One of the women, blond, fortyish, and wearing a blue utility jumpsuit, said, “You’ve been saying that since you got here two years ago.”
Iolan frowned. “I know you don’t believe me, but there have been signs. We’ve all heard about how the Ascendency managed to follow the ship this last time, how they were sure they’d lost them, but they showed up again, one blink from K’Tepolu. But that’s not all. I’ve checked with Geman and he agrees with me. There’s been more ansible activity before and after we send out a ship to collect more refugees—”
The woman said, “—Which could easily be explained by the work we have to do to re-contact our people and everything we have to do afterward to set up for them once they’re here. And it’s not as if you or Geman have been able to find any traffic that can’t be explained—” Continue reading Hideaway: Part 8
We did finish the game. Jaclyn won. The gun was disappointed to learn that you couldn’t raid other players’ property and burn down their buildings. To be fair, there wasn’t anything specifically forbidding that in the rules, but there also weren’t any rules for how you’d do it.
Cassie talked him down by volunteering to play a game with him that did involve weapons. With some grumbling, the gun quieted down.
As we sat at the table afterward, Jaclyn raised an eyebrow as she looked at Cassie. “I have no idea how you can live with that thing.” Continue reading Hideaway: Part 7
Marcus shifted back to normal, looked over at the three colonists near him. “Stand next to me and do it now.”
The colonists listened even if their eyes widened when his arms turned into tentacles and pulled them into one group. “Nick, you want to take us over?”
“Sure,” I ran over to him. He sprouted two more tentacles and grabbed my legs. Knowing what was needed, I activated the rockets and took to the air, slowing as I neared the end of the tentacles’ full length, and then flying upward slowly enough that Marcus could still hold on.
It didn’t take much to fly back over the wall. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 6
I watched the beast walk up to one of the force fields, bat at the downed force field pole, turn, and follow the wall back the other direction.
It didn’t strike at the force field wall even though it did watch the workers behind it, throwing a few glances in our direction.
It had large teeth and a lot of them. How many pounds of force could it bite with?
I didn’t know off the top of my head but used the HUD to take measurements of its mouth and head and the underlying muscle structure.
The fact that it didn’t bother to strike at the force field argued that it might understand that it couldn’t get through. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 4
When Hal finished, the gun said, “IT’S A GAME OF COMMERCE. INTERESTING.”
Keeping her voice low, Tikki asked, “Does it always shout?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “but my bet is yes.”
The scene changed. It was just like before in that Tikki, Cassie, Jaclyn, Marcus, Katuk and I were together in a room, but now we were around a dark stained wooden table. A Monopoly board lay in the middle of the table. Beyond the board, table, and chairs though, nothing else looked real. Continue reading Hideaway: Part 2
We walked deeper into the village, staying to the side to avoid the floating cargo platforms. Most of them carried boxes but the ones that didn’t carried what looked like pieces of the poles for the shield generators, blocks of the same white substance that the buildings were made of, and sometimes lower tech building materials—wood, rock, bricks, and even dirt.
“This place is busier than I’d have thought,” I said, watching a platform carrying bricks pass us. Continue reading Between: Part 10
Cassie walked next to him. “How many of you are there?”
His mouth twisted and he cocked his head. “About… five or six thousand. We’ve got three different colonies on this world, all pretty close. I can’t say exact numbers for all of them, but that’s about right. We’ve been sneaking people out for about a decade now.”
Raising my voice since I was behind him, I said, “I’d heard you only needed about two hundred people to get almost all of humanity’s genetic diversity, and you’ve got that.”
Geman turned to stare at me. “Where are you people from?” Continue reading Between: Part 9
Katuk glanced toward the poles with no noticeable interest, his dark eyes flicking from one to the other. “They’re low energy use, air permeable shields optimized for worlds with large, ground dwelling animals. You’ll note that they’ve also made use of the air protection as well.”
I looked up. Glittering lines ran between the poles. From what I could see, they hadn’t filled in between the lines. So they weren’t afraid of normal sized flyers—only big ones. I supposed that might be good news.
Katuk stared at the ground. “If I remember correctly, they can be configured so that the lower ten feet are permeable to smaller creatures but not permeable to larger ones.”
I thought about it. “Can they be configured to work against aerial bombardment?” Continue reading Between: Part 8
Jadzen blinked and her mouth tightened. I guessed that people didn’t argue with her under normal circumstances. Before I could say anything, Jaclyn started talking.
“We don’t want to argue, but we’ve got our orders. We’re supposed to escort you here, but we’re also supposed to stay until reinforcements come. My understanding is that they’ll come soon.”
Standing straight and looking Jadzen in the eye, Jaclyn acted as if this were a meeting of equals instead of whatever Jadzen thought it was. Continue reading Between: Part 6
“Monopoly?” Jaclyn raised an eyebrow and looked at me. “Seriously? Why?”
I shrugged. “To kill time. We’ve got a week in jumpspace and as you can see,” I pointed toward the infinite gray outside the window, “it’ s not very interesting. Plus, I was joking a little too. We probably ought to come up with ideas for how we’ll handle it if we have to defend the colony. There’s no question they’re being followed.”
Jaclyn shook her head. “Skip the Monopoly then. Let’s get prepared.” Continue reading Between: Part 4