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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 67: Kondor 165
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Previous chapter: Chapter 66: Brown 192
Slade had given the basics of the mission--where and when, how they were getting there, what they were to do. The hope was that they would be able to establish what the Caliph might have called a peaceful diplomatic relationship with this other group of versers; the plan was to anticipate trouble.
To that end, Lauren had been giving them advice about the use of psionic skills. In particular, she wanted everyone to practice and plan to use the mind blanking ability she had taught them. “One of them,” she said, “is said to have the ability to hear the thoughts of people around him. We don’t know how potent this ability is, but it’s very difficult to fight an opponent who knows what you are thinking. We want to keep our thoughts to ourselves. That unfortunately means we won’t be able to use telepathy to communicate with each other, but given that this verser can hear thoughts, our telepathy would probably be about as private as shouting across the room.” Slade and Zeke chuckled at that.
“I’ll be using the precognitive combat predictor,” she continued, “to try to anticipate any attack. You should probably all leave that to me and focus on keeping them out of your heads. Any questions?”
Kondor turned to Zeke. “You ever make a ghillie suit?” he asked.
Zeke looked puzzled. “Don’t think I know that word.”
“It’s a suit used by snipers to camouflage with the surrounding area, usually by covering it with leaves or grasses or whatever is common in the place you want to hide. It’s kind of like a portable hunting blind, an outfit that blends into the ground around it.”
“No, I just wear my standard army issue camouflage.”
“Yeah, me, too. I was just wondering if we didn’t want to do something better--but probably we don’t have enough time. We’ll have to see what we can do when we get there. I’m inclined to think you and I should take vantage positions away from Slade, so we can offer cover fire if it’s needed.”
“Makes sense,” Slade said. “They’ll see Shella and me, and Lauren, but maybe they won’t know you’re there.”
“Right,” Lauren added, “because at close proximity the scriff sense gets blurred, when there’s more than one person.”
“Any other questions?” Slade asked, and the room was silent. “Good. We’ll head out tomorrow afternoon, and set up camp where we can watch the site and be ready for them. Plan to eat dinner here tomorrow before we leave, and get some sleep tonight.”
Kondor felt as if Slade should say something like, “Dismissed”, but instead he just turned his attention to getting out of his weapons and armor. Guessing that was the cue that the meeting was over, he headed for the door, finding Zeke alongside him by the time he got there, and Lauren behind them.
“So,” he said to Lauren, “I hate to say you were right, but it looks like this is something big.”
“Let’s hope not,” she answered. “I’d much prefer to learn that it was a misunderstanding or an accident, than that we have powerful verser enemies out there.”
“I know what you mean. So far, all the versers I’ve met have been good helpful people willing to work alongside me to make the world better. I’d hate to think that there were selfish--” he choked on the word which came to mind, remembering the taste of soap from his childhood, “--selfish people traveling the verse, too. But I guess there probably are.”
“Indeed, you don’t know how much I wish it were otherwise.”
Kondor nodded. He could see that versers traveling the multiverse making trouble could be a problem for Lauren’s theory that God had sent them into the worlds they were visiting in order to make those worlds better. He should be glad he scored a point in that argument--but it did not seem to be a point he really would have wanted to win.
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 #343: Worlds Explode. 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: