"I think you should stay away from Dominic." - Blitzen to Dylan, pointing out the obvious.
Malibu, California. 9:00 AM, Day 7
The group is gathered outside the limo that was – theoretically – going to take them to silicon valley, when a very scruffy, dirty, and generally messed up looking Dylan descends in front of Star just as Dana goes back into the house to look for th e sidetracked Lilim. Dylan retells an extremely abbreviated version of his tale through Hell to the assembled group. Blitzen resonates on Dylan to find out if he likes to inflict psychological or emotional pain, and Dylan likes to goof. So Blitzen laun ches into a major serman about why inflicting pain is bad and what he does to people who feel the need to do so. Blitzen, as a followup, decides to make the driver of the limo obsess about doing good deeds once a day, every day for the next three weeks. In the mean time, vans of various sorts are arriving on the lawn outside.
Star, cheesing out on this conversation about pain and the like, follows Dana into the house. She finds Dana eavesdropping outside the door, and can hear the conversation going something like the following….
Terry: "How could you do this? Do you know what this means to my market share?"
Daimon: "It’s really not that big of a deal."
Terry: "Think of all the fans you’ve let down! Who am I going to get now?"
Dana decides to interrupt this conversation, and this gets Terry announcing that she did this to Daimon, and filled the Lilim’s head up with… ugh… happy fluffy things. Dana starts attempting to fast talk Terry, and she backs him into a mental corner, to the point where he’s coming to a quick decision that he could put a nice spin on this. Angels are popular in Hell if they’re done right, and these angels are more popular then most. Hmmm…. One way or another this entire concept meanders its way to th e concept of Product Placement. Dana starts thinking that, yeah, sure, if they could be in the product placements which will be shown in Shal-Mari, then they could get exposure as the Good Guys. One way or another, this ends up with Dana and Star thinki ng it’s a really good idea to go into Terry’s basement studio, down to makeup.
Someone points Dylan the terminally scruffy to somewhere he can take a shower and change into clothing. After a while, Maxwell wanders into the house to find Dylan, which is simple enough. Then they wander down to Terry’s office, which is now empty. They pick up Blitzen, and a secretary points them to the stairs leading to the basement.
In the basement, Dana and Star are going through makeup and costuming. They seem to be dressing Star up in some sort of bright red leather minidress, bright red heeled boots and strap on white fluffy wings. When Star asks if she looks slutty, she’s r eassured that it’s ‘just her look’. They dress Dana up to look very official, and the makeup artists decend upon Maxwell like a pack of harpies. They determine that Soulpiercer just isn’t cinematic enough to be used, and give him a ‘much more improved’ weapon which makes him look more dangerous and Angelic. Maxwell graciously goes along with this.
Blitzen, roundly ignored by the makeup artists and the costumers, decides to make the entire lot of them obsess about going to hell and salvation for a while.
Maxwell, Star, and Dana are herded off into separate little studios with their own lighting and camera men.
They make Maxwell pose for a publicity photo shoot, after being told that the chicks will love him. Then they tape, and make him say, "When I’m protecting someone, I prefer to protect them from Corruption! And I use <helltongue word>!" ; He pulls this off without laughing.
Star is told to lounge on a huge bed, pouting up at the camera, and posing with her wings… just… so. She does a publicity shoot, and then she ends up endorsing something as well.
Dana is shoved in front of a set of a courtroom. When she takes a look at the script she thoroughly disapproves. She talks to the director about changing the wording, and there’s an argument about her just being ‘Talent’. Luckily, Dana’s fast talk i s mighty, and she gets her way. The piece is shot.
And then all three notice that the doors are vacuum sealed shut and locked.
The five djinn bodyguards come downstairs to face off with Dylan and Blitzen, toting arms and looking generally mean. They inform them that the angels are not leaving the house by the Boss’s orders. There’s a minor scuffle with angels avoiding being a ttuned and hot blooded Djinn, but nothing more comes of it then a few bruises. In the mean time, Maxwell is busy putting his foot through the door. He knocks the lock apart, and forces his way out. After Blitzen tells Maxwell what is going on, Maxwell pulls one of the security cameras off the ceiling and talks into it. "Terry, you better get down here…"
And then there is a wait before the Man comes down the stairs, which he does eventually do to lean against the wall. Terry explains that his Boss doesn’t want the talent going out there to get killed, not when they’re so popular. Terry is pursuaded t o let Dana and Star out, and this begins the argument of proposals and confrontations. Blitzen does some camera work. What they eventually settle on is this Real World sort of setup, where a camera crew would follow the group around, get their comments, and get their lives on tape.
