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Knowing that Daniel found it hard to read my mind when I was working through a technical problem, I focused on some lingering issues from the roachbots I’d released in Martin Magnus’ house.

They needed to move faster. I ran through some possibilities in my head, making some general calculations. With any luck, all the details in my head would hide the fact that I could feel his intrusion.

The pressure of the mayor’s mental touch lessened, but didn’t disappear.

“Someone’s trying to destroy me,” he said. “You work your way into a position where you can do some good and people try to tear you down.”

He leaned forward, his hand next to a picture of his wife and twin sons.

“I have a right to defend myself,” he said.

“You do,” I said, more as a way of indicating that I was listening than actual sympathy. Still, I was distracted enough to wonder if he’d seen anything in my head.

That was a mistake.

I suddenly felt the pressure of his touch on my mind increase and then I could feel exhilaration mixed with fear that wasn’t my own. My attempt at defending myself by calculating technical details such as the optimum power of the roachbots’ motors dissolved at contact.

Oh well. Defending oneself from telepathic assault via the Power of Math sounded like something out of an educational kids show anyway—the sort of TV show where the villains say things like, “Fractions will not save you now, foolish mortal!”

Sadly, I would have totally watched that show as a seven year old.

Touching Daniel’s mind felt like a conversation between equals—a little more intimate than I’d prefer—but the mayor’s felt like an invasion. I could feel his anxiety that something must not be discovered, but it wasn’t obvious what. I could feel him searching frantically through my head, not finding what he wanted.

I couldn’t think of Daniel’s name or even my own.

It felt as if sections of my memory closed down as Mayor Bouman’s mind touched them. I knew I was the Rocket. I knew I was being attacked. I could feel. I could see, but for the moment I had no past.

My mind echoed with his frustration at finding nothing.

I felt empty.

Well, not quite empty.

I had one thing. I had memories of my martial arts training. I remembered my teacher (whose face I couldn’t see and whose name I couldn’t think of) and the hours I’d spent running through patterns of moves—both in and out of the suit.

There was something odd about my teacher though I couldn’t think what.

Through a blur of techniques explained and practiced, I could hear Mayor Bouman think, “Wow, it’s amazing how many years you’ve spent training for someone so young…”

I punched him.

My gloved fist hit him squarely in the nose, pushing his head back into the chair. I felt surprise, a brief pain, and then he was out of my head.

I found myself leaning over the desk, pulling my right hand back into ready position at my waist, my left arm raised in a block. He slumped forward in his chair, face hitting the desk.

Standing up, I realized that I felt myself again. I also realized that I’d knocked the mayor unconscious. Assaulting the mayor struck me as considerably more serious than trashing a stoplight. What kind of trouble had I gotten us all into now?

But had it been entirely me? I’d been stripped down to little more than my martial arts training and my basic urges. In my opinion, I’d almost been somebody else. The mayor couldn’t have done that, but I knew people who could.

For the moment, I could even remember their names.
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About the author

zoetewey

Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at http://legionofnothing.com. He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.

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