The video feed played back Brandt’s perspective from yesterday’s operation, where Billy had panicked and dashed out of the room to the admonishment of Colonel Peters, Angela, and Brandt. He dropped his head as he remembered the alien dark attention oozing from his own fear. He broke out in a cold sweat as his mind recalled in precise clarity the feeling of another mind touching his with an alien and evil malevolence. The panic welled up in him again and he moved his hands to the arms of the chair in preparation to make a break for the door. First Sergeant Wilcox slid a firm but consoling hand onto Billy’s shoulder. Billy looked up but instead of the stern cloudy visage of the burly First Sergeant as he’d expected he saw a face filled with firm resolve and accepting eyes. Wilcox didn’t say anything but Billy knew the man was reassuring him nothing bad would happen in the room. Billy returned his attention to the meeting and met the gazes of all gathered there.
“That thing knew you were there,” Colonel Peters said flatly.
“Not just that, sir. It communicated with Blue Eyes,” Sergeant Sanchez said playing a segment of the video feed several times.
Everyone’s attention returned to the wall screen. One of the three foot stony creatures covered in horns looked up at the man Sergeant Sanchez had nicknamed Blue Eyes and spoke to him. As soon as the creature finished speaking Blue Eyes snapped his gaze in Billy’s direction and reached under his shirt producing a small semiautomatic pistol. Both of the little creatures focused on Billy as well.
As soon as the creatures’ attention settled on Billy in the video he bolted from the room followed quickly by Angela. Brandt was close behind Angela dashing through the wall and then four shots clearly rang out. Sanchez stopped the feed at that point.
“Those things saw Billy,” Angela said incredulously.
“Those are no emotional byproduct,” Private Johnson said.
“Or an echo of anything in the area,” Specialist Dominech confirmed. Everyone looked at the two soldiers sitting next to Angela. “Sir, we’ve been analyzing the tapes and we can’t trace those little guys to anything or anyone other than the guy who came through the door.”
“Why are they connected to him? Could they be some sort of projection from his subconscious?” Peters asked.
“I don’t think so, sir. They’re as real in the ether as any of the Guardians are,” Dominech said. “All the readings suggest they are there, but they’re definitely tied to that man somehow.”
“Tell him about the mind ray,” Private Johnson said in a too loud whisper to Dominech who raised his hand to shush him.
“Mind ray?” Sergeant Wilcox questioned. Private Johnson looked up at the intimidating First Sergeant with horror in his eyes as he realized the man had heard what he’d thought he had whispered.
“Umm, yes First Sergeant…umm, it, umm,” Johnson stammered.
“Well? Spit it out Boot,” Wilcox shot back to the green soldier. Colonel Peters raised his hand to call off the first sergeant before he addressed the young soldier.
“Calm down, son. I know you’re new here but if you’ve got something to add you need to have the courage to say it. Otherwise if it’s not important then keep it to yourself,” Colonel Peters counseled.
“I called it a mind ray, sir. It’s the only way to describe it, sir,” Johnson began to stammer. “The data clearly shows both of the little creatures reaching out to Cherry and touching him in some way.”
“He was attacked?” Corporal Williams said from behind Angela as he lay both of his hands on the back of her wheelchair in a very protective manner.
“Not really, no Corporal,” Johnson said, starting to get lost in the notes on his laptop.
“If it wasn’t an attack, then what was it?” Sergeant Sanchez asked.
“The data doesn’t indicate force of any kind, at least the data isn’t like what we have when those axes started shooting fire,” Johnson said, beginning to scan his laptop screen intently. “It’s more like a reconnaissance.”
“Excuse me,” Sergeant Sanchez said, starting to get annoyed.
“A reconnaissance, you know, looking for information,” Johnson said in a very matter of fact way. Dominech elbowed Johnson. “What was that for?”
“She’s a sergeant,” the Specialist hissed.
“Huh, oh, uh, Sorry sarge, sorry,” Private Johnson became very self-conscious, straightening up in his chair and flattening his uniform front as he did. “Uh, Sergeant.”
The First Sergeant hung his head and shook it back and forth as Colonel Peters absorbed this new information.
“Brandt, I want you and Guardian three to take Cherry into the training room and get him ready for this operation. We’ll pull you into the op directly from the training room,” Peters said.
“Come on Colonel. He’s not really going with us on a real operation,” Brandt complained.
“He’s going. He can push a person better than both of you combined, or at least he will be able to once you’ve trained him.
“Yes, sir,” Brandt’s voice capitulated from the speaker.
“Don’t worry about that now though. This unit does not get reconned. I want you and Angela to work on his mental defenses. We step off in an hour and a half people. Let’s move like we have a purpose,” Colonel Peters said closing his own laptop and standing.
As the Colonel stood all the military personnel either shot out of their seats or snapped to attention and saluted. Angela and Billy were the only two that remained seated until Billy noticed Angela urging him with her eyes to stand, and he rose too.
Just as everyone started to move toward the door the Colonel stopped and addressed the group one last time.
“Oh, Corporal Williams and First Sergeant Wilcox please report to my office once you’ve got Guardian three and the cherry situated in Brandt’s training room,” the Colonel said just before he departed.
“Yes, sir,” the two men responded in unison.
“What did I do this time?” Billy asked the First Sergeant as Seth pushed Angela out of the room.
“I don’t know kid, but I’ll find out. You just remember not to panic next time. We’ve all got your back if you get attacked again,” the First Sergeant said making a facial expression that Billy thought was supposed to be a smile but looked more like a grimace.
“Why First Shirt, I didn’t know you cared. It was kind of hard to tell though. You don’t smile often do you?” Billy asked. The expression turned to uncertainty and then flashed into a frown.
“Get your ass down to Heaven, Cherry,” the First Sergeant said angrily. The naturalness of the look of anger on the man’s face did more to reassure Billy than the unfamiliar, forced sentiment of kindness had as Billy scampered off down the hall after Angela.
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.