In Version; Chapter 131, Slade 246

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 131:  Slade 246
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Kondor 252

Slade and Shella were relaxing, stretched out on the floor at Derek and Vashti’s warehouse (for so Slade had come to think of these vast barren spaces consigned to them as temporary apartments) while waiting for dinner to be delivered.  The doorbell sounded, and Vashti called, “I’ve got it.”  A moment later she was heard saying, “Oh!  It’s you!”

“Is this a bad time?”  It was unmistakably the voice of a Kelp, and although it wasn’t always easy to tell them apart Slade assumed it would be 1942.

“No--no, we were just expecting food delivery.”

“I see.  I can come back.”

“Nonsense,” Slade called from across the room.  “I’m sure it’s something significant; you’ve made the trip, come on inside.”

The Kelp was soon floating near them.  It said, “That was a truly remarkable fight Derek had this afternoon.  We had no idea that humans could do that.”

Realizing that his raised eyebrow was not communicating to the seaweed, he said, “Do what?”

“Why, shapechange like that, of course.”

“Oh.  Well, in fact, as far as I know he’s the only one, and why that is is a long story.”

Derek, emerging from the private area, said, “You see, I was with a couple other versers, and--”

“And he will be pleased to tell you about it as part of our arrangement that you buy our stories from us.  This one is a doozy, I’ll tell you that, and I’m not sure I would believe it myself if I didn’t see him do that shape change thing.”

“Yes.  Yes.  Of course.”  The Kelp understood that response.  It seemed to ponder for a moment, and then continued.  “Do either of you have any other abilities that might be significant?  That you might use in a fight, I mean.”

“That’s really difficult to answer,” Derek suggested.  “If you ask a bee if it has any special abilities, it will probably say no, and not mention that it can fly, tell when flowers have a lot of nectar, and sting.  Those to it aren’t special abilities; they’re ordinary, and if you told it that, say, the ant couldn’t do any of that, it would suggest that the ant was deficient.”

“But if you’re the only one who can--”

“I’m the only one I’ve ever heard of who can,” Derek answered.  “There might be others.  For example, I can move objects with the power of my mind.  I actually did that in one of the early fights, when my opponent dropped his sword and I turned it with my mind so it would stab his leg or something.”

“I wondered about that,” Shella said.

“But I think that’s something Shella can do, and I’ve known several other humans who are better at it than I am.  Mostly, though, we don’t talk about anything unusual that we can do, partly because we don’t brag--”

“Well, we do brag,” Slade said, “but not about stuff like that.”

“Right.  But also because you stand a better chance against a superior opponent if he underestimates you and you surprise him with something he didn’t know you could do.”

“I see.  So, you have three losses in weaponless combat; why have you never done this before?”

“I’ve never been in a situation before where I saw an advantage and didn’t have an alternative.  Also, it takes a moment to transform, and I’m a bit vulnerable during that time, which is why when I did it against Idigant I rolled away from him before doing the second transformation.”

Slade had a thought.  “1942, you probably shouldn’t tell anyone that I can’t do that.  There are going to be some people--fighters and gamblers--who think that if Derek can do it, the rest of us must be able to do it, too, and that will definitely affect the way they think about the fights still to come.”

“Good thought.  I will only tell my collective--”

“Don’t tell the collective is what I’m saying.  Someone once said, ‘Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.’  You can tell them that I admit to having a few secrets still, but that I didn’t share them with you.  The more people you tell, the less value the information has.”

“That is very wise, Sir Robert Elvis Slade.  I shall comply.”

The door signaled the arrival of the food, and the Kelp excused itself and left them to enjoy their meal.

Next chapter:  Chapter 132:  Beam 194
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

-Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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