Part I can be found here!
Nervous twitches be damned. Lucern reached up and grabbed his halo off his head, twisting it around in his hands.
The other angel winced. “I’m really sorry about this,” he said apologetically. “It wasn’t my idea. But let’s be honest, Lucern, you’re supposed to be keeping an eye on celestial bodies, and that meteor came right out of your section. That’s a big oopsie to make.”
“Okay. So what happens next?” Lucern asked. The sinking feeling had settled into a general dread in the pit of his stomach, and he now just wanted to be done with the whole thing. He spared a moment for the airy new apartment he would never see. He’d probably be demoted all the way down to cherub, spend the next ten thousand years directing traffic to make sure there weren’t any malakim collisions. He’d have to wear one of the glowing vests. He shuddered. Those ugly vests clashed with everything.
The other hashmallim dug through his files and folders until he found a large, bulging file, which he passed over to Lucern. The folder was a bright red color, which didn’t make Lucern feel any calmer. After he had passed over the file, Melis waited expectantly for Lucern to open it. Lucern hefted the file consideringly. “Have you read it?” he asked, and received a negatory shake in response. Lucern set the file down on his lap and flipped it open.
For a moment, he couldn’t comprehend what he was reading. The other angel looked strained, torn between respecting Lucern’s privacy and desperately wanting to know what the punishment was. Lucern flipped the file around so the other hashmallim could see. “Does this make any sense to you?” he asked. “I’m being given a plane to run?”
Melis frowned, grabbed a couple of papers to look at closely. “Man, the Almighty doesn’t mess around with punishments,” he commented. “You’re being put in charge of all the other screw-ups, I guess. Ba’al’s coming with you, see, here’s the transfer paperwork. And they’re opening up a new level below the celestial plane for you. It looks like you’ll be pretty autonomous, though.”
Lucern snorted. “Autonomous? Look at all this prophecy he’s tacked on!” He held up a thick sheaf of densely written boilerplate. Apparently I’m going to eventually get so fed up on Heaven that I’ll declare war, and lead all my misfits in a failed coup. Look at this!” He slid the papers across the desk for the other angel to study. Melis’s frown deepened as he read. “What sort of civilization is he planning to impose these crazy rules on, anyway?” Lucern questioned. “Plants?” he asked with a slight hint of hope.
The other hashmallim shook his head. “Mammals, this time.”
“Mammals? Are you serious? Those little rodents that are running around?”
Melis rummaged around through the files once again. “Obviously, there’s a bit of evolution left to do. Here’s the final artist’s conception.” He slid the sheet across to Lucern, who snorted. “I know, not much better. They don’t even have wings.”
Lucern was still frowning as he leafed through the papers, but he was beginning to warm to his role. He would have to move to the new plane, of course, but he would be taking quite a few of the other angels with him. And to be honest, he could use a change of scenery. Lucern knew that he wasn’t very good at managing details, but corrupting? He had always been good at striking deals with the other angels for favors. How hard could it be to do the same with some small hairy bipeds?
“There is one more detail,” Melis added. Lucern glanced up at him. Melis had one more sheet of paper in his hands. “I’m afraid the high council isn’t thrilled with your name.”
“What’s wrong with Lucern?” he asked defensively. Lucern didn’t know the origins of his name, of course, but he thought it had something to do with light, and it sounded very pleasant.
The other angel shrugged. “It didn’t score well with the testing groups,” he said. “It doesn’t sound, well, evil enough.” He held up a hand to fend off Lucern’s angry retort. “Look, the new name isn’t that different. You’ll like it, I’m sure,” he added, pleading. He slid the last sheet of paper across to Lucern. “Just sign this, and the new name will be assigned. You’ll be able to move forward, put this whole meteor debacle behind you.”
Lucern looked down at the new name, tested it out in his mouth a few times. It actually wasn’t too bad. It sounded fairly close, even. And he really didn’t have any other choice; angels couldn’t just bow out and retire. He picked up a pen and signed his name.
Melis hastily collected the sheet of paper back. “Wonderful, I’m glad this is all behind us,” he said, obviously relieved to have this ordeal over. “Just head down to the portals and they’ll have you sent down to the new plane that’s being opened. Special orders are out for it already, so you shouldn’t have problems with customs.” Privately, Lucern doubted that. Angels didn’t handle change well.
As he stood, Lucern looked around the ugly office once more, suddenly overcome by wistfulness. “Is there a new name for this plane?” he asked.
“Hell. Ugly name, if I do say so myself, but at least it’s easy to remember.”
Lucern shrugged. He was already considering his next plans. Normally, he had a very difficult time with new things, but he was finding this new assignment surprisingly easy to accept. Building a new plane from the ground up took lots of time and effort, but given the state of the rodents running around the celestial plane at the moment, he would have pelnty of time to prepare. As he left, he spoke his new name aloud, trying to adjust. “Lucifer. Lucifer.” It didn’t sound quite the same, but he would adjust. Eventually.