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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 76: Slade 25
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 75: Kondor 25
Over the next few days, Slade began to find his way around the ship, and started also to get to know his shipmates. Ishara the assassin still wasn't talking to him, but engineers Burly and Toni gave him a decent tour of ship's systems, and Tom Titus and George White were good company at meals. As yet, he hadn't done anything, but at least in looking at the bowels of the ship he thought there were several systems which he could probably fix if they broke, even if he didn't fully understand what they did or how they worked. Still, at the moment everything was working, so he wasn't going to get the chance to find out.
So he spent most of his time sitting on the bridge, trying to absorb who each person was and what each did. Gary usually didn't have much to do as pilot, as the ship tended to fly itself most of the time; from time to time he would shut down the automatics just so he could run things manually for a while, but it didn't really seem necessary. In fact, Philip could do most of the same job through the computer, and often did when Gary was asleep or off the bridge. Ishara was officially the weapons man. Although this was because of his particular proficiency with small firearms, he had adapted to operating the ship's weapons, and from time to time took pot shots at asteroids and space junk just for practice. Ann had the job which looked most interesting to Slade. When she was on the bridge, which was most of the time, she sat in a comfortable slightly reclined chair, plugged a wire into her skull jack, and closed her eyes, presumably monitoring communications. Slade often wondered whether she was awake; and given the time she spent hooked up like that, he thought she must be asleep at least part of the time.
As to the Captain, John Alexander seemed a bit, well, superfluous. People told him what was happening, and he acknowledged that he heard. He would enter the bridge, and ask what was happening, and the answers, which were full of very detailed information, usually could be summarized as "nothing". He would stay on the bridge for several hours, sometimes looking at panels and dials, sometimes asking questions, and then give orders which amounted to "keep up the good work", and leave.
But then, nothing was happening. Most of the crew really had nothing to do. And it went on for several days.
Then one day Ann suddenly opened her eyes. "John," she said. "I think I've got something."
"What is it, Ann?" the captain answered.
"It's a new listening post. FPM is ready to commission a station in sector thirty-nine equipped with the latest in planetary surveillance systems."
George spoke up. "We could use some of their long range imaging sensors, and they'll have AV probes to replenish our stock."
"And a strike against a new installation there would help several area resistance groups and boost our image," Phil added.
"Yes it would," the captain agreed. "Ann, see if you can get the schedule and any other information. Phil, we'll need typical layout, weak points, the usual security standards." He stepped over to a com panel. "Burly?" he called. The panel crackled. Toni's voice came back.
"Burly's at dinner at the moment, John. What's up?"
"Toni, we're going after a new listening post. We're going to need to work up a demolitions plan, and also figure out what we want to strip before we blow the place."
"All right; I'm on it. I'll let Burly know when he gets back."
And suddenly there was activity; plans were made, equipment was organized, information was gathered. Everyone was busy.
Everyone was busy except Slade, who sat in his room rummaging through his equipment, wondering what medieval gear he should have for a raid on a space station.
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 #50: Stories Progress. 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: