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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 34: Hastings 12
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Previous chapter: Chapter 33, Slade 11
Although it was not safe to walk the steel when it was wet, there was plenty of work to do on the ground. And by Tuesday morning, when Lauren next had some free time, the wind had dried most of the ground. The rain had brought cooler weather with it, which made her martial arts lesson more comfortable. After her lesson, she said she had an idea, and she wanted Raiden to be part of it; but would he come with her to meet Father James and hear what she was thinking--if nothing else, it would be good for the two of them to meet before Friday, if they were going to work together killing Jackson. The master agreed.
She called Raal, and he came to pick them up. She kept the introductions simple: Raal Wolfe was just introduced by that name and the fact that she relied on him to drive her where she needed to be; Raiden she said was her sensei, teaching her to fight better.
Raal stayed in the cab, waiting to see if he was needed, as the two rang Father James' doorbell. Again Lauren kept the introductions simple but this time she added that Father James was a vampire hunter and that Raiden was also their enemy. Father James welcomed them.
"All who love Christ are welcome in this house." Lauren stepped inside.
Raiden, however, stayed on the doorstep.
"Is there something wrong, Raiden?" Lauren asked.
"Please, I do not wish to offend," he said, "but I do not believe in the Christ of whom you speak, and would not want to impose where I have not been welcomed."
"Whoever is not against us is for us," Lauren quoted.
"Agreed," said Father James. "But trust is a lot to ask. Are you certain he is not one of the minions of Satan?"
Lauren thought about this. Father James' home, like the house in which she was staying, was technically a rectory, part of the church property. Vampires could not enter without an invitation. The priest's formulaic welcome served to permit mortals without inviting the undead. Raiden, on the other hand, had dedicated himself to the god whose name he took. To acknowledge Christ would be to reject his own faith. She certainly thought that faith misplaced, but arguing about it wasn't going to forge an alliance. She trusted Raiden, and she trusted Father James; but she realized that Father James was more cautious than she, and had more to lose if wrong. She had imposed upon his trust, asking him to believe that she was on his side helping to destroy vampires when she had never even angered one and to all appearances was their friend.
"Let's do this at my house," she said, and walked back to the cab. The others followed.
Back at her house, Lauren invited them in and offered them something to eat. They declined, but she made a sandwich for herself, and set it aside while she talked to them.
"Gavin wants The Book of Journeys. He's not alone. There are many vampires who want that, and probably many more not interested in it for themselves who would not want Gavin to have it. Father James, you once had two pages of it; Raiden has a few pages secured. I certainly don't want to give the vams pages from the book. But if we made them believe such pages were within their grasps, we could put them at each other's throats. So here's my idea." She went on to outline how, using the pages they had as a model, they would create what they would style a "translation" of several pages of The Book of Journeys. They would compose it in an ancient language, probably Latin or Greek, in an extinct dialect, and write it on parchment in the character style of the period. Then they would photocopy these pages, and mail them to Gavin with a note from Lauren asking if they appeared to be what he was seeking, and saying that there might be more pages of this translation which she could get for him. At the same time, she would let it slip to the other vampires that these pages had been sent to him. That would certainly create discord and distrust between them--or more accurately, amplify the trouble already there.
The others agreed that it could work, and decided to start the fake pages immediately. They had formidable linguistic talents, and shared a common study of Latin, so they decided to use that. Father James was better skilled in the language, but since he was known to Gavin it was decided that the work would be done in Raiden's hand. They would work at Raiden's apartment so that they would have the pages available for reference, and would begin this afternoon, always working in the daylight to reduce the chance that the vams could connect them to each other or to the work.
Raal took them away while Lauren ate her sandwich and returned to her scriptures. She was starting to get nervous about Friday night, and so took a break to go through her weapons. The psionic ones would be the most useful, and she made certain she had a way to carry both the blaster and the drill under her robes, as well as the disintegrator in her hand. She would have the kau sin ke's more as part of the outfit than as weapons--they would be little use against a potent vampire. But the real weapons of her warfare were going to be spiritual, and she returned again to her study. She made dinner before returning to work.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #30: Novel Directions. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: