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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 109: Hastings 129
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 108: Brown 88
Again it was the next day before Lauren and Bethany took the time to review their success. This time they also had their captured documents to review, a good thirty or forty pounds of books, files, and papers pulled from shelves and cabinets in the control station of the Philadelphia dome. Lauren had some concern regarding whether the controls of all domes would be the same (although she thought it likely that they would be). At the moment, though, the overriding question was whether they would be able to understand the controls sufficiently to do anything with them.
At the moment, the answer seemed to be no.
Lauren had spent the better part of the morning into the afternoon pouring over papers so baffling she thought she'd have had better luck translating Hebrew from the original consonantal text. Bethany interrupted her, insisting that they have lunch, and then joined her in the hopeless task of comprehending the incomprehensible. She, too, was daunted by the technical jargon and the mysteries of operating systems confronting them. If it were in Sanskrit or Ugaritic or Proto-Hittite, she said, she could work a spell that would translate it all to English. With this she could do nothing.
They were no further along at the end of the day, but they conjured a light supper for themselves, changed to the bedroom, and got some rest. The next morning Lauren suggested they set aside the papers and discuss the other aspects of the raid, what they had learned and what they should remember for future reference.
The big point was Lauren's problem with the disintegrator. It was a devastating weapon if it hit, but once she used it she was without her psionics for a good minuteľan eternity in a combat situation. She had practiced it in that other world, but never in a situation in which fire rate was an issue, and now it was clear that this was a weapon of resort, one to be used in desperation or as a final shot, and not a good weapon for a first strike unless it was expected to be a takeout strike.
They talked about landing at the Liberty Bell. It appeared such historic landmarks might be a solution to a lot of travel problems. The vampires had shut down most such places, usually citing decay and structural damage, but had not actually destroyed many. This meant there were unique places in the world to target from the mist which would be uncrowded, and thus excellent landing zones.
That Lauren could effectively aim and fire the laser rifle with one hand would be an important point in the future. It meant she did not have to put down whatever rod she brought, and so would be better able to fight or flee as necessary. She thought about using one of the revolvers in the off hand, or one of the other psionic weapons, both of which had merit.
Recharging the power packs was going to be a priority. They would have to trek into Wandborough and hook up to the electric supply there. It would take a couple hours to fully recharge, but they were in no hurry at the moment.
Lauren talked a bit about Phil Hastings. She also talked about Bethany's confrontation with her mother, now a millennium before. Her own moment of truth had reminded her that she had long ago thought Bethany would need to talk about that time, the death of the vampire that had been her mother. Indeed, Bethany remembered it, and admitted it had affected her greatly, more so than she had wanted to admit, for a long time. They agreed that Morgana had been right. It was important in those situations that they had recognized this as not the ones they knew and loved but monsters using the visages of their families as disguises. It was confusing at that moment, and no one could be certain not only whether they would be able to kill someone who looked like that, but even whether they could watch someone else do so without interfering. It might be the most dangerous situation a vampire hunter faces.
All of this brought them back to the papers they had captured. After lunch, they returned to these, pouring over them through the afternoon, until with hunger and fading light came the recognition that they were ill equipped for this.
"We need someone else," Lauren said. "We need God to send us someone who understands computers and mechanical systems, who can make heads and tails of this stuff and tell us how to open the domes."
They stared at each other for a moment.
"I suppose," Bethany said, "that we should pray about it. After all, if we really need God to send us someone else, it only makes sense to ask Him."
Lauren agreed, and the two knelt together in the illusion of a bedroom within a cave, admitting their own inadequacy to God, and asking Him to send someone, to provide for their shortcomings. Lauren realized, as she had not realized in a long time, that God had not made her to stand alone, but to stand with others. God's view of His people was that they were a body, many parts working together, because each had strengths the others needed and needs the others met. She did not like to acknowledge her own weaknesses; she preferred to fill them with strengths. This time it was clear she needed someone else, not just God, not even Bethany, but someone who knew what she did not.
They prayed a long time. In the end, Lauren felt within herself an assurance that God had heard and had already answered. It was just a matter of time until she would know the form of that answer.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #202: Verser Confrontations. 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: