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The fall of lucifer, p.5
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.5

           Wendy Alec
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  Lucifer’s eyes narrowed. He sliced a luminous blue fruit deftly with a small ivory-handled fruit knife. ‘I have no interest in your zephyrs’ whisperings, my brother Gabriel.’ His grasp tightened around the fruit knife. ‘Your conversation becomes tedious – we are His fellowship. You speak of treachery.’

  Gabriel gave Lucifer a quizzical glance.

  ‘No, brother,’ Michael said, staring intently at Lucifer. ‘He speaks of man.’

  The word hung in the air between them.

  Lucifer turned to him, his breathing shallow.

  He snatched the missive from Michael and scanned it, his expression like stone. ‘I am steward of thousands of magnificent universes in our Father’s galaxies. I am ill equipped to squander my time on such nonentities.’

  Then, with a sharp, sweeping movement he picked up his sword belt, put on his cloak, and strode back through the grand halls out onto the beach, Ebony at his heels. Gabriel and Michael followed just paces behind him.

  Lucifer stood, sphinxlike, on the pearl sands, staring out towards the shores of the eastern horizon.

  Michael watched as Lucifer’s chin set in a firm line. The only other betrayal of Lucifer’s unease was his fist, which was clenched so tightly around his sword that his knuckles were white.

  Then, like lightning, his mood changed. He looked directly at Michael and smiled his dazzling smile. ‘Enough of young Gabriel’s whispering zephyrs!’ He grabbed Gabriel by the scruff of his neck. ‘Our Father awaits His chief princes.’

  Lucifer released Gabriel and clasped Michael’s strong hand in his. The three placed their right hands on their chests. ‘Brothers!’ Lucifer’s strident tone rang out across the crystal seas.

  ‘Brothers!’ the three voices echoed in unison.

  ‘Brothers for eternity!’


  Our laughter rang out across the Sea, echoing far across the First Heaven’s coral horizons.

  Gabriel dipped his quill in the sepia ink and continued writing.

  And it seemed that in that moment, there in the celestial chambers, life and harmony between the three of us and our Father were perfect.

  If we had only known the shadows looming on our perfect horizon . . .

  Shadows that would herald a fallen universe.

  Chapter Three

  The Portals

  The scientific portals were gargantuan. Displayed now at the top of the mammoth crystal dome was the Milky Way galaxy, which seemed to extend for billions of light-years straight out from the portals, into the real galaxies far above the Tower of Winds. Thousands of millions of newly created suns, gathered into masses of spiral arms, radiated from the top of the central crystal portal, while baby dwarf stars hung over the infinite thousands of rows upon rows of glistening white storehouses of the galaxies.

  Xacheriel, the Ancient of Days’ curator of the sciences and universes, was one of the twenty-four ancient kings under Jether’s governance. He and his wise ones were the devoted executors of Yehovah’s unutterable marvels, governors of the three great portals, and custodians of the sacred vaults of the flaming cherubim and seraphim. These vaults housed the countless billions of DNA blueprints, genomic codes, and the boundary lines of Yehovah’s innumerable galaxies, seas, and universes.

  But today Xacheriel had suspended his scholarly pursuits and left the central portal to school the new intake of youngling apprentices. The younglings were an ancient angelic race with the characteristics of eternal youth and a remarkable inquisitiveness, expressly designed as apprentices to assist the Ancient Ones in their custodianship of Yehovah’s countless new galaxies.

  Xacheriel strode down the aisles of the younglings’ laboratory, the great school of the universes. Vivid blue lightning bolts sparked around his golden crown, flashing dangerously close to the unfazed white owl on his right shoulder. A breathless youngling ran behind him, holding his cloak off the ground with great difficulty.

  Youngling apprentices from the age of six through fifteen were stationed all across the scientific portal, busily experimenting, mixing, measuring, and calculating. They were rehearsing the manifold disciplines of cosmology, cell and molecular genetics, and geomorphology – part of Xacheriel’s rigorous training manual for their studies of the newly conceived race. Their current project: the exact replication of the newly created universe and solar systems, executed in precise and meticulous detail according to Yehovah’s blueprints.

