My helmet adjusted to the lack of light at about the same time the ship dropped a few feet. A warning beeped, and I dropped a few feet, preparing for a landing. The Hrrnna must have had effective night vision because many of the remaining ones turned to aim their weapons at me.
I opened up everything I had at them, putting the few remaining killbots into efficiency mode—which meant that instead of exploding upon entering a body, they’d make holes in opponents initially and only explode if the opponent wouldn’t go down, or if they were nearly out of fuel.
I’d created a really elegant algorithm to calculate the best use of a group of bots on multiple targets. I felt proud if its efficiency, but I’d felt a little sick when I thought about what it actually did. Continue reading Stardock: Part 37
All of us looked at each other. I don’t know what the others were thinking, but in that moment I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t know how much force Vaughn and Sean could create between the two of them, but I doubted they could stop the ship from hitting the ground—not if it were under power at any rate.
If we knocked the power out, it was still an open question.
Not to mention that I remembered how they handled a ship during the training exercise. It wasn’t the same situation, but it was still a disaster with a big ship.
For a second, it seemed like the best option might be to see if the Hrrnna would give us a second chance at letting them go. Continue reading Stardock: Part 36
“Push the button, Control,” Haley talked at a normal volume, but the intensity in her voice made it seem louder.
Kayla’s voice came through. She started to say, “I…” hesitated, and said, “You’re all right there.”
“We’ll be fine,” Haley said, sounding just as intense as before. “Now!”
Man-machine’s voice came over the comm at almost the same time, “Now, dammit!”
Continue reading Stardock: Part 35
Izzy closed her eyes, opened them, and pointed toward the far end of the engine room. “Is it the middle, more on the left side than the right?”
Rachel turned, not saying anything. When she turned back to us, she said, “That’s it.”
Izzy’s mouth tightened. “They’re not coming for us. They’re gathering there. If we want to stop the ship, we’ll have to kill them.”
She stared ahead, “I hate this.”
Continue reading Stardock: Part 34
Jaclyn’s eyes flicked toward the fusion generator and then back to me. “You’re not going to ask me to smash it are you? Because that sounds like a bad idea.”
I shook my head. “No. I wasn’t thinking of doing that. We’d probably all die.”
Jaclyn eyed me. “You think? So how were you planning to trash their plant?”
“Well, there are emergency procedures in case you need to shut it off. This generator looks a lot like the jet’s. It should be easy.”
Jaclyn smiled. “Kind of like how Rook’s headquarters wasn’t supposed to contain nerve gas.” Continue reading Stardock: Part 33
I couldn’t understand a bit of the language—not that that surprised me.
Travis stepped through the hole in the exhaust tube, his form nearly transparent to me, and (I assumed) completely transparent to whatever was out there. In his place, I didn’t think I would have simply left.
Still, despite being hugely muscled and nearly seven feet tall, Travis could sneak around much better than I could. Throw invisibility in there, and I had to admit, he’d probably done the right thing. At any rate, he’d done one of a few possible “right things.”
I had no right to complain. We needed a scout then, and he was the best person to do it with Rachel scouting further up the ship.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 32
Opening a comm connection to Red Hex, I asked, “How long will the invisibility last?”
Samita took a breath. A quick check of her position showed that she’d been running. That was smart. “Five minutes.”
“Thanks,” I said, and cut off the connection. Five minutes was enough. By that time we’d be where we needed to be or we’d be dead—possibly both.
Burning light from the space ship continued to incinerate everything around the building including the aliens’ own dead.
Meanwhile, transparent forms disappeared into Portal’s gates bare instants before they would have been destroyed. I was pretty sure the people in the ship weren’t targeting them. They were targeting everything. Continue reading Stardock: Part 31
Unshielded engines were a spaceship’s weak point in combat. That and anyplace they predictably thinned the shields—like weapon hardpoints. Anyone who’d trained on spacecraft knew it. There were a host of techniques to minimizing your chances of dying—ranging from special shields to keeping changes of direction brief. It wasn’t as if you slowed down very quickly in space.
Most of the defenses were oriented toward spaceships though because any living being that attempted to sneak past working engines would quickly become well done.
I had every reason to hope that didn’t apply to Izzy. Continue reading Stardock: Part 30
Lim answered the phone, and from his tone I could tell he sounded a little better than he had before.
“Rocket, who do you need? Right now, almost everyone’s free, so you’ve got your pick.”
“Everyone?” That seemed unlikely.
“You got stuck with the largest group. Most of the rest had to deal with four people at a time. I’m not saying people didn’t get hurt, but we haven’t had any deaths yet. Plus, we just had help show up–mercenaries.”
“Who? Protection Force?” Continue reading Stardock: Part 29
“I’m not sure that we can leave,” I told him.
Lim, sounding frustrated, asked, “Why?”
“They’ve got an Abominator birthing platform. It’s got twenty tubes or so, and even though it’s only partially working right now, it seems to be repairing itself.”
I’d almost told him that Cassie had communicated with the machine. They probably knew about her Abominator gun. Flick had seen it when we’d rescued Cassie from Rook last fall, and she’d probably passed it along. All the same, they probably didn’t know that Cassie could communicate with and possibly control Abominator devices.
It seemed like the kind of thing to keep quiet.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 28