“That’s more than we knew.” I looked over at her and Tara smiled at me. “Do you have any idea when that happened? The year? Or if we’re lucky, maybe a specific date?”
Tara’s expression went blank again for a few seconds. “No, but a lot of the stories sound like they could take place in this year. My mother’s and father’s stories both include mentions of the Heroes’ League as one of the first groups to face the True.”
“Cool,” Vaughn grinned and asked Tara, “how did we do?”
Tara frowned. “You all died—not all at once, but eventually.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 3
Tara frowned, but then her face went blank as her brain went into whatever state allowed her to predict opponents’ moves before they made them and recognize patterns of human behavior by connecting details no one else remembered.
Then she took a breath and relaxed, becoming the Tara I was more used to. “The True aren’t historians. We could have kept everything about the story if we’d wanted to, but it’s important to the leaders of the True to revere the Designer as the one who decided what it meant to be one of the True.
“My parents each told me their battalion’s version of the story and then I heard half a dozen different versions wherever we moved in Infinity City. Every group of the True has their own and they’ll tell it to anyone willing to listen.
“I don’t know which one is real. Maybe all of them are. I don’t know enough to figure that out, but I can tell you what’s common to all the versions I know. Maybe that will be close enough.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 2
“It makes sense,” Haley pulled her chair out from under the table and sat down next to me. “It’s the right thing to do, but I don’t like it.”
Short with black hair and olive skin, Haley frowned. We’d been going out since my senior year of high school and after years of being together, I knew her well enough that I knew both what bothered her and that she’d be telling me aloud anyway.
“She and her boyfriend stole our plans and then handed it over to the Coffeeshop Illuminati. From what I heard, she’s the one with the connection to the Illuminati.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 1
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
Marcus pursed his lips. “There’s no chance that you’re pregnant, right? I mean, you said you’d had that… turned off, but I didn’t even know who you really were at the time, so…”
Kee’s face darkened, but she kept on talking. “I was telling the truth. In our true form, we’re not fertile with humans. I’m not sure you’d even recognize what we do to reproduce as sex, but when we embody ourselves, we have to create something that can connect back to our true selves.
“So we could have reproduced, but if we did, our child would have too much power for your world to handle, and too little to defend itself from the Destroy faction for a long, long time. I’d never risk that.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 34
Whatever my reservations, it didn’t matter. The bubble expanded to cover the entire battlefield and that included all the troops that had been waiting in the wings and beginning to charge.
Connected to Kee’s not-quite-telepathy, I could sense how far it went—more than one hundred yards away in every direction.
Past the edge, the Xiniti that had promised to show up and help stood, staring at the bubble. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 33
“What I’m asking is probably simple for you—take out the people who are trying to kill us or hide all of us or maybe move us somewhere else? I don’t know. A teleport would be ideal.”
She didn’t say anything but I could feel flickers of her emotions, much as I felt Daniel’s when I was back home. It wasn’t a telepathic connection or maybe it was, but if it was it felt different—bigger—a forty room mansion instead of your standard four bedroom house.
That’s a terrible metaphor, but I don’t have anything better than “bigger.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 32
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
It didn’t take long to realize that the leader wasn’t obvious. With implants, you didn’t need to do anything visually to know who was running things. Plus, as my implant informed me, armies had policies for hiding who the officers were.
They didn’t have policies that hid what an aerial view from my bots showed. The colonists may have stalled the charge earlier, but now the army was massing close together. When they rushed us, they weren’t going to stop.
I contacted Crawls-Through-Desert who seemed to be acting as Captain Tolker’s lieutenant or something like it. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 30
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