Chapter 38:


From Nowhere to Sender

She felt it then, in tandem with the sound of the far off clap. A sensation she could best attribute to having something on the tip of your tongue, only to discover the mouth required to articulate it was no longer there. Having it strike amidst combat was a new development however. So distracted by this Lux was, she failed to register the inquiry of the gentle voice.

What even was the source of the voice? The raider? But he hadn't spoken a single word or sound up to this point. And with his attire concealing so much of his face and person, it was difficult to discern with any certainty if he was truly the source of the voice she was hearing.

It was also at this point that Lux realized the last of the smoke had finally cleared. But not just the smoke, for a moment it appeared as if everything had been cleared from the environment. All but the towering figure before her, whose appearance had undergone a change of its own. Namely the sudden absence of his face covering.

She was met by a pair of seething red eyes tucked beneath impossibly sharp eyebrows. That of which traveled beyond his temples, disappearing into pitch black hair that sat upon bronze skin. What caught her attention next was the litany of crisscrossing scars that littered the man's lower jaw. All of which shared a similar contour and size. Almost as if an artist had taken a knife to the canvas that was his lower face. And yet the man's mouth was untouched by whatever tragedy had befallen him. Next thing Lux knew the mouth was moving.

"You and your companions are responsible for creating this noise, follow the world's cries as they plead for silence! "

Suddenly the environment was back to what it once was, including the face covering of the man bringing a basilard down on her person. She barely managed to raise her rifle in time to deflect the blow, her only option with how much force had been behind it. Enough to bring her to her knees if not damage her rifle's barrel. Lux was denied the chance to recoup any oxygen as a successive strike off the rebound targeted her neck. She retreated down rather than back, not wanting to be pinned against the railing, before kicking off the deck. Her goal was to create distance between them, but her odds weren't favorable with a reach that formidable. It struck her as unusual that the raider didn't employ a longer melee weapon to begin with. With a wingspan of his size, no place on deck would've been safe. Best not give him any ideas.

Knowing it wouldn't be long before she was within the raider's reach again, Lux ditched her critique of the man's choice of weapon and focused on forming a strategy. Starting with her acceptance of the fact she couldn't shoot her way out of this problem. At least not entirely. As for whatever reason she seemed incapable of hitting the man with any of her countless shots, something she still couldn't fathom. The thought of getting in close again to potentially break the streak was daunting, what with his choice of weapon and the amount of force he put behind it. Leaving her with the option of stalling long enough for crew mates to become available.

Her best bet would be Evan, who remained in a confrontation with another raider closer to the bridge. Technically there was also Cade but Lux knew he wouldn't have run off without good reason. Meaning he was taking care of something he judged to be pertinent to their reaching Belveer intact.

It really didn't matter who it was assuming Lux succeeded in steering the raider into their line of fire. Even if she couldn't shoot him, someone else probably could. Depending on where she led him Lux could even limit his options for evasion, give her and the other deck officers a definitive opening.

She couldn't imagine him surviving another crossfire situation, not unless he somehow laid more canisters. But in the event he did have another trick up his sleeve, Lux felt she had a surefire method for throwing him off his game. An appropriate choice of words considering his earlier attempt at being rid of her.

Her plan fell in place just as a thrust of the basilard blew by the right side of her face. Truthfully she hadn't given any thought to movements that might extend the raider's reach even further. And since a thrust was typically preceded by a lunge or push off from the wielder, Lux could have very well been skewered just now. Her instincts had saved her. And those same instincts screamed at her to move away again, but she instead she opted to take advantage of the man's full extension.

Before he could retract his arm even halfway Lux stepped forward and with her right hand grabbed the wrist of the extended arm, her left hand simultaneously performing a palm strike through the elbow joint. The sound of the powerful shout that followed eclipsing the sound of her rifle bouncing off the deck. A familiar sound in martial arts meant to startle the opponent and force exhaling. But it wasn't enough to hide the sound of the raider's arm breaking.

Retreating out of the reach of his other arm, Lux grabbed her rifle from the deck and took aim. And yet the man remained unperturbed by this, putting forth no effort to evade the incoming shot. Instead reeling in his ailing arm and constructing a makeshift sling from his ensemble to support it. Was this blatant disregard of her sharpshooting meant as a psychological play to shake her confidence and invoke another miss? Or was an outside force rendering her incapable of landing a shot on him? Only one way to find out.

The sounds of not one but two shots filled the air as the raider was brought to a knee. His functioning arm tentatively reached behind his person and felt for the site of the fresh wound. Retracting a blood covered hand, he stood once more. But rather than direct his gaze at Lux, he turned his head in the direction of the bridge and the source of the shot that had accompanied hers. There to meet his gaze head on was none other than Convoy Commander Heenan, who wasted no time taking another shot at the now wounded party leader.

"Ayfer, you're back on rocket duty!"