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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 55: Kondor 234
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 227
Lying in bed, Kondor diagnosed himself: a healing slash in his right shoulder/pectoral muscle area from a repulsor emitter pistol, which seemed to be weaker than the alien’s rifles; general bruising from getting knocked about by another bolt; and his uncontrolled rage at the sight of that fourth Parakeet had resulted in what he could only call some form of brainburn as his clairvoyant skill had badly turned in on itself in a strange, recursive loop.
Idly, he wondered if it were possible to create a black hole with psionics. This sort of thought was because he desperately wanted to get out of bed, but he knew he needed at least some rest. His brain still tingled unpleasantly even after sleeping the night away, and having breakfast brought to him by Vashti which had been oddly pleasant and unpleasant as she so reminded him of his lost Leah. He stirred, and his shoulder complained.
“Doctor, the patient is being recalcitrant.” He quoted a nurse he remembered from long ago, and far away. Doctors were notoriously the worst patients, but he knew better, and so he bore down on himself until his protesting nature gave way to logic. He needed sleep and rest for his body to recover.
Ignoring the flashes of horrifying scenes he had recently seen, he started to count out loud. Given the tenuous state of his mind, he did not dare to visualize sheep jumping a fence. Instead, he spoke out loud, ”One, two, three.…” He reached 272 before he fell back asleep.
He woke to a sound of an explosion, but Zeke promised to look into it, and left. He fell back to sleep. Later, he heard the sound of a train whistle being blown, but it was a more musical sound than that of the steam engines of old movies. Getting up, his headache was reduced as was his general soreness, but he still had a partially open slash in his chest. He packed that with antibiotics and wound packing, and took a shower. After getting dressed, his stomach rumbled, and he asked about dinner. Finding no one in the house, he went to the cafeteria in the late part of the afternoon under a misting rain.
Entering, he was greeted with cheers from his fellow versers and several dozen Parakeets. Derek got him a plate of food which was just as well because he wanted to sit down. Asking the others, he found out what had happened that day. A flying saucer had played with the gatling gun until they found out its range of fire, and then came up on the blindside and destroyed it. Happily, the warfare professor and his gun crew had seen it coming, and had fled out of the zone of attack.
“The ammunition exploded,” Derek said. “After that, there have been continual low speed sniping attacks all over the campus. The hangar still stands, but we’ve lost another three buildings.”
Kondor noted he said nothing about any enemy saucers knocked down.
“We’re keeping our air power intact for a raid on The Seeker.” No one looked happy about this. He could see the logic on both sides. Use the air power to protect the college, save lives, resources, and gain experience. On the other hand, what if one of their two precious flying saucers is knocked down? Derek went on. “And right now, about twenty birds are working on moving the new damaged flying saucer to the hangar. The rail terminus doesn’t reach the hangar so they have to use two carriages nailed together to carry it.”
“So the rain is a good thing,” Kondor said, and the others nodded. It seemed that the aliens disliked flying in bad weather. They had stopped the sudden surprise attacks from every corner of the compass as soon as the rain started, and before the railway train had arrived with the downed saucer. As long as the rain held, they could more safely move without being observed by the enemy, who would otherwise be very curious at one of their flying saucers being toted along the ground.
“Eat,” Zeke said. “We need to get you back to bed.”
Derek continued. “I’ve temporarily disabled the transponders on both of our saucers. I’ve removed mine, because I figure it identifies as from Wanderer, so I’m going to replace it with the one from this other ship so it looks like it’s from Seeker. I’m hoping when we activate them the commanders on Seeker will think that some of their people had managed to stay out of sight long enough to make repairs and return to them. But we’ll see.”
Everyone got silent, but then Slade spoke. “We’re going to need you to swap the engine from the junk ship we just received to the damaged one we’ve already got. But not today. We’ll see how you are tomorrow.”
Kondor nodded, and continued eating. He wasn’t actually that hungry--the injuries had to some degree weakened his appetite. But he finished what Derek brought him, with another glass of the juice of whatever fruit it was that was popularly served, and decided to forego dessert.
Noticing he had finished, Slade said, “Let’s get you back to bed,” and he and Zeke helped the injured soldier to his feet and walked him back to their house and onto the bed that had been moved into their spare room in the company of his verser companion.
As the others turned to leave, suddenly Derek stopped and turned toward him.
“Would you mind if I prayed for you?” he asked.
Kondor was a bit flustered, even embarrassed, by the question, but pulled up an uncertain answer.
“Oh, come on,” Zeke said in a frustrated voice. “You’re always saying that there’s no proof of anything supernatural, and here we have someone who by his own account was sent by a god to save a race, who apparently pulled his wife back from the brink of death by praying for her, and because you don’t want to believe you won’t let him try?”
Now he was more embarrassed. What the heck? he thought. After all, he knew that several of them did things he couldn’t do, which they claimed were magic, which he thought was some other kind of psionic power that he didn’t understand. Let the boy try, as someone once said of King Arthur in another impossible story. It probably wouldn’t work. How much trouble could there be with letting him say a few words?
“All right,” he conceded. “You can try--I mean, pray.”
Derek appeared to take a deep breath and stepped closer. He sat on the bed, and then wrapped his arms around Joe, giving him a hug which made him more uncomfortable. He felt like he ought to hug back, and at the same time like he oughtn’t. But Derek was saying something, talking as if his god, whom he always called The King, was a friend present in the room. He was asking that the King would heal Joe and help him know that he had been healed by Him, the King.
Then there was a light from somewhere. Joe realized he had closed his eyes, probably because he had been taught that this is what you do when someone prays. He opened them, and saw that Derek was glowing, as he had when he had healed Vashti in the marketplace a while back. Then, as it had happened before, the glow spread from Derek to him, and he felt with it a warmth passing through his body wherever the glow appeared.
Then it went dark, and Derek released his hug and backed away.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, and rose and left the room. Vashti stood looking for a moment, then followed her husband, and then Slade left, and Shella said, “Let me get you something to drink,” and also left.
Which left only Zeke.
“So?” Zeke asked.
“That was--interesting,” Kondor replied. “The boy has some remarkable psionic powers--”
Zeke threw up his hands and walked toward the kitchen. “You’re impossible,” he said over his shoulder.
But this was impossible. The pains in his body were gone. He looked at the worst of the wounds, and found a bit of scar tissue but no pain, no scabs, nothing to suggest that the injury was recent. All that remained was the headache.
So apparently God couldn’t heal everything, he thought. But then, maybe that wasn’t what Derek asked.
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: