Billy looked at Mihr and Theliel as they stood aside, waiting.
“Don’t look at us. You’re the one who decided to miss the briefing,” Theliel said, holding up a hand.
“Right! You missed a mandatory briefing, soldier,” the male avatar for Julie Payne said. Billy had a hard time connecting the avatar before him with the woman he knew as Captain Julie Payne back in the real world, especially now that he heard her with a male voice. He briefly wondered if that was a function of being in the ether without the use of the shroud system or if it was something else?
“I’m not one of your soldiers, lady,” Billy shot back. He didn’t like her any more than she liked him. For that matter, he wondered if she liked anyone.
“You’re part of this team. We function best under military protocol. You may not be a soldier but by God you’ll act like one while I’m in charge,” Julie responded.
“Archangel is not happy with you Guardian Eight,” Angela said, cutting off Julie’s rant. Billy appreciated being called by his official call sign. He guessed Colonel Peters certainly hadn’t used it.
“So, that’s nothing new,” he said.
“Tinker wants to know how you got into the ether without using the gear? They’re all very concerned and I’m not sure why,” Angela said.
“Because there are only two groups we know of who have gear to get into the ether; us and the bad guys. You ain’t using our gear right now. Even you can figure out the rest,” Julie said, as she turned and drifted across the room to inspect the elderly woman in the hospital bed watching television.
“I’m still on the base. I haven’t defected if that’s what you’re worried about,” Billy replied. “And Mr. de Paynes and his friend know how to get in here. We saw it.”
“Right, but how did you get in here?” Angela asked.
“I did what Mr. de Paynes said. I used the Lord’s Prayer and here I am,” Billy said, raising his hands and spinning in place.
“Just like that?” Julie said, a note of sarcasm inundating her voice.
“Well, it did take a little trial and error, but it wasn’t that hard. I bet anyone could do it,” he said to Angela, ignoring Julie.
“No, Eight, not everyone can do it, I promise,” Angela said.
“Well, it was easy for me,” Billy responded.
“Hmmph,” Julie said, not looking up from the woman in the bed. “Wonder if she’s seeing this?”
The elderly woman lay on her side with her gaze set on the television. The screen showed a man and a woman in beach clothing in a living room setting. The background noises were that of the ocean breaking on the beach and gulls complaining. An open window with billowing, drawn curtains seemed to be the source of the outside noise.
“How can anyone watch this crap?” Julie asked, drifting over to the television.
“I don’t think she’s seeing any of it,” Angela said, drifting over to the woman. “Her eyes never move at all. I don’t think she’s in there.”
“Who is she?” Billy asked.
“She’s Dante’s sister,” Julie said, drifting back to the foot of the bed. “You’d know that if you attended the briefing like you were supposed to, Cherry.”
Billy ignored her.
“Archangel wants you to report in at Heaven right away,” Angela said, dutifully relaying the order.
“What if I don’t want to come?” Billy asked, defiantly crossing his arms.
“He says he’ll have the entire base locked down and not let you out of your room without two armed guards from now on,” Angela reported. She hung her head after she said it. Billy didn’t think she wanted to pass on the threat but she didn’t really have any choice. Besides, if the Colonel found him now his hideout would be lost and he’d have no place to be alone.
“Fine. I’ll be right there,” Billy agreed.
“No wait, he wants you to do that thing you do and get inside her head first. Find out who she is,” Angela said.
“Icarus just said she’s Dante’s sister,” Billy reminded her.
“Just do what you’re told, kid,” Julie admonished, dismissing Billy’s concern out of hand.
Billy drifted away from the bed and stared at Julie’s male avatar.
“That’s uncalled for, Icarus,” Angela said.
“No, it’s very called for. He’s an insubordinate, whinny little brat we apparently can’t live without. If there’s something he needs to do for our mission to be successful then he needs to do it,” Julie ranted. She abruptly shifted body language. Billy could see Angela straighten her stance a little as well, though her expression was not as wide eyed as Julie’s.
“Yes, sir,” she said punching the words out. She repeated them one more time, “yes, sir.”
Slowly, Julie’s avatar moved to face Billy. “I apologize for my rudeness. You are a member of this team and I was out of line for treating you badly.”
Billy guessed Colonel Peters forced her to apologize and she didn’t really mean it. “Sure.”
“Will you please see what’s going on in there, if anything?” Angela asked, bringing Billy’s attention back to the elderly woman.
Billy floated through the bed until he was just behind the woman’s head as she watched the television, looking away from him. He started to lean over and press his forehead into hers when the door to the room creaked open. At the same time, Billy felt an uncomfortable heat on his left temple. He raised his hand as he turned his head, and standing in the doorway was Robert Dante with the demon Rabdos at his side.
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.
For more information about this story please join us on our Facebook page community at www.facebook.com/firstchevalierbooks.