An Immortals Tale
The March to Heaven
Chapter 1: Everyone has One.
Jon drifted through the void, black, endless, nothingness. His body weighed nothing, his senses were non-existent, nothing mattered. He was finally comfortable and at peace. For a long time he remained there, happy to be a part of the void. Then something disturbed the emptiness, buzzing like an angry fly in his ear. It was a voice, pushing through the thick shell of his sanctuary, saying something he didn't recognize.
The voice repeated over and over, but as moments passed, it changed its tone. The annoyance that it carried fell away. The words were soothing, sweet, soft, and comforting. With every repetition they made more and more sense, revealing themselves to not be words, but a name. 'Jonathan Ross...Jonathan Ross...' it was so familiar, yet so distant. Slowly the name began to pull the immortal from the nothingness, towards the light, the pain, the world outside.
The smells of the world came first, soft and serene. Wood, books, a leather chair, and somewhere in the distance: gun grease. His body ached, each movement was met with resistance, his muscles complained. Finally sight came in, slow at first, then blinding, all at once. Still the soft voice cooed his name, gently, softly. The name. It was his name. Jonathan Ross, the immortal, the Paladin. And this was his home. He craned his sore neck around, took it all in. He stopped abruptly when the source of the voice revealed itself.
There he sat, on the arm of Jon's chair, as the immortal lay on the floor: Lucifer, himself. He was tall, with perfect skin, a perfect smile, and long blonde hair, dressed in a gray suit with a red shirt and tie. While Jon struggled to get his body moving Lucifer smiled down at him with glee. "Good morning, sunshine! The earth says 'Hello!'" The groan that Jon emitted was unclear if it was from disgust or from the pain he was feeling. "Oh come on, Jon. Is that any way to greet an old friend?" Another groan came as Jon sat up on his floor.
The immortal worked his mouth, trying to dispel the dryness making it impossible to speak. His hand bumped into a glass of water, sitting next to him. He picked it up and shot the only other person in the room a look, waiting for an explanation. Again, the former angel smiled and tapped his throat. "Sleeping for two years tends to dry one out. I know, trust me. But, having your soul nearly sucked out will do that to a person." Jon sipped the drink, trying harder to make the roughness dissipate. "A 'thank you' would be nice, there, Jon." The immortal nodded and croaked one out, his throat still dry, as Lucifer continued.
"That's better. Now..." The immortal chimed in before the former angel could continue, "What are you doing here?" Lucifer's face wore annoyance, but with a hint of grace, said, "I was getting to that, Jon. Let's get you all woken up and fed before we continue, yeah? Chinese or hoagies?" With a spry hop, he left the chair's arm and helped Jon off the floor and to the chair. The Paladin's body was still waking up, pain throbbing through him. He knew he couldn't do anything against his visitor, so he could only answer, "Uh...Hoagies."
Lucifer clapped, "Yes! I guessed right! Hold on a second." Jon watched him leave the room, and examined his surroundings. The single room apartment was not as he'd left it. The windows were back, the walls repaired, all the damage that had happened during that fight outside had been made right. He turned his gaze to his own body, checking for grievous wounds, but found none. He suddenly became aware of the fact that he was utterly naked, just as the blonde angel returned. Jon's hands instinctively went to cover himself as his guest returned, gently bumping the door open with his hip.
The blonde angel had two white bags clenched in his perfect teeth, a folding chair and a small folding table under each arm. He placed them in front of the immortal, setting up the dinner, when he noticed the self-censorship of the holy man. With a scoff he smiled at Jon, "Oh, please, Jon. I've been waiting a while for you to wake up. There's nothing I haven't seen at this point. And if it makes you feel better I can get naked, too." Rising out of the chair he began to undo his tie, but the immortal objected, "No, no! It's...it's fine. Just a reaction." Lucifer shrugged and sat back down, doling out the stuff in the bags. "Suit yourself. Let's eat. We've got a lot of catching up to do."
Jon ate in silence, enjoying the beef hoagie as best he could. Lucifer, however, commented often about the taste of the sandwich, and the fries, following it with a sheepish smile. "Hey, I hardly get to enjoy things like this anymore. Usually it's all work, work, work." Jon smiled politely as they both finished their meals, giving another 'thank you' for the food. The tall blonde man smiled brightly and gave an enthusiastic, "You're very welcome, Paladin." Still wearing the same smile, Lucifer cleaned up the meal and returned from tossing the empty remains with two cups of tea, placing them on the table.
"I love tea. Such a wonderful concoction. I was there when they invented it, you know. Humans. So inventive. Feel better, Jon?" Though he was on high alert in the presence of the first fallen, Jon had to admit that he did feel much better. Lucifer nodded, "Good. Let's begin, shall we?" The immortal nodded his agreement as he sipped his chamomile tea. "You've been asleep for two years, Jonny boy. And, believe it or not, almost nothing has happened. Demonic activity here on Earth has fallen to microscopic numbers, all because of the example YOU made of that cult.
"But on the two-year anniversary of your little escapade, things have begun to heat up. Angels are coming down here and making a mockery of your work. Have you ever met an angel?" Jon wanted to reply, but he kept talking, "They're...well, for lack of a better term, dicks. They're so black and white, it's infuriating! Innocents have died in their little crusade - on both sides, mind you. And I thought I'd be here to lend you a hand for what's going to be coming up, there, Jon." Jon was reeling. The news that he'd been asleep for two years was a serious blow.
"What's coming up?" was the only thing Jon could get out. Lucifer looked surprised at the question and finished his sip. He answered as if his host was supposed to know. "The end of the world, of course." Another shock to Jon's system left him, once again, only able to utter a few words, "What do you mean?" The fallen angel finished off his tea, and sat it down before turning to Jon once more. "There's been a little rumor circling the world, and it's caused massive tremors. And now, unlike last time, there's a single entity leading this entire movement."
"No one knows who they are or what they wants, and truthfully I find back stories boring. Everyone has one, Jon, everyone. And they're all so cliché. Momma didn't blah-blah, daddy was yadda-yadda. I'm just no longer impressed with them. Anyways. Demonfolk and angelfolk, alike, have all begun their march to the Pearly Gates." Jon looked confused, by more than one thing, but asked, "What's the rumor?" Lucifer smiled, "Now, THAT I can't help you with, Jon. But I can tell you where to begin."
The angel got up, folded his chair, adjusted his suit, and walked toward the door. He turned around as he opened the door, a mischievous smile on his perfect face, making his green eyes shimmer, "I'd tell you what the rumor is, but, the question is: Would you believe me? Oh. How long has it been since you've been to Constantinople?" With that the door closed, and Jon was left to ponder if this bizarre meeting really happened. With a bit of resolve, the immortal found his feet and walked to the shower, taking his time to get himself back in order. After shaving, showering, and donning one of his black suits, The Paladin walked back into the world, unsure and unready for what was going to happen next.
After a short distance, getting his stride back, Jon found himself not wanting to take a cab, but to exercise his muscles. The afternoon was waning on, the sky darkening, both with rain and night. The immortal kept going, none the less. What was a forty minute car ride turned into a two hour walk back to his old friends' place: The the three angels. Hope swelled inside Jon at the sight of his destination, then was dashed to nothing as he saw something he didn't expect: The Angels' building was destroyed. It looked like a bomb had gone off, taking apart the structure like a cardboard box that a firecracker had gone off in.
Jon's hand pushed through the yellow tape sealing off the entrances to the place, worry deep in his mind. His new senses didn't smell or see any real reason for the demolition, but he knew the reason almost instantly: Divine Fire. On what was left of the floor where the angels stayed was almost nothing but debris, pieces of the giant metal door that protected them scattered throughout the ruins. The immortal prayed silently that his friends escaped the conflagration intact. As he finished his 'Amen' the clouds above roared and opened up, pouring their contents upon the world. And in that moment Jon felt truly lost in a tumultuous sea.
As he stood there, in the cool rain, another voice rang out, a familiar one. "Oh Jon. What a mess of the world they've made." The immortal looked down the alley way, his eyes resting on a sight he'd never expected to see: A man with blonde hair that had been shaven to the scalp, beautiful green eyes, perfect skin covered in grime, and missing his left arm. "Have you come to help, Jon, or to finish what my brethren started?" The soft British accent, which was so nice to hear, before, was heavy with pain and hopelessness that left Jon all but speechless. When their eyes met Jon could say but a single word: "Bob?"