The sky over New London had been cloudy all day and the night was no different. It lent a darker aspect to the small meeting taking place within the shrub filled grounds of Gallo Park. Gallo Park was always dark, its few lamps being broken time and time again until the parks people gave up trying to replace them.
The meeting was quiet and was attended by a strange gathering. Were they people or was it some alien gathering? One red-skinned, with extra limbs and height; one who slunk low to the ground, his body more snake than human. These were but two of the newly created Syndicate.
Their attention was rapt on the man in front of them. He was tall and lean, dressed in black, his skin a dull gray and his eyes dark holes. They called him the Reverend, and he was their leader.
But Reverend was just one of the many names he had gone by over the years. But by far the one he had chose for himself was Null. He smiled as he surveyed his small army of misfits. So easily swayed by words and passion. So geared to believe that God had made them for a reason.
He was listening now as Python spoke in his soft hissing way. He noticed Truth and Consequence, his lieutenant, looking around.
The woman was starved, tired, and on the last ergs of her reserves of energy. Looking at the darkness below, wondering where she might land safely. Trying not to land in a clump of branches or anything else that hurt. Wonder how much longer I can stay up here… too many of those large monsters over on the lit areas with the hard ground… Wings are starting to feel like lead… damn chain is getting heavier.
Suddenly the manacle snared a tree branch. Her large feathered wings beat valiantly to keep her aloft, but the panicked flight, the effort to break free, and the weight of the iron manacle still around one slim ankle drew her towards the ground. The Syndicate reacted quickly, moving through the area to surround the intruder.
Reverend couldn't believe his eyes… the back of a dark red haired woman struggling to pull herself upright. But her one leg was caught by a chain stuck in the top of a small tree. Flapping her wings and arms trying to get her other foot set on the ground so that she may be able to pull the chain out of the tree. Trying desperately until she collapsed landing back on her hands and wings.
Wings? Yes, wings. Reverend frowned as he heard the soft gasps of awe from his followers. He too had noticed the soft glow, and the way the tree seemed to stand a little straighter. Motioning his people to stay where they were, he approached the fallen figure.
"Be at ease, I will help you," his voice was soft with a slight southern accent.
She struggled even harder to get untangled from the tree only to once again plow her face into the ground. No no I got away from you No… Angel thought, shaking very hard. I didn't fly this far only to be caught again…
Reverend waited for her to calm down, surprised to see what appeared to be a halo, not bright but there none the less. For a moment his own atheism was shaken. "Hush, little one, no one will harm you here, let me free your leg." As he moved to the tree he asked softly, "And what is your name?"
Raising her head back off of the ground Angel watched him the whole time waiting for her chance to bolt.
He knelt smiling reassuringly for a closer look at the chain. A manacle? "What is your name?"
Watching him the whole time, with her arms holding her upper torso and head off the ground, she shook at how close he was. She said nothing.
"Please, child I must have an answer," his eyes traced the length of chain with a small frown. She could be the answer to some problems that that Priest O'Mallory was causing among the 'flock'.
She looked at him. Wonder what kind of test this is now…? Did he turn it off…? She looked at him, opening and closing her mouth, but still not saying a single word.
Hope leapt into his breast. "Do you not remember, little one?"
She looked at him questioningly. Of course I know I'm… I'm… A worried look came over her face. Who am I? Forgetting momentarily in her consternation, she began to speak. "DaIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEE…" It ended in a shout as she was shocked again for uttering a sound. She collapsed back onto her face, this time more stunned than hurt.
Reverend moved quickly, a small smile blossoming in his chest. He knew that look. The woman--or whatever she was--did not remember.
"Hammerhead, come here. I have need of your gifts."
A large bulky youth detached himself from the small group. He was just under 6 feet and wide. His skin was a grainy steel blue and as everyone watched, his hands flowed and changed becoming a spike and hammer. With one swift blow he broke the lock on the manacle. He then turned his attention to the collar, his hands flowing back to human shape. His thick fingers, felt cold against her skin as he examined the collar.
Angel felt her legs drop to the ground as she recovered from the shock. When she felt the hand examining the collar at her throat, she began flapping her wings furiously, trying to put more room between herself and these strangers, so they couldn't hurt her as the others had.
"Be at ease, little one, we have been waiting for you. Hammerhead is merely freeing you from the filth of those that tried to keep you from your mission."
Angel stopped flapping as soon as she regained her feet, only to collapse with exhaustion from her ordeal. She was still conscious and awake, but very tired and hungry.
Hammerhead hummed softly, the only noise he ever made, as his hands changed to fine, thin wisps of metal. A few minutes later the lock of the shock collar sprung free. The Reverend smiled. It is time.
Angel shook violently, hoping that they wouldn't damage her pretty wings like the others did.
"Friends. When I first came among you, I told you that God himself had spoken to me in symbols, telling me what must be done for his favored children. I also told you that you were beginning to doubt that He would send a sign."
They all watched him, rapt; even Truth or Consequence whose powers made it impossible to lie to him… unless you were Null. I have them.
