She felt her existence flash before her.
My folly and arrogance caused this. I foolishly believed I could wield the demon’s weapon.
She was created. The angelwomb that cradled her had only just been left behind. She knew right away she was different from the others just based on ability. The might and power of her companions had vastly outweighed her, even those much younger than she was. Their growth was extreme compared to hers. Others had miscategorized her as a cherub. She understood her growth was slower compared to the others but it was still a difficult prospect to accept.
She rose from her daily waiting, slipping into her training attire. She tied back her hair, spending moments threading her hair through her golden halo hair braid spokes. She couldn’t wait to grow and obtain a halo all her own.
Her glory shone like the sun from her sole eye, something she lacked control of. She tied the cover around the upper portion of her face, leaving her nose and mouth bare. She had learned early that humanity needed their eyes for sight, which was an oddity for her. She nodded with approval at her short appearance, breaking into an alabaster smile. She moved quickly on the balls of her feet, her tiny pearlescent wings flapping gently as she made her way for daily training.
Deborah remembered earlier than that.
She and Emmanuel were watching the universe from atop a branch of the Tree of Life. They both sat, watching the nebulas universe shift like clouds, changing shapes.
She felt her spirit still at the majesty in front of her. And the majesty of the one who held her.
“So I’m an Ab-er-rant,” Deborah began, her voice higher pitched from her younger years.
“I had wished to tell you when you were older, but now I suspect you already know,” Emmanuel replied warmly.
“Why was I made this way?”
“Is it because of the others?” Emmanuel asked.
She nodded, her mouth pursing.
“You mustn’t compare yourself,” He began, gently cradling her by the shoulder.
She nestled in his robed embrace. Emmanuel was the best big brother, even though he was considered her King.
“I know,” She replied sleepily.
“I just wonder, why was I made?”
“All of our servants are unique, each fulfilling their own calling that they were purpose-created for.”
“Uh, but what does that mean?”
Emmanuel laughed gently at that.
“You,” Emmanuel began, tapping her nose as she let out a giggle, “were made with a purpose.”
“And your purpose is-”
“-to guard the prince.”
“To guard the prince!”
Emmanuel gave a bark of a laugh. Deborah smiled, her dimples showing.
“But why did you make me an Ab-er-rant?”
He squinted at that, cocking his head to the universe in front of him.
“Well, Aberrants are rare. And yes, they grow slower than normal angels.”
She nodded her head at that.
“But they also have free will. Sometimes it happens with angels.”
“But you made me… Was I an accident?”
Emmanuel waggled his finger at her.
“You are no accident. The Father could make angels with free will, however, he prefers the angelwomb to make those choices. He would rather include those in his work.”
“So I was just by chance?”
“Oh no, you would have always been as intended. If you were not an Aberrant, you would be loved and cared for all the same. But because you are an aberrant, the Father has need of you.”
“There is one who missed everything. You are tasked with finding and guarding him.”
She nodded enthusiastically.
“I can’t wait…”
She began to nod off at that.
Deborah remembered more recent events.
She struck the ground hard, the blow had knocked her flat. Her staff had sailed skyward, reaching into the heavens.
“You telegraph your hesitancy.” A familiar voice spoke.
Deborah got to her feet, mouth pursing at her own defeat.
“Chaumuel, why am I being made to train in such a temporal fashion? I’ve gained my calling and title, why can I not use that for training?”
The larger archangel leaned against his golden training staff, gazing intently at her. His bronze muscles flexed as he gripped the staff.
“You must train in all of the martial ways, without being dependent on your newfound abilities.
She flexed her pearlescent wings at that. They had grown in well with gold trim.
“And most of all this is training you to react on instinct.”
He blurred, rushing to her.
Her training kicked in as she struck out, predicting correctly where the archangel was intending to strike. The force of the blow cracked the air in the white marble arena. Chamuel had blocked the blow but refused to follow up. Deborah grimaced as she spotted his empty hands.
She snapped her hand skyward, catching the golden staff he had flung up above her, intending to drop it down atop her.
She glanced up at the gleaming staff, then back to Chamuel with an alabaster grin.
The archangel backed away, folding his arms sporting a proud smile.
“You’ve grown too accustomed to me!” He began with a bellowing laugh.
“Or maybe my training is complete?”
