Stormguard: The Invisible War
Copyright © 2016, 2017 by Tom Fallwell
As we slowly descended into the Red Rock Canyon State Park, I couldn’t help wondering just what the Fallen were up to. They were always attempting to cause problems, but there was something very different happening this time. The energy we’d detected coming from this location was not the usual dark energy signature we commonly saw. Plus, the Fallen had attacked me as I made my descent to Earth with a shard of darkness, a bolt of pure dark energy. Something extraordinary was happening, and we needed to find out what.
I was stunned by the shard, causing my ring, my Halo, to slip from my finger as I descended. This left me without memory of who I was and the loss of my powers. I crashed into the Earth with a literal bang. Fortunately, my unceremonious landing hadn’t been witnessed by any mortals, given the rural location of my impact. While it was a daring act on the part of the Fallen, it simply reinforced my feeling that they were involved in something well beyond their typical devilment.
After my slight identity crisis and finding my Halo again, Uriel and I headed for the source of that energy. I restored my clothing to normal with the entropic forces my Halo afforded me. Our Halos, which had the ability to reconfigure matter as well as enhance and transform all forms of energy, were also a part of who we were. Every guardian angel had their own, personal Halo. It was as much a part of them as any limb of their body.
Having driven the short distance to Red Rock Canyon, our Camaro descended the steep, winding road that led down into the canyon’s park area. Uriel had to keep one foot on the brake constantly. The incline was precipitous and narrow, making travel hardly more than a crawl.
“Tell me about the energy you detected, Zak,” said Uriel, keeping her eyes on the road.
“It wasn’t dark energy,” I said. “In fact, it was a temporal signature. It would be a great cause for concern if the Fallen were messing around with Time itself.”
“Temporal?” Uriel’s brow furrowed.
I’m sure her thoughts were along the same lines as my own. What could the Fallen be seeking? They couldn’t change anything in the past – that was not possible without direct authority from the Almighty. If I had to guess, they were seeking something, either in the past or future of Time itself. But what? Regardless, it was certain they were planning to use temporal energy for some diabolical, malevolent purpose.
Uriel suddenly spoke her mind. “Attacking one of the Stormguard directly is more than just an act of desperation. It’s a declaration of war, Zak. They’re daring us to investigate.”
That comment hit me like a physical blow. She was right. It wasn’t just a rash act, it was calculated. Could the Fallen be so emboldened? This had further implications than I had originally considered.
“We have to find out what’s going on.” A worrisome foreboding gnawed at me as we finally reached the bottom of the canyon.
The road leveled out to a narrow, asphalt pathway; narrow enough that with two vehicles, one would have to pull halfway off the road to pass each other. The bottom of the sandstone canyon was riddled with maple trees and campsites. The canyon walls, in many places, were nearly fifty feet high, and these were the favored spots for those wanting to rappel down the cliffs.
As we entered the park, there was a pond stocked for fishing to the right of us that sat at the foot of a sandstone wall. As I turned my gaze upon it, I felt the familiar tingle of power from my Halo. There was a source of the dark energy here.
“Stop!” I said urgently, pointing to the pond. Uriel nodded, finding a spot to park.
As we exited the car, the vibration of energy was evident to both of us.
“There,” Uriel said, pointing to the canyon wall.
The faintest traces of a portal could be seen. Not something a mortal would see. We would have missed it as well, if we hadn’t been actively seeking something unusual.
“A doorway to Hell?” I wondered aloud.
“A doorway, definitely, but to where … who knows?”
Uriel’s question encouraged my own thoughts further. The Fallen wouldn’t hide something where it would easily be seen. The Stormguard were always monitoring the fiery recesses of Gehenna. The portal obviously led to another dimension, one we wouldn’t normally spend time observing.
“Only one way to find out,” I said, activating my wings. Uriel followed suit.
