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CHAPTER 11 – SERVE AN EXAMPLE
The trial over, Cain hung in the air by his limbs, several feet above the ground, suspended between two heavy stone columns of black marble. The chains that bound him to the poles were stretched taught, presenting Cain as an insignificant X to those sitting in and around the multi-tiered stands of the arena.
Wild cheers, obscene gestures, and many crude taunts filled the air, all of which were directed at Cain and the traitor Captains behind him. It was loud – nearly too loud to think. The sound of the unruly host was almost overpowering as the noise reverberated through the arena in energy waves with explosive force, bouncing around and building up in intensity with sufficient energy to crush ordinary, mortal organs and shatter human bone.
The only effect the noise had on the attendees was to encourage them further, for they were of a different composition, one of finer matter, where limitations of the flesh had no bearing. Still, the volume within was murderous, and despite the discomfort it served, it added significantly to Lucifer’s pleasure. He was even more pleased when the volume rose to a higher pitch when he entered the arena.
After waving once, Lucifer stepped onto the elevated judge’s dais. He regally assumed his seat at the bench after adjusting the long pleats of his elegant purple robe. He wore a crown of fiery metal around his head, emblazoned with cryptic ruins from the Dark Order, which he knew would accentuate his dark hair and green eyes. For this occasion, he also wore his sword, a fine piece of work that appeared more ceremonial than practical, but was nevertheless a very deadly instrument.
Sitting just above eye level to Cain, Lucifer was still more than twenty feet away. He looked at the prisoner, leaned forcefully forward, and then spat at him with contempt. Though the spittle did not reach Cain, it wasn’t meant too. As part of the act, it was meant only to enliven the crowd. And it worked. They went wild with Lucifer’s gesture, for they knew it meant the torture would soon begin.
CHAPTER 10 – WHILE YOU WERE GONE
Lucifer stepped into the conference room and his eyes were immediately drawn to the chaos beyond the window of the executive conference room. Below him, on the command headquarters floor, complete disorder was rampant. Staff officers were either yelling at each other in heated argument, or fighting with their fists and feet. Others were pacing around the headquarters floor as if in a daze, or nervously cowering under tables and desks.
While he watched, one man grabbed a book from his desk and threw it at the large, main display screen on the front wall. The book hit with a discernable thud, flew open, and crashed to the ground to settle amid a pile of other objects that had also been used as missiles to express a similar frustration with the scene.
Upon examining the main screen, Lucifer was confused about the man’s actions, how it could illicit such a response. The scene was nothing more than an expansive ocean view, one sunlit and rather pleasant to look at; basically, nothing to warrant such an angry outburst. How such an image could, if even possible, contribute to a total breakdown of order and discipline was beyond Lucifer.
He turned to find Dege sitting at his desk, busy with files and yet unaware that Lucifer had just stepped from the tunnel into the executive conference room. When Dege failed to look up after several seconds, Lucifer growled and said, “In the name of this prison called Hades, what’s going on here, Dege!?”
CHAPTER 9 – THE RED CORNER
When Lucifer entered the war room, everyone stopped their work and watched silently as he walked briskly toward the stairs that led to the executive control room overlooking the command floor. A moment earlier, more than a hundred people, who were mostly sitting at their desks watching monitors or typing, were busily engaged in processing and analyzing the field reports that were pouring in. A new rhythm was in play, one that focused on the growing population of physicals coming to Earth. They were mindful of all threats to their effort, and ever busy looking to identify Father’s next activated elite.
In a few long strides, Lucifer climbed the stairs and reached the door of the executive control room. He wasn’t harried in his movements. Experience taught him long ago that commanders should never portray a sense of panic, desperation, or anxiety in front of their staff. He was not panicked, or desperate, but he was anxious. He was scheduled to meet with Father within the hour, which was always interesting, and he wanted to be ready. And since the troops couldn’t tell the difference between the three, he forced himself to pause at the door before opening it.
There were few things more important in command than sustaining a sense of power and self-control. A commander who panicked or lost control in any way was in jeopardy of losing the fight before it even started, and this fight was full-swing, or at least close to it. To maintain control, one had to be more than he was in private, so Lucifer effectively showed a command face whenever he was near the troops.
For Lucifer, successful command was as much about presenting information as it was about possessing a keen intelligence. The two fed off each other. Rarely did a stupid man rise to command an army, but it also helped to be an effective orator, to instill confidence with a few well selected phrases. The art of motivation was paramount to successful command. However, what he had in intelligence and presentation, he lacked in patience and anger control.
Any self-aware man knew his weaknesses better than anyone else, so Lucifer didn’t believe he required a course correction. He knew what he wanted, and how to get it. Still, judgment was quick to emerge, albeit discretely. No one dared call him on his actions, ever. But he also didn’t seek their suggestions. Lucifer listened to their ideas, and even adopted a few, but he was the only strategic planner in command. As such, everyone was expected to fall into line and do what they were told. It might be called hell by the physicals, but it was more an organized dictatorship with a single, powerful, absolute ruler.
However, the one characteristic that eluded him, in fact had eluded him for much longer than his time on Earth, was that of humility. It was Lucifer’s pride that nurtured feelings of entitlement and importance, and so often drove him to anger. Indeed, his biggest frustration in dealing with people who lacked his intelligence, were those who failed to acknowledge his intelligence as supreme to theirs.
It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate people with lesser intelligence; he respected all intelligence, even within the different classes and categories of existence. But he had no patience for people who ignored their ignorance. Those who didn’t seek to accept the intelligence of their superiors, or never worked to improve their own intelligence, were contemptible to Lucifer.
Chapter 8 – To Dust
Lucifer cared nothing for the accuracy of Father’s plan – that it followed a prescribed course. Such adherence to mission outline was not his problem. In fact, he would like nothing more than to disrupt Father’s plan in any way possible, especially given the circumstances of Adam’s refusal to partake of the fruit. Still, Father’s plans always worked, no matter how agency was applied against a veiled existence. Lucifer knew it had everything to do with Father’s ability to plan in depth, but he was also blessed by the Verse; blessed in ways Lucifer still didn’t understand. Such were the ways of light when one desired darkness; the dark does not understand the light, as is true for all manner of opposition.
Having crossed over to the Dark Order at such a high rank, Lucifer felt he understood the Order of Light better than any of the dark ones below or above him, certainly better than many in the Verse even. It’s what made him an outsider to both orders. Still, such a center afforded him a degree of freedom few on either side enjoyed. Existing in the middle was both liberating and problematic. Lucifer often wondered if Father knew his direction, if he knew where it would take him, but he refused to worry about things he didn’t know; you simply can’t change what you don’t know.
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