Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chapter 3, Part 1

Heaven is pretty much what you’d expect, depending on what level you’re on. Most of the Angels on active duty in the DBI are stationed in the First Heaven, to be deployed to Earth at a moments noticed. The actual Headquarters of the DBI are in the fourth Heaven, which is where the real City of Angels lies. This is where we returned to give our report. As Earth-born Angels, we have the ability to earn our way up through the ranks. I mean, we can never be Seraphs, but there are a few Earth-born souls who earned their way up to being Cherubs. That’s as high as we can get to God. Most of us however, spend our tours being Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. Chike is a Virtue, and because I spent my life in the force, I got to skip the beginner level and left the academy as a Power. The 7th order are the Integrating Angels, and they are more a bureaucratic order, not really suitable for the DBI, though they are invaluable contacts for us since they are the ones who notice a lot of the stuff that ends up being our cases. We report to Muriel, Angel of Emotions and one of the leaders of the Dominions. In her role as one of the DBI team leaders though, she acts more as a Forensic Psychologist and sometimes teaches classes at the DBI Academy in 6th Heaven. We told her how our last assignment went, and she was nice enough to only laugh at us for about 10 minutes.
“Oh Dear, I haven’t had a laugh like that in eons. You Earth Angels are the best thing to happen up here in a long time. You certainly keep things interesting; I’ll say that for you.” Chike and I smiled sheepishly, “Um thanks ma’am. We are quite anxious however to get onto our next mission and put this one behind us.”
‘Yeah”, I chimed in, “far, far behind us.” Muriel’s office, like most things in Angel City, is opulent and beautiful, and the overwhelming color scheme is white and gold. You sort of get used to beauty in Heaven. Muriel, however, REALLY likes Gold, it’s everywhere in her domain. She is usually seen wearing golden robes, and her hair is the color of absolute 24 karat. Around the office she usually wears suits, somewhat like what we wear, but still with a classical flair to them. Most of the Angels in the DBI have their “office clothes” and their ceremonial robes. The way angels are usually portrayed in paintings s when they are wearing their finest robes. Doesn’t everyone dress up when they know they are going to have their picture taken?
“That’s another thing I like about you Earth Angels, you’re always so eager to do things. I guess that’s the benefit of having a finite lifespan, your limited sense of perspective gives you a lot more motivation to get things done. That is also something that Heaven needed. In any event, I do have a case for you, but it won’t be nearly as… … cardiovascular as you last one. But it is no less serious.”
We straightened up in our chairs and paid attention. Though our last call wasn’t as bad, we often have to deal with matters of life and death; we are, after all, at war. “We have been getting reports from the Northeastern area of the United States of murders that are suspicious. We suspect Demonic involvement, so be very careful. If you do engage any Demons, engage as appropriate, but if things get too dangerous, you get out of there as soon as possible. A lot of Earth Angels have been sent to be with the Father this year, and I don’t want that trend to continue. Meet with the Integrating Angel of New York City, I believe his name is Nisroch.” I knew Nisroch well, he was one of the first angels I had ever met, even before I died. But that’s a story for another time. Me and Chike prepared to leave when Muriel stopped us. “One more thing boys. I want you to take a third Angel along with you, one who’s more familiar with forensic psychology. Joseph, you know her well, she was in your graduating class.” Muriel smiled that smile she smiles when she knows that she just screwed us over but there’s nothing we can do about it. And this screwing was named Mary Beth Jameson.
Angels don’t die; well, Heavenly angels don’t anyway. The way they explained it to us at the Academy, was that being part of the DBI was dangerous because there were two ways that you could lose the Grace of Heaven while being a DBI Angel. First, and the one we always had to be on the lookout for, we could Fall, with a capitol F, and become Demons. Second we could be destroyed. Heavenly Angels are formed from concepts, and concepts can never die, so when they are destroyed, they eventually reform in Heaven. That doesn’t mean that Angels are disposable; the more powerful angels may take centuries to reform, or longer depending on how powerful they are. The loss of an Archangel would be devastating to the Cosmic order of things. Us Earth-Borne Angels, however, still are human souls. If we are beaten down enough, we lose our Angelic Imbuement and just become normal souls again. Human souls outside of heaven can become prey to all sorts of nasty things. If we take damage after that, then our essence rejoins God. We cease to be individuals anymore, and rejoin the source of us all. That’s cool and all, but it’s still better to be a powerful angel than to lose yourself forever. It’s something we all try to avoid.
Mary Beth was my nemesis from day one of the Academy. Like me she had a background in Criminology, but she we to school for it. She had just graduated from UMASS with a MA in Psychology with a concentration on Criminology, when she dropped day from a brain tumor. She was only 24. Pretty tragic, until consider that now I have to spend the rest of eternity listening to her prattle on about her theories of human behavior and tell me how to do my job better. I thought this was supposed to be Heaven! ‘Joe, I am so glad we were put together on this mission! With Chike’s wisdom, your experience, and my intelligence, we should have this solved in no time!” You may ask, if I dislike this woman so much, why I know so much about her. Well, it’s because she never missed an opportunity to tell anyone who’d listen who she was an what she had done while she was alive. Chike told me later that for the first 100 years or so EBA’s had a hard time letting go of their lives, especially what they were doing the last year or two before their deaths. I guess that’s why such a high percentage of DBI Angels are cops or soldiers who died in the line of duty. I mean, that’s how I ended up here anyway.
Angelic travel is better than anything you could possible imagine being alive. When we spread our wings, we can travel anywhere we want to in the blink of an eye. The 4th Heaven is kind of far from Earth though, so it takes about 4 seconds for us to get there. There are some orders of Angels that train using their wings to be able to fight in close combat while flying. I don’t have nearly that level of balance, but I hear it’s pretty cool when you see it in action. We met with Nisroch on the tip of the antenna on top of the Empire State Building. I will never get used to some of the perks of being an Angel. Next week I think I’m going to go dancing on the head of a pin. As he is the Integrating Angel of NYC, Nisroch’s appearance shifts often to reflect the enormous ethnic diversity of the city. This time he looks like a very old, very small Chinese woman. Somehow though I always know him when I see him; his personality is textbook New Yorker.
“What took you guys so long? I’m sitting here jugglin my balls waiting for you while all Hell literally breaks lose underneath me.”
Integrating Angels have the most contact with humanity then any of the other HA’s because it’s their job to guard large groups of humans, whether that be Cities, Large Corporations, or whole ethnicities. Consequently they tend to be more colorful than the HA’s who don’t get to Earth much.
“Anyway, it doesn’t matter, let’s get into it. This is the first of these murders I’ve seen in my city, but I consulted with some of the 1st Heaven angels, and they put me in touch with the IA’s of Baltimore and DC. They both had one of these kinds of murders, but they thought they were isolated incidents. When their angels snooped around, they sensed demon presence. When I heard that I called you guys right away. Us IA’s aren’t made to get in there and mix it up with Demons. That’s for you DBI suckers. The crime scene is in the East Village. You’ll know it by all the bright lights and guys in blue milling around. Now I gotta city to guard. Good luck, you’re gonna need it.”
And with that, he was gone in a flash. I looked at my partners and sighed, “Shall we? You guys follow me, I know this city like the back of my hand.”
At the speed of thought we were there. It was around 10:45 pm, and most of the action had died down at that point. The main CSI team had gotten everything they needed, and the Detectives were still interviewing witness and collecting collateral information from family and friends. The great thing about being Angels is that we can be invisible to humans whenever we want to. It’s actually our natural state. Occasionally the mentally unstable, or children or animals will see us, but they are dismissed pretty much every time. Me and my partners fanned out in the crime scene, while the few remaining CSI members and uniformed officers held down the scene, completely oblivious to our presence. I could feel from the gate this was going to be a bad one, and I was right. I really hate it when I’m right. The scene was one of the worst I had ever been to. I could see why Demonic involvement was immediately suspected. This was brutal. We went down a short flight of stairs from the street to a sub basement of the apartment building where the victims were found. It was dark and badly lit by two bare light bulbs. Honestly, it was the kind of place where things like this happen. There were literally blood and entrails everywhere. It was bare, as most basements are, save for a washer and dryer and a utility sink and water heater. Two folding tables were where we found the murder weapons, and parts of the victims. Cobwebs filled most corners, and unidentifiable vermin skittered about in the darkness. I had forgotten in my time in Heaven how evil humanity could be; it did not take long for me to be reminded.. As I went over the scene, I did my usual mental checklist,. I had learned to keep it simple in order to not overlook the most basic details. Start with the Who What Where When Why and How, and then move on to the details.

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