The First Sergeant entered the colonel’s office still in his full battle dress, complete with rifle held in front of him at port arms. He closed the door and crossed the office in four precise steps, coming to a halt snapping his heels together loudly. A quick but precise manual of arms brought the weapon down and to his side crisply, and First Sergeant Wilcox stood between the two chairs in front of Colonel Peters’ desk staring straight ahead.
“First Sergeant Wilcox, reporting as ordered, sir,” he barked.
“At ease First Sergeant,” Peters said. The First Sergeant snapped to parade rest. “Damn it Jack, I mean it. At ease or I’ll order you to relax. Take a seat.”
“Yes, sir,” the First Sergeant said nervously letting the tension out of his stance and moving around the chair to sit down. “You haven’t been very happy recently so I thought I’d make it all business, sir.”
“Well I haven’t been. That’s true, but I think I’ve got an idea and I want to get your feedback before we do anything,” Peters said.
“Okay, sure, sir,” Wilcox replied resting his weapon against the chair.
Colonel Peters spun his desk monitor around and showed Wilcox the scene with the two angels fighting the demon at Tech Evangelist. He paused several seconds to let him take it all in before speaking. “What do you think these things are?”
First Sergeant Wilcox looked at his commanding officer and back to the computer screen nervously. Colonel Peters waited patiently. The First Sergeant looked up and down again.
“Well, sir, they could be a lot of things,” the First Sergeant said.
“What? No, really. What do you think they are?” Peters repeated his question.
“I don’t really know exactly, sir,” he stammered as he shifted in his chair uncomfortably. “We need more data, more time to study them.”
“Come on Jack, level with me. I’ve seen you in combat before. You’re fearless and these things have you as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” Peters said in a conversational tone. “Level with me and tell me what you think they are.”
Wilcox swallowed and fixed his friend with a steel gaze. “I’m starting to think they’re exactly what Guardian Three says they are.”
Colonel Peters nodded his agreement. “So am I.”
The two old warriors sat in the office in silence studying the image on the monitor. Several minutes went by in this fashion. Finally, the First Sergeant broke the silence.
“Let’s say she’s right and they are angels and demons moving around in the ether. We’ve got a security problem,” he said.
“Yeah,” Colonel Peters agreed. “What do we do about that First Sergeant?”
“We could have the Guardians go out and scan everyone in the base?” Wilcox suggested.
“Not exactly,” he said. Wilcox cocked his head recognizing that look on his friend’s face.
“You’ve already got a plan. What’s your idea, sir?” he asked.
“First Sergeant, announce to everyone we’re having an inspection. I want everyone at their duty station in one hour,” Colonel Peters announced. First Sergeant Wilcox shot out of the chair and came to attention.
“Yes, sir,” he said and rendered a crisp salute, which the colonel returned. “But the men aren’t going to like that, sir.”
“I know, but it can’t be helped. I’m willing to sacrifice a little morale to find out if we’ve got any more of those things like Harrow’s got inside our perimeter,” he said.
“What about the debriefing, sir?” Wilcox added.
“I’ll be there in ten. I want to look something up first. Dismissed.” Without a word the First Sergeant saluted, grabbed his rifle, performed a textbook about face; and marched out of the office, pulling the door closed as he left.
Colonel Peters sat for just a moment before repositioning his computer screen. He quickly searched for another video feed and called it up when he found the one he wanted. He scrolled to the point he was looking for and started to play it at normal speed. As the video played, he turned up the volume on the small speakers built into his screen. He heard his own voice sounding alien and strange.
“Yeah, we saw it Cherry. We’ll analyze that later. We need you both back on task now,” he heard himself say.
“Exactly what are we going to do to Dante when we find him next? We can’t touch him,” Angela asked.
“Dante is now a denier of the truth. He is open to the full wrath of God against all who hold the truth in unrighteousness,” the angel that came out of Billy said.
“Look, I don’t know who you are, but stay off our comms,” he heard himself bark. “You two get back to The Pit so we can reacquire the target. We’ll call in LEOs to deal with him according to protocol.”
On the video Billy crossed the room to stand next to Angela who spoke next. “That’s from Romans isn’t it?”
Colonel Peters stopped the video and looked at the bottom right drawer of his desk again. He turned and opened the large drawer. The front of the drawer had a small hanging file setup crammed with neat military style folders running from the front of the drawer. He pulled the drawer all the way out to expose the last three inches of the drawer where the hanging file mechanism stopped and reached behind it. He pulled out a very new looking black, leather bound book with gold letters on it that read Holy Bible. He moved his keyboard aside and set the book on his desk.
The front of the book had sharp corners as though it had just been bought. In point of fact, it had been purchased some twenty-odd years ago by his mother on the eve of his graduation from Officer Candidate School. She felt he needed protection as she’d said. This was the best she could do not knowing how to manifest her overwhelming love for her son in any other physical way. A large bulletin was slipped into the latter portion of the book. He opened it to that point, feeling a renewed sense of loss fill him knowing where the bulletin had come from.
The top of the bulletin announced the date and time for the memorial service for Scott Carpenter. He stared at the paper for a long while, reliving the laying to rest of his friend before he set it aside.
He picked up the Bible intending to flip to the table of contents and locate the chapter called Romans referred to in the video, but found the bulletin had been slipped in at exactly that spot. The title on the page read The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. He wasn’t sure what an epistle was but he decided to read anyway. After several minutes of reading he reached verse eighteen and stopped. He read it again, rewound the video and listened to what the angel said. The words didn’t match but they were the same idea. A sudden idea struck him and sent a shiver to the core of his soul. If these really were angels and demons, like in the Bible, that had to mean God was real and by definition so was Jesus Christ. He was still sitting there twenty minutes later, holding the Bible when the intercom buzz broke his mental paralysis from that simple revelation.
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.