Trees & Shields: Part 18

Cassie wasn’t going to turn the tide of battle all by herself, but you never knew for sure. I remembered having to pick up Cassie from the top of a office building in Washington D.C. during an invasion by humanoid fish creatures. We’d arrived to find that fishman corpses covered the roof. It wasn’t all her work, but the majority of it was. I don’t know how many she killed that day, but it was definitely in the hundreds.

Kamia didn’t know that story, but it didn’t take much to guess that Cassie could cause problems. The Ascendancy troops were already avoiding that section of wall—or even anywhere near it.

The burned bodies lying on top of the ash Hal created acted as a warning sign. If that weren’t enough, one of the Ascendancy soldiers must have caught a particularly powerful blast. The beam had turned everything above his knees to ash which fell apart, leaving only the soldier’s boots and the still smoking remains of his legs.

Gruesome? Yes, but it was also a convincing argument for staying out of Cassie’s range.

Cassie wasn’t someone who let you get out of her range though. When they started avoiding her section of shield, she ran to wherever the Ascendancy appeared to be strongest and swapped herself in for whoever happened to be there.

If that weren’t enough, Rachel was also out there using an axe I’d made for her. It looked like a purse, but transformed into a playable electric guitar—which transformed a little bit more to turn into a double bladed axe with an edge like Cassie’s sword.

Guitars are sometimes called axes, so it had seemed funny at the time I designed it.

Not that I saw all that at the time, but that’s what was going on in the background. It’s demoralizing when an axe appears out of nowhere and decapitates the guy next to you.

So, despite the fact that the Ascendancy had broken through the ring and outnumbered the defenders several times to one, they hadn’t broken through the inner ring.

From the distance came the sound of shattering wood and then a deeper rumble. I couldn’t be sure, but I suspected that might be Jaclyn and Neves fighting.

As I felt the rumble in my feet, Kamia turned her head toward the fight around the inner ring and then back at me, firing her gun.

If she’d ever wanted me to convince our group to change sides, she’d given up on it, possibly because I’d never given her a reply. That was okay though because I’d been watching her and that meant I didn’t get hit in the middle of my chest or my head.

Her shot hit my right side and I felt the heat. A few error messages appeared, but less than the last time.

She ran through the open section toward burning chaos of the main battle, joining the soldiers that were still running through. In the moment I fully intended to go after her, but she must have been communicating with the other Ascendant Guards the entire time. As she ran, plasma bolts hit my side and back.

I’d upgraded the heat protection on my back as well—which was good because that level of heat might have started the fuel in my rocketpack burning in past suits.

That didn’t mean that I didn’t see error messages appear in my HUD, but they weren’t as bad as they could have been. I took in the situation in an instant, realizing that I had two attackers—both of them the flying Ascendant Guard members I’d seen earlier.

Neither of them wore force shields which made sense. That could interfere with flinging plasma bolts at people. Plus, both of them were covered in flame and I could easily imagine a shield causing problems with that.

Again, not that I spared much thought on it. In the moment, I knew it without thinking about it. My next actions had about the same level of thought.

I shot into the air and a twisted around, firing the sonics at the one that was coming straight at me with a dull, roaring noise. The man went out of control, putting his hands to his ears and careening off to the right, hitting one of the outer shields with a burst of blue light and falling to the ground.

He didn’t get up.

The other one hit me in the air, wrapping his arms around me and preparing, I suddenly knew thanks to my implant that he was about to send out more energy in a burst than he’d normally use in hours.

I threw his arms off me by pulling my arms away from my sides, but I knew that wouldn’t be enough to avoid the blast.

So I shot him with the laser under my arm. His eyes widened and his mouth made a noise halfway between a gasp and a scream. Then he dropped to the ground, fire exploding all around him.

Trying to get the image of his face out of my head, I tried to find Kamia in the crowd below.

8 thoughts on “Trees & Shields: Part 18”

  1. I suddenly knew thanks to my implant to burst out more energy than they’d normally use in hours.
    Is missing something

  2. I took in the situation in instants, realizing that I had two attackers—both of them the flying Ascendant Guard members I’d seen earlier.

    I think you meant ” I took in the situation in an instant, realizing that I had two attackers

  3. “That didn’t mean that I didn’t see error messages appear in my HUD, but they weren’t as they could have been.”

    I think that’s supposed to be “…weren’t as bad as they could have been”.

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