The brilliant white of the ether faded as details of an apartment living room began to coalesce in Billy’s view. A man, Robert Dante, was bustling about the room gathering things into a bag. Angela was not in view but that didn’t mean she wasn’t here yet. Billy didn’t think she was though. He was getting better at this, at jumping to locations to observe a target. He guessed he’d be able to move about the time Angela arrived. Just then, Angela appeared across the room in a doorway, partially blocking her view of Dante. Billy drifted up to the ceiling clearing his view of their target.
You’re getting fast, Cherry, Archangel said over the communications network.
He’s getting fast, fast, someone else, whose voice Billy didn’t recognize, said.
Dante is here, but we’re not at the warehouse. We’re in his apartment I think, Billy said. Angela floated across the room and through the apartment door.
It’s apartment 116. We’re on the terrace level back behind the complex. I’ll go see if I can figure out what apartment complex we’re at, Angela said.
Roger that Guardian Three. Cherry, see if you can find anything that gives us an indication of what he’s doing, Colonel Peters said.
Okay, Archangel. Uh, I mean roger that, Billy stammered.
Billy watched Robert Dante for a moment longer. The man was in the kitchen stuffing prepackaged foods of some kind into the bag. It looked like a lot of it too. He came out and set the bag, filled to overflowing, onto the dinner table and dashed into the bedroom. Billy made to follow until something on the table caught his eye and he stopped to investigate.
Archangel, he is heading to a baseball game tonight, Billy said looking down at a set of two tickets poking out of an envelope. Looks like the Cubs are in town.
If he’s going to blow up a truck of fertilizer and diesel fuel at the game, why does he need tickets? Someone asked on the net.
I don’t know but that’s a damn good question, Colonel Peters said.
Archangel, this is Spider. We’re in position and awaiting your signal, a soft voice said.
Who’s Spider? Billy asked.
Quiet Cherry. Roger that Spider. The fly is not at the web yet. Repeat, the fly is out of pocket. Stand by, Colonel Peters said.
Roger that Archangel. Spider standing by. We have eyes on the web from all sides. Anyone gets near, we’ll let you know, Spider said.
Strike that Spider. I’m sending in a Guardian to do recon for you. Maybe we can set this up as a mouse trap and get more than one fly tonight. Pull my feed into your HUD. Cherry, I want you back in the pit. I have a new target for you, Colonel Peters said.
Billy wasn’t sure what was going on but it was simple enough to return to the base. He closed his eyes and relaxed, then pictured his body lying on the chair back in the Pit. A moment later Billy felt cold air on his skin where before he had been quite comfortable. He opened his eyes and started to take off his helmet when a hand touched his.
“Negative Cherry. Call up command channel. Archangel has a picture of another target for you tonight,” First Sergeant Wilcox said.
Billy selected the command channel and saw the image of a man with a scar on his cheek, a tight crew cut of blonde hair, and hard green eyes. “I see him. Do you want me to go to him now?”
“Roger that, Cherry,” the Colonel said.
Billy settled back into his chair and took a few settling breaths. He focused on the face on his screen and began to reach out with his mind as if he were going to pull the picture of the man to him. As he pushed his will out toward the image the darkness of the helmet gave way to a grey, then a white, then a blazing white that almost hurt. The face hung in Billy’s vision but as the surroundings became more white the face began to recede and turn slightly to the right. Finally, the dazzling white began to fade to grey revealing the surroundings of Billy’s target.
Billy stood in an alley between two tall warehouses. The man crouched between two dumpsters against a building. Behind the man was a two foot hole in the building’s wall. The man had his face covered by some sort of oversized goggles with the left eye covered.
Good work, Cherry. Spider, you have a recon asset in place. Keep your heads up feed on my channel and direct the asset, call sign Cherry, just as you would an ROV. The man crouching before Billy looked right at him and blinked the one eye Billy could see.
That’s just creepy Archangel. Billy could see the man’s lips mouth the words, but his ears heard them as if they came over a radio rather than through the air. The feeling disoriented Billy momentarily and he drifted upwards involuntarily. Cherry, we’re setting a mouse trap so I need to know what’s inside this warehouse and which door to enter. We’ll cut the alarms out here, but take a look inside and tell me if there is anyone in there, and if so, where they are.
Okay, Billy said.
Billy turned and drifted toward the opposite building and through the outside wall. Once inside, he noticed it was the same warehouse they’d been at only a few hours ago. The tanker still sat where it had, but the lights were out. Billy adjusted for the low light and things sprang into focus. The table where Dante had been working, and where the little demon had broken Billy’s nose, sat empty except for a laptop computer which sat open though facing away from him. A web cam sat attached to the top of the screen as well. The soldering station sat next to the laptop but the cell phone Dante had been working on was nowhere to be seen.
Spider, the target was working on a cell phone that Archangel thinks was a detonator when we were here before, Billy said.
It was a detonator, Cherry. I can confirm that Spider, Colonel Peters said.
So? Spider responded.
It’s not on the work table now, Billy said.
Billy drifted toward the tanker curious where the cell phone detonator might have gone.
Cherry, are there any people in the building? Spider asked quietly.
No Spider, no people, Billy said as he floated up and over to the tanker.
Archangel, request permission to enter the building and setup a perimeter for the mousetrap? Spider asked.
Cherry, is there anything attached to the door like a tripwire or anything? Archangel asked. Billy shifted his course and floated quickly to the door. The door looked like any other though Billy did note alarm contacts at the top of the door jam.
No wires or anything attached, but there are alarm contacts on this side, Billy reported and then headed back to the tanker.
Alarm is disable Archangel, Spider reported.
Insertion is a go Spider, Colonel Peters ordered.
Roger that. Teams two and three on me. Team one hold the high ground in case we need support, Spider ordered. Three confirmations snapped quickly over the net as Billy poked his head through the tanker walls. Inside the tanker Billy adjusted his vision to the total lack of light and immediately saw a set of wires connected to something silver laying on the surface of the material contained within the tanker. The wires went up into a valve of some kind and disappeared into a pipe. Billy drifted so his face and eyes could follow the wires into the mechanism. A short distance up he found the other end of the wires connected to the cell phone Dante had been working on.
Archangel, I’ve found…. Spider cut in on Billy’s statement.
We’re entering the web, Archangel, Spider said. Then Billy’s world flashed into orange fire and black smoke.
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.