Release The Hounds: Part 11

Then I let go of his other leg and stood up, leaving him stuck to the ground.

I checked my HUD for threats, seeing more Ascendancy soldiers dropping in from above. One dropped off to my right, clearly expecting that I wouldn’t be ready to fight yet. I didn’t hesitate. As he turned to rake me with his claws, I punched him in the chest—hard. The armor gave and he flew backward, tumbling a few times and not getting up off the street.

I turned my attention back to our group, finding that the townspeople had retreated into Tikki’s globe—which had expanded a good ten feet in diameter.

Kals and Maru fought Ascendancy soldiers but didn’t use their voices to do it. That would have been a mystery, but the implant cleared it up. The Ascendancy regularly fought other Abominator influenced human civilizations. Their troops’ helmets filtered out external motivators and allowed Ascendancy motivators to command them through the helmet while allowing environmental noises.

That left Kals and Maru to fight using their fists or guns. They were good at it. They used pistols to keep the Ascendancy soldiers at a distance and then when soldiers closed, they were both fast enough to dodge while the other one fired a pistol.

They took care of two of them that way that I saw—possibly more.

That’s to say that they worked as a team. They had to. They were better than a normal person, but not fast enough to face an Ascendancy soldier alone. While they weren’t without armor (their jacket and pants seemed stiffer than clothes), they weren’t as armored as the soldiers. I suspected a solid hit could kill either of them.

I checked my ammunition levels. I had five killbots and I knew I had to save them. If I didn’t, I’d encounter something big and they’d be gone. Beyond that, I had 100 standard bots, 50 boombots, and 32 goobots.

Once I ran out, I’d have to depend on my sonics or my laser. In the meantime, I decided to do what I could to make their lives easier.

I shot one that was coming straight for me with a goobot, making him immobile and fired off a series of standard bots at one of the two soldiers that had landed near Kals and Maru. As expected, the bots didn’t pierce the soldier’s armor, but the series of five hits to his helmet and chest knocked him sideways and put me higher on his kill list.

He leaped at me, reaching out with his claws and leaning sideways to avoid my shot even as I aimed my arms in his direction—except that I used the sonics. I expected that his equipment would filter out an attack on his ears, but I attacked his technology, hoping maybe I’d hit a frequency that damaged his filters.

It didn’t happen soon enough.

He landed off to my left, flanking me, striking my ribcage. Protected by my suit, I didn’t take any real damage, but it knocked me backward. I didn’t fall over, but I did stumble and he took advantage of it, reaching out with both his arms to grab at me, probably with the intent of ripping my armor apart.

Before that happened, his helmet made an audible cracking noise and he froze for a second. I fired the laser under my left arm, burning a hole through his right leg.

The soldier fell over and I stepped backward to avoid being hit by him.

At about the same time, another Ascendancy soldier slashed at Kals with his claws. Kals stepped back, avoiding it, but slashed at the soldier with a knife. He avoided it by jumping sideways, landing to her right, flanking her.

Maru and she had been fighting with Tikki’s bubble of time distortion at their backs, making it impossible for anyone to approach them from behind. It also meant that they couldn’t back up because the moment they touched the bubble, they’d find themselves moving slower, allowing themselves to be attacked while they were halfway in and halfway out.

Kals couldn’t back up to avoid her attacker because she’d be vulnerable to more attacks, couldn’t go left because she’d bump Maru and couldn’t go forward without opening up her back to the soldier flanking her or becoming the target of another soldier.

Maru stepped sideways, moving in front of her and aiming his pistol at the soldier. When he pulled the trigger though, it didn’t fire.

The Ascendancy soldier leaped at him, grabbing Maru’s pistol hand and then ripped right through Maru’s armor, tearing out his intestines with the other hand.

Kals drove her knife into the soldier’s neck, cutting most of the way through. The soldier fell.

14 thoughts on “Release The Hounds: Part 11”

    1. Nick has no respect for his own life and the lives of the people he is protecting. bringing only 5 kill bots completely dropped me out of this story. i hope he watches his friends die as he impotently stands at a distance wishing he had brought the tech that could easily of saved them

      1. I get the impression that killbots are really hard to make as they use the same special technology as what’s in Cassie’s sword. Presumably they require expensive resources and/or a lot of Nick’s time. Given one is usually enough for most enemies, I don’t think he anticipated a horde of enemies who all required killbots. Give the guy a break!

      2. If my opinion matters, here’s the situation as I see it:
        1. No one told Nick what the mission was until after they left with the result that he couldn’t plan ahead.

        2. Nick needs stuff from his lab to make killbots because they take extra time and need specific tools.

        3. Normally having five of them around is overkill. He has the same set of killbots sitting around for months at a time due to lack of use, requiring occasional testing to make sure they still work. Under normal circumstances, they’re literally taking up space better used by something he might use more often.

        4. The standard bots blow holes in people, go around corners, and adjust direction to the movements of the target. Plus they’re easier to make (but still not easy). Thus, he’s got a lot more of them.

        1. Just, the standard bots aren’t quite up to snuff with interstellar-level tech. Methinks the Rocket Suit is going to see some upgrades soon. (Well, that’s something I’ve been seeing this whole part of the story)

      3. I really disagree with this. First off he only has so many rounds he can even load into his suit at a given time. These started as spy drones, got weaponized. Then made deadlier. And even the killbots got defeated by the pumpkin head threat last time around. His best tactic is still support through information. What he should have is a hive of roachbots to keep an eye on his enemies with. If he has to go omnicidal maniac to show you he values any lives I think you missed the point of valuing life.
        Nick tries very hard to Not kill. And that is his virtue as a hero. Otherwise the next logical step for ‘respecting’ the lives of those he protects he should be more like his counterpart War? Kill everything that crosses his path so it can never threaten anything?

        As to factories and load outs. Nick has a near automated production line. At HQ. And it was never said how big it has to be to do that task. The jet is rather spare despite being technically capable of interstellar flight. So his ability to carry reloads for an unspecified mission is limited. Recall that he carries loads based on where he knows he is going. Paint rounds for going to exercises. as a great example. Why didn’t he have a full load of deadly ordinance then? He should not have needed them for training. Then came a dragon.

        Nick loads out based on perceived needs. He didn’t know so he spread his load to handle a wide range of contingencies. Then look at his suits. He had one old suit refurbished he could use. When it was damaged and he was still building a dozen things for people he kept running out of armors. Response times were too slow. So he built for more rapid deployment.

        What will Nick take away from this mission? He needs even more endurance. Less bots and maybe a more diverse energy weapon suite. And a power supply to support it.

      4. I can say I agree and disagree to a certain extent. Maybe Nick didnt know what his exact mission was but he is intelligent. He knew he was going out into space and he’s aware of how advanced Xiniti and other space beings are. He should infer that he was doing business on a higher tier with a different level of combat and adversaries, etc. Its not just this story arc that Ive seen issues or taken issue with. Its a constant running theme that Nick is ill prepared and stretched way too thin. He has too much going on and no where near enough time to prepare for everything that his life throws at him. He has to go to school, he has to go to that program, he has to currently update and upgrade his and the teams weapons, maintenance (thankfully there is one other person that can help on that level) and rotate team leadership between people with a system that could use a lot of work and he has a girlfriend and hobbies. No wonder, here in space, he’s lacking somewhere he shouldnt have been. He’s stretched way too thin, most of the team seems unaware or doesnt care and he playing constant catch up often at times where life or death scenarios are at play. He’s my favorite character and I’d love to see him get a few ducks in a row… and his hands on that Xiniti material as well lol. He doesnt deserve to die or watch any of his friends die but he would benefit from a hard rude awakening that kind of sets him on the path of time management and better prep. He does show a little improvement from before. Not enough imo. Still young I guess. Love the story and the characters. Just my 2 cents.

  1. One of Nicks teammates should die due to the fact he only brought 5 kill bots. I like the idea of Tikki dying and it being directly Nicks fault. What an absolute dumbass, he has the tech to handle everyone here with a click of a button but chose to not bring it. Its unbelievable, he has no respect for his own life and the lives of those hes protecting.

  2. Thanks for the chapter! Just finished a re-read starting with the ebooks, and every arc just seems to get better. Can’t wait for Monday’s chapter!

  3. Can’t say I agree that I “like” the idea of Tikki dying. No, that sounds positively awful. I suspected Maru would bite it though. Especially since now Nick has to spend some intense bonding time with Kals!

  4. I’ve feared that Marcus’ days are numbered ever since he brought up Seven Samurai. The fool!

    Crawls-Through-Desert is at risk of an untimely demise as well, because Nick can’t even keep a houseplant alive?

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