123 - Rome
PRESENT DAY When I saw that angels are fast, that really doesn’t help to describe how terrifying it is to be directly in front of not one, but two angels running directly at you–one with sword raised over his head and the other with a smaller, curved blade to her side.
I just stood there, rooted to the spot. My brain was skipping, refusing to process what was happening to me, although it kept throwing up plenty of completely unhelpful thoughts along the lines of what would be happening shortly.
Luckily for me, Lazarus didn’t seem quite so surprised. I guess that after a couple of millenia, you aren’t really surprised by much. He couldn’t move as fast as the angels, but he wasn’t slow either, and he had a significantly shorter distance to travel. He didn’t run though. He just shifted slightly so that he was directly between me and the angels–by now Michael was slightly in the lead–and spread his feet, crouching down and raising both hands.
Honestly, the first thought flitting through my mind was that he looked like a football player squaring up to the line of scrimmage.
That thought was all I had time for though, as Michael hit him a moment later, curving only slightly to the side at the last moment to run by him, slashing as he went. Lazarus just stood there, seemingly completely unperturbed by the blade running through his chest. And it went right through–Michael was strong it seemed. Instinctively, I brought my hands up to shield my face, but as I did, I could already see that Lazarus’ flesh knit itself together almost as soon as the blade had cleared his back, running together something like hot wax, smoothing out a moment later back into its original color.
His suit on the other hand, didn’t fare quite so well. The razor sharp edge on Michael’s blade parted the fabric as easily as it had Lazarus’ flesh, but the suit had no such way to bind back together. After defying gravity for a moment or two, most of the suit’s top fell away, from his upper chest down, along with most of each arm. It pooled around his feet, not even fraying from such an impressively clean cut.
Gabriel hit a moment later, slashing upwards at an angle, but I didn’t have time to watch what has happening. Although I was already sure that the result was going to be the same. After everything else, of course Lazarus would heal like that–I’d seen it before after all.
It was all starting to make a bit more sense, that it had been the power of Jesus’ words imprinted forever on the Cup of Lazarus that had brought back all of those people from the dead. But there had to be some sort of difference, why had Private Jackson and Alex come back as little more than shades of their former selves but Lazarus and John had come back more or less whole and sound–no, better than sound; seemingly immortal.
That was a question for another time though. At th moment, it was time to…
Lazarus’ cry jerked me back to the present just in time for me to see Michael’s blade swinging directly at my face. I didn’t have time to decide if he was attacking me directly or had just missed Lazarus and overbalanced, but luckily my body reacted even before my mind could register Lazarus’ words.
I ducked and the blade cut through the air overheard, a somehow cold sounding whish in its wake.
“What are you doing?” I heard Gabriel’s voice, not even the slightest bit out of breath, despite everything.
I didn’t know if she was talking to me or to Michael and it seemed that I never would find out. For at that moment, the rising howl of emergency sirens firing up came from all together too close, on at least two sides of the plaza. The lights were blue alone rather than the red and blue I was used to, but there was no denying what they were. A moment later, the sirens started as well, and I could see a number of emergency vehicles at each entrance.
I heard a noise that sounded like swearing coming from Michael, although I couldn’t quite make out the noise. Abruptly, I realized that Lazarus was no longer standing with us. I hadn’t seen him leave and I knew that he couldn’t vanish quite as effectively as the angels, but still, he had had a long time to practice going unnoticed. I was a bit surprised that both Michael and Gabriel hadn’t seemed to notice him leaving either, but I guess the sirens and the lights had been a pretty effective distraction.
124 - Rome
PRESENT DAY The two angels looked at one another for a moment, then Michael nodded once, curtly. Each of them shook their hand with their sword and between one moment and the next, both swords vanished. I was dying to know how they did that, but I had a feeling that now was perhaps not the best time to ask.
Cops–at least I assumed they were cops–and men dressed in what looked like black body armor were closing in from all directions. Whoever–or whatever–they thought we were, they weren’t taking any chances with us. Father Antonio and Amira were standing there, still almost a dozen paces away, with mouths hanging open, looking at me.
Michael and Gabriel were standing there, as cool as you please. If they looked any more innocent, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a halo appear around each’s head. Which was really another question for another time; if they were angels, why didn’t they have halos? And if that wasn’t an angel thing, then why did all of the paintings always seem to show them as such?
Then the cops were on us. Several of them yelled at me in Italian and possibly other languages. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, although their intention was more than clear. I carefully raised my hands, showing them that I had nothing to hide, and stood there, trying not to make any sudden movements. With this many cops, I had a feeling that any wrong movements at all would end badly for all of us.
One of the men in the black armor came forward and pushed me to my knees. It wasn’t a hard push, but there was a certain strength behind it. It had a certain inexorable quality, pushing down like that. Almost like a glacier.
The same men corralled the three of us humans–Father Antonio, Amira, and myself–forcing us all together into a group along with the half dozen or so others that had been visiting the plaza and hadn’t made themselves scarce quite quickly enough. They all looked terrifying more than confused, and I really couldn’t blame them. I probably had much the same look on my face.
Lazarus was missing. I had no idea how he’d vanished so thoroughly, but the cops apparently didn’t know he’d even been there.
The angels, on the other hand, just stood there, looking altogether too calm. I kept expecting the entire situation to go sideways–perhaps a cop reacting badly to the way they were standing–but nothing happened. The cops and other men just walked right by them as if they weren’t there. In a few cases, cops even walked right around them, detouring so that they wouldn’t collide, but no one seemed to notice that anything out of the ordinary had happened. It was as if they had meant to swerve like that and none of them–not the men swerving, nor those working side by side with them–made a single comment about it.
I whistled softly under my breath. “That’s just cool.” One of the cops nearby that seemed to have been assigned to guard the slowly growing group of people around me glared at me and I shut my mouth. Not the time nor the place, I thought to myself. But there was going to be a time for discussion and it was going to be soon. I needed answers.
A few minutes after the whole chaos in the plaza had begun, it was over. A series of large box trucks painted a matte black with the same blue lights mounted to them pulled up and each of us was politely yet very firmly forced into one of the vehicles. If the local police had a version of Miranda rights they were supposed to read, I never heard it, although with the amount of chatter going on in Italian, I might just missed it.
Then I was shoved into a van along with Father Antonio and two others from the square and two of the cops–one in the black armor and the other in a more traditional uniform. I saw Amira climbing into the next van in the line with a few others and put on what I hoped was a hopeful face. She just looked angry when I caught her eye, but at least not at me. When she saw me, her expression softened for a moment–but only for a moment. Then we were in our respective vans and the doors had been slammed shut behind us.
A moment later, I felt as much as heard the massive vehicles being shifted into gear and starting to roll off of the plaza.
All in all, the entire abduction–and what else was there to call it?–had taken no more than five minutes from start to finish. There had been no warning, no time to react. Whoever these men were, they were well trained. And now they’d kidnapped the lot of us and were driving us all of who knew where to do who knew what with us.
Not the best situation that I had ever been in.
At least this time, no one was shooting at me. Always a plus.