And now the exciting conclusion…. I hope you enjoyed this free story…
He focused and reached out with his mind once more, as soon as he felt the touch of the man’s mind, he focused on their location.
“So why are we meeting here in this old warehouse if the boss is so rich? The Ritz is just a block down the street, surely she would be more comfortable there. And I’ve seen some of the clerks going into that place, man, they are hot.”
“Hey, she says to meet her in the old sleep juice factory, I meet her in the old sleep juice factory. But you are right about those clerks. I saw one yesterday, must have been about 20 years old and man did she know how to strut that stuff.”
Zaable had to focus on math formulas to keep from screaming his joy at having gathered the key information that might make him valuable enough to Master M’Elv to be worth saving.
“Where are you Zaable? Did you decide not to join the mastery after all?”
Zaable nearly jumped at the sound of Master M’Elv in his mind.
“Sir, am I glad to hear from you. I have been kidnapped by people who hope to use me to get something from you.”
“I can’t be certain, because they knocked me unconscious, but I believe it was this morning.”
“Do you know where they took you?”
“I think so. They were discussing a warehouse, possibly an old sleep juice factory that is just down the street from the Ritz. I think that is a fancy temporary boarding facility from the way they talked about it.”
“I know the Ritz, give me a second… Yes, there is a sleep juice factory near there that was shut down last year.
Do you know how many people we are dealing with?”
“I think there are four here in the room with me. I’ve been pretending to still be unconscious so have not had the opportunity to look around. They must have more in the building though because they called for a change of shift right after I came to. It only took a couple minutes for the new guards to arrive.
I also overheard them say that their boss is coming in by lunar set. They apparently were supposed to kidnap you and there is some concern that she might want to kill these guys if I am not valuable enough to you.
Her name is O’Bix and she is apparently a distant cousin of O’Liv of the Kranus Star Ship Systems. If she is the one I read about, she was the Chairman of the Board of the Propulsion division before she challenged the High Councilor and met her end.”
“Damn, I thought the High Councilor had pacified all the family members who were still around.
Well, we will deal with that later. We only have a couple of hours before lunar set. I need to gather some help. We will come and get you before she arrives. Be patient and learn what you can. I’ll contact you when we are ready to move.”
“Thank you sir. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear you say that.”
Zaable felt Master M’Elv pull back and almost reached out to re-establish the connection. He did not want to be alone in the situation again, but he knew better than to reach out to the Master when he didn’t want to be bothered.
It was enough that there would be an attempt to rescue him. Zaable focused on the conversation once more.
They were still talking about women they had seen and thought they might try to pick up later.
…”We are coming. Have you opened your eyes yet?”
Zaable was again shocked to feel Master M’Elv’s touch, but this time it was much easier to control the impulse to jump.
“No sir, they have been discussing trying to wake me to be sure they didn’t hit me too hard with their weapon, but so far they have not forced me to give up my ruse.”
“Okay, when I tell you, I would like you to open your eyes and immediately send me an image of what you see. A couple of us will teleport into the room to make sure we can act in time. But we need to be in position to secure the building first.
I’m going to drop contact for a little bit to focus on getting the team in position, but if anything happens to make you fear for your life, reach out to me immediately.”
Zaable once more fought down the urge to reach out immediately when Master M’Elv broke contact.
He wondered who all was coming. Did Master M’Elv get the police, or someone else? He did work with a legend in Master H’San, and might be able to use that influence to pull in almost anyone.
Zaable heard something in the distance that sounded like something heavy had fallen. And then the two guys he had been listening to went quiet.
“Did you hear that?”
“Yeah I did. Check it out.”
Zaable heard boots scrape on the floor as one of the men moved. Based on the guard change he had listened to earlier, the man was moving toward the door.
That noise was likely Master M’Elv’s folks or the reaction to them arriving. Zaable decided he needed to do something to distract them, so he moaned and kicked his feet slamming them down on the floor.
Then he moaned again as though he was having a bad dream, or at least that was what he hoped they would think.
He heard the man who had headed toward the door come back toward him and suddenly felt the toe of his boot slam into his stomach.
This time the moan was not feigned, and his eyes came open automatically as he looked to see if another boot was coming.
“It’s about time you came to. Never seen anyone take so long to recover from a stun gun. Must have a pretty soft life for it to have that big an impact.”
Zaable’s mind kicked in and he quickly decided he would be safest if he played the part of someone who had just been awakened after being taken so suddenly at the hotel.
“Who are you? …Where am I?”
Zaable winced as the boot struck again.
“I ask the damn questions around here. You give the answers. And if you are smart, they will be quick and true answers. I’ll part you out quick if you lie to me. Understand?”
Zaable did his best to nod his head as he fought back the tears that had somehow filled his eyes.
“Okay, open your eyes and give me an image.”
Zaable focused on what he could see of the room and tried to project that image to Master M’Elv.
“What’s your name, and what’s your relationship to M’Elv?”
Zaable found he could not formulate an answer and maintain the image in his mind at the same time, so the truth just came rolling out.
“My name is Zaable. Master M’Elv asked me to consider becoming his apprentice.”
“I told you. He’s no master, just a damn apprentice. Worse than useless.”
Zaable saw the man’s hand slip into a pocket in his jump suite, come back out holding what had to be a blaster. Then his head snapped around awkwardly and he fell to the floor. Zaable thought he saw movement and turned his head toward where he believed the other man would be, just in time to see him slump as well, but this time he saw Master M’elv’s boot strike the man in the face first.
Suddenly there was a commotion behind Zaable, and then a couple of moans and the thumps that Zaable had no doubt were the two guards falling to the floor.
“Sorry to take so long Zaable, we had a little trouble at the main entrance. There were a few more of them than we thought.”
Master M’Elv paused for a moment and then continued as he came over and knelt down next to Zaable.
“The building is secure now, and we will be here waiting when O’Bix arrives. She is important enough we need to catch her coming here before we can move on her.”
Zaable felt someone remove the bindings on his hands and then his feet, and wiggled both for a while until feeling returned to them.
Then he tried to get up to show proper respect to Master M’Elv, and immediately stopped at the sharp pain in his chest.
“Stay put, I’m doing a diagnostic on you.
Okay, you have a couple of broken ribs and a cracked cheek bone. With your permission I would like to lay a healing weave on you to fix those. Do I have your permission?”
Zaable blinked the tears out of his eyes once more and nodded.
Master M’Elv moved his hands over Zaable as flashes of light streamed out from them. Suddenly the pain was gone, and even his hands and feet felt good once more.
“Okay, you can sit up now, and the pain should be gone.”
Zaable moved and was surprised when there was no pain at all.
“Thank you Sir. I am indebted to you.”
“No it is I who am indebted to you. You would not have been here if I had not asked you to watch my room at the hotel.
And I am indebted to you again for keeping your composure, and learning who the enemy was and where they were. When this is all over, you will have to tell me the story of how you managed to gather so much information. But O’Bix will be here shortly and we have some work to do to make sure there is nothing to tip her off when she arrives. Master Bal will take you back to Master Amyl’s place where you will be safe until this is all over. ”
The middle aged, very powerfully built woman looked up from the body of the man who had kicked Zaable and nodded at him. She checked for a pulse in the throat of the man before nodding her satisfaction and standing up in front of Zaable.
“They are all departed M’Elv. I can take him now and be back in just a few minutes to help with the mop up.”
“Thank you Bal.”
She nodded and then looked directly at Zaable.
“Citizen Zaable, with your permission I will teleport you to Master Amyl’s dining hall where you will be safe until we finish here and Master M’Elv comes to get you. Is that okay with you?”
Zaable was confused by all the respect they were paying to him. He had never heard of a master asking for permission before helping someone, it just made no sense at all. But he did not want to offend them, and he was definitely grateful that they had come to rescue him.
“Ma’am, I would be honored. Thank you.”
She reached out and touched his shoulder with a firm strong grip and the room shimmered and was replaced by a large dining facility that was nearly deserted except for a few people cleaning tables.
“There is usually some snacks and quick food over there at the end of the serving line this time of day. Help yourself to whatever is there, we will likely be a couple of hours, so make yourself comfortable.”
“Thank you ma’am.”
“It is an honor to serve. I apologize, but I must get back, my staff will be much more comfortable with me there.”
Before Zaable could respond Master Bal shimmered and was gone. He felt a little uncomfortable for a moment until one of the people cleaning the tables came over and spoke to him.
“Welcome. I’m sorry but the evening meal has been cleared away. I would be happy to warm up some stew for you, or we have some box meals over on the serving line. Of course there is always hot caf and water.”
“Thank you, I think a box meal will be fine. Is there a relief station nearby?”
“Yes, there is one over there.”
The young man pointed and Zaable could see the sign indicating a men’s room.
…Two hours later, Zaable was beginning to wonder if something went wrong when a group of ten or so people just appeared in the middle of the room near the serving line. Master M’Elv and Master Bal were easy to pick out in the group, and there was a tall thin woman with a blindfold covering half her face, and her hands bound, in the middle of the group.
Master Bal said something and the two people nearest the bound woman took her by the arms and guided her toward a set of doors at the side of the room, then she and Master M’Elv came toward Zaable.
“Well Zaable, it appears that your destiny for good or bad is now tied to mine. O’Bix was very talkative once she realized she had been caught red handed. It seems that the group she is part of had a precog who told her you would be here and that you were very important to our cause.
I hope you have decided to accept my offer and become an apprentice, but even if you haven’t I am under orders to see to your safety until we can figure out what role you have that is important enough for O’Bix to take such a risk to get you.”
Zaable had been re-thinking his decision to decline the offer for the last couple of hours. What he had experienced over the last day made it clear that he was not nearly as capable of taking care of himself as he had believed yesterday.
“Yes sir, I would be honored to become your apprentice. But I must tell you I do not have the money to pay the normal rates for the universities here. I am very willing to work to pay the fees but from what I have seen so far, I will not be able to earn enough to pay the going rate for quite a while.”
Master M’Elv laughed and Master Bal smiled.
“Don’t worry about fees. With what is coming, we need all the masters we can train. This is not about money, it is about survival.”
Zaable felt the truth of that statement, and the weight of the decision he had made. The finality of the decision settled in and he knew that this was the destiny he had known he would find one day.