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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 113: Hastings 39
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The parakeet people took considerably less interest in Bob than they had in Joe; but then, they had taken less interest in Joe than they had in her, Lauren thought. And Bob took less interest in them. He said they were interesting and colorful; he wouldn't say they were pretty, as if that connoted something to which he wouldn't admit.
The parakeets also wouldn't build another nest. It was too late, they said; summer was ending, it was not the time for building nests, but for feasting on food. And now that they said it, she realized that they were all getting a bit, well, pudgy; and they ate more fruits and nuts and berries, and some sweet grasses which Joe said contained mostly sugars and oils. They made no more long treks for distant berries, but the world was bursting with foods right here. She also noticed that many of the nests were starting to deteriorate, but no one seemed concerned about it. When she offered to help with repairs, they would thank her and assist, but they seemed less enthusiastic about it.
Joe had also checked the nuts and berries, and determined that all were safe for them to eat, so Lauren had started experimenting with them in her cooking. She also recognized that her hosts were starting to store food, in baskets hanging from tree branches where the lizards would be less able to reach them. They were drying some of the fruits for this, and keeping nuts. She wondered whether she could safely smoke and dry some meat or fish, but not being certain how this was done she decided not to risk it.
Meanwhile, Bob seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time swinging his sword and dagger around in the air, and pretending to fire his blaster. He changed the batteries in this quite a bit, which struck her as odd since he wasn't doing anything that would run them down. But it also reminded her that she had neglected her martial arts practice, and her acrobatics, and her bible studies, and her psionics, and even her new pistols and her bow. She had been on vacation, and it was going to cost if her skills got too rusty and she needed them suddenly.
She cleared a bit of the meadow for an archery range, and tried to pack the grasses as well as she could into bales to use for targets. She got out her kau sin kes, did a lot of tumbling and jumping, and generally worked on getting herself back in shape. She decided not to fire the guns, partly because she didn't want to use up the ammunition, partly because there was little short of the trees that would stop a bullet, but largely because she guessed the explosion of the weapon in this pristine wilderness would startle everyone.
Most of her gear was still in her wagon, which she had covered over with one of the plastic sheets she had made when she built it. She took an afternoon to sort through and organize it all, but there wasn't much else she needed while here. She realized that her vacation was over, if not as a physical fact, certainly as an attitude. Her mind had gone beyond relaxing and was moving back toward readiness. Soon she would again be ready. She could not guess for what.
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 #64: Versers Gather. 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: