Sometimes I just need to get away from it all. Don't get me wrong. Hell's not half as bad as human's make it out to be. We have quite a good time, actually. It's way better than Earth, and Dad doesn't really believe in the whole "eternal torture and suffering" thing. We think it's a little harsh down here. The whole bit about ten circles of Hell? Each circle is actually marked by the number of years spent imprisoned. I admit, a lot of that is less than the jail sentences on Earth. But do human prisons have angry fire nymphs running them? No?
I pissed one off once. Not a good time.
Anyway, as fantastic as it is, I can't pretend Hell is perfect. There's a war going on. And sometimes everyone needs to get away from a thing like that. Humans have been trying, trying being the key word, to eradicate it for years. Which brings me to my current situation. Speeding down the open plains of the desert on my Fire Runner. Kind of like a human motorcycle, but powered by fiend fire, and therefore infinitely more awesome. I'm probably going about two-hundred miles per hour right now, but if I crash, it won't leave so much as a scratch.
Let's move on to that actually. What I am, and what humans are. I live in Hell, so clearly by human definitions, I am dead. But technically I've never died. And do you know what would happen if I did? Neither do I. It has yet to happen. But keep in mind for later that the dead can in fact die, at which point they enter back into what human's call life.
According to humans, I've never been alive.
The humans may call me a demi-god of sorts. My father isn't really a god. To many people, he'd actually be quite the opposite. But who most consider to be "God" isn't really any sort of supreme being that tends to get associated with the term either. Neither Satan nor God is all powerful. There is only one all powerful entity, and she is known as Karma. She keeps the scales of the good and bad of individuals balanced. In addition to that, she quietly watches the scale of all of what we'll call for communication's sake "humanity", though it does include Dad and me and God. When the scale is tipped more towards darkness, the world will be consumed by it. Dad's objective is to keep that from happening.
To be fair, so is God's.
Let me explain something to you. There is no great cosmic battle between good and evil, pure and tainted. It would all be incredibly simpler if there was. But the saying "Good intentions pave the road to Hell." exists for a reason. And you don't even really have to do anything bad to get into Hell in the first place. In addition to the obvious sinners, plenty of great people come straight down. We've got countless scientists, writers, artists, and musicians. In fact, Kurt Cobain, John Bonham, and Phil Lynott throw an awesome concert every Saturday. Personally, I can't wait for Adam Lambert to get down here. It's going to be a good time.
Unfortunately for those who make it to Heaven, God is a bit of a stuck up ass. I can't say he's not trying to make the world a better place. Really, he is, just as much as Dad is. The major difference is in ideology. Free thought really is the tool of the devil. Dad's a big believer in anarchy, and the idea that people should be able to govern themselves. Karma bases her judgments on individuals rather than society, after all. People need to be making the right choice because it's the right choice, which is significantly harder to do when there's a government or higher power telling you to do it. On the occasions when people may hurt each other anyway, the fire nymphs step in. Besides, if there's no creativity and beauty in the world, what's the point in keeping it from ending?
God doesn't see it quite like that.
As far as God is concerned, continuing to exist is the most important thing. He wrote many books and sent them to Earth in an attempt to gain as many human followers as possible. The laws of the "dead" dictated that it had to be done through human individuals, so some of the details are sketchy. But God only admits those who follow his basic principles to the letter into Heaven. Anything else is considered dangerous. God believes he has worked out exactly what must be done to avoid Karma ending the world. He's been building an army, too. An army of Angels.
There are two demi-gods of Hell. There's myself and my older brother Letum, who has become the gate keeper. He also goes around collecting the souls of the dead who are coming our way. He has three friends who help him: Excessum, Mors, and Mortis. They all take shifts guarding the gate and collecting the souls. It's a big job. One person can't do it on their own. I'm not really in any position yet. I'm only about seventeen centuries old right now. That sounds pretty old to humans, but in the grand scheme of an indefinite eternity, it's still pretty young. Dad loves our mom, and he's never loved anyone else. He's never been with anyone else. He doesn't plan on changing that any time soon. God, on the other hand...
The Greek's idea of Zeus definitely came from somewhere.
Dozens of demigods occupy Heaven. They're known as the Angels, and they are the general's of God's armies. As you can imagine, they're almost as stuck up as he is. They believe they know justice, and they are swift and unmerciful in enacting it. There are many different divisions that they run. There are those to fight the "evil" on earth. There are those to protect the "good". And there are those whose only mission is to eliminate Hell. Each one is a son or daughter of God. Each is hardened near-beyond caring. And many have died. I've killed a few myself. But we still don't know what sort of an end comes for those who were never human.
I'm not really eager to die and find out.
The wind whipped around me. My short mahogany hair flitted around just below my chin. My favorite black trench coat billowed out behind me. My crimson eyes focused on the horizon. I tried to shake the thoughts of war and scales and apocalypses out of my mind. The point was to escape those things. I revved my Fire Runner up another hundred miles per hour. I refused to think of this now. I refused to think of anything but the freedom of the desert stretched out before me.
I should've never been naive enough to think the idea of it could be anything less than too good to be true.
Someone appeared in the desert in front of me, seemingly out of nowhere. I had no idea where they came from. I didn't have time to think about it. If I crashed into them at three-hundred miles per hour, chances were they wouldn't survive. I wasn't willing to let that happen. I swerved hard, just in time. My bike tipped over, and I slid a good mile with my leg trapped under it. That would leave a pretty good rash the next morning. I tried to move, but from this angle my bike was a bit too heavy for me to lift. "Fuck."
The form that I had swerved to avoid hitting was making its way towards me. Quickly. I paled, immediately wishing I had just hit the damn thing. An angel flew towards me on shimmering white wings. It was a damned trap. I should've known. Normally, one angel wouldn't be too much of a problem. Two got a little hairy. Three, I would need some luck. But, pinned like I was, one angel would be more than enough to end me. I steeled my nerves. I was by no means ready to die. But I wasn't going to go down that easily. However, my resolve weakened when I saw more backup arriving. Four. Five. Six angels. Six I couldn't handle during the best of times. Six would be my doom.
The sounds of loud revving filled the desert. Four Fire Runners were headed towards me almost as fast as the angels. To a human, the white, pale green, black, and red Fire Runners would mean the end. My brother and his friends were commonly refereed to as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. To me, they meant hope. I couldn't handle six angels on my own. My brother and his friends together... Well, the scales has been tipped in my favor. The only issue was that the angels were closer and coming faster. Before my brother and his friends had reached me, a stern-faced angel, the first to have appeared, was hovering over me. "Well, well... What do we have here?"
"Liceta," one of his lieutenants spat disgustedly. "The daughter of The Devil herself."
"So it would seem." The general of the angels tilted his head, smirking at me.
Cockily, I smirked back. All I had to do now was stall for time. And I certainly wasn't going to let these narrow-minded bastards scare me. "And it's five of God's bastard children! Wasn't that supposed to be a sin in at least one of those bullshit books he wrote?"
Five sets of identical golden eyes glared down at me. "What should we do with her?"
One of them raised his sword. I stared him down as he did, daring him to do it. Honestly, I had no idea why they hesitated. As far as I knew, they would love to end me. Yet they didn't. Maybe they wanted to savor the moment. Another agent of the devil dead, yada yada ya. Whatever the reason, it didn't matter. They hesitated long enough. My brother's pale green Fire Runner jumped over me and my black one. Excessum, Mors, and Mortis were not far behind. The angels hesitated before beginning to battle. It was their shimmering long swords against my brother's broad axe, Excessum's broad sword, Mors' long sword, and Mortis' cutlass. Guns were ineffective. It took the force of another of our kind (the dead kind to you humans) to actually take us out. A bullet barely left a dent.
Two of the angels went down. The other three made the decision to retreat. One incapacitated girl? That they could handle. The four riders? Time to run like Hell. As soon as they were gone, Letum lifted my Fire Runner off of me and propped it on the kickstand before helping me up. "You okay, Ceta?"
"I'm fine." I brushed the dirt from my trench coat and moved my leg a bit. I winced. "Might be a bit sore in the morning. Thanks for the rescue."
Letum sighed, clearly relieved I was okay. Then he glared at me. Evidently, he had no problem being the scolding big brother with a stick up his ass when he knew no serious damage had been done. He smacked me upside the head. "Ow!"
"What were you thinking," he ranted. "You're not even armed! You could've died! Who knows what'd happen to you if you died?"
"I imagine I would die," I pointed out sarcastically. Letum glared, and I sighed. I knew what he meant. "I admit, that was kind of stupid. I'm lucky you guys came along when you did."
"Damn straight," Letum said, pulling me to him and ruffling my hair. I pushed him away and set about hastily fixing it. The guys laughed at my peril. Assholes.
Excessum pulled me into a one-armed hug and noogied me before passing me along. The four of them were so close that sometimes it was more like having four big brothers than one. Mors and Mortis, the twins, pulled me between them and took turns whispering in my ear. "Luck had nothing to do with it," Mors informed me.
"Letum put a tracker in your Runner," Mortis finished.
I glared angrily at my big brother, pulling away from all four of them. "Letum, you did what? And you guys let him???"
Letum glared angrily at Mors and Mortis. Excessum sighed heavily and put a hand on Letum's shoulder. He was by far Letum's closest friend, probably because he tended to take things as seriously as Letum did. Not that the two of them constantly had sticks up their asses, or anything. The war took its tole on them. They were cautious. The twins had been around longer than me, but still not as long as Letum and Excessum.
Excessum gave me a pleading glance. "Don't be too hard on him, Ceta. It saved your life."
That little fact made it significantly more difficult to stay mad at Letum. So I rolled my eyes and hugged him. "We are going to have a serious talk about personal boundaries when we get home!"
My brother chuckled, clearly not taking me very seriously. Still, Letum knew I was being serious. So he hugged me back and rocked me around in a way I knew he hoped would be pacifying. "Whatever you say, little sis. Now, can we go home?"
Immediately, I nodded. There was no place else I'd rather be in that moment. I hopped back on my Runner and rode with the boys back to Hell. Back home.