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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 135: Hastings 226
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 109
Tommy’s order of more spray paint cans arrived before the breakfast delivery, but while Lauren was enjoying her steak and eggs there was another delivery. Tommy said, “I’ll get it,” as she leapt up from the table and scurried toward the door.
She returned with a delivery package, looking rather excited, and opened it quickly. Then she stopped abruptly, the look on her face turning angry.
“This isn’t right.”
Hesitantly, Lauren asked, “What’s wrong?”
Tommy shook her head. “I tried to order a cow-thingy weapon, like yours, so you could teach me how to use it. They sent me this instead.”
She pulled out something wrapped in clear plastic and tossed it on the table. Lauren picked it up and examined it. Through the plastic she could see a length of strong, light rope connecting a faceted weight at one end to a doubled pointed hook at the other.
“I see.” She turned it over. “Well, the label on this says it’s a kawanaga; I’ve heard of those, but never seen one before. Still, it looks like a very interesting weapon, and I think between my experience with the kau sin ke and the little bit of roping I did as a girl I could figure out how to use it as a weapon. Also, it looks like it would make a decent grappling hook, assuming it’s strong enough, and it has such a ninja weapon look about it I can’t imagine that that’s not one of its uses. I’d say you got yourself a very nice piece of equipment--although that eight-foot rope is going to be a bit of a challenge to contain. We’ll open it and take a look out in the courtyard after breakfast. Do you climb ropes?”
Tommy’s face displayed some doubt on that point.
“Well, we’ll teach you. Yes, I’d say you’ve gotten yourself a rather useful tool here.” She turned it over once more, eyeing it appreciatively, then set it aside and returned to her breakfast.
As usual they sat a while after eating, then packed their belongings and left the apartment. Lauren stopped at the bottom of the ramp. “Let’s take a look at your kawanaga,” she said. “Open it, but save the labeling in case there’s information we want later.” Tommy dutifully complied, and handed the contents to her. There was a twist tie around the rope, the weight and the hook conveniently separated by this, and Lauren untwisted it. She pulled on a section of rope to test its strength, and was satisfied.
Standing near the wall, she twirled the hooked end alongside herself much as she would a lasso, then threw it upward. It hit near the top of the wall and fell, and she managed to dodge it as it clattered on the floor.
“I wish Bob were here,” she said. “He’s good with grapples.” On the second try she hooked the top of the wall, and making sure the hook was secure climbed part way up the rope, then leapt down into a cat-like landing. “Yes, it’s definitely intended to be used as a grapple. Try to climb that.”
Tommy seemed to be eyeing the rope as if it were an alien artifact, a tentacle that might grab her. But she grabbed hold, and pulled herself onto it successfully. She was now dangling from it.
“O.K., you need to hold yourself in place with the upper hand and let go with the lower, then reach above the upper and grab a higher spot from which to pull yourself a bit more.” Tommy did so, not magnificently but adequately. “Good. The other hand, so you’ll have done both.” She did. Lauren remembered that Tommy’s pull-ups were not impressive, and decided this was high enough for the moment.
“Good. Now release the rope completely and practice landing. Be careful that you don’t burn yourself on the rope.”
From there Lauren went through many of the basics--how to coil the rope such that it would flow off the hand when thrown, how to twirl the rope alongside her and throw it. She explained two ways to use the hook as a grapple, the one catching the edge of a wall, the other passing around a beam or pipe and hooking to itself.
“There are a lot of ways to use this as a weapon,” she explained, “but most of them arise from its use as a tool. We’ll get to those in our next lesson. Right now, we’ve got some traveling to do. Grab your gear and ready your paint cans.” At this last, Lauren smiled, and Tommy laughed. They coiled the rope and put it in Tommy’s pack, Lauren not quite yet sure how it could be carried safely but availably. They were soon out the door.
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 #405: Versers Converge. 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: