Sslasl And The Mastery
(A Power Colors Short Tale)
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously
Copyright 2015 by Talee
First Edition: December 2015
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Thanks to all those who have supported my efforts by reading my books and especially those who provided reviews encouraging others to read my books. I write for you, and am happy that you find my works entertaining.
This book is dedicated to all who struggle to find their way in the world. Remember great things happen in everyone’s life, the key is to make the most of them when they come.
Sslasl wiped the sweat from his brow and took a deep breath. He had hoped he would be a little more competitive with the staff given the training he had received as a child. Not so, the apprentices here had learned techniques he had never seen before and it would be some time before he could compete evenly with them in any of the martial arts.
He had a strength advantage and was able to cover for lack of skill in grappling but even there, he was not good enough to win against Master Nev’s apprentices.
“Don’t sweat it Sslasl, we all had a first day in the martial arts. You have done better than many of us did on our first day, you are fast, and know how to use this, just a matter of technique.”
Sslasl smiled with embarrassment as he took Tul’s hand and climbed back to his feet.
“Thank you Tul, but I doubt you were ever quite a clumsy as I have been today.”
Tul, was much smaller than Sslasl but was very fast and had bested him easily with both the staff and in wrestling. Every one of Nev’s apprentices that he had faced in the testing phase had defeated him easily, and Sslasl was feeling very inadequate.
“You would not believe how clumsy I felt on initial testing day. I came in pretty full of myself having fought in the semi-pro circuit. Master Nev put me in against a small girl, and she took me apart easily. My ego still smarts when I see her. Fortunately, she has moved on and is a Jin Master apprenticed to one of the masters on Sharing Six. We usually run into her when Master Masl takes us back there for some meeting or other, and I have no doubt I will have the great misfortune of having her help with my testing someday.”
Sslasl had to laugh in spite of himself when he saw the look on Tul’s face as he spoke of having to face this young master again during his testing.
“Come on young Sslasl, let’s try the sword, Master Nev will want to know where to start with that for sure. There are a couple of places the masters get sent where modern weapons don’t work and the sword is critical for those assignments.”
“I have never used a sword before; does it work anything like the staff?”
“It is sort of a combination of the staff and the knife, except that you don’t ever throw a sword if you can help it.”
He led Sslasl to the weapons rack and picked out two single handed practice swords. Sslasl was amazed at how many different types of practice swords there were in the rack, but the ones Tul picked out looked like the easiest to handle.
Tul handed him one of the swords and then took his position.
“Alright, we begin in this stance.”
Tul stood with his right side toward Sslasl and the sword pointed upward from a slightly bent arm. His left hand was on his hip away from Sslasl.
Sslasl imitated the stance which felt very comfortable to him.
“When I say so, you will begin on the attack, trying to get through my guard. Eventually, I will switch the table on you and test your guard. Are you ready?”
“Not really, but we might as well get this over with, I need a few more bruises to keep my ego in check.”
Sslasl swung the sword at Tul’s knee figuring that taking out the knee would make it impossible to maintain the side stance that kept the sword between him and his attacker.
The move seemed to catch Tul a little off guard and he had to bounce backward and use his speed to recover a defensive posture. Sslasl though was already moving in with a thrust similar to one he would use with the staff, and again Tul had to slip to the side and use his speed advantage to avoid being contacted.
Sslasl felt the rhythm of the battle and slipped into the tight focus he had learned for dealing with new formulae calculation. There was nothing in the world but the challenge presented by Tul.
He pressed Tul constantly and forced him to continually give ground until he reached the edge of the practice mat. Then suddenly Tul attacked and pressed hard. Sslasl was hard pressed to avoid getting tagged, constantly moving backward and to one side or the other to avoid Tul’s strikes. In a few minutes, he had several new bruises, but he had avoided being trapped against the edge of the mat. He had even forced Tul to return to defense a couple of times for a second or two.
Tul stepped back and raised his sword to the beginning position once more, and Sslasl followed suite.
“Not bad Sslasl. I thought you had never used a sword before.”
“I haven’t. It took a bit for me to get the hang of how long it is, but it felt very natural. It is more like Escrima Sticks, except you have to work with only one, which changes the strategy somewhat.
I like this weapon, though; I will look forward to training with it. Light weight, with the combination of staff and escrima techniques. It is challenging.”
“Well, you handled it like you were born to it. Like the staff, you have more than beginner skill.”
“Okay you two, time to hit the showers. Sslasl, we will continue your extra sensory testing after evening meal.”
“Yes Master Nev. Thank you, sir.”
Sslasl was surprised to hear the master’s voice, he had not realized they were being watched. Although he had come to believe Master Nev was always watching everything whether you could see him or not.
…Sslasl did not understand the extra sensory skills testing, it seemed to just be an exercise in working your imagination. They had him visualize another room as though he were standing in it. Then they had him visualize a box moving through the air and setting itself down in another location. Just one thing after another.
Today they were holding up cards and asking him to tell them what was on each of them. At first, he thought that would be easy, he would just look through their eyes and read it. But the testers were ready for that and laughed when he bounced off their shields.
Then he focused on the card, and without fail an image came to mind. He had no idea if he were correct or not, but when he answered they would put the card back down and raise another.
Next, they asked him to write down who would be in the room when the timepiece they produced reached a certain mark. Again he focused on the clock and saw it at the time specified and noted who was present. It was an interesting game, but rather meaningless, why would it matter if he could guess who would still be in the room?
Finally, they asked him to sit in front of a bank of gambling machines and tell them which one would produce the most credits after running 10 times.
This was very confusing to him because he had never understood why anyone would put their money into a machine in hopes it would give them back more. But he dutifully focused on each and wrote down a number that came to mind as he looked at them. The third machine seemed to pull at him, but he resisted it easily. When he had written down numbers for each, he looked at the results and declared that the third machine would produce the most, and that two of the machines would produce nothing at all.
Then they set a cup in front of each of the machines and had him plug the coins in running each machine the same number of times. Sslasl was amazed to see that he had been correct, not only in which one would produce the most, but in exactly how much each would produce. When he looked at his notes and compared them to the count of coins, the head evaluator actually smiled at him.
“Yes, I would say you have a talent for this, could come in handy one day, but be aware that most gambling establishments are filled with people who are depressed and don’t believe the machine will return money. This attitude would drag on someone with your telepathic talents.”
Sslasl just nodded, he could not believe what had just happened. That was truly amazing 20 machines and he was 100% accurate on all 20 when he didn’t previously even know how they worked.
Just then the door opened and without looking Sslasl knew it was master Nev.
“How did we come out?”
“Well, it looks like we have an exceptional precog here, and as you already knew he is a strong telepath. There is a small amount of untrained ability with telekinesis, but no sign of teleportation. The other skills will be in our final report, but I know Master Masl wanted to know about those specifically.”
“Excellent, thank you all for assisting with the evaluation.”
Sslasl stood up and bowed his thanks as well and two of the masters on the evaluation board left the room. Two others remained, and one of them turned over one of his lists of who would be present at a given point in time. It listed the two masters who had remained and Master Nev. Sslasl looked at the timepiece and it was at the designated time.
Nev looked at the page and nodded approvingly.
“Impressive for an untrained talent. Masters, will you join with me as we press his power colors skills? I know it is not normal to press one so early, but Master Masl believes we will be on the front lines and need all the masters we can martial very soon.”
They nodded their agreement, and Nev looked at Sslasl.
“Apprentice Sslasl, describe the color ribbons you can see in front of me.”
Sslasl had gone through that exercise before. The last time it had been Tul who had asked him to describe the ribbons. It took real concentration to see them that time, but he had seen them several times since, and now he simply focused his will and responded.
“Sir, there are a number of yellows twisting with several blues and two whites.”
“Is that all?”
Sslasl sensed that there was more to see from the tone in Nev’s voice so he concentrated.
There! Nestled in between the blue and yellows was a green. When he focused on the green suddenly he saw several more two bronze several blacks and a couple red. How could he have missed those?
“No, sir, there are also several blacks a couple red and bronze and at least one green.”
As he continued to look he felt significant pressure in his forehead to the point that it was beginning to hurt and his eyes were beginning to blur.
“Focus Sslasl, tell me everything you see.”
Sslasl strained until he thought he would pass out from the pain and the stress of pressing a talent that until recently he did not even know he possessed.
Then just as he was about to throw his hands up in desperation, something snapped and he could see color ribbons everywhere. Master Nev was toying with a handful of them, but there were colors of all types in ribbons of all sizes and shapes moving around the room twisting and brushing one another almost playfully.
“Sir, they are everywhere. I see hundreds of colors all shifting back and forth twisting and turning in the air. It is….. Beautiful.”
“Excellent. Now focus on the blues and whites. Envision them flowing toward you and separating so that the blues are on your left and the whites on your right. Do not stop until they are all by you and ordered as I asked.”
Sslasl concentrated, and willed them to flow to him as he had been told to do. And they came, slowly at first, then much more rapidly. At the same time, the pressure in his head that had gone away earlier when he felt the snap, was growing again. It got worse and worse, and there were still blues and whites out there that he had to draw to himself.
The pain overwhelmed him and he thought that he must have screamed, but he still tried to pull the last few whites and blues to himself.
His vision went blurry again, and he had to operate from memory pulling those last stubborn ribbons to him.
He felt consciousness slipping away, but still he pressed his will on the ribbons. He would not make it; the dark was encroaching too quickly. Then he felt a tear in his mind, and this time he knew he did scream. And the pain and pressure was gone in an instant. As Sslasl’s eyes cleared, he could see that the blues and whites were all aligned as he had been instructed to do.
“I am sorry Sslasl, this is not the way it is supposed to be done. But you can now see and command the power colors the way you would have been able to see and command them after a year or so of training. If the need were not so urgent, we would never have risked such a thing.”
Sslasl looked up to Master Nev and was amazed at how far away his face was. He was suddenly very tired and he dimly felt the floor strike his face as he slipped into sweet nothingness.
…Slasl focused and double-checked the weave. It was exactly like the one Nev had shown him, but he waited for Master Nev to nod his approval before placing it on himself. He felt the tingle he had incorporated as a confirmation and then moved to the mirror.
He could see everything in the room except himself and the other apprentice who just placed the same weave on herself.
Okay, so far so good. Now the sensors.
He moved over to the security door that had been set up for testing. The proximity sensors did not alarm, and the heat sensors didn’t even budge as he placed his hands over one of the sensing devices. It worked exactly as it was supposed to. Sslasl walked back over to his position in the training area.
Finally, I got one right.
He suddenly felt his foot catch on something and he slammed into the floor.
“Remember, invisibility does not make you impervious to your surroundings. You must remain aware at all times to avoid giving yourself away by tripping and falling or bumping into someone.”
Sslasl released the weave and climbed back to his feet. He could feel the blood rising in his face as he had to admit failure yet again.
As he spoke he heard a loud thump and saw the young lady reappear sitting on her backside in a puddle of liquid.
Sslasl focused once more and again formed a perfect weave. As soon as Master Nev indicated it was satisfactory. He placed it on himself and moved cautiously through the testing phase. This time he saw the puddle appear in front of him and avoided it as he moved toward the security door. Again an obstacle appeared and he avoided it. The weave passed the proximity and temperature sensors, and he even noticed the telltale indentation that signaled a pressure sensor in front of the door. But he did not relax or release his tense concentration until he was once again standing in his place in front of Master Nev. Seconds later, he heard the alarm go off as the young lady conscious of the tripping mechanisms missed the pressure sensor and tripped that alarm.
He felt her frustration like a wave slamming into him. His heart immediately responded and he silently wished her well as he envisioned her successfully navigating through all the traps.
“Good Sslasl, now work on the additional weaves we showed you this morning. The rest of you keep working on this one. You must all perfect this weave and its use before you leave here today.”
A few minutes later the young lady came over to stand next to him and began working on the other new weaves. Sslasl did not look up but he could feel her happiness and sense of accomplishment. He smiled to himself; it was good that she had been next to master the weave. She had been here longer than he had been and had helped him a couple of different times with weaves he had difficulty with.
What was her name? Oh yes, it was Daas, that’s right Daas. He could see her close cropped brown hair and deep tan out of the side of his eye as she stood next to him.
Damn! Lost my concentration. Better refocus before Master Nev comes over and encourages me.
Sslasl refocused and drew the power colors again, neatly weaving them together to form the next weave. This one would allow him to breathe where there was no atmosphere. Apparently it was needed to move rapidly across great distances using teleportation.
Hours passed and Sslasl felt his body responding to the constant effort before Master Nev called an end to the session.
Now they would be given a short break and then go right into martial arts training. Master Nev had been pushing him to use his precog skills to assist with sparing, and Sslasl was finally beginning to get the hang of that, but it still felt like cheating when he anticipated someone’s moves and countered them easily. There were only a very few of the apprentices that had that particular skill. And when he faced those who did, it really became a challenge because the outcomes changed constantly. For the most part they just wore each other out and otherwise it was as if they didn’t have the talent.
