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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 60: Brown 191
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Previous chapter: Chapter 59: Hastings 181
“Bring weapons and tools,” Derek said as he disconnected his computer from the open panel and loaded it in his smaller backpack. “We’re going for a stroll.”
“A stroll?” Vash asked.
“Yes, Button Nose, a stroll.” He smiled. “We’re going to take a look at our neighborhood, maybe figure out where the food comes from and whether we can improve our menu, see if we have any neighbors.”
“I don’t think our guard is going to like that.”
“I’m not sure I care what our guard likes. We’re permitting them the illusion that they hold us prisoner. I think perhaps it’s time for us to begin dispelling that.”
She shrugged. “You’re the expert.”
“Well, no,” he admitted, “but this seems a good choice. Anyway, I’m starting to get bored in here.”
He secured his dart apron and his knife and chain, decided to leave the frying pan behind, and made sure his toolkit and parts collection were intact. He stuffed Morach’s gear in a pocket just in case. He saw that Vashti had her knife tucked in her sash, and had brought her practice knife as well. He nodded. “Let’s go.”
Opening the door, he led the way into the hall. The guard was seated on the floor against the wall, and was startled when they emerged. Derek looked both ways, and said, “This way, I think. Anyway, this is the direction to the nearest food supply room according to the deck plan.” He started walking.
Their guard scrambled to its feet and ran to get in front of them. Then he turned toward them and brandished his javelin in a threatening manner.
“Oh, really?” Derek queried. “Well, I’ve wanted to try this for a while anyway,” and with that he quickly fell into his martial arts stance as his right hand grabbed the javelin just below the tip and pushed it away to the right, and his left hand darted into the opening to snatch the weapon in the middle. With a quick snap, he was holding the stick and its owner was not.
“Seriously,” he said, “we’re going for a walk. We’ve been cooped up in there too long, and we want to see where things are out here. You’re welcome to come along,” he added, and handed the weapon back to the guard, then resumed walking, the confused guard staring at the weapon for a moment, then scrambling to catch up with the longer-legged humans.
“Did Lauren teach you that?” Vashti asked.
“What, the disarming move?” She nodded. “No, I learned that in my training when I was a spy; I just never had the chance to try it on a real opponent.
“You’re talking to it, and it doesn’t understand you. Why don’t you tell it telepathically?” Vashti asked.
Derek felt himself nodding a bit as he thought about the answer, then said, “I remember Lauren saying once that contacting vampires was different from contacting people--that they were not just a different frequency, they were a different kind of transmitter. I’m good at telepathy to humans, but these alien minds are considerably more difficult to connect to, and I don’t want to damage them. I think, too, that it’s like a different kind of skill, and although a couple of them have learned it, most of them can’t contact us themselves--and I’d rather not teach too many of them how to do so, because telepathy can be so invasive.”
Vashti nodded as if she understood, and Derek suddenly started counting doors, “Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, I think this is it,” and he stepped through. “Yes indeed,” he said as Vashti followed him, “we have found the kitchen.”
The guard came in through the door behind them, but was still clearly uncertain what to do. It watched them in a manner Derek decided was warily, but did not attempt to stop them again.
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 #339: Verser Tensions. 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: