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Out of the Fire
by Byron Molix

5: Recruit

   Ryan found himself in a large chamber that looked empty and large. The walls were made of metal just as in the cockpit area. Ryan walked to the center of the room and Kel followed him.
   "Now, I will give you the answers to the questions you voiced earlier," Kel said. Ryan turned around and started to listen intently again. He thought nothing the alien said could shock him, he'd been a Patroller too long and seen too much already. He was surprised after all, as the lights dimmed slightly and an image sprung up between them. A ghostly eye hovered in the air in the middle of the room, but it had a transparent quality that quickly brought about Ryan's awe once more.
   "Here is an image of our symbol, the main goals of our agency are to be watchful and to guard those we watch with the force that our weapon gives us. To observe those we watch and report this to the agency so that if any action on a larger scale is required, it may be done with the full discussion and enlightenment of the agency. And to fight for justice in all ways. We have only a few rules that must never be broken. Firstly none of us may use deadly force unless the life of another is being threatened by the target of the force. If the only way to save one life is to take that of another it is acceptable, although frowned upon. Secondly, all laws of the sovereign government, must be obeyed in spirit as best as possible. Thirdly, if during the pursuit of justice, laws must be broken then do so, but only with good reason," said Kel. As he spoke, the image changed from the static symbol to a floating eyeball, a clenched fist, a shield and then faded into nothingness.
   Ryan considered the loose formation of the Guardians. They relied upon the moral fiber of their members more than on guides and superiors to keep themselves in line. He liked the concept and wondered if this really was something that he wanted to do. Kel noticed the strong conflict of interests in the young candidate. He waited for Ryan to ask for something else.
   "I'd like to know what special abilities a Passion Device Matrix gives the user. I know what a Gauntlet can do, and I'd like to compare the two devices," Ryan said. Kel nodded and then went on to discuss the power of the Matrix.
   "The Passion Device Matrix, isn't a single machine or object, but a grouping of many tiny machines that work in concert. The machines have control over gravity, matter and energy to great extents. It can generate force fields and transmute matter as well as creating devastating barrages of energy. The Matrix conforms to mental commands and as such never actually shuts down, but goes dormant to conserve power when it needs to. It is hardly ever "off", but it will seem like this when not in use. Many things can be accomplished with the Matrix and besides the rote abilities discussed above, refined abilities can be learned that take the user into unique realms of usage. For instance, any Passion Device Matrix can teleport matter as my ship can, but it is a matter of learning to use the Matrix to teleport matter. The typical Cadet has more than sufficient power and since the machines can do several things at once, many things can be accomplished no matter how many of the Passion Devices are present on a project. As with most things, the "power" available increases with the number of the microscopic devices. My rank of Agent entitles me to control 1000 Passion Devices. The power contained in that number of devices is great, as is my own responsibility," he said.
   Ryan watched as the holographic scenes changed and whirled at high speed. He saw as well as heard about each basic use of the Passion Device Matrix. It was unbelievable. It had many powers in common with the Gauntlet, as well as many things he had not thought really possible. He hesitated to ask, but it seemed a relevant question.
   "How do you power the Matrix?" Ryan asked. Kel smiled and then paused as if looking for a simple answer to a complex question.
   "There are numerous ways, since the individual Passion Devices can absorb energy directly into their batteries. They can be powered by nearly anything even running on fusion power. In a phrase, the Matrix is a perpetual motion machine, once activated it doesn't have to shut down unless the user really wishes this to happen," Kel answered. He looked into Ryan's eyes and wondered if the boy needed to ask any more questions before asking himself if he wished to leave the Patrol. This was not a question to ask lightly, Kel knew. The Patrol was incessant, and inflexible both in their push for civilization and their offer of power.
   "I've decided," Ryan said. He walked out of the room, back towards where his Recharger had been left. Looking as if he was about to disappoint someone, he walked with a calm smooth gate and vanished in the doorway before Kel had started to follow him.
   Ryan and Kel Etrice emerged from where they had gone to discuss the Guardians. The Recharger flared into a soft glow and the image of Aldrin appeared on the floor besides them as they stopped before it. The little man raised an eyebrow and waited.
   "Well?" he said. Ryan looked at Aldrin and then back at Kel. He had a look of disappointment in his eyes but it was impossible for even Aldrin to read the true source of that emotion. Neither being could tell whom Ryan was going to disappoint, and Ryan just stood there gathering his voice and his courage.
   "Aldrin, I'm sorry," he said, "I am going to join the Guardians. I won't miss the Gauntlet as much as I will miss you. You were a good listener and I'd like to think you were my friend as well as my ally." Aldrin nodded and started to fade. The only real show of emotion that Ryan had ever seen on that face, was the tear that said good-bye.
   "Farewell, Recharger. Bring justice and civilization to another being as you have Ryan Moore," Kel Etrice said. His Matrices glowed and the Recharger vanished into thin air only a ripple denoting it previous existence aboard the spacecraft. Ryan looked at his new mentor and asked, "Do you have crew quarters aboard this ship? I really need to rest." The effect of several hours worth of exhaustion hit Ryan suddenly now that his day of excitement had started to wind down. Kel answered in the affirmative and led the way to Ryan's new home away from home.

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Copyright 1995, 1997 by Byron Molix