“Never! A demon will never cease finding new ways to prey on others. So too must you be eternally vigilant.”
“Let us see your progress with your abilities.” Chamuel began.
“Yes, preceptor Chamuel.”
She remembered she was placed under Chamuel for compatibility; her own abilities mirrored close to his.
“And your recent title, Angel of Multitudes. What revelation do you have of this title?”
“I can create dimensional selves, dimensional portals, and can multiply and manipulate my limbs.”
“There is more to it than that, however, you have a solid grasp of the basics,” Chamuel corrected.
“I see many paths for you. One of the many complimentary paths would be delving into the aspects of Light or War. Your holy aura also implies aspects in Life or Holy. All will be beneficial.”
“The aspect that governs the healing and care of the body. If the prince is as frail as they say, he may need that.”
“If the enemies are as numerous as the prophets say, then you will need it.”
“The choice is yours. Choose wisely,” Chamuel commanded.
Deborah shook from her memories and returned to the present agony.
She cried out as the pain rushed to her. She breathed heavily as she remembered what had happened moments ago. She glanced to Gideon, motionless against the ice wall. The Breatherman was gazing at her.
“Gideon!” She cried, seeing her charge fallen before her.
“You couldn’t even protect him.”
“Come here and say that!” Deborah retorted, trying to sit up.
She felt in no small terms her body was heavily wounded.
The Breatherman obliged, stalking in close to her, it leaned down, gently gathering her up.
She felt the blinding pain as all of her wounds were disturbed. The demon waited for her cries of anguish to silence. She could see the face of the demon inside the hood, the clover of misshapen skulls all staring at her.
“Pathetic. You couldn’t save him,” The Breatherman repeated with a scoff.
Baxter was barking furiously. The Breatherman glanced to the dog and more ice grew, entombing the dog once again.
She caught sight of the ice wall being bored through by the lasers and solar cannons. The wall only appeared to melt.
“Why are you the most worthless of glowing ones?”
It cocked its head, gazing deeply into her. She felt the cold frost of its breath. She felt her pain numbing.
“Why does he even allow you to guard him?”
“Are you not afraid he will realize you are a liability and abandon you? Just like Emmanuel did?”
Deborah remembered. She didn’t want to but the memory surfaced all the same.
She was with him again. Before she met Gideon.
“Deborah. This isn’t forever. Please head to Karmmrak.”
She saw the pained look in his eyes. The determination.
She was surrounded by bloodshed. Her friends. Her family. Those she had known for eons.
She didn’t remember what she said in response; it was possible that it was nothing but hysterical screaming.
She saw the dark beings surrounding Emmanuel. The dark schemings completed.
She saw the four adamantite rods, wicked and coiled.
She saw Emmanuel release his power.
She saw his warm smile.
She saw the rods impale him.
And then she was on Karmmrak.
She did not remember how long she lay broken at her destination.
Deborah felt the demon’s gaze upon her once again.
“Fascinating. He’s gone.”
She felt the Breatherman ‘smiling’ at her.
“You failed him just as you failed Gideon.”
“No! It’s not like that…”
The Breatherman rasped a smokey coughing laugh that breathed out deep frost.
“Not like? Oh… Oh!”
The demon laughed, a powerful convulsing laugh. Deborah’s vision lanced with white agony at being shaken.
“Unbelievable. You love him.”
“Stop!” Deborah begged.
She felt despair in her very being at remembering. Shame and guilt invaded her once again at her feelings towards him.
“He told you about your calling for so long that you fell in love with your sweet prince.”
“Is he everything you imagined?”
The demon laughed, the room filled with frost.
“Or are you disappointed?”
Deborah was silent, her mask becoming damp with tears.
“You and this human? He would be your prince and you would be his princess? Creating abominations together? Is that how you saw it?”
She was silent, her body wracked with pain of body, mind, and soul.
She shrieked in agony as she felt his finger dig into a blast wound, pulling a shard of demon crystal free. It danced along his fingertips, becoming a liquid drop.
“Say it,” He ordered coldly.
“Go back to your misery!” She barked.
She felt a knife stabs all throughout her body. A dig and a twist. She could emit no noise, no cry of pain as the crystal shards obeyed its master, flowing from her wounds and coalescing to his open hand.
“Say the words,” The demon ordered calmly.
She grimaced but stayed silent.
