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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 77: Slade 114
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“We may have lied our way into a corner,” Slade began, once they had settled beside a fire with a bit of food heating.
Kondor was quiet for a moment, then spoke. “Well, I don’t particularly like saying that we lied, but I think I see your point. Vargas doesn’t expect us to return, and certainly doesn’t expect me to be with you if you do, so if we go back there we’re going to need quite a cover story.”
“And Mlambo,” Slade continued, “would rather we not return, and although we said we might once we got your equipment, by now he probably figures we’re not coming.”
“Because after all,” Kondor said, “I must have been taking you somewhere, and should have gotten you there by now. So I could go back to Mlambo, as long as you aren’t with me, and you could go back to Vargas as long as I’m not with you.”
“And neither of those options will last long. Mlambo will give you a place to stay for a couple days, but will get suspicious if you stay longer, and Vargas will resume my trial after the month passes. It almost seems as if now would be a good time for us to verse out of here and go to the next world.”
“Right. But it doesn’t work that way. I can see that it would if there really were gods or fates or someone controlling our destinies, but since there aren’t, we’re just stuck here until we get killed.”
“I don’t think you can say that the world doesn’t work the way it would if there were gods; you have to know quite a bit more about the gods to make that kind of claim. But it doesn’t work that way, and that’s where we are. So what do we do?”
In her hesitant way, Shella spoke. “My lords?”
“Maybe it’s time for the two of you to separate.”
“I don’t see how that helps,” Slade said. “Mlambo doesn’t want Joe, and Vargas will put me back on trial.”
“Mlambo and Vargas are not the only people in the world,” she said. “As you’ve said before, you and I are safe among the whites--“
“--while I am equally safe among the blacks,” Kondor finished. “She may have a point.”
“Of course,” he said, “we won’t be able to pick up the things we left in Mlambo’s bunker if we don’t stop there. We’d have to leave them.”
Everyone was quiet a moment.
“Maybe not,” Kondor said. “I can go back to Mlambo without you, gather and pack your things, and meet you out here somewhere. After all, with that scriff sense I can find you pretty much anywhere--at least, if you can get far enough away that I can’t sense you, it hasn’t happened yet. He won’t mind a quick visit as long as he’s not under fire at the time.”
“I can give you the door code, if he hasn’t changed it, and probably he hasn’t. I mean, if he has changed it, I probably can’t teach you how to crack it in an afternoon, but if it’s the same that’s not a problem.”
“You know the door code?”
Slade shrugged. “They had to use it to let us out; they thought we already knew how to get in, so they weren’t trying to hide it from us.”
Kondor nodded. “I caught that, too, so I’ve got it. This could work.”
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 #243: Verser Redirects. 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: