I don’t think that the colonists had ever seen a puppy before—not a “tiger terrier” puppy anyway. Maybe the adults didn’t bring them along and maybe it didn’t occur to them that the twenty or thirty-pound dog following us could possibly be related to the twelve-foot tall predators that lurked outside their fence.
The upshot of all this is that when the floating platforms came to take us all away, the dog was no problem. Even shoved into the corner of a platform with us and our luggage, it was friendly to the two families riding with us.
One of the kids, a blond-haired five-year-old boy asked, “What’s his name?” as the dog sniffed his hand. Continue reading Retreat: Part 2
Agent 957 of the Human Ascendancy’s Genetic Management Office, Hideaway
Orbiting the only world in the system that showed signs of life, Agent 957 checked the sensors for humanity. Because the world had been seeded with lifeforms with genes the Abominators had gathered from humanity’s birthplace, this took longer than expected. The planet’s lifeforms were numerous and in many cases, massive. Agent 957 filtered for signs of technology. Ignoring the Abominator ruins (remnants of the planet’s terraforming), the agent found what he was looking for on the dark side of the planet.
The sensors showed three settlements, all within walking distance of each other. The computer estimated six thousand people between them. It was hard to say precisely. Continue reading Retreat: Part 1
Outside the council building, alarms went off. At the very same time, a message that the implant informed me was a “local emergency notification” appeared in my head.
A flat, artificial voice sounded. “A Human Ascendancy warship and heavy fighter have exited jump space. Assemble your evacuation kit and be ready to leave.”
Marcus and Katuk sat up in their beds, Katuk going further and making it to the floor in the same motion. Marcus turned toward the light taps as Katuk’s feet touched the floor. Continue reading Complaints: Part 10
Jadzen frowned. “If one of the new colonists has something the Artificers made, we’re doomed—unless it’s the Xiniti somehow. They had ways of neutralizing Artificer technology when they fought the Abominators. The rumor I heard is that some Xiniti could connect to the artifacts like Abominators did.”
Maru nodded. “I heard that rumor.”
She took a breath. On the desk, her right hand clenched into a fist. “We’re going to have to trust that the Xiniti do know how to control Artificer equipment because the other rumor I heard is that they collect it.” Continue reading Complaints: Part 9
I sent them to his house, Jadzen Akri’s and all over the council building while I was at it. I shared the process with everybody via implant.
As I maneuvered the bots through Jadzen’s house, bugging the common spaces as well as her office, I asked Kals, “Are you okay with it? We are bugging your house.”
Kals sat at the table, eyes glazed over like everyone else’s. “It’s my mom’s house and you have to. Maru’s over there all the time. Even if I didn’t want my mom’s privacy invaded, there are so many meetings there. It’s practically the unofficial council building.” Continue reading Complaints: Part 8
Hand moving an inch closer to the gun on her hip, Cassie said, “You’re a secret agent now? How do we know that?”
My implant created a translucent square above Crawls-Through-Desert. In appeared the words, “Sending ID. Accept and verify?”
I thought back, Yes. Continue reading Complaints: Part 7
“Easy,” Cassie said, “Bug him.”
I shook my head. “I was trying to avoid that. My tech is pretty low compared to what I’ve seen in the files in my implant. The Xiniti could detect my bots easily and while they’re ahead of the curve in terms of technology out here, they’re not that far ahead. So, bugging Maru with my stuff might accomplish nothing more than warning him that we’re watching and giving him ammunition to argue we should leave or never leave our ship.” Continue reading Complaints: Part 6
“Uh huh.” Cassie gave Jadzen a small bow as the council members left the room, walking toward the exit via a different wing of the building.
I felt a stab of worry as they passed the doorway that led down to the dog, but they didn’t stop. Soon they were gone and we all went back to our suite. I sat down at the table along with Cassie and Kals. Marcus and Tikki sat next to each other on the couch while Jaclyn and Katuk each took one of the chairs across from the couch. Jaclyn found herself sitting next to Crawls-Through-Desert who had positioned himself in front of one of the windows, his leaves angled toward the sun. He still appeared to be dormant though. He hadn’t moved or said anything.
Marcus looked around the room. “I don’t want to start any trouble, but we’re not going to stop investigating, are we?” Continue reading Complaints: Part 5
With the volume of Alanna’s reply, Kals stepped backward. “What? No. I’ve never suspected you, but someone is.”
Geman sat in his chair, face blank of emotion, but his jaw muscles tightened. Speaking slowly as if were difficult, he rasped out, “I’m not… controlled. I’d remember… it.”
Everyone turned toward him—Jadzen, Maru, Alanna, the rest of them, and we, of course, were already looking toward the stage.
As the colony’s leadership had turned though, they’d all gone several shades paler. Geman stood up in his chair, saying, “I… I…” Continue reading Complaints: Part 4
Geman frowned but didn’t argue at Kals’ suggestion that he and Dalat used the meeting as an excuse to drink.
Maru’s mouth tightened, reminding me of a growling dog. “Kals, you may be assisting, but you can’t speak on their behalf.”
I spoke even as Kals began to open her mouth to respond, “It’s okay. She’s gotten everything right. I didn’t know about the meeting being an excuse to hang out and drink but it’s definitely true that we weren’t randomly searching people’s farms or property. We were just looking for Katuk. Our implants weren’t detecting him and we were worried that something had happened to him. It turned out that he was safe.” Continue reading Complaints: Part 3