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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 31: Slade 221
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 168
Joe and Zeke did not return for more weapon training the next day, nor indeed all week. Slade couldnít blame them, really--primitive weapons were probably already mostly a thing of the past, to be relegated to sport competitions and exercise programs. Even experts such as himself knew that guns were the wave of the future, and as skilled as Joe was, he would never attain the kind of skill that really made a primitive weapon worthwhile.
On the subject of weapons, quite a bit of work had gone into systems that might be used against flying attackers--the Gatling gun, long-range artillery, rockets. They had not managed guidance systems yet, but that was more Zekeís field than his so he didnít know how close they might be.
Derek and Vashti were now receiving and analyzing visitor text transmissions, excitedly announcing where scout ships were being sent and what they were reporting. They plotted these on their virtual globe, putting names to the places where possible, that is, where the bird names had English translations and were not just naming sounds. Joe was very interested in this work, and every evening when they met he would question the couple in detail on what sites had been visited. Slade wasnít sure how it mattered, but figured if Joe wanted to know, it had some value in Joeís mind.
Word was that the airplane was off the ground; the birds could now fly. However, Slade held no illusions that these early simple aircraft would be of any significant aid against flying saucers--unless perhaps Zeke turned them into radio-controlled drones and flew them like kamikaze fighters. It didnít seem likely.
He had this weird feeling, on the one hand that everything was running normally, the regular daily grind, and on the other hand that they were on the cusp of war. He wondered whether people felt like this before World War II, when Hitler was rattling his saber and Europe was still reeling from World War I and didnít want another fight. Maybe Joe was right, and there wouldnít be a fight.
He had trouble imagining that.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #480: Versers Think. 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: