It didn’t take long to realize that the leader wasn’t obvious. With implants, you didn’t need to do anything visually to know who was running things. Plus, as my implant informed me, armies had policies for hiding who the officers were.
They didn’t have policies that hid what an aerial view from my bots showed. The colonists may have stalled the charge earlier, but now the army was massing close together. When they rushed us, they weren’t going to stop.
I contacted Crawls-Through-Desert who seemed to be acting as Captain Tolker’s lieutenant or something like it. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 30
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.
They attacked. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 29
I wasn’t sure whether Neves was dead, unconscious, or unconscious and dying. Either way, there was something bugging me.
“How did you get him? I thought he absorbed punches.”
Looking down at Neves’ body, Jaclyn said, “I knew that punching him would give him faster and harder to hurt, so I ran from him, thinking that maybe I’d be able to wear him down and then maybe run him past a bunch of Xiniti so they could shoot him with energy weapons. The problem was that he realized it and used a burst of energy to catch me. I punched him then because I had no choice. It knocked him sideways like I intended, and powered him up like I was trying to avoid, but it broke his… absorption field? and hurt him a little.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 28
“Is there any chance you could come here because the shields are down and the only thing that’s keeping the Ascendancy from destroying us is the Waroo and the fact that Jadzen killed their current leader. I can give you everything over implant if you turn yours on. It’s safe now.”
I directed my implant to send Jaclyn a summary of everything that happened since she left once it detected her.
Her implant came online almost instantly and she said, “On my way. When you see me get in his way and take a shot at him with your laser. Don’t punch him or shoot the sonics at him. Remember when we fought that guy back on Earth? I think he was called Payback? Neves absorbs force too, but I’ve got him. I just need a second to turn around.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 27
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. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 26
I zoomed in on the conversation, deciding that I wanted to know what Jadzen was telling Weffrik Aut to do. I supposed that I could have used my bots to listen in. I still had a few, but using the sonic systems as a shotgun microphone struck me as less likely for the Ascendancy’s soldiers to notice or stop.
I fiddled with the system for a few seconds and I began to hear their voices. The sound wasn’t perfect. It contained bits of static and sometimes a word or two from conversations behind them would become a little too loud, but I could hear them talk. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 25
Cassie turned to watch Jadzen walk toward the Ascendancy troops. Her lips twisted. “It had better be brilliant because there’s not much she can do if she’s just going to walk over there. I’m sure they’d be able to detect if she’s a suicide bomber or if she’s carrying a gun to shoot them or something.”
I thought about it for a second. “She’s a motivator. Maybe she’s hoping to use that? The impression that I got from Kals was that Jadzen was among their best before she decided to turn against the Ascendancy. I mean, Kals was in the same program or something and she could get past my anti-voice defense. We probably avoided getting taken over a few different times because she told me how she did it and I changed my system.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 24
What do you do when the moment you’ve been trying to avoid happens? This was literally all that we’d been trying to prevent from day one. Jadzen Akri would either surrender to the Ascendancy or die and there were so many soldiers that we probably wouldn’t be able to stop them.
It’s nice to imagine that you’d be able to pull a brilliant plan out of your butt in this situation, but when there’s nothing between you and hundreds, possibly thousands of enemy soldiers, you know better.
The reason you know better is that nothing is coming to mind at all.
At least that’s how I felt then. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 23
Nick, Outside the Inner Ring of Shelter 454
Kamia’s mouth tightened and Katuk’s left leg kicked out. He fell over sideways into the ash. Glancing at me with a frown, she pointed her gun toward Katuk, intending, I assumed, to finish him off.
I aimed myself at her and activated the rockets (which had never gone inactive), making it the second time I’d tried that on her, but also the second time it worked.
It didn’t work as well as the first time, but I did hit her and she didn’t finish Katuk off. Her shield surrounded her, allowing me to knock her over, but not to do any real damage. Unlike earlier, her shield wasn’t sphere shaped, so she didn’t roll backward—not on the shield anyway. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 22
Kamia’s shield’s collapse surprised me almost as much as it did her, but I knew that it might be coming and more to the point, I was flying straight at her.
Of course, the fact that she didn’t expect her shield to go down, didn’t mean she wouldn’t try to dodge. When you considered that she’d been fighting Xiniti and winning, she had to be more than who owned Abominator weapons.
Even as I closed with her and despite the Rocket’s suit’s speed, she moved. She didn’t move enough to avoid being hit, but she did move enough to avoid taking both my fists to the middle of the chest.
I hit her in the left shoulder. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 20