Portal – Chapter 92

“Net, where are they coming from?” shouted Archangel as she barrel-rolled and dove between the closest buildings.

A new stream of bullets and tracer rounds lit up the night sky and forced her to fly low to avoid them. She might be invulnerable to bullets, but they still hurt and only a fool would not consider a magic BB, that one bullet that gets through the defenses. The term came from pilots in the military that are shot, and sometimes killed, by small-arms fire from the ground. Archangel covered her face, the most vulnerable area, and dodged and weaved until she was several blocks away from the shooters.

“They are pulling back from the ambushes on Metro and Stryker 2. They are converging on us while the units out on the perimeter regroup. Until JTF reinforcements arrive, we’re on our own.”

“And where are they?”

“Stryker 2 is unavailable, they took several casualties. Shutting down the power might have provided us concealment, but it completely wrecked traffic. Units from Butler are gridlocked and trying to make it on foot, at least 20 minutes away.”

“Just great,” Archangel said as she zapped another Southsider foolishly running across the street in the open with a lightning bolt. Like most of them, he was a tank, and he slowly stood back up after she flew over. She wanted to stay and finish the job, but short of repeated bolts and executions, she had no way to stop them long enough to remove them from the fight. She risked being overrun if she did not stay mobile.

“Scimitar, what’s your status?” she said as she banked back towards the street with the destroyed building. The Southsiders avoided that building for some reason, but several times she had to scatter a group trying to break in one of the residential units with a lighting bolt.

“I’m okay, but I think I broke my hand. An Earth elementalist jumped me,” said Scimitar breathing hard over the radio microphone. “He won’t bother us anymore though.”

He sounded tired, they all were, but Scimitar and Solid Copy, as Justice, were close-combat fighters and were forced to ambush and retreat. They expended a lot of energy to keep moving before Southside reinforcements arrived. Archangel debated using Trauma, she was rated for assault duty after impressing the Bravo commander, but her healing powers were far more necessary and Scimitar would go berserk.

“Copy, pull back and regroup with Trauma. Keep her and the mundane victims safe until she can get that hand fixed. Net, take control of the drone, your primary targets are the machine gunners.” The JTF had one drone already patrolling the city which was now flying 10,000 feet over the fight and they were trying launch a second at the airport.

“Archangel, you sure?” Net asked without any of the normal sarcasm, “We’re looking at a lot of collateral damage. I’ll have to override the JTF safety protocols.”

“I’m making the call. If we get pinned, we’re all screwed, the mundanes included. If you have the shot, take it. Start with guys with the big guns.”

“Copy,” Net said.

“Archangel,” yelled Thorton, “the JTF strictly forbids using Hellfires in major cities. Don’t you dare fire those missiles…” The radio transmission suddenly quit.

“Say again, Agent Thorton,” Net said with mock concern. “It appears Agent Thorton’s radio is trying to reestablish a connection. Give it a few minutes to resynch with the satellite.”

Archangel smiled. Net scrambled Thorton’s EComm long enough to give them shots they needed.

“Fire one,” someone yelled below her a moment before a net hit her, the steel cables weighted down and the inertia of the projectile pulling her flight path to the left.

“Fire two,” another person ordered as another net slammed into her, the extra weight pulling her down to the ground. Archangel landed hard, the steel cables entangling her arms and legs. She immediately tried to stand up but she could not bend her knees. She was trapped and grounded when a group emerged to surround her. When onne of them immediately fired, she expected to feel the sharp thud of a bullet hitting her suit, but she instead, she only heard laughter.

“Well, well, look what the spider caught in his web,” said a muffled voice in a helmet. Through the steel net, Archangel could see large man in full black armor and a helmet with an AK-47 slung across his back approaching and flanked by several more members of the Southside crew.

“Hello, little firefly,” he said leaning over. Although his helmet looked like JTF issue, it lacked external speakers or the criminal did not use it. The fact he had armor concerned her.

She did not wait for his threats to begin, she channeled her remaining strength to form another lightning shield, but nothing appeared. Her powers failed and she suddenly felt weak, her arms holding up her upper body gave out, and she collapsed to the ground.

“A funny thing about electricity,” the man in armor said laughing and waving his hand over the net, “ground it out, and it can’t do shit to you.”

One of the criminals had spiked her net into the ground. It was keeping her pinned to the ground and acted as the conduit to the earth, like a steel rod used to protect a house from lightning strikes. Damn, they thought of everything.

“How did you…?” she asked.

“Figure out how to neutralize you? Little firefly, we didn’t have to do anything, our employer did all the work. He gave us a list of all your powers, your weaknesses. That little bomb you set off was for your boyfriend, but he never showed up to the party.”

At least they did not have Justice, Archangel thought. She still hoped that Scott would find them and help end these bastards. Right now, she needed to find a way out of here.

“And then he hands us these nets for the girl with lightning. He warned us about you, said you might be the biggest problem, but I told him, no, we’ll catch her. And here you are”

“Who are you working for?” Archangel asked. They were paid by someone well connected to provide them with this kind of hardware.

The main in armor shook his finger back and forth. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you. I monologue all my plans and then you escape and alert the others. No, let’s just say my employer will supply me with the best drugs, weapons, and women after I kill all of you. And that means, you need to die, right now. Pin her down.”

Archangel struggled, but the net only tightened and prevented her from moving her arms. One of the thugs in the padded armor, likely designed to protect him from electrical attacks, stepped on her head and completely immobilized her. Another leaned over, a thick robe of carbon fibers in his hand, and pressed it against her face.

“Get her mouth open,” the leader ordered as he slung the AK-47 off his back.

They were going to shoot her in the soft tissue in the throat! Like most Enhanced at higher categories, the outer skin was bulletproof but inside, she was vulnerable. The sniper that killed Atomic Power developed the technique for mundane police officers against Enhanced. He had used it to kill several powerful Enhanced criminals in Los Angeles before his death. Now, the Southside crew leader was going to use it on her. She struggled but the steel net and the Southsider foot on her head would not budge. The carbon fiber rope slid in and the tank pulled down.

“Don’t worry, firefly, this will only hurt once,” he said with a sadistic cheer in his voice as he raised the rifle and aimed at her face.

A thunderous explosion erupted nearby sending cracks across the ground and dust skyward, engulfing several of the Southside crew members watching the execution. The ground trembled as the leader turned around to a massive cloud forming where several of his men were standing.

“The JTF is using artillery,” screamed one of the crew running from the epicenter.

“Is that it?” growled the leader through his armor at his prone captive, “Did you call in one of your planes?”

Archangel shook her head, unsure of the source, but seconds later, she knew Net did not cause the explosion. She could see his outline in the swirling dust and debris, unconcerned about the surviving criminals huddled near their leader and waiting to slaughter him. He looked like the angel of death rising from the ashes and his glowing red eyes were ready to destroy.