The shouting didn’t do anything. A few of the giant elephant/rhinoceros things looked over at us without much interest. The ones nearest the dog made grunting noises and began to sniff the wind, a good idea except that we were upwind. Then a few began to move forward, away from the barking, swinging their heads around to look for the noise.
When they saw the dog, one of them made a deep noise somewhere between a growl and a roar. Some of the smaller ones bolted away, but the large one turned toward us.
We weren’t intimidating enough, and why would we be? Judging from the Rocket suit’s readouts, the nearby creatures ranged from two to thirty tons. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 6
Thirty minutes later found us outside in the warm sun, standing upwind of a field that was inland and slightly to the north of the settlement.
The creatures in the field reminded me of both elephants and rhinoceroses. They had grey, wrinkled skins, tusks like elephants, but with the long, wide snout of the rhinoceros and a small horn on the top of the snout. Their upright, triangular ears made me think of wild boar. Their wide legs made me think of tree trunks.
They had all of an elephant’s size, and maybe more. I wasn’t sure how tall elephants were, but the smallest of these creatures had to be taller than 30 feet at the shoulder. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 5
“Now,” Jadzen said, moving her eyes across the group, “we have at least three different problems left. First, while there may be more of us than them, they’re all trained military and we aren’t. Second, they still have the shuttles, fighters, and military equipment. We don’t have much military equipment. Third, they had members of the Ascendant Guard, the First Ascendant’s elite forces, on the Annihilation—two of whom we’ve been told about—Neves and Kamia. There may be more. In addition, they have a motivator—Agent 957. We have members of the Xiniti nation, but they can’t solve all of our problems. We will have to fight along with them.
“Our plan is to make their numbers a disadvantage, damage or destroy their ships, and hope that between the Xiniti and ourselves, we can handle what’s left.” Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 4
We stepped into the hallway. It was little more than walls of an indeterminate gray material broken up by one door after another, all of them leading to rooms just like mine.
As we walked toward the stairway, I asked Marcus, “What about Sydney? No one ever said anything, but when I’ve seen either of you in the last year, you’ve mostly been together.” Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 3
Marcus flapped his wings and glided down the tunnel. “If we were in a movie, you and I would probably be okay.”
“And why is that?” We’d slowed to a point that I was mostly upright.
“Here’s the deal: you’re the guy who gathered everyone together. I mean, yeah, you didn’t try to, but in the movies that’s the main character. Pretty much all his friends die, but he’s okay. I’m okay because the gunfighter who falls in love with the local girl survives too. Jaclyn would be in trouble though because she didn’t get romantically involved. She got attached to a dog. In most versions, a gunfighter connects with the kids, but a dog’s close enough. She’d end up dying to defend the animal.” Continue reading Reap: Part 10
Sleeping in the Rocket armor wouldn’t be completely uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to do it. I clicked and the full Rocket suit sloughed off me, reforming into a block behind my legs, leaving me dressed in the current version of the stealth suit.
Overall, it was extremely convenient. I could sit on the block and did, leaning my back against the wall and looking out the rooms front window at the glowing lights and empty streets of the colony’s underground hideaway.
Cassie laughed. “Well, that’s nice. A built-in chair.”
I shrugged. “It should have been a built-in bed. Wake me up if I fall asleep.” Continue reading Reap: Part 4
So I said, “I didn’t know that you knew that we were the ones who killed him. We didn’t even know that you were his child until we got here.”
Katuk looked between Jaclyn and I. “The Xiniti view it as appropriate that those who freed someone from the shame of their parent’s actions be involved in his passage into adulthood. Do you have different customs?”
Jaclyn blinked. “Yes. Very different.” Continue reading Reap: Part 3
“What do we need to do to contact them?” Jaclyn pushed her way to the front, looking between Katuk and the plant. “I’m assuming that when you said ‘summon’ you meant calling them though the ansible. You’d didn’t mean some sort of magic ritual.” She paused. “Did you?”
Katuk blinked, an odd visual given his black eyes and gray skin. “When our race was younger, I believe that some did attempt to summon them with ritual magic. I don’t know if anyone does any longer. My intention was to access the ansible and send a message to an address that we’ve been given.” Continue reading Retreat: Part 8
I could go into the details, but I won’t. Let’s just say that I’d designed the new costumes to include a water-resistant coating and with blood and brains being mostly water, nothing stuck. I think Jaclyn, Cassie and I were all grateful for that. Katuk’s Xiniti designed armor stayed clean too, but probably by a different method. Crawls-Through-Desert hadn’t been hit either, but I suspected I’d seen the glow of a force shield go up.
Jadzen had been sitting across from Alanna. She dived to the floor as Alanna’s head exploded, but she still had to change clothes. That left us back in the room with Maru, Tikki, Marcus, and Kals.
Maru had been restrained when we left, but with Alanna dead, he’d been allowed to stand in the room with everyone else.
“I still can’t say anything about it,” He stood near the front of the room, looking out of the wide second-floor window onto the people removing Alanna’s body from the first floor. Continue reading Retreat: Part 7
Alanna’s eyes locked on Jadzen, looking up at her from the chair we’d placed Alanna in. “I didn’t… I didn’t fully. I didn’t tell them where we were. I showed them a picture of the sky, but I never expected that they’d be able to find us. I’ve been refusing to speak to him ever since. I never expected it to go this far.”
Jadzen pulled out a chair and looked deeply into Alanna’s eyes. “Let’s start from the beginning. How did you begin to serve the Human Ascendancy?” Continue reading Retreat: Part 6