Chapter 126

              For a telepath, it would have been impossible. Even the most skillful among them were limited by the simple truth that machines didn’t have brains to overhear. For a tech-manipulator, like Jill, it would have been easy. So easy, in fact, that was likely why she’d been banned from doing it. Telepaths and tech-manipulators were two sides of the same coin in this scenario, each with an ability that only worked on the flesh or the mech. Only Alex’s gift functioned on both levels.

                Even for him, it was difficult. The Sims were robots, though Alex kept wanting to call them droids, and they really didn’t have minds for him to peak into. Maybe if they had been more advanced that would have been the case, but these were basic combat units. That didn’t matter, luckily, because he wasn’t searching for their minds. He was searching for their existence.

                Alex was not a “second trilogy” Jedi, with that ridiculous bunk about bugs in the blood. His abilities were of the core and the original; when The Force was not some sympathetic reaction between bacteria, but rather a nigh-magical connection between all things in the universe. That was what he used as he stepped into the arena, mentally probing for each Sim inside the building. It took considerable effort, but before he ever stepped foot inside that building Alex was keenly aware of the location of each individual Sim, and he even had a bit on an inkling of what some of their abilities were.

                Despite what many people thought, Alex was neither stupid nor crazy. He understood that having his powers come from a work of fiction made no sense under scrutiny. More likely, he was simply a normal person with the advanced mind set of abilities that had found a novel way to access them. But likeliness didn’t account for results, and the fact of the matter was that Alex could do things other advanced minds couldn’t. Maybe his perception of his power had warped its capabilities. Maybe his power had been one he could determine for himself and he’d unconsciously selected Jedi. It didn’t matter in the end.

                All that mattered was what Alex Griffen would do. And today, he was going to kick some droid ass.

*              *              *

                Most of the class was stunned as they watched Alex all but saunter through the halls, sneaking up on each Sim and quickly deactivating it with a well times series of telekinetic strikes. They had not anticipated him to be nearly so efficient, either at the combat portion or the stealth aspect. He moved methodically, as if he was keenly aware of every threat and working to avoid it. Some of the Sims gave him trouble, one with heavy armor and power in particular nearly managed to land a blow that would have broken his legs, but each one ultimately fell.

                “How does he know where they all are?” Vince said. “I sort of understand Chad’s power, but even with Alex’s odd gifts it doesn’t explain how he can pinpoint robots.”

                Roy waited for someone else to speak up, only to realize he would have to be the one to shed light on the situation. He shot Mary a dirty look, the girl knew damned well what the explanation was, she just didn’t want to be the one to say it.

                “The Force connects everything. People, trees, rocks, etc. Trees and rocks and robots don’t have as much presence as people, but they have a little. Alex probably found them all before going inside and has been keeping tabs on them as he makes his rounds,” Roy explained. “And before anyone asks, every bit of this is Hershel’s knowledge. He’s seen those three movies more times than I can count.”

                “I thought there were six,” Alice said.

                “Not to the purists there aren’t,” Roy replied, a little exasperated with himself for even having to talk about the subject matter. “Don’t worry, I’m sure after seeing how little you all know about it, Hershel will demand a movie marathon after winter break.”

                “After seeing what Alex can do, I don’t think I’d mind that.” Vince gazed up at the screen, impressed as his friend took down yet another guard with minimal delay. “A whole film series about people with his powers would be awesome.”

                On camera, Alex headed off toward the final room where four Sims were clustered together, waiting for him. It was obvious to those who could read the situation that he wouldn’t be able to take them all, at least not cleanly, but the showing he’d already put on was more than incredible enough to have earned his peers respect. More importantly, he’d shown the professors just how capable he was in a real world situation.

                All they could do was hope it would be enough.

*              *              *

                “He’s stable.” The bearded man was still rubbing sleep from his eyes as he finished his exam. Normally, working for these sorts of people meant keeping late hours, not waking up before ten. Still, the money was always green and it didn’t hurt being in their good graces, so he’d headed over as soon as he got their call.

                “That doesn’t tell us much,” Eliza snapped, pacing around the room.

                “It tells us that he probably isn’t poisoned. I’ve been monitoring him for an hour and there’s been no change at all. If something was working through his bloodstream, I’d have expected to see a change for the better or worse. It could always be some ultra-drug that I’m not familiar with, but for right now I’m just eliminating the things I can.”

                “Thank you,” Jerome replied. “Please keep an eye on him.” He grabbed Eliza gently by the shoulder and escorted her out of the room.

                “Should we just leave that guy with Nicholas?”

                “He was referred to us by people very friendly to our Family. Harming Nicholas would start the sort of war that would leave the streets soaked in blood. I highly doubt they would have cause to want him dead enough to risk such an outcome.”

                “Well someone obviously does,” Eliza said, breaking free of Jerome’s grip. “He’s been out like this since I found him. If it’s not poison, then that limits our options.”

                “Poison is effectively ruled out,” Jerome agreed. “Even if it was some new type, to have given it to Nicholas without leaving any signs or record seems unlikely. Anyone who has that sort of skill could have just killed him outright. No, since nothing seems to be medically wrong with him, we’re left with one likely explanation: a Super did this.”

                “Yeah, but why? What do they want to accomplish?”

                “I have no idea,” Jerome admitted. “But it occurs to me that there are some people near us who both care deeply for Nicholas’s well-being and have the sort of experience to help with such a problem.”

                “Jerome… we can’t.”

                “We can wait until the doctor has finished his exam,” Jerome said. “If he discovers no other leads for us to go on, I fear we may have to contact them. They might be the only chance we have to helping him.”