Portal – Chapter 19

Michael could hear someone approaching his hiding spot. He thought he evaded his pursuer by doubling back downstairs to the basement. It was definitely not Justice, he was making a lot of noise on the floor above. It sounded like he was making new holes in the building.

Cortex slowed down his pursuit and cautiously walked in the basement storage room. He had chased Recruit Larson from top to bottom of the BIT using Larson’s  fear as a beacon. He was used to it. Mundanes tolerated Enhanced because they had to but that did not mean they liked them all equally. Tanks, Flyers, and Elementalists had powers that were physical and verifiable. There were some Mentalists, like Jury, who counseled and worked with crime victims, but she was the exception and beloved by most mundanes. In movies and books, the Mentalist was usually the mastermind criminal mind-controlling the hapless other Enhanced. Mundanes and even many Enhanced, loathed his type.

“You can come out, Larson,” Cortex stated. “You can’t run from me. Just let me take your life disk and I won’t hurt you.”

Michael was thinking over his very limited options when the crate in front of him suddenly floated up and flew across the room. Cortex stood 20 feet directly in front of him.

“Now, turn around,” commanded Cortex. He was not going to admit his telekinetic power was line-of-sight.

Michael warmed up as a surge of power filled his body, the same he felt in the courtroom with Director Lehrer. He could feel his thoughts split in two. The mundane half, the one with the majority of his life experiences, was telling him to stand there and lose with dignity. The Enhanced half screamed to attack quickly and eliminate the Mentalist before he could get inside.

This was only the second time Cortex had used his powers on an unwilling human target. When he was tested, he used his telepathic and telekinetic skills to read a willing subject or make objects float around the room. He had done it a thousand times before with his private tutors but that was in a controlled environment, not against a scared and angry recruit.

His first demonstration of power was accidental but with severe repercussions. While babysitting his little sister, without thinking, he entered her mind and commanded her to go to her room during one of their sibling arguments. When she refused to leave her room the next day, he was confronted by his parents and admitted to using his powers on her and immediately lifted the command. His father’s thoughts told him everything. He believed his son was a monster and dangerous. He thought the same thing. His sister and mother left to live with relatives in Ohio. That was the last time he saw either of them.

Michael forced himself towards the Mentalist, the surge fueling him and the world appeared to slow down. He could feel his sense of balance pushed like a rocking boat,  a loud ringing in his ear, and the dimming of his vision. Cortex was shutting down his sensory functions but he was starting to panic. Michael felt his body harden up, ready to strike against his smaller opponent. Growing up, he had always been the smaller fighter against his mother’s boyfriends. He appreciated that size favored him this time.

Like a lot of young boys, Michael loved to watch professional wrestling. It become more popular when Enhanced wrestlers were added, usually as the heel. The crowds booed at the Enhanced proclaiming his superiority to the rest of the mundane wrestlers and then, week after week, defeat all challengers. At a pay-per-view event, the Enhanced wrestler would always be defeated by the mundane wrestler that would not quit, the crowd favorite. That wrestler was the savior of the mundanes before the Enhanced takeover. Michael remembered watching wrestling with his cousins, before his mom went batshit crazy, and pretending to be that mundane wrestler.

Cortex would not remember getting hit by the flying clothesline. Michael slammed him down, cracking the cement floor, and quickly slid on top, locking his hips around Cortex’s arms and pinning them. He had done this move many times to the ex-boyfriends who were far larger. After the third hard blow to the head, blood appeared from Cortex’s mouth.

The speaker screamed alive.

“He’s down, Recruit Larson! Quit damaging government property and grab the disk,” commanded the voice. Michael was not sure who was speaking but he was still in shock that he was not face down at Cortex’s feet. As he turned the groaning body over and pulled the disk, the voice returned.

“Cortex has been …” The speaker went silent momentarily before turning back on.

Jimi Hendrix started playing the Star-Spangled Banner.

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