13 UNLUCKY [The Lightbearer]

The war between the Seraph and the Daemon had been raging for so long that no one remembered how it started. Blade against claw, strength against speed, Seraph against Berserker, neither side gaining the upper hand until one day when the Seraph introduced a new weapon to the battlefield.

The war began long before Gillian Fox existed. It started with an invasion by the Elyssian. A squad of Daemon had been sent to destroy their settlement. A single Elyssian warrior guarded it. The Daemon squad did not return. And it escalated from there into a prolonged and bloody war. Both sides suffered heavy casualties, but the heaviest were suffered by the Helion. When it became obvious that the Daemon were not strong enough, the Berserker were developed. The new breed of Daemon was smarter, stronger, and faster than ordinary soldiers.

On their first encounter with the Seraphs, the Berserkers allowed themselves to be driven back. They studied their attackers’ techniques and weapons and kept their casualties at a minimum. Over time, they abandoned their claws for weapons and armor of their own. Eventually they were able to hold the line against the invading forces.

On the last day of battle, the Daemon berserkers had dug themselves in, Gillian among them. They lay in wait for the Seraph to pour through their usual gates. The enemy never altered their entry points always arriving at the same time and place. This time the Berserker had dug trenches just under the Seraph gates, a strategy that would guarantee that the Berserker forces would slaughter the incoming Seraphs. This was supposed to be the day the Daemon won.

But the Seraphs didn’t arrive as expected. The appointed hour of attack came and went, but the Berserkers held their position. Slowly the gates opened above them and they took aim. Before they could act, the entrenched berserkers were blinded by a bright light as the new weapon emerged from one of the gates. Clouds of dust and smoke arose as this weapon cut through the ground behind the trenches.

The new weapon of the Seraph arrived with blinding speed, searing Berserker flesh, severing limbs and heads as it moved forward. Thousands of Berserkers died that day at the hands of the new Seraph weapon. Berserker weapons were no match for the concentrated beams of light. Berserker heavy armor offered no protection. The Seraph weapon ravaged through the lines of Daemon Berserkers, cutting them down until the last Berserker fell. And then it stopped and waited while the Seraph poured through the gates to meet the Daemon.

Surrender came as quickly as the Berserker lines had fallen. The Daemon army that stood behind the Berserker lines offered up their lives. But the Seraph were not interested in wiping out the Daemon. They only wanted an end to the bloody battles, the same goal sought by the Daemon. The Seraph warriors accepted the surrender, declared the matter resolved, and left behind the weapon.

Among the fallen Berserkers was a single survivor, a female who had managed to keep her head and limbs intact as the Lightbearers swept through. When she awoke there was no battle for her to fight in, no enemy for her to slay. She felt lost and angry. But over time she regained her strength and leashed her fury. And joined the others who walked on this new world. She had heard rumors of the Lightbearer who had been left behind – the unlucky one. She too felt unlucky.

For the Elyssian, it began with a small temporary settlement on a primitive planet. A place to live while studying the native life. A means of satisfying curiosity. But the Daemon did not see it that way. The Helion, who lived on a nearby planet, took offense, accused the Elyssian of invading, and attacked the settlement. The Seraph protecting the settlement fought off the squad on Daemon sent to eradicate the settlement. The Daemon sent twice as many troops the next day and still were unable to oust the Elyssian. A second Seraph had been assigned to protect them.

Undaunted by previous defeats, the Daemon continued to escalate the conflict. Finding their claws and thick skin inadequate, they created the Berserkers to push back against the small settlement’s defenders. The Seraph drove the first of the Berserkers from the settlement into the open fields. Eventually the Berserkers traded their claws for blades and began to hold their ground. It was obvious that these new warriors would not be stopped easily. So, a new weapon was created. The Lightbearer would be virtually unstoppable in battle, moving so fast as to be untouchable and possessing a deadly weapon that could not be lost in battle.

Having grown tired of the constant warring, the Lightbearer was launched against the waiting Berserker forces. When the Seraph arrived, the Lightbearer had stopped her rampage. They discovered her kneeling in front of the Daemon army lines tending to a wounded soldier, treating a gash in his side. She refused to leave him to die. Behind her lay the entirety of the fallen Berserker lines whose lives she had taken without hesitation, but this one was no Berserker, he merely had stood in front of the line of Daemon warriors.

The Seraph accepted the surrender of their enemies and dictated simple terms. No more warring by the Helion. Then they left the battlefield, leaving Lucifer behind while she was busy tending to the fallen Daemon. After the Seraph left, there were those among the Daemon who called for retribution against the Lightbearer. But as luck would have it, her patient intervened. Their General, Mammon, was enamored of the small creature that had cut through the berserker lines with such savagery and still managed to show concern for a fallen foe. He sensed a gentleness to her, something that he deemed worth saving. And he feared she could not be killed, that angering her would be the end of them all.

When Lucifer had been left behind, it wasn’t an oversight. The Seraph had no desire to possess their weapon. They believed the temptation to use it again would be too great. Despite the scope of the damage, the multiple flashes of light on the battlefield, there had only been one Lightbearer. Lucifer had in her savage fury wiped out an entire army of thousands of the most skilled and best equipped soldiers. And at the last moment, she realized what she had done. She knelt over the last warrior she had attacked and wept while she tended to the wound that she had inflicted. The frenzy that had possessed her was gone. She was overcome by guilt and shame for her brutality.

It had taken her a century to find her way back to her home. She was not welcomed. She climbed the Guardian seeking solace in her own thoughts. She carved caverns into the rock face to shelter against a raging storm. That day she had a visitor. He was a wizened old man. He had seen her light as he ascended and ventured into the cavern that she had dug.

The old man was not afraid of Lucifer like the other Seraph were. Because he refused to leave, she dug a second chamber for his use. He knew things about her that she did not know about herself and told her things she needed to hear. His words eased her pain. But they could not rid her of it. She felt alone, because there were no other beings like her. She was a weapon of war left on the last battlefield because it was not needed or wanted by those who created it. After a time, she came to the conclusion that it was best that she left. The way she had come was sealed behind her. And so, it had continued for century after century, until she had found a way home that they could not trace.

Gillian Fox watched Lucifer tearing herself apart, grieving for someone she hardly knew. She wondered if Lucy had grieved for the fallen Berserkers in that ancient battle. Gillian thought back to that battle. Her squad had fought against the Seraph, keeping them from advancing against Daemon lines. Casualties were evenly matched, an eye for an eye, in battle after battle. They had studied their enemy, learned the habits of the Seraph, and developed a strategy that should have led to a crushing defeat of their enemy. They would slaughter them before they set foot on the battlefield.

The Berserkers had developed stronger swords, deadlier blades, sharper edges with which to slice through the armor of their foes. And then the Lightbearer descended, dropping out of the sky, and literally cutting off the heads and arms of her fellow Berserkers. Sometime during the battle, Gillian was rendered unconscious, immobilized while the Lightbearer slaughtered her brethren.

Gillian had been caught off guard, watching the newcomer to the battlefield, when something crashed into her from behind. She soared through the air before dropping to the ground. Agent Dana Lawrence had been caught off guard as well. But he didn’t survive the attack. “Which one of us had been the unlucky one?”, she mused.

Lucifer had failed to anticipate a dangerous situation. Despite all her power, she lacked the necessary foresight to be where she needed to be. In a few hours, she would be burning what was left of Dana Lawrence. Mammon sensed Lucy’s pain and came to her side to comfort her. Gillian recognized her former commander. Mammon had been injured during the last battle, but a Seraph had saved him. Gillian approached the couple and sat beside the old man.

“My lord, Mammon,” Gillian whispered. “It is good to see you again.” Mammon nodded at her. “Is this the one who saved you?” she asked.

“She saved us all,” Mammon replied holding a weeping Lucy close to his chest. “Her choice to save me rather than finish me off was the act that ended the war. She saw something worth saving and her kind respected her choice.”

“Why does she weep for the death of someone she didn’t like?” Gillian asked.

“Why does anyone weep?” Mammon replied in his usual cryptic manner. Mammon drove John and Lucy home from Atlanta. He knew that Lucy needed some rest. It had been a bad year for her. It was about to get worse.

Tiamat was free. Tiamat had figured out what the Speck was doing during her visits. She found a way to use the dimensional shifting to free herself from her prison. Her first visit was to the world of the speck. But swallowing the specks proved to be an exercise in futility as they easily freed themselves. A second shift in reality landed her on Hell and the Hellion were a tasty bunch. Before she could consume another handful, Tiamat found herself hurtling through a void. And each time she returned to Hell, she was sent back to the void.

Angry words roused Lucifer from her sleep. “You can’t do this to her. You can’t go in there and lay the blame on her,” John’s voice could be heard shouting at someone.

A woman’s voice shouted back, “But it’s her fault!”

“John Smith is right,” Mammon’s calmer voice replied. “Lucifer is more likely to fight with us if we aren’t against her. Unless you’d rather she joins with Tiamat and wipes out all life as we know it.”

“Fine,” Gillian replied. “But who goes in to ask for her help.”

“No one,” Lucy spoke in an irritated tone, “I will do what must be done to lock Tiamat back in her prison.”

“Something tells me you already have a plan,” Gillian said.

“Yes,” Lucy replied. “But I need your help.”

“What can we do?” John asked.

“Absolutely nothing,” Lucy replied. “I underestimated Tiamat. I created this problem. I will fix it.” And with that last statement Lucy flew off.

Marduk and Enki were surprised by the return of the Speck. “Tiamat is gone,” Marduk whined. “She has left us behind to rot without her.”

“I miss Tiamat,” a sorrowful Enki spoke.

“Be patient, Enki,” Lucy chastised, “Tiamat will be returned.”

“How do you expect to accomplish that by yourself?” Gillian asked from the plinth behind Lucifer.

“I don’t,” Lucy replied. “But if I had asked for only your help, the others would have felt offended. I knew you would follow me here.”

“And if I hadn’t?” Gillian asked.

“Then we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Lucy replied.

Gillian smiled as Lucy’s plan dawned on her. “Are you sure that you can keep Tiamat from escaping again?”

“Like I said, I created this problem. I can cure it,” Lucy settled on the plinth. “Now, go do your part.”

“Mammon is right. It is best not to make an enemy of you,” Gillian said with a smile before disappearing. Before Tiamat could react to being back in her prison, Lucifer dove deep inside her and burned a hole where the gate mechanism had once resided. Tiamat doubled over in pain as the speck flew up through the eye of the storm above only to find herself suddenly adrift in a void.

Gillian’s betrayal of Lucifer did not go unnoticed. Upon her return, Mammon rebuked Gillian for her duplicity. John Smith demanded to know Lucy’s whereabouts. When they searched the void, there was no trace of the Lightbearer.