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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 64: Brown 170
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 63: Beam 16
Derek took the rear. He had his laser rifle ready, but was reluctant to expend the power supply in a world in which it would be difficult to recharge. Joe and Zeke led the way, moving in turns from cover to cover and killing any aggressive bandit with single shots from their rifles. Slade and Shella followed them in a meandering stroll, as if nothing mattered and nothing could touch them; oddly, no one they encountered seemed to notice them, or at least none noticed them before being dropped by one of the soldiers in the lead. Derek tried to keep an eye out behind them, but the chaos had significantly subsided and there weren’t many enemies left standing.
He decided that he should at least offer some kind of chance to the remaining enemies. After all, they had been following a now-dead leader, and it was obvious from the chaos that they were not really cooperating with each other in his absence. He started calling, alternately in Farsi and Arabic, “Surrender and live.”
“What are you saying?” Joe asked.
“Sorry,” Derek answered. “I probably should have cleared it with someone. I’m offering them the chance to live if they surrender. I don’t know whether they speak Farsi or Arabic or some other language, but those are my best guesses.”
Joe nodded. “That’s reasonable. Let us know if anyone surrenders.”
No one did.
They made their own camp on the ridge above the destroyed bandit base. Joe suggested that there might have been bandits out on missions. In the morning, Morach flew back to the waiting wagon, helped pack the other campsite, and led the teamster and drover to their new location. Joe and Bob were debating what to do about the camp below. There was a fair amount of captured livestock (although in the morning there appeared to be considerably less than they thought they’d observed the night before, and the women were also gone). The disagreement was that Joe was not certain what they could do about these animals, and Slade was not certain whether they should do anything about them. In the end they agreed to release the creatures from their pens and let them fend for themselves until someone else collected them. They did not spend time searching the camp otherwise. As Joe said, bandits who found it profitable to rob herdsmen in the wilderness probably didn’t have any wealth other than the animals.
Late in the afternoon Shella opened a portal to the courtyard of the palace, and the entire team, with horses and wagon on leads, once again passed out of the world and back again.
“I’ll report to the Caliph,” Slade said to Joe. “You get everyone unpacked and settled.” With that, Slade walked toward the door, and Joe began directing the unpacking of the wagons and unsaddling of the horses. They were home, or at least what passed as home for the present.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #293: Versers Relate. 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: