Sudden Changes: Part 7

“We’re ready,” Cassie said.

Given what she’d just done, I couldn’t argue with her. As for myself, I charged up my laser and activated the remaining killbots and boombots. Back when we’d first fought the Cabal, I’d been relieved that we hadn’t had to kill them. Part of me wished I were that version of myself now, but the more experienced version of me knew that even before the Dominators had turned them into the Nine’s servants, they were willing to kill all of us.

Tara’s name flashed in my HUD as she spoke, “The True will get suspicious something’s about to happen now if they haven’t already.”

I glanced downward. The True on the ground by the houses and the ones on top of the factory both still had their guns out and pointed toward the forest and that didn’t change. Since I hadn’t stopped moving, I continued to fly as I had been before I knew Hal was coming—toward the forest with the intent of coming around. Assuming that they’d noticed me already, that shouldn’t set off any red flags.

As I flew over the forest and began to turn, I saw the telltale shimmer of the jet’s cloak. It was only visible close and only if you knew what to look for. For me it was one of those small flaws that bothered me, but that I hadn’t yet figured out how to remove. No one we’d faced had noticed it yet, making it a low enough priority that I hadn’t dropped everything to work on it alone for a week.

Contrary to what you might expect to happen next, the True didn’t seem to either, continuing to be ready, but not making a move.

Catching my thoughts, Daniel told me, I’m surprised too. I expected them to notice something by now. In most futures, we’re already in combat right now. And we’re losing.

I felt his nervousness through the link. It might be that waiting boded well. Maybe we were more likely to survive now.

That’s true, Daniel thought back, In general, the futures are better, but not much. Best case scenario I feel two big, negative events ahead of us in the near term, but we don’t have time to think about it.

I wanted to ask him for details but didn’t. He probably didn’t know them and anything could happen next. I did wonder if he could sneak into their minds and put as many of them to sleep as possible, starting from the back. He’d done it before.

They’ve got telepathic blockers of some kind. They came into this prepared, he told me.

Jaclyn’s voice came over the comm, “The guy I’ve been chasing just turned to run in your direction.”

Izzy’s name also flashed as Jaclyn talked, but when she finished, Izzy added, “Johnny Destruction took off toward you too.”

I had a flash of understanding. The True hadn’t responded to the shimmer because Tara had been correct. The True had already predicted that we were calling in the jet and were waiting for the right moment. This was it or close to it.

Neither the True nor the ex-Cabal soldiers on the factory or the ground were moving. My gut feeling was that they were going to wait until their most powerful members entered the fight and overwhelm us with chaos.

I couldn’t stop them from trying, but I could start first. Mind you, the smartest choice might have been to ask Daniel, Tara, or Hal if I was right, but if I’d learned anything, I’d learned that sometimes the best choice was choosing to act.

I let myself drop toward the factory, preparing to fire the moment I got into range with my laser and setting my boombots to fire the moment the True on the ground moved far enough from the houses that the explosions wouldn’t start them on fire.

Almost as an afterthought, I loosed a series of boombots at the group on top of the factory too. It was already scheduled for demolition. Chances were that I’d only hurry the process along.

The boombots hit first, exploding like grenades. I’d used a pattern that allowed blasts to overlap, hitting the same people more than once. I’d often suspected that Tara had gotten something extra out of being the combination of True variants from alternate universes. Whether or not I was right about that, these True didn’t anticipate the boombots. Fire engulfed them, throwing them outward from the blast, three of them off the roof.

They lay on the ground, burned and unmoving. At least ten more on the roof had joined them in death or unconsciousness.

The Cabal soldiers did better. The blasts threw only one of them from the roof. He hit the ground and pulled himself up, crouching as if he were thinking of leaping at me—except then Cassie shot him in the head. He fell to the ground and didn’t get up.

The rest of them did better than that. Most managed to take the blast without falling over and even the ones that did fall didn’t look burned.

From the fact that Daniel didn’t tell me to stop, I assumed that whatever I was doing was at least neutral to our chances.

It made them better, he told me. The True predict based on past behavior. I don’t know about Hideaway, but I don’t think there are any records of you being proactively lethal on Earth.

5 thoughts on “Sudden Changes: Part 7”

  1. the Dominators had turned them into the Cabal’s servants

    Should that be their servants, the Nine’s servants, or what? Turning the Cabal into the Cabal’s servants makes no sense.

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