“Come this way, Colonel, and we’ll get the demonstration underway,” Mr. Adair said, breaking into his inspection of the facility. He gave the man a brief nod, and allowed the scientists, followed closely by Drew, to lead the way.
“You said the metal can be used to harness brain-waves?” Drew said, speaking so fast Xander had to replay the question in his head to work out what had been asked.
“Yes. It is molded to a particular person’s thoughts and then responds to those thoughts. With some people it’s easier than with others, however.” The scientist grinned as they were led down a corridor and around a corner. The right hand side switched from the standard metal paneling to glass-filled sections running across the side of a training area. Inside, a young woman stood. She was barely above five foot, blindfolded, and her face was stern. Xander took in the array of dull gray short swords criss-crossing down her back. A matching small circle of the same sort of metal was fixed to her temple in line with her eyes, and several more were dotted about the floor, ceiling and walls.
Opposite them was a row of screens, each of them showing the picture of a camera feed that matched up with the dots around the room, except for one in the center that was almost black, but not quite the blank color when off.
“Our daughter, Mattie, will be demonstrating for you today. Of everyone here at the facility, she is the most proficient with the technology.” Mrs. Adair took a small step forward and pressed an intercom button on a small control panel set into the wall. “You ready, honey?”
Mattie gave an almost imperceptible nod but didn’t open her eyes. She then inhaled as her mom pressed a few more buttons. Three drones, designed to imitate Beltine Dairos, sprung from containers in the room and rushed the girl in the middle.
Still unable to see, she side-stepped the flailing arms of one as the two topmost swords in her stack of six flew out of the sheath and into her hands. Whirling, she cut down the second drone. The move was followed by a ducking roll underneath the live laser fire of the third. She landed in a crouch, facing it, and the sword flew in a straight line out of her hand to impale the drone right through its central nervous system. At the same time, another sword flew from the set on her back to block the downward strike of the first drone.
Xander’s mouth fell open as five small pellets darted out of a pocket on her thigh and tore into the circuits of the final drone standing. While Mattie stood up, the training robot hit the deck, sparking as the pellets ran a high voltage charge through it.
“Miss Adair!” her father yelled.
“Mattie?” Concern played in the mother’s voice, and Xander found himself wondering what had happened to make her parents cross with her after that demonstration. She evidently felt the same, as she ripped off her blindfold and looked their way. Immediately, the dark on the middle screen changed to a view of him, Drew and her parents through the glass that separated them. It was her own viewpoint on the display.
“What?” she asked when her father shook his head and her mother tutted.
“There was only meant to be one drone.”
“Why? I can handle five now. Three’s easy.” She grinned and nodded at Drew and Xander. Without her even looking, the swords moved around in the air until all of them were back in the holder strapped to her back. “Hi.”
“That was amazing,” Drew said before Xander could close his mouth and think of a suitable reply. Her smile widened, showing her teeth and lighting up her deep brown eyes.
“And live-fire, young lady… what were you thinking?” Mr. Adair said as he walked through the door that had just opened in one side of the room. Xander followed and went up to the nearest drone to inspect the damage Mattie had done. Mattie shrugged and walked over to him.
“How badly damaged is it?” she asked.
“Its circuits are probably fried.” Drew hurried to stand beside Mattie and gazed at her, still impressed.
“You punctured the right fluid system, too.” Xander straightened and met her gaze. While she stared up at him, the small metal pellets she’d fired at it worked back out of the holes to come together in a group in front of him. After a few seconds of holding them there, Mattie reached out with her hand and took hold.
“Wow.” Drew stared, wide-eyed.