“Mostly good,” I said. “The Xiniti are here and the first of the Cosmic Ghosts are here. In fact, technically we’re done. The leader of the unit that came to Jadzen Akri’s shelter told me that we’d done what we were supposed to and that we could go. He didn’t want to risk us in this fight—the Ascendancy has fresh troops and ships.”
Katuk froze. “I’ve missed a great deal. The unit leader said we should withdraw? It makes sense. The Xiniti nation prefers not to waste lives. As inexperienced as we currently are, we might prove to be a drag on resources due to our lack of experience in war.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 16
Rachel looked toward Cassie. “You’ve got a plan? What is it?”
“No,” Cassie shook her head. “We don’t have a plan, but I’m assuming that whatever plan we have will turn out to be more complicated than we expect.”
Shrugging, Rachel said, “That’s how plans go. I don’t want to slow you down. Let’s go find whoever it is you’re going to find. And while we’re at it, I should meet the new people. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 15
Kals looked Rachel up and down. “Your sister?” Then she said, “It’s not that I’m not pleased to meet you, but how did you get here? Have you been staying on the ship?”
Rachel glanced to the right and left, barely moving her head. I couldn’t give her a full costume like I had everyone else, but I had been able to improve hers. That glance had been enough to use her HUD to check around nearby.
“This isn’t the sort of thing you should tell people about, but I have to tell you and this is as good as anywhere. You called for help from the Cosmic Ghosts and it turns out that Nick and I are indirectly descended from the Ghosts through Grandma Vander Sloot.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 14
I raised my eyebrow. “Because you think we’re going to fix this?”
She shrugged. “Maybe? The Xiniti and the Alliance have been fighting the Ascendancy for ages. You may not be able to fight them alone, but at least you’ll be trying something different. I’m sure none of them tried making a deal with Four Hands and I’m not sure he’d have tried with anyone but you.”
“That’s a weird thought. I think you’re right because he kind of said that, but we aren’t exactly best buddies. I feel like he’s loyal to his people and no one else—maybe even to the point that he trusted me because I might be distantly descended from his people.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 13
“I think we will leave,” I said, “but our obligation to Katuk, Crawls-Through-Desert, and uh… Jaclyn’s dog might mean it’s not instantaneous.”
Looking out of the corner of my eye at the Xiniti, I added, “Of course, we’ll go, but as I said, we can’t just leave people hanging.”
Kals smirked. “Got it.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 12
Kals sheathed her knife. “If you think they’re going to come back, we need to get my mom and everyone out of here. I just wish I knew where to send them. We don’t have anywhere left that’s more secure than this.”
Taking a breath, Jaclyn said, “Your mom said she would have evacuated to your nearest neighbor if they had the time. Wouldn’t that be better?”
Kals frowned. “Well, it wouldn’t be here, but it wouldn’t be any more secure.” She glanced back at the shelter. “You know what? I think that’s the best we’re going to do. I’ll tell her.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 11
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Cassie cut into Kamia’s shield again except this time she wasn’t alone. With Neves out of sight, Jaclyn blurred, running up to the shield and hitting on the line where the shield was reforming after Cassie cut it with her sword.
For a moment, the blue glow of the shield disappeared and I could see Kamia’s eyes widen. At the same time, she grabbed for her belt while turning to run.
By itself, that wouldn’t have done her much good against Jaclyn or Cassie. What did help was that the shield reformed around her, but much closer to her body. If that had been all, she would have died, but it wasn’t. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 10
Knowing that Kals was handling herself, I could concentrate on everyone else. Cassie had made it across the gap between herself and Kamia and stood in front of her, firing the gun at Kamia’s shield.
The shield held.
I would have targeted it with my sonics, but I didn’t have a clear shot. There were Ascendancy soldiers rushing me and I found myself shooting, punching, and blasting them with the sonics, watching Cassie when I had a second. By the next time, I saw her, Cassie had pulled out her sword and switched her gun to the left hand.
With one strike, the sword cut halfway through the shield. The only thing that saved Kamia from having her stomach cut open was expanding the shield’s size and backing up. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 9
On “Three,” Jaclyn ran toward Neves, Cassie ran toward Kamia. I turned on the sonics, aiming them at the largest groups of soldiers. My initial blast of sound started as noise meant to distract, turning into sound meant for destroying technology.
As disquieting as fighting soldiers who, for all you can tell, could be cousins of your girlfriend and her brother might be, it had one good point. I knew exactly how to attack them. Please don’t take this as some sort of repressed urge toward domestic violence, though–I didn’t like it. It was strangely nice to go someplace where nothing was familiar and find that my enemies had the same powers I’d been fighting in training for last three years. The only major difference being that here the owners of said powers fully intended to rip my throat out. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 8
Trenith exhaled and kept on watching as the Ascendant Guard members kept on walking through the forest, their shields keeping the flames away from their bodies. One screen showed a map of the forest. If there were any doubt they were walking in our direction, the map killed it.
Trenith’s eyes moved from one screen to another. “We don’t have long. The outer circle is mines. The inner circle is force fields and lasers. There isn’t anything else. We’d hoped to be able to evacuate to the nearest neighbor, but with all of their people coming, we just have to fight. There’s nowhere we can go that they can’t find us. So, I’d get outside the force fields and get ready to fight.”
“God,” Cassie said, “when I said ‘traps,’ I was imagining more than that. That’s practically nothing.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 7