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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 92: Slade 30
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 91: Hastings 32
Slade soon had another chance to earn his keep. The new equipment had to be installed, and not all of the work was electrical. There was cutting and welding to install new panels, and custom mounting hardware had to be devised for some of it. There had to be a bank of communication links installed for the new QNL transponders from the probes. QNL, Slade learned, stood for Quantum Non-Locality, and was some sort of crazy kind of radio which had the same molecules in both the probe and the receiver, so that if a signal passed through the wire at either end it would appear at the other at the same time. It made no sense to him, but Toni insisted it worked.
So he was using new tools that did the same things his old ones did, cutting and fusing metals, turning bolts, and other familiar tasks with new applications. Over the next several days he was part of engineering, figuring out where to put the new things, how to make them fit, and whether they were going to work. Some of it required a bit of tweaking, but before long everything was operational.
And since Slade hadn't a clue how to operate any of it, he was done, back to waiting for something to do.
The next mission was more of a diplomatic one. John and Marilyn visited a planet which had been invited to join the Federation. The hope was that they would decide not to do so, and that with Destiny's help they would be able to drive away any efforts to persuade them.
At the same time there would be a bit of a shopping trip. A crate of goods taken from the space station before it exploded was to be sold, and the cash used to buy supplies. This was George's job, but Ishara and Gary were going down just to get off the ship for a few hours. Banson would pilot the ship while Gary was gone. Slade decided to stay on the ship. If something went wrong, the distance between his self on the ground and his gear somewhere in planetary orbit would be so great he might never get the stuff back.
After they left, Slade began to wonder what was in the crate. He remembered that there were several similar crates around right after the raid. He didn't know what was valuable in this world, but given that they were planning to trade the contents of one crate for food and supplies they must contain some kind of treasure. It dawned on him slowly. They weren't just rebels. They were rebel pirates, attacking ships, raiding ports, forging alliances.
But with nothing to do, Slade sat on the bridge watching nothing happen. Ann sat with closed eyes, hooked up to her com link. Banson sat with his face glued to one panel, then walked to another, and then returned, reminiscent of the little man in a chime clock who walks across the top when the chimes ring.
Gary and Ishara returned. Their trading mission finished, they wanted to know how the captain was doing. But there had been no word. They moved to their control panels, and flipped a few switches. But it was clear within a few minutes that they had nothing to do but wait.
"They're on their way," Ann suddenly said. "They've succeeded."
And in a moment, the captain and Marilyn walked back onto the bridge.
"We hear you've been successful, John," Banson said.
The captain smiled. "Battle stations," he said. "Phil, get me numbers and positions."
"Already on screen, John. Shifting it to the main." And the large holographic image which usually showed stars switched to tactical diagrams. There were about half a dozen of the smaller fighter ships they'd fought a week ago, and two larger ships.
"Ignore the carrier for the moment," John said. "We need to take out the destroyer before it can acquire targets on the ground. Lateral shields to full, prepare weapons, adjust course plus zero three by plus one five. Mr. Slade, find a secure seat. This could get rough."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #57: Multiverse Variety. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: