In the 6th installment of this great book, Zaable is kidnapped and experiments with his skills to learn what he can of his captors in hopes that he can learn something to make himself valuable enough to Master M’Elv to warrant a rescue.
Zaable felt the weight of those thoughts sink in and knew they were true. It clearly would be harder than he had hoped, but he would still make his own destiny, and it would not be as a laborer in the mines or in the city.
Zaable awoke early the next day and packed his meager belongings, then formulated a message for Master M’Elv. He was just preparing to send it when the room announced he had a visitor, he would have to tell Master M’Elv in person.
Zaable moved quickly to the door opening it before checking the announcement. And he had just enough time to see that it was not Master M’Elv before he felt the impact and slipped into darkness.
…”telling you no master gets taken that easily. I don’t know who this guy is, but I lay 10 to 1 odds he is not a master. Probably not even security. You better hope he is someone that M’Elv values or you will be joining him in his forever sleep station.”
“Why me? You were there too.”
“Yeah, but you were in charge.”
Zaable was confused by the voices, but something told him to keep his eyes closed and his breathing slow and shallow until he had a chance to figure things out.
There had been two men at the door when he opened it and one of them fired some kind of weapon at him. He could still feel the impact to his face and chest and knew that there was swelling to go with the bruising. Hopefully nothing was broken.
Now he could feel the tightness around his wrists which were apparently bound behind him and the same tightness around his ankles. Both his hands and both his feet had the tingling sensation that indicated they were not receiving enough blood circulation.
So, he was now a bound prisoner, and from the conversation, it was clear that his captors thought that they had captured a master or someone Master M’Elv would value. Zaable was in big trouble there, once they learned he was just some random person Master M’Elv had met at the starport, they would not bother to keep him around. He had best learn as much as possible. He refocused on the conversation.
…”will be here by lunar set. No time to make another attempt on M’Elv, but you could check with your people at the hotel and see if he has set off the alarms and started the clock on us.”
“Just did, no alarms yet. He is probably still meeting with Amyl and her people, but you can bet that won’t last long.”
“Never know with them Masters, they think they are really important now that we have a high councilor who is one. Can’t wait until that changes and they are put in their place again.”
“That boy should be coming around anytime now, probably better cycle the guards so they stay attentive. Don’t want none of them fancy tricks the masters use going unnoticed.”
“I’m telling you he isn’t a master or we would not have gotten him so easily. But I suppose he could be in training, best to make sure he is watched.”
Zaable heard the communicator open a line, and one of the guys who had been talking so much asked for a fresh set of guards to come in and watch him.
So there were at least 4 people in the room then, and two were supposed to be watching him to prevent him from doing any tricks. Not much hope of escaping with 4 people in the room and two focused on his every move. If only he did know some of the things masters knew how to do. He had read that many of the masters could move from place to place instantly. What did they call that? Oh yeah, that was called teleportation. That would be pretty helpful right now.
Well, he had learned that there was always a solution to the problem if you could just gather enough information and think of enough options. So what did he know?
The people in the room had been sent to capture Master M’Elv. They got him and brought him back instead. Did that mean they didn’t know what M’Elv looked like, or that they were afraid of coming back empty handed and decided to bring him instead?
They knew they didn’t have M’Elv, so likely the second.
They hinted that if he was of no use they would bury him somewhere and likely one of them would be buried there as well. Presumably they would kill him first, but that was not clear.
They were opposed to the Mastery, and believed that its relevance would decline when the high councilor changed. But the implication was that they believed that would happen soon. That was some information he might be able to trade to Master M’Elv in return for his help. What else did he know?
They were suspicious of the mastery, but clearly respected its teachings, believing that no master would have been captured as easily as he had been. Also, they referred to use of the power colors and use of extrasensory talents as tricks, and that they could prevent them by watching someone closely and intervening.
What else? They had someone at the hotel that gave them information on what Master M’Elv was doing, but clearly not someone who could watch him constantly because they came when he was not there, and they did not know if he was there now.
And they believed that when Master M’Elv noticed he was gone, he would set off some sort of alarm and then they would have a limited amount of time before something happened. What?
Possibly they could be tracked down, or possibly their options would be limited after a certain amount of time. If Zaable only knew more about this planet and how cities worked here. On the asteroid belt, they would simply ask the comp to locate someone and it would tell them where they were. That was possible because there was such a limited number of possible places a person could be. But in a city this large? Even for a comp such a task would take many days, if it were possible at all.
So what else did he know? Zaable concentrated on the conversation he had overheard and nothing else came to mind. Then he tried to remember what he had seen in the instant between opening his door and being knocked unconscious. Nothing there either.
Okay, if that was all the information available, what were his options? He could bluster and possibly convince his captors that they needed to release him to have a chance of staying free, or even alive. The only problem with that approach is they had already discussed the possibility that if he did not turn out to be valuable one of them would likely die.
So no real hope there. He could continue to feign unconsciousness and try to gather more information hoping to learn something helpful. The problem there was that it was just a matter of time until it became obvious that he had no value to Master M’Elv, and then there would be no chance of escape or survival.
He could reach out to Master M’Elv and try to relay enough information to be seen as valuable. There were two problems with that approach. First there was Master M’Elv’s reaction to that server who reached out to him with telepathy. Zaable had no desire to experience that. The other problem was that he knew so little that by the time he had relayed enough to get Master M’Elv’s attention, he would have run out of information to share and have no further value.
If only he knew more. Like where they were, and who this mysterious person that was coming by lunar set was. He refocused on the voices, but they were talking about some girl they had seen at the hotel.
Zaable felt the frustration rising in him as he felt precious minutes slip away while they talked of meaningless things. He could feel his time running out. Without more information he would surely die soon.
Zaable focused on one of the faces he had seen when he opened the door to his room earlier. He just guessed which voice might go with that face and tried to will the man to talk more about the visitor.
He had no idea how to push someone, but he had read that it could be done by some who had telepathic skills. So he just focused on the man and hearing him speak of the visitor, willing it to happen. He focused all his will on that effort and demanded his mind think of nothing else the way he did when he was studying a problem. He paused a moment to listen to the conversation again, but they were still talking about the girl. Apparently he either did not have that ability, or at least he did not have the knowledge to accomplish that.
Well, he had read one other thing about telepaths. It was said to be very unethical, but they were supposed to be able to listen to the thoughts of those around them, and if they were careful, they could do so without being detected.
Zaable struggled with his conscience for a while, this would not be the same as encouraging them to talk and then listening in. This was actually listening to the thoughts behind the conversation. Could he do such a thing without being tainted forever?
There has to be a better way. Perhaps if I touch his mind and will him to talk about the person that would work without actually reading the man’s mind.
Zaable decided, and focused on the face and the voice then envisioned his mind reaching out to the mind of the man, gently. He did not want to speak to the man, just give him the urge to speak of the visitor once more.
He pressed his talent, but nothing happened, he could not feel the man at all. Now what?
Zaable felt the frustration threatening to overrun him once again. He held the frustration back with sheer will.
I’m missing something, what is it? I focused on the man and his voice, then reached out. That’s how I reached out to Master M’Elv when he touched me. Maybe my talent only works when someone with greater talent reaches out to me. No, surely it doesn’t work that way. I have not seen anything like that in my reading. Okay, apply logic.
When I reached out to Master M’Elv, I looked at him and focused on projecting my thoughts to him. I felt the connection and then it worked just like talking.
I could hear his voice, and afterward his voice brought his image to mind…..
Wait, what if I have the wrong voice for the image?
Zaable refocused using the other voice with the same image, and he immediately felt the man’s mind. Rather than send a thought though, Zaable just visualized the man talking about the visitor.
“Speaking of good looking women. The boss is kind of hot in her own way, don’t you think?”
“What? No, and I would not say that too loud, she will cut your private parts off for even thinking you could be good enough to get with her.”
“That’s not what I was saying. Just she is kind of attractive in her own way. Anyway, what flight did you say she was on?”
“Didn’t, don’t know really. Message said she was flying in from Zelus. Probably coming in on one of the Kranus Star Ship Corporate Yachts. Rumor has it she still has some stock and influence there. The family is not completely locked out, just can’t run the company anymore.”
“I thought she was like a 6th cousin twice removed. Not like she’s a descendant of O’Mil or nothing. How would she have stock?”
“Don’t know, but apparently she had some connection to O’Liv when they were kids. I think I heard she was one of the lower level execs in the power generation division when the high councilor kicked the family out.”
“Yeah, that makes sense. No wonder she wants to interfere with his plans. Just don’t know if it’s so smart to mess with someone so close to the high councilor.”
“M’Elv isn’t close to the high councilor. His boss is, but he isn’t any closer to the high councilor than we are to the Kranus Star Ship Corporation.”
“I hope not. Don’t want to mess with nobody that could take down O’Mil.”
“Nope, but the high councilor is way out on Fleron. O’Bix will be here by lunar set, and we best keep in mind that she can have our heads in a bag by dark if we piss her off.”
“True enough. Let’s get off that subject. I liked dreaming about getting with that desk clerk a lot better. You suppose she likes to dance?”
“Probably, but not with a klutz like you. I on the other hand am a very good dancer. I will let you know how good she is when I’m done dancing with her.”
Zaable could not believe that worked so well. Now he had some meaningful information to share with Master M’Elv. Just one more bit of information he needed. Where the heck had they taken him?