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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 48: Hastings 109
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The outer powers, those which Lauren normally called magic, did work, as easily and with as much promise as her psionics had. It seemed that this was a world in which she could do anything; yet it also seemed a world in which there was nothing to do.
She had once told Derek that in every world she entered she tried to learn something and do something. This world had her stymied. There was no enemy to fight, no victim to rescue, no disaster to avert. She was alone here, living with an increasing level of comfort as she determined more and more that she could do. The one thing she could not do, it seemed, was make a difference in this world.
Aren't you full of yourself? The thought came to her quite abruptly; she wasn't completely certain whether she had thought it or someone had sent it to her as a message. It didn't seem much like a message, really; but then, she knew ways to send thoughts to people's minds that weren't their own. Still, there was something about this thought that seemed strangely to be hers, even while challenging her thought. Looking back over her experiences, she had always made a difference, had an impact, on each world she entered. A month ago she was floating in space after destroying (not without help) a spaceship on a collision course with a space station. Before that, she trained a young girl to be a powerful sorceress and enemy of vampires. She had built a school to bring back forgotten knowledge to the people of a collapsed world. It was vampires before that (it was often vampires; she was almost surprised there were none here). She had saved a town from their destruction. She and Bob and Joe before that rescued a girl--a bird girl, so perhaps hen was a better word--from being sacrificed to a giant snake. Everywhere she went she had done something heroic, something great. She was a holy warrior, God's deliverer sent into worlds to save them. In fact, in the last world she had come into it with what could only be called arrogance, from the moment of her entrance expecting that there was going to be something she would have to do to save those people. It happened that she was right; but it was still arrogant to have presumed such a thing.
Perhaps then this was the lesson; perhaps she needed to realize that she was not so important, that God could put her on the bench for a while and still accomplish His work in countless worlds of which she knew nothing. Thank you for your help, Lauren; now sit here quietly like a good girl while I take care of these other things. Yes, God could well have sidelined her for a while, to remind her that she was not the deliverer; she was only the deliverer's messenger.
On the other hand, there were things to do in worlds besides save the universe. It was presumptive again to have supposed otherwise. She always made the distinction between learning something and doing something; but in a sense learning something was doing something, and something very important. Everything she had ever done to help anyone anywhere was built on something she had learned at some time. Learning it was an important part of the process. Not only that, but getting good at these things took time. One did not learn to start a fire by thought and then have them spring into flame instantly every time. It took practice to get better, to do what she had learned reliably and consistently. It was true of everything she had ever learned. She had forgotten that.
So it appeared that there was no one here to help, no disaster to avert, no villain to defeat; there was only she, with her things and this beautiful--this beautiful home in which she was currently living. Having been handed the life of leisure and comfort, what should she do with it? Someone once said to her that in lands where every need is easily met, people lack ambition. She didn't know if that were so; but it did bring a contrast to mind. She could take this as a vacation, one which might last forever; or she could take it as a time for practice.
She had had such a time of practice before. She had worked with obstacle courses and exercise grounds, explored psionic powers, and more. She had more skills, even more kinds of skills, now; but practicing them was the same idea. She would need an exercise area, a shooting range, the odd things like a tightrope and a bar--there was work to do here, building her home into a place where she could grow and improve. It was time to get started.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #180: Versers Focus. 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: