Archangel, the Enhanced formerly known as Lady Justice, watched Jury, the person she wanted to avoid, walk towards her. Scott was busy taking photos with fans, mostly young women with short skirts and revealing tops, and talking to the press. She knew he would be too busy and too distracted to really care about her speech since their relationship was ended the night he tried to kill Michael.
When she had emerged from backstage, several local reporters asked her about her decision to leave Team Justice. She had lied gracefully, complimenting the Jurgen family and in particular, Scott, for the chance to train with them before and during JTF training. When the reporters asked about her other revelation, that she was the daughter of Orbital Strike, she answered truthfully that her family, like most of the nation, was fractured from the aftermath of Detroit. Several reporters complimented Archangel and said she looked a lot like Valkyrie, her aunt Amanda. She ended the interview abruptly after one reporter called her dad a disgraced member of The Old Guard and asked if he got away with murder.
“Well, well,” Jury said quietly, “you really stepped in it now. They are never going to stop asking questions about Orbital Strike. All you had to do was keep your mouth shut and do what you were told and it would have all gone away.”
“I won’t live a lie, Jury,” Archangel retorted. “Scott is abusive and mean. He’s not much different from the criminals my dad used to put away.”
Jury smiled. “Yes, Archangel, he is. He will tell the people exactly what they want to hear. He will do exactly what they expect. And they will love him, no matter what else he does. That is how it works when you are special and above the rest.”
“We are supposed to be the heroes, not monsters.” Archangel said agitated.
Jury shook her head. “Grow up! You just don’t get it. This is reality and not a comic book. People are evil and selfish. No one will give a damn about your sacrifices. You do what you need to get yours.”
“You’re wrong, Jury. The people just want to believe in something again. They want the heroes to return.”
“You are so naïve and predictable. You will be lucky if the JTF doesn’t bag your dead body within a year. You have no idea what you are facing out there.”
“If I fall, someone will take my place and continue the fight.” Archangel could not help by look over at Michael who was standing alone. The JTF provided a fact sheet to the media on the recruits. Not many reporters were interested in a category one with no legacy.
Jury turned around to follow Archangel’s line of sight and smiled outwardly. Inside, she was screaming vulgarities that would make a trucker blush at the young woman. This whore would not take her Thomas away.
“You think Michael will stand with you? You don’t get it. He’s mine, Archangel. We will change the world together.”
“And when Scott tries to kill him again?”
Jury smiled. “Like he did at the club? I know all about that, my dear. In case you didn’t notice, Michael is still here. He’s a big boy and can handle it. I added a little insurance.”
“You bitch! What did you do to Michael?
“Just a subtle push to keep Scott away from what belongs to me. It was not hard. Michael has been waiting for his chance to get back at him. And he got the message. He won’t go near Michael anytime soon.”
Archangel glared at Jury with accusing eyes. “That’s why you are mentoring him. You know what he can do, don’t you? You are going to turn him into a weapon!”
Jury grinned. “I don’t have to do anything. He is the next step of our race. Michael will be our savior. If you oppose us, you and your worthless family will be destroyed. The Enhanced will take their rightful place. We will be free.”
“You are crazy, Jury. Every Enhanced in the JTF will oppose you. And I will personally escort you to prison.”
Jury laughed. “You don’t get it, Archangel. The JTF is leading the way. You need to decide if you will die for the mundanes that hate you or build a new world with us. We are your people.”
As Jury started walking away, she looked back over her shoulder at Archangel.
“And you better make your decision soon.”
* * *
Jason wanted to stay when he heard Vengeance, but what could he do? If Vengeance went ape-shit like in the club, he wanted to be as far as possible away from it. Besides, Agent Prescott and Agent Edwards would get it under control or call Jury. If she cannot control him, they were all screwed.
He was supposed to make himself available to the press and fans, and he would, but he had another task first. She told him she would come but he could not find her in the crowd while sitting on stage. Unlike Vengeance, who was the voice of death and destruction, his date was much less threatening and would not tear him apart.
They had agreed to meet at the restrooms just south of the stage. Since the speeches went later than expected, Jason hoped that she did not get bored and leave. But as he broke through the crowds just outside the stage area, some of the mundanes thanking him for his service, he saw her. She was wearing a white summer dress with her long, dark hair tied in a pony tail with a red ribbon.
She was alone and looking around, a look of fear and desperation on her face. She watched everyone who approached her carefully, always keeping several feet between herself and the people walking by. Jason did not notice any of that. He was just enthralled by her. She was beautiful and exotic. When she spotted him approaching, she mixed happiness to see him again with thankfulness for a rescue. Since that night, the night she saw the efreet slaughter that evil man and cripple the other, she refused to be alone.
“Hi, Amira,” Jason said happily, “I’m glad you could make it.”