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The fall of lucifer, p.7
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       The Fall of Lucifer, p.7

           Wendy Alec
 
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  Lucifer averted his gaze from Jether’s.

  ‘In His image,’ Charsoc whispered.

  Lucifer, overcome by sheer fascination, moved nearer towards the prototype. He stared at the features of the man, studying intently the high cheekbones, the strong jaw line, the chestnut hair. ‘It is strangely familiar . . . ’

  Charsoc stared at him intently for a long moment. ‘Have you not yet guessed, Lucifer?’

  Lucifer frowned.

  Charsoc raised his gaze to the prototype, then back down to Lucifer. ‘His image is that of Christos.’

  Gabriel stared at the prototype, incredulous.

  Michael was rapt in worship, exultant, his face shining. Slowly he turned his head to Lucifer, who was staring blindly at the prototype and trembling, his senses reeling with a terrible, searing, violent jealousy.

  And it was then, as Michael watched, that Lucifer lifted his head from the prototype. His eyes glittered hard and black, filled with loathing.

  He was staring up through the crystal cupola directly towards Yehovah’s throne.

  And all the while Charsoc was observing Lucifer.

  Chapter Eight

  Treason

  Lucifer strode down the imposing marble corridors, his imperial figure wrapped in a hooded crimson robe that billowed out behind him. He stopped outside the two huge onyx doors of his palace library. Eight Luciferean guards bowed prostrate in reverence. ‘Zadkiel!’

  Zadkiel stepped out, as though from nowhere, and bowed deeply.

  ‘You have it?’ Lucifer inquired.

  Zadkiel spoke in his usual refined tones. ‘From the inner sanctum of the Tower of Winds itself, Your Excellency.’

  Lucifer grasped Zadkiel’s arm, drawing him down the library corridors and past the magnificent frescos. ‘You have been discreet?’ Lucifer’s eyes were searching.

  ‘The curators will not miss the codices, Your Excellency, and by dawn they will be returned.’

  Lucifer stopped in mid-stride. He nodded. ‘Of course . . . ’ He hesitated. ‘You know . . . that Yehovah would have given me access . . . ’

  Zadkiel nodded, his gaze troubled. ‘Of course, sire. You are Yehovah’s prince of the highest order.’

  ‘Nothing is withheld from me by my Father.’

  ‘Of course, Your Excellency. Your throne is second only to His.’

  Lucifer continued again through the corridors without breaking his stride.

  ‘It is more expedient this way, Zadkiel.’

  Zadkiel nodded. ‘Yes, Your Majesty.’

  Lucifer stopped in front of eight large columns. ‘There will be no disturbances, no interruptions, until my investigations are complete.’

  ‘The Holy Watchers shall ensure you are uninterrupted till dawn, Your Excellency.’

  ‘Good. Summon my high command – my thousand generals – to the Chamber of Congregation at six bells.’

  ‘I will give your command, Your Excellency.’

  Lucifer stalked past the columns, past the warriors into his library chambers. The warriors bowed low.

  The doors slammed.

  * * *

  Thousands of ancient books and tomes lined the circular chamber walls of Lucifer’s palace library: anthologies of worship and glorification, of ethereal bodies, of the music of the spheres. Their ancient casings were magnificently cast with Lucifer’s royal crest in ornate silver and gold filigree. Stacked to the ceiling in his palace archives, on the far side of the library, were ancient documents, manuscripts, scrolls of parchment, and codices: the Seals of Yehovah, the Holy Writ of the Ancient of Days, the antiquities of the First Heaven.

  Lucifer threw off his hood, revealing the ruby-studded golden crown that rested on his gleaming raven hair. He moved straight to the black marble table in the centre of the enormous circular chamber, where ten large, golden-bound codices engraved with ancient angelic writings rested in the centre of the table.

  He opened the first codex unceremoniously, rifling through the pages. Impatient, he passed his hand over the angelic writings and a bluish, lightning-like electric beam arced from his palm through the pages of the codex, which started to radiate with heat.

  Lucifer gave a triumphant laugh. The fluorescent emissions gradually took form, metamorphosing into a life-size hologram of the matter prototype Lucifer had watched hours earlier in the crystal dome: man. He stared, enthralled, as the prototype executed a three-dimensional, 360-degree rotation, displaying muscles, sinews, and blood vessels. An automated voice delivered the scientific narrative: ‘Fifty million living units – termination – cells – millions die each second – immediate replenishment. Average cell measures 0.025 millimetres.’

