Chapter 7:


From Nowhere to Sender

As the convoy approached its first check-in point along the route, Cade cast a glance over his shoulder at the new communications officer who was still busy familiarizing herself with the equipment in the bridge. When he'd read the manifest the day prior and seen that someone with no prior experience would be tagging along as their comms officer, he felt a bit sorry for them. Granted all convoys is Lower Luridia had their fair share of unique challenges, but this one...things were shaping up to be a long and stressful day.

Luckily Cade's job description for the said day mostly involved piloting the damn Crusader. Something that in itself gave him the slightest bit of unease. Only because it had been a long time since he'd handled the piloting aspect of the job. According to LCF guidelines every Crusader in a convoy needed to meet the basic crew requirements before being cleared for departure. That meant two engineers per Crusader, one to serve as pilot and the other overseeing the engine room below. Both would work in unison using the speaking tube connecting the bridge and engine room respectively.

The need for Cade's presence in the bridge this time around came down to his field service qualifications and work history, or more accurately his counterparts lack of a particular qualification. In spite of the LCF's desperate need of personnel in general, many convoys carried with them certain qualification requirements for positions on the crew rosters. This convoy required its pilots to carry at least a Class B operating license, not uncommon when it came to convoys carrying heavier cargo. More so if the route being used was more treacherous and required delicate maneuvering.

Although in this instance Cade held a healthy suspicion that the Class B license had more to do with optics. Yes the trees were heavy, really fucking heavy actually. But on this type of route the added weight could work in the convoys favor. A brief look at the upcoming region's topography would show a steady decline awaited them beyond the third check-in point. Crusaders, being FWD, would be at a disadvantage going downhill without the added weight, it also offset any potential difficulties with the Crusaders handling and guaranteed understeering wouldn't be a problem.

So while on paper a sound argument could be made, in reality Vedmann's Class C operating license was more than qualified for navigating this route. The main issue stemmed from the current leadership and its rather sudden shift to isolationist persuasion. When in reality the heads of the church simply took issue with the sudden influx of "nonconformists" that took advantage of the chance to relocate to the Commonwealth's newest city. As efforts had been made to appease the church and tone down discussions of withdrawal from Luridia, it would be troublesome if city officials found out the engineer with a higher operating license had opted to remain in the engine room, potentially putting their precious cargo at risk. Cade could only imagine how thoroughly the condition of the trees would be scrutinized upon arrival.

Long story short, Cade was piloting and not happy about it. Not one to hide his frustrations very well, he briefly considered if he was the reason for the new girl's relative silence up to this point. And while he was comfortable with silence, he knew that a bulk of people associated silence with unspoken unease or tension. Not how he remembered his first convoy going.

"Villard was it?"

The girl jumped slightly at the unexpected opener before turning in Cade's direction. He on the other hand remained facing forward, not one to take his eyes of the road for any reason. Sensing he'd gained her attention he continued on.

"Not falling asleep back there I hope. We’ve still got time until the next check-in, feel free to move about the Crusader if you're bored. You can take a headset or leave one with me if you're that worried."

"Sorry, are you trying to get rid of me or would familiarizing myself with the Crusader be beneficial?"

For the first time in a long while Cade laughed while sober. A full genuine laugh, derived from pure amusement at the girl's quaint response.

"To answer your question," He took another moment to breath. "A little bit of both." Seeing that she required more of an explanation before leaving Cade explained.

"As you may have already surmised, I'm not much of a people person. Thought I'd spare you from being stuck in the bridge with me. And while familiarizing yourself with the Crusader is all well and good, I'd recommend you go familiarize yourself with the people first. Don't even need to speak with them if you don't want to, although I can see that it won't be problem for you. It'll be good for you in the long run to see how other divisions go about their jobs on convoys, trust me."

He watched her contemplate for moment before she nodded in agreement or perhaps understanding.

"I'll be taking the additional headset then. Uh, thanks for the advice. Oh, and as someone with plenty of experience with non-people persons, you're actually very competent per social standards."

"Alright, get out of here. I've already reached my quota for laughing today and I don't intend on working any overtime."

Using the faint reflective capabilities of the front window, Cade watched as their new comms officer exited the bridge out onto the deck.

"Maybe both of our first convoys won't be so different after all..."