In B’nei Elohim basic training, every minute of every hour was accounted for, and a typical day’s schedule ran like this:

At 0600 the girls would be rudely awaken, take a shower, and get dressed.

At 0700 was morning formation, when their triad Malak would do a personnel inspection and make any pertinent announcements.

At 0730 was a hearty breakfast, which Hope thought was quite good, though she could literally eat garbage and it would still feed the macro that provided power for her body.

At 0800 they worked to make their barracks spotless for the room inspection that took place at 0900.

At 0915 (assuming they passed the inspection and weren’t being punished for flunking it) they changed into their running gear (shorts and t-shirts) and ran on the hard dirt and gravel trails in the woods by rooms or sometimes by triads.

At 1030 they showered and dressed again. Lunch was at 1130, and then they went out to the shooting range until 1400.

Following that were three hours of day classes and supper, followed by four hours of night classes.

Every day at 2130 the girls had exactly one half-hour of free time, followed by lights out at 2200.

On Uniform Issue Day Hope and Geraldine got three more complete sets of clothing, running shoes, and another pair of boots which they were told to wear only for inspections. They also each got one raincoat, which was used frequently at Shangri-La, four red B’nei Elohim t-shirts, four pairs of red shorts, eight pairs of gray panties, and four gray bras.

Stephanie, the malak of Charlie Triad, showed them how to fold their clothes. She said, “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the B’nei Elohim way…”

Overhead they heard a rumbling that went on for along time. Room Bravo Two was being “cycled” or exercised intensely as punishment for not doing things the BE way. Hope and Geraldine would learn all about that soon enough.

The next day featured a full physical and dental examination by real doctors who were B’nei Elohim. The doctors also administered a hearing and visual acuity test. The ladies of the BE, especially the Jills, tended to neglect their health, knowing there would always be fresh bodies to occupy. Here was the first look at two new such bodies coming in.

The afternoon of November 8 was their first day to shoot real rifles at the range. The next day was when classes actually began. Stephanie, Hope, and Jeri were in room Charlie Two. Rooms Alfa One and Bravo Three also began classes that week, nine girls in all. The malakim of the three triads alternated giving the classes.

The training often went something along these lines:

Two ishim and a malak formed a squad, the smallest fighting unit. There were 2,187 squads in the Girl Guard.

Three squads formed a nine-woman platoon, headed by a ravmalak. There were 729 squads in the Girl Guard.

Three platoons formed a 27-woman company, headed by a sar. There were 243 companies in the Girl Guard.

Three companies formed a 81-woman battalion, headed by an erel. There were 81 battalions in the Girl Guard.

Three battalions form a 243-woman regiment, headed by a hashmal. There were 27 regiments in the Girl Guard.

Three regiments form a 729-woman brigade, headed by an ophan. There were nine brigades in the Girl Guard.

Three brigades formed a 2187-woman division, headed by a cherub. There are three divisions in the Girl Guard, for a total of 6,561 women, and they answered directly to Del, who was the only seraph.

Of you eighteen recruits, nine would be selected to advance to the rank of ish and nine would be discharged to civilian life, some to serve at B’nei Elohim safe houses, and some even working in space. Everyone, at a minimum, would go up to Midway to receive the Change. Everyone, that is, except Hope.

Midway, Hope learned, was a space station thousands of miles above Venus where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. The Ark was the agent of the Change. The origin of the Artifact, as told in the Book of End Dome, and based ultimately on the white scroll of Lael, was not a secret for those willing to believe the account, but neither was it widely known.

After a month of training, the nine girls who were selected to be ishim, having officially joined the Girl Guard, were to meet two new recruits each and bring them to Shangri-La to begin training.

Three of those ishim in turn would be selected to advance to malak and become triad leaders. Finally, one of those triad leaders would be selected as an officer candidate, advance to ravmalak, and would move on to more training, equivalent to four years of college, destined to make her a sar.

There was a lot of information for the first week but Stephanie had been through this whole cycle before. She was there to help her subordinate, because it would help herself. Her chances on advancing to malak depended on how well she motivated Hope and Geraldine.

Then Work Week rolled around. Their first two days were spent in the laundry room doing the wash of every girl then in training, thirty sets of sweaty uniforms every day. Four days were spent on Kitchen Patrol, mess cranking with the outgoing Bravo Three room for two days and training up the incoming Alfa Two room for the next two days.

The room leaders acted as waitresses. The rest of them were grill cooks. Hope wasn’t particularly happy flipping hamburgers in the B’nei Elohim, but she knew things would get better.

One afternoon Stephanie took Hope and Geraldine on a shopping trip in downtown Seattle and treated them to a dinner of skewered steak and shrimp, her way of telling them thanks. She thought their composite score was very high, which bode well for advancement. Geraldine’s individual score was troublesome, however. Indeed, when the transition day came around Geraldine was not selected to remain in the Girl Guard. She had placed moderately high, but was still in the lower half of the class. She was to be mustered out and put to work as an assistant to a full member while she went through the Change.

“I outrank Del now,” she said, trying to cheer herself up. “I’m a civilian.”

After a trip to Midway for the Change, Geraldine would probably be sent to a safe house somewhere back here on Earth. Hope didn’t worry for her, they really were safe now. After a series of botched raids and the fiasco at Barbuda it was quite clear that trying to seize any B’nei Elohim safe house was certain death for the attackers. Over the last few weeks DECON and local police came to an unspoken truce with the BE. They watched, but they didn’t move in anymore. And a few weeks after that it wouldn’t matter, because that’s when Pacifica broke off from the United States anyway. The Second Civil War was on.

Stephanie moved up to Charlie triad malak, and Hope advanced from lowlife recruit to ish and went out to pick up her new girls, Vera and Annette. Hope retained residence in room C2.

Now that she was partly in charge of their training, Hope used much of their free time making Vera and Annette run up End Dome on the two mile winding course, which brought intense grumbling. But she said, “Your minimum time on this course is thirty minutes in the final. Any time less than that is extra points toward our composite score.”

Work Week came again, but Hope wasn’t behind the grill this time. She worked out in the chow hall, keeping it clean, setting out milk, and serving the table reserved for the triad malaks.

For room inspection on June 25, Hope’s recruits Vera and Annette had missed a spot. Hope found it at the last minute and wiped the dust with her hands. They passed the room inspection but she herself flunked the personnel inspection with her filthy paws, and her explanation wasn’t accepted.

But they were supposed to be a team. When she learned the truth, Stephanie punished all of them with a half hour of being “cycled”, or put through an intense series of exercises. Vera and Annette were deeply ashamed, and made it up to Hope with a good score on the range, throwing live rocket blades.

If a girl became a triad malak, it was partly the luck of the draw. She might be a great leader, but have a pair of recruits who didn’t want to be in the Girl Guard no matter what. Or she may be a lousy leader, but get two new fish who have their heart set on being Powers in the Guard themselves.

The entirety of B’nei Elohim boot camp was basically just two platoons, so from the nine triad malaks only three were picked to be ravmalaks. The rest were trained as specialists. Hope, to her delight, was chosen to be one of the three new malaks.

Vera and Annette both advanced to ish and became room leaders under Hope. She also added Private Eve under her from another room, and six new recruits took up residence in Charlie squad. So the finely-tuned machine which Lilith set into motion in the 1960s continued to crank out nine new B’nei Elohim Girl Guards every month, and also nine limited partners. A similar operation was running at Hybla-Dia for the nephilim and on Barbelo for the Fallen Angels.

As a malak in Bravo triad Hope started giving classes for the new girls. She taught them to kill and how to listen to pain as a defense mechanism and not an enemy to be vanquished.

She didn’t have to crank this time during Work Week, having already done so twice. “RHIP,” she said. “Rank Hath It’s Privileges.” And when a room messed up an inspection it was her turn to cycle them.

Hope herself was required to attend leadership classes deep into the night. She was being groomed for great things, and being selected for sar candidate school on was another step in that direction. But one time when she had a few hours free Hope realized she missed her little sister Aliwe terribly and ascended to north wall of the Green River Gorge to pay a visit. And that’s when she encountered her real mother Robyn.