Portal – Chapter 17

When the countdown started, Michael ran for the BIT. He knew only the recruits with the ability to fly or use long range powers would stay near the EUT. Although he did not relish the idea of being anywhere near Justice,  he knew his options were limited. In a one on one slugfest, his power was useless and he would get pounded by the higher rated Enhanced. He still had no idea the powers of the group  but he was determined not be the first to find out. Justice would be looking for him for some payback, that was a certainty. He had to make sure that when he went down, it was not by that prick. He would evade Justice as long as possible and only fight the others to stay in the game. Knowing when to fight was as important as how to fight, according to the martial arts movies he watched online.

“They never went up against a Tank,” Michael said to himself.

As he climbed the second set of stairs to go reach the top floor of the BIT, Michael heard footsteps behind him. The countdown had just expired and someone was already tracking him. At least it was not Justice, he thought. Justice was loud and as subtle as a hurricane. He would want his prey to know it was about to be destroyed. Lady Justice had stayed outside with Turbulence so it was one of the others.

Michael was not sure if he wanted his stalker to be Trauma or not. She might be the Healer of the group but he had read plenty of stories of Healers with powers to inflict injury, disease, and pain. Some of the worst plagues in recent history were caused by criminal Healers around the world.

He wanted to team up with Net to take out the stronger competition but he saw Terrence run to another part of the BIT. Net would also have a giant target on him with Justice’s name written on it. After their confrontation in the classroom, the superstar son of Judge and Jury appeared ready to snap. Michael shuddered at the thought of his bloody body laying at the feet of Justice next to Net. There was no way he would last two years with the JTF making enemies like him.

Michael decided that whomever was tracking him was determined. He needed to put distance between them. He knew it was a risk but it was either face the person behind him or risk running into someone in front of him, including Justice.

Instead of continuing up, Michael made his way to the far end of the third floor. There was a second set of stairs that went back downstairs to another area of the BIT. As he started back down to the second floor, the entire building was lit up by a bright light and followed by a powerful thunderclap. A few seconds later, the audio system announced Turbulence was eliminated. Michael felt a little better. At least he would not be the first to get eliminated.

Net took a different way in the BIT, away from everyone else as he needed time to work. He knew the JTF computer would take time to hack as he split his focus on finding the JTF budget for the last few years in the Congressional computers. They were well protected by passwords and security hardware but he avoided them by querying the personal computers of various Congress members connected to the Congressional VPN servers. He found a Congressman from northern California connected to the House servers with a commonly used password. Net flagged his computer IP address for further exploration as he searched the computer for the previous budget requests. He located the company that performed the regular Hinkle maintenance and upgrades in an email from one of the Indiana representatives. They were a local company in Indianapolis. Net queried their web server and punched through using slave computers he had upgraded before JTF training. He found the complete architecture plans for the building and learned several other companies subcontracted for repairs, replacements, and upgrades.

Net split his search among the different companies to find the door codes used by maintenance workers to access the areas normally not accessible by the recruits, unless they intentionally destroyed the entrance. According to the Agents, that was a ticket out of training. His method was bending but not breaking the rules, he figured.

It was on a rotating schedule but Net found the daily code. He unlocked the door for a maintenance ladder behind the wall that ran parallel with the elevator. He would stay hidden until he could finish his takeover of the Hinkle computer system.

If his dad was here, he would have this place opened up in two minutes. Net knew he would take a little longer but hoped that something in the building could be useful before he was spotted. At least the internal cameras hidden all over would give him eyes and ears.