Re Verse All; Chapter 63, Beam 76

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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 63:  Beam 76
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Takano 33

The trio of emissaries stared blankly for a long enough moment Beam was beginning to wonder if they had suddenly lost the ability to understand English.  Perhaps just before his impatience got the better of him, the woman spoke.

“What are your rules?”

It was a reasonable question, but it annoyed him anyway, since he’d never made any rules that he could remember.  If these people were going to stay, he was going to have to start making rules, effectively become a lawgiver.  He took out a cigarette and lit it to give him time to think.  It occurred to him that he could probably buy more cigarettes while he was here.

Becoming a lawgiver?  He didn’t really want that.  He did not like the police.  It also occurred to him that he couldn’t accommodate everyone here--the complex had about fifty beds, and seven of them were in his apartment, so the hundred people out there would mean filling one of the adjacent compounds and all of the beds here, with a bit of crowding.  Well, maybe he could make it sound undesirable.

“The first rule,” he said, smoke dribbling from his mouth, “is you do what I say, when I say it, and you don’t ask questions unless you don’t understand what it is I said.”

He let that sink in while he took another draw and tried to think of another rule.  He thought of one.

“The second rule is you don’t enter my apartment here unless invited, and you don’t bother me without good reason.  I’m in charge, but I don’t want to have to deal with you all constantly.”

The one they called the Tennan spoke.  “I don’t know if the Manner will agree to those terms.”

“Well, then,” Beam said, starting to rise from the table, “as soon as everyone’s finished eating we’ll show you to the door and--”

“Wait a minute,” the woman said.  “The Manner might be dead by now.”

“That’s right,” said the other man.  “We might be needing a new Manner.  Maybe you think that should be you,” he said to the one they called the tennan, “but maybe we think it should be him,” as he nodded in the direction of Beam.

Just what he needed:  an official title.  Before he could object, though, the woman was speaking to him again.

“You would have to pledge to protect us, make sure we have food and drink, clothes, safe places to stay, and lead us in battle if we’re attacked.”

This was sounding less and less desirable, but again he could see that if they were going to make him the leader, that was on him.

“I can do that,” he answered.  “For most of it, I’m just going to have to teach you how to get that stuff for yourself, but it’s not that hard.  Sophie here is learning how to do it all,” and his wife glared at him, but he kept pushing forward, “so how hard can it be?”

Another thought occurred to him.  “Give me a moment,” he said, and went out to the living room computer.

It had to be simple, because in an emergency you didn’t want to have to deal with anything complicated.  When he was a boy, you called the operator, told her the problem, and she sent help.  By the time he’d finished high school the phone company no longer handled those things, and most places had a nine-one-one system, that you picked up the phone and dialed three numbers, and told what they called a nine-one-one operator the problem.  It occurred to him that in other countries it was different numbers, and that for a while a lot of cell phones had a one-button automatic emergency call, but he thought that had been discontinued because there were too many accidental pocket calls.  Still, anyone who lived here when it was first occupied would have known how to reach emergency services.  It couldn’t be that hard.

Of course, it wasn’t necessarily obvious.  There was nothing about dialing a zero, or dialing nine-one-one or nine-nine-nine or whatever sequence it was in other places that was intuitive.

Search function.  He typed ‘emergency services’ into the bar and hit enter.

He was rewarded.

‘What is the nature of your emergency?’ appeared on the screen.  He thought probably there should be a voice interface for this, but being uncertain how to access it he typed, ‘Injured man, bullet wound, common area at Empire of Beam.’

‘Dispatching medbot to Empire of Beam,’ came the reply.

Well, maybe the man would die, maybe he was already dead, but at least Beam had done something.  It occurred to him that some of the others might also have been injured by shotgun pellets when they charged up the ramp, but he figured those were minor wounds, and if they wanted medical help they could tell the medbot when it arrived.  There was also one dead, but he didn’t guess a medical robot could do anything about that.  He returned to the kitchen.  As he did so, the woman spoke.

“We are going to recommend that the tribe accept your terms and stay with you.  We will have to discuss it with everyone.”

Beam nodded.  “I’ve called for medical assistance to take care of your man--whatever you call him.  When you’ve finished your pizza Bron will show you out.  Soph?”  Then he headed for the bedroom, his wife trailing behind.

Next chapter:  Chapter 64:  Hastings 207
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #376:  Characters Arrive.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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