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Araton's Destiny (Celestial Justice 1)

Araton's Destiny (Celestial Justice 1)
Release Date: 23 April 2013
Description:

What if you're a guardian angel and fail to do your job?

Araton has been a guardian angel for less than a century when a moment of distraction causes his human charge to be hit by a car. He expects to be punished - and is surprised to find out there is room for leniency - and even a new job. Will he be any better at being a Christmas angel?

Jake is a former pro-football player whose knee injury has prevented him from fulfilling a lifelong dream. He turns his attention to extreme sports instead. When he falls into an ice cave during a solitary trip just before Christmas he believes it is the end of the road for him. Nothing short of a miracle will save him...

 

NOTE: This book has been previously released in December 2010. No changes have been made to the story, it is identical to the previous version.


Pages: 79
Words: 23,800
Heat Index:Heat Index
Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta
Book Type: EBook

Chapter One

A woman's high-pitched scream tore through the cold winter air of the small towns busy main street. Screeching car tires and the sound of a vehicle sliding across an icy-wet surface followed. A sick thud and a low groan were next. The subsequent silence was deafening.

Araton opened his eyes and expanded his wings, just in case his human charge needed protection. He had only been distracted for a moment, thinking about an idea for one of the stories he was working on. Christmas was coming up in a few weeks, and for some reason he was always more inspired around that time. Now, startled back into reality, his eyes widened with dread at the scene before him.

Dexter, the human male whose guardian angel Araton had been for twenty-two Earth years, was lying on the road, bleeding into the thin cover of snow from a head wound. He was deathly pale, his eyes were closed and he was not moving other than to breathe. The car had stopped a few yards farther down the busy street, its driver as pale as Dexter as she frantically pushed the door open.

Shit!

In the blink of an eye Araton was next to his charge. He put his hand on the man's coat covered chest to check for damage. There was a weak heartbeat, but Araton could also feel that Dexter's spinal cord was severed. In a flash, one of those rare moments of insight granted even to junior guardian angels, he realized that Dexter was most likely going to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Araton swallowed heavily. Had he been human, bile would have risen in his throat. Being an angel, he did not have a physical reaction to deal with, but the emotional effect was just as devastating. What had he done?

Dexter had always been accident prone, and had never been an easy assignment. Not that Araton had asked for ‘easy'. He was one of Heaven's youngest guardian angels and coping well with difficult assignments was a good way to get noticed and hopefully move up in rank. But today, the combination of Dexter's fate as a klutz and Araton's inability to focus had now cost the young man dearly.

There was nothing Araton was allowed to do.

Feeling helpless and disgusted with himself he watched chaos ensue as passersby screamed for someone to call 911.

A doctor struggled forward through the crowd, clearly intent to help. After a brief examination he told people to back off and not to move the victim; they needed to wait for the paramedics to arrive.
A nearby cop took charge of holding people back.

The car's driver was mumbling something about ‘he just walked out onto the street, I never even saw him' as she slowly sank to the ground next to her vehicle.

Araton had moved back. Even though nobody could see him, it was easier for him not to touch anyone. Any unwanted or surprising contact between his celestial body and a living human one always caused cold chills or worse for both parties.

Over an hour later he still stood there, knowing that his failure had caused him to be replaced as Dexter's guardian angel already. He felt as heavy as if he had a body that could be dragged down by gravity. Dexter had been picked up by an ambulance, the street had been cleared, and all the witnesses had given their statements to the police and left.

Araton was going to have to make an official report and face his punishment. But nothing could ever be as bad as the realization that his lack of ability to do his job had caused a human being's life to be ruined.

* * * *

"They're going to find me guilty, I just know it. I will never forgive myself, so whatever punishment they will come up with, I fully deserve." Araton slumped even lower on his stool, his unkempt wings scraping against the rough surface of the low-level energy containing the waiting area.

"Whoa, buddy, not so fast." Zuriel put a reassuring hand on his thigh, making Araton look up into the dark green eyes of his best friend. "They know you have tried your best. And you have only had this job for less than a century. There has to be some sort of leniency."

"There is only one problem." Araton sighed, glancing at the imposing energy barrier behind which the judicial panel for celestial-human affairs was deliberating. He did not want any of them to hear him. "This is a really serious case of failure, caused by distraction. They are going to want to make an example of me."

"Okay, so you are having some unusual problems with doing this job." Zuriel smiled the kind of beatific smile Araton had always aspired to but never quite managed to master.

"That must be the understatement of the century." Araton snorted and shook his head. "No, I think I just was not meant to be a guardian angel in the first place. And definitely not for humans, since they are one of the most difficult species to protect."

"Careful!" This time it was Zuriel who checked the barrier with a quick look. "Do not let them add subversion to the charges. You know that will get you into trouble faster than anything they have accused you of so far."

"I know." Araton almost felt sorrier for himself than for his former human charge. And that was something they could never find out or he would be banished for sure.

"You will be fine." Zuriel squeezed his thigh before withdrawing his hand, leaving Araton isolated once more.

Why did that make him feel so alone? He should not have had those feelings at all. He was an angel, for Heaven's sake. Maybe it had something to do with his close identification with humans? He snorted. That alone was close to sacrilege. But since humans were such tactile creatures, it seemed to make sense to him. Even among his colleagues in the Human Division, though, he was the only one who seemed to need touch.

