By David K Scholes
“What did he used to be?” Dan enquired, pointing to a tall angular alien floating our way.
“A high level telepath with intra system capability,” I replied. “He still is if only you could disable his inhibitor.”
What about him,” Dan pointed to a short human looking entity.
“A jumper,” I told him, “intra system level.”
Not quite in your league then, eh,” Dan chuckled.
I didn’t reply.
“I didn’t think so,” said Dan taking my silence as affirmation.
Dan changed the subject. “So this compound is full of the most dangerous 'talents' regarded as enemies of the Conglomerate. All of us with surgically implanted inhibitors.”
I nodded "but there are other such compounds on this world.”
Dan took off, leaving me to my thoughts.
As a Universe Jumper they looked to me to lead any escape. Though most inmates didn’t know that I had two inhibitors surgically implanted in me. Just one other in the compound also had this dubious honour. The weird, former Celestian monk, Nibald. A heavy lift telekinesis titan.
Escape? I never stop thinking about it. As the most powerful level of jumper I should be able to set myself to jump to space time coordinates in the next galaxy and at least get out of the compound. From there a second jump should theoretically at least get me off world. Inhibitor notwithstanding. Would that it were so. One of my inhibitors is just that – a heavy damper that vastly diminishes my capability. The other inhibitor is something else – if I use my teleportation/jump capability then it triggers and I die. Very inhibiting. Though I think I can hitch a lift with another jumper without that happening.
Also our penal compound is heavily shielded. Not so from attack from without but attempted escape from within.
Still I watch and wait. I’ve been here longer than most and my mind contains a sharp inventory of everyone here. Their time of arrival, their particular talent and as much as I know about their precise capability. I have churned over endless scenarios. Escape attempts combining the capabilities of combinations of inmates in different circumstances. If conditions XYZ are obtained then we can use inmates ABC in such-and-such a way. I mean I have nothing else to do. Most inmates are on board with me.
There is a lot of talent here. The inhibitors dampen us all but don’t totally suppress us. The jumpers can do tiny little jumps of a few feet, the telepaths try and pick up snippets from the heavily mind shielded guards. The levitators/transvectors experiment with small items, such as tables and chairs.
Just when things were at their most boring we had a rare event. Some new blood in the ranks. Six new arrivals. More jumpers, a pre-cog and something definitely different. A Maladrakian. I had no idea why they would send a Maladrakian predictor here. Perhaps the Conglomerate had underestimated his capabilities. Perhaps they arrogantly regarded this place as totally escape proof. .
The Maladrakian didn’t make an obvious bee line for me but sidled up after a few planetary axis rotations. We just sat there together for a while. We didn’t talk but he read my mind and I read his. The guards were monitoring us but if they were worried they didn’t show it.
The Maladrakian, Thelt was his name, went over all my escape scenarios. Made just a few corrections and then came up with quite a few more of his own. The most powerful analyser/predictor I ever met. I had total confidence in his scenario predictions. More so than in my own.
When the opportunity came it was from out of nowhere.
One of the telepaths picked up a faint thought from the compound guards. An unthinkable power reduction in the totally reliable compound defence shield. A few seconds also where the totally reliable back up power didn’t cut in. Our inhibitors powered from the same source were also reduced in effectiveness. We were ready. Non jumpers gathered in small numbers around each jumper as pre-planned. Everybody’s first jump was just to clear the compound. .
It must have been a nightmare for the compound guards though they moved with ruthless efficiency. Backed up by guards from nearby compounds and a highly mobile alien trooper and robotic reserve. Even so they weren’t fast enough.
Once outside the compound each jumper and those with them jumped again. Aiming at getting off planet which most did.
There was a rallying point in this star system. An uninhabited world from which a group jump was planned with the stronger jumpers supporting the weaker and carrying every one with them. To a friendly destination far from this inhospitable star system.
I stayed with Thelt and Nibald. None of us were ready to leave yet. Three of the jumpers and those travelling with them didn’t make it off planet. So we teamed up with them.
We set about attacking the other compounds from the outside. The whole thing snowballed. Some escapees from each attack joined us in the next attack while some just took off with their jumpers.
When it was all over I hitched a ride with a fellow jumper. Later, in friendly surrounds, I had my death trigger inhibitor surgically removed.
Though it turned out it had long since ceased to function.
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The author has written over 140 speculative fiction short stories, many of which appear in his seven published collections of short stories. He has also published two science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and Beam Me Up Pod cast sci-fi sites and more recently Farther Stars Than These site. He has also been published on 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is currently working on a new science fiction novella.