Portal – Chapter 28

For the rest of the next week, the daily routine stayed the same for the recruits. Each morning at 5 am, they assembled outside the barracks for morning calisthenics and a 10 mile run with the dynamic-duo, the team suspension lifted after Michael returned. All powers were forbidden during PT but Justice was caught using his Enhanced-speed on the run. He was ordered to run the course again, blindfolded. After showering, the team attended three hours of classes on JTF procedures, weapon familiarity, Enhanced powers recognition, and then lunch. In the afternoon, the recruits attended individual Enhanced training sessions. Michael was still forbidden to use his powers so he spent time in the armory and library learning more about the many battles between the JTF and Enhanced.

Although the schedule for the weekend was blank, Michael knew that the JTF still had plans for the group. Net cracked Agent Prescott’s calendar password and noticed an entry for a welcoming lunch for a JTF agent visiting from Dallas on Saturday, followed by general and specialized training. Michael knew the JTF offered training from other Enhanced, thanks to the brochures sent by Director Lehrer. He wondered who they would find for him.

On Saturday, the group had finished their morning classes and were marching to lunch. As Net and Michael suspected, the dynamic-duo marched them in a new direction today. Michael could hear several confused mumbles behind, the loudest from Justice in the rear of the formation. As they approached the East Mall, across the street from the main JTF building, Michael could see several dozen people lined up, obviously a welcoming party for the visiting Agent. He had a good view, only Alaina was in front of him and she was several inches shorter. He immediately spotted Director Lehrer dressed in a fine suit and on the phone with several assistants around him. Also present was Bravo company, the local JTF task force dressed in full Harris armor. The recruits saw Bravo guys  several times over the week, including the class one of the Bravo Agents instructed on firearms familiarity. According to Justice, as training progressed, they would get opportunities to join Bravo in ride-alongs and support.

The recruits stopped and ordered into parade rest. Director Lehrer walked out in front of a large group of JTF staff, and turned around. He glanced at his watched for a few moments before speaking.

“Today,” he began. “we are privileged to welcome a well-known icon in the JTF family…”

Michael was already bored and ignored the rest of the speech. He already knew the Director was an egotistical dick that tried to get him sent to Leavenworth and experiment on him. He let his mind wander away, thinking of his first leave from training. He planned on visiting his mom and maybe go down to Broad Ripple. Some of the students at the university always claimed it was the best party and most patrolled area of the city. The bars in Broad Ripple were more than happy to help people forget the world was going to hell for a few hours each night. Since Metro PD had major cutbacks, like all major cities, the areas to the east and west were often no-man’s land. The south side was already lost to criminals and avoided by anyone not heavily armed. Residents crammed into apartments and homes with two or three times the number of people before Apocalypse on the north side to get away from it.

Michael was startled when a thunderous boom shook the area, interrupting his thoughts. Several cars with alarms started to beep as the noise echoed off the campus buildings. He quickly looked around to figure out what was going on, looking for smoke or flames against overcast sky. He started moving forward when he noticed everyone else on the left and Alaina to the right were still at parade rest. Her eyes narrowed on him.

“Larson!” yelled Agent Prescott loud enough not to attract too much attention, “get your ass back in formation.”

Michael was not sure what was going on but it was obviously not an emergency or unexpected. He did notice that Director Lehrer was furiously texting on his phone. A few seconds later, the source of the noise landed. In all white, wearing an oddly shaped helmet, a carbon fiber suit, leather cape, and calf-high boots, the guest had arrived or rather landed. Diving at a steep angle, his forward momentum rapidly slowed before he made a kneeling landing next to Director Lehrer, kicking up a small dust cloud.

Director Lehrer coughed a few times, brushing the dry dust off his suit.

The Enhanced stood up, putting his arm around Director Lehrer.

“Uh hum. Yes,” Director Lehrer said. “Ladies and Gentlemen, all the way from the Dallas office, Dart.”

The crowd clapped loudly with several cheers. Michael knew that Dart was a popular Enhanced, probably the fastest Flyer in the world but most of his JTF career was classified. Flyers were usually not on the frontlines unless they had a secondary rating like Judge or Lady Justice. They were often used as scouts, search and rescue, and other missions that required speed over firepower.

Dart laughed as he held up his hand to wave to the crowd.

“Thank you everyone,” he said loudly over the roar of the crowd. “I show flight time as 58 minutes, 35 seconds from Dallas. I know the Dallas staff will enjoy those pulled pork sandwiches you Hoosiers always brag about.”

The crowd added several laughs to the cheers. Michael just stood at attention, completely confused.

“Yes,” said Director Lehrer patting Dart’s back. “Welcome to Indianapolis. We’ve prepared a lunch for your arrival and then you can meet the recruits.”

“I look forward to it, Director. We’ve already heard many things about your recruits and I look forward to working with them, especially the two Flyers. Let’s eat!”

Agent Prescott moved in front of the recruit class.

“Class, attention! Dismissed for lunch. Lady Justice and Turbulence, please see me before lunch.”

Michael and Net raced towards the smell of food.