Planet in the Middle: Part 12

“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.”

I pulled out the disc Four Hands had given me. “Give this to your mom when you have the chance. Even the Xiniti can be outnumbered. This will call mercenaries who owe me a favor to come and help her. Just have her explain that I’ll consider their debt to me canceled if they help her.  I’m going to guess she’ll know how to use it.”

Kals looked down at the disc. “That? Everybody knows how to use one. You can give it to her yourself, though, because I’m going with you?”

“Home?” I must have sounded as confused as I felt about that.

She shook her head. “No. To find Katuk and the others.”

We’d all let our suits absorb our helmets by then. So, I didn’t miss Cassie’s snort and found myself wondering what amused her. I hoped Kals wasn’t attracted to me. It didn’t seem likely. In terms of looks, she was out of my league. Besides, she knew about Haley.

“Okay. I’ll give this to your mom then.” I walked over to where Jadzen, Iolan, and other council members talked with the Xiniti who’d been talking with us—the unit leader.

Holding the disc in my hand, I stood next to Jadzen who stopped talking. “I’ve got one more thing to pass on. We won’t be here to help you, but if you find yourselves in a desperate situation, you can use this. Waroo mercenaries feel that they owe me a favor. I won’t need it. You can collect on that debt on my behalf. With everything going on here, you and the rest of the council will need all the help you can get.”

She took the disc and looked at me. “I don’t think that you understand the worth of what you’re giving away, but thank you. From what I’m learning about the current battle, we will need it.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, stepping backward and out of the conversation. “I’ve learned a lot from serving you.” To the Xiniti, I added, “By the way, if you didn’t know already, Kamia is here, so you can expect direct attacks on your mind and any AI in reach.”

The Xiniti nodded at me. “We are aware, but thank you for the warning.”

I murmured a few more words and got away from the group, rejoining Jaclyn, Kals, Cassie, Tikki, and Marcus. “I guess we should go get Katuk.”

Kals nodded. “I know where the nearest shelters are. I’ll show you the way there.”

“Is your mom going to be okay with that?” I asked.

Kals shrugged. “She won’t need me with this many Xiniti and Waroo mercenaries for backup.” Then she smiled. “Trying to get rid of me?”

“No. I’m still surprised you’d go with us instead of staying with your own people.”

Kals looked us over and then glanced over to where the Council and the Xiniti talked. “We should start going if we’re going to get there soon.”

Following her into the forest, we stepped over or around the bodies of Ascendancy troops. I hadn’t been aware of how many we’d killed. Passing one after another made me understand why Kamia and Neves chose to run instead of organizing a final charge. Noting how many lay near the shelter and Marcus and Tikki’s position, I also realized that I’d missed most of their part of the fight.

On one level, I felt like we’d done the right thing in defending them, but when I saw all the bodies, I couldn’t help but think that they’d mattered to somebody, whoever they were. If what Kals had told us about was the norm, they’d been bred from unpowered humans of a particular type and then taken away to be raised as soldiers. It didn’t sound like a great life and we’d provided them an end for it—whether they’d been looking for one or not.

I couldn’t say I was proud of it, but it was closer to the right thing to do than let the colonists get killed.

When we were out of sight of the shelter and couldn’t hear people anymore, Kals slowed, walking next to me. “You’re not going to leave even after you find Katuk, are you?”

I shook my head, “No. I was assuming everyone would want to stay until it’s all over somehow. Plus, if we’re not trying to be the Council’s bodyguards, we might even be able to do something that matters in the big picture.”

Kals nodded. “That’s why I’m here.”

14 thoughts on “Planet in the Middle: Part 12”

  1. Slight edit to keep correct tense:
    “I was telling everyone I knew where the next shelter is. I’ll show you the way there.”

    Should be:
    “I was telling everyone I know where the next shelter is. I’ll show you the way there.”

    “I was telling everyone I knew where the next shelter was. I’ll show you the way there.”

    Maybe even make it 1 sentence instead of 2 like:
    “I was telling everyone I know where the next shelter is, I’ll show you the way.”

  2. So yeah, caught up again took me quite some time and now I am stuck waiting for updates again…

    Moving on the story is still great I love how it goes down wth everything with the Alliance, the Xiniti and of course our friendly Neighbourhood’s Ascendency (and Glad Agent 957 finally bit it by the way). And then the Ghost are not even there yet…

    Love the deal between Four hands and Nick as well as Kamia and Neves’ abilities(well in Kamia’s case I do not really know what she has aside her tech and possibly a citizen Mark but still)the latter is especially dangerous as he seems to not just reflect Kinetic energy like Payback(IIRC the guy “only” had some kind of field that absorbed it and could throw the stuff back, might be wrong as it was a long time ago, might go check mind you)but uses it to amp himself if his fight with Jacklyn is any indication.

    I also love how Nick used looking for Katuk in order to stay until things end and how Nick thought about Kals coming home with them…You know i would not be opposed to that happening, of course she would not get to be with Nick since Haley is there but Kals kinda grew on me so having her around would nice, as an ambassador of sorts for the colony to earth when things are settled down maybe ? At the very least I hope Jacklyn gets to take her Dog she deserves it and so does the dog.

    Now Tikki that is really interesting, well first off because her current situation with Markus shows exactly how people might be around with Lee’s people DNA in a natural way but also because of Kee’s comments and how she”becomes” Tikki in fact this makes me wonder if Lee’s people cannot “bud”one of their bodies into their own entities making them people independant from them while having their memory up until the split this would be interesting to say the least and if anyone could do that it would be Kee from what I gathered from her personnality and apparent capabilities I also want her and Lee to meet and to see their relationship.

    On a completly unrelated note, how good exactly are the standard Motivator physical enhancements ? How strong and resilient are they compared to regular humans ?

    Another question that popped into my mind while reading: do all the various Human polities out there have access to the same genelines ? IE aren’t there some that are exclusive to one faction or another ?

    Are there people with Diva’s and Hunter’s power out there ? Because those would be godsents for military purpose if properly trained in fighting, tactics, strategy and everything relating to Biology…By the By is Hunter’s power exactly like his mother’s or is it more refined ?

    Why do I thing Guardian has a link with the Ghosts somehow ?

    Now cannot wait till the next update and I hope to see a proper Xiniti unit fight soon!!! Keep up the Awsomeness Jim, this Story rocks!!

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying it and I’m glad to see that you’ve caught up again.

      Regarding your questions:
      1. Guardian doesn’t have a direct link with the Ghosts, but he did get “upgraded” and controlled by the Abominators at one point. I don’t know if I’ve ever said it directly, but I’ve implied it a few times by now.

      2. There are genelines that are exclusive to different human groups in space. Whether or not they have anyone analogous to Hunter and Diva (whose powers are quite similar) remains to be seen, but Earth humans have a much freer mixing process than the Abominators. The Abominators did their best to set things up so that the same combinations of genes came up even when humans were unsupervised. On Earth, they couldn’t set that up.

      3. Related to that, your standard Motivator is a little under (or over) Cassie in terms of strength, considerably under her in terms of endurance and regeneration, and don’t have a Citizen’s Mark (many have a similar mark designed for servants). Basically, Cassie can lift a couple tons, but not too much more and she regenerates fairly quickly (faster now than at the beginning of the story).

      4. You’re right. Neves can increase his speed and strength when he takes kinetic damage. It’s similar, but not quite the same as Payback.

      5. Lee may well meet Kee again in view of the main characters. I’m not making any promises that that will happen in this story though.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve always had mixed feelings about comics sending their main characters off to space when that’s not a regular feature of the comic. You end up missing the mixture of the exotic powers and the characters’ normal life–which is one of the things that makes them relatable. When the characters go to space, it’s all strange.

      In this case though, sending people to space was a necessary and important step toward ending the series. I had to introduce certain things that couldn’t naturally be introduced on Earth. At any rate, I felt seeing them in their original context would be better. That doesn’t mean the series will end soon, but it will end.

