Trees & Shields: Part 5

“I think they’re going to send more over the shields—maybe to go straight for Jadzen and the council members here.”

Jaclyn stared up at the top of the shields. “Of course they are. If they can do it once, they can do it again and with 20 times the people.”

A chill went through me as she said that. She was right and we wouldn’t be able to handle that many. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 5

Trees & Shields: Part 4

Jaclyn blurred, punching five of them before anyone else had a chance to respond—at least that’s what I saw when I replayed the moment with my implant later.

In the moment, I was too busy to watch what she was doing. Two soldiers landed in front of me, the first grabbing for my arm before I could back up to avoid him and beginning to pull me in.

Knowing the strength of my armor, I’ve always been worried about facing people capable of ripping it straight off me. Travis was one of them and these soldiers had the same powers. With nothing else coming as an option, I did what Lee had taught me to do when that was a possibility—punch them hard. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 4

Trees & Shields: Part 3

I flipped from screen to screen in my HUD. The Ascendancy had sent a lot of troops. My gut said it had to be hundreds. According to my implant (which had noted the distance between the bots, the number in the pictures, the probable distance between them and made guesses about areas the bots didn’t cover), the number was more like thousands. Specifically, it was more than I thought had landed.

At any rate, that was the implant’s estimate. The number it had seen was 750—which was still an awful lot.

Around that time, beams of light appeared in the woods around us, accompanied by the screams of Human Ascendancy soldiers. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 3

Trees & Shields: Part 2

Nick, Shelter 454

We waited for the Ascendancy troops to arrive. Captain Tolker, the guy who led the briefing, turned out to be a mercenary who the resistance hired, but then became notorious enough that the Ascendancy decided that he was a resistance leader. In the end, he found himself here with everyone else.

I didn’t know where had he been before, but he spent the wait getting acquainted with those of us he didn’t know and encouraging those that he did. Though I’m no authority on leading troops, he seemed good at it. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 2

Trees & Shields: Part 1

Four Hands, Bridge of the Human Ascendancy Flagship: Glorious Victory

Four Hands could have followed the progress of the battle in full immersion through his implant, but didn’t need the distraction. The flaghip’s admiral had summoned him to the bridge even though full immersion could have handled that as well.

Knowing the Human Ascendancy, Four Hands knew that this could be because the admiral wanted to see him killed in person. They knew he’d met with the human Xiniti recruit. He’d included it in his report, if only because he knew the soldiers would.

On the other hand, the admiral might want to congratulate him personally. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d turned treason into a commendation. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 1

Planet in the Middle: Part 20

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that seeing people there ready to fight gave me some hope. My mind noted that hope or not, the Ascendancy troops almost had to outnumber them.

We crossed the clearing, walking instead of running, giving them time to recognize us even though it was still dark. A few of them pointed at the dog, but no one shot at us.

Outside along with them stood Jadzen Akri, some members of the Council and more  colonists I didn’t recognize, all of them watching us as we came closer.

As we came near, Kals said, “Mom, I didn’t know you were coming here.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 20

Planet in the Middle: Part 19

“So in your opinion,” I asked Hal, “where would the best place for us to go?”

Hal responded without any hesitation. “That depends on your purpose. I’ve simulated multiple versions of the upcoming battle. Judging from the Ascendancy’s soldiers movements, their goal appears to be first of all to capture or kill the leadership and then to move on to destroying the rest of the colonists.

“I don’t know where Jadzen Akri and the Council will be with certainty, but I know where the battle between the Xiniti and Ascendancy forces will be. The probability is that the battle will be fought at a clearing roughly one mile west of here. I believe there to be a shelter there, but since their shelter are designed to be hard to detect by Alliance and Ascendancy technology, I can’t be sure. Were you to go there, you’d be in an excellent position to defend the colony’s leadership. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 19

Planet in the Middle: Part 18

Marcus cocked his head. “You know, I don’t think there is much of a choice here. I’m not sure we have much of a chance to find the plant. I mean, how would we do it? Jaclyn could run around the area looking for it, but she’s not at her best, so they might take her out. The rest of us aren’t really big information gatherers. I mean, Nick can do some of that, but his bots are short range, right?”

“Not exactly. The observation bots and the spybots are longer range, but they’re only useful if I either know where to place them or if I have so many that and I can put them everywhere. Right now, neither of those is true. So, you’re right that I need more time or more bots to be useful.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 18

Planet in the Middle: Part 17

In the big picture, it didn’t matter if we were going to closer to the main action. The important thing was that we met up with Crawls-Through-Desert to find out what he wanted to do—stay or leave?

So we followed Katuk through the forest, all of us running quickly and as silently as we could.

Before we left the scene of the battle, a white beam speared two Ascendancy soldiers that emerged from a group of trees. I’d been about to turn toward them  myself, but then the beam hit and a Xiniti appeared to fire a second shot at the two soldiers as they lay on the ground.

Then, sure that they were dead, he disappeared into the trees. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 17

Planet in the Middle: Part 16

“Mostly good,” I said. “The Xiniti are here and the first of the Cosmic Ghosts are here. In fact, technically we’re done. The leader of the unit that came to Jadzen Akri’s shelter told me that we’d done what we were supposed to and that we could go. He didn’t want to risk us in this fight—the Ascendancy has fresh troops and ships.”

Katuk froze. “I’ve missed a great deal. The unit leader said we should withdraw? It makes sense. The Xiniti nation prefers not to waste lives. As inexperienced as we currently are, we might prove to be a drag on resources due to our lack of experience in war.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 16

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