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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 124: Kondor 130
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They returned to the shade of the tent for the heat of the day. Kondor drew another line in the dirt, and periodically came out to site along it. Around sunset they both came outside. Zeke looked in the direction of the other versers.
“I don’t think they’ve moved.”
“Actually, I think they’ve moved quite a bit. I’ve been tracking them against this line, and I’d say they are trying to use us as a compass point, probably coming toward us.”
“How do you figure?”
“When we first noticed them I drew this line, pointing as straight in their direction as I could. I’ve been watching them in relation to the line, and they seem to move a bit to the left, and then a bit to the right, and then back again. The amount of variance seems generally to have been increasing during the day. That describes what I would expect if they were trying to come toward us using that scriff sense. You have to relax to feel it, so they relax, they get their bearing on us, and they start walking--but they drift a bit out of line one direction or the other, until they stop and get their bearing again. They aren’t getting far off course, but the closer they get to us the greater those oscillations look, because we’re measuring their direction by angles. I think he stopped a few hours ago, when we were at the heat of the afternoon, but that only makes sense; he’ll probably start again soon, unless he’s napping.”
“Whatever you say, Cap’n. I guess that’s why they gave you the rank.”
Kondor shook his head. “Well, it’s much more complicated than that, but that’s probably part of it. Let’s check our water collector.”
The pot had overflowed slightly, and Kondor carefully poured some of the water into his canteen before passing the rest to Zeke. “Looks like we could have used a larger pot, or maybe emptied it earlier in the day,” he said. “We’ll have to think about an early afternoon check tomorrow.”
“So we’re staying another day?”
“Oh, certainly--we have good reason to believe that verser is coming toward us, and whether he is friendly or not (and I’ve yet to meet an unfriendly verser) we’re better off meeting him in our campsite than out in the desert somewhere. Once he arrives we can work out the next step.”
“That will depend a bit on what resources our new verser has. I expect that between us we will want to investigate whether there is anything in this world that passes for civilization, and how we find it, but that’s going to depend significantly on what he can do. For example, if it happens to be Lauren, she has incredible psychic powers and I wouldn’t be surprised if she can sense which direction we should go.”
“Psychic powers? You’re putting me on, now, aren’t you?”
“She once kept three of us alive floating in outer space for a couple hours, inside some kind of force field bubble she created. I was impressed.”
“But you can’t do any of that stuff.”
“Well, she taught me to read minds, but I haven’t really done it very often and I’m not very good at it. It seems a terrible invasion of privacy.”
“Yeah, I can see that. Useful, though.”
“Sometimes. Let’s see what we’ve got for supper.”
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: