"Hey, what's the matter?" "Everything ok?"
Tobal heard someone come up behind him and start shaking him on the shoulder. He looked up and there was a smaller tow haired boy with a shock of yellow hair grinning impishly. His face full of mischief.
Tobal replied miserably waving his hand toward the hidden doorway behind the terminal.
"I lost all my things. It took my things, my medallion that my parents left me."
"Don't worry about that", the boy said, "you'll get your stuff back after you become a citizen."
"Become a citizen?", Tobal asked.
"Yeah, first you claim sanctuary, then after completing the training you are granted citizenship."
"You mean I can't get into the city right away?", Tobal asked anxiously.
"The tow haired boy laughed, "Hey, that's a good one! Didn't your parents tell you anything?"
"My parents are dead."
"Oh", the smile vanished a minute from Rafe's face, then returned. "There's preliminary training you need before you become a citizen. Claiming sanctuary means you are applying for citizenship, first you have to prove yourself worthy by passing through the three degrees of training."
"What are they?", Tobal asked.
"The Apprentice degree is basic survival training", Rafe said, "You need to survive in the woods by yourself for one month."
"I can't survive in the woods for a month!", Tobal exclaimed helplessly. "How do I learn? How do I live with no food or shelter? I'll die!"
"That's right", Rafe grinned. "That's why I'm here. You need a teacher. The first part is your solo, but before you can solo you have to be trained. I'm here to train you. I will help you learn survival skills so you can solo. By the way, I'm Rafe", he said extending his hand in welcome. Tobal shook hands.
He pointed at the chevrons sewn on his jacket. "Each chevron stands for one person I've trained and has soloed. You are going to be my sixth and last. After you solo I go on to the Journeyman degree."
"Then I have to start training people?", Tobal muttered.
"That's right. That is how you prove your mastery in living off the land. You need to to train others if you want to be a leader."
"That will take me forever!"
"No. It depends on how hard you work at it." Rafe said cheerfully. "Look at me, you are my sixth student. I've been doing this for only one year. But I work at it. There are people that have been out here for six years and they still haven't trained six people." He winked at Tobal, "Did you notice I was in there sleeping?"
"Yes", Tobal said.
"Well, that's because I've been waiting for you."
"Waiting for me?"
"Well, waiting for someone, not you exactly. I've been waiting for someone to show up. I've been sleeping on the hard beds and my own food is almost gone. I can't eat that brown crap, it tastes really terrible." He grinned again, "Have you tried it yet?"
Tobal nodded and grinned back, "I couldn't eat it either."
Rafe grinned, "That's the idea." He chuckled, "The beds are not supposed to be comfortable.