Chapter 4, Part 4

As they grew ever closer to the Chemistry Center, Faye was finding it increasingly impossible to ignore Josh’s emotional aura, which was spread out in the surrounding ambience like a viscous fluid smeared everywhere. One which the empath was being forced to wade through.

“It’s really like he’s intoxicated,” she informed James.

He didn’t respond verbally. There was no need. Faye was simply providing him with information that could be valuable in the upcoming confrontation. As they had witnessed back at the house, she had no way of countering Josh’s immobilization technique, so it would be all up to James to find an opportunity; a moment of weakness amidst the boy’s raw puissance.

To the veteran, his charge’s trust in him was like a balm on his mind, which would have overheated from alertness otherwise. It only further strengthened his resolve to fulfill his role in Faye’s skeleton of a plan successfully. However, it also exacerbated the faint twinge of guilt he was experiencing over the secrets he was forced to keep from her.

In a private room at the Peripheral Branch headquarters, director Derrick Jones was pacing – as was his wont – before a video feed being displayed over an entire wall. Off to the side was former investigator Zachary Zahn, now known simply as “Zed.” It was something of a pet name the director had assigned to him after being amused by something he had said shortly after becoming unable to continue in his capacity as an investigator.

“It is surprising that the Central Government has not standardized the pronunciation of the letter ‘Zed’ considering that it is superior to ‘Zee’ in terms of coherency, and unambiguity,” he had said to some agent who had been confirming the spelling of his last name. Somehow the content of his remark had made it to the ears of the director, who found it greatly entertaining, and began calling former investigator Zahn by his current alias. Obviously it had caught on, as many newer agents weren’t even aware Zed had another name.

The video on screen showed a moderately lit hallway, from a first person perspective. The viewing angle was somewhat high, as if it were a tall person’s vision they were sharing. And they were.

“What’s the status on the other information relays?” the director asked.

Zed tapped an internally wired computer on his forearm – similar in design to the director’s – before looking up expressionlessly. “No luck. Visible light detectors are the most robust system in him. The auditory sensors and the rest of them use hybrid electronics and leptonics. Some sort of ambient interference is rendering them inert.”

Director Jones turned on his heels for what must have been the hundredth time that afternoon.

“What could possibly do that?” he demanded.

“Similar readings were taken across all instruments during the encounter at Dr. Wells’ home. Nowhere near the same magnitude though.”

There was a pregnant pause as even the director’s pacing stopped momentarily, indicating that he was thinking more deeply than usual. “I have faith in her,” he said finally. “She’s taken the new developments with James in stride. Even if his true condition is exposed to her, I don’t believe she’ll be distracted from her task.”

“But sir, the point of keeping agent Waller uninformed about agent Washington’s specifications was to increase his effectiveness as a countermeasure should she go rogue.”

Slender fingers meandered through neatly combed auburn locks of hair. “She won’t. Unlike the other recruits, she’s all mine.”

After five long minutes, during which timed seemed to be as stretched out as Josh’s expanded consciousness, James and Faye arrived at a large door of some kind of metallic composition. A simple magnet that seemed out of place in the overall visual atmosphere of the university sublevel was affixed to the door. On it was a label that read ‘4th Generation Lepton Chemistry Center.’

The pressure indicating the metacognite’s level of influence over the region suddenly pulsed. Then, the two agents heard talking from within the lab.

“Finally, they’re here. Be a good little scientist and open the door will you?” they heard Josh say in his usual, cocky manner. A nervous sounding voice responded.

“Open main door.”

The metal barrier groaned slightly as it slid to the side, into a space hollowed out for it in the adjacent wall. Inside was a surprisingly unremarkable lab, filled with instruments for measuring mass, creating solutions, and all sorts of everyday scientific objects that did not exactly inspire the image of humanity exploring the frontiers of its knowledge.

However, there was one object in a chamber near the back of the laboratory that changed this. Faye’s eyes widened as she recognized it, although she had never seen one outside of a photo or video before.

A meteorite from the year 127. The year Faye’s parents had never come home.

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