Trees & Shields: Part 22

Nick, Outside the Inner Ring of Shelter 454

Kamia’s mouth tightened and Katuk’s left leg kicked out. He fell over sideways into the ash. Glancing at me with a frown, she pointed her gun toward Katuk, intending, I assumed, to finish him off.

I aimed myself at her and activated the rockets (which had never gone inactive), making it the second time I’d tried that on her, but also the second time it worked.

It didn’t work as well as the first time, but I did hit her and she didn’t finish Katuk off. Her shield surrounded her, allowing me to knock her over, but not to do any real damage. Unlike earlier, her shield wasn’t sphere shaped, so she didn’t roll backward—not on the shield anyway. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 22

Trees & Shields: Part 21

Admiral Makri Tzin, Human Ascendancy Flagship, Hideaway System

Admiral Makri cringed as the flagship’s alarms began to ring again, watching his screen as more ships came out of jump.

There shouldn’t be that many ships ready to jump into this system, he told himself.

Despite the inertial dampers, he still felt it as the flagship accelerated and turned along with the rest of the fleet, changing formation to protect the Xiniti fleet’s most likely targets. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 21

Trees & Shields: Part 20

Kamia’s shield’s collapse surprised me almost as much as it did her, but I knew that it might be coming and more to the point, I was flying straight at her.

Of course, the fact that she didn’t expect her shield to go down, didn’t mean she wouldn’t try to dodge. When you considered that she’d been fighting Xiniti and winning, she had to be more than who owned Abominator weapons.

Even as I closed with her and despite the Rocket’s suit’s speed, she moved. She didn’t move enough to avoid being hit, but she did move enough to avoid taking both my fists to the middle of the chest.

I hit her in the left shoulder. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 20

Trees & Shields: Part 19

I wouldn’t have been able to find her without the implant. There were too many people moving too quickly for me to pick out details. Beyond that, the frequent blasts of energy didn’t help, forcing my helmet to darken to protect my eyes.

The implant buffered the last few minutes of whatever I’d seen or heard and could sort through it with a computer’s attention to detail. So when I started to look for her, the implant tracked her through the last few seconds and made her blink in real time.

I wondered how many things I could have used that for since we’d gotten here. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 19

Trees & Shields: Part 18

Cassie wasn’t going to turn the tide of battle all by herself, but you never knew for sure. I remembered having to pick up Cassie from the top of a office building in Washington D.C. during an invasion by humanoid fish creatures. We’d arrived to find that fishman corpses covered the roof. It wasn’t all her work, but the majority of it was. I don’t know how many she killed that day, but it was definitely in the hundreds.

Kamia didn’t know that story, but it didn’t take much to guess that Cassie could cause problems. The Ascendancy troops were already avoiding that section of wall—or even anywhere near it. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 18

Trees & Shields: Part 17

They came through in a giant wave. The colonists ran or fell, burned by the Ascendancy’s energy weapons or ripped to pieces by the claws of their soldiers.

It wasn’t as if the colonists left them unopposed, but the sheer numbers of the attackers verses the numbers of the defenders meant that for every beam aimed at the Ascendancy soldiers, the soldiers aimed three or four back.

The colonists weren’t stupid. They retreated to the inner ring as their people fired out at the soldiers. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 17

Trees & Shields: Part 16

I’d never been hit by Cassie’s gun at full blast. In training, we’d sparred a few times with it, but never at full power.

It would be nice to say that I don’t have anything to compare the pain to, but that would be wrong. Fire from a dragon hit my arm a year earlier, cooking it all the way through. That had been intensely painful in the first instants and completely painless after that when my arm became little more than cooked meat. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 16

Trees & Shields: Part 15

The Guard members’ shields popped as my weapons found a frequency that resonated and poured on the power.

Kamia’s didn’t go down. It probably wasn’t exactly the same technology, but I knew it could go down. Earlier, my killbot had gone partway through as had Cassie’s sword. 

As the other Guard members’ shields fell, the colonists’ blasts seemed to hit them in almost the same moment. Several hit the ground, but not all of them. Their armor both absorbed and reflected the beams. 

They dropped behind soldiers with working shields even as those soldiers stepped forward to stand in front of them. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 15

Trees & Shields: Part 14

Answering my unvoiced question, Kamia, her own force field glowing, led a group of Ascendancy soldiers, all of them bigger and more muscular than average. Neves, larger than any of the others, ran next to her.

All the rest of them wore form-fitting, red, reflective armor that showed the symbol of the Ascendant Guard on their chests—a clawed, feathered beast that reminded me of a gryphon.

Not all of them were running either. Four of them were flying, but not far off the ground. Instead of flying far above the group, they flew with them. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 14

Trees & Shields: Part 13

It turned out that I wasn’t wrong about that either, but not quite in the way that I would have imagined it. I’d been imagining that the ongoing attack would take them down, but the shields held up to that at first.

Crawls-Through-Desert called a retreat as the outside ring of shields began to flicker and the soldiers ran towards the first ring of shields.

A roar of excitement came as the shields fell and we watched as the reinforcements we’d received all ran toward the inside ring of shields, unable to get through all at once, most of them turning around in front of the shields, aiming their weapons outward as Ascendancy soldiers ran in. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 13

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