Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

The streetlights have been off for an hour. The rain has been constant for three. Through the sodden darkness comes a stranger, clad in earthy hues and righteousness.
I listen to him coming in. A mind is usually a noisy place, except in rare cases, or due to rigorous training. I’d say this intruder benefitted from both. He’s actually playing back the briefing in his head while his body moves with thoughtless, flawless stealth.
“You’ll be inserted just after full dark, with a window of sixty to ninety minutes. We know the target’s active security stands down from nightfall to dawn. The reasons for that are still unclear, but we believe some form of automated system takes over during that time.”
Fair guess, but wrong.
“Your suit gives you the profile of a small predator, so providing you don’t move like anything else, even layered motion detectors will be nullified. We’re sure there isn’t any form of pressure grid or similar, as overflights have revealed no expanses of metal big enough.”
Overflights? I’ll pass that titbit to sky-side security. They’ll be annoyed.
“Once inside the building, our intel indicates it was an average six-bedroom residence.”
‘Average’. Not a word I’d use for any home with six bedrooms.
“How it has been modified since is anyone’s guess, but given our inability to strike the target – or even come close – we have to presume baffled corridors, airlocks, maze rooms, and likely a number of lethal-effect traps too.”
Walking through their secure sites unharmed must be a challenge.
Elsie interrupts my eavesdropping with a telepathic comment.
*He’s good. I didn’t hear him open the door.*
*Yes. Definitely the best so far. Anton?*
*I don’t recognise his intrinsic pathways. I’ll need to dive him to get the details.*
Which lets Elsie and I off the hook for tonight.
*Is he far enough in to not hear the door relock?*
Anton gets in before I instruct Elsie to hold off on using her telekinesis.
*Better if he isn’t. A trained mind like his will be momentarily imbalanced by the unexpected event.*
Good enough.
*Lock the door, Elsie. All yours, Anton.*
The briefing playback stops dead as he hears the door lock behind him. I’ll give him credit, he’s an elite-plus operative. He immediately checks his vicinity, then starts running scenarios – interesting that they too are in briefing playback style.
Then Anton barges into his mind. I see the kaleidoscopic explosion of interrupted consciousness, then get out before the insanity starts.
The best way to identify attackers is how they attack. Well, according to Anton, that is. I’m betting that without being able to map the ‘shortcuts’ the mind develops in training, it’s an imprecise visual art. Problem with getting that deep into a mind is that the psychological damage from having someone else inside your head is ruinous.
I gently rouse one of the security detail.
*Sorry, Randy, but there’s a downed intruder in corridor three needing mercy.*
He wakes fully, rises and heads out, grabbing one of the silenced pistols racked above the door to the ready room.
Anton calls us.
*I had to keep him down until Randy shot him! Mental resilience like I’ve never encountered. He was ex-Delta recruited to a joint Lekem/GCHQ blacker-than-black outfit.*
*Who are Lekem?*
*Supposedly disbanded Israeli secret technology acquisition group.*
That’s grim but essential knowledge.
Elsie chips in.
*She’s undisturbed.*
Using psionics openly attracts all the wrong kinds of attention. We’d been hiding for years. Then she quietly recruited us into the clandestine psionic outfit that protects her inner cadre.
We’ve not failed her yet.