Trees & Shields: Part 14

Answering my unvoiced question, Kamia, her own force field glowing, led a group of Ascendancy soldiers, all of them bigger and more muscular than average. Neves, larger than any of the others, ran next to her.

All the rest of them wore form-fitting, red, reflective armor that showed the symbol of the Ascendant Guard on their chests—a clawed, feathered beast that reminded me of a gryphon.

Not all of them were running either. Four of them were flying, but not far off the ground. Instead of flying far above the group, they flew with them.

My implant supplied me with the information that they threw bolts of plasma, much like Solar Flare back on Earth, but less powerful. On the other hand, superheated plasma was still superheated plasma and there were four of them.

Plus, all of the Guard members had force shields. Even if they weren’t as powerful as Kamia’s, they still wouldn’t make this any easier.

And it wasn’t. The resistance fighters were firing at them the moment the Ascendant Guard appeared. Blasts of energy weapons exploding or bouncing off the Guard’s shields.

Sometimes in stories, I’ve read scenes like this described as strangely beautiful.

It wasn’t.

The blasts of light against the shields weren’t pretty. They meant that people on our side were going to be dying soon.

It also meant that these people were our problem. I didn’t know if we could take them, but no one else could—well, except for Tikki. And she had more to think about than our survival. If using her powers—even the weaker form of them she’d given Tikki—meant that she called attention to herself far worse things could happen than having a challenging fight with Kamia.

It wouldn’t just be Kamia either. Right behind the Ascendant Guard ran all the troops that the Ascendancy forces could spare from battering our shields. The implant estimated the currently viewable number at one hundred, but it felt like thousands.

Some twenty feet behind the Guard, the regular Ascendancy forces didn’t seem to be any hurry to face us. That or the Guard didn’t want them to be close.

Whatever the reason, the plan was obvious—have Kamia take down the shields and then everyone else would rush in. It was obvious enough that we’d even come up with a counter earlier, though a far from perfect one.

I looked over at Jaclyn, “Do you want to do this?”

Her answer was only to tighten her jaw, let her helmet enclose her face and leap upward at an angle that allowed her to land outside the outer ring. I activated the rocket pack and flew upward with her—sort of. Jaclyn took off more quickly than I did, but I passed her near the top of the arc.

She reached the ground before I did, landing in the middle of the Ascendant Guard and beginning to punch and move, knocking them back before they could respond.

As for myself, I slowed before I landed, aiming the sonics at them, setting them to find the frequencies that made the shields become unstable.

More than one shield popped, but I couldn’t stay there and keep it up because hovering in one place would make me a target for every Ascendancy soldier with an energy rifle and all the plasma throwing flyers as well.

And anyway, Kamia had to be the real target if we were to prevent them from taking down the shields.

So that’s why I twisted sideways and aimed myself toward the ground, landing in front of her.

As I landed, my suit took a blast of kinetic force from Neves, throwing me backward. I didn’t know what the Guard did to prepare for battle, but I suspected it involved punching Neves until he’d built up enough of a charge that he had all of his powers available.

It hurt and I almost fell over, seeing him stop flinging bolts of force in my direction and run toward me.

Neves might have been able to kill me then, but he spasmed as arcs of electricity crossed his shoulders and upper chest.

Rachel faded into view, floating above Neves, her hand touching his shoulder. His eyes widened as he realized the source of his pain and possibly recognized her as being similar to the Cosmic Ghosts. He swung at her, his fist traveling through her body at a speed that would have hurt me, Rocket suit or not.

Then he blurred, moving away from Rachel, and aiming himself at me. From what I’d seen of him, he was on par with the Cabal’s reserves except more disciplined as a soldier. He would have hit me and I couldn’t guess how much damage he might have done, but he never got the chance.

Jaclyn rushed in from the right, hitting him in the side with her shoulder, knocking him sideways and out of my reach. From what I’d seen of his abilities, she’d also powered him up, but I didn’t have time to think about that. Kamia had pulled out a gun, but oddly she didn’t fire it.

Her eyes narrowed and for a moment I felt something almost like telepathy. My implant reported, “Communication attempt. Probably hostile.”

I’d turned off its ability to communicate with the outside world and wasn’t sure how it would know, but I didn’t have time to think about it as I aimed my sonics at Kamia and all the other Guard members as they rushed me.

15 thoughts on “Trees & Shields: Part 14”

    1. A better banner would probably help in that regard too. Current one makes the rocket suit look like a melting skeleton which makes it very similar to the banner from “The Zombie Knight Saga”.

  1. Great stuff as usual! Really enjoying the space arc but I’ve been re-reading book 2 inbetween update and I have to ask – did Russel Hardwick ever get charged with anything after helping the Executioner team bacj during the Justice Fist arc??? He seems like a good future villain set up – bald, evil business man with lightning powers, son of Rockets best friend he had to kill, and the idea that all the parent of Justice Fist could go mad from their use of the power juice seemed foreshadowed, is any of that coming back or is it done?

    1. Funny you should ask that. My editor for the third book (still revising) asked me the same thing.

      My original intention was that he wasn’t charged with anything and that he’d be around for another book that focused on a power struggle within the Hardwick family.

      That said, I planned to do that earlier and I’m not sure that it fits with where the series is going at this point. So you can expect that we’ll revisit Russell Hardwick and Vaughn’s family, but possibly not as I originally intended to do it.

      1. Cool thanks for answering. I’d like to see a Hardwick arc – between Vaughn and Daniel’s parents history and the fact that eveyone can just walk into Giles evil lair and find old villain stuff in their grandmothers attic and how Nick’s mum now remembers that her dad was a superhero there’s a lot of loose ends in Grand Lake but no permanent villain there to fight. But another question what about Kid Biohack, is he still hanging around with his friend who was working with the armoured car robbers or the guy Man Machine trained who makes weapons for villains?

  2. Well, fairly new here, but I must say I have spent the past two weeks binge reading this story up to this point and I have to say it’s been magnificent. I’m enjoying this story, and I love its characters and setting. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into this story, as well as how much enjoyment I’ve gotten reading this lately.

  3. This reads strange to me. It sounds like Neves punched himself till he had a full charge? Is that what you meant Jim, or did he get punched by/punch someone else?

    “As I landed, my suit took a blast of kinetic force from Neves, throwing me backward. I didn’t know what he did to prepare for battle, but I suspected it involved punching Neves until he’d built up enough of a charge that he had all of his powers available.”

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