Chapter 2, Part 3

Derrick Jones was a rather ordinary man from the neck down. As a branch director of the Central Government, his attire was consistently well-fitted and formal, but not unique by any stretch. From what one could tell from a cursory inspection, his body was neither well-honed nor in disrepair. It was the averagely healthy figure that was the norm for citizens of first degree privileges, who used their copious credit incomes for both physiological tune-ups and decidedly less healthy frivolities.

What set the director of the Peripheral Branch apart from others was his face. His eyes peered out over a somewhat flat, aquiline nose, scrunched up in a permanent squint. It was as if he were always rigorously testing the validity of some idea. Indeed, his face was so unique that it conjured up a remarkably precise idea in all those that beheld it: that this man had the face of an intellectual skeptic.

As one’s gaze ascended from director Jones’ perpetually furrowed brow to his shortly trimmed auburn hair, the beholder would feel a strong desire to second-guess themselves. While the face of this man made him seem older, there was some youthful energy in his hair that couldn’t be contained by a neat, government-standard haircut.

Faye generally did not spend much time observing her benefactor. Like a reptile basking for sunlight on a warm rock, thus did she soak in the utterly indecipherable aura that he gave off. It was a balm for her mind, which spent its days hosting metacognite invaders and its nights stimulated with the most gruesome sensations. It gave her reason to believe that occasionally humanity could produce an extraordinary individual who could not be reduced into a short list of the basest of emotions.

Therefore it was no surprise that Faye was unusually carefree for this time of morning as she neatly pushed open the conference room door, stepped inside, and closed it behind her. Smiling like someone her age ought to, she greeted the director.

“Uncle Derrick! It’s so good to see you.”

Derrick peered at her with his usual inquisitive gaze. “Ah, Faye. It’s good to see you so lively, and so soon after awakening.”

The female agent brightened visibly, giving off the illusion that her sharp edges had become a little less acute. Politely, she turned to the other two occupants of the room.

“Good morning James. Zed.”

“Looking sharp, soldier.”

“Today’s morning is entirely average by most metrics.”

Faye was in too good a mood to fault James for making the mistake of calling her by that title – something he relapsed into occasionally, though usually not within a day. Neither was she phased in the slightest by Zed’s predictable response. Uncle Derrick was here, and nothing could dull his electrifying presence.

The director cleared his throat, signalling that it was time to begin the discussion he had deemed important enough to visit in person for. With a disciplined uniformity comparable to the highest grade of government-sanctioned dancers, Faye, James and Zed took their seats.

They were situated around an oval table. Faye and James were on one end, on each side of the longer axis of symmetry, while Zed was on the other end. Director Jones remained standing, in order to enable his propensity for pacing. Facing Faye in particular, he began to speak.

“I’m here this morning to brief you on your next target. The reason agent Meriam is not responsible for your briefing today is simple: the evidence providing just cause for investigating this individual is only being distributed on a need-to-know basis.”

The three listeners sat in silence. Derrick Jones was a thorough man, and liked to speak until he was finished.

“Your mission is to gather sufficient evidence to support or refute the claim that Mr. Joshua Brooke is an unregistered metacognite. In the eventuality that he is, you will have him submit to HFP-contained transport. You will then – and listen well – immediately hand over control to Zed, who will oversee said transport.

Joshua Brooke is a citizen of common privileges, yet lives in a home owned by and located on the grounds of Durvell City University. The last registered occupant of that home was a certain Dr. Ulbert Wells, now deceased. For reasons unknown to us, the university has not tried to evict this unregistered occupant.”

Derrick reached a wall in his pacing, and smartly turned on his heels to begin pacing the other direction.

“Of course, this is no information that would bring the matter of Mr. Brooke under our jurisdiction, but it is important to note the peculiar details of the situation. According to his citizen’s birth code, he is only 15, and has no public records other than his birth. No schooling, community involvement, or even social networking presence.

What has brought Mr. Brooke to our attention is a repository of observations attributed to Dr. Wells, obtained through an anonymous informant. I’ll have Zed here read through some of these observations.

I expect you may be somewhat shocked by what you hear. If what the professor noted is correct, not only will our understanding of metacognites finally take a solid step forward, but you will need to make certain that you do not underestimate Mr. Brooke under any circumstance.”

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