An acrid smell exploded as disgusting smoke filled the dorm room. “I’ll call you back.” Sergeant Jirel Cutler hung up on the prophet.
Before him stood the traitor Zorba, a red-eyed temptress masqueraded as human. He’d been shocked to find himself in this form one morning, dropped off at a diner on Earth with no explanation or instruction from his King. But this vixen willfully left her proper abode. Willfully sought human flesh. Hungered to be what they were not created to be. Imageo Deo.
Zorba lifted a cigarette to her lips and blew a puff smoke at him. “Jirel, well, speak of the devil!”
“Where did you come from?”
She laughed. “Going to and fro in the Earth, walking up and down in it.” She blew another puff of smoke at Jirel.
Jirel grabbed the cigarette from her hand and crushed it.
“Finally getting some gumption.”
“No, there’s no smoking allowed anywhere on base.”
She laughed. “Cute. We’ve noticed you have a little pet boy. What does Heaven want with him?”
Jirel stood still with folded arms.
“I bet you don’t even know.” She tsked. “Whatever it is, Heaven’s going to need a new plan. I’ve come for Snyder, and he’s ours.”
Jirel laughed. “The battle belongs to the Lord, Zorba.”
“What are you? The Angel Cliché-o-matic? I came as a professional courtesy.”
“And in the same manner, you may depart. You will not have Snyder’s soul.”
“I love it when you fellas put up a fight.” She tapped Jirel’s cheek. “Later, sweet thing.” She exited through a wall.
Jirel changed into his Physical Training uniform and headed down to Hecht’s Astroturf baseball diamond. He grabbed a bat from the clubhouse, set up the pitching machine, and waited for the ball.
The machine delivered up a fast ball. He smashed it over home plate and out of the park. Since no one was around, Jirel raced to catch it.
His home run ball fell into his outstretched hands.
In the desert. Several miles away from the listening post.
Jirel turned. Zorba stood in a cheerleading outfit, shaking pom poms. “Way to go, Superman!”
“I’m no man.”
“Are you?” She sashayed over to him and ran nimble fingers down his gray t-shirt. “Funny. You feel like a man to me.”
At the rude lesson in what led to the rise of those cursed Nephilim, Jirel made a dash for the listening post. Flee temptation.
Back on base, he let himself into his room. A scantily-clad Zorba perched on his bed in a provocative pose. “I’m as fast as you, babe.”
Jirel closed his eyes. “Resist the devil, and she must flee!”
“Touché. Next time, sweet thing.”
Jirel opened his eyes. She was gone. Praise God.
He picked up the remote to the HV window and called Smith back via vid-phone. He turned on the encryption that BlackJack McGraw had configured for them. McGraw had boasted that even Private Snyder couldn’t crack it.
The grizzled prophet sat in the window in what looked like a dark closet. Jirel said, “An unclean spirit has been assigned to tempt Snyder to fall back into sexual sin and hence undo all my work.”
Smith whistled. “That would be bad news.”
“An understatement. She’s been bringing men down for 3,000 years. She’s only succeeded with my kind twice, but that’s twice too many. There’s a reason it’s forbidden for us to touch human flesh. You may recall the offspring of such unions partly brought about the Flood.”
“She comes attached to someone, doesn’t she?”
“I’ll get the personnel files of new female transfers and enlistees. See what we can find out.”
“I doubt personnel files will be much help. She could have arrived unattached and found a victim already assigned to Hecht. Also, she prefers women, but will take a man if she’s desperate. Though a male victim would be easier to spot, in the advanced stages.”
At the question on the prophet’s face, Jirel added with a grimace, “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
Continued Next Thursday
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