Our wings were made from feathers of the purist white, fifteen feet from tip to tip, formed by reconfiguring molecules and shaping them with our mental connection to the Halo. When not needed, the molecules were absorbed by the Halo to be used again later. Our rings also gave us the power to become invisible to mortal eyes, even removing from them any memory of seeing us, if they happened to have been looking at us when we vanished. As far as any mortal observer would know, we’d never even been there. They would only see a ’96 Camaro parked nearby, not giving it a second thought.
Flying through the portal, we readied ourselves for anything, but weren’t greeted with anything we might have expected. The area around us was obscured by clouds of dark mist. Nothing could be seen beyond a few feet, in any direction. Our only compass was a strong vibration of dark energy that we could feel through our Halos. We flew towards the source of those readings.
The thought of an attack was evidently on both our minds. If the Fallen had dared attack me once, they most certainly would do so again.
“I have a bad feeling,” commented Uriel.
“Yes, I feel it too. Put up your shield.”
We both generated shields around ourselves, near invisible, made of pure light energy. It turned out to be a perfectly intuitive move on our part.
The ambush was swift and sudden, hidden behind the mists until they were right on top of us. A legion of shadow demons from the abyssal depths burst from the clouds with shards of darkness hurtling towards us from every direction. Fortunately, having expected as much, the shards crashed upon our shields, shattering against the light that enshrouded us like glass hitting solid rock.
The demons were mostly featureless, nothing more than amorphous blobs of gloomy darkness. Only the red flames of their eyes gave any hint they were living things. These weren’t the Fallen, but creatures of darkness, their minions. There were at least fifty of them, now surrounding us as we flew together, back-to-back, and prepared for battle.
With Uriel hovering behind me, I held my hands before me and channeled my thoughts into my Halo. The hilt of my Sword of Light appeared in my hands and the blade grew from the hilt to its full length. I swung the glowing blade in a wide arc at the demons in front of me, the light energy sizzling through their shadowy forms, dissipating them and sending them back to Gehenna were they belonged. I could hear Uriel’s sword dispatching those she faced behind me as well, as we flapped our wings to maintain our position in the obscure clouds.
Within moments, we’d cut their numbers down by a dozen, but there were plenty more remaining. Realizing their shards were useless, the demons switched tactics. Several moved forward, melting into each other, creating an enormous lump of shadow that engulfed us both. Surround by that mass, I felt my shield being dissolved, slowly but surely.
“We have to get out of this!” I shouted. “I’m losing my shield!”
“Starburst!” Uriel retorted.
Reabsorbing our swords and moving together, back to back, we joined hands and I closed my eyes in concentration. Locked together in this manner, we provided twice the power of our Halos to generate a sphere of pure light energy around us. With each passing second, the light around us grew into a giant ball of force, encompassing us within its core, and at that instant we mutually triggered the detonation of our energy sphere. The ball exploded in a brilliant flash of brightness that would rival the sun, dissolving the demons around us.
With the demons banished back to the depths of hell, we were once again alone in the mists.
“I do love fireworks,” commented Uriel with a sly smile.
I chuckled. “Now to find the source of that energy.”
Following the vibrations of our Halos, like one would follow the signals of a metal detector, we soon came out of the mists to behold a barren landscape canopied by a pale violet sky. The clouds where we had entered were the atmosphere of a planet, and they were now high above us as we landed on the rocky ground and our wings folded and vanished, absorbed back into our Halos.
“This should be the source, but there’s nothing here.” Uriel wrinkled her brow as she scanned the area.
All we could see where rocks, and more rocks. The landscape was empty of any life, not even a microbe. I zeroed in on the source of the energy vibrations, only to see another rock.
“Something is odd here,” I mumbled, moving closer to the trashcan-sized boulder that my Halo was pointing me to. “How can a rock be a source of dark energy?”
Uriel was fumbling with the symbols on her ring, trying to fine tune the detection capabilities. She suddenly smiled.
“Aha!” Uriel cried with confidence. “It’s hollow.”
With a sudden surge, a beam of light shot out from her Halo and shattered the rock casing to reveal a simple shard of darkness. At least, it looked simple at first glance. I realized the amount of power registering from the shard was far above normal.
