It turned out that I wasn’t wrong about that either, but not quite in the way that I would have imagined it. I’d been imagining that the ongoing attack would take them down, but the shields held up to that at first.
Crawls-Through-Desert called a retreat as the outside ring of shields began to flicker and the soldiers ran towards the first ring of shields.
A roar of excitement came as the shields fell and we watched as the reinforcements we’d received all ran toward the inside ring of shields, unable to get through all at once, most of them turning around in front of the shields, aiming their weapons outward as Ascendancy soldiers ran in.
In that moment the shields came back on, but not as flat panes of blue light. Instead, the shield poles generated long, thin lines that whirled around the poles reminding me of strange Christmas trees in the first second, but then of blenders.
The thin blue lines cut through the Ascendancy troops armor and bodies, leaving the ground soaked in blood, covered with slashed bodies and severed limbs.
Then the shields turned back on as if they’d never been off, leaving a few Ascendancy soldiers who’d somehow made it past the lines alone, trapped between the inside and outside rings.
They didn’t last long. The colonists in front of the inside shields fired, hitting them with beams of light that turned half their bodies to ash.
It was a moment best appreciated by people with strong stomachs. My own felt queasy.
That didn’t stop people from cheering, but the cheer could have been louder. On the other hand, if the colony had assembled its most experienced veterans for this fight, they might have an all too realistic sense of how far this was from the end of the battle.
As they cheered, the colonists ran back toward the outer ring, taking their positions again and firing at the withdrawing Ascendancy troops.
“Wow,” Cassie watched the retreat as she talked. “I don’t envy those guys. They’re going to have to stand in that stuff for the rest of the battle. It was kind of awesome though. I didn’t see that coming.”
I took a breath, trying to ignore my stomach while thinking of the fastest way to make my suit absorb my helmet. “I should have seen it. Crawls-Through-Desert and Captain Tolker were talking and I knew they could do this. That’s how they made the Ascendancy’s smaller ships inoperable earlier. They just weren’t this obvious about it.”
Jaclyn stared at the bloody battlefield for a moment and then turned back to us. “There’s no reason to hide it now.”
Katuk said, “I concur, but it’s not a technique they’ll be able to use again in quite the same way during this battle. The Ascendancy will work around it now. In fact, I’m sure that we’ll be seeing Kamia soon.”
“Whoa,” Marcus said, “if she can take over the shields and make them do it again, she’ll take out everyone near the shields—” he snapped his fingers, “—like that!”
I thought about it, using the Xiniti implant to supply details about the shields. “It’s not an easy thing to do. I don’t know exactly how her power works, but unless they made that an easily accessible function in the shields, it would be hard. My impression is that the technique’s a fairly complicated hack and hard to reproduce just form seeing it.”
Katuk turned to look at Marcus with his dark, too wide eyes. “Kamia has limits. She exploits her connection to Abominator technology to control related technologies and AIs. Her connection to unrelated technologies and objects of less intelligent computers is less effective. Though she can disrupt the standard functioning of our implants, she can’t control them. She should have a difficult time producing complex actions on the computers used in shield generators.”
“Huh,” Marcus said, looking toward the outer ring of shields. “I wonder what she’s going to do now then?”
“No idea,” I said, checking my implant again, “but she’s brought down shields when she’s gotten close to them. My bet would be something like that.”
As I said that, the hum of energy weapons firing and the hiss as they hit the shields began again, but not everywhere.
One section of the shield was left untouched, but the sections on either side of were getting hammered with fire. A quick look showed that there was another untouched section of shield on the other side of the ring while every other section was under attack.
The first thought that came into my mind was whether they were going to attack only one of the two untouched sections or both?