An angelic soldier during the Apocalypse, Nathan defied God and had his wings ripped out. He has found unhappy refuge in a small community run by a tyrant and sells his body to keep food on the table. He has suppressed all emotion and lives day to day, struggling to survive the Apocalypse and hoping for it all to end—until he meets Dakota, an angelic hit man bent on spiritually saving them both…
If Nathan Homestead took the time to think back, which he purposely never did, the utter emptiness of his existence would have eaten away at what remained of him. He had been hollow, incomplete, somehow wrong, since the day of his creation.
There had been no birth for Nathan Homestead—Ephraim, as he had been christened by his creator. There had been no nine-month incubation, during which he and his mother had been joined mentally and physically; there had been no extensive labor where he and his mother had fought for his right to live, allowing him to come screaming into the world. There had been no childhood for Nathan, no boyhood love for his doting mother; there had been no manly upbringing by his emotion-repressing father. Nathan hadn’t gotten any of these rites of passage, either.
No, there had been none of these first rites of passage for Nathan. Instead, he had been created. One day, he had not existed, and the next, he was fully grown, fully conscious, created for a purpose. And what a purpose it was—with the Tribulation of the Apocalypse in full swing, angels were being created in waves to fight for God and Michael. The Antichrist and his armies of blasphemous, wretched worshippers were fighting tooth and nail, and there were not enough God-created angels to go around. Nathan was created in the third wave and immediately trained to fulfill his purpose.
He hadn’t seen the Rapture; that had been before his time, between the first and second waves of angel creations. His first taste of Earth had been when his wave of angels was marched out of Heaven and sent to the battlefields as reinforcements.
He wasn’t a spectacular soldier: he did his job, it was true, but he wasn’t anything special. He was just another competent soldier, but his mindset was what had set him apart. He simply didn’t believe in their cause. Day after day in the purgatory that the Earth had become, squashing beneath his boots those that were already crawling on their bellies, deprived, mistreated, neglected… He could empathize with that, with being denied the most basic experiences because of the circumstances of their birth.
He couldn’t help but notice that God, the One who had started the whole war, the One who had announced the Rapture, the One who had released the horsemen, was surprisingly absent, doting on His favored children in Heaven while He sent His angels into battle to fight on His orders. People were corrupt; that was the law of the land. Humans were vile, uncouth, unclean, uneducated, greedy, lustful, sinful… The humans still on Earth, that was. God had made His choice, had rewarded those believers who had somehow managed to stumble upon Christianity during their short time on Earth and had condemned those who had committed the great crime of being uneducated.
The slaughter went on, angels obliterating the souls of humans who had done nothing wrong, killing them instead of educating and saving them. Nathan had stood up to his officers, to his angel slave-drivers, had told them what he thought and felt, had told them that he wanted to help these people, not condemn them. He had been flatly told that God had condemned them long before the angels had come to do His bidding and it was his purpose to carry out God’s will. He had questioned that, questioned God’s decision, had refused God’s order. The angels had ripped out his wings in a blaze of fire and cast him out, sending him to live among the wretched humans for which he had stood up for. It never would have worked for a true angel, the removal of his wings; only God, the creator of the angels, had the power to revoke His blessing. Angels could not die. However, the waves of angels created for the war were demi-angels: imperfect, lesser, a half-existence whose final solution had not yet been thought through to conclusion.
Nathan had wandered the earth, blinded with the burning pain that wracked his ultra-sensitive body, spreading from the gaping wound between his shoulders, blinded with the emptiness, the loss, the lack of purpose that had only grown stronger since his banishment.
He had been lost, completely and utterly, having nothing to his name but his name itself, a constant reminder of his past. He had given up the name Ephraim and renamed himself ‘Nathan’ after seeing it written in graffiti on a church, thinking that perhaps there was something metaphorical or ironic there, something obscure about being able to write over the memories of the past from which he so desperately needed to distance himself. The surname ‘Homestead’ came from a street sign.
War waged on, both Michael and the Antichrist throwing soldiers at each other in a fruitless battle that, no matter how many lives were lost, could not end until the seven years of the Tribulation had run their course, as prophesized centuries before. Michael, God, Heaven—they would be victorious, but the Antichrist and his greed-filled followers wouldn’t give up without a fight. The Earth was a wasteland; any surviving cities belonged to the Antichrist, and agreeing to serve him—a requirement to live in his thriving cities—was an irreversible decision for all eternity. Anyone that still had hope for their immortal souls kept away. Some joined Michael’s army, where they would at least be fed and clothed before they died. The remainder of the population, hoping to escape the war, hid in small communities that had sprung up. The biblical terrors of earthquakes, volcanoes, fire storms, oceans of blood, and locusts had destroyed the Earth and war overran it. Anyone who didn’t find a community to protect themselves was as good as dead.
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Kayla Bain-Vrba has been living in daydreams ever since she was a little girl and writing about them for as long as she can remember. It was her discovery of m/m romance that inspired her first published work at age nineteen and is the genre she feels most at home in. When she’s not writing—or is procrastinating writing—Kayla fills her time with music, her boyfriend, and planning things to a tee, even though her beloved self-help books all tell her this is even more unhealthy than her addiction to sour gummy worms.