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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 69: Brown 23
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"Derek." Lauren found him at breakfast. "I'd like to go outside today and learn how to use this new weapon. You're welcome to join me, if you like; but I will need the outside door opened."
He thought about it. He wasn't sure he was ready for another talk with Lauren; the stuff she had told him was still digesting. But he probably should take some time to learn about the new gun, and see if he could hit anything with it. Lauren seemed like a good teacher, so if anyone could show him how it worked, it would be her.
"Let me go see what I can do about the doors," he said. "It's not getting out that's the problem–it's getting back in." And on that note, he headed down to the console room.
He wanted a way to open the outside doors from outside. Obviously they were designed to do that—but they were only supposed to admit cleared persons. He needed to figure out how that worked, and use it to his advantage. There didn't seem to be much to go on in the systems he was able to access; there were no records of palms or retinas or any of the usual identification criteria he'd always read about in sci-fi stories. Somehow the doors knew who was and was not allowed inside; and somehow he needed to add himself to that list.
Then he figured it out.
From the monitor console, he tracked down Dorelle and Spire. Then he ran back to find them.
"I need you guys down in the console room," he said, "and bring your key cards with you."
It took them a few minutes to catch up with him, but when they did they had their stacks of cards. He began to explain his plan.
"These cards are individual identification cards. It use to be that everybody had one. The doors here will open to any identification card recognized by the computer as belonging to someone allowed inside. So here's what we do. Give me a card for me, and one for Lauren. Anything will do, give me a couple that don't work for anything else and I'll make them work here. Then give me a handful of other cards you want coded for you guys to use, and I'll log them all into the computer. Then we'll be the staff of the station, and it will let us come and go as we like."
Dorelle and Spire seemed a bit uncertain at first, but before long they each coughed up several cards. It took about ten minutes to do the first one, as Derek felt his way through the process, but the second took only half as long, and after that he was doing them in about three minutes each. They did a dozen all together, and Derek took two.
"Dorelle," he said, "you'd better wait here and let me go test these, to make sure they really work like I think." Without waiting for a reply he plodded off toward the stairs.
The cards did work exactly as intended. He returned to the console room and offered to let Dorelle and Spire check theirs while he watched the board. They thanked him, and did so within a few minutes. Once satisfied that they had access, he found Lauren, and grabbed his new rifle on his way outside.
The gun was easy to use, and very accurate over a long range. Lauren was good, but she said he seemed to have a natural ability to shoot, probably, he thought, from all the video games he'd played over the years. They could hit tree branches a block or two away.
They also determined that they could shoot five times per power pack, and could easily aim and fire an entire power pack and change to the next in a minute.
"It's a good weapon," Lauren said, "and it does a lot of damage quickly. But it goes through ammo fast. You should probably save it for those times when you absolutely have to kill something very tough very fast. It's not very good for a fire fight where you're going to miss a lot or where you've got several people fighting against you. First of all, it's overkill for most targets–it will more than kill most people with a single good shot. Second, you only get five shots, and then you're empty. Granted, you can reload quickly and easily, but you're going to use a lot of ammo in a very short time."
She fired off another full cell, picking branches off a tree beyond the fence with each shot.
"I'd also like to know if they've got some sort of portable charger, or at least something I might be able to adapt to run off a power supply in another world. I could use these up very quickly."
"I'll poke around, see what I can find," Derek said. Truth was he'd like one of those himself, but since she thought of it first he didn't think it would be fair for him to take it if it was the only one. But perhaps if he found one he could find parts to make another. It was worth a try.
It took them less than half an hour to fire off all their power cells, and more than an hour to recharge them all in the building's charger bank. Fortunately, it was large enough to handle all of their batteries at once. It was a bit early for lunch, so they waited out the charging cycle and went back outside to fire off all their cells again. On the next recharge trip, they grabbed a bit to eat, and then went back outside to practice more.
As they plugged in their power cells to recharge yet again, Lauren made an interesting suggestion.
"Look," she said. "I've studied martial arts, and practiced offensive and defensive tumbling maneuvers and such. I think while these are charging I'm going to go work out. Would you like me to show you something, or spot you while you practice?"
It was a good idea, and Derek agreed. The closest he had ever gotten to martial arts was pushing buttons to control fighters on a video game, and with some of what he had already been through, knowing how to fight might be a good thing.
He decided to take his knife and his frying pan, the weapons he had used recently, just to show that he had some idea of what he was doing.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #100: Novel Settling. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: