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
“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
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
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
“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
Rachel looked toward Cassie. “You’ve got a plan? What is it?”
“No,” Cassie shook her head. “We don’t have a plan, but I’m assuming that whatever plan we have will turn out to be more complicated than we expect.”
Shrugging, Rachel said, “That’s how plans go. I don’t want to slow you down. Let’s go find whoever it is you’re going to find. And while we’re at it, I should meet the new people. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 15
Kals looked Rachel up and down. “Your sister?” Then she said, “It’s not that I’m not pleased to meet you, but how did you get here? Have you been staying on the ship?”
Rachel glanced to the right and left, barely moving her head. I couldn’t give her a full costume like I had everyone else, but I had been able to improve hers. That glance had been enough to use her HUD to check around nearby.
“This isn’t the sort of thing you should tell people about, but I have to tell you and this is as good as anywhere. You called for help from the Cosmic Ghosts and it turns out that Nick and I are indirectly descended from the Ghosts through Grandma Vander Sloot.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 14
I raised my eyebrow. “Because you think we’re going to fix this?”
She shrugged. “Maybe? The Xiniti and the Alliance have been fighting the Ascendancy for ages. You may not be able to fight them alone, but at least you’ll be trying something different. I’m sure none of them tried making a deal with Four Hands and I’m not sure he’d have tried with anyone but you.”
“That’s a weird thought. I think you’re right because he kind of said that, but we aren’t exactly best buddies. I feel like he’s loyal to his people and no one else—maybe even to the point that he trusted me because I might be distantly descended from his people.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 13
“I think we will leave,” I said, “but our obligation to Katuk, Crawls-Through-Desert, and uh… Jaclyn’s dog might mean it’s not instantaneous.”
Looking out of the corner of my eye at the Xiniti, I added, “Of course, we’ll go, but as I said, we can’t just leave people hanging.”
Kals smirked. “Got it.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 12
Kals sheathed her knife. “If you think they’re going to come back, we need to get my mom and everyone out of here. I just wish I knew where to send them. We don’t have anywhere left that’s more secure than this.”
Taking a breath, Jaclyn said, “Your mom said she would have evacuated to your nearest neighbor if they had the time. Wouldn’t that be better?”
Kals frowned. “Well, it wouldn’t be here, but it wouldn’t be any more secure.” She glanced back at the shelter. “You know what? I think that’s the best we’re going to do. I’ll tell her.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 11