Wednesday, April 9, 2008


The angel stared straight forward, ignoring the buffet of wind whipping harshly past his face. One arm pinned in the twisted metal at his side, the other wrenched behind him at an awkward angle, he set his jaw and ignored the pain in his wings. With a deep, frustrated sigh, he growled under his breath.

"I am getting... annoyed."


[ Ten Minutes Earlier ]

Matt was kneeling by the side of his bike, prying white feathers out of her front wheel well. Each one was wedged hard in the wheel's spokes, dried spots of blood sticking them together where Zephyr rammed head-on into that celestial before. The impact was enough to put the flappy bastard down but some revenge was had by the dead angel in the form of holes in his bike's tire.

"Damn you, featherback," he muttered.

Anything else he might have said was suddenly interrupted by the feel of an iron hand clamping down on his shoulder, hefting him off the ground and hurling him into the metal side rail twenty feet away on the side of the interstate!

The sound of tortured metal behind him almost distracted Matt from the wrenching pain of hitting the bent rebar. Almost. "Ahhh!" He slumped for a moment, trying to clear his head from the pain. In that instant, he was hoisted into the air again and slammed back down, landing heavily on his side as he twisted to blunt the blow. It worked but in the process, he heard a rib snap. Better than his spine, but only just...

"Fucking hell!"

A booted foot caught him in the stomach and kicked him back against the railing, denting it again and sending another shock of agony though him. As he slumped again, unable to breathe, he heard a calm, masculine voice above him, its tone devoid of emotion.

"You blaspheme appropriately, hellborne, as that is where I am sending you."

Matt managed to open his eyes and reach for his guns, hands settling over their handles before the figure stalking towards him could get into arm's reach. Even so, he could not bring them to bear before the nearly seven foot tall man with wide shoulders, a strong jaw and eyes of blazing white light reached him.

Black wings, feathered like a crow, stretched up from the shoulders of this angry Superman in street clothes. Around his neck, the angel wore an Order of Saint Michael Archangel medallion. Though similar in design to the ones Matt had seen before, this one was much larger, much more ornate. The archangel depicted on the silver disc bore a striking resemblance to the angel... wearing it...

"Oh, shit."

Another snap kick caught Matt in the shoulder, turning him sharply and making him drop the pistol in his right hand.

Ignoring the pain, he hauled out his other gun and took a shot, aiming squarely for the angel's forehead. The shot thundered out but before it could score its mark, a flurry of ebon wing moved in the way and blocked the bullet. Then it flared outward, checking Matt across the chest and sending him back against the rail so hard the metal nearly tore.

"Jesus!" Matt rasped for breath, cussing as he tried to bring his magic to bear. This guy was too fast, too strong. He was unlike any angel he had ever fought before except the one from Stay's hospital, overwhelming and relentless.

"No," the big man said and planted his boot in Matt's face. The sudden tang of blood filled his mouth, the result of a split lip. Had Matt not turned his face at the very last moment, he would also have suffered a shattered nose. "He is a man of peace."

Then Matt was in the air again before he could focus even a fast spell. A perfect punch took him low in the gut, knocking the air out of his lungs and breaking another rib. Released before the force of the punch was through, he was pushed backwards by the remainder of it, tumbling awkwardly across several deserted lanes of traffic to end up on the opposite shoulder of the road.

"I am not."

Matt staggered to his hands and knees, most of his body screaming in pain. "Yeah... I gathered that." Internalizing his waning power, he forced his way back onto his feet. Hands extended, he called forth two of his captured blades, Aria and Requiem. They sang in protest, their battle songs strangely hushed in the presence of this angel.

"Okay, bastard. You want to fight? Let's..." Matt spat a mouthful of blood onto the gravel. "Let's see how you do when I'm standing."

The man looked at him, a touch of resentment in his eyes as he reached one large hand to his empty belt. In a flash of holy radiance, a battleaxe of silver and dark iron appeared there, resting in a ring made of seemingly solid light. "You have no right to hold those swords. I will relieve you of them now."

"Give it your best shot, fuckhea..." Before he could even finish his sentence, Matt had to quickly raise his weapons in a desperate attempt to save himself from the incoming weapon. In the time he had taken him to speak, the angel had drawn the battleaxe, taken a single step forward and thrown it with the speed and power of an oncoming train.

The bladed terror hit Matt's crossed swords hard enough to shatter stone. Bolstered by his battle spell, Matt was able to deflect the axe at the cost of both wrists being sprained instead of broken and the loss of both blades as they fell from nerveless fingers to clatter noisily to the ground at his feet. Staggering back, he tried to find his footing again before shock took him down again.

This was all happening so fast. Too fast.

The axe arched through the air, held aloft on an arc of pale fire before coming back to the black-winged angel's waiting right hand. "Surrender and death will come more mercifully than you deserve."

Matt moved back desperately, seeking something, anything to get him out of this mess. He had other swords but his hands were refusing to obey him, throbbing in raw pain and numb at the same time. His battle with the Order just an hour ago had left him too drained to do much magically and even if he could, there was little to work with here. This angel most certainly would be immune to anything he could throw.

That left his last trick, the ace literally up his sleeve. Lifting his left arm, he jerked his hand downward, the only motion that appendage was capable of at the moment. The cord he wore around his middle finger pulled taut, pulling the trigger of a stockless shotgun sewn into his jacket. BLAM!

The shot tore the end of his sleeve to pieces, sending an angry storm of iron shards, each enchanted to strike true and inflict horrific, entropic damage. At this range, it could tear the front off a bus, crater a concrete wall or obliterate a charging kodiak. The sudden burst of gunpowder smoke obscured the interstate in front of Matt, making it impossible to see.

When the dust settled, the man was still standing. His clothes were shredded but, aside from a single line of red running down his clean shaven cheek, there was no sign that the metal tempest had even touched him. It had simply had no effect.

"This night of reckoning has been far too long in coming. This is your end."

Matt felt his strengthening spell tick away, weakness dragging him down to his knees as the last of these words echoed across the highway. As he felt his heartbeat panic-pound in his chest, he watched the man slowly walk towards him, axe raising.

"Yeah... looks like it." He barely had the strength to speak, much less to fight any more. Matt was coughing blood, his broken rib like a burning ember lodged near his lung. Hope was fading as fast as his eyesight. If he was going to see tomorrow, he needed a miracle right now. "Se... se..."

Crossing the interstate, the black angel of death stopped in the middle of the nearest lane. "Last word, then. What do you wish to say with your last breath?"

Matt looked up, darkening eyes focused on the men as intently as he could. Entropy was his gift, his strongest magic, but it could not affect the angel directly. Nothing physical was going to save him here and even his usual tricks of tearing up the pavement or detonating the air would probably only delay the inevitable. Matt could not hurt this bastard, especially as weak as he was right now. But entropy was about more than the physical world. It was about chaos.

Chaos. Random chance. Changing the odds. Manipulating Fate.

It was risky, something he had never done on any scale other than changing the results of a dice toss or dealt cards. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it did not. But right now, what did he have to lose by trying?

Clearing his throat, he looked the angel right in the eyes and said past red teeth, "Semi."

The axebearer narrowed eyes, light growing all around him as he asked in that ominous, powerful voice, "What?"

Then the sixteen wheeler hit the archangel at seventy miles an hour.

Matt watched the truck roar past, consciousness fading. The last thing he thought before passing out was, "Heh... Order of Saint Michael Roadkill..."