Trees & Shields: Part 22

Nick, Outside the Inner Ring of Shelter 454

Kamia’s mouth tightened and Katuk’s left leg kicked out. He fell over sideways into the ash. Glancing at me with a frown, she pointed her gun toward Katuk, intending, I assumed, to finish him off.

I aimed myself at her and activated the rockets (which had never gone inactive), making it the second time I’d tried that on her, but also the second time it worked.

It didn’t work as well as the first time, but I did hit her and she didn’t finish Katuk off. Her shield surrounded her, allowing me to knock her over, but not to do any real damage. Unlike earlier, her shield wasn’t sphere shaped, so she didn’t roll backward—not on the shield anyway.

She flipped over, coming down on her feet as I flew over her. I tapped the button on my palm that brought me upright and the suit’s internal systems flipped me over, leaving me floating above the ground, pointing in Kamia’s direction.

She turned her head, keeping both Katuk and me in view. He’d stood up again and his leg had stopped wobbling, bits of ash sticking to his silver armor. For a moment, I couldn’t tell whether Kamia viewed Katuk or me as the bigger threat.

But then the moment ended. Kamia pointed her gun at Katuk. It made sense. Even though I floated behind her, Katuk stood between her and the inner ring of shields.

Ignoring whatever pain she must have felt in her collarbone, she ran toward him as his body wobbled again. He fell to the ground, getting off a shot that shattered against her shield.

It wasn’t as if just stood there doing nothing, though. I dropped to the ground, firing off a laser beam at almost the same time I activated sonics on the other arm.

In the chaos of the moment, I didn’t get the sequence quite right. To get the most out of the laser, I should have fired it only after I knew her shield had gone down, but I knew I couldn’t wait that long.

She’d be at Katuk before I shot her at all if I waited. I fired both devices, hoping the laser might interact with the sonics and the shield, taking the shield down or at least distracting her.

I aimed the laser at her head to make it more distracting.

It didn’t matter, but not because Kamia wasn’t distracted. The shield did react to the sonics. For lack of a better word, it vibrated. My implant provided hundreds of new concepts and terminology related to force field design and implementation along with relevant equations.

Technically, “vibrated” didn’t cut it as an accurate description, but outside of specialized technical discussions, it worked.

Her Abominator shield reflected my laser in all directions, but mostly upward, making the day even brighter and throwing lines of light into the colony’s shield. They crackled as they hit.

For all that, she still didn’t have time to shoot Katuk as he lay on the ground, struggling to bring his own weapons to bear. It wasn’t because the sonics took down the shield, allowing the laser beam through. It wasn’t because I gave up and punched the shield. I didn’t have time to try that.

It was because Cassie appeared out of nowhere, ducked under the laser light reflecting off Kamia’s head and cut through the shield, sticking her sword through Kamia’s armor and into Kamia’s chest.

When Cassie pulled out the sword, Kamia fell, losing more blood than I’d thought a body could contain. It pooled on the ground next to her body.

I remembered seeing Cassie leave the inner ring when we got close to the shields but I’d lost track of her.

Katuk pulled himself up, pointing his arms outward, ignoring Cassie and me. We didn’t feel bad about it at all. The problem with killing the leader of this group of the Ascendant Guard was that when she died someone else received a field promotion and whoever that person was, they didn’t like us.

The Ascendant Guard and all the nearest Ascendancy soldiers charged us, firing their weapons. Katuk fired back and so did I, but Kamia’s death had one more side effect. We didn’t have to feel afraid of using alien tech anymore.

Cassie pulled out her gun and pointed it in the direction of the charging soldiers. The bright beam burned anything that stood in front of her. In moments like that, you almost wish that your helmet didn’t dim the light enough to allow you to see all of it.

I’m not going to go into detail, but the Guard’s shields did not hold. Bodies turned to ash before my eyes. People screamed. The charge stopped in its tracks, allowing us to aim for an opening in the shield.

We turned and ran for it, allowing us all to be looking in the right direction when a group of Ascendancy soldiers hit one of the shields on the far side with a shield ram.

It does exactly what you’d expect. The shield went down on the far side and then, one by one, all the other shields winked out.

4 thoughts on “Trees & Shields: Part 22”

  1. Finally caught up. Amazing story but I feel like Nick’s utility isn’t up to standard for a gadgeteer. He could have smoke bombs/bots, stunners, infrared(not sure if he alrdy has that), medical gels or more. Simple but useful utilities. Its feels like he overcomplicates things too much when simple tech works, then again that might be his grandfather rubbing off on him

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