**Please note: This is uncorrected and unedited. Please forgive any errors!**

‘If an enemy has alliances, the problem is grave

and the enemy’s position strong…’

Sun Tzu

It could be a trap. Should be, Onyx thought.

The thought only made his smooth stride quicken, he even added a skip or two. He could think of nothing better than another war with Joel. And there was no denying he was intrigued. His desire to be The One who brought the eternal war to the next level was rooted deep.

Something whispered in his mind, taunted him with humanity; go back, preserve, but then the angel kicked in, forge on, I am mighty, and then the exile, I must not be denied. The exile always won.

The last time Onyx and Joel crossed paths they came close to tearing one another’s hearts out. His lips curled at the memory, eager now. Slaughter of the light always kindled a little extra something in him.

Angels, ruled by the Seraphim, broke into many ranks but no other division compared to the divide that existed between light and dark. In the angel realm the presence of one meant the complete and utter absence of the other. But here as exiles, there were no rules other than – to rule.

Onyx strode towards the church, unfazed by Joel’s venue selection. They were longtime foes, both by their occupational distinction as much as their exiled status. It was not in their nature to ‘collaborate’ as Joel, exile of light, had put it when he proposed a ‘peaceful negotiation’ during their recent shared dream-walk.

‘Times have changed,’ Joel had said.

Onyx agreed with that much. Destroying humans, even in numbers, seemed to achieve less and less. Humans were a plague angels had encouraged for far too long. You could kill as many as you wanted, but they bred like rabbits. And then there were their protectors …

If there is only one thing light and dark exiles agree on – it is the need to eliminate the Grigori: the humans who carried the essence – and therefore the powers – of angels.

Onyx looked over his shoulder. He could feel his darklings moving in the shadows, just as he’d instructed. He ran a hand vainly through his hair, styling it just so. Appearances counted.

Gressil stepped out from his cloak of darkness nearby, nodding once to Onyx. ‘Are we to attack?’ Gressil asked, anticipation showing in his bright eyes.

Onyx shared in Gressil’s desire to indulge in battle. His forces were mightier and certainly more hostile. Sneering hungrily at the thought he felt a surge of power behind him as his ranks caught the scent of violent possibilities.

But war is more enjoyable when it is cruel. And true cruelty meant first biding his time. He glanced to the church roof. ‘Scale it and cover every possible entry or exit point. I’ll tell you when.’

Gressil hesitated. He was a purest, all about the kill. Onyx looked him in the eye until he nodded and faded back into the shadows.

Even before he reached the large doors to the church, he could smell the reek. Human flesh. Onyx snorted. One thing he didn’t appreciate was a lack of cleanliness. Kill them, certainly, but do not live in the filth they leave behind.

Rodents indeed, he thought. Human value was always exposed in the vile odor of their death. When all the sheen of ‘freewill’ is taken away – all that’s left is the stink – the real, despicable, unworthy rot. Even as exiles in human form, such degradation would never be bestowed upon one of them.

He pushed the door open, letting it creak to the maximum. He smiled, using his foot to wedge it halfway, pausing to straighten his Gucci jacket – navy blue today, to off-set his raspberry tie. A daring selection he’d deliberated over. He took his time, feeling no fear but needing a moment to contain his excitement at the prospect of battle. Killing Joel would bring much pleasure.

He chuckled condescendingly, his polished black shoes clacking against the stark white marble as he began down the aisle. ‘Do you not get tired of sitting in houses where another is worshipped, Joel? Or is it that you fantasise about a future where the stained glass reflects your own image?’

Joel was not visible and did not reply, but Onyx could feel the surge of his power and smiled. Joel has always had an ego-driven temper.

Onyx looked ahead. It was apparent that Joel had made himself at home. He had even decorated. With humans. Onyx’s step picked up a bounce. Exiles of light justified their behavior for their ‘cause’ – the belief that to save the many you must kill the few; that they would succeed where others failed. Misguided, of course, but Joel was a fanatic, and more treacherous because of it.

