An Angels Pain
Chapter 9: Friends
Gabriel watched the scrying device in anticipation as the giant demon approached the condemned angels.
"Gabriel, what are you doing?"
The archangel froze, his face paling. Stiffly, he turned his neck to face the source of the question. "Lady Aeris…..you…..you're back so soon?"
"Dear Gabriel, I thought you'd be glad to be relieved of my duties earlier than expected." She took notice of the scrying device behind the angel. "What are you watching?"
Gabriel promptly placed himself between Aeris and the device. "Nothing you need concern yourself with, Lady." He replied hurriedly. Aeris shot him a strange glance, waving her hand to the side. Unable to ignore the command, Gabriel moved away as Aeris gazed upon the mirror. Sweat beaded on his angular face as Aeris turned to face him, confusion evident in her green eyes.
"Why is Arios in Heaven's Labyrinth?" She looked again, commanding the mirror to zoom in on the image. "Another angel seems to be there as well…..wait…..it can't be, Vincent!?"
Aeris snapped her head to the side. "Gabriel, why is my friend in there?"
Gabriel shuttered. "You're…..you're friend?" he managed to say.
"Indeed. Explain. Now."
"Gabriel, are you defying me?"
"Of course not."
"Then explain to me why they are down there about to be mauled by a demon that looks like it belongs to you!"
It was indeed a strange sight to see an archangel of Gabriel's caliber to be stuttering through his actions over the last few days, growing paler by the minute. After the entire story was told, Aeris had sat down in a nearby chair, slightly flustered. She had only been gone for a few days and heaven was ready to fall apart…..
"Gabriel, why did you imprison Arios?"
"He was threatening my rank." He replied rather weakly.
"That seems very unlike you."
"Stop. Chaos? Chaos came to you?"
"Yes, he informed me of Arios' treachery."
Aeris stood up and approached Gabriel, bending his neck to one side. There, carefully hidden by the angel's flowing locks of hair were two puncture wounds placed at the base of his skull. "Damn it….." she hissed under her breath.
"Gabriel, you are relieved of you duties."
"I want no questions. Go to the healer and show her these wounds on the back of your neck. I'll see you when you are in your right mind."
Gabriel wanted to question her, but the glare in her normally soft emerald gaze left no room for argument. Reluctantly he bowed and made his way out as Aeris shifted her gaze back to the device. She placed her hand on the mirror and disappeared.
"So, now what?" Vincent asked in his calm tenor voice, edging away from the demon.
"That's a rather good question. I do wish I could give an answer just as good….." Arios replied, holding his sword up in a defensive stance and backpedaling slowly. The giant demon narrowed its yellow eyes, examining its prey intently. It issued a low growl as it set its sights on Vincent.
The massive demon lifted its leg, placing it a step closer to its prey before coming to an abrupt stop. The creature jerked its head back, a low growl rumbling through its throat as it sniffed the air. It snorted in surprise, its yellow eyes darting about nervously. Arios took note of the demon's newest actions with great curiosity, although still keeping a tight grip on his saber.
"Arios, what is it doing?" Vincent asking, never taking his eyes off the demon.
"Does it look like I know?" Arios replied sarcastically. "But I think we shou-"
A very bright light exploded, interrupting Arios' speech. Both the angels and the demon shielded their eyes, the light burning incredibly bright.
"Begone, demon!" A loud, feminine voice demanded. Arios and Vincent returned their gaze to the scene, noticing a woman standing between them and the demon, alone.
The demon cocked its grotesque head to the side, as if not understanding the command.
"You heard me, evil one." She shouted. "Begone!"
The demon snorted, eyeing the woman. Slowly the demon issued a bearing of teeth, what Vincent assumed to be the creature's effort at a smile. The woman glared at the demon before reaching her hands to the back of her head. Her fingers searched through her hair, just above the tie, before pulling out a small white marble.
Vincent examined the situation before him, concentrating on the small marble in the woman's hand. "Is…..is that Materia?"
