Allen opened the door, and said, “Kerri, please come in.”
If you follow comics, you’ll get the impression that all women with superpowers are long-legged, wasp-waisted, supermodel types with massive–
None of the girls on our team (or any of the grown-up women I’d met) looked like that, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that their telepath didn’t either.
Between the tan suitcoat, matching skirt, and short, brown hair she looked like a random, middle aged, office worker.
When she talked, she used a level, professional tone that I might have associated with a doctor if I’d been in a hospital.
“A teenager.” She stated. “No known powers. Part of a group that includes the Mystic, a telepath who may have taught him how to resist mental probes. Is there anything else I should know?”
Allen said, “Can you do it? You said he might resist. I might be able to get another telepath. Ray, didn’t you say one of your allies could read minds?”
“One of the immortals can, but he just started. I think you’d be better off without him.”
Allen walked back to his chair and sat down. “What about you? I thought you could copy her powers.”
“Easier said than done. There’s still skill involved. I’m trying to limit myself to people whose abilities are easy to understand. Kerri, do you think you’ll need help?”
She shook her head. “I’m not seeing anything in him yet that worries me.”
And that, of course, worried me.
Lee had had Daniel modify my block, and work up something similar for everyone else on the team. Daniel had liked the idea. He’d had some ideas he wanted to try, but until Lee said something, I hadn’t been excited about the idea of Daniel making changes in my head.
After years of being friends with Daniel, I knew what mental contact felt like, and if I couldn’t tell she was doing it, she had to be very skilled or very talented. Either way, it didn’t bode well.
About the time I’d begun to worry about her abilities, I did feel something.
The lightest touch of presence, the kind of touch Daniel used when he wanted to get my attention, but not talk, pulled at me.
Unlike my past experiences with mental invasion, I didn’t find that my memories had passed outside my conscious reach, or attempt to defend myself physically.
She hadn’t triggered it.
Both inside my head, and through my ears I heard her say, “He’s been worked on by at least three different people, and all of them were competent. Trying to get into his memories won’t be easy. It can be done, but I’m going to have to be careful.”
“Careful?” Allen snorted. “Why? They’re not going to leave a mindwipe trigger in their techie.”
“Allen,” Ray said, “she’s right. Telepaths put the damnedest things in people’s heads.”
“There’s more to worry about than mindwipes. Some people’s minds are genuinely dangerous. Even in this one, I’m seeing effects from a fourth force.”
“What kind of force,” Ray asked.
“I… don’t know. Not human, and I’d say, not intentional. Something big. I don’t know how big.”
Allen looked over at Ray, frowning. “What’s that big, and would you recognize it if it came here?”
Kerri shook her head briefly. “I don’t know. It’s outside my experience.”
Allen said, “I don’t like this at all. Poke around inside and get out. Make it quick. We’re wasting time now.”
Ray’s phone beeped. He pulled it out of its case. “I get so bored of calling these people. One of these days I’m just going to skip it.”
He smiled, and winked at me.
Normally I might have felt fear in that moment, but I didn’t then.
I felt detached. I’d been feeling more and more detached the further Kerri got into my brain. I wondered if it was because of Kerri, or if this might somehow be Daniel’s new defense.
“It’s Ray again. Don’t kill your hostages, and pass it on to the others.”
He hung up the phone, and put it back into the case hanging off his belt.
“This looks promising,” Kerri said. “Whatever cluster of memories I’m sensing now has ties to others in different parts of the brain. I’m about to tap into–”
She began to scream. Except for the briefest moment at the beginning, it didn’t take place in my head at all.
I became more conscious of where I was when she hit the floor, and the screaming stopped.
Ray and Allen got up from the table, racing around it to reach her.
Ray made it first, slapping her in the face. “Back to reality, Kerri. Come on… Do you hear me?”
Looking up at me from where he knelt over her, “Nick, if you’re doing this, stop now, or I’m calling back and giving the execute order.”
Well, I knew I could talk at least. How soon before I needed to run or fight?
I heard a loud hum, the hum of electrical connections being made, many crackling noises, and the smell of burning electronics.
And, oh yeah, the lights went out too.