They were shoulder to shoulder in the front pew; Joel’s kneeling worshippers. Part of the stink did not only come from death – the living here rotted too.

Two nuns, two priests, and a girl in altar-clothes – the clergy uniforms all of rival religions, an indicator of Joel’s ultimate belief – that he would succeed and mass devotion by all. No opinions. No deviations. He would be the sole dictator of belief and punishment alike.

He did not see the advantages in varying opinion. Unlike Onyx’s side.

Onyx was not a believer. He simply wanted bloody vengeance on this inferior race, and ultimate power, of course. And the only way that was going to happen … he had to get rid of the half-breeds. If Joel had a way to destroy the Grigori, he wanted in. He’d kill Joel later.

The captives were restrained with thin, unforgiving, wire strapped behind their knees, cutting into the flesh and holding them down, punishing any minute movement. Their hands were tied at the wrists, dried blood coating their forearms and their hands clasped together in mock prayer.

The human heads turned to Onyx. For a moment, there was a brief flicker of hope – particularly in the eyes of the young girl, pathetically struggling to hold up her own weight. But then they saw the nothingness reflected in his dark eyes and their hope quickly fled.

Watching as the blood flowed from where the wire restraints around the prisoners had previously been tested, Onyx tilted his head. If Joel and his exiles of light looked frightening – Onyx looked like the devil himself. It wasn’t just the black hair, his unnaturally charcoal eyes or severe features which made him disturbingly perfect – it was the way something foul moved just beneath the surface – a shimmering that, when he chose, humans could see and definitely feel. It was a darkness that went beyond anything angel, anything human – it was all exile. Deserter. Power. And Onyx relished it.

The girl kept her eyes on him, the only one foolish enough not to look away. She was petrified, but there was something else, something Onyx rarely saw in those without considerable power – or at least the illusion of it.


‘Please,’ she whispered, her fragile voice quivering. She waited for Onyx to look at her and when he did, she showed tremendous strength by holding his eyes. Most screamed when he turned that particular look on them.

‘Forgiveness. It is never too late.’

Onyx paused, giving his full attention to the girl. He leant down and pulled back the short churchgoer veil that hid her long luxurious golden hair.

‘Oh,’ Onyx beamed and tut-tuted with his finger. ‘Hair like that is not for the one you serve. Is vanity not a sin? Are you sure it is not too late for you? Tell me, holy girl, what would be your prayer right now?’

She looked abashed, exposed without her headpiece, but she did not turn away. ‘I would pray for the safety of my friends.’

Onyx raised his eyebrows and smirked. ‘At your own detriment?’ he asked. ‘Would you stay and die if you knew they would live?’

‘Yes,’ she said proudly. The others, the men and women of God, remained unsurprisingly silent.

‘And what of them? Would you be so cruel to them?’

She looked confused.

‘You would leave them to live in the shadow of your sacrifice? Death will come for you but linger in them. Are you sure you are not requesting what is simply the easiest option? Are you sure what you suggest is …’ he placed a hand over his all-but-absent-heart, always one for a show. ‘Forgivable?’

The girl paled to a chalky shade.

‘You could help us?’ she half suggested, half begged.

‘I could, but there are only two ways of helping you and I have almost as little desire to kill you as I do to free you. Perhaps if you didn’t smell so entirely vile. Have you actually soiled yourselves?’ He grimaced, truly disgusted. It was beneath him to kill them now.

‘We have been tied like this for days,’ she whimpered.

‘And for days ahead I imagine.’

‘My name is Chloe,’ she pleaded quickly.

He had heard this tactic before. But humanizing themselves only made him despise them more. Identity did not help.

‘Would you believe me, Chloe…’ he used her name on purpose, ‘if I told you the Devil sent the man who holds you like this?’

‘Yes,’ she nodded.

‘Of course you would. But would you believe me if I told you there is no such thing as the devil? The man who holds you is an angel.’

‘Then he has fallen,’ she said, confidently, irritating him somewhat.

‘No, Chloe.’ He leaned close. ‘He has landed.’ Onyx straightened and reluctantly smelled the air. ‘I do hope your faith allows for cremation,’ he added but his attention was now elsewhere, for he could feel Joel moving in. He turned to the altar. ‘No doubt you’ve taken a preacher position, Joel. Show yourself before the stench drives me away.’

Joel appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, sitting in the priests throne. Moving out from behind him came a number of his exiles. Onyx smiled, enjoying that Joel felt the need for reinforcements, seeing it more as a sign of weakness than of strength.

‘I have a proposal,’ Joel said, looking pompous, reclining in a practiced pose.

Onyx ground his teeth, working hard to restrain himself from launching at the exile of light. ‘The sides do not ally. There is no way to prevent the inevitable battle, Joel.’

‘No, there is not. But before I send you to the pits, I need your services. It will benefit your side, too.’

‘Presumptuous, no?’ Onyx said. He smiled at Joel, while internally sending out the green light to his dark brethren.

It happened fast.

And just as Onyx had hoped.

Exiles of dark crashed through the several stained glass windows, shattering Joel’s temple, their faces morphing in and out of different illusions. There were those that took on demonic images, those that wielded fire and those so frigidly cold that to the beholder just being in their vicinity carried a promise of horrid death. The cold is always underestimated.

Joel was ready, of course, exiles of light had been positioned in easily defensible locations throughout the church, springing into view and action just as eagerly. The light exiles’ desire to destroy the dark was infinite. And here on earth – here was their arena.

The fighting began. There was no time to hesitate and Onyx knew that smashing all of Joel’s glass would have ignited his very short fuse.

As if to punctuate the thought, Joel roared, morphing into his preferred fighting image – a six-winged creature, each wing ablaze with blue fire with an inner blinding light coming out from within. He fancied himself a celestial.

Onyx rolled his eyes. He was too prideful for such lowly things.

Joel strode towards Onyx, anger rippling off him uncontrollably. Around them their forces battled. Exile on exile took time. Onyx could see Gressil fighting. He had assumed the vision of a gargoyle demon – indulging in the viciousness stereotyped by Hollywood. He would take down as many as he could, and make sure to finish them for good.

‘I will pray for you,’ the girl said from the front pew.

Onyx was first stunned by her gall, but recovered quickly, throwing his head back in light laughter.

‘Do you think because I do not take on a mask that I am the lesser threat?’

‘No.’ She shook her head nervously. ‘But I can see you have a soul that will be saved. A soul that I can pray for.’ She wept, again taking Onyx by rare surprise. They all cry. Humans can be wet things, but in all his time, never had one cried … for him.

His stare hardened. But the way she looked at him affected him somehow and his talent for insight raised an internal alarm – for just an instant. Onyx was sure he was standing on the cusp of overwhelming change.

‘Do you pray that I will save you?’ he taunted readying for Joel, who was nearing, about to make the first move.

‘I pray that I might save you.’

Onyx took the first hit, a sword appearing in Joel’s already raised arm. Onyx was fast, but the girl had distracted him and he received a gaping slice to his side. It healed instantly, the pain refocusing his anger to where it needed to be.

Onyx launched into the air, unleashing the savagery that was a part of who he was and along with it, the Pressure – literally. Pressure was one of his strengths; he could bring it to humans and exiles alike. Compress their surroundings; bring the world in around them. Against humans, it can crush their insides, against exiles it is not as powerful but still, very, very uncomfortable.

Joel stumbled back under the force, giving Onyx the chance to produce his own sword and strike at Joel. And now they danced – chaos and destruction surrounding them as the pillars and walls of the church, absorbing the power of many blows, began to crumble. At one point Onyx glanced to the front pew, it was one of the only areas still left intact. The priests and one of the nuns had suffered from the initial arrival of his exiles – large shards of glass penetrating their now lifeless vessels. The girl and the remaining nun still breathed, for now.

He jolted back into his fight unable to comprehend why his thoughts had drifted to the human again. This was unacceptable.

With a surge of renewed determination he moved in on Joel. His forces were stronger, mightier. It was his place to make this happen. He was the one who would conquer. He would prevail. He was the godliest of them all.

Onyx pushed forwards, his sword slashing liberally as he took control of the fight, striking Joel across the chest a number of times. Joel stumbled back, desperate to put distance between them while he redirected his strengths internally, for much needed healing.

Suddenly Joel pounced into the air, levitating outside of Onyx’s power range.

‘We can fight all you want, but would you rather not bring the spectacle, the grandness of such duels to the eyes of the world? I know how you love an audience, Onyx! What if I told you – that the next time we battle it could be without fear of any interference from the Grigori? What if I told you, together, we could bring about the new age?’

The battle cries continued. Onyx could see that his forces had the upper hand. Gressil began ripping organs from an exile of light as he watched. Onyx sneered at the brutality approvingly – Gressil was purposely leaving the heart until last, prolonging the torture.

Dark will win this fight.

‘Onyx?’ the girl’s voice whimpered from the pew. He cast his eyes down to the pest.

‘You presume to speak my name?’ he delivered a look of pure darkness on her and smiled as she began to tremble uncontrollably. ‘Now, be silent or I will kill you myself in a way you will not like at all.’ He looked back up at Joel and shook his head. ‘How have you not slayed her yet?’

Joel smiled, but he watched the girl with a certain interest. ‘I was hoping they would learn to serve before I had to.’

‘Well, she is just the same as every other rodent. She serves only herself.’

The girl shook her head. ‘No, that’s not true. I would serve you if you would ask it of me.’ She glanced hesitantly at Joel, her fear obvious. ‘All I would ask in return is that you listen to him and choose your path.’

Onyx’s eyes went wide. Her words of choice were more angelic than human. He laughed his high-pitched cackle and adjusted his raspberry tie. ‘It seems you have broken her Joel – I do hope she is not your plan,’ he said, now enjoying himself again. Despite Joel’s own look of confusion, Onyx assumed Joel had planted the girl to appeal to him on some level. A terrible miscalculation.

Joel shrugged, gesturing to the girl. ‘This is the first time I have heard that one speak.’

Onyx glanced at the girl and back to Joel, buying himself more time as the battle continued around them. Soon Joel would have few to defend him. Onyx pulled at one of the girl’s long golden locks. ‘Chloe?’ he drew out her name. ‘Why ever would you want me to listen to him? Do you know what it would mean for your kind if light and dark were to come together to conspire against humanity?’ he taunted, expecting her to start crying again.

She nodded. ‘It’s your destiny,’ she said, as if each word was surprising her too.

‘Perhaps she is not so wrong, Onyx,’ Joel said, still hovering at a safe distance. ‘I have the way and, as you say – we would be unstoppable should we bring our forces together and, our strengths.’

Onyx made a full turn, his arms going wide, taking in the scene. ‘I have the upper hand Joel! My forces are greater than yours! What could you possibly have that can make all the difference?’

Joel smiled now. The next time he spoke he used his telepathic skill, sending his words right into Onyx’s mind. ‘I will not reveal all, only ask if you have heard of the First Scriptures?

Of course he’d heard of them. No angel would not know of them – but they were gone. Hidden. Only one had survived and the humans already possessed it. ‘Do not sell me fairytales,’ Onyx replied, mind to mind.

Joel came down, landing on the ground. He confidently turned his back on Onyx, repositioning himself on his now well-splintered throne. ‘The Scripture survives. I know where it is. And, what it can do.

‘Where?’ Onyx said aloud, and too quickly. A crucial mistake. If there was any doubt, Joel now knew just how much Onyx desired this Scripture.

Eyebrows raised, Joel poised his fingertips together under his chin and spoke aloud himself. ‘Call off your darklings, Onyx. I propose a partnership commencing immediately and finishing once we have the Scripture and have put it to use. Then we shall fight over who will sit at the top of the world.’ His smile widened.

Onyx glanced at the girl.

‘Please,’ she whispered. ‘It must be you.’

And indeed she was right.

Onyx straightened. If anyone was going to get control of that Scripture – it would be him. And he had no doubt who would take that top spot in the end.

