Swarmfall

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Tate glanced at the sky overhead as they pushed into the crowded marketplace. Still empty; he felt the frown crease his lips before he could stop it. It should've breached the atmosphere by now.

- Anything, Ronin? - he tautly asked over broadband.

Several steps behind the determined juggernaut and lacking his sheer power, the valkyrie was forced to use telekinesis to force her way through the crush. And a crush it was. They had entered the city's largest open market, filled with buyers and sellers from no less than six distinctive alien species. At least 10,000 individuals packed the market, ranging from children to the elderly, coming from all walks of Jedoan life.

And they were all going to die, if the Risen failed to stop the attack.

Hearing Tate's voice in her mind, Ronin's expression tightened.

- Not yet, Commander, - she tersely replied. - There's a good chance the fleet isn't close enough to contact, even with multiple rings. -

- If they don't hurry the frell up, they're gonna miss all the fun, - Grint dryly pointed out. - We saw the cloud on the way in and it was just about in orbit then. Those dirty metal bugs won't wait long before they make their move. -

- No, they won't, - Tate tautly agreed, having already watched the K'ethik attack other planets in the cluster from space. Near the cluster's back wall, the Jedo system was next in line for the bio-mechs' advance.

Again he glanced up at the sky. When they were surveying this world, they had noticed a number of defense platforms in orbit, along with a handful of picket ships. Neither were the heaviest armed, but they should give the inhabitants some advance warning of the k'ethik attack ...

Suddenly the air in the market was split by a low, growling sound that quickly climbed to a crescendo. A crescendo that howled like some sort of tortured animal. The British juggernaut's expression tightened.

It had to be an alarm of some sort, with its ear-shredding howl. Ironically there'd be plenty of those sounds filling the city's air if the K'ethik reached the surface.

Hearing it was enough to yank Tate's eyes back into the sky after several seconds spent watching the market crowd frantically break for cover. Thus he was in perfect position to watch the giant k'ethik structure they had begun calling 'the battering ram' ease into the upper atmosphere, an indistinct gray mass that threatened to block out the planet's sun even as it, itself was wreathed in shadow.

That was when the streaks of fire appeared, a pyroclastic hailstorm that sliced through the upper atmosphere at an angle to streak groundward.

- All assets, we have swarmfall, - the grim juggernaut announced over broadband. - Impact in less than five. - Then he was twisting around to spot Ronin several meters behind him.

"Ronin, jump in our teslas. We need ground to air now!" he barked in her direction.

The determined valkyrie jerked an acknowledging nod. A heartbeat later three teslas, Helo, Jaks, and Bennet, winked into view.

Making eye contact with Helo, Tate jerked a thump in the direction of the swarmfall's approaching fire.

"You've got two or less before they're on us. Get set up," he tautly directed.

"Copy that," the big Polynesian Risen said with a nod. Then visible auras appeared around the three teslas as they activated their technokinesis.

Since the trading outpost belonged to a consortium of space-faring species, there was significant amounts of available technology in the marketplace that the teslas could repurpose. So Tate wasn't surprised when, after only a couple seconds after their summoning fields became active, the air filled with a veritable hurricane of metal and tech.

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