Chapter 39:


From Nowhere to Sender

Evan was out of ammunition. She imagined she'd be cutting it close with the day's excessive number of visits, but hadn't planned on being the first one onboard to be crying "Olivester!" Such honors typically went to the more rash security officers like Nocks or Youn. Fortunately for her the bridge was at her back, which meant additional ammo by way of the gun safe. Or possibly from someone below if her call traveled down the ladder way and reached the guys downstairs.

The real issue was whether her opponent on deck would hear the call and take advantage to move on her position. It was no secret among raiding parties what callouts the LCF used on a day to day basis. As unless a convoy had a particularly paranoid convoy commander the vernacular remained consistent. To some extent this went both ways, but taking into account the absurd scale on which the LCF operated, it was difficult to make updates or changes to the more widely known callouts. Whereas raiding parties, small in size and somewhat nomadic, rarely saw the need to make changes. And even if they did, could do so with relative ease. One such method involved rotating the terminology according to what was unfamiliar in a given region.

But since Evan didn't have that luxury, what remained was a short list of options for communicating to her companions that she needed ammo. Soon at that. Take much longer and her opponent would connect the dots. He had to be keeping track, what with his primary firearm being a pistol. He'd need to keep track in one on one gunfights where his firearm was at a range disadvantage. Reload time would be any pistol users best chance to erase that advantage.

Fuck it. Security officers were trained to reload in the time it took to blink anyway. Let him come, it would give her an easier shot as well.


Now that she'd announced her predicament, Evan attuned what remained of her hearing to both behind and in front of her. In front took precedent, as there was a real chance the raider would charge her position immediately. Meanwhile she'd interpret any presence coming from behind or below as an ammo delivery. Although the most likely scenario for being given ammo would be having a magazine zipped at her head.

Interestingly enough the sounds of boots advancing on her position never came. Rather Evan heard an oddly chipper male voice calling out to her.

"It's been a long day, figures you'd be out of ammo! You have my sympathies!"

Evan's face scrunched. What the hell was this guy up to, trying to hold conversation? But she'd play along if it bought her time. Time to have a magazine hurled at her.

"That's actually the name of one of our security officers! Just giving him a heads up! Good ole Olivester!"

Not the worst lie she'd ever told, but not one she was proud of either.

"I'm sure! Tell you what, how's about we solve this another way!"

Before Evan could reply, she heard then watched as a pistol, the one that had been in possession of the raider, clattered across the deck in front of her.

"What say you to a friendly scrap to settle this?!"

Was this guy serious, or was it some sort of trap? Perhaps he had another fully loaded pistol on his person, one that he planned on using when she emerged. Voice that concern moron, anything to keep this conversation going. Assistance was seeming less and less imminent after all. And from the look of things across deck, Lux wouldn't be able to help her. If anything she might be worse off at the moment.

"You call it a friendly scrap, but I have every intention of punching your head off!"

"Wouldn't have it any other way sister!"

Sister?! Alright, caution be damned. Emerging from the entryway, Evan made a show of blindly tossing her rifle out of sight before shedding her oversized jacket and discarding that as well. Speaking of her jacket, it would need to be replaced. Its assortment of recent holes sort of defeating the purpose of keeping her warm. Jacket literally aside, she proceeded to reach into her back pocket for a pair of similarly tattered tactical gloves. Sliding them on, she flexed her hands a few times. Maintaining a shrewd glare throughout the process.

The raider reciprocated that arrogance, making a show of cracking his knuckles and rolling out his neck. He proceeded to launch into a bounce step, keeping his hands and wrists loose in what could be considered a half-guard as he gradually began closing the distance between them.

"Rest assured that Tiberius of Quiet Murn will be the one to send you to the final resting place!"

"Who let a noisy prick like you into a party preaching some bullshit about silence?"

Evan assumed her own fighting stance, her version of a double-guard, and dropped anchor. Her boxing style was inherently defensive but she also didn't want to stray from her closest source of cover. Just because this jerk off proposed no firearms didn't mean his companions would. She wasn't even one hundred percent certain he wouldn't whip another pistol out at some point. The best way to make sure neither happened would be to end this quickly.

"Silence is a privilege few can afford!"

The raider named Tiberius pushed off his lead foot and attempted to use his height advantage to go over her guard with a right. A smirk appeared on the face of the dark haired security officer. Lucky for you then, I hand it out free.


Esma nearly jumped out of her skin when a feronetic rifle came flying into the bridge unprompted, sliding to a stop against the base of the center counter. Taking a long hard look in the direction of the doorway, and ensuring nothing else was following behind it, she finally built up enough courage to investigate the firearm.

As she lifted it from the floor Esma had another internal debate over whether to seal the bridge or not. Procedure dictated that the bridge should be sealed in the event of raids, especially when security officers were in active combat with boarding parties. If only Esma could bring herself to abide by it. Maybe if Vedmann insisted she'd relent, but up to this point he hadn't commented one way or another.

Part of the reason she was ok leaving the bridge accessible had to do with the fact the raiders were only targeting the cargo bay. Granted roof man seemed to have his own agenda. One that seemed to involve Lux in some capacity. Point was if anyone seriously wanted to force entry into the bridge, they would have done so already. Plus it was better to give the crew the option of moving about the Crusader freely since so much was going on. This included her of course, and she'd already exercised it by way of frolicking about the space above her.

Who knew who would be entering or leaving the bridge next, or when. Apparently this rifle? Upon closer inspection Esma noticed it didn't have a magazine in it. Strange, even if it was out of ammunition, why discard something that could find further use as a melee weapon? At least she was certain of one thing, that the rife belonged to Evan.

Her being the only other deck officer at the moment, that and Lux wasn't about to go giving up her rifle when she was supposed to be intercepting rockets. Unless she'd lost it again and this was the result. Regardless of who it belonged to, it needed to be reloaded. Something she was capable of thanks to the Federation curriculum.

Yes. Maintenance, assembly and reloading had never been what plagued Esma during her weapons course. Her struggles had related to the part that came after. As for now, she'd settle for the unforeseen task of collecting and returning rifles that escaped from their owners. Now, how to go about returning this one?