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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 36: Kondor 230
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 222
Kondor was awakened by a banging on his door. Donning his thobe, the robe he wore for his wedding which he jokingly thought of as the most elegant bathrobe available, and slipping his bare feet into his boots, he headed for the noise.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” he called. Zeke caught up with him as he reached the front door and opened it.
Bob Slade was standing there with an unrecognized bird who seemed anxious.
“‘Tsup?” Zeke asked.
“I’m not sure I know, really,” Slade said, “but apparently some ambassador has accosted the Dean about something that concerns us, and he sent for me, and I thought I’d better have you. You’re much more the diplomat than I.”
“Right,” Kondor agreed. “Give me a moment to tie my shoes,” and he bent down and did so. “O.K., let’s go.”
As they walked, Kondor wondered what it was about. It was obvious that Slade didn’t know more than he had said, and that the bird was too flustered to be able to explain clearly, particularly as Kondor would have to rely on a language link to a somewhat distraught and jumbled brain. They walked not exactly in silence, as the bird seemed to be chirping something that he took to be an attempt to hurry them, but they soon crossed the campus to the Dean’s office.
As they reached the door, there was an unfamiliar bird dressed in decorative finery attempting to look important, and it was chirping rather emotionally at the Dean, who was seated behind his desk cowering. Kondor grabbed a language link off the Dean, and heard Slade whistle in Parakeet.
“Is there a problem here?”
The fancy dress bird whirled around with an angry visage, but then seemed to gasp as he saw the two humans, Kondor towering over him and Slade towering over Kondor.
He knew they were alleged to be the ancient gods, but he had not really considered what it would mean to be in their presence. Slade repeated the question.
Finding its whistle, the bird tried to sound firm. “How do you know about our secret installation, and what right do you have to reveal its location to the rest of the world?”
The two men looked at each other. Kondor nodded, and sang back in his baritone, which again surprised the bird, “We are sorry if we revealed some secret. We had the coordinates of sixty-four sites on the planet, and we didn’t know what all of them were. There were several we couldn’t identify, but with the short time we had we didn’t want to delay until we could get that information, and all we really knew was that we didn’t know what was there. That didn’t mean it was a secret location. Besides, it obviously wasn’t secret to the visitors who included it on their list of target sites.”
“Target sites?” the bird chirped, perhaps a bit less confident.
“In the general sense, that they dispatched ships to those locations. We don’t yet know their intentions. It could be an attack; it could be an effort to make contact with your people, or even to establish observation points. Calling them target sites is the simplest word for it. But what would you have had us do? Would you prefer we had not told you that your secret whatever it is was on their list?”
The bird seemed to be flustered, but something else occurred to Joe.
“So, what’s so secret about this location?”
“I will not reveal state secrets.”
Kondor nodded, and then made a guess. “Are you developing rockets?” The wide-eyed look on the bird’s face suggested he had hit the mark, or at least very near it. “Well, I would recommend that you very quickly evacuate the site, including all personnel, research, prototypes, and any production; and then be ready to share what you have with the rest of the world if this goes to war. After all, if these aliens attack, and they destroy everyone else, your little cache of rockets won’t keep you safe very long.”
This seemed to silence the foreign bird. Kondor turned to Slade and said, in English, “I think we’re done here,” and the two turned and exited.
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: