Portal – Chapter 50

Alaina was furious. Scott bitched all day about going to the NCAA museum and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, declaring loudly ‘who cared about a bunch of mundane records that any decent Enhanced could beat’. College and professional sports did not allow Enhanced to participate for obvious reasons but he embarrassed the entire group, especially her. They all just ignored it as Justice being Justice, but now at the club, he was letting his fame go to his head and it was taking time away from her. The girls in the club asked for autographs, some in very inappropriate places, and Scott lavished the attention. They had yet to dance once but he was off with a group of fans, mostly female, drinking shots together. Enhanced were much more tolerant to alcohol than mundanes, but even they had limits. Scott was starting to reach his and it was pissing her off.

“Screw it,” Alaina said, getting up and walking across the dance floor. Net danced all evening, a new girl jumping at the chance to spin with him. Right now, he was resting and talking with the others. She had to admit, Terrence could dance better than anyone else in the club, with or without his Enhanced powers. Enhanced naturally had better reflexes, balance, and endurance so they could do many things mundanes would find impossible. No, she was going to ask the one guy that would piss off Scott more than anything.

“Recruit Larson,” she said trying to hide her fear. She had faced one of the most ruthless Enhanced in the Midwest and she was nervous about talking to Michael. “Care to dance?”

Net smiled as he stepped away from Michael, trying to telepathically prompt his friend to answer the lady before Justice saw her and flipped out. Once they are on the dance floor, she was out of his reach until they came back.  He also needed a moment to sync with the DJ’s computer to find out what songs were up next. He was also updating the lighting and effects code to make everything was perfect.  He could not miss an opportunity like this.

“And Justice is okay with this?” asked Michael shocked. He had caught Alaina looking at him several times during the evening but he also spotted Justice staring as well. The son of Judge and Jury was still holding a major grudge against him and one day would settle it. Alaina’s attention was not going to make it any easier, even if Michael enjoyed it.

Alaina snorted, turning around as Justice and his female fans pounded three shots together with a crowd of supporters around them.

“I think he’s more busy enjoying his reputation tonight than spending it with me. Everyone else is having their fun. I didn’t come here to sit in a damn booth watching Scott get wasted. You in or not?”

Michael knew this would not go over well with Justice, but right now, he did not give a shit. Although he had not had a single drink, his head was buzzing. The power inside was stirring again, still agitated from earlier in the evening. Michael wanted to ask Net tomorrow how long this would go on before he could control it.

“Miss Grayson,” Michael said, watching her laugh as he imitated a southern accent,  “I’m definitely in.” He could not deny that she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever met.

“Let’s go, cowboy!” Alaina smirked.

Net was quick as he switched out the DJ’s playlist. He was supposed to play a shitty techno beat with a fast tempo but Net slowed it down with some Marvin Gaye. He was his dad’s favorite and Net wanted to make sure this song was one to remember. He also refocused the lights on Michael and Alaina so everyone would see them dancing together.

As they started to dance, Alaina noticed that Michael was keeping a few inches between them. He was a gentlemen tonight, confident but not overbearing, something Alaina rarely saw in the Enhanced community – most Enhanced had a male-superiority complex, like Justice or Net, or were so awkward around women, like Scimitar and Cortex, it was difficult to form anything more than a casual connection. Like the first day when Michael and Scott almost came to blows, the Enhanced genetics also pushed the drive of the already sex-focused young male mind – some could handle it, some could not.

“I heard Khaleel took you around the city. I hope it wasn’t too boring,” Michael said, trying to think of something to start the conversation. He did not expect Alaina to ask him to dance so he was unsure what to say. Michael was constantly watching his six, waiting for Justice to notice, but he was still too busy with his fan club to see anything.

“Most of us had a great time,” Alaina responding, alluding to Scott’s hissy-fit about seeing mundane museums. “I wish the track was still open. I would love to take one of those Indy cars out for a spin.”

Like most of the city, Michael sighed in regret. After Apocalypse, the number of visitors to the races each year declined and operating costs skyrocketed due to safety precautions. The Indy Race League stayed in business as long as possible but it was a losing battle, most people no longer had the disposable income to attend and Enhanced leagues were more popular. The track closed a few years ago, only the museum remained open through  private donations.

“I’ve never been there even though I lived nearby during my year at school. I should go one day.” Michael thought about his small apartment from last year. It was his secret lair when he first explored his powers and the place he could have died in. Preacher believed Michael would have eventually overpowered and died if he had continued to test his powers without supervision – getting arrested actually saved his life.

“You did a year? I made it two years before, well, this.” Alaina remembered the day vividly when her father told her she was joining the JTF. She protested, naturally, claiming she was an adult and free to make her own decision, but when he played the ‘reclaim the family name’ card, there was not much she could do.

“With your power, why didn’t you join immediately” Michael asked curiously. Even now, not many people knew where Lady Justice came from. Suddenly, she was Justice’s girlfriend and attending the academy with him.

Alaina sighed loudly. There was not much point in hiding it any longer. Since Crawfordsville, the press has hounded the JTF public relations officer for more information on Lady Justice. None of the official JTF press releases mentioned Turbulence, Net, or Michael’s involvement in the operation.

“Do you know who Orbital Strike is?” Alaina asked embarrassingly. She never enjoyed talking about this subject but it had been hidden for too long.

“You mean the ole’ Fires from Heaven?” Michael said snarkily. After Atomic Power, Orbital Strike was the second most-hated Enhanced that was not actually a super-villain. Mundanes and Enhanced both spoke his name with contempt. His ill-fated raid was directly responsible for burning down most of the cities of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada. Many Canadians were still angry with the United States for not turning him over to face trial in their country. Because of him, the Enhanced Public Safety Act was fast-tracked through Congress to the President’s desk for his signature.

“Yeah, him,” Alaina answered, biting her lip. “He’s my dad.” Fires from Heaven was a nickname attached to him after Detroit. It still hurt to be reminded he was regarded as a colossal failure after everything he did with The Old Guard.