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.

That didn’t stop me from putting it into practice. Unfortunately efficient didn’t mean instant, and they kept on firing at me. The armor registered damage as they hit.

[78%]
[77%]
[76%]

And so on…

In some ways Jaclyn was in a worse position than I was. She had strength and speed that even in my suit I could only dream of, but in the darkness she was blind, and the Hrrnna weren’t.

When the lights went out, she’d been in the middle of them. She’d swung wildly, then gathered speed, running through the Hrrnna in front of her.

Even as I ran and jumped, sometimes punching a Hrrnna while trying to avoid their shots, waiting for the killbots to take them down, I realized that the best thing I could do for her was give her light.

Lowering the lasers’ intensity, I swung my arms around, illuminating the room, or whatever portion of it my arms happened to be pointing at.

That was enough for her.

Even with the HUD, she still moved too quickly for me to see her, but I saw armor shatter and Hrrnna slide across the floor, or fly through the air, sometimes hitting other Hrrnna as if they were nothing more than eight legged, armored bowling pins.

At the same time, a series of small booms took place in the background, and I suddenly realized that Jaclyn and I were almost the only living beings in the room.

“Rocket, Accelerando,” Travis said.

I looked toward the sound, realizing that Travis stood near the doorway. Three Hrrnna lay around him. I knew I hadn’t taken them down, and I was pretty sure they hadn’t been there when I’d followed Jaclyn into the room.

The light of the Rocket suit’s lasers lit up the floor between us.

Travis waved his hand toward the hallway behind him. “We’d better go. I don’t know how long Izzy can keep this thing up.”

I checked my HUD, and found our position on the GPS. We’d moved quite a ways. Now were above Hoboken, New Jersey, but we were moving eastward. With any luck, we’d be able to ditch the ship in the Hudson River.

It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing that had ended up in the Hudson River.

“By the way,” Travis asked, “Did you kill all those guys? Some of them smell like they were dead before you got here.”

I turned around, and gave the room a good look. He was right. We’d only fought Hrrnna, but half a dozen different kinds of humanoids lay dead in the chamber, all of them burned to death by laser.

It didn’t make a lot of sense. The Hrrnna on the ground had been working with exactly the same sort of aliens. On the other hand, hadn’t this been a pirate ship? I was pretty sure the Hrrnna had hired a pirate ship to bring them to Earth. I couldn’t imagine that the pirates would have been willing to keep on going when it became clear that the Hrrnna were losing.

Not that it mattered now. They were dead.

We followed Travis down the hall toward where Izzy hovered, her hands still pushing against the ceiling.

My lasers didn’t give off the most natural lighting, but even considering that, Izzy barely seemed to be able to keep her eyes open and one of her fingers was shaking.

I checked the GPS again. We were practically over the Hudson. We should ditch the ship now—before Izzy lost control of it.

I turned off my lasers, and readjusted them. We were standing next to the hull. I could cut a door, and Jaclyn or Travis could knock it the rest of the way out.

I turned on the lasers, aiming both of them at the same spot, and hoping it would help. The blue beams lit up the hall.

Around us the whole ship seemed to be straining. Somewhere in the distance, after a particularly long humming noise, I heard a pop followed by a shaking sound.

The shaking didn’t stop, becoming deeper as I cut, and cutting wasn’t getting easier. The floor shook too. I wasn’t cutting in a straight line. Each bump made me move, and there were a lot of bumps.

Rachel appeared, not even giving me time to adjust, and flew through the laser beams. “This ship is falling apart. Get out now!”

Izzy said something unintelligible. Then she fell over. Well, almost. Jaclyn caught her.

Travis took everything in one glance. “Accelerando, grab the Rocket’s hand. Rocket, catch me on your way out.”

He made for the section of hull I’d been working on, dug his feet’s claws into the floor, and waved at me to turn off the lasers.

I did, and he tore a hole through the wall just as Jaclyn grabbed my arm. I activated the rockets.

Through the hole, the dark waters of the Hudson lay below us.

17 Responses to “Stardock: Part 37”

  1. Jim Zoetewey Says:

    The last arc of this novel sized chunk of LoN begins next Monday–which makes me happy.

    Also, for the record, a relatively young kitten does not make writing any easier.

  2. Dreamer Says:

    Good luck with the writing. This continues to be an excellent read.

    You know, your problem is you need an effective escape claws. [grin]

  3. Psycho Gecko Says:

    When it comes to cats, you just need to take them aside and make sure they know that you won’t accept any tom foolery.

  4. Roger Willcocks Says:

    First paragraph you use “a few feet” twice, not sure if that’s deliberate or not.

  5. C.Coyote Says:

    All these pawses are really making my hair stand on end.

  6. Hydrargentium Says:

    Yes! How will our heroes deal with the impending cat-astrophe!

    Hg

  7. Jim Zoetewey Says:

    By having their dialogue randomly destroyed as my cat walks over the keyboard apparently.

  8. The Evil Twin Says:

    http://www.houseofzathras.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/cat-evil-plan.jpg

  9. Algaean Says:

    And a fur-renzied escape at the end!

  10. Psycho Gecko Says:

    Yes, the cats have begun to use Jim as a catspaw.

    All according to plan… http://imgur.com/MTchkge

  11. Notto Mention Says:

    Speaking of cats, one of my favorite kids’ books is The Cat Who Jumped Out of the Story by Ben Hecht. We haven’t yet heard how Haley is… which made me worry if they might not have found a way to ‘jump out of the story’.

  12. James Yeisley Says:

    Heh. who know, crashing a alien mothership into the Hudson might just clean it up a bit….and besides if any water hits Hoboken I doubt to many people will care. :P

  13. farmerbob1 Says:

    Congrats on the new kitten, Jim :) Take a few pictures, and link them on days when you can’t release a chapter on time, to hold us over!

  14. dwwolf Says:

    I cant help but feel that the Xinity allowed this attack as a test for Earth’s ability to stand on its own feet.

  15. Someguy Says:

    Since the Earth will be busy covering up the fact that they have Abominator Tech and the Hrrnna will be busy disavowing and denying that any attack happened while the Xinti are away, no one will be able to raise a ruckus if Nick took the opportunity to collect ‘trophies’ like the Hyperdrive & the Anti-grav device right?

  16. Jedi Reject Says:

    Great work as always Jim, thanks! Now I’m finally (almost) up to date, Ive decided to wait until the next arc is finished and read it all in one go. Knowing your propensity for cliffhangers this strikes me as the safest method for keeping sane ;-)

  17. Jim Zoetewey Says:

    This next arc should be fairly short since it is basically an epilogue. It’s a fairly significant part of the story though.

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