The Kuiper Belt - Jan 6-7, 1422 A.D. (local time)
A small vessel floated between the debris tumbling through the Kuiper Belt. Its sole occupant was meticulously turning a dial on a console with spindly fingers. A sound like a tenor bell being struck at a plodding tempo swelled through the cabin. The pilot removed his fingers from the dial and pressed one of a myriad of blinking buttons.
“This is Ray,” he said.
“Seraph Raphael, state your position, ” said a disembodied voice.
“Routine scan of the Sol system,” replied Ray.
“Metatron has ordered all security agents to report back to Parthus immediately,” said the voice with an even, unwavering tone.
“I’m going to finish this first.”
“He’s convened the council.”
“He’s always convening councils,” said Ray, “Back in the war he never put those words together. Not sure if he knew those words.”
“Should I tell Metatron his order has been received?”
Ray winced and rattled his wings “Tell him you couldn’t get ahold of me,” he said.
“I am designed so as to be incapable of falsehood,” replied the voice.
“Thank you,” said Ray returning his attention to his favorite dial, this time frowning and tapping his pointy nail on the console, “Tell Metatron, ‘I’ll be there’.
Glastonbury - Jan 6, 1422 A.D. noonish (local time (clocks are witchcraft))
Cletus Wensleydale sat scratching the tip of a feather across a roll of paper. His stringy, gray hair was getting tangled in the quill. Abigayle Rosenkreuz paced the brief length of the room, whispering into her balled hand, holding a book in the other. She paused, clenched her eyes and tapped the side of her head. She spun to face Cletus.
“Grandpa,” said Abby.
“Yes?” Cletus said snapping out of his writing, his hair taking the quill along.
Abby wiggled her finger at her hair. Cletus began a harrowing struggle.
“Grandpa,” she said, “You said, you were going to help with this spell I’m supposed to be learning.”
“I’m sorry,” he said pushing the book aside, “I get caught up in my writing.”
“What are you writing in that book that’s got you so enthralled, recently?” asked Abby.
“Huh,” grunted Cletus, “It’s a tome.”
“What’s the difference?” asked Abby.
“The weight, I think,” he said lifting the book, “And the binding. Look at that, that’s tome binding.”
“Great. What’s in it?”
“Everything I know,” Cletus sighed.
“Everything?” she laughed.
“I won’t be around to teach you forever,” he replied, “Hard years on this frame.”
Abby slumped and frowned, “You’re barely around to teach me now.”
Cletus stood, walked to Abby and put his arms out. They hugged.
“You’re right,” he said patting her on the back, “Maintain the present.”
As Cletus withdrew the feather quill swung in its gray netting. Abby pinched the quill.
“It won’t come out,” muttered Cletus.
Abby pulled the feather clear in a single, easy motion. Cletus looked at her askance.
“Happens,” said Abby shaking her auburn locks.
“Indeed,” he said, “Well, if we’re going to be doing spell work, this room is going to need a good banishing, eh?”
“Thank you, Grandpa.”
Several billion miles away, a ping was repeating a triplet pattern. Ray set his magazine and drink aside and sat up.
“Computer,” he said, “Report.”
“Anachronistic technology detected on an inhabited planet, the one third from its star,” the computer droned.
“Can you identify it?” asked Ray.
“We would need to get closer,” replied the computer.
“Ok. Do it.”
Ray stared at the image of Earth, on his view-screen, growing bigger as he approached. Ray sat back and returned to leafing through his magazine.
“Ship has entered orbit,” the computer said.
“Initiate scan,” said Ray squeezing the last remnants from his juice pouch.
“The technology is located near a settlement called Avignon,” the computer continued, “Placing us in geosynchronous orbit over Avignon.”
Ray held his fingers to his lips and stared at the data on the screen.
“The technology is Parthi,” the computer began.
“Well, I wonder how tech from Parthus got all the way out here?” Ray said turning his palms up and shrugging his shoulders, “Hunch confirmed. Evidence of Yaldabaoth back in the game. In your face Metatron.”
“Should I open a line to Administrator Metatron?” asked the computer.
“Yes,” replied Ray, “Tell him, ‘Missing and presumed dead criminal Yaldabaoth is apparently alive, well and playing the same old game.”
“There is interference in comms array,” said the computer.
“From where?” asked Ray.
“From the surface, “ the computer replied.
“Can you…” Ray said as he lurched forward.
Rumbling rippled through the vessel as it shook. A choir of pings, whirrs, and beeps were chiming out their respective rhythms. Sounds that were designed to be aesthetically pleasing when taken individually, but tended to be off-putting in unison.
“The engines were shut off,” said the computer.
“How did they fail?” shouted Ray buckling in.
“They didn’t fail,” replied the computer, “They were shut off. We’re nosediving through the atmosphere.”
“How were they shut off?”
“The same as with the comms. Whoever that is knows we’re here.”
Every seam in the ship rattled as it skipped off the atmosphere like a stone on a pond. Ray flailed for something he could use for stability, but too many forces were working in too many directions. An ozone aroma filled the cabin and crackling sound was heard racing around under the console panels. As Ray struggled to pull on his flight helmet, a geyser of white sparks erupted to the left of Ray. He jerked in response and his head struck the other side of the cabin. His head dropped and wobbled with the ship.
“I have detected a Seraphim supply cache left behind from the war,” the computer said, “I’m going to attempt a controlled crash as near as possible.”
“Thank you,” wheezed Ray as he lost consciousness.
Cletus laid out the tools, drew the chalk sigils and the protective circle on the floor, dimmed the lanterns and waited for Abby. Abby finished arranging the altar and walked over to Cletus. Next, he picked up the archangel stones and began laying them around the circle in their respective places. Gabriel to the west, Uriel to the north, Michael to the south and…The door to Cletu’s lab swung open blown by a furious gust of wind.
“Fasten the door, Abby,” said Cletus gathering up the papers that were scattered by the sudden intrusion of night air, “Then let’s get started.”
Cletus and Abby took their places. Cletus behind the altar and facing the east. Abby stood next to him ready to take up whichever implement was required at the moment.
Cletus stood with his open palm out in front of Abby. Abby handed Cletus a dagger. He touched the blade to his forehead.
“Ateh,” he intoned moving the blade to his chest with all the zeal of a schoolboy buried in math assignments.
“Malkuth,” Cletus continued, “ve-Geburah, ve-Gedulah, le-Olam, Amen.”
He began circling the altar inscribing stars in the air that lit up in electric blue and faded.
“Before me stands Raphael,” Cletus droned.
The lanterns in the room seemed to swell just out of reach of perception. Cletus paused.
“Did you see that? ” he asked Abby.
“The wind is getting heavy,” she replied.
“Gabriel behind me,” Cletus continued.
He paused again. This time the lanterns remained steady.
“Michael to the right of me, Uriel on my left side,” Cletus concluded and handed the dagger back to Abby.
“Before me flames the pentagram and behind me the six-rayed star,” Cletus signed, “Ateh, Malkuth, ve-Geburah, ve-Gedulah gee ain’t we glad we knew ya.”
Cletus lazily waved a sign of the cross. Abby snickered.
“Alright, moving on,” said Cletus.
He walked to the northeast and faced east.
“Hekas, hekas, este bebeloi,” he quickly mumbled.
He then paced to the south side of the altar and Abby handed him his wand. He faced the Stone of Michael.
“Fire, fire in the south how ‘bout I punch you in the mouth,” he chanted.
“Grandpa,” Abby said through a stifled giggle.
“And when, after all the phantoms have vanished, thou shalt see that holy and formless Fire, that fire which darts and flashes through the hidden depths of the universe, hear thou the voice of Fire,” droned Cletus with increased reverence.
“In the names and letters of the Great Southern Quadrangle, I invoke ye, ye angels of the Watchtower of the South.” Cletus resumed.
Cletus walked to the west side of the altar and faced the Stone of Gabriel. Abby handed him a chalice.
“Water, water everywhere but…” he began.
Abby cleared her throat turned her face to ground wracked with laughter. Cletus arched an eyebrow and continued.
“So therefore first, the priest who governeth the works of Fire must sprinkle with the lustral water of the loud resounding sea,” he recited, “In the names and letters of the Great Western Quadrangle, I invoke ye, ye angels of the Watchtower of the West.”
Cletus then walked to the east and Abby handed him a sword.
“Such a Fire existeth, extending through the rushing of Air. Or even a Fire formless, whence cometh the image,” Cletus began, but was interrupted.
The lanterns lit up to full brightness and began crackling violently. Cletus looked on the pedestal and noticed the Stone of Raphael beginning to glow.
“Abby, are you seeing this?” asked Cletus.
The door to the house broke its fasteners and a gale wind rushed in and knocked Cletus and Abby to the ground. They helped each other up and staggered to the door. Outside dry leaves were whirling in eddies and branches were rolling by. There was a sound like a divine bullwhip followed by a growing roar.
“What was that, Grandpa?” shouted Abby.
“In all my experience, I’ve never heard such a sound,” he replied.
As the roar crescendoed, the outside became brighter. Cletus and Abby stepped out, squinted toward the sky and saw a fireball race overhead.
“A comet,” Abby shouted over the din.
The comet descended coming to a landing in a dense thicket. A column of flame flashed toward the sky. The sound and light died at once. All that was visible was an orange glow silhouetting the tree line. Abby raced toward the glow.
“Abigayle,” Cletus called, “Come back.”
She ran down the worn path to the gap in the hedgerow and slipped into the woods. Cletus ambled behind.
“Abigayle, what are you doing?” asked Cletus probing for footing.
“Going to the comet,” Abby yelled back over her shoulder.
“Yes, but what are going to do once you get there?” Cletus said climbing over a fallen log.
Abby stopped, turned and waited for him.
“You don’t want to see a comet up close?”
He stopped next to her and brushed his hands off on his robe.
“Well,” he hesitated, “I guess I would, now that you say it. But, do we have to run? It’s not going anywhere.”
“No, Grandpa,” Abby chuckled, “We don’t have to…”
A series of loud cracks erupted from where the comet landed. A spiral array of glowing orange blobs lobbed out of the crater and landed kindling the tinder on the ground. One blob landed in front of Cletus and Abby. Cletus began stomping ground as it began to catch. Abby ran toward the crater.
“Abigayle, for heaven’s sake,” Cletus said as he began stomping out another small flame. After Cletus had smothered the last ember he left to join Abby. Cletus wound his way around a maze of black and splintered trunks ducking to stay below the dense smoke.
Cletus heard Abby calling from behind a smoking rock, the size of a house, possessing a geometry not favored by nature.
“Grandpa, where are you?” Abby called.
“Keeping the forest from burning down,” Cletus called back, “What have you gotten yourself into?”
“I found something. Come look.”
As Cletus turned the corner he saw Abby kneeling beside a man unconscious on his back.
“I think it’s an angel, Grandpa,” said Abby pointing at the man’s wings. Abby then pointed to man’s hands, “Or a vampire.”
“No,” Cletus said stroking his chin, “The vampires were hunted to extinction. I believe what we have here is a Seraph.”