‘Who else knows?’ Onyx checked, casually.

‘Not one but I,’ Joel replied knowingly.

Onyx nodded. Smart Joel. He knew Onyx would just kill him and go to the next in charge if he could. Given that the next was Malachi – it would be an easy feat.

Onyx sighed but commanded his forces. ‘Stop!’

The fighting ceased immediately.

Joel didn’t need to ask his forces to stop – most of them were on the ground, though they would heal.

‘You will not keep your secret from me for long. If you propose a partnership, you must divulge the knowledge you have.’

‘In six weeks we leave. By then, you will know everything that I do. But Onyx, do not forget I am the only one who knows.’

‘As surely as you will not forget that you would have met your end this night should I not have chosen otherwise,’ Onyx mocked, trying to ignore the girl who now seemed not so much forced to the ground as truly kneeling, to him. She was becoming more than unnerving. He decided he should kill her, tightened his grip on his sword, but instead he quickly turned to his forces, hiding his first-ever hesitation. ‘An alliance then. How fabulous!’ he called out, throwing in a little fanfare.

When he turned back to Joel, who was positively smug, he used his sword to slice the wire holding the girl’s knees to the ground and pulled her up roughly by her bound wrists. ‘I’ll take her as a wedding gift.’

Joel moved slightly. Onyx tilted his head, owning the moment. Joel hated to lose his possessions and nothing was more valuable to him than worshippers, forced or not.

‘And what shall you leave me in return?’

Onyx started walking down the aisle, dragging the girl behind him, not sparing a second thought for the other nun he had left still tied to the pew. His dark exiles leapt back out the windows. He looked over his shoulder to Joel who was now standing. ‘Why, partner, I left you with your life! Surely that will suffice.’

Outside, Onyx dragged Chloe into the darkness of a nearby park. She was bleeding badly, more so since he took no care to be gentle with her. She smelled putrid. He should kill her. At least throw her to his exiles as a plaything. Anything. But … he couldn’t help the growing intrigue.

‘Are you a prophetess?’

She dropped to the ground when he let her go, too weak to stand alone.


‘What are you then?’

‘I’m just a girl. I go to school. I help at the kid’s home and at church on Sundays.’

Onyx considered her reply. She was average in every way. Yet, there was something about her.

‘Why did you say it was my destiny to go after the Scripture?’

‘I don’t know how I know, I just do. Sometimes I get feelings that are so strong that I know they are right. It must be you.’ She looked back towards the church, no doubt thinking of the dead humans. Guilt would haunt her now.

Sirens sounded from not far away. Whatever glamour Joel’s exiles had put up to shield their battle had now dropped.

He should leave.

Onyx sensed another exile nearing. He looked to the bushes to see Gressil emerge, no doubt wanting to know exactly why an alliance with the light exiles had been formed. He watched intently as Onyx stood over the girl – his confusion appropriate. It was not like any of them to delay such an obvious kill.

Onyx had little choice. To let her go would be a display of weakness and against everything he stood for – and yet … Who was this girl?

Suddenly, a wave of something otherworldly moved over them, covering them in a sticky blanket of undiluted power.

Onyx’s head shot up.

‘Could the Grigori have formed an army? Did Joel set us up?’ Gressil called out, looking around for an approaching fight.

Onyx shook his head, overwhelmed by the potent presence. Joel hadn’t set them up and … this wasn’t just Grigori power on mass.

‘That’s no army,’ Onyx said. ‘That is something altogether new. Find the source. Find it now!’ he yelled, knowing the order would travel to all of his darklings.

He looked back down at the girl. Chloe. He must go. Must find this new enemy who was leaving a trail of such power in its wake. It would take him less than a second to kill her, but still he found himself resisting. ‘As sole survivor guilt will be your burden now. And I’ll hold you to your word with your life and that of those around you. You serve me, and should I call on you…?’

He waited.

‘I will answer,’ Chloe said with a sigh.

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  1. Katie B. says:

    Yay!! I loved it!

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