In Version; Chapter 76, Slade 233

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 76:  Slade 233
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 264

Woo.  Slade blinked his eyes as the world reformed around him.  To his shock, he was back at the college of the Parakeets near the dorms.  Trying to shake his head to clear it did nothing, but when he rested his hands on his kinetic blaster at his belt, and where his dagger should be, a spike of fear at his loss cleared his head.  He had dropped it when fighting the former robot captain of the Seeker.  A sense of a missing or forgotten but half remembered object behind him came to him.  And a sense of other versers in front of him got him to focus his eyes.

Shella leaned against his right leg, and spoke in dreams.  “Lord Omigger, can you show me that spell again?”  The great magician verser was nowhere to be seen.  “Mylord, I do know that calling the lightning is difficult, but I think I can handle it.”  He shrugged his leg, and she said, “Uh,” followed a few seconds later by, “M’lord, why are we back at the college?”

“I’m not sure.  But so are Derek and Vashti, maybe they know more than us?”  He helped his wife to her feet with his right hand and still maintained an alert.  Something was off.  Derek and Vashti with smiles came toward him, the robot carrying their goods trudging behind.  A shadow passed over them all, and he glanced up to see a floating pink and purple ball with dozens of tiny wings scattered about its surface.  The ball was giant, taller and bigger than a dorm, and it bounced from some unseen obstruction atop a building that Slade knew had not been at the college even if it fit in with this one’s general aesthetic.  Proceeding through the air, with bounces, with air currents catching it, the pastel colored ball continued toward the horizon.

There was the thing that had been bothering Slade at the back of his mind.  The horizon was a lot farther away than it should be.  In fact, it never seemed to arrive, but just dissipated into lack of clarity.  He wondered whether this world actually was flat, but dismissed the notion for the present.  Slade was not highly educated, but he knew that mass caused gravity, and a bigger planet would cause more gravity.  Yet here he was feeling relatively normal gravity, maybe slightly higher than that of the Parakeet World.

He brought his wide eyes down to face Derek as the young man walked up to him.

“You blew the bridge, I assume.  I was on my way to landing the ship in the ocean to keep the invaders from causing trouble for a few centuries, so Vashti and I took a magic gate to what we thought was the Parakeets’ planet.”

“We did blow the bridge.  Now we have to figure out where we are.”

“You’re right.  It's a place of learning.  I talked to this intelligent seaweed called a Kelp, who said something about a class that I recognize as very high level math.  He also said ‘Long live the Emperor’.”  Slade raised an eyebrow–not at the emperor bit, but if the kid thought the math was tough, then it had to be serious.

Slade cleared his throat.

“I assume you saw the balloon with dozens of tiny wings.  Also, check out the horizon.”  In response, Derek glanced that way, and instantly looked shocked.  One might think of certain simple certainties–except they were versers, and apparently some old, reliable guidelines were not there anymore.  The two women shared glances, and Shella smiled gently at Vashti, visibly calming her.

All of them glanced about.  The common Parakeet design was obvious.  Parakeets had built this place. It shared a great number of similarities to the College they had recently left.  But eight thin blue aliens walked out of a building and into the grass where they almost liquidly collapsed.  Then they sat up, and began taking food items out of a blue box.  It looked like a picnic on the grass at a college.

Slade turned about, took a few steps, and picked up his dagger off the grass.  Sheathing it, and gathering up their other gear, he turned back to Derek.

“Third group of versers arrive, it means war.  We already have two.”

“What now?”  Vashti could not contain herself any longer.

“I think we look for a library,” Derek said, “if Bob agrees?”

“I do,” Slade agreed and led off walking in a straight line.  He took them to where the library had been on the other campus.  Derek followed.  They arrived at a low-slung two story tall building reminiscent of a Parakeet’s nest if expanded about a thousand fold, and flattened at the same time.  Two metal pillars with arms and a single trackball under the pillars rolled to block their way to the front door.

“Library card or special monies?” one spoke.  It was in English, which Slade found weird.  If the four of them were the only humans on a very large planet, then why was everyone speaking English?  And what was ‘special monies’?  The robot came to a halt behind him as everyone just stood there, trying to figure out what to do.

“Robot, you may enter,” one of the pillarbots said.

“The robot belongs to me.  It is non sentient.”  Derek said.  There was a pause, and then the pillarbot spoke again, and both guardbots rolled back out of the way.

“Apologies, Favored Ones.  Please enter and make use of the Library of the College of the Whistling Song.”

Slightly weirded out, but not willing to make a scene when he got what he wanted, Slade walked forward, urging Derek to come along.  They all entered through a doorway with a slightly tingling field that covered the open doorway.

“Energy weapons are not likely to work in here.” Slade said quietly.  He looked around for threats, and so did Derek.  Instead, they found books.  Surprised not to see something more high tech, yet grateful for something so easy to use, he began to walk toward the many tables piled high with bound tomes, only to be intercepted by a being with orange skin and very large fan shaped ears which each had three spikes extending outward.  It was clad in a gray overcoat that fit very loosely, and wore short boots in incredibly bright green.

The alien stood in their path, and whispered something.  Derek stepped closer, asking for a repeat.  The alien’s hands came up, and they had talons on the end, and he hissed.  Derek pulled his knife.  And then a little green man came running up, his feet slapping on the tiled floor.  Slade watched.  The orange alien had poorly balanced footing.  If he tried something for real, and not just posturing, Slade was going to give him one kick, and dump it on its backside.

“Please, no fighting.”

“He started it,” both said at the same time.

The little green man looked at both, and then said, “If both members of warrior races would put down their weapons, then I may be able to resolve this.”

Derek with a visible bit of skepticism did so, and the orange alien followed by retracting its claws, and putting its arms down.

“If the Favored One would explain first.”

Derek began, “My friend and I were walking over to the table to look through the books, when this person interposed itself and blocked us, raising its claws.  I drew my knife to protect my friend.”  The little green man looked clarified, and even the orange alien only hissed in displeasure once.

“I shall attempt to explain.  The Dvandar are highly reflexive.  Getting closer than ten feet to them is regarded as both a profound insult and a threat.  You, on the other hand, I can see stand but a foot from the others with no discomfort.”

“I tried to do that as I could not hear him,” Derek explained.  Slade was surprised to see the Dvandar look away, and the Little Green Man give the orange alien a disapproving look.  Ah ha, he thought to himself with amusement.

“Certain Dvandar have been assigned to duties because of altercations.  Such a Dvandar might think to himself that a low hiss was good enough for others of his kin to hear, and that if you did not hear, well that was your fault for not having as big, beautiful, and wondrous ears as the Dvandar.”

The sarcasm is heavy with this one, Slade thought with a smile.

“I withdraw my challenge insult,” the Dvandar said.

“I too.” Derek replied.

After the Little Green Man left, the Dvandar spoke.

“What is the topic you wish to study?  I shall bring you books to your table.”  He gestured toward a door on the side of the extensive, multiple acre room.

“A survey of the seven Great Races and a basic history of the Empire.”

“Also hand weapons used,” Slade added.

They were escorted to a side room with a wide array of resettable chairs.  Slade looked at one that was not resettable.  The legs were solid steel columns four inches wide, and the seat five feet by six.  The legs were three feet tall.  He was pretty sure he did not want to meet that student in a dark alley.  Then again, it might be fun.

Looking in the books, he saw the Seven Great Races.  The Parakeets were one, and they were like the ones he had already met physically and mentally.  They were excellent mimics, and good generalists.  They were regarded as the best fighter pilots and helmsmen in the Imperial Navy or aboard freighters.

The Chlorophytes, whom Slade wanted to call the Little Green Men, were noted for their technical skill, and were the most common race.  A subculture of them were a warrior race, but the majority were past that.

The Bilitate were blue-skinned low-level empaths who lived in close association with each other in pods of multiples of four.  Startling them was rude.  They had no long bones, and they only saw in blue wavelengths, but in much finer detail as to tone compared to other races.  They were famed for their incomprehensible Blue Period Art.

The orange skinned Dvandar had superb hearing and excellent reflexes, but strong personal spaces.  They were listed as a warrior race, and the source of much of the Empire’s elite grenadier troops.

The Kelp were water-living sentients devoted to curiosity, gossip, and gambling.  Most stayed to themselves in their seas, but some of the more adventurous lived among the other races.

The Anders seemed, to Slade, closest to humans, but barely so.  They were similar to chimpanzees in that they were lithe and covered in hair or fur but for their faces, and they were on average around his height, some reaching nine feet (and talk about a beanpole, he thought).  They stood more erect than the apes, more like humans.  Wookies, he thought, but with short fur.  What was characteristic about them was that they were the race regarded second best at almost everything–second to the Dracorex at fighting, second to the Chlorophytes at technology, second to the Parakeets at piloting.  It was also noted that it bothered them to be second best at everything, and it made them a bit abrasive in interactions with the other major races.

The ruling race was the Dracorex.  The Emperor was one of them.  He was the fourth emperor since the Throne World was created 792 years ago.  They were lizardoid who could shift their appearance, claws, scales, et cetera, over time, and generally regarded as the toughest of the warrior races.

In the book on the Empire in general, Slade saw that the Empire had been founded by the Dracorex who had reached out and swept others into their empire.  Then for uncertain reasons, the then Throne the First had ordered the construction of the Throne World.  It was a Jupiter-like gas giant planet with a core hardened.  The hard core had a land area the size of a thousand Earths.

With each of the Seven Great Races contributing a Great Treasure, this deed was done.  Then the Seven Great and Forty-Nine Lesser races repaired themselves to Throne World.  Not all the Treasures were listed, but the Chlorophytes contributed a gravity generator that reduced the planetary gravity to one G, while at the same time holding the planet together with higher G’s underground.  The Kelp gave an Artificial Intelligence, the only one of its kind, to the Emperor.  He used it to control the guardbots that upheld his rule worldwide, and to guide the Empire.

Mind spinning, Slade leaned back and flipped open the weapons book.  Out slipped a glossy advertisement, probably illegally placed there.  This was how Slade learned about the Throne World Combat Tournament the winner of which would be allowed to ask one request of the Emperor.

Next chapter:  Chapter 77:  Beam 179
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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