The day after the mission, I'm feeling pretty euphoric. I've seen my first aliens, got to blast one, and none of us even got shot at. The other agents are starting to warm up to me a little bit. I hang out in the lounge a little more, even win a couple rounds of Goldeneye. Sumie invites me over to the bar for a couple beers and we trade stories about growing up. She's from Hawaii, did track and field growing up, even held the shot put record for her high school. "I was really surprised when they told me I was going to be a scout, I was sure I was going to be a HWO. Apparently I did really well in the reaction test though, so they decided I'd make a better scout, something about staying alive longer or some bullshit. It actually did come in handy a couple times." She takes a sip of her beer and puts it back on the bar. "So we're on my second mission right, we've been clearing houses for an hour, and I get lazy, forget to check my corners. Next thing I know I'm face to head with this gray, so I whip my rifle up and blast him before he can even blink. Pa-POW!" She makes an invisible rifle with her hands and shoots into the empty space across the bar.
Don has apparently overheard her. He calls out from one of the lounge chairs. "You forgot to tell him the part about how you screamed like a little girl and fell on your ass while you were doing it."
Sumie tosses her head back airily. "I don't see what that has to do with anything." I take a long drink from my beer to hide my smile.
It feels good that the team is starting to accept me. I know I'm still pretty green, but at least I can shoot the breeze in the lounge without feeling like an alien. Mikhail still doesn't talk to me, but he doesn't really talk to anyone. We get the day after the mission off, but after that it's back to the grind, morning training every day, workout in the afternoons, watch some movies, read some books, spend some rounds at the range.
Three days after the mission, Lt. White asks me to stick around after the morning FIELDEX. "Yamada, the nerds want you to head down to the labs this afternoon at 1300. Ask for Jesse when you get there."
My curiosity wildly out of control, I calmly reply "Yes sir."
I wash up and grab some lunch before heading to the labs. I open a small port in the heavy blast door and step through into the main room where the nerds try to figure out how to turn the aliens' gear against them. The main lab is about the size of a high school gymnasium, with white walls, low ceilings, stainless steel, computers, and all kinds of other whiz bang equipment I know nothing about. Looking around, I can see seven of the scientists in various levels of lab dress. One guy is in jeans and a t-shirt pecking away at a computer keyboard, another is in full lab coat with a tie and everything, bent over what looks like some of the alien alloys. I walk up to the young looking guy in the t-shirt at the computer and ask him where I can find Jesse. Not looking away from his screen, he replies "Hmm?" then turns to me, continuing to look at the screen until the last moment. "Oh, you must be the guy." He turns to another of the younger looking nerds in a flannel shirt. "Hey Jesse, the guy is here!"
Jesse looks up from the book he's studying, pushes up his glasses, then smiles and walks over to me. He's on the heavier side, with a goatee and crooked teeth, I've seen guys that look just like him hunched over a table, rolling dice and moving little figurines around. "Hey, I'm Jesse." "I'm Ian, nice to meet you." "So you're the guy huh?" He looks me up and down appraisingly. "Well sounds good. Come on!" He starts walking briskly over to one of the doors leading out of the main room. A little confused, I look at the guy at the computer again. He just shrugs and turns back to his terminal. I jog over to catch up with Jesse just as he heads through a door in the far wall of the lab.
We walk down a short hallway, then turn into what looks like a classroom. There's a large TV and white board, with several tables with chairs facing them. Jesse urges me to take a seat, then walks to the computer at the front of the class and turns on the TV. "I want you to watch this video closely." The playback begins, and I see the gristly sight of three Sectoids with their skulls and brains opened up. There are three men and one woman in lab coats holding clipboards around the autopsy tables. Another man in a lab coat approaches from screen left with what looks like some kind of prod. Jesse pauses the video. "I want you to pay attention to the purple, golf ball sized organ in the center of the brains." He grabs a pointer and points them out to me. I nod. "OK". Jesse resumes the playback. I watch as the guy with the probe steps up to the left most alien, then pushes the probe carefully into its golf-ball organ. He nods to someone off camera, then I hear a detached voice say "Point-five milliamps." nothing happens. "One milliamp." Suddenly the golf ball with the probe in it starts to twitch, then stops. "One-point-five milliamps." The golf ball twitches again. "Did you see it?" he asks.
"Yes, when the probe applies one or more milliamps, the golf ball organ reacts by twitching." He nods, "Watch the one-point-five milliamp pulse again, but this time look here, and here." He points at the two other alien's golf ball organs. He rewinds the video a bit, then clicks play. The detached voice intones "One-point-five milliamps." This time I see it, all three of them twitch exactly in sync when the voltage is applied. I can't help myself. "Holy Shit."
Jesse smiles; "Holy shit is right. We're almost certain this is the organ the grays have been using to mess with our agents' minds when they're in the field. Most of us nerds don't have the training to go running around and getting shot at, and most of the agents don't have your... particular academic interests and background. Next time we run into the grays, we want you to try and capture one alive. We're hoping you in particular will be targeted by the aliens so you can report back what's going on in your head."
I'm still a little stunned at what I've just seen, but have never been more excited in my life. "Of course I will." My childhood dreams of being able to read people's minds like Professor X are suddenly not so far-fetched. I think back to what I saw in Yves' office that made me say yes to joining this crazy outfit in the first place. I decide to ask Jesse to see if he knows anything.
"Jesse, when I got a glance at my record earlier, I saw a line that said 'Potential for Psionic resistance'. What exactly does that mean?"
Jesse coughs a bit, pushes up his glasses, then looks at me as though he's deciding something. "Well, you're here, so I guess no harm in telling you. We've been trying to figure out what kinds of signs may be indicative of people who may be more resistant to these psionic attacks than others. Obviously, there's no hard science behind this." Jesse looks a little more uncomfortable now, looking down and picking invisible flecks of stuff off his shirt. "We uh, just kind of figured with your relatively well known pursuit of human psychic ability, you might be better suited to fight against it since, well, you already believe in it." Jesse looks embarrassed. I guess it's tough for a hardcore scientist to admit they're basing something just on belief and faith. I sympathize completely.
I grab Jesse's shoulder and give him a gentle shake. "No worries Jesse, I'll do my best not to die. Promise."