The woman held the marble close to her lips, whispering. As if her voice were coaxing them, ribbons of white energy wafted from the marble. She stopped her whispering when the folds of energy were high enough. Slowly she raised her eyes, whispering one last command as the ribbons grew very long, shooting towards the demon and wrapping themselves around the creature's limbs, torso, and neck, growing taut with contact
The ribbons of energy tightened around the demon, suffocating him and at that same time, draining away his evil energy. The demon roared in pain as it slumped over, very dead.
"Amazing….." Vincent praised quietly. The woman turned and smiled softly.
"Hello Vincent. It's good to see you again."
Arios' eyes grew wide and immediately averted his gaze to the ground. "Lady Aeris….." He regarded Vincent. "Fledgling, avert you eyes!"
But Vincent couldn't pull his eyes from the woman who stood before him. "Aeris…..you're…..alive!?"
Aeris laughed, pulling Vincent into a tight embrace. "Not alive exactly….."
"Then you're an angel." Vincent reasoned.
"Not that either. Arios, dear, you may look now."
Arios glared reproachfully at his fledgling before turning to Aeris.
"That's much better, Arios, thank you."
"Aeris," Vincent interrupted softly, "Why can't he look at you?"
"Aah….." Aeris laughed quietly before responding. "I'm…..in a way…..the, um…..ruler of Heaven….."
"You're -what-?" Vincent blurted, hardly registering what his friend had just said. "But…..how"
"I'm not quite sure myself, Vincent." She replied. "My best guess was that I was the last Ancient willing to sacrifice myself for the human race. The Cetra despised humanity because of their cowardice, hiding away rather than facing the threats to their creator, the Planet. But I…..I forgave them and allowed myself to be sacrificed so humanity could have another chance at survival…..funny, how history tends to repeat itself….."
"Repeat itself?" Vincent echoed.
"The Ancients sacrifice themselves and humanity survives….."
"Oh…..and this self-sacrificing…..it made you the way you are now?"
"As I said, I do not understand all of it. I am aware that some higher power deemed me ruler, but as to who that power is remains a mystery."
"I see. Wait, what of the power you used to destroy that demon? Was that Materia?"
"It was. It was Holy. When I arrived here in Heaven, the power of Holy was revealed to me. But enough talk, we need to get you two out of here. Chaos is up to something and we must stop him….."
"Lady, I completely agree, but there is a problem….." Arios said, motioning his arm out to the area around them. "We can't get out of here."
Aeris flicked her finger back at forth, smiling. "Don't underestimate me." She replied, smiling. She then held up two small vials. Arios grinned, taking the vials and giving one to Vincent.
"The way out."
"Drink the vials," Aeris began, "And they will take you to a place on earth I recently felt Chaos' presence. Perhaps he'll be there. I fear I cannot come with you, I've things to take care of here."
"That's alright, you've given us enough." Vincent said, downing the vial as did Arios, their bodies disappearing from sight.
"Perfect!" Chaos hissed gleefully, sizing up his newest creation. Cloud stretched, bringing his new reptilian wings to their full span before landing softly to the ground before Chaos. His hands and feet had changed to claws, tipped with sharp talons. A tail had grown, long and scaly, the tip of it touched in spines. His hair was streaked in black, two twisted horns adorning his head. His ears were pointed and the skin that had changed and turned to a dull purple like black. Finally, his once bright sapphire eyes and darkened to a chalky cobalt, his pupils now slits.
"I have your first assignment, young demon." Chaos said. Cloud looked up, lust apparent in his dark eyes. His tail twitched in anticipation. Chaos brought up a scrying device, depicting an image of an angel.
"Vincent?" Cloud asked curiously, his voice unchanged from his human tone. Chaos nodded.
"He killed Tifa, Cloud." Cloud's eyes narrowed dangerously at the statement.
Cloud's lips twisted into an evil smile.
"As you wish, master."
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