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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 120: Kondor 129
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Kondor was up again before what he judged to be about midnight--a star he had sighted at the eastern horizon was nearly overhead. He borrowed a pen from Zeke, and made notes on the money he got from the bank when he was staying near the museum for the Vorgo exhibit. The lieutenant retired to sleep in the tent a couple hours before dawn, while Kondor continued through the night.
The night never really became what he would have called cool, but it warmed significantly at sunrise. A stiff eastward dawn breeze preceded the appearance of the sun by perhaps a quarter of an hour, but rapidly stilled as the solar heat struck back. Knowing that this would be the coolest part of the day, he stayed up for a couple hours before himself retreating to the cover of the tent. Even with the flaps and vent open the interior was stifling, but he thought it better than lying in the sun. He wished he had another space blanket--inverted it would deflect the heat and provide a cooler shelter.
He was awake again before Zeke, and set about putting together a cold lunch for them, which he set aside thinking that courtesy required he wait. He was about to abandon courtesy in favor of satisfying hunger when Zeke appeared.
“I hope you like jerky,” Kondor said. “And you’re not lactose intolerant, are you?”
“Some people can’t drink milk because they can’t digest the kind of sugar milk contains.”
“Never heard of it. I don’t often drink milk, but I’ve not had a problem with it.”
“Well, you’re drinking milk today, because I have some, and it contains every nutrient the human body needs, although not all of it in sufficient quantity for the long term.”
Zeke nodded. “Milk is fine. I’m guessing you don’t have beer.”
Kondor smiled. “I don’t drink beer, but I’ve never seen it packaged as a survival food. Odd, that, really. It’s reasonably good for hydration despite the alcohol, which keeps it from spoiling quickly, and it has some nutritional value not common in other beverages.”
“Whatever you say. By the way, what’s that odd feeling?”
“Yeah. I feel like I was supposed to meet someone over there.” He pointed across the open desert. Kondor stopped and relaxed.
“Ah, yes, I feel it. That’s the feeling I told you about, that there is another verser out there in that direction.”
“Should we go meet them?”
Kondor thought a moment.
“No, I think not, at least, not right away. They weren’t there yesterday, so either they are traveling and just came into range, or they have just arrived in this world. Either way, there is some reason to believe they know we’re here, and either they will come to us or they are already headed somewhere else. If it’s the former, it only confuses things for us to move too much; if the latter, we should track where they’re going and wait for them to settle somewhere or reach the edge of our range before we start chasing a moving target.”
“So, how far is range?”
“I don’t know, but I think it varies. I’ve got some dried fruit to go with the jerky. It’s not a lot of food, but it’s a meal; it will keep us alive for the present. It’s not like we’re losing body heat to the cold.”
Zeke laughed. “No, that’s true enough. Sunstroke is more the danger here.”
Kondor nodded solemnly.
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 #265: Versers in Motion. 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: