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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 122: Slade 89
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Slade stared at the aged wizard, and indeed found behind that beard the familiar face of his former companion. "Omigger? It's you, isn't it?"
"Slade! How good to see you again. And I hear you've married my cousin. I am so pleased to have you in the family."
"But--but you died. I was at your funeral. What happened?"
"Time for that later. I believe you still have work to do?"
Lauren cut in. "Right. Bob, we've got to disable the machines. Derek, get those security lockouts in place. Let's move quickly. They certainly know we're here, and Tubrok is not going to be happy that we've routed his commandos. We don't want to hang around here long. Let's go."
"Right," Slade said. "If you'll excuse me, old friend, I've got some work to do. Shella, please keep your cousin company while I deal with this."
As he ran toward the machinery, he heard Lauren behind him. "Why," she asked, "do we have to destroy the gears, if we're doing the computer lockout? It seems redundant."
"Well, it is redundant," he said. "Derek can prevent them from using the computer here to close the dome, and that's good. He can also keep them from running a diagnostic on the system, and that's good, too. But ultimately they can bring in another computer, install the old program, hook it up, and get things working again. Now, if we can do enough damage to the mechanism, they probably can't fix it without a major public works project. And if we win the PR battle, they don't get their public works project, and can't put it back up. There, that's the gear you want to destroy. Anyway, I'd say that if they had the best of conditions, it would take them a year to fix the damage we did in New York. Here in Tokyo, I'm hoping that we can do enough damage that they can't fix it in two years."
He watched as Lauren disintegrated the center of the large gear he'd indicated, and as the pressure of the surrounding machines crushed it.
"Yeah, that's good. Now, as you said, let's get out of here."
They raced back to what remained of the office. Derek had finished the computer work and packed his things, and Shella and Bethany were engrossed in some discussion with Omigger, whom Bethany kept calling Merlin.
"Time to go," Lauren said, and commanded the mist to open. Everyone passed through, and out again into some pasture somewhere behind a red barn.
"We split up this time," Bethany said.
"Right," Lauren answered. "Derek is to go with me, Bob and Shella with you, three stops for you, two for me, and we rendezvous in Central Park before continuing."
"With whom do I travel?" Omigger asked.
"Who do you prefer?" Lauren answered.
"I'm actually quite accustomed to going around with you," he said; "and as you seem to be the smaller party, that makes sense."
"Good. Let's go."
Omigger, Derek, and Lauren vanished into the mist; Shella then opened a portal for them, and they stepped through in another direction. They emerged by a waterfall in a forest, then entered a mist called by Bethany which took them to the Liberty Bell, from which they traveled to a place of sand under blazing sun, and then to a park in the midst of the city. Tubes and tunnels passed overhead, but below it all real sunlight filtered through to the ground. Lauren and Derek were sitting on a park bench from which a sliver of blue sky could be seen far above. Omigger, or Merlin, or whoever he was, was chatting with Derek about the lives of sprites. It was so like him to be interested in everything; Slade wondered what use that could be.
"I just had to enjoy the fruits of our labor for a moment," Lauren said as the others arrived. "After all, we got rid of the dome so the sun could shine in, and now New York is safe in the morning sunlight."
"Yes," Omigger said, "but we need to be moving. I take it Wandborough is next?" Someone agreed, and he spoke some chain of words which caused the scene around them to dissolve and be replaced by the front of Slade's hotel. It was so very like Bethany's changing rooms that Slade wasn't even certain for a moment they had moved.
"We must move quickly here," Omigger said. "Derek and Lauren have to recharge their power packs, and I think Derek will want to get a message to the hackers in Tokyo to let them know what we did. Slade and Shella, pack everything. This place is not safe."
"Do you think they'll be safer at the cave, then?" Bethany asked.
"The cave? Goodness, no. That will be the first place Tubrok looks now that he knows who we are. I'd say we need to get out of this hotel as quickly as possible, then pull down the dome here to deprive them of landing ground for their vampire magi, then pack up everything we need from the cave and get out. I'm not even certain yet where to go, but I'd say for starters we should visit the wolves of Wandborough, and then find a new home tomorrow. But we're going to be vagabonds for a bit, I think. Tubrok will be so intent on finding us that no place will be safe for long, as long as he's alive."
This unfolded much as Omigger had suggested. Derek hooked up his computer to one of the unfamiliar boxes in the room while Lauren set up the two chargers and began running spent power packs. As soon as they were done, she settled the bill.
"It's a beautiful sunny day," she said to the clerk. "I do hope you get outside to enjoy it." He only laughed, but she smiled at him in a way that seemed to tell him something big was about to happen.
By the time they reached the dome control station in Wandborough, they had a crowd in tow. This station was not considered important enough for full-time staff, so they entered easily and opened the dome. Omigger turned the roof of the building to glass as Derek took care of the computer work, so the first vampire from the response team stepped squarely into the sunlight and disintegrated so fast the second was already caught in the beam before he realized what had happened. It was unlikely he survived despite his retreat, but no others attempted to come through while they were there.
Lauren took armloads of the books and schematics to the people outside.
"You're the Mystic, aren't you?" the clerk asked. She smiled.
"Yes, I'm Laurelyn of Wandborough, Mystic of the Western Woods. God has let me come back to save you from the vampires again. Hopefully this time we'll break their back for good. I believe you know my student, Bethany, who is a daughter of your city."
The people looked at the sorceress as with new eyes, perhaps seeing someone they had always known but never recognized.
"And of course this is my teacher, Merlin."
"Laurelyn," Omigger said. "It is not wise to tell too much, or lose too much time here."
"Right. Listen. Take these books and papers, and any others you can find in there, and let people know. Let them know that they are being held captive by vampires. Tell them to open the domes, to let in the light of God's sun, and drive the powers of darkness back under ground and into the night where they belong. We'll be working, but as it was in Wandborough in the past, everyone has to fight to defeat evil."
She didn't wait for an answer, but turned, opened the door into the mist, and walked into it. Slade heard her call, "Let's go," in a muffled and echoing voice that sounded like perhaps it came from another world. He followed.
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 #209: Versers Victorious. 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: