Portal – Chapter 7

Judge Thompson looked at the man and it was obvious to Michael that he was unhappy for the intrusion in his little kingdom. Michael imagined it was like two alpha dogs staring at each other ready to fight. Both were used to getting their way and neither had any doubt that they would win.

“Bailiff, get this man sworn in. He better have a good story or he will be spending the night at County for disrupting my court.”

As the bailiff swore in the new visitor, Michael’s mom took a seat behind the prosecutor. Michael watched her sit down and noticed her demeanor was quite different when she was not drunk.

“Mr. Larson,” Michael heard the judge calling him and turned around. “We are still in session, son.” The judge did not appear angry. From his tone, Michael was sure the judge was hinting that his mom was trying her best to hold it together.

“Your Honor, I am Daniel Lehrer, the Director of JTF Operations.” Michael immediately thought he must be a good company man and kissed the right butts to get where he was.

“I must confess the JTF purged Mr. Larson’s records when we learned of his arrest. We have never seen a Reveal at his age and were curious to learn more about him. We also wanted to prevent others who also might want to snoop. You know computer espionage is the latest thing.”

Judge Thompson’s demeanor did not change as Director Lehrer continued to speak. Michael hoped Judge Thompson’s dislike for Daniel Lehrer extended to the JTF in general. Maybe his stay at Fort Leavenworth could be counted in months rather than years.

“When we tested Mr. Larson for his initial screening  to identify his type and category, we could find no records of any other Enhanced with his powers. Even at his low category, we believe Mr. Larson might to be a new subtype of Teleporter. We could be witnessing an evolution of new skillsets and look forward to learning much more from Mr. Larson during his incarceration.”

As Director Lehrer spoke, his eyes never left Michael and small grin appeared. Michael stared back but did not see a man. No, Daniel Lehrer was a predator. He saw Michael as a piece of meat that could be a stepping stone into the higher ranks of the government juggernaut. When Director Lehrer mentioned ‘incarceration’ and smiled, Michael’s temper ignited. He quickly stood up, kicking his chair behind him. Eugene was an experienced lawyer and knew it was time to get on the floor as low as possible.

“Screw you, Lehrer!” Michael screamed at the JTF Director while giving him the middle finger. Michael could feel his body split in rage and confusion.

“I will sit my ass in my cell, come out to eat, and go back in my cell,” Michael continued to shout. “I won’t help you with shit.” Michael felt power surge in him. He glanced outside the window and was about to create one portal as high as he could see and the other under Daniel Lehrer.

“Michael!” yelled his mother in a voice different than anything he has ever heard. “Please, Michael. Calm down or they will kill you!” He almost thought she was trying to protect him. He started to turn around.

He noticed the four visible red lasers targeting him, two aimed at his head, two aimed at heart. The JTF Agents had immediately acted when Michael jumped up. He noticed their index fingers were floating over the trigger, waiting for the command to fire or a threatening move by him.

“Please,” she asked again. He felt the surge fall away from him as he looked at his mother, her eyes streaming tears and her hands pressed together in a desperate prayer. Michael walked over and grabbed his overturn chair and sat back down as Eugene and the prosecutor returned to their seats from their prone position on the floor. Michael did not notice Daniel Lehrer waving his hand and the JTF agents lowering their rifles.

Judge Thompson never moved from his seat at the bench. He simply nodded first to his bailiff and then both lawyers to indicate he was ready to proceed.

“Mr. Larson,” said the judge in a loud a very clear voice, obviously holding back his rage. “If you decide to do something that stupid again, and those four gentlemen back there don’t splatter your innards all over my courtroom, I will call that JTF Mentalist back and have her Power Lock you. Do I make myself clear, son?”

Michael was not sure what Power Lock meant but if a Mentalist was required to do it, he did not want to find out.

“Yes, your Honor,” was his only reply.

“Now,” continued Judge Thompson, “Director Lehrer, please get off my witness chair and go sit down.” The Judge looked over to Michael’s mother who was wiping away the tears from her face.

“Ms. Larson?”, Judge Thompson asked softly. Michael’s mother looked up. “Please approach the bench. I would like to ask you a few questions before passing judgement.”

Michael watched as his mother stood up and walked cautiously towards the front of the courtroom and sliding on to the witness chair.

“Ms. Larson,” the judge spoke calmly, “all the research on Enhanced genetics indicate that the genes to produce Enhanced powers after the first generation are passed from parent to child. You do not appear to be Enhanced, so who is Mr. Larson’s father?”

Michael could feel the embarrassment from his mother. He had asked her the same question many times as well. Her answer was always the same.

“I don’t know who the father is, your Honor,” she replied, clearly uneasy with the question and her reply. Judge Thompson nodded his head. She was barely holding it together.

“Is Michael a good man?” the judge asked sincerely.

“Your Honor, Michael is the best son a parent could hope for. Unfortunately, he got the mother a child never deserves. I turn to alcohol rather than be his mother. I turn to sex rather than be his mother. I embarrass him, endanger him, but he never stops loving me. He even remembers my birthday every year.”

Michael felt tears drop on his cheeks and helpless as his mother poured her heart out on the witness stand. He wanted to go and hold her but he also knew he would likely get shot if he stood up again unexpectedly.

“Thank you, Ms. Larson. That’s all I wanted to know. You may step down.”

As his mother passed Michael’s table to a seat directly behind him in the gallery, she mouthed silently to him, “I’m so sorry.” After she was seated comfortably, the judge spoke.

“Will the defendant and his counselor stand?” asked the judge in the customary tone. “In the case of the People versus Michael T. Larson, on the count of Burglary with Enhanced Powers, the court finds the defendant, guilty. On the count of Use of Unregistered Powers, the court finds the defendant, guilty. On the count of Failure to Register under the Enhanced Public Safety Act, the court finds the defendant, guilty.”

Behind him, his mother began weeping in her hands. Eugene put his arm around Michael trying to comfort him. He knew this would be a difficult case but had hoped Judge Thompson would be lenient with his client. Eugene knew Michael was a scared young man thrusted into the world of the Enhanced, a lonely and dangerous world. Michael’s sudden outburst doomed any chances of sympathy or leniency. Director Lehrer clapped his hands once and stood up to shake the hand of the prosecutor. He was all smiles at his total victory.

“And now,” stated the judge without emotion, “ the court was directed by the law to find Mr. Larson guilty for his crimes, but justice also gives me flexibility on sentencing.”

Director Lehrer looked up and loudly stated, “What?”

Judge Thompson looked at the Director and smiled.

“Director Lehrer, you seem very interested in Mr. Larson and the possibilities of his powers. It is the judgement of this court to grant you the opportunity to study those powers in a practical setting. Michael T Larson’s sentence is enrollment in the Joint Task Force program for two years. After that time, Mr. Larson is free to stay or leave the JTF and his arrest record will be expunged. Court is adjourned.”

The gavel went down.