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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 27: Beam 48
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Previous chapter: Chapter 26: Kondor 159
Beam paused and leaned back in his chair. He had been briefing Laban about their reconnaissance outing, and had covered all the facts. Now it was time for him to produce some intelligent analysis. Right. Well, he should at least pretend that’s what it was.
“They know we’re here,” he said, “and they know something about us. We know they’re there, but we don’t really know anything--we don’t even know how many of them there are. We need better intel.”
“Intel?” Laban asked.
“Either we need to put someone in that castle who can gather information and report it back to us,” he mused, “or we need to turn someone, find someone who already knows, and get the information from him. We need to know how many they are, and what they can do.”
“The mercenaries. The versers, people apparently like my team who have traveled from elsewhere and are working for the Caliph. We knew he had one, and then two, but we killed one and he still had two, so it’s apparent we can’t count them from here. We’re going to have to have an insider. It’s unlikely that we can get someone in there undetected--we have to assume that they can do anything we can do, and Bob would immediately hear the thoughts of any spy that tried to infiltrate here, right Bob?”
Hear thoughts always.
“Right. So we can’t put anyone in the palace; we’re going to have to get someone out.”
Everyone sat silently for a few minutes.
“There is a rumor,” one of Laban’s advisors said. “It seems that the Caliph’s cousin, Amir Ahmed, attempted some kind of coup. It failed, and he was killed. It is not entirely clear what happened thereafter, but his son has been betrothed to the Calipha and named heir of the Caliph, and his daughter has been given oversight of the Amir’s estates until she marries someone of the Caliph’s choosing.”
“How does this help us?” Beam and Laban spoke almost in unison, although Beam thought Laban failed to convey sufficient annoyance in his voice.
“I do not know that it does, Excellency. However, if the Amira Scheherazade is unhappy with her situation, she might be willing to help us, particularly if we offer her something to entice her.”
“Such as?” Laban asked.
Beam answered, “Such as offering to make her Calipha. Her brother is going to be Caliph. She’s going to be married to someone chosen by her father’s adversary, and become a vassal in her own ancestral home. That’s got to hurt.”
“How do we do that?”
Beam thought a moment. “Well, I’m not saying any of this is easy, but we kill the Caliph and his heir, and you marry the Calipha so that you’re Caliph. Then we arrange the death of the Calipha, and you marry this Sherry person making her Calipha.”
Laban nodded thoughtfully. “It could work.”
“So the first step is to have someone contact her and try to figure out whether she’s open to such a plan without actually letting her know that there is such a plan until we know she’s on our side. I can’t do that for a host of reasons, all of which have to do with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get there without being noticed and tracked. I’m sure, though, you can find someone from your people who can get to her, wherever she is.”
“Yes, indeed. I think this could very well work.”
With that the meeting was ended, and Beam retired to his room.
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: