Paradox – Chapter 12

As his car raced up I-69, the lights of Indianapolis and the suburban fortresses behind him, Maze glanced at his watch. The JTF just realized that Michael had disappeared. He imagined all hell was breaking loose at Butler and he would need to restudy the JTF patterns when he returned, but now he needed to focus all his power north where the most powerful being on the planet wandered around in a Michigan forest.

Maze’s phone buzzed with a new notification. The phone was custom-made and designed to work off the normal phone grid to prevent the government from tracking him down using nearby phone towers. Only a few people had his contact information. He did not need to read it to know what it said. Up until an hour ago, his plan included breaking into the Butler facility and stealing Michael Larson from JTF custody, but something happened. Something Maze did not foresee.

It worried him that he was unable to see the future clearly, if at all, when Michael Larson was involved. Michael was powerful, anyone who witnessed Vengeance destroy the Southside gang knew that, but his powers were on a new level that even he could not understand, and he had seen almost every type of Enhanced power known to exist.

He was there when everything started, long before the announcement during the 1960s when the government finally revealed the existence of people with Enhanced powers. He kept his mouth shut trying to transition from one life to another now that the secret of the Enhanced was finally public knowledge. Until that time, he had little interest in crime fighting, he only wanted to lead a normal life, something denied to him ever since he returned from fighting the Nazis in Europe and escaping the hell they created for him.

The phone buzzed again. Maze ignored it as he continued to drive, focusing his power on the road in front of him. He could avoid any roadblocks or ambushes set up by the local militias or roaming Enhanced, but the time it might take to avoid them might cost him the chance to reach Michael first. Michael was still roaming free in the forest north of him, Maze knew that, but he also saw helicopters in the near future with the very distinct markings of the iron cross and fist, Herr Metall’s symbol, flooding the forest with searchlights and men.

The phone buzzed once more before the speaker crackled and a computer synthesized voiced roared.

“You son-of-a-bitch, Maze, you lied to me. The JTF arrested Net and are holding him for questioning by some brain-scrambler name Nightmare. They think he disabled that weapon”

“Hello, Firewall,” Maze said calmly. Firewall was one of the few people that could lead the government to him and one of his best friends still alive. “I’m sorry, old friend, but the plan changed at the last minute. Herr Metall made his move and Mister Larson is now running around Michigan about to be captured by his goons. I only have a small window of time to get to him first.”

“Time. That’s a funny word coming from you, Maze,” Firewall growled. “Perhaps I should help you experience what ‘doing time’ really means as you spend the rest of your life here. You know, a lot of your other friends are here and would love the opportunity to even the score with you.”

Maze knew Firewall did not threaten lightly. He was the best computer empath on either side of the business and could eventually lead the JTF to him, no matter how dark he tried to go. He might even get a pardon for assisting in the capture of one of the JTF’s top-ten most wanted. Maze also knew there were a lot of psychos he put in jail as an Enhanced or judge. His options would be limited in a 8 foot by 8 foot cell, even with precognition.

“I’m sorry, Marcus,” Maze replied with a touch of sadness for betraying his friend. Terrance was his life and the reason he rotted away in prison. It was also a very touchy subject. He suggested that Net visit his father several times, but the boy had yet made the trek to Kansas. “But there is nothing I can do for Net at the moment. If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t seen a future where he is imprisoned. If we make it look like Metall…”

“No, Maze,” Firewall’s computer voice yelled through the phone speaker, “I’m done helping you and I’m done with your little quest with your pet project. I’m in this damn hellhole because of your visions and his legacy. I’ve given you everything I can, but that will not include the life and freedom of my son.”

“Marcus, please,” Maze pleaded to the plastic box on his passenger seat, “everything is moving forward just as I’ve seen. It’s all happening and we only have so much time left.”

“And then what? Nothing we do can change the future.”

Maze swerved to avoid an abandoned station wagon as he tried to think of an answer while glancing at the phone. He almost imagined Marcus sitting next to him again like they did a decade ago. He pushed the loss of his wife to the back of his mind as he thought of the future. Anything was possible, but sometimes the price was too high.

“If Herr Metall captures Michael, it doesn’t matter what we do to try and change the future. He’ll tear that boy apart and experiment on him, just like his dad did to all those prisoners during the war. I won’t let that happen.”

The computer voiced sighed. “But it won’t make any difference, will it? You saw the vision and you are never wrong. In the end, Michael Larson is going to destroy the world.”

Maze did not look down this time, his focus solely on the road.

“Yes,” he replied without emotion.

Maze pushed the gas pedal to the floor. This section of the highway was straight and he could make up time if he hurried. The helicopters from Chicago would be nearly over Lake Michigan.