47 Hades

January 13, 2029, Hades, Center Earth

 

Lucie pulls back the train of her steel wool gown and sits down hard onto the granite stair unit that is the focal point of her sparsely decorated chamber. The furnishing—just three stacked stairs—is hideous and much too hard to be suitable for sitting over an extended period. Though she considers furniture to be a useless luxury, she uses this piece to spread out the layers of whatever gown she is wearing at the time. She also uses it to prop up her tail as she opines with her Lead Demons on the topic of the day. Though almost completely useless otherwise, the top step is the perfect height for resting her elbows and holding an ashtray for her smokes.

She resents this archaic piece of junk is the best that Hades has to offer. Everything here is made from molten rock. It cuts into her skin and snags her clothes. The demons sentenced to the hottest parts of Hades, where temperatures rise above 1,000 degrees Celsius, mold the liquid magma into chairs, beds, prison bars, and even arenas. They are far too simple-minded to think beyond the rudimentary instructions they are given. Tell them you want something to sit on that will elevate you two feet above everyone else in the room and that can also be used as a standing stage should you want to drive home a point—and you get back three molten rock stairs.

Lucie acknowledges that she is partly to blame for the conditions of Hades. Cloth and padding—which could improve both the appearance and comfort of Hades’ furnishings—were banned by her when she established the Laws of Hades. She surmised if the demons were exposed to luxuries, they would yearn for the life they had had in Heaven. If she were to succeed in uniting these fallen angels into a military force against Almighty, she must condition them to desire only the things that exist within the walls of Hades—meaning, no luxuries.

Lucie also discourages the demons from hoping for an improvement of their banishment conditions. This was a daily battle for her, as fleeting hope is hard to kill. Almighty is to blame for this. He instills a hopeful nature into every angel and human as part of His creation process. A hopeful nature causes both angels and humans to want more—more possessions and more comfort. It doesn’t take long for a fallen angel, or misguided man, to move from “I want” to “I deserve.” Once demons, or humans, are convinced they deserve more, they become restless, resentful, and ultimately motivated to revolt.

Lucie gleaned her “withhold luxuries and comfort” strategy from observing the mistakes made by Almighty. She watched Him be generous with the angels—giving gifts of comfort and prosperity. She watched Him give tokens of rank and rewards for acts of servitude. The angels became so reliant on external validation, they became competitive with one another. Some went as far as separating into teams and establishing alliances to gain an edge over their peers. It was under these conditions that Lucifer was able to seize the loyalty of one-third of the angels. She appealed to their egos and exploited their freewill.

With the fallen angels reclassified as “demons” and forced to live as prisoners, Lucie has resorted to verbal trickery and mind-control to keep them in line. Charm does not work on the jaded. At the beginning of her reign in Hell, she identified the two most destructive practices that cause angels to rebel: high self-esteem and sense of purpose. She went to work on destroying both immediately.

To lower self-esteem, Lucie outlawed all status symbols such as jewelry and clothing. She also demanded all hair be permanently removed from the bodies and heads of demons. The massive organization required to remove hair from four billion demons took nearly five years.

Once the task was completed, the change was immediate. When the demons were made to stand naked and hairless before their peers, they were embarrassed and self-conscious. Their bare bodies robbed them of focus—as well as attention to detail. When Lucie witnessed demons hiding behind large boulders because of their shame, she decided to approve ponchos for them to wear. Of course, she found a way to use the ponchos to her advantage as well. Ordering a demon to remove her poncho was now a punishment that could be used to modify behavior.

To remove any sense of purpose, Almighty only gave rank to the seven Lead Demons of her inner circle. No other demons were given titles or elevated status. There was no talk of a future with rising leaders, nor talk of a past with beloved heroes. To drive them even lower, she verbally abused them daily with prepared messages broadcast across the speaker system of Hades. She was crafty enough to convince them they had no life beyond the fiery pit.

Lucie lights up one of her long-stemmed smokes and walks to the opening in her cave walls where she can look down on the demons as they work. She is proud of the underworld kingdom she has built. It now runs like a smooth operation. It wasn’t always this way. Before the humans arrived, the “Pit” ran on pure chaos. Things changed after the demon shaving was completed, and the first human resident checked into Hades. Seeing a human man standing in Hades at her level, brought her out of her depressed state of mind and changed her perspective from victim to fighter.

It was Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, who stood before her. He had been sentenced to eternal separation from Almighty for killing his brother, Abel, in an act of jealousy. Since there were no laws or legal systems at the time, Cain lived for decades before he was held accountable for the murder. At the age of 720, Cain’s relatives assassinated him to avenge Abel’s life.

Since he was the first person to be sent to Hades, Archangel Gabriel accompanied Cain to his dark destiny. He brought a personal message from Almighty: “Now that you have caused sin to enter the human race, man cannot exist in my presence. Cain has been banned from the Kingdom of Heaven. An alternative plan is being considered, but until it is approved for use in the Great Game, men who refuse to repent of their sins will be banished to Hades to live with you.” After he finished his comments, Gabriel ascended.

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Triple Digit TOC by K.M. Sheridan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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