Going to Mars

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Going to Mars

Angel

I might be in trouble again.

I am summoned to the Assembly of the Seven. They gather at the top of a tall mountain, surrounded by seven more mountains and blanketed by clouds. They wear armor unique to their dominions in service to the High Lord, Elohim. I wonder at this earthly setting, at their human shapes formed of Light, at their blazing swords and shining armor.

This can mean only one thing.

War.

In their presence, I am no more significant than a grasshopper in the company of eagles. I am a Guardian, the protector of a girl named Grace Fortune. No doubt, this is why I have been summoned. Grace has come to the attention of the Seven before, along with her friend Jared, who happens to be a Nephilim. Yet, after years of grappling with their many enemies, they have retreated from the battlefield, content in their love, their families, and their newfound peace. Their band, Forlorn, no longer makes public appearances. They still play their music, and they write and sell songs through a publisher who keeps their identities a secret. They are happy to be out of the spotlight, away from the world's madness. I have enjoyed the respite.

I bow before Gabriel, the revealer, usually the one to speak. Michael, the protector, glowers at me with withering disapproval, as usual. Uriel, the destroyer, stands in fierce silence. Raphael, the healer, is the only one to convey any hint of empathy. The last three—Saraquel, Remiel, and Raquel—remain ever quiet, although I believe they communicate with each other in sendings I do not hear.

"Guardian," Gabriel says. "Something is happening that concerns your charge."

Surprising. Grace's world is now very small. But the archangels are members of the Council—they stand before the Throne. They know things I cannot.

"Has she done something wrong?" I ask.

"Not yet," Michael grumbles. "Although I'm sure it is only a matter of time."

Gabriel throws him a warning glance. "It will be better to show you. Uriel will take you. It is important that you understand. For Grace's sake. And...the boy's as well."

The boy. They once referred to Jared as "the creature." At least they acknowledge his humanness now.

"Go now," says Gabriel.

Uriel's hand touches my shoulder and my Light flows into his. I find myself on earth under a cloudless sky. Before me is an enormous dome made of brown wooden slats, tilted like a globe. Situated in a green space, the structure is surrounded by low, nondescript buildings against a backdrop of sleepy, white-capped mountains.

"What is this place?" I ask.

"This is CERN." Uriel's voice rumbles like thunder. "A global center for nuclear research. It contains the largest particle collider in the world, seventeen miles in circumference."

"What is it for?"

"For men to discover the secrets of the universe." Uriel lets out a sigh like a north wind.

"They spend billions smashing particles while children starve and wars rage on."

"Don't they know how the universe began?"

"They reject the words of Elohim. They seek their own explanation."

Uriel takes me inside the globe, where giant video screens surround large white resin balls suspended in a sea of midnight-blue, meant to represent particles in an atom. We slip through the blackened ceiling to a space above, a lecture hall under the arched dome. People in white coats with name badges gaze in rapt attention at a man standing on the platform. He is tall and lank, with thinning dark hair, pale eyes, and protruding ears. His arms and legs are unusually long and his shoulders broad, making him appear out of proportion to himself. He speaks with an air of humor and humility.

"Thank you for inviting me," he says to the crowd. "Wow, this place is truly amazing. It has always been my dream to be a part of what you folks are doing here. Until now, my interest has been in outer space, searching for new worlds to conquer. But lately, I have come to realize that the true frontier, the one yet to be explored, is right here in the subatomic world. To discover what we are truly made of and what we can become. To discover, in effect, our past, which will lead to our destiny."

The crowd applauds. A lone whistle shrills through the room.

"This is where the whole world comes together." The speaker gains momentum. "Twenty-two nations united for a single purpose—to advance the cause of science in our world. To create a global society, a global order, to meet the needs of future generations. And I want to be a part of that. We will do great things together. You and I both know that the LHC is in need of a major upgrade. It must be bigger and run at higher energies in order to reveal the secrets of the atom—secrets we must learn in order to move forward. That's why I'm here. And that's what I'm going to do."

The room erupts in riotous applause.

"Who is that man?" I ask.

"His name is Darwin Speer."

I have heard the name before.

#

Time moves backward into night. We hover above the courtyard of the CERN campus. In the center of the courtyard, an enormous statue of the Hindu god Shiva performs the dance of destruction inside a ring of fire.

"They pray to Shiva now?"

"They don't pray. But this god is their symbol for what they want to achieve."

"Which is?"

"Creation. And destruction."

Spotlights shine on Shiva from different angles, casting huge shadows on the surrounding buildings. Dark Ones dance in the shadows—they glom together, form a ring around the statue which comes to life...its fires flicker, its arms and legs take up the dance.

A line of black-robed figures parades through the curtain of Dark, their shadows long against the hovering buildings so they seem like giants. They circle the statue in tightly choreographed procession. Suddenly they stop and face the dancing statue, raising their arms in worship. They begin to chant, droning in an ancient, unknown language.

One of the worshippers steps out of line and approaches Shiva. Three others follow—they remove the first one's robe to reveal a woman with blonde hair dressed in a long white gown. As the chanting intensifies, she lies on the ground and Shiva dances in a frenzy around her still form. A black-robed priest raises his hand and a knife flashes in the spotlight. He bends over the woman and stabs her through the heart.

It is day again. The courtyard is empty.

"Was that real?" I ask.

"It does not matter. What matters is that it was done. This is war, Guardian. The Dark Prince stands ready. It is only a matter of time."

Forgiven by Gina Detwiler (Chapter One Only)Where stories live. Discover now