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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 137: Brown 156
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The blinds were closed--Venetian blinds, Morach recognized, horizontal slats that could be rotated for light and visibility. That did not help him--however, the fact that one of them was swaying slightly signaled something, and as he moved closer he found that, behind the iron bars that protected against burglars, the window was open slightly, and the slight movement of air through it shifted the blind.
His first thought was that he could probably push the window open more, squeeze between the bars, and get into the apartment. He quickly rejected this idea, first because he could not be certain what was immediately beyond the blind, and second because between the window and the bars he would not be able to make a fast escape. He wondered why he didn’t have a short range headset communicator like he used in the terrorist situation, but immediately realized that they probably did not come in his size--his fifteen inch tall body was probably similar to an average size baby, but his sprite-sized head was not as large as a baby’s head.
However, if he could land on the sill, holding the bars, he could intensify his hearing sufficiently to know what was happening in the room. Further, he should be able to place an audio bug on the sill inside the window--maybe even get a camera in a position from which it could see part of the room.
He wondered why the bugs weren’t designed to fly, but then realized that the energy and space requirements for motors and airfoils would be problematic.
He assessed the landing space. If he were a girl, he remembered, he would be able to hover. Of course, if he were a girl, he would be a lot less powerful a flyer overall, and would not have been taught to use the bow so well. Everything had its tradeoffs, and it was best to accept that the King knew what He was doing when He made you what you are. It struck him that when he was born a sprite, the King knew that a long time after he died he would be alive trying to find out what was happening inside that apartment.
He took one of the audio bugs in his good left hand and dove down below the window, swooping back up toward it. Consuming his momentum in the climb, he placed his left foot on the sill and grabbed one of the bars with his right hand. His left leg was between the bars at the bottom, and the lower crossbar pressed into his shin. He set his right foot on that crossbar, and shifted to relieve the left leg, then settled it in a new position on the bars.
He was now standing above the sill, and the bars were a few inches away from the glass. He would not be able to bend effectively to reach the sill with the bug; he needed another way to do this.
He thought of one.
Releasing the bar, he leapt back with both feet and then fluttered forward as he started to drop. With his right hand he caught the crossbar. It made a noise; he’d hit it harder than he intended, and he would have to act quickly. Reaching forward with his left hand, he inserted the audio pickup under the sash. Then he powered upward above the window and continued onto the roof.
At this point, he did not expect to get another chance at the apartment. He again wished he could talk to the van. Ultimately, though, it seemed that his best option at this point was to return to them. He dove, and saw that they had the door open for him, so he swooped below and up again to land in the doorway.
Gecko was extremely busy. He was running the audio from the bug through several programs, enhancing the audio and providing as close to real-time printed translation as possible, talking to someone on a radio, and trying to talk to Morach at the same time.
“Yes I agree,” he said, apparently to the radio, then looking at Morach, “There’s a man coming out of that building in a minute, do you think you can tag him with a tracker?”
Morach thought for a minute, and Gecko was talking to the radio. He wasn’t certain whether he could answer, but he took the chance.
“Would it be O.K. for me to knock him out to do it?”
Gecko nodded, and Morach was unsure whether that was intended for him or, incongruously, in response to whoever was on the radio. But then, looking out the side window at something Morach could not see, Gecko said, “That’s him. Go now.” Not exactly certain of anything he was doing, Morach flew back out the door, and spotted a man in a suit coming down the steps of the apartment. He flew up so as to be less noticed, and then readied an arrow as he swung toward his target.
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 #269: Versers Arrive. 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: