“Storm’s coming in, M.”
“We’ll just have to climb faster,” replied M. Makenzie was her real name, but she went by the much shorter M. “What time’s it?”
M’s friend paused a moment on a stable hold and looked at the sky. “Sun says approaching 4 o’clock,” she replied. Between the two of them, she was just E, but their other friends called her Edith. “Why?”
“Forecast said the storm wasn’t until 7,” M said with a shrug. “Let’s go, E.”
They resumed their climb with renewed vigor. The top wasn’t far above them, but the storm was closing in much faster than forecasted. There had been a shift in the winds, but as far as I knew, that shift was metaphorical. Perhaps storms are borne on metaphorical winds these days. Mother never explained these things to me. I learned on my own.
Makenzie and Edith were expert climbers. M had started as soon as she was old enough to grasp the concept of ‘climb’ and never stopped, while E was just always good. Even so, they were beginning to struggle as the wind picked up. The storm’s gusts were adding to the already strong winds around the mountain. Both were probably wishing they had worn something warmer than their windbreakers. This wind was not about to break.
Now the rain was beginning. Rocks are hard enough to hold when they aren’t the shape of a handle, let alone when they’re wet. Slippery and potentially weaker is never a good thing. At this point they were regretting free-climbing. No safeties except each other at several thousand feet was a wonderful idea.
Then came the fateful lightning. It struck with ferocity and unnatural frequency. There was no room for error in this storm. M and E were focusing on not falling too much to try to talk to each other. The only time either one spoke was when lightning struck just above E.
The rock split and E lost her grip. She fell into the darkness of the storm as M screamed her name.
She didn’t realize how close she was to the top until her hand missed the cliff and reached over it and I pulled her up. We didn’t speak, though. She collapsed from a mix of exhaustion and shock, and so I let her sleep until the storm had passed.
When she awoke to find herself in a hammock not too far from a small fire, she sat up so quickly she nearly fell out.
“I hope you don’t mind,” I said, “but I took the liberty of drying your clothes. There are some clean ones in the cabin.” I pointed behind her to the cabin I had built. It was rather ramshackle, but it was home. For now, anyway.
She looked back and forth between the cabin and me. “Is your master in there?” she asked.
“I do look a bit like one of your common Syn, don’t I? No, we’re the only ones up here.” I shooed her toward the cabin. “Go on, go get dressed. Then we can talk.”
She complied, though she took the blanket to cover herself up. Embarrassment is not something Mother spent much time explaining to me.
She soon returned wearing the clothes I had set out for her; a black skater dress and purple sash around her waist.
“Where’s your master?” she asked softly.
I laughed. “I’m not a Syn, M. I know I’ve got some of the patterning of one, but I’m not. I’m an Angel.”
Mother had created me special. My brother, Samael, had been created to blend in with the other Syn. The only part of him that was different was his programming, but I was built with a white shell that glows ever so slightly. It makes me appear much more angelic than my siblings.
“How do you know my name? Oh, wait, Angel?”
“Do I not look the part?” I spread my arms and spun, glowing slightly brighter.
“I guess, but… you’re not a Syn?”
I glided over to her. “I’m not like your friend, if that’s what you’re asking. I may be android in component, but I am far above the simple ones of your world.” I glided back to the fire and gestured for her to sit in the hammock.
She sat, but not before she said, “You know about E? Is she alright?” Puppy dog eyes. The heat of a thousand suns could not melt a heart faster. Well, power cell.
I listened for a moment. My gift from Mother is the ability to hear events, existences, and the like. I can hear the past well; the future, less so. “She can be repaired.” I didn’t say that the repairs would be more than her family could afford.
“Thank God,” she sighed, and then, realizing what she’d said, added, “Er…”
I smiled. “Not that Angel.”
Her eyebrows furrowed. “Then what—”
“Mother wished to speak with you. I was sent to retrieve you.”
“Mother? Your master?”
The human term for what I was feeling was disbelief, but I prefer the term ‘loving frustration’. “I don’t have a master. I can do what I wish, but I love Mother, and so I obey her.”
She looked away. She thought she’d offended me. “Oh. What does she want from me?”
“She has need of a new Angel. You are to be Malak.” I glided over to her.
I touched her, and we returned home to Mother’s base. She was surprised, to say the least. Azrael was waiting for us, and took her away for training. M may be against this transition at first, but her conversion to Malak will be tempered by Mother’s love. She will learn that Mother knows best. Mother raised us well. Mother will raise Malak well.