It takes some getting used to,' Mr. Forkle said. 'But what you're seeing is a visual representation of each other's moods.'
'So that means if I do this...' Keefe tickled Sophie's neck.
'GAH--everything just went supersonic!' Fitz said.
Sophie snatched Keefe's wrist as he reached to tickle her again. 'Don't. You. Dare.'
'Whoa, now everything's red and ripply,' Fitz said. 'Is that because she's angry?'
'Precisely, Mr. Vacker. Every time her emotions shift, the patterns and colors will change. And with practice, you'll learn to interpret what you see.'
'Okay, but...can't they just say, "Hey, I'm feeling this?"' Keefe asked.
'People aren't always honest about their feelings--even with themselves,' Mr. Forkle told him. 'Plus, many telepathic missions involve stealth and secrecy. So for this exercise I'm going to need both of you to forget everything around you. Let the world drop away, leaving only you two.'
Keefe sighed. 'Just tell them to stare into each other's eyes and they'll be good.'
'None of that, Mr. Sencen. From this moment on, you have one job and one job only: to judge their translations of the various emotions I'll be triggering.'
'Triggering how?' Sophie asked.
'You'll see soon enough. And you'll go first, Miss Foster. For this to work, Mr. Vacker, it's crucial that you not react externally. No yelling or thrashing or screaming or--'
'Uhhh, what are you going to do to me?' Fitz asked.
'Nothing you won't survive. Consider it an exercise in self-control. And try not to listen to his thoughts, Miss Foster. Study only the changes in his emotional center and make your deduction. We begin now.'
Sophie closed her eyes and focus on the colors weaving around Fitz's mind. She was about to ask if she was missing something when the pattern exploded into a swirl of pale blue tendrils. The color felt to bright to be sad, but also too wild to be peaceful.
'Tension?' she guessed.
'Kinda close,' Keefe told her.
The laughter in his voice made her wonder what had happened to poor Fitz.
She tried to think of other emotions as his mind turned electric blue.
'Shock?' she guessed.
'That counts,' Keefe said. 'Though the best answer would've been "surprise."'
'Is that an emotion?' she asked.
'Indeed it is,' Mr. Forkle said. 'One of the most common emotions you'll experience as you navigate someone's mind--hence why I chose it as our starting point.'
'Can I talk now?' Fitz asked. 'Because that was seriously disgusting!'
Sophie opened her eyes and tried not to laugh when she saw red fruit smashed all over Fitz's face. He wiped his cheeks on his sleeves, but that only smeared the pulp.
'I think I'm going to like this assignment,' Keefe said. 'What else can we fling at Fitz?'
'Nothing for the moment,' Mr. Forkle told him. 'It's his turn to interpret. Everyone close your eyes. And remember, no cues of any kind, Miss Foster.'
Sophie counted the seconds, bracing for the worst--and when nothing chaned, she opened her eyes and found Mr. Forkle with his finger over his lips in a 'shhh' sign.
'Um...confusion,' Fitz guessed.
'That works,' Keefe said. 'It started as anticipation, but then it shifted.'
'Very good,' Mr. Forkle said. 'And well done, Mr. Sencen. I wasn't sure you'd recognize confusion. It's one of the more challenging emotions for Empaths.'
'Maybe on other people,' Keefe said. 'But on Foster it's easy. Why are her emotions so much stronger?'
'Honestly, I'm not sure,' Mr. Forkle admitted. 'I suspect it stems from the combination of her inflicting ability and her human upbringing. But it was one of the surprises of her development. Much like her teleporting. Okay, Miss Foster, it's your turn to guess again.'
She closed her eyes and watched as the lines of color in Fitz's mind blossomed to a snowflake of purple.
'Pride?' she guessed.
Keefe laughed. 'Wow, add more fail points to Sophitz.'
'Quiet,' Mr. Forkle told him.