At the same time that the Ascendancy forces began to charge, bright light came from the sky toward the Waroo ship, hitting it in an explosion of light. The ship didn’t fall out of the sky.
Knowing that, I knew that the Waroo were okay or okay-ish. Their shields were still up. If they’d fallen, chunks of the ship would be falling from the sky, burning all the way down. All the same, they couldn’t be as much help. They were maneuvering to respond to the fighters, blasting upward with their weapons.
That meant the obvious, they weren’t firing at the Ascendancy troops, meaning the Ascendancy had no reason not to kill us all.
The big guns they’d been aiming at the Waroo ship found new targets. One hit the shelter, burning a big black spot on its side. I didn’t know exactly what material the shelter was made out of (the implant suggested a few options), but I wouldn’t have expected it to be able to take one shot.
The way the flat wall warped around the burn made me doubt it would be able to take many more.
Another gun’s shot hit one of the trees and the shield generator next to it. They’d known they couldn’t get all the generators back up, but if they’d brought up any, it would make things that much easier.
With the crash of the tree and the crunch of the generator, that spot became impossible.
At almost the same time (Jaclyn was probably first), Jaclyn and I said, “The big guns!”
When we were planning what we’d do if the shields all went down, we’d come up with our approach. We couldn’t take out everyone, but we could take out individual targets.
Jaclyn said, “Cover me,” and ran into the oncoming Ascendancy soldiers. Katuk ran forward, aiming for a different gun at about the same time, saying only, “As discussed,” to Cassie who started firing on either side of him with her gun.
I couldn’t do the same thing to support Jaclyn, but I tried. I aimed the sonics and sometimes my laser at the people on either side of her and sometimes ahead. They did what they were supposed to do. When the laser hit, the soldier went down and thanks to the sonics, the tech of the people near her didn’t always work.
That’s not inspiring, but when the guy who ought to be firing at you is tapping on his helmet or opening up his energy rifle to figure out why it went dead, you don’t get shot as much.
Jaclyn plowed through the people between her and the gun, sometimes moving around them before they could touch her, sometimes throwing them to the side, knocking them into the next soldier.
I didn’t pay as much attention to Katuk, but blasts from his rifle and Cassie’s gun hit the Ascendancy’s troops again and again.
Some soldiers tried to hit us, but it wasn’t as if we were the only ones there. Everyone who’d come to the shelter was firing back, many of them experienced soldiers from wars I’d never heard of and that I didn’t have time to download from my implant.
It turned out that we had whole lines of troops with force shields in the front of our lines. It wasn’t as good as the force field walls around the shelter, but it was better than nothing.
Captain Tolker and Crawls-Through-Desert shouted commands. Kals did what motivators did, countering attacks by Ascendancy motivators and encouraging the colonists to stand firm.
Geman and Dalat stood with the rest of the infantry, firing their rifles. They’d shown no signs of betraying us to the Ascendancy so far. It was sad that they’d come here, both of them probably feeling like they had to in order to prove themselves loyal. Geman had mentioned a family. I didn’t know about Dalat.
As I thought about that, Jaclyn reached her target, smashing the big gun with a single blow, turning, and running back through the Ascendancy’s troops, jumping over our front line to land back where I was. Katuk came back soon after, having destroyed his target as well.
In the meantime, the Ascendancy’s advance had slowed. Our front line’s shields were holding. It wasn’t perfect. People were going down under the barrage of fire, but for the moment, they were holding the line.
It wasn’t as if we were winning. They’d put their shielded people at the front too. Their people would fall just like ours would.
In a war of attrition though, I felt sure that they were going to win. I needed to figure out where the Ascendancy’s leadership on the ground was so that we could maybe get them to surrender. Killing them would just pass the leadership role on to the next person in line.
I sent my surviving observation and spybots into the air to take pictures of the Ascendancy’s troops. They had to be planning something to break our current stalemate. There ought to be some sign of that.
Tolker and Crawls-Through-Desert had to be trying to come up with something too. I hoped that they’d coordinate with us before trying it. Then it struck me that that went both ways, so I sent our group as well as Tolker what I was doing.
This whole situation was fragile enough that if we didn’t work together, dying was a possibility that was beginning to feel more real the longer I thought about it.