Kals stopped and looked into the cell where Ana lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. I didn’t know what she was thinking and then she spoke into my head via my implant.
That’s your cousin? I’m sorry I couldn’t do more. I think she’s going to be back to normal unless there’s another telepathic trigger in there or one of the other things you mentioned over the ansible connection. You told me there was magic and telepathy and unpredictable technology. I understood you, but I didn’t get it until now. I understand why your people couldn’t figure it out.
Hidden by my helmet, I smiled, I get it. I at least know that no one’s put anything like an implant into her head. We checked for that early in her stay. She doesn’t seem to have anything inside her body that shouldn’t be there.
Haley tilted her head and looked over at us, “Are you talking over your implants?”
“Sorry,” I met her eyes. “I didn’t mean to leave everyone else out.”
Mindstryke shook his head, “It’s not a problem. Kals, are you up for talking to Colette if that’s her real name?”
Kals grinned at him, “I’m ready for her, but,” she paused, “have you checked her out?”
Nodding, Mindstryke said, “Yes. The Rocket checked for tech and I’ve checked for any telepathic triggers or shields. She’s got a basic shield, the kind you develop if you know a telepath. Whoever it was, she didn’t know them well enough to have more than the basics. I slipped through and I could read her surface thoughts, but she’s old—very old. She might be older than Dr. Transylvania and he was young during the Middle Ages. I don’t know what language she spoke when she was younger, but it wasn’t English. Memories are mingled with the language you think about them and I can’t search through hers easily.”
Kals didn’t say anything for a moment but then said, “I know how to handle that. Let’s go.”
Mindstryke regarded her and then said, “Alright. Let’s.”
Waving us down the path, he added, “It’s going to be a little different from Ana’s. We’ve had to put buzzers outside her cell to cancel out any sound she makes. The inside is soundproofed and anyone who goes in wears soundproofed powered armor, but we have a system for sending in food without being exposed to her.”
Haley looked up at him, “You sound prepared.”
Mindstryke laughed, “It’s not the Defenders first time holding someone like her. The first time, someone they didn’t realize was a Dominator walked out after seconds in the cell. The second time, they were better prepared, but the guy committed suicide after noticing the soundproofed room and the food delivery system. Both of them were captured before I started with the Defenders. The third time’s the charm, right? Colette’s the first Dominator we’ve kept around.”
My first thought was that the Defenders sounded like they couldn’t be trusted to keep pets. I didn’t say it aloud, but Mindstryke laughed anyway.
Despite the invasion of privacy, it felt good, reminding me of visiting Daniel’s family before we reformed the Heroes’ League—a houseful of telepaths, all of them reading each other’s surface thoughts and commenting in each other’s heads. Going deeper into each other’s heads was rude—which didn’t mean that his younger siblings didn’t try. The beginnings of my own shield came into being as a result.
As warm and happy as those memories were, I didn’t feel the need to say anything about them to Mindstryke—he knew already.
We walked down the stone floor to another cell. This one was exactly like Ana’s except that the open spaces between the rock bars were filled with a transparent substance. I had no trouble seeing through the gaps, but when I turned the sonics on it, I saw nothing. The computer reconstruction of the scene showed only a wall.
Colette, if that was her name, watched us through the windows. Of average height, she had long, dark hair, a thin face, and piercing blue eyes that tracked our movements. Instead of normal clothes, she wore a fluorescent green unitard that covered her body. From the bulges around the joints, I recognized it as a prison uniform for supers that had become popular in the 1990s. Of normally flexible material, it hardened on someone’s remote command and when someone attempted to use greater than human strength, immobilizing them.
The “standard” Dominator in the Human Ascendancy had better than human strength and limited regeneration as a result of the Abominators’ genetic manipulation—Kals and even Julie from our team did too. From the fact that the Defenders put her in that uniform, I guessed that Colette needed that level of restraint.
Kals looked her up and down, “I feel like I should know her. She looks like half of my teachers at school.”
Turning to Mindstryke, “I don’t know what those windows are made of, but if you want me to talk to her, I’m going to have to go inside.”
Thinking about all the things that could go wrong, I said, “Maybe I should go inside with you?”