Paradox – Chapter 2

“Prisoner,” shouted the lead armored JTF agent  as the heavy cell door slowly opened, “you will keep your hands up where we can see them at all times. Do you understand?”

Michael laughed even with four rifles pointed at him. He looked behind the four agents for the Enhanced agent, his time Windspeed, a category three air elementalist. He appeared busy tapping messages on his cellphone with his power to manipulate air pressure and temperature. The JTF always included an Enhanced. just in case an Enhanced prisoner tried to escape. In Michael’s case, Scimitar, Trauma, and Solid Copy pulled most of the guard duty. He could understand that Net’s power were not suited for a direct confrontation with a prisoner, but he expected to see Justice taunting him every minute behind bars.

“It’s not like I can do anything,” Michael snipped back flexing his wrists against the custom-made manacles. They were heavier than the restraints they trained with and much thicker. The guards said they were for category five Enhanced. As Michael struggled to put his hands in the air, the guards rushed the room.

“You can do enough to kill a mundane,” the lead agent said as he jammed his rifles buttstock into Michael’s stomach, who immediately doubled-over and gasped for breath.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Michael whispered, “and even so, Russell was a dirtbag. He deserved what happened to him.”

The lead agent growled louder as he struck Michael’s body with the rifle stock. “He was my friend, you speck of shit. He was a good agent and a good friend” The next blow struck his shoulder.

Michael tried to look up at the Enhanced agent as he endured several more blows, but Windspeed ignored the confrontation, his eyes glued to his phone Michael collapsed to the floor when the final blow struck the middle of his back forcing him down.

“Someone should have shot you like the wild dog you are,” the agent spit before walking away. “Pick him up and let’s get him to his court appearance. Judge Rey doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

Two agents reached under the armpits and pulled Michael up. His neck hung down and he clenched his jaw tight as each step was another bolt of pain up his entire upper torso, his back muscles already in spasms. It would heal in a few minutes but it would hurt until then.

As they left the cell, Michael turned to Windspeed. “Thanks for the help, asshole,” he said in-between several short painful breaths. “Way to look out for one of your own.”

Windspeed operated with the tier two teams, never in the hottest action and never the most celebrated. Michael knew his reputation as a good company man, never questioning orders and never rocking the boat.

Windspeed put his hands up in a mock defense. “Don’t look at me, genius. I’m not the dumb shit that decided to kill a JTF agent. Perhaps you should think about that little warm up the next time you get the idea to hurt a mundane. You’re just lucky that you didn’t kill a woman or child too. I doubt you would have made it this long.”

Michael felt the muscles in his face tighten in face. “Whatever happened, I wasn’t in control. I blacked out at the club.” How many time would he have to repeat that?

“Don’t give me that crap about EEDS. You’re a cat one, maybe a cat two? You don’t get EEDS at that level. It doesn’t matter what you excuse you have. You’re going to Leavenworth for life, Michael.”

“I didn’t do it,” Michael said louder. He tried to twist his neck as Windspeed walked behind the group in the narrower hallway. He felt an armored glove slam into his head forcing him to look forward.

“Keep your eyes front, prisoner,” the JTF agent to his right ordered.

Michael knew they would have an armored Stryker at the end of the hallway waiting to take him to court. He studied the procedure a few months ago as part of the JTF recruit class.

The tapping started again behind him. “Besides, now that your buddy, Justice, has dropped his fans and canceled all his appearances, someone has to take his place. I guess he couldn’t hack it anymore and I’ve been more than happy to fill-in for that loser. He had a lot of lonely female fans that now need comforting.” The mundane agents laughed.

Michael thought about turning around to see if Windspeed was joking but glanced down at the armored glove that struck him and decided it was not worth it. Justice had turned away from his fans? From the women? Scott visited him in jail at some point but he was so disoriented that he could not remember everything. Why the sudden change in behavior?

When the lead agent opened the door, Michael could hear the running engine of the Strkyer.

“Prisoner, you will enter the rear of the vehicle and sit on the bench. Any deviation from these instructions will be considered a hostile act,” said the lead agent as his team pushed Michael forward towards the Stryker. “Do you understand?”

“I know the drill,” Michael responded staring at the agent. He tried to look away,but could not. Vengeance wanted to remember this agent’s face.

The lead agent smiled as the prisoner walked up the rear ramp to the vehicle. “Good,” he lied, “I would hate a repeat in your cell when you decided to be uncooperative and we had to use force to remove you.”

Michael sat quietly, refusing the bait and desire to crush the agent’s skull. He would not lose control again to Vengeance, Thomas, or anyone else lurking around in his mind. This was his life, or what was remaining of it.

“Let’s get going, boys,” the lead agent said thumping on the armored Stryker as the four agents and Windspeed climbed in with Michael. The rear ramp hummed as it closed shut and the vehicle started moving forward.

* * *

“The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed the President’s nomination of the Joint Task Force Director, Daniel Lehrer, as Secretary of Defense today,” announced Indianapolis’s favorite newswoman, “replacing Secretary Fraser who was killed when Enhanced terrorists crashed the his jet just outside of  Kennedy airport in New York. In a rousing speech on Capitol Hill, Secretary Lehrer announced his new responsibilities would include a bridge between the Joint Task Force and the Department of Defense, a necessary step forced on the federal government due to the threat from increasingly violent Enhanced riots around the country and from hostile nations and terrorists groups. Although the missions of the Joint Task Force and Department of Defense are different, he said, the goals remain the same, the protection and safety of the people of the United States. Stay tuned right here for more on this late breaking news…”