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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 99: Kondor 33
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O.K., Kondor thought as the glowing humanoid forms began to encircle his troops, this was some strange kind of gaseous body held together by magnetic or maybe gravitic forces. It was not a non-corporeal supernatural spirit of a dead person returned from the grave to prey on the living. He just needed to find a way to kill it. But bullets weren't the answer.
While he tried to think, he thought he saw a gloating leer forming on its face. It raised a sword above its body, and for a moment, he froze.
Then suddenly it let out a mournful, distant wail. A stream of light from its body passed Kondor. He turned around to catch a glimpse of the Vorgo, drawing the light into itself. The creature was drained of all its energy, and the last bits of matter within it fell to the ground.
"What do you know?" he exclaimed. "The thing actually works." Somehow, it must disrupt the field, he thought, and drain the energy into itself or something. "Do it again!"
Sowan responded, "He's working as fast as he can. It will be several minutes before he can unmake another."
Great, Kondor thought, what's that, a dozen per hour? We're not going to last that long. But the idea that these creatures were gravitic was playing in the back of his mind. His kinetic blaster was a gravity weapon, of sorts. He never understood whether it fired gravitons or gravity waves or exactly what it did, but somehow it sent some kind of pulse of gravity. Anyway, it was worth a shot. There was another specter approaching, and he drew the blaster and fired into it.
The light flickered, the shape shuddered, and the creature's advance hesitated. It worked. But he thought he noticed something else. "I've got it," he said. To test his theory, he aimed more carefully and fired again. As he thought, the kinetic wave caught several bits of the material floating in the light and knocked them clear, and this time it collapsed the image entirely. "I've got it," he shouted. "Use blunt weapons; use the flat of your sword. Go for the bits of flesh and bone, and knock them out of the light!" And he whirled on another, and fired into it twice. Although it was clearly weakened, it was still alive; and the blaster was now drained. He dropped it on the ground, and plugged the spare clip into the M-16. He knew the target now, and he was a good shot. He could do this.
He kept the gun on single shot; even so, he was fast, and he was accurate. But it was like shooting goldfish, or trying to kill wasps with a machine gun, and it took quite a few shots to kill a single specter. But while he was shooting, the Vorgo took out another one, and the men around him were having some luck with their swords and maces. He killed another, and another, and another, five in all, plus the one he killed with the blaster. Then he fired three more shots into the next target, and stopped.
He was out of bullets.
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 #59: Verser Lives and Deaths. 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: