Annihilation: chapters nine and ten

Last week I was a little too overwhelmed to do “favorite moments” for Seven Archangels: Annihilation, so we’ll catch up this week and do two chapters for the price of one. (A terrific bargain, especially considering that the chapters up to ten are online for free over at MindFlights Magazine.)

Chapter Nine:
Remiel emerges from Hell only to be sent back again. Uriel consults Jesus as to their next move, and Michael becomes the subject of Uriel’s first experimental attempt to manipulate heartstrings.

Chapter Ten:
After Saraquael and Zadkiel deliver their message to Satan, Mephistopheles encounters Remiel exploring the prison cell looking for Gabriel’s soul-residue.

Remiel is losing it the longer she stays in Hell, but she’s afraid to go home and face her failure head-on. When Beelzebub sends her out to search the Earth for lone members of the Seven, she tries to let go of the Camael persona, but it’s strangely difficult.

Lone members of the Seven.

Do I count?

Remiel spread her wings to hover in the sunlight over Antarctica, ice like mica shimmering on the gold feathers. The frigid air kept her aloft, and she let it penetrate: not as rude as the ice fields, just a gentle, honest cold for her dishonest, hot heart.

The above is my favorite moment, but the part that wrenches me most about this chapter is the moment Saraquael tells her to go back into Hell, and she reverts to thinking like Camael.

In chapter ten, we get Satan not being the Boss of The Year (again, for the 6000th year in a row):

Lucifer folded his arms. “Just get to the point. I enjoy your conclusions without having to wade through every bit of trivia you compiled to arrive at them.”

“But it cuts down on the questions afterward,” Mephistopheles said in a low voice.

My Patient Husband laughed out loud at that reply. But this one is my favorite:

Mephistopheles bowed his head, an obeisance Lucifer would feel even in the dark. “I apologize. I should have taken it on myself earlier to squeeze the room, but at the time our search seemed thorough enough.”

“I don’t keep you around to seem thorough, Mephistopheles.” And with that, Lucifer pushed him back out into the cell.

Mephistopheles in this chapter showcases what he’s best at doing: he’s a reverse-engineer. While the other Cherubim come up with ideas and figure out how to implement them, Mephistopheles’ expertise is taking something that already exists and figuring out how it works, then deconstructing it. In this chapter, he figures out what Remiel was looking for and repeats it, plus he invents a new kind of Guard. And he does this as a matter of course, never noticing it’s remarkable.

He’s also come up against a question in this chapter that he refuses to grapple with, and it comes to a head when he confronts Remiel, but he never turns that intellect inward to figure out why he reacts the way he does. Or doesn’t.