this is the original. numero uno. part ONE
Nothing ever went right for him, thought Drat. The one time he had risked riding a Storm on his own, and he didn’t even manage to get within range of his destination. The chances of him being found now were something like 3 in a billion. Stuck, without a chance of rescue, on some senate-forsaken blue planet on the edge of the cosmos, armed with a useless communications array and the vintage laser bolter he had meant to give the Council-Head as a bribe. Oh, he had the Sight, as if that was any help. There was no use in being able to See into someone's mind if they didn't bloody think in Scyrean. English, that was the dominant language here. Of all the Terras to crash land on, he had to get the one where The Island had dominated the globe.
Well, if the Senate wasn't going to send a rescue team for their best Storm pilot, he would have to return on his own, and Ares take any idiot stupid enough to get in his way.
The first time I noticed him was at the museum. He was a tall chap, 6 foot or so, and walked as if he could step on a minefield at any moment. I knew that because he seemed to think about every step, weighing up the possibility of his foot being blown to pieces. It was the walk that you had to master if you were going to survive at the hostel. One creak and the game was up, and if you didn’t run for your life you were caught and hung to dry.
I was waiting for Jai to show up, to go see some movie he wanted to watch, when I saw this guy materialize out of nowhere (nowhere in this case being halfway between a statue of some greek god and the popcorn cart). That was odd enough, but then he looked at me, and I don’t mean the sweeping look you do when you’re searching for someone, I mean he really looked at me, and for three seconds, I knew him and he knew me. It was the single scariest moment of my life. To know someone, without any of the social trappings of hi, hello, and how are you today, without ever having met him before is terrifying . And because of that, because of the shock, it took me a few minutes before I realised, I could See.
Oh, brilliant. He had managed to awaken the ability in a teenager, in a plane that couldn’t even process thinking in more than four dimensions, and didn’t even speak the language of the Sight. Well, now that he had gained a rudimentary knowledge of this ‘English’, along with a few other things he found interesting, he’d at least be able to find the closest Storm and get to a Senate-planet. But first, he had to get rid of the boy. The details were fading, but he still remembered his name. What was it? Ares blast him, he couldn’t get anywhere without a name. Oh, that was it. Michael. Huh, two millennia since first contact, and they still hadn’t realized that their 'saviour' was a computer program designed to attract more Terras to the Senate. No wonder there were so few blue planets on the charts.
I could See.
Every thought that ran through a person's mind was mine to peruse, and their knowledge flowed into my brain without any apparent effort at all. It wasn't as much using my eyes as it was using all of my senses, looking at the way someone walked, hearing the tone, the inflection, the accent of a voice, smelling the sweat on someone's skin, and combining all that information in the most obvious way possible to give me something I felt I should have known anyway.
I knew Jai wasn't going to be here, simply because he had left me waiting for fifteen minutes and still hadn't called to apologise, just as I knew he would call in another five, and say "Sorry, I can't get there, something else has happened". And as I turned around, just to see what that girl in the black coat thought of me, if she had even noticed me at all, he grabbed me.
The boy had the Sight, and he knew it. What he didn't know was that he wasn't immune to it. The moment his back turned, Drat did the most obvious thing in the world. He grabbed the boy, and moved him out of the exhibition area and out into the sun. One of the things he wasn't prepared for, though, was that it was yellow. A blue planet was rare enough, but the odds of one with a yellow sun were astronomical. Yellow suns meant only one thing. There wasn't going to be a single Storm within at least fifteen lightseconds, probably none within fifty. There was only one option left, the one he hadn't wanted to contemplate. He'd have to use the boy to find a Storm. And he had to do it quickly. For all he knew, three seconds on this planet could mean three weeks on a Terra under the influence of the Senate.
He needed to get somewhere safe, and the easiest way to do that would be to identify the highest point within a hundred meters, and get up there, quick.
"Um, do you want the highest building or the highest structure?"
And as soon as I said those words I regretted them. Maybe now wasn't a good time to remind him that he wasn't immune to my Sight either. He looked at me with disbelief written all over his face, and just like that, he was invisible. I just couldn't see him unless I stared really hard at the space I hoped he was occupying. I didn't know where he was, let alone discover where he thought he should be.
"Where is the closest point over a hundred metres?". His voice seemed far away, as if he was speaking to me through an old telephone.
"The Price building has fifteen storeys," I said hopefully. "It's about three minutes away, but it'll take you at least ten to get to the top, even in an elevator"
"I don't need moving platforms, boy, I just need a location."
I didn't even know why I trusted this guy, but I told him.
And twenty minutes later, I found myself at the top of Price, and it was only after climbing fifteen storeys that I realised that I could See him again, though I didn't want to try it.
"So, boy, what would I have to do to get on a space shuttle?"
"You want to get on a space shuttle? That's easy enough. All you have to do is walk up to NASA and ask them nicely. Why don't you get yourself your own continent while we're at it?"
"This is no laughing matter, boy. Is there no way to get off this planet?"
"Off this planet? Well you're already off your rocker, so that shouldn't be too hard."
And then, in a few brief seconds, Drat lost his temper. It was some time before he found it. He blinded the boy, and then knocked him unconscious, exactly hard enough that he'd wake up in about twenty minutes with a blinder of a headache.
Drat cursed under his breath. There was no way to get off-planet, and he was stuck with an initiate who was strong enough to read other Seers.
Silently he recounted the ways to get to a Storm.
Ship. No use, unless he managed to steal one and get enough fuel to last him until he reached a Storm.
Mind. Nothing here either, the chances of finding someone both strong and stupid enough to rip reality open right in the middle of civilisation were too slim.
Chaos. Just like the last one, there were no berserkers on this Terra. Madmen, sure. But not a chance of real, frothing-at-the-mouth, eating-the-testicles-of-their-enemies zealots.
He'd have to try one of the more extreme alternatives.
Gods. None on this Terra, as far as he could tell, but you could never be sure.
Music. On some Terras, certain notes could make Storms small enough for just one person to appear. But to find such a combination on this Terra, if it even existed, on short notice, not to mention without any equipment at all, was impossible.
Strange. The hope that this Terra was one of those which supported the stranger models, like his homeworld, Lombaxis, wasn't going to hold. The yellow sun proved that. He wasn't about to get a Storm by throwing an old brown shoe over his back.
And last, Calling. The theory was simple enough. If you were strong enough, you could persuade yourself, and thereby the universe, that you were Seeing a Storm in front of you, and you could Call one, exactly as you imagined it. He had thought about that, often. To be able to ride a perfect Storm, one that he knew everything about was something he'd give a hand and a leg for.
He had the boy. All he had to do was get far enough away, a light year or so, and he'd be able to get to somewhere where he might be recognised.
ok? not too bad, perhaps? this didn't come out as i wanted it to, but hopefully I will get better