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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 133: Kondor 87
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Raeph asked some very probing questions, but when it was over he went to work finding Kondor a place in this world. After tossing around several ideas, the one on which he settled involved listing Kondor as a visiting graduate student with doctorates in medicine and gravitational physics from one of the more primitive planets wishing to advance his knowledge of current technology and technique. This would give him credentials to explore engineering and medical facilities (although it was appropriate for him to ask permission of the area supervisors, and some would no doubt wish to supervise his visits), and probably get some cooperation from local educators in response to his questions. As for living arrangements, it seemed easiest overall to move Derek to larger quarters and place Kondor as his guest. He listed them as cousins, something which gave Kondor a chuckle, as Raeph seemed completely oblivious to the fact that Derek was white.
He also arranged a part time job in their emergency medical facility as something nearest in Kondor's understanding to an intern–he was not being given full status as a doctor, but would have some authority in the treatment of patients beyond what would normally be conferred on an assistant.
His orientation to this new job went fairly smoothly. As it had been on the Mary Piper so many years ago, his knowledge of disease process and primitive emergency treatments carried him through his lack of knowledge of some of the advanced developments. He had his medical kit with him, and while it did not represent any significant advances the doctors here were intrigued by certain tools such as the portable microwave scalpel. He kept the explanation simple, that he had worked as an intern on a space ship, and this was the standard gear they had used for field medicine there. On his second day he was making rounds with the doctor, and by his fourth day of work he was doing triage. This was relatively easy for him, given his combat medicine background, as it essentially involved determining who needed to be treated first and who could wait a while for an available doctor.
Derek was something of an enigma. In many ways he was still a child, a boy of twelve who was just reaching the bottom edge of puberty. In other ways, he was Kondor's equal, highly educated in math and physics and experienced in combat. Kondor began to think there was nothing the boy didn't know about computers, and almost nothing he did know about girls. Perhaps he didn't need to know much about girls. After all, Derek would probably never be thirteen, let alone twenty. Adolescence was very much about preparing for adulthood; Derek, however, was as much an adult as he would ever be, as far as Kondor could see, and would never be any less a child. Whatever the future held for this perpetual youth, Kondor was not going to be able to prepare him for it.
They were becoming friends. As it had been with Lauren and Slade, there was something about Derek, something about knowing someone who had been through the same experiences, who grasped the benefits and troubles of finding a universe and then leaving it forever. For all that made them different, there was this sense in which they were alike, and so they understood some aspect of each other that few others could truly grasp. They shared stories of their adventures. Derek had some rather superstitious ideas; he claimed to have gotten a glimpse of a vampire and to have been killed by a ghost. When Kondor pointed out that Derek had not seen the ghost and had no basis to conclude that the strange man he had seen only briefly was more than a strange man, it didn't seem to matter to the boy. He was also quick to leap to the use of the same superstitious names for the creatures Kondor had fought in rescuing the vorgo as the men of that world–spectres and ghouls, skeletons and zombies. To Derek they were obviously magical, and Kondor couldn't make him understand that one had first to prove there was any magic at all before concluding that any particular instance was magical, and there was no evidence to support such a notion.
Still, they were good stories, and he enjoyed sharing them. Derek seemed impressed that Kondor had more than once changed an entire world, but there were things the boy had done which were certainly as impressive, and Kondor let him know it.
Having access to engineering meant Kondor could easily pull up schematics and designs not only for the station (which was somewhere between a masterpiece and a nightmare) but for untold numbers of ship designs. He learned much, not only about the many ways his theories of gravity generation (for he tended to think of himself as one of their discoverers, even if in another world) were being applied, but also about many other ship systems. Back on the Mary Piper–the first Mary Piper, in space–he had wondered about being an engineer. Here he got the chance to fill in the gaps in his knowledge and expand it in new directions. He wouldn't have the sheepskin to show for it, but nine times out of ten it was knowledge and not credentials that mattered, and he was getting plenty of that.
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 #128: Character Gatherings. 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: