I rubbed my forehead. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think I hate angels.”
Kelly nodded, her eyes firmly closed even under her daygoggles. “Yep.”
Alex glared at us. “Is this really the time?”
Kelly and I both replied at the same moment. “Yes.”
Angels, as I had discovered during the incident at Chronias, liked light. A lot. Their dayeyes gave them perfect sight at light levels that would be literally blinding for baselines. Scrambling around the abandoned Illuminated Heaven had been extremely annoying, to say the least.
Turns out it was even worse when the angels were actually around.
In our search for Ling, Alex had taken us to Lunia, the Silver Heaven, home to Barachiel the Messenger. Not that we thought they had her, or anything. No, it was just that Alex still had some friends among the non-‘sarian angels, and she thought they might be able to help.
It was still mid-afternoon, so the outside of the Heaven used an tree-like array of mirrors and lenses to refract and direct the sunlight into aesthetically pleasing shapes. My eyes weren’t exactly designed to handle all that light, but it still looked pretty impressive, like a tree made from light, glowing from every branch and leaf.
Inside? Everything was glowing. And I mean everything.
The floors glowed. The walls glowed. The speakers installed in the corners glowed. The cubicles and computers and freaking paper glowed. I had to wear daygoggles just to get by without tripping over my own feet.
“I do apologize,” the androgynous angel guiding us said with blatantly feigned humility. “We are just not used to entertaining blinders—I mean, those still burdened with baseline eyes.” He/she smiled winningly. “Perhaps one of the heretic Hosts with Necessarius would better serve your needs?”
“The sexless racist has a point,” I grunted, gaining some small pleasure from the brief angry look on the angel’s face. “Why do we need to deal with these guys, exactly?”
“Not all angels who break with the saints join Butler,” Alex said as she led us down the hallway, past angels working away at their desks. What was the worker caste? Jegu…no, wait, castes were named after times of day. The Names were what I was thinking of. Now what was that Name… “The records here will be able to tell us where some of my old friends are.”
Our guide huffed. “I doubt very much that the Silver Archives will be of much use to you. Yes, we note where the Fallen claim they are going as well as their contact information, but it is not as though we keep track of what they are doing, or even make any real effort to confirm their information.”
“You don’t,” Alex admitted. “But Pistis Sophia does. Which is why we’re here for the Crystal Archive, not the Silver.”
The Lunian angel stumbled. “I—you—you know about that?”
“For the rest of us,” I grumbled, as I felt my way along the wall. “Care to explain?”
“Barachiel, Lord of Lunia, is the Messenger,” Jarasax explained, while Alex and our guide glared at each other. “He records contact information and so on. Pistis Sophia is the angelic spymaster—”
“The Lady Ascetic is not something as uncouth as a spy—”
“Save it,” I cut off the angel. I nodded at the changeling, indicating he should continue.
He just shrugged. “Right. Well, that’s about it. Pistis Sophia sends out spies to keep tabs on everyone, especially angels who leave the culture. All the really good stuff will be locked up in Solania, the Crystal Heaven, but there will be notes on the Silver Archive’s own data stored somewhere nearby.”
“The basements,” Alex added, opening a door to a stairwell leading down to underline the point. “Angels are big on keeping the underhanded stuff literally underground.”
Our guide, annoyed, muttered to himself angrily. “It is symbolic, representative of how we are above such things and—”
It took about twenty minutes to find the right room. I had no idea where we were going; we took so many different turns I don’t think I could have found my way back up if my life depended on it. How Alex knew the way, I’ll never know. Then again…there was that angelscript stuff that was invisible to baseline eyes. Maybe she was just following the signs?
However she did it, we eventually found ourselves in front of a thick metal door at the end of a long hallway. The first thing I noticed about the door was that while the hall was as stupidly bright as the rest of the domain, the door didn’t have any of those glowing strips on it. It was still glowing a little, but that was all reflected light; the difference was hard to spot, but with the daygoggles, I could see it. I imagine the angels saw it as painfully obvious.
“That’s the Silver Archive, or whatever?”
