Price returned to the intell office and found Coollege and Monier sifting through the various records concerning the alien ship and the being on it. He watched them for a moment and then walked forward. To Coolledge, he said, "Is she authorized to see all this?"
"Sure, Tree." She picked up a disk and waved it at him. "Complete access to everything we have. Full clearances, confirmed through the ship's office and the regimental headquarters. I could back track it to Earth but tht would take forever."
Turning to Monier, he said, "I hope you understand the reason for asking."
"Have you spotted anything that we have overlooked?" He took the last available chair.
"No, sir. Not yet."
"Tree," said Coollege, "there is something you should know about Rachel."
"No there isn't," said Price. "I have been briefed by the Colonel. My only question is..."
Monier broke in. "Sorry to interrupt, Captain, but the answer is yes. I really can, though the farther the distance, the more difficult the task. And no, I don't invade privacy. I'm not really sure how to describe it easily. Let me just say you can block me if you want."
Price sat for a moment, trying to think. "I'm trying to think of how to ask this."
Monier said, "I can read the surface thoughts but I can't get much deeper than that. I suppose, if I practiced, I could learn to do it, but I have no desire to penetrate that deeply into the human mind."
"So you can read thoughts."
"To a point. But I think my job here is to... see what I can tell from the alien artifacts. To see if I can influence their thinking process by creating random displays for them, and to inhibit their computer functions."
Price shook his head as if to clear it. "Let me have that again?"
"Mental energy," said Monier, "is electrical in nature. As you know, static electricity can cause a computer to introduce random errors. Of course, those are random errors. What we have practiced, on Earth, is to introduce specific errors or to create specific responses on the sensor apparatus. I have practiced this as well and can influence the programming."
She stopped to see if he was still listening and continued, "I have been able to induce specific hallucinations in a cross section of population. Again, I believe it relates to the electrical activity of the brain. And, the electrical nature of thought."
She waited to see if he was going to protest her theory. When he didn't, she added, "I can, sometimes, determine facts from holding objects or clothing that belonged to the subject. I think, based on all that, I can determine some facts about the alien objects."
"If true you could be a very valuable asset to this office," said Price. His voice said that he didn't believe it.
"It's true, Captain. I have been reviewing the records of the alien ship for the last several weeks...before I arrived here. I'm intriqued by that race you found there. The ones that were all dead, trapped as you were."
"Have you learned anything?"
"No, sir, but then I just got here. If I could handle some-thing from them, I might be able to read them better. I might be able to tell you something."
A thought occurred to Price. "Have you tried to locate the home world of the builders of the asteroid?"
"Yes, sir. We have access to a number of artifacts from it and to all the video and holo of it. I'm afraid that we couldn't get much other than it was from the close to galactic core."
"Hell," said Price. "I could have told you that. This is beginning to sound like the psychics from the past. Could tell you all about your life but couldn't give you the winning lottery numbers or who would win the Super Bowl."
"It's not like that," said Monier evenly. "The readings have been unable to provide us with that data at this time. That's one of the reasons I'm here. Maybe if I board the asteroid I can pick up something."
Still skeptical, Price said, "Sure."
"Think of it as one more tool in your arsenal. You don't throw out a rifle because the rifleman misses once in a while. You use it when it fits into the framework of the circumstances."
"Okay," said Price. "I didn't mean to be rude. If you can help us improve our operation, welcome aboard."
"Thank you, Captain."
"Now, is everyone hungry or is it just me. I haven't had any breakfast yet."
"Is that all you people do? Eat? Why don't you all weigh a ton?"
"Because," said Coollege, "we often get sent out to alien planets and we lose all the extra weight we've gained."
"Let's lock up and eat. Then we can get down to work."