Jaclyn spoke through the implant, “Do you see anything?”
As the person with the better overall view, I flew north of the town, avoiding the burning field where the starport had been. Flying upward, but still below 200 feet, I followed the land as it rose, but I didn’t have long before I did see something.
The starport field lay closest to the ocean, south of the long rocky cliff with the tunnels. On either side of the town lay open fields and more fields lay further inland, up the hill that Kals and I had climbed while looking for Katuk. In the fields between Landing, the town we’d stayed in and the colony’s other two towns, I saw the Human Ascendancy’s ships. Continue reading Retreat: Part 10
It took time to fly through the tunnels, trailing Jaclyn and Katuk. The sheer size of the tunnels made it easier even if it made me think again about the tunnels’ origins. The planet had megafauna everywhere and while the creatures that created the tunnels might be long dead, they could easily be used by something big on and off—possibly even descendants of the original creators.
All the same, we didn’t see any evidence of anything like that on the way out. Continue reading Retreat: Part 9
“What do we need to do to contact them?” Jaclyn pushed her way to the front, looking between Katuk and the plant. “I’m assuming that when you said ‘summon’ you meant calling them though the ansible. You’d didn’t mean some sort of magic ritual.” She paused. “Did you?”
Katuk blinked, an odd visual given his black eyes and gray skin. “When our race was younger, I believe that some did attempt to summon them with ritual magic. I don’t know if anyone does any longer. My intention was to access the ansible and send a message to an address that we’ve been given.” Continue reading Retreat: Part 8
I could go into the details, but I won’t. Let’s just say that I’d designed the new costumes to include a water-resistant coating and with blood and brains being mostly water, nothing stuck. I think Jaclyn, Cassie and I were all grateful for that. Katuk’s Xiniti designed armor stayed clean too, but probably by a different method. Crawls-Through-Desert hadn’t been hit either, but I suspected I’d seen the glow of a force shield go up.
Jadzen had been sitting across from Alanna. She dived to the floor as Alanna’s head exploded, but she still had to change clothes. That left us back in the room with Maru, Tikki, Marcus, and Kals.
Maru had been restrained when we left, but with Alanna dead, he’d been allowed to stand in the room with everyone else.
“I still can’t say anything about it,” He stood near the front of the room, looking out of the wide second-floor window onto the people removing Alanna’s body from the first floor. Continue reading Retreat: Part 7
Alanna’s eyes locked on Jadzen, looking up at her from the chair we’d placed Alanna in. “I didn’t… I didn’t fully. I didn’t tell them where we were. I showed them a picture of the sky, but I never expected that they’d be able to find us. I’ve been refusing to speak to him ever since. I never expected it to go this far.”
Jadzen pulled out a chair and looked deeply into Alanna’s eyes. “Let’s start from the beginning. How did you begin to serve the Human Ascendancy?” Continue reading Retreat: Part 6
The conversation in our heads had taken place in seconds, but not quickly enough that someone who’d grown up with implants wouldn’t notice.
Jadzen sent all of us a message through her implant or computer bracelet—I didn’t know which and it didn’t matter. “What are you discussing?”
Kals sent a private message to me. “Is there anything you sent us that I shouldn’t tell her?”
I replied, “I don’t think so.” Continue reading Retreat: Part 5
“I’ll have to show you,” Kals said, but she sent a message through her bracelet to my implant. “I need the footage of Maru talking to Geman and Dalat.”
I sent it to her.
You know how you sometimes know something is wrong, but don’t know why you know? Some people believe it’s magic, and others something psychic. I believe that for most people, most of the time, it’s the brain recognizing a pattern that it can’t put a name to. Continue reading Retreat: Part 4
I looked around the room again, taking in the people unpacking, the streetlights and well-lit buildings going all the way to the ceiling of the cave.
It felt like a neighborhood in a big city more than it did a refugee camp, but it was still a refugee camp. All the people pulling their most valuable and portable possessions off the mobile platforms made that all too clear.
My implant sent me a notification and it wasn’t just to me. Kals sent it to everybody. “As soon as we’ve dropped off our luggage, we tell my mom about Maru.”
Jaclyn sent back, “That’s the plan.” Continue reading Retreat: Part 3
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