Unshielded engines were a spaceship’s weak point in combat. That and anyplace they predictably thinned the shields—like weapon hardpoints. Anyone who’d trained on spacecraft knew it. There were a host of techniques to minimizing your chances of dying—ranging from special shields to keeping changes of direction brief. It wasn’t as if you slowed down very quickly in space.
Most of the defenses were oriented toward spaceships though because any living being that attempted to sneak past working engines would quickly become well done.
I had every reason to hope that didn’t apply to Izzy. Continue reading Stardock: Part 30
Lim answered the phone, and from his tone I could tell he sounded a little better than he had before.
“Rocket, who do you need? Right now, almost everyone’s free, so you’ve got your pick.”
“Everyone?” That seemed unlikely.
“You got stuck with the largest group. Most of the rest had to deal with four people at a time. I’m not saying people didn’t get hurt, but we haven’t had any deaths yet. Plus, we just had help show up–mercenaries.”
“Who? Protection Force?” Continue reading Stardock: Part 29
Reminding myself that the Stapledon Program’s secrecy wasn’t really my problem, I decided to concentrate on what was my problem—Blue Sky Lab’s current projects.
Isaac Lim had asked me to find out what they were, and intentionally or not, Dr. Griffin hadn’t answered my question about that. I hadn’t asked as directly as I might. I could change that.
As I was about to ask, Jenny’s voice sounded inside my helmet. “Brooke’s sending the prisoners to their cells. Stand back.”
I turned my head toward where Izzy, Jaclyn, and Cassie stood over the prisoners. Jenny stood a short distance away, acting as Brooke’s eyes no doubt. I didn’t know what they planned to do about the prisoners’ powered armor, but that wasn’t my problem.
All the same, working armor would make it way too easy to escape, but no armor meant that communicable diseases could be passed along.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 26
I spoke over the comm to Bloodmaiden. “Lim’s going to send Paladin here. That or he’s going to bring you to Paladin. Either way, you’re getting help soon.”
“Thanks.” It was a little hard to make out the word.
Switching away to our general channel, I addressed everyone. “Could someone make sure Bloodmaiden’s comfortable?”
“I’m better off than you think,” she said.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her push herself up into a sitting position on the brown grass. She gave a little gasp as she became fully upright.
Jaclyn turned her head away from the prisoners on the ground to look at her. “Don’t do that. You’re only making things worse.” Continue reading Stardock: Part 25
Through my observation bots, I watched Bloodmaiden take to the air. I knew she could fly, but from her motion, it looked more like she’d jumped. One leg bent in a step, and the other straight, her pose reminded me of early Superman comics, and how Jaclyn jumped.
If she used her ability to fly to cushion her landing, I didn’t notice it. Her boots sank into the ground next to Jaclyn.
She’d jumped over the building. I knew she wasn’t this strong normally. Continue reading Stardock: Part 24
Of course, if I stood there and worried about whether or not we’d lose, we probably would.
Instead I decided to help Izzy. Hiding among a new group of trees, I held out my arms and fired off a few more “killbots.” It seemed like a good enough name for bots that would cut through armor and then explode.
If I was honest with myself, they weren’t good for much else.
Well actually, they might be useful for mining–not that I was planning to do any.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 23
Fortunately for Dr. Griffin, most of the spray went to the soldier’s side, splattering everyone to his right.
Predictably, all the soldiers pointed their weapons at us, and began to fire back. Laser and plasma blasts shattered branches, started small fires, and with a thunderous crack destroyed the trunk of a tree.
It fell over.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 22
I didn’t need the observation bots to hear a familiar voice broadcast across the building’s clearing and into the woods.
“Humans, evacuate the building and put down your arms. Listen to us, and we may leave you and your young ones alive. It’s more than you’ve any right to expect.”
The warm, tenor voice sounded human, but too perfect. Even if I hadn’t noticed, the Rocket suit pegged the voice as artificial.
In fact, I’d recognized it as a very specific artificial voice–the leader (or at least spokesman) of the Hrrnna.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 21
Given that someone in that building was making competent use of technology created by aliens more evil than the ones trying to provoke genocide on us, it was hard to imagine any kind of good news.
“What?” I asked.
“The office building is owned by Blue Sky Labs, a small company owned by Dr. Valerie Griffin, an electrical engineer by training, but a specialist in alien artifacts for the last five years.”
Lim didn’t take a breath, continuing with, “But that’s not the bad part. She’s got grants and investments from all over, ranging from businesses to the government. That’s not a surprise considering what she’s doing, but here’s the bad part. The last time I saw any lab studying alien artifacts that was this well funded, it turned out they were being funded by the Nine. They didn’t even know it.”
Seeing the alien ships hammering the building’s shield, I wondered if that meant that the Nine had their own version.
If so, I hoped it wasn’t portable.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 20
I wanted to keep on listening to Haley, but became distracted by the scene in front of me. A long, basically rectangular object appeared above Stardock. I say “basically” rectangular because it was thinner at the front than the back. On the whole, it reminded me of a troop transport vehicle, or possibly of those D-day landing craft?
It didn’t seem to have much for weapons, just one turret near the back.
Of course, it didn’t need much when you considered the company it kept. Machine race warriors appeared next to it. I say “machine race warriors” because that’s still faster than referring to them as members of the “Shiny Searchers for Extra Value Meals Clan” or whatever it was.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 13