“Hey Sslasl. Thanks for that nudge earlier. I was really getting into my own head, but your confidence in me helped me get back in control.”
Daas stepped in and gave him a kiss before he could react. And he felt the blood flowing into his face again.
He saw the mirth in her pretty brown eyes and that didn’t help.
“What do you mean, nudge?”
“You sent me well wishes and confidence. It was very nice. I didn’t know you were an empath.”
“Empath? I’m not. Or at least I don’t think I am?”
“Well, I know what I felt, and I have no doubt it was you, I could practically see your face.”
She bent in to kiss him again, and in spite of himself, Sslasl felt himself responding.
When she pulled back finally, Sslasl had to force himself not to pull her back in. Daas giggled.
“Later Sslasl. We only have a few minutes to grab a bite and get dressed for martial arts. Come on.”
…”Concentrate Sslasl! You are way better than that, what’s gotten into you today?”
Sslasl felt the crack of his head on the mat as Master Nev swept him again.
Get ahold of yourself or you will end up a cripple. Damn Sslasl, you act like she is the first girl ever to flash you a smile.
Master Nev followed through and slammed a fist into Sslasl’s face and the world went dim for a few seconds.
“Are you back?”
“Good, now focus on what you are doing and show me the Sslasl I know is in there.”
Sslasl concentrated and felt the focus slip into place. Master Nev moved in and attacked with a vengeance. Sslasl moved and countered, blocked and dodged. He reached out for his gift and focused to keep the current and future separate. Okay, now he will do this, and leave an opening here.
Sslasl felt his fist make contact with the master’s shoulder.
Damn he’s fast, even knowing what he is going to do, it is nearly impossible to get a full strike on the man.
“Excellent! That’s the Sslasl I wanted to see. Now switch the momentum and test my guard.”
Sslasl focused, there, he would be able to switch the momentum there. He blocked a kick, slipped a series of punches and executed a scissor take down.
He successfully got Master Nev to the floor, but the man bounced right back to his feet and Sslasl had to scramble to regain his own footing. There another opening was coming. Block here, slip here, slide right. Now! He attacked with a foot and hand barrage that even surprised Sslasl, but of course nothing got through.
Sslasl pulled back and bowed as he had been taught.
“That was very good Sslasl, you pressed me pretty hard that time.”
Sslasl saw the sweat glistening from Master Nev’s face and was shocked. He had never seen the man look like he had to work at all to defend against the apprentices.
“Your speed is improving and you are really getting the hang of using that exceptional talent to your advantage. Master Masl will want to work with you tomorrow. Excellent work, that’s what you should have been doing through this whole session.
Everyone take 15 laps on Sslasl for slacking through the first half of the training session. Then you are dismissed for the day. Get some rest tonight, we will do pairings tomorrow and you will go at each other until only one remains standing.”
Sslasl felt the emotional response as Master Nev announced that they would be running because he slacked off, and he had to really focus to keep from reacting immediately.
“It’s okay Sslasl, he would have made us run anyway, this just gave him an excuse. Come on run with me.”
Sslasl almost smiled and looked around for Daas. As soon as she saw him look at her she smiled and took off running. He had to push himself to catch up with her, but then he settled into her rhythm and forgot all about the others in the room.
“Master Masl wants to work with you tomorrow. Guess you will forget all about me when you are working with her.”
“Not likely, she is cute, but a bit old for me don’t you think?”
Daas giggled and Sslasl smiled. The giggle of pure pleasure she used was such a sweet sound.
“Don’t let her hear you say that. Women don’t like to hear about how old they are.”
“I’m guessing you will not be working out with us any longer. The last one of her students that Master Nev prepped went to work with her and never came back. I don’t know if she is even still on planet.”
“She still needs me to help with the mixing and we have not yet gotten the newest automatic mixer working, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about there. I will be on planet for a while.”
“Good. Now shut up and run.”
She sped up suddenly and started closing on the apprentice that was leading the group. Sslasl had to hustle again to catch up. When he did, he felt the new rhythm and settled in beside her as they moved past the front apprentice and set the new pace for the group.
As they finished the last lap, Sslasl saw that Master Masl was waiting on them. She would want to know about the new mixer he suspected, and she might not be happy with the delay caused by the faulty boards they had received yesterday.
“Looks like I will be explaining the slow down on our new mixer. See you later.”
Daas did not like hanging around when Master Masl was present and she altered her path toward the dressing room while he headed straight for the Master.
“Is that the young apprentice that has you all distracted? What’s her name? Daas, right?”
“Oh don’t play dumb with me Sslasl. You don’t imagine that I would not know if you had a new friend do you? You are working on pretty sensitive stuff.”
“Yes ma’am, I mean no ma’am, I did not think you would not know about Daas. Is that a problem?”
“No, she would not be here if we thought she was a security risk. Just the same it would be better if you didn’t discuss your work with her.”
“Yes ma’am, I understand.”
“Good. Well, I think it is good you found someone your age to relax with. But we do need to talk about other things. Get cleaned up and meet me in my office. The High Councilor’s daughter is here and wants to meet you.”
“The High Councilor’s daughter? Lady Seala wants to meet me?”
“Yes, she does, so don’t dawdle.”
“Yes ma’am, I mean no ma’am I won’t dawdle.”
Master Masl had already turned away by the time he finished stumbling over his words. She probably didn’t even hear his response, on to the next item on her agenda most likely. That was her way and he had gotten used to it over the last several months, but it still caught him off guard occasionally.
Sslasl hustled back to the locker room and rushed through his cleaning and dressing routines, but paused at the mirror long enough to make sure he looked presentable for the High Councilor’s daughter.
Lady Seala was almost as famous as her father, and he did not want to leave a bad impression or embarrass Master Masl.
Sslasl arrived at Master Masl’s office less than 30 minutes after meeting with her in the gym, and was not at all surprised to see that she was back with a stream of people leaving her office and several others waiting to see her.
Not only was she the senior master here, she was also coordinating a large effort in support of the high councilor’s plans for moving on the witch hunters.
Master Nev was also in his office and it appeared that many of those waiting to see Master Masl were being redirected to see him instead. Several of them were clearly irritated that they were being sent to him instead of being seen by Master Masl. Sslasl could feel their irritation as they walked past him toward Master Nev’s office.
“Okay Sslasl, they are ready for you. Please go in, Lady Seala is the shorter lady with Auburn hair. Be sure to pay her the utmost respect.”
Sslasl walked to the office door and knocked twice as he had been taught to do before entering the master’s office.
“Come in Sslasl.”
He entered and walked straight forward to two steps before Master Masl’s desk and stopped, then bowed formally. That gave him a moment to adjust to the fact that Master Masl was not behind her desk, she was sitting in a side chair and a somewhat shorter woman with auburn hair was sitting in her chair, flanked by a tall, well-muscled woman with long blond hair and blue eyes that seemed to drill right through him. The tall woman was wearing a military uniform, possibly security for Lady Seala.
“Rise Sslasl, let me get a look at you.”
Sslasl stood up straight and looked at the desk in front of the woman that had to be Lady Seala. He felt very awkward not facing Master Masl, but knew this was the right thing from the sense of approval he felt coming from her.
“Sslasl, I appreciate the respect you are showing, but have no time for formalities. Please look me in the eye so I can gauge your mettle.”
Sslasl was startled, but knew better than to disobey so he looked up into her beautiful turquoise eyes. In spite of the twinkle he saw there, he was certain she could see every flaw in his character, every doubt and fear he had. But he could see and feel her pain as well. She had deep scars that she managed expertly, but he could feel the pain and his level of respect for the woman increased exponentially.
“I’m Seala, and this is General Carmel who will lead the first fleet we are sending into the witch hunter territory.
I’m betting you want to know why you are here today, aren’t you?”
“I’m at your service ma’am, your reasons for asking for me do not need to be explained to me.”
Lady Seala broke out in laughter startling him and leaving him wondering if he had said something incorrectly.
“Masl, you have the most amazing apprentices. He will make an excellent politician one day.”
“Yes ma’am we are very proud of Apprentice Sslasl, for a lot of reasons, his political skills not least among them.”
“Well, I hope he can get over them, I won’t have time for political answers when we are in the heat of battle.”
The iron in that voice sounded strange given the almost musical timber. But Sslasl did not miss the intimation that he would be with the General in the heat of the battle.
“Oh, and quick too. I can see from the look in your eyes that Carmel spilled the beans.
That’s right, we are here to ask you to join General Carmel’s team. You know more about these fuel mixers than anyone. Since the general here will be traveling very long distances without a service station anywhere near, we need you there to make sure they work perfectly. Can I count on you?”
“Yes ma’am. It’s an honor to serve.”
Sslasl could not believe how calm his voice sounded when every part of him wanted to scream “No!” Yet he calmly and correctly said he would go into battle.
“You should not be so quick to respond, boy. We will be flying longer distances than have been done in many years using experimental fuels and a mixer you yourself said needed improvements.”
Sslasl was torn, it seemed wrong not to look at the General when he responded, but all his training here told him to continue to face the senior person in the room. And that person was clearly Lady Seala.
“Carmel is right Sslasl, this is no small thing I’m asking. There is a very real possibility that you will not return from this mission. If the fleet is discovered, or the fuel mixer fails, or our star charts are wrong. There are hundreds of things that could cause this mission to fail. But it must not fail, and trust me when I say, I know it will not fail.
On the other hand, I have no knowledge of whether or not you personally will survive.”
Sslasl was again amazed at the calm in his voice as he responded.
“Ma’am, General, I appreciate and understand the cautions you have given me. But you are right; no one knows those mixers better than I do. If this is where you need me to be, then that is where I will be. It is an honor to serve.”
As he said it, he knew it was true. He needed to be with the General on this trip. He did not know why, but he was positive this was what he was supposed to do.
“Excellent. Thank you Sslasl. Masl, your apprentice does honor to you and your training. You will both be remembered for your contributions to making this happen.
Sslasl, where are we on the new mixers? Can the development finish without you?”
That caught him off guard. Sslasl’s training kicked in and he paused before responding. The design was complete, and he was confident it would work once they got the electronics properly configured. The engineers Master Masl had brought in were beyond excellent and he had little doubt they would be able to make any adjustments needed.
“Ma’am, the design is complete. We had some defective boards come in that will delay the delivery of the prototypes, but every indication is that the design will work. I have full confidence in the skills of the team and believe they can complete this successfully with or without me.
The only possible issue would be if they discover some flaw in the design that would force us to go back and redesign the entire system.”
He focused and applied his talent to evaluate that possibility and it was clear that would not occur.
“Ma’am I applied my talents to evaluating that possibility and I do not believe there is any chance that will occur.”
Lady Seala lost focus for a couple of seconds and then nodded her agreement.
“I agree, that will not happen. Good work Sslasl, the new design will be critical to the movement of the fleet and my father and I are indebted to you for that effort.”
“Ma’am, it is an honor to serve.”
Sslasl felt the blood rushing to his face and fought to calm his emotions.
“Well, all that remains then is to get your blessing Master Masl. Will you give me permission to take your apprentice and reassign him to the senior master on General Carmel’s team?”
“Yes, ma’am. It is an honor, truly.”
“One more thing, Sslasl. You may need to fight the enemy or defend the fleet while on this mission. For that, I will need to ensure you have certain skills. Will you grant me permission to implant the required weaves?”
Implant weaves? Sslasl had never heard of such a thing, but he had no doubt that if such a thing were possible Lady Seala would know how. He only hoped it was not as painful as the forced growth with the power colors had been.
“Yes, ma’am. It is an honor to serve.”
“No, Sslasl. That is not good enough. This is not Lady Seala asking an apprentice to perform a particular weave. I am proposing to implant knowledge into your memory. This is an invasion of your person and privacy, and I want you to answer as Sslasl to Seala, no titles and no authority. There will be no repercussions if you refuse, this is a choice you must make of your own free will.”
Sslasl felt the weight of her words and nearly lost his nerve. She wanted him to make a conscious decision not based on his loyalty, or training, but his personal desires. How would he make such a decision without considering who she was?
He thought for a few seconds then decided. He focused on the idea of her implanting knowledge into his mind and pushed his talent to see the result.
He saw himself on the bridge of a ship wielding the power with confidence, protecting the ship and the people aboard it. But he also felt great loss as he killed with the power and felt the pain of thousands of people as they died at his hands.
Sslasl felt his knees begin to buckle and pulled back focusing on restoring his balance. Then he focused on the idea of telling Lady Seala that he did not agree to the implant and once again applied his talent. He saw himself on the bridge of the ship once more struggling to reach the power colors as he felt a crippling loss of access to them and smelled the metallic odor that he somehow knew was a witch hunter machine. He felt the pain of thousands of people as they died on board the ship, and felt the despair of defeat and failure. He could not protect them because he had refused to learn how.
Again his knees buckled and he pulled back bracing himself against the desk that he had somehow stepped up to.
He looked up in despair at his lack of decorum and saw a look of approval in Lady Seala’s eyes.
“You have seen. You understand what I’m asking now. Are you ready to render a decision, or do you need some time to digest what you have seen?”
Sslasl had no doubt as he answered.
“No ma’am, I don’t need any time. I would be honored to have you implant the necessary skills.”
“Very well. General, would you please gather Master Nev and secure the office? I will need to enlist Master Masl to feed me and root me as I do this.”
“Lady Seala, would your father approve?”
“I doubt it, but it is necessary and you know it Carmel. Please do as I ask.”
General Carmel moved brusquely around the desk and toward the door.
Sslasl heard the door close behind her and felt his knees begin to buckle again as the weight of what was about to happen settled in.
“Sslasl, please take a seat. This process will likely leave you a little disoriented and almost certainly will leave you pretty drained. We need to dispense with all the formalities now and get down to the business at hand.”
Sslasl felt a chair come in behind him and sat down as gracefully as his weak knees would allow. He never bothered to wonder how the chair had gotten there.
“Okay Masl, I will need you to feed me as much of the power as you can draw. But we cannot involve anyone else, I would not have anyone know that this is even possible, much less that we have done it.”
Sslasl felt the power colors surge toward the two women and was amazed at how much was coming to their call. Lady Seala was rumored to be among the most powerful masters in the realm and he could believe it based on the speed and quantity of power colors responding to her call. Master Masl was very impressive too drawing more than he had ever seen drawn before, but it was not even close to what Lady Seala was doing.
Then she reached for his head and spoke to him once more.
“I’m going to put you into a deep sleep while I work. When we are done, you will know weaves that you have never heard of before, and will be a master at wielding them. To do this, I will have to create memories of long training and practice. You will be able to tell the difference between your memories and those you will be borrowing from me because in mine, you will have the distinct impression that you are female. Do you understand? This is important.”
“Yes ma’am. You are planning to give me your memories of learning and practicing these weaves. I need to be able to tell that they are not my memories so that I can maintain my sanity. And the key to that is knowing that I have memories that are not my own and how to tell that they are not mine.”
“Exactly. You are every bit as smart as Masl said.”
Sslasl heard those words and then felt his mind fade into deep sleep.
…”Sslasl. How are you doing?”
Sslasl heard the sweet voice and it took a moment to place it as he awoke. That was the voice of Lady Seala.
“Ma’am. I’m doing well.”
He tried to get to his feet to pay her the respect due her as a senior master and leader of the realm, but his body betrayed him and he slumped back into the chair.
“Relax Sslasl, it will take a couple minutes for you to recover enough to move under your own power again.”
She sounded and felt tired and Sslasl sent her what energy he could draw as he pulled at the power colors to form a healing weave infused with energy.
As soon as he had the weave prepared, he spoke.
“Ma’am may I have your permission to heal you? You clearly pushed yourself too hard.”
Then memory came flooding back in. She had implanted memories. And the weave he had just formed was clearly one of those memories. He could feel the memory and in it he was clearly female. That meant it was one of her memories.
“Thank you Sslasl, yes, I could use a little boost right about now.”
He lay the weave on her and felt her perk up immediately. Then he formed a second one as he remembered that Master Masl was also part of the effort. He could feel her near him as well and she was much weaker than Lady Seala had been.
“Master Masl, may I have your permission to perform a healing for you as well?”
Her voice was very weak and distant as she answered, but she said yes as well and he proceeded.
“Thank you Sslasl. Clearly the effort has been effective. I know where your training was and you did not know such techniques before.”
“Excellent. Thank you for your assistance Masl. Would you like for me to help you forget what you witnessed so you cannot be held responsible for what we have done here?”
“No ma’am. I am honored to have been of assistance. What you did here clearly takes a skill that is way beyond my feeble abilities. Have no fear that I would ever attempt such a thing, but it is an honor to have been here to assist.”
Lady Seala lost focus for a moment and then nodded to herself.
“Thank you Masl, you honor me, and you honor yourself. I see that you have benefitted from the knowledge that I implanted as well, you will have no problem with your next promotion test. Congratulations.
Now, let us formally promote Miir Master Sslasl. You have the pins and belts here I presume?”
“Yes ma’am, they are in the drawer to your right as you asked.”
Sslasl could not believe his ears. He was to be promoted to the Miir Mastery without even testing for the Jin, Kre, or Lar Mastery, much less the Miir Mastery. He had never heard of such a thing.
“Candidate Sslasl, stand and receive the oath of mastery…”
Minutes later Sslasl, his head still spinning, tucked the pins of office into his pocket and hiked the bundle containing his new belts under his right arm as he bowed and left Master Masl’s office.
He had been instructed to pack and meet General Carmel at the port at lunar rise tomorrow. And he was to tell no one of what had happened, where he was going, or even that he was leaving.
He thought of Daas and felt a deep sadness. He had lied to her and would have to lie to her again or avoid her. He did not believe he could leave without seeing her again, but was not certain he could control his emotions if he did.
He knew she was waiting on him before he rounded the corner. She had been waiting for him for some time and was a little worried.
“Hey Daas. Sorry I’m so late. We had some issues to sort through on the new mixer.”
Daas jumped as he spoke, then smiled and rushed over to give him a kiss.
“How did you do that? I always feel you when you are near. Hey, you have a shield on your thoughts. When did you learn to do that?”
“Huh? Oh, that. I’ve been working on it for a while, just got it perfected today. Sorry.”
He had not even realized he had the shield up, and it took some effort to drop it. He felt a little naked without it up, as though he had maintained it day and night for a very long time. Then he noted the feminine feel and smiled to himself. This was not his emotion, it was Lady Seala’s.
He smiled again as he realized that even with the shield down he was maintaining surface thoughts that were innocuous to hide his inner thoughts.
“You sure seem happy with yourself. Did you solve some impossible problem with the mixer today?”
“No, just happy to see you. It has been a long day and I have missed you greatly. Let me put this stuff in my room and we can go get a bite to eat.”
“Sounds good. What did you do buy a new gi?”
“No, Master Masl just asked me to deliver these things to one of the ships tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, so you are her personal delivery boy now. Should I be jealous?”
Sslasl dropped the bundle on his sleep station and pulled Daas in for another kiss.
“What do you think?”
Daas giggled and pushed away.
“You promised me something to eat first.”
Sslasl feigned despair and then guided her back out the door and down to the dining hall.
…Sslasl gently lifted Daas’s sleeping head and pulled his arm free as he slipped out of his sleep station and moved quietly toward his refresh station.
As he did so, he formed a weave and laid it on Daas to deepen her sleep so he could pack without waking her.
He had already stayed too long in the sleep station not wanting to leave the comfort of her arms.
He quickly went through his morning routines and packed his few belongings in the bag that had been left outside his door sometime after they had entered the previous night.
It was time, he went back to his sleep station and laid the note he had written next to Daas, then kissed her gently and touched her mind briefly to leave no doubt in her mind that he loved her.
Then he picked up his bag and turned resolutely toward the door. She would have a long life with her husband, raising a pair of sons. This was the last time he would be part of her life, and that was for the best. No matter how much it hurt.
He wiped tears from his eyes as he moved swiftly down the hall toward the side door where a transport waited to whisk him off to the starport.
“I’m sorry Sslasl. If there were any other way, I would not have asked this of you. And I never would have shared my burden with you. But this is necessary, and you are doing the right thing.”
“I’m honored to serve ma’am.”
Slaasl felt Lady Seala leave his mind and was amazed at the emotion she had shared during the contact. She truly was sad to have asked this of him. But she was also absolutely positive it was the only possible alternative.
He was somehow reassured by what she had shared and he pushed his own pain and sadness into a corner of his mind and quickly checked his shields as he prepared himself for the journey ahead.
Other books by this author
P’Hilz Story Available now
The K’Jin Mission Available now
K’Jin Released Available now
Alla’s Path Coming Soon
Torl’s Journey Book 1 in the series
Rebuilding a Legacy Book 2 in the series
End of an Era Book 3 in the series
Seala’s Burden Book 4 in the series
_Taarl and the Fools _
[_ Game Coming Soon_]
Master Mixer Sslasl
Sslasl and the Mastery
[+General Reference +]
All Things Real A reference to the people and places in the Power Colors books.
Barth Reality A reference to the people and places in the Barth Novels