In Version; Chapter 54, Slade 227

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 54:  Slade 227
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 257

The following morning, after breakfast, Slade was in the back yard as Parakeets worked on fixing his back door.  He was pacing his way through his moves, trying to think of what he could have done differently.  The essential problem was that he had not expected the flying saucers to be able to use their repulsor emitters on the ground.  If he had not been airborne from running when he was hit, he might not be standing here.

But he could see no reasonable other plan he could have taken with the knowledge he had before.  A decent plan now beats a perfect plan tomorrow was the saying.  But what if it happened again?  What would he do differently the next time?

He was considering a flying leap out of a window, as an unexpected attack, when he heard a distant rustle of trees, as if caught in a very strong wind.  Looking that way, he saw something airborne--which he realized had to be incoming invaders.  Yelling at the workers and Shella to get to cover,  he bolted around the back of his house to use the far corner, as they were coming from the south.  They were not supersonic, or they would have reached him before he heard the noise.

This worried him for some reason, and he spoke softly.

“Sif, what am I missing?”

For a second he saw two hawks diving down a canyon.  One went very fast, and flew past a rabbit.  The other was slower, but was able to grab the rabbit.  He understood now.  The alien flying saucers, if they came at full speed, would likely have poor aiming ability.  Joe had mentioned a Parakeet being killed before the second shot hit the dorms. Slade was willing to bet that Parakeet had been unlucky.  Both shots had been intended for the dorm.

Looking south, he saw a single flying saucer coming in at perhaps five hundred feet, and several hundred miles per hour.  The rage of the gatling spun out, and the flying saucer ducked, revealing another one right behind it.  Now they came in at fifty feet, using the buildings for cover against the gatling gun.  Slade hoped that Joe was out there with Zeke as a spotter trying for a repeat miracle shot.

Slade began firing, each shot hitting the lead saucer.  Each shot was the same time apart as he no longer needed to wait to know when the kinetic blaster pistol was ready, but hitting a fast moving long oval is difficult.  Hitting one of eight circles in the hull that are five inches in diameter and level with the hull is beyond difficult, and into high level sniper skills.  Worse, he had a pistol, and no one wanted a pistol in a sniping contest.  So his shot hit, and rattled the lead saucer, and did very little beyond that.

And then the saucers came under fire.  Bullets sparked off their hulls, close, so close.  And suddenly the saucers dropped to a hundred miles per hour, throwing off everyone who was firing, including some of the swordbirds with their pistols, before lining up on one of the dorms.

Three emitter pulses, and one of the dorms fell in.  The flying saucers leapt forward to two hundred or so miles per hour, again spoiling shots, and did a vertical climb and flip to dive down on the administration building.  It had already had the dome knocked in, but this crushed it more.  But the high pop-up cost them because it put them in close range of the gatling gun, and in their sights.  The gatling gun hammered the second ship, and the alien flying saucer just hung in the air for a moment.  Brown smoke gusted out from all sides.  There was a spark of light so bright, so unnatural, that it was not so much seen as felt.  The saucer exploded, with parts raining down all over a good portion of the college.

The surviving craft wobbled, and then fled straight up as fast as it could.

Slade ran in to check on his wife, who was fine, as were the workers.

“We need to check the dorm,” he said.  “It collapsed.”

One of the workers squawked which Slade had already understood with his mind powers:  “Most of the students were evacuated.”

“Good,” Slade said. “But we need to be sure.”

There was no disagreement there, and Slade and Shella led five worker birds who had been fixing minor damage to his house to the dorms at a run.  Once they got there, they saw a half dozen other birds just staring in shock at the demolished dorm.  He got their attention, and began directing them either to listen and call for wounded, or to begin carefully to pull back pieces of wall and window, floor and furniture.  The other versers arrived at a run.  Slade spoke to Joe.

“Can you lead the telekinesis and clairvoyance team?”

“Yes.  All right, Zeke, you’re good at controlling dust.”

“Cap’n, good is an overstatement.” Zeke warned, his face tight.

“Right.  Zeke is right.  None of us are really good at telekinetics.  So we’re going to do it, but we’re going to be slow and cautious.  Take twice as much time as you think you need, okay?”

Zeke and Derek both nodded.

“Derek, multiple objects, small.  I’ll take the big things.  If you need a change, but not a real break, look through the pile with clairvoyance.  I’ll start with that.”

More workers arrived, and Slade got them lifting.  When someone claimed they heard a noise, he sent them to Joe or Shella so that they could use his clairvoyance or her scrying spell to check on them.  If they were near enough to the edge, and not too endangered, he and the workers would uncover them.  Otherwise, they had to figure out how to dig through to them telekinetically without collapsing anything on them.

Zeke was clearing off dust to avoid choking anyone while Derek was picking up several small objects at once and tossing them clear.  This found one bird who had been in the attic at the time of the attack.  He had a wooden chair leg shoved through his right arm.

Not everyone in the college was coming to their aid as the exploded flying saucer had started several small fires in other buildings, Slade noted before putting it from his mind.  He watched Vashti dance gracefully up on the pile, and reach down to grab a talon, and speak softly to the trapped bird.  Derek began gently lifting things from around her to help the rescue as Vashti kept the bird calm.

He kept his crew working, and made sure to have his birds take breaks.  Others brought water to drink, and bandages and blankets.  Some of the injured birds were being taken to a hospital.  It was when the third dead Parakeet was taken out of the rubble that Slade heard Joe growl with growing rage.  He turned, too slowly, too slowly, and saw Joe’s dark face suffusing with blood, and veins pounding in the man’s head.  Slade was not sure what was happening, but he knew it was bad, and so he began to run toward Joe, and just as he reached out to touch him, he felt contact.

The Universe is a cold, pitiless place with nothing but this life, awful as it sometimes is.  And these monsters, they had come from the dark, had come and bothered peaceful people who just wanted to have a few laughs, and spend some time with their friends before the inevitable end in shadows and oblivion.  Was it too much to ask just to not make things worse?  The planet was broad and many empty spots existed.  The alien invaders could have landed in peace.

They chose not to.

Slade felt his right hand which had touched Joe rip apart.  No, as he looked down, he saw his hand was fine.  Feeling Joe tip, he caught him before the man could face-plant and break his nose on the ground.  Easing Joe to the ground, he flipped him over.  Blood was dripping out of his nose, and for a long second, Slade dithered.  He had no idea what to do.  Joe was the medic.  But what do you do when the medic is down?

With a groan, Joe cracked open his eyes.  Derek and Shella had joined them.  Vashti was still on the pile, but looking on with concern.

“You O.K., friend?” Slade asked.

“Define ‘O.K.’.” Joe moaned back.  Slade chuckled.  He now knew Joe was fine.  “I got, I lost my temper, Slade.  Literally saw red when that last body got toted out.  My clairvoyance wrapped in on itself as I tried to do I don’t know what, and then it wrapped in on itself again, and again in a recursive loop.  I felt like I was being ripped apart, and now, my brain feels like it's on fire.”

“How bad is it?” Shella asked.

“Bad enough I’m going to have to go lie down.  But carry on.  There are more in the ruins of the dorm.”

Joe made his way back to a bed, and the rest went back to work.  In the end, they pulled out eleven living and four dead.  Also, a piece of the exploding flying saucer had gone through a wall, and decapitated a professor of agriculture.  There would be more funerals that night.

Next chapter:  Chapter 55:  Kondor 234
Table of Contents

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 #484:  Characters Maneuver.  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

Re Verse All

In Verse Proportion

Con Verse Lea
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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