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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 139: Hastings 227
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 111
As they settled in to their seats for dinner in yet another restaurant, Lauren said to Tommy, “I think we’ll wait here a while. Enjoy your dinner, but take it slow.”
Tommy didn’t usually seem surprised when Lauren made suggestions concerning what they should do, but this time she did. “Why? What’s happening?”
“Well, I think that other verser is just below us, and perhaps more to the point I think he’s coming up that ramp across the hall. I figured if he arrives while we’re here, we can invite him to join us for dinner and get to know him in a friendly setting. Hopefully he speaks English, but if he doesn’t hopefully my mind reading translation trick will work.”
“Mind reading translation trick?”
“Yes, I haven’t tried to teach you psionics because they don’t work well in this world, but a long time ago I taught myself how to tap into the language centers of other people so I could speak and understand their languages.”
“Kind of like a universal translator,” Tommy said, and Lauren laughed.
“I suppose it is kind of like that,” she said, “although it doesn’t always work.”
“Kind of like a universal translator,” Tommy repeated with a grin.
“I guess so,” Lauren answered. “Anyway, hopefully we won’t need it. So enjoy your dinner, and eat leisurely.”
It occurred to Lauren that if the approaching verser was someone she knew she might be able to read his mind before he arrived, and so know who it is. She was familiar with the minds of Derek and Vashti, Joe and Zeke, and Bob and Shella, plus less so with several other versers she had met way back at the beginning, if she could remember them. The temptation to know was strong enough that she tried to find Derek’s mind--Derek being the one she knew best. It was not out there, and it occurred to her that given the bias against psionics here it was probably more dangerous to try to find minds than it was worth. She returned to her meal.
Tommy started to rise.
“Where are you going?” Lauren asked.
“I thought I’d get some practice with the kawanaga,” she said. She had provisioned herself with a belt and something like a belaying clip to hold it at her hip, with an overhand knot to keep the weight and the hook near the top.
“N-no,” Lauren said. “We don’t want to appear dangerous or aggressive if he arrives. He might attack out of self-defense before we have a chance to talk. You may run out and put some graffiti on the walls if you like, but come right back and drink coffee or order dessert or something.”
Tommy grabbed a couple cans of paint and scampered out into the hall. Lauren watched the door perhaps more nervously while she was gone, and tried to relax to feel the angle toward the other verser now a bit blurred by the presence of Tommy in the hall. She closed her eyes to focus better, but then decided that was not the better choice and opened them again.
A group appeared across the hall in the ramp opening. There was a white-haired man, a red-headed younger woman, an albino-like girl, a rough-and-tumble strongman, and an alien, and Lauren couldn’t help but recognize them immediately.
“Tommy, get back here now,” she called. She drew her pistols, but couldn’t raise her shield while Tommy was out of view. She rose and walked toward the door. Several of the others were already holding weapons, and they appeared to have an army of peasants behind them, many carrying bows and arrows.
This did not look good.
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 #407: Versers Integrate. 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: