The world returned in a blurry vision and with someone smacking him on the side of the head. He could not make out anything in the room other than it was white and the person talking to him was male.
“Wake the hell up,” the person in the room said in an urgent whisper. “I don’t have time for this crap and Net can only loop the systems for a short time or they’ll figure it out.” The person slapped him harder. “Larson, wake up!”
He must be dreaming because that sounded just like Justice, but that slap actually hurt. What the hell was going on?
“I only have a few minutes,” Justice said in hushed tones, “so we need to make this quick.”
Michael tried to swivel his head to the right to look at Justice but his neck was locked facing forward. His arms, his chest, his legs were all strapped down to the table. Whoever put him here did not want him to leave.
“I can’t move.” Michael said while he focused on the large barrel of a gun attached to the wall pointed at him. If he had to guess by the diameter of the bore, he was staring at a 30 millimeter cannon . Someone REALLY did not want him to go anywhere. “What the hell is that?”
Justice moved in front of Michael, blocking the gun pointed at his head. “Lehrer installed it when Thorton dragged your body back from the attack. You have them really freaked out. I’m the only Enhanced allowed to check on you and only because Thorton thinks I hate your guts.”
Michael tried to laugh but it hurt too much to breath deeply. “You do hate me, Justice.”
“Yeah, about that. Listen man, I’m sorry about everything. I’m sorry I was a little bitch to you and the rest of the team. I really screwed things up.”
“You need to do a lot more than apologize to make up for the shit you pulled, Justice. You should be saying those words to Alaina, not me.”
Justice looked down and shook his head. “I can’t.”
“Why?” Michael asked.
“She’s gone, two weeks ago after the debriefing – resigned, fired, depends on who you ask, but the result is the same. Alaina is out of the JTF and prohibited from using her powers again. Turbulence too.”
“Mari? What did she do?” Michael asked as he tried to move again but the bonds held him firmly down.
“Turns out she left a few things off her application. Thorton wanted to press charges but Lehrer just kicked her out. Training is over and all recruits have been elevated to active duty. We’re part of Bravo company until further notice or they send our asses to Leavenworth with you.”
Michael continued to struggle and tried to sit up again but a beep echoed through the room and Justice forced him down, the blond Enhanced’s strength crushing him. “Don’t be stupid. You push too hard and the guards will hear the alarm. Break those bonds and that cannon will split you open, depleted uranium rounds, a special order just for you.”
“Why? What the hell did I do?”
“We were hoping you could tell us.”
“Get Jason in here and let him scan me. He can see everything that happened to me.”
“Jason is dead. Assassins killed him just before you guys got there. There were after his girlfriend but we stopped them.”
“We?” Michael said louder, “Why we, Justice? What the hell were you doing over there in the first place?”
Justice put up his hands and looked around. “Keep it quiet.”
Michael tried to relax but part of him, deep down inside, wanted to tear this building and everyone inside it apart including Justice.
“Preacher called me,” Justice said putting his hands back down, “and asked me to head over there. Amira, Jay’s girl, is an unregistered.” Michael’s eyes got wider. He knew personally that she was playing a dangerous game. “And he didn’t want the mundanes picking her up. Her old man is…was a friend of his. She saw something Michael, saw something that really scared her.”
“You killed that mundane and broke Russell’s spine. They were trying to hurt her when you showed up so I’m not losing any sleep over it.”
Michael could barely shake his head. “That’s not possible. I can’t do anything like that.”
“She’s telling the truth, dude. I saw your strength first hand when you broke my hand. And your eyes glow like the fires of hell when you get pissed off. You were ready to kill me at the park.”
“But I don’t remember it. It’s not possible.”
“It did and it is.”
Michael could feel the tears fall from his eyes. He could not remember it, but the voice had screamed for blood so many times. Was it possible? What was he? Who was he?
“Someone must have tipped off Thorton because he brought every asset he could find to hunt you down.”
“Amira probably told him. I would spill my guts too if I was facing a trip to Leavenworth.”
Justice shook his head. “They can’t find her.”
“She can’t stay hidden for long. Jason said she’s an immigrant with few family ties here.“ Justice continued to shake his head as Michael spoke.
“She saved my life and maybe if I had taken training more seriously, I could have saved Jason too. I don’t know. He’s a hero and I’m a fucking coward. They will not find her.”
“Why are you telling me all this? Aren’t you afraid I’ll tell them everything?”
“I’ve already apologized to the others, but Net would not say anything until I talked to you. The JTF is so afraid of you, Thorton won’t even enter the room without an armored squad.”
“Thorton?” Michael asked shocked. “Where’s the Lieutenant?”
“Forced retirement after sustaining injuries during combat, Lehrer’s orders. Some of the brass in Washington blame Bravo company for the destruction and Caldwell took the fall. Now, Thorton’s in command.”
“What about a mental scan? I can’t hide the truth.”
“Already tried that. They even dragged mom back down here, but she said your mental defenses are off the chart. She was seriously pissed and told Lehrer that he better bring a gun the next time they called her to Indianapolis because she would kill him.”
“Just perfect,” Michael said.
Do not trust her, the voice said barely audible.
“Yeah, no kidding,” Justice replied thinking about the lifetime of horrific nightmares she inflicted on him, “At least we didn’t run another simulation while she was here. Lehrer has banned both of us.”
“Since Alaina is gone, should I call you team leader?”
“Lehrer asked me, but I said no. Net is in charge of the team now.”
“That was big of you.” Michael said in shock. Perhaps the prick has some redeeming qualities after all.
“Not really. I’m going to find and curbstomp those two fuckers that killed Jason but I can’t involve the JTF or they’ll start asking more questions about Amira. Net enjoys all that office politics crap anyways. I want to be a field agent like Judge and do some good for once.”
The outer door clanked loudly as the bolt moved and unbarred the door. Four armored agents walked in the room, Agent Thorton trailing behind them.
“Justice, what are you doing in here?” Thorton asked with a crooked brow. The four armored officers swiveled their helmets between Michael and the approaching Justice, index fingers resting just outside the trigger guard in the ready position.
“Lieutenant, the monitors indicated the prisoner was awake. I just confirmed it so be careful.”
“Very well,” Thorton replied sharply, a scowl forming as he watched Michael shift in his bed. “Now get out. Mister Larson and I have a lot to talk about.”
“Yes, sir,” Justice said before walking away. As he opened the door out of the cellblock, he turned around. “Maybe one day I’ll get my chance to kick your ass.”
“Perhaps we can arrange that, Agent Jurgens,” Thorton said without turning around as he studied the freak, even by Enhanced standards, in front of him. “ I know I would enjoy watching it.”
Michael nodded. Justice was not looking at him before the door closed.
* * *
Author’s note: I would like to thank Kinsey’s keen eye for editing. I do the best I can (with help from spellcheck) but I can never catch them all. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.
Next Tuesday’s Chapter 100 is the final chapter for Portal, Book 1 of the Enhanced Series. At the end of the chapter I will post more information about Book 2 including the start date and title!