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Project X

Chepi and Ezra had been huddled in a darkened lab for the past hour, with Ezra whining all the while in a low toned hiss about how much he missed Rhiannon, and how she would never have gotten them into a fine mess like this.  Trying to stay focused and concentrate, Chepi mostly ignored him.  She had learned long ago to tune out most of what comes out of Ezra’s mouth.  When the footsteps filing past the exterior hallway finally stopped, Chepi let out her breath in a long, deep sigh of relief.

               “Ezra, is there any way you can hack into the systems here and divert security elsewhere... give us time to formulate a plan of escape?” Chepi whispered to the brooding, sulking Ezra, who at least was finally quiet, for the time being.

                               “Hmmm... Maybe I can open a psychic link with the computers here…” Ezra mused.  “I wouldn’t feel safe trying a hack right now.”

He turned off his portable terminal, gingerly laid his fingertips on the nearest machine, and closed his eyes tight, lids twitching, brows knitted.  Chepi also knew better than to interrupt his stream of consciousness when he went into this mode.  Watching, she gave him space, and patiently waited only a few moments before his eyes flew open with a bright grin.

                                “I’m in!” he declared, eagerly.  “I gained access to the network.”

                “Good job,” Chepi encouraged.  “Now we need a diversion so we can get out of here.”

                               “Easier said than done,” Ezra frowned.  “There are humans on security detail, too.  I can reroute the robots, but we will still have to find a way around the manual labor force,” Ezra explained.

                “How many human targets are there?” Chepi asked.

                               “There are 23 people on staff; I don’t imagine we’ll have to take them all out.” Ezra was still obviously devoting a fair portion of his thinking to the psychic connection.

Chepi rolled her eyes at his last statement.  Ezra was such a cream puff.  She knew that he and others like him could have telepathic interactions with machines, and had even learned to make dire use of that ability, as it often got the team out of some pretty tight jams, but she still couldn’t quite grasp it.  When she’d been at the Academy, they’d been taught that psychics could only communicate with organic entities, and that there were different kinds of gifts which allowed some to communicate with the dead.  But technology had made so many advances since then, and artificial intelligence had become so much stronger, and more universally impactful... machines were growing closer to "living" every day. It wasn’t until after she graduated and was accepted into security forces for Ndakinna that the first recognized cases of technomancers began to surface in the more "mainstream" channels; before that, there had only been rumors of isolated incidents, and even those "in the know" had considered them to be flukes of nature, random freak occurrences unlikely to recrudesce.  Even now, they were only starting to scratch the surface of these gifted forces.  Chepi was frustrated by things she didn’t understand, but she was grateful.  It was that power of technomancy which was most likely to save them now.

                               “Got it!” Ezra yipped excitedly, probably a bit louder than was prudent. “I have rerouted the bots to 3 floors above us.  I set off motion detectors on that floor and also hacked holographic images of us to the cameras there, so that should get the live guards diverted in that direction, also.”

Ezra was beaming with pride, still linked with the hostile network.  Chepi found his constant need for attention exhausting.  She never needed to be impressed with him; he was usually impressed enough with himself to accommodate their entire team’s reaction.  Still, she had to hand it to him.  That was some pretty whip smart thinking and quick work.

                “Alright, we need to get to a different room,” she prodded, with a pat on his back.  “You have access to the structural layout... is there a more secure location on this floor we can hide in?”

                               “There is a secure lab just a few doors down... just give me a second to update the access our badges grant us," Ezra rushed. "There.  Now we should be able to get into any room in the building.  We should move now, though... I don’t know how long I can keep the guards chasing ghosts.”

Ezra released his link on the computer and started towards the door.  Chepi grabbed his arm.

                “Chasing ghosts...!" she smacked herself in the forehead.  Ezra took a step back, confused.  "That gives me an idea... let’s get to the lab and see what we can use there.”

Chepi darted in front Ezra with her staff ready to blast anything that might be in the hallway.  Ezra armed himself with his weapon, a plastic piece that to any casual eye appeared to be a toy gun.  Charged with Ezra’s psychic energy, though, it could blast through a wall if necessary.  He was thrilled just to be packing, and the image of him looking every bit like Peabody’s Sherman was not entirely lost on Chepi, but she kept her amusement to herself, glad she was able to offer anything that would keep him from mentally drifting off, given his slippery attention span.

Upon reaching the lab, Chepi and Ezra were shocked by what they found there.  There were rows upon rows of cages containing monkeys; monkeys with cybernetic attachments.  The animals were clearly not happy, and seeing them in this condition enraged both teammates.  As an Elemental Wizard, Chepi found this lab and those responsible for it reprehensible beyond measure.  For Ezra, it was disturbing on another level.  He could actually hear the monkeys’ agonized thoughts.  He stood there, frozen, attacked by the psychic outrage, anguish, and fear of these intelligent beasts.  Ezra had never experienced anything like this before.  He had heard other psychics talk about how annoying or distracting it could be, being in a roomful of people, their thoughts buffeted against you like the waves of an ocean, but being a technomancer, he couldn’t hear human thoughts unless another psychic spoke to him telepathically, and technology “thoughts,” such as they were, were so much easier to interpret, decipher, and even manipulate, than any people he’d ever met.

                “Ezra, snap out of it!” Chepi barked, shaking her near catatonic companion.  “I know this is disgusting, but we have to find a way out of here.”

                               “We... can’t... leave... them... ”  Ezra forced the words out through labored sobs.  “Chepi, we have to DO something... this is SO wrong.”

                “What is wrong with you?” Chepi shook her head, trying to collect herself, to collect them both.  She was shocked... she had never seen Ezra break down like this before.  She caught herself, mentally chiding her internal compass, when she realized she was surprised to learn he was even capable of experiencing the complex emotions he was displaying before her now.

                               “I... hear, no, feel... their... pain,” he whimpered.  His voice sounded as haunted as his face looked.

                “But, you’re not supposed to be telepathic or empathic, unless...”  Chepi’s jaw nearly dropped.  “Wait, are the monkeys telepathic?!” she gasped.

                               “No...” he sighed.  He seemed to be coming back to his senses.  Chepi thought perhaps the initial shock was wearing off.  “I think it’s because of the cybernetic implants that I can pick up their thoughts... they’re all interlinked to the computer.”  He had calmed down a little, and was starting to sound like himself again.

                “Okay,” Chepi nodded.  A picture was starting to form.  “I was going to release the spirits from the orb to wreak a little havoc on the guards, but I guess the monkeys will make a better distraction.” She moved toward the cages.

                               “Wait!” Ezra cautioned, grabbing at his Captain before she could open the first one.  “They aren’t going to know we aren’t responsible for this...” he looked around the room at the frightened, imprisoned, tortured creatures.  “They could attack us.”

                “You’re right, of course,” Chepi couldn’t believe the thought hadn’t occurred to her.  “Hmmm,” she pondered.  “Maybe we should combine my plans into one.”

                               “What do you mean?” Ezra quizzed, cocking his head like a curious puppy.

                “You’ll see,” Chepi winked.  She took the spirit orb from her pack and rapped on it.  “Wake up, kiddies!  Your services are required!”

                              “We’re awake,” the Gruff one drawled lazily from inside the glowing sphere.  “What is it we can do for you, Captain?”

Chepi filled the ghosts in on her plan, then unlocked the binding spell on the orb.  The spirits immediately took possession of the monkeys in the cages.  With only 15 monkeys in all, 5 spirits remained in the crystal.  Chepi wasn’t about to leave herself without leverage, after all.  The now Spirit Monkeys and Chepi took out the human guards, while Ezra disabled the robotics and then set all the computers in the building to auto wipe their hard drives.  He met Chepi outside, excited to see she had commandeered a shipping truck from the loading dock.

                               “The computers are erasing now, I’m guessing things went fine on your end?” Ezra queried, as he hopped into the passenger seat.

                “Fine...yes...” Chepi scowled.  “Fine enough...” she started.  “It seems the spirits weren’t able to maintain complete control of the monkeys... the logos on the guards’ uniforms were enough to send them into a rage, and apparently, it’s one thing to manipulate a timid primate too scared not to cooperate, but something else entirely to hold the reins on a raving, primitive mammal with the strength of many men and a hell-bent fury for blood lust; let’s just say things got real ugly, real fast.  But we all made it through, though.  The spirits are back in the orb..."

Here she grinned, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.  “...And I placed a sleep spell on the monkeys... they should be out for some time.”

Chepi's countenance darkened.  The men who'd done this needed to be punished, and she would see to it that they were.

                               “But, Chepi,” Ezra, perhaps following her train of thought, expressed his concern.  “What are we going to do about the monkeys?  We can’t take them with us to meet Vittorio.”

Chepi smiled at the Technomancer.  There was no way she was going to let those scientists get their hands on those beautiful lower beings again, but it was nice to be supported in the thought... especially coming from the last team member she’d have expected to care.

                “Oh, don’t you worry your pretty little head,” she tousled his hair as she pulled out of the gate, as he balked.  “I've got them covered.”

Back at the station, Tala and Fehed played darts in the common room of the bunkhouse they shared with the other agents of their team, when there came a knock on the main door.

                               “Are you expecting company?” Fehed raised an eyebrow, surprised.  Who even had this address?

                “Nope,” Tala responded carelessly, lining up her next throw.  “Go see who it is.”

Fehed went to the door where a parcel carrier waited with two large barrels.  He signed for the barrels, and helped the delivery driver wheel them into the foyer.  Tala moseyed in behind him, eyeing the unexpected arrivals.

                               “I didn't order anything,” Fehed puzzled, circling the unusual objects in their entry.  He studied them from every angle, poking them in spots, before peering up at Tala.  “Did you?” Fehed asked her.

                “No,” she furrowed her brow, sniffing at the top of the first barrel.  “Is there a note or an invoice?”

                               “Wait, here it is…!,” he exclaimed, relieved.   “Look, it’s a letter it's from Chepi...”

Tala leaned in over his shoulder, sniffing the letter.  Fehed continued,

                               “...it says, ‘Have fun, kids, but not too much!’,” he scratched his head.

Both looked at each other in total befuddlement.

                               “Huh...” he blanched.  If his ears were up, they’d be pointed and twisting.  “Wonder what that means?” he questioned.

                “Well go on, then,” Tala prodded, impatient.  “Don’t keep us in suspense!” she nudged him.  “Open them up, you curious cat.”

Fehed stuck his tongue out at her, and she narrowed her lids at him, a playful snarl on her lips.  He tore into the lids of both barrels, and then stood there, peering down into them, utterly speechless.

                “Well?” Tala’s impatience came out almost as a growl.  Fehed just stared up at her, dumbfounded.  She poked her nose into one of the barrels.

                “What the...” her voice echoed into the barrel chamber.  She pulled her head out.  “What in the blue hell are we supposed to do with a pile of sleeping monkeys...?!”


Additional stories from this world, in chronological order:
| In The Beginning  |  Escalation  |  Project X  |  The Woodshed  |
| Meet the New Boss  |  Back To Reality   |  The Interview |
| The Turing Test  |  Ohm’s Law  |  Hero’s Anthem |


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2014 10:21 pm (UTC)
I loved the twist here of someone who could only telepathically link with technology but not organic beings... suddenly confronted with the anguished messages he could not stop hearing. I'd be paralyzed too!
Jun. 23rd, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you sorry to have replied late I was on vacation. I thought that was a good way to introduce what Ezra's powers are.
Jun. 20th, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
This was a great story, and I loved the end.
Jun. 23rd, 2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
thank you for reading I was out of town or I would have replied sooner.
Jun. 21st, 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
Wake them up?
Jun. 23rd, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
They could do that but that might be dangerous!

Edited at 2014-06-23 08:54 pm (UTC)
Jun. 21st, 2014 12:06 pm (UTC)
Aha! I like the linking of technology and paranormal..Supercool \m/ this story is really shaping well...loved the end..;) Good Job!! Hoping to see them again soon..:)
Jun. 23rd, 2014 08:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading I am glad you are enjoying the characters and the story so far
Jun. 21st, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
Find a zoo? Preferably before they wake up!
Jun. 23rd, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
I am not sure if a zoo would take cybernetic monkeys, but they might.
Jun. 25th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC)
Perhaps a cybernetic zoo?
Jun. 24th, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
I've been traveling for business and family matters in Vegas this week, or I'd have replied to this sooner, but, may I now say, TOO fun! (I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the barrel wakes up, to see how they and Tala and Fehed react to each other!)
Jun. 24th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
Thank u for reading, (I am sure when the monkeys wake up that hilarity will ensue).
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )