Jackie steered us quickly to a quiet room. Of course! It was a music practice room! Joy! Wonders! happiness! My parents were going to be after me to practice more on my violin once this had settled down. I was lucky Mom didn't make me despite everything. It was a sign of how concerned she was that she had not tied my right hand to the bow and glued the neck of the violin to my left.
Well, no, she'd not do that. But you get the idea.
We all played instruments. Even Tom, but his was the harmonica and he largely taught himself with the help of some bot directed Immies. We think he was crazy for using them, but it seems to have worked. Mom would kill me and even my Dad might if I used them. Not until do you plug yourself completely into a virtual world, but the bots send impulses to your muscles so as to help you make the exactly right action at the right time. It makes you learn so much faster since you develop muscle memory much much faster. On the other hand, you are opening yourself up to letting a semi intelligent piece of software control your body.
ARE YOU FREAKIN NUTS!?!
When we called him that, Tom simply replied: "cashews. I'm cashews."
We were tempted to let that become his nickname, but then I'd have to explain it to Mom and Dad. That could only end well.
He does play his harmonica rather well though. And the thought makes me squirm. I think he does it for that reason some times. Because he looks right at me and plays. Jerk.
Despite the fact the music rooms were sound proof, we took out a little buzzer we'd invented. It made sure no microphones, even the infrared laser dot ones you aimed at windows, could pick up what was said. Pretty neat. It was left over from one of our previous pranks. We only used it in dire circumstances because if we got caught with it, we'd be soooo busted.
Rosa pulled out her booster and set it to share with us. We all took out ours and placed them on the table. They would communicate via light instead of radio so they couldn't be picked up. Yes, yes, more relics of pranks past. Don't look so surprised. Bright, creative kids out in the middle of nowhere can come up with some pretty brilliant and obnoxious things.
What we saw was a 3d path of my chase of the Awknerds. I had to hate Rosa for a second there for the totally weird spasm she utterly failed to edit out. MY SPASM. From when SHE yelled at ME via her dorky drone. Jerk. To make matters worse, she froze the Immie when I was mid spasm. I swore vengeance upon her and her household that day, I tell you!
Then, she highlighted a spot near a tree. On the ground near a tree. On the ground, there by the tree, was a foot. A human foot. One in what plainly looked like battle armor not too different from my Uncle Fred's.
Rosa moved the Immie forward in time, slowly. Very, very slowly. The weird thing was, it flickered. It was there for a moment. Then it was gone. The foot was plainly out in the open, before the tree. Yet there was no sign of the rest of the body. Then it changed direction, flickered a bit more. Then was gone. Kyle had not yet gotten up and yet…the foot was gone.
Rosa piped up before anyone could say anything, "One of the filters on the dragonfly eye camera was busted. The sensor for the camera, the thing that normally actually captures the image, can record infrared. In fact, normally, its really obnoxious when it happens. It ruins the video. This time though…"
Then she changed what we were seeing. You can bend light. You can cloak many things. You can even reduce your heat signature, but heat, infrared wins every time. And definitely did this time. Now we didn't just see a foot. We saw a human. In armor. Quickly turning away and leaving. This one had a helmet on though.
We looked at the image uncomfortably. Someone seemed to have been there. Yet, Tom, the dork, had to say it: "who are we gonna call?" There hadn't been enough generations of colonists for there to be ghosts on Jefferson.
We really, really ought to have told an adult at that time. However, you have five precocious, obnoxious near teens there and we wanted an adventure.
And here was one. Gifted wrapped in a cloaking device.