We continued to train for several weeks. As I grew in my abilities, I was more and more impressed in her teaching abilities. She exposed my weaknesses and brought out my strengths, all the while encouraging me to continue. Assuring the that the goal was inviting my grasp. I realized that I would need to be creative with how I use my powers. At the same time, I couldn’t rely on them completely. They weren’t infallible. She proved this when I had her trapped with shadow tendrils and she just ripped herself free. I was not expecting that. How do you rip a shadow? How do you crack a shadow for that matter? I guess when I make it manifest itself physically, it becomes vulnerable to taking damage. I had thought, for a short while, that the Shadowskin was a perfect defense. It’s a very strong defense, but not perfect.
Ultimately, I learned that the shadows were my strongest ally. It seems pretty obvious, but it was an idea I had taken for granted. I was no tank. I wasn’t going to demolish a building with sheer force. Stealth was my game. Trickery and Agility were my tools. Controlling the fight was my strategy. None of this was news to me, but she helped me by bringing it into laser focus.
Most of the time, it was just the two of us sparring, but she brought in others. I sparred with Fritz a couple times. He was an interesting sparring partner. He didn’t have the stealth so much, but he was super agile when he was flying around. Had to bring him down to the ground which was easier said than done.
The rest of the group challenged me in all kinds of different ways as well. There were those like Pulse with excessive destructive power, or even Summer with more subtle means. The hardest was Tori. How does one win against an opponent who knows every move you are going to make. You don’t. Unless you can figure out his or her weakness. I’m still working on that.
Either way, I was feeling good. I was definitely more prepared. I only had to wait for the call. It did, eventually come and suddenly I didn’t feel so confident anymore. I felt like the amateur on his trial run with a pro team. I wasn’t sure I could live up to their expectations. On top of that, I didn’t even know what they expected.
We were supposed to meet in Jacob’s office on a Monday morning. I was really nervous, but also interested to see who else had been invited. My heart was pounding as I walked through the door, only to find I was the first person there.
“Ahh Michael, right on time.” Jacob said.
“Where’s everyone else?”
“They will be along shortly. I wanted to meet with you first.”
“Oh. Okay. What about?”
“I understand you’ve been training with Aria.”
“I have. She’s a really good teacher.”
“Yes. I know. That’s the problem.”
“What do you mean?”
He paused for several seconds.
“I have a very specific and extremely important role for you on this trip.”
“I’m sure you are, but I’m afraid you won’t be seeing any ‘action’ this time around.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m going to need you to be the getaway driver, so to speak.”
“The getaway driver?”
“Yes. You will get the team inside the facility and get them out, but you will not be joining them in carrying out the mission.”
“But I can open a portal in any shadow but my own. It would be more efficient if-“
“No, it won’t. If you’re going to be a part of this team, I’m going to need you to trust that I know what I’m doing. The area the team will be entering has lights on every surface. There will be very few shadows for you to use, if any at all.”
His tone wasn’t harsh or angry, but it was very firm. I didn’t really have much to say afterwards. I felt sheepish for being so outspoken about something of which I had no knowledge. He was very gracious, though.
“Listen, I understand that you are ready to fight the good fight. There will be plenty of time for that, but right now your role is different. It may seem lackluster, but it is of the utmost importance. We couldn’t pull this off without your particular ability. You are an essential part of this operation.”
About that time, the rest of the crew for the mission began to trickle into the room. There wasn’t that many people for this one. Of course, this might be normal. I didn’t know, but I was still a little surprised. Reeve was there. Needless to say, neither of us was happy about that. He was supposed to be there for heavy lifting. Getting unconscious rescues back to me. Aria could’ve done that but she hadn’t been invited for whatever reason. She said that’s just how Jacob works. I’d thought she would be here for my first mission. I wanted to say something but didn’t want to open my fool mouth again. It was what it was. I had to deal with it.
Summer was there, as well, to heal whoever might need it. Finally, Dark and Pulse would join for the purposes of defense should the facility muster a strong security presence.
“Who’s the target?” Summer asked.
“The United States Army.” Jacob responded.