For today’s WIP Wednesday, I scrounged up a snippet of Klaxon at the Core, the sequel to Signal to Noise, so new I don’t have a blurb drafted up for it yet. So here’s one on the fly.
“At the close of Signal to Noise, Bastian and Theo Kautzer were headed for Central on The Lighthammer for a new life, safe from the Armors that hunted them during the three years since their planet was overtaken by the Incursion. However, Central brings with it new challenges, and the Kautzers soon discover their trauma-honed instincts serve them well even though they thought they’d left their battles behind.”
Without visuals, they had to find their destination on foot. They walked through the dormitory, and though Theo was alert for it, they weren’t the subject of any curious stares. He supposed that studied lack of curiosity was part of being a psionic. They were all special, in some way or another. And he and Bastian weren’t going to flaunt themselves by walking around hand in hand, anyhow. They had the right to be together, no one could stop them, but objectively they were both aware it was considered ‘weird’ and they ought to be discreet.
There was an entire telekinesis wing along one of the outlying walls of the Institute’s enormous compound. Bastian was complaining by the time they were halfway there along the silvery path that wound through the green grass and hedges.
“Suck it up,” Theo advised. “Dr. Rashad said it was ostentatious for psionics to jump everywhere.”
Bastian glowered. “Maybe I like ostentatious.”
“You sure do have a talent for the dramatic,” Theo teased, tugging on a lock of hair.
The front of the telekinesis wing was imposing, nearly three stories tall, and the door had a sign over it with a name that Theo recognized as one of the famous early telekinetics in history. He, along with other founding members of the Institute, had established psionic ability as science rather than myth.
“The Grant Ishida wing, huh?” Bastian said aloud, draping a hand on Theo’s shoulder. “There’s a bit of ancient history.”
“Probably more like a reminder,” Theo said. “Of where we came from, and how far.”
“Central’s a long way from Old Terra.”
Theo slanted him an annoyed look. “From levitating bobby pins and shifting crates.”
Inside the building, they stood together in front of a directory before setting a course for Bahir Anwar’s office. There had been an astonishing array of options on the directory. Theo had never heard of micro-kinetics, and wondered if they would be tested at some point for that ability, too. Dr. Rashad had seemed keen to test them on all the psionic axes of power.
Their destination was one story up, and against the far wall of the building. It turned out to resemble an open gymnasium, skylights above letting in full sunlight, than the stuffy office either of them had been expecting. A man of medium height and darkly olive complexion rose to greet them. He had a ruggedly handsome face—Theo slanted an irritated glance at Bastian, because that was his twin’s observation—and close-cropped black hair.
What? I have eyes.
Theo ignored that. They had already reassured one another, on multiple levels, but it was different with other people around. He noticed Bastian noticing, and hoped they could leave it at that.
“Welcome to the Institute, I’m Bahir,” he introduced himself, inclining his body but not offering his hand, the way all psionics they’d met so far had done. Theo could understand; he’d never enjoyed physical contact from anyone but his family, or Bastian, who had always been part of his personal space.
“Yes, I’ve been expecting you.” Bahir rubbed his hands together briskly, and gestured to the wide-open space to their left. “Shall we begin?”
The floor space was covered in mats, and there was a great deal of equipment against one wall, a few machines, what looked like a workout bench, a number of terminal display banks, and what appeared to be crates, boxes, and various weighted items labeled with numbers.
“I’ve heard that you shifted a great deal of hydronium the other day,” Bahir began. “Any idea how much?”
Theo shrugged. “Sixty pallets?” He glanced to Bastian, who quirked a brow and corrected, “Seventy-five.”
Bahir nodded and he stepped up to a terminal display, pulling up a program, fingers dancing nimbly over the surface. “Quite a payload.” He gave a low, impressed whistle. “That’s several tons. I hope you ate a good meal afterward.”
“We ate like pigs for dinner,” Bastian said happily. “It was amazing. I can’t remember the last time we got so stuffed.”
A brief smile flickered over Bahir’s mouth. “Yes, that’s the only way to avoid kinetic debt.”
“Right, that’s when you use more energy than you replenish, right?” Theo asked shrewdly. “We did a lot of research after we teleported for the first time.”
“Was teleportation your first kinetic action?”
Bastian shook his head. “No, we’d done other things, little things, without even really noticing before then. Our parents sure did, though.” He sidled closer to Theo with a brief, woebegone look.
Theo folded his arms. “We’d shifted some small stuff,” he replied. “We call it ‘pulling.’ When we lift something, you know, but don’t port it.”
Bahir nodded. He picked up two thin silver bands that resembled circlets, and offered them up. “These are biometric monitors,” he said, holding one and donning the other. It circled his head from forehead over temples and around the back of his skull. “I’d like for each of you to wear one, and go through a number of tasks, after which we can have a lunch delivered from the refectory and I’ll answer any questions you like.” He pulled the circlet from his head.
“Sure,” Bastian chirped.
Theo wrinkled his nose and put his hand out for one of the circlets. He fitted his on first, and kept a watchful eye on Bastian when his twin donned the other.
Two side by side vitals appeared on one of the displays, and Bahir moved to bring up more information.
“Theo, if you could press your thumb here?” Bahir requested, and Theo complied. His name appeared in green over the green vitals.
Bahir turned to Bastian, who did the same for the blue vitals.
“Good strong brain activity,” Bahir commended. “Shall we begin?”