Chapter 33:


From Nowhere to Sender

"Do we have visual confirmation on the interception of the first rocket?"

Things were so hectic at the moment Flannery barely registered Heenan's question. Fortunately he seemed to understand this and didn't press for an immediate answer, instead waiting patiently at the front of the bridge, joining the ongoing effort to locate said rocket's origin.

"Confirmed by our own deck officers and those onboard C384. No word from C248, strange considering they were the target of the initial strike..."

That was concerning, the fact no one was manning the comms all of sudden. To her understanding a considerable force had fallen upon C248 during the onset of the ongoing raid attempt, but with their entire crew available it shouldn't have been anything they couldn't endure. And no transmission had reached her regarding a need for assistance, not unlike C217. Flannery would need to get to the bottom of this quickly as communication between Crusaders was critical at this stage. More so than usual due to those rocketeer-ing bastards.

"C248 this is command, requesting an update on the situation onboard."


"C248 I am requesting an update from the onboard comms officer."

"...oh shit. Uh, this is C248. I'm afraid to report our comms officer is away from the bridge at the moment."

Flannery directed a sigh of relief away from the microphone.

"Officer please identify yourself."

"Yora Vedmann, engineering division, acting pilot."

"Mr. Vedmann what of the current whereabouts of Ms. Villard, as this is a rather inopportune and dangerous time to be away from her station."

"To the best of my knowledge, she's still on top of the bridge."

Flannery must of heard wrong.

"I'm sorry, on TOP of the bridge?"

Ms. Villard's preceding transmission in response to news of a raider breaching the convoy came to mind.

"That's correct. Now that I think about it, I suppose saying she was away from the bridge was technically inaccurate. My bad."

As if this was a semantics argument. What the hell was going on onboard C248?

"Just see to it that wherever she is, Ms. Villard returns to her station asap. Emergencies aren't an excuse for comms officers to leave behind their—"

"I'm here, I'm here! Sorry for the delay!"

Although Flannery hadn't been present to witness the chain of events, after tossing Lux back her rifle, Esma had been helped down from the bridge by Cade who proceeded to slap his own headset atop her head. He then urged her to return to the bridge before things on deck escalated. Leading to the current transmission, taking place as Esma ran down the strong side stairs en-route to the bridge.

"Is everything alright? You sound winded?"

"All good here, just the adrenaline...and stairs, and nearly being blown up by a rocket. Did I mention I'm on a lot of adrenaline right now?"

According to the recent report the rocket had been intercepted just above C248. Does this mean she really was on top of the bridge? For what possible reason?

"Yes well, that rocket was intercepted by the sharpshooter onboard C384. Is C248's sharpshooter incapacitated?"

"Still up, she was without her rifle at the time of the rocketfire."

"Was her rifle damaged or discarded amidst combat in the recent approach?"

They'd be in big trouble if one of their sharpshooters was suddenly handicapped by a standard issue rifle. Granted to her limited knowledge on the subject, courtesy of her sister, Lux didn't make many modifications to her rifles aside from barrel length and small adjustments to the rear sight.

"Our stowaway got it away from her somehow, must of been just before he threw her. Shit, please don't tell Lux I used the word throw."

"Only if YOU tell me you didn’t take turns confronting this stowaway on top of the bridge of a moving Crusader."

"Not me, turns out if you don't confront the big guy he'll leave you alone. Or maybe Lux shot his bucket up? I'm afraid I don't have all the details at this time."

Upon this bit of news Flannery cast a dark look in the direction of Commander Heenan who still employed the other headset. A stowaway of substantial size with enough finesse on a bike to breach the convoy and board a Crusader discreetly. And to top it all off, they carried with them a bucket of personal importance. Only one man fit that description in these parts. Quiet Murn's very own party leader Guell Quay.


Lux felt a renewed sense of enthusiasm now that her rifle was back in her possession without harm. They hadn't been apart long thanks to the success of the impromptu plan. A plan someone just had to go and throw a rocket into, but it all worked out thanks to the intervention of the other sharpshooter. Whom may need to continue performing the bulk of rocket interceptions if their spindly rifle thief decided to start acting up again.

With any luck he'd sit his ass back down atop the bridge and let them do their freaking job. Speaking of, now that the rocketeer was effectively in firing range of the convoy, Lux wanted to position herself on the back deck where she had more freedom to move around. The reason she and the other sharpshooter had been placed on the front deck to begin with was to minimize confrontation with the boarding parties. Since Quiet Murn's present objective revolved around the destruction of the cargo, there would be no point picking a fight with someone who wasn't in a direct position to interfere with that objective. In theory anyways. She'd still gotten involved obviously, not like either side was going to sit back and watch when their companions were in the thick of it.

Initial assignment aside, Lux still needed to rotate to the back deck, but wanted to minimize any time spent away from the upper level. As relinquishing the deck for any duration of time to play stairs and ladders would provide a potential opening for the rocketeer to exploit. Shortcut it is then. Slinging her rifle behind her back, Lux backed up until her she was up against the front railing and used the space created to get a running start. And proceeded to launch herself through the air just ahead of the strong side stairway. Before reaching out and grabbing the back deck railing with both hands, and using any leftover momentum to swing herself over.

As impressive as the shortcut seemed from a visual standpoint, Lux didn't actually think it was all that impressive. After all she'd never fallen short on the jump, mistimed it or failed to grip the railing. Not even during her first attempt at it, back around the time of her third or fourth convoy ever. It helped that the direction you were jumping in was opposite the direction the Crusader was moving, at least she assumed it was an advantage. She'd heard others argue the opposing propulsions made timing the jump much harder and more fear inducing. As if the stairs were charging towards you of their own volition. Lux's response to such complaints was always something along the lines of "Why are you watching the stairs when your goal is the railing behind them?" The other security officers tended to drop the topic at that point. Something about her being wired differently.

Now with both her feet safely on the back deck, Lux moved off to the side in case Cade intended to follow her lead and use the shortcut. He didn't, no surprise there. Despite all of her urgings to practice the jump when the Crusader was stationary, he always brushed her suggestion off and defaulted to the stairs. Today was no exception as he followed after Esma who'd rushed off after being helped down.

But since SHE was already there, Lux rushed over to join Evan on the weak side railing. From which she could scan for the rocketeer while picking off residual members of the recent approaches. Although part of her stubbornly maintained an awareness of the bridge, a safeguard for if spindly decided to join them on the back deck. Having learned from before Lux knew better than to test him from her current position. Knowing he successfully reacted and avoided her shot from a much shorter distance, thinking she could finish him off from here was delusional at best.

Best to wait until Cade emerged on the back deck and have him keep an eye for her. As part of a spotter's job was defending their sharpshooter from enemies who got too close. Not that Lux thought Cade could take this guy alone. Alongside Evan he might have a chance thanks to her extensive boxing pedigree. Assuming she found a way of getting inside his reach. Talk about a tall task. Ugh, she was beginning to worry that HE was rubbing off on her. They weren't even part of this convoy. Crap her mind was getting away from her. More than anything Lux needed to focus on the task in front of her.

Unfortunately it was the presence behind her that had other ideas.