On my way back to my room, my mind was so stuffed with all the new information that I barely noticed my escort or the direction they were taking me. After a few dozen halls, they all started to look alike. Not until we arrived at a door that wasn’t mine, did I wonder where we were.
On the other side of that door was a large room that came close to resembling an amphitheater. Sitting in the center of the room at a huge desk, was the emperor, and swarming around him, were dozens of men and women. There were guards, secretaries, aids, assistants and what not. I could only guess at what they all did.
A man took me to the corner of that huge desk. The guards, both his and mine, seemed to intensify their alertness. They didn’t like me so close to their charge. As I approached the desk, I saw that the emperor was watching me on a view screen. He was watching one of my sword dances.
I had no idea my room had been bugged and I wasn’t entirely sure I liked it. When the dance was over, he continued to watch until I finally lay down, then he turned to me. “Why do you do that?”
What do you say to a question like that? “I . . . because it makes me feel good. It relieves the boredom and the tension.”
“We can do something about the boredom, but there’s not much I can do about the tension.” He thought for few minutes while his eyes seemed to bore through me. “How long have you gone without using your magic?”
“Ah . . . there’ve been some stretches, but nothing really very long; only a few days at a time, I think.” Why would he ask me a question like that?
He leaned back in his chair. “You were fifteen when all this began. That means you were a freshman in high school. Did you finish that year?”
“Yes sir, I did. I finished early.”
“Good, we’ll start you up again from where you left off. With all the traveling you’ve done, I’m sure you haven’t been able to keep up your lessons. By the time you finish your work with the doctor, your books should be here. I’ll arrange for private tutors as well.”
Tutors, ugh. I barely tolerated my mother trying to tutor me. He went back to watching yet another video of me - this time I recognized the doctor’s office, but some signal must have passed, because I was wordlessly escorted away and back to my room.
For long hours over the next week, I soaked up the details about anatomy and sent it all through Colin. It was obvious he was benefiting from both the treatment and the time on a real planet. When the doctor finally pronounced us finished, Colin stretched and said, “I don’t know what all you did but I can feel the difference”
“The doctor said, “The body is a fine tuned piece of machinery, and though I found only minute differences, every machine runs better when it’s tuned properly. I’m impressed you did as well as you did with only a ship’s library for reference.”
“All I did was let instinct put things the way they needed to be. I knew the basics. I knew that his bones needed to be heavier and his muscles needed to be bulkier. I also knew that his heart had to be stronger in order to be able to handle the extra workload. After that I left it up to his body and my magic to put the mass where it was needed most.”
After we left the doctor’s office, Colin said, “The emperor has offered me the opportunity to enlist in his military if this worked. I think I’ll take him up on it.”
“So, you’ll be standing at his shoulder in no time.”
“No, I don’t think so. The position he’s offering isn’t in his personal guard, but it is in his personal army, so I’ll be remaining here. He said, with my background, I could end up being an instructor in zero gravity fighting and tactics.”
“Speaking from experience, you’re a good teacher. Or at least, I would have learned a lot if you were teaching me rather than trying to beat me up.”
“If you learned anything from that, you’re a better student than I am a teacher, but I’m not going to regret it. If it weren’t for that bit of stupidity, I wouldn’t be here today.”
“I think you can call your father now.”
“Yeah, I think I can. I think I’ll wait until after I’ve enlisted though. I’ll even send him a copy of the signed forms.”
“He’ll like that.”
Shortly after that, we went our separate ways. At the door to my room, I turned to my guards. “Listen guys, I’m not going to do anything to anybody. You don’t need to guard me. Besides, I don’t think it would do any good anyway.”
“We have our orders,” said one of the guards.
“I figured you’d say that. Well, could you be more ‘company’ and less ‘guards’? I could use the company.”
“I don’t think so,” said the other guard, but the first one seemed ready to consider it at least.
I shrugged and let it go at that. Maybe someday I’d show them just how useless their post was; then again, maybe not.