Major Richard Blaine discovers truth discloses to the wise and hides from the foolish their lack of understanding.
What perplexes him is to what group does he belong?
“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
- Talmud Yerushalmi
A stunned Cloverfield held out an open palm towards Sister Ameal as if to ward off a blow – which is what I suppose my revelation might have seemed to him.
“Hold on there, ducks!
You mean to say you’ve been human all the while you’ve been tormenting Rick and insulting us in our helmets?”
Sister Ameal turned a jaundiced eye to Helen.
“You dim three-quarters of yourself merely to be like them?”
Helen shot the sister, who was a personification of Sentient, a look that should have jutted three inches out of her back.
Abruptly, her face became swathed in eerie glints of red caressed by dark clouds.
“In the sphere of thought ... absurdity and perversity remain the masters of this world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.”
Cloverfield barked a laugh.
“Major, I can see why you are drawn to her. You are like two peas in a pod.”
Helen turned to him.
“If only that were so.”
She flicked troubled eyes to Rachel.
“What rate of interest would you pay for the capitol of the sergeant’s love for you and yours for him though its bloom was fated soon to die?”
Rachel murmured, “If you have to ask, no answer from me would suffice.”
Cloverfield snorted, “Well, this conversation has waded into deep waters.”
Sister Ameal fixed him with her disturbing eyes.
“Poor James. You are a lost dog sleeping in the shadow of the great Buddha’s statue while understanding not a whit of his teachings.”
I stepped between the two of them.
“He understands more than you think. He understands that our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”
Rachel said low,
“In other words, more than you understand.”
He smiled sourly.
“Not that I agree with what either of you said about me … but thanks for the kind thoughts.”
With a leathery rustle of huge wings, the Angel of Death appeared beside an unruffled Cloverfield who obviously expected some nastiness from Sentient.
“You are getting predictable, old girl. That could prove dangerous with your enemy, Mr. Morton.”
Jarring even me, both Sister Ameal and the Death Angel spoke as one, but with drastically different voices.
The Angel’s voice echoed as if from the depths of a cavernous tomb.
“My enemy only because of my association with young Blaine, here.”
Both Death Angel and Sister Ameal shrugged,
“Predictable? Or merely a feint to lead him into believing me less than I am?
As your dealing with the Nephilim so easily was to fool you into thinking their threat dealt with once and for all.”
“Easily?” scoffed Cloverfield. “You call what we did easy?”
“Yes,” said all three females.
I was in the minority with James, thinking our victory was hard won.
He winked at me. “We males have to stick together, right-o?”
Helen smiled sadly, “We brothers, rather.”
The Death Angel stroked the cheek of the indifferent Cloverfield. I guess he felt they were old traveling companions.
Only she spoke this time,
“And I am more than you have the intellect to comprehend, mortal man. I come from … a region, a dimension many layers from this insignificant pustule of yours.”
“Don’t sugar-coat how you feel about me or anything. Just lay it out straight. I can take it.”
Rachel walked slowly to him and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“No, you cannot. But together, you and I, can. Do your worst, entity, and we shall bear it.”
I shook my head vigorously at the Death Angel, and Helen placed a light hand on my own shoulder.
“Abide, Richard. Hard as it may be for you to believe:
Sentient has come to truly care for you, and in extension, for those for whom you have come to care.
No harm will come to them.”
The Death Angel and Sister Ameal both fixed her with hard stares.
“Are you so sure?”
“Oh, bother! You and I have true enemies with which to battle not too long from hence. Have done with this façade.”
Sister Ameal alone spoke,
“Blaine is right about you; you take all the joy from contesting with nightmare.”
Helen glared at me, and I shrugged.
“It was a different time, a different me. I’ve grown.”
She sighed, “No, you have not. At least not in that aspect. But it is one of the reasons I love you.”
A voice like the ghost bell I once heard in that lost temple in Syria mocked,
“Understanding love is like trying to smell the color of the number 9.”
Helen wheeled about, her fatigues shimmering into burnished armor.
“Darael! You promised Sister Ameal to never harass me again.”
He raised a very long forefinger.
“In New Orleans, my tempestuous Angelus. This is France. Hence, my word remains true.”
His leonine face was above a priest’s collar. His black robes held clusters of slowly revolving galaxies within its strangely moving folds.
His smile reminded me of the opening line of Scaramouch:
"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."
The line is Sabatini's epitaph, inscribed on his gravestone in Adelboden, Switzerland.
I hoped it was not an omen for me … or a portent of who this Darael was to be in our lives … for he was a stock character in the Italian theater.
There, he was an unscrupulous and unreliable servant. His affinity for intrigue often landed him in difficult situations,
yet he always managed to extricate himself, usually leaving an innocent bystander as his victim.
He gave a courtly bow.
“Ah, while I have often resembled that particular fellow. I am here at the behest of Elohim for once.
A literal Deus ex machina. How delightful for me, a humble Seraph Provocateur.”
Sister Ameal growled, “Why should we believe you?”
“By all means, do not.”
He turned to me.
“I am here to present you with a CliffsNotes version, as it were, of the origins of the two fearsome ladies in front of you.”
The Death Angel glowered,
“That publication will not be created until August 1958!”
Darael shrugged unconcerned,
“That is the trouble with jumping over the squares of Time as if playing checkers … or is it Chess? I get the two confused.”
Sister Ameal said menacingly. “How about getting to the point?”
“Oh, that is why Elohim sent me, did he not?”
He patted me on the shoulder, and a tingle of odd electricity shot through me.
Darael gestured to Sister Ameal and nodded to Cloverfield.
“She is not as you surmised some mutant human with odd abilities.”
He smiled a thing of dry ice. “Though she is indeed odd.”
Helen gripped the hilt of her sword which only seemed to amuse him.
“She was formed by Hands that were not Hands.”
“I know that!” I snapped.
“Yes, but your friends do not. And you, my naïve friend, do not know that she was conceived by Minds that were not Minds.
So, when she perceived she had been abandoned at the birth of your planet, she was merely planted.”
“For what reason?” frowned Sister Ameal, now interested.
“I have absolutely no idea. Elohim does not tell me everything. I get the impression he does not trust me. Can you believe that?”
“Yes!” We all cried.
“Rude,” he muttered.
“I would imagine since they were big on experimentation, leaving her here was part of some incomprehensible experiment … which given their flighty nature, they could have entirely forgotten about by now.”
“Why are you telling them this?” Helen frowned.
“They have been battling so furiously of late that I wanted to give them a chance to step back and access the implications of their recent encounters.”
He smiled as if he were a used car salesman.
“Which leads me to you, dear Angelus.
He patted me on the shoulder again, but this time without the electric jolt.
“You know she was assigned Commissioner Mayfair at the behest of his dying wife.
What you … and she, do not know is that she is unique. The only angelic being created as a child to grow in the natural order of humanity.”
He turned to her and sighed,
“Only you have never been nurtured within the plane of the Gateless Realm,
never been given the rudiments of what it means to be you.”
“That’s not fair!” I exclaimed.
“Elohim sees along planes even I nor Sentient see. Who are you to proclaim what is or is not equitable?”
“What if I say different?”
Rachel walked to me, sighed, and hugged my arm.
“Your arms are too short to box with God, Richard.”
Darael smiled like Mr. Morton.
“Besides, soon, you may be in the position to rail against Him yourself should you be so foolhardy.”
“What do you mean?” barked Cloverfield.
“I mean that the Barbarians are at the gate,
and it is time, Major, for you to give your men a fitting Henry VI speech to speed them on their way. As for myself, I must be leaving.”
Rachel scoffed, “You dump all this in our laps and then just leave?”
“My dear nurse, this is not some celluloid melodrama. It is life; it is War.
Individuals will cross your path amidst the hostilities, never to be seen again.
He patted Helen’s cheek.
“You will live longer if you let your human fend for himself.”
“Never!” she shouted.
The shout was to empty air.
Like the theatrical Scaramouche, he was gone when we needed him the most.