It wouldn’t stop.
The information flooded her mind from every direction. It rose above her thoughts and crashed through her senses. It flowed to every corner of her mind, drowning out her cries for mercy. She was being dragged down into the unexplored depths of the city’s history. Every street, every building, even clothing, it all had years, decades, even centuries of design and learning hidden beneath the surface.
She heard voices calling out to her from above the waves, but they could not pierce into the abyss. Somewhere behind them she heard screaming.
With her final gasps of self-awareness, she shut her eyes tight, but she couldn’t stop what she had already seen.
A thunderous voice rang through the abyss, and she knew no more.
Outside the hospital room, a short empath tried to stay calm in front of the two heroes before him.
“She’s not a mecher,” Aidos spoke softly. “I thought it might be possible, but her true ability never conflicted with her mind as it does now.”
Slipstream raised an eyebrow. “She modified my tech in twenty minutes with one arm and a scrapped suit. You’ll have to do better than that.”
“Her mind is reaching out in ways only a tel can. But I can only see the edges of her mind; I don’t know what’s within.”
“How is she reaching out though?” Will asked. “Her room’s sealed by so much tech and magic that Maestro would have trouble getting through. She can’t be seeing the future, she got her armor from two dead walkers, so she can’t be reading minds. Is she looking into the past?”
“She shouldn’t be,” Slipstream said. “Every time slider I’ve met has said that going into the past takes twice the energy and will power as the future. They may be tels, but precogs and postcogs still put out enough rift radiation to set off the sensors in the room.”
“But you have tech to warn you if someone’s trying to read your mind. So she can’t have gotten it from you.”
The two continued to talk, but Aidos stared at the door to Mach’s room. Something about the way she reached out felt familiar to him. Most tel’s either reached out in a direct path, like a laser, or spread out in a sphere. Each had their own feel to it and their own way of entering the mind, but they all followed the same patterns. Her mind wasn’t targeting anything, it was just sort of scraping over the room around her.
Will and Slipstream stopped talking. Together they turned towards Aidos.
“What?” Will asked.
“Locard’s theory. No two objects can have contact without leaving some trace on each other. He was talking about physical contact, but every once in a while I’ll come across an object with emotions…attached to it. I never brought it up with other tels, but if objects can hold onto emptions, maybe they can hold onto other things.”
Slipstream gave a little start. “She didn’t read their blueprints at all-“
“She just needed to see them for long enough for her power to pick up on the thoughts they had while they mad them,” Will finished.
“But she’s seen me before, it’s not like she could copy my thrusters with a glance.”
“So maybe it’s a little more than seeing, but…” Will looked at Mach sleeping on the other side of her door. “She’s unconscious. If it really takes effort, why hasn’t it stopped?” He looked to Aidos.
Aidos shrugged. “If her power was passive, I would have sensed it working before now. If it was active, it should have turned off the moment she passed out. Without knowing more about her power, or having a better tel look her over, I can’t tell you anything.”
“Then let’s get a better tel.” Burnout walked around the corner. “One of you has to know someone who can help her.”
Slipstream grimaced. “Maestro’s the only one I have regular contact with. He’s been looking into something over in Europe, and I have no idea when he’s getting back.”
“We don’t have long,” Will said. “A tel can only use their power for so long before they burn out.”
Burnout stared at Will with narrowed eyes. “You seem know everyone else ever met. You talked to Siegfried like he insulted your mother and you and Slipstream are comfortable bouncing ideas off each other. You have to know another tel.”
Will nodded. “But most of the ones I know aren’t any stronger than Aidos. The ones who are don’t like me very much.”
He glanced in the room again.
“But I can try. Most tels good at healing minds have a waiting list a few miles long, but most cases aren’t as urgent as this. A few might not help, but we only need one to say yes.”
Burnout glanced in at Mach. “I’ll be here when you get back. Hurry.”
“I’ll keep an eye on her too,” Aidos said. “If anything changes, I’ll let you know.”
Will nodded. “Slip, you mind checking the Council records? There might be someone in there who can help.”
“Right. I’ll keep in touch.”
“And you all can stop hiding. You’re not fooling anyone.”
Around the corner, Hawthorne, Red Racer, and Allspades quickly ducked away.
Will smiled lightly and turned back to Burnout. “Can you make sure one of you makes Red go home? He took a hit tonight, and his sister’s not gonna be happy.”
Burnout didn’t turn from the door. “Right,” he said absently.
Will and Slipstream walked out of the hospital.
“Who are you getting in touch with?”
Will looked up at the sky. “I know a few local strollers. With any luck, one of them is actually in town right now.”
“And Plan B?”
“What makes you think I have a Plan B?”
“The scar on my back.”
Will looked back at Slipstream. “Worst case scenario? I call my father.”