  With a wave of Lucifer’s hand, the narration abruptly halted.

  ‘Yes, yes,’ he muttered in irritation, ‘Homo sapiens software.’

  He slammed the codex closed in exasperation and moved his palm down the spine of a second codex. Virtual indices of the contents of the hologram displayed themselves in the air. Lucifer pushed that codex aside, his eyes flashing with impatience.

  He reached for the third codex. His hand hovered over the cover, and the modulated voice responded: ‘Level seven, biogenetic engineering.’

  A slow smile spread across Lucifer’s face. He opened the codex and paged through it rapaciously . . . then stopped. The air filled with millions of pulsing, animated blue numerals. He stared at the arcing numbers, moving his palm through the myriad calculations.

  The modulated voice expounded: ‘Species Homo sapiens – recipient of gene prototype 7877772261986538475068459936485926374893752426787777119964289364759403910098177.’

  Lucifer hesitated, mystified. He frowned. ‘ . . . not the code for angelic DNA.’

  His palm ran like quicksilver over the angelic writings. Thousands of virtual number patterns appeared and blinked out, but one continued flashing. Lucifer hesitated, then repeated the procedure, his breathing shallow, his mouth moving incoherently. With ultimate precision, he checked and rechecked the readings.

  A look of horror crossed his face. The hologram rotated in the air. ‘It’s His genetic code!’

  He turned the page, his hand trembling. He watched the animated hologram, ashen-faced, as an almost exact female replica was surgically cloned from the male Homo sapiens prototype. Sharing the same DNA.

  The hologram zoomed in on a fertilized egg. Lucifer watched incredulously as the image progressed from an egg to a foetus to a baby.

  He looked up, dazed. ‘It’s going to replicate!’ he muttered feverishly. ‘He’s duplicating His gene . . . in matter!’ He ran his hand distractedly through his hair. ‘Th – they’ll be immortal . . . intelligent . . . cognizant.’

  He turned to the ceiling, his face contorted with rage and loathing. ‘What have we done that You would so betray the angelic race?’ He pushed the chair out from under him and stood, hands raised towards the Holy Mountain, desperate. ‘Is our love not sufficient for You? All over the First Heaven our praises ring out in adoration!’ His voice shook with passion. ‘Our devotion is unequivocal,’ he cried, pacing the chamber in his agitation. ‘Our allegiance is beyond question. Our veneration is undeniable. The angelic hosts – we who pay tribute to You . . . ’ He stared about him, frantic. ‘You have me, the light-bearer – the archangel who covers Your presence – to revere and adore You.’

  He smashed his fist onto the table. ‘What more do You demand?’

  * * *

  Gabriel walked through the unending corridors of Lucifer’s palace, his features set. This night he would unveil to his elder brother the agonies and visions that had tormented him these past moons. He would warn him.

  Gabriel rounded a corner and frowned. The corridors were strangely deserted. Where were Lucifer’s guards? He saw the light spilling from under the enormous golden doors of Lucifer’s library. He strode towards them.

  * * *

  With a smoldering fury, Lucifer tore the golden crown from his head and flung it across the floor –
just as the heavy golden doors burst open.

  * * *

  Gabriel stood in the doorway, surveying the scene. The crown slid across the onyx floor, finally tumbling to a stop at his feet. Slowly Gabriel closed the doors, then bent down and picked up the golden crown and walked to Lucifer, stopping directly in front of him.

  Lucifer stared at the floor. Then, inch by inch, he lifted his gaze to meet Gabriel’s. ‘Yehovah!’ He gestured towards the codices on the marble table. ‘He would replace us as the object of His affections.’

  Gabriel walked slowly around the table until he was face-to-face with Lucifer. He stared down at the codices, then lifted his eyes to meet Lucifer’s gaze. Lucifer drew closer, so close that Gabriel could feel his hot breath on his cheeks.

  ‘The perfect genetic code,’ Lucifer hissed, ‘encased in matter, replicating for eternity. The universe shall be consumed by them!’

  Gabriel spoke barely above a whisper. ‘You speak of man.’

