I began to think quickly. There was an offer on the table that was pretty good. I mean one of the things that I obsessed over was keeping my secret safe that I was going to live for a long time and the fact is these people were going to blow it up if I didn’t go along with them. I don’t normally like being pushed into something but I had the feeling they were not really pushing me into it. They were offering me a genuine choice. Having a group of people who would be working hard to keep your secrets as hard as you do and with their capabilities they could definitely help me do that. There was also the possibility I could have psionic talent and I wanted to know that more than anything. If I could do what these two women do, I would definitely have an edge in keeping my secrets. I couldn’t count on the Republic or Anagathics Research Project remaining benevolent, my studies of history taught me that. In the end the choice was pretty clear.
“Ok, I agree to your terms.”
“Very good, Madame Hawker would you untie her and give her back her things?”
I felt Madame Hawker untie my wrists and I brought the forward and rubbed them. I then set about to removing the restraints on my ankles. Once free I stood up but found myself sitting back down to put my pants back on. Soon my boots, gun, blade and jacket were back in their proper places.
“So, what do we do first?”
“Call me Ayn.”
“Ok, Ayn, firstly I think we should test you for talent. Mr. Small will not think it odd that you take another day to report back to him?”
“No, Sabine. He probably would be more in awe if I got back to him so quickly.”
“Then we shall test you, we can begin right now if you like?”
I will not say too much about how the testing works. Suffice it to say, it is very intimate between the tester and the one tested. Some people discover their talent through psi-drugs. Others are simply made to contact a person that already has powers and discover they have powers themselves. In some cases, this comes from a mental attack that shocks their brain into opening up their powers. The way it was done for me was more like a person gently removing layers of defenses till my raw talent was exposed. It was like being undressed by a lover for me. In the end though there was no doubt I had talent.
Even so, I quickly discovered there are limits to these powers very quickly. You expend Psionic Strength every time you use a talent. Then there are only two ways to really recover that strength – Time and certain psionic drugs. Sabine lectured me on the use of drugs and that she personally frowned upon it. I mean an overdose could boost your talents tremendously, but they also could do permanent damage to your powers. Psi drugs, like all drugs, are about expediency not real results over the long term.
“You have great power and potential Ayn.”
“I do? ”
“The Psionic scale goes from 0-15. You cannot achieve anything beyond 11 without drugs. You are already at an 11. The highest I have ever seen naturally”
“Just like me. I always seemed to be blessed in these things.”
“Well maybe. You have great strength but what actual talents you have are yet to be discovered. I have known people who tested well but had no talents. I hope this is not the case for you as it would be a waste of such power.”
“So what’s next?”
“Dinner, but then we need to discuss how you are get Mr. Small to give up the chase for us.”
Dinner was actually fabulous and Madame Hawker could cook. I discovered that the apartment I was in was Madame Hawker’s and Sabine’s. They were actually lovers but that did not stop Madame Hawker from plying her trade of prostitute on the side. A lot of men loved her and by her own admission that was part the fact she liked to give a man a good experience plus a few telepathic suggestions didn’t hurt from time to time. Sabine on the other hand was an electronic wizard. She did a lot of freelance work on electronics and computers. They both made a good living doing what they did and because they didn’t have to travel to work, they could focus a lot of extra time on the Institute.
The next topic of conversation was Mr. Small and so we went over the data we were going to give him about the Institute. It was exactly what he wanted as far as information. Locations, people and some background stuff. It was on an independent drive like what he had given me so it was not part of the system but it was also false. The thing was the plan was for him to never find out this was so. I was going to be shadowed to my meeting with him by four psionic brothers and sisters. Once I handed over the information and collected my fee which was going to be helped along by the same operatives, my role in this thing was done. After that the Psionic Institute was going to basically take Mr. Small for a mental trip in which he would think that Aurora had no Institute on it and that he should look elsewhere.
The final topic of conversation was my training. The hope was that I could generate much of the fee for my training from Mr. Small. Once that was done it was going to be four months of intensive work to discover my talents and then give me the most basic instruction on how to use them. After that it would be up to me to open them up further and learn more about them through experience.
What talents were possible were told to me as well. So far Sabine had seen Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Telekinesis, Teleportation (so it was true) and Awareness (the ability to have extreme control over one’s body through use of the mind). She had seen these talents manifest regularly. She also told me she had seen a few odd powers. Like being able to light fires with the mind and she had even seen someone who could access computers with their mind. There were a lot of possibilities but what I had would definitely be discovered during training.
With that Sabine handed me the data storage device with the false information on it and she then kissed me gently on the cheek.
“Good luck.” she said.
Then I was out the apartment door and headed back to my ship.