Chapter 4, Part 1

It was late afternoon, and the walkways of Durvell City University’s campus were beginning to collect the streams of students trickling out from the buildings containing their various classrooms and labs. On this afternoon, the path leading to the central gate displayed some odd movement. Like river water parting around a jutting boulder, the flow of students bifurcated at some junction, splitting into two runnels.

Pushing this zone of decongestion forward were the two agents from the Peripheral Branch of Public Safety: Faye Waller and James Washington. Everything about them from their raiment to their demeanor practically screamed out that they were not to be trifled with, and the university students hurriedly scrambled aside, giving them at least a 10 meter berth.

This form of pseudo privacy allowed for some hushed dialogue to be passed between the agents in focused blocks. Assured that they were moving as fast as they could while allowing James to reliably track the Heavy Lepton shock cord, Faye had no problem further probing her partner about the prototype technology he had available to him without her knowledge.

“Heavy leptons” were the informal name for the as-of-yet unnamed 4th generation lepton following the electron, muon, and tau, as he had explained to Faye during their clipped conversation.

They were easy enough to manipulate, interacting electromagnetically as expected. Apparently creating them was next to impossible though – in fact their existence in the first place defied the current government sanctioned theories of particle physics. This much James hadn’t told Faye; it was something she had already known. The dark-skinned man was being frustratingly quiet on the subject of technology he was entrusted with.

James was at a complete loss. He had always known that things would come to this – that his desire to be loyal and honest to Faye would come into conflict with his obligations to the director. He personally found the methods of his superior unsavory on a good day, and unethical on a regular one, but due to the circumstances surrounding the end of his service to the State Military and his recruitment to the Peripheral Branch, he was powerless to contradict that ambitious and ruthless man.

A meager compromise timidly presented itself before James, and he grasped at it firmly. He took comfort in the fact that he would be telling the truth.

“You are aware I have a psi-screen implant?” he asked, almost rhetorically.

“To prevent targets from reading your mind, and thus leave mine as the only option open to them.” Faye answered in the focused and methodical way that was typical of her when carrying out a mission.

“It was upgraded to be powered by heavy lepton currents very soon after I was assigned to you. That’s why it remained functional when Joshua Brooke disabled our electronics.”

This seemed to put Faye at ease. Talking about a piece of field equipment she had been aware of for years, yet had never needed to have been told its precise specifications, set a precedent for her that information about her partner’s load-out did not need to be exactly relayed to her.

The veteran turned safety officer was relieved. Upon seeing Faye’s trustful look return, an uneasy ceasefire had managed to establish itself between the warring factions of James’ divided loyalties.

The two agents reached the end of the central walkway. Three buildings were arrayed before them, each about 4 floors high and very long, with many windows aligning themselves in neat rows and columns.

After a moment of consideration, James said, “He’s in the south wing of the central…”

Like an android with its power cut, the agent stopped speaking all of a sudden. Faye had also stopped listening. They had both felt a familiar pressure, akin to the one they had experienced back in the lounge of Dr. Ulbert Wells’ old home.

“No way.” Faye muttered, dumbfounded. Usually calm under pressure, she clenched her fists tightly as she desperately fought back feelings of confusion, frustration, and anger. This was supposed to be her chance to prove her worth to uncle Derrick! Everything was going wrong, all of it. How could the metacognite possibly exert an influence over hundreds of meters?!

“You need to get out of here,” James said simply. “I’ll go on ahead, if I can reach him I’ll try to distract him and secure your escape.”

Breathing deeply, Faye gathered herself. She knew that if she gave into her emotions, she would descend a slippery slope leading into the endless ravine of the nightmares constantly grasping out at her.

Ah! Safety officer James Washington and investigator Faye Waller. I feel your annoyingly untouchable minds.”

Josh’s voice rang out obnoxiously through the cool, afternoon air, amplified as though with a powerful speaker of impossible fidelity. Some of the remaining students looked around in confusion, then decided it was probably best to put even more distance between themselves and the two intimidating government operatives.

“What’s the matter? Why have you stopped moving? Come, come, I have so much to show you!”

The boy’s enthusiastic voice was tinged with a little craziness, as if he were high off of some mind-altering drug. James looked desperately at Faye. “Go,” he mouthed.

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