  Xacheriel stopped abruptly next to a chubby six-year-old youngling with bright carrot-red hair and a face covered in freckles. He peered over the youngling’s shoulder at the pulsar screen. ‘No, no . . . no! Dimnah!’ He pounded his chest dramatically. ‘How many times do I have to tell you not to hypothesize? It’s mathematics. Precision counts. One co-ordinate out and an entire universe could perish!’

  Xacheriel’s eyes flashed with intensity. He bent over Dimnah and with swift fingers adjusted the calculations in midair. ‘Apprentices, apprentices . . . ’ he muttered testily.

  ‘But how else will they learn the great mysteries of the sciences of Yehovah, my old friend?’

  Xacheriel spun around, his monocle jarring loose and hanging from its tether. ‘Jether!’

  He clasped Jether in a crushing bear hug, then immediately turned to glare at the languishing Dimnah. ‘Reconfigure, Dimnah. The capacity must figure to my exact calculation.’

  Xacheriel pointed to one of Earth’s miniature prototype suns, radiating above Dimnah’s head. ‘The mass loss from the helium nuclei is precisely four million tons per second, which will keep the lone sun radiating for at least another . . . ’ He hesitated, scratching his head under his crown. ‘ . . . six thousand million years . . . ’ He turned to Jether, triumphant.

  Jether offered him a voluminous hanky. Xacheriel looked down at the strange blue stains on his beard, then took the cloth and rubbed at them. Jether frowned deeply at the lightning still circling around Xacheriel’s head.

  Xacheriel waved them away, to no avail. ‘My head got stuck two moons ago . . . while I was bathing . . . ’ he shouted back to Jether, striding through the laboratory portal. ‘In the electromagnetic fission cathode. A personal voltage experiment. It will pass.’

  A huge burst of electricity nearly knocked Xacheriel off his feet. It passed straight through Lamech, the youngling holding his cloak. Lamech swayed dizzily, the electricity hovering like a halo over his tight ginger curls.

  Xacheriel glared impatiently at the youngling. ‘Absorb, Lamech.’ He shook his head at the swooning youngling as the blue arcs disappeared into the tight curls. ‘How many times must I tell you? Absorb the electromagnetic fields!’

  Jether covered his mouth with a hanky, smothering an enormous, amused grin as they continued walking down the unending rows of youngling apprentices executing experiments.

  ‘No, no, Jatir,’ Xacheriel barked. ‘Too much ether!’

  ‘I see you are schooling them to your normal impossible standards!’ said Jether, eyes twinkling.

  Xacheriel stopped in mid-stride, his countenance grave. ‘They have to be rigorous in their applications, Jether. The troposphere and stratosphere of Earth’s solar system have to be meticulously calculated for the new race to exist.’ He turned to Jether. ‘We face the challenges of matter at every turn.’

  They walked together to the observatory where the older younglings worked, every fibre of their being concentrated on their creations. Xacheriel pointed to a planet in the newly created solar system of nine planets, which floated above Rakkon’s head.

  ‘Rakkon! The exploratory probe readings,’ he demanded.

  Rakkon bowed deeply. ‘Milord Xacheriel,’ he said, saluting, ‘lone sun temperature surface reading 9,932 degrees Fahrenheit. Lone planet weighing 6,000 billion, billion tons, rotating at precisely 149.6 million kilometres from the sun.’

  A second youngling bowed deeply, almost hitting his head against the floor in his enthusiasm.

  Xacheriel rolled his eyes. ‘Yes, yes, O
tniel . . . what is it?’ He mopped his brow with Jether’s handkerchief.

  ‘Milord Xacheriel, sire, findings reveal the present one-thousand-kilometre atmosphere shield too tenuous for the new life form to exist. I’ve increased the shield to two thousand kilometres, sire, to maintain a constant – ’

  Xacheriel mumbled under his breath and replaced his monocle in his left eye. ‘Good, Otniel . . . ’ He hesitated. ‘Very good!’ He studied Rakkon’s pulsing midair radar screen intently. ‘Rakkon, your problem is . . . ’ He hit the air with his staff, his eyes flashing. ‘Here!’

  Xacheriel triumphantly picked up a piece of glowing neon chalk. ‘You’ve just killed the entire new race. They’ll suffocate on entry!’ He scribbled a long series of neon calculations in the air next to Rakkon, muttering as he drew. ‘Twenty-one percent oxygen, 2.78 percent nitrogen, 0.04 percent carbon dioxide, and 0.9 percent argon,’ he said crisply.

  Xacheriel clapped his hands, and a huge cloud of luminous neon chalk dust flew into Jether’s face. Jether uttered a deafening sneeze and blew his nose into another handkerchief, while Rakkon choked in the cloud of glowing dust.

  Xacheriel beamed, completely oblivious to their paroxysms. ‘Equating Homo sapiens emissions over the next hundred millennia,’ he continued, ‘include neon and oxides of nitrogen and methane.’

  He whirled around. Jether was still wiping his red, swollen eyes, while Rakkon, still choking, turned a pale shade of green.

  ‘Ah, and don’t omit krypton!’ He put his face close to the still spluttering Rakkon’s. ‘Rakkon, we must anticipate all contingencies continually.’

  Jether clapped his hands in appreciation.

  Xacheriel bowed his head reverentially. ‘He is worthy of all reverence and awe. He who is omniscient . . . omnipotent.’

  Jether closed his eyes and bowed his head in reverence, then continued, ‘We live to execute His holy commands. He alone is worthy.’

  Jether opened his eyes to see Michael standing next to Xacheriel, staring transfixed towards the far side of the portal. Jether exchanged a long, meaningful look with Xacheriel, who looked elated. Jether nodded.

  Xacheriel pulled up the voluminous aprons of his robe and strode through the enormous second portal doors into what seemed to be a long, winding, translucent corridor.

  Xacheriel stared gravely at Jether and Michael, then inhaled deeply and began to tread swiftly on the floor beneath his feet. Instantly it morphed into a glistening, mercury-like substance that quickly encompassed the entire corridor. The fluid erupted with such intense heat that the entire corridor began to revolve and shudder at incredible speed – until it stopped abruptly.

  Suspended in front of them, seemingly from infinity to infinity, a colossal glowing ladder now ascended up into the galaxy around and above the portal. A mammoth hologram.

  Xacheriel, his face shining in exhilaration, placed his foot on the first rung of this living, pulsating ladder, then walked straight through, disappearing into the gyrating helixes. He was followed immediately by Jether.

  Michael stood gazing after them.

  Jether’s head reappeared out of the double helixes. ‘Michael!’ He raised his brows inquiringly.

  Michael tentatively stepped through onto the ladder and immediately found himself airborne, gyrating at the speed of light through the hologram’s never-ending spiral corridor.

  ‘The ladder of life!’ Xacheriel cried as they sped along.

  Michael reached out his hand to touch the pulsating coils. At his touch the ladder came to an immediate standstill as huge stores of information downloaded in front of his eyes.

  The portal’s automatic voice narrated in modulated tones. ‘Man’s physical brain is comprised of over one hundred billion cells, each with over fifty thousand neuron connections to other brain cells. The structure receives over one hundred million separate signals from the human body every second.’

  Jether smiled. ‘Yehovah’s inconceivable marvels!’

  Michael placed his palm on a second coil. Instantly, a hologram materialized and rotated, zooming in on the prototype’s eye. ‘Over one hundred and twenty-five million rods and cones,’ the narration continued, ‘specialized cells so sensitive that some can detect a mere handful of photons.’

  Jether lifted his hand, and a distant, indistinguishable voice, tinged with a slight impatience, echoed down the ladder.


  Michael and Jether sped through the infinite, twisting corridors for what seemed like eternities, finally stopping before the vast living, breathing veil that Xacheriel was studying in sheer ecstasy, now completely oblivious to their arrival.

  ‘DNA,’ Jether murmured in wonder. ‘The building blocks of life. Unimaginable complexity . . . ’

  The veil became transparent, and billions of intricate, pulsating code sequences became visible.

  ‘A three-hundred-billion base sequence!’ Xacheriel’s eyes flashed in exhilaration. ‘A unique program perfectly adapted to each aspect of the new race – making up the human genomic code . . . ’

  Michael shook his head in wonder.

  ‘The instruction set that will carry each one of the new race from one-cell egg to adulthood . . . ’

  Jether nodded, transfixed.

  ‘Ten times two-point-four times ten to the ninth power possible sequences of nucleotides,’ Xacheriel continued, ‘all of which would lead to complete biological malfunction.’ He turned to Michael in awe. ‘Except for this very one.’

