Courtesy: Part 55

As I settled into “Artificer consciousness,” I realized that my view of the world had shifted subtly. While it wasn’t true, it was as if the world now had extra colors except not quite.

If someone had telepathically looked through my eyes, it would have looked no different, but I knew somehow that I was sensing through something else. Through that sense or senses, I could feel that Amy’s body contained more beings than it should. I could almost make out faces and bodies.

With Daniel, despite his temporary coma, I could feel a core of power. With Alex, I could sense how far his field of health extended. Jenny only registered as one person despite her many bodies—which made sense. For Kals and Katuk, I felt none of that. From an Artificer’s perspective, they were nothing of note.

The mounds though, and especially the one Alex needed to destroy, pulsed with power and life. They felt similar to Daniel except less focused, but with more depth of energy reserves. 

The humonsters didn’t have any of that. From an Artificer perspective, they barely qualified as living beings. From my perspective though, they were a problem, mostly because there were nearly fifty of them and they now only had two opponents, Kals and me.

I’ll try to keep them off you while you wake someone up, I told her through my implant.

Then you’d better start soon, she thought back at me through the same connection.

She wasn’t wrong. All of the humonsters on top of the mounds had jumped down. Their targets? Us, the only humans standing.

One thing it was easy to forget about Kals? She had all of Cassie’s strength, agility, and a small part of her endurance in addition to Dominator voice abilities.

The humonsters found that out to their surprise. With a dagger in each hand, she chopped off an arm here, a leg there, and then a head or two.

I, meanwhile, was discovering something I hadn’t known. I’d known for a while that I thought faster and was able to absorb more data than most people, but I couldn’t move faster—which meant it didn’t help me much in a fight.

While tapping into Artificer abilities now, that wasn’t true, I moved fast enough for it to matter. Whether it was only that or also the fact that I’d been within Alex’s field of being better long enough to be affected, I didn’t know, but I was.

It didn’t seem like I could miss. Not wanting to risk creating friendly fire by using more boombots, I’d released two killbots. They hadn’t been useful for much of the day because the Fungus Collective’s creatures didn’t have much in the way of organs.

In this moment, though, I could control two at once, using them together to sever an arm as it reached for Kals while simultaneously punching a humonster that had jumped down toward me hard enough that it knocked over three more that had been running in my direction.

Using a strike with the edge of my hand to decapitate one while stepping over Daniel and Katuk to get closer to Kals, I cut the leg off a humonster that had been leaping for her with the killbots.

It fell off the side of the mound that it had been jumping from and I hit it hard enough that I broke it in two, bits of fungus flesh spattering onto the floor.

Stepping over the mess, I moved next to her and we were back to back. Taking stock of the situation, I realized we were doing well. In combination with my blasts a few seconds earlier, we’d taken them from more than fifty humonsters to only a few more than thirty.

It didn’t even the odds, but we’d done that in seconds. I had reason to hope.

I exploded the two killbots inside the nearest humonster’s head, blowing hardened teeth shaped fungus across the row while punching the middle of another hard enough that its chest exploded, throwing fungus bits twenty feet and causing it to fall in two, severed by the weight of its remaining body.

Through Kals’ implant connection, she asked, Why didn’t you fight like that before?

The humonsters paused, making me wonder if Arete was rethinking his strategy, but giving me time to reply,  The longer I do it, the more likely I am to summon monsters that might destroy humanity and maybe all life.

She glanced back at me, eyebrow raised and mouth partially open, Then let’s get this over with.

Bending over and touching her helmet to Alex’s, she also used a private League channel, likely hoping that the combination would carry enough of what made her voice work to get him moving.

It wouldn’t have been necessary if I hadn’t assumed that the Xiniti’s success in defeating the Abominators meant that the assumptions in their suit design were a good guideline for protection against Dominators. I couldn’t have realistically predicted that we’d ever face more than fifty Dominators with perfect coordination of their voices at once, but we had.

The Xiniti in hundreds of years of war had never met more than ten attempting to coordinate like that.

Trying to ignore those thoughts, I watched the humonsters because there was no way that Arete would let her get Alex up.

I wasn’t wrong. The remaining humonsters jumped out of the rows as Rocket suited National Guardsmen entered them from both directions, running toward us.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t let the humonsters leave without taking down a few. Every humonster I hit was one less voice, but as I did it, I was already planning how I’d handle the controlled humans running toward us.

6 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 55”

  1. It’s been a busy week in a busy month, but I’m back to posting on time again for a bit (we’ll see…). At the moment, we’re not doing construction in the house—which is great. Construction sucks.

    In any case, this isn’t a section of the story I want to disrupt.

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  2. “Not wanting to risk create( ing) friendly fire…”
    Or optionally, ” Not wanting to create friendly..”

  3. “… punching a humonster that had dropped for me hard enough down the row that it dropped three more that had been running toward me.”
    I think I see what you’re getting at here – a humonster had dropped down for Nick (that is, to attack him) and he hit it hard enough to knock over the others – but it reads really awkwardly. I think if you just drop the “that had dropped for me” part it will read a lot better.

  4. “for a while that I thought faster and was able to absorb more data than most people, but I couldn’t move faster—which meant it didn’t help me much in a fight”

    Hey doesn’t he control robots with his implant? Wouldn’t his speed of thought be a very important metric for how he fights?

    1. That’s a good point. That makes him considerably faster than his body could move in certain situations.

      At the same time, that’s an add on. He’s spent a lot more time learning how to fight physically and so that’s the first thing he thinks of in terms of fighting. It’s also one way he’s different from Jaclyn—she moves fast enough to make the speed at which she thinks matter physically.

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