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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 4: Kondor 98
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 3: Slade 93
The new voice startled Kondor. He had shut down the spy gear when he had returned to the control room, and now he jumped at the sound of someone else.
"It's O.K., Joe. I want you to meet my wife, The Lady Shella, daughter of Baron Torelle of Corlander. Shella, this is my good friend Joe Kondor, now a doctor."
"Pleased to meet you, ma'am", Kondor said.
"It's our pleasure," the girl replied, and then turned to Slade. "M'lord," she said, "he's foreign."
At least, Kondor thought, she didn't say black--or worse. But Slade laughed. "No more so than you and me, love. We're in another world, and at the moment all we know is what we've seen. This man may not wield sword or knife as well as me, but he's deadly with that gun, a keen tracker, and I would trust my life to him again in a minute."
Shella seemed to be taking this in; she stared at Slade uncertainly for a moment, biting her lip, and then turned back to Kondor.
"It is indeed a pleasure to meet you, sire," she said. "I hope we are welcome in your home."
This time Kondor laughed. "If I ever get home again," he said, "you will certainly be welcome. I'm as much a stranger here as you, but it's good to have company.
"Shella," he continued. "I've heard that name. This isn't--"
"The little girl who stole my heart years ago? Yes, this is her."
"How did you get back together?"
"Remember I told you that I was allied with the Caliph of the West Wind--that djinni we rescued?" Kondor felt his skeptical look cross his face; Slade had a lot of crazy notions about magic and magical creatures, and had once talked to the wind as if it could hear him. It didn't help that he happened to have done it just before the wind changed to their favor, which almost certainly had made his less than brilliant friend think it had worked. "Well, he had a job for me, and he sent Shella along with me on it. We got married along the way. If it stays quiet here, maybe we can get in the rest of our honeymoon, although I suspect we're approaching our anniversary. Without a stable calendar, it's pretty tough to keep track of such things."
"I'm sure she'll let you know when it's coming. She's probably kept track of the days."
"As long as she doesn't get angry at me if I don't know that we got married on the twenty-fourth of Adrus when it was called the third of Zarn last time," Slade said. "Just give me a few days warning, honey, so I can plan something."
He smiled. Kondor could see that they were indeed very much in love. He didn't see what function that had for immortals; it wasn't as if they needed offspring to continue their posterity. Still, it seemed to make them happy, and at the moment he'd leave it at that.
"So," he said, "what did you find in your wanderings to reach me? I presume if you'd found people, they'd be here by now."
"Well deduced, Watson," Slade said. "We found well-made beds, all empty, and empty rooms and halls. I'd say it's likely we're alone here."
"In that case, I guess maybe we should stop worrying about alarm systems and see if we can get this running." Kondor started looking over the consoles. "Are you sure you don't know anything about this stuff?"
"If it has spark plugs and gears, I'm your man," Slade said. "As far as computers go, if the car isn't working and there's nothing wrong with it, you throw out the computer and plug in another one, and it costs you more than it could possibly be worth considering it really doesn't do anything. And in case you forgot, the first time I died it was from trying to install a car stereo, so Iím not too keen on electricity."
"I see. All right, then, I guess it's up to me." Remembering what he'd seen Derek doing on the spaceship a few hours before, he moved from console to console, looking at such controls as were there and trying to guess the function of each. Then, finding one that seemed to be central to the system, he turned on the power. New lights lit, power hummed through machines, and the screens on the walls all showed their images.
The view was unexpected. They were looking not at computer displays but at camera feeds, apparently from the outside of the building. The world was torn and broken, with felled and cracked trees, burnt grasses, cratered earth in all directions. What was to Kondor the unmistakable tone of gunfire arrived in surround-sound. More telling than this, most of the images displayed appeared to be views down the sights of large mounted automated guns. They were in a high tech bunker in the middle of a battlefield.
"Holy Thor and Balki," Slade said. "It looks like World War Eight out there."
Kondor gazed at the screen. "I'd have said Five," he answered; "but whatever it is, it looks like you got your war."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #218: Versers Resume. 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: