“It’s just a brain game,” Aaron assured the dubious Thomas. He grinned, a sly smirk that made his half-lidded eyes seem like they knew something Thomas didn’t. Thomas had always hated that.

“It messes with people’s heads,” Thomas insisted, stubborn. “You’re not even allowed to have them here.”

“They sell them on Mars,” Aaron retorted with a derisive sniff. “Right on the street.”

“News flash. We aren’t on Mars.” Thomas’ frown was getting more sulky, bordering on a pout. “You should just get rid of that thing. If somebody catches you with it, you’re gonna be in trouble.”

“Ah, it’s no big deal.” Aaron played with the small device in his hand, turning it over and over, his smile widening just a little. One finger flicked over the sensitive control strip. “Let’s take it down to the docks and give it a try.”

Thomas opened his mouth to speak, but paused in the middle, a look of vague confusion washing over his face. He was aware of a faint humming sound, more felt than heard, and lost the thread of conversation for a moment while he tried to pinpoint it. Aaron watched for a few moments, then tapped Thomas lightly on the head with a pen, using the hand that wasn’t holding the brain game.

“Hey. Thomas. Let’s go down to the docks and give it a try,” he repeated, watching closely.

“Sure,” Thomas said easily, turning back to Aaron and giving a lopsided grin. “Sounds like fun.”