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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 125: Slade 90
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Slade watched as everyone prepared for the next attack. He had nothing to prepare; he was always ready. Still, he thanked Derek when the kid built a charger for his power packs; and once he had them charged, he decided to take some time out on the street shooting at targets. Practice was always a good thing, and now he could get in some serious practice with the blaster, as he no longer needed to worry about using up the ammo, at least for the moment. Derek apologized that he couldn't build it with solar cells; the superiority party had outlawed that technology long ago, and only the simplest low-power sensors were available.
There was also some excitement when Bethany gave Derek a new suit of clothes. It had an odd look to it, certainly nothing terribly fashionable, but that wasn't the point. He, apparently, was able to change his form becoming smaller (although why anyone so small would ever want to be smaller was beyond what Slade could figure), and this suit was able to change with him.
It bothered him that he had no one with whom to spar. Lauren offered, but she was busy with so many things, on top of which any time anyone needed anything she had to go to the store to pay for it with that strange card she had. Besides, those weapons of hers were entirely different from anything he usually faced. He had given a lot of thought to how he would counter them, and come up with some ideas, but he wasn't certain they could avoid hurting each other if they tried it. He continued his shadow fighting. She also practiced, and sometimes they practiced together, but only in the sense that they were in the same place at the same time.
Omigger spent much of his time with Bethany and Shella, teaching them and sharing ideas. The little magic Slade knew stood him in good stead, and he had no special desire to learn more at the moment, but he was glad that Shella had the opportunity to work with her uncle. She'd always taken magic more seriously, as had Omigger, and it would do both of them good to share this passion. It would also help all of them in their fight against the vampires. Anything any one of them could learn to do would improve their chances in the quest ahead.
It took a couple days before Slade realized what it was that didn't make sense about all this preparation. It came to him almost abruptly that no one had said for what they were preparing. Obviously, they were getting ready to attack another control station and open another dome; in that sense, it was becoming monotonous, and went without saying. What had not been said was which dome they would target next--or at least, if anyone had said, he had missed it. He decided that was probably the case; and it didn't much matter to him where they were going, as he wasn't driving and would just do his part when they got there.
Still, by the end of the week he still hadn't heard even a casual mention of the next target, so at dinner he decided to ask. He had not expected the reaction.
"That's a good question," Lauren said. "Where should we hit next?"
"I just assumed it would be Geneva," Bethany said. "After all, we've got to do Geneva and Washington to break the main power points, and we just hit the U.S. so I assumed we'd be going to Europe."
"No," Ana said, and everyone was startled. "God has sent you here so that you can save Washington next."
There was silence for a moment. Lauren broke it.
"Washington might be a good idea," she said. "After all, Tubrok has to know that Geneva and Washington are highest on our list. If you look at our pattern, we did New York, then Tokyo, then Wandborough, and then Philadelphia. He'll be expecting us to hit Europe or Asia; if we hit Washington, we break the pattern, and he won't be so ready for us."
"Besides," Derek said, "every day we delay we give them a better chance of creating security to counter our efforts. We know that Tubrok tends to run what they call the Eastern Megalopolis. With New York and Philadelphia open, the biggest pieces left are Washington and Atlanta. Open those, and what's he got left? Boston? Baltimore? Newark? We're breaking his back. I agree on Washington."
No one seemed to have any argument against this, so it seemed settled by consensus. Then Ana spoke again.
"I knew you was going to Washington, Lorne," she said. "God tells me that's where you'll face your greatest challenge yet. Tubrok will be there. Stopping him is the most important step in breaking the Superiority Party."
It was strange. It was as if someone just announced a truth that was so obvious it had been known since before the world began, and yet so obscure no one had ever thought it before. Lauren had said Ana was a prophetess; this must be what it was like to hear a message from a god. You knew it was true; you felt that you had always known it, and yet never realized it. Of course Lauren would face Tubrok there, in Washington, and would bring him down. He, Shella, Omigger, Bethany, and Derek would all be there to help her, but this was, ultimately, her fight, her victory, her mission. Three times she had been in this world before. She had learned what she needed to know, and prepared allies to help her in this, and come to this moment. Tubrok was about to die, thanks to Lauren. There was at this moment no doubt that it would happen. It was just a matter of when, and how, and those were small matters once the key fact was known.
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 #209: Versers Victorious. 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: