When I woke up I realized I might be in a lot of trouble. I was cursing myself for being so easily taken in but something felt not quite right about the whole thing. I felt like I had been manipulated somehow and then I realized I should have been even more cautious. I was dealing with people with powers I didn’t completely understand and when dealing with that kind of power one should not take anything for granted. I had been disarmed by Madame Hawker’s…what exactly. Dammit, I bet she was one of them.
Following my training, I pretended to still be knocked out. I could feel that whoever was now holding my captive had removed my weapons, my boots, my pants and my jacket. Basically I was sitting in my panties and my shirt with my head fallen forward. My ankles each were individually fasted to what I believed was chair legs and my arms were tied together behind me through the bars of that same chair. I decided to listen.
“So…what are we going to do with her?”, the first voice I recognized was Madame Hawker’s.
“Depends on her. If the probes are right she actually has a desire to be tested.” Another female voice, lighter and soprano.
“If the probes are right, the Republic is indirectly looking for us. Again.”
“Yes, they do try but they continue to fail. The Institute has the advantage right now.”
“How long will that last?”
“Until we lose it. It is ours to lose as they don’t really know what they are looking for.”
“She is awake and she has been listening to us.”
“Miss Jones. You can stop pretending now.”
I lifted up my head to discover that I was in a small apartment kitchen. In front of me was a woman with long dark hair, dark eyes and a nice figure. She was wearing a shirt and shorts with small black slippers. The apartment was cluttered with various gadgets of an electronic nature and there was a table behind her as she was sitting in a chair probably like the one I was sitting in. On the table behind the woman was my stuff laying out in an orderly fashion which contrasted sharply with the rest of the room. as I moved my head about I found Madame Hawker to my right sitting in a chair herself. She had not changed since I had last seen her and her shiny red robe was open revealing that she was wearing nothing underneath it. The place smelled of ozone and feline which there were three small felines walking around in the background.
“Miss Jones, It is good to meet you. I am sorry for our rough introduction but you must understand our need for caution and being thorough for first meeting. I must say though your are highly intelligent and resourceful to get this far.”
“Thank you, could you untie me please, this is awkward.”
“Well, I feel we could do that but Madame Hawker is still not too sure. So we are going to have a little chat and see if we can let you free.”
“You said something about probes, I don’t feel my body has been violated.”
“Oh, not you body my dear, but your mind. You see both Madame Hawker and I are Telepaths. Oh, but where are my manners, my name is Sabine Price. I am also the Leader of the Aurora chapter of the Psionics Institute. Congratulations, you found us. Or should I say we found each other.”
“Nice to meet you. Found each other?”
“Yes, you see when someone searches for the Psionic Institute we usually find out pretty quickly. For you I have to give you credit. It has been so long since someone kept us in the dark as to their intentions that once we caught on to what you were doing, we had to be a little creative in leading you here.”
I nodded my head. That’s why I found it easier to track them down at the end and the beginning of this quest was so rough. They must have led me in some ways with subtitle suggestion.
“Once we knew you were looking for us by reading your surface thoughts, we decided given what we were reading that we wanted to speak to you. Once you arrived at Madame Hawker’s, I simply put you mind at ease a little more than it would have been and you are now sitting in a chair tied up. You should know that you have been unconscious four two hours while we looked into your unconscious mind to see what you were here for.”
“I suppose if I were in your position, I would do the same.”
“How very enlightened of you to look at it that way. Needless to say we know several things about you. That you are working for a man Mr. Small off the Republic books. That you actually have mixed feelings about this because you want to be tested yourself. We also know about the Anagathics Research Project and your unique condition as we shall call it for purposes discussion. We know these things because we offer an exchange of silence.”
“Exchange of silence huh? You could just kill me and then you wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
“Despite what mythology may be out there about the Psionics Institute, we are not killers. We seek only to help people find their psionic potential and train them in its use. We then offer a community of support and mutual protection. We very rarely have to kill to protect our secrets unless it is one of our own that goes rogue. Until the mundane world develops a defense against our powers, we can always cause a person to forget or give up their search unless they have a natural resistance because they have potential. These we let through.”
“I must have potential then?”
“Yes, you intrigued us immediately in that you got so far past our web of misinformation before we even noticed you. When we finally did we had to use subtitle suggestion and other techniques you wouldn’t directly notice to get you here in secrecy. We realize a direct assault would be noticed by you. Your condition intrigues us because physically you are young enough to be very powerful but you are experienced enough to be quite the challenge.”
“So where do we go from here?”
“That depends on if you accept my offer or not.”
“Well you intrigue many of us. We offer that we will not reveal anything about your secrets, if you keep ours. But what we offer beyond that is well something even better. We propose you get tested for potential. If you have some and get trained by us, then you will become part of our community and your secrets will become our secrets. We will protect them as if they were our own.”
“And what of Mr. Small.”
“Well, you actually present us with a unique opportunity there. We will create a file that you will give him. It will actually contain nonsense but he will think it is genuine. The big thing with that file is it will be a data storage device that one of our members will have an object connection with so he will not suspect he is being tracked. Our people will follow him home to where he lives and through their powers persuade him to give up the search. It will not harm him just he will forget the information he knows and we will give him the desire to look for it somewhere else. The nice thing will be that he will pay you and that money will help you purchase the training and membership into the institute.”
“Yes, I am going to test you for free. Normally that costs 5000 Credits but you intrigue me. It take only one hour. Training however takes months and it does cost 100,000 Credits but that also purchases your share in the organization. The money is reinvested for the Institute. However, our hope is Mr. Small will give you at least half, if not more, to pay this fee.”
“That will be generous of him.”
Sabine laughed. “Yes, but one of the things you will learn is that every use of our powers has a cost that drains us. So we can’t push it much, you may have to come up with the difference yourself.”
“I can handle that.”
“Yes, but the real question is what is your answer?”
“What would happen if I say no?”
“Well you would walk away free but we would certainly give the public the information that you are a lot older than you appear and why. Then like us you would be hunted down. The Anagathics Research Project is unusual in that it has respected your rights up until now. I would say that would be strained if the information came out. However, I hope you see that this is all unnecessary. If you become one of us or at the minimum be tested and go along with our plan regarding Mr. Small, then we will keep silent about you if you keep silent about us which benefits us both – a win-win. So. What do you say Miss Jones?”