Paradox – Chapter 18

The car slowed as several hundred lumens of light mounted on the Harris armor helmet, lit up the street. Each man also held a rifle which encouraged the driver to slow down and finally stop in front of the makeshift roadblock. The lead soldier held up his hand in the universal symbol to stop before walking around the front of the car to the driver side window. The driver kept his hands on the wheel as the remaining three agents fanned around the front of the car to create a perimeter.

“Please, turn off your car and step outside,” the soldier nearest the car ordered in a firm voice. The driver nodded and turned the key before opening the driver side door. He was tall with a long cloak over him. His face was obscured by a hood and the deep shadows created by the lights.

“Who are you?” demanded the soldier. “What are you doing here?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” the man replied. “The park is not open for overnight visitors.”

The soldier tapped his rifle. “But I’m the one holding the gun. Now answer the question. Who are you?”

“No need to get pushy, sir. The name’s Vince,” the man answered as he looked at the rifle and understood the message. “I’m the winter ranger here. Now, who…? Wait,” Vince said looking at all the soldiers, “that looks like Harris armor. Are you guys, JTF? Are you from the Grand Rapids office?”

“I can’t confirm that, sir,” the soldier replied, “the mission is classified.”

“I heard the helicopters and wasn’t sure what was going on,” Vince continued.

“Sir, our mission is classified and anything you saw is also classified.”

“What are you doing out here? I know these woods and I’d be happy to help in any way I can.”

“Red leader to Eagle,” the soldier said as Vince continued to tell him about local wildlife. “Yeah, it’s some ranger who heard the helos approach.”

“Last year we had a Enhanced pyro try to burn down the forest and I had to call you guys. He wiped out several acres before the local supervisor finally sent a squad to deal with him. I hope that young man is getting the help he needs at the hospital in Leavenworth.”

“We’ll take care of it,” Red Leader responded to the radio ignoring Vince.

“And don’t get me started on the trash that comes here every summer looking for handouts…”

“Sir,” Red Leader interrupted. “I need you to get back in your car and return to your residence. We have the situation under control here and we’ll be leaving soon.”

“Oh?” Vince said dejected. “Are you sure? I’m always willing to help. You know, I wanted to join the JTF when the agency was started but I was too old for the cutoff..”

Red Leader grabbed Vince, his power armor holding the larger man in place. “Now, return to your vehicle and leave.” He let Vince go.

“No need for that, sir,” Vince said as he turned away and started to walk to his car. He could not see as the soldier flipped the safe switch on his M4.

“Have a nice night,” Red Leader said as he raised the rifle to the back of Vince’s head. His finger moved to the firing position when the barrel lined up on target. He focused on the front sight and squeezed the trigger.

* * *

“I see Terrorvolt,” Screaming Eagle commented over the network. “He’s with the target. Bring the helicopter to my position for transport.”

“On our way,” Nighthawk answered.

“Red leader to Eagle.”

“Go.”

“Yeah, it’s some ranger who heard the helos approach.”

“Copy,” Eagle said as she started her descent. “Herr Metall said no witnesses. Do it and rendezvous back at my location.”

“We’ll take care of it.”

* * *

“What’s your decision, boy?” Terrorvolt asked. A long door near the shoulder area of Terrorvolt’s armor opened and a mingun appeared. The weapon first tracked Michael before pointing at an angle towards the sky.

Michael looked at the suit of armor and shook his head. He remembered every time Thomas read another article about Terrorvolts reign of destructrion across California. The memories included a woman and child crushed during one of his bank heists, a police car and the officers inside from one of the Los Angeles suburbs obliterated by gunfire, and the destroyed remains of the LAPD armored carrier hit by one of Terrorvolt’s anti-tank rockets. The mad scientist enjoyed targeting law enforcement.

“I know what you are,” Michael said as he focused his power around him. “I’ve seen your crimes and You’re just another sick monster that needs to be put down.” As Michael red-shifted , the minigun tracking an airborne target, started to swing back and aim at him.

Michael moved like a blur, flicking his hand to create the portal and it’s mate behind Terrorvolt. He jumped through the hole as the first rounds exploded from the rotating barrels and raced towards him. Once through his portal, gravity took over on the other side. He tumbled as one of the bullets punched through his skin and tossed him sideways. When Michael crashed to the ground and felt the dead vegetation of winter on his face, the portals dissipated.

“You didn’t go far, Michael,” Terrorvolt yelled through the external intercom as the armored suit rotated back and forth with the minigun swiveling on the pivot. “You’re power is limited by sight and even Enhanced can’t see very far in these woods at night.”

Michael pushed himself off the ground and forced himself to run. Blood bubbled out and ran freely down his prisoner uniform on the ground. Whatever weapon that metal lunatic was using, it was far more powerful than a regular gun.

“There you are,” Terrorvolt said to himself when he spotted Michael running away. His red running form silhouetted perfectly against the forest trees in the cool spring night. He set the range on the target computer and aimed. At this distance, he could not miss.. “If I can’t have your power, no one will.”

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