“What’s this?” I asked rhetorically.
I reached out for the shard and could feel the energy pulsing through my fingertips as my hand approached it. A shard of darkness was supposed to be pure energy. Not a substance that is solid, liquid or gaseous; just pure energy. Yet, this shard was something more. It was as if an invisible container were wrapped around the foot-long, slender shard. Bright, violet flashes could be seen within as the energy crackled, constantly moving within its strange, invisible container.
Activating a light shield around my hand, I grabbed hold of the shard and lifted it up. It was like gripping something that wasn’t truly there; akin to being able to grasp a lightning bolt or a cloud. The intensity of the power that it radiated was almost unbelievable.
“This shouldn’t exist,” I said as I examined it, turning it one way, then another. “I’m reading temporal energy surrounding this shard.”
Uriel opened her mouth, but shut it again. What could she say? I was holding a bolt of pure dark energy encased in Time. Nothing like this had ever been seen before. Something like this shouldn’t be possible, not for anyone. Well, for the Almighty, yes, but not for us, and certainly not for the Fallen.
“How could the Fallen create such a thing?” I wondered aloud.
“Zak?” Uriel’s voice was soft spoken, almost a whisper. “What if they didn’t create it?”
Her question sent my thoughts on a quick excursion for an answer, and arrived at a conclusion that put a shiver in me as well. If the Fallen hadn’t done this, then who had? What, other than our own creator, could manipulate Time itself? What did all this have to do with the Fallen? They were obviously involved. Whatever, or whoever, it was, had given them the confidence to attack us.
All this, on top of the observation Uriel made earlier, about the Fallen daring us to investigate, left me with a disturbing sense of imminent misfortune ahead.
“We need to get this analyzed further.” I created a long, spherical container of steel with my Halo, and sealed the shard inside. “Let’s get back to the car and contact Gabriel. He’ll know what to do.”
Gabriel was the leader of our Stormguard unit. Our boss, as a mortal might say. I knew he could get more in-depth knowledge about this shard, and we needed to search for any other traces of temporal energy on Earth.
Guided by the vibrations of our Halos, we passed back into the dimension of Earth, only to find Gabriel waiting for us at the Camaro. That was unsurprising, as he was always on top of things. I expected he already knew what we’d found. Being in the position he held, Gabriel was privy to the omniscient knowledge of the big man Himself. He generally knew every move we made, even though he seldom interfered with our investigations directly. Yet, this time there were some very unusual things happening, so I wasn’t really amazed to find him waiting for us.
“I have some information for you,” Gabriel said as we landed. “There’ve been several temporal readings across the globe, and I need you two to investigate something very important. I’m afraid the situation is becoming more complex than we may have originally anticipated.”
“What’s up?” asked Uriel.
“We’re not sure yet,” replied Gabriel, “but it appears the Fallen have found a way to manipulate Time. I’ve already assigned several other teams to explore these temporal readings, but I need you both to handle a special one. It had a powerful dark energy signature as well. The reading is in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower. I need the two of you to check it out at soon as possible.”
“We’re on it,” I nodded.
“Give me the shard you found,” added Gabriel. “I’ll have it analyzed and get the results back to you.”
After I handed the shard over, Gabriel launched himself upward.
“Well, looks like it’s time to do some long-distance flying,” I said. “Might as well lose the car for now.”
Uriel nodded and using her Halo, the molecules of the Camaro were taken apart and absorbed, stored for later use. We spread our wings and took to the sky, flying at a swift pace toward the east coast of the United States. Being in a hurry, we went supersonic, hitting Mach 2. It was 6:00 PM when we left, so it would be night by the time we arrived in Paris.
During the trip, I thought about the many centuries Uriel and I had been partners. We made a good team, and while Uriel could be as tough as nails when needed, she had a strong compassion for others, and for mankind in general. She took our job very seriously, but she had a playful and jubilant side, enjoying moments with relish. I, on the other hand, knew what was expected of me, and did it without question. I didn’t think about whether I enjoyed my work, or about duty and honor. I was a guardian angel. I was created for this very purpose.
