Anxious, Mathayus hurriedly hooked up the cable connected to his brain to the data server, to download the last remaining records from the Knowledge Base. His metallic wings fluttered and his eyes flickered, as he bombarded himself with all the information that Haven contained. Angels were mostly devoid of emotion, but the amount of data he had downloaded seemed to be influencing his disposition.
The door beeped as Michael entered the data center. Mathayus was too preoccupied to notice the incursion. Michael glided swiftly, yet silently, toward his comrade.
Like Mathayus, Michael had an air of quiet confidence. Both had high-bridged noses and eyes that have a color that could only be described as “blue-within-blue.” Their jaw line were sturdy, anvil-shaped; their chins, pointed. Mathayus had hair that was bright as the sun, while Michael’s were as dark as the earth beneath them. As with the other angels, they had metallic wings, made out of anti-gravity alloys that allowed them the ability of flight. Neither outranked the other, but they had a mutual respect that was unspoken.
Unsure if he had already been noticed, Michael lightly tapped Mathayus’ shoulder. “What are you doing, brother? I have been looking everywhere for you.”
Startled, Mathayus rapidly turned around, his eyes wide and mouth agape. “I, uh–”
Michael squinted his eyes and examined the monitor. Being the Right Hand of Father, he did not bother himself with intellectual pursuits, and instead focused on the more physical aspect of commanding the army – leaving the scholarly matters to the erudite Mathayus. He was baffled by the text that flashed in front of him, but understood clearly what was transpiring.
Flustered, Mathayus held his breath and looked back at his brother in fear. He couldn’t risk aborting the transfer in the middle of the process, but he might have run out of options. “Doing some light reading, brother. Updating the data banks, boring stuff.”
“Boring stuff, eh?” Michael interrogated, suspicious of Mathayus’ recent actions. “So why does it say that you’re ‘transferring’ and ‘purging files?’”
“It always says that,” Mathayus retorted nervously.
“Sure, it does. Whenever one transfers and purges data. Do you think me a fool, brother? What is really going on here?” Michael gritted his teeth, turning slowly toward Mathayus.
“It’s protocol to purge unnecessary backups,” Mathayus responded, in an almost robotic tone, his wings nervously trembling. “Even though you refuse to accept it, Haven’s data centers do not have unlimited storage capacity.”
Michael scowled, and then forcefully grabbed Mathayus’ armor by the collar. “I know that you’re stealing the data,” he accused, snorting heavily. “For what? Those slaves?”
Trying to release himself from the vice grip, Mathayus carefully wiggled his body, but the tether prevented him from moving freely. “It’s not what you think. Let me go!”
“Don’t tell me what I think. We’ve talked about this time and again. This is going too far!”
“Humans aren’t mere slaves for us to command. Father commissioned their existence for a higher purpose.”
“We are Father’s progeny; they are low-quality knockoffs. Why do you insist in considering them with high regard? They were created for menial labor and nothing more. Bunch of stonecutters and bricklayers – they’re expendable!”
“That is not true. Look at the progress that I’ve made with Atlantis. Their brains can–”
“Again with your Atlantis! Father allowed you to maintain that city of abominations so that you wouldn’t wander off unchecked. Now, stop this transfer or I will terminate it for you.”
Mathayus shoved Michael away, and pounded on the keypad, in hopes of quickening the transfer.
“You are the Left Hand of Father,” Michael reminded Mathayus. “You are Proti, the highest rank any angel could achieve, and still you are unsatisfied.”
Mathayus stayed silent, concentrating on the task at hand.
“It is not too late, brother,” Michael reassured. “Father does not need to know of this transgression.”
“You wouldn’t understand,” Mathayus goaded. “How did I ever think that you would understand? It’s like I’m talking to a mindless primate.”
“What did you say?” Michael exclaimed angrily. He drew his sword with his left hand and swiped at his brother, hoisting his sword overhead and striking straight at the center.
Sensing the impending attack, Mathayus bobbed to the left, cleanly evading the assault. Michael’s sword buried itself on the console, severing Mathayus’ connection to the machine. Mathayus turned towards his brother and was quickly met with a backhand across his face.
Mathayus flapped his wings and kicked Michael in the chest. “What have you done?”
Michael grabbed Mathayus’ foot, twisted it and tossed him at the console. “What I have to.”
Bruised, Mathayus rose slowly and slashed Michael’s cheek with his wing, drawing blood. Angered, Michael grabbed his sword and launched a flurry of swipes at Mathayus. From time to time, Mathayus successfully disarmed Michael, and they would continue to exchange blows. They took the fight to different areas, with several angels trying to restrain the pair unsuccessfully. What were commonly relatively peaceful halls now echoed howls and blows.