Angels were not supposed to crave physical contact, even though their celestial bodies were made of a type of energy that allowed sensation to be given and received. Araton had been told it was necessary to ensure a degree of understanding for their charges, be they human or another species. It was the same reason their celestial bodies bore at least a vague resemblance with whichever species they were assigned to.

Zuriel was pretty much the only angel in his division who understood and accepted that Araton wanted, even needed, to be touched. He closed his eyes, trying to shut out the pressure of his predicament. Officially the Big Guy did not make any mistakes, but Araton's existence sure felt like a few things had been overlooked.
He was such a miserable failure, it was pathetic.

A loud crackling from the barrier between the waiting area and the judicial panel's place of deliberation made Araton open his eyes. The barrier was now transparent, and an usher moved toward them. He was dressed entirely in the green of celestial justice officials, his wings neatly folded at his back, and looked at Araton with an expression of careful neutrality.

"The panel is ready for you now, Junior Guardian Araton." The usher stepped aside to reveal the brightly lit area behind him.

Araton got up and, with a last glance at Zuriel, he walked toward what he was sure was his doom.

His friend followed him inside. He wouldn't be able to interfere in the proceedings, but even though there was no defense as such, accused angels were allowed some moral support. Araton had never been more grateful for that small favor than today.

He came to a stop at the center of the green circle in the middle of the room, facing the seven archangels who were going to decide his fate. He sensed Zuriel behind him, slightly to his right.

Raguel himself presided today, a sign of the seriousness of the case. The other six members of the judicial panel were grouped three each to Raguel's sides, all of them perched on golden stools that allowed their imposing wings free rein. Bright white light poured in from the transparent ceiling, reflecting from the mirrored walls and creating a feeling of being exposed.

"Junior Guardian Araton, you stand accused of failing to protect your human charge, Dexter Smith, throughout most of his life." Raguel did not move a single muscle as he spoke, his ruby red eyes focused on Araton. "Not only did Dexter get injured multiple times during his life, his recent accident led to the spinal injury that means he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. I am sure you realize the seriousness of your failing."

Araton looked down and winced. The memory of that day would haunt him for the centuries to come. He would have done anything to be able to turn back time and avoid the costly moment of distraction. However, that was not an ability given to any angel.

"The judicial panel is ready to hear your defense against the charges of repeated and gross negligence, should you have one." Raguel tilted his head, not looking like he expected anything of value to be brought forward.

"I have no defense." Araton did not dare look up.

He did not fit into the celestial community any way he looked at it, and he never had. Add to that his total failure as a guardian angel and his case was quite obviously hopeless. Raguel knew, and those burning eyes were too awful to face.

"So noted." The head archangel's voice was neutral.

The lack of emotion grated on Araton's nerves worse than anger would have.

"Are you ready to hear your judgment?" Raguel had raised his voice enough to have everyone take notice.

Araton nodded, closing his downcast eyes for good measure. He had no idea what happened to guardian angels who failed as spectacularly as he had. The last case was rumored to have been just over two millennia ago. He was not old enough to remember and nobody talked about one of the most embarrassing incidents in celestial history.

"All rise." Raguel and the other judges stood, wings rustling. "It is this panel's considered judgment that Junior Guardian Angel Araton is guilty as charged. His membership of the guardian angel class is herewith revoked, his punishment is the eviction from Heaven and banishment into the void."

Araton's head snapped up of its own accord. All seven archangels stared at him with an expression of severity that would have made him tremble if the devastating judgment had not already numbed him. To be outcast was bad enough, but to be denied access to the only home he had known since his creation was unimaginable. He had not even been banished to hell, something he had almost expected. Although that would have been bad, he imagined he could have found a way to deal with it. At least there would have been other beings with him.

Instead, they had just pushed him away without anywhere specific to go. What was he supposed to do now? Heck, what was he going to be able to do?

"I invoke the right of an appeal for leniency." Zuriel's voice sounded sure and steady.

Raguel blanched and several of the other archangels gasped as the words echoed in the large room.

"Leniency?" Raguel's facial expression made it clear he didn't like that concept.

"Yes." Zuriel stepped forward. "According to celestial law, any angel accused of wrongdoing and sentenced by the judicial panel, no matter how severe the charge, has the right to appeal that decision."

"What are you doing?" Araton hissed at his friend, trying to keep his voice down so the archangels would not hear. "I do not want you to be pulled into this as well. It could damage your career!"

"I do not care about my career!" Zuriel looked furious. "This is your entire existence we are talking about. I think they are being overly harsh in their punishment, and I want the decision to be reviewed by someone who is going to be less inclined to try and make an example of you."

"And who might that be?" Araton had never been very interested in celestial politics, so he did not have a clue what, or maybe whom, Zuriel was talking about. "Surely everyone in the judicial system will have the same opinion?"

"No, they will not. I have done quite some research into this. You will see." Zuriel grinned and patted Araton's shoulder, much to the audible shock of a few panel members. "Trust me."

©Serena Yates, 2010 & 2013
All Rights Reserved

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