Chapter 118:

Operational Unreadiness - Part 1


Many things could make Anna relatively happy on this day. If instead of a good enough landmark to destroy, they had found a proper forward base. If a message told them the enemy main base was destroyed. If she found a stash of high-quality magical supplies. Or even if they had a good clue about the Workshop’s plans. Any of these would be good.

But waking up inside the Beehive with her body feeling perfect and with no taste of blood in her mouth, that was as far as ‘happy’ as possible.

Still, it wasn’t something she would recognize as being the truth, and as such, the redhead tried her best to ignore the situation and move on. She was very pissed and other weirder things, but they didn’t matter right now. It was good that she wouldn’t be killing allies anytime soon, so she could ignore it for now. Hard to steal energy when your body was almost overflowing with it…

So, with a tongue click and forcing herself to calm down as much as possible, Anna fixed her bag and got up from her spot on the wardroom’s floor. Next, she went to check her weapons and easily noticed that her pistol wasn’t there. Which, in a simple way, meant that most of the ammo she had was almost useless.

And that her limited-production experimental machine pistol was lost, which was even worse.

“Ain’t half a year yet and three of mah’ guns’re dead… I wanna die even more now.” She mumbled to herself as she started to make her way toward the ship’s bridge while reloading her two remaining guns. “I hope we ain’t in battle already…”

One single-shot backload musket with an improvised bayonet that used disassembled pistol bullets, and a double-barrel shotgun with two of her few remaining spell bullets. Other than that, she still had ten magazines of silver bullets, two of spell bullets, five doses of elixir, and two doses of her stimulant cocktail. Not really enough for a real battle, but would have to do.

With this out of the way, the underequipped gunslinger sped up her pace as she crossed the corridors of the stealth frigate. Weirdly enough, she almost never crossed paths with any of the colorful sailors that should be there. She could see one or two of them in overwatch positions when she reached the deck, but there were too few still. It was as if they were waiting somewhere else or preparing something.

As it didn’t matter right now, though, Annabeth only ignored the situation. She could only see water around, so they were still far from the battle and she could enter the bridge without worry.

“I’m back, gals! Did I lose somethin’?!”

Her boisterous entrance drew the attention of the bridge’s occupants. There were the same four officers and her three companions, but she soon noticed that the situation wasn’t the best. For one, Col was glaring at her while huddled below one of the consoles, and everyone else seemed to be keeping their distance.

“Ain’t a good time?” She asked in answer to the worried expressions and glares even if the reason was easy to guess. “I can come back later, ay?”

“You fucking tricked me, Anna!” The girl trying to not notice the sea around them shouted to the new arrival, confirming her suspicions about the situation.

“I’ll've y’know that it wasn’t mah’ plan and yer the one who agreed with using weird tricks. I’d only throw ya on a ship and hope fer the best.”


“Dunno. Shock therapy?”

“I’ll fucking kill you!”

“Then come. Ya ain’t even leaving this hole of yers, ‘aight? How the hells’d kill me, ay?”

“That’s… I don’t know! GET ME OUT OF THIS SHIP!!!”

Col wasn’t a thinker by nature, and it only got worse in her current panicked state, which was fun to Anna. Especially if she could both have fun over her caretaker and try to ease her a little at the same time.

Not that anyone would be able to notice her aim or if she would ever recognize that it was her real aim.

“Ain’t happenin’, dumbass, we goin’ to battle, y’know? And why’re you awake anyways?”

There were words to undo the hypnosis, to wake up, and to make her sleep, so it was weird that they allowed her to panic. More so when, even with the whole trick, it wasn’t as if it wasn’t possible to simply knock the brunette down the moment she noticed something weird.

Col was a common human after all, so unless she was using her gauntlets and paying attention, a good hit to the head would get her down. Even Anna could manage this and she could barely bench press half her weight.

“I’m sorry, Anna, I was sure it would hold up long enough…” The kitsune that seemed to be the culprit apologized with her head down. “It felt fine, so I woke her up here and… and you can see what happened.”

“Nah, it ain’t yer fault… Unless you told her that undo phrase or somethin’. You didn’t do that, didja?”

“I didn’t, but…”

“Then it’s fine. We’ve better things to think ‘bout now.” Anna waved the worries of her teammate away and started to think about their situation. “Hey, Col, wanna some sedatives? You’ll likely get calmer with a smaller dose…”

“I’m not using your weird drugs, Anna.”

“I also don’t think this kind of solution is a good one,” Karim added from the side, and she didn’t even need to explain herself. “If things are as big as we think, then fighting drugged wouldn’t be good.”

“Wasted fightin’s better than no fightin’, ay? We kinda lackin’ in firepower ‘ere… And I’m almost outta ammo too.” The gunslinger added while patting the double barrel stuck by her side. “That big bastard on the first day ate mah’ bullets.”

“D-do you want, well… Do you want t-to see the armory?” Alya called in her soft voice. “I think we have some, some spares…”

“Are they archipelago-made? Ya people sometimes use weird calibers…”

Continental weapons of the last two generations were perfectly standardized in ammo and usage, but it was only there. Some of the archipelan weapons and ammo were older random pieces from the Federation too. They sometimes used older standards that wouldn’t fit well with Anna’s weapons and had lower-quality ammo without spell bullets.

It wasn't as if Anna could cast fast enough to use an automatic weapon with spell bullets, but that was that. She still had to be sure all was at least usable.

“I’m… I’m not very sure…”

“I’ll make do with this then… It’s at least one less problem to solve.” She went on, accepting the fact that she would need to use less-than-perfect weapons this time. “Other than Col, we’ve any other problems to solve?”

Her gaze went through everyone in the room, mostly getting dismissing waves until she stopped at a certain face that shouldn’t be there. One that was more focused on pestering one of the ship’s operators than in the talk, who only noticed so after some good seconds of heavy stare.

“Are you interested in this machine too, young lady?” The wingless angel asked while poking the radio station. “They say it enables conversations from long range without the need of ley lines…”

“Why in the hells’ this brat ‘ere, ay? He should be in the brig!”

Michael and his now almost invisible dark aura seemed to be focused on the workings of the vessel’s communication device. No one seemed to have noticed him before now though. It was a weirdly relatable reaction to Anna, which only made him more suspicious.

“That… I forgot he was here actually…” Anna’s partner was the first one to react, although she didn’t seem to be less surprised than the others. “But yes, I don’t think he should be in the bridge. Not to be disrespectful, Michael, but it’s hard to trust you yet.”

“Oh, no, don’t fret. I understand the situation… It’s only that seeing such unknown pieces of technology made me lose focus.” He answered in an understanding tone, only to drop a bigger bomb as he headed to the door.

“But with how the ley lines are concentrated here, I don’t think we should keep moving forward.”