* Weaver’s Road *
The market sector of Weaver’s Road became busier as the day wore on. It was clear that it was a popular place to shop, and there were hundreds of stores and stalls to pick from. It was like a huge outdoor mall. Amber and Wayne meandered around from shop to stall checking out the various wares and buying clothing and supplies on occasion. Though Salov had provided them with clothes, Wayne still purchased a few extra outfits for himself and his companions. He also brought a second bag with cold storage for carrying food, a canteen that could hold up to one hundred gallons of water, and several books on mentus and mandamus along with other various supplies. All told, he’d spent almost four thousand of the ten thousand centars he received.
Just as he was committing to saving the rest, he saw a familiar stall. It was one of the ones he and Ashley passed the previous night, which meant they were near Salov’s store.
Amber eyed him curiously when he stopped. “What’s up?”
“Oh nothing; I just remember this place.” Wayne walked over to the stall, which sold a variety of jewelry. “There was something here that Ash liked.”
He scanned the various necklaces, pendants, and broaches until he found what he was looking for: a golden necklace with a smooth, round, golden-yellow stone charm at its end. He picked it up, examining it.
“Are you interested in that bonding stone,” a young blond female merchant asked from behind the stall.
“Bonding stone?” Wayne repeated the unfamiliar phrase.
“Yes, believe it or not, that is a bonding stone. It’s a unique kind; a mix of a few different types of quartz to give it two traits, one of them very special.”
“Oh really? What does it do?” Wayne asked.
“In addition to being able to send brief communications, it also allows the person with the bonded stone to instantly move to the one holding this stone, no matter where they are. Apparently, the designer was able to incorporate translif to make it happen.”
“Really, that’s pretty cool,” Wayne said impressed. He only understood in part, but it still sounded amazing. “What do you mean by bonded stone though?”
The attendant gave him a slightly confused look as she walked over and pointed to a silver chain holding a deep blue stone. “The pair aren’t identical like most bonding stones, sorry for the confusion. The creator dubbed them the ‘day and night stones.’ The person with the night stone can transport to the one with the day stone.”
“What about the other way around?” Wayne asked.
She shook her head. “It’s only one way, unfortunately.”
Wayne nodded. “How much are they?”
“It’s twelve hundred centars for the pair.”
“Whoa,” Wayne said as his eyes scanned over the other jewelry. Nothing else came anywhere near that cost.
The woman seemed to read his mind. “I know it’s quite pricey, but as I said, it’s a rare set and the cost is for both combined. I’m sure she thinks it’s worth it.” She gave a smile to Amber.
“Oh, it’s not for me, that’s for sure.” Amber smirked.
Wayne had learned haggling was an acceptable practice, especially at the street stalls which had less established merchants. “Okay, I definitely get that they’re rare, but how about seven hundred centars?”
The attendant frowned but rallied almost immediately. “I’m willing to come down to a thousand, but realistically that’s as low as I can go for such a unique set of bonding stones. These are practically one of a kind.”
“Nine hundred and you have a deal,” Wayne countered. “After all, I’m young, I can only afford so much,” he added.
She smiled. “Well, I suppose I can be flexible for young love. You have a deal.”
Wayne used his orcrus to hand over the money. The attendant placed the necklaces in a bag and gave him a brief explanation on how to trigger the special attributes of the bonding stones.
Soon, he and Amber were walking through the crowd again.
Amber was examining the day stone with interest. “I’m guessing this is for Ashley.”
Wayne nodded as he put the other chain around his neck. “Yeah, it seemed like a good idea, plus she saw that necklace yesterday and liked it.”
Amber put the day stone back in the bag. “You spoil her.”
“I know,” Wayne agreed with a shrug, “but considering we’re on a foreign world, being able to transport to her instantly if she gets lost is worth it.”
“So, what if I get lost?” Amber said with a sly smile.
Wayne tousled her hair. “I can always find you the old-fashioned way: dumb luck.”
She slapped his hand away. “Idiot.”
“You’re not jealous, are you?” Wayne asked with actual concern.
“Not really; I know you’re overprotective of her. You two just have a weird vibe. As close as you are, you’re not dating or anything.”
“I don’t know what to tell you; we’re just not like that. I know it’s weird, “Wayne said pensively before suddenly changing the subject. “Hey, you said ‘not really,’ so does that mean you are a little jealous then?” He shook her playfully. “Aww, you do love me! You want me to spoil you too?”
“God no!” Amber shoved him. “I can barely stand you most days.”
