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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 140: Kondor 220
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 211
They all returned to Slade’s house, including the robot. Kondor took one of the chairs in the living room, but Slade led the conversation.
“So, you’ve been flying spaceships?”
“Well, yes and no,” Derek answered. “When we versed out of Twin Rivers, we landed on, of all things, a lost colony spaceship.”
“I’m sorry,” Zeke said, “What’s that?”
“It’s this popular science fiction idea, that people were sent out into space on a huge ship that would let them live for generations while they sought a new home planet. Only in our case, the people were, quite literally, little green men--four-foot tall disproportionate humanoids with chlorophyll in their skin. Anyway,” Derek continued, but Kondor was only half listening as he explained their adventures, becoming top officers of the ship, finding the planet, stopping the asteroid. He kept looking at the Persian girl who was Derek’s wife. Suddenly she spoke.
“Joe? Are you all right? I mean, you keep staring at me.”
“I’m sorry. You remind me of Leah.”
“Leah? I don’t look anything like Leah.”
“Well, you do, actually,” Derek said. “I mean, the seven of you looked enough alike that the Caliph used you to disguise the identity of the Calipha. Anyone who knows you can tell you apart, but to people like us, from different worlds, you look more alike than different. Anyway,” Derek said, “why Leah?”
Kondor dropped his eyes to the rug. Zeke interrupted the silence.
“The Cap married her,” he said.
“Really?” Vashti exclaimed.
“So, where is she?” Derek asked.
“That’s just it,” Zeke continued. “She died. They had been married a few months, when the Copts attacked some small country to the south that called on the Caliph for help, and the Cap and I were leading soldiers to reinforce them. Leah came with us; the two were kind of stuck together, and she insisted on coming as much as he insisted on bringing her. But we were ambushed, and the Cap and I lost control of our horses, and the attackers targeted Leah. She was dead before he could get to her. He shot a lot the ambushers, but when his pistol was empty they overwhelmed him, and we wound up here--without her.”
There was a brief pause before Vashti very empathetically said, “I am so sorry.”
“Yeah,” Derek added. “It must be hard. I don’t know what I would do if--” He trailed off.
“Thanks,” Kondor answered. “I would like to say I’m all right, but I’m not, and sometimes I think I’ll never be all right again. It’s very strange. I mean, it isn’t like we--well, like you two, or you two,” he nodded first to Derek and Vashti then to the Slades. “We didn’t fall in love and get married. She had her family approach me about an arranged marriage, and it seemed the logical thing to do. I had no idea how very much we would come to love each other, and in such a very short time. She was--” He ran out of words, and covered his face with both hands, trying to contain the tears.
“Anyway, if you’ll excuse me,” he said, rising, and glancing around to remember the way to the door.
“Certainly,” Derek said. “I’m sure we’ll be here later.”
“Right,” Kondor heard Slade say. “We need to get you settled in our guest room, and find you some dinner. I hope you’re not looking for steak--no mammals in this world, so seafood and poultry are the proteins of choice, although they do some amazing things with lizards and frogs.”
Whatever else Slade said was lost as Kondor stepped outside heading back to his home, his room, his bed, his place to weep.
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 #456: Versers Prepare. 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: