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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 96: Kondor 121
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A week stretched into three, and still the military was unable to confirm or refute Kondor’s claimed assignment. He supposed that with covert ops no one would be willing to say that any particular agent did or did not exist except those who would deny the existence of an existing agent for security reasons, which must be terribly frustrating for adjutant Vargas.
He was questioned again about his experience in covert ops, and used two of his previous experiences with a bit of elaboration. The first was a hostage rescue in a mountainous region of a person apparently of some importance whom he never met nor whose identity was told. The second involved locating and recovering stolen experimental military hardware in an urban setting. In both instances he said that he was the team medic, was not told where they were or where they were going or apart from those details what they were doing. They were given sealed exit plans in case they needed to abort, and as medic he was given sealed information concerning venomous creatures and other regional hazards, which he never had to unseal. He was always transported in secret, by what he gathered were indirect routes, so he couldn’t say where he started or, apart from climate, what part of the world it was. In fact, so rarely had he known where he was that he seriously supposed his delivery to Fort Porthos might be a mistake. When he was delivered, he was instructed to report to Colonel Roberts, but as was noted there was another Colonel Roberts elsewhere, and besides it was entirely possible that word-of-mouth instructions could be delivered incorrectly. However, he had no way to check, no way to return whither he came, so until someone figured out otherwise he was here and was going to make the best of it that he could.
He realized that there were some supplies here that he might find useful, particularly in the medical area. They had nothing like the drugs he brought from the space ship, but they did have penicillin, streptomycin, and several other early antibiotics. He considered stocking his medical kit with some of this--but he only considered it briefly. It was one thing that someone handed him a medical kit for his use and it went with him when he died; it would be entirely different for him to steal drugs from the warehouse. If he wound up treating a patient here, he would certainly attempt to do so with the medications available on site, but meanwhile he was not going to abuse their courtesy by taking their stock.
He wondered what he would do when they figured out that they weren’t going to figure out anything about him. At some point they would guess he was a spy for the other side, or one of the other sides in this complex cold war they called the War of Words. He would need a plan for that, but one that would not appear as if he had a plan, because the plan itself would be evidence against him. This was going to require some thought.
Zeke continued to nag him about asking Mary out. Kondor offered quite a few objections, including that the only places he might take her would be to the bowling alley or the base movie theater, both of which were free for them as base personnel, and that he ate all his meals in the base cafeteria and didn’t have money to take someone elsewhere. This aspect that he didn’t have money bothered Zeke, and Kondor found he had to create more cover story. It seemed, he suggested, that his paycheck had not yet found its way to his new location, part of the confusion of the botched transfer. He was not particularly worried about it, since after all his meals, housing, facilities, and uniforms were all free, along with a certain amount of entertainment, so money was more a luxury item (and that, he suggested, was a reason why Zeke never had any, since he could gamble it all away and not worry about his next meal). None of this dissuaded Zeke, who said that the Captain was overthinking things and missing out on a good time.
Zeke also nagged him for stories from his covert operations. Kondor would say, “You know that stuff’s all classified, right?”
Zeke would answer, “Yeah, but you don’t have to tell me the classified parts. In fact, from what I’ve heard, you don’t even know most of the classified parts.”
“The problem is that I don’t know which parts of what I know are classified, so I can’t really tell much of the story without risking telling you something you shouldn’t know. That’s bad for both of us.” This usually put a temporary stop to the questions, but it also increased the mystique, and thus the interest, ensuring that the lieutenant would have more questions later.
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 #257: Verser Relationships. 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: