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, 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
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that seeing people there ready to fight gave me some hope. My mind noted that hope or not, the Ascendancy troops almost had to outnumber them.
We crossed the clearing, walking instead of running, giving them time to recognize us even though it was still dark. A few of them pointed at the dog, but no one shot at us.
Outside along with them stood Jadzen Akri, some members of the Council and more colonists I didn’t recognize, all of them watching us as we came closer.
As we came near, Kals said, “Mom, I didn’t know you were coming here.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 20
“I think we will leave,” I said, “but our obligation to Katuk, Crawls-Through-Desert, and uh… Jaclyn’s dog might mean it’s not instantaneous.”
Looking out of the corner of my eye at the Xiniti, I added, “Of course, we’ll go, but as I said, we can’t just leave people hanging.”
Kals smirked. “Got it.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 12
Kals sheathed her knife. “If you think they’re going to come back, we need to get my mom and everyone out of here. I just wish I knew where to send them. We don’t have anywhere left that’s more secure than this.”
Taking a breath, Jaclyn said, “Your mom said she would have evacuated to your nearest neighbor if they had the time. Wouldn’t that be better?”
Kals frowned. “Well, it wouldn’t be here, but it wouldn’t be any more secure.” She glanced back at the shelter. “You know what? I think that’s the best we’re going to do. I’ll tell her.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 11
Four Hands wasn’t anywhere to be seen in the group. I wasn’t sure what that meant. It wasn’t impossible that a motivator from the new group of Ascendancy soldiers had gotten him to confess, but it wasn’t likely. If he was as he seemed, a revolutionary in the making, he might be plotting with his people now.
I couldn’t assume it would do us any good, though.
Jaclyn glanced over at Kals and the tech as they talked with Jadzen. “If they’re not coming for her, I don’t know why they’re coming this way.” Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 6
I couldn’t tell whether the Xiniti or the Human Ascendancy was winning. The Human Ascendancy had more ships when you considered their fighters in addition to their battleships, but the Xiniti’s ships (even their battleships) were smaller and changed direction with no warning at all.
They’d turn on an angle, target an Ascendancy battleship with a large part of their firepower, inflict damage and change direction again, putting another battleship in the way of the first’s return fire. It didn’t always work out. Xiniti ships exploded too, but not as many as Ascendancy fighters. On the other hand, there weren’t as many Xiniti ships. Continue reading Planet in the Middle: Part 3