Chapter 17: Upping the Game
A nervous looking security guard was standing on the edge of the delivery dock. It seemed like his only purpose was to guard the seven refrigerators lined up in the middle of the dock. They were obviously used, but would still be a welcome addition to any home that Syon had ever been in. The guard was the only person they could see.
"There is something wrong, here," the Noah persona of the children's meld stated. They were linked to Syon, ready to feed him power, if he needed it.
Quietly edging forward, Syon was conscious of an increased dread that seemed to permeate the very air. He searched for hidden enemies with his mind but the guard was the only person within Syon's range. Each step felt harder and harder, as if his next step would be into the pit of doom. His stomach tightened as he took that next step, and felt the link with the children fade. He realized there was something more: something wrong.
Something was very wrong!
Stomach churning wrong!
They were under attack!
Syon stopped fighting to move foreward. He started centering himself physically and mentally to this place, and to this moment in time. It was the first lesson he had learned from his father, when his formal training had begun. It was a strain, and as difficult as the first time he had succeeded in this exercise. Something was fighting him! Something was trying to stop him from reaching the point of control over his mind and his body that was so familiar!
"You must conquer yourself before you can conquer an enemy," he heard his father's words echo in his mind. Each lesson had begun with that exhortation for mental discipline.
Syon had trained his entire life to meet physical attacks and overcome physical defenses, but now, he wasn't facing a physical attack. He and his small team were under a mental attack. None of his training had included mental defense, or offense. For the first time in a very long time, Syon was unsure of how to proceed.
Syon instinctively relaxed, enduring the barrage on his senses, like a boxer accepting punishing blows while preparing a counter attack. A mental attack must be answered mentally, but how?
He reached farther inside himself, searching for an idea of how to fight back. Syon's awareness encountered the quantum connection that linked his mind with his Companion, Chi, and the unseen world of quantum input.
"Can you help me?" Syon asked his Companion.
"I don't know what more I can do," Chi replied. "I will try to do more, but I think the solution is in you!"
He could feel his Companion reaching for him reinforcing their connection. He could feel Chi's concern, his determination, and his complete faith that Syon would find a way to fight back. Syon focused on their connection. There was no way to reinforce their bond further, or to draw more strength from their union to throw at whatever was attacking them.
On impulse, Syon anchored himself to the quantum connection he and his Companion had in common.
The world changed in a radical way!
He was AWARE!
Syon and Chi were connected in a way that neither had experienced.
He was aware of his Companion in a whole different way! Syon could directly sense the environment around him the way Chi sensed it. It was like stepping from a black and white television scene, into a world of ultra-high-definition 3D. Furthermore, he could feel the love, unconditional trust, and unquestioning confidence from his Companion. Syon became something more than he was just moments before, as did Chi.
Syon's sense of SELF was different. He knew that he had control of his personal space.
Chi was no longer simply a Companion. He was also Syon! The two were still separate beings, but they were also one!
The strength of their union filled Syon and he flexed, as if flexing a muscle. The tension of the mental attack eased. It was still there, and Syon could still sense the intent of the attack, but it flowed around him without touching his mind.
"I think he's got it!" the Noah persona of the meld of the children announced excitedly as their link to Syon reestablished.
"What do you mean?" Syon asked, while studying the nature of the attack, and how he had countered it.
"The way you're connected to Chi!" the Noah/meld said excitedly. "That's the way we're connected to our Companions! I think you could join our meld!"
"We will practice that during our class, later today," Syon instructed. "At present, my mission is very urgent, as you know. During battle, try not to pick up a strange sword. I cannot afford the distraction, with so much at stake. However, it is good to know we have an additional tool that we didn't have, before."
"Yes, Sir," the Noah/meld replied contritely.
"Linking is appreciated, though," Syon added, not wanting to dampen the children's enthusiasm. "Extra power in a punch is always a good thing, and we have practiced that."
Syon smiled at the eagerness of the children, as he studied what he had done. It had nothing to do with his armor. His/their strength of will would be the most obvious difference, to an outside observer, he decided. A nearly tangible cocoon surrounded him, and that held the evil miasma away.
He flexed the newfound muscle again, and felt the choking atmosphere that permeated the area recede further. Syon nodded to himself in satisfaction, and continued moving towards the guard.
He reached the back of the truck, within an arm's length of the guard. There was still no one in sight, mentally or physically. Everything still looked normal, despite the guard's increased fidgeting. Syon knew better, but he still couldn't identify what was wrong. He carefully touched the guard's shoe, tapping into his surface thoughts.
The guard worked the weekend shift, and had the next two days off. He was looking forward to spending time with his little boy and his wife. His plans for the coming day had occupied his mind, as he monitored the approaches to the loading dock. His happy and expectant thoughts had slowly given way to an undercurrent of nervousness, and fear. The guard had just become aware of how intense that fear had become.
"I can see nothing wrong, and the guard isn't aware of anything out of the ordinary, though he does fear something," Syon reported to Scotty and the Marines. "He doesn't even know what he is afraid of, and it manifests itself as nervousness."
"There is something in the truck that is wrong," the Noah/meld essence of the children stated emphatically, mentally indicating a mental disruption from the truck at the quantum level.
The children, in their melded persona, bordered on being overpowering to most human/Companion pairs. Syon had learned to accept the combined power of the children, and was looking forward to joining that meld.
"I can feel it," Syon agreed with a grimace, after mentally testing the disharmony in the ether and comparing it to what the children had noticed. Mentally, it felt like fingernails on a chalk board.
The organic quantum gate residing in every human's brain was instrumental in elevating humans to the top of earth's food chain. Humans with Companions consciously take advantage of that quantum gate by gaining access to a quantum continuum. That continuum, when accessed, allows human/Companion pairs to communicate, and to read the thoughts of humans living without Companions.
The presence of a disturbance in the quantum continuum indicated humans. But Syon should have been able to sense humans in the truck at this range! He didn't know of anything else that could disrupt the continuum in quite the same way. The continuum was more chaotic than normal, as if the flow of energy had been disrupted, restricted, or corrupted.
"We're going to have to look inside," Syon determined, and the two Marines reluctantly agreed.
"This feels like what Major Connor encountered in Iraq," the Marine Corporal pointed out, having been linked during the update from Caleb. "I've never run into something that could literally make my hair stand on end," he added grimly.
"Let's get this finished," the Lieutenant nervously groused.
"Once we are in position to cover the back of that truck, we will pool our power to see what is in there. Caleb said they could sense them. We should be able to, too," Syon explained.
"Unless they learned how to shield themselves from us," the Lieutenant warned.
"There is that," Syon replied drily.
The three of them quietly mounted the concrete stairs leading to the loading bay. They were moving towards the truck when a nearby door opened.
A man with the moving company's logo on his shirt and hat held the door open. A heightened sense of danger flooded Syon and his men. Syon, with his new senses, allowed the wave of danger to flow around him, but there was a mental gasp from the two Marines.
Another man wearing the logos of the moving company, maneuvered a dolly carrying another used refrigerator through the door. He was easily sensed as a normal human, but he looked very frightened.
A guard followed the employee with the dolly, also seeming to be very nervous. He quickly looked around the loading dock, as if expecting to be attacked. The man holding the door gestured the guard ahead as he knelt to tie his shoe.
"We need to hurry, if we're going to get all these installed before business hours," the delivery man tying his shoe said with a smile, sounding oddly satisfied to Syon.
The delivery man rolling the refrigerator only grunted in response as he hurried across the dock. To Syon, he looked terrified. His lips were moving slightly, as if he were talking to himself. He walked past the invisible Syon as he wheeled the dolly towards the other used refrigerators.
Syon brushed his fingers along the man's arm as he passed, and Jerome's thoughts were both surprising and troubling.
"This one is praying to be rescued by invisible men!" Syon's surprised thoughts flashed through the link. "He was the sniper at the State of the Union, but he didn't sign up for this! They've kidnapped his family to force him to cooperate. The bomb is in the truck with four more men! In his thoughts, he knows the men aren't normal!"
Time slowed, and the Master of Choi Li Fut glided towards the furniture company employee behind the guard. His armor morphed as he moved, a long black sword growing from his armored hand.
The man's head snapped towards Syon, looking directly at him, even though Syon still should have been invisible. The man smiled, and FEAR slammed into Syon like a physical blow.
The Master didn't falter. His new found strength parried the mental attack easily as his sword hissed through the air.
A black mist gushed from the man's mouth, for just a moment, before his neck parted a precise two inches below his chin. His head leaped from his shoulders in a spray of blood as a blade with an edge the width of a nanotube parted his flesh. The assault on Syon's senses didn't cease until the head's second bounce. The man's body immediately collapsed, unlike a normal mammal's body that has been decapitated. Then it began to rot!