Angels, exoskeletons, and ascensions.
Cherubs have exoskeletons.
This suggests a number of things to me. One is a mechanism for / explanation of Lord English’s physique and its, uh, dissimilarity to Caliborn’s: in order to grow larger, creatures with rigid exoskeletons moult (shed their exoskeletons), then inflate themselves before the soft new exoskeleton underneath has hardened.
Also, Caliborn is alluding to human puberty and the effects thereof in this conversation with Jane.
It seems possible that, given the context, ‘grows out of her skeletal phase’ is some kind of reference to cherub maturation.
And, personally, I hope it is, because Calliope is a Hero of Space, and Heroes of Space have so far had arcs involving a physical transformation of the Hero herself.
Jade’s transformation left her with some of the animal traits she had always admired, but her appearance and her behavior remain predominantly human. A pair of canine ears and an appreciation for chasing cats are minor alterations; I don’t think anyone looks at “dog tier Jade” and thinks that god tiering changed who Jade is any more than it more than it changed John or Dave or Rose.
The transformations of Kanaya and Porrim had even less potential to impact their personalities. While troll culture had romanticized and mythologized rainbow drinkers, they were unlike the anthropomorphic animals admired by Jade in that they already existed. Jade’s transformation relied on Sburb mechanics (combine dog with sprite, combine dog/sprite with dead dream self, and finally ascend as dog/dream self/sprite/god tier), but Kanaya’s and Porrim’s did not. Rainbow drinker potential was already inherent in both Maryams.
And Kanaya has a point when she says that, as troll abilities go, hers isn’t even the flashiest or most powerful.
The ‘obvious’ transformation Calliope might aspire to is a change of species, with the Muse of Space becoming a troll instead of a cherub. This might sound like the same sort of transformation undergone by the Maryams or by Jade, but it really wouldn’t be - the other three Space players’ transformations did not significantly impact their basic natures, but if Calliope actually became a troll, her nature would inevitably change. In fact, that’s why she wants to become one - because she hates her own nature, and thinks that the nature of trolls is naturally superior. There’s a glaring error in her logic, though: trolls aren’t necessarily good.
And, even if it does require some effort on her part, Calliope isn’t exactly bad.
Right now Calliope hates what she is because she feels that her species - her nature - is limiting her. Those feelings aren’t wholly unknown among Heroes of Space.
The transformations of Kanaya, Porrim, and Jade added attributes, but Calliope doesn’t want to become “Calliope the cherub, with troll attributes.” She wants to become a different person, but that would be giving up, not growing up.
The ideal Muse of Space transformation would be one where Calliope’s essence remains intact and unchanged, but she is no longer ‘resigned to living out the rest of [her] days as a little green skull monster.’ And - even more ideally - her transformation, like the Maryams’, should come from a potential that is already inherent within her.
Lord English doesn’t seem to have wings, but then, Caliborn isn’t likely to do much ascending. Caliborn is going to be descending, though - to the Earth’s core, where Yaldabaoth will offer him The Choice.
Lord English is frequently called a demon: “When executed, the subprogram will summon an indestructible demon into the recently voided universe… The demon is already here,” “He is an officer of an indestructible demon known as Lord English,” “the indestructible demon who was either directly or indirectly behind every terrible event in the story,” etc.; and the powers he granted the Handmaid, and later the Condesce, are called demonic.
If a cherub is going to become a demon, it’s hardly a surprise he descends.