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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 46: Brown 187
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Previous chapter: Chapter 45: Slade 161
“Not to question your plans,” Vashti said, “but when are we going to do something?”
“We are doing something,” Derek replied.
“Oh? What are we doing?”
“Well, the obvious things,” he said, “include that we’re enjoying their hospitality, eating their food, determining that it’s safe for us to eat and drink what they offer here, getting rested, and perhaps more important than any of that suggesting to them that we’re docile and cooperative. We could walk out of here any time we wanted, overcome the guard, and go on the lam--but where do we go? We’re on a ship, and while it’s a big ship if they decide to hunt us we’re going to be the hunted for quite a while. So we want them to think we’re not a threat and start to relax around us. After all, we’re pretty big compared to them. We must be a bit frightening.”
“Is that all?”
“Oh, no. Goodness no. We’re also taking over the ship.”
“Oh, I know--it’s not like we’ve assaulted the bridge and locked up all the security officers. Maybe we could do that. But then, it might be that once we had control of the ship we’d need people to help run it, and those are the people, so we don’t want to antagonize them needlessly. But we already have a map of the deck plan, and a key to the computer’s language, and now we’re mapping the file system. There’s probably quite a bit we could do already, if we chose to.”
“So, why don’t we do them?”
“One reason is that once we start doing things, our hosts are going to react. I could probably close and lock our door so they can’t watch us and can’t enter--”
“I like that idea,” she interjected.
“I thought you might, and it’s a good idea--but as soon as we do, they’re going to get upset, realize that we just did something with their magic doors--”
“They aren’t magic at all, really, but to the people who live here, they don’t know how the doors work, so for them they perform the ritual passed to them from their ancestors and the doors open and close--magic. We know that the ritual they’re using involves giving instructions to the computer controlling the doors so that the computer will open or close the door as needed. So we understand that it’s just a machine, but one they don’t understand. Anyway, if we do something with the door, they’re going to react, and we don’t yet know what they might be able to do. It might be simply that they start pounding on the door with some makeshift battering ram until they’ve broken it, which might mean we’re stuck in here. It might be that among their people they have shamans who have been taught secrets of the machines to override computer commands. Before we do anything to upset them, we should have a solid position for defending ourselves, and preferably without upsetting them further.”
She scrunched her face.
“I love you,” he said. “You’re so cute when you do that.”
“So we’re just going to stay here?”
“For now. It’s not been a day yet, and we have all the necessities of survival, and are even reasonably comfortable. Maybe tonight we’ll close the door and see what they do.”
He pulled a power pack from his charger. He had tapped into the computer’s electrical supply, but although his charger was designed to adapt to any voltage input the low levels of the computer system took a long time to fully charge one of his laser blaster’s packs. He had considered tapping into the lights, but from the design he was betting they were also very low-level electrical systems. Fortunately, he had not used much from the gun in the last world and didn’t have to charge all five packs--only three, one of which was now full.
“Besides,” he said, “if things go sideways I’m going to want to have these fully ready for use.” He plugged in another power pack.
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 #338: Verser Missteps. 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: