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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 74: Slade 113
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“General Vargas; do you have a minute?”
“Lord Slade, what can I do for you?”
Slade fell into step alongside the general, and waved a hand to suggest that they keep walking.
“As you know, I brought Doctor Kondor here on our way to work on weapons systems. I know that he’s done quite a bit to raise your medical staff’s abilities--”
“Yes, indeed, even I can see that they are saving more patients, and releasing fewer crippled or maimed. It has been a remarkable help.”
“Yes, well, we really should get on our way, I’m afraid. I know that there is this inquiry right now, and I will have to try to return for it; but on the other hand, if I don’t show up with Doctor Kondor my people might assume I am dead and take such steps as necessary.”
“You could send a message.”
Slade had not thought of that; he needed an answer, and groped for one quickly. “Well, it’s kind of a Manhattan Project sort of thing--you won’t know what that means. It means that this project is so secret the only people allowed to know its location are the people working in it. I couldn’t send a message because I couldn’t tell the messenger where to deliver it. So it seems that the best I can do is find my way back to--back to where we’re working on this weapon project--and then find my way back to you once things are settled there. Is that acceptable?”
General Vargas frowned. “I suppose it will have to be. In any case, I’ll explain it to Captain Lee. Probably we shouldn’t mention it until you are gone, as he would argue that I cannot take your word of honor until it is established that you are a man of honor, but you’ve been as honorable as anyone in this army to this point. When will you leave?”
“Oh, tomorrow, maybe, next day at the latest. Although if it’s possible I’d like to get a look at your maps. I’m not entirely certain where we are--your men found us in the fog trying to make sense of the landscape, and I’ve not really taken the time to figure out better than that since then. Of course, if that’s a problem…?”
Vargas nodded. “Tonight, come to the pavilion near the mess tent, we’ll pull out some maps and try to give you the lay of the land. Where are you trying to reach?”
“Well, I’d rather not say too much; I’ve probably already said too much, but I tend to do that--can’t keep a secret, bad for someone in covert operations, but there it is.”
“Understood. See you tonight.”
Slade watched General Vargas walk on toward his command tent. “Well, that was easy,” he said to no one, continued staring at nothing for a moment, then shook himself and returned to his own tent.
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 #243: Verser Redirects. 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: