In Version; Chapter 110, Slade 241

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 110:  Slade 241
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 272



Tso, General, Slade joked within himself, letís taste your sauce.

Yeah, probably the only person in the entire universe who would get that would be Derek, who by now was fighting his own match somewhere.  He should get serious and assess his opponent.

There was something overall very avian about Chop Chop--that had to be a stage name, as he apparently was a star on a contest show involving combat with axes.  But the taloned feet, heavily muscled thighs and reversed knees, and side-facing eyes all suggested something bird-like.

Of course, he shouldnít read too much into alien physiology, but it was all he had.  He remembered that what people thought of as backwards knees on earth were actually ankles of creatures walking on their toes, and combined with the strength in what was actually the leg above that this creature obviously could jump.  The eyes were a puzzle, though.  Side-facing eyes provided the panoramic vision needed by prey animals; predators usually had forward-facing eyes and binocular vision better to mark the distance to their prey.  Looking for a reason, he became concerned.  Wherever this creature evolved, it must have been in the middle of the food chain--it had the instincts of a predator, the ability to pounce, but its eyesight said it was constantly alert for attackers from any direction, suggesting that there was somewhere something bigger and stronger than it that commonly preyed on it.

This, Slade realized, would be an advantage in mass melee.  However, it would be a disadvantage in single combat.  To see its opponent clearly it would almost certainly have to turn its head sideways; and that would be the wrong position for walking or pouncing and give it poor depth perception.  Or did it have some other sense that told it the distance and direction to its target--some kind of sonar, perhaps?

Before he could consider this further, the go was called.  He stepped forward, watching his adversary, still assessing.  The Tso similarly seemed to be being cautious, its head turned sideways so it could focus one of its eyes on him as it stepped in what was an almost humorous way that looked almost as if its legs were on sideways.

Thatís right, wok this way, Slade thought.

He wondered whether one of the combat advantages this creature had was that opponents didnít take it seriously.  He recomposed his focus, and continued his slow walk toward the blade-wielding alien.

Abruptly it drew both axes, twirled them like batons and threw one up in the air, spinning, twirled the other while the first was airborne and passed it around its back to its other hand, then caught the first as it descended.  There was applause from the crowd, and he thought the alien smiled and winked.

He should have killed it then.  In that moment when one axe was in the air and the other behind its back he could have hurled his dagger into its gut.  Oh, but the distance was a bit much, and anyone who competes in an axe fighting competition must have a layer of something under that flashy shirt.  That might have been good to know, but not at the cost of his dagger.

This guy didnít want to fight; he wanted to show off to the crowd.  It was time to end this.  Slade quickened his pace to a normal walk, and somewhat casually approached the supposed fighter.  He drew sword and dagger, also casually, and continued at a steady pace.  After all, according to 1942 there was a good chance that this guy was all show and no substance, ranked this high because the judges were bribed and he hoped that the hype around his show would unsettle an opponent.

Too bad for you, Slade thought, I never saw your show.

He thought perhaps the creature blanched.  After all, Slade was more than half again as tall as it was, and his sword longer than the creatureís arm.  It seemed to withdraw perhaps half a step.  Careful, he thought; some of these creatures pounce, and heís got the physique for it.  Suddenly one of the axes went into a distracting spin, but Slade managed to avoid distraction enough to see that the other was being thrown at him.  A well-timed sweep of his sword knocked it off course, and three long quick steps put him close enough that he could catch the spinning axe with his dagger and drive the point of his sword into its midsection.

He had suspected that there might be something under there, and whatever it was it stopped his blade.  Undaunted he swept upward and smashed the arm holding the axe with the flat of his blade.  The shock was solid and unanticipated, and the axe fell loose.  Slade kicked it aside.  His opponent was now disarmed.

However, it was not unfooted.  A talon dug into Slade's leathers and grabbed his leg.  It was painful, but he was more worried about whether the armor which had protected him from the beginning of his career as a fighter might be damaged.  On the other hand, the alien was now weaponless and standing on one foot unable to retreat.  Before it could leverage its weight against his leg, Slade slashed its throat with his dagger.  It collapsed.

As it released its hold on his leg, he stumbled back and called, ďMedic!Ē

Next chapter:  Chapter 111:  Beam 188
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 #494:  Warring 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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