His protector’s instincts ignited by the threat in the boy’s tone, James stepped forward, placing a large, calloused hand on Faye’s shoulder.
“We have what we need, agent. I suggest we bag this mission,” he spoke in a low, hurried whisper.
Josh observed this new development with a calculating look.
“The professor always said this would happen. That funnily dressed government type people would come to take me away.”
James’ grip on his partner’s shoulder tightened as if trying to tell her to get things over and done with, but Faye wanted to reason with Josh. “I can assure you, our environment is comfortable, and your citizen’s rights will be…” she began.
“This is my home!” Josh shouted with unexpected vigor. “You can’t make me leave!”
Faye was somewhat perplexed by Josh’s strong reaction. The boy had gone from pleasantly nonchalant to defensive all at the mention of an isolated and controlled environment. She was compelled to dig deeper.
There was a palpable pressure filling the room like static during a lightning storm. Josh had his fists clenched now.
“You, the university. Everyone wants me gone. You’re going to put me away with all the others no one wants to deal with, aren’t you?”
James had heard enough, and his inner danger sensor was blaring like a klaxon in his war-honed mind. He stepped in front of Faye, pressing the center primer on the disk in his hand.
The hemispherical force projector failed to activate.
“Get back,” James issued a low warning to Faye.
Josh’s face was turning red now. “So you’re not even going to deny it then? You’ve got nothing left to say to me?”
“I’m going to take you in,” the male agent stated bluntly. The usual undertone of kindness that accentuated his voice was absent. He did not wish to hurt a juvenile, but his need to ensure Faye’s safety trumped all else.
“Oh yeah?” the boy sneered. “And I suppose you’re gonna use that metal frisbee?”
“Yes.” James stated simply before tossing the inert HFP towards his target, hoping to distract him; hoping to cause him to panic. The agent had noticed that his movements had started to become sluggish and difficult just seconds ago, and knew it to be the doing of the young metacognite. If he could just break the boy’s concentration he would be able to close the distance.
To both agents’ dismay, Josh lazily extended a hand and caught the inactive device. The energy in the air thickened, and it felt as though the atmosphere was composed of molasses. The teen’s eyes passed from James, who was slowly advancing toward him, to Faye, who was motionless.
“The first subject the professor had me study in detail was the peripheral nervous system,” he said smugly. “Your muscles aren’t moving because your brains’ signals to them aren’t making it past your spinal cords.” He paused, slightly frowning, as he regarded the struggling James. “Although I can’t fully pierce that noise you have around you. Thinking of whatever training you went through to develop that makes me sick.”
Assured of his victory, the boy stood now, on the sofa so that he could be taller than the two facing him. He peered down his nose at the object in his hand.
“This looks fancy and all, but to me, all electronics are the same. This is what you get when you rely on one particle to do all your work for you. I convince the electrons in this room to just float aimlessly, not doing any real work, and you’re helpless.”
Josh folded his arms in front of his diminutive chest. James didn’t buy into the display of confidence. He knew that despite all this talk, Josh was flustered because his most direct method of ending this engagement – reading and manipulating their minds – was unavailable to him. In addition, in his little monologue, the target had both confirmed the speculations the Peripheral Branch had made based of Dr. Wells’ journals, and revealed a weakness.
James painstakingly aligned his wrist with the boy’s chest, gritting his teeth as he fought against the metacognite’s immobilization.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a scintillating indigo cord shot out from the agent’s position. While airborne, it stretched itself out. Upon striking the startled Josh, it coiled around him like a snake, pinning his arms to his sides. As he lost focus, his lockdown on the others’ somatic nervous systems loosened.
“4th generation leptonics, master Brooke,” James grunted, annoyed enough to counter a long-winded victory speech with his own, much more succinct variety.
“You think this will hold me? Very well. Let’s have some fun.”