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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 23: Kondor 158
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Lauren had been last to reach the gym, despite the fact that her cart was flying behind her. Then she took several minutes, going through several steps, locating the target with that remote sight she had, doing something she said marked it to make it a unique location, and then finally creating the mist and leading them into it, having the destination form around them, and walking out of the mist into a street that was more like a town square, tiled and spacious, in front of a large mansion.
Kondor immediately rushed to the gate and called for attention. “Pardon me,” he shouted, “is this the Amir’s residence?”
A harried guard rushed over to meet him. He somewhat curtly said, “What do you want,” but then apparently saw that he and Zeke were wearing those chains that marked them as honored heroes of the realm. “I beg your pardon, sir, you’ve caught us at a bad time.”
“That is why we’re here,” Kondor replied. “We got an emergency call from Derek Jacob Brown, and lost contact, so we rushed here as quickly as we could from the Caliph’s palace. We need to speak with whomever is in charge as quickly as possible to learn what is happening, and if you’ve anyone wounded, we will tend to them as well.”
“Yes, sir. Please, enter.” The gate opened, the trio brought their equipment inside, and then the guard closed it behind them. “This way, if you will,” he said, hastening across the inner courtyard toward the house. He spoke to several people along the way, who immediately ran in various directions. By the time they reached the door to the house itself an authoritative looking soldier was waiting.
“I am guessing that you two are the famed Joseph Kondor and Ezekiel Smith,” he said. “How can I help you?”
“You can tell us what is happening, and how we can help you.”
“It is a strange mystery. Amira Vashti and her husband are both missing.”
“Well, yes, but the stranger part is that the Amira was surrounded by friends, and they say she suddenly vanished right in front of them.”
The threesome looked at each other.
“Have your men stand down for the present,” Kondor said. “We know what happened to them, and have information you do not have, but we can assure you that Amira Vashti is alive and well. She and Derek have left, and are now somewhere else. I don’t know that I can explain it entirely, but we will explain what we can. Meanwhile, you have another problem of which you might not be fully aware.”
The commander, or whatever his title was, raised an eyebrow, and said, “I guess you had better enter. I will arrange a meeting immediately.” Turning to one of the men with him he said, “Call off the search, and have the commanders gather in the command room.”
They followed their guide to a large room with a slate wall and chalk, plenty of chairs, a couple of large desks, and an assortment of maps. He left them there, promising to return, and to have refreshments delivered.
“O.K.,” Zeke said, “you guys apparently get it, but I don’t.”
Lauren and Kondor looked at each other, but she started explaining before he was quite sure what to say.
“We know that Derek was shot by someone, and that he was plunging toward the ground. We had some hope that he was only unconscious, and that we would be able to locate him and revive him. However, the disappearance of Vashti tells us otherwise.”
“I’m not getting it.”
“Vashti is married to Derek, just like Shella is married to Bob. Whenever Bob is killed, he goes to another universe, and Shella goes with him. We’ve been expecting that the same would happen with Vashti and Derek, and now it has: she vanished because he died and went to another world, and she went with him.
“It will probably happen to you, if Joe gets killed.”
“Wait--we’re not married or anything, you know. I mean, we’re both guys, so it’s not possible.”
“Oh, I know. That’s not really the point. You’re connected to him, following him, and you came here because you followed him here. Although you can probably dissolve the link if you want, as long as the two of you are choosing to stay together, you’ll continue to follow him when he dies.”
“And he’ll go if I die?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know, but from what I’ve heard one of the versers in any group is what you might call the primary, the first one around whom the others are gathered, and if he dies they all go, but if one of the others dies that one goes alone, and the group comes together in another world after the primary one dies.”
“And he’s the primary because I caught this from him?”
“He’s the primary because in some sense he chose to bring you along and you chose to go with him. That defines your initial relationship. Vashti chose to go with Derek; Derek chose to take her with him. He left; she followed.”
“You explained that pretty well,” Kondor said. “I’ll let you explain it to the Amir’s people?”
“Oh, yeah, thanks,” Lauren said sarcastically. “Well, O.K., I’ll try.”
Those people were arriving, and the trio arranged themselves in chairs at one end.
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 #327: 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: