Had director Jones been handing off the briefing to anyone but Zed, he likely would have prompted the next speaker with some form of verbal handoff. But Zed was Zed, and these sort of things were superfluous.
Not missing a beat, or rather a pace of the director’s polished boots, Zed stated, “I shall now recite selected excerpts from the personal records of Dr. Ulbert Wells.”
And like that, he began. No personal commentary or side-notes, only a mechanical and precise statement of intent. In an attempt to pay closer attention, Faye tried to superimpose what she imagined the university professor sounded like over Zed’s flat recitation.
August 23, 127
My colleagues are ecstatic. The unknown material – which has a chemistry built upon stable 4th generation of particles, all of which far heavier than the top quark and yet completely stable – has given them puzzles enough for the next century.
I on the other hand, am sad to say that my research on graviton manipulation -and its funding – has been utterly unaffected by the meteorites. It has become clear to me that if I don’t find some new avenue of research, it is possible my career will stagnate, and my legacy will by no more than the slew of former students to whom I unenthusiastically taught introductory mechanics.
Fortunately, I may have found something that will reinvigorate my inquiry into the natural world. On the way back from morning lecture today I came across a peculiar, and most impossible sight: a baby walking through the grass!
This infant, which could not be more than a couple months old, was putting one foot in front of the other in a crude imitation of how undergraduates bustled from building to building. Its movements belied no sensible center of gravity, and looked as if its limbs were being pulled by strings, rather than through muscles contracting.
Unbeknownst to anyone, I have taken in this peculiar creature in the hopes of studying it. I cannot believe my luck. Contained in a tiny body, I have what every scientist dreams of: proof that our understanding of the universe is flawed.
Faye’s mental picture was momentarily broken by Zed saying, “that was the full record for that particular day. For the following records, I shall only highlight fragments deemed to be important and relevant by the director and his closest associates.”
August 24, 127
I passed the boy’s genome to a close friend of mine who has access to certain Central Government’s digital records. Through her, I discovered that his name is Joshua Brooke, and that he was born on the day of the meteorite fall!
September 2, 127
It has been over a week, and Josh has neither eaten nor drunk any water. Much like the way he walks, his metabolism is like magic, seemingly producing something from nothing.
He seems to be interested in videos of any variety, and will halt his marionette routine around the house when I display one on a screen in order to watch attentively.
December 18, 127
Amazingly, Josh spoke to me today! I cannot overstate the gravity of this development. I am no experimentalist, so my attempts to understand the infant through observations and rudimentary measurements haven’t answered any questions. Being able to directly communicate with my little miracle will change everything.
June 9, 132
I am approaching a theory on how Josh interacts with the world. This would not have been possible without the boy, of whom I have grown rather fond. On a daily basis we talk, and he shares with me his subjective experiences and answers my questions. As I have mentioned many times in previous entries, he does so by way of telepathy. How absurd! How so very science fiction!
It was in this consistent and dry manner that Zed continued to read through selected fragments from Dr. Wells’ journal for another couple minutes. Even Faye’s enthusiasm for being in the presence of uncle Derrick was dulled by such an uninspiring delivery, despite her attempts to create a more lively mental image.
There was a long silence that followed the conclusion to Zed’s monologue. It was as if the others in the room had not been able to pick up upon the distinction between his voice and the faint hum of interior temperature regulating technology.
Without warning, a large brown fist descended upon the oval table with a startlingly furious vigor.
“That professor is an imbecile!” the normally soft-spoken James proclaimed. “He saw the boy as nothing more than food for his curiosity!”
“Don’t be hasty,” Faye interjected. “We can’t make judgments based off of what little was read, but it seemed clear to me that the professor developed a functional, caring relationship with the child.”
An intelligently placed cough sliced through the emerging tension in the air like a sharp knife through a stretched elastic cord.
“That’s enough! The ethics of this unregistered adoption are besides the point. James, Faye, I assume I don’t need to tell you how to approach the situation if the professor’s theories are correct?”
Faye looked thoughtful for a moment. “The magnetic attachments on our suits may be an exploitable weakness.” She examined the director’s face closely, hoping to find some small trace that her answer had impressed him.
“That’s a good point, I hadn’t thought of that. But I had something more basic in mind. Make sure your technological load-out is minimal, and contains no publicly available models.”
At this point, director Jones looked pointedly at James. Faye didn’t miss this, as her training had enabled her to spot the smallest of nonverbal cues. However, she was not able to pick up on the meaning of her colleague’s moment of eye contact, which ended almost as soon as it began.
Something else was nagging at her – something she didn’t like feeling in the presence of her benefactor.
“Uncle Derrick, don’t we have no real way of actually knowing the potential of the target? For all the countermeasures James and I might come up with, it may end up being for nothing, since by the professor’s logic any system would eventually reduce to something Josh can manipulate.”
The director regarded her with an unreadable expression. It seemed vaguely positive at least. Perhaps it was compassion, or concern.
“You’re not incorrect. And I don’t wish to lose you – my most valuable agent. If you find yourself in a situation you have no control over, you are to retreat. James will cover your escape.”
James nodded while Faye swallowed, not completely satisfied. Zed hadn’t moved since he had stopped speaking.
“Then, I’ll leave you to your preparations. Come Zed, I wish for you to show me the specifications of our new acquisitions.
With that, the two field agents were left alone in the conference room. This would undoubtedly be no ordinary mission.