Chapter 36:


From Nowhere to Sender

Lux's eyes watered as she rushed to locate her goggles, all the while an unfamiliar voice resonated from the other side of the smoke. Another voice resembling Evan's responded and coincided with an exchange of gunfire. Needless to say overlapped yelling, gunfire and smoke weren't ideal conditions for sharpshooting rockets out of the sky.

But the back and forth did tell her that none of the canisters had been Pipe Down. A small victory if you could even it call it that, but she'd take whatever they could get at this point. Canisters aside her main concern remained the rocketeer, although living long enough for the smoke to dissipate was also right up there. A troublesome task knowing that spindly bucket man was lurking somewhere nearby.

For whatever reason he seemed to be targeting her, then again she did try to blow his head off back on top of the bridge. In her defense, sudden movements from an unidentified individual amidst an ongoing raid with a rocketeer kicker called for violence. Lux would also like to believe they lived in a world where not being blown up by rockets took precedent over matters of revenge.

As these thoughts raced through her aching head, she finally found her goggles and wrestled them out of her uniform pocket. During the process of which something else flew out of the same pocket, falling a short distance to the deck.

Picking that something up and squinting her eyes, Lux couldn't help but mentally admonish herself. Prolonging the suffering of her poor eyes when she'd literally just pried the solution out of her pocket. Way to go Lux. Slapping them on she was then able to identify the other object as the stranger's ID card. The one that had turned up on her person this morning. She was honestly surprised she even still had it with her. After Cade refused it in her half-hearted attempt at making peace, she'd intended on dropping it off at the station's lost and found. Absentmindedly she must've returned the card to her uniform after changing, perhaps mistaking it for her own.

Realizing it was unwise to remain stationary for this long, Lux shoved the ID in her pouch and grabbed her rifle from the deck. Truth be told something about the ID did actually caught her attention, something she must have overlooked beforehand. For now all she could do is tuck that new bit of information away and began working her way in the direction of what she believed to be the bridge. Hard to tell with her senses still recovering.

Luckily those senses had recovered enough to warn her of the incoming heel aimed at her left collarbone. Turning on her own heel, Lux fired where the aggressor's body should be in relation to his leg, accounting for the raider's abnormal size. The realization she'd somehow missed came in the form of a second leg emerging from the smoke in a sweeping motion towards her side. Lux raised a forearm to block, but still got hit with enough force to send her tumbling back onto the deck. Using the momentum of her fall she rolled right back into a crouching position and brought her rifle to her hip. No point in aiming down sights at this range.

As she waited patiently for any disturbances in the flow of smoke, new thoughts began crossing her head in regard to her recent string of misses. Moments before when she and Evan had the man dead to rights in a crossfire, Lux had been the one to aim high. It was a propensity of hers to miss up, had been ever since her days back in the sharpshooting course. But in this case it had also been a conscious decision based on her experience up on the bridge.

She'd seen firsthand how explosive the man's movements were, and purposefully targeted higher than one would deem necessary. And her decision proved to be the correct one as he'd retreated upwards in the blink of an eye, right into the path of her bullets. Or so she thought, and yet there were no obvious changes to his movement or signs of blood afterwards. Had she really missed?

Based on her accuracy during the previous visits and her more recent interception of the second rocket, Lux was more or less just as sharp as usual. And yet something about shooting this guy was proving especially difficult? What she really needed was time to consider whether all three failed attempts shared a commonality.

Argh! Usually these sorts of things would be left to the spotter to figure out! She was too preoccupied with the fucking rockets to discern anything! Where had Cade run off to anyway?! Didn't he know bucket man was still running wild trying to kill her?!

As if she'd summoned him, the raider was suddenly looming over her. Lux didn't hesitate to fire two shots from the hip, stopping just short of firing a third when her internal reload counter warned against it. She needed to keep at least one shot ready if another rocket took to the air. She came to regret her stinginess instantly when both shots sailed by the raider who'd turned sideways. Both misses sailed across deck and from what Lux could see through the somewhat dissipated smoke, struck just to the side of who appeared to be Cade, dropping down to the lower level. Some spotter.

Now at close range Lux took her rifle in both hands and executed a butt stroke, targeting the raider's abdomen since his head was out of range. Unable to move away in time the raider took the blow and wheezed out a partial grunt. So rifle's did work, just not in the way she hoped thus far. On reflex the raider's head dropped and his chin along with it, just low enough to warrant an upward swing of the rifle that also managed to land. A blow that caused him to reel back for a moment. Smelling blood Lux exploited the opening, planting the end of her barrel right in the center of her opponent's chest. In her peripheral she could make out two hands encroaching on her in a final attempt at self-preservation, but she knew they would never reach her in the time it took to pull the trigger.

In the moments before her finger contacted the trigger, Lux recalled an ominous clap sounding somewhere off in the distance. Followed by a gentle voice imploring about the nature of her actions.

"Have you no regard for the truth of silence?"