“Is there any chance you could come here because the shields are down and the only thing that’s keeping the Ascendancy from destroying us is the Waroo and the fact that Jadzen killed their current leader. I can give you everything over implant if you turn yours on. It’s safe now.”
I directed my implant to send Jaclyn a summary of everything that happened since she left once it detected her.
Her implant came online almost instantly and she said, “On my way. When you see me get in his way and take a shot at him with your laser. Don’t punch him or shoot the sonics at him. Remember when we fought that guy back on Earth? I think he was called Payback? Neves absorbs force too, but I’ve got him. I just need a second to turn around.”
I considered asking why, but I supposed that the speeds they could move at, a turn would be enough time for him to avoid her.
I imagined that might go both ways and said, “OK.”
Then I sent a copy of the conversation to every else so that they knew what was going on.
Cassie replied with, “Good luck,” and we waited.
We didn’t get to wait quietly without anything to do though. It went more like this:
As I talked with Jaclyn, the colonists has already begun firing on the Ascendancy troops and the Ascendancy didn’t reply by engulfing us in waves of troops. No. The troops backed off. I could only guess that they still hadn’t figured out which of them was now in charge and what their mission would be.
I couldn’t blame them. If Kamia had been in charge and then the position fell to Weffrik Aut, they might not know who was in charge.
From the implant, I knew that the commanding officer ought to be the person with the highest rank and earliest date of being raised to that rank. The problem was that the members of the Ascendant Guard could take over any force that wasn’t the Ascendant Guard.
That ought to be easy enough to figure out, but the Guard turned out to be fairly flat in terms of ranks. The majority of Guard members had the title of Guardsman and nothing more.
That meant that it wasn’t clear who was in charge when you had a large number of Guardsmen around. Worse, in the Ascendancy, the question of who became the leader of a force could ignore rank and commission date in favor of force of the officer’s personality, political reasons, and how much the men respected the officer.
As a result, the Xiniti targeted Ascendancy officers as often as possible, hoping to throw their forces into chaos.
Knowing that we were benefitting from that gave me hope that I’d have time to help Jaclyn before the Ascendancy forces figured out what to do about the Waroo, giving us time for the Ghosts to appear, or maybe for one of us to come up with a better plan than simply enduring.
I barely had time to think that all through before the implant notified me that Jaclyn was near—about half of a mile behind the Ascendancy soldiers. Stepping away from everyone, I blasted into the air, staying low to minimize the number of people who’d easily be able to target me.
I’d seen what they tried to hit the Waroo ship with and I didn’t want to find out what it would do to the Rocket suit, much less my body.
I passed over the soldiers in a blur and they did take some shots at me, but moving over them at nearly 500 miles per hour meant that they didn’t have long to take that shot.
Having passed them, I saw Jaclyn and Neves running in the gap between two sections of forest. He ran behind her. I couldn’t help but note that his gun was missing. Knowing that the energy rifles they used could hurt her, it made sense that she’d have destroyed it early on in their fight.
Another thing that I noticed was that even though they were both moving at more than 200 miles per hour, he appeared to be more tired than she did. I couldn’t say exactly how I knew that—whether she raised her legs higher off the ground or held her head straighter.
Either way, I dove, firing my laser down at him. He aimed his hand at me and a blast of white energy hit me, not doing appreciable damage.
I don’t know what kind of damage my laser did to him, if any, but my dive left me directly in front of him.
I expected him to attack me, but he never got the chance. Jaclyn ran in, throwing a punch that began at her waist and extended to hit him in the face, getting an additional boost of strength from the way she pushed off with her leg.
It wasn’t hyperbole to say that she’d thrown all her body’s strength into that punch. I didn’t have time to think about it, but if I had, I would have been worried because from what I knew, that should have powered him up.
Instead, something in the air in front of his body made a cracking noise, throwing off flashes of light, and Jaclyn’s fist continued through with a thump that threw soil in all directions.
He didn’t move after that.