“Zak?” Uriel’s voice snapped me out of my musings.
“Do you ever think about taking a vacation?”
I looked at her, raising an eyebrow. “Vacation? What do you mean?”
Our pace at supersonic speeds did not falter as we spoke, our wings beating rapidly as we zoomed across the Atlantic.
“You know, some time off,” she said.
I grinned. “Someplace you’re wanting to see?”
“Well, here we are headed for Paris. I’ve never actually been there, but we won’t have time to enjoy any of it. We’ll be working.”
I looked over and saw a slight twinkle in her eyes, a small smile playing across her lips. “Turning a bit sentimental, aren’t we?” I asked, returning her smile.
“Just because we’re angels doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. We have before. Remember that time in Jamaica?”
I laughed. She had a point. We’d spent several days taking in the sights and swimming, eating and enjoying some free time in the guise of mortals. In ways, it helped us learn more about mortals as well. There was a saying among mortals about entertaining angels unawares. I had to wonder how many of them truly believed angels walked among them.
There were many believers, that was true. But I also knew there were those whom God had marked, those He had his hand on, that were still unaware of their destiny. Sometimes it felt good to be among them, to see the joy and kindness of their hearts.
On the other hand, there were those who were truly lost, and completely unaware they were headed for a fate far worse than any death could be. Those made me sad in many ways. They were beyond help because of their hardened hearts.
These thoughts flashed by, and I turned my attention back to Uriel. “Jamaica was a lot of fun. I’m sure we can do it again someday.”
Uriel smiled and nodded.
“But right now, let’s keep our minds focused,” I said. “We’ve no idea what we may find.”
It was late at night in Paris when we arrived; past midnight. There were no more visitors to the top platform this late, so that’s where we landed, folding our wings away. We were nearly a thousand feet above the ground as we started checking for energy readings. We were still invisible to any mortals who might be gazing up at the top of the tower.
“Zak,” said Uriel, “I’m picking up the same vibrations we got from the shard. Temporal energy.”
Before I could respond, there was a familiar voice behind us. Without seeing the speaker, I knew who it was. Lahash. One of the Fallen.
“Ah, so nice to see you running your little errands for your master,” the chiding voice remarked.
Turning, I saw Lahash standing on the other side of the platform, grinning with a strange delight. He was dressed in a typical business suit, with a red tie laid against a black shirt, and a gray coat and pants. He appeared totally unafraid of Uriel and me, or the power he knew we could wield.
“What are you up to, Lahash?” Uriel asked. Her eyes were narrowed and boring into the Fallen angel, her jaw set firm.
I noticed his bravado, and knew him well enough to know he wasn’t just being boastful. He had some advantage, I was certain.
“What I’m up to is my business,” he replied confidently. “I’m more interested in what you’re up to, though I think I can guess quite easily.” At that he let a chuckle escape, causing me further concern. I realized then that the vibrations we were tracking came from him.
“Careful, Uriel,” I commented softly. “He’s the source of the temporal energy.”
Lahash’s grin widened with playful glee, his eyes shining with pure mischief. “Oh, the humiliation. You’ve discovered my little secret.”
I saw his eyes narrow with a flicker of red fire, giving me a split-second warning of his attack. It was enough for me to call forth a shield of light in front of both Uriel and myself. The sudden blast of energy he sent toward us hit the shield with far more force and power than I would’ve imagined, and the shield collapsed. Uriel was knocked off her feet, up against the platform rail.
I managed to hold my position, but the burst had left me stunned for a split second. The power I registered with that attack was unbelievable, and I knew our normal shields would not be enough to protect us. Quickly, I helped Uriel to her feet.
“We must work together,” I urged.
Uriel was just beginning to realize what we were up against. We joined hands.
