Portal – Chapter 89

Net heard the calls for help over the Internet streams. He tapped several radio scanning websites to direct the emergency responders to them but now, the responders were under attack. He could hear the automatic gunfire increasing around them and it was not random. This group planned this attack and targeted the JTF and Metro.

“Archangel, the other Stryker is going to be a little late,” Net said over the EComm, “they were ambushed over at College.”

“Copy, Net,” Archangel replied with an audible sigh, “What can you see on our shooter?”

Net smiled at his luck. “Someone is live streaming from their apartment overlooking the shooter’s location. Three total. Two are assembling something but the resolution is not good enough to see what it is.”

“How long until you’re in the DWP server?” she asked.

“Almost got it, but once the power goes down, I’ll lose all eyes on these guys.”

“We have to move the wounded and reach Solid. While I have their attention, get an update on our drone.”

“Lady…uh, Alaina, whatever you are calling yourself, are you there?” shouted Nightmare over the general EComm channel as another blast of machine gun rake across the smoking Stryker. Archangel turned her EComm off.

“I’m in,” Net said, “and Nightmare is calling for you.”

“Kill the grid in 10 seconds. Trauma will move to Solid and Turbulence will fly the LT to Methodist. I don’t have time to deal with her issue. Let’s get into positions.”

Net worried about Archangel’s course of action. None of them, even her, prepared for this kind of scenario. They were missing their biggest hitters, Justice and Cortex, and now Solid Copy was bleeding in the street, maybe even dead. He knew it was not proper protocol, Archangel was in command, but he would try to work some of the distress calls over the JTF and Metro channels for her. They increased each minute as more gunmen and possible Enhanced arrived in the area.

* * *

Archangel watched as Turbulence reached under Lieutenant Caldwell’s armpits and pulled his back closely to her chest. They argued about moving the unconscious leader of Bravo company but the risks were too great. Trauma rated his chances as fifty-fifty if they got him to a hospital within five minutes and she needed a reason to get Mari out of the fire zone. Without her helmet and gloves, Turbulence was vulnerable and Solid Copy had already paid the price.

“3..2..1..zap,” Net said over the EComm as he counted down and used his ability to tell the Department of Water and Power’s computer to shut down the grid. One by one, the circuit breakers popped. A few buildings still had functioning loss of power alarms that beeped weakly among the screams. Several cars crashes at non-functioning intersections only added to the waves of confusion.

Archangel did not bother to tell the others to go, they knew it was time when the lightning flashed from her body, shattering windows as it struck the buildings and scorching the few trees planted on the street. She barely registered Trauma crouching below her as she moved from the Stryker and pulled Solid Copy out of the street and check his vitals.

She understood now, all the frustrations and the sadness that her dad warned her about. They blamed him for Detroit and the death of thousands, but all he wanted to do was help. The ungrateful mundanes would not care that Wei Chung, a JTF Enhanced from San Francisco, might die in a hospital bed today, but the news would wish Lieutenant Caldwell, a mundane JTF officer, a speedy recovery. Then they would blame the Enhanced for the destruction while ignoring that they saved all of the mundanes in the city. They would never win. No wonder The Old Guard disintegrated and the heroes decided that let humanity suffer. She would deal with that later but now, that gunman and his friends were going to pay for hurting Solid Copy and the Lieutenant.

The gunman opened fire on Archangel, the bullets pulverized, melted, and shattered by the lightning bolts striking them repeatedly. She was in very little danger from the gunfire, but she wanted to make an example of this criminal and his friends. She moved slowly down the street as her lighting storm continued to rake across the buildings, asphalt, and vegetation. She willed the lightning to stop beneath her as she passed Trauma carrying Solid Copy to the nearest building. The blasts of electricity returned with a fierce roar when they were clear.

The gunman continued to fire, his barrel glowing red-hot from the sustained rate of fire. Archangel was close now, she could see his face, his look of fear as the angry force-of-nature pretending to be an Enhanced descended up him. She could end him from here, a bolt aimed right at his miserable mundane head, but she wanted the criminals to remember and fear her power.

When the machine gun barrel locked up, too hot and now unusable, Archangel collapsed her shield and charged directly at the gunman. His eyes fixed on her but at the last moment, he looked up.

A large metal object, roughly the shape of a ball  and the size of a tire screamed by Archangel, forcing her to pull up and hover in the sky. The object slammed into the building near the gunman, collapsing the roof. A moment later, the entire building exploded in a huge fireball, hurling Archangel backwards, slamming her into the building façade above where Trauma was hiding while tending to Solid Copy. Without thinking, she laughed. This reminded her about her first fight in Hinkle when Turbulence tossed her around, but now it hurt a lot more. She bled from several deep cuts.

She turned her EComm on. “Who called in the artillery?” she asked looking around. Debris littered the streets but luckily the blast did not cause any secondary explosions or fires.

“That was Scimitar doing his interpretation of a cannonball,” answered Nightmare. “The South Side crew rigged the building to blow for Justice. They wanted to take our strongest out first.”

“Scimitar, do you read,“ Archangel called into her EComm. “Khaleel, are you okay? Please, please answer!” She feared the worst had happen.

The metal ball rolled out of the debris cloud, knocking over part of the destroyed wall still on fire. Slowly it peeled away the layer of steel and Scimitar stood up. He smiled as Archangel floated down to him.

“We used to do that when I first had my Reveal. The neighbor’s trashcans made for great bowling pins. It was a little less cramped in there back then.”

Archangel laughed. “Thank you, Scimitar. That was amazing.”

“Khaleel,” screamed Trauma from across the street, “when we are done here, I’m going to kick your ass for scaring me like that.”

“She digs me,” Scimitar said winking.

“Um, excuse me, recruits,” said Nightmare over the EComm, “yeah, you should probably know that you’re about to be overrun by a couple dozen gangbangers. And they’re hopping on E-stims.”

Archangel smiled. She welcomed the chance for some payback against the crew that hurt her commander and one of the most-dedicated Enhanced she knew. The others were well-trained and knew when to run from a fight, if necessary. They could handle themselves while she did some heavy damage.

The smile lasted until a god roared inside the apartment with the large hole and the side of building exploded.