Portal – Chapter 36

Michael ran across the open field following the trampled path created by Team Four. Even though he was never an outdoorsman, following four guys in power armor was not that difficult on wet soil. He suddenly felt a thud against his leg and then up and down his body, the Harris fiber armor dispersing the kinetic energy across the entire suit. Someone had shot him. He guessed it was an AK or smaller  round. The JTF techs told the recruits they will know when they get hit by the larger calibers.

Michael dove into a small ditch for cover, determined not to give his attempted killer another shot at him. He crawled on the ground continuing to follow Team Four’s footsteps, mud and grass covering the front of his black uniform. After a minute of crawling, aching elbows finding every rock in the field, he hoped the shooter believed he was dead or moved on to easier targets. Michael kept a low profile and maneuvered to a grove north of the meadow.

As he moved through the trees, Michael noticed a sweet, heavenly smell hanging heavy in the air. Whatever was growing here must taste amazing. He looked to the left and right for the source of the odor, likely a fruit from one of the trees, when he fell down the embankment, landing on top of something metal that started to move.

“Help,” Michael heard from a shallow voice underneath him. He realized he was laying on Harris armor. He looked around and could see Team Four laying flat in the hole, entangled in vines. An M4 was next to the agent he fell on, the safety still on. Whatever had trapped them here had ambushed Team Four before the agents could get a single shot off.

“Hang on, I’ll get you guys out.” Michael replied, realizing that the other agents were not moving. He tried to pull on the vine but it just tightened, like it was resisting him. Maybe Justice could break them with his hands but he was busy to the south of the camp. The agent underneath him screamed as the vines slipped under the Harris armor and squeezed against the softer bodysuit.

“We already tried that,” he gasped. “They tighten each time we moved. If you can get to my right shin, my knife is there.” Michael could tell the agent was struggling to breathe now, his chest expansion severely restricted after the vine tightened.

Michael dug in the soft wet ground a few inches next to the agent’s leg. He stuck his hand in the hole, grabbing the knife’s black synthetic handle and pulling it free. It was a standard issue 8 inch blade used by armored agents, the color dulled slightly by the dirt, but sharp on one edge with serrations on the other for wire cutting. His first priority was to cut the vines across the agent’s chest and neck.

As he cut through the first vine around the agent’s neck, a shadow fell across the ground. Michael turned to see if it was a friend or foe when vines shot out from the ground, wet dirt splattering his already dirty uniform. He tried to dodge, but the vines wrapped around his neck and wrists, pulling him up like a marionette. He felt his feet dangling, no longer on the ground as his binds stiffened. The vines pulled him to the waiting newcomer by the wrists, slithering on the ground like a snake.

“My, my, is this what the JTF is recruiting now? No armor? Enhanced and with such a pretty face,” said the newcomer smiling, a woman in her late twenties dressed in a tight green jumpsuit with a short brown leather jacket . Her feet were bare and her wild brown hair intertwined with leaves and vines to the middle of her waist.  Her face was flawless, beautiful pale skin with rich golden eyes and perfect soft pink lips.

“If I knew the JTF had pretty pets like you, I might have joined myself,” she continued to laugh softly as she drew her small delicate finger across Michael’s chin and licked it.

As the vines holding him twisted, Michael was forced to look at the agents.

“What they do, they cannot help,” the woman said icily, her tone revealing a deep hatred of mundanes or JTF, maybe both. “They are but mortal creatures, lesser beings. We are so much more. But we have betrayers, like you, my pretty pet.”

The vines spun again, Michael found himself facing the woman, her mouth inches from him.  The sweet odor he smelled earlier emanated strongly from her lips.

“Once we rid the others from my forest, I will keep you. You will be broken, trained, and you will serve me. Don’t worry, it will not be terrible. No, pretty pet. You will love me, worship me, kill for me. We will create a new generation to rule these insects.”

Michael felt the bite of the vines in his wrists as they twisted him again to face the agents.

“Say goodbye, pretty pet,” the woman gloated.

Michael glanced at the agent he had landed on, focusing on the vine that pinned his arm to his body.

“Light travels in straight lines unless it hits an object that scatters it, reflects it, or bends it.” That’s what that Science Guy on TV had said. Michael remembered watching his show religiously with his cousins on cable TV before Mom went crazy.

Bend space enough, light will bypass the object and the two objects can touch, Michael thought. Wow, where the hell did that come from?

A portal appeared just above the vine pinning the agent’s arm to his body. At a perpendicular angle, the zero depth portal was invisible to Michael and the woman but he knew it was there.

“Nothing to say?” the Enhanced woman asked. “You will learn quickly, pretty pet.”

Michael spun back to the woman. He leaned forward, his lips pressed to her lips, their mouths exploring each other. Her lust occupied her thoughts as a second portal opened just above Michael’s right hand, still holding the knife. The vines around his wrists prevented him from cutting his bonds but he could maneuver enough to push the knife blade through the event horizon. The woman purred in triumph.

Michael heard the click of an M4 safety and pulled back, the woman’s expression caught in surprise.

“Shoot her!” Michael yelled as the barreled thundered. Three rounds struck the woman in the chest, her leather jacket puffing up with each impact and new hole.

“Betrayer!” The woman screamed as she fell, stunned from the bullets but not seriously wounded. Michael feared she was at least a Category 3, completely bulletproof.

Her concentration broken, the vines holding Michael collapsed and he dropped to the ground. In a fluid motion, he rolled back up and slashed at the Enhanced woman. With his increased strength, the knife easily cut through the leather jacket from the zipper to the pocket. The woman spun away before the blade could injure her. In the hands of a mundane, she could not be injured. Against another Enhanced, a knife was a deadly weapon. The JTF blades were the hardest known to exist.

Michael studied the woman, more feral animal now than human. She maneuvered herself low to all fours like a cat, her fiery stare locked on him. Michael attacked, the knife raised to strike a finishing blow when she melted into the earth below.


Author’s note: The mobile theme for Jetpack is not rendering everything on the site correctly, including the Portal Characters Gallery and the Recent Posts list. Please use the Full Site link at the bottom of the page if the mobile theme does not render correctly.

In case you missed them, two more recruits were rendered over the weekend.