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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 24: Brown 107
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 23: Kondor 102
As Ferris was about to descend the stairs, something occurred to him. The terrorist crumpled in the doorway on this top floor was still alive.
It struck him because he hadn't really considered that aspect of his plan at this point. The building was filled with terrorists; he had rendered one of them momentarily unconscious. That it was a temporary condition was very important to his situation: the man would revive, possibly before he managed to open the door downstairs, certainly before he found the bomb. He might have to deal with this same man again; it might not go so well next time. It would be better to kill the enemy; that way he couldn't come back.
In what sense, though, was this better? It was an entirely pragmatic notion. It was better in the sense that he was more likely to achieve his victory if he killed the man. However, his spritish upbringing had put an emphasis on the idea that good people did not kill people, even bad people. Further, he somehow thought that Lauren would agree with this premise. Together they had killed vampires and dragons; but the only time she had ever killed people, or any intelligent living creature as far as he was aware, was when they were killing or trying to kill other people. The faith of his sprite parents was even stricter on this count. The entire reason he had developed the sleeping drug for the arrows was because sprites would not kill, even when their own lives were threatened.
It wasn't that he hesitated to kill when it was necessary. It just seemed that killing an unconscious man because he might otherwise become a problem later was stretching the meaning of necessary just a bit too far. This was a person; he could not kill a person without good reason, and the reasons facing him at the moment were not good enough.
He would take the gun; maybe he would use the gun. For the moment, though, he wasn't going to kill unarmed unconscious terrorists, whatever problems that might give him in the future.
Now it was time to get downstairs. Picking up the spent dart to recharge later, he turned and leapt toward the next landing.
Catching himself with his wings, he floated slowly and safely downward. He had to check his forward motion so he wouldn't hit the wall, but it was simple enough to land on his feet at the bottom. The problem was, it had taken far too long to get that far. In the time it took to land and get turned around he could have done at least another flight, maybe two.
He tried anew, this time angling downward as he leapt. He glided swiftly over the steps, but then had to pull up sharply, and hit the wall not hard enough to hurt himself, but certainly hard enough to knock him to the floor.
It was apparent that in this confined space he was not going to be able to glide down the stairs. He'd already considered changing to Morach, who could easily fly between the railings to the ground floor, but who would have great difficulty opening the heavy door at the bottom. He was going to have to walk down these stairs, all the way to the bottom. For his small legs that was going to be challenging. He had the legs of a toddler, at least for length, although they were stronger and more coordinated. The eight-inch risers on the steps came close to his knees.
There would be elevators, of course; he could try to find one of them and come down that way. He didn't trust the elevators. The enemy might be able to track the movements of elevators, and might be watching for that. Even if they weren't, when the elevator door opened, a bell would ring, announcing his arrival wherever he went. Stairs seemed a much safer choice.
He thanked God that he did not have to climb up these stairs at this size.
He realized as he did it that Lauren's influence had changed him yet again. He had never thought to thank God that things were not worse than they were. In a sense, he had received much from God. Lauren said that those who received much were expected to do much with it. Here he was, doing something with his gifts. He hoped God would help him.
Ultimately he found that he made the quickest and easiest progress by jumping from step to step, using his wings partly for balance and partly to soften his impact on each stair so the odd noise of his descent would not echo through the entire stairwell.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #226: Versers Adapt. 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: