Portal – Chapter 11

The rest of the morning was filled with hurry up and wait. They walked in a column, Michael at the rear since he was the last to orientation, to every new room or building. Michael kept his eyes front but could see several people, especially the female JTF staff, looking at the new recruit class. Word that Scott Jurgens had arrived was obviously the office gossip for the day.

After every recruit had their head shaved, the three female recruits included, they were marched to the supply building and issued their green training jumpsuits. While the Agents screamed at them for their slopping cadence, the marched again with their supplies to the barracks north of the administrative building and near the open fields and urban combat facility. They were instructed to quickly put away their supplies in the metal lockers next to their assigned beds that were in an open bay. Michael noticed that these lockers had the holes on the handles for a padlock but with Enhanced involved, it would be useless. Since they were Enhanced recruits, they were expected to be open for inspection at any time.

After putting all their clothes away in the locker, they were quickly lined up and marched again, with Michael at the rear, to the chow hall. They were instructed by Agent Prescott and Edwards to keep their eyes front and move sidestep through the line. They would eat at the red table at the rear of the chow hall and the first person would not begin eating until the last person was sitting down.

The female recruit that formerly had long red hair, went in first. Michael noticed her immediately when he could glance at his training class.

Behind her was Justice, whom she seemed to know. He caught Justice giving her several winks as they were putting their clothes away. She had smiled back in return but she was obviously nervous in this new environment. Michael’s inner voice was very creative in describing Scott Jurgens as he waited.

After Justice went the short black male that Michael learned was Recruit Shipley. He silently thanked him again.

After that was another male that Michael first thought was Hispanic. After he spoke the first time, Michael recognized his slight accent as Middle Eastern. Indianapolis had a sizable Arab population and Michael had worked with many at the airport.

After him was a Chinese Enhanced. Recruit Chung was originally tested in San Francisco but requested to join the training class in Indianapolis for unknown reasons. He suspected it had something to do with Justice. Everyone wanted something from the Enhanced Prince Charming.

After Chung was a female recruit that looked Hispanic. She mentioned something about her parents escaping the Cuban civil war in 2000 to the agents. Prescott did not seem very impressed. Michael tried to remember what the news had reported about the glorious second revolution of Cuba. A few of Fidel’s lower ranking soldiers were Enhanced and decided they would turn Cuba into an Enhanced Socialist paradise. An old Russian tank obliterated one of the Enhanced rebel leaders but his brother escaped. Now the country was split into two different factions while the citizens continued to flee to Florida for asylum.

The next recruit was a mousy guy, smaller than Shipley, and looked even younger than before after his wild, curly brown hair was shaved. He always had a fearful and sad look on his face that Agents Prescott and Edwards seemed to enjoy exploiting. He appeared physically weak but that did not matter with Enhanced. The guy might be able to tear through bricks like paper.

The recruit in front of Michael was the female he had noticed first with the strawberry blond hair. Now, her head looked ghostly white with pale freckles and her wire-frame glasses. Michael guessed she was from somewhere in Kentucky from her accent.

When they been at the supply building, the training class learned their situation was a little unusual. Previous classes had always started with eight recruits, no more, no less. The quartermaster complained endlessly as he had to find recruit gear to fit Michael because no one told him about a ninth recruit. That delay made them late to the barracks and that made Agents Prescott and Edwards unhappy.

Lunch went quickly. As Michael approached the table, he could see Justice and Shipley looking at him while the others sat with their eyes facing front. He sat down and everyone began to eat silently. He was not sure what he was eating but it was cooked, available, and free. He started to devour the meal as all the stress and excitement from the morning only increased his appetite. Michael tried to steal a glance at the female recruit he had been watching but she sat on the far end of the table next to Justice and barely visible. The recruit with the glasses next to him made a few noises that sounded like disgust as she picked through the meal. Three minutes later, Agent Prescott appeared.

“Get up recruits!” he yelled. Michael doubted he had an indoor voice.

“Now! Now Now! Thanks to you dipshits, we are behind schedule. You are done eating. Take your tray over there and get outside in line. You have one minute.”

If anyone in his training class had Enhanced speed to finish eating and get outside in the allotted time, they did not use it. Enhanced powers were forbidden for recruits until the training grounds. The unauthorized use of powers could lead to anything from recycling to another class in a few months or expulsion from the program.

Everyone made it outside and in line in just over 45 seconds Michael estimated. He did notice by the amount of food still remaining on their trays that most of the recruits had barely made a dent in their meals by the time Agent Prescott screamed at them again. Most of Michael’s lunch was already gone. He had lived alone long enough to appreciate free food, no matter where it came from. He also remembered the cafeteria was the most dangerous place in jail.  You eat fast and keep your head down if you want to survive. This place was pretty similar.