tagNonHumanFalling Hard Ch. 07

Falling Hard Ch. 07


Virta slid forward and knelt in front of the General. She didn't even try to look all that way up into his face. She saw his knees, and she talked to them.

"I'm sorry," she began. "I repent of my sins and rebellion. I confess to having traitorous thoughts and desires for a... a demon. Please forgive me, Sir." Tears were running down her cheeks.

He didn't answer. She didn't dare look up.

Virta thought she heard a snap; and seconds later, the striking of a match. Then came the sound of the General taking puffs from a cigar.

The only other sound was the ticking of the clock on the wall. She began to shake from anxiety, and tears dropped from her eyes onto the marble flooring.

She smelled earthy, toasted tobacco, the leather from the chairs, and the fine wood of the desk and cabinetry; masculine scents that reminded her of someone or some thing from her past. She just couldn't place it.

The General quickly spoke. "You don't think what you have done is worthy of Banishment?"

"No... I mean, yes. I mean..." Her voice was tiny, quivering.

She heard him pick something up from his desk. Daring a glance upward, she saw that he was holding a fat file with a rubber band wrapped around it.

"I guess you know what this is," he said, looking down at her sternly as he removed the rubber band.

She nodded.

"Get back in the damn chair," he grumbled.

She obeyed.

He began to flip through her file.

"Theft, envy, lust, insubordination," - he read down the list -"attempting to access illegal internet sites, falsifying documents and defacement of Government property..."

He glared down at her as he snapped the file shut with one hand. He continued to puff on his cigar.

She shrunk back in the chair under the General's scrutiny.

"Any one of these could put you on the highway to Hell," he said after a moment. "But, where you went wrong in my book, is that you summoned an upper level demon right into Heaven - the Enemy."

She wanted to protest that he had it wrong, but he made a quick motion with his hand for her to zip it.

"I already know your thoughts, so spare me having to actually HEAR your excuses."

He got up and began to pace a little in front of his great desk. Her heart raced, her skin perspired as her anxiety increased.

"I take treason very, very seriously, Virta."

She kept her mouth closed, and concentrated on remaining calm... something nearly impossible to do around this big, intimidating man.

"Our spy satellites caught you kissing the the demon." He sounded disgusted.

The General shook his head as he walked around the desk. He sat down in his big leather chair, eyes boring into her. The silence, the suspense, was nearly too much for her to take.

"First of all, you must repent for your treason," he said.

"Sir, I just did."

He immediately slammed a fist down on the desk, making her jump out of her seat.

"Don't interrupt me, goddammit!"

She clutched tightly at the armrests of her chair.

"I don't care about your tears or your begging," he said, his voice like sandpaper. "They mean nothing to me. What I want to see are results. THAT'S the kind of repentance I care about."

He stared at her so intently that she flushed with shame. She felt naked in his presence.

"Now, there's also the 'small matter' of you not following through on your Code 15."

"But, he knew it was going to happen. He just kind of took over," is what she wanted to say, but her fear held her back.

"You didn't cancel it. You tried to kill me..." repeated in her thoughts.

There was a blur as the General moved from behind his desk. He stopped short right in front of her. She had no time to react. His face was inches away from her own.

"Your job is not to question orders, but to obey them!" he roared.

She was stunned into silence in both her body and mind. She watched him slowly circle around her chair.

"You've been reprogrammed to obey, as you should have done from the very beginning of your existence. You will never question authority again. Do I make myself clear?"

The hair on the back of her neck stood up when he spoke from just behind her ear.

"Yes, Sir," she thought.

He was muttering under his breath as he marched back to the desk. He turned and stared her down.

"You didn't Code 15. You let him stop it. God knows how he did it, but he did. It allowed him to gain more info on our technology. So now, we've had to reset all the systems again. This 'little incident' of yours has caused us an immense amount of trouble."

He took more puffs on the cigar. "Tell me, Virta, what would you do if you were in my place?"

She could only look up at him in shocked silence.

"Well, you actually have a couple of choices," he said after a few moments. "Maybe I'm feeling extra generous here. The most deserving scenario is, that you will be Banished."

She gasped.

