“Well, crap,” I muttered. Kamia had Abominator devices or a talent that might allow her to take the shields down from a distance. She also had an Abominator designed shield that both Cassie’s sword and my sonics had a chance to get through.
In her place, I’d take down the shields remotely and send in enough people that the battle would be over before Cassie and I found her.
That’s not what she was doing at that moment, though. She was trying to give us every reason to surrender without a fight—which might mean that she didn’t want to waste soldiers’ lives, but it also might mean that we’d scared her.
I hoped that we were that lucky.
Meanwhile, Kamia continued, “You’ve fought well so far, but you can’t survive what’s coming. We have hundreds of fresh troops to help us, but we have more than that. More members of the Ascendant Guard came on board that ship. Four Hands is no longer on the planet, but Neves and I have more than enough help to handle even your strongest fighters. We’ve slain four Xiniti already today.
“Don’t think they’ll be able to save you.”
On the ground below, Katuk stood, staring in the direction of Kamia’s voice, probably scanning the area. One thing she could be confident of is that he’d go after her if she showed up. Bearing in mind her record of killing Xiniti, she might appear so that she could kill him and then disappear.
It might be worth the risk for the damage to our morale.
At the same time, she’d already done that a little bit with regards to me. If Four Hands was off the planet, he wasn’t going to be much help.
As Kamia addressed Jadzen directly, I jumped off the roof of the shelter and walked over to Tikki, Marcus, Cassie, and Jaclyn. They were standing in a circle near Katuk. Tiger lay on the ground behind Jaclyn.
Rachel appeared as I joined the group.
Looking over at Jaclyn as they stopped talking to include us in the circle, I asked, “How are you doing today?”
“Better,” Jaclyn said. “Much better. I heal a little more quickly than all of you, but today, I’m completely healed. I’m more tired than I should be, but it’s better than being burned all over like I was—”
Then she stopped, looking over at Tikki, saying what I’d begun to think, “How much did I age when you accelerated time for us yesterday?”
Tikki blushed. “Not much. Nothing at all, I hope. I accelerated when you were with me, but when we were done, I made you younger again. You should be the same age as when we started.”
“That’s not how it worked with me,” Marcus cocked his head to look at her.
Tikki bit her lip. “No—I… With you I changed the past so you didn’t get hurt, something I can’t normally do, but I can make people older or younger. Jaclyn could heal herself by growing older, but once she was healed I could make her younger without bringing her back to where she was before she healed.”
Marcus raised an eyebrow. “I get it, but I don’t know why it works that way.”
Tikki held up her hands. “Me neither.”
I started talking before anyone else take the conversation further afield. “You’ve been listening to Kamia, right?”
Cassie nodded, touching her sword. “Yeah, that and waiting for the attack.”
“I’m thinking that Kamia can take down shields and that we ought to have a plan in case she takes down one or all of them.”
“All of them?” Cassie shook her head. “If that happens, we’re screwed—well, unless we’ve got the ability to attack all of them on the way in. I could use the gun to burn down a lot of people, but I’m not going to take out all of them—just a lot.”
I turned toward Tikki. “I don’t know if you’ve been holding out on us, but if you can do more than what you’ve mentioned so far, you might want to think about the largest radius you can fire off a blast of aging at. Without your help, we’re probably all going to die—though with Jaclyn feeling good, it might be slower.”
Tikki frowned. “I’ll do what I can. I have a stake in this too.”
To me, that didn’t quite sound like her even if it didn’t sound off enough to Marcus who told me, “You know she’ll do everything she can. She’s been doing more than we ever thought possible lately.”
“I know,” I said, “but knowing exactly what she can do would help. Right now, I’m feeling like she can do anything.”
Tikki looked from Marcus to me, “Not anything, but I might be able to handle half of the ring without straining myself.”
Then she frowned, waiting for my response.
“Half of the ring? That’s more than I expected, but that’s great.” I didn’t know how much power would get the attention of her and Lee’s people, but I wouldn’t have thought she’d be willing to risk that much.
Next to me, Rachel’s eyes narrowed and she watched me. She might want me to explain this later, but we probably wouldn’t have time.
Around us, Kamia’s voice faded away and everyone looked out past the force fields while our soldiers crouched, pointing their weapons through the shields, ready for action.
We’d missed the rest of what Kamia had said and I had a bad feeling it mattered.