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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 118: Beam 34
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Previous chapter: Chapter 117: Kondor 153
Beam was out of bullets, the wolf was springing at Sophia, and he knew he had to so something. Dropping the revolver, he drew the claymore, swept in front of her, and brought the weapon down hard on the back of the leaping beast. He broke its back and knocked it to the ground, where it lay whimpering.
That was the last. Lupine bodies littered the surrounding ground, dead or dying; it took less time to decide than it did to think he wasn’t going to waste ammo on undeserved mercy killings. He could hear the whimpering of the wounded beasts.
“Everyone all right? Dawn?”
This one is unharmed.
He heard a sniffle. Oh, no, he thought, she’s going to cry. He hated when women--anyone, really, but women especially--cried. He never knew what to do. He wished she wouldn’t cry. But then, she probably couldn’t help it. Poor kid just came inches from a nasty painful death.
He turned toward her, and heard a whimper that did not come from an animal. “It’s O.K.,” he said, taking her in his arms. “We’re unharmed.”
She dropped the gun, buried her head in his shoulder, and started bawling, what would have been a loud wail had it not been muffled by his body. He patted her back. “There, there. You did really well, for your first time in a fight, I’d say. That wolf had at least two, maybe three, of those flechettes in him before he sprang. Not your fault that the gun didn’t stop it. And we’re all not only alive but unscathed.” Louder, he said, “You all did well. Thank you. But now,” he loosened his hold on the girl, “we’re going to have to move. The carrion is going to attract other carnivores, and we don’t want them thinking either that we’re competition or that we’re dessert.
“Bob, if you want any of these brains, grab them quickly. I don’t guess they’re very good brains, but they’re the best we’ve seen since we got here.
“Dawn, how do I reset this crawler so that it follows Sophia instead of me? I felt a bit uncertain of my ability to move around with it dogging my feet. Sophia, I’m putting you in charge of the food cart. Everyone, we need to move in a couple minutes.”
Everyone got busy. Bron reloaded his shotgun, then picked up the dropped rail gun, removed the clip, and handed it all back to Sophia.
“The red light,” she said to Beam, “turned white. I didn’t know what that meant.”
“Well, we’re learning as we go, but since yellow means that it’s loading and charging and red means it’s ready to fire, I’m guessing that white must mean the clip is empty?”
Bron said, “The clip is empty.”
“So, now we know. White means the clip is empty and you need another clip.”
“Oh, and don’t lose the clips. We have a lot of flechettes and some batteries, but only one case of clips, so we’ll be reloading them for reuse. Everyone ready?” He stopped and relaxed to feel for that feeling, and found it. “This way.”
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 #313: Verser Solutions. 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: