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
What do you do when the moment you’ve been trying to avoid happens? This was literally all that we’d been trying to prevent from day one. Jadzen Akri would either surrender to the Ascendancy or die and there were so many soldiers that we probably wouldn’t be able to stop them.
It’s nice to imagine that you’d be able to pull a brilliant plan out of your butt in this situation, but when there’s nothing between you and hundreds, possibly thousands of enemy soldiers, you know better.
The reason you know better is that nothing is coming to mind at all.
At least that’s how I felt then. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 23
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
Admiral Makri Tzin, Human Ascendancy Flagship, Hideaway System
Admiral Makri cringed as the flagship’s alarms began to ring again, watching his screen as more ships came out of jump.
There shouldn’t be that many ships ready to jump into this system, he told himself.
Despite the inertial dampers, he still felt it as the flagship accelerated and turned along with the rest of the fleet, changing formation to protect the Xiniti fleet’s most likely targets. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 21
Kamia’s shield’s collapse surprised me almost as much as it did her, but I knew that it might be coming and more to the point, I was flying straight at her.
Of course, the fact that she didn’t expect her shield to go down, didn’t mean she wouldn’t try to dodge. When you considered that she’d been fighting Xiniti and winning, she had to be more than who owned Abominator weapons.
Even as I closed with her and despite the Rocket’s suit’s speed, she moved. She didn’t move enough to avoid being hit, but she did move enough to avoid taking both my fists to the middle of the chest.
I hit her in the left shoulder. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 20
I wouldn’t have been able to find her without the implant. There were too many people moving too quickly for me to pick out details. Beyond that, the frequent blasts of energy didn’t help, forcing my helmet to darken to protect my eyes.
The implant buffered the last few minutes of whatever I’d seen or heard and could sort through it with a computer’s attention to detail. So when I started to look for her, the implant tracked her through the last few seconds and made her blink in real time.
I wondered how many things I could have used that for since we’d gotten here. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 19
Cassie wasn’t going to turn the tide of battle all by herself, but you never knew for sure. I remembered having to pick up Cassie from the top of a office building in Washington D.C. during an invasion by humanoid fish creatures. We’d arrived to find that fishman corpses covered the roof. It wasn’t all her work, but the majority of it was. I don’t know how many she killed that day, but it was definitely in the hundreds.
Kamia didn’t know that story, but it didn’t take much to guess that Cassie could cause problems. The Ascendancy troops were already avoiding that section of wall—or even anywhere near it. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 18
They came through in a giant wave. The colonists ran or fell, burned by the Ascendancy’s energy weapons or ripped to pieces by the claws of their soldiers.
It wasn’t as if the colonists left them unopposed, but the sheer numbers of the attackers verses the numbers of the defenders meant that for every beam aimed at the Ascendancy soldiers, the soldiers aimed three or four back.
The colonists weren’t stupid. They retreated to the inner ring as their people fired out at the soldiers. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 17