Con Verse Lea; Chapter 51, Beam 142

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Stories from the Verse
Con Verse Lea
Chapter 51:  Beam 142
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Takano 72

“Good evening,” the white-haired man said to the well-armored guard on the steel front door.  “I am known as Emperor Beam.  I believe you are unjustly holding my father-in-law here, Warren the Gunsmith, and I’d like him released.”

He had had to ask Ashleigh her father’s name.  He was surprised to learn that he was a gunsmith, but on reflection it made sense that a gunsmith would have high status among the outlaws, even though the nobles would be unlikely to have any respect for him.  It also explained why his young bride had owned two pistols long enough that she was extremely good with them.

Not unexpectedly, the man’s hand went for his sword.  It never reached it, as it changed direction to grab the hole Dawn’s knife put in his gut before her second strike slashed his throat.  As the soldier fell, Bob took the opportunity to crack open his braincase and enjoy a decent meal, while Beam searched his pockets, unsuccessfully, for a key.

“Door?” he said.

“I’ve got it,” his wife replied, and produced a packet of lock picks.

“Dugh!” Bob shouted, and Beam dove atop Ashleigh.  He was aware of Dawn whirling away and returning fire simultaneously with the first shot, and the sniper fell from the flanking tower even as his bullet ricocheted off the iron door into the dirt.  A second shot from Dawn at the other tower had no observable effect, but the girl kept her focus there.  Too bad Bob can’t tell us what they’re thinking, Beam thought; that would be really useful about now.

“Door,” he said as he helped Ashleigh to her feet.

“She’s good, isn’t she,” Ashleigh commented.  She had never seen Dawn up close, always having been clearing the upper levels when Beam entered front doors.

“You have no idea.  Door,” he repeated, trying to get her focused.

She’s young, he thought, but she’s not inexperienced.  She should be able to hold it together.  Must be because this is about her father.

The door opened, and Bron led the way, pulling his cart in short bursts and firing his shotgun into oncoming soldiers, who were obviously not accustomed to a gun that could injure more than one target.  Ashleigh was behind him, firing her pistols alongside him.  These were mostly the well-armored troops, with the riot gear dress, aprons, leggings, helmets, and her shots were skillfully planted in weak spots and gaps.

Beam was third, holding his new rifle and wearing armor taken from the enemy.  He had removed the helmet to greet the man at the door, but replaced it before entering.  With Ashleigh and Bron leading the way he did not really expect to shoot anyone, and was more studying the room, trying to get the lay of the land.  They soon came to another door, not as solid as the first.

“Bron?” Beam said, and the burly smith’s hammer managed to break the bolt loose on the second strike, the door swinging open.  The body count was climbing, as Ashleigh eliminated several more and was reloading her pistols.  Beam took the opportunity to shoot a guard farther down the hall who appeared to be running elsewhere, probably, he thought, to kill prisoners.  The vests, he realized, did not offer so much protection to the back; the soldiers who wore them were expected never to turn their backs to the enemy, he surmised, but it was definitely a design flaw of which he was going to have to be doubly aware--once because it meant the soldiers had a vulnerability, and again because it meant he did, too.

As they reached the man Beam had shot, they stopped long enough for Beam to get the keys from him.  It made sense, he thought, since the man who was running for the far door must believe he can open it.  It took a moment of fumbling to identify the right key, but it was different from most of the others, which he took to be cell keys.

There were no soldiers on the other side of this inner door, just rows of locked cells.  “We release everyone,” Beam said, although he had said it before.  “Maybe some of them deserve to be in here, but that’s not our call.  But don’t tell them who we are, and don’t speak our names.  The less publicity we get from this the better.”

“What about the cameras?” Ashleigh asked.

Cameras.  He should have thought of that.  He had gotten so used to the notion that this was a more primitive world he wasn’t thinking in terms of advanced technology.  How advanced?  He didn’t think they would have the electronics for computers.  They might have television monitors, and that probably meant some means of recording video--but did they have magnetic recording tape, or just film?

“Shoot the cameras.  That will ruin the film.  If they have videotape, well, we’ll deal with that crisis if it comes.  Obviously they’re going to find out it’s us; I’d just rather they not go from descriptions to pictures.”  Drawing his revolver, he put a bullet in a camera inside the door, and then began unlocking cells.

This was going to take a while.  There would be sense in simply releasing the one prisoner for whom they came, but he didn’t know how to find the man, and he couldn’t very well ask prisoners he wasn’t releasing, and couldn’t reasonably release some random collection of them.  He opened about thirty doors, at half a minute each, before finding his father-in-law.

“Come, you’re leaving,” he said, and the man did not look thrilled.  Obviously, Beam realized, I’m dressed like one of them.

“It’s alright, Dad,” Ashleigh said, peeking around him.  “We came to get you as soon as we heard.”


Apparently Dad didn’t get the memo.  Well, nothing for it now.  “Let’s go,” he said, hoping to quash any further conversation.  It didn’t work.

“You know this is a trap,” he said.

“Yes, I guessed as much,” Beam replied.  “But it’s a trap for the outlaws they believed would come for you.  They weren’t expecting us.  So unless they’re going to collapse the building--”

Of course, he’d done that to them once.  But this was a pretty solid and, he guessed, expensive building.  They’d have to be pretty desperate to destroy it.  Still, it was time to leave.

He opened one more door, and to the prisoner within he said, “You.  I have a job for you.”

The stunned man stared at him.  Beam tossed the keys to him.

“Take these, and release the rest of the prisoners.  No exceptions.  I didn’t have to let you go, you know, so if I see you come out alone, you’re dead.”

Not waiting for an answer, the white-haired man turned sharply and headed back the way they came.

Next chapter:  Chapter 52:  Takano 73
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 #465:  Characters Wander.  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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