Michael looked around Hinkle. The old basketball stadium turned training facility had JTF Agents everywhere, some in armor, others in suits and street clothes. Whatever was going on, it was big.
The JTF agents at the gate checked fingerprints and performed a retina scan before he was allowed to enter the Butler campus. The guards were very serious and uptight about something but they were too busy to harass him. As he made his way back to the dormitory, a patrol armed with M4 and SCAR rifles stopped him. They not-so-subtly informed him he was supposed to be at Hinkle with the other recruits.
Inside Hinkle, all eyes were on him now. The agents were watching him as he joined the others. Michael could feel the cold stares surrounding him but they were nothing compared to the looks of astonishment from the recruits, some of them with their mouth open. None looked more shocked than Justice. What the hell was he looking at?
“And there is number nine,” Lieutenant Caldwell said breaking the silence. “Now I know why Prescott and Edwards named you Princess, fashionably late.” The Bravo CO laughed with several others around the room. The other recruits continued to only stare. Michael noticed Alaina and Kim’s reddened cheeks with streaks of tears rolling down.
“Sorry, sir,” Michael said, “I lost my phone last night. I didn’t know about the recall until I got back..”
“Agents,” Lieutenant Caldwell announced, “this is Michael Larson, callsign Princess. He’s the one that put a hellfire into the APC at Crawfordsville. Unless the victim was teleported into a woodchipper, I think you can relax.”
The mundane agents laughed but Michael noticed all the recruits were still focused on him. Did he have a booger hanging from his nose or something?
“And Justice,” Caldwell continued.
Justice stared unmoving as Michael nodded his head in Caldwell’s direction
“Justice, turn around. Now!” shouted the Bravo company CO, “Before you really piss me off.” Several agents shook their heads in displeasure.
Scott slowly rotated his body, forcing himself to look away from Larson. An angry sneer replaced the look of disbelief on his face. It was simply not possible that Larson survived.
“Justice, “ Caldwell spat, “ I don’t know why you are in front but you are not the leader of this training class. A leader would have volunteered to go with Agent Thorton to find one of his missing men. Get to the back of the line. Lady J, get up in front. This class is part of Bravo company and you are the team leader until I say otherwise.”
Alaina could not feel her shaking legs as she walked to the front of the group, taking Scott’s place as team leader. Her heart was pounding in her chest.
Jason! Alaina called mentally.
No need to shout.
Tell Michael that his place is next to me. He’s my second.
We have to find out what happened to him afterwards…
Are you sure you want to know?
Yes. I think Michael is in serious danger.
I think we all are.
Michael made his way through the crowd to stand behind Alaina. Jason only smiled as he made a space for Michael, pushing everyone else backwards. He tried to get a read on Michael’s thoughts of last night but found nothing. Michael was confused about what happened before he woke up in a park near his old college an hour ago. He also had no idea where he got the clothes he was wearing. There was no trace of Vengeance.
As Scott moved into his place at the back of the recruit line, he thought of his hands wrapped around the necks of Alaina and Larson. A smile appeared at the corner of his mouth as he imagined the sound of the bones snapping. That is why she asked Larson to dance. She wanted to embarrass him. Dweeb must have provided a telekinetic shield to protect Larson in the club. They all conspired against him. That bitch!