Trees & Shields: Part 7

Dalat turned to fire at the soldier who’d jumped over him, killing him in a shot while Geman shot the other.

The good news was that Geman had saved one half of the shield generator pair. The other pole, still lying on the grass, didn’t look too bad as it could. It hadn’t been broken in two, but it wasn’t working either.

I didn’t know as much as I wanted about these shields but fixing it didn’t seem impossible. Even better, if they had a spare, they might be able to swap it out.

Not that the Ascendancy’s forces planned on making that easy. When the shield went down, the nearest troops ran for the opening, running and firing.

Unsure of what else I could do, I ran for the opening, aiming the sonics above the heads of the people who’d been firing from behind the shield. It was easier than it might have been. They weren’t in complete retreat, but they were moving to stand behind the shields on either side of the downed shield.

I couldn’t blame them. They wore the same light armor Kals (and almost all the resistance) did. Little more than a jacket, pants, and a helmet, it could take a few shots, but after a couple in the same spot, it would go through.

This time I set both arms’ sonics to anti-tech frequencies and I pumped up the power to just short of damaging levels. I could feel a hint of warmth on my arms—which was unusual in a heavily armored suit even if it was normal for the stealth version of the Rocket suit.

That worried me a little because the last thing I needed was for the sonics to give out before this was over. Sure, the suit could repair them, but I might not have time for that.

In the first few seconds, I took more shots than I had time to count. My armor dutifully noted the damage and began repairs. I’d improved the Rocket suit’s materials a couple different times within the past few months before this trip. It felt good to know that the design could handle some punishment.

Ahead of me, two Ascendancy soldiers’ rifles shot gouts of flame out of their sides and then the rifles went dead—or so I assumed from the way they pulled the trigger without anything happening.

Then they stopped running. I couldn’t tell why, but they came to a stop, dropped to the ground, and pulled at their helmets. At about the same time, more soldiers ran past them only to stop and start pulling at their helmets as well.

As they did, resistance fire picked them off.

I’d discovered a real vulnerability, whatever it was, but not one I’d be able to keep up forever.

That was even more true when I checked my peripheral vision and got an overall picture of the situation. Ascendancy soldiers were still coming over the shield though not as many of them as before. The ones that had already made it over were the main worry right now.

Only quick action by our troops and luck had stopped them from taking out another section of shield.

If they did, I’d have to choose between protecting this section, moving to the other one, or aiming for ones still coming over.

I contacted Hal, “I need help. We need to make the Ascendancy troops back off. I don’t care how you do it except that you don’t hit Jaclyn and Tikki. They’re outside our shields. Also, that you don’t take out our shields or kill any of our people.”

Hal responded, “I can, but not without revealing my position. The Ascendancy troops are probably in possession of weapons capable of doing this ship real damage. Even if they do not possess them, there are small spacecraft on the planet and firing on the troops will reveal my position. I’ll have to attack and then hide again.”

“If you have to, go ahead. You have my permission.”

Hal manufacturers had built in protections against rebellion on the part of sentient machines. My permission had disarmed part of that for one purpose—my orders.

I checked the world around me. It wasn’t any better than it had been before I talked to him.

Through the firing weapons, shouts, and the strange tones of the motivators, I heard a hint of my ship’s engines. He wasn’t far away at all.

Then Hal fired the main gun, turning everything in front of me white and everything in the path of the beam to ashes.

Over my comm, Hal added commentary. “The anti-personnel lasers lack the necessary range to be useful in this situation. The main gun isn’t made for targeting individual humans. It is effective in targeting general areas.”

The beam circled around the forest, burning the entire way.

After a moment, Hal said, “Objective achieved. I must now evade the small craft and weapons targeting me.”

The sound of engines increased as explosions and energy beams appeared above us.

6 thoughts on “Trees & Shields: Part 7”

  1. Slight edit:
    “Hal manufacturers had built in protections against rebellion on the part of sentient machines.”

    Should be:
    “Hal’s manufacturers had built in protections against rebellion on the part of sentient machines.”

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