The screens inside Colonel Peters’ helmet displayed a dim and dirty warehouse. One island of light revealed a figure sitting on a stool hunched over a well-organized work table. The pool of light around the table splashed on the rear tire of a silver semi tanker truck. The figure of Robert Dante sat on the stool holding a soldering iron against a circuit board of some kind. Smoke drifted up from the circuit board as he worked to attach something there.
Guardian Three, find out how full that tanker truck is. The Cherry should be there shortly, Peters said over the net.
Roger that, Archangel, Angela said. The image displayed on the screen began to shift as Angela moved toward the tanker. When she arrived, she stuck her head through the tanker wall from the floor but the image shifted to near perfect darkness. Moving up along the tanker side.
Peters stopped watching the image and centered his view on the technical readouts of what Angela was seeing. The visual line shifted up very slightly, then suddenly jumped back to the center of the readout as the display filled with a picture of the outside of the tanker.
It’s about two thirds full, Angela reported.
Roger that. Look around and let’s see if we can figure out what it’s full of, Peters acknowledged.
Angela’s view began moving around the warehouse, always keeping the figure of Robert Dante at one edge of her view or another. The view moved into the darkness and it took Angela’s vision just a second to adjust to the lower light. Her vision cleared and she spotted an odd pile of empty bags across the warehouse.
What is that? Peters asked. Angela moved toward the pile as the view filled with the empty bags. When she stopped moving, Peters saw they were generic fertilizer bags, the kind landscapers purchased for golf course maintenance. Crap. That’s half the recipe. Look around for fuel containers.
Angela began moving around the room but nothing else jumped out at her. Parked in front of the semi-truck and tanker was a family minivan with a large two axle trailer. The trailer had three riding lawnmowers as well as a host of gas powered lawn maintenance equipment. Beyond the table, truck, and minivan the warehouse was empty.
I don’t see anything that looks like fuel cans, Angela said. The view shifted back to the minivan as Angela began moving closer to that vehicle. Billy appeared right behind Dante’s shoulder as Angela moved closer to the vehicle.
Visual on the Cherry, Angela reported.
Cherry, you’ve got the target while Guardian Three investigates the minivan. Acknowledge when you’re moving, Colonel Peters ordered. Billy started moving almost immediately after the order.
Okay, Archangel, Billy said.
The view shifted as Angela looked over her shoulder to see Billy going airborne and landing on the opposite side of the table to watch what Dante was doing.
That was fast, Angela remarked as she arrived at the minivan. Windows are heavily tinted but I’ll get a look inside.
Angela didn’t hesitate as she moved through the driver side sliding door of the minivan. Inside she saw two children’s car seats, and behind that ten red plastic five-gallon gas cans. She quickly moved her face through all ten cans. They were all empty.
Part two of the recipe, Colonel Peters said over the net. Guardian Three, we need a location on this structure. Tinker, put the react force on standby and alert the airstrip they’re heading to Atlanta.
Roger that Archangel, Sergeant Sanchez said.
Working on it, Angela replied.
The view shifted as Angela rose toward the warehouse ceiling. She passed right through and suddenly the dark environment shifted to open sky with tall brick buildings on two sides. Angela continued moving up until she cleared the buildings on either side, then she rotated three hundred and sixty degrees. A large stadium appeared on one side and a golden domed building as well.
Find out what stadium that is, Guardian Three, Colonel Peters ordered.
The stadium began to move closer as the ground shot by underneath. In nearly no time Angela crested the bleachers of the stadium and came to rest in the center of a baseball diamond just behind second base. A large read tomahawk was painted on the bright green grass behind home plate.
That’s Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia, someone said on the net. Angela’s view began retracing the path she had come from but much more slowly and focusing on the ground rather than the destination.
Roger that. Tinker, get the react forces in the air to Atlanta within the hour and get the address off Guardian Three’s feed once she gets an address on that warehouse, Peters said. Cherry, push into Dante’s mind and find out what his target is, now.
One of those little demon guys just popped in, Archangel, Billy said. Instantly, Peters switched views. Billy’s view filled his vision and standing on the table whispering in Dante’s ear was a little grey-skinned, horn covered, inhuman looking creature. Billy’s view shifted as he moved through the table and leaned in to enter Robert Dante’s mind. Just as Billy’s forehead touched Robert Dante’s forehead the little demon’s eyes shot wide and he backhanded Billy in the face, knocking him down. The angel Theliel lept into view brandishing a flaming sword and stood between the demon and Billy.
You have no sway with this one, monk, the little demon said to Billy. Your guardian is young and inexperienced. Leave this one to me and you shall live to see another day. He is mine.
You will find I am a more formidable opponent than you give me credit, demon, Theliel responded.
Archangel, the Cherry’s nose is broken in The Pit, First Sergeant Wilcox reported.
Al be okay, Billy said, his voice altered by his now-deviated septum. Billy’s view began moving under the table. Der’s sumting uhder da table.
Billy got under the table and found a waste basket there. Sitting on the top of the garbage inside the basket was an Atlanta Braves baseball schedule with a set of games circled for that week. Billy got close to the circled games and stared at them for a moment.
That game’s being played starting tomorrow, someone said. Colonel Peters’ screens flickered, shifted, and reset themselves.
What the hell was that? Peter’s asked.
Tell me your name, demon so I can tell the story of your destruction by name, Theliel said circling her foe.
We’re losing the new server, sir, Sergeant Sanchez said.
Colonel Peters switched his view from Billy’s point of view to the technical readouts. Several of the readout streams were bouncing up and down like a rollercoaster.
I am Rabdos, chosen of Satan. Neither you nor your monks will prevail this day. You shall lose, guardian, the demon said, hefting his axe and pacing across the table.
You sound so confident, hell-spawn. What makes you think we shall lose? Theliel said playing for time.
You’ve run out of men of valor. You’re recruiting boys and women to your ranks now, the demon said.
Your kind never did know anything of real strength or courage. You end now, Theliel said thrusting with the same feint she’d seen Asher use against Karack at Tech Evangelists. This demon didn’t fall for the feint, however. Instead, Rabdos parried the blow and stepped inside the sword’s arc carrying it over his head and spinning to slam the butt of his axe handle into Theliel’s midsection. Theliel fell to the ground. Rabdos stepped over his fallen foe and raised his axe for the killing blow. Just as the axe began the downward stroke the screen showing Billy’s point of view went dark and everything inside Colonel Peters’ shroud shut down.
Colonel Peters quickly removed the helmet and found he was standing in a darkened control center. Emergency lights clicked on illuminating everything in surreal shadows. Peters dashed to the windows overlooking the Pit. Angela and Billy were both removing their helmets as well. Billy’s shirt was covered in blood leading from his nose. A medic tended to the injury as First Sergeant Wilcox looked up instinctively. Colonel Peters looked from his injured newest recruit to the bed holding his incapacitated veteran and grimly made a decision.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. For more information about this story please join us on our Facebook page community at www.facebook.com/firstchevalierbooks.