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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 139: Kondor 89
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There was a knock on the door. Without thinking that people didn't knock on doors in this world, Kondor absently rose and walked over to open it, carrying his electronic notebook with him. As he opened the door, he was dimly aware that someone dressed in red was standing there; he was trying to grasp a rather difficult aspect of hyperspace theory, reading the text again more carefully. "Yes?" he said, not looking up.
"I thought you'd want to know that Bob saved Speckles."
He almost dropped his machine. "Lauren! What are you doing here?"
"Well, I'd tell you, but I know you wouldn't believe a word I said, you old atheist."
"Still pushing that superstitious nonsense about there being a purpose to everything that happens to us? I'd have thought you'd have learned better by now."
"Oh, I learned better, all right. I learned that the purpose often is very different from what I might have expected." She smiled at him, a smile he had missed for too long. "Well, either invite me in or give me a hug."
He grabbed her to himself. "I will certainly do both," he said. "Please, come inside, and tell me about what sort of nonsense you've been up to. Kill any more vampires?"
"Several, actually. Met Merlin, learned a lot from him. Taught the girl who was to become the woman who helped me kill Horta–now, that's an enigma in time if ever I saw one. I gather you've met Derek; we spent some time together teaching school."
"He told me. I've had a bit of fun myself. I was on a sailing ship, but it was so strange–all the people and places had these eerie parallels to people and places I knew when I was on the spaceship. But I'm a rich man for it–I sank a pirate ship, but not before stuffing my pockets full of treasure. And remember that world I went to where they sent me to get some bowling ball out of some crypt, and I had to fight all those creatures who masqueraded as undead monsters?"
"Yeah, I remember."
"I landed in a museum, in the middle of an exhibit with a statue of me doing that. It was the strangest thing."
"But I'm sure you think it was just coincidence, right?"
"What else could it be? Don't answer that!" They both laughed at this. "So," he continued, "have you eaten? Where are you staying?"
"I would love some food. I was up much of the night on watch, and then attacked by three vampires. I severely injured the toughest of them, but while he was escaping one of his cohorts blindsided me. And you talk about strange–there I was, somewhere in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, fighting three vampires, two of whom I had already killed in the twenty-first century. What have you got to eat?"
They continued like this, reminiscing in fragments. Lauren teased him for being the only one of their threesome not to survive the rescue of Speckles, the bird-girl. He got her back when he found out she blew herself up trying to fix that silly disintegrator rod of hers. He made sandwiches, and she helped clean up the kitchen. Eventually they hit all the major details of their experiences since their last meeting, and a few from before that.
"So," she asked, "what are you doing here?"
"Ah, I'm here by accident. You know that."
She laughed. "I know that's not true. But it's not what I meant, either. I mean, now that you are here, what are you doing?"
"I'm officially a visiting student, doctorates in medicine and gravitic science from a small world somewhere out there. I work part time in an emergency medical facility, and I use the rest of my time to learn what I can about, well, whatever I can. Raeph set it up. He's very good. I'm sure Derek will introduce him to you. He's Derek's boss."
Lauren furrowed her brow. "I think I may have insulted him."
"Well, he and I weren't hitting it off very well. I said something about God bringing me here to do something, and he took it personally, like I was saying the people here couldn't take care of their own problems. So I erased his memory."
"You–you what? You erased his mind?"
"Oh, not all of it. I just sort of blocked off everything that had to do with meeting me, and left. But I'm not sure I can introduce myself to him again without some of that unblocking, and he'll probably be pretty angry if he realizes it."
"I should think so. What were you thinking, girl?"
Lauren shrugged. "It's a big world. I'm sure I can find something somewhere."
"It's a space station. It's a very big space station, to be sure, but you need an identity to live here, to leave here, to buy anything, pretty much to exist. Identities are all in the computers. Raeph is in charge of the computers."
Lauren seemed to be trying to take it all in. "Well," she said, "I guess I've given myself an extra problem." She thought another minute. "Meanwhile, would it be all right for me to store my gear in here?"
"Still dragging around that wagon?"
"Hey, it's been with me for a couple of centuries now. It does the job."
"Yeah, sure, let's go find it."
Together they left the apartment.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #134: Versers in Space. 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: