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TREASURE HUNT

— by Ted R. Blasingame, with Steve Carter

Chapter 3
 

Since he had gotten a late start on his first day, it took Rojur two days to mow the entire estate with Blackthorne's riding mower, and then another full day to trim the shrubbery and clean up the clippings. His fourth day was spent trimming tree limbs hanging over the drive and the edges of the estate, and then another day cleaning autumn leaves from the rain guttering around the house. The weather was a touch cool for swimming now, and Blackthorne had suggested that the pool should be drained and winterized. By the time the new groundskeeper had completed his first week, the lawn was once again in need of mowing, so most of the cycle repeated itself.

On the first night of his arrival, Rojur had seen television commercials on the set in the room that had been provided for him, promoting do-it-yourself hair dye kits that he might be able to use to make himself less noticeable to occasional guests of the Blackthorne estate. He was sure that colored contact lenses could also be purchased to finish the disguise.  Even if the job as groundskeeper might be temporary, he would need to blend in with the local population. I have been careless, he mused to himself.

During free time after his duties the next evening, Rojur walked two miles up the road to a nearby market and used the twenty dollar bill he had found to purchase the hair dye kit he had seen advertised. It would have to be reapplied in another six weeks, so he bought two in order to keep another on hand. Then, when he emerged from his room the next morning, only the boy Brandon seemed to notice that his hair was now black to match the natural color of his beard. Unfortunately, it had done nothing to counteract his natural psionic energy and no amount of combing and brushing would make it look like anything but as airy and windblown as it had before.

Despite the wealth at the millionaire's disposal, Rojur had come to realize that Alex Blackthorne preferred to live a simple life while at home away from the office. Three times that first week, the industrialist had entertained business guests in his home. Following direction, Rojur took his meals only at the breakfast bar in the kitchen or out on the back patio. He had offered to assist Hobbes with kitchen duties and serving the guests, but the man had a specific plan for everything he did and respectfully declined.

Although he showed no outward sign of hostility, Rojur had the strong feeling that Hobbes did not appreciate his presence on the estate. Perhaps it was his unconventional appearance or his supposed vagrant background, but the majordomo did not seem to trust the newcomer fully.

Rojur tried to focus on his work and stay out of everybody's way. When he was out on the estate grounds, he had plenty of opportunities to mull over his situation and the reasons why he had left his home to come to this place and time. He did not know how long he might need to stay here, so he was prepared to make the best of it.

Even though he possessed psionic abilities, he knew he must keep them under wraps. If they were ever discovered, Rojur was certain that the authorities would have him shuttled to some hidden organization to have him dissected in order to discover his secrets. He was running a close risk as it was even with just his eye color.

Even his clothing had initially attracted attention, but as luck would have it, the particular garments he had worn could be easily configured into other styles, mimicking different materials as well. He had seen an actor on television playing the part of a groundskeeper much like himself, so he had reconfigured his outfit to appear as if he wore a black tee-shirt, a pair of grey overalls and black work boots.

Although the autumn temperatures gradually cooled, Blackthorne's son was often out on the grounds while Rojur worked, the boy running, jumping, tumbling and generally being a kid while his tutor was away. Brandon sometimes just sat barefoot in the grass, watching the new groundskeeper from a distance.

Rojur had also noticed something else watching him while he worked outside. Three days after he had arrived, he had seen an animal staring at him from the wooded underbrush that surrounded the estate grounds. Blackthorne owned all of the lots directly adjacent to his and he had purposely kept them undeveloped as a buffer against other homes in the area. Rojur was not sure what type of animal it might be, other than some kind of large canine with black and grey fur and a darker mask about its eyes, but he had seen it near the edge of the estate on several occasions.

Although the sight of the animal had sent chills up his spine when he felt those piercing ice blue eyes upon him, he did not feel threatened. There was simple curiosity in its demeanor, but with the presence of a child on the grounds, Rojur kept his eyes open for the animal whenever Brandon was outside with him.

On this particular morning, however, the groundskeeper had seen no one but Hobbes since emerging from his room at the top of stairs.  The majordomo had greeted him courteously and prepared a small breakfast at his request, but otherwise offered him no news of the day's calendar.

Directly after breakfast, Rojur headed for the work shed at the back of the lot and soon had the chemicals and implements he would need to drain and clean the swimming pool. He set everything down on the ground at the shallow end of the pool and then put his hands on his hips while he studied the large vinyl covering stretched across the water and secured to recessed marine cleats.

Removing the cover would normally be a two-man job, but the groundskeeper did not have that luxury today. He looked around surreptitiously, scanning the area for anyone who might be around, but the only other pair of eyes he found looking back at him belonged to the large canine at the edge of the yard. As if he were greeting an old friend, Rojur smiled and nodded toward the animal, but then returned his attention to his surroundings. Seeing no one else about, he spread out his hands over the pool and felt the familiar tingle in his extremities whenever he used his telekinesis.

With the tarpaulin now held in place by the force of his will, he dropped his arms and went around to the marine cleats to untie each of the ropes. Once they were all free, he spread out his arms again and mentally rolled the covering back, starting from the deep end. The tarp obediently rolled into a neat tube, mirroring the image in his mind, and once it reached the other end of the swimming pool, he set it down gently upon the concrete.

The level of the chlorinated water had been low enough in the pool that the bottom of the tarpaulin was in no need of drying. That task completed, Rojur turned back to his tools to clean out the bugs and leaves that had made it beneath the tarp.

The white-eyed esper stopped short and a sudden chill shot up his spine. Alex Blackthorne stood just outside the patio door, wearing a set of crimson sweats with the logo of a local university upon the top displayed in cream colored ink. He held a small plate with a bagel and cream cheese in one hand, and had a computer tablet clutched in the other.

Blackthorne had a look of surprise upon his face, but it was quickly replaced with a stern expression. Rojur was stunned at his own carelessness, but before he could offer up a lame explanation, the other man surprised him with a talent of his own.

Blackthorne's thoughts suddenly jumped into Rojur's head. |I think it is time you and I had a private discussion.|

Rojur's jaw dropped open, but for only a moment. He clamped it shut and then simply nodded to his employer without a word. 

* * * 

Behind closed doors in Blackthorne's private study, the esper sat down in a high-backed leather chair, facing the wealthy businessman across a large oak desk. Neither had spoken during the walk in through the house, but Rojur had mentally kicked himself with each step. He was now on his guard, and he was prepared to teleport away if he suddenly found himself in danger.

Blackthorne's thoughts were of a different nature, however. As an entrepreneur used to facing boards and committees, he had learned long ago how to keep his emotions hidden away from his face, so the façade he presented to his groundskeeper was impassive.

They studied one another for a long moment before Alex leaned forward and clasped his hands together on the blotter atop his desk. Rojur tried to appear relaxed. The room had a comfortable feel to it. A large window on the outside wall near the desk looked out beside a gnarled oak tree next to one of the many flower gardens of the estate. The earth tone drapes were currently drawn together, lighting the private study only in soft hues from the morning sunlight. A floor-to-ceiling wooden bookcase occupied the wall on the opposite end of the room, each of its shelves full of tomes that had seen much use over the years, but were given care in handling. Potted ferns occupied each corner and gave the room a nice aromatic ambience.  Behind the desk was a large framed map of the world, printed upon a replica of old parchment. There was muted silence in the air, and the esper realized the room had been constructed with soundproofing material.

"Rojur Delondin," Blackthorne said, his eyes firmly upon the other man. "You showed up on my doorstep with shoulder-length turquoise hair, white eyes and a tanned complexion. You are approximately five foot seven inches tall, one hundred fifty-three pounds and in good physical condition. You speak English, but with a pronounced, yet unidentifiable accent. You stated your home is Roswei, which is neither a country, state, province, city nor a village that can be located on any map." Alex sat back in his seat and continued.

"Even if your name and country were both made-up, there are no recognition records of your facial structure with any worldwide agency, including the International Passport Authority. Hair samples left behind in the workshop lavatory were analyzed and your DNA has no match to any worldwide database. In fact, you only seem to be vaguely related to human, but the samples must have been contaminated since I know the implication of that isn't possible."  Rojur listened without interruption, but Blackthorne suddenly favored him with a bit of a smile.  "You are obviously not from anywhere around here," he said lightly. "Would you care to enlighten me?"

Rojur shook his head. "Not really," he answered. "Let us just say that the United States Federal Witness Protection Program is very thorough."

"I see," Blackthorne muttered, unconvinced. "I take it blue-green haidye and white contact lenses over your eyes is supposed to help you blend in with society?"

"Not exactly," Rojur answered, straight-faced.

Without batting an eye or moving his lips, Blackthorne's words jumped into the esper's mind again. |I will ask you again. Where are you from?|

Rojur did not flinch this time, but sudden thoughts raced through his mind. Was Blackthorne sent by his father to find him? No, there was no one besides himself who knew the method of his escape, and besides, Blackthorne was too well established to be a plant on the lookout for him. That the man had telepathic abilities was definite, but Rojur could not guess what other talents he may have. His first impulse was to answer with a telepathic response of his own, but he was cautious against giving up any more of his own secrets and refused to take that bait.

"Sorry, Mr. Blackthorne," he said aloud.  "Even though we both know a few parlor tricks, I am not inclined to discuss my personal background. I appreciate the employment, room and board you have provided for me, but with my refusal to divulge my history, I believe it may be time to move along."

Alex looked surprised, and in doing so, surprised Rojur in return. Blackthorne waved both hands in the air and looked apologetic. "I'm sorry, Mr. Delondin," he said with raised eyebrows, "but that won't be necessary. I don't know what kind of trouble you may have been in, but I can assure you that someone with your telekinetic ability will be safe from discovery here. Please, stay."

Rojur stared at him a long moment. "What assurances do I have that I will be safe now that you know what I can do?"

Blackthorne opened a drawer to his desk and pulled out a colorful pamphlet. He slid it across the desk toward the esper and nodded toward it. "Take a look at this, please," he said.

Rojur picked it up and felt his eyebrows rising. "BPRD - Blackthorne Psionetic Research Division?" he read aloud.

"Just as it says, I have a business division concerning psionic and genetic research," Alex explained aloud. Then, |As you can guess, I have a personal interest in this field of research.|

"Were you born with the ability," Rojur asked, "or was it acquired?"

|It's natural,| Alex replied mentally. |A genetic anomaly passed down within my family line.|

Rojur only glanced at the pamphlet idly, folding and unfolding it to give his hands something to do. "How many know of your telepathy?"

Alex smiled. "Very few, only those whom I have hand-selected. This is not something I would want made public, just as you would not want your own ability publicized."

Rojur's lips tightened. "So… what is it you want from me, samples of my brain tissue? Multitudes of probes and experiments?"

Alex laughed aloud, shaking his head. "Nothing so dramatic," he replied. "I would like to have a few NDIs done on you, nothing that would be invasive."

"NDI?"

"Non-Destructive Inspection. However, nothing would be done without your knowledge or permission. As with myself, only a select few would even be aware of you."

"Without my knowledge… like having my hair samples analyzed?" Rojur asked, setting the pamphlet on the desktop.

Blackthorne frowned. "That was a security background check," he assured the esper. "It had nothing to do with your abilities… of which I was completely unaware of until you displayed it so openly out at the pool. I still know nothing more of your background, and my government takes a serious view on possible terrorists living among the populace."

"How many government agencies are now watching me due to the results of your investigation? I am no terrorist, but I assure you that no one will ever dig up any information on me; that alone will do a lot to drive the curious to drastic measures in an attempt to find out something… anything about me."

Alex pursed his lips. "I am more discreet than that," he said in a low voice. "I have trusted key people in areas that would surprise even Uncle Sam, and I can assure you they are one hundred percent loyal to me."

"Why would you even believe that?" Rojur asked, clearly unconvinced.

"Because each of them possesses similar talents to my own, and all have much to lose if they were to be discovered."

Rojur sat up straighter in his chair. "I was not aware that psionic abilities were so widespread across the Earth," he mused aloud. "It is not one of the planets known to have many natural espers…"

"What… did you just say?" Blackthorne asked slowly.

Rojur looked up in surprise and tried hard not to swallow back his fear. He had slipped up twice today and it was not like him to be so careless. Such mistakes could cost him his life back home.

"Nothing of importance," he offered weakly.

Blackthorne leaned forward on the desk again, resting his elbows on the edge and steepled his fingers beside his chin. "You know, when I first met you," he said in an even voice, "I just figured you were probably a cosplay fan, colorfully dying your hair, wearing decorative contact lenses, and probably a foreigner to the United States.  A foreigner, yes, but not from another country, I'd wager."

Rojur prepared himself for a quick escape, absently fingering a cylindrical lump under the shirt beneath his coveralls. Blackthorne was on the right track, and the esper knew he had made a serious error working for this man. Any other person in the metropolitan area would have likely overlooked this line of reasoning, but it was obvious that Alex Blackthorne had too much experience in this field for Rojur to get by with a few made up facts and figures.

"Stop," Rojur said to the other man. "Let us not make this out to be some kind of fantasy. It is simply a joke that has gone too far, using makeup and a bit of pretending on my part. If you call the authorities down on me, all they are going to find is a frightened sci-fi fan who got separated from his travel group. I was robbed of my passport and was only looking to work somewhere long enough that I could afford my way back home and have a replacement passport sent to me."

Blackthorne shook his head. "I might have accepted that explanation if I had not seen the results of your DNA test myself. Mr. Delondin, or whatever your real name might happen to be, I do not believe you are quite human." Rojur started to get up from his seat, but Alex held up a hand. "I assure you that you are in no danger here. Please keep your seat."

Rojur stood up anyway. "I do not care for this conversation, Mr. Blackthorne. My personal background is no one's business but my own. If I stay, I will likely become a study of interest, and that is not on my list of things I want to do. I came here to live quietly, but I have made several errors in judgment, one of which was coming here to your home.  I cannot do anything to make you forget I was here, but once I leave, your memory of me is all that you will have."

Alex stood up. "You sound like you could use an ally," he said, walking around the desk toward him with a hand extended. |I do not intend to turn you over to the authorities and what better ally could you have than someone who understands you a little?|

Rojur studied him for a long moment, unwilling to take the proffered hand. "My father is a man such as yourself," he said with a furrowed brow, "a businessman with command over many that he would willingly lie to in order to get what he wanted."

"I am not your father," Blackthorne said darkly, "and I do not appreciate being compared to others when I have my own methods of success."  He closed the hand he had offered and held it up between them. "I offer you safety and understanding, but if you are so mistrustful of my intentions, go on your way; I won't send anyone after you. I hired you to do my yard work solely at Saundra's insistence, knowing nothing of your background or abilities. I would prefer to know you as a friend, but groundskeepers are a dime a dozen and I can always find someone to cut my grass."

Without waiting for a response, Alex returned to his seat behind the desk and sat down. He looked up at the esper and folded his hands together on top of the desk, saying nothing more. Rojur returned his gaze for another moment before he sat down again. The bangs of his long, airy hair fell into his eyes, so he brushed it aside with a finger.

"If only you knew the details of my life leading up to my appearance here," Rojur said in a low voice, "you would understand my reluctance to accept your offer, Mr. Blackthorne."

"So enlighten me."

The esper shook his head. "There is not a person on Earth I would share that with," he muttered.

Alex raised an eyebrow. "Upon which planet would you discuss this? Roswei?"

Rojur stared at the businessman for a long moment. Finally, he stood up and then approached the desk, resting the tips of his fingers upon the edge of the blotter. "Thank you for the job, the room and board, and the generous offer. I wish you well in your endeavors, but I am going now."

Before Blackthorne could respond, the esper's eyes lit up from the inside with psionic energy that glowed in the shadows of the room. Alex blinked, and in that moment, the esper was simply not there. There was neither sound nor flash of light with Rojur's disappearance, just a subtle movement of air rushing in to fill the spot where the man had stood.

Alex started and bolted hard against his seat back, surprised at the sudden vanishing. He swallowed hard and looked abruptly around the room, wondering if Rojur had the ability to cloak his presence.

"Mr. Delondin," he said with a voice that was steadier than his insides, "this is impressive, but unnecessary. Please show yourself and let's discuss this further." There was no response to his request, not even the echo of his voice off the soundproofed walls. "Rojur…?" he tried again.

After another moment of silence, Blackthorne sighed and got up from his chair. 

* * * 

Rojur's vision shimmered and then his surroundings instantly changed. Standing beside the queen size bed, he looked around at the bedroom that Blackthorne had allowed him to use, frowning at the turn of events. He had not wanted to reveal his teleportation ability to the businessman, but he knew that Alex would not have allowed him to simply walk out of the room without further debate.

He did not wish for Blackthorne to know that he had only teleported one room above the study, so he moved around the bedroom quietly, retrieving his personal items and stuffing them into his well-traveled duffel as quickly as he could.

When he approached the window to pick up a book from the sill, movement caught his eye through the sheer curtains. Alex Blackthorne had gone outside and was pacing beside the rolled up tarpaulin at the shallow end of the swimming pool.

Rojur watched him for a moment and then began to turn back to his task, but another movement flagged his attention. The large canine he had seen on several occasions was walking across the lawn toward the house. It stopped and looked back at something in the trees for a moment, but then it turned back toward the house and began running straight toward the billionaire. The animal's head was down, and its mask fur gave it the appearance of danger, making the small hairs on the back of Rojur's neck stand up.

Although he mistrusted Blackthorne's intensions, the esper wished no ill fortune upon him, especially not from a wild animal taking advantage of the man's distraction to attack. He made an immediate decision and then teleported down to the yard.  He appeared several feet away from Alex and quickly scooped up the handle of a pool net.

