And now… The exciting conclusion….
“Are you crazy? Taking this trip so far away from home. In your condition? What if you have another episode?”
Sslasl was confused. What condition? He knew there was something he was supposed to be concerned about, but could not for the life of him bring it to mind.
“I have to go. Turning down such an opportunity would definitely raise suspicions. And my condition will be fine.”
He kept trying to remember what it was that G’Hass was talking about.
“People who have the possession have illusions just before they lose it. Are you sure you are not suffering from one of those?”
Possession? Oh my god! That was horrible, how could he have forgotten something as horrid as that? But her words rang true. He reached for his memory. He had to remember such a thing.
“I don’t think so. I hope not. If so, we will know early tomorrow.”
The elation that had been with him since he left work was gone now replaced by dread. What if this was an illusion? What if he were losing it? He had to remind her of what to do.
“Remember, I have that second account. If they take me get the money and take as many of the kids as you can and get away. I know you have a plan. I hope you are ready to implement, just in case.”
“I am. God help me, I am. I love you boy, and I really hope that they are sending you for training as you say.”
He heard the scrape of a foot and looked up, but she was gone. She would beat him back to the house and have his bag packed and ready to go. With the company monitoring the house, there was no choice but to follow through with the packing and hope that this was not an illusion.
Sslasl got to his feet and started to work his way back across town. This would be a very long sleep period. He kept searching his memory, but could not come up with anything that told him that this was an illusion.
Eventually, he made his way home and slipped into his sleep station. But he was unable to sleep, and he lay there tossing and turning as disaster after disaster played out in his mind.
Finally the sleepless sleep period ended and he dragged himself through his morning rituals. His bag was packed and ready to go when he went down to the kitchen to grab his breakfast. As usual G’Hass had it set out and waiting for him. But she was nowhere to be found. He ate in silence, and then grabbed his bag and headed for the factory.
How could he have forgotten he had the possession? Something in his mind struggled as he thought that word, and to distract himself from the doom that certainly awaited him, he focused on it as though it were a mix problem to be solved. And suddenly he felt something give and a small memory surfaced.
“You don’t have the possession, whatever that is, you are telepathic.”
It was a woman’s voice, but he could not place it, and try as he might, he could not pry any other memories out.
Telepathy? Could it be?
Let me try. That girl over there, what is she thinking about?
“got to get plox strips, and ground…”
Wow, how about that man?
“She is cute. Should I say something to her. She’s looking at me…”
Oh my god. I can read minds. They will not like that at the factory. Better keep it to myself. But if I am telepathic and do not have the possession, then I did not have a hallucination. This is real, I’m going to the capital for training.
Sslasl smiled to himself and headed for the factory, consciously trying not to focus on any one person. Apparently now that he was aware of it, his ability was multiplied. He had best figure out how to control this or it would be a real problem when he went back to work.
Can’t have someone’s random thoughts intruding when he was focused on a chem mix. At the rate they were intruding now, he could never produce anywhere near the required workload by stopping to clear his mind every time it happened. Special training or not, they would fire him if he could not keep up with production.
Sslasl arrived at the plant and went to the designated door. Sure enough there was a transport waiting for him. The driver loaded his bag and then held the door as he got in the transport. They sped away from the plant and Sslasl finally allowed himself to relax a little.
“Will you be taking me all the way to the capital, or will I have to change to a commercial carrier for the trip?”
“I have instructions to take you to a specific destination and am not to talk to you about it otherwise. But it is a beautiful drive once we get out of the city. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery.”
Sslasl’s heart skipped a beat. A specific destination? Not the capital, or the mass transit center? Maybe they were taking him to an asylum after all. But he did not have the possession.
He focused on the driver as he had with the people on the way to the plant, then he spoke.
“What do you mean by a specific destination? Are we not going to the capital?”
“Sir, I’m not at liberty to say.”
But it was clear as if he had spoken the words, they were on their way to the starport.
Why would he be going to the starport? Was the training really on another planet? G’Hass would not like that at all.
“Damn, I hate these fares. Corporate big wigs don’t tell the man where he is going, and then they want me to keep it secret. They don’t pay me enough for this crap.”
Sslasl focused and was able to stop hearing the man’s thoughts. It seemed to be getting easier, at least with just the one person near him. He looked out the window and watched the landscape change from large buildings, to smaller ones, then the houses got further and further apart, until there were only occasional houses with long stretches of colorful rock and water. It was pretty as the man had said, but it was also a little scary for a man who had never been outside his small part of the city. What if the transport broke down? There was nothing out here, and he had heard that the temperatures got very high in these long stretches of rock.
An hour later, he began to see the tall ships at the starport.
My god they are huge. The buildings in the city that house thousands of people are dwarfed by these monstrosities.
They got closer and closer, and Sslasl began to try to identify the types of ships he was seeing. Most of them would be cargo carriers, completely automated ships that did nothing but transport cargo from one planet to another. But that large colorful one, that was probably one of those luxury cruisers he had heard so much about. And there, way at the back, that had to be one of the solar system military cruisers. It even looked mean all black and bristling with points that Sslasl imagined were large guns.
He saw the port buildings drawing nearer.
“We are going to the starport? I know, you cannot tell me anything. But the obvious assumption would be that I’m going off planet. Which one of those ships would be a corporate transport?”
“I don’t see any that would fit that class of ship from here. Most of them are cargo carriers of one type or another. That large one with all the colors, that’s a yacht. I believe it belongs to the high councilor for the Guul system. She is here on an inspection tour according to the news feeds.”
“What’s that black one in the back?”
“Don’t know. I haven’t seen one of those before. I’m guessing it is military, but it’s way too small to be a battle cruiser. Maybe a destroyer.”
Way too small? It was bigger than the yacht and nearly as large as the cargo ships, but much sleeker.
A battle cruiser must be impressive indeed if this was way too small to be one of those.
They approached the main starport building and Sslasl ordered his thoughts focusing in preparation for being around a lot of people. But they did not stop, the driver drove the past the main building through a gate with human guards that checked his credentials twice before signaling them to go to a small building some distance away from the main starport building toward the large black ship.
The driver pulled up and got out holding the door as Sslasl stepped out then the driver brought him his bag and pointed toward a small door on the side of the building.
“They will meet you over there. Good luck sir.”
Sslasl was pretty confused, why would he not be going through the starport, and why all the security? He had not been told the school was for military mixes. But clearly this was a military building, and the guards at the gate looked very military too.
As he walked toward the door, three people emerged, two women and a man. One of the women and the man were both very tall, and Sslasl knew he had met the three before, but he could not place where. He focused on the tall woman. Perhaps her thoughts will give me a clue.
Suddenly his mind was filled with pain, and he fell to his knees.
“Never try that again! No one touches the mind of a master without their explicit permission. Am I clear?”
Sslasl thought he responded affirmatively but then he passed out from the pain.
…”He reached out to you? But I blocked his memory of that talent.”
“Natural telepaths are always different than we expect them to be. There is no way that I have learned to block their ability. The only option is memory of the talent, but as you can see, that is not reliable either. They may rediscover the talent, or they may have a memory that we missed that triggers the talent. Who knows what happened in his case. But there is no doubt he reached out to me with intent. And there was no mistaking the draw of the power colors when I punished him for doing so.”
Sslasl had a horrid headache but he could hear the voices clearly and quickly identified them. The woman was Master Masl and the male was her assistant/apprentice Nev. Memory came back and Sslasl felt sick to his stomach. He had tried to read the mind of a master. He should feel lucky to still be alive. The masters were said to have the ability to make a person die just by deciding they should.
“I am so sorry ma’am. Please forgive me, I did not recognize you.”
“Well, you are awake. Good, now lay back for a second, and I will fix that headache I gave you. Just wanted you to remember it so you don’t make the same mistake again. There are many masters who would have made it much more unpleasant for you.”
Sslasl felt her cold fingers touch his temples and instantly the headache was gone. He felt wide awake and full of energy.
“Yes ma’am. Thank you ma’am.”
“Well, Sslasl, master mixer. I think your days as a mixer are at an end. You have shown talent with telepathy, and I see signs that you are able to draw the power colors as well.
When this assignment is complete, I would like to take you in as an apprentice. You will study under me and learn to be the master you were always intended to be.
What do you say to that?”
“A master? Me? But I’m an orphan raised by the kindness of G’Hass. Orphans are not even tested, it is so unlikely that one will have any talent. Are you sure you want me?”
“Yes, Sslasl. I want you, and with the battle that is coming, we need all the masters we can gather. You will need to learn quickly, Nev here will begin your training on the trip to Ginl Five. I apologize, I must port ahead of you to get the staff you need and plan the production lines. Would you be willing to become my apprentice and learn the mastery from me and my masters?”
Sslasl responded before he even thought about it. This was a dream beyond any he could possibly have dreamed.
“Yes, ma’am, I would be honored.”
“Good. Now get your rest, Master Nev will be back to collect you shortly.”
As soon as she and Nev left the room, he again felt the drain of a long day seep back into his body.
He went to sleep with visions of going back to G’Ham with a master’s pin on. No one would ever believe an orphan from G’Hass’s house could dream of becoming a master, and he was to become one. All this was happening because he had been lucky enough to perform the analysis on a highly toxic fuel mix proposal. He slipped off into blissful sleep for the first time in more than a full year.