Together, we created a wall of light between us and Lahash, with all the power we could muster in the mere seconds we had to act. Our wall erected itself just in time to fend off another explosion of energy from Lahash’s fingertips; this time the shield held. We instantly retaliated with dual Spears of Light at our adversary, only to watch in shock as our spears broke against some invisible barrier that encased him.
I had the thought that whatever shielding he was using, was the source of the temporal emanations we were reading, and it was the same type of invisible container that surrounded the shard we found earlier.
Lahash, seeing the shock on both mine and Uriel’s faces, grinned wider. “Now you realize, at the moment of your destruction, that you are no longer a match for Lucifer and his Fallen. Now you realize, you are no longer in control of this world.”
I sensed he was about to let loose something we had no defense for, and did the only thing I could to prevent us both being blasted off the top of the Eiffel Tower. Releasing my wings, and grabbing Uriel tightly in both arms, I surged up into the sky as fast as I could. The energy Lahash sent for us barely missed, but my quick action had saved us both. Before he could bring another attack to bear, we were many miles away.
Uriel found her voice. “What in Heaven’s name was that?” she cried. “Did that just happen? It’s not possible!”
I held on to her. In her confusion, she had yet to release her wings. I had never seen my partner so dumbfounded. I landed us well outside the city of Paris, in the dark, quiet countryside.
“I’m not sure how, but Lahash had some form of temporal shield, just like the shard,” I said as I folded my wings away.
Uriel had regained her composure, though still awed by what we had just experienced. “This is definitely not good.”
At that moment, I felt the call coming in from Gabriel, and opened the channel with my Halo. A ghostly image of Gabriel formed in front of us.
“I need you both back here, pronto,” the ghost said.
“Why?” I queried. “What’s happening?”
“We’re officially at war! We’ve lost several angels already. We must regroup. The rules have now changed.”
“The temporal anomalies?” Uriel asked.
“Yes,” replied Gabriel with a stern expression. “We don’t know how just yet, but the Fallen have somehow learned to master chronokinetic abilities. They can manipulate Time energy to create temporal constructs.”
“We just encountered Lahash,” I said. “He had some kind of shield we couldn’t penetrate, and his attacks were far more powerful than any we’ve encountered before.”
The image of Gabriel sighed. “That’s what we’ve discovered. The shield cannot be penetrated because your attacks are warped by Time itself. His shield and your weapons were in different phases.”
So, that was it. He was impervious to our attacks, as if he occupied a different place in space-time altogether, while his attacks against us carried far more power than the usual shards of darkness the Fallen were known for.
“Both of you get back here immediately,” said Gabriel. “We’ve work to do.”
With that, the ghost faded away and I shot a glance at Uriel, who now had a firm and serious expression plastered across her face.
“He said some of us had already been lost,” Uriel said. Sadness flashed through her eyes.
I sighed, sharing her sense of calamity. An angel lost meant an angel who had simply ceased to be. They no longer existed. Still, they’d been lost doing exactly what we’d been created to do; protect mankind from the Fallen.
“Come on,” I said finally. “We’ve work to do.”
Uriel nodded and we both soared skyward, flying straight up, higher and higher, towards the place of our origin. Toward Heaven.
Read more from Tom Fallwell
If you enjoyed my writing, then why not check out what else I’ve written. My latest book is a fantasy adventure called Dragonblood Throne: Legacy, and is currently available at many online retail outlets.
Orphaned as a young child and growing up alone in the forest, Delina lives a life of isolation; her only companion a saber-toothed panther. Her strange eyes frighten those she occasionally encounters, so she keeps to herself, until a young, wounded warrior ends up at her doorstep. As she nurses him back to health, she discovers she is more than just a young woman with unusual eyes, she is a dragonblood, destined to become the ruler of Almar.
Now hunted by the dark sorcerer who murdered her father, usurped his throne, and killed all her kin, she must find out how she can release the essence of the dragon inside her to defeat him. Everything depends upon her willingness to embrace her legacy and reclaim the Dragon Throne.