Paradox – Chapter 27

“Wait, wait,” Michael said waving his hands at Maze and Orbital Strike, “Judge was in Detroit that night? I thought the official reports put him in California until he got called to help with the fires?”

Maze’s voice boomed as he laughed. “Do you think the U.S. government wanted their poster boy to be part of the biggest cluster fuck Enhanced operation on American soil? Judge was the hero saving lives in Southern California under the strict guidance of Washington D.C.. If he returned to his old team and burned down a major metropolitan center, the scandal might have taken down the entire administration. People were already angry about the Atomic Power incident.”

“The government blackmailed Scott’s parents, didn’t they?” Alaina interrupted.

Maze mocked a salute to Alaina. “The thing better than a defeated enemy is an enemy working for you. With Judge and Jury beating the drums the loudest, The Enhanced Public Safety Act opposition crumbled. After Bill started giving up names of the Enhanced heroes, you either retired from crime fighting or joined the party.”

“Or go rogue, like you,” Alaina added.

“You are a smart one,” Maze said with two clicks from his mouth. “Must be from your mother’s side.”

Michael turned his gaze to Bill. “And you were okay with this?”

Bill threw up his hands. “What could I do? I was on the hook as the leader of the strike team and the F.B.I. knew it after raiding our headquarters. They would have found out everything eventually.”

“What you should have done is shut your damn hole and stayed faithful to our mission, Bill,” Maze said. Michael could not see Maze’s face, it was hidden from everyone in the room, but he knew the old man was angry. “You sold the team out, even your own sister, just to save your own ass.”

“I had a family, Maze,” Orbital Strike screamed back, “something you don’t understand because you don’t give a damn about anyone. I had to take care of them first.”

Michael noticed Maze reach for the Nanoblade hidden under the cloak, but stop himself before pulling the weapon.

“Carolyn and Alaina had nothing to do with The Old Guard. You sold everyone else out to keep yourself out of jail. What ever happened to that giving the team everything bullshit you used to spout? You did something that even Herr Metall failed to do. You destroyed The Old Guard!”

Orbital Strike charged at Maze, but stopped before hitting the man. “You still have no right to come here, Maze. This is my home and my family. You and this fugitive are putting my daughter in danger!”

“It’s too late for that,” Maze replied. “Mister Larson’s escape was not an accident.”

“No, shit,” Orbital Strike responded as he tossed up his hands in frustration..

Maze shook his head. “Shutup and let me finish. A telepath, a very strong telepath, used your daughter’s likeness to draw Michael out.”

“Me?” Alaina said surprised. “Why would they do that?” Alaina looked at Michael but his eyes followed the floor.

“Oh,” said Carolyn standing behind the sofa.

“Yes,” Maze said with a voice oozing sarcasm. “The telepath knew Michael cares about your daughter. Michael inadvertently teleported out of his cell and landed south of here. Michael knew you lived in Michigan, just not where exactly. We’re lucky he’s not a prisoner Chicago right now.”

“And then several Enhanced dropped from two helicopter and attacked me,” Michael added. “One of them shot even me.”

“Oh my God, Michael, are you okay?” Alaina said running to him. Before realizing what she was doing, her hands here in his as she scanned him for injuries. “Where did they hit you?”

Michael smiled as he felt Alaina’s hands in his own. The smell of her hair reminded him of the time they danced together. “In the shoulder, but the round went all the way through. I healed on the way here.”

Orbital Strike frowned as he watched his daughter and then his wife comfort Michael but turned back to Maze. “How is this possible? The boy’s powers are supposed to be off the charts. Even a rifle should not have hurt him.”

“Screaming Eagle and a few others came across the lake,” Maze said. “Terrorvolt was using Equalizers, Bill.”

Orbital Strike stepped back. “That’s not possible. The JTF just started announced their existence.”

“But Herr Metall and his cronies already have them. He’s always had deep pockets and connections to industry and government. What’s a few thousand rounds missing when you buy in the millions?”

Bill Grayson glanced back to Michael and then his daughter. If Herr Metall was involved in Michael’s escape, he knew about Michael’s obvious feelings about her.

“You have to go, Maze, now,” Bill said as fear trembled from his lips. “I can’t be a part of this. I won’t tell the JTF you were here or with Michael, but if Metall is involved, you have to get Michael away from my daughter.”

“I’m sorry, Bill, we can’t leave just yet. Alaina is more important than you realize. The monster inside him is only growing stronger until it will take him over and burst open. Without Alaina, I’m afraid things will only get worse for everyone.”

“I don’t care,” Bill said between clenched teeth. “She’s my daughter and I must protect her. I’ve already given up so much.”

“Look at her,” Maze said pointing to Michael and Alaina with a gloved finger. Alaina embraced Michael, her arms wrapped tight around the young man as his head leaned on her with his eyes closed. “You are speaking with the fear of all fathers, but you need to trust her to do the right thing. She’s your blood, Orbital Strike. The time for heroes has returned.”

“I … I don’t know.” Bill rubbed his forehead and paced back and forth on the clean carpet with his dirty boots. “I need a drink first,” he said as he walked away.

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