In Version; Chapter 117, Slade 243

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 117:  Slade 243
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 274

Slade and Shella had gotten separated from Derek and Vashti because Shella wanted to freshen up in a bathroom.  Once she was out, they strolled to the circle of clear glass floor, and Shella gave Slade a Look.  He could see the problem, and he looked around.  A nearby tree spoke something about black circles, and the lady’s modesty was provided for.

Thanking it, Slade and Shella smoothly strolled out onto the glass.  He could see four stories below him, and each floor down was even more filled with aliens than the one above it.  There had to be at least two thousand here already--which probably meant the more important sorts were going to be ‘fashionably late’.

As they walked about, exchanging words with a dizzying variety of species clad in an even larger variety of clothing and abundant jewelry, he soon felt at ease.  More than a few of those he met were standing with the kind of physical ease, well balanced and polite, which marked them as good warriors.  Soon he had gathered a crowd of ten warriors, their spouses, children, and hangers-on, and was in the center of a conversation about fighting techniques.

He learned some useful things about alien physiologies, and even a couple of points about dagger fighting.  The latter came from a Slade-tall furball-clad creature who was probably bipedal, but underneath the at least ten-inch long waving brown fur spikes that covered its entire body and the exterior dress atop this it was hard to say.  What was easy to tell was that each of his four arms ended in a single eight inch long sharp talon.  This Xoark was ranked in the high 3,000s.  But he quieted when an Anders stepped into the circle, and faced off with Slade.

“I look forward to our fight, short one.”  The Anders was about the same weight as Slade, but two feet taller.  What a beanpole, Slade thought.

“I too, tall one.” Slade said, pretending the first comment had not been an insult.  It was possible that was true, but Anders had a reputation for being touchy, and starting arguments, and unlike many who started them they also tended to finish them.  It was not so much that they were bullies, but they had chips on their shoulders.  They were not as good fighters as Dracorex, not as good pilots as Parakeets, not as good with technology as Chlorophytes, and no one wanted their art so they languished far behind the Bilitate.  They were, however, second best at all of these, at least among the Greater Races, the Seven.

“We don’t know who is going to fight whom,” a Chlorophyte sword-and-buckler fighter objected.

The Anders turned and sneered far down at the Chlorophyte.  Its hairless face made the expression easily discerned.  “Some of us don’t know.”  He turned back to Slade.  “My name is Etagiz; see you around, chump.”  He walked off to general if not very loud disaprobrium from the fighters.  However Slade just watched him go.  That was a  pretty clear message that some of the fights were not strictly on the level.  Shella touched his arm, and he smiled down at her.  It was a ‘don’t worry, I can handle that jerk’ look.

An hour later the numbers had doubled.  He was standing by the interior pit, alone except for his wife, watching fighters and friends walk up the stairs.

“Are you people-watching, or just trying to decide which fighters have the best balance?” Shella asked him.  He smiled at her.

“Guilty as charged, dearest.”

“Ahem.”  A rough voice came from his left, and Slade felt a moment of fear and fury as he realized he had let someone sneak up on him.  He turned to his left.  A Chlorophyte stood by him, head on his level.  Startled, Slade looked down.  The short being was still short.  He just had on a pair of boots that looked oddly mechanical.  He stood on three and a half feet of air--which made him a rather short Chlorophyte at two and a half feet tall.  But judging by the deep lines on his face and the white in his hair, he was no child.  Instead, an air of practiced wickedness clung to him.

“Height boots.  Lets me be silent, and be on the head level of those I talk to.”  He shifted to a stage whisper that was clearly audible further away.  “Plus, it's highly illegal.  I have to donate quite a bit of special monies to enter the Imperial Area and an Imperial Palace with them.”  His voice dropped.  “Just like it’s illegal to fix bets.  Your friend, he told me to get lost when I approached him.  Said he would kill me if I sent ‘my goons’ to talk to his wife again.  I figured you were the more reasonable member of the group, and--”

Cracking up inside, Slade faked a sneeze and flung his left arm out.  It smacked into the short Chlorophyte and propelled him off the edge.  He fell, trying to get his feet under him, to crash on the edge of the staircase fifteen feet below.  Two giant bent over green scaled creatures, both with large amounts of gold and gems on their bodies, looked at him as he reached out a hand for aid.  Neither moved a muscle.  And he tipped and fell over the last three stories.  This gave him time to get his boots under him, but despite tales, you can’t just fall three stories and cancel it out in the last three feet.  He hit hard, and did not move.  Slade watched everyone.  The fighters took a step to help, but everyone else just looked.  And then blue medics ran up, and started to work on the body.

Slade turned and spoke loudly.

“A Human reflex action.  Sometimes accompanies a sneeze, especially when in the presence of something stinky.”  This ‘explanation’ got him a lot of eyes, but when the two green scaled beings walked down the stairs, and went over to the body and removed something from it, then looked up at him through several perfectly clear layers of invisible flooring, he decided it was time to become invisible himself.

“Dear,” he said to Shella, “I think it may be time for us to unobtrusively leave this party behind.  He nodded toward the two aliens who were already climbing the stairs, performed his Insignificancy spell, and walked toward the stairs while his wife caught up both on the spell and on his long-legged stroll.

Next chapter:  Chapter 118:  Kondor 249
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

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M. J. Young Net

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