“I think they’re going to send more over the shields—maybe to go straight for Jadzen and the council members here.”
Jaclyn stared up at the top of the shields. “Of course they are. If they can do it once, they can do it again and with 20 times the people.”
A chill went through me as she said that. She was right and we wouldn’t be able to handle that many.
Jaclyn glanced over at the shields. They were spattered with energy blasts. If the Ascendancy sent people through at a time like this, they stood a good chance taking down the shields from within while we were distracted.
“I know what to do,” Jaclyn checked the top of the shields again and then turned back to us. “If I go out there and knock down the trees around us, they won’t be able to get high enough.”
“Good idea,” I said.
Marcus took a breath. “Are you okay? I mean, you got hit pretty bad earlier and this will be more of the same. Whatever they’re using takes more out of you than bullets.”
She frowned. “Look, I can take it for a little while. I’ve got one of Nick’s suits. Plus, if they get through we’re all going to die.”
Marcus’ face tightened. “You had the new suit on last time too. How damaged is it?”
Jaclyn shook her head. “We don’t have time for this. I’m going to be moving too quickly to take a lot of hits.”
Raising an eyebrow, Marcus looked her in the eyes. “While knocking down trees?”
From where she was firing her gun, Cassie shouted back at us, “She should do it.”
“Here’s an idea,” I said. “Tikki should go with her. That’ll keep the shots that do hit to a manageable level.”
“And I’m going to carry her around?” Jaclyn asked. “Because that’ll be slower.”
Tikki shook her head. “No. I’ll accelerate us to be faster than the time stream around us and I’ll freeze and redirect any shots that make it into the bubble.”
Marcus’ looked at her, meeting her eyes. “Are you sure? Do you think you can make it that long?”
Tikki reached out and held him. “I know it. Trust me.”
When she let go, Marcus watched her walk over to Jaclyn, who said, “Okay. Let’s try it.”
Holding his arms across his chest, he looked smaller than usual. As they walked closer to a gap between a tree and a shield, Marcus turned to me and said, “I hope they survive.”
I didn’t know whether he blamed me, but the fact that he didn’t seem to be mad about it made me feel worse. He just seemed scared for them and didn’t know what to do with it.
I wasn’t as scared. If Tikki had really just been Tikki, I would have been, but knowing that she was one of Lee’s people, I wished I hadn’t promised to keep it quiet.
Telling him wouldn’t make things better, though. It would have just introduced a little more chaos into a situation that already had enough.
With him, I watched as Tikki’s bubble surrounded both of them, distorting the air in a way that reminded me of ripples on a pond. As a resistance fighter stepped out of their way, allowing them through the gap, Kals stepped up beside us.
“What are they doing?”
I didn’t have time to explain before the first tree came down. Together in the Tikki’s bubble of time, they didn’t move as quickly as Jaclyn could alone, but they weren’t slow. With the accelerated time, Jaclyn moved faster than normal.
So, when the bubble surrounded a tree trunk, the tree fell in almost the same moment. Taking the whole exercise farther than I’d thought to suggest, Jaclyn made sure that each tree fell toward the attacking soldiers, sometimes throwing the tree trunks like gigantic lawn darts.
If she’d been trying to be disruptive to the attack, she wouldn’t have done it much differently.
The trees’ branches made harder to see the shields, and if Jaclyn threw the tree, it sailed into the crowd, hitting any soldiers that didn’t jump out of the way.
It wasn’t a bad plan. The side effects were nice anyway.
The only bad point was that there were a lot of trees around the shelter, so it wasn’t hard to figure out what Jaclyn was doing before she finished. Flying trees were a notable clue.
So somewhere out there, whoever had been planning to send people over the top of the shields decided that now was the last chance they’d have.
Even though Jaclyn and Tikki had removed more than half of the trees surrounding the shelter, Ascendancy soldiers jumped for the trees that were left, leaping from one to the other.
I don’t know how many it was, but a lot—more than last time, anyway.