Blackthorne yelped, jumping backward from the sudden appearance of the man in front of him, but it only took him a moment to realize that the esper was not facing him with the makeshift weapon, but away as if in a protective posture.

Rojur crouched, brandishing the pole, and the large canine suddenly stopped at the edge of the concrete surrounding the pool deck. The animal stared at him with a penetrating gaze. At first it laid its ears back, but then it bared its teeth at him with a low growl deep in its throat.

"Get back!" Rojur shouted at the animal, waving the net before him. The canine took a step back, but then sank into a crouch, unwilling to back down any further, its eyes never leaving his.

The esper took a step forward to circumvent the edge of the pool, but a hand suddenly gripped his arm.

"Stop!" Blackthorne commanded. Rojur turned to look at him incredulously, but Alex shook his head with a look of amusement. "Don't harm my husky," he said in a quieter voice. "He's my friend and would not have hurt me."

Unconvinced, Rojur looked back at the animal, holding his ground. The grey, black and white animal continued to growl deep in its throat, but when Blackthorne walked past the esper and approached it, the animal fell silent, lowered its tail and then put its head down. Alex knelt beside it and then brushed his fingers through its thick fur coat. The dog's ice blue eyes flicked back and forth between Alex and Rojur. It acted as if it did not want to trust taking its eyes from the esper, but finally gave in to the feelings of affection to the man now lightly scratching behind its ears.

The Siberian husky gave out a brief whine and then nosed up to kiss the bottom of Blackthorne's chin with a solitary lick.  After a moment, Alex looked back over at the esper. He did not appear upset, but his expression became unreadable with a perfect poker face.

"While it was unnecessary," the man said, "I appreciate your willingness to come to my rescue against the big bad woof. This is Okami. He's a purebred Siberian husky. He's usually fairly friendly to everyone, but I think your sudden aggression has him on guard."

Clearly puzzled, Rojur knelt down slowly and set the net pole on the ground. When he stood up again, he began walking toward them, but the canine laid his ears back and put his head down, staring at him defiantly.

Alex gave the animal a light tap on top of its head when the canine began to growl. "No need for that, Okami," he said calmly to the husky. "Mr. Delondin was only trying to protect me, as you are doing now." Then he looked back at the esper with a raised eyebrow and added, "He is our friend."

"That is correct," Rojur said; as he had never owned an animal, he felt silly talking to a dog, but his words were more for Alex. "We are friends. I mean no harm to anyone in this household."

The canine looked up at Alex, who nodded, and then he looked back at the other man almost as if he had understood them. He got up to his feet and then padded quietly over to the esper, his ears up and tongue now lolling out the side of his mouth. Rojur closed his hand loosely and then leaned over, offering the back of his hand. The animal sniffed him for a moment, and then gave his knuckles a single friendly lick.

Feeling as if he had been accepted, Rojur smiled with a nod and then scratched the dog lightly behind its right ear. He was rewarded with a silly canine grin.

"I'm glad you came back," Alex said quietly as he approached. "I would like to resume the previous conversation with my friend."

Rojur's frown returned to his face, but at Blackthorne's emphasis on his last two words, the esper straightened up. He thought about it a moment longer before finally giving the man a nod. Rather than returning to the office, Rojur gestured out across the manicured lawn.

"Let us discuss it out here," he suggested.

Relieved, Alex nodded and gave the dog a final pat on the head before turning to follow the esper out across the grass, shoving his hands into the pockets of his crimson sweats.  Okami padded casually behind him, now relaxed around the two men.

"What made you come back?" Alex asked, breaking the silence after a moment.

"I was upstairs packing my things when I looked out the window and saw this guy coming after you," Rojur replied, gesturing behind them at the man's pet. "He looked as if he was about to take you down for his dinner."

Alex grinned. "It was dinner on his mind, but I wasn't on the menu. I was just about to feed him."

"Okami is a pet?"

"I've had him since he was old enough to leave his mother," Blackthorne answered.  "We are old friends." He took a few casual steps before speaking again. "I must admit that you startled a year's growth from me when you disappeared from my study… then took another one when you popped back in out here."

Rojur gave him a lopsided smile. "I had not planned to show that particular ability, but you had me boxed into a corner. The quickest way to end the conversation was the most abrupt."

"What else can you do?" Alex asked in genuine interest.

Rojur shook his head. "All in good time, but not right now," he replied.

