Portal – Prelude I

Two LAPD officers from Rampart Division responded to a disturbance at the Bank of California on the corner of Rampart and Wilshire Boulevards. The call had come in as an intoxicated man that was combative with the bank staff. As the officers entered the bank double doors, the first drew his yellow taser gun and aimed the red laser in the middle of the suspect’s back as he swung wildly at the elderly bank security guard. The suspect was wearing a broad striped tan and red sweater with khaki pants and his appearance was unkempt, especially with the balding patches of his stringy dirty hair. The second officer had his Glock 17 ready to fire when the taser was fired and crackled with no effect. The suspect did not appear to even notice the barbs in his sweater as he continued his assault. When the suspect grabbed the security guard by the throat, knocking his octagonal black hat off, the second officer’s training kicked in. He fired a single round at center mass. The bullet ricocheted out a few inches  from the entrance hole just below the suspect’s left armpit.

“You have no idea what you’ve done,” growled the suspect in his Eastern European accent, as he violently twisted the security guard’s head with the audible ripping of ligaments. The guard’s eyes rolled back as his limp body fell to the floor.

The first officer dropped the taser and drew his firearm as his partner fired repeatedly, each deafening round striking and ricocheting off the suspect. The bank employees and customers dove to the ground as ricocheting rounds shattered glass walls and embedded in expensive oak desks around them. The officers realized that their target was an Enhanced, one on the FBIs most wanted listed named Steel Spike. The suspect snarled loudly, more animalistic  than human, and charged the retreating officers as they emptied their magazines, reloaded, and fired again. Steel Spike quickly  grew from an average five foot eight to over seven feet tall. The bones in his body cracked and reformed, his clothes ripping away from his thickening body. His skin that had been a healthy pink was now transformed into living metal and completely nude with a muscular frame that would win any body building contest. It was the last sight that the officers would ever see.

The closest officer was simply knocked down and run over, his skull crushed under the gigantic metal foot of Steel Spike. The second officer attempted to flee out the front door but was instantly killed by Steel Spike’s powerful punch. The metal hand disintegrated the kevlar body armor on impact and severed his spine. The officer’s body was propelled through the double safety glass doors before landing on the sidewalk outside, flopping lifelessly on the concrete. Businessmen and women dressed in power suits, and the flea infested transients, all ran from the bank sidewalks.

A tactical alert was issued across Los Angeles and every resource available was mobilized. LAPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI converged outside of the bank with specialized teams designed to combat Enhanced criminals. The officers quickly set up a perimeter around the bank hoping to keep Steel Spike contained inside. They knew with his strength, he could break the perimeter effortlessly but needed to project authority and capability to the general public. Many politicians and their constituents were becoming increasingly alarmed by the inability of mundane law enforcement  to stop Enhanced criminals. Most Enhanced were average people that lived normal lives with a special ability. Others were the trump card that law enforcement called when needed. The United States legal system, for the most part, turned a blind eye to the independent Enhanced crime fighters. Most were careful to limit injuries to mundanes and property damage. The not so careful Enhanced quickly found themselves in court.

Two LAPD SWAT officers were setting up their position when their radio earpieces chirped. Officer Thomas Collins, 44 David, was checking over his Remington 700P rifle while his spotter, Sergeant Javier Guerrero, 41 David, looked through a small telescope

“41 David, are you in position? “ asked the female dispatcher back at Parker Center.

“Affirmative Dispatch. 300 meters South East from the front doors on the roof of a two-story medical device building,” replied Sergeant Guerrero through his throat microphone.

“Copy“

“44 David, this is 10 David,” spoke a voice on the radio calmly but assertively. 10 David was the SWAT commander, a capable officer, but less than supportive of Enhanced involvement in police affairs. “The package is 2 minutes out. You shoot that son-of-a-bitch inside if you get the chance. He killed two officers and we take care of our own. The E-Specs say his eyes and the inside of his mouth are the most vulnerable.”

“Copy 10 David,” replied Officer Collins. He was thankful for the information. Steel Spike had been smuggled to the United States from Romania two years ago and so far eluded capture. The FBI and LAPD were aware of his presence as a Russian mob enforcer but the former Soviet countries resisted any requests for information about native Enhanced.

Thomas Collins was already a legend at the LAPD after only four years on the force. He had served 12 years in the Marines at nearby Camp Pendleton as a Special Operations sniper but declined a large reenlistment bonus after training with the LAPD SWAT. They routinely held urban combat classes with the Marines Special Operations at Pendleton and had heard about his marksmanship abilities. They offered to waive the five year requirement to join SWAT as a bonus, after the Academy, to lure him away from his beloved Marine Corps.

After the Marines, Thomas settled into a normal life as a civilian before starting the LAPD Academy. He met a local girl on a blind date and was a married man a year after separation from service. At the LAPD Academy, Thomas scored perfect on every challenge involving a pistol, shotgun, or rifle. Some SWAT officers initially resented the preferential treatment of Officer Collins but his gun fighting was unmatched. As his skills became known, Thomas was repeatedly requested by officers from LAPD and other departments with high-risk arrests, especially when Enhanced were involved. Enhanced are tougher than mundanes, including police with kevlar armor, but most still had weak spots. Thomas studied every Enhanced on the LAPD rap sheets he might face to learn those weaknesses. The FBI and large metropolitan police forces also had Enhanced Specialists, scientists that studied Enhanced for scientific, political, and economic data to support law enforcement. E-Specs were also in high demand in the insurance industry. Many large universities offered majors in Enhanced Studies and were funded by grants to study Enhanced genetics.

The package was Atomic Power, the greatest Enhanced ever known. His green and black  armor covered his entire body including an armored green helmet that fit snugly against his head, only providing a small opening for his eyes. Although the tabloids would feature a new woman every month claiming to father Atomic Power’s baby, no credible witness had ever seen the man behind the mask.  As he landed with a loud thud in front of the bank, the green light that emitted from the armor, that made him look like an armored beetle, briefly flashed. As Atomic Power scanned his surroundings, his glowing white eyes were clearly visible to Thomas and Javier. Even though they had been pushed three blocks away, the citizens of Los Angeles cheered as their hero arrived. Even some of the LAPD officers were clapping.