  ‘Man!’ Lucifer spat.

  Gabriel bowed his head. ‘I came to you this night, Lucifer, for I have dreamed many dreams lately. Your countenance has been foremost in all my dreamings.’ He hesitated. ‘I dream of desertion, brother. Day and night I see before me Yehovah deserted . . . ’

  ‘Yehovah’s plan to create the race of men is ill-founded.’ Lucifer drew near to Gabriel and clasped his shoulder. ‘If truly we love Him we have to discharge Him from this folly!’

  He stared down at him with adoration. ‘Gabriel, don’t you comprehend? The dreamings have been granted you to ensure the preservation of the angelic race. You, Gabriel – revelator – have been entrusted with the inner knowledge of the devastation that will fall upon our kingdoms with the advent of the race of men. He must desist with the folly of fashioning this new race!’

  Lucifer paced the room, his hands behind his back. ‘Is it only the revelator who sees and discerns? I, seraph, perfect in wisdom, am the interpreter of your dreamings. And the interpretation is thus: A great and menacing danger threatens our world. The race of men, which would supplant our own. Man is the cause of all you suffer in your dreamings . . . ’

  Lucifer sat down heavily in his chair. ‘What will you do?’

  Gabriel spoke in a whisper. ‘I know your intention, Lucifer. It shall not bode well with you if you do what is in your heart.’

  ‘And who made you your brother’s keeper?’ Lucifer snarled.

  Gabriel walked to the door and stopped, speaking without turning. ‘Jether will miss the codices if they are not returned.’ He closed the doors quietly behind him without a backward glance.

  [[GABRIEL IMAGE]]

  From that day forth Lucifer’s words troubled my very being. And as the dreamings intensified so indeed did my turmoil. I could find no respite for my soul.

  And what happened next did nothing to allay my fears.

  They did not know that I saw them fight that day – that I saw that shocking altercation between them that was the beginning of the end to all that we knew as normality.

  Their swordplay began as usual, at the twilight of the sixth moon, in the upper turret nearest the throne room wing, where Michael and Lucifer would fence and practise their swordsmanship. They fenced with vigour, as they always did, pitting themselves against each other – and as always, they were well matched in strength and swordsmanship. They had parried for aeons each dusk, but this was to be a different night . . .

  Chapter Nine

  The Sword Chamber

  Michael and Lucifer fenced with vigour. The sharp steel of the broadswords gleamed as they thrust and parried.

  Lucifer raised his fencing mask. There was an unnatural glint in his eye as he stared at Michael. He held his broadsword high. ‘He is isolating me!’ Lucifer parried away Michael’s thrust deftly.

  ‘You isolate yourself, dear brother.’

  The parrying and thrusting became more intense, the clashing of steel more violent.

  ‘He is preoccupied,’ Lucifer said, hesitating in mid-thrust. ‘He has refused my presence three times in these past hundred moons . . . ’

  Michael raised his fencing mask, his clear green eyes perplexed. ‘He would not refuse without good reason, my brother.’

  Lucifer bowed mockingly. ‘Chief Prince Michael . . . ’ He brought the flat of his sword down violently on Michael’s diaphragm, winding him. Michael doubled over in agony. A strange anger clouded Lucifer’s features. ‘Pray enlighten me.’

  Michael stared at Lucifer in disbelief. ‘Lucifer, hold your temper!’

  ‘Could it be His latest obsession?’ Lucifer took a deep breath, almost spitting the words out. ‘This . . . this . . . man!’

  He lunged viciously at the unguarded Michael, the razor edge of the gleaming broadsword plunging straight through Michael’s sword shoulder. Lucifer kept the pressure on the blade until a dark purple stain bled through Michael’s white fencing robe. Michael’s sword clattered to the floor.

  Michael slowly removed his fencing mask with his good arm, his thick flaxen hair falling to his shoulders. Pain and fury clouded his features as he leaned against the wall of the sword chamber, still pinned by Lucifer’s blade. ‘Give it up, Lucifer! Before you are consumed by your own darkness.’

  A slow, vindictive smile spread across Lucifer’s face. ‘You have His ear now – you tell Yehovah.’ He stood, a majestic figure, right over Michael. ‘Tell Him that I will not be spurned . . . and that this, dearest brother,’ he said with a swift movement that lacerated Michael’s bleeding wound, ‘is just a warning that to discard the son of the morning could be a very dangerous exercise.’

