Chapter 2, Part 2

She wasn’t alone when she reached the utilitarian room where she suited up each morning. Her sleeping pod cleansed her skin, hair and pores each night so there was no need to wash her face, but the electrifying splash of frigid water against her face helped to burn away the remnants of the most recent batch of nightmares. Keeping a respectful distance from Faye were other young men and women, each doing a decidedly worse job at hiding their disturbed psyches.

Standard wear for a Peripheral Branch investigator, regardless of gender, was a pair of smooth, black pants and a long-sleeve top with a collar and front edges that could be magnetized to hold together once touching. As a young teenager, Faye had been fascinated by this style, which was similar to what could be found in the alleged kakistocracies that had preceded the Central Government. Now, she still felt a faint twinge of pleasure from her intimate proximity with something which had held her mind’s fancy in years past.

There was some whispering amongst the others occupying the changing room, but she paid them no heed.

“How is she excited first thing in the morning?”

“That can’t be her real aura, she must have been given an emitter.”

Even if Faye had been listening, she probably would not have considered the conversation surprising in any way. Here, she was a whale among fish, and had been since she had decided to join the Peripheral Government. At first, she had stood out simply because the branch director was her legal benefactor. Now, she enthralled her peers with her extraordinary talent and legendary loyalty to their cause, and was therefore often the topic of discussion in the changing room.

After she had donned her working outfit, Faye walked back down the hallway flanked by sleep chambers, keeping to the left so that her dominant arm would be ready to engage someone if they were positioned roughly in the center of the space. There was next to no chance of this scenario occurring, but as James always said: “repetition breeds readiness.”

As soon as she turned out of the sleeping hall as they called it, she was confronted by a spike in luminous intensity. Sudden though it was, the transition was not too difficult on the eyes and a couple blinks later, Faye could already see clearly to the other side of the large dome that was the central complex of the Peripheral Branch’s headquarters. To her right was a large screen that displayed the time, among other things.

8:22. Good, she wouldn’t keep uncle Derrick waiting.

As Faye neared conference room 3, after having navigated the somewhat poorly laid out headquarters – the structure had been repurposed some 13 years ago – she could feel her benefactor with her extra sense before coming into earshot. A genuine smile pushed up her lips in a slow, gently motion.

Uncle Derrick was unique as a human being. Faye had never been able to detect anything similar to the oddly pleasing aura emanating off of him on any other man or woman. She had always taken this as a sign that he was a man of both supreme intelligence and emotional depth.

There wasn’t a day that went by where Faye didn’t feel immense gratitude toward Derrick Jones for becoming her legal benefactor. After only a couple months of living in the home he provided her, accessing his credit allowance, she had voluntarily decided to enlist in his branch as a way of repaying him, after she heard him describe the sort of special people they required. What good fortune that she just happened to have gifts that made her useful to him, she had thought. That was five years ago.

As Derrick’s unmistakeable presence grew stronger in Faye’s mind, voices began to filter through the cracked door like music from a citizen’s vehicle on the streets of Durvell. She could hear James’ warm rumble and Zed’s precise cadence.

“…momentary lapse in attention, nothing more. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his first instance of using telekinesis.”

“Agent Washington’s claim has some basis to it. The citizen’s appearance and mannerisms are entirely plain and unthreatening, judging by any qualitative schema.”

“Be that as it may, you can’t afford to make such a mistake this time. We’ve had our eye on Brooke for a while, and while it was hard to dig up, there’s evidence that he may be the most dangerous metacognite we’ve ever come across.”

So they had reprimanded James about the incident with the HFP. That much Faye had expected. From the sound of it, Derrick had come personally with another mission for them. The young agent’s smile metamorphosed into the predatory grin that was the subject of much fervent discussion in the empath changing room. Finally, another chance to prove herself to her benefactor.

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