the south of whatever human nation he was in today. Of course, he had to go see that one, too. No Tether there, but it was nice and toasty while it lasted.
But when he went back north, the spark was gone ... and Belial couldn't figure out why. If anything, it should have been stronger: the Prince of Infernal Fire had arrived just in time to see all those firemen be buried under hundred of stories of burning wreckage. That should have cemented things nicely - but Belial had been looking for 20 minutes, now, and nothing was happening.
No, wait. There was a hum of power ... but it wasn't for his Word. The Prince of Infernal Fire stopped, shocked, as the connection went Up, rather than Down.
Belial turned as Laurence leaned tiredly against a soot-covered car, his fireman's jacket covered equally with mud, glass, burn marks and less savory substances. The Prince looked around quickly and snapped his fingers, thus silently commanding every mortal in the area currently leaning towards Hell to go elsewhere.
Laurence snorted at the ostentatious display: his eyes narrowed for a moment as he relayed a similar suggestion to nearby mortals currently leaning towards Heaven. There were notably more of them.
While weary, the Archangel's voice had a certain satisfaction as he continued, "Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm afraid that any potential link to Hell died twenty minutes ago. Of natural causes. If it makes you feel any better, Saminga never even got a nibble."
"Natural causes? NATURAL CAUSES?" The Prince of Infernal Fire is not given towards phelgmatic behavior. "Impossible! Two planes! Two fireballs! Two buildings going down, down, down! Fires raging unchecked! People burning to death! All for my glory! Mine!" The Prince of Infernal Fire is also not given towards humility.
Laurence shook his head as he removed his fire jacket and helmet. "Not this time, traitor. You got the chance for a Tether when those scum embraced their Fate ... and then you promptly lost it, thanks to the humans you so foolishly despise." The Archangel waved a hand.
"They killed your Tether when these oh-so-cynical and uncaring humans stopped to unstinctingly help anyone who needed it. They killed it when they rushed in, heedless of their own safety, simply because someone might still need rescuing. They killed it at the price of their own lives when the towers finally collapsed on them. None of them regretted the trade, you see. I asked.
"There were two acts of cowardice done here this morning - and several thousand acts of selfless bravery. That makes this place MINE, demon, and you have no place here." The Archangel of the Sword straightened, his apparent fatigue suddenly dropping from him like a cloak. His smile was serene as a sword appeared in his hand, its blade already covered with a thin film of frozen oxygen.
"Which brings us to our next topic of discussion. Feel free to stay as long as you like: frankly, I need the exercise..."
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