Angel looked mortified at the sound of her stomach growling. She tried to hide by curling up in a ball, folding her wings around her. OH no… I made a noise… more punishment and no food again, she thought to herself.
"Behold! He has sent an Angel to help in our time of doubt and struggle. But our enemies have intercepted her on her way here. She no longer knows her true purpose, suffering as have we at the hands of Homo sapiens. Go now, tell the others while I see to the Angel."
The small group sighed. Truth stood to one side, frowning. His curse never led him wrong and this one man out of all he had ever met had never lied to him. It was such peace being in his presence. No pain. And if he said an Angel then it must be so. The faces of the others showed their agreement.
Angel curled in on herself, as if by doing so she could somehow make herself invisible. It was almost impossible to see anything of her but a shaking pair of wings. She waited fearfully. How much longer punishment am I going to receive this time? I'm not going to get it from the collar, it most certainly will be worse then shock therapy…
An angry murmuring began as the Syndicate watched her display. The Reverend held up his hands and said, "Please, let me see to it. I know what she needs. Truth, Hammerhead, come with me; the rest of you, go tell the others."
Reverend indicated to Hammerhead to lift her up, and the small party made its way to the Reverend's home. Hammerhead carried the shaking angel. No… they're taking me to the punishment room. This guy is very strong he lifted me like I weighed nothing. He's definitely going to do something different and nasty. It will be worse but if I try and escape it will definitely be even worse then it is now… She shook even worse, barely managing to stifle tears and moaning.
Hammerhead hummed his lullaby softly, distressed at the Angel's actions. His expressive eyes found the Reverend's.
"Put her down here Hammerhead, and find something for her to eat. In this form, able to interact among mortals, she must be hungry." Reverend made up his mind as he turned. If I can get her to trust me, she will be my most faithful servant. Someone else has already done most of the work of breaking her, with pain, it seems. Oh, now the honeyed glove.
Her shaking subsiding somewhat, the Angel slowly poked her head up from between her wings. Food… he said food for me? Must have something nasty in it… or is he drugging me but not saying he's drugging me? That big guy sure was gentle… some kind of follower? Why he is so obedient? What was done to make him so readily obey every order?
The Reverend pulled Truth aside and spoke softly. With a nod, the young mutant slipped out the door. Reverend came back and sat across from her. "Open up, child, do not be afraid. You are where He wants you to be. Where you were supposed to be before those fiends took you. We will protect you from them. Let me see where you have been hurt."
Angel looked up at the Reverend, then around for the "He" the Reverend mentioned, then pulled her head back in under her wings. Oh no Oh no Oh no Oh no, I'm definitely in trouble now, I flew back into their grasp. I'm getting punished now… they were just getting me back to where they could control me easier, back into tight rooms… She continued to shake, moan, and shudder.
Reverend sighed. This was going to take a lot of patience. He waited while Hammerhead returned and offered her some apples and a sandwich, in his silent, gentle way. The big man hummed softly, gazing at the vision before him. Holding out the apple in one large hand and the sandwich on a plate with the other, he waited for the Angel to accept them.
Angel slowly folded her wings and rolled to her hands and knees. Looking at both the men and seeing nothing threatening, she wondered, What kind of trap is this? Are there drugs in that food? A questioning, sad look came over Angel's face. Well now that you're holding it there you going to give me permission? Or is this the punishment this time--offer food and hold it front of me until I grab or eat and get punished or pass out…
Reverend watched her, cataloging her responses. I have to meet these guys--they are good. "Eat little one, you must be hungry. You will hurt Hammerhead's feelings if you don't."
She looked over at Reverend. But you don't have food… I've seen this trap before, you order, he hands, I grab food, he punishes me for taking what I wasn't ordered to take… Her stomach growled even louder than last time, and she started shaking again. Oh no, now they definitely won't feed me. What cruel game is this? Are they teasing me? I didn't think I was this bad…
Reverend kept his smile inside, "Hammerhead doesn't speak, little one. You can take the food from him. It's okay."
Angel looked from Reverend to Hammerhead and back. Damn, Damn, DAMN! She crawled back to right in front of Hammerhead, who was still crouching there patiently, and sniffed the apple and the sandwich. She looked back over her shoulder and wing at Reverend with a questioning look.
He nodded, smiling reassuringly, glad that Hammerhead was at the meeting tonight. He was gentle and was slow of movement.
She turned back to Hammerhead. Well, his hands are occupied… Reaching her head over, she snagged a bite out of the apple careful not to bite his hand. Okay, I'll play this, but on my terms… She crawled backwards out of arm's reach, watching Hammerhead and Reverend.
Hammerhead blinked, and looked at the apple. He started to move forward, but the Reverend stopped him. "Easy, Hammerhead, remember when we feed the birds in the park. Someone has hurt her badly, we must be patient and let her adjust and make her mind up about us."
Hammerhead nodded and settled down for a long wait, only his eyes blinked every now and then.
After swallowing the bite after chewing it very fine, she crawled back over to Hammerhead and took a bite of the sandwich only backing up half the distance as before.
Reverend settled down to wait.
Note: Fallen Angel is an incomplete plotline.