Trees & Shields: Part 25

I zoomed in on the conversation, deciding that I wanted to know what Jadzen was telling Weffrik Aut to do. I supposed that I could have used my bots to listen in. I still had a few, but using the sonic systems as a shotgun microphone struck me as less likely for the Ascendancy’s soldiers to notice or stop.

I fiddled with the system for a few seconds and I began to hear their voices. The sound wasn’t perfect. It contained bits of static and sometimes a word or two from conversations behind them would become a little too loud, but I could hear them talk.

Jadzen leaned into Weffrik, looking up at him and speaking in a low voice. I doubted that anyone could hear her but Weffrik and me.

“Here’s what you’ll do, you’ll take me and bring me across the clearing. You’ll keep your troops here and you’ll tell them to keep out of either the inner or outer ring of shields. You’ll do it now.”

“I will.” Weffrik kept calm, keeping his voice at a steady, low volume. “May I ask why?”

She gave him a thin smile. “No. You may not.”

“Then I refuse,” He grinned and pointed a pistol at her. “Everyone knows who you are. You were trained by our best motivators and now you’re a traitor. The Ascendancy prepared a few of us in this crew for you. I’ve got rules and commands for how to deal with you that have embedded so deeply that I don’t know what they are and you’ll never root them out.

“So I ask you again, why do you want me to take you away?”

She didn’t say anything at first, but then she pulled out her own pistol, pushing it into his armored chest and firing on him at point blank range.

Iolan had told us that motivators had similar physical abilities to Cassie and I’d seen Kals use them, but I’d never Jadzen do so.

Light poured into Weffrik’s chest, but he didn’t die without striking back. His own pistol fired a beam of light that slid across the gray armor she wore, scoring it, but not staying in place long enough to penetrate until it reached her arm.

It burned through the armor and into her left bicep. Her eyes widened and she gasped. At almost the same time, Weffrik fell to the ground, all of his rules and commands for handling her dying with him.

I barely had time to wonder what the rest of the crew would do now when she pointed her gun into the sky, firing a ruby red beam that was visible even in the daylight. It made me think of a flare gun—which it basically was.

Then as the nearest Ascendancy troops began to aim their weapons at her, she fired back, moving fast enough that they didn’t seem to be able to hit her.

Being in the middle of them must have helped. It was the same problem a circular firing squad would have—every miss would hit someone on your own side.

Whatever training she’d had must have been amazing, but there was no way she’d be able to kill enough of them to make it back to us. She probably wasn’t even trying. The whole exercise struck me as the military version of suicide by cop.

I activated the rockets and broadcast, “I’m going after her,” to everyone via my implant.

Katuk sent back, “I’m with you,” as I shot across the battlefield in a blur of motion. Katuk kept up with me, dodging and weaving his way through our people and then the Ascendancy soldiers. Where blindingly fast movement wouldn’t get him through, he fired off the Xiniti guns on his arms, burning through Ascendancy soldiers and setting them on fire.

Jadzen was lucky that we were close. She’d already taken one hit to her leg by the time I’d reached her and another to her gut. Still, she was standing as I landed next to her, blasting everyone on one side of her with the sonics, alternating between sound and tech destroying frequencies.

Katuk fired shot after shot into the crowd around us. I can only guess how it seemed to the Ascendancy soldiers, but if I had to, I’d bet that we were blurs of silver combined with the sound of high pitched pain and an unending rain of searing light.

“Don’t take me,” she said. “I need to die here. They’ll never leave us alone if  there’s still a chance of capturing me.”

She grunted but didn’t resist as I grabbed her and turned to figure out my best route if I wanted to prevent her from getting shot again.

“You shouldn’t die too,” she said.

“I’m pretty sure I don’t want to explain to Kals why I flew all the way out here and then left you,” I said, deciding on a flight plan and sending it to Katuk.

The rockets pushed us into the air before I could ask why I’d die, but I didn’t need to. That became obvious as we rose above the mass of Ascendency soldiers. It wasn’t just the obvious risk of flying above a bunch of people who wanted to shoot you down.

It was also the U-shaped spaceship that flickered into view above us as if it had turned off its cloaking device. My implant identified it as a Waroo ship commonly used by mercenary crews.

Even as I guessed what might be coming next, it began to rain fire down on our position.

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