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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 10: Slade 95
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Slade froze. It seemed that the acceptance that Joe had received did not extend to him; all guns were pointed his direction. He could think of no reason for this, and heard some rather stupid words coming out of his mouth. "What did I say?"
Joe was on it; he spoke up immediately. "This man is with me," he said. "He's a civilian advisor."
The colonel had a rather puzzled expression on his face, but kept a sharp stare aimed at Slade. "It's rather unusual," he said, "to have a ghost as an advisor, isn't it?"
"A ghost?" Slade said, trying to figure out what they meant.
"Mr. Slade and his wife are my associates," Joe said; "I will take full responsibility for them."
"I'm not entirely comfortable having ghosts in my facility," Mlambo answered. "For one thing, we don't have the ability to provide them with separate dining facilities and other amenities. For another, the men are not going to be able to relax with them here."
"You don't have to go out of your way to do anything special for us," Slade said; but then a hard look from Joe stopped him.
"I understand that it is unusual, Colonel. Covert ops consider the Slades to be important to the war effort for reasons I cannot disclose. With your permission, we will stay the night, and continue on our way tomorrow. That certainly can't be unreasonable, can it?"
The colonel seemed to ponder this; then he hesitantly replied, "No, that is not unreasonable. We will arrange quarters for your ghosts, and for yourself, and provide you with supplies tomorrow. They will, of course, eat in their quarters, and not disturb the men."
"I don't think we have a problem with that," Joe answered. Slade looked hard at him, trying to figure out what his friend was thinking.
"Lyson?" the Colonel barked. "Set up adjacent rooms in the officers' sector, one for Captain Kondor and one for the Slades. Also order that food be sent to their rooms. Then return here to escort them."
"Thank you, Colonel," Joe said.
"Yeah, thanks," said Slade, in a bit of a daze. "Didn't mean to put you out."
Joe looked around, as if trying to decide what to do next, and then spoke again. "Well, Colonel, I'm sure you have much to do, and we're in the way. May I suggest that we wait in your conference room until our quarters are ready? That way we'll be out of your hair."
Again, the colonel seemed uncertain, but after a moment he said, "Yes, all right. That should be acceptable." Joe shouldered his rifle, and strode across the room, nodding to Slade to head back to the conference room. As he followed, he closed the door behind him, and then shook his head.
As to the old stories that have long been here: