In Verse Proportion; Chapter 1, Kondor 172

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 1:  Kondor 172
Table of Contents
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Standing on the wall overlooking the river, Kondor watched the enemy soldiers bring the first of their wooden boats to the edge of the water, and his mind went back to a few years before when he served on the Mary Piper, the sailing vessel, what in his own world was called a “tall ship”.  He sank a pirate ship on that world, but went down with it.  Now as he saw the boats several points came to mind.

One was that wooden boats didn’t sink, even when full of water.  Wooden ships did, because they were generally heavily laden and relying on shape to give them buoyancy, but unless a boat was similarly laden, boats full of people weighed less than the surrounding water, so they would swamp--fill with water to the gunnels--but wouldn’t actually sink.  They became much more difficult to propel and maneuver, but the plan of sinking the boats wasn’t going to work.

The second point was that you couldn’t actually swamp the boat without either tipping it or putting holes below the water line, and if your missile hit the water--whether cannon ball or five-and-a-half millimeter bullet--it lost velocity and trajectory, and was considerably less likely to breach the hull.  To sink a pirate ship, you had to aim for the waterline and hope that you made a hole large enough that water would begin pouring in, which would hopefully tip the ship and start sinking it.  Bullet holes in the sides of these boats weren’t likely to be that effective.

“Remember what I said about shooting the boats?” he said to his companion Zeke.

“Aye, captain, I remember.”

“Well, forget it.”

“Forget it?”

“To swamp the boat, we have to put holes below the water line, and the only way to do that, really, is to hit the hull right above the water line when the boat is tilted slightly away from us, so that as it tilts back the holes go under and start taking water.”

“Or,” Zeke offered, “put the holes in them before they’re launched, or at least before they’re loaded.”  With that he fired several shots in rapid succession, and there were bursts of splinters coming from the boat as the soldiers shifting it scattered.

“I knew you were a good shot,” Kondor said, “but that’s impressive.”

“Thank you, Captain.  Don’t let the brass know, because it’s a lot safer being a radio and electronics tech than being an infantry grunt.”

Kondor smiled.  There was no brass.  Lieutenant Ezekiel Smith had just joined him on his wanderings from universe to universe, thanks to a terrorist bomb in a munitions dump at an army base.  This was Zeke’s first world outside the one in which he was born, a sort of fantasy Arabia where they had seen something that had been identified as a fire elemental (an identification Kondor doubted, and the fact that he didn’t know what it was did not mean he had to resort to superstitions and mythical creatures for explanations).  Joseph Wade Kondor also came from the military, an army in a different universe where he was a medic who became scriff-infected from some experiment gone wrong that exploded.  Scriff was the stuff that carried them from universe to universe whenever they died, or whenever he died at least, and kept them from aging.  In his travels he had improved his medical abilities and also picked up a doctorate in gravitic engineering, all skills he was not using in this world.

Here it was mostly military skills that mattered, as he and Zeke were the only two remaining versers--that’s what they called themselves, as they moved from universe to universe--defending the Twin Rivers Caliphate and its associated amirates.

The soldiers pulled the first boat back, and as a second boat was brought down to the water, Joe joined Zeke in putting holes in it.  The enemy would undoubtedly patch these, but their crossing had been delayed, and their ability to serve as a distraction while their other forces came down from the north significantly hampered.  Joe grabbed an orange from the bowl he brought and began peeling it.  It was hot out here.  He didn’t trust the local water, and didn’t drink the beer, so this was his best means of hydration.

Next chapter:  Chapter 2:  Slade 168
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #432:  Whole New Worlds.  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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