Wayne chuckled. “I love you too.”
“Shut up.” Amber rolled her eyes but after a few seconds she muttered, “Aren’t big brothers supposed to protect their little sisters though?”
“Wow, did you just ‘big brother’ me?” Wayne said with a wide grin.
Amber punched him in the arm. “Stop being an idiot. We’re actually siblings now, technically, since your mom adopted me; that’s all I meant.”
Wayne nodded. Even before Amber became an official member of his family, he’d always treated her like his little sister. Though she constantly complained about it, she never made him stop, and it was clear she didn’t really mind. He suspected that her recent trauma with the slavers had reaffirmed the sibling bond they shared.
“Well,” his tone became serious, “the truth is: I’ve never really felt like you needed to be protected.”
Amber looked up at him, her expression a mix of shock and confusion.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he added quickly. “I know sometimes you need help, and you know I’ll always be there for you if you get in over your head, but you’re honestly one of the strongest people I know. I’ve always thought that.”
“If I was so strong then those slavers—”
“Just because those guys were able to capture and overpower you doesn’t mean you’re not strong,” Wayne said pointedly. “Strength isn’t all physical.”
“So what, I have strength of character or something dumb like that?” She scoffed.
Wayne thought for a moment. “It’s more like, you have an unbreakable will. I know, no matter what happens, you won’t fall to pieces. You’ll keep your head.”
Amber frowned a bit. “When I thought I was going to be with those slavers forever…I gave up then.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t break,” Wayne told her. “I know because when I needed help, you were right there. You didn’t hesitate. You saved my life without even thinking about it.”
Amber considered this. She’d moved on instinct when she saw Wayne was in trouble. He’d come to save her, but she’d also saved him.
“It’s like I said earlier. I know I can depend on you, just like you can depend on me. We’ve got each other’s back.” He put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
Amber couldn’t help but smile at this. “So, we’re partners then?”
“More like you’re my plucky sidekick,” Wayne said with a grin.
Amber swatted his hand away. “This is why I hate you.”
“Hey, there’s Salov’s shop,” Wayne pointed to the sign that read ‘Shire Taylors.’ “Let’s go visit him.”
Amber was about to follow but then hesitated. “Hey, I’m going to go check something out; I’ll meet you in there.”
Wayne waved her off and went into the shop, ignoring the “Closed” sign on the door. “Hey Salov, it’s me,” he called as he walked toward the back room of the shop. He figured Salov would know regardless through the mentant realm but decided to announce himself all the same.
When he got to the back, he saw Salov standing behind Lizzy. She was holding a small rock and had her eyes closed. Salov held a finger to his lips to indicate that Wayne shouldn’t interrupt.
Wayne decided this was a good time to practice using the telepathy skill that came with his newly activated adimus. <What’s up?> He sent the message directly to Salov so that Lizzy wouldn’t hear it.
<Lizzy’s a channeler, so I decided to give her a brief lesson,> came Salov’s mentant response.
Wayne knew from studying in Salov’s library that channeler was an adimus rank. A person’s rank was determined at birth and could only change under specific circumstances. The majority of people were born as mentants and capable of using standard mentus and adimus abilities, but channelers were also very common. About one in four people were channelers, but it was also one of the “mentant-non” classifications, which meant it was a slightly higher rank than regular mentants because of its special mentus.
Unlike mentants, who could only use standard mentus, each mentant-non class had abilities that were unique to its rank. In the case of channelers, they could use mentus to permanently embed a myriad of special properties into quartz. Other mentant-non classifications, like quickeners and summoners, had similar skills, but channeler mentus was far more versatile. It was used in many fields including carpentry, smithing, and mentus tailoring, which used quartz-based fiber, known as ustus, to make clothing. Since Salov was also a channeler, he was able to teach Lizzy one of the basic channeling techniques.
After a few minutes of intense concentration, Lizzy finally opened her eyes. “I think I did it!” she said excitedly.
Salov took the rock from her and examined it. “Yes, you certainly did. Congratulations, you made a recording crystal. It looks like this melivian can now hold about a minute of visual information once activated. Well done for your first attempt.”
Lizzy beamed as Salov stroked her chestnut hair. “You’re a really good teacher. I never got to use mentus in the desert; this is so much fun.”
“I thought Tarak said kids born in the desert couldn’t use mentus even if they left,” Wayne recalled.
“That’s true, but Lizzy wasn’t born in the desert,” Salov said. “You can tell by the eyes. Everyone born in the desert has green eyes.”
“Ah, that makes sense,” Wayne said as he took note of Lizzy’s hazel eyes.
“My family moved there three years ago so my dad could open a shop,” Lizzy said, her voice a little sad now that she was talking about her family.
“Apparently he was a tailor too, though not a mentant one,” Salov added. “Lizzy only learned today that she has the channeler rank and said she wanted to try it out, so I gave her a quick lesson. She actually has some natural talent.”
“So now I can help you with your work, right?” Lizzy said excitedly.
“Well, we’ll see about that,” Salov chuckled as he handed the quartz rock back to her. “Channeling into pure quartz like melivian is one thing, but ustus fabric is a lot more difficult. It takes precision to embed into quartz fiber. You have a long road ahead if you want to become a mentant craftsman. You’re only twelve, so you need to learn the basics in mentus school first.”
Lizzy’s face fell at this, but Salov didn’t notice.
“How were you able to tell she’s a channeler? Is there some test?” Wayne asked.
“Well yes of course,” Salov said as if this were obvious. “I have a realizer right here.”
He walked to a table, picked up a smooth, black, pyramid-shaped stone and tossed it casually to Wayne.
Wayne caught it, slightly confused, and it immediately turned purple. “Okay?”
“You’ve never seen one before?” Salov said. “You didn’t have your rank confirmed when you were a child?”
Wayne shook his head. “Well, when you’re a mandant, it’s kind of obvious in the mentant realm, so that’s how I found out.”
In actuality, Wayne figured out his rank because of his ability to use mandamus, which he learned only mandants could do. Of course, it made sense that someone born a mandant wouldn’t immediately know, but he never learned exactly how rank was determined in children. He’d incorrectly assumed that it was done by looking at a person’s adimus signature. This was the aura that was visible around a person in the mentant realm, and a mandant’s aura stood out since it was purple and all other adimus signatures were some shade of blue.
“Ah, well that makes sense, I suppose,” Salov said, still a bit uncertain, but he seemed to accept Wayne’s story. “Since a person’s adimus signature only looks slightly different between the various mentant-non classifications, it’s hard to accurately identify adimus rank if you’re not a mandant. The realizer was invented to help with that. Obviously, it turns blue for standard mentant and purple for mandants,” he gestured to the stone in Wayne’s hand, “but it has distinct colors for the different mentant-non ranks: green for summoner, red for channeler, yellow for quickener, and white for others.”
“Others?” Wayne repeated.
“Well, it’s not perfect. They haven’t been able to figure out how to distinguish between the less common ranks, and theoretically there still may be others we don’t even know about. Also, it can’t tell the difference between a mentant and a mind mage since mind mage is just the elevated class of mentant. Same thing with guardians since they’re just elevated mandants.”
Wayne nodded along with Salov’s explanation, understanding only in part. He knew that mandants could be promoted to guardians by the Fantasma, but he hadn’t learned much about becoming a mind mage. He only knew that it required a lot of skill and only someone born as a mentant could accomplish it. For Wayne, the entire concept of adimus ranks was still confusing. From what he understood, you couldn’t control what you were born with, but your rank affected every aspect of your life including what jobs you could get and even how long you lived. This honestly seemed unfair and made him wonder if he was missing something important.
As he turned the realizer over in his hands, something else occurred to him. “Maybe this could help Amber.”
“How do you mean?” Salov asked.
“Well, I think there’s something up with her. She’s been complaining ever since she left the desert that her senses have been hyper alert and that she can hear and feel things differently. She won’t wear shoes either. She says it makes everything feel ‘muffled.’ I’m wondering if there’s something up with her mentantly.”
Salov thought about this. “Well, I’m no expert, but I have heard of one very rare mentant-non classification called ‘sensant,’ but usually that’s discovered much younger. A sensant’s regular senses extend into the mentant realm.”
“You lost me,” Wayne admitted.
“Instead of the normal way we can use mentus to temporarily enhance our natural senses, a sensant’s senses are naturally extended through the mentant realm, allowing them to hear, feel, and see basically as far as their mentant sense can stretch, which for them is much farther than the norm. Their adimus is configured to process all of that information in a way that prevents overloading their brains. Usually, sensant abilities start manifesting right when the adimus starts developing around age seven. I’ve never heard of it developing later in life, but if that is truly what your friend is, then she should be fine. From what I understand, sensants quickly adapt to their abilities due to the makeup of their brains.”
Wayne nodded slowly. “So, if she was a sensant, what color would the realizer turn?”
“White,” Salov said immediately. “There’s no way to detect that using standard tests, but it would confirm what your friend is feeling.”
“I guess that makes sense. Can I borrow this?”
“Certainly,” Salov said. “Just bring it back to the manor with you. Lizzy and I are about to grab something to eat, and then I thought I’d visit the Warrior Guild to see Ashley and Panson.”
“Great; thanks, Salov.” Wayne raced out of the shop to find Amber.
Though she hadn’t said anything to Wayne, Amber still had an uneasy feeling that there was someone nearby that she recognized. It was a weird sensation that came and went at random intervals as if the person was just on the edge of the internal radar she seemed to have developed. Not wanting to worry Wayne, she separated from him so she could try to get to the bottom of what she was sensing.
Taking a deep breath, Amber closed her eyes and tried to mentally block out her primary senses and concentrate on all of the other sensations and information flooding her mind. She found that when she thought about it like having an extended set of yet-unclassified senses, she could at least begin to sort out what she was feeling. After a few seconds of intense focus, Amber had constructed a mental map of the entire marketplace as if she was looking at the area from a bird’s eye view. Then, like a marker being dropped on an electronic map, she saw it, a pulsing beacon that represented the familiar sensation she felt on and off throughout the day. Reaching out with her mind’s eye, she was able to access it, almost as if she was playing a video game.
The moment her mind homed in on the beacon, she heard it clearly, the sound of heavy footsteps. She knew those footsteps but couldn’t remember where from, though the sound made her feel uneasy. Curious, she started towards the section of the market where the footsteps were, which she realized was a few blocks away.
Not caring how it was possible to pick out a sound that far away, Amber opened her eyes, and with the familiar footsteps still tapping in her mind, she started off quickly down the street, dodging and weaving through the crowd. Even when the footsteps stopped, she was already locked in on where they were headed, and she picked up her pace.
Amber finally reached a less crowded section of the market, close to where an intracity translift was located. Then she found what she was looking for. Two men were standing at the edge of an alley between two buildings about a half a block away and she recognized one of them: it was Wallace, one of the slavers that had held her captive and apparently escaped capture in Oversun.
For the second time that day, Amber froze. She realized the footsteps she’d recognized were his. She heard them every morning for days when he came to feed the slaves the only meal they’d get.
Why was he in Weaver’s Road?
After a few seconds, she was able to regain her senses and hid herself at the edge of another alley, while still keeping an eye on the two men. They seemed to be in some sort of whispered conversation, and as she focused intently on them, she started to hear their hushed voices despite the general noise of the crowd.
“…so that means we gotta get ‘em today.” Wallace was saying. “Then, we need to lay low ‘til the auction. Can’t be runnin’ around while the Constables are lookin’ for us.”
“I don’t see how we’re gonna get ‘em with just the few guys we’ve got. It’s impossible,” his companion lamented. “That place is packed.”
“Don’t worry, the boss has a guy on the inside,” Wallace said. “Just get back to base. We’ll contact ya when we got the goods.”
The two split, with one heading toward the translift and Wallace starting down the alley. Brimming with curiosity, Amber decided to follow. She quickly made her way down the street and peaked down the alley that Wallace disappeared into. She couldn’t see him, so she closed her eyes and tried to focus on his footsteps again. Homing in on them, she opened her eyes and quickly went down the alley and found herself on another crowded street. She couldn’t see Wallace but could tell where he was going. He’d already slipped into another alley and seemed to be taking a roundabout path to wherever he was headed. Not wanting to lose him, she ran to the entrance of the next alley.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Dale’s little pet.” Wallace seemed to be waiting for her, a long dagger drawn. “I thought I was being followed. Never woulda guessed it was you.”
Amber tried to move but then realized that she was frozen again, but this time it wasn’t fear. Wallace was exerting pressure on her using mentus; she truly couldn’t move.
“Because of your friends, my whole crew was taken down and we lost all our product. That’s all right though, we’ll have ‘em back before the end of the day, and looks like I can start with you.”
Amber closed her eyes. She could still sense everything around her including Wallace moving closer. She focused on her own body, willing herself to move, and then she felt something force its way out of her, a pulse of energy. Her eyes flew open, and she immediately went for the dagger at her waist.
Wallace realized he’d lost control and ran to stop her, trying to reinforce his mentant hold over her body.
With all of the strength she could muster, Amber hurled the blade at Wallace, hoping to both injure and distract him. She saw it fly straight and true, as if in slow motion. It was heading right for his chest and looked like it would pierce him easily. Was she going to kill another person without meaning to?
“Mittius Mandamus Wind.”
Just as the dagger was about to reach a stunned Wallace, he was blown backward and hit the ground. The powerful blast of wind simultaneously threw the dagger off course and it ricocheted off the wall before clattering to the ground.
The mandamus command had come from someone behind Amber. She turned and saw Wayne. He had a troubled look on his face as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”
Amber was stunned; she didn’t even sense Wayne’s arrival. “How did you even find me?”
Wayne tugged at the chain around his neck. “You’re still holding the day stone.”
Amber completely forgot she had the small bag with Ashley’s necklace in the pocket of her shorts.
Wayne moved forward and quickly pulled a rope from his backpack to tie up Wallace. “A better question is: how did this guy find you? Why are you in this alley? What’s going on? I feel like I missed a lot.”
“I saw him, or I guess, sensed him,” Amber explained quickly. “I still don’t really understand how, but anyway it sounded like he was meeting other slavers, so I tried to follow him.”
“Of course you did.” Wayne rolled his eyes. “You could’ve gotten yourself killed or abducted again.” He made sure that his knotwork was secure before standing.
“I was fine,” Amber insisted. “If anything, I think I would’ve killed him if you hadn’t showed up.” Her voice grew soft. “I don’t understand; I wasn’t trying to do it, I just thought I’d distract him, or injure him at most, but it was almost like…maybe subconsciously I just wanted to kill him?”
Wayne retrieved her dagger. “No, it’s not that. It’s this thing.”
“What?” Amber looked stunned at this pronouncement.
“The blade has some sort of embedded mentus in it. It must be laced with quartz. I saw it last night, but I didn’t know what it was then. When I saw you throw it today, I was certain. I could see the mentus activate. It’s like a blue aura around the blade. Whenever it’s used to attack someone, mentus is triggered to always strike to kill.”
“Are you sure?” Amber asked, clearly skeptical. “How do you know all of this stuff about mentus?”
“It just comes easy to me; maybe it’s because I’m a mandant.” Wayne shrugged. “Anyway, I’m pretty sure about this. When I entered the alley and saw the blade moving, it was like it was correcting its trajectory in midair. It did the same thing last night when one of those slavers threw it at me. That’s why I stopped it; I knew exactly what would happen. Fortunately, being a mandant also means I have crazy fast reflexes.”
“So, does that mean…” Amber looked down at her hands. “Did I kill Dale yesterday, or was it the dagger?”
Wayne shrugged again. “I don’t know. Honestly, it could be a bit of both.” He handed it back to her. “Until we can figure out how to control the embedded mentus, just be careful how you use it.”
Amber nodded as she sheathed the dagger. “What do we do with him?” She gestured to Wallace who was groaning on the ground.
“Let’s take him to the constables,” Wayne said as he yanked the stunned slaver to his feet.
“So, what does this mean? I don’t get it,” Amber said as she turned the realizer over in her hands. It was now completely white.
“It confirms that you’re a sensant,” Wayne explained. “I’m pretty sure anyway. It’s why you’ve been feeling weird since you got out of the desert. Being able to hear and feel things far away, all of that is part of it. Apparently, it’s really rare. Wait a second.”
Wayne opened the backpack at his feet and started to rummage inside of it, looking for something. The two were seated in the lobby of the constable’s office. After they’d turned Wallace in, they were asked to wait so someone could take their statements. It seemed that everyone was very busy though, so Wayne decided to use this time to try and help Amber learn about her adimus classification.
“Here we go.” He pulled a book from the copious depths of the bag and started thumbing through it. Once he found the section he was looking for, he handed the book to Amber. “Read this.”
“Ugh, I don’t like homework nearly as much as you do.” Despite the complaint, she perched the realizer on top of her head and took the book from Wayne in both hands. It was so large that she practically disappeared behind it as she started to read.
Wayne chuckled as he watched her easily balance the pyramid shaped stone on her head but was distracted when someone called his name.
“Wayne, good to see you again!”
He turned to see a tall, tan-skinned man walking toward them. It was Constable Mitchell. Like all of the other constables roaming around, he was wearing black pants, a white button-up shirt, and straw hat, clearly their uniform. Wayne stood and shook his hand.
“You seem to be getting in the habit of catching slavers for us,” Mitchell said. “I could certainly use a mandant like you in the constables. Ever consider joining?”
Wayne gave a wry smile at this. “Sorry, we’re leaving Weaver’s Road tomorrow.”
“Ah, too bad. Well, if you ever change your mind, feel free to come see us.” Mitchell pulled a small spherical device from his pocket. “First things first, let’s get you your reward. Since you bagged this one on your own, you’ll get the full ten thousand centars.”
“It’s that much for a single slaver?” Wayne said in shock.
Mitchell chuckled. “Yeah, the Fantasmal Government has a standard bounty on slavers. It’s a serious crime, but I think yesterday’s raid was the most we’ve gotten in a single year.” He held the small white orb in the palm of his hand and closed his eyes. After a few seconds of focusing, it pulsed a faint blue light and a hole opened at the top.
Wayne recognized the device as an orcrus, but it was slightly different from his as it didn’t have a screen or keypad. “What kind of orcrus is that?” He asked as he pulled out his own orcrus to receive the money.
Mitchell chuckled. “What, you’ve never seen this kind? This is the original orcrus before those engineers at Acumen tinkered with them. We can’t use the newer ones here since those can only be registered to one person. Obviously, it’s a great security feature, but it doesn’t work when you have an orcrus that has to be used by multiple people, like ours.”
He turned the orcrus upside down on top of Wayne’s and the coins dropped inside. The screen on the side of Wayne’s orcrus registered the addition of ten thousand centars.
“So, if you don’t have a keypad, how do you tell it how much to get out?” Wayne asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“Just the regular mentus way,” Mitchell said as he tucked the orcrus away.
Wayne wanted to ask more about the differences between the classic and more modern orcrus but thought better of it. Instead, he changed topics. “So, you wanted to ask us a few questions?”
Mitchell took a seat in one of the lobby chairs and Wayne sat next to Amber who was ignoring their conversation, wholly engrossed in the book she was reading.
“From what Amber told me, they might be trying to get the kids back again,” Wayne said after quickly explaining everything that happened. He turned to his companion, hoping she’d chime in, but she said nothing.
“I don’t see how they’d manage that,” Mitchell said pensively.
“Isn’t it kind of weird that slavers are just walking around town openly?” Wayne asked. “They have such a huge bounty on them, but that Wallace guy wasn’t even hiding.”
“Well, most people wouldn’t recognize a random slaver,” Mitchell countered.
“I guess, but what about the constables?” Wayne pressed. “You said you’ve been trying to catch them.”
Mitchell nodded. “Thing is, there’s over twenty thousand people in this city, not counting the influx of shoppers we get every day. We’ve been trying to figure out how they keep getting in, but it hasn’t been going well. Once they do, there’s no way we can track them. Plus, if I’m being honest, the council doesn’t view slave traders as a real threat. I guess a merchant’s a merchant in their eyes,” he added in annoyance.
Amber laid the book on her lap, revealing her concerned expression. “So, you know those guys are in the city, but you’re not doing anything?”
Mitchell was a bit taken aback. “We know the slavers setup a base somewhere in town, that’s how they conduct their underground auctions, but we haven’t been able to find it. We just don’t have the manpower to do a full-scale hunt. They could be anywhere.”
“Well, what if I found them?”
“What?’ Wayne and Mitchell said at the same time.
Amber pointed to the realizer still perched atop her head. “I’m a sensant. I bet I could find those slavers. That other guy said he was headed for their base, and I know what he sounds like now. If I track him, I could probably find the slaver base.”
“A sensant, eh?” Mitchell gave an impressed whistle. “Never met one of those in my whole life.” He turned to Wayne. “Are all your friends this impressive? I heard the other fellow with you was a black band in the Zormon style.”
Wayne laughed as he took the realizer off Amber’s head. “Well unlike him, Amber’s not trained yet. I don’t think she could really be of help.”
“I may not be trained but I can figure it out. I found Wallace, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, and then he found you,” Wayne said dryly. “Anyway, I don’t think we should get involved.”
“Well, you don’t have to, but I want to try,” Amber said resolutely.
Wayne turned to Mitchell as if asking for help.
Mitchell chuckled. “Well, normally I’d have to say something like ‘we don’t want civilians trying to do our job’ or some-such nonsense, but I can’t say no to a mandant and a sensant offering help. If the little missy wants to try, then I’m all for it. I’ll come with you guys, so you’ll have some backup. I’d love to get that slaver scum.”
Wayne sighed. It was clear he was outnumbered. “Fine, fine, I’ll come with you.”
“Thanks, big brother,” Amber said in a tone that radiated both sweetness and sarcasm all at once.
Wayne rolled his eyes. “I think I liked it better when you didn’t call me that.”