Portal – Chapter 42

Michael looked in the portal and saw Cortex looking back. He could barely see Teams One and Three through Caldwell’s binoculars but it was enough to create a portal next to the Mentalist. Cortex guided the portal to face the right direction and keep it hidden under the berm. Michael did not need a 50 caliber round coming back through the portal at his head. When it was in the right position, Michael closed the portal on his side.  Lady Justice and Lieutenant Caldwell were still arguing over the plan behind him.

“No way,” Lady Justice said firmly.

“Justice is missing,” Lieutenant Caldwell stated clearly, “I would rather use him but we don’t have him. I have to use whatever else we have. Princess believes he can do it.”

Lady Justice turned to look at the berm. Cortex, Team Three, and  the remaining members of Team One were laying flat against the dirt wall, trying to minimize their profiles. Team Two had been ordered to pick up the Flyer that she had shot down earlier and try and find Justice. Turbulence was still flying overhead but she could not see any signs of Scott. She had warned Mari to stay away from the berm.

“Michael, how big can you make your portal?” Lady Justice hoped this would persuade Caldwell to try another option.

“About 14 or 15 inches for a few seconds, otherwise, you know.”

Lady Justice frowned. “And how big is the Hellfire?”

Lieutenant Caldwell understood Lady Justice was concerned about one the recruits but he was not going to change his mind. The sun would set soon and he would not risk combat at night. Although the Harris suits had night-vision capabilities, the colonists knew the area, and he did not know if all the colony Enhanced had been captured yet. He also could not send the Strykers directly in the camp due to the IED risk.

“About 12 inches or so,” stated the Bravo CO. “He knows this, Lady J.” Michael nodded.

Michael could hear footsteps approaching. Lieutenant Caldwell, Lady Justice, and Michael turned to see Trauma approaching, her eyes glaring at Michael.

“Absolutely not, Michael,” Trauma demanded. “Let Lady Justice do it. She’s the most powerful Enhanced we have. Or tell Solid Copy to do it as Justice.”

“Ma’am,” Caldwell stately calmly to Trauma, “I appreciate everything you have done for us. You are a miracle worker, but right now, we need him. We are down to two combat teams and we must get in that campsite before sunset. Mundanes are already scared shitless about what you people can do. If this works, the Hellfire eliminated the threat. Justice could disable the vehicle but Lady Justice will put those people in body bags. Solid Copy is an infiltrator, not a fighter. He’s lucky Mother Nature’s golem didn’t kill him.”

Michael felt embarrassed by the openness from Lieutenant Caldwell. When he told the E-specs how he punched Mother Nature through his portal, they were impressed by the amount of damage he did to her. She woke up shortly after she was shackled in the prison vehicle and screamed about a violent revenge.

“I’ll be fine, Kim. This won’t be like the simulator. I’ll keep the portal open only as long as necessary.” Michael responded using her real name, trying to keep this between friends. It was the best way he could think of to calm her down at the moment. He held her hand gently as he reassured her. “This will work. If not, I swear I’ll let you say, I told you so.” Michael smiled, hoping he was right.

“It better. I’m not scraping up the mess.” Trauma quickly returned to the deployment area. Lieutenant Caldwell joined her.

“Good luck, Princess,” Lady Justice said, smiling. Inside, she only felt despair and dread. There was no way this would work.

“Net, you ready?” asked Michael over the EComm. He had moved to the field on the north side of the deployment zone while everyone else stayed south.

“All set. I don’t want to be known as the guy that blew up that moron, what’s his name,” Terrence quipped over the EComm.

Michael smiled but felt his heart pounding in anticipation. It was the first time he knew he could do something that no other Enhanced would ever try to do.

“Fire.”

—–

The drone overhead dropped it’s final Hellfire, the rocket ignition propelling the missile quickly over Mach 1. Net and Michael had agreed at a target location, a nearby rock where Michael would open the connecting portal as wide as possible before the missile impacted the ground. Michael knew he would only have one shot at this, either the missile would go through the portal or he would explode in a blaze of glory when the 20 pound warhead detonated next to him. He hoped his power would give him enough time to adjust.

Using the laser designator, Net calculated the range and time to target. “Twenty seconds,” he calmly relayed over the radio. He wanted to shout this idea was stupid and there was no way Michael could accurately pinpoint a Hellfire but Caldwell seemed desperate. Justice was MIA and no one wanted to get near the M113 guarding the campsite.

Michael heard the call, using his EComm to countdown the time. He reached in mentally, calling his power. When he glimpsed the fourth dimension briefly before, he realized that his perception of time was different when he used his powers. From his viewpoint, time moved at the same rate but everything else slowed down, almost to the point of stopping. He guessed from outside, he must look like a Speedster, moving faster than humanly possible.

His power was not responding. Don’t force it, Michael thought.

“Ten seconds to impact,” Net continued the countdown.

 This is who I am. Michael closed his eyes, listening for the voice he heard before, the thunder in his mind.

“Five…Four…Three…Two…Oonnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeeee…”

And my name is Vengeance, the voice replied as the power roared through Michael’s entire body.

Michael opened his eyes. The world was still around him, the birds and insects around him silent. He glanced to his left and he could see a fly in midair, the wings perfectly viewable. When he looked to his right, he was awestruck. The Hellfire missile was floating in midair ten feet above the ground at a shallow angle. The flame was burning brightly from the rear, flickering slightly in color and intensity. Michael noticed that it was still moving forward to impact, albeit slowly. Time had not stopped completely. It would miss the original target rock and portal, but he had plenty of time to fix that.

—–

Cortex was not sure what happened. As Net counted down the missile impact, he watched the swirling grey portal that Michael created earlier. When Net said one, Cortex knew the plan had failed, the portal had not changed. Michael was going to die. But in a blink of the eye, the portal was suddenly above the berm, larger, and open. A blast of hot rocket engine and exhaust was all that Cortex saw from the portal opening before the M113 exploded in a massive fireball. Before he knew it, the portal had closed and disappeared.