Chapter 5, Part 1

Faye barely had time to register that the meteorite was contained in a form of containment chamber before her body was locked down again. Helpless, she hoped desperately that James had managed to make the same observation as her.

Lazily reclining in a swivel chair, leaning it back so that it gently touched the work desk behind him, was Josh. Of course, he had that smug look that James was starting to find insufferable plastered on his pale face. The larger agent had also found his movements to be impeded, by a much greater degree than before. It would take him minutes to close the distance of mere meters separating him from their target.

“Aha, so you’re finally here. You can go ahead and speak. You’ll find that I have a much greater degree of precision over your nervous system now.”

“Why are you doing this?” Faye asked. Despite his immature behavior, she still felt a desire to help the boy, and believed that taking him back to headquarters would accomplish such a purpose. She also knew by now that Josh had the means to kill her and James, but was holding back. Understanding the adolescent’s intentions was a matter she considered to be of great importance.

The empath detected a flicker of uncertainty in Josh’s emotional aura. If she had to guess, the boy did not fully know the answer to her question. It was as if he was making things up as he went along. His attitude certainly suggested that this could be nothing more than a release of pent up frustration and loneliness.

“I’m here to expose you, miss Waller. I will honor the memory of my professor by proving him right about you – that you don’t value me like he did. That the Central Government would rather put me in a box than understand me.”

“As I said before, the Peripheral Branch cares about your well-being.”

“Silence!” the boy shouted, in a voice that was too high-pitched to really carry the sort of authority he was aiming for. “You even admitted you don’t know what your little cohorts do with us.”

During this time James had managed to turn his head with about the speed of a lazy tortoise, despite all the effort he was putting into the motion. Even in his impeded state, doing a full scan of his surroundings was his instinctual first course of action. In the corner he spotted the Shock Cord, wrapped around an unfamiliar adult male, who looked back out at the developing situation, eyes nervously wide.

Josh had noticed the direction of the agent’s gaze. “My apologies, I forgot to introduce my new friend. This is Dr. Eric Reeves, he works here. Eric, these are agents Waller and Washington, here to put me in a box. Go ahead and say hi!”

“Um. Hello,” the bound scientist intoned meekly.

Faye ignored him for the most part. “Please, Joshua. We aren’t going to put you in a box.”

The teen stood up. He looked funnily vulnerable now, standing a full two heads shorter than James. Even next to Faye’s slim figure, he would look fragile. Even so, he currently held all the cards.

“There’s no need for you to try to convince me with your words,” he began, holding an outstretched arm. His hands were supinated, and his fingertips were gently curved towards the ceiling. Like fireflies dancing in a jar, orange sparks of light began to crackle in the air above his palm. Slowly, these effervescent points and streaks of light began to coalesce into nodes, with thin filaments forming in between them.

“I knew from even before you knocked on my door that reading your mind would be a bad idea.” Josh began. As the brightly energetic construct in the air before him began to take shape, he continued with his commentary. Since the professor’s death, he had not had any opportunity to explain his abilities to others, so he had not been able to help himself around the agents.

“Do you know what a Boltzmann Brain is, miss Waller? It’s a rather far-fetched idea, in my opinion. But when the professor introduced me to the topic, it gave me an idea.”

Glowing packets of light were starting to travel along the thickening filaments of the metacognite’s construct, like vehicles with headlights traversing the network of Durvell’s streets at night. The density of the nodes was ramping up exponentially, giving the glowing conglomerate an increasingly solid appearance.

“Even if I don’t think a self-aware network of interacting matter and forces is something that could plausibly come about randomly, unlike you, I’m no slave to chance.”

In the intervening air between Josh and the agents, the glowing network – which had slowly floated away from the boy’s palms – was starting to take a definite shape.

“Look upon the brain that is going to read your mind, miss Waller. I look forward to seeing what it will reveal to me.”

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