She was dropped to the floor, she could understand nothing but the agony that lanced through her. She was flipped over to her stomach, facing Gideon.
The laser beams and solar beams had gone quiet. The two CK-DINES were frozen as the wall slowly expanded. She suspected those on the other side were frozen as well.
The Breatherman knelt down, gripping her shoulders gently.
“Say it. He’s right there. If you say it, he may answer!”
A crystal blade was dropped, stuck into the wood near her face.
“I said I would make you beg me to run you through.”
“However, If you say it, I’ll let you both live happily ever after.”
“You will burn for this dem-AGH!”
Deborah shrieked as the demon gripped her ruined wing and twisted.
“All you need to do is say it.”
“You will not break me…” She whispered.
She caught sight of the small rivers of golden blood beginning to flow.
She felt her hood ripped off, the crystal blade vanished. A rough hand gripped her head, cutting into her hair.
The crumpled ruined halo hairpin clattered to the floor. Clumps of hair went with it.
“You are doing this to yourself. Say it.”
“You will not control me!”
She felt her Watcher robe cut away, exposing her back.
“Say the four words.”
She clenched her mouth, defiant.
And then a pain she could not explain shattered her mind. The Breatherman began to cut away at one of her wings, working slowly at each tendon.
Deborah was no longer on the Skylon.
She was with Chamuel in the Great Library.
“You will need to choose. Light. War. Life. Holy. Those are the four paths I see for you.”
“Each will give you more abilities to master, which will unfold new paths. Such is the way of angels.”
“How many are there?”
“Countless,” He responded with a warm smile.
Holy. Light. War. Life.
She thought about it. She let the unfavored choice drop.
Light. Life. War.
It still did not feel right. She needed one.
She made her choice.
Deborah came back to the Skylon, her back was lit aflame. She could only explain it in the word of her tongue.
A pain beyond understanding. A pain beyond existence.
Her precious and gorgeous wing was casually dropped just within sight. It splattered the floor with golden blood. A butcher performing his dirty work.
But she knew who she was now.
She was not only Deborah, Lesser Angel of Multitudes.
She was now Deborah, Lesser Angel of Life.
She knew the abilities by instinct. The mastery would come with time. An angel would normally understand what all of their callings did upon knowing it. She would spend another lifetime discovering it.
She knew both of her abilities right away.
One of which she was equal parts terrified and joyous.
She would need to do it herself. The demon would not oblige.
The dagger sunk into the floor near her.
“Say it. You angelic whore.”
She had to do it. The ability she needed demanded it.
For Gideon. For the crew. For Emmanuel.
Her body trembled, from shock and the anticipation of what she was about to do.
“For Gideon. For Emmanuel,” She spoke calmly.
The demon could get no further as she used what was left of her strength to pull the dagger free.
And buried it in her own throat.
Her very being cried out for her to stop as she plunged it to her neck. She forced it in and pulled. She let the dagger go, the damage done. Golden blood sprayed upon the wooden floor. She gurgled a cry as the pain was unceasing. She wept tears of gold.
“That is surprising. Was it too much for you?”
The demon laughed at seeing her fade away.
“You never got a chance to say it. How sad.”
Deborah felt cold. The pain ceased. The laughter of the demon quietly faded to nothing.
She faded to nothing.
The light of her eye went dim as she stilled.
Deborah was no more.
And then Deborah was.
Her body glowed to sunlight intensity. A shrieking din echoed out, reaching ear-shattering decibels.
The demon continued to laugh.
Then it shrieked with a pain it only ever experienced once. It’s own El’ihm’aushia.
Deborah detonated in a golden sun blast, sending the demon to the far wall.
The immediate area vanished as the floor was disintegrated, sending splinter fragments throughout.
Deborah stood, naked and unashamed.
And whole again. Her glory shone like the sun.
She idly felt at her face, feeling her eye mask had vanished.
She glanced to the demon, seeing it writhing against the far wall.
Its flesh burned. Slowly. It had taken a lethal dose of angel healing magic. Fatal to demons.
To say it was the most unpleasant experience she ever felt was an understatement.
She spotted the remnants of the Watcher robe. She knelt down, collecting the ruined garment.
“Thank you, dear Watchers,” She said with gratitude. She wrapped what was left around her shoulders.
