What do you do when the moment you’ve been trying to avoid happens? This was literally all that we’d been trying to prevent from day one. Jadzen Akri would either surrender to the Ascendancy or die and there were so many soldiers that we probably wouldn’t be able to stop them.
It’s nice to imagine that you’d be able to pull a brilliant plan out of your butt in this situation, but when there’s nothing between you and hundreds, possibly thousands of enemy soldiers, you know better.
The reason you know better is that nothing is coming to mind at all.
At least that’s how I felt then.
You could argue that it could be worse. The Ascendancy troops on our side weren’t in any hurry to charge us after Cassie took her shot. The Abominator gun had burned through at least fifty of them in the short time Cassie had used it.
All that meant was that they’d target Cassie once they got over their shock.
I wasn’t at all sure what I’d do after I got over mine, but it turned out that I didn’t need to.
Jadzen Akri stood at the top of the shelter and said, “I surrender. If you’re willing to take me and only me, we’ll stop fighting.”
My suit buzzed, meaning that it was filtering out the command that went along with those words.
“You have to promise not to hurt anyone from the colony as I surrender or after as well as to leave the colony alone. You know that it’s only a matter of time before the Alliance brings enough ships to defeat you. They’re not going to allow the Ascendancy to take a piece of their territory.”
My implant assured me that she was correct about that. Losing territory to the Ascendancy would be a major black eye to whatever party was in power in the Alliance legislature now.
With Kamia dead, there wasn’t any reason to fear an attack on my implant. I turned on its network access, finding that I wasn’t the only one who had. I had messages waiting from the Xiniti on the planet. I resolved to listen to them when I had a spare second.
I didn’t at the moment.
In whatever part of my brain organized moments of worry, it struck me that Kamia might regenerate and so I glanced over at her body. I didn’t see a person. Only ash and her blackened, burnt and warped armor remained—that and her Abominator guns. They were glossy and undamaged.
In the ash that must once have been her head, I saw a glint of metal—probably an implant.
I turned my attention back to Jadzen, noting that in her hand she held the disc I’d given her, the one that called in my favor from the Waroo. It had changed color to a dull, flat black. From my implant, I knew that it had now been used. The device contained an ansible, allowing her to reach them anywhere they happened to be.
I wondered what she’d asked of them and if they were close enough to do any good.
From the other side of the shelter, a voice said, “I accept your offer. I’m Weffrik Aut of the Ascendant Guard, the current commanding officer of the Guard here and the acting commander of the Ascendancy’s ground forces.
“If you mean to surrender, leave your people and walk toward me.”
Jadzen climbed down from the top of the shelter, stopping to talk to Kals, Iolan, and a couple others.
Kals stood in front of her, saying something I probably could have listened to if I’d thought to zoom in on the sound at the time. It didn’t take sound to guess what she was saying. I got it all from the wideness of her eyes, the movement of her hands as she spoke, and the tension in her shoulders.
Her mother reached out and pulled her into a hug. It wasn’t long, but it was long enough. She said something to Kals as she pulled away.
Then Jadzen stepped around her and began walking toward the Ascendancy troops. The colonists stepped out of her way, many of them saying a few words, bow, or touch her armored shoulder as she passed.
They knew she was doing it for them, but I doubted they’d seen the disc.
Cassie turned to me and I heard her voice in my head. “We should do something. I wish I knew what—”
BURN THEM? An echo of the gun’s voice traveled over the link.
Cassie rolled her eyes. “I wish it were that simple, but after all she said about not doing what she’s doing right now, she’s got to have an angle. I don’t know what it is. Do you?”
“She called in my favor from the Waroo, but I’ve no clue what she asked them to do.”