Big multi-theistic society, major religious influence. Think Christianity during the renaissance.
All psionic abilities are accounted ‘gods given’ (telepathy from the goddess Rutha, for example).
Scientists (held in low esteem by the churches; but secretly well thought of, and funded, by the state) are putting forward theories as to how the psionics actually work and are finding certain equations can produce similar results to psionic abilities.
Working with renegade psionicists, under state protection, they’re making machines which can interact with psionics or, even, reproduce them.
4 implications (of many):
– The powerful religions are wrong, but they won’t like it;
– Men could control machines by telepathy, etc;
– Everyone could be a psionicist (and choose his/her ability, shudder);
– Machines could control men by telepathy (bigger shudder), etc.
Death of a little girl and the investigation by detective and 2 juniors.
Little girl’s parents are scientists & out of favour but the girl started to show signs of telekinesis. Parents took her for testing which proved positive. Church demanded the girl had to go away for ‘instruction’ on how to use her gods given power as the parents weren’t fit for that duty (in the church’s eyes). Parents fight demand. Parents win ensuing court case. 2 years later girl dies of ‘mysterious ailment’. Cops called in.
Suddenly there seems to be a mild epidemic of this ailment, baffling doctors. Among the victims (but not only) just happen to be everyone involved in the trial, lots more besides.
Police have to call in a “man of the cloth” if they want anything done psionically (legally).
The ‘godless’ seem particularly prone.
The investigation leads them dangerously close to the church but also gets them noticed and contacted by the state security services and thence with the rogue scientists and psionicists.
Sub-plot: Even though the female junior is ‘out-of-favour’ with her church, she develops a talent. She gets the ‘ailment’ but pulls through and suddenly seems accident prone.