In Version; Chapter 100, Brown 270

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 100:  Brown 270
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Beam 185

Ystrang took the flying car airborne through the heavy rain and thunder with Derek and Vashti sitting together in the back seat.  Watching lightning flashes all about them, the trio ascended through the clouds.  The Chombito driver took them onward, and upward to a hundred miles aiming at a giant balloon.  Arriving, they curved over the miles-long hull.  Pulling into a landing dock on the superstructure of the gargantuan balloon, the Chombito powered down the flying limo.

1942 was waiting for them as they disembarked into the windy open-sided landing dock.  Nobody could speak, so 1942 led them into an elevator.  A Chlorophyte technician was working on something in its wall, and this disturbed the Kelp.

“Is this lift safe, careful and skilled craftsman?”

“Perfectly safe.  The balloon riders complained of a harmonic which you’d have to have my equipment to detect, and paid extra time for me to ‘come out immediately’.  Far safer than that ‘unadapted, primitivist’ landing dock without wind shields, anyway.

“Thank you for your explanation, thorough technician.  Derek, Vashti, Ystrang, it is status games.  Honored beings, you are about to meet beings who would like you to think they are great movers and shakers.  So they have to let you know that even though the party is about you, that you are beneath them.  But they promised to put up a lot of factory seconds for the bets, so we have to indulge them.”

“So, an unpleasant dock, and an elevator that is being worked on?” Derek said questioningly.

The Chlorophyte snarled, and threw his equipment into his bag.  “I’m wasting my time here.  The Kelp is right.  These are a bunch of middle manager types exalted above their positions.  I’ve worked for the truly great a time or two.  Invariably, they treated me politely.  My parents say ‘take any job, times are hard’, but a being has to have some pride.  I’m not going to indulge them any further.”

Nobody said anything else, and when the lift stopped, the Chlorophyte darkly wished them good fortune, while 1942 led them on.  They were greeted, and pretty soon it became clear that the Chlorophyte was right.  The views were spectacular, the food was okay, and seeing a dozen different species was a wonder.  He recognized Parakeets, Chlorophytes, Kelp, a blue Bilitate pod leaning on the wall, Dvandars, and from what he had read, a lithe, haired except on the face Anders couple who were arguing with a creature like a clawed hippopotamus without a head and with a single hand coming out of its shoulders.  But it was all “me, me, me”, and the great things that “I” had done.  Listening, he could not help but feel that most of the ‘great’ things seemed rather paltry.  His Chombito chauffeur guide was sitting unblinking in a chair on the far side of the room, and Derek was fairly sure the mass of bulging muscles was asleep sitting up.

Thus when the tenth person said, ‘Oh, the hero of the day, and let me tell you how I was able to track down a sneak thief who was absconding with food from the company fridge,’ Derek excused himself.  Off to the side was a much neglected being performing live music.  He was there to play, but no one was listening, and he obviously knew it.

Walking up to this gleaming metallic insectile creature who looked like a giant Preying Mantis with a large head, he spoke to it.  It put down the bow, and stopped fumbling with the drum, and perked up.  Looking at Derek, and then darting its head away only to glance back at Derek, it spoke with enough clicks and clacks mixed in to make its speech something you had to focus on to understand.

“The hero of the party, a new warrior race, and the fiftieth of the Lesser Races.  I am of the ‘Iorg.”  Derek knew that there were human languages that used an opening click like that, made by pulling the tongue away from the roof of the mouth, but it wasn’t a sound he could remember making.  It introduced a two-syllable word, something like ‘eye org’ but flowing smoothly out of the click.  “Do you have a song you wish me to play?”

Huh.  Yes, of course the creature would ask that.  Derek could not come up with one right away, and anyway had heard none of the music of this world.  So instead he let out his curiosity.

“Would it be rude to ask about your race instead?”

“Not at all.  Indeed, I am flattered.  What do you wish to know?”

“Well, my people thought that insects with exoskeletons could only grow so large.  The inverse square law gets in the way with strength growing geometrically, and weight growing exponentially.”

“Well your teachers were wise.  But they did not consider what might happen were one to have an exoskeleton made out of copper, tin, and iron.  Yet even with that, there are strength requirements.  Compared to you, or most endoskeletonal races, my blood is highly acidic.  I can chew rocks, and extract copper.  But also, I can gain energy, and store it in larger molecules.”

“So you have to eat a lot?”

“The Great Designer went the other way with us.  We are ambush predators.  We can rest several days without moving our feet.  When we see a likely prey, we heat up by breaking open our energy battery molecules, and gain strength.  We put aside our amusements like music, or poetry or math, and get ready to strike.  It is an exhilarating moment waiting for a creature to walk past or not walk past a hide.”

“So you are a warrior race?”

“No.  The joy of waiting for prey is only for prey.  Only those who are truly mad among my kind would attack another sentient.  When we first met the Dracorex, it took us years before we began to understand what they meant by the word ‘war’.  Organized, deliberate, planned phantasmagoria.  We are not pacifist, as we can defend ourselves, but it extracts a great toll on us even then.  For us, it is like staring into the face of utter madness, and having to grapple with it.  Very disturbing.”

“So does it bother you to talk to me?”

“Not really.  I just assume you’re alien and insane, and I’m ok.”

Derek chuckled, and then remembered a video game song.  He started to sing a tune from Super Mario Brothers.  Soon enough the ‘Iorg joined in.  After that, it was Legend of Zelda, and the theme songs for James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Star Trek.  Vashti came up, and sang a bit of one of her songs from the Twin Rivers which the ‘Iorg was able to copy.  She clapped along, and soon enough the party about Me, Me, Me became a party about listening to the strange alien music of the Humans, which was far more enjoyable for almost everyone, especially the now happy ‘Iorg.  Looking over, Derek saw 1942 and another Kelp bobbing and dipping and swaying in mid air in time to the music from Star Wars.

That reminded him, though, that he had wanted to ask 1942 about Slade’s theory.

Next chapter:  Chapter 101:  Kondor 245
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 #493:  Verser Engagements.  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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