Falling, Part 3

A four part story of queer angels, old gods, syncretism, identity and social media tribalism. Mythic sci-fi?

Lions from Ishtar Gate, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Photo Josep Renelias, CC BY-SA 3.0 License

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking on these links.)

Enki is one of his oldest forms, and unlike the others. Magic, yes, trickster, yes, but not a messenger. And a god of the sea. It’s an elemental change, as well as a cultural and temporal one, and it takes some effort.

Michael can’t help him with this one. Ishtar was the Mesopotamian war god, along with so many other things. Too many things to easily fit in the Almighty’s order. The meagre position He’d offered her could never have satisfied the Queen of Heaven. And besides, virginity was anathema to her. So she’d gone underground and retained her independence, such as it was. The Almighty had turned a blind eye as long as she kept a low profile.

Enki begins to see, with a new flexibility, what they might achieve together. Michael doesn’t see it. He sees Ishtar’s power as a tool to help them hold the Host together and keep Lucifer at bay. Enki sees the possibility of a new epoch.

He takes a train to Berlin and goes straight to the Pergamon Museum, where her gate is kept. It is glorious still, tiled in blue and gold and decorated with the sacred animals of Ishtar, Marduk and Adad. He stands beneath the towering archway and hopes she won’t be annoyed that he calls her away from her home. He’s technically senior to her, but she never was one to bend the knee. Like someone else he knows. No wonder she’d never come to a compromise with Lucifer.

He whispers her name up into the archway. Whispers her many titles, too, to flatter her. Around him, tourists mill, ignoring him as he wishes them to. He feels powerful, stronger than he has in centuries. The feeling fills him with joy. Why did he relinquish this so easily?

She appears in a haze to begin with, through a subtle rip in the fabric of reality, but soon she stands solid before him, in a blaze of indigo and gold. Her eight-pointed star hangs at her neck, her lion is tattooed on her shoulder, and she’s adorned with lapis. As dangerously beautiful as she’s always been.

She takes an audible breath when she sees him and steps around him, as if to check he’s real.

“Ishtar,” he says.

“I didn’t think I’d see you again.” It’s been so long and yet, standing beside her, he instantly feels a connection as deep as blood.

“There’s an empty throne in Heaven,” he explains.

She smiles. Her eyes sparkle like the stars in an inky sky. “Well, then. You know what my price is.”

Ishtar drags him to a bar she likes in Berlin. He tries to explain his vision — a new epoch, free of this new tribalism that’s so like the old tribalism. He recalls the optimism in the early days of the digital age. All that potential. But he suspects she’s only half listening as she makes a concerted effort to get him drunk. Drinking with him has amused her ever since she’d tricked him and taken the mes, the original templates for human skills and understanding. He’s never resented her for it. It’s her nature to do such things. And he’s always been fond of her. She’s a difficult person not to admire.

“You want peace and love and bunnies?” she teases, matching him beer for beer and slowly drinking him under the table. “You’re going soft in your old age.”

“Compassion,” he says. “Real communication. They’re trapped in these isolated little bubbles, so damned lonely yet tearing each other apart. Nobody listens. They only scream at each other.”

She nods. “I see that. There’s connection there too, though, a way for people to find community. I know the anger can take over. But for some of them, Enki, it’s because they’ve been abused, marginalised. It’s no fun when you’re forced to live on the outside. You have to play by your own rules, find ways to circumvent a power that seems so overwhelming. And it’s been a long time.” She shakes her head and drains her drink.

He knows she’s talking about herself, as well. He flushes and looks at his drink. He should have fought for her, for all of them, but he didn’t. He capitulated and lost himself.

“I want to rewrite it,” he says. “Make it work for us. A new age.”

“Who is us?” She raises her eyebrows and fixes him with a look. “Your precious Michael? Will he really serve as my general? I find that hard to believe.”

“If he says he will, he will. He’s never been a king or wished to sit on a throne. Better that someone does. I think he needs that as much as any of us. I know there are details we need to work out. I can call him, if you like.”

“Not yet. You and I can deal. Him, I’m not so sure about. I have a cell near here that can help. But it’s femme only. You’ll have to shift, first. I hear that some of your forms do that.”

He swallows and nods. He’s always lived around the edges, carrying messages, acting as a negotiator and go-between, bartering in forbidden knowledge. He knows how to change his shape, how to collapse the binaries that seem so rigid to others, rewriting the rules and bending the stuff of creation. But Loki was always best at shifting. He’d been many things — whatever it took to get the job done. Loki, the herald of Ragnarok and its mastermind. As he searches out the familiar old form within him, the form that Lucifer so desperately wanted to talk to, he can feel the end coming. He welcomes it like an old friend.

Read the Part 4 here.