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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 63: Kondor 236
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Dropping their gear in a foxhole, Zeke and Kondor took a different one, furthest to the right. Zeke yawned, and Kondor smiled at his friend.
“Soldier’s rules. Take a nap when you can.”
“Yes, Cap’n.” And Zeke flipped onto his back, closed his eyes, and like a good soldier was instantly asleep. Kondor kept watch over his friend and the school.
Thirty minutes later, he saw a small point break the high cumulus clouds that covered half the sky in light, white patchwork. Focusing on it more carefully, he tried to verify that he had not been fooled by a trick of the vision. He saw it again, and it was clearly coming lower. He shoved Zeke in the ribs, and the man came instantly awake.
“Visitors of the unwanted kind. Coming down in a seventy degree dive.” Kondor reported, still keeping his eyes on the ship which became two darts. Zeke rolled over, and focused the rangefinder binoculars up. By now, he was fully alert.
“8500 feet, dropping fast. 8000, uh, 7500. I make two enemy flying saucers.”
“I’m setting up.”
“How do we know it’s not Derek and Bob coming back from a failed mission?” Zeke asked.
Kondor picked his M-16 rifle off his shoulder strap, wound the strap around his forearm for maximum stiffness, and then carefully lowered himself to his belly in the foxhole with the barrel resting on the lip of raised earth circling half of the pit. “Three ways,” he said. “First, the scriff sense doesn’t indicate any versers in that direction.”
“Right. Good thinking.”
“Second, the trajectory is wrong; those are starting an attack run, not a landing.”
Zeke stared up at them. “O.K., if you say. And third?”
“Bob and Derek don’t get to come back if they fail,” he said grimly. He verified that if the two continued their approach, they would be in his field of fire, and waited. It occurred to him that he could try to use his combat precog, but given the way his head still ached, he passed on that notion. Instead, he began to use the training given him by the Army.
Breathe steadily, be calm. And he heard his Uncle Ty saying as he aimed the BB gun at the line of tin cans on the fence, “Be in the moment, son, be in the moment.”
He found himself repeating the phrase even as Zeke called off 3000 feet. He muttered and half listened to Zeke, and tried to decide if he should aim at the first of the two flying saucers or the second. At five hundred feet up, they took a curve, and headed straight toward another one of the dorms.
While the dorms were expensive to build, being such large four story buildings, they were not of much value in wartime. Perhaps the aliens thought they were symbolic, or maybe they just did not understand and thought large meant important.
At two hundred feet out, the gatling gun on top of the Traveler’s building opened fire, spraying bullets and sparks all over the nose of the first of the two flying saucers. The way the saucer suddenly jerked, and then whipped up and to the side almost made him laugh. Clearly, the aliens had been utterly shocked.
But the other flying saucer took the shot at the dorm, shaking it, shattering windows, and peeled back toward Kondor. He could take the shot now, or let it pass over him, and hopefully come back closer. Almost panicking, he held himself in check. He had had a good shot, but held it for the hope of better. What if he were wrong?
The undamaged flying saucer wheeled back over his dorm, and came down and around heading to join the other flying saucer which had exited to the north. It did this fifty feet from Kondor. He took the shot, and a second shot. It wobbled hard–not because his first shot had missed, but because there had been no time to have the effects of damage. And as it fled, Kondor took a third shot, and suddenly it sped up, and veered left, and slammed right through the dorm it had targeted earlier. Dorm and saucer exploded in a ball of flames, and the interior of the dorm imploded after this with the end walls crumbling down.
Kondor did not think anyone had been in that dorm, but if they had been, they were no longer. The damaged lead saucer made a few probing moves, but its pilot’s nerve was clearly shattered. After a few minutes of futile jabs and retreats, it climbed skyward at a slower speed than usual.
Shaking from the aftermath of adrenaline, and soaked with sweat, Kondor gladly accepted Zeke’s offer to take watch. He dropped off to sleep haunted by dreams of God aiming a sniper rifle at him from Heaven, whose barrel was a redwood tree.
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 #487: A World in Space. 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: