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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 103: Brown 35
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"You all recognize," Holger said, "that we are invading a Progressivist stronghold, and that they would not hesitate to kill, and eat, three of us."
Derek swallowed, but there seemed nothing for it at this point.
"It is some consolation to me to know that they can't really kill me, and if they do kill me, they can't eat me, because, as it was with Lauren, my body will be gone. But for the rest of you, I don't imagine that being eaten after being killed is really something you notice. Small consolation, perhaps, but there it is."
Holger smiled. "Yes, the boy is right. What difference does it make what they do to our bodies once we're dead?"
"But we don't have to do this," Qualick said. "It's a simple matter for us to turn back and let people know that Cavalier was not a good place for a school. We can find another place."
"Sure," Dorelle said. "We're talking about five of us attacking a Progressivist stronghold. We have no plan, no idea what sort of defenses lie ahead, no notion even of how many there are in there. No one could blame us if we left."
"But if we left," Derek said, "they'll have time to discover that their people have been killed and that we have the cards. They'll have the opportunity to tighten up security at this entrance and, if they know what they're doing, remove these cards from the system. No one has ever gotten this far before, in all likelihood. If this chance slips through our fingers, no one will again."
"Bravo," Holger said. "Let's do it."
They looked at each other, uncertain for a moment. Then Qualick spoke.
"All right. Follow me. Derek, you're behind me, and keep your laser ready. Holger, you've got the rear." He stepped through the door.
Through the door was a small room with no other visible doors. Qualick seemed for a moment confused, searching the walls. "I have seen something like this before," he began, hesitantly.
"So have I," Derek injected. "It's an elevator. We push the buttons, and it takes us down. Are we ready?"
Without waiting for a response, he pressed the second button from the top. "Usually the buttons are arranged in the same order as the floors. This one's got six buttons, but the top one would be where we got in. If you get back to the elevator, you've got to push that top button to get it to take you out. It makes sense for us to work from the top down; that way we won't be cut off by something or someone waiting above us. Besides," but he stopped there.
"Besides what?" Holger asked.
"No, never mind, it was pretty stupid."
"No, tell us," Dorelle insisted, and the others all seemed expectant.
The bell on the elevator rang; the door was about to open.
"Well," Derek said, rather reluctantly, "in every game I ever played, the further in you went, the tougher the enemies got."
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 #116: Character Missions. 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: