“I know it sounds absurd. Hell doesn’t exist,” Julie Payne said, sitting forward and shaking her head as though that might change her impression. “That’s just the impression I got when I touched the floor where you all say he vanished.”
“Let’s go back to the part where she touched the floor, please,” Sergeant Sanchez said over the conference bridge speaker. “I’m still not understanding how someone in the ether touches anything.”
“You read the object you touch,” Julie said down at the speaker.
“But you don’t actually touch anything,” Angela said. Julie ignored her and focused on the speaker.
“But how do you do that? You don’t actually touch anything,” Sergeant Sanchez said echoing Angela’s sentiment.
“True, you don’t actually touch it because you aren’t actually there,” Julie said, responding to the question as though Angela had never made the same query. Colonel Peters shook his head and wondered if Julie Payne would ever improve her interpersonal skills. “You extend your consciousness into the object and envision mentally touching the thing in question.”
“Okay, but how?” Sergeant Sanchez asked again.
“By allowing the data stream that represents your ethereal hands to commingle and interact with the data stream that represents the object in question,” Julie said, expanding on the concept. An idea struck Peters and he really wished Billy Ransom had shown up for the meeting. He and that boy were going to have a long talk about the military, orders, and his responsibility to the program as soon as he could find him.
“Tinker, pull up the data stream from when Dante was driving to the Leather and Lace club,” Peters said.
“Roger that, sir. What are you looking for?” Sergeant Sanchez asked.
“Guardian Eight went into Dante’s mind and pushed him to go to ground. I want to see his data streams compared to Icarus’ data when she got burned back at the club,” Peters answered.
“Give me just a second, sir. I’ve got Cherry’s data up and,” Sergeant Sanchez paused for a bit as she worked to retrieve the requested data. The meeting room sat in silence as they waited. “Holy crap! They’re almost the same patterns.”
“You mean Bil…” Angela stammered then corrected herself as she spoke to Sergeant Sanchez over the phone. “You mean Guardian Eight can touch things in the ether too?”
“Lagging behind everyone, aren’t we?” Julie asked rhetorically as she sat back in her chair. It was Angela’s turn to ignore the other woman.
“Well, as Icarus pointed out he isn’t really touching anything, but I think he’s doing the same thing when he pushes people that Icarus did when she tried to read the floor,” Sergeant Sanchez replied.
“I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I guess if you commingled your psyche with a subject you’d be able to interact with him or her,” Julie said. “I’ll have to try that the next time I’m in.”
“You get your chance in about five minutes. I want you and Guardian Three here to get started on Tinker’s list,” Colonel Peters said.
“I thought you wanted us to work it in shifts?” Angela asked.
“I did, but I’ve changed my mind. Until all of you can gather impressions from objects like Icarus can I want you working together to learn from her,” Colonel Peters said. Angela did not look happy. Julie carried a smug smirk on her face that spoke volumes but she held her tongue for the moment.
“Wilcox, I want that boy corralled and on a short leash until he understands his responsibilities here. Bring him to my office when you find him,” he said knifing his hand through the air as he spoke.
“Yes sir,” First Sergeant Wilcox said rising briskly, saluting, and heading to the door.
“Sir, won’t we be running a little thin to run down the leads once Tinker completes her list of known associates?” Angela asked. He saw through her ploy easily as she was clearly trying to get out of going into the ether with Julie.
“Negative. I need you up to speed and adding this tool to your arsenal as soon as possible,” he said, trying to add emphasis to his words. “This is serious. Are you with me?”
“I’m with you, sir. I’ll try to have this down as quickly as I can,” Angela said as she tinkered with something on her wheelchair. Colonel Peters scanned the room. Corporal Williams had picked up the phone and was chatting with Sergeant Sanchez about some television show he’d watched. Angela was alternately fiddling with her wheelchair and paging through a day planner. Julie and Sergeant Rappaport were chatting and laughing about something he couldn’t overhear. None of them were focused on the task at hand at all. He slammed his fist on the table top and the room became instantly silent.
“I don’t think you folks understand the gravity of our situation,” he said softly. All eyes locked on Colonel Peters as he slowly rose from his chair like a specter rising from the grave. “We have a known terrorist out there who tried to blow up a soldout baseball game but instead killed a dozen elite soldiers. This same man has picked up allies that can move in and out of this base at will and have taken our target somewhere by that same mode of transportation. If we don’t find him most Ricky Tick, who’s to say he won’t just pop a bomb into the White House in the middle of a cabinet meeting or waltz into a secure nuclear facility and compromise national security? For that matter, how do we know that he hasn’t already done that? You all better get your heads screwed on straight and get after this guy before a single American is killed, and that includes learning to use these new abilities. Do I make myself clear?”
“As crystal, sir,” Sergeant Rappaport said in a rock steady voice.
“I’ll figure it out today, sir,” Angela said.
“Don’t worry, Colonel. I’ll get with Tinker and see how we can get the kid up to speed. It’s just like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets,” Julie said.
“What? No, you’re not on speaker anymore, hang on a second,” Corporal Williams said reaching over to the conference line and pressing a button. “You’re on speaker now, Tinker. Go ahead.”
“I think there’s been a misunderstanding about the comparison of Cherry and Icarus’ data streams when they touched stuff,” Sergeant Sanchez said. “They’re different force levels but almost the exact same patterns.”
“So the kid’s got potential. I’ll get him up to speed like I said, as soon as you can find him, sir,” Julie said.
“You don’t understand. Icarus isn’t the stronger signal. Guardian Eight is,” Sanchez said. The revelation made Colonel Peters forget all about the insubordinate crack made by Captain Payne.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. To catch up on the first 45 issues you can either read them for free on the web site or purchase the compilation, Guardians of the Herald Issues 1-45: Angels and Demons for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Herald-Issues-1-45-Angels-ebook/dp/B00IJIFXSY.
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