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
Lee, Excursion Keep (Artificer Ruins), Forbidden Space
It was over. They’d fought across millions of lightyears and at least ten different alternate universes. He’d killed Bakanan, using the device Kee designed to channel his power and so much more into a burning beam that crossed universes and expanded into more dimensions than the material creatures of this universe understood. The beam hit Bakanan’s true form, destroying him everywhere.
And now, Lee knew, there was one less of them. There hadn’t ever been very many by comparison to the short-lived races he’d been hiding among, but now there was one less. He couldn’t say he felt bad about killing Bakanan, but he did feel a twinge about bringing his species one step closer to extinction. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 1
Castle Rock Compound, Colorado, Earth
She’d been dreaming of flying through space, the stars blurring and stretching as she flew. She’d dreamt of this before but this time it felt real. The cold of space didn’t hurt her while intangible, but she knew it was out there waiting for her or anyone else who made the mistake of phasing into reality.
That was one of the other differences from past dreams. In the past, she’d suspected that others were there too and even thought she’d heard voices but this time she knew it for sure. The voices were as clear as anyone’s she’d ever spoken to. Continue reading Warriors: Part 2
Department for the Analysis of Alien Artifacts, K’Kassa, Issakass Homeworld
The being that sometimes called itself Lee reformed in front of the building. A body formed around him with barely a thought, so little that he took a moment to check what form he wore. It wasn’t anything special. For the moment, he was bipedal with four limbs, blue-green scaled hide, and while he couldn’t see all of his face, it was obvious that he had a long snout.
He wore a short robe with a tool belt.
He was, he recognized, a typical, lower caste Issakass male, the sort of being that would never be noticed walking into a government building—not that it mattered. Continue reading Venus Spy Catcher: Part 1
We watched him go. Gray skinned with big all black eyes, Lee wore a silver robe that would have made many UFO fans confident that they were right after all. What they wouldn’t have known is that the silver robe could reform into a Xiniti battle suit, complete with weapons.
I only knew it because my implant provided the information—just like it provided me the location of every Xiniti on the station. Aside from Lee and ourselves, that meant exactly one other, Katuk, the Xiniti who was meeting us here. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 3
K’Tepolu lay ahead of us. It wasn’t a planet. It was a collection of asteroids connected by tubes. As statements go, that was an understatement. Two huge asteroids, one following another, lay in the middle, connected to each other by round, gray structures wide enough for spaceships to fly inside. That was the only attempt at a pattern that I could see in the construction. The rest of the asteroids stuck out from the main ones with no rhyme or reason, sometimes with a tube to another asteroid, sometimes isolated.
Even more disturbing from an engineering perspective, there were multiple levels. While some asteroids had a tube to only one asteroid, many of them had six tubes (four to asteroids on their level, one pointing up and the other down). Most had more than six tubes and they were almost always diagonal instead of straight. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 2
After passing through three more star systems, I was almost certain we were free of well, whichever of Lee’s people was watching the place.
I glanced over at Lee. “Do you know who it was?”
Lee shook his head. “I lost track of where everybody was long ago. That place was never part of the galactic main. It happened to be strategically useful to the Live faction at that time. I only ever came back because it was important to me—not because it was important.”
He frowned. “Whatever else may be true, we can be sure that they sensed something when Nick drew the sword even if they didn’t get the location. They think I’m out and about. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been watching there.” Continue reading Space: Part 8
Then he turned back to the group of us. “Nick might remember that when we talked about my people, I told him that I wouldn’t notice them, but that he would. That’s because I was assuming that they’d be hiding the same way I’m hiding. He’s not. He’s broadcasting his position so that anyone who can sense us can hear.”
I glanced over at him. “Would flipping into near space help? It wouldn’t with a starship, so I’m guessing it won’t…”
Lee shook his head. “It won’t help. Shifting into blink space might work, but depending on who it is, well, that still might not do it. Stay in normal space. Don’t speed up. Don’t slow down. Pretend you don’t feel anything.” Continue reading Space: Part 7
Lee watched as we flew over a piece of what probably had been a planet. Maybe it had only been a moon, but it was round on the outside, jagged on the inside and big.
“They tried to hide there at the end of it,” he said. “They didn’t know it was the end yet, but I’d gotten my forces out of the area. Once they were safe, I used a new weapon we’d devised to fight them. It destroyed their shields, broke apart magical bindings and protections, and shattered the system’s planets. It damaged the star.”
I looked out toward where the computer said the white dwarf had to be. I’d wondered about that. Continue reading Space: Part 6
“That’s not quite accurate. I doubt that very many ships can do this, but the main reason ships have near space drives is so they can hitchhike on larger spaceships. If you’ve got a near space drive, you can get close to a larger ship and get pulled into jump space with them.
“After that, you can stick with them or go off on your own. You can do the same thing with a jump gate—stick with the registered destination or choose one. So we won’t stick out that much. Continue reading Space: Part 5