Soft tendrils of amethyst smoke twist lazy spirals behind my bullets as they shriek through the skies, tearing tunnels through the clouds, and punching holes in the bodies of the angels bearing down upon us. As feathers fly, my pilot throws the plane into a downward spiral, diving through shafts of searing white light bursting from the hands of the enraged, winged monsters whose eyes burn with holy fire.
Magazine empty, I rip it from the side of the gun, and throw it overboard, grabbing another and punching it into the slot. I pull back the lever to cock it, loading the first shell of cursed ammunition into the chamber, and resume my fusillade, the skies darkening around me with demonic smoke. I watch the enemy drop in swathes as even more descend from on high, diving after us.
“Angels on our six!” I scream through the intercom, and brace myself against the back of my seat as the wings rock to the side and the plane pulls out of the nose dive and soars behind the four-winged beasts we called cherubim, scattering them amid roars of anger and shouts like thunder. I swing the gun around, and see ahead of us the rest of our squadron, engaged in the same conflict. Grabbing the twin barrels of the gun, I twist the second into place, and flick up the sight, calling to my pilot to hold us steady. Ahead I see the six-winged seraphim who leads this particular flight of angels, and fix him in my sights. Leaning into the gun I brace myself against the recoil I know is coming, and begin to squeeze the trigger, energising the weapon to ready it for firing. As tendrils of dark electrical discharge flow down the barrel and towards the pins at the end I try to relax, while my heart pounds and my muscles instinctively tense. I watch the growing darkness around the tip of the barrel, and just before it eclipses my sight I pull the trigger in hard. A single bolt of blackness, like a lance of negative energy spears through the skies and collides with his head, a needle sized hole appearing to face me as the other side bursts outward in a shower of sparks and blood.
The power of the gun pounds me back into the seat, and I go temporarily numb, dizziness in my head, and a ringing in my ears. Somewhere far away my pilot shouts in triumph as I fight to maintain consciousness. I come back to reality to see the cherubs howling in despair, many simply dropping out of the skies, suicidal in defeat, others simply hanging motionless for my fellows to pick off at leisure.
Over the radio I hear cheers and cries of glory from the other pilots and gunners, and congratulatory remarks I can’t really make out in the commotion. Exhausted, I lean back to try to regain my composure, and tug the wires from my chest which lead to the gun. I look down at my now noticeably emaciated body, wheezing softly into my oxygen mask. Through gaps in my rather loose shirt, I see the glow of my tattoos starting to fade, and the burning sensation begins to recede. I look up to find us flying in formation, the other gunners waving at me and punching the air.
Leaning back into my seat again I relax a little, gazing skyward at the raging vortex miles above. The thing which the angels call God seethes, but over the radio I hear the voice of the one angel to stand behind us whispering words of encouragement, a smooth, lilting voice seemingly heard with the mind, not the ears. I plug myself in again, and glory in the fiery pain that rips through my chest and over my body while my vision sharpens and my reflexes tighten. Feeling more alive than ever, I hear the roar of jet engines and grin with satisfaction as we lift our noses to the sky.