Their mothership, Haven, was a large city-like structure that floated above the clouds. It housed droves of angels routinely deployed to do their leader’s bidding, whenever required. The ship cloaked itself against the sky and was dismissed by some humans as nothing but a myth. As the temporary home of angels stationed on Earth, Haven revolves around the planet’s orbit, not allowed to travel back to its home world, Paradiso.
Bloodied, Michael clutched Mathayus’ neck and dragged him across the hall, face first against the floor. Their armor were as damaged as the areas they had laid waste.
At some point in their scuffle, the other angels stopped trying to restrain them and, instead, just watched the fight as it unfolded. In-fighting was very rare for angels, so they considered the melee a treat to behold. They didn’t know the reason; they just had their own bets.
Mathayus countered with an elbow that landed straight on Michael’s mouth, but did not in any way loosen the latter’s grip on his neck. He jumped up and flew all the way to the ceiling, slamming Michael’s back against it.
Winded, Michael released his grip and descended swiftly towards his sword. He spun as he hit the floor, grabbed the weapon and threw it at his opponent, missing him entirely.
The air thinned as they approached a Departure Area. Mathayus paused for a moment to catch his breath. Both were almost unrecognizable, heavily disfigured from the exchange, but none refused to resign from the battle.
“Had enough yet, brother?” Michael smirked, as he stood tall, signalling that he wasn’t the least bit injured. “You forget that this is my area of expertise.”
“I’m just getting started,” Mathayus scoffed. He jumped backward and made a beeline towards the Departure Area.
Michael gave chase. As soon as he entered, the doors closed behind him, and he was instantaneously ensnared. “What the–”
Held down by other angels, Michael struggled to release himself from the trap. He could only watch as Mathayus opened the hatch.
“You forget,” Mathayus mocked, shouting from a distance. “Wit and cunning are my expertise.” He wiped the blood dripping from his nose and jumped out of the hatch, with his allies trailing him.
“What is this commotion?” Gabriel queried, as he arrived on the scene. He lifted the energy netting and released the captive angel. “Pro Michael, what is going on?”
“Ready the Fist of Haven!” Michael commanded. “Pro Mathayus and his band of traitors have stolen all of Haven’s data.”
“The Fist?” Gabriel hesitated. “But … that will abolish them upon–”
Michael rested his blade against Gabriel’s neck. “I said,” he demanded, growling. “Ready the Fist of Haven!”
Gabriel blew his horn, as Michael flew outside. Lightning crackled, as storm clouds gathered just outside of Haven.
Michael set his sights on Mathayus and raised his sword above his head. “Gabriel, aim the fist at my sword!”
Without question, Gabriel blew his horn once again, and lightning gathered on Michael’s weapon.
Mathayus looked back briefly and commanded his allies to activate Atlantis’ shields once the last angel has landed safely on the city.
With a tear in his eye, Michael stretched his arms and waved his sword towards the direction of Mathayus and his allies, releasing a devastating bolt of lightning that pierced all the way to the very heart of Atlantis, subsequently devastating the city. He paused for a moment, as he watched the clouds clear, scrunched up his nose and then made his way back into Haven. “Status report.”
“Pro Mathayus was heavily incinerated, but somehow shows signs of life,” an angel responded. “Also, there seems to be some survivors. The city of Atlantis was inadvertently hit by the strike. What is your command, Pro Michael?”
“Eradicate all survivors, but bring me Pro Mathayus’ head,” Michael instructed, as the angels made their way out of Haven.
Gabriel stood silently, nodding to the other angels cleaning up the damage. He looked at Michael with some disdain.
“How many blows was that?” Michael asked. “Two? How many more until we Rapture?”
“That is not a laughing matter.”
“Do I look like I am joking?”
“You look like the city you just devastated,” Gabriel replied, clutching his horn.
“Yeah? Well, you should see the other guy. Oh, wait–”
“What shall I tell Father? I trust that he does not need to know about any of this.”
Michael paused briefly. He sheathed his sword and fixed his nose. His left eye was swollen and most of his bones were broken. “Mathayus’ legacy must be preserved,” he said stoically. “He was killed by rebel angels who stole Haven’s data, led by–”
Gabriel took a mental note. His eyes were half-opened while trying to absorb the information he was being fed.
“Luciferus,” Michael followed. “A treacherous lesser angel that sought to usurp control of Haven. The Fist of Haven was used as a last measure to mitigate the situation. Unfortunately, the city of Atlantis was a collateral damage. There were no survivors.”
“Michael,” Gabriel whispered sullenly. “Mathayus was a noble being.”
“I know,” Michael reassured him. “And, that’s how he will always be remembered. Fortunately for us, unlike myself, Father is right-handed.”