Portal – Chapter 65

As the large twin propellers of V-22 Osprey rotated from the forward to the up position, Elizabeth grabbed a cargo net to hold herself steady. She could use her power to hold herself upright but mundanes generally frowned upon using powers in aircraft. They were so timid and frightened of things they did not understand but she followed their rules.

She hated riding in the Osprey. She wanted to take her private jet, a gift from her husband many years ago, but he persuaded her to fly down in one of the JTF’s aircraft. It would look like she was flaunting their wealth to travel the two hundreds miles from Chicago to Indianapolis in the luxury and style she deserved, but the government was paying the tab for this trip. She was out of her normal territory, requested by the Director himself to assist with some of the troubles plaguing the Circle City.

At least the Osprey could land vertically like a helicopter so she did not have to remain inside during taxiing. She envied her husband each time he would fly off in the sky, not needing a mundane pilot or a vehicle to get anywhere. Even her son did not require help to get to most places. She still had to rely on mundanes and their technology to travel any great distances.

“Landing pad in sight, ma’am,” said the mundane pilot to her as he turned his head around. She knew the pilots were discussing her when they thought she was not listening, making lewd jokes about her breasts, ass, and legs, but she was too focused on the mission at the moment to retaliate. If the Director’s report was accurate, the reemergence of Maze, things could become very difficult for everyone.

Elizabeth had never met Maze, he was too smart to go near her and she worked primarily on the west coast before moving to Chicago after she married Judge. None of her husband’s former teammates wanted much to do with her, most blaming here indirectly for the break-up of The Old Guard, even calling her Enhanced Yoko Ono. She did not care. They were nothing without her husband and he was much more important now with her. When Atomic Power obliterated Los Angeles, everything changed. No longer were they number two. Now, everyone was looking to Judge and Jury to lead the country out of the darkness.

“3..2..1..touchdown,” said the pilot. The Osprey bounced slightly as the aircraft landed in the middle of the pad.

Elizabeth had her bag over her shoulder at the rear cargo door before the aircraft finished the first bounce.

“Open the door,” she ordered the JTF crew member in the jump seat. The flight engineer would normally wait to hear from the pilot before lowering the cargo ramp but you did not say no to this Enhanced. She has been with the JTF longer than anyone else and she was considered royalty or a hellspawn, depending on who you talked to. She also had a legendary temper. She did not throw lamps but things a lot larger and heavier.

The back of the Osprey opened immediately. Elizabeth walked down the ramp, breathing in the crisp night air. She would get this over quickly and get back home to her downtown Chicago penthouse .

—–

Two figures waited outside of the Osprey as the wind blasted around them. Director Lehrer held his hand up to cover his eyes and Lieutenant Caldwell stood next to him in armor with helmet never moving.

Caldwell rolled his eyes. He was tied into the Osprey’s radio channel in his suit and the door opened before the pilot gave the command. The pilot was the final word on any plane but she thought otherwise. He tried to persuade the Director not to request her assistance, his agents and the recruits could find the murderer, but Lehrer insisted Jury accompany them. There was something the Director was not telling him but Caldwell knew he could not press the issue. He would deal with Jury and get her out of Indianapolis as soon as possible.

“Elizabeth,” said Director Lehrer warmly, his hand extended. Jury shook it lightly, her eyes moving to Lieutenant Caldwell.

“Lieu…,” Caldwell started.

“Lieutenant John Caldwell, Bravo company Commanding Officer,” Jury said smiling.

Caldwell frowned, very aware that Jury sensed his displeasure of her interrupting him. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied politely.

“I want to thank you for bringing all the recruits home from Crawfordsville, Lieutenant, especially Scott. I heard that criminal group was quite determined to keep the JTF out of there.”

“No, problem, ma’am. All of the recruits performed well on their first field mission.”

Especially Larson, only Jury heard.

For a mundane, Caldwell was doing well in shielding his thoughts but he could not hide them from Jury. She was sensitive enough to avoid tipping him off when she was spying but she let him know that she could. Elizabeth did not care if Bravo was the lead team. If she was going to work this case, she was in-charge.

Director Lehrer looked at Jury and Caldwell. He knew their personalities were going to clash but catching Maze was too important.

“Elizabeth,” Daniel said breaking the silence, “we’ve prepared a car for you. Agent Thornton will take you anywhere you want to go.”

“Thank you, Daniel,” she said smiling.

“I’ve scheduled a meeting with the recruits at 0700, Jury,” Caldwell said sharply. And we’re not waiting for you.

Jury smiled at Caldwell never breaking her external pleasantries. “Don’t worry, Lieutenant, I’m very eager to meet the new Enhanced. Scott has told me so much about them.”

Caldwell nodded. “Good. Director, Jury, I’ll see you in the morning.”

Both watched the Lieutenant walk away.

“Get yourself settled, Elizabeth. We have a long day ahead.”

Jury smiled. “That we do, Daniel.”