I accelerated the rockets, but not too quickly. I didn’t want to give Jadzen whiplash. For the little good it would do, I held her below me so that if I did get hit, she’d have something in between her and the blast.
It was a nice thought, but if I did get hit, I felt sure the explosion would surround me, roasting her instantly even if I somehow survived. Plus, if I didn’t survive, she’d hit the ground while moving at nearly one hundred miles per hour. Between my speed and her injuries, I didn’t hold out much hope there.
It didn’t matter, though.
The Ascendancy’s soldiers were too busy firing at the Waroo ship to fire at me—that or I didn’t notice. Either way, I flew back to the shelter where Marcus, Tikki, and Kals were still standing with Captain Tolker and the colonists, all of whom were pointing their weapons outward, ready to fight.
Katuk ran below me, his hands and guns a blur of burning white beams—which might be the other reason the Ascendancy troops weren’t firing at me. They were too busy dying.
It felt eternal, but in reality, it took less than a few seconds for me to get back to the shelter. I landed as carefully as I could, laying Jadzen on the ground as Iolan ran forward to look at her wounds.
“I have some things in the shelter, but not everything I’d want to take care of those wounds here.” Then Iolan pointed at one of the colonists, telling him to, “Get my kit from inside.”
Her voice low, Jadzen said, “I’m not going to make it.”
Iolan shook his head. “No. You might survive. You owe it to yourself and to the rest of us to let me try and save you.”
She smiled at him. “I knew this was a possibility. I had a good life and if by dying, I buy us some more time, then I think that’s a good trade.”
Iolan frowned, “Jadzen, I know you believe that, but we aren’t anywhere near as strong without you as with you. I know you’d die for us over and over, but you shouldn’t have to.”
The colonist came back with a small black bag. Iolan took it. Nodding at the colonist, he said, “Thank you. Jadzen, I’m going to do what I can to save your life.”
Kals kneeled down next to her, “Mom, let him try.”
I missed whatever they said together. I could have listened in, but giving a friend time alone with her dying mother seemed like the right choice. I looked up, trying to get a sense of our overall situation.
The Waroo blasted away from above, but they were only one ship and the Ascendancy turned out to have weapons made to be effective against that size of a ship. They didn’t take it down, but beams hit it from below and it wobbled in the air.
I didn’t know for a second whether or not it would fall, but it didn’t. It flew upward and kept moving, diving down to fire back at the troops. Overall, I approved. I didn’t like the idea that they’d repay me for saving the life of one of their people by having a whole ship die.
Unfortunately, it also meant that they weren’t able to keep up a steady stream of fire like they had been when they were closer to the ground. Plus, it meant they were hunting down the groups with the anti-ship weapons when they could, meaning that keeping the Ascendancy away from the colonists wasn’t their only focus.
I called Hal, telling him that it would be great if he could get over here and give us some assistance. It would be even better if he could do it in a way that wouldn’t make the Waroo think he was a threat.
Then I called Rachel. She didn’t have an implant, so I used the League’s comms. “Is there any chance that the Cosmic Ghosts could appear right now? We could use the help.”
The sound of her sigh came over the line. “I’ve been trying to get their attention and they are coming, but I don’t know when. They’re kind of godlike and they don’t seem to have much of a sense of urgency.”
I looked out at the Ascendancy troops. The ones that the Waroo weren’t firing on had backed off and appeared to be talking. “That’s not good. My sense of urgency is getting better and better developed by the second.”
“Tell me about it. I’ll try to bug them again.”
I’d barely heard the connection click off when Jaclyn’s voice came over the comm. “Anybody free? I’ve figured out how to take Neves down, but I’m going to need a distraction.”