Michael was still fuming inside when he arrived to the main JTF office after a short walk across campus. He did not know where the trainer offices were located so he asked the secretary he met a few days earlier. She rolled her eyes and huffed but eventually directed him to the offices. The door was partially open when Michael arrived, Justice standing in the middle of the room at attention.
With near-Enhanced speed and precognance, Agent Edwards appeared in the doorway.
“Larson, get your ass in here. Now!” he yelled. Michael noticed several heads look up from their cubicles, the JTF staff aware of the incident at Hinkle.
Michael hurried inside and could feel the breeze as Edwards slammed the door shut behind him. Prescott was in front of Justice, almost as tall as him, screaming while poking a finger in Justice’s chest. Everyone knew this had no effect on a Tank but Michael figured it must be more for effect.
“About time,” stated Prescott when he noticed Michael had entered the room. “You stand at attention, Larson. You two dumbshits are not leaving until I’m satisfied”
Michael stood confused. What did he do wrong? Justice was the idiot that destroyed the wall trying to hurt him.
“So, you better start talking. Why am I filling out paperwork to pay for the damage to Hinkle out of my training budget?”
“Agent Prescott,” began Justice,” during the course of the simulation, as part of my orders from you and Agent Edwards, I wanted to engage Recruit Larson in hand-to-hand combat. When I spotted Recruit Larson running, I attempted a take-down when I crashed through the wall of the Hinkle facility. At no time did I intentionally use my powers outside of the training facility.”
“Bullshit, Justice,” blurted Michael, still standing at attention. He could not help himself after the news last night and his meeting with Alaina. “You tried to send me to the hospital…”
Agent Edwards jumped at Michael’s side, his hot breath blowing over his ear.
“You will shut your mouth, Larson,” screamed Agent Edwards, “ Show some professionalism, something I know is hard for you! You will answer Agent Prescott’s question!”
Michael continued to look straight ahead as he spoke.
“Agent Prescott, I knew Justice would track me during the simulation and I had no chance in a one-on-on fight. He’s a Category 3. My only option was misdirection and to lure him outside of the training area. I put a portal against the wall and made it look like I was retreating. I was on the other side of the connected portal. ”
“And do you know why we require recruits to keep their powers inside Hinkle, Recruit Larson?” asked Agent Prescott, obviously displeased with Michael’s answer.
“To keep us from destroying the building?” he asked.
“No,” retorted Agent Prescott. “Because in a real fight, we need to keep your powers inside the combat zone. Thanks to you, a crowd of innocent mundanes just got hit by an Enhanced doing over 100 miles per hour or the apartment building next door just collapsed because Justice destroyed the support pillars.”
Michael felt a pit in his stomach. He had failed at his basic mission.
“If someone is going to die in a fight, it better be you or Justice or someone else from the JTF. We are here to protect the mundanes from your kind, Recruit Larson, not give the politicians more reasons to shut this entire agency down. We don’t need you screwing this up. Do you understand?”
“Affirmative, Agent Prescott.”
“You pull another bullshit stunt like this, I’ll send you back to that judge and drive you to Leavenworth myself.”
Agent Prescott moved to Justice, standing eye to eye with him. Agent Edwards was writing furiously, obviously taking notes of the conversation.
“And you, I don’t give a shit what the PR department told the media about the event, I only care about what really happened. You got beat by a Category 1! The Director may have big plans for you but next time, I’ll fail you and send your ass back to Chicago. I don’t give a damn who your mommy and daddy are. Do you understand?”
“Affirmative, Agent Prescott.”
Agent Prescott stepped away from Justice, standing in front of Justice and Michael. Agent Edwards stood next to him.
“You two morons are lucky to have a good team leader,” added Agent Edwards. “You will do as she says or you will be gone.”
Michael felt relieved inside. Even though he had burned his one chance, he was not going to Leavenworth today.
“One last thing, Larson,” said Agent Edwards in a calmer voice, “ you are officially reclassified to Prototype.”
“Prototype, Agent Edwards?”
“The eggheads thought you were a new Teleporter type but after your stunt with Justice, they are not sure what you are. You are a Prototype until they figure it out. Now, get out of here and get to your exercises. Dismissed”
Justice and Michael quickly opened the office door and walked out of the building. When they were both outside the main doors, Michael suddenly found himself staring directly at Justice who did a Enhanced-speed 180.
“Don’t even think this is over, you little pissant. I’ll play nice with Net for Alaina but you will have your day of reckoning. Count on it, Larson.”
Either Justice believed no one was watching or no one would care, he used his abilities to run back to the exercise area. Alone, Michael just shook his head and continued to walk back at his normal pace.
Two individuals did see Justice use his powers. Agent Prescott and Agent Edwards stood at a window looking down, watching Michael walk away after Justice left him.
“What do you want to do, Jay?” asked Agent Edwards, his usual dominating voice replaced by anxiety.
“Let the old man know he was right,” replied Agent Prescott. “By the way, I saw the news. Nice report you typed up for the media.”
“Am I good or what?” laughed Agent Edwards. “Lehrer even emailed me this morning and thanked me for the good words about Justice. But now, everyone is trying to get the scoop on Lady. I don’t think she can hide for much longer.”
Agent Prescott smiled. “I want them busy with Team Justice while we figure out what to do with Larson. Does anyone in IT know we recovered their video?”
“No,” said Agent Edwards, “and Cortex doesn’t remember a thing.”
“Perfect. Let the Director know the video was corrupted thanks to Net’s hacking and the only eyewitness is unable to give a statement due to injuries.”
“I guess I’m back off the Director’s Christmas list.”