In Version; Chapter 73, Beam 178

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 73:  Beam 178
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 263

The white-haired man felt a passing pain in his arm, and instinctively reached for it with his opposite hand.  The pain passed, and the arm was intact.  Well, that was one advantage of this verser stuff.  Ahead of him, which he slowly realized was above him as he was lying on his back, was a brilliant canopy of stars.  Beneath him the ground, no, floor, was firm but soft, as if padded but not exactly carpeted.

He sat up.  Dawn was already keeping watch.  For the moment he could see for what he took to be miles, although the perspective was difficult since it was a flat plain but for a few objects he took to be furniture here and there.  Bob was lying on the floor, apparently in that weird dream state Beam had experienced before; he hoped the psion didn’t cause any trouble by trying to do something with his mind in the dream, but there wasn’t much he could do other than wake the alien.  He’d get to that.  Ashleigh was also thrashing about a bit, apparently also dreaming, but Bron and Sophia were both out cold.  O.K., first things first.

“Bob,” he said.  “You’re dreaming; wake up.”  Stepping around Sophia, he nudged his alien friend with his foot.

Eyes opened and stared a bit uncomprehendingly for a moment, and Beam wondered whether he had made a serious mistake, but they cleared.  There was a pause, and then the voice in his head, Cannot rise.  However, Bob sat, and then awkwardly stood to his feet, so apparently it meant only that he was unable to levitate.

“But you can speak,” Beam responded.  “At least we don’t have that problem.  Ashleigh?” he said, turning his attention to his wife.  She responded.

“Help!  What do we do?”

“You’re dreaming, Ashleigh.”

She shook herself and took a breath.  “You mean, we’re not floating in the stars and about to fall to earth?”

“Well, we do seem to be floating in the stars, and to falling, it doesn’t appear so yet.  We’re on a ship in the sky, I think,” he said.  As he stared out toward what should be the horizon, he could see that what he took to be the dome enclosing them came down to the floor, and that a solid surface curved down beyond that.  He thought it not unlike standing atop a dirigible in space, but as none of his companions would have a clue what that was he didn’t mention it.  “But I wanted to be sure you were all right before I got report.  Dawn, report.”

“Sir, yes, sir.  We appear to be under some sort of dome on the exterior of a huge space station.  The furnishings suggest it is designed for recreational observation, including places to sit, optical devices affixed in an orderly fashion to magnify viewing of distant objects, and what appear to be devices for descending into the interior.  No life forms have been observed, but there are at least two other versers in this universe, one that direction,” she pointed at an angle toward the floor, “and near enough that parallax is detectable, the other directly below us.  I theorize that we are in a geostationary orbit above a planet, sir.”

That all made sense.  “Bob?” he asked unnecessarily, but the alien had had the courtesy to wait to be asked.

Many big brains, many smaller brains.  Two like Beam, most different.  Much upset, distress, worry.

So they were not alone.

It occurred to him that he didn’t expect Ashleigh to know anything, but he hadn’t known her long enough to know what she could do.  It would at least be polite to ask.  “Ashleigh, have you anything to add?”

Shifting her wide-eyed stare from the stars to his face, she said, “Where are we?”

“Let’s give Bron and Sophie a moment to wake up,” he said, “and then we’ll see if we can make sense of that.”

Obligingly, perhaps having heard his name, Bron stirred, groaned, stretched, then without opening his eyes seemed to probe at his body with his fingers.

“No pain,” he said.  “We did it again, didn’t we?”

“Yes, I would say so,” Beam answered.  “We have versed into another universe.”

The blacksmith opened his eyes and sat up.  “What do we know about–sod it all!”

“Bron, you don’t usually swear like that.  That’s Sophie’s department.”


“The stars?  I’ll give you what we know, as soon as Sophie’s awake.”

“Sophie!” Bron called.  “Wake up.  I need to know what’s going on.”

With a bit of groan in her voice, she complained, “And how would I know that?”

“You wouldn’t, but he won’t tell me until you’re awake to hear it, too.”

Apparently she opened her eyes, because she exclaimed, “Holy dregs!”

“Good,” Beam said.  “You’re awake.  Our best guess is that we are under an observation dome on top of a huge ship in space, what might be a space station orbiting a planet below.  There is another verser not far from here, and yet another probably on the planet, from what Dawn can surmise.  There are also many other creatures aboard the ship, apparently intelligent but not human, and probably also animals in large numbers which I would guess to be livestock for onboard food production.  Thus far, we have encountered no one and nothing.  Did I miss anything?”  No one said anything, so he continued, “Any questions?”  Again there was silence, until Sophia broke it.

“So, what do we do?”

“I would say the first thing we do is make sure we have all our gear and that it’s packed.  It appears that stuff that was upstairs in the bedrooms fell when the floor was pulled out from under it, so it’s scattered around; hopefully nothing important broke.  I see the food cart and the weapons cart.  Take inventory of your stuff, and get it packed in case we have to move abruptly.  Dawn, I fired the sonic thingy, whatever it’s called.”

“Sir, the Pyronics Two-Thousand, sir.”

“Right.  We’ll need to find a power supply to recharge it.”

“Sir, yes, sir.”

“We’ll figure out what to do next when we get that far.  By the way, well done against those bears.  We’re not usually overmatched, but they were pretty tough and managed to hit our weaknesses.”  Of course, that meant him.  He suspected had he not been killed Dawn would still be fighting.  But he turned his attention to finding his things–his backpack and duffel had fallen, but appeared undamaged, and his bedding was mixed with that of his two wives, so he pulled it loose and rolled it up for packing.

Suddenly there was a glow at the horizon.  It caught his eye, so he turned to look at it.

“Everyone find a way to brace yourselves; I expect things are going to be a bit rough.”

“What’s happening?” Ashleigh and Sophia asked simultaneously.

“Well, remember that you dreamed that we fell to earth?  I don’t know that I ever promised your dreams would come true, but this one seems to be happening.  We’re entering a planetary atmosphere.  I’ve never done it, but I understand that it’s a bit turbulent, so we should expect to be shaken a bit.”  Seeing what appeared to be a comfortable although very small seat, he dragged his gear to it and sat.  Other than Dawn, the others appeared to be doing much the same.

Next chapter:  Chapter 74:  Kondor 238
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 #489:  Battle Worlds.  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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