Casey took Rebecca’s joke to heart and appointed himself cook. He did a pretty decent job of it too. The whole team assembled around the table to share a meal after a long day. The homey feel dissipated the impression of being imprisoned for my own protection. It also passed the time when everyone was too exhausted to work but too stressed to sleep right away.
I ended up unable to read many haikus during the afternoon as people streamed in and out of my office throughout the day. They needed my advice on this and guidance on that, or had some pertinent information to share. James gave me a copy of the dossier on Nadina and I filled in the gaps in my schedule with it. The FBI agents led the investigation so my knowledge probably wouldn’t be useful but it couldn’t hurt either.
All in all, I spent the afternoon feeling like part of the investigation though I wasn’t actively diving. By the end of the day, James brought an updated version of the whirlpool repertoire and Becky helped me pin the new disturbances on the map. We analyzed the results but no pattern emerged.
In a nutshell, we deserved this nice diner with our group. The first thing we all agreed on before sticking a fork in the coq-au-vin was to avoid work talk. Unfortunately, the FBI agents offered me a preliminary report of their first approach of the three telepaths we held captive in the basement. They wanted my assessment by morning. While other people ignored the folder on the corner of the table and chatted about their lives, I had to keep my nose deep in the document.
“Subjects are uncooperative,” read the opening sentence. I hoped the whole thing wouldn’t be a simple statement of the obvious. As I continued reading, I discovered a few interesting bits though no major break-through had been made.
The three kidnappers were brothers. It could turn out to be a good or a bad thing; it all depended of their level of sibling rivalry versus brotherhood. The agents were still unsure. They hoped they could sow seeds of doubt and kindle a family quarrel but so far, the bond seemed to hold. They hadn’t tried any angle yet, though.
“We surmise that throwing in Nadina Perez, who had an affair with the middle brother, might disturb said brother’s moderating role enough to create breach we can exploit.”
I almost whistled. They sure had a knack for official-sounding sentences. I hoped they depicted the brothers’ characters right.
“Upon the use of Tele-serum, we dug into the criminals mind only to find carefully misdirected thought. They will require a little steering in the right direction to cause a mental slip that’ll produce valuable intelligence. Any direct approach of the subject causes them to shy away from thoughts regarding it. Hence reading their minds hasn’t brought more information into light yet.”
The telepaths were well-trained to resist questioning. I hoped Nadina would be more pliable. Last time I assisted in her interrogation, she almost managed to escape custody but time in prison might have softened her up.
Moreover, when Nadina’s teammate organized the elaborate attack against the courthouse where her trial was held, they came for me. Not for her.
The FBI delivered Nadina Perez the next day, right on schedule. They put her in the basement alongside the three telepaths. She thought in Arabic so they probably wouldn’t be able to read her mind, which meant that we could still imply she sold them out without them knowing if it was true or not.
Interrogating our suspects involved some high security procedures. They had been brought in blind so they couldn’t transmit our location and all discussion happened through a one-way mirror. The FBI agents, Adams and Carmichael, explained all the details to us over breakfast.
“They’re already after me.” I said. “If you think a face to face contact can shake them a bit, it won’t endanger me more than I already am.” Both agents nodded in approbation.
“Good to know but for the moment we think it’s better to keep them isolated.”
Both Adams and Carmichael were telepaths on top of being specially trained for interrogation. I trusted they knew what was best though I must say that looking in on a criminal alone in an improvised interrogation room was a little bit eerie.
We started the day with the elder of the three telepath brothers. He was a bit too snarky for his situation, no doubt a defense mechanism.
“He’s actually the one who didn’t like killing the two non-readers.”
However, just as his brothers, he convinced himself that all readers were evil, which included him. The way to the perfect world was to kill all non-readers than commit suicide. And the two brothers thought exactly the same. The difference between them lay solely in their respect for non-readers life.
How could they grow to hate themselves so much? This wasn’t a simple self-esteem problem. It actually resembled racism more than anything else. Could one be racist about one’s own genes?
No new information surfaced in the morning interview with each brother. I did learn to appreciate Adams and Carmichael’s skills. They succeeded every time they wanted to drive the criminals toward a specific emotion.
Rebecca and I watched from the sidelines. She kept a hand on me at all times so I could share her mental shield. This way, the brothers knew there were four of us this morning but not who it was. If I was them, I’d definitely feel like a lab rat.
We warmed our way up to Nadina. Since she was an old agent, the dry-run of this whole “let’s start a war” operation, she fell in one of two categories; know-it-all or know-nothing. Because she was one of the first, she might have been recruited by the big guy himself before a whole organization surrounded him. In that case, she possessed invaluable information. On the other hand, “dry-run” could equal “very limited contact with the rest of the operation”.
Either way, we could spend weeks finding out in which category she fell and what she knew. I doubted we had that long before the next attack.