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 held my breath for a moment, thinking about how it would work. “Here’s my idea. You know how near space extends nearly to the planet? No one takes advantage of it because anyone with any sense sets up near space mines around the planet. It’s cheap and easy to do for most planetary governments. But here’s the thing, it’s not cheap or easy for a small colony like this, so you never did it, right?”
Jadzen didn’t say anything at first, but after frowning, she said, “No. We couldn’t afford it. The mines around the Lagrange point were all we could fit in the budget.” Continue reading Reap: Part 5
So I said, “I didn’t know that you knew that we were the ones who killed him. We didn’t even know that you were his child until we got here.”
Katuk looked between Jaclyn and I. “The Xiniti view it as appropriate that those who freed someone from the shame of their parent’s actions be involved in his passage into adulthood. Do you have different customs?”
Jaclyn blinked. “Yes. Very different.” Continue reading Reap: Part 3
The implant’s information on the channel was that it was used to make announcements—a one way channel that ran recorded warnings except on the rare occasions that matters moved too quickly for recorded emergency information to keep up.
“I’m recording it,” I told everyone. Everyone back in the cavern needed to see it too.
Jaclyn nodded while Katuk peered into the distance, watching his own copy of the same scene. Continue reading Reap: Part 2
Jaclyn spoke through the implant, “Do you see anything?”
As the person with the better overall view, I flew north of the town, avoiding the burning field where the starport had been. Flying upward, but still below 200 feet, I followed the land as it rose, but I didn’t have long before I did see something.
The starport field lay closest to the ocean, south of the long rocky cliff with the tunnels. On either side of the town lay open fields and more fields lay further inland, up the hill that Kals and I had climbed while looking for Katuk. In the fields between Landing, the town we’d stayed in and the colony’s other two towns, I saw the Human Ascendancy’s ships. Continue reading Retreat: Part 10
It took time to fly through the tunnels, trailing Jaclyn and Katuk. The sheer size of the tunnels made it easier even if it made me think again about the tunnels’ origins. The planet had megafauna everywhere and while the creatures that created the tunnels might be long dead, they could easily be used by something big on and off—possibly even descendants of the original creators.
All the same, we didn’t see any evidence of anything like that on the way out. Continue reading Retreat: Part 9
“What do we need to do to contact them?” Jaclyn pushed her way to the front, looking between Katuk and the plant. “I’m assuming that when you said ‘summon’ you meant calling them though the ansible. You’d didn’t mean some sort of magic ritual.” She paused. “Did you?”
Katuk blinked, an odd visual given his black eyes and gray skin. “When our race was younger, I believe that some did attempt to summon them with ritual magic. I don’t know if anyone does any longer. My intention was to access the ansible and send a message to an address that we’ve been given.” Continue reading Retreat: Part 8
Alanna’s eyes locked on Jadzen, looking up at her from the chair we’d placed Alanna in. “I didn’t… I didn’t fully. I didn’t tell them where we were. I showed them a picture of the sky, but I never expected that they’d be able to find us. I’ve been refusing to speak to him ever since. I never expected it to go this far.”
Jadzen pulled out a chair and looked deeply into Alanna’s eyes. “Let’s start from the beginning. How did you begin to serve the Human Ascendancy?” Continue reading Retreat: Part 6