Portal – Chapter 34

The mission went sour the minute the convoy stopped and deployed Bravo company. The JTF agents were under heavy fire from the colonists, not 30 as expected, but closer to 100. Michael heard several calls over the radio that colonists were armed with AK47s and heavy rifles, likely bolt-action Russian Mosins. The also had several machine gun emplacements firing on the convoy.

In anti-Enhanced groups, the most popular caliber to kill Enhanced was the .308, the same round that killed Atomic Power, or the similar .30-06, or Russian equivalent, the 54R. The Russians had very few Enhanced within their borders but they had millions of rounds of surplus 54R and rifles that used it, in particular the venerable Mosin M91 and M44, developed during World War II. When the Russian firearms and ammunition were first imported 30 years ago, the supply was ample and prices were extremely low. When word spread that even the most powerful Enhanced could be taken down by the .308, the prices skyrocketed and frightened mundane Americans turned to a cheaper alternative, the 54R, as .30-06 was never produced in mass quantities after World War II and primarily used by big-game hunters and hand loaders. The Russian supply eventually became scarce but was still less than half the cost of the .308 and .30-06. Today, fringe groups hoarded anything they could find or steal to fend off Enhanced criminal gang attacks or the JTF.

The JTF was primarily armed with M4s with the lighter 5.56mm for reduced ammunition weight and recoil. Since they deployed Enhanced of their own, their weapons were designed to be used against the more numerous mundane henchmen that followed the criminal Enhanced. However, all JTF companies did carry a few SCAR rifles that fired the heavier .308 round, for when they engaged Enhanced directly. Team Leaders One and Two were calling for the SCARs to be deployed to match the range of the snipers with the 54R rifles and the machine guns.

As the Enhanced crew deployed from their vehicle, Lady Justice’s EComm buzzed with activity.

“Bravo Niner to Echo Niner.” Michael heard the call to Lady Justice and knew that the situation must be bad if he needed the recruits already.

“Bravo Niner, go,” responded Lady Justice. She spent two extra hours a day with the dynamic duo practicing radio calls. She was the all-important connection to the team.

“Sorry, Lady J, looks like the tour ride is over. I need Turbulence in the air immediately. They got a couple of Flyers tossing IEDs on our heads. Get Justice moving to the south side of the park to intercept their Speedster. He’s moving from cover to cover and firing at us from behind. We need Scimitar with Team Three to provide flanking cover from him and his friends.”

“Copy, Bravo Niner, they’re on the way.” Lady Justice called the group and gave Turbulence, Justice, and Scimitar their orders. Trauma had already departed to the headquarters vehicle to set up a triage area for casualties, which she knew there would be many on both sides. Turbulence flew off with a rush of wind sweeping along the ground. Justice just smiled, cracked his knuckles and ran hard in a southwest direction, not caring about the incoming gunfire.

“Solid, shift to Justice’s form and start scouting the north side, looking for any snipers. Take them down if you think you can. If other teams need help, be ready to shift into Trauma or Scimitar. Remember, you have their powers but not their experiences. No heroics.”

“Copy Team Leader,” Solid Copy confirmed as he morphed in to Justice and raced away, not as fast as the original.

Lady Justice shifted her focus to Net. “Get over to the HQ Stryker and patch in to their net. Make sure we don’t lose the comm satellite and get in touch with Indy. Tell them to send us a drone and hurry. We need more eyes from the sky on this place.”

“Got it, Lady Justice.” Net pronounced her named loudly and distinctly as he followed the path Trauma made to Bravo HQ a few minutes ago.

Only Cortex and Michael remained with no orders. The wait was short when Lady Justice’s EComm lit up again.

“Cortex, make your way to Team One. They’re leading the push into the camp. They want you to use your telekinesis to build barriers in the open field in front of the berm so they can assault. They’re sitting ducks out in the open.”

“Copy, Team Leader,” Cortex said quickly before running off.

Lady Justice made sure Cortex was out of earshot  before turning to Michael. “Sorry, you just don’t have the skills to do much right now. Stay here and keep your head down.” Michael felt his heart sink when she told him to remain behind. The Enhanced power inside burned with anger.

“Michael, do you understand?” Lady Justice shouted over the increasing gunfire and ricochets off the Stryker vehicles.

“Yeah, I do,” he said softly as he waved her away.

Lady Justice did not have time to admonish him for his lack of protocol, there was a fight to win first. She flew up to coordinate the mundane and Enhanced teams to surround and force the colonists to surrender quickly before the fighting escalated and more people died.

Michael crouched at the Stryker, trying to watch the battle progress. Turbulence and Lady Justice were chasing two Flyers over the area. One of them appeared to be armed and shooting back at Turbulence. Lady Justice let loose with the lightning but the other Flyer was not going down.

Although he could not transmit, Michael started flipping through the Bravo company channels on his EComm.

“…second barrier completed…”

“…left side, they’re firing on the left side…”

“…Justice just took down another one…”

“…Team Four, we need help…got tangled up and now Jackson and Shepherd are unresponsive…HQ…do you copy?”

Michael stayed on the channel, waiting for a response from HQ but it did not come. The fighting had escalated as lightning flashed overhead and heavy machine gun fire poured out from the colony all across the deployment zone. At least the bombing had stopped. Michael peeked up and scanned the horizon to the northwest. They were briefed on the planned approach by each Team and he knew the approximate location of Team Four.

Michael jumped up and ran as hard as he could into battle.