Tag Archives: Katuk

Courtesy: Part 62

“For what it’s worth,” I said, “I was ready to take a chance on it. We will have to face the Nine and it would be easier with whatever you got out of Arete.”

He gave a weak nod and coughed, “There’s another chance. I knew you had to destroy us completely. I created a spore, separated from us, and encased it as completely as I could. Look past me. I’d give it to you, but I shouldn’t touch it.”

I stepped around him. Hidden from direct view, a ball made of a pearl-like hard substance sat on a bare spot of concrete. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 62

Courtesy: Part 61

I pushed the bot views into the background and paid attention to the world around me. Alex pointed at the mounds around us and the ceiling. All of them sagged and dripped viscous, brown goo. More liquid puddled beneath the withered skin.

“We should grab everybody,” I said. “We might be able to get away with leaving Flame Legion. I know she doesn’t exactly enjoy dying, though.”

Alex nodded, “Yeah. That hasn’t changed, but she’s more used to it. I’d leave her.” Continue reading Courtesy: Part 61

Courtesy: Part 57

That knowledge gave me the confidence to let “Amy” and Kals protect Alex while I did my best to protect Daniel and the various Jennys.

Her ability to duplicate herself made it worse when every copy represented a tunnel into her brain.

I fired off a series of armor piercing bots. They weren’t as effective as killbots, but they were simpler and faster to produce. Plus, they didn’t have monomolecular blades constantly sucking energy until they dulled. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 57

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 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

Courtesy: Part 46

The boy froze again, his right hand curling into a ball. Then he smiled and said, “I would like that. Is this something that you can teach me or would you place a spell on me?”

“A spell,” Amy said, glancing over at Arete, “and I can’t do it now because I’m a little tired, but I think I could in ten minutes.”

Uncurling his right hand, the boy smiled, “I don’t necessarily need it, but I’ll think about it. I do sometimes have a little trouble with rogue personalities and a little help keeping them under control wouldn’t hurt.”

While I couldn’t say I wanted Arete free, helping the Fungus Collective keep him controlled also felt wrong. Continue reading Courtesy: Part 46