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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 119: Slade 88
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Once he had had the chance to look over the mechanical diagrams for the domes, Slade could see that there were several better ways to cripple the system than removing the gear he had chosen. There was nothing wrong with his approach, but it could have been done more effectively with less effort and perhaps less risk a different way. He also recognized that there was a good chance modifications had been made at different locations for different installation applications, so he went over the materials several times carefully. He wanted to be able to recognize changes and adjust to them swiftly in the field, as they wouldn't always have the luxury of being able to work undisturbed.
The hotel in Wandborough where Lauren put them up was comfortable, although it was small. She had insisted they should have the honeymoon suite when she heard how recently they had been married, and although that only amounted to two rooms plus the bath it was comfortable.
The bath was a welcome amenity. Slade couldn't recall the last time he'd had a hot shower. You could get a hot water bath in King Morgan's castle, if you bothered the servants to heat enough water. The parakeet world had been a place for washing in the cold lake. It was before that that he'd spent a couple of years aboard the spaceship Destiny, where there were several ways to get clean which did not involve contaminating valuable water. Two decades he had spent as Lord of Slade Manor before that, where again one had to get hot water from servants and sit in a tub to get clean. Hot water pouring and spraying through one's hair and over one's body was something he now perceived as a luxury.
Shella, to manor born, thought it absolutely decadent to be able to have all the hot water she wanted without nagging servants to heat it. She took two baths the first day, and during the second kept popping out of the bathroom to ask him the use of the various sample products provided by the hotel. The idea that you would have different kinds of soaps seemed to impress her, but when she discovered that there were several products just for caring for her hair she had to try them all.
This was just the tip of the iceberg. Slade had to show her how the lights worked (once he'd figured it out himself), explain what several of the devices in the room did, and there were one or two he didn't understand himself despite his experience in space. He had always thought of that as being "in the future". This, too, was in the future, but it was a different future. The people of this world had different interests and priorities from that other world. Probably these unidentified gadgets were for entertainment, communication, information, or who knows what, but they didn't work like anything he'd already encountered.
Lauren and the boy Derek brought over the batteries from their lasers to recharge in his outlets. Their rechargers didn't have the right voltage output for the power cells in his blaster, but Derek said he would work on that and rig something for him. The day after the raid seemed mostly for resting, although when Derek and Lauren came over they brought Bethany and insisted on having a sort of debriefing session in which they reviewed everything they did and how they might improve it next time. Slade wasn't really comfortable with this. He preferred going over such things in his own mind and keeping his conclusions to himself. This, however, seemed to be part of their process, and when he realized that they valued his insights into their combat efforts he felt better about giving them, and even took a bit of feedback himself, although they were far less critical of his performance than he was.
At the end of this session, Lauren raised the subject that seemed to be the point of it all.
"Where next?" she asked. For a moment there was silence. Bethany broke it.
"We need to do Geneva, of course," she said. "Washington, too. However, they probably know that and are even now building up defenses. Perhaps we should hit somewhere small, somewhere unimportant. They might be forced to spread their defenses too thin if we do this."
"True," Slade said. "On the other hand, they're still reeling from this hit. If we can hit them again hard and fast, we might be able to take down another of the big ones before they're ready for us."
Lauren scrunched up her face. "I don't think I'd count on Tubrok being delayed. Unless we were lucky enough to catch him in the sunlight in New York, I would wager he's already building something to fight back, and it will be something we don't expect."
Slade turned this over in his mind. Everyone else seemed similarly lost in thought for the moment.
The boy spoke. "Tokyo."
"Tokyo?" Several voices answered at once; one was Slade's.
"Yeah, Tokyo. I've been looking at their communications grid, when I get the chance. There is absolutely nothing out there about the effects of the dome opening in New York. These vampires, or superioritists, or whatever you want to call them, have a strangle hold on information. But there is a sort of underground, subversives around the world who communicate over scrambled channels. You can't really find out where they are–otherwise they'd have been caught by now. But it's a safe bet that a good part of the technology for this comes from Japan, and if we break the hold on Tokyo I don't think they'll be able to keep it so secret."
Everyone stared at him.
"The kid's got a point," Slade said. "You want to win the PR battle? I think you have to go to Tokyo."
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 #205: Verser Reunion. 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: