Zaable’s Destiny #2

In the second installment, after dealing with bureaucracy and profiling, Zaable makes a new friend on a new planet.
neck. He was wearing a tall black hat tilted to one side and carried himself with authority. He had a very deep space tan and curly gray hair. That was the classic appearance of a senior officer on one of the pleasure cruise ships. Based on the body build and hair, he likely had been born in space and rarely spent any time planet side.
Then another, shorter man in a jump suit but without the gaudy jewelry. He was a tall lean, athletic looking man with a dark space tan and wavy black hair showing early traces of gray creeping in. The only jewelry he was wearing was a single lapel pin on his right collar tab. From this distance Zaable had some difficulty making out the pin, but it was round and had a large stone in it that reflected the light when he moved.
There was something different about this man, and how he held himself. It was as though he was ready to move in an instant, yet perfectly calm at the same time. Zaable focused on the pin and tried to push his vision to its limits so he could make it out.
“Do I know you citizen?”
Zaable knew he jumped at the deep toned voice, and looked around, but there was no one near him.
“My apologies, I see that you have the talent, I just assumed you would be used to telepathy. I am Master M’Elv of the Krial order. You have been focusing on me intently long enough to make me believe you know me.”
Zaable looked back at the man in line he had been focused on, and sure enough the man was looking directly at him with piercing dark brown eyes.
But how could he be standing there and speaking so clearly to Zaable here. Wait he said telepathy. Zaable had studied that. One could theoretically speak to another person by willing his word to flow to the person.
“I’m sorry sir. I was trying to kill time by attempting to identify the origin of people by their dress, appearance, and possessions. I was having difficulty making out the details of your pin. That’s why I was staring.
Please forgive the intrusion and the rudeness of my stare.”
“Ah, so you do know how to use that talent. Who do you study with?”
“Study? I’m sorry I don’t understand sir.”
“What master are you apprenticed to?”
“Apprenticed? Uh, sorry sir. I am not apprenticed to anyone. I just came here from an asteroid belt where my parents were… are miners. I reached the age where I had to make a choice to leave or become a miner.
Sorry, I am rambling. My apologies sir. I will find something else to do to bide my time. Sorry I intruded on your space.”
“Nothing to apologize for. If you really are not an apprentice but are this good at telepathy, I would like to speak to you more. I will wait for you after customs. Perhaps we could speak for a moment or two when you are done here.”
Zaable wanted desperately to say no and sneak off where he could hide and recover from the near miss. But masters could not be hidden from, and one did not want to irritate them in any way. He calmed himself and then pulled an answer together.
“Uh, yes sir. Certainly sir.”
“Good. Sorry, I’m up. I will wait for you on the other side.”
Zaable felt him release the contact and saw him turn to walk toward one of the screening stations.
Three hours later, after having had his bag and his person searched multiple times to ensure he was not carrying contraband, Zaable was finally given permission to move through the line and report to immigration. Apparently, only smugglers and criminals flew into large star ports like this one on cargo ships.
Zaable was so exhausted from the questioning and probing that he wanted nothing more than to find a room and crash for the night. He had been given two days to contact immigration, and had decided that he needed time to recover before dealing with what would likely be an equally unpleasant ordeal.
He walked out of the customs office and looked around for some indication of where the shuttles to the local temporary boarding facilities would be.
Just a steady stream of people moving back and forth across the large open expanse of the terminal building. People as far as he could see, and Zaable suddenly felt very small and alone.
“There you are. That must have been some interview. I’m sorry, I did not get your name young man.”
It took Zaable a moment to realize the man was speaking to him, then it all came back. This was the Master, what was his name? Oh, yes Master M’Elv of the Krial order.
“Sorry, sir. I thought you would have moved on by now. My apologies for keeping you waiting. My name is Zaable, and I am the son of asteroid miners. I’m sorry but I have no real knowledge of the appropriate way to act and speak in a large community like this.”
“You have nothing to apologize for, clearly you eventually convinced customs that you were not a threat or they would not have released you. I would be interested to know why they were so concerned about the son of asteroid miners though.”
“Sorry, sir. Apparently it was my method of travel. I came in on a cargo ship, which is, it seems far less common here than it is on the asteroid belt.”
“Ah, yes. That would do it. Smugglers and criminals are the normal travelers on cargo ships here in the main commerce channels.
But that is the only method available for someone leaving the asteroid belt unless you have a lot of credits to spread around. Interesting that you chose to come here rather than one of the smaller refining planets where cargo ships are more common than passenger liners.”
“I had little choice sir. Once I made my choice, I had to depart immediately, and there were not very many options. Greentree sounded much more pleasant than the other options.”
“Fair enough. I’m betting you are hungry, and you probably don’t have a place to stay yet. Am I right?”
“Yes, sir. Er, that is I do not yet have a place to stay. I am used to working on small rations so hunger is not really an issue. Can you point me to the transports that will take me to the more economical housing facilities? I don’t know how long it will take for me to find employment and need to conserve my credits.”
“I could do that, but I really would like to speak to you about the mastery, and your talent with telepathy. With your consent, I would like to buy you a meal so we can discuss things. Then if you still want to proceed with your original plans, I will ensure you have transport to the appropriate housing facilities.”
Zaable felt trapped suddenly. One could not tell a master to go away, no telling what they might do to you if they were irritated. And he had read quite a bit about what masters had been credited with doing. Some of it sounded pretty farfetched, but there was always a kernel of truth in these stories.
They probably could not make a person disappear, or cause their heart to stop, but might well be able to hurt him in other ways. He could think of no alternative but to accept the offer and hope the master was true to his word. He searched his memory and could find no indication that the masters were particularly deceitful except about their abilities.

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