Blackthorne looked at him sideways. "That implies a plan to stay. Have you reconsidered my offer?"

The esper nodded. "Perhaps there is something in what you say," he said. "I could use a friend, or at least a safe haven, if I can depend upon your word."

"You can. I was sincere in my offer. I can offer you safety and understanding."

"In exchange for letting you study me?"

"Only if you will allow it."

Rojur fell silent as they approached a wooden gazebo.  The husky trotted up three steps and then promptly turned several slow circles before settling on a spot near the middle of the structure. Blackthorne followed him inside and then sat down upon a curved bench seat that wrapped around the inside perimeter. Rojur stopped on the middle step and then leaned up against a support beam, crossing his arms.

"I would prefer not to be studied at all," the esper said, "but I know that will not satisfy your curiosity. So long as you limit knowledge of my true nature to yourself and just one other, perhaps I can be persuaded to answer a few questions. Just do not fool yourself into thinking I will give up all my secrets."

"Done," Alex said immediately.

Rojur nodded, but then he leaned forward and let Blackthorne see the seriousness in his face.  "I have the means to leave at any time I suspect our alliance to be untrustworthy," he cautioned the other man, "but if you wish me to stay, I will for now."

Alex got back to his feet and extended his hand. "Partners?"

Rojur took the other man's hand. "Associates, perhaps, but I can always use a friend."

Blackthorne flashed him a smile and then surprised him with a friendly slap on the back. "Excellent!  I would appreciate it if you would join us for dinner this evening in the main dining room. There's no need for a friend to eat in the kitchen."

Rojur raised an eyebrow. "I see this association comes with benefits. All right, I accept.  We can talk later about the other person you might trust with this, but I caution you to be very discreet."

"Being discreet is a part of my business practices," Blackthorne assured him, "but that's something you may want to adopt yourself. I would recommend trying to blend in a little more. The hair dye was a good idea, but you still need to do something about your eyes."

Rojur nodded. "I have already been thinking of this. Once I finish up with my duties for the day, I had intended to walk downtownto find a place that sells color contact lenses."

Alex looked surprised. "Walk?  It's several miles to the eyeglass store!  Wouldn't it be easier if you just teleported?"

The esper laughed aloud. "Yes, that would be more convenient, but that goes against blending in, does it not?"

"I suppose that's true," Alex agreed.

"Besides, I do not mind the walk," Rojur added.  "It is good exercise."

"Let me drive you in," Blackthorne offered. "I don't have to be in my downtown office until this afternoon. The contacts can be pricey and I doubt you have earned enough to pay for them yet. I can get them for you."

Rojur looked surprised. "Thank you, I accept." When he glanced back toward the house, he remembered his tasks. "However, I probably need to get back to my work on the pool and finish up before someone trips over my tools."

Alex nodded and waved a casual hand back toward the house. "By all means," he said, "but you might want to keep an eye out for other spectators if you decide to levitate anything else.  Brandon and Masanori both know of my telepathic ability, but neither Chester, Saundra nor Carl has any knowledge of it; they might react differently than I did."

"Masanori?"

Alex nodded. "Right. I haven't introduced you to Masanori. He is the geneticist who heads my Psionetic Division of research. You may have seen him here a time or two – rotund little Japanese guy with a goatee and John Lennon glasses."

"Does he also have psionic ability?" Rojur asked curiously.

"No, just an appreciation of the Beatles," Alex answered with a smile, taking the steps back down to the lawn. "He has no psionic abilities of his own, but he's long been fascinated by the subject. He is completely trustworthy, and was the one I had in mind to be in on your case, Mr. Delondin."

"You may call me Rojur, if you wish," the esper said smiling as the husky fell in step behind them on the way back toward the house. "I am not a formal man like Mr. Hobbes."

Alex grinned. "Chester Hobbes is often more formal than I am, although he's led a life that was often less-than-glamorous. He is very efficient at everything he does, and possesses skills you won't normally find in a majordomo. I can trust him with many things, but I advise you not to underestimate him. Be on your guard in his presence and make sure you do not use your abilities where he can see them."

Rojur nodded, and then chose to reveal another of his talents. |If I need to speak to you in private,| he sent his thoughts, |I will simply use this method. It is more direct, does not have to be line-of-sight, cannot be overheard or wire-tapped, and does not require soundproofing like your study.|

Blackthorne stopped in his tracks, blinked and watched the esper continue on toward the house. |Indeed,| he responded in surprise.

NEXT CHAPTER

Unless otherwise noted, all material © Ted R. Blasingame. All rights reserved.