Two years ago when the program first began with Brandt and Scott, they just found the terrorists, called in law enforcement officers, and headed back to the barn for drinks and back-slapping congratulations. Everything was going great. They’d even started two other teams giving them a full squad of twelve Guardians. Then the opposition reared their ugly head but that was still a simple matter of snoop and poop, more LEOs, and more drinks. Maybe it was when the opposition forces arrived on the scene?
Colonel Peters stopped pacing and thought about that time about a year ago when they first saw an enemy agent in the ether. He’d been just like them, looked just like them, but Angela had known instantly somehow. No, that wasn’t it. The snoop and poops continued, they continued catching bad guys as they had, only now they had to watch for others in the ether too.
Then Senator Radcliff ordered Scott out to hit a Chinese city. He’d seen the classified reports about hardening their virtual systems, making their Internet security tighter, then cut off altogether. General Pontus informed him it was due to a marked increase in Chinese hacking attempts and they wanted to send a message. That had gone horribly wrong and cost the program one of its best operatives. General Pontus had been reassigned but not officially because of that mission failure. Was that when things went sideways, when Scott died?
Those little demon guys started showing up in the ether then. The psych reports on Angela got a little troublesome as well, tending to quote more of the Bible in meetings until he’d asked her to stop. Even Brandt had taken a downturn. Peters clapped softly and walked around his desk taking his seat again. A thought struck him and he stared down at his bottom right desk drawer for a long moment before shaking his head and settling his eyes on his computer screen.
Yes, that must have been it. His fingers moved quickly to enter his password and unlock his workstation. He began searching through files until he found the one in the archive folder he was looking for. He opened it, and a mission header with the words Top Secret emblazoned on the screen in bold, red letters appeared. After the requisite ten seconds a video feed began playing, showing Scott’s face as well as Brandt and Angela going about the process of getting in their couches. He skipped ahead and saw the perspective label indicate it was from Scotts feed as he looked down on the Chinese city. Those light beams connected everyone he could see. Colonel Peters scrolled back on review and watched the light beams diminish until they all were gone and started playing from that point.
As he watched the feed in normal mode he focused on Scott’s vital signs readouts. A sudden spike of all five senses occurred as the first thread shot out of Scott down to the closest person in the city below. The thread divided and split multiple times. As Peters watched each split brought with it another increase in the vital signs monitor readouts. More and more connections pushed his pulse and heart rate, as well as the other data feeds up higher, and higher. He suddenly realized he had grown used to all the data elements having data now and that Scott’s hadn’t when he’d started this mission.
Peters rapidly scrolled backward watching the data feeds. When Scott started the mission he’d had just the feeds for sight and hearing recording data but those for smell, touch, and taste were flat. As soon as he shot the first beam of light to a person below the other three spiked to the same level as his hearing and sight. He paused the replay at that point and stared at it.
He began to replay those five seconds over and over looking for something, anything he could latch on to. Suddenly, something attracted his attention but he wasn’t sure what. He slowed his replay and leaned in close to his screen. Then he saw it. Just before he shot out the beam of light to the woman below him in the city, the screen flashed white, his pulse dropped to a calm sixty, and his heart rate fell to normal levels too. Then, everything returned to the heightened levels. Or did it? He replayed those five seconds several times, noting the readouts before and after the spike. No, Scott’s pulse and heart rates were not as high as they’d been before, certainly elevated, but not nearly as high. What did that mean?
He left the video playing until he realized he was about to see the last moments of an old friend and he turned it off. A thought occurred to him and he searched for another archived video, this one much more recent. When he found it he opened it and immediately scrolled to the point he wanted. Billy, Angela, and Brandt were in the Tech Evangelist, LLC break room at the ceremony where the angel-people fought with one of the little demon-guys. He still couldn’t admit they were what Angela claimed, though he had to agree the evidence was mounting in that direction.
Peters started the feed but watched the vital sign readouts for Billy. He got to the part where the young girl stepped from his chest for the first time and began defending Billy, but nothing changed in his elevated vital signs. He thought a moment then made a realization and closed that file. He found a second file, opened it and began searching. He came across a point where Angela and Brandt were looking at Billy when the beam of crackling white light lanced out of Angela’s chest and struck Billy. His heart rate and pulse dropped dramatically. He switched back to the video of Scott and the moment when that same white energy shot out of him to the city below. Colonel Peters paused the video and sat back in his chair staring at the evidence before him. He rubbed his temples trying to make the evidence fit some other conclusion but he just couldn’t think of anything else that made sense. His best friend had been visited by an angel just before he died.
Colonel Peters’ looked down at the bottom right hand drawer of his desk again and started to reach for the handle.
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.