Maxwell (followed eventually by Star and Blitzen) goes off to track down the errant Lilim who has been missing all the hoopla, because he’s been caught in a giant press conference out on the front lawn. It’s not just that he has a song on the radio th at is now playing coast to coast, and the singles are flying off the shelves, but he’s disappeared. And what about the dead girl found in his apartment? Did he know the LAPD was looking for him to be questioned? Maxwell comes out rescue him. "Thre e last questions, and then we’re wrapping it up!" This plan would have been okay, if Star in her leather gear didn’t come out of the house in front of the cameras and rub up against the Lilim. But, the mayhem eventually ends, and people get back in side.
Terry and Dana have a minor fight downstairs about what they should and should not be doing to each other.
Malibu, California, 12:00 PM, Day 7
The entire group gathers on the ground floor of the house, and Star changes back into something a little less Impudite. They go out to the arranged car, and sure enough, there’s a van and a camera crew waiting for them. They start out by shoving microphones in people’s faces to take opening statements. Blitzen retaliates by making the crew obsess about going to Hell and being Damned. They dutifully obsess.
The Limo takes the group to a small computer lab at UCLA, and is followed by the camera crew, taping all the way. The tether to Jean is run by a Kyriotate of Lightning who was ordered to keep an eye out for Blitzen and his crew of five mangy angels. The Kyrio has no problem with them using the tether, and even takes some time to wipe some video tape to disguise the location of the tether.
And so the angels ascend.
In Heaven. Halls of Technology, Day 7
The group appears in a small computer lab. Blitzen reads his mail, and gets a return message from Jean about the video. "Very interesting." And that’s it. Of course, Raziel responded, but it’s much longer and filled with Ofanite rambling. Other then that, no response. Star tries to use her mail again, and ends up playing solitaire. Dana finds that she has some very old mail from fellow Judgment servitors. Daimon stares at the terminal, realizing that his is still at email@example.com, and a little difficult to retrieve in Heaven. So Blitzen sends mail off to Jean, requesting an audience, which is responded to in kind.
They get in to see Jean, and run some of their plans past him. Jean neatly informs the group that the percentages of their survival diminish past the point of no return if they decide they try to go into the Labyrinth. Furthermore, there is a 37% cha nce that, when Michael returns from the marches and confronts David, he will outright kill David. And that they need to get their hands on Novalis to help save Marc, who is fading. Jean informs the crew that what they really need is some serious informa tion on Dominic. Dylan then coughs up the coup de grace – the Spires floorplan from Hell, which he swiped from Jack Keros. The angels are treated to a holographic representation of the map being rebuilt before their eyes.
The Marches. Day 7
Since there is no way to get in or out of the Halls of Technology through Heaven, the group is forced to descend a tether of Lightning, and ascend a tether of Flowers. Then they head toward the Marches from the Groves. Along the horizon of the Marche s is a long black nasty looking smudge. The retreating armies can be seen across the Marches, and Blitzen points out Saminga himself. Dana takes too long of a look, and gets promptly sick.
They find Novalis in the retreating armies, and she’s giving orders to her servitors. The group lays the story about Marc onto her, and she agrees to go as soon as she is finished. And when she does finish, she goes.
The group stops and talks about their options. Michael is returning, Novalis is busy, Marc is injured, Laurence is captured, David’s brain has been turned to tofu, Jean is barracaded in, Gabriel is stark raving mad. They consider trying to point Gabr iel in the general direction of burning the Groves. Deciding this is a good idea, the group decides to swallow their fear and go talk to Michael.
They push their way through the marching ranks of the War to fight their way to the officer ranks. They get hassled by a group of Malakim, who let them past. Then the group locates Rigziel in the back of the pack, who talks to them about the attacks they’ve been getting, and worries that, while the War is honorable, random attacks on say, Death or Nightmares is going to retaliated. But Rigziel sends a reliever around, and yes, they can see Michael.
Michael is trudging at the back of the pack, in vessel, carrying his axe, his mismatched armor covered with gore. And he doesn’t look happy. The angels bow, and they attempt to give him their plans about redirecting Gabriel. Michael scowls, and poin ts out that a rabid, insane Gabriel would burn not only his part of the Grove, but she would likely murder many servitors of the Wind, those of War who are returning, and innocent servitors of Stone. So what does he want? Michael wants five minutes in a room with Dominic, and he’ll end this thing. The angels tell him about Jeans probability, and Michael thinks that the chance he’ll kill David is rather higher. David is an old friend, and a good Malakite, but when they go stark raving mad, there’s not much to be done. Michael gives them a small device – a red jewel in a gold setting – and says, they can send him messages, if they are urgent. Go find Dominic and Dommie’s politics and come back.
So the group leaves the Marches. They find a terminal, and send mail to Jean. And they sit and talk about what to do next. Daimon mentions that there are things which have just struck him as wrong. Where are the servitors of Destiny? Fate? If thi s is the end, where is everyone?