Standing on a platform that overlooked the docking pads of the trade world Marac-aen, Piiren San watched the young boy moving in the shadows of the ships that rested there. He’d had his eye on the boy for a few days now, watched as he spent his nights where ever he could find shelter from the night, be it in one of the city’s homeless hostels or just a covered porch. Obviously the boy was an orphan, and had no one to take care of him. He was also a thief. Piieren had seen him stealing from people and shopkeepers, and they’d never noticed. Not even the telepaths and empaths seemed to know what he was doing. Piiren San knew, and kept his eyes on the boy.
He’d seen the boy shield himself before going on one of his forays, and Piiren was sure that he didn’t even realize what he was doing. It was a trick the boy had picked up from somewhere and used out of instinct. It was a very useful trick, and Piiren would like to learn it himself. He definitely wanted to get a closer look at the boy, and maybe even see if he had it in him to be recruited. They always needed new recruits in the Society, and it was hard to find them sometimes. If the boy truly had no family, then he would be perfect.
As Piiren watched, the boy stopped at his ship and looked closely at it. Likely he had never seen its match. The gleaming hull was shiny and new, and the weapons ports were menacing to see. Piiren had a very well armed ship, and shielded also, but that was his secret weapon. He was actually testing a new T’kyel design, and so far he approved greatly. If he could pick up a recruit or two on this mission, then that would be good too.
The boy shook his head and moved on past Piiren’s ship. Piiren nodded in satisfaction; he had a device installed that caused uncomfortable sensations to the mentally sensitive. So now he knew that the boy was capable of being mental talents. He would definitely take him back to the Homeworld. Piiren stepped down from the platform and made his way in the boy’s direction. He purposely left his money pouch dangling from his belt; the temptation should be too much for the boy, despite Piiren’s menacing appearance. As he walked, he clicked his long finger talons together in a little rhythm he remembered from childhood. It was his equivalent of human humming.
With the boy shielding himself like he was, Piiren couldn’t sense his approach, but he could definitely hear him. Piiren’s sensitive and T’kyel-trained ears picked up his steps. With a wicked grin, Piiren walked through the shadows where the boy waited. He heard him taking a step forward and felt the air move as the boy reached for his money pouch and probably the jeweled dagger attached to his belt, and with blinding speed grabbed his arm.
With a yelp of surprise, the boy tried to pull away, but he was no match for Piiren’s strength.
“Settle down, boy, I’m not going to hurt you. I may only cook you for my dinner,” Piiren told him, purposely making his voice low and growling.
The boy kicked him in the leg and grunted. “Let me go!” he exclaimed. “I wasn’t doing anything!”
“Sure you weren’t,” Piiren said with patience he did not feel. “Just trying to rob me. I’ve had my eye on you for days. Pretty good racket you’ve got, what with those innocent eyes and being able to hide your mind from telepaths and empaths. They never know you’re even there, do they?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the boy mumbled.
Piiren began to walk to his ship, dragging the struggling boy with him. His struggles had as much effect on Piiren as the light breeze blowing around them did, however.
“Are you taking me to the authorities?” the boy asked.
Piiren looked down at him. “No, I thought I’d have you over for dinner.”
“You’re not really going to cook me for your dinner, are you?” the boy asked, half scoffing and half serious, and sounding a little afraid.
Piiren barked a short laugh. “No, I thought I’d cook you something to eat. You don’t get may hot meals, I’d wager. What’s your name, boy?”
“Adam,” was the sullen reply.
“That’s it, just Adam?”
“Ain’t got no family, and nobody wants me. Don’t need more names than that,” was his bitter reply.
Piiren was thoughtful for a moment, and when they arrived at his ship, he ran his hand over the scan plate in silence and the entry door slid open. He put Adam in first and then gave him a firm look as he shut the door and secured it before he let him go. When he turned his gaze upon the boy, Adam stood defiantly under Piiren’s harsh gaze. Piiren snorted and shook his head. He pointed to a door on the left.
“Go in there and wash up. Dinner won’t take but a minute. It’s all reconstituted, anyway.”
Adam stared at him for a minute and then looked around the ship in curiosity.
“Don’t touch anything you aren’t supposed to. This ship bites,” Piiren warned as he headed for the small galley.
Piiren could feel the boy’s gaze on him when he walked away. The boy was probably wondering if Piiren was going to take him to a slave trading vessel. Absently he wondered if the boy could see the amusement he felt, even if it was colored by compassion. The boy seemed suspicious, not surprising considering the life he’d been leading.
Adam came out of the bathing room in time to see him setting two ration packets on a small work table. He looked at the couch but did not sit. His clothes were too dirty, his expression said.
“Sit, eat,” Piiren commanded loudly. Warily Adam did so.
Piiren watched him closely as he took the ration packs and popped the seals, which caused the meals to heat instantly. Adam began to eat. Piiren nodded in approval.
“Eat your fill, boy. I don’t like to see anyone go hungry.”
“My name is Adam,” he mumbled around a mouthful of food.
“By the way, my name is Piiren San. How old are you, boy?”
Adam glared at him and kept chewing. Piiren smiled, all teeth. “Adam,” he corrected.
“I’ve got twelve years,” was the muffled reply.
“You don’t have a family or a home?” Piiren asked casually.
Adam shook his head. Piiren watched him thoughtfully. Finally he said, “Would you like to have a family?”
Adam stopped chewing in surprise. Then his expression grew wary again. “I’m not going to be tricked into getting on a slave ship.”
Piiren sat in a chair opposite him. “Of course not. You’re too smart for that.” So the boy had been thinking that. Piiren continued, “What I mean is a family that will always stand by your side, one that will always love you and care for you and protect you, and give you the chance to become the best possible man you can be. What do you think of that?”
Adam snorted and started eating again. Around bites, he said, “There ain’t no such thing. What dream are you in?”
Piiren smiled. “Oh, but there is. I am part of it. We are a family of Warriors, and there are all kinds of beings there. There are thousands of us. We are very special, and all of us look after each other first, then the citizens of the galaxy second. If you want to join us, I think you would fit right in.”
He said that last sentence with definite humor. Adam eyed him, probably not believing him but wanting to. “It sounds too good to be true,” he said, then opened the other ration pack. His voice dripped with suspicion.
“Well, it is true. We have a very special purpose for existing. We are the unseen protectors of the galaxy, and we are in preparation for a great event foretold for the future. It is our job to be ready. Our Mother teaches us according to the way of Rhashadinatta, and we follow her with our very lives. Would you like to be part of something like that?”
Bitterness tinged Adam’s words when he spoke. “What do you want with me? I don’t have anything to offer you. No one does something for nothing.”
Piiren nodded. “You’re right. I do want something in return. I want a promise that you’ll do the best you can and swear your life to the Family. What other prospects do you have? A life of stealing?”
Adam was quiet for a moment. When he spoke, there was unvoiced hope in his words. “What do you folks call yourselves? Do you wear a uniform and learn how to use weapons? Will I have a place to live and no one will tell me to go away? Why do you call her Mother?”
Piiren raised his eyebrows at the sudden and unexpected barrage of questions. He took them one at a time. “We call ourselves the T’Kyel Warrior Society. We do wear uniforms sometimes. We are a secret Society, but I hope that changes in the near future. Yes, you will be trained to use every type of weapon you can imagine, but you will be taught the sanctity of life, and the necessity of preserving all life, even at the risk of harm to yourself. If you join us, you will always have a home and thousands of brothers and sisters who will always watch out for you, just as you will learn to watch out for them. We have two leaders. One is called the Mistress of Tisl-amon, and we call her Mother, for she is the Mother to our Family. She leads us with strength and care. Our other leader is called the Weapons Master. Together they form the team that leads us on the right path.”
Adam’s eyes were very wide. Softly, he asked, “Is it very hard?”
Piiren was grave when he replied. “Yes. It will be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. There will be many days when you hate your teachers, and many nights when you wish you had the energy to cry yourself to sleep. But in the end, it is the most rewarding thing I can think of. I would not give it up for anything. What do you say?”
“Will you make me leave if I’m not good enough?”
Piiren shook his head. “I can feel the great potential in you. I think you will be an enormous asset to us. You should not fear to lack in any area. But no, even if you are not as good as some others may be, you will never be made to leave. Once you are T’kyel, you are part of the Society for life.”
Adam sighed. “Well, I guess I may as well try. What do I have to lose? It’s better than what I have now. I’ll go with you.”
“Discipline is hard among the Family. You will be nothing more than a Cadet when you first arrive, and Cadets are not given many privileges. You must be sure to obey everything they tell you, no matter if you understand it or not. Loyalty is total and complete on the Homeworld. Disobedience is punished swiftly. Will you agree?”
Adam cocked his head to one side for a moment. “Yes, I will agree. I will give my life to this Family. To be part of something like that, I don’t care how hard it is. I know I can be better than anyone thinks. But I won’t let anyone tell me I’m worthless!” he said with heat.
“No one among the Family is worthless. From this moment on, you fall under my protection. Until we get back to the Homeworld and get you officially accepted, I’ll get started on some of your training. One thing you must know: we are not allowed to speak of what we are to outsiders. Do you understand?”
Adam nodded. “Good,” Piiren said. “Your first duties will be to get a good hot bath and some sleep. When you wake up, we’ll go into town and get you some clothes. Do you have any belongings you want to pick up?”
A quick shake of his head was all the answer Adam gave.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Get moving! I won’t tolerate procrastination when I give a direct order!” Piiren yelled at him.
Adam jumped and stood hastily. He looked at Piiren with weighing eyes and then looked around at the ship again. With a thoughtful expression, he headed toward the bathing room again. Piiren watched with satisfaction. The boy would balk a little at first, but in the end Piiren knew he would obey orders. Adam might be used to living according to his own rules and answering only to himself, but Piiren could tell that he longed for direction in his life. He could sense that the boy was pleased that someone cared enough about him to actually take an interest in whether he ate or had a bath or a place to sleep. The ones like him were always the most loyal, and they always made the best Warriors. Piiren himself had been cast out by his own people, a pacifist among a race of fighters and conquerors. If not for a Warrior taking him in, he knew he would have been dead years ago.
Yes, Adam would fit right in among the Family, and he would go far. He would fight to achieve, fight to be accepted. Fighters and those who would never break or surrender were what was needed in the Society. Piiren knew that difficult times were coming in the future for the Society. He knew those times were close at hand, and he’d make sure that it all turned out well. He was the Coordinator, the third highest ranking Officer among the T’kyel Warriors, standing behind only the Mistress and the Weapons Master. It was his responsibility to make sure that all ran smoothly in the Society, and he took his job very seriously. He could sense great potential in Adam, and something told him that this boy, bordering on the edge of manhood, would surprise them all eventually. He could feel it in his bones.
End of Prologue. All content is original and property of author.