2117 was a marginally better year for Senator Lee Crawford.

The first big news Crawford received was that there'd been a breakthrough by a pharmaceutical company that had managed to create a drug that shut down telepaths without killing them. While he wouldn't have minded killing the lot of them, he knew how history would view the man who gave the order once people had time to forget the massive wide-scale destruction they caused. That wasn't the sort of legacy that he wanted to leave behind, nor was it the legacy the current EarthGov President wanted to leave behind, though her concerns were more on the more immediate fact that aside from the fact that just about every telepath who was of age was registered to vote, every telepath who had family who loved them had family who also happened to be registered to vote.

Sure, there was a bigger number of voters who weren't related to telepaths, or weren't aware that they were, but the instant the bleeding hearts who hadn't been affected by the chaos that telepaths caused simply by existing started hearing about how "Poor Uncle Ralph who only made nifty clockwork toys in his basement and would never hurt a fly" got dragged off to the death camps...

It was simply easier on everyone's consciences to simply lock them up the instant they caught them.

Of course not everyone agreed with him and the President, so that's why he'd come on the DiPeso show with a few of the more "Harmless" telepaths. Why the DiPeso show? The damn thing had an audience of six billion live and twice that - many of them repeat viewers - saved. Bring someone on this guy's show and soon everyone would know who the hell he is. With everyone seeing the cute telepaths who built toys or screwed with stage lights until the lighting was perfect enough to win awards, or built robots that rescued people, and hearing how people had tried to kill half the really adorable now that you look at them telepathic guests because the actions of a few nutbags...

Well, most of the people screaming how every telepath belongs in a death camp would probably finally shut up. And when they shut up, he could find a way to deal with the problem in a manner that wouldn't have his name listed in the same breath as Hitler for instance. A a way to deal with the problem that likely involved injecting the lot of them with that new drug from Halotech even if the side-effects were a bit...

Well, a ten-percent suicide rate could be considered acceptable considering the circumstances.

He nervously watched the way the hands of every telepath except Constance who hadn't quite reached her crazy stage just yet twitched as if they itched to hold tools and do something as he sat through DiPeso's lame ass jokes. The last thing he needed right now was an incident. The Actress/lighting engineer who had also come to speak about her latest movie should be fine, but the kid from Glasgow who'd made a pitching machine with a three-hundred mph fastball, and the fireman who's giant robot had rescued a bunch of people during that earthquake last year could end up being trouble.

Fortunately, everything went off without much of a hitch if you didn't count the telepath in the audience who'd invoked Anna Keck's wrath when he'd accidentally set off that lighting disruptor that he'd just created, and Constance did her little thing. Constance being the sweet and adorable little thing that she was and DiPeso himself crying over the fact that someone had actually tried to kill her was sure to swing a bit more favor his way. Everyone wanted a solution to the telepath problem that they could live with, and the MRA that he and the president were proposing to the Senate which should sweep up the telepath problem as soon as they figured out how should look more reasonable to the people who had been sitting on the fence than death camps would.

Out in Arizona, a red-haired man who answered to the name of Monkey which was short for "Grease Monkey" in this universe was wandering around looking for pet-food, groceries, and whatever spare bits and bobs the local telepaths might have not picked up already while his "family" hung back in the lodgings they'd acquired fidgeting with bits of string, watching the DiPeso show, and slowly going mad because they had nothing else to do. What he found instead was an old-lady turning a car into an amphibious submersible at dilapidated mechanic's shop that looked as if it should have been closed and abandoned more than a century ago. Hanging around outside the building sitting next to a cactus playing with a bunch of rocks and doing nothing else was a small boy who couldn't have been older than six or seven.

Hello, what's this? he thought/sent as he examined the boy further, noticing that there was something off about him, something he couldn't quite put his finger on. The kid seemed to be operating on that mental wavelength that telepaths operated on at a level that was common to higher-level telepaths, but there seemed to be something off about him.

Then it hit him with the force of a brick in a sock. The kid was surrounded by tools and an experiment was in progress nearby and rather than trying to tinker with either of these things, he was playing some sort of mundane game with some rocks. Even if the kid wasn't quite at what some people were labeling the "crazy stage", the stage where the desire to create and explore the boundaries of SCIENCE! becomes an almost overwhelming compulsion, the boy should have been poking at the mechanical oddities that surrounded him and asking his guardian a million questions per minute about how it all worked.

What the hell's wrong with him? he asked the old woman who was currently messing around with the car's entertainment system.

Dunno, but whatever it is, it's made him absolutely useless for anything aside from being a taste-tester for my cooking. the old woman said from where she was fixing the car's sound system that looked as if it had been fried a decade ago. You can have him if you want him, but I should tell you now that he won't make a good minion.

Gee, thanks. Monkey replied as he picked the kid up and carried it off. While the old lady might have something against human experiments, Blood had been whining about the decided lack of test subjects since they'd been forced to destroy their lab.

At least he had something to show for this trip aside from food for Teal's new ferret, and food for the rest of them...

"And in other news, EarthGov forces have ended the telepath Michael Dexter's war of conquest on Nova Scotia..."