The garment did the rest as it remembered. It flowed, growing, fitting to her body as it restructured itself. Memory material. She tore at her sleeve, taking a strip of black cloth, tying it to her head as a blindfold and hiding her glory. She glanced down, seeing one of the sleeves refused to reform. The time she took the blow from Saddiffer.
The demon was thrashing about, gurgling madly in pain. Black smoke rose from it.
She moved to Gideon, seeing him still. She was unsteady, the pain she just experienced echoed as phantoms to her.
She knelt down, feeling at his armor.
He was still alive. Broken, but alive.
Deborah felt at Gideon’s armor, channeling her power and intent. She felt his broken spine reknitting, the bone fitting back into place. She felt the femur reattach, felt the shoulder pop back into place. She felt the slowly expanding blood vessels in his brain retreat, the damage had been too severe for nanites to stop.
“I love you, Gideon,” She whispered, saying the four words.
Her heart ached. She knew it couldn’t be. He was nothing that she expected. After all, she expected him to be like Emmanuel. But he wasn’t. He was unsure of himself. Too easily delegating leadership to others. Weak. And yet, still, she loved him. He had strength to stand up to face off against demons. Courage in hopeless situations. Clever guile. And humility to know his limits. He was growing, just like her. A plant in need of cultivation.
She hid it well under the guise as a teacher. It slipped every now and then. The ambush with the pale jammers had her desperately searching for him.
Or am I in love with the idea of the prince that Emmanuel spoke of so long ago?
She glanced up at the ice, seeing it melt quickly. The Breatherman had little strength to upkeep it anymore. She glanced back the demon, seeing it continued to thrash about. One of its arms broke off, spilling out steaming black blood.
The wall shattered, with a small doggy making his escape.
“I am free!”
Baxter loped madly around the room, barking up a storm, looking for the bad guy.
“You are bad go away- Oh… Yes. Hi Deb. Is Gid just alright?” Baxter began as he stopped, trotting to them.
“He is fine. The Breatherman has been defeated,” She stated calmly, a thin smile forming as she knelt down.
Baxter bunny hopped to her, sporting a dumb doggy grin as she gently massaged his ears.
The Breatherman had gone still, sizzling from the burns. It was a slow destruction.
“Good Baxter,” She stated warmly.
Baxter wiggled his rump in response.
The wall of ice off to their side crashed over, with both CK-DINES being freed. Steak, Patricia, and Monday broke through, covered in wet frost and ice.
They quickly surveyed the situation and rushed to Gideon’s side.
“Good Deborah, what happened?” Patricia began as she rushed to Gideon’s side.
Deborah gestured to the Breatherman. They solemnly watched as it continued to cook, slowly breaking down.
Steak nodded approvingly.
“A very good kill.”
“Deborah deary, how did you defeat it?” Monday asked, cocking her head.
She was still ready for a fight.
“I grew,” She stated vaguely.
Gideon began to struggle as he awoke.
“Good Gideon, please do not move!” Patricia ordered.
“We’re alive?” Gideon asked incredulously.
“No bodily damage detected. Suit is damaged,” Patricia began, running off a checklist.
“It’s a bit cramped here…” Gideon began, wincing as he tried to move.
Patricia began storing Gideon’s suit in blue light, leaving him in just his jumpsuit.
Gideon caught Deborah’s gaze, smiling brightly. She helped him stand, stepping away as he rose. Her feelings were hidden once again.
“What happened? We were staring at the abyss!” Gideon began, dumb shock on his face.
“I grew,” She stated quietly.
“What? Really?” Gideon asked, dumbfounded.
She glanced to the demon, seeing it continue in its gentle thrashing.
She sauntered to the demon, mouth pressed with determination.
The demon’s limbs had broken off, crumbling off to ethereal ash.
She could see it gazing intense hatred at her. It’s flesh bubbled and boiled.
She knelt down beside the demon.
“Deborah, get away from-”
She injected her power into the demon, finishing it off.
The demon gave her one last look. She could tell. Deborah cocked her head at the uncharacteristic act.
A look of gratitude.
It crumbled to ethereal ash, vanishing to nothing.
“Be at peace and return no more,” Deborah began.
She turned to Gideon, his eyes wide at seeing what she did.
They all paused, eying her with wonder.
“I am now Deborah, Lesser Angel of Life.”
She grinned a wide alabaster smile as everyone looked on in surprise.