A flash of light flared on all the monitors in Heaven, obscuring Colonel Peters’ view of the holding cell. He flinched, throwing up his arms reflexively though his brain knew he was in no real danger.
I can’t see you! Where am I? Billy shouted.
Colonel Peters ignored Billy’s plight and refocused his view on the holding cell. A new white-clad woman stood over the security guard, who remained kneeling but was listening to Planche with great focus. The other security guards were also oblivious to the new arrival. The other four angels all greeted the new arrival with hugs and handclasps as though a long lost friend had returned to them. The Gregorian chant seemed to continue in the background though none of the angels still chanted.
Peters switch his monitor to Billy’s view and immediately realized where he was. Cherry, you’re in the rock surrounding the base. Call up your compass and come to a 210 degree azimuth. You’re only twenty meters from the room.
He hasn’t had that training, Colonel. Guardian Eight, calm down and listen to the sound of my voice. Concentrate on that sound and then rotate until you hear it get louder. Head in that direction, Angela said.
Colonel Peters watched Billy’s display as he settled down and began to slowly rotate. Angela began speaking to the man at her feet, welcoming him to the faithful while the new angel knelt next to the man and laid her head on his shoulder. She embraced him in the kind of hug he’d seen when spouses were reunited after a long deployment in a combat zone.
All units stand down. I repeat, stand down. We do not have a breach, Colonel Peters reported. He switched his microphone over to the base PA system before he spoke again. “How are you soldier? Are you good to go?”
“I’m good to go, sir. I’ll be alright. I don’t know what came over me,” the man responded, standing unaided and giving a thumbs up to the camera in the room’s corner. Planche rose with him, smiling as they stood. Peters noticed Billy’s ethereal form emerging from the wall and back into the holding cell.
“He’ll be fine Colonel. Better than fine,” Hugh de Paynes said, orienting his stance to face the same camera. Satisfied, Colonel Peters switched back to the operational communications network.
Guardians Eight and Three stay in the ether but head to the Pit. There’s someone there I want you both to meet, Peters said.
Roger that, Angela said, flying through the nearest wall in the direction Colonel Peters knew the Pit to be.
Yes, sir, okay, Billy said following Angela.
Peters switch his view to the overhead camera angle looking down into the Pit. Three of the four couches were occupied: Brandt, still being tended to by medical personnel, Angela’s prone form, and Billy laying on his couch. The fourth couch had a woman connecting leads to a shroud as an armed soldier prepared to stand guard over her, just as three others stood near the couches of Billy, Brandt, and Angela. As he watched, Angela’s wispy form, followed closely by Billy’s, entered the room.
Guardians Three and Eight, meet Daedalus. The soldier raised his left hand.
“Hi,” Daedalus said
And Icarus. The woman on the couch raised her hand.
Hello everyone, Icarus said.
Icarus is your new team lead and Daedalus is her angel. At that moment, Icarus finished connecting her leads and settled back into the couch. Almost immediately the ethereal form of a winged man appeared in the center of the Pit hovering in the middle of the room, gently flapping his wings. The cord of energy connecting Billy and Angela with First Sergeant Wilcox and Corporal Williams did not connect with Icarus or Daedalus. In fact, neither of the new comers had a cord of energy at all.
New team lead? But what about Guardian Two? Angela asked, holding her position near the floor.
Wait, Icarus? Why not Guardian Nine? Billy said unable to hide his disappointment at still holding the lowest position in the pecking order.
Yes, new team lead. Guardian Two is out of action for the foreseeable future and I need a full team to take on whatever this is. As for the call signs, well you’ll just have to wait until the debriefing for that one. Since the gang’s all here, let’s use this time wisely and see if we can find Dante, Colonel Peters said.
Sir, I think we’ve found a way to heal Guardian Two and get him back on duty right now, Angela said, beginning to rise off the floor to equal elevation as Icarus. She faced the winged man as she spoke.
With respect, Three, the Colonel has issued his orders. Let’s see if we can find this guy and deal with your wounded later, Icarus said in a deep bass man’s voice.
Our wounded, Angela repeated.
Hey, you’re a girl. How’d you do that? Billy asked as he looked from the male winged form to the woman lying on the couch. Angela never took her eyes off the man.
Colonel Peters thought about interjecting, but he’d seen this sort of pissing contest before when a new leader was introduced. He had to let Icarus hold her own or they wouldn’t respect her commands.
I’ve been doing this a long time Guardian Eight. I’ve learned a few tricks you two haven’t even thought of yet, Icarus said. I’m not the bad guy, that’s Dante. Let’s go find him.
Angela ignored Icarus’ call to move on. Colonel, Guardian Two isn’t dead. He’s still with us. We just need to get him healed and he’ll be right back in charge.
I’m not here to replace him. I’m here to continue the mission while he recuperates for however long that takes. I’m here to ensure his loss doesn’t impact this unit’s ability to function and accomplish whatever mission is assigned. Are you going to help or not? Icarus asked.
Angela crossed her arms and turned a quarter turn away from Icarus. We’ve already tried. He’s still dead, or at least that’s how it feels.
How do you know he’s not? Icarus asked. Silence.
Colonel Peters hadn’t considered the possibility that the man was actually dead. He’d assumed, like everyone else, that he was still alive and that they just couldn’t locate him. Billy broke the silence.
He vanished from a strip club surrounded by policemen and no body was found. Just like in the comic books; no body, he isn’t dead, Billy said.
That’s the best you’ve got? Comic book logic? Icarus asked. No wonder this unit can’t find Dante.
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.