  ‘Created in His image,’ Michael said softly.

  ‘The human construction book, or an instruction manual, if you like,’ Xacheriel continued. ‘Matter we created for the specific purpose of being a carrier of the code.’

  Exhilarated, he held up a DNA fibre in his fingers. ‘No less amazing – two millionths of a millimetre thick.’ His eyes glowed with fervency. ‘Yet the amount of information contained within it is so immense that in the case of human DNA, if the tightly coiled strands inside a human adult were unwound and stretched out straight, they would cover the distance from the newly created planet to its lone moon half a million times!’

  Xacheriel spun around to face Jether and Michael. ‘And when coiled . . . ’ He gestured to a tiny receptacle the size of a teaspoon. ‘All the strands could fit in this. Forty-six chromosomes to each of the new race’s living cells. The genotypes of all cells derived from a particular cell will be precisely the same – unless . . . ’ Xacheriel frowned and glowered at them from under his eyebrows. ‘Unless a mutation occurs . . . ’ he declared ominously.

  ‘Which is, of course, inconceivable,’ Jether added hurriedly.

  Strident cries filtered down the corridors of the ladder. ‘Xacheriel . . . Xacheriel, milord!’

  Xacheriel sighed deeply. ‘Apprentices, apprentices!’ He vanished, instantly transported back to the main portal.

  Jether moved his palm in front of himself and Michael. They watched as a group of loud and obviously distressed younglings burst into the inner chamber, with each step bowing profusely to the impatient Xacheriel, who glowered darkly at them. The trembling younglings stared at him, almost in rapture.

  Xacheriel muttered, ‘Who disturbs my musings this time?’

  ‘Milord, milord!’

  The leader of the group grabbed Xacheriel’s hand and clung to it desperately. ‘A thousand pardons for disturbing you, sire . . . a thousand pardons . . . ’

  Xacheriel prised his hand free with immense difficulty. ‘What is it?’

  The tiniest youngling piped up. ‘Dimnah’s head is stuck!’

  The leader added, ‘In the electrofission cathode!’

  ‘And on fire!’ a second tiny youngling piped up.

  Xacheriel slammed his stick on the ground. ‘Enough!’

  ‘With blue flames . . . ’

  ‘Enough! Quite enough! Dimnah!’ He hurried out of the portal, waving the younglings forward in haste.

  ‘Come, Michael,’ Jether said, strangely solemn. ‘There is
something I must show you.’

  Michael followed him to the very edge of the portal. He looked upward to where Jether looked, incredulous.

  In the distance before them blew a stormy wind, and out of the wind burned a great cloud with a fire. Great flashes of lightning came out of the fire. In the centre of the burning flames were four living creatures: the mighty cherubim of Yehovah. Each living creature had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight and the soles of their feet were as the soles of a calf’s foot, and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Each had the face of an angel in the front, the face of a lion on the right-hand side, and the face of an ox on the left-hand side. They bowed in worship to the Ancient of Days.

  ‘The sacred vaults,’ Jether uttered.

  Michael stared in amazement. He bowed his head. ‘Yehovah’s wonders . . . ’

  ‘The treasuries of the snow,’ Jether whispered in awe. ‘The storehouse of the ordinances of the heavens. And the holding place for Yehovah’s greatest gift bestowed on man, Michael . . . ’ He stopped, overcome by emotion. ‘Free will.’

  Michael took a step back, stunned.

  Jether gestured beyond the seraphim. ‘It resides here,’ he whispered. ‘It has been programmed into the genome . . . ’

  ‘But . . . ’ Michael started.

  Jether stared at him gently and slowly nodded. ‘But what if they misuse it?’ He softly finished Michael’s thought.

  Michael nodded, dazed. ‘We, the angelic, who live within the fire of His presence, have been endowed with free will – and we have still to be proven, Jether!’ Michael’s voice rose with passion. ‘Each and every moon we have to be proven.’

  ‘You mean, what of mere mortals?’ Jether smiled at him compassionately. ‘What if they were to become renegade?’

  Michael nodded, ashen. ‘It cannot be borne even to think on it.’

  Jether looked long and hard at Michael. ‘He would have them love Him by their choice, Michael. He will not force them.’

  ‘Such a risk . . . ’ Michael echoed, incredulous.

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