My return caused enough panic for people to cut corners, which were better left rounded. I did not have time to step into a much-needed shower before the wolves arrived at my hotel room door.
I turned when the door opened and studied the women who entered. Twins were an elegant touch, brunettes with dark brown eyes. Five years had passed since my last woman so I appreciated the effort spent on tempting me to lower my guard.
"May I help you?" I asked.
"Are you Jason, the Director's Hope?" the one on the right asked. They reached for each other to hold hands tightly, as if the question drained their courage.
"Yes," I replied after taking time to study them. Their bodies were symmetrical, with curves no amount of athleticism could make unfeminine. They wore clothing that hugged the relevant parts and hung loosely everywhere else.
"You're back," the one on the left said. I nodded and turned to stare out the window.
"What are your names?"
"Can't you read our minds?" they asked at the same time.
"With lovers, I prefer proper introductions," I replied.
"We're not here to..."
"I know why you're here," I said turning and leaning back against the window. "I have a better use for you."
"By law, I can," I said. "I'm glad they sent two; one would have it rough."
"I don't understand!" the one on the right said.
"You've been programmed not to," I told them. They turned to look at each other in fear.
"Put the knives down, ladies," I ordered, reinforcing it with a directive through my jacks. Stilettos were drawn from sheathes sewn into their clothing. They walked to the bed and stabbed the blades into the headboard.
"We didn't know," they said, stepping away from the bed. I nodded; their programming was excellent but not everything had been as carefully done.
"Let me help," I said.
I jacked them into each other and reconstructed what had been done from the bits and pieces left behind in each. Not only was the mind-wipe sloppy, but it had been a mistake to choose two girls, one would not have been enough to build a complete picture.
They fell to their knees as I finished weaving their memories together. The men in their lives enjoyed seeing them like that, on their knees with tears staining their cheeks. There was beauty in it, but nothing like when I used my jacks to inject them with thin rivulets of pleasure.
"How could they do that to us?!?"
"What are your names?" I asked again.
"What are you doing to me?" Mary asked curiously.
"I'm blocking your mind from processing what has been done to you," I replied. "You need an Empathic to help you cope, but I need to... I need."
"A Positive did this to us," Magdalene said glancing at the knives.
"Telepathic programming to kill," I told them. "She did a good job. Blanking your conscious awareness is a subtle addition; most don't bother, instead relying on the lack of hesitation to land the strike."
"What are you going to do with us?" Mary asked.
"I want your bodies," I replied. "Then we'll go downstairs and see what the penalty for that is."
They did not understand, but I had not expected them to. I pushed their worries aside and made them aware of my jack as a bolt of pleasure lancing down their spinal column. They had been used before with no attention to their pleasure. I did not have the patience for unselfishness so I chose the hammer instead of the razor.
"Come with me," I said and walked into the bathroom. Like with many things, I had not been clean for a long time.
I linked the girls to each other and myself in a triangle-loop; the excitement each felt would increase the other's but not as much as my pleasure would increase theirs. I used my jacks as leading reins so they knew exactly what I wanted and did it without words needing to be exchanged.
I wanted the twins naked so as soon as they stepped into the bathroom, they began to remove clothing slowly; Magdalene took Mary's clothes off, and Mary returned the favor. I guided them to take mine off without me being consciously aware of anything but the desire to remove the clothing I had worn for three months straight.
Mary stepped into the shower and turned it on. She did not flinch as the cold water hit her; she adjusted the temperature to what she knew I wanted and let it wash over her body. Magdalene stroked my dick as her sister painted herself with water. Mary turned and leaned against the back wall in an open invitation to join her.
The water and heat felt good; months of sweat and dirt sloughed down to stain the white of the shower floor. The twins put soapy hands on me and chased away the filth that would not go willingly. I knelt down, and Magdalene pulled my head back to wash my hair while Mary applied another layer of soap on me.
They took a step back, like I wanted, and let me enjoy the water taking away the last five years of my life for a few minutes. I did what was necessary, but even I could wish it had not been.
Magdalene pressed up against my back while Mary came around front. Magdalene pushed her body against mine, and Mary brought my face down for a kiss. Their hands met at my dick, and they used fleeting touches to excite me nearly to the point of emptying myself.
Mary kissed her way down my chest. Magdalene wrapped her arms around my torso and pulled me backwards. It pushed my dick towards Mary, who took it into her mouth.
Their minds were intertwined with mine; their need was my need; my pleasure was theirs.
Mary stroked me with her hands and mouth almost violently. Magdalene dragged her nails across my chest. When it came, my release was almost absolution.
The twins could not handle the feedback striking them through the loop. Mary fell back; Magdalene released me and stepped away. My dick shot cum onto Mary making her convulse as she experienced an orgasm for the first time in her life. Magdalene screamed behind me, crumbling against my legs. A second shot of cum hit Mary and through the jacks I felt them lose consciousness.
"Get dressed," I said when they came to. I wanted more time with them, but it would have to wait until we arrived at the Institute. There were people coming for me and others waiting to see what happened with the twins.
Everyone turned towards us when the elevator doors opened, and we stepped into the hotel lobby. There was disappointment on the faces of three men. A couple of others stepped forward with holo-cameras on their shoulders; my return was newsworthy but the excitement on their faces said they expected more.
"What did you do to my sisters?" the youngest of the three men said.
"This is the best you could do?" I asked the one wearing the robe of a New Christian priest.
"Mary, Magdalene," the oldest male said looking behind me. "Did this monster hurt you?!?"
"I expected better from Abbas Matthew," I said looking into one of the cameras, knowing he would be watching. "But New Christians like sending lambs to the slaughter."
I tossed the stilettos the women had been armed with at the father and brother.
"Elijah will be here any minute," I said to them.
The twins were a distraction; the real focus of the attack was the men. Their training was Telepathic-aided; no one else could move as smoothly and work together so seamlessly.
But they were still human.
I moved to the left so the boy, who was a hair quicker, stepped in front of his father. I danced outside the reach of his blade and passed him while sliding my knife on the inside of his thigh. I kept going, under the blade of his father and behind him. My knife penetrated at the base of the man's skull, stabbing into his spinal cord. I turned and moved to stand over the brother. I stepped on his knife hand and watched life pour out of his femoral artery.
I took a deep breath before looking at everyone in the room.
"You are a monster!" the priest said from behind me.
"I don't think you really believe that," I said. "If you were going to make a monster, wouldn't you make it something to fear?"
I walked up to him slowly. He tried to move; my jack ordered his body to disobey.
"If you really believed the Director created a monster, you would have run when they told you to try this."
I put my hand over his forehead and slid it down to close his eyes.
"I'll give you the time for a last prayer, priest," I whispered into his ear.
"You can't tell me that wasn't murder," Elijah said from the door.
I pushed the arm of the priest's robe up to expose his hand.
"The feint, the strike, and the subtle knife," I said nodding at the twins, the fallen father and brother, and to the dead priest. "Abbas Matthew has certain preferences."
"I don't get it," Elijah said. "Not one confrontation with the New Christian Church in five years; your ship docked less than two hours ago and already a dead priest."
Being the Operative the Director drew when a situation got ugly aged Elijah prematurely.
"The ladies are coming with me," I told the room and used the jacks to direct the women outside. Elijah raised an eyebrow.
"They did their job," I told him. "It's not their fault their men couldn't."
"Someone had reason to believe the men could?" Elijah asked holding the door open for me.
"Telepathic trained," I said.
"Who?" Elijah asked in an angry voice.
"An Operative," I replied.
"Not one of mine," he said between his teeth.
"Before your time," I said.
"It's my responsibility, Elijah."
He opened the grav-car door for me, and I sat inside. The twins had company in the backseat.
"And you are?" I asked the woman.
"Eleanor is my Watcher," Elijah answered, getting into the driver's seat.
"What's a Watcher?"
"You don't know," Elijah asked surprised. "I thought you kept in touch with the Director and Sarah."
"I don't think the President considers us important enough to mention to the legendary Jason while he's doing his master's bidding," Eleanor said with no inflection to her voice.
"Legendary?" I asked.
"I have to admit to disappointment," she told me. "I was expecting sharper teeth."
"My brother and father probably thought his teeth were sharp enough," Mary said.
"At least, his knife," Magdalene added.
"And then there's the dead priest," Elijah snorted. Eleanor stared at me for a few seconds before looking out the grav-car window.
"You should try to be more like your mentor, Elijah," she said.
"Taking a sabbatical was a good idea, Jason," Elijah said, ignoring her. "The God Apart Cult has grown and so have the Zealots. I was free to recruit because the Church hasn't tried anything with me, like they did in the hotel."
"It wouldn't be worth it," I said. "You might be the leader of the Institute Zealots, but you're human."
"While something as inhuman as Jason lives, there's no point in trying to bring you down, lover," the Eleanor said to Elijah.
"So what is a Watcher?" I asked her.
"An illusion to let people think they have some say in the nastier things Operatives do," she replied smiling.
"What's the point?" I asked.
"Between Eleanor and me," Elijah said laughing, "I'm the reasonable one."
"You're too gentle, my love," Eleanor said softly. "I'm glad Jason's back. The Director is right--survival shouldn't be left to chance."
"All the Watchers are that crazy," Elijah said starting the grav-car. "I can't wait to see who Sarah hand-picked for you. Someone who can make Jason seem reasonable? I'll remember not to piss her off."
"Are all Watchers women?" I asked.
"We're paired by sexual preference," Eleanor replied. "You'll be assigned a woman. You have to love a President who takes the time to play matchmaker. Obviously, Sarah has her priorities straight."
"Why have you been gone so long?" Elijah asked carefully.
"I had large mess to clean up," I said and closed my eyes.
He was waiting at the entrance to the Institute grounds. I knelt beside his grav-chair.
"You haven't been eating," he said. "Is it done?"
"How many children are you behind now?" he asked.
"I stopped counting, sir."
"I was afraid of that," he said. "Take a week off, Jason."
"An Operative programmed assassins to kill me," I told him.
"I saw the holo-cast," he replied. "She can wait. Take those lovely ladies and lock yourself in a bedroom."
The twins had a busy three days between nights with me and days being rebalanced by Empathics. It would have been a busy week, except that on the fourth morning the shepherd's flock stampeded.
The Scream cut into my sleep; I got out of bed after putting the twins down hard and dressed in my grays. Outside the door, the hallway was full of Positives.
"Go back to bed," I said.
"There was something wrong with that Scream, Jason," a Telepathic said.
"I think it was a baby," another said.
I nodded and walked past them. Elijah and two other Operatives waited with the Director in the main conference room.
"I'm sorry, son," the Director said. "I'm going to have to cut your vacation short."
"Sir, the Scream came from a baby," an Operative said. Elijah had mentored both Operatives in the room.
The door opened behind me; Eleanor and two men entered.
"I heard the Scream," Eleanor said sitting down. "I've been hit with a couple on case files; this didn't feel anything like those."
"It was a baby," Elijah said.
"But a baby can't..." she stopped and looked at the Director.
"Only Pheromonics manifest solely upon bio-sexual maturity," he informed her. "Empathics and Symbolics need other things to occur."
"Empathics need to achieve some level of emotional maturity," Elijah said. "Symbolics have to come to an understanding about the world around them."
"But what about Simon?" a Watcher asked.
"A Symbolic's mental language needs to describe their world, not yours," I said. "Entire books have been written about death; Simon needed one word, 'Gone'."
"You didn't include Telepathics in your explanation," Eleanor said, staring at the Director warily.
"Telepathics develop in two stages," the Director told her. "In the first stage, they are only able to communicate with others of their kind. The second stage allows them to exercise their power on anyone."
"Is that a theory?" she asked.
"It was," he said. "One out of five hundred thousand people is born Positive, but it's almost one in five million for a Telepathic. With those odds, we needed a Telepathic child to be born within the walls of the Institute to prove my theory."
"Amada's daughter in the Asia-Institute," Elijah said to Eleanor.
"A secret?" she asked him between her teeth. Eleanor was smart enough not to question the Institute keeping secrets, but Elijah had no excuse in her mind. "We had a talk about those."
"I tell you mine," he replied staring at her hard. "Not the Institute's or anyone else's."
"Amada's daughter gave every Telepathic migraines with her complaints about being taken out of her mother's tummy," an Operative added, trying to hide a smile.
"Except for Operatives, Telepathics tend to stay near the Institute," the Director said. "So, unlike Amada's daughter, they don't get the opportunity to develop their mental voices as children."
"I'm not Telepathic, but I heard the baby's Scream," Eleanor argued.
"A certain amount of trauma is needed to push a Telepathic into their development stages," the Director said. "Birth takes care of the first, further trauma is required to force a Telepathic into the second."
"But that would mean every Telepathic needs to suffer to come into their power," she said.
"Being a teenager can be pretty rough," Elijah said gently.
"Tell them," I said.
"The tests are run the way they are because a Telepathic is required at each," he said to the Watchers.
"We Scream in a mental range only Telepathics can hear," an Operative said. "Anyone who reacts is one of us."
"If they're not second stage, we take care of it," the other Operative finished.
"If this baby is manifesting this early, he or she is suffering!" Eleanor said connecting the dots.
"Suffered," I said.
"This can't be the only child to have ever suffered badly enough to be pushed into their next stage of Telepathic development," Eleanor said, ignoring the implication of my words.
"The child abuse laws," the Director said. She leaned back and stared at the ceiling.
"They're so strict it requires a psychological pathology to break them," she said. "Combined with the Institute profiling for hopeful parents, there are very few incidents. Considering the odds of being Positive and on top of them the odds of being Telepathic, it is possible it never happened before."
"Santos," the Director said in a toneless voice. "His experiences and full Telepathic maturity at eight is what made my wife shove those laws down the throat of any politician she got her mind into."
"What are we going to do?" a Watcher asked.
"I jacked into the baby," I said. "I don't know where she died, but I know what it looks like."
"She's dead?" he asked. I chose not to repeat myself.
"The inside of a house isn't going to do much good," Eleanor said after a few seconds.
"She was stoned in the town square," I replied. "They knocked her unconscious before I could jack from her to someone else."
"If non-Telepathics heard it, the range is limited, at least somewhat," Elijah said.
"She had power, Elijah," an Operative said.
"We can query federal employees to get a search circle," Eleanor said.
"She might have shouted directionally," Elijah warned.
"Don't bother," I told them. "I'll do this alone; I want to give the storm time to gather."
"What do you mean?" Eleanor asked.
"They wanted a war," my Creator replied. "My son wanted a crusade."
It was a beautiful day: a cloudless sky with a crowning sun, a cool breeze from the north, the air smelled of spring standing victorious over the last vestiges of winter.
I walked through the middle of the main street while eyes followed me, their hatred palpable. The brave ones formed a group behind me as I entered the Children's Cemetery.
She was buried next to the only tree in the small plot of land. A New Christian priest, head bowed in prayer, knelt at the foot of her grave.
"So tell me, priest," I said. "Who has it the worst? A man of faith who loses it, or a man of the cloth who finds it."
He looked behind me to see the entire town had found the courage to face someone bigger than a newborn.
"Go home!" he shouted at them.
"What's he doing here?" someone yelled back. I stabbed the shovel into the ground and started digging.
"How dare you!" the priest screamed.
"I mean no offense by undoing your work," I said looking at him. "I need physical evidence to punish the people involved. I must admit surprise at needing a shovel."
"She was just a baby," he replied with tears forming.
"Put the shovel down!" someone said, cocking a shotgun. I sighed and extended a hand. The shotgun was deposited into it. I took the time to study it; it was an antique unlike my own gun, which was a faithful re-creation using modern manufacturing. I shot the man who had given me the order. Before tossing it aside, I emptied the shotgun into him.
After a quick study of the crowd, I pointed to a young woman and waved her forward. She weaved through the crowd until she stood in front me.
"You can't do this to us," a man in the front shouted at me. His eyes were terrified as his body refused run away from me.
"The penalty for child abuse is death," I said. "It requires physical and Telepathic confirmation, if both are available the sentence is automatic."
Everyone in the crowd could hear my words through the jacks in their minds.
"You can't tell who killed her!" the mother of the baby spat at me.
"Anyone who did not throw a stone is free to go," I replied.
No one moved.
"The girl suffered before she died," I told them. "You will too."
Everyone except the priest and I collapsed. Their mouths opened to let out screams of pain but made no sound.
"Why spare me?" the priest asked.
"You dug the girl's grave with your hands," I said. "Pain would be a sanctuary from your crisis of cloth."
"There are cameras watching," he told me.
"It wouldn't be much of a trap without them," I said and looked at the grave. The work would be hot; I decided musical accompaniment was called for and turned the screams on.
I took my time.
Opening the casket made the priest crawl away to retch.
"You didn't have to make me look," he said finally. "I put her in there."
"I'm sorry," I told him. "I'm not human, so there are moments of awkward social behavior. No one told me justice couldn't be fun. I'll remember that punishing the murderers of children is a somber event."
The screams died suddenly; the priest looked at the townsfolk.
"I have the body, and I have the confession of their minds," I said. "The sentence is death."
"Why don't you get it over with?" the priest asked when the strongest recovered enough to look around.
I did not reply.
He ministered to his congregation as more shook off the effects of my punishment. The ones who understood what was still to come knelt in prayer. I did not let anyone beg for his or her life.
"How did they know the child was Telepathic?" I asked the priest when he was done.
"You like to play games, don't you?" he asked angrily. I patted my earcell.
"The public Operative case files," he sighed and nodded. "Answer this first, how did the girl manage to Scream?"
"The child abuse laws are for your protection also. It's not a good idea to harm a child," I replied. "They might harm back. You were unlucky that she cried for her mother instead of lashing out."
"Is that what she did?" he asked.
"I don't know," I replied. "Maybe it was your God she cried out to."
"The Zealot Operative, Elijah, visited us with his Watcher," he said. "They entertained themselves in town for a couple of days. As instructed by the Church, I used the incident and the pregnancy to... I didn't know they would go this far."
"You pushed for ten months, priest," I said. "Where did you expect this to end?"
He fell to his knees.