Moments like that cause you to rethink what you’ve been doing. I’d left 60 bots out of my calculations. In addition to the others, I had 20 observation bots, 20 spybots and 20 EMP bots. I’d left out the observation bots and spybots because they weren’t much use in a fight and the EMP bots because I’d been assuming Ascendancy soldiers would be using equipment hardened against EMP bots at my tech level.
When I considered the question in that moment, the implant gave me the Ascendancy equipment’s known specs and I compared them to my bots.
Instants later, I fired off ten of the 20 EMP bots, targeting all the nearest soldiers. On Earth, I might have used one, but now I knew what would work here. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 12
I couldn’t do anything about the death and destruction now and I reminded myself that we’d done this because we didn’t have the ability to meet them in a fair fight without losing a lot of civilians.
Looking past the force fields, I saw that not everyone had died. One hundred, maybe two hundred of the Ascendancy’s people had run out the other side of the field and were watching as the last of the creatures ran across the field and out towards the forest and fields on the other side. Continue reading Release the Hounds: Part 8
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
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
The implant’s information on the channel was that it was used to make announcements—a one way channel that ran recorded warnings except on the rare occasions that matters moved too quickly for recorded emergency information to keep up.
“I’m recording it,” I told everyone. Everyone back in the cavern needed to see it too.
Jaclyn nodded while Katuk peered into the distance, watching his own copy of the same scene. Continue reading Reap: Part 2
Jaclyn spoke through the implant, “Do you see anything?”
As the person with the better overall view, I flew north of the town, avoiding the burning field where the starport had been. Flying upward, but still below 200 feet, I followed the land as it rose, but I didn’t have long before I did see something.
The starport field lay closest to the ocean, south of the long rocky cliff with the tunnels. On either side of the town lay open fields and more fields lay further inland, up the hill that Kals and I had climbed while looking for Katuk. In the fields between Landing, the town we’d stayed in and the colony’s other two towns, I saw the Human Ascendancy’s ships. Continue reading Retreat: Part 10
It took time to fly through the tunnels, trailing Jaclyn and Katuk. The sheer size of the tunnels made it easier even if it made me think again about the tunnels’ origins. The planet had megafauna everywhere and while the creatures that created the tunnels might be long dead, they could easily be used by something big on and off—possibly even descendants of the original creators.
All the same, we didn’t see any evidence of anything like that on the way out. Continue reading Retreat: Part 9
“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