He pointed to a very formal looking document lying on the top of his desk.

"I have an Executive Order calling for your Banishment, right here. As you know, a Banishment Order has to be approved by God himself."

He snatched up the document and held it across the desk at her.

"Look there. See God's signature? He's already signed off on your destruction. It's also been witnessed by an Angel of the Presence. That's two out of the three signatures needed to cast you down. It's just waiting for MY signature. And when I sign it... then, my little angel, you are gone."

Virta slid to the floor, sobbing, no longer trying to hide her fear and hopelessness from the General. Her hot face pressed onto the cool marble; she clutched at her hair, tearing it.

The General got up from his chair, and walked around the desk to where she had prostrated herself.

"First, you will be sent to the Mines for the next two thousand years - mining gold, platinum and diamonds for the streets, for wings, for buildings, for whatever. After that, you will be thrown down to Hell."

General Banner moved closer to her. She saw his expensive, shiny, black leather shoes in her face. His voice boomed down from above her.

"Wait 'til they get ahold of you down there," he said grimly. "Fresh meat."

He began to pace again in front of her. Chills cascaded down her body as he told of her fate:

"You'll never see Heaven again. And, if you do escape Hell, or they let you out for a while to wreak destruction on the Earth - and it's been known to happen on rare occasions - then you're fair game for us."

Banner stopped his pacing, and turned to look down at her. She felt herself being forced to look up. His eyes penetrated her.

"We'll hunt you, and we'll find you, Virta. We'll do things to you that make the last two weeks look like a vacation in Paradise."

The General reached down, grabbed the back of her crystal gown, and pulled her up off the floor with one hand. He dropped her back into her chair. Then he leaned down toward her, his face red and angry. She smelled the cigar on his breath, saw the fire in those cold, blue eyes.

"Finally," he said, "we'll destroy you with a destruction that never ends."

She was shaking and crying uncontrollably now.

The General walked back around his desk. She watched him pick up the Banishment Order; heard the rustle of the fine paper. He snatched up a platinum fountain pen in the other hand.

"Please, no, please, have mercy," she wailed. "I promise, I will do ANYTHING you ask if you just give me one more chance."

Her trembling hands were outstretched to him; her face a mask of anguish.

He sat there, pen poised over the document, regarding her with a harsh look on his face. To Virta, it seemed like an eternity passed, while she waited for him to scribble his signature across her fate. She'd be on her way to the Mines while he was on his way to the golf course.

"There is one other option," he finally said.

He casually dropped the pen, and picked up his cigar again, taking a satisfying puff.

"Yes, please. I'll do anything, anything at all," she pleaded. "I'm sorry; I'm so sorry. Please, give me a chance to make things right."

Banner threw the document back on his desk.

"Athan destroyed your chip," he said angrily. "It was too badly damaged in the heat of your near-detonation to be of any use to us now."

She put a hand to her head as she took in this information.

"That's why we had to reprogram you 'old school', Virta."

The General got up from his chair and walked to the liquor cabinet behind his desk. He poured himself a scotch.

"That's how we did it back in the good ol' days... before we had all this technology... computers... microchips." His voice was a low mutter.

He took a drink from his glass, then looked lovingly at the rich, amber liquid inside.

Then he scowled down at Virta.

"Back in my day, we took a rebel angel like yourself and tossed him in the isolation cell for a couple months, even years; whatever it took."

"H-how long was I in there?" she squeaked.

"Just a couple of weeks," he said. "No time at all, really. But I think it did the job."

He paused just before taking another drink. "Do you think it was long enough, Virta? Or do you want a little more... you know, just to make sure it really took?"

She gasped and shook her head fervently.

"That's what I thought," he said, swirling the scotch in the glass. "I know it worked. I can see it in your eyes and in your mind. My people are pretty damn good at what they do." He tossed his head back and drank.

The General moved forward to his desk and sat down. He held his glass of single malt in one hand, the cigar in the other. Then he leaned back comfortably in his luxurious chair.

"It wasn't just mindless torture, you know, Virta. It served a Higher Purpose. I think you know that as well as I do."

He reluctantly set the scotch and cigar down, and picked up her file again. She watched, shaking, as he perused through the many pages. He shook his head, making a grunt here, a sigh there.

Finally, he tossed the fat file back onto his desk, and looked down at her, his arms crossed over his massive chest.

"Virta, I said you had a choice." His voice was brusque. Her eyes were caught in his intense gaze.

The General looked battle-scarred and hardened; tough as nails. But his eyes were the only thing about him that looked angelic. They held deep power, like Athan's. She knew better than to look into them for very long.

She was relieved when he glanced at his computer monitor, breaking the lock he had on her eyes. But it didn't last long enough.

The General leaned forward in his desk, his eyes boring into her again. "If you don't want Banishment, then your only other option is to help us bring Athan down."

She sat in stunned silence for a moment.

"How could I do that, Sir? You said he destroyed the chip in my brain, and I can't Code 15 again."

"We're thinking of a more subtle operation this time," said General Banner. "We've had experts analyzing the footage of you and the demon. We believe the demon has a sick, twisted interest in you beyond just the usual."

He smirked as he went on talking.

"If he has a weakness at all, we must exploit it to our advantage."

The General stood, and walked to the front of his desk.

"I know what he said to you, and I know you wanted so badly to believe the lying snake. But you can't trust a word from his mouth. His kind will say ANYTHING to an angel to get them to Fall."

Banner began pacing in front of his desk again.

"Athan knows your weaknesses; he knows just what temptation to dangle in front of you... to bring you down," he said. "In your case, it was knowledge. And sex."

Virta felt a deep blush sliding across her face and throat.

The General didn't seem to notice.

"Don't ever underestimate a demon. Don't ever trust one. Especially this demon, Athan."

"But Sir, why would he save me then, and at such obvious risk and... discomfort... to himself?"

Banner chuckled and shook his head.

"You really don't get it, do you?"

He glared down at Virta, and she squirmed uncomfortably in the chair.

He leaned down to pound on his desk with a fist, emphasizing each word as he spoke: "A demon will do anything to tempt you to the Dark Side!"

He quit pounding on the desk, but continued to glare down at her.

"This one, especially. He's a master at what he does. He lies; he doesn't play fair. He can make an angel like you think or do anything he wants if you're not on guard."

The General leaned against his desk again, his thick arms resting on his chest.

"Listen to me, Virta." His firm voice held warning. "This is not a demon to trifle with. When he has you in his clutches, you can abandon all hope."

Banner's voice became more urgent, more insistent as he went on:

"He won't have mercy on you... he can't be bargained with except at the expense of your soul... he can't be begged out of doing whatever he wants to do to you."

Virta swallowed. She was sure Banner heard it.

"But, whatever it is he wants to do with you, Virta, we haven't seen him display quite this behavior before. He must see potential in you as a very special play-thing for himself. And so, we have a special assignment for you."

The General reached around and picked up his cigar again.

"We're going to send you to Earth," he said. "Just like you always wanted. We'll even be extra generous with you: we'll let you pick out your own human body."

He took a few puffs from the cigar, squinting at her with his brilliant blue eyes.

"We rarely do that, you know... especially with an angel like yourself."

"You're sending me to Earth?"

Your mission will have two parts. The primary objective is, to get the demon in a vulnerable state so we can bring him in. The secondary part of your mission, your cover, is to protect a girl who's being victimized by one of Athan's men."

"Sir, I don't know how I'd get Athan in a vulnerable state. But even if I tried, he can read my mind."

"We have ways to prevent that."

Banner walked behind his desk and and pulled out one of the drawers. He picked up a small bag and tossed it into Virta's lap.

"Put that inside your ear. It will scramble all the thought signals that radiate from your mind. Nobody will be able to pick your brain."

She opened the little bag and pulled out a tiny, bullet shaped device. At the General's insistence, she pushed it inside her ear canal. She startled when it began to move on its own, implanting itself even further inside her ear. She gasped and shook her head.

"Just let it do its thing," the General barked.

It finally came to a stop far inside.

"The battery will die in one week, and the device will fall out of your ear. But that should give you plenty of time to complete your mission."

"This really works?"

"Yes, it really works!" he thundered. "I can't read your mind now, for which I'm grateful... you're quite a mess in there."

Sitting down in his big chair again, the General said, "You'll be given a packet containing all the details of the mission. That packet will self-destruct two hours after its opened, so make sure you don't open it unless you have plenty of time to go through it."

He picked up some papers from his desk, shuffling through them as he continued to speak.

"When you get to Earth, you'll meet up with Athan again."

"How will I find him?" she asked.

He looked at her.

"That's not a problem. He'll find you, of course."

His attention went back to the documents. "We're counting on him to show up within the first 24 hours of you touching down."

"Oh," she said, her voice small. "Won't he be suspicious when my mind is... unreadable?"

"No. He won't necessarily be suspicious that you're working against him. The blocking devices are standard issue on most Earth work."

"So I'll have an assignment, a cover. And also have a relationship with him?" she asked.

"Yes. You must make him believe that you're interesting in Falling."

He looked her up and down and sighed.

"Do whatever you must to get him to trust you. You have total freedom to use any means necessary to successfully complete this mission ."

Virta struggled to say her next thoughts. "The sex... you're going to allow it?"

She knew her cheeks were blushing terribly. "I mean, most of the time, you don't let angels have sex on their Earth assignments, right?"

"Of course we do, under certain select emergencies. And this definitely qualifies."

He threw the papers back down on his desk, and caught her with his twinkling, blue eyes.

"I said you will be unrestrained in your methods as long as you do what you're sent there to do. This is a very risky operation, Virta. You may not come out of it alive."

He smirked down at her. "But at least you finally get to have all the nasty, dirty sex you always wanted."

She wanted more than anything to drop her gaze to the floor, but it was impossible with him capturing her eyes like that.

"Just remember, you've got one week to bring him in. If you fail in that..."

He pulled the Banishment Order from his desk again, holding it up in her face.

She gulped.

"You'll be given everything you need to complete your mission. Your success or failure will be completely up to you."

The General got up and opened his desk drawers again, rummaging around inside. He pulled out a box and tossed it at Virta's lap.

When she had it in her hands, he motioned for her to open the lid.

Inside, was a stunning object, a disk. It looked very intricate; very old. She carefully removed it from the box. It fit into the palm of her hand.

The disk was fashioned from something that shined with inner light. She felt instantly mesmerized by its beauty. There was an ancient quality about it as well. She felt as though she were holding history in the palm of her hand.

"What is it?" she asked, unable to remove her gaze from the object. The box dropped to the floor at her feet.

"That is what's known as a relic. If you're thinking it's very old, then you're right. It was fashioned from materials left over after the Big Bang. But, the materials were not handcrafted into that device until the first big Fall of angels."

"When Lucifer rebelled and he and his angels were cast out of Heaven?"

Banner smirked. "So you did pay some attention in your classes."

He went on: "It's actually a high-tech, binding, incapacitating device. And it's the only way a weakling like yourself could subdue a demon like Athan."

"How does it work?" she asked, still staring at the relic in fascination. The office lights were playing on its delicate-looking surface.

"All you have to do is find a moment when he's most vulnerable. You simply press it onto his chest. It will do the rest. It attaches itself, and then -- well, let's just say he'll be as weak and harmless as a kitten."

Banner laughed.

"You'll then take him to the predetermined meeting site, where our Agents will pick him up."

She finally gazed up at the General, her eyes wide.

"Don't worry, Athan can't hurt you once this is attached to him. He'll cooperate with us quite willingly."

Her voice shook, but she had to ask the question.

"And what will you do with me after I hand him over to you?"

The General smiled.

"Why, you'll be rewarded handsomely. You pull this off and you can have permanent assignments on Earth. We'll give you anything you want..."

He picked up his fountain pen and began twiddling it in his fingers.

"...all of your past rebellion will be expunged from your file. You'll get a blank slate. A promotion, even: a higher office than you ever imagined."

She caressed the relic with her fingertips.

"Do you understand what you must do, Virta?"

She nodded.

He tossed the pen down and leaned back in his chair, putting his feet up on his huge desk.

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