  Michael reeled in agony, cradling his shoulder. He slumped back, splaying a purple bloodstain across the white wall.

  Lucifer flung the broadsword down. It clattered across the chamber. A darkening shadow fell from his form across Michael as Lucifer strode out through the turret door.

  Michael stared after him, trembling, his blazing green eyes filled with fury and a deep foreboding.

  Chapter Ten

  Seeds of Sedition

  The Elite Guard, the ten thousand angelic generals of Lucifer’s high command, were attired in full ceremonial regalia. The black diamonds on their breastplates glistening, their heads held high, the commanders in charge of a full third of the angelic host directed their gaze at the huge gold and onyx gates of the Chamber of Congregation, far in the distance. Awaiting their commander-in-chief.

  A fanfare of shofars sounded as the towering gates slowly opened. Lucifer strode in, all glorious. His crimson cloak billowed behind him, his regent’s crown atop his raven locks, his imperial features grave. The Elite Guard stood to attention and saluted.

  Lucifer’s voice rang out. ‘All hail Yehovah!’

  ‘All hail Yehovah!’ The generals roared in unison. They fell to one knee in worship.

  Lucifer raised his hand and immediately they rose, their heads bowed in respect. Lucifer took his throne. His men took their seats on lesser thrones, arranged in one huge square around the gigantic chamber.

  Lucifer stared for a long time around the room, drinking in the spectacle of his ten thousand glorious warriors – truly the elite of heaven.

  ‘A great and menacing shadow has fallen across our world,’ he said. He was so charged with emotion that his voice literally broke with fervour. ‘My glorious warriors, we face a terrible and impending danger.’ He motioned to Charsoc to stand, then cast his eyes to the marble floor.

  ‘A peril so menacing,’ Charsoc continued, his voice silken, ‘that it threatens the very existence of our own angelic race.’ He surveyed the shocked faces before him.

  One of Lucifer’s generals stood to his feet, his noble features perplexed. ‘Who would think to threaten our existence? Who could mount such an assault?’

  A second stood. ‘Our universe is one of such glory – of goodness. What evil or danger could possibly imperil us?’

  Lucifer stood to his feet. Slowly he surveyed the room.

 
Zadkiel, who stood on Lucifer’s right side, lifted his head in bewilderment. A sudden frown marred his beautiful countenance as he watched Lucifer survey the room, all eyes fixed on him.

  ‘It is the new race that threatens our very existence,’ Lucifer declared, raising his face to the heavens.

  He rose and strode towards the assembled thrones until he stood just a breadth away from the row of his most glorious generals – his high command. He leaned towards them benevolently, like a mother soothing an anxious child, and adopted an intimate, coaxing tone. ‘I studied the codices firsthand last dusk. The new race does not hold our own angelic gene.’ Lucifer raised his eyes to the enormous crystal dome above the chamber. He was silent for a long moment. ‘Yehovah duplicates His own gene . . . in matter . . . in man.’ Lucifer studied the disbelief on the faces before him.

  Charsoc walked around the square formation, his bony hands clasped behind his back, his spine straight, his penetrating pale blue eyes locked on Lucifer. ‘This race is not as us – the angelic,’ Charsoc said. ‘We are created beings. Each one of the angelic – you and me – have been individually created. But this race of men . . . Yehovah has endowed upon them the ability to replicate. They create after their own kind!’

  ‘Think of it,’ Lucifer murmured, running his fingers through his unbraided locks. ‘The perfect genetic code, encased in matter . . . replicating for eternity.’ He let the sentence sink in. ‘“Why?” I pleaded with Him. “Lucifer,” He said, “We would have fellowship with that which is created in Our image.”’

  The ten thousand elite watched, transfixed, as Lucifer – shaking visibly – untied the ribbons on his gauntlet. His fingers trembling, he ripped open his bodice, baring his chest. ‘He has given them Eden! When man is created, no more will I be His light-bearer!’ He turned to his generals. ‘No more will you be His morning song. Don’t you see? I would rip my heart from my breast rather than see the angelic host supplanted.’ He stopped. ‘By the race of men!’

 
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