Category Archives: Book 13: Division

Courtesy: Part 55

As I settled into “Artificer consciousness,” I realized that my view of the world had shifted subtly. While it wasn’t true, it was as if the world now had extra colors except not quite.

If someone had telepathically looked through my eyes, it would have looked no different, but I knew somehow that I was sensing through something else. Through that sense or senses, I could feel that Amy’s body contained more beings than it should. I could almost make out faces and bodies. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 55

Courtesy: Part 54

At that moment, I heard a noise or more accurately many small taps and thumps. A quick look around me explained it. The humonsters were back. They’d scrambled over the mounds on either side and came down in front of us, behind us, and to the sides of us lying on top of the mounds.

I’d last seen roughly 25 of them scrambling for cover among the mounds, but here there were 50, maybe more.

They opened their mouths and shouted, “Don’t move!” Continue reading Courtesy: Part 54

Courtesy: Part 53

Unless I chose to fly upward, I had nowhere to go to dodge the shot. Even if I wanted to, that went against the whole point of being first. This was the kind of shot I was here to take so someone squishier didn’t have to.

Of course, Katuk was right behind me. His armor was every bit as good—which turned out to be important because the Guardsman’s rifle turned out to be automatic and not every shot hit me even if a lot of them did.

They hit hard. I could thank the alien materials I’d modified for my survival and couldn’t be confident that previous versions of the Rocket suit would have done as well. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 53

Courtesy: Part 52

The humonsters ran after us, ignoring Cassie and they didn’t just run. They leapt. They tumbled. The talons that grew out of their hands and feet clacked against the floor.

They weren’t slow. Only the fact that Alex, Jenny, Kals, and Katuk had started first kept them from being caught—that and Katuk’s shooting ability.

Without looking, he pointed the gun under his forearm backward and fired, scattering blasts of white light behind him. The first two caught humonsters full on, severing the right arm from one and the entire lower half of the other. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 52

Courtesy: Part 51

I can’t read them very well, Daniel thought at us, but for lack of a better analogy, I think it’s the heart, the center of the organism’s circulation. I wish we had a biologist because then I could ask better questions, but I know that as long as we get Alex there, it’ll die.

Noticing, no doubt, that we hadn’t started tearing Amy limb from limb, the humonsters shouted as one, “Kill her now!”

As the noise overwhelmed the sound of the buzzer again, I had to fight the urge to charge Amy, hearing Julie’s command in my head again.  Continue reading Courtesy: Part 51

Courtesy: Part 50

It would have been over right there if it had never occurred to us that someday we might be exposed to a Dominator and be without a buzzer.

The bad news, of course, was that we hadn’t had access to Kals or anyone with Dominator training. We did have Julie, but unlike the Dominators in the Human Ascendancy or serving the Nine, she hadn’t been taught from childhood. She’d picked up what she could by experimentation and what the teachers in the  Stapledon program knew the Dominators could do.

Still, it was something—enough to practice with. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 50

Courtesy: Part 49

Arete shook his head, “You’re bluffing. There’s no way this Xiniti could pass that on to the rest. There’s no Xiniti Mars base and even if there were there’s no way they’d find out for hours.”

I don’t know how often you encounter people whose understanding of the world is so far from yours that you absolutely despair of bridging the gap, but I hope it’s never for anything important.

In that moment though, I barely knew where to start. I tried, “Look, there is a Xiniti base at the LaGrange point near Mars. It takes the speed of light more than three minutes to get there. If you’re communicating back and forth to a Mars rover it might take 15 to 45 minutes to communicate back and forth, but that’s partly just technology and it’s not technology we’re using. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 49

Courtesy: Part 48

I looked him in the eye (to the degree that I could through a helmet) and said, “We’re all going to die and you with us. If you get out, that means the whole planet goes. Whether people I care about die because of the Nine or because the Xiniti make the sun go nova, they’re dead. So congratulations, you’ve made this whole situation so bad that you have no hold on us because we don’t have anything to lose.”

In the moment, I meant it, but I knew that if we got reports of our parents dying at the hands of the Nine and we survived, it wouldn’t feel like a victory. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 48