The backroom of the Leather and Lace club looked vastly different to Colonel Peters than the last time his team had visited the establishment. The well-lit room didn’t look anything like the dim speakeasy in which Robert Dante had consummated his deal with the demon and there was no sign of the inky black smoke that whisked both he and the stony-skinned creature out of Peters’ grasp. Neither the walls nor the floors carried any blemish to mark the battle of axe, sword, and hell-fire that had transpired in the ether a few days ago. Colonel Peters wondered if Julie Payne or Angela Magdala would have any luck determining exactly where Robert Dante had disappeared to, or how he’d done it?
Doesn’t look like the same room, Angela said, mirroring Colonel Peters’ thoughts.
He had interaction with the Others at this desk, Julie said, laying her hands on the desk top. Angela moved over to the desk, now missing all the papers Robert Dante had used to talk to the demon.
You can tell that? Angela asked.
So can you if you’ll think differently about your sense of touch, Julie said. Put your hands on the desk and I’ll show you.
Angela did as she was instructed. I don’t feel anything different. Besides, we can’t feel anything in the ether.
Don’t just touch the desk, put the surface of your hands just through the surface of the desk, Julie said, ignoring the other part of Angela’s comment.
Angela pressed her hands just a tad further into the surface of the desk. Colonel Peters focused her feed and zoomed in on her hands. He watched her readouts but couldn’t see anything else there.
I still don’t feel anything. I’ve never felt anything inside the ether, she said starting to get a little skeptical of the exercise.
You’ve never felt anything in the ether? Never? Julie asked. Colonel Peters switched communications networks to the Heaven network.
“Tinker, I need you to tell me the very first time you started seeing any data on Guardian Three’s data track for the feelings of touch, smell, or taste,” he ordered.
“Roger that Archangel. What am I looking for?” Sergeant Sanchez asked.
“I’m not really sure. Just tell me when that happened,” he reiterated.
“That’s easy, sir. The day Guardian One died,” Sergeant Sanchez responded.
“So there was zero data on those feeds prior to that event?” he asked.
“Well, not zero data, not nothing, sir. No. We’ve always had data on those lines just not enough for the human psyche to translate into anything useful,” Sergeant Sanchez said.
Colonel Peters had a hunch and put Icarus’ data feed up next to Guardian Three’s data feeds. The comparison was unquestionable. “Tinker, look at Icarus’ data feed next to Guardian Three’s.”
“Roger that. Stand by,” she reported. A few seconds later Sergeant Sanchez responded, “How is that possible, sir? Icarus has stronger readings than even Guardian One had.”
“Not stronger, Tinker. Different. Check the wave forms. See where the peaks and valleys are? They’re different from Guardian Three’s in a dramatic way,” Colonel Peters said.
“How’d we miss this?” Sergeant Sanchez asked.
“We didn’t. Icarus has never been in the program like Guardian Three. She’s been,” he hesitated to elaborate further over an electronic communications network, however secure he might think it to be. “She’s been somewhere else.”
“You’ll have to elaborate on that later, Archangel,” Sanchez said, fully understanding why her superior hesitated to explain. “I thought we were bleeding edge on this tech?”
“We are, but Icarus is tip of the spear on this one, sergeant,” he said.
“Roger that, sir.” He switched back to the mission communications network and picked up the conversation Angela and Julie were having. It had devolved just like the briefing room meeting had.
No, no, you’ve got to BE the desk, Julie said. Honestly, we’re not going to get anywhere with you boots if you can’t learn simple skills like this.
That’s enough Icarus. Guardian Three is hardly a boot in here. She’s been dealing with this realm all her life, the colonel said.
Her whole life? You’ll have to tell me how that’s possible some time, Archangel. Anyway, whatever her experience she’s just not picking up on this skill set, Julie said.
Her readouts indicate she can. You’ll just have to work with her later. Let’s get back on mission here Icarus, Colonel Peters ordered.
Roger that, Archangel. Looks like the target was communicating with one of the Others before he disappeared, Payne reported.
The Others? You said that before. What are the Others? Angela asked.
Deltas and Alphas, Colonel Peters answered.
Angels and Demons, Angela corrected.
They’re avatars of the enemy in the ether, Julie said, studying the desk and running her hands down the side to the floor.
The demons are, but the angels are on our side. They’re from God, Angela said.
Great, more comic book logic, Julie said as she continued moving her hands over the floor of the concealed office. Let’s stick to the things we know are real, okay?
Colonel Peters scrambled to cut off the fight he knew was coming. Lock it up. Focus on the task at hand. Where did Dante go, Icarus?
Julie Payne, Icarus, started to respond then screamed as her hand passed over a portion of the floor. She drew back her hand from the area and it smoldered slightly. She cradled the injured appendage against her chest in a protective fashion.
Let me see, Angela instructed. Julie refused and instead turned away from Angela. I can help, really I can.
It’s all in my mind. Nothing you can do about that, Julie responded, remaining with her back turned. Angela moved through her and turned to face the injured woman.
No it’s not. Guardian Eight got caught in some hell-fire and I was able to heal his wounds. I can heal this too, Angela insisted.
Icarus, your hand has third degree burns on it in the Pit, Marcus Rappaport said.
Roger that Daedalus. Medics to the Pitt, Colonel Peters said.
We don’t need them, Archangel. Let me try. I really can fix this, Angela said.
Do it, he ordered.
Julie didn’t say anything, but she held her hand out toward Angela. There on the display Colonel Peters saw a charred and burnt representation of the woman’s hand. Angela reached out, gently covered Julie’s burnt hand with both of her own, and closed her eyes. A moment later soft light began radiating from Angela’s chest where her heart was. The sphere of light grew to encompass both women as the glow began radiating down Angela’s arms to her hands, and then all the way to her fingertips. As the light of her hands grew to encompass Julie’s injured hand, Colonel Peters watched his monitors and saw the same sensory spike he’d seen when the same effect occurred during Billy’s injury. On his monitor he watched as Julie’s posture of pain relaxed. Angela removed her hands and the glow subsided as it had begun. Julie Payne raised her perfect, unmarred hand and flexed it turning it over and back looking for the burns that, until a moment ago, were covering her hand.
That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, Daedalus said over the net.
Archangel, we’ve got to figure out how to get Guardian Two into the ether, Sergant Wilcox said. Icarus’ burns are completely gone here in the Pit.
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.