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Spikebreaker

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Jack ignored the pressure in his head alerting him to her arrival. She stayed quiet, and he happily did likewise, focussing on driving.

Her presence had just begun to irritate as the dashboard's com unit beeped. He flicked the monitor on, and Captain Lee appeared.

Rubbing his hand back over his head, towards his receded blonde hairline, he stared hard over the thin rims of his glasses. "Crawford," Lee wasted little time with greetings, his tone stressed. "We've got a spike on Rosemont Drive, in the mall. Get over there."

"Yes, sir." He moved the car to take the next right, his siren whining as he sped up. His current assignment, investigating rumours of rogue psychics, would likely prove unproductive, but it'd still be preferable to dealing with a telepathic talent emerging somewhere as crowded as the mall. Spiking was painful enough for an isolated victim, but in a crowd the sudden influx of thoughts resulted in bursts of psychic pain lashing out, increasing the crowd's agitation, which in turn increased the psychic's distress, a cycle which could result in fatalities.

"Taylor's en route," Lee said. "But you're closer. The information's been routed to Ms. Cartwright. Call if you need anything." The screen clicked off.

What've we got? Jack thought at her.

[It's a boy, maybe seventeen,] Lydia thoughts came back, her tone one of professional detachment. [There're at least a couple of dozen civilians who didn't escape the cascade. It looks like he's currently in a lull, but they're in no state to take advantage of it. Regulars are holding a strict perimeter. The first responding officer got caught, and had to be dragged out.]

He have a baffler? Psi-bafflers, barely twice as thick as a phone, gave some protection against forceful psychic intrusions, such as he could expect from a spike. Not as much as a telepathic partner could provide, and those of regular police weren't as strong as those of SPI officers, but it was usually enough protection to escape a spike.

[Unknown, but it didn't protect him if he did. According to Markham, Taylor should be only a minute or two behind us.] Elijah Markham was Taylor's assigned telepath. [Try not to be too intimidated by a proper detective.]

I am a proper detective, he thought back in a tightly controlled frame of mind. It's telepaths who don't need much training.

[So those weren't concerns about him thinking you're an amateur I saw skulking about back there? You're not afraid he'll arrest you for impersonating a police officer?]

Jack suppressed his initial response before it crossed his mind, and suppressed his rising temper.

Lydia continued before he could offer a calm response. [It's understandable. He was among the first detectives partnered with a telepath, and certainly the most experienced. And you're... well... here to keep your family happy.]

He gritted his teeth at her interpretation, but knew from experience that arguing the truth with her would just leave him more uptight. And I'm sure you wouldn't want to look bad in front of your mentor and secret crush.

[I don't have a secret crush on Markham.]

Well it's not secret, since I know, but...

[And he's not my mentor, he just helped me acclimatise to this life.]

He groomed you for your role? Jack asked.

His head chilled a touch as she responded. [He showed me how to do the job professionally.]

And does he professionally irritate Taylor like this before a hostage situation?

[It's not a hostage situation.] Her thoughts sharpened. [The boy doesn't want the others there, increasing his agony.]

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