That blindsided me. It shouldn’t have. When you looked at it from the outside, it was logical. We used tech that looked like Xiniti tech, but if you were a techie, you’d notice the small details that would cue you into the fact that this was homebrewed instead of mass-produced.
Bearing that in mind, the question was whether denying it or admitting to it would lead to a more distracting conversation. I went with admitting to it. Talking shop with the guy might run the risk of telling him more about my armor than I wanted him to know, but the same was true in reverse.
I said, “Kind of. It’s built on more technology than just mine and we’re all from a world on the edge of things. So, it’s less advanced than what you’re probably using. It’s more a hodgepodge of technology that I was able to get a hold of and then repurpose or reverse engineer.”
None of that was false. I’d come up with the suit’s current ceramic material on my own based on Grandpa’s tech, but the current ceramic was based on alien tech I’d gotten when aliens tried to blow up St. Louis. Plus, the nanotech element was mine, but the rest was a mix of my stuff, Grandpa’s designs, and Earth tech that I hadn’t had a reason or time to redesign.
“It’s effective.” He looked the suit up and down. “You’ve survived shots from our weapons and one of your projectiles nearly made it through Kamia’s force field and that’s the Masters’ technology. Am I right in guessing that it used mono-molecular tech?”
I considered lying, but said, “Yes, mostly.”
He shook his head. “There was a period where the Masters used that technology in war, but it only lasted until they invented effective shields. Our shields are based on theirs and though we don’t use them commonly, there’s been no reason to bring back monomolecular weaponry when everything and everyone important is shielded.”
He stopped, glancing around the clearing.
That’s when I realized that we were alone—not completely alone because we were in the middle of a camp, but close to alone. We were the only ones next to the fire and while we were surrounded by their inflatable habitats, there was a forty foot gap between the fire and habitats on every side.
This was private to the degree that it could be.
He walked the rest of the way around the fire pit and stood in front of me. “Your technology might give us the power to win this endless contest we’re in with the nations around us. I know you’re not feeling friendly to the Human Ascendancy, but hear me out.”
Under any circumstance other than waiting out the clock to get Jaclyn, Cassie and Marcus into position, I would not have listened to him. Giving the Human Ascendancy a better weapon was not part of my plans ever. That shouldn’t need to be said, but I feel like it should be given that my implant was freaking out.
It wasn’t freaking out in the literal sense. The implant had artificial intelligence, but not in the “self-aware and capable of making its own decisions,” sense. Its artificial intelligence was the kind where it learned how I processed information over time and presented it in an optimal way. In this moment, it was giving me a prolonged political and historical view of the Human Quarantine.
After the Abominators, the Alliance and the Xiniti had pushed the Abominators’ genetically modified servants into a sector of space. The Human Ascendancy was one of many, but currently the most powerful. With better weapons, it might be able to unite the whole Quarantine area, something the Xiniti were deliberately trying to avoid.
With a united humanity, the Human Ascendancy had a realistic chance of breaking out of the Quarantine and reconquering territory that the Abominators lost. More to the point, for the Alliance, a united humanity was one of those hot-button political issues guaranteed to generate fear and anger. If it ever looked possible, I could count on a massive pre-emptive strike by the Alliance.
You could argue that having the Alliance attack the Human Ascendancy and destroy it wouldn’t be a bad thing, but that failed to account for one crucial fact. Earth was within the Human Quarantine. Even though we might not be a target, we’d still get hit.