An orotund growl burst forth from James’ sturdy vocal cords. His will was being amplified by the strong emotions brought forth by the memories he was experiencing. Not enough to stand and close the distance between Josh and himself, but enough to coax his voice into making low vibrations.
Dr. Reeves watched apprehensively, trying to decipher the agent’s strange behavior. Being already restrained by the shock cord, he had not been a target worthy of the metacognite’s immobilization. As such, he was struggling to understand why James had become locked in place, and had just fallen to his knees.
However, he was no slouch when it came to his mental faculties. Despite being relegated to being a mere lab technician after the graviton research budget had been nixed – ending his chances of becoming a professor – Dr. Reeves had once been regarded as one of the most promising young scientists. His mind, although numbed from his daily ritual of gazing at easily-digestible stimuli on the screen in front of him, was still sharp enough to quickly begin cutting through the mysteries it was faced with.
“These are agents Waller and Washington, here to put me in a box,” was what the boy had said. The fact that the scrawny teenager was not normal was staring Dr. Reeves in the face in the form of a fluorescing network resembling a brain hovering in the center of the room. Clearly then, he surmised, these agents were responsible for rounding up people like this extraordinary child.
To Dr. Reeves’ eyes, the entire encounter seemed very one-sided. If the boy – Josh, he recalled the name – was a typical case, then it would seem that whatever government branch the two agents were from was either hilariously underprepared for nearly every mission, or very new and lacking in experience.
Just as he had learned to do as an undergraduate, the scientist continued making small hypotheses and following them to their logical conclusions. He considered the possibility that Josh was not a typical case. This seemed more plausible for the moment.
One detail about the physicist’s entire encounter with the… mutant, psychic, whatever this boy was… one detail stood out as being incongruous with what was happening before his eyes. Perhaps following it all the way to its logical outcomes would yield some insight on the situation.
It was the fact that when Eric Reeves had first met Josh, the latter had been the one with the shock cord coiled around him. This, combined with the fact that Josh had been expecting the agents meant that they had managed in a previous encounter to successfully deploy the technology and use it to pin the boy’s hands to his sides. Why had he come here, to this lab? That was what Dr. Reeves was trying to figure out when his attention was drawn back to James by another rumbling growl.
The imposing agent’s eyes were still flitting from Josh, to Dr. Reeves, to something else. Free of the impediments the metacognite had imposed upon the others in the room, the scientist craned his neck to look in the general direction of the agent’s gaze.
Could that be it?
The lab technician had formed a postulate as to the role the agent was imploring him to play in this whole debacle. However, he was afraid of being wrong, and his timidness in the face of someone who could do the impossible made him fearful of incurring Josh’s personal wrath.
If he failed to act, would he become a target of the Central Government?
Eric Reeves’ fear of Josh, and his fear of the government battled in his mind for many seconds before one of them emerged victorious. Swallowing, he steeled himself for the worst, and spoke.
“Seal containment chamber.”
Josh’s eyes flung open. In them could be seen a trace of panic. The construct in front of him began to fizzle and deteriorate as he struggled to keep up with the complexity of the system he had created. “What? No!” he cried in frustration.
Slowly, James felt control over his body returning to him. Strangely, it felt just like it had when he had been brought back from a place one step away from death.
His eyes opened. How was this possible? The warrior recalled how they had been scorched off by plasma, and everything had gone dark. It was his most recent memory.
He couldn’t feel any of his limbs. All he could see was a stark, white ceiling. Faintly, he felt pressure on his back, indicating that he was lying supine on something.
“James Washington?” a voice inquired.
Unable to tilt his head and find the speaker, the crippled soldier tested his voice. After a long pause, he managed to rasp out an affirmative response.
“My name is Derrick Jones. I was authorized to give you ocular and auditory transplants so that we could obtain consent to further repair your body.
“… Repair? …” James rasped.
“You’re currently on just about every form of life support possible. None of your primary organs are functioning. You can’t ingest and process nutrients, circulate your own blood, or even breathe without the machines you’re connected to. Needless to say, you’ve also suffered extensive nerve damage and are almost fully paralyzed.”
The man’s voice was disagreeable to James. It sounded predatory, and each sentence seemed calculated.
Derrick Jones continued to speak very matter-of-factly.
“Your musculoskeletal system is the most developed that the Central Government has had on record. With guidance, we can heal it to its full potential. Your other systems can be replaced. You could be a great asset.”
James disliked how he was being spoken of like some sort of machine that needed to be repaired. More than that however, he hated how helpless he was. After having been the strongest, being at the mercy of some academic sounding individual was an absolute hell for the fallen soldier.
“Tell me more,” he groaned.