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
It turned out that I wasn’t wrong about that either, but not quite in the way that I would have imagined it. I’d been imagining that the ongoing attack would take them down, but the shields held up to that at first.
Crawls-Through-Desert called a retreat as the outside ring of shields began to flicker and the soldiers ran towards the first ring of shields.
A roar of excitement came as the shields fell and we watched as the reinforcements we’d received all ran toward the inside ring of shields, unable to get through all at once, most of them turning around in front of the shields, aiming their weapons outward as Ascendancy soldiers ran in. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 13
Nick, Hideaway Surface
Kals walked up to us at about the same time as Katuk joined us.
As we backed up to let them into the group, Kals asked, “What’s your plan?”
“We don’t really have one,” I said. “We’re kind of working on backup plans in case the shields go down. Also, we missed the rest of what she said. Given that everyone’s looking tense, I’m guessing they’re just about to start?”
“Close,” Kals glanced back toward the shelter. “She made a big appeal to Mom and the Council to surrender and save the lives of all the people fighting today. It wasn’t much different than what they’ve said before.”
Cassie laughed. “It’s almost like they’re afraid to fight you.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 12
“Well, crap,” I muttered. Kamia had Abominator devices or a talent that might allow her to take the shields down from a distance. She also had an Abominator designed shield that both Cassie’s sword and my sonics had a chance to get through.
In her place, I’d take down the shields remotely and send in enough people that the battle would be over before Cassie and I found her.
That’s not what she was doing at that moment, though. She was trying to give us every reason to surrender without a fight—which might mean that she didn’t want to waste soldiers’ lives, but it also might mean that we’d scared her.
I hoped that we were that lucky. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 10