Daniel was still cleaning up the shattered glass in his office when his phone rang. It was his private line, the one unknown to Federal agencies in Washington, D.C..
“Yes?” he said quickly. He would not say another word until a passphrase was delivered. If not, the phone would be destroyed immediately.
“Only the strong survive,” replied the caller.
“Have you arrived yet?” asked Daniel.
“Yes,” the caller responded. “The IDs you provided got us in the city with no problems. We’re downtown.”
“Where are you staying?” Daniel might have requested these men but he still did not trust them or their employer.
“Some run-down joint on New York Avenue with fading white bricks.”
Daniel jotted down a noted as the man spoke. He had an informant in the area who could keep tabs on the new city visitors. “I know where that is. Stay out of sight until tomorrow. The event is a few blocks west and you will attend. Maze has an interest in one of my recruits and could be there. Don’t do anything until then.”
“You’re the boss,” said the caller as he inhaled his cigarette.
Daniel frowned. “You just remember that.”
“We’ll be there tomorrow.” The phone call abruptly ended.
Daniel leaned backed in his ruined chair. Things were proceeding as planned but Elizabeth was right. He was worried about Maze’s reappearance. The crime scene evidence pointed to Michael Larson’s powers, the same powers he used to destroy the fraternity house. He went to great efforts to keep those details covered up for now. What was Maze up to? How did he know Larson would kill the mundane?
Daniel looked up as his door suddenly opened.
“Director!” yelled Agent Thorton worriedly. “Sorry to bother you, sir, but we have a problem.”
Daniel rubbed his temples. That’s all he needed, more issues to deal with.
“What is it, Agent Thorton?” asked the Director.
“Sir, we have an unauthorized entry. Hinkle was supposed to be empty but someone just disabled the alarm and entered. Security says they are tearing the place apart.”
“Seal the gates and tell the armored agents at the perimeter to meet us at Hinkle.”
“But sir, threatcon two. I need to move you to a safe location,” Agent Thorton insisted.
Daniel shook his head. If he was the target, Maze would be in this building, not at Hinkle. He would not trust his safety to a sycophant like Thorton. He had other uses for him.
“Do as I say, Agent Thorton,” Daniel warned. “Call security and grab as many agents as you can find on the way.
The door to Hinkle flew open as several armored and non-armored agents walked in with Daniel Lehrer trailing. The lights of the facility were partially on, some flickering and others dangling and sparking from damage. The EUT was a wreck, several areas of the asphalt pitted with deep craters and portions of the walls were now open to the outside. All of the cars used in the external training area were completely destroyed – flattened or ripped in half. One car was upside-down in the field outside the building. The BIT was missing most of the side wall, the wood, metal pipes and metal support beams scattered around the EUT or embedded in the walls.
“You can’t hide forever, Justice,” taunted Jury as she walked out of the BIT front door. Her clothes were partially torn, her sports bra and shorts visible through the rips and slashes in her uniform. She also had trickles of blood from the side of her mouth.
Daniel was sure Jury saw the JTF agents but ignored them. She was scanning the simulator with her powers looking for her son.
“Goddammit, Jury! What have you done!” Daniel shouted.
Jury looked over and raised her finger to her lips. “Shhh,” she said quickly like a mother hushing her misbehaving child. As she turned around to continue her search, Daniel noticed a shadow figure drop down from the rafters. Jury only had a moment to put up her telekinetic shield.
Justice landed on the shield and slammed both fists down with a hammer punch. The sound of the shield cracking echoed loudly through the old basketball stadium. Daniel was shocked, only Judge had the strength to damage her shield. The asphalt around her exploded as the semisphere shield with Jury in the middle was driven several feet in the ground. The mundane agents not in armor, including Daniel, protected their faces with their arms as pieces of rock and tar struck them.
“Recruit Jurgens, don’t you fucking move another muscle,” Daniel demanded. “or you are out of the JTF!”
Scott looked shocked, unaware that Daniel and the JTF agents were standing there. He hesitated as he refocused on the newcomers standing near the remains of the front door. He did not notice that the telekinetic shield dropped until it was too late. He felt his feet lifted from the ground and his body propelled into what remained of the BIT by Jury’s Mental Blast.
“Live and learn, Justice. The fight isn’t over until your opponent says otherwise,” Jury said grinning, “despite what your boss might think.”
“Jury! Justice! Get outside right now before I have you both arrested!” If not for the dust, concrete, and tar particles floating in the air, Daniel’s face would be a very bright shade of red.
“What is going on in here?” Daniel demanded.
As Daniel waited for an answer, a short pudgy man was escorted to him by several armored agents. The man did not appear to be resisting, his arms pinned by the power armored grip.
“We found this one in the observation booth.”
Justice looked at the man and then his mother with a confused look.
“And who are you?” Daniel questioned.
The pudgy man adjusted his glasses before handing Elizabeth a sealed envelope. As he leaned back, Daniel stepped closer.
“Who are you, sir? What are you doing at my facility?”
“I am Enhanced Assessor Jonathan Handel, Director Lehrer, out of the Chicago office. My presence was requested here by Elizabeth Jurgens to conduct a category test on Recruit Scott Jurgens.”
“What?” Daniel asked aghast. “Are you telling me you held an assessment on a category three without my authorization?”
“Sir, as you know,” Jonathan replied, “at the power levels of the Jurgens family, an assessment is less likely to achieve accurate readings without some additional encouragement. Recruit Jurgens needed to believe his life was in danger.”
“And you decided to have this test in my simulator?”
Jury smiled. “It was safer to do it here than somewhere in the city, especially since Justice can move rather quickly.”
Daniel looked up at the Hinkle. The damage was extensive. It was going to take a large portion of the training budget and a trip to Washington, D.C. to get the funds to repair the simulator.
“Smile, Director,” said Jury triumphantly as she held Jonathan’s letter. “You will get your budget increased for the year and you get to announce at tomorrow’s celebration that Justice is now a category four.”
“Celebration?” asked Michael leading the recruits approaching the crowd outside of the simulator. “When?”
“Oh, shit,” cursed Net wide-eyed. “What the hell happened to Hinkle?”