The moment before the first step is taken.
Lucifer lingered at the edge of a snow-slicked cliff. He was so bright that his form had chased away the animals for several miles away. Only Michael stood nearby, twisting his sword in complicated maneuvers. For once, Lucifer didn’t even bother to watch, though he had begged the day before to be taught something new.
He formed a perfectly round, clear marble of ice and sent it skittering down the side of the mountain. “Do you have some idea now?”
Michael paused, the snow melting around him only to refreeze into lacy curtains of ice around Lucifer. “I think He wants you to look at Creation. Live in it, prepare it.”
“That’s not what I meant.” He rolled over onto his back, so at ease with Michael that he couldn’t have imagined seeing it as a submissive gesture even had someone pointed it out to him. “What are we preparing it for?”
“Ours is not to question—“
Lucifer held up a hand, frowning. “None of this is for us. And if none of this can tolerate our presence, you know that He won’t be here either. What’s going to happen when they’re here?”
“They’ll live, just like the animals.” Lucifer did not resent the animals; Michael had learned early on that the best chance of getting his younger brother to even listen to talk of humans was to contrast them with beasts. “And Death will claim them and offer us their souls.”
“What about us? We won’t be allowed here. We’re too perfect for them.” And there it was: the first assertion that something He had made was imperfect. The sting of it silenced Michael, kept him still with horror.
Lucifer was up and close enough that his Grace could mingle with Michael’s, as he so often did, craving contact and reveling in the companionship of it. “He’s going to leave us nothing.”
“We need nothing but Him—“
“You don’t understand! He’s going to make us slaves!” Lucifer grasped Michael, all but shaking him. “He’s going to take this from us! He’s going to make us as mindless as the insects! You won’t even care who I am then, I won’t know what you like to do—we will be nothing.”
‘Slaves’. The concept of free will was foreign, because no one had ever been unwillingly subjugated. Michael frowned, mulling the image over, the terror that so governed Lucifer now. “It won’t be what you think, Lucifer. He would never.”
“I’m telling you we need to save ourselves, and you tell me to kneel and accept it. You tell me I should feel nothing if you are stripped of what you are? How should I know you from a rock, Michael?”
There was enough panic and desperation in Lucifer’s core, in his voice, that for a moment neither angel spoke and the only sound was the shrill racing of the wind around them. And then Raphael landed nearby, taut and shaken.
“Lucifer. Uriel has been speaking of revolt.” When Michael turned, Raphael went on sharply, “He told me you plan to lead him in protest.”
Lucifer watched them—and the snow at their feet and the sun on the horizon—and offered no response.