In Version; Chapter 130, Kondor 252

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 130:  Kondor 252
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 277

Kondor didn’t count the days on the return trip.  He was tired from the effort and disappointed by the failure of the birds to rally together for this disaster relief program.  They arrived late in the afternoon and walked back to the campus, directly to the two houses which were still standing.  He took a long, hot shower, pleased that the utilities had not been disabled by the conflict, and went to bed.  In the morning, he thought, he would begin washing his clothes.

The morning brought a new problem, though.  It was a late morning knock on his door, but he was still in his thobe.  The new dean, who had been acting dean before he left but had since been confirmed to that position, started talking before he had managed a language link, and coming in in the middle he couldn’t make sense of it.  “I’m sorry,” he interrupted.  “I’m not completely awake and missed some of that.  Could you start over?”

Taking a breath and resuming at perhaps a slightly slower pace, the bird explained, “Around the country several alien ships were captured, sometimes with living crew members.  Unfortunately, no one has been able to communicate with the creatures--their language seems completely alien, with no reference to pitch or tone.  I suppose it should be expected that aliens speak alien languages--after all, you do.  But since no one has been able to explain anything to them, the best we could do was contain them like animals.  Five of them have been delivered here, and we have them in that same empty cage in the zoo.  Can you speak with them?  Their language seems similar to yours.”

It would, he guessed, if it were based on something like vocal chords and phonemes formed by articulation, and it was being assessed by someone whose language was entirely whistles and chirps.  The fact that the languages were totally unrelated wouldn’t make sense to the birds, he guessed.

“I don’t know,” he said.  “Derek was the one who usually communicated with them, and he did that mostly through written transmissions, something like your telegraph.  But I suppose if I can talk with you I should be able to talk with them.  Let me find some clothes.”

Donning clean camos, he called for Zeke.  The lieutenant had apparently gotten an early start and was hanging laundry to dry.

“‘Tsup, Cap?”

“We apparently have alien prisoners, and someone needs to talk with them.  We’re elected.”

Zeke set aside his washing and walked over.  “Well, where are they?”

“The zoo, of course.”

As they walked, Zeke asked, “So, what do they know?”

“Since no one has been able to speak with them at all, they only know what they could tell each other, and we don’t know what that is.  We’re about to find out.  Hello!” he called as he approached the cage in which he could see several little green men.  He picked one, and tried to connect to the speech center of its brain.  It was a bit more difficult than connecting to the parakeets, but he thought perhaps that was because he was familiar with parakeet mind structure by now.  Finding their language, he addressed them.

“The indigenous people of this planet have been unsuccessful in communicating with you.  We are not from this planet, and have a skill which enables us to communicate with peoples in their own languages.  They have asked us to mediate.”

He wondered what to say next, but was saved the question by an outburst from one of the prisoners.  “We demand to be returned to our ship.”

“Well, that’s going to be a bit of a problem,” Joe said.  “You lost the war when we sank your main ship, Seeker, to the bottom of one of our oceans.  As far as we know, most of your people survived, but the ship itself was seriously damaged and is unable to escape its watery entombment.  So you’re stuck with us.  We would rather not kill you, but it’s one of what seem to be a very few options.”

This seemed to sober the aliens significantly.

“What,” one of them asked, “are the other options?”

Shrugging, Kondor said, “we can keep you in this cage, bring you food, and invite the public to come see the aliens from outer space.  I don’t know whether your people had zoological gardens--places where unusual animals were put on display for people to see--but that’s what this place is, and you are certainly the most unusual animal we’ve had for quite some time.”


“Or we can try to find a way to get you integrated peacefully into this world.  You would have to learn that musical language of theirs, and do something productive.  There would also be some legal issues, as their law doesn’t allow those who are not parakeets to own property or earn income.”

The alien seemed to peer at him.  “You are not parakeets.”

“No, and that problem has not been fully resolved for us.  Our status is that we are animal specimens belonging to the university, and they provide all our needs.  In return, we teach them what we’ve learned in our travels to other worlds, particularly in relation to their science and technology.”

“Is that an arrangement we can have?”

“It’s not up to me, I’m afraid.  It will depend to some degree on whether the birds in authority trust you, and to some degree on what you can teach them that will move them forward from where they are.  I could teach them how to build kinetic blasters and gravity generators, but they don’t yet have the technology to build the tools they would need to construct such devices.  However, I will ask them.”

One of the other aliens asked, “Are there any other options?”

“I’m open to suggestions,” Kondor replied.  None came.  “All right, I’m going to go share this with the local governors, and maybe bring someone responsible for feeding you here so you can communicate about what kind of food you like and don’t like.”

He started to leave, but kept the link open so he could hear them arguing about their situation.  At least one of them thought they had an obligation to fight or die; some were hoping to be able to become citizens of this new world, and at least one suggested that being kept in a cage wasn’t really all that bad if they were well fed and comfortably sheltered.  Soon, though, he walked out of earshot, and dropped the link.

“So, what do you think?” he asked Zeke.  “Were you able to follow that at all?”

“Aye, Cap.  It’ll be interesting to see what they decide, or even if they can ever come to agreement on the thing.”

He nodded.  “Yes, indeed, that it will.

Next chapter:  Chapter 131:  Slade 246
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 #495:  World Crises.  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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