Portal – Chapter 14

Michael sat and pondered her question. He grew up learning that the American way was both the most fair and unfair system in the world. Many of his college friends would protest the capitalist system and proclaim the socialist state, especially the model of Sweden, as the fairest. But even years after World War 2, Sweden was still practicing eugenics, a practice introduced on a large scale in Europe by the Nazis. Did more fair mean less freedom, even with something as basic as reproduction?

The American way had been introduced all over the world with various degrees of success. Japan and Germany both adopted forms of the American culture and benefited from it. They still retained much of their culture and heritage but prospered from free markets.

After a group of hardline Islamic Enhanced seized parts of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq, the American way was encouraged for the countries still resisting through elections. The United States government believed the citizens of those nations would be encouraged by their new freedoms and deny the spread of the new Enhanced-backed Islamic state. In Lebanon, elections went smoothly and the population voted to remain independent. In Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the people elected politicians loyal to the Islamic Enhanced, adding to the new Caliphate power that was religiously, politically, economically, and militarily opposed to the United States, the creator of the American way. No, if Superman was to force the American way around the world, World War Three would result.

“What I am about to tell you is classified for JTF use only,” continued Dr. Carlson. “Another name for EEDS is Atomic Power Syndrome. Before his death, an FBI agent wrote a letter to Washington D.C. about Atomic Power exhibiting unusual behavior. A month before Apocalypse, Atomic Power was working an FBI request to find an Enhanced that was involved in human trafficking when the LAPD radioed about two men that had barricaded themselves in a home. The men were suspects in the rape and murder of a 10 year old girl. The officers requested SWAT when the men fled inside. Since they were mundanes and not involved in organized crime, an Enhanced could not be legally requested. Atomic Power heard the call over the radio and informed the FBI officers at his location that he would return shortly. He flew off and landed at the house with the barricaded suspects. He ignored the officers’ commands, entered the home, came under automatic fire, and attacked  mercilessly. The house was set on fire from his beams and burned down. Homicide detectives had to scoop up the melted remains of the suspects from the rubble.”

Michael heard several gasps from the recruits. Melting mundanes was not something looked highly upon, even if it was in self-defense, which this was definitely not.

“Ay dios mio”, muttered Recruit Alvarado.

“He could have arrested them but he wanted to kill them. When he was asked why by the officers on scene, he simply stated, ‘The innocent must be avenged’. He flew away and returned to his original search.”

Michael looked around to horrified faces as many of the recruits, like him, had never heard of this story. At the other end of the row of desks, Justice was talking to Alaina but neither displayed the same emotions as the others. Both of them had obviously known about Atomic Power. Justice would have been told by his parents but who told Alaina?

“We now believe Atomic Power was suffering from an advanced EEDS with a fixation on vengeance for all the innocent people he could not save. Everyone wanted to issue an arrest warrant but no one knew what they could do. Atomic Power could obliterate any Enhanced or mundane asset sent to arrest him and every DOJ and FBI expert believed that many urban areas would have exploded in riots.”

Dr. Carlson looked at the new recruits, happy they were taking this discussion seriously. She knew the two recruits on the end would have been told already but the others appeared to be properly horrified. Atomic Power was almost revered as a demigod by some in the Enhanced community, sacrificed to the mundanes when the LAPD sniper shot him. To hear that he was a flawed man, just like a normal mundane with mental problems, did not always sit well. Many new recruits simply denied the events but eventually came to terms with the truth. She remembered one training group had to be dissolved and everyone recycled into different classes, in different cities, after the two alpha males, similar to Recruit Larson and Recruit Jurgens, actually used their powers against each other over the validity of the information. That was a complete trainwreck with a mountain of paperwork.

“I am available any time any of you might need to talk. JTF training includes at least one session with me per week. As your powers increase from our program, we will be closely monitoring for any signs of EEDS.”

The back door opened loudly as Agents Prescott and Edwards walked in. Neither wore the scowl from lunchtime. They almost appeared to be anticipating something.

“Alright ladies, your tea time is over,” barked Agent Prescott with his usual charm. “Get outside and line up. It’s time for your first field test.”

Michael was not sure what that meant but Justice appeared to be excited by it. Of course, his parents would have prepared him for every step of training.