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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 140: Hastings 88
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It had been interesting to arrive in a new world fully awake, and then when Lauren searched for her things she also sensed two others, versers, she knew from experience. Then it had been wonderful to find both Derek and Joe already here, and to be able to catch up on things. Derek told her about the continuing work of the school, which had gone on for many years after she left it. Joe had many wonderful new stories to tell.
She'd also made a bit of a mess of things, and now she had to fix them. Changing into something more normal, she began scanning the area around the computer center with her clairvoyance until she had located Raeph Williams. Then, when he was getting a bite to eat, she went to meet him, to try again.
"Raeph Williams? I'm Lauren Hastings. You probably don't know it, but I think I owe you an apology."
"Ms. Hastings, I'm sure it's nothing. What did you do, break one of my computers?"
"Actually, no–although gee, the day is still young, I might succeed in doing that, too." She smiled; he seemed to enjoy the joke. "But I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than that."
"What, you infected my mainframe with a virus?"
"Actually, I think I offended you. You see, we've met before, but you don't remember. I'm a friend of Derek Brown, and I came to see him, and–well, I'm like him, a verser, someone who travels between universes. I apparently offended you by suggesting that God had brought me here for a reason–as if I were saying that there was something happening here that you and your friends or whoever couldn't handle. I didn't mean that."
"I think," Raeph said, the confusion growing on his face, "that you have me confused with someone else."
"No, and that really is why I have to apologize. You see, I've been doing this multiverse travel thing a lot longer than Derek, and I've learned quite a bit along the way, and, well, there's no easy way to explain this–but I'm a wizardess. I use powers and abilities you would call magical. And when it appeared that I had upset you, I didn't want to make trouble for Derek, so I blocked off all of your memories of meeting me. Apart from the fact that I did something I don't really know how to undo, it was rather rude of me to tamper with your memory like that."
Raeph stood up. "Is this a joke, or are you crazy?"
I'm not crazy. Lauren sent the thought into his head. Then, carefully, she found the blocked mental pathways and released them.
Raeph sat down.
"As I say, I am sorry. I wouldn't blame you if you tossed me out an airlock or something. I shouldn't have done it. But," and she stood up, "I probably need your help to do anything around here, so if you can find it within you to help me with that, Derek will know where I am."
She left the restaurant, Raeph still sitting at the table.
Joe was waiting when she returned to the apartment.
"So, what did he say?"
"Oh, I left him thinking about it. I really have no idea."
"What will you do if he won't help you?"
"I'm worried about that, but not the way you might expect. It's an odd thing about being a wizard. You forget yourself sometimes. You think that it's perfectly all right to do things because you can do them. To complicate it, there are times and places where you actually need to be that way. An awful lot of being a wizard is not what you can do, but your ability to convey, to project that sense of power, that sense that just beneath the surface there is this ability to do almost anything. It sometimes has kept me alive. You can't let your enemies see the chinks in the armor, the doubts you might have of your own ability. You want them to believe that whatever you want to do, you can do, so you act that way. But I forgot that there's a difference between vampires and people–not exactly that I forgot that, but that somehow I forgot to treat people with respect, because I had gotten used to projecting this image. Power corrupts, if you let it. It takes a lot of effort to remember that from those to whom much is given much will be required, that the reason any of us are given any power at all is so that we can serve.
"See, my little run-in with Derek's boss proved that I could probably live here for years, eating what I wanted, sleeping comfortably, getting whatever I needed, all by playing mind games with the people here. No one would have to know I was here at all. But I would be cheating them, using them as servants, slaves, really, made all the worse because they would never know they were working for me, could never explain what happened to that food, or those clothes, or whatever it was. So I'm worried that if Raeph doesn't come through for me, I might wind up having to fend for myself, and in that case I would always be facing that temptation to use my power to steal what I needed from these people."
Joe, of course, didn't believe in magic, but he had accepted that there were powers he didn't understand, and that she had some. He attributed everything to her psionics, even when she tried to explain the difference. At least he knew she could do what she said, even if he didn't agree how.
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that," he said.
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 #134: Versers in Space. 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: