Chapter 18:


From Nowhere to Sender

Even after his tumble to the ground Nocks didn't panic, instead he rolled left and took advantage of his low vantage point. Aiming several shots below the protection that the bucklers offered. Unfortunately the raiders were smart enough not to enter all at once as doing so would limit their movement, therefore his shots only really struck a single Volt who'd taken point. The Volts amalgamation of body armor managed to limit the damage he sustained and yet he was very clearly struggling to stand.

As another pair of Volts entered, guns drawn, Nocks felt a strong grip on the back of his uniform's collar pulling him. Tristler had taken him by the scruff with one hand while the other leveled a feronetic rifle at the raiders and fired. Shots ricocheted off the walls and floors of the corridor as both sides exchanged gunfire, Nocks and Tristler just barely making it back to the limited cover that the junction offered.

Keen on holding their position for as long as possible, both security officers bobbed and weaved in n' out of cover. During which time Nocks felts a tap on his shoulder blade, Tristler's way of indicating that he needed to reload. As Nocks focused on preventing any advances deeper into the corridor he began to assess his own ammo situation. He'd already expended two magazines in the course of this visit. Taking into account the three visits before this and he'd expended almost four magazines in total. Not ideal, but it could be worse. In the event he did run out Nocks knew who amongst his colleagues were most close-fisted when it came to ammunition, along with those who'd he considered most flippant. Regrettably over the course of this particular convoy he'd fall under the latter.

Just as Nocks finished that thought he reached the end of his fourth mag, fortunately Tristler had resumed pinning the raiders at the platform. In the process of reloading he looked up just in time to see the Volts backing out of the doorway abruptly. Another suddenly appeared, stun grenade in hand, and entered a throwing motion. Trislter cursed and stepped out into the hallway in need of a better shot but wasn't quick or accurate enough to stymie the throw.

Nocks immediately began running through their list of options for minimizing the effects of the blast when a shot connected with the stun grenade just as it left the raider's hand. The shot prematurely detonated the grenade closer to the doorway, allowing both Nocks and Tristler the chance to find shelter behind the junction once more. As Nocks gathered his bearings he noticed where the shot had come from.

The sliding metal door of the engine room had been opened and Vedmann stood in its opening eyes shielded, pistol in hand. Nocks could only imagine how he'd managed to circumvent the security check to get one on board, but he wasn't about to start complaining. Vedmann exited the engine room and slid the heavy metal door shut, locking it with a special key from the outside. He then turned towards the two of them.

"I don't know the specifics, but Cade needs me in the pilot's seat." He rushed across the corridor, taking advantage of the time that the premature detonation afforded them and paused at the base of the ladder. "Don't be too impressed, that shot was mostly luck. And with my track record I'm as good as spent." He handed the pistol to Nocks and began ascending the ladder. "Give em hell!" [Yora Vedmann, 28, Engineering Division]

Yora Vedmann, honestly he was the crew member that Nocks knew the least about aboard C248. Everything he did know came from secondary sources, only half of which he'd consider reliable. The consensus revolved around him doing hard time for a crime he didn't even commit, rather he took the fall for his younger sister Ima Vedmann. Upon being released early for good behavior he struggled to regain any semblance of his old work and instead enrolled at a Federation Academy.

At the very least his time in prison could be confirmed by the corresponding tattoo on his left forearm, a practice most prevalent in the South. This is where the man's personal history got muddied and no one seemed brave enough to broach the subject. That or the people who were brave enough to ask determined such a story deserved to remained just that, personal.

Nocks's personal critique of the story centered on Vedmann doing his time in the South of all things. Leave it to him to question the sole bit of information with physical proof, but nothing about the man screamed Southern boy at all. Guys from the South just weren't intimidating in any way shape or form, unlike their engineer who looked like he could coerce a wall of wet paint into drying faster just by staring at it. From experience it was the Southern girls you had to watch out for. Not in the physical sense, at least not always, more that you could never best them one on one. A better way to put it might be that Southern gals always went for the kill, where as normal people may ease in or out of things.

That being the case, maybe his younger sister really did commit some heinous act he felt the need to cover for. Or she forced him to take the fall in her place. That settles it. If both he and Vedmann reached Belveer as members of the living, he'd ask the man for the whole story over drinks. Maybe even lean on the liquid courage enough to ask about the origin of this pistol as well.

The sounds of shouting from the platform and rifle fire from above broke Nocks out of his retrospective revery and he quickly joined Tristler back at the junction. Despite the ruckus outside it didn't seem that any of the Volts were keen on re-entering the corridor.

"I don't love how long they're congregating on the platform. Evan should be able to apply some pressure without compromising her zone assignment, so what's holding her up?"

Nocks had to agree, but with Lux confined to the strong side front deck and Tristler down here with him, a lot coverage had suddenly fallen on Evan's shoulders. Perhaps that was the reason Cade called on Vedmann to assume the controls, so he could free himself up to contribute on the defensive side.

"I say we leave it to the girls upstairs for now. This junction is too important to leave undefended, more so now that no one's manning the engine room. If it does come to sending someone up it'll have to be you."

"You're probably right. We managed to overcome the gas blunder, but who knows what's next. We'll stay put and see if we can't keep the platform somewhat clear. Or at least dissuade more boarding attempts." Tristler proceeded to use their brief respite to light up another smoke in record time.

Letting out a long exhale of smoke, "You think Vedmann's really from the South?"

"I've actually got some interesting theories about that. Lend me what's left of that ear."