Guardians of the Herald – Issue #81

The little room in the nursing home had suddenly become very crowded.  Colonel Peters surveyed the bank of monitors and focused on Julie’s, which was labeled “Icarus.”  Icarus’ screen showed Angela’s avatar, the robe-clad man named Mihr, Billy and his companion Theliel, the old woman on the bed, Robert Dante standing in the door next to the little grey-skinned man called Rabdos, and of course Julie Payne.  No one in the room looked happy.  The monitor looked more like a picture than a live scene given how everyone stood rock-still, staring at each other.  The only hint of movement came from the flickering television in the room as the soap opera carried on with its daytime drama, oblivious to the real one going on in the room.

“They are not really in the room, servant.  Enter and close the door,” Rabdos said, but he remained motionless.  “I will take care of the angels.  The deceived pose no threat to you or I.”

“You are the deceiver here, hell-spawn,” Mihr said, producing his flaming sword.  Theliel’s sword sprang into existence as well in unison with Mihr’s.  Rabdos dropped one foot back, but did not produce his own weapon.

“Me the deceiver?  I’ve spoken nothing but the truth to this man.  You claim to serve peace, but who here is armed for battle?  We are but simple visitors paying respects to an ailing loved one,” Rabdos said, with notes of sadness in his voice as he held his hands out, palms up.  Dante entered the room and pulled the door shut, crossing to the bedside nearest the door and laying the bouquet on the table there.  He never took his eyes off the group.

“Mon colonel, you must remove these shackles and let us help the boy.  He is not prepared for this battle,” Hugh de Paynes said raising his cuffed hands toward Lieutenant Jones.  The lieutenant didn’t move, patiently waiting his orders.

“I still don’t know what side you’re on yet and Billy’s done just fine before.  That woman, Theliel she calls herself, does a great job defending him,” Peters said, though he wasn’t sure he believed his own words.  Billy had done well, but it had mostly been beginner’s luck to this point.  Perhaps he would be wise to release de Paynes.  The man hadn’t resisted at all, offering to help in any way he could.  He decided to be prepared just in case, after all, he had the two men surrounded by four combat experienced veteran operators and one lieutenant who could cut you with the creases in his trousers.  What did he have to worry from two pretentious Frenchmen?  “Lieutenant Jones, you may release these men, but my orders to use any means necessary to stop them stand if it comes to that.”

“Yes, sir,” Jones responded, producing a handcuff key as though he were a magician performing a trick on stage.  The four military men instinctively took several steps back getting out of arms reach, and each weapon moved ever so slightly clearing a field of fire should it be necessary.

“Tinker, where are my comms?” Peters asked, returning his attention to the situation in the nursing home.

“Efforting that as we speak, sir.  Almost there,” Sergeant Sanchez said.  The speakers interrupted her.

“You end here, little man,” the muscular avatar used by Julie Payne said.  Suddenly, the room exploded in motion.  Icarus’ fists exploded with crackling energy as her avatar streaked across the room with inhuman speed trying to engage Rabdos.  Rabdos moved with equal speed, drawing his axe in time to deflect Icarus’ blows with the butt of his weapon.  Simultaneously, the little demon deflected the twin bolts of fire from Mihr and Theliel with the head of his axe.  Angela’s avatar was a step behind Icarus, moving to engage only after the battle had started.  Robert Dante dropped below the edge of the bed, taking shelter from the fiery onslaught.  Billy held his ground as he and the elderly woman in the hospital bed were the only two not moving.

Rabdos sidestepped toward Dante as Icarus gripped the haft of his axe, trying to wrestle it from his grasp.  The little grey-skinned guy must be stronger than he appeared, Peters thought, as he was not only able to maintain his grip on the weapon against the visually much larger and stronger opponent, but he also deflected two more bolts as he moved closer to Dante.  Angela’s path of motion caused her to stop in her tracks nearly intercepting the bolts of fire from the two angels, as Icarus and Rabdos stepped back to stand over the cowering Robert Dante.

“You die here, little man,” Icarus said, the avatar drawing back its fist, covered in fire.  Rabdos grinned a toothy, evil looking grin.

“Only if you follow.”  Rabdos turned, releasing one hand from his axe and stabbing it into Dante’s chest as though he were taking hold of something and pulling.  The motion ripped Icarus’s avatar toward Dante as the demon vanished inside, drawing its weapon halfway into the man’s chest as well.  Dante didn’t seem in anyway discomforted by the activity. Icarus maintained her grip on the axe and was being slowly drawn in until Angela reached her, grabbed her waist, and added her strength to Icarus’.  Icarus’ motion toward Dante stopped with Angela’s assistance, until Rabdos’ face half emerged from the man’s chest and said, “That is of course, unless you’re afraid of a tiny little man like me.”

Icarus howled with rage and dove after Rabdos, dragging Angela after her.  The axe and two avatars followed Rabdos, disappearing into Robert Dante.

“No!” Mihr, Theliel, Hugh de Paynes, and Planche all screamed at once.  The special operatives surrounding de Paynes and Planche almost shot the two men dead on the spot.  Colonel Peters had his own pistol halfway out of its holster before he realized there was no threat, at least not one in the control room.

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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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