Castle Rock Compound, Colorado, Earth
A figure stood alone in the dark on the edge of a small cliff. Leaning on the railing, she looked out on the houses, streets, and lawns. Except for the stone walls and mountains that surrounded the town on all sides, it could have been any suburb in the United States.
Haley brushed a lock of brown hair out of her eyes, wondering if she should go with a short haircut next time. It would be easier in a fight. Except then Night Cat would have to wear a wig since it wouldn’t be smart for both of her identities to get the same haircut at the same time.
Her eyes drifted upward, above the walls to the night sky and stars beyond. Continue reading Birthright: Part 1
Tikki pursed her lips without saying anything. “It is possible. All the motivators can tell people to do things, but it doesn’t change their minds and it wears off. They’d be able to tell people.” She stopped, frowned, and continued with, “And besides, the only motivator we have here is Jadzen. She’s one of the people who started the resistance and the colony. And she knows where the colony is, so if she were the spy, they’d be here already.”
Marcus nodded. “Okay, so not Jadzen, but there might be another motivator or someone with more invasive mind control powers.” Continue reading Hideaway: Part 9
One of the women, blond, fortyish, and wearing a blue utility jumpsuit, said, “You’ve been saying that since you got here two years ago.”
Iolan frowned. “I know you don’t believe me, but there have been signs. We’ve all heard about how the Ascendency managed to follow the ship this last time, how they were sure they’d lost them, but they showed up again, one blink from K’Tepolu. But that’s not all. I’ve checked with Geman and he agrees with me. There’s been more ansible activity before and after we send out a ship to collect more refugees—”
The woman said, “—Which could easily be explained by the work we have to do to re-contact our people and everything we have to do afterward to set up for them once they’re here. And it’s not as if you or Geman have been able to find any traffic that can’t be explained—” Continue reading Hideaway: Part 8
We did finish the game. Jaclyn won. The gun was disappointed to learn that you couldn’t raid other players’ property and burn down their buildings. To be fair, there wasn’t anything specifically forbidding that in the rules, but there also weren’t any rules for how you’d do it.
Cassie talked him down by volunteering to play a game with him that did involve weapons. With some grumbling, the gun quieted down.
As we sat at the table afterward, Jaclyn raised an eyebrow as she looked at Cassie. “I have no idea how you can live with that thing.” Continue reading Hideaway: Part 7
Marcus shifted back to normal, looked over at the three colonists near him. “Stand next to me and do it now.”
The colonists listened even if their eyes widened when his arms turned into tentacles and pulled them into one group. “Nick, you want to take us over?”
“Sure,” I ran over to him. He sprouted two more tentacles and grabbed my legs. Knowing what was needed, I activated the rockets and took to the air, slowing as I neared the end of the tentacles’ full length, and then flying upward slowly enough that Marcus could still hold on.
It didn’t take much to fly back over the wall. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 6
Answering my unasked question, the beast showed that it was smart enough to recognize that the force field was down by leaping at the group of us. I didn’t have time to grab the guy and fly away. Instead, I leapt forward, aiming myself at the animal’s chest, activating the rockets on my back to give myself speed.
It had me on mass, but I hoped I could give myself enough force to make up for it. Keeping in mind what Geman had said about the creatures going crazy when they smelled blood, I tried to knock it sideways into the back of the barricade. If I had to kill it, I would, but I didn’t want to make things worse if I didn’t have to. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 5
I watched the beast walk up to one of the force fields, bat at the downed force field pole, turn, and follow the wall back the other direction.
It didn’t strike at the force field wall even though it did watch the workers behind it, throwing a few glances in our direction.
It had large teeth and a lot of them. How many pounds of force could it bite with?
I didn’t know off the top of my head but used the HUD to take measurements of its mouth and head and the underlying muscle structure.
The fact that it didn’t bother to strike at the force field argued that it might understand that it couldn’t get through. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 4
We all wore uniforms based on my current stealth suit technology—that’s to say thin armor that could shift into normal looking clothes as well as uniforms. Changing colors and mimicking some textures was part of the package.
For this mission, our default setting was silver with a Xiniti symbol—five orbs in a circle—on our chests. The orbs were supposed to represent both planets and clans at the same time.
For me, the uniform still acted as a flight suit for the rest of the Rocket armor, so I stepped into my room, stood on a block of ceramic, tapped out the activation sequence on my palm, and waited as my armor reformed around me.
It wasn’t the classic Rocket suit. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 3
When Hal finished, the gun said, “IT’S A GAME OF COMMERCE. INTERESTING.”
Keeping her voice low, Tikki asked, “Does it always shout?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “but my bet is yes.”
The scene changed. It was just like before in that Tikki, Cassie, Jaclyn, Marcus, Katuk and I were together in a room, but now we were around a dark stained wooden table. A Monopoly board lay in the middle of the table. Beyond the board, table, and chairs though, nothing else looked real. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 2
Agent 957, H’Spar System
Agent 957 couldn’t find them. He’d set the fighter’s computer to run simulations to find out where they could have gone. None of the simulations made any sense. Agent 957 knew why. The ship used a standard hull, one commonly used to create groups of small gunboats for planetary defense.
Nothing else about the ship was standard. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 1