In Version; Chapter 84, Beam 181

Your contribution via
PayPal Me
keeps this site and its author alive.
Thank you.

Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 84:  Beam 181
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 266

Beam awoke during the night to the sound of rain on the tent.  Shades of Camelot, he thought--the rain may never fall ‘til after sundown.  He wondered if the moonlight had appeared by nine.  No, the builders of this ship weren’t human--the seats were too small and the elevator design just a bit off.  Camelot would not be part of their repertoire.

He waited for the sound to reduce to the gentle dripping on the canvas from the canopy before extracting himself from between his two wives.  He had satisfactorily tired them that they stirred in their sleep but did not awaken, and he was soon outside in the night air.  Intriguingly there was the appearance of clouds breaking up and blowing away, revealing a starry sky and indeed a moon--not the one he knew, but effectively the same idea.  He walked out from under the trees to escape the occasional falling drop, and looked down toward the lake.

There was something moving down there.  Instinctively he froze in place and peered through the darkness.  He could not see it well in the dim moonlight, but it did gleam.  Either it was wearing metal or it was metal; if the latter it would be a robot.  He realized that that did not mean it wasn’t a sentient life form; there were sentient artificially intelligent robots in some of the games he had played.  It probably meant, though, that it wouldn’t want to eat him.

He picked his way carefully downstream, his eyes switching between the ground beneath him and the machine in the distance.  I should have worn my glasses, he thought, but they would be in his backpack and too much trouble to recover with the girls asleep.

The machine seemed to be tending the terrain, although exactly what it was doing was unclear.  Then abruptly it turned, and the white-haired man cursed his white head for being so visible.  However, whether it didn’t see him or didn’t consider him important, the machine continued its work.

Satisfied for the moment that this robot posed no threat, he turned and trudged back up the hill.  He found Dawn standing by the edge of the trees, perhaps soaking in the moonlight; that she appeared not to have been drenched by the rain suggested she must have taken shelter when it came, and he guessed that this was probably true of Bob as well.

“Report?” he said.

“Sir, all quiet, sir.  A robot has been moving through the area performing environmental care, but appears to be benign.”

He nodded.  That was what he had surmised, but it was reassuring to know that this was all she had detected as well.  He looked back toward the lake.

In the distance there was suddenly a light, dim but noticeable; it lasted a few seconds and then was extinguished.

“What was that?” he asked, and then realized that there was no particular reason for her to know more than he did.  She surprised him.

“Sir, elevator door, sir.  Someone or something has entered or left this deck.”

That actually made sense.  “Keep an eye open, and let me know if you learn more.”  He turned back and used the scriff sense to keep him on course for their tents a short distance under the canopy.  He could soon feel the vector to Dawn’s position behind him, and as he approached he recognized a splitting of the sense pointing to his gear and his wives to one side and Bron and Bob to the other.

He did not wish to return to bed.  On the other hand, he didn’t really have a place to sit, everything out here was wet, and he felt stupid just standing in the minimalist campsite.  He decided to return to stand watch with Dawn, and focused on the vector that had to point to her.  There was, he realized, that other vector that angled up through the decks to the verser somewhere on the surface of the planet, but that was easy to separate from those on the same deck.

Walking through the trees, he soon spotted Dawn, and realized that she was as visible as he was, her white hair covering more of her head than his, although he realized his had gotten longer than he liked and he didn’t expect there would be a stylist in the neighborhood.  He thought maybe he’d get one of his wives to trim it, but then realized that it would be one more thing for them to fight over.  He’d live with it a while.

He emerged once more from the trees and looked at Dawn, attempting to gauge whether she had anything else to report.  Certainly were he to ask she would answer, and not think anything of the fact that she just told him a moment ago, but he had instructed her to keep him informed so in the unlikely event that something had happened she would tell him.  He looked down toward the lake.

The sky began to lighten; it was dawn.  In the dim light he saw movement on the far bank.  Was it some kind of animal--otter, alligator?  “Your eyes are better than mine,” he said.  “What do you make of that?”

She took a moment apparently to assess the view, then spoke.  “Sir, small humanoid, using a stick with a string which it throws into the lake.”

Beam released a short quiet laugh, and said, “Fisherman.  I suppose some things do transfer to alien worlds.”

Suddenly the creature moved, and seemed to hasten back toward the elevators.

“I think we’ve been seen,” Beam said.

“Sir, yes, sir, that would be the most probable explanation for its actions, sir.”

He tried to raise Bob by thinking, but the alien was obviously asleep.  “Bob?” he called, and then realized that in this enclosed pretense of outdoors the alien would have heard him.  He turned and hastened through the trees, directly to Bron’s tent.

“Bob,” he said, “we need you.  We’ve been seen by a creature that seems to be big brained, and it’s about to board the elevator.  We need to know what it’s thinking.”

Groggily Bob came out of the tent and faced roughly toward the elevators.

Many big brains, he sent, but nearest thinks he has to report what he saw.

That of course would be them.  Well, it was bound to happen eventually.  He should awaken everyone and make sure they had all eaten and were ready for whatever happened next.

Next chapter:  Chapter 85:  Kondor 241
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

See what's special right now at Valdron