I flipped from screen to screen in my HUD. The Ascendancy had sent a lot of troops. My gut said it had to be hundreds. According to my implant (which had noted the distance between the bots, the number in the pictures, the probable distance between them and made guesses about areas the bots didn’t cover), the number was more like thousands. Specifically, it was than I thought had landed.
At any rate, that was the implant’s estimate. The number it had seen was 750—which was still an awful lot.
Around that time, beams of light appeared in the woods around us, accompanied by the screams of Human Ascendancy soldiers. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 3
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that seeing people there ready to fight gave me some hope. My mind noted that hope or not, the Ascendancy troops almost had to outnumber them.
We crossed the clearing, walking instead of running, giving them time to recognize us even though it was still dark. A few of them pointed at the dog, but no one shot at us.
Outside along with them stood Jadzen Akri, some members of the Council and more colonists I didn’t recognize, all of them watching us as we came closer.
As we came near, Kals said, “Mom, I didn’t know you were coming here.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 20
Marcus cocked his head. “You know, I don’t think there is much of a choice here. I’m not sure we have much of a chance to find the plant. I mean, how would we do it? Jaclyn could run around the area looking for it, but she’s not at her best, so they might take her out. The rest of us aren’t really big information gatherers. I mean, Nick can do some of that, but his bots are short range, right?”
“Not exactly. The observation bots and the spybots are longer range, but they’re only useful if I either know where to place them or if I have so many that and I can put them everywhere. Right now, neither of those is true. So, you’re right that I need more time or more bots to be useful.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 18
“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
Tunnel Four wasn’t far away—just two buildings down the same street. We ran at a comfortable pace, thirty miles per hour or so. We didn’t have enough space to go faster. Kals didn’t have any problems keeping up.
Tunnel Four sat between two buildings that weren’t much different than the buildings at Tunnel Three—except that we didn’t see anyone here. Wherever the plant had gone, I hoped he was safe. My bet was that he’d gotten the last people out over here and gone with them when he realized that he’d missed Kamia and the others.
We came to a stop in front of the tunnel. Continue reading Warriors: Part 12
Katuk turned toward Kals. “Do you know how the colonists are escaping? If we can’t find her, it seems that our first duty would be to attend to their welfare.”
He had a point. I didn’t think that we should leave without telling Jaclyn, and was just about to try to use the comm, but I didn’t have to. Jaclyn jumped out the second floor window and landed next to us.
She glanced at the tunnel and back at us. “Where’s Kamia?” Continue reading Warriors: Part 11
Superheroes don’t kill (most of the time). There are reasons for that, ranging from moral to legal to practical. Legally, most of us aren’t empowered to do it (even if we can get away with it). Morally, killing isn’t something you want to do unless you have to. Practically, society would come to regard us as a menace if we did it a lot even if it was justified.
Here almost none of that applied. We weren’t vigilantes. We were the law, empowered by the Alliance as part of the Xiniti Nation to do whatever was required to protect the colony. Continue reading Warriors: Part 10
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