Trees & Shields: Part 15

The Guard members’ shields popped as my weapons found a frequency that resonated and poured on the power.

Kamia’s didn’t go down. It probably wasn’t exactly the same technology, but I knew it could go down. Earlier, my killbot had gone partway through as had Cassie’s sword. 

As the other Guard members’ shields fell, the colonists’ blasts seemed to hit them in almost the same moment. Several hit the ground, but not all of them. Their armor both absorbed and reflected the beams. 

They dropped behind soldiers with working shields even as those soldiers stepped forward to stand in front of them.

Of course they did. For them, shields went down every day. They were experienced veterans. They had to have a plan for that.

Part of that plan must have included targeting the attacker because they did.

That wasn’t a shock to me, but I hadn’t been thinking about it in exactly those words. And anyway, in that moment I wasn’t thinking about much other than the hiss as beams hit my armor and the heat I felt inside.

I upped the power sent to the sonics and fired, initially attacking the shields and then changing to attacking technology as the shields went down.

I had mixed results. In the crowd of Ascendant Guard soldiers, shields went down wherever I aimed my sonics and the barrels of guns went dark or sections of armor froze, causing the soldiers to fall, their legs or sometimes all of their limbs unmoving.

The mixed part of the results came from my armor. The latest version’s materials used some inspiration from alien tech which meant it was doing better than any previous version at dealing with the lasers, plasma blasts, particle accelerators, or whatever. At the same time, it wasn’t invulnerable.

The repair systems were getting a workout and eventually they’d run out of material to work with. I had more, but it was on the ship.

Aside from that, fighting an entire Ascendant Guard unit wasn’t the point of flying over the wall. The point was to stop Kamia and she wasn’t staying with everyone else.

She’d slipped past as I traded shots with the Guard. Using my helmet’s near 360 degree view, I saw her nearing the shields and knowing that she’d take them down once she got near enough, I leaned sideways and shot myself at her, the rocket pack blazing.

Not wanting to throw her in the direction of the shields, I hit her in the side, the sphere-shaped Abominator shield allowing me to send her sideways like a billiard ball.

Except, this wasn’t a pool table. Everything outside the inside ring had once been forest or part of the clearing. That meant we stood in an apocalyptic landscape created after Jaclyn knocked down almost all the trees and then Hal burned everything but Jaclyn with the ship’s main gun.

It reminded me of nothing more than the ashes in the cave underneath the old Hardwick mansion in Grand Lake.

Just like in the cave, the ground was covered with ashes and sometimes shattered human bones. Unlike the cave, we stood in bright sunlight and in addition to the ashes on the ground, there were entire tree trunks that had burned black and were ready to fall apart at the slightest touch.

Kamia’s sphere rolled across the hellscape, throwing ashes into the air in a line, hitting a fallen tree and making it explode into ash confetti.

At the same time, the constant barrage of Ascendancy soldiers firing on the outer ring stopped wherever she rolled. I had no idea at first if it was because they were well trained or because the Ascendancy’s technology had a, “don’t fire on the Ascendant Guard,” feature.

The implant assured me that it was the latter as the thought passed through my head.

I didn’t have much time to reflect on it at the time, though, because I was following her.

The Ascendancy’s tech didn’t have a feature for keeping me safe, but I flew close behind her, trying to get close enough to knock her away from the shield ring.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds for two reasons. First, because the ground wasn’t in the slightest bit flat, causing the sphere to roll in unpredictable directions or shoot up into the air at any moment.

Second, because Kamia was far from a passive, predictable target. 

Once she’d blasted through the fallen tree, she shrunk her shield into a form-fitting shape. Showing no sign of dizziness from rolling across several hundred feet of ash covered ground, she landed on her feet, pulling a gun that could have been a close relative of Cassie’s, sparkles glowing around its barrel.

Thanks to my helmet’s view of the surrounding landscape, I could note one other detail. The entire force that been following Kamia with the intention of rushing through any section of shield she destroyed? Well, they were still following her—which meant that the entire army thundered after me and now that she’d stopped, they were gaining.

As I neared her, she fired.

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