“Well, the problem for me was that the angels kept telling my men things they probably would have been better off not knowing” said Colonel Bloom.
“Like what?” Dylan asked.
“One of the Majors that worked under me, a guy named Figard, got a message that he was going to be killed in three days. He tried to desert, and ended up getting captured and killed by enemy combatants. If he hadn’t got that message he wouldn’t have been there.”
Dylan nodded. That wasn’t an uncommon comment, in these interviews, and it was the main reason that he was interested in listening to people. He didn’t see much chance of them figuring out what the angels were, but he found the idea of what we do when we know the future to be fascinating.
The Colonel took a long drag off a short cigar. Dylan didn’t smoke, did care for smoking, but the Colonel seemed to need it. The man rubbed his face and considered his next words.
“We found the boys that killed him. That’s what they were, too, boys. The oldest one was seventeen. And you know what they told me?” the Colonel said.
Dylan didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to.
“They said that the angels told them that they would do it. That’s why they did it. They knew it was right and holy. I….well, shit, what do you do with that? He wouldn’t have been there if the fucking angels hadn’t spooked him and they wouldn’t have done it if they angels hadn’t told them. What the fuck do you do with that?”
“It was chaos. Half the time they surrendered because the angels said they would, and half the time they tried to kill us for the same reason. Forget tactics and forget strategy, do you have any idea what that does to morale.?
“It’s not just that we were constantly being bombarded with information and trying to work around it. That’s a fucking nightmare, sure, but that’s something for people above my paygrade to worry about. But, you know, the angels didn’t just tell you battle stuff. They’d tell you about babies going to be born, about wives stepping out, about whether or not you’d get that fucking Mustang you wanted.”
The Colonel smiled at that, the first time since he’d sat down. Dylan got the impression he was a man who smiled a lot, once.
“That was a real message, too. My exo got it. First thing he did when he got back was buy a Mustang. Said it was fate. Maybe it was.”
“What did they tell you, Colonel?”
The Colonel took a long drag, and looked at Dylan with clear blue eyes, out of place in a face that was tanned and weathered. He looked away from Dylan.
“They told me I was going to betray my country,” he said, “and I did.”
“For the same reason the wars stopped, eventually. For the same reason that they drummed me out instead of throwing me in prison or just shooting me. Because it became pretty fucking clear that there was no point. Do you believe in angels, Mr. Hobble?”
It took Dylan a second to switch gears. He wasn’t expecting the question.
“I think the evidence would be pretty hard to dispute at this—“
“No, I don’t mean that. Do you believe that they are messengers from God?”
“I suppose I don’t.”
The Colonel considered this for a moment.
“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. I don’t know if they are angels like the Bible said or fucking space aliens or whatever the new theory is. But what they said always came to pass. Always the truth. Always. What’s the point in fighting when you know the outcome. I realized that there was no point. It didn’t matter what I did. It didn’t matter what any of us did. So I opted the fuck out.”