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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 15: Beam 4
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 14: Kondor 139
Weapons, Turbirb’durpa insisted again as he again indicated the tub of plastic spoons.
James dropped the spoon he had turned over in his hand as he struggled to hold his temper in check. He walked around the counter the bin of spoons was resting on and opened the door leading into the room behind. Two reports from the .45 in the girl’s hand preceded the bullets that flew past James into the back room; the man inside the room who had been pointing a bulky-looking device at the doorway fell to his knees, then to the floor as one hand struggled to stem the torrent of flowing blood from the hole in his throat. The girl walked into the room after him and flicked the lightswitch into the on position, filling the area with white light. James turned back to her, “Thanks. That guy could have killed me,” he said before finishing the dying man with a stomp to his head and then prying the device from his dead fingers. It was larger and heavier than a microwave oven, with a strap to fit over the shoulder. It was bright red in hue, emitted a quiet hum, and had a dial, a large button, and a small button on the side. “Any idea what this does?”
He could tell that Turbirb’durpa didn’t have any clue, but the girl spoke up. “A Pyronics 2000 is a weapon that delivers a wave of sonic energy that can inflict significant trauma to biological matter. The smaller switch changes the energy setting. It can fire four waves, two larger waves, or one massive wave.”
“Sounds pretty handy. Any way to tell which setting it’s on now?”
“It is currently fully charged and set to liquefy.”
“I’ll make it count, then.” He put the strap of the Pyronics 2000 over his shoulder above the duffel.
James continued to hold the flashlight in his free hand as he searched the shelves. “There aren’t any weapons here,” he complained to Turbirb’durpa, and then his gaze fell on a half-open box filled with cartons of cigarettes. He gingerly pulled a carton from the box and opened it, peeking inside to find it was indeed full of the packs of cigarettes he was anticipating. “There’s something better here, though,” he admitted as he began stuffing cartons into his backpack.
Is James going to eat that? It took James a moment to realize that Turbirb’durpa was talking about the body on the floor.
“Knock yourself out,” James answered him as he continued forcing cartons into his bag. Turbirb’durpa approached the body, James tried not to watch as the skull split open and the two bell-shaped facial protuberances were lowered and slathered over the brain inside. He instead tried to busy himself by engaging the girl. “Do you have a name?”
“What is your name?” James wasn’t able to keep the edge out of his voice in spite of his cigarette, but the girl didn’t seem to notice.
“I was called Dawn Project Prototype Unit Number Ex Dash Zero Zero.”
“That’s a mouthful. I’ll call you Dawn. So, you’re a robot, then?”
He finished filling his bag, then stood. “You’re not human, either, though, are you?” He voiced it more as a statement than a question.
“No, sir,” Dawn repeated again, but didn’t volunteer any additional information.
He tired of their shared dialogue and turned back to Turbirb’durpa who was still face deep in brains. “If we’re in space, we need to find some kind of escape pods. Do you know where anything like that is?”
Turbirb’durpa floated back into the air, carrying the disembodied head of the deceased to his face between his hands. Pods, he responded, and he floated back into the domed area. James switched off the lights then followed Turbirb’durpa with Dawn at his side.
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 #277: Versers Resettle. 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: