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.