I couldn’t argue with him. I didn’t know what the vegetables or the meat were, but I liked them. I wasn’t sure that they were good enough that my life would be fulfilled if I got killed by an angry Xiniti after supper, but as Marcus implied, it was better than dying hungry.
“So what do you think?” Marcus asked, “You think they told him?”
Jaclyn paused with her fork in the air. “How would he not know something like that? It was a big enough deal to make us Xiniti citizens. That can’t happen every day. How would he not hear about it?”
“Easy,” Cassie raised her hand, waving it to get our attention. “They’re a military culture. If you don’t need to know, they don’t tell you.” Continue reading A Good Boy: Part 8
I leaned back against the shed’s cool, smooth surface. “Wouldn’t your mom notice that you’re gone?”
She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. She notices everything, but if we were home, I’d be living on my own, so she’s got no right to stop me. Besides, we do it all the time after parties. Sure, we’ve got the force fields, but some of the small animals that sneak in are as bad as the big ones. Walking home in the dark isn’t safe, so no one complains.” Continue reading A Good Boy: Part 6
That was a lot to absorb. Marcus had Abominator DNA? If it was from his dad’s side of the family (and it almost certainly was) then Haley and Travis did as well. And what he’d said about me needed a lot more detail. I could guess at it, but—
Marcus talked over my thoughts, holding up his right hand and waving it a little. “Whoa, whoa, whoa… Wait a second. Abominator DNA? What’s going on there?”
Iolan shrugged. “It shouldn’t be a surprise. You’re a shapeshifter. They were shapeshifters. They knew where to get that characteristic. They put it into several different lines. The gene lines they optimized for repairing machinery had it. So did several soldier lines that they didn’t want to look like soldiers.” Continue reading Birthright: Part 9
The next day found the group of us in Iolan Mekus’ office and lab. It was another of the egg-shaped buildings. This one was set at a distance from the main settlement—which I’d just learned had one of the least interesting names possible.
Marcus stared at Iolan. “You call it ‘Landing’? I get it. It’s right next to where you’ve got the starships, but I’d have gone with something more, you know, inspiring. It’s significant—the beginning of a human colony on this world. That’s crazy and amazing.” Continue reading Birthright: Part 8
Then he shook his head. “I still can’t see her working for the Human Ascendancy though. They killed her parents. They took her brothers and sisters away when they were two or three. I can see how she might hate them, but I can’t see how she’d work for them.”
Cassie shrugged. “People lie—”
“Yeah,” Marcus said, “but people here know her and her parents.”
“Right,” Cassie started talking the moment he stopped, “but they could still have something she wants—maybe her parents aren’t dead or they’re willing to let a brother or sister go? Look, if someone had your family would you let them die? You’d do something, maybe even betraying a bunch of people you only kind of know.”
Marcus exhaled. “I don’t buy it. It’s got to be someone else.” Continue reading Birthright: Part 7
Jaclyn gave him a sidelong glance, but didn’t say anything. “The main point of having people over tonight was to get to know people and pick up leads for who might be passing along information to the Human Ascendancy. We’ve been talking about what we learned. Marcus, did you find out anything?”
He gave a brief grin. “Tikki and I kind of got distracted and we left, but I learned about her childhood and what it’s like to grow up a breeder in the Human Ascendancy. That was interesting. Technically, her gene line is ‘active’ but because the Ascendancy doesn’t have much use for it by itself, they’re used as breeders—which meant that both of her parents had to pass their genes along. She’s got half a dozen half brothers and sisters and she’s never met any of them. Crazy, right?”
I nodded. “It is, but it fits with what I found out.” Whereupon I explained what Kals had told me. Continue reading Birthright: Part 6
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