The heavy security door to the prison slammed shut behind Daniel Lehrer. Agent Thorton nodded to the head of the Joint Task Force, the agency in charge of enforcing Enhanced law.
“We’re all set, sir,” Agent Thorton said looking up at the barrel protruding from the wall. “The Mark 44 is installed and operational. If the prisoner tries to break his bonds, it will split him open like a melon, but it seems like overkill for one guy. I doubt even Justice could survive more than a couple of hits from a thirty mike mike.”
Director Lehrer nodded. “Maybe, but I don’t want to take any chances with Larson. We have no idea of the limits of his powers.”
“Might I ask where you got the cannon?” Thorton asked like a child with a new, expensive toy. “It’s not exactly standard JTF issue.”
“I have friends in Washington,” the Director said as he ran his fingers down the nearly nine foot barrel. “An Air Force general friend salvaged this from a Spooky after the bean counters canceled his project. A gunship is not very useful against Enhanced and remote platforms are the latest thing.”
“Drones won’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Too many bleeding-heart mundanes forget how dangerous these freaks are.”
“We would know a lot more if Russell hadn’t lied,” Lehrer said examining the muzzle bore of the cannon. The barrel appeared worn but usable. “They found him dead this morning – the so-called official cause is accidental death.” Lehrer huffed.
“You think someone killed him?” Thorton asked cocking his head.
“Of course, I do. And I know just the low-life son of a bitch that did it too.
“Who else? That bastard has been a thorn in our side for too long. I’m going to squeeze every bit of information about him from Larson before we ship him to Leavenworth. Then we can learn more about his powers outside of prying eyes. Mister Larson might be the key to the survival of the human race from the Enhanced and the Caliphate.”
“I don’t think this little prick is going to be much use of anything unless he wakes up. Preacher said he’s in a deep coma or something and it could be a week or months until he is conscious.”
“I’ll handle Mister Larson, Agent Thorton. Go get Miss Grayson’s and Miss Alvarado’s belonging from the dormitory and make sure they are shipped home. I don’t want their stuff cluttering up my base any longer.”
Lehrer grinned as Thorton rubbed his jaw when he mentioned Archangel’s real name. On the night Bravo company brought her and the rest of the recruits back to face questioning, Thorton, thinking with his pecker rather than his brain, decided to question Alaina Grayson alone in his office. She reminded him that Enhanced are stronger than mundanes when she decked him. He was lucky she did not kill him…or worse.
“Yes, sir. I’ll take care of it,” Thorton said grinding his teeth in anger.
Director Lehrer watched the security door close and lock before looking back at the unconscious Michael Larson, his breathing shallow and weak.
“I knew you were going to be trouble, Michael. You are just like your old man. Surprised I know who he is? Thomas Collins and I crossed paths many years ago. He’s always been in my way and he’s always stood between me and Elizabeth. She should have been mine, not his. Let me tell you a little story on how I discovered his little secret. It actually started with you…”
* * *
Los Angeles, California – 20 years ago
“Really?” asked Javier opening his locker. Everyone was changing into their workout gear for a morning run around the hills of the LAPD Academy. Dodgers stadium was nearby and was a popular destination.
“Yeah, Sue and I found out this morning,” Thomas Collins responded smiling. He had a hard time hiding anything from his partner and he knew that his Sue would have already called Javier’s wife and told her. “She made me stay up last night with a list a names.”
“Don’t go anywhere,” a smiling Javier ordered Thomas as he stood up on the wooden bench between the lockers.
“May I have your attention, please!” Javier shouted over the noise of D platoon changing for the training exercise. Several heads turned to look at Javier as he waved his arms to get the attention of the participants of the remaining private conversations.
“Stop, Javier. What are you doing?” Thomas asked with a desperate plea. He had no idea what his partner was planning, but it usually was something bad for him. Javier’s callsign was Joker, not because he was Enhanced, but because he liked to pull pranks on his brothers-in-blue, especially his best friend. The last prank involved a horse and a midnight ride through one of the division stations. The Chief and the station’s Watch Commander were still looking to demote someone for that stunt.
“My esteemed colleagues, I have a special announcement. Our most-excellent Marine here, Officer Thomas Collins, has just found out that he and his lovely wife, Sue, are having a boy.”
Several officers patted Thomas with congratulations while Javier looked down.
“And the name is?” Javier asked eagerly as his index fingers mimicked tapping on a snare drum.
“Michael,” Thomas announced. “After Sue’s grandfather. Michael Thomas Collins.”
The locker room erupted with cheers but were soon drowned out when the intercom sounded an alarm.
“Attention! The city is now on tactical alert. All available units are to respond code three to a 211 in-progress. We have shots fired. Suspects are Enhanced.”
“Grab your vest, your rifle, and get moving, ladies. The city is depending on us today to stop those freaks.” The lieutenant’s animosity towards Enhanced was well-known. While it was not officially condoned by LAPD leadership; it was not rejected either. It was a common feeling, especially with the beat cops. The number of dead officers from Enhanced criminals was higher in Los Angeles than any other city in the world and the rate was increasing as each new generation of Enhanced became more deadly.
Thomas pulled his black Kevlar vest and helmet from the locker. As a sniper team, he and Javier had a different set of tools; Javier grabbed his 1911 pistol and his spotter scope as Thomas grabbed the Remington sniper rifle. They were expected to stay hidden from the target and not miss. No one could deny Thomas’s ability to hit a moving target from any position or under any condition was almost Enhanced-like. He was a natural marksman.
“No heroics, amigo,” Javier warned. “Sue and that baby are going to need you.”
“Let’s get to work,” Thomas replied, his face stern as his training took over.