Jaclyn blurred, punching five of them before anyone else had a chance to respond—at least that’s what I saw when I replayed the moment with my implant later.
In the moment, I was too busy to watch what she was doing. Two soldiers landed in front of me, the first grabbing for my arm before I could back up to avoid it and beginning to pull me in.
Knowing the strength of my armor, I’ve always been worried about facing people capable of ripping it straight off me. Travis was one of them and these soldiers had the same powers. With nothing else coming as an option, I did what Lee had taught me to do when that was a possibility—punch them hard.
Before the one my right could react, I punched the one that had grabbed me—the one on the left—directly in the front of his helmet. The Rocket suit generates tons of force and unlike at home, I didn’t hold back at all, punching deeply into the soldier’s face, denting the helmet.
He died. I didn’t need to scan him with the sonics to know that for sure and didn’t. The goo flowing out of his helmet was enough of a clue—that and how he fell backward and lay there unmoving.
I didn’t pay attention to that either because I still had the other one to deal with. Twisting to throw the first punch had already “loaded” the second punch and I threw it even as the first body fell.
The second soldier had seen what happened to the first and raised his arm either to block my punch or to grab. He had a problem though. He wasn’t anywhere near as fast or as strong as Travis would have been able to grab me and control my arm, guiding my body to the ground.
This guy’s arm, despite being encased in armor, shattered with the strength of my blow, hanging at an angle that an unbroken arm couldn’t.
Trained to follow through, I threw another punch as he stumbled backward, hitting him in the head. He went down.
I’d almost never used the Rocket suit’s full strength and in this moment, I understood why. I’d known it intellectually and my grandpa had told me about using it during World War 2, but some things you had to experience first hand to get them.
In that moment, I understood in my bones that the Rocket suit didn’t need any weapons on it at all.
I’d killed two men and they lay on the ground ahead of me, one of them still jerking and twitching.
Off to the side of me, Dalat shot one soldier and Geman finished it off as it lay on the ground. After a couple shots, it stopped moving.
On my other side, Marcus knocked one soldier and then another into Tikki’s field where she aged both of them into dust.
I took a breath and reminded myself that I’d killed before. I’d even killed this exact type of genetically modified human during the invasion of Earth where we’d killed Katuk’s father. That had been mostly with lasers and bots though. Punching them to death felt more personal somehow.
Turning their heads to goo felt more personal somehow.
My suit flashed “COLLISION ALERT” in my HUD, something it normally did only while flying and I looked up, pointing my laser in the air, and firing as I saw an Ascendancy soldier above me.
The laser could cut through a battleship’s armor. It cut through his chest as if he wasn’t wearing any armor at all.
He fell to the ground, making no attempt to land on its feet or to roll. It hit and lay there motionless.
I checked above to see if there were more and there weren’t. I called back some spigots and stationed them around the top of the shields so that we’d know if this happened again.
While the bots moved to their new positions, I took a quick look around us. All the Ascendancy soldiers were dead—the ones that made it over the shields anyway.
More interesting, there appeared to be a lull in the fighting around the shields. It wasn’t that no one was firing, but before the shields had been impossible to see through as they deflected blast after blast.
It was almost as if someone outside wanted to see how we handled the troops dropping in on us over the shields.
As I thought that, the Ascendancy forces started firing again. I had a bad feeling that we’d find out if my suspicions were correct all too soon. In the meantime, I decided to watch the top of the shields and tell everyone else.