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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 20: Beam 46
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 19: Brown 181
Beam and Dawn had examined the maps rather thoroughly, and decided that this was the best point of attack. It was farther from the center of the Caliphate than any of the other Amirates, was closest to the territory already held, and looked to be good land for agriculture. Its one disadvantage was that it was downstream from the main city, a tactical disadvantage because it would be easier for the Caliph to dispatch forces downstream and harder for them to send forces upstream. However, it was not his intention to attack the main city from the south primarily, but to reduce the support for it and increase the support for his own side.
This certainly was not an attack. It was reconnaissance, a real-world look at the terrain and fortifications to learn what he could before creating a plan. There was only so much Sophia and Bob could tell him from a distance, and not only did he want to get them close, and bring Dawn to a point where she could actually see what they wanted to assault, he wanted to get close himself, to have eyes on the target. He trusted his team, but he also knew that each of them had their own limitations, things they would not see simply because these were outside their knowledge and experience.
In a sense, they needed him to make sense of it all, to bring their varied skills together.
He had again agreed to ride a horse, for the sake of speed. Sophia and Bron were quite comfortable on the beasts. Dawn easily kept pace afoot, and Bob floated through the air at a comparable speed. The transport bots were actually the slowest members of the team, but food and weapons were important and leaving them behind was not an option. Beam considered taking a wagon, but the wagon would not have been faster than the mechanoids, and the mechanoids tended to frighten peasants almost as much as Bob did, which Beam considered a valuable side effect.
When they were about two miles from the city walls Beam said they should stop. “We should gather some intel from here,” he said.
“What’s intel?” Bron asked.
“It’s short for intelligence.”
“Intelligence? You mean we’re going to get smarter by standing here?” Sophia was also staring blankly.
Idiots, Beam thought.
Dawn answered, “We are going to attempt to learn about our opponent.”
“So,” Beam added, “in a sense we are getting smarter. We’re learning about their weaknesses and their strengths.”
Dawn wanted to tell him something. He turned and saw that she was staring into the sky almost directly overhead. He looked that way, but saw only a few clouds and a lot of sun. “Yes, Dawn?”
“There is something airborne above us, sir.”
“I’ve known of wizards who could see through the eyes of birds,” Sophia suggested. “I’ve never known the spell for that.”
“No, sir, not a bird, sir.”
For a moment--for the first time Beam could remember--Dawn did not answer immediately. Then she said, “I do not know, sir. I have no knowledge of any creature like it. However, it is someone like us in the sense previously noted. Further, its flight pattern suggests it is watching us.”
Beam paused and relaxed, and realized that indeed he had that sense of someone like them, somewhere above them. They were being observed.
“Well, by all means, get rid of it.”
Dawn raised her rifle, sighted down the barrel, and fired a single shot.
“Done, sir,” she said.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #323: Verser Crises. 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: