Paradox – Chapter 14

Michael could hear the helicopters before he saw them. A quick flick of the wrist and a thought created a portal on top of a nearby tree and its mate in front of him. His powers had increased exponentially during his time in the JTF, he finally had control over the portals and could move them around at-will. The portal on the treetop spun around slowly, like a periscope, until he spotted the approaching aircraft far off against the horizon.

The whup whup whup of the rotor blades echoed through the forest when he noticed the black-silhouetted helicopters, two of them, against the brighter moonlit night sky. He did not know the make of helicopters, other than they were large enough to transport people, but they were definitely not the JTF. They were the conventional helicopters, one main rotor and tail blade, rather than the dual-rotored hybrid of the V-22 Osprey. His powers told him he was somewhere in Michigan, but could he have jumper further north into Canada? Perhaps this was the Canadian military searching for a dangerous escaped Enhanced criminal.

No, he was in Michigan. He was near Alaina and he was going to find her, but those helicopters were searching for someone.

The helicopters suddenly veered nose up as they slowed down and began to hover almost directly above his portal hidden among the treetops. He noticed a pair of wings emerge from the side of the nearest helicopter. They were bright and beautiful even dimly lit by the pale moonlight. The person attached to the wings dropped from the helicopter in a free fall before spreading the wings and soaring again.

The sound of rockets firing turned Michael’s attention away from the bird person. He turned the portal around to noticed yellow and orange flames angrily roaring from an armored suit as it descended into the treetops, igniting small fires and burning away the foliage near the descent path. Like fireflies surrounding a flame, thousand of shimmering globes of golden light surrounded the armored suit and followed into the trees with it.

This armor is familiar, Michael thought as he watched the rocketman descended near his portal. As Michael studied the armor, trying to remember who it belonged to, it stopped the descent and the helmet turned to the portal. On the other side, Michael felt the rush of fear and adrenaline as he ducked and both portals dissipated. Somehow, the armored person knew he was there.

“Terrorvolt,” he recalled from the JTF top ten most wanted list. The Enhanced criminals hunted for him.

* * *

“Well, well,” Terrorvolt smirked inside his armor. “We have a little spy.”

The reticle inside Terrorvolt’s suit analyzed the area where the portal disappeared as the rockets under his feet maintained his altitude. The armored man bobbed up and down like a boat on a calm lake surrounded by thousands of tiny lights.

“Go, my children,” Terrorvolt said as he descended into the forest. “Find papa his millions.” The golden lights raced off in different directions spreading throughout the forest, dipping in and out of the trees as they followed their programming.

“Eagle to Terrorvolt,” the radio hummed. Terrorvolt ignored it as he focused on the analysis from the computer.

“Terrorvolt! Acknowledge the damn call.” Screaming Eagle did not sound happy but he did not care. The bird woman thought she was in-charge, but she was just like the others, dimwitted and arrogant. But her harpy voice distracted him from his hunt.

“What is it, Lucy?” he responded with her real name.

Although Enhanced used secret identities, criminal and heroes, before the government outlawed crime fighting, Terrorvolt knew almost every major Enhanced player’s real identity, except for one. He did not reveal this knowledge or he would make too many enemies that permanently silenced threats to their privacy, powerful enemies like Herr Metall. A metal elementalist like Metall was dangerous to an inventor that specialized in mechanical and electronic devices. But in time, he would invent a device that even the mighty Herr Metall could not control. Perhaps he would even collect the bounty on the greatest criminal mastermind offered by a dozen mundane nations across the world to finance the hostile takeover of Metall’s global empire.

But Lucy McCain, Screaming Eagle, was not a threat. His armor plates could withstand her Enhanced claws and beak and her sonic weapon could be filtered out. She was a powerful Enhanced against the ignorant mundane and Enhanced masses, but she was a feeble child next to his superior intellect. The computer in his suit displayed several bounties for her capture with the dollar amounts next to them as he thought about it. They only totaled half a million, but showing the bird woman the real meaning of power and control might be worth it. He filed the idea away for study later and focused on the current task.

“If you are going to coordinate the search, Terrorvolt,” Eagle scolded, “I need your attention on the radio.”

“There is no need, Lucy,” Terrorvolt responded with a smile on his face that none of the others could see, “I have already detected our target. Mister Larson noticed our arrival and is attempting to flee the vicinity.”

“What?” Eagle asked surprised. “He’s a teleporter. How did you find him already?”

“Because I have a brain in my head, Lucy,” Terrorvolt retorted, “instead of a beak and feathers. My suit detected the Hawking radiation all jumpers create, in Mister Larson’s case, from his portals. My micro-drones are scouring the forest now for my prey.”

“Your toys are too slow, metal man,” Hot Rod interjected, “just point the way and I’ll find that little bastard.”

“No, thank you, Conner. Your brain is even smaller than Lucy’s and located somewhere between your legs,” Terrorvolt mocked. “I will capture the prey alone.”

“Like hell you will, bitch,” Hot Rod responded.

“Enough,” Eagle shouted. “You have technology, Terrorvolt, but you don’t have eyes as sharp as an eagle.”

“I don’t need…” Terrorvolt started. Eagle pressed a button on her wrist computer to set Terrorvolts channel on the network to receive only.

“Hot Rod, it looks like Terrorvolt scared our fox out of the bushes. Turn to heading 215. He’s a half a mile from your location. I’ll be right behind you.”

The red suited speedster nodded. “Got it. I’ll buy the first round for the ladies when we get back and get dirty.”

“Larson first. Sex later,” Nighthawk teased with the sound of the rotors humming behind her. Eagle would not like the banter, Nighthawk thought, but she had ten million reasons to get over it.

“Now you’re talking my language, Hawk,” a blurry Hot Rod said as he dodged a tree and turned southwest.

“Terrorvolt,” Eagle called. “You can transmit on the network again. I need you to cut…”

Bright flames and smoke lit up the forest as the advanced suit of armor became airborne. “I told you, Lucy,” Terrorvolt interrupted, “Mister Larson is mine.”

Eagle’s wrist computer noted that Terrorvolt removed himself from the communication network.

“What an asshole,” she mumbled before turning to follow Hot Rod.