“Brandt will be off his medication in about two or three more hours. We’ll be able to attempt to get him into the ether then.” He still couldn’t bring himself to accept the idea that what Angela did was actual healing. He did have to admit she’d been able to successfully heal Julie Payne’s burnt hand though, as well as the injuries suffered by Billy Ransom, both while they were inside. Thoughts of the young man drew the colonel’s eyes to the empty chair where the boy usually sat during operational meetings.
“That’s all well and good colonel, but that doesn’t get us closer to finding our target,” Julie said.
“No, it doesn’t,” he agreed. “Sergeant Sanchez, where do we stand on our target list?”
“Sir, I’ll have a list drawn up by the end of the day,” the speaker in the center of the conference table said.
“I don’t need the entire list, just what you have so far. We can get the Guardians started on evaluating their targets right now.” The door opened to the conference room and First Sergeant Wilcox entered, sat down, and shook his head slightly when he made eye contact with the colonel. He decided to ask the question out loud anyway.
“Where is that kid?”
“I don’t know, sir,” Wilcox said.
“This is your base and you don’t know where he’s at?” Peters asked.
“No sir,” the First Sergeant said, shifting in his seat uncomfortably. Peters shook his head.
“Sir, I have the list of family ready. We can start there. I’ll have known associates by the end of the day,” the voice of Sergeant Sanchez said, breaking the tension.
“Fine. Icarus, you’re first up with Magdala on deck.
“So, our trip to that place, didn’t get us anywhere?” Angela asked.
“I wouldn’t say it didn’t get us anywhere,” First Sergeant Wilcox said. “It definitely showed you can heal people in the ether.”
“We already knew that,” Angela said, not taking her eyes off Julie Payne. Julie fidgeted in her seat and returned the gaze defiantly, but did not speak. “I thought we were supposed to find out where Dante went.”
“You were,” Peters said.
“So what happened?” Angela asked.
“I burned my hand,” Julie answered, flexing the now perfect hand.
“How exactly did that happen?” Sergeant Sanchez asked over the speaker.
“I don’t know,” Julie responded. “I touched the floor and I got burned.”
“But you can’t touch anything in the ether, and how did it get transmitted to your body back in the Pitt?” Sanchez asked.
“I don’t know,” Julie spat out.
“People,” Colonel Peters said. The meeting was degenerating again, he thought.
“Oh, she can touch things in the ether,” Angela said to the speaker. “Only us boots can’t do something as simple as that.”
“People,” he said, more forcefully this time.
“So what happened?” Angela pressed.
“I don’t know!” Julie yelled, slamming her hands onto the table top. Instantly she cradled her left hand against her chest and dropped back into the padded seat, wincing in pain.
“Tell us, Icarus, what did you feel when you touched that spot? Where did he go?” Angela said, rising and leaning as far across the table as she could toward Julie Pyane.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Julie said through clenched teeth as she nursed her sore hand.
“We need to find this guy, Captain. Where did he go?” Peters asked, holding up a hand toward Angela to silence her interrogation.
“I said I don’t know, sir and I don’t know,” she responded.
“I know you don’t know but you got an impression. Tell us what your impression was.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, sir.”
A quizzical expression crossed Colonel Peters’ face. He opened his mouth to speak once, then closed it. He wasn’t accustomed to having subordinate officers assume his questions were optional. He thought for a moment longer before answering in a calm, but iron-clad tone. “I don’t give a damn what you want, Captain. Is that clear? My mission is to find this guy. You felt something, got some impression off the floor in that club. I want to know what it was.”
The room sat dead silent. Peters continued to stare directly at Julie not budging an inch. She’d always been head strong when it came to his, or anyone else’s, exercising authority over her. Even in her first days with the program as a newly minted second lieutenant she’d been difficult to deal with. Promotion had only made that issue grow. It had already gotten her removed from the program and cost her her first command. He needed her more than he could afford to let her know, but if she still couldn’t get her arms around her issues with authority she’d be off this team faster than before. He relaxed a little as her eyes showed she’d made that mental connection too.
“It felt like…” Julie started. “It felt like he went down.”
“Down?” Angela asked. Julie just nodded and focused her attention on her hand. “There’s no up or down in the ether. Gravity doesn’t exist there. Our brain orients us along with everyone else because the eye sees everyone else’s orientation, not because we can feel gravity.”
“I know, I know. It just felt like down,” Julie repeated, making brief eye contact with the colonel before cutting her eyes down and to the left, returning her attention to the hand she cradled against her chest. He knew she was holding something back.
“Spit it out Captain,” he said, emphasizing her rank to drive home the point that she was junior to him and thus subject to his orders. He hated having to use the blunt force of his own rank but sometimes some people left you no choice. She locked a defiant gaze with his but at the last moment her eyes softened in capitulation.
“I got the distinct impression he went down,” Julie said, in a firm, steady voice. “Down to a place of fire, heat, and torment.”
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.
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