      1. Wow, first off thanks Jim especially for taking the time to anwser my questions.

        – Oh ? the Abominators ? IIRC you mentioned aliens but I do not remember you refefring to them being the Abominators directly, but it makes sense, I guess they used one of their Birthing chambers to do that If so I can see why people want them(well even more than I already could but eh)since Guardian as he is now seems to be utterly Broken. Also I find it interesting that you say he does not have A DIRECT link to the Ghosts which my imply that he might have one in some form, like for instance being from a line(or at least descendd from)which was a attempt by the Abominators to recreate the Ghost power in their soldiers.

        – Ah so the different”Empires” have exclusives, good to know I wonder what the Ascendancy has than the other human polities do not, if anything of course. Concerning Diva and Hunter well they seem like the type of powers one would create for their military I mean custom made organisms for various situations can help quite a lot on the battlefield, especially when your civilisation is highly advanced in genetics and biotechnology in general of course such soldiers would also be given physical enhancements as to not die too quickly if caught something both Hunter and his Mother seem to lack(albeit clver application of their power could go around the squeashyness)but then Julie lacks the physical part of the Motivator package so…But then such Soldiers would be a danger if they got ideas. As for Hunter and Diva’s power being quite similar it’s interesting as that implies they are not completly the same…I mean Diva’s power is not much use until her creations are at least the size of an insect but if Hunter’s could be viable when smaller…yeah, I was maily asking that because I seem remember Lee’s comment about powers becoming stronger and stronger with each generation. BTW does Hunter take Doctor Nation’s tech elective like Courtney does ? because I could see it being very useful to him.

        – Thank you for the information, so yeah that’s a good package I guess there is something for aging in there too, possibly biological immortaility(IE cannot die from age or sickness but can stiill be killed)also for some reason I though Cassie a little bit stronger than that.

        – Okay good to know.

        – Can’t to see that meeting.

        As for the story I am curious to see how this trip to space will Impact things as I am sure it will quite a bit…Also there does not seem to be magic in space, curious.

  3. I think it would be interesting to see something develop between Kals and Nick. Honestly Nick and Haley has kind of run its course and gotten stale. And Kals would do really well on Earth

    1. I disagree on Nick and Haley being stale. And Kals can’t be an ambassador. The whole keep Earth isolated or the Xiniti glass the planet is on the line there. But back to why Nick and Haley are not stale. Haley is to Nick what his grandmother was to the original Rocket. Someone grounded in the real world that can pull his head out of the clouds. Nick approaches Asperger’s syndrome in his focus on work and his missing social cues. Haley sees the sweet and does not mean to offend anyone person inside the socially clumsy exterior. That isn’t stale, that is refreshing.

    2. For what it’s worth, I don’t see their relationship as stale, but it is true that I haven’t been doing stories about it so much because right now. I’m okay with it being a background thing and I don’t want to do relationship conflict stories for no specific purpose. I want any relationship-oriented stories to get the main story to a new place.

      The only problem with doing that is that it means that you will feel that their story isn’t getting pushed forward.

      All that said, it’s entirely possible that Kals (and other characters from this story) will appear again.

      1. We might see Kals and others again after this ? well this is good news Jim glad to read that!! Curious to see how.

    3. 100% agree. I know Nicks a good guy and stories like these often see guys stay with the same girl and never have eyes for anyone else but realistically he would at least entertain the idea. I think Kals on earth would be awesome either way.

  4. I get that romance is not central to the story and in and of itself that is not an issue-I am not a huge fan of romance novels-I love Fantasy/Superhero/Science Fiction:). I do however think that Nick and Haley appear to have stagnated a bit as they have been dating for years and there has been no real progress in their relationship. They don’t seem to spend a lot of time together, they just sort of occasionally hang out/make out… I am not talking about them having to move forward physically either, there just seems to be a general lack of involvement in each others lives unless perhaps they are in a battle together. They don’t seem to have much of a bond with one another, I think what makes them seen “stale” IMHO.

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