“Yeah Jack, we did the right thing,” Colonel Peters said, answering the silent question First Sergeant Wilcox’s gaze was asking him. He had to admit he had his doubts as well, but as the commander you never let your troops see your doubts, even when it was your oldest friend.
“I know you’re just trying to reassure yourself too, pal, but dang, this one is right into the belly of the beast and that’s not just a figure of speech either.” He was right. If their plan to allow a demon to make contact and offer Private Farrow one of those contracts to sign backfired, they just got a soldier killed potentially. He knew there were casualties in war, but you never wanted them, never sent troops out just to die. There had to be a purpose, and this time there was.
“We need information and she can get it for us,” he said moving out of the cramped interrogation room and into the hallway. He looked both ways to see that it was empty before continuing. They had to keep this between as few people as possible. Secrecy had been a key element they’d communicated to Private Farrow as they pitched their deal to her. “We setup 24 hour a day surveillance and watch her around the clock.”
“Brandt is still down hard and no telling when he’ll come out of that coma. That leaves us just three to watch her and look for Dante,” the First Sergeant said.
“They can do both at the same time,” he reassured. His friend didn’t seem reassured. “Look, all they’re doing is scanning the Ether for Dante’s face, right? So, they can do that from anywhere, like standing over Farrow’s shoulder, keeping an eye on her.”
“Yeah, okay, sir. I guess so,” Wilcox agreed.
“Just setup her workstation like we agreed. Access to the internet and the dummy systems only. Isolated from everything else,” he said. Wilcox nodded.
They walked on in silence as they made their way through the maze of corridors leading to the control room known as Heaven. He passed the time wishing for a window or some other way to see the outside world and wondered when the Army would lose their pageant for building underground bunkers for their top secret facilities. He surmised they never would. Like their acronyms, the military loved a good cliché, and the underground top secret facility seemed like the hallmark of any good story. They opened another door and entered the control room. As soon as the door opened the buzz of activity assaulted their ears.
“Attention! Archangel in Heaven,” Specialist Johnson called out coming to a halt in the center of the room. Every person in the room instantly halted what they were doing and came to the position of attention.
“As you were,” Colonel Peters said. Everyone looked to the door, made eye contact with the Colonel, and then went back to what they were doing. The First Sergeant crossed the room and exited the other side to head to his office and draw up the paperwork for Private Farrow’s administrative punishment. She was already seated at her work station and conspicuously avoided making eye contact with anyone who had just entered the room. That would actually play into her favor as everyone would assume she was smarting from her punishment.
“Corporal Domenech, report,” he ordered as he crossed the room to look out of the observation window and into the Pit to see who was currently on duty in the Ether. Captain Julie Payne lay on her couch with the shroud firmly in place.
“Sir, Captain Payne has been on station in the Ether for the last three hours. No sign of the target Robert Dante, or anything else of note to report, sir,” the Corporal reported formally. Good.
“Have Guardian Two report to my office immediately,” he ordered.
“The Colonel is aware it is oh-three hundred, and she’s due to come on duty in an hour, sir?” the Corporal asked.
“I am,” he replied simply.
“Understood, sir. I’ll send a runner right away,” Domenech confirmed. He turned, scanned the room and found the soldier he was looking for. “Cheung, fly to officer country and have Ms. Magdala report to the Colonel’s office most riki-tik.”
“Roger that Corporal,” the man identified as Cheung said, and dashed out the door the Colonel had just come through.
He wasn’t sure if he was being a little paranoid or not. Farrow had been surfing porn for a long time before her actions got her caught. Why he assumed she’d be approached right away he couldn’t say, but coincidences of misfortune seemed to be all too common and an hour was a lot of time on the battlefield. That thought made him look around at the command post a moment. The last battlefield he’d been on was covered with rocks and sand, not tile and glass. He began to second guess himself, wondering if he were overreacting when the alarm claxon began to sound.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. To catch up on the first 45 issues you can either read them for free on the web site or purchase the compilation, Guardians of the Herald Issues 1-45: Angels and Demons for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Herald-Issues-1-45-Angels-ebook/dp/B00IJIFXSY.
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