"For example, some high-Gradient telepaths have trouble building shields - it's as if their abilities are too strong to contain and the power leaks out. With Silence, at least they have an effective barrier of emotionlessness - even if things creep in, those things don't affect them as deeply."
Dev considered that. "Justice Psy - they have a rep."
"Yes. Because the J-Psy work so closely with humans, they're more prone to breaks from Silence."
And when Justice Psy broke, some very nasty people had a way of ending up dead. Dev didn't necessarily think that was a bad thing, but if the highly trained J-Psy weren't able to control their abilities, how could he expect it of a scared seven-year-old? "Is that why the Js always take breaks between cases?"
Katya nodded. "From what I know, they generally work about a month, then go back in for intensive reconditioning before being given their next case." Her eyes lingered on his. "We all came from the same stock," she murmured. "It's inevitable that even in a mixed-race population, mutations and recombination in the gene pool would produce an individual closer to Psy than to human."
He'd known she would understand - she was too smart not to. "Pretty sure the Council's figured that out, too."
"It's a possibility. But there is a certain arrogance among the higher levels of the Council superstructure - the Psy have become so used to thinking themselves the most powerful people on the planet that they fail to take something as simple, and as powerful, as nature into account." This time, her eyes were troubled. "Dev, if your people are considering what I believe - don't."
"You just told me that for some gifts, it's the only choice."
Her hand tightened around his. "But it kills something in the individual and in the group. The PsyNet . . . it's beautiful, but it's dying, bit by slow bit. How could it not? We give it nothing but emptiness."
Dev understood her speaking of the Net as a living presence. The ShadowNet, too, had an entity of sorts that was its soul, its living imprint, though it was far, far younger than its counterpart in the PsyNet. "I've heard whispers of the NetMind."
"There's a DarkMind, too." Her voice was hollow. "Ming told me - I guess he thought I wouldn't remember, or he didn't care. The NetMind has split in two."
She didn't have to say any more - if the fabric of the Net itself was being torn asunder, then how could Silence possibly be the answer? And yet . . . "There are still killers in the Net, but there are fewer."
"Yes." She swallowed. "I think, for a while, it did make things truly better. We were able to breathe without fear of what we might do, what might be done to us. But that soon became replaced with another kind of fear."
"The Council." Dev thought over the implications. "That kind of a power structure is unavoidable once you embrace Silence - it rewards the naturally emotionless, people who have little to no empathy." The sociopaths.
"It's a flaw in the system that we've become blind to." Katya leaned her head against his shoulder. "What will you do?"
"Fight for my people."
PETROKOV FAMILY ARCHIVES
Letter dated January 1, 1979
The decision has been made. Silence is to be implemented. Your father and I knew this was coming. We've been making plans.
I love you so much, my babies. This plan, there's a chance we'll all die. I won't lie to you, won't try to hide the truth. At times, I think I'm being a hypocrite, condemning the others for letting the Council condition emotion out of their children when I'm putting you and Emily in mortal danger, but I know you with my mother's heart.
I know that my Matty is an artist, that you're only ever fully who you are when your face is smudged with paint and your fingers splattered a thousand different colors.
I know that my sweet Emily loves to sing, that she follows you around the house because she adores you so much.
I know that your father would rather go mad a thousand times over than snuff out your bright lights.
So we'll do this. And we'll hope there is a God.
With all the love in my heart,
"The situation in Sri Lanka has been contained." Henry's resonant mental voice filled the psychic vault of the Council chambers. "The anchor in question is now under constant supervision."
"He already was," Tatiana pointed out.
"Yes," Shoshanna said, "but previously, he had a degree of autonomy - as we all know, the anchors are so often cardinals that it's near impossible to monitor them without a huge waste of manpower."
"But in this case," Henry continued, "that manpower is warranted. I've got my personal guard on him, but if the Council is in agreement, I'd like a member of the Arrow Squad to join the team."
Kaleb felt a telepathic knock on his mind. Opening the channel, he found Nikita's voice entering his head. They're working together again.
He'd noticed the same thing. Henry, however, is no longer the beta member of the pair.
If they've found a way to balance their egos, Nikita commented, they stand to become the most powerful force on the Council.
The fact that Nikita's thoughts had followed his wasn't unexpected - there was a reason he'd allied himself to the San Francisco-based Councilor. Her mind was her most powerful tool, and, unlike the others, she had no thoughts of taking over the Net. Nikita was only interested in her own business interests. It made her an excellent partner for a man who was interested in gaining control over the PsyNet itself.
"Agreed," Kaleb said as the Arrow question was put to a quick vote.