Our guide sighed deeply. “No, that’s the door to the Silver branch of the Crystal Archive. Often referred to simply as the Silver Crystal.” He/she produced a key—glowing, of course—from his/her loincloth, and opened the door to a white room.
It took me a second to realize, despite first appearances, the room wasn’t glowing any more than the door was. All the light was just from the hallway. Stepping inside, I could actually see shadows hiding behind the waist-high counters. The first time I had seen shadows since I got to Lunia.
“You have one hour,” our guide warned, standing at the door warily, but not coming in. “Act quickly.”
“Start in ‘G,’” Alex suggested, pointing at a particular counter. “Grigorii Gabriel.”
I wandered over to where she had indicated, opened the drawer, and started shuffling through files. It didn’t take me long to realize I would be of no help.
“These are all written in angelscript,” I noted. “I can’t even see the words.”
The ‘sarian daybreaker cursed. “Day and dawn…and of course, even if you could see them, it’s written in angelic script, so you wouldn’t be able to read it…” It took me a second to remember that angelscript was the invisible ink stuff, while angelic script was the code they used based off Hebrew. Why were the names so similar?
“I can read angelic script,” Kelly piped up. “But I can’t do much if I can’t see it.”
I rubbed my forehead. “Black lights reveal invisible ink, right?”
“Lights don’t work in here,” our guide called from the door. “There’s a strong dark zone.”
“Uh…” I turned to Alex. “Dark…zone?”
“It’s a low-level electromagnetic field, tuned to fry lights,” Kelly said before the angel could answer. “Vampires use them sometimes. They have an annoying tendency to fry other stuff too, though.”
The angel at the door huffed. “Please. We are not some nightspawned wretches tossing out darklights like grenades. The field is very carefully tuned. Only lights are affected.”
“Sure they are,” George said, checking his phone. “That’s why my military-grade brick smells like burnt silicon.”
I went to check my own phone, but Kelly stopped me. “Don’t. It will have a better chance of surviving if you don’t mess with it.”
I sighed. “Fine. What’s your suggestion for these files?” I waved them around. “I don’t think Alex can check them all alone.”
The angel in question took the papers from my hand. “I don’t need more than a few names. Grigorii should be enough…assuming he’s even still alive.”
“What’s so special about this guy?”
“He’s a freak of nature, for one thing. Crazy bastard is a hermit squatting on one of the Fusion Islands. Don’t know which one.”
“Fusion Islands—you mean the four islands with the city’s primary fusion generators?”
The angel raised an eyebrow. “Yeah. Are there any others? But from there, he keeps an eye on everything. He’s a bit of an information broker, except he never sells any information. Very odd.”
“So he might know something,” Kelly finished. “Worth a shot, at least.”
“Okay, that all…kinda makes sense,” I said slowly, looking back and forth from the vampire to the angel. “But why will he help us?”
Alex flipped through the file without looking up. “His sister is Adele Lucifer, that ‘sarian angel who helped with the bats. She can probably convince him it’s in his best interests to help.”
“Couldn’t we have just asked her where he is?”
“She doesn’t know. Like I said, he’s a hermit.”
“But you know now, right?” Kelly asked. “It’s in the papers, I mean? So we can go now?”
The angel scanned through the file quickly. “North Fusion island…in a cave on the eastern shore? No wonder Adele could never find him. He was always claustrophobic before.”
“So that’s everything?” the vampire demanded, scratching the device on her arm.
“Yep!” the ‘sarian angel said with a cheerful smile. “I think we might finally have a lead!”
“Good,” Jarasax grunted from the hallway, where he was checking his phone. “Because Medina just texted me. Huntsman killed St. John.” He nodded at Alex. “You better hope this lead pans out, because it’s the only one we’ve got left.”
Behind the Scenes (scene 198)
Angels bearing the Name “Jegudiel” are the workers of angelic society. They are the bureaucrats, the builders, the lawyers, and the paper-pushers. Thankless jobs, but essential.
The other Names are Gabriel (warriors), Lucifer (teachers), Michael (protectors), Raphael (doctors), and Uriel (hunters). The teachers should have the Name Samael, but the Archsaints weren’t exactly experts on Christian theology.