Mindstryke grinned, “Everything I’ve heard about the Ascendancy is bad, so I can’t say I’m surprised. You’ll be the first person with the skills of a Dominator that I’ve worked with. The few times I’ve encountered them, they’ve been trying to kill me.”
He nodded toward one of the hallways, “We’ve got them down this way. We can’t keep them close enough that Ana would be in the range of the Dominator’s voice. We’ve got a buzzer to prevent that sort of thing, but we both know that accidents happen. Over here.” Continue reading From Far Away: Part 5
The Defenders’ staff recommended a route for our approach that avoided air traffic from both O’Hare and Midway. Following their advice, I brought the jet in. Hal, an AI that specialized in predicting how best to win battles between fleets of starships, probably could have worked out a more direct route through Chicago’s many flight paths, but we weren’t in that much of a hurry.
Besides, it was best not to annoy people unless you needed to. Continue reading From Far Away: Part 4
In that moment, I realized that Kals wasn’t speaking whatever they spoke in the Human Ascendancy. She spoke English and her accent sounded like the one out of old movies—somewhere between the US and British. I could only guess that wherever her implant downloaded it from had updated its language files in the 1950s.
I hoped that it automatically adjusted with exposure to new variants in the language. If not, she might be able to pass for someone from India who’d studied in the US and the UK. Hopefully, it wouldn’t come to that.
Katuk wouldn’t be able to pass for a human at all. Continue reading From Far Away: Part 3
Possible responses hung in my head, most of them bad. I settled on, “I’m sorry. I wish we could have done something, but none of us are any good at healing.”
I thought back to my friend Alex. He was good at healing. It would have been nice if the Ghosts had grabbed him along with Rachel. He couldn’t have survived the trip without a spaceship, and everything I knew through my implant and Rachel said that they didn’t bother with them.
Kals shook her head. “Iolan could have done it if he had access to all his equipment. The Ascendancy killed her in more ways than one. I hate them. I don’t know how, but somehow we have to destroy them. Not everybody, but the Ascendant and the Ascendant Council, the Guard… It all needs to end.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 36
Jaclyn couldn’t take them all out, but she tried. She moved too quickly for me to see, but with the Xiniti implant, I processed her movements well enough to notice the blur of where she’d been.
Ordinary people didn’t even notice that and had to rely on the explosion of blood and the way the Ascendancy soldiers’ bodies toppled off their torsos to the ground.
That didn’t mean the Ascendancy soldiers couldn’t hit her though. One of them, an Ascendant Guardmember by the symbol on his chest, shot her in the thigh with a yellow beam.
She tumbled as he twisted to take another shot at her. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 31
At the same time that the Ascendancy forces began to charge, bright light came from the sky toward the Waroo ship, hitting it in an explosion of light. The ship didn’t fall out of the sky.
Knowing that, I knew that the Waroo were okay or okay-ish. Their shields were still up. If they’d fallen, chunks of the ship would be falling from the sky, burning all the way down. All the same, they couldn’t be as much help. They were maneuvering to respond to the fighters, blasting upward with their weapons.
That meant the obvious, they weren’t firing at the Ascendancy troops, meaning the Ascendancy had no reason not to kill us all.
They attacked. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 29
I accelerated the rockets, but not too quickly. I didn’t want to give Jadzen whiplash. For the little good it would do, I held her below me so that if I did get hit, she’d have something in between her and the blast.
It was a nice thought, but if I did get hit, I felt sure the explosion would surround me, roasting her instantly even if I somehow survived. Plus, if I didn’t survive, she’d hit the ground while moving at nearly one hundred miles per hour. Between my speed and her injuries, I didn’t hold out much hope there.
It didn’t matter, though. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 26
I zoomed in on the conversation, deciding that I wanted to know what Jadzen was telling Weffrik Aut to do. I supposed that I could have used my bots to listen in. I still had a few, but using the sonic systems as a shotgun microphone struck me as less likely for the Ascendancy’s soldiers to notice or stop.
I fiddled with the system for a few seconds and I began to hear their voices. The sound wasn’t perfect. It contained bits of static and sometimes a word or two from conversations behind them would become a little too loud, but I could hear them talk. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 25
Cassie turned to watch Jadzen walk toward the Ascendancy troops. Her lips twisted. “It had better be brilliant because there’s not much she can do if she’s just going to walk over there. I’m sure they’d be able to detect if she’s a suicide bomber or if she’s carrying a gun to shoot them or something.”
I thought about it for a second. “She’s a motivator. Maybe she’s hoping to use that? The impression that I got from Kals was that Jadzen was among their best before she decided to turn against the Ascendancy. I mean, Kals was in the same program or something and she could get past my anti-voice defense. We probably avoided getting taken over a few different times because she told me how she did it and I changed my system.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 24
Nick, Outside the Inner Ring of Shelter 454
Kamia’s mouth tightened and Katuk’s left leg kicked out. He fell over sideways into the ash. Glancing at me with a frown, she pointed her gun toward Katuk, intending, I assumed, to finish him off.
I aimed myself at her and activated the rockets (which had never gone inactive), making it the second time I’d tried that on her, but also the second time it worked.
It didn’t work as well as the first time, but I did hit her and she didn’t finish Katuk off. Her shield surrounded her, allowing me to knock her over, but not to do any real damage. Unlike earlier, her shield wasn’t sphere shaped, so she didn’t roll backward—not on the shield anyway. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 22