“Private Harrow, step away from your console!” Colonel Peters shouted, as he frantically struggled to get his shroud off his head. Everything in the control center known as Heaven came to a sudden halt. All eyes locked on Private Harrow, who turned to face the colonel with shock and horror etched on her face.
Peters waved to the armed guards at the door and pointed to Private Harrow. Both burly men strode purposefully in the private’s direction, glaring as they came. The colonel finally got his helmet off and nearly missed settling it on the stand in his haste to cross the room and meet the guards at the horrified private.
“Sir, I…what? I was monitoring the environmental feeds like Sergeant Sanchez ordered in our briefing,” Private Harrow said, as the two guards reached her, stopping to stand uncomfortably close.
“You have one of those little things in you,” Peters said, coming to stand between Harrow and the door as if to prevent escape. Private Harrow moved to step away, but her chair bumped up against the console edge causing her knees to buckle and dropping her roughly into the seat. The effect caused all three men to close in, now looming over her. “What did you do?”
Harrow worked her mouth to answer but no sounds came out.
“Get her out of here. Confine her in meeting room Gulf until we can finish up with the operation,” Colonel Peters ordered. “Sanchez, I want complete records on what Harrow was doing, badge records for entry and exit, Internet access logs, everything. I want to know what her best friend had for breakfast last week and I want it all yesterday.”
“Already on it, sir,” Sergeant Sanchez said, her fingers flying over her keyboard. “Sir, the Guardians are asking to be put on speaker?”
Colonel Peters nodded and Sanchez pressed a button.
“…I don’t know, if Sanchez puts us on speaker I’ll ask,” Brandt’s voice said.
“You’re on speaker now Guardian One. What’s your status?” Colonel Peters asked.
“We’re solid, Archangel, but confused. What just happened in there?” Brandt asked.
“I’m not confused,” Angela’s voice stated. “Private Harrow has been compromised by one of those things.”
“What things? I didn’t see any things,” Brandt said.
“I did. On Cherry’s feed. Sanchez, play what Cherry saw for the Guardians,” Peters ordered.
“Johnson? I’m a little busy right now,” Sanchez said still pulling data on Private Harrow.
“I’m on it, sarge,” Specialist Johnson said, selecting Billy’s data feed and locating the desired point then playing it. Three screens in the control room showed a small window pop open, and the view of what Billy saw played through the sequence again. The little maggoty insect was clearly seen sitting on the private’s shoulder and then seeming to crawl into her head through her eye socket. Several of the technicians who hadn’t seen the event before turned away in revulsion as Johnson looped the sequence to replay continuously.
“That’s enough. Just freeze it on that thing. There, hold it there,” Colonel Peters ordered.
“Add that to your list of things to find out,” Colonel Peters ordered Johnson.
“Yes, sir,” Johnson and Dominech both said in unison.
“Sir, I’ve got something here,” Sergeant Sanchez said, continuing to work her magic on her console.
“Show me,” Peters said forcefully as he strode across the room to stand behind the sergeant.
“She’s been using Heaven’s computers to access the Internet,” Sanchez said pointing to several pages of logs. “Looks like mostly porn, too.”
“That’s dumb,” Dominech said, overly loud.
“Privates aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, Corporal,” Sanchez said without taking her eyes off her screens.
“Our Privates are supposed to be razors,” Colonel Peters said absently, as he leaned in to study the data Sanchez had found. “Figure out how she did this and if anyone else is doing it. Our firewalls are supposed to filter out this sort of stuff.”
“That was her specialty, sir, but I’ll have something for you in about thirty minutes,” Sanchez said.
“Do it after the operation, sergeant,” Peters said moving back to his station and taking his shrouded helmet off its stand.
“We’re going ahead with the op?” Brandt asked over the speaker. “But we’ve been compromised.”
“And we’ve got a guy out there with a bomb and a target somewhere. We’re not shutting down because some horny private figured out how to watch Chippendale’s on government computers,” Colonel Peters said, settling his helmet on his head.
“Roger that, sir,” Brandt said.
“Take them off speaker sergeant and let’s get back on schedule,” Peters said, synching the helmet onto his head and reconnecting to the data stream.
“Sir, for what it’s worth she really didn’t think she’d done anything wrong,” Billy said before the speakers were disconnected.
How do you know that, Cherry? Peters heard Brandt ask as his system reconnected to those in the ether once again. Peters’ screens took a little longer to initialize and he was slightly disoriented by the absolute blackness of sensory deprivation inside the helmet.
I pushed inside her head as soon as Col…I mean, Archangel started yelling at her, Billy said.
Good work Cherry. I always want to know things like that. That’s why we brought you on board, Colonel Peters said.
You’re going to have to tell me how he does that, Brandt said.
Get him to show you, Peters said smiling a little knowing it would irritate Brandt to have to be shown something by the new recruit. Brandt needed to understand other people had talents too, and Peters thought this might be a good way to humble his prideful spirit a little.
Yeah, right, Brandt responded.
There was something else too though, sir, Billy said but he hesitated to continue.
Spill it son. We’re running out of time here, Peters said in his best command voice.
Well, at first I had trouble even getting inside her head. Once I did get inside it felt like there were two people in there, one big one and one small one, Billy said.
What does that mean? Angela asked.
It doesn’t mean anything, Brandt said in a dismissive tone.
Not so fast Guardian One. Cherry, what do you think it means? Colonel Peters asked.
Umm, well that little insect thing went into her head and it’s small. Maybe it was that thing I felt? Billy asked, seeking confirmation he wasn’t totally foolish. There was a sort of dirty feel inside her mind but it was just kind of a light coating, not really a deep down sort of thing.
Seriously? She likes to watch porn, big deal. Who doesn’t? Brandt said.
That’s just gross, Angela said.
There’s a reason it’s one of the largest online industries, Brandt said. It wouldn’t be doing so well if everyone weren’t doing it. It’s harmless.
Okay, that’s enough. We’re out of time here. That little stunt took our remaining training time. Let’s go hot and find our guy, Peters said once his screens finished initializing and he’d completed his initial systems check.
Here we go again, Billy said, as he, Brandt, and Angela joined hands to find the man they called Blue Eyes.
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.