As the creatures gained speed, I realized that I could hear their feet hitting the ground from the air. It was the sound a thousand bass drums might have made if they’d been played by elephants with a poor sense of rhythm, a cacophony of thumping noises that overlapped each other.
I’d worried that Cassie’s gun or my sonic weapons might warn the Human Ascendancy’s forces of our attack, but it didn’t matter. The creatures’ running drowned out everything we could have attempted. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 7
The shouting didn’t do anything. A few of the giant elephant/rhinoceros things looked over at us without much interest. The ones nearest the dog made grunting noises and began to sniff the wind, a good idea except that we were upwind. Then a few began to move forward, away from the barking, swinging their heads around to look for the noise.
When they saw the dog, one of them made a deep noise somewhere between a growl and a roar. Some of the smaller ones bolted away, but the large one turned toward us.
We weren’t intimidating enough, and why would we be? Judging from the Rocket suit’s readouts, the nearby creatures ranged from two to thirty tons. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 6
Thirty minutes later found us outside in the warm sun, standing upwind of a field that was inland and slightly to the north of the settlement.
The creatures in the field reminded me of both elephants and rhinoceroses. They had grey, wrinkled skins, tusks like elephants, but with the long, wide snout of the rhinoceros and a small horn on the top of the snout. Their upright, triangular ears made me think of wild boar. Their wide legs made me think of tree trunks.
They had all of an elephant’s size, and maybe more. I wasn’t sure how tall elephants were, but the smallest of these creatures had to be taller than 30 feet at the shoulder. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 5
“Now,” Jadzen said, moving her eyes across the group, “we have at least three different problems left. First, while there may be more of us than them, they’re all trained military and we aren’t. Second, they still have the shuttles, fighters, and military equipment. We don’t have much military equipment. Third, they had members of the Ascendant Guard, the First Ascendant’s elite forces, on the Annihilation—two of whom we’ve been told about—Neves and Kamia. There may be more. In addition, they have a motivator—Agent 957. We have members of the Xiniti nation, but they can’t solve all of our problems. We will have to fight along with them.
“Our plan is to make their numbers a disadvantage, damage or destroy their ships, and hope that between the Xiniti and ourselves, we can handle what’s left.” Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 4
We stepped into the hallway. It was little more than walls of an indeterminate gray material broken up by one door after another, all of them leading to rooms just like mine.
As we walked toward the stairway, I asked Marcus, “What about Sydney? No one ever said anything, but when I’ve seen either of you in the last year, you’ve mostly been together.” Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 3
I woke up to find Marcus knocking on my door. “Rise and shine. It’s time to save the world.”
He sounded as tired as I felt. I got up, finding that the space next to my bed was only barely wider than my body, making me wonder how people who were overweight were handling this. The best thing I could say about the room was that it was larger than a Japanese capsule hotel room, but those might have been better designed. From what I’d heard, in capsule hotels, the bed was the floor. My room had space under the bed for storage. It contained the Rocket suit and my clothes, but no one could get stuck between the bed and the wall in their rooms.
“I’ll be out in a second,” I said and started pulling the stealth suit on. I left it in stealth suit form. The time for fake clothes had passed. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 2
Hideaway, Landing Starport (Which Was Normally an Empty Field)
Agent 957 watched as the last of the ships from the Annihilation landed in the empty field the colonists used as a starport. Their fiery exhaust lit up the night. Since they’d filled up the slope between Landing and the colonists’ next town with fighters, dropships and marines, they now had no choice but to use the field.
Ten shuttles left almost no room in the space within the shielded area. They’d considered landing outside, but they’d had seen footage of the planet’s native megafauna. Some of them were larger than a shuttle. It wasn’t worth the risk. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 1
Marcus flapped his wings and glided down the tunnel. “If we were in a movie, you and I would probably be okay.”
“And why is that?” We’d slowed to a point that I was mostly upright.
“Here’s the deal: you’re the guy who gathered everyone together. I mean, yeah, you didn’t try to, but in the movies that’s the main character. Pretty much all his friends die, but he’s okay. I’m okay because the gunfighter who falls in love with the local girl survives too. Jaclyn would be in trouble though because she didn’t get romantically involved. She got attached to a dog. In most versions, a gunfighter connects with the kids, but a dog’s close enough. She’d end up dying to defend the animal.” Continue reading Reap: Part 10
They’d taken one of the better positions possible. They were far enough behind us that turning around and firing didn’t give us a good chance of hitting while being close enough that if they kept on firing, they might hit us in the rear where the shields were open for our engines.
I kept up evasive maneuvers, but since I was going back to the planet, I also didn’t want them to follow the ship down to the surface where I hoped to hide it. Continue reading Reap: Part 9
At least I could take them in video games. Hal had thrown ships from the Human Ascendancy, the Alliance, machine race clans, various independent human groups from inside the Quarantine, and Abominators (just in case) against me.
I tried to think about fighting in near-space. It was weird because your weapons didn’t hit as hard because they leaked into other realities—including ours—in small amounts. You could fly through starships and even asteroids If they were small enough. Plus, you’d eventually be moving faster than light, allowing your battles to cross the solar system, while also allowing you to get close enough to planets to use their features to hide your ship—within limits. If you got too close, a planets’ gravity would pull you out of near-space and into real-space.
What was the practical application of all that? I flew straight toward the system’s gas giant. It had upwards of 10 moons. I hadn’t counted them all, but it was enough to hide behind. The only bad point about the idea was that we’d have to dodge weapons during the trip. On the bright side, it would only take us eight minutes to get there—longer since I’d be taking evasive maneuvers the entire way. Continue reading Reap: Part 8