Shut up Cherry, Colonel Peters spat over the net. Billy thought he could hear muffled chuckling coming from someone in the control center.
The choice is yours. You must decide if you want to pursue Robert Dante or not, Theliel said.
You’re the one coming off with all the wisdom. I thought he was older, Billy asked, first pointing to Theliel then Mihr. Theliel ignored him but Mihr scowled back at him.
I would counsel you to pursue him. Darkness not opposed will stay hidden and grow. It cannot thrive in the light, and you now are the light, Theliel said.
Excellent. The two strange beings have told you to follow him. Can you come back to the Pit now so we can get on with this? Colonel Peters said, not even trying to hide the exasperation in his voice.
On the way Archangel, Angela said.
Finally, Billy said, but he felt a pang of sadness when he realized it meant Theliel would be going away, and he wasn’t sure why he felt that way.
A few short moments later both Billy and Angela lay on their comfortable couches in the Pit. Billy started to reform the image of Robert Dante’s face in his mind when a loud crackle from the room’s intercom snapped his concentration.
“If you two ever disobey a direct order from me again you’ll never walk in the ether again either!” Billy didn’t need to take his shroud off to know Colonel Peters was standing at the observation windows of Heaven looking down on them in the Pit. He unconsciously shifted his face away. A reassuring hand gently rested on his shoulder.
“Relax kiddo. The Old Man is just blowing off steam, but you can’t ignore an order like that again. The higher ups hold him responsible for how things go here. If you ignore an order again you’ll have me down your throat too. Understand?” First Sergeant Wilcox whispered in Billy’s ear. Billy nodded his head ever so slightly. Wilcox squeezed his shoulder, then patted it twice before withdrawing his hand.
“Don’t coddle that boy, Wilcox. He’s got to learn discipline,” Peters shouted down.
“Sir, no sir,” Wilcox responded in a conversational tone. “No coddling here, sir. Just reinforcing the Colonel’s warning, sir.”
“Fine. Now get back on task you two and reacquire Dante before he figures out how to blow something up.” The intercom clattered as Colonel Peters placed the microphone back on its mount. Billy tossed and wiggled a few times to get comfortable before he took a deep breath and let it out, trying to rid himself of the tension he felt. It took three more breaths before he could focus enough to build a solid image of Dante in his mind.
Finally, he had a good picture of the man and set about powering his mental energy into the image. He focused for a long time to the point of becoming distracted by the lack of change in his vision. He reset himself by taking three long, slow breaths and started again. Still no luck.
“What’s the hold up?” Colonel Peters’ voice said inside Billy’s shroud.
“I can’t get focused, sir,” Billy said with a touch of hostility in his voice he instantly regretted.
“Go through your exercises and try again,” Colonel Peters ordered with the same hostility coming back at Billy.
“I have, sir. I just can’t find him,” Billy insisted.
“No, he’s right Colonel. It’s like he doesn’t exist,” Angela added.
“What do you mean he doesn’t exist? We just saw him vanish with that little horn-skinned guy, Rabdos,” Peters said.
“I know, I know, but I’m not getting anything on him either. It’s like he’s vanished from everywhere,” Angela said.
“Sanchez, what’s wrong with my system now? Is that bootleg gear of yours causing problems?” Peters asked over the open channel.
“I don’t know, sir, but I’m on it,” Sanchez responded. “Dominech, you and Johnson start a diagnostic on the main server. I’ll check connectivity.”
Billy lay still for a long while trying to relax. His mind still held on to the harsh dressing down he and Angela had received from Colonel Peters. He felt bad they hadn’t done what they were supposed to do, but Angela’s healing of Mihr’s injuries was nothing short of a miracle. Billy didn’t know much about Theliel or Mihr, but he knew they were the good guys. Finally, Billy couldn’t take just lying there and not going anywhere, so he unbuckled his shroud and sat up on his couch. Angela was already out of her helmet and lying there quietly talking to Corporal Williams.
Billy hopped off his couch and drifted over to stand next to Williams. First Sergeant Wilcox followed Billy dutifully. Angela frowned when she saw Billy’s face.
“I’m sorry I got you in trouble,” she said.
“I’m a big boy,” Billy said, putting on a brave face.
“No, I know the Colonel scares you. He scares me too,” she said.
“Don’t treat me like a kid, okay. I can take it,” Billy said defensively and then suddenly realized his recrimination sounded just like a wounded child trying to be more than he really was. “How come you didn’t tell me you could do other things like healing?”
Angela squirmed her upper body uncomfortably on her couch. “I can’t do other things. At least I couldn’t until today.”
“Yeah, right,” Billy retorted.
“No really. I’m pretty good at flying around the ether and finding people, but until today I couldn’t heal anything.” Billy crossed his arms and leveled an unconvinced look at Angela. “No really. Do you think I’d be stuck in a wheel chair if I could heal people?”
Billy uncrossed his arms as Angela’s words struck home. Perhaps he’d been hasty in his judgment of her? He glanced at Corporal Williams, but he just returned his gaze unfazed. First Sergeant Wilcox likewise carried an unreadable appearance. “Well, maybe you can now?”
Angela didn’t get a chance to respond as the intercom system crackled to life.
“Sergeant, there is nothing wrong with the server. All diagnostics checks pass,” Corporal Dominech’s voice reported.
“Great. Yeah, everything is connected as it should be, too. Sir, there is nothing wrong with the system,” Sergeant Sanchez added.
“You said those things are demons, right?” First Sergeant Wilcox asked stepping in close to the other three.
“Yeah,” Angela answered.
“Then why the hell can’t they find Dante?” Colonel Peters asked over the intercom.
First Sergeant Wilcox thought for a moment and then said, “I think you nailed it, sir.”
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.