Learning to See

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands. What follows is the first episode of this battle.

 

The next day they had a quick breakfast together. Colofen left early, while Colofer stayed behind and gave them instructions. They were to prepare themselves carefully for a day in the forest. They should dress, equip themselves and arm themselves just as if they would be in the woods without the assistance of the Kilkians. In the future, they were instructed, they should always be careful to stay ready and prepared for their day. Any point of carelessness would likely be noticed by the Dibolocos.

So they put on their travel gear, checked batteries in their scanners and weapons, and moved out to the countryside. Colofer lead the two around the lake, up a slight rise and into a meadow. It was a spot they had not seen before and it was very pleasant. Wildflowers scented the air, the sun warmed them and a gentle breeze cooled them. With the break in the trees they were able to see the mountains rising up on the one side, with much of the valley falling off in the other direction.

When they reached the middle of the meadow, she stopped them and asked, “Are you enjoying the day?”

“Yes, actually, it’s a beautiful day. The wildflowers across this meadow are gorgeous.” Chamber’s eyes lit up, as she did a light-hearted spin. Jamison enjoyed watching her as she lost herself in the moment.

“Are you still alert to possible dangers, or have these enjoyments distracted you?”

Something about the question spurred at Jamison, making him scan the grassy ground, tree line and sky.

Chambers laughed, “I am enjoying the day, but I am still paying attention.”

“You walked within 50 feet of an egopod on the way here. It saw you, did you see it?”

Chambers paled slightly and became much more focused.

Colofer continued, “In your training we want to help you to learn how to always recognize dangers of any form. You will have the ability to sense certain things, even if you cannot see them. One of our primary goals is to train you to know by this perception, when a Kilkian is nearby, when a person is truly aligned with the Kilkian King, when a Dibolocos is nearby and when a person is passively or actively aligned with the Dibolocos.”

“Actively or passively?” Jamison asked.

“A person who has intentionally aligned themselves with the Dibolocos as an act of will is actively aligned. A person who has never made a choice to align with the Dibolocos but has also not aligned with the Kilkian King is passively aligned with the Dibolocos. A person who is passively aligned is controlled and manipulated by the Dibolocos almost as easily as someone who is actively aligned.”

Jamison thought of how he had played into the hands of Lobokidos. He was easily subdued and forced to do things he hated, and would regret for the rest of his life. Looking back over his time as a pirate he found it easy to see where he was under Dibolocos control. Even when he was on ship with Colofer, after his rescue, his decisions did not feel like they were entirely his own.

“Once you have raised your perceptions to be able to handle these tasks we will train you to also sense any other danger such as the egopod watching us from the forest edge.”

Hearing the egopod was that close put Jamison on edge, and he was nervously scanning the tree line, but had not seen the creature. He pulled out his weapon and double checked the setting to be sure it was turned to the setting he wanted, the one that would create a small explosion.

“Don’t kill it. He will not attempt to harm us. Later when we get to the more advanced training we will make use of his inquisitive nature to help in your training. But let’s start with easier lessons first.”

“First lesson is to be able to detect when a Kilkian is nearby. And of course I am right here beside you. But Colofen is also nearby, who can tell me where he is first?”

Jamison began straining his eyes at the trees all the more closely, watching for a flash of blue. And attempting to win the contest with Chambers. After a few minutes he was still clueless so he began trying other things like listening or smelling the air. As he tried all of these techniques he made larger and larger concentric circles in the grass. Eventually feeling like he was wasting his time, he noticed both Chambers and Colofer were watching him.

“Chambers found him first.” Colofer explained, “He is right here. With that announcement Colofen materialized alongside Chambers.

“You guys can be invisible?” The realization struck Jamison with surprise. He felt a little bit like the two aliens had been cheating. But since Chambers had found Colofen, apparently it was possible, although he didn’t understand how.

“Jamison, there are two reasons you did not find him, despite having walked within inches of him at one point. First you only tried to perceive him through the five senses of humanity, these senses are not the way that we wish to train you to perceive us. The second reason is your emotional state was clouded while you were trying. First it was your competitive nature trying to win a contest, after that it was a fear you would fail. Fear and pride will block your perception, dulling your ability to feel. It is important to be a person of courage to master these emotions.”

Colofen disappeared again, and Colofer instructed them to try again. Jamison watched dumbfounded as Chambers walked straight to the new spot. He had no idea. They tried this exercise several times over, with Chambers instructed to not reveal the location, Colofer would know by reading her thoughts. But the repetitious exercise felt like an exercise in futility to Jamison.

After a while Colofer had Chambers and Colofen move on to the next level of training and they headed off together to higher slopes on the mountain. This left Colofer and Jamison to continue working in the meadow, trying to get Jamison to make his first find. Jamison had begun to think they were all pulling a practical joke on him.

“The reason you have not found me is you cannot read your own emotions. You were trained as a sniper to suppress them. This is useful in some ways, but in addition to maintaining emotional control, I want to teach you to perceive and understand your emotions as they arise. Once you can read your emotions you will be able to learn which ones come from some aspect of your alignment with our king. Sometimes it will be the presence of a friend, sometimes the presence of an enemy or a danger. Other times it will be the king asking you to take on a specific task.

“For now I am going to ask you to clear your mind, close your eyes and think of nothing but your feelings. Meanwhile I will transport myself into and out of a spot right beside you. You will feel a change in your feelings when I pop in or out. Think to yourself here or gone whichever you think I am at the moment and this will be your first step to knowing how to read your emotions.”

Jamison did as he was told and tried to focus on perceiving the changes. But he perceived nothing and began to get frustrated again. Remembering her warning that negative emotions would block his ability, he worked to calm the feeling and when he did he felt something change. Then change again. “Is that it?” he thought.

“Yes that is it.” Colofer answered into his mind.

It came again and he thought, “Here”

“Very good”

“Gone”

“Yes, I just left.”

Jamison worked hard to tune in to the change of feeling. And with several repetitions it became easier to perceive. Then suddenly it hit home so strongly that he was tempted to step backwards like you would do if someone had walked up into your personal space. This was the first time he had been able to perceive a general direction and distance. They continued the exercises till midday and then returned to the lake house.

Jamison and Chambers talked about what they had accomplished. While Jamison was able to perceive Colofer or Colofen from about ten feet away, Chambers was already able to perceive both of them at the same time in different places from several miles away. Her perception of Kilkian presence was already close to maxing out.

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