Colonel Peters set his focus on Brandt’s data stream, minimizing Billy and Angela’s views but keeping them in his field of vision. The immaculate goatee and perfect hair of the man they’d come to call Blue Eyes hung in the center of the colonel’s vision as Brandt solidified the image of the person they were looking for. Almost immediately after Brandt’s screen showed Blue Eye’s face Angela’s displayed a similar picture. Only Billy’s screen still showed a moving and changing fuzzy oval where a face should be.
The uncomfortable silence stretched on. Colonel Peters had learned early on with Brandt and Scott not to interrupt this stage even though he wanted to hurry them along. An interruption now would only cause them to lose whatever image they’d managed to conjure up and they’d have to start all over again. Finally, an image solidified on Billy’s screen.
Ready, Billy said.
Set, Angela said.
Go, Brandt finished.
As soon as Brandt said the word, the displays in Peters’ vision shifted, with the face shrinking and moving to a different point on each screen. For Brandt’s feed the face shrank only a little before the background of pure black began to lighten into a muted pastel orange closer to brown. Brandt had appeared within two or three feet of Blue Eye’s actual position as a demonstration of his prowess and precision. Peters frowned trying to identify what the background was and shifted to Angela’s display for a better look at the surroundings.
Angela had appeared about ten feet away with the target centered in her vision. Colonel Peters stiffened sharply and he unconsciously dropped into a crouch ready for action. The room Angela stood in was awash with ropes of white energy connected nearly everyone in the room to everyone else, except their target. Blue Eyes stood against a wall conspicuously unconnected to the mass of people around him. He was on a stage against the back wall, watching a man in his mid-fifties presenting from a podium holding a forest green baseball cap with a cross stitched in gold thread on the front. Before the man, below the stage, sat about twenty men and women, while on either side of Blue Eyes sat several others.
Everyone in the room wore those little badges with their picture and name on them that companies used for access to work areas. Nothing jumped out at the Guardians as their minds settled after the jump, a process that usually took ten seconds on average. Peters decided the energy didn’t pose an immediate threat and switched feeds to check on the newest member of their team.
Billy had ended up across the room and to the left of his teammates, but from his view Colonel Peters had a remarkably good situational view of the room. The twenty men and women were seated in four rows of five chairs before the stage from which the man was speaking. Billy began to move first, which surprised the Colonel given how powerful he knew Brandt to be. Brandt came around next, and finally Angela close behind him, then the audio feed kicked in.
“Once again I’d like to welcome you all to the team here at Tech Evangelists. If you’ll come up, we’ll get each of you your employee handbook, cap, coffee mug, and t-shirt before we go on with today’s orientation,” the man at the podium said. Peters turned down the volume on the environment so he could address his team as the gathered men and women began ascending the low stage to receive a large plastic bag from a woman who stood beside the man. He was handing them the baseball caps personally, shaking their hand as he did so. Blue Eyes moved to stand behind the man, passing out a small folder of papers to each person.
Excellent job people. We’ve caught him at work. First order of business is to find out where this place is. I need a name and an address, Guardian Three. Guardian One, read that badge hanging around his neck and tell me this dirt bag’s name, Colonel Peters ordered.
His name is Robert Dante, Archangel, Brandt reported first.
This is Tech Evangelists, LLC, Angela chimed in pointing to a coffee cup held by the person next to Robert Dante, the man formerly known as Blue Eyes. The coffee cup logo had a golden cross used for the both of the letter Ts in the company name.
A sudden commotion broke out on the stage as Dante tried to take the green hat from a man. The presenter rebuffed Dante and gave the hat back to the man before addressing the next person. Dante grabbed both of the man’s wrists and leaned in close to say something.
As soon as Dante took hold of the man’s wrist the white energy rope pulsed into a burst of energy that washed over Dante. One of the small stony creatures holding an axe fell out of Dante’s back and landed with a rough bounce on the stage floor. At the same time a woman with long black hair in an immaculate white robe stepped out of the man, through Dante and stood over the little creature with the axe.
This man is protected Karack, the woman said as a flaming sword sprang into her hand. Be gone.
Our Father Below will have this one above all others, Asher. I will see his plans succeed this day, Karack said, standing and raising his axe but not advancing on the woman.
Do not engage! I repeat do not engage, Colonel Peters said but Billy had already flown to the stage in the blink of an eye. Neither the woman in radiant white holding the sword nor the ash-grey horned creature holding the axe seemed to take any notice of Billy’s presence.
Excuse me, but why do you want him and who is your Father Below? Billy asked. The little creature looked up as if noticing something for the first time, looked to his right and then back to his left settling his vision on Billy as his head swung around.
You found more monks I see. I thought we destroyed the last of this age’s men of valor, and so young too. He’ll be tasty, the creature said, and without warning thrust the head of his axe directly at Billy. Suddenly, a sword emerged from the point at which the white rope of energy touched Billy’s chest, parrying the axe blow aside. The demon stumbled back as the sword emerged from Billy’s chest fully along with a young girl of seventeen holding the blade. The girl was clothed just as the black-haired woman on the stage was, but her hair was blonde rather than black.
This soul is under my protection, demon, the young girl in white said, taking up a bold stance in front of Billy. Suddenly, Brandt swooped in standing between both Billy and the girl, and the demon. The demon screeched and shot a blast of fire from his axe head as they’d seen before. Brandt’s eyes widened and he tried to dodge but the blow caught him in the shoulder setting him ablaze and spinning him to the ground.
Brandt screamed as the black-haired woman advanced on the demon. The demon shot another blaze of fire but Billy shoved Brandt out of the way. Just as the fiery blast was to hit Billy the young girl intercepted the blow on her sword and the flame washed around and over an invisible shield, though some of it splashed onto Brandt as he fell out of the way causing him to scream louder.
Hah, this one is new to your camp. We can take him any time. But today it ends for you Asher. Here. Now. Then I shall corrupt your charge too, Guardian, the little demon said, squaring his shoulders and hefting his axe as it crackled with red heat.
The woman called Asher never hesitated. In a practiced motion she feinted a thrust at the creature’s middle and turned it into a cutting stroke. The creature clumsily parried the blow and Asher sidestepped, thrusting from a new angle the demon could not protect against. Her sword bit deep into the demon’s neck extending out the other side. The demon instantly went limp, dropped its axe, and slid off the blade to the ground.
Immediately, a dark ichor flowed from the wounds on either side of the demon’s neck. As the fluid hit the floor it boiled into an inky black smoke that rose into a low mist before seeping into the ground and out of sight. As the demon slumped to the ground it too seemed to decay and melt into a black oily mass on the floor that seeped through unseen cracks to disappear to its fate in the world below.
The young girl turned to the woman on the stage and bowed politely. My thanks Lady Asher.
You are quiet welcome, child, Asher said.
Who are you and how did you come out of me? Billy asked the young woman, still trying to absorb everything that had just happened.
My name is Theliel, the girl said smiling warmly. I’m your guardian angel and I live in your heart.
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.