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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 73: Kondor 148
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“Derek,” Kondor called as he saw the boy ahead in the hall. “Can I have a moment?”
“Sure,” Derek answered, stopping and turning around.
“I’ve noticed,” Kondor said, “that you’ve been spending a lot of time with the Princess and her entourage.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of neat. They’ve pretty much adopted me as their token boy. They eat meals with me, and drag me around sometimes when they go shopping, ask me how I think clothes look that they want to buy. I’ve started going to their martial arts classes with them, too.”
“Well, they call it self-defense training, but it’s the same kind of thing. None of you guys do any weaponless combat, and Lauren trained me a bit in that and I worked on it more when I was a spy, so having a class to help me improve it has been a nice part of things here. I’m better than any of them, but they’re actually very good, and together they could rip me apart.”
Kondor nodded. “That does sound good. I’m worried, though, about you getting yourself involved with one of the girls. They’re not just girls, you know. They’re all the daughters of noblemen in the caliphate, one of them the daughter of the Caliph himself.”
Derek put a hand on Joe’s arm. “Look,” he said. “In my last world, I was a super spy. I took out terrorists with a nuclear bomb in a downtown office building. I uncovered a double agent in an eastern European embassy, and I rescued the kidnapped daughter of an ambassador. But when I looked around, I was lonely. I had no friends, no peers. My only real acquaintances were my housekeeper, my boss, and a couple of guys who worked with me once in a while. Here suddenly I have some friends. I have you guys, and we have a lot in common, and it’s good, but I haven’t really had any ordinary friends since I was a sprite, and it gets lonely. So we’re all just friends.
“If it looks like it might become something else, I’ll let you know. O.K.?”
Kondor nodded, and Derek turned and walked to his room. Kondor reflected on that, remembering what it was like to be alone in the verse, moving from world to world and trying to get to know people when he got there. Aboard the space freighter he made friends with Walters, and in Sherwood Forest he spent a lot of time with Friar Tuck and had the students and the nurses around most of the time. Lauren and Slade became his friends in the parakeet world, and then on the sailing ship it was Walter and the guys in medical. He had peers when he was working on the gravity project, and again Lauren and Derek on TerraNova, and Bob and Shella in the world with the race war--he always had people around him. It must be terrible for Derek. Not many people would understand a seventeen year old computer genius who was so well educated as he. People his own age wouldn’t get it, and people older wouldn’t understand his situation.
No, it was probably pretty good that he had found friends.
Someone once told him that guys and girls can never be just friends for any length of time, because sex gets in the way. That can’t be true, though. He and Lauren were great friends, and she was great friends with Bob and with Derek, and apparently now also with Shella, so there was no jealously there. But then, Lauren was almost a mother figure to them all, and particularly to Derek. Maybe Derek could be friends with the Princess and her companions. The jury was still out on that.
He hoped for the best.
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 #300: Versers Challenged. 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: