Possible responses hung in my head, most of them bad. I settled on, “I’m sorry. I wish we could have done something, but none of us are any good at healing.”
I thought back to my friend Alex. He was good at healing. It would have been nice if the Ghosts had grabbed him along with Rachel. He couldn’t have survived the trip without a spaceship, and everything I knew through my implant and Rachel said that they didn’t bother with them.
Kals shook her head. “Iolan could have done it if he had access to all his equipment. The Ascendancy killed her in more ways than one. I hate them. I don’t know how, but somehow we have to destroy them. Not everybody, but the Ascendant and the Ascendant Council, the Guard… It all needs to end.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 36
Four Hands looked into the camera or whatever he was using. It might just as easily have been an image captured from his brain by his implant.
He paused, giving all of us viewing a chance to look at him. Though I’d peg him as being in his late 20s (only a few years older than I was), he had bags under his eyes. I supposed that leading the Ascendancy forces after they’d been destroyed by us, followed by taking over the Ascendancy’s flagship, might be tiring and stressful.
“If any of the Cosmic Ghosts are listening, I ask you to save as many of my people as you can as you destroy the Ascendancy fleet. We’re not in charge, and we’re as susceptible to motivator commands as any human in the Ascendancy.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 35
Marcus pursed his lips. “There’s no chance that you’re pregnant, right? I mean, you said you’d had that… turned off, but I didn’t even know who you really were at the time, so…”
Kee’s face darkened, but she kept on talking. “I was telling the truth. In our true form, we’re not fertile with humans. I’m not sure you’d even recognize what we do to reproduce as sex, but when we embody ourselves, we have to create something that can connect back to our true selves.
“So we could have reproduced, but if we did, our child would have too much power for your world to handle, and too little to defend itself from the Destroy faction for a long, long time. I’d never risk that.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 34
Whatever my reservations, it didn’t matter. The bubble expanded to cover the entire battlefield and that included all the troops that had been waiting in the wings and beginning to charge.
Connected to Kee’s not-quite-telepathy, I could sense how far it went—more than one hundred yards away in every direction.
Past the edge, the Xiniti that had promised to show up and help stood, staring at the bubble. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 33
“What I’m asking is probably simple for you—take out the people who are trying to kill us or hide all of us or maybe move us somewhere else? I don’t know. A teleport would be ideal.”
She didn’t say anything but I could feel flickers of her emotions, much as I felt Daniel’s when I was back home. It wasn’t a telepathic connection or maybe it was, but if it was it felt different—bigger—a forty room mansion instead of your standard four bedroom house.
That’s a terrible metaphor, but I don’t have anything better than “bigger.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 32
Jaclyn couldn’t take them all out, but she tried. She moved too quickly for me to see, but with the Xiniti implant, I processed her movements well enough to notice the blur of where she’d been.
Ordinary people didn’t even notice that and had to rely on the explosion of blood and the way the Ascendancy soldiers’ bodies toppled off their torsos to the ground.
That didn’t mean the Ascendancy soldiers couldn’t hit her though. One of them, an Ascendant Guardmember by the symbol on his chest, shot her in the thigh with a yellow beam.
She tumbled as he twisted to take another shot at her. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 31
It didn’t take long to realize that the leader wasn’t obvious. With implants, you didn’t need to do anything visually to know who was running things. Plus, as my implant informed me, armies had policies for hiding who the officers were.
They didn’t have policies that hid what an aerial view from my bots showed. The colonists may have stalled the charge earlier, but now the army was massing close together. When they rushed us, they weren’t going to stop.
I contacted Crawls-Through-Desert who seemed to be acting as Captain Tolker’s lieutenant or something like it. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 30
At the same time that the Ascendancy forces began to charge, bright light came from the sky toward the Waroo ship, hitting it in an explosion of light. The ship didn’t fall out of the sky.
Knowing that, I knew that the Waroo were okay or okay-ish. Their shields were still up. If they’d fallen, chunks of the ship would be falling from the sky, burning all the way down. All the same, they couldn’t be as much help. They were maneuvering to respond to the fighters, blasting upward with their weapons.
That meant the obvious, they weren’t firing at the Ascendancy troops, meaning the Ascendancy had no reason not to kill us all.
They attacked. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 29
I wasn’t sure whether Neves was dead, unconscious, or unconscious and dying. Either way, there was something bugging me.
“How did you get him? I thought he absorbed punches.”
Looking down at Neves’ body, Jaclyn said, “I knew that punching him would give him faster and harder to hurt, so I ran from him, thinking that maybe I’d be able to wear him down and then maybe run him past a bunch of Xiniti so they could shoot him with energy weapons. The problem was that he realized it and used a burst of energy to catch me. I punched him then because I had no choice. It knocked him sideways like I intended, and powered him up like I was trying to avoid, but it broke his… absorption field? and hurt him a little.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 28
“Is there any chance you could come here because the shields are down and the only thing that’s keeping the Ascendancy from destroying us is the Waroo and the fact that Jadzen killed their current leader. I can give you everything over implant if you turn yours on. It’s safe now.”
I directed my implant to send Jaclyn a summary of everything that happened since she left once it detected her.
Her implant came online almost instantly and she said, “On my way. When you see me get in his way and take a shot at him with your laser. Don’t punch him or shoot the sonics at him. Remember when we fought that guy back on Earth? I think he was called Payback? Neves absorbs force too, but I’ve got him. I just need a second to turn around.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 27