Guardians of the Herald – Issue #1

The emotions of the three men washed over Billy and then were replaced in a torrent as his own anxiety overwhelmed all else.  Billy backed further into the corner trying to escape their eyes.  He inadvertently moved through the wall into the adjoining room and the emotional wave subsided.  Three women sat at a table chatting in the new location.  His relief was short-lived as the emotions of the women in that room rushed in to replace his anxiety, perpetuating the emotional cycle of Billy’s entire life.

Billy, get back in here, he heard a woman say.

He reminded himself that he didn’t actually hear her nor had she really spoken.  This whole thing would take some getting used to.  Sorry, Angela, sorry.  I’m coming.

The wispy form of a muscular, bare-chested blonde man of about twenty five floated through the wall and into the room with the three men.  Opposite Billy’s ethereal form floated a small woman of about four foot eleven with brown hair flowing down her shoulders loose as if an ocean current spilled over her body.  The small room had one door, a tired sagging sofa with two men on it, and an old overstuffed chair with a third man sitting in it.  The three men talked excitedly in a language Billy didn’t recognize at all.

Aren’t we supposed to know what they’re saying or something? Billy whispered to Angela.

You don’t have to whisper, Billy.  They can’t see or hear us, Angela replied with a note of annoyance in her voice.

I know, Billy whispered and caught himself changing his tone to a conversational level like Angela’s.  I know.  I just, well, this is all new to me.

See? she asked floating over to the man in the overstuffed chair and waving her hand directly in his line of sight.  He can’t see us.

Billy hung his head.

Look, I’m sorry.  It’s just that we’ve all done more of these sneak and peeks than we care to remember.  They never turn up anything useful.  They’re dull and boring, she said

Sorry, was all Billy could bring himself to say.

And stop apologizing.  If you keep doing that when Brandt is here, he’ll explode on you.  Lord knows he’s good at what he does, but he can be an ass sometimes, Angela said floating over to hover next to Billy.

If these don’t turn anything up then why are we doing them? Billy asked.

Because you need to learn how to gather information since that’s what we do, a new voice said in Billy’s mind as a gossamer winged man descended into the room through the ceiling.

Took you long enough, Angela said.

I will not tolerate insolence from you, Brandt said coming to rest uncomfortably close to Angela’s face.

You tolerated it from Scott, she said.

Billy felt the emotions of the pair suddenly eclipse both his anxiety and the excitement of the men in the room.  Anger, sadness, and longing all threatened to drown Billy.  He unconsciously floated away from the pair.

He was exceptional at what he did, Brandt said

Then you’ll tolerate it from me for the same reason, Angela said defiantly not backing away.  Billy thought he saw her lower lip tremble as she starred Brandt in the eyes.

Focus people.  Get the cherry on task so we can wrap this sneak and peek.  We’ve got more important things to do, a new male voice said in everyone’s mind.

Roger that Archangel, Brandt said moving away from Angela.  Billy, come over here.  Have you been listening to those language tapes Archangel gave you?

Yeah.  But I told Colonel Peters… Brandt interrupted him.

We don’t use real names when we’re on a mission, Brandt said sternly holding up his hand.

But, I thought they couldn’t hear us? Billy whispered looking at the three men confused.  Angela shook her head.

They can’t.  We just don’t use real names.  Now, did you listen to the tapes? Brandt repeated.

Yes, but I told Col…Archangel I can’t learn languages that way.  Farsi, Egyptian, Chinese, Russian they’re all jumbled together and they go so fast, Billy complained.

That’s okay.  You’re not supposed to learn to speak them.  We’re just loading the basics into your subconscious.  Your brain will learn to do the rest, Brandt said as he floated over to the man in the overstuffed chair, pointing at him.  I want you to concentrate on the words he says whenever he speaks and see if you can understand them.

But I don’t know what language that is, Billy complained.

Brandt sighed.  It doesn’t matter.  We’re training your brain to understand, if you’ve got one.

Brandt!  Be nice.  It’s his first time, Angela said harshly.  Brandt rolled his eyes at her and silently indicated Billy should move closer and listen to the man.

Billy did as he was instructed.  He moved in and began listening to the conversation of the three men.  The two on the couch seemed excited to see the third man in the chair who was clearly the center of attention.  Pronouns began popping into his head as the man spoke.  Billy heard them in what he assumed was the man’s voice.

I can hear pronouns, Billy reported.

Good, good.  That’s fast, Brandt said with a note of astonishment in his voice he didn’t try to hide.  We may have a use for you.  Just keep listening and see if you can hear nouns or verbs next.

Billy turned back to face the man but lost his focus for a second as a wave of pride washed over him, warming the center of his being but also obscuring the pronouns in his mind.  The two men on the couch said something and the man smiled a huge smile beaming with pride.  The emotions from the man hit Billy’s mind almost like a physical blow, and he was overwhelmed with the man’s feeling of pride about something he was going to do.

Just as suddenly, the man’s face shifted to fear and concern.  Anxiety washed over Billy along with a sense of duty to keep something safe, something he had on him that shouldn’t be seen.  The feeling of secrecy was followed closely by a feeling of desperation at wanting to reveal the thing, a feeling so strong the man almost gave in to it.  However, a sense of duty took over and he returned to the conversation.

He’s hiding something, Billy said unconsciously under his breath.

Everyone hides something, Billy.  Focus on his words, Brandt said dismissively.

No, this isn’t like hiding the fact that you took the last donut from the break room.  He’s hiding something big, Billy said not taking his eyes away from the man.

This is your first day.  There’s no way…  Archangel cut Brandt off.

What is it Billy? Archangel said in everyone’s head.

He wants to show them something but he’s not allowed to.  He really, really wants to show it to them though, Billy said not taking his eyes from the man in the chair.

Push him Billy.  Push him to show them, Archangel said.  Brandt looked concerned and Angela just floated there watching.

But I don’t know how to do that, Billy replied.

I know you can feel his emotions, Billy.  Try to lessen whatever barrier it is you sense in him to showing the thing off, Archangel said.

Billy shook his head once and focused again on the man.  He concentrated on that feeling of duty the man had about not revealing the object.  Billy started a little internal monologue reassuring the man it was okay and not as important as he thought.  Nothing happened.

This is pointless.  He’s a cherry for crying out loud, Brandt said to the ceiling.  He can’t even translate a conversation.  How’s he going to empathize with the man?

Shut up, Brandt, Archangel said.  Billy, get inside his head.  You can do it.

Billy wasn’t so sure.  He heard his father’s voice and saw Brandt’s face as he replayed the words again ‘He can’t even translate a conversation’.  Despair and inadequacy washed over Billy blotting out everything else in the room.

Billy, if Archangel says you can do it, you can, Angela said softly now floating by his side.  He knows things about your mind you don’t.  What do you think all those tests were for?

Billy thought about that for a moment and made his decision.  He moved closer to the man and got right in his face.  He expected to smell his breath but nothing was there.  The man didn’t even blink.  Billy screwed up his courage and then leaned forward passing his own head into the space where the man’s head was.  Then he poured soothing thoughts of gratitude for having revealed the object and fulfillment of duty and purpose over the man’s mind.

Holy crap! Brandt exclaimed.

I don’t believe it.  Archangel, did you get that? Angela asked.

We got it.  Make sure you don’t lose that man whatever you do, Archangel said.

Suddenly, the door to the room burst open banging into the wall loudly.

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