Chapter 49:


From Nowhere to Sender

"This isn't good..."

"Care to elaborate kid?"

Esma double-checked the reading on the anemometer before addressing Vedmann.

"We're out of the mountains."

"Quite the observation."

Esma assumed this was the pilot's attempt at lightening the mood. What with a battle to the death going on right above them. And who could forget about the anti-faction's rocketeer, whose actions were liable to grow more desperate now that Belveer was in sight.

"The presence of the those mountains was doing us a considerable favor. Now that we're clear of them we no longer have anything keeping the winds in check, and this area is notorious for generating wind gusts."

"Wind gusts huh, I think I've heard a comms officer make mention of them before. Something about the ground heating up?"

"That's one of the causes, yes. When the ground heats up warm air rises and the cooler air above descends. This causes a brief increase in the speed of the wind. We're talking periods lasting no longer than twenty seconds or so."

Vedmann soaked in this bit of information but still failed to see the cause for concern. Sensing this Esma proceeded to elaborate.

"According to the instrumentation, the last wind gust clocked in at 35 mph. That's a near gale force level of wind, enough to affect the trajectory of a rifle round. Or enough to push the unaware off the top of something high up."

"Oh fuck."

Esma couldn't have summed things up better herself. The fact she was woefully incapable of predicting when the next wind gust would strike only added to her stress.

"Shouldn't someone warn Lux?!"

"Lux is fully aware of the situation, it's part of her job description as a sharpshooter. What concerns me is whether our rocketeer is privy to this knowledge as well. If they wait out the next wind gust and position themselves so they're directly ahead of their target, they'll be able to maximize the amount of effect it'll have on an intercepting bullets flight path. In theory that is."

"Lux can't just compensate? You said it yourself, part of the job description."

"Not if she fires her shot too close to before or after the next gust hits."

"What's the plan then?"

"At best we can narrow down which Crusader they're likely to target and have both our sharpshooters stagger their shots by a set amount of time."

"Do we have time to inform both of them?"

"I don't know. What do you think Cade, Officer Sigurd?"

"I think we can manage."

"Not like we have much of a choice."

Fortunately Esma had the forethought to include both men in the call. Technically speaking such tasks should fall under their responsibilities as spotters, therefore they needed to be among the informed on the significance of the terrain shift.

"The real concern is whether Lux will even be able to act on the shooting instructions. Injured or not that's still a party leader in front of her, I doubt he'd be the type to miss an opening."

"Trust me, as long as she's informed she'll make it work."

"Time to find out whether that nickname of hers carries any weight."

Nickname? It appeared Esma was out of the loop. An unfamiliar and unpleasant feeling that needed to be remedied.

"Do tell."


As the most recent wind gust died down, Galway turned towards the slender woman at his 7 o'clock. As he observed her hunkered down form against the bike frame he thought it a small miracle she hadn't blown away yet. Given her stature and lack of riding experience she'd have to be more careful than the rest of them in these conditions.

"Duare, approximately how long until the next wind gust?!"

"Accounting for temperature and empirical data for this sector...I'd say were looking at an average of between 14-20 seconds between intervals. If I'd known we'd be attempting something like this, I would have brought some basic equipment to narrow it down further."

"Can't be helped now. Besides, we all know better than to doubt you on anything weather related."

Duare had been interning at New Kantler's meteorology institute prior to this whole mess, while there she'd had access to swathes of past data relating to weather events and patterns in the region. She was fascinated by the subject and enjoyed studying it immensely, but the church had long since expressed displeasure with any study whose predictions attempted to explain or neutralize nature's dominion. They argued such undertakings were in bad taste as they questioned God's machinations. Their official stance, mortal beings had no business attempting to influence the cycles of the natural world and should refrain from attempts at disturbing its natural order in kind.

It wasn't long after the joining of the church and state, that a rudimentary list of changes to the city's budget followed. Among the organizations whose funds would be slashed, the meteorology institute. To such an extent they wouldn't even be keep interns like Duare on.

And it wasn't just the meteorology institute that would suffer, there existed a long list of coming changes that would negatively effect multiple facets of the current society and its populace. All the more reason this folly needed to be nipped in the bud before any lasting damage could be done. And it just so happened that they'd be the group to do it.


"So that's the plan anyway. Any reservations?"

Leora chewed the inside of her cheek as she contemplated the proposal. A bad habit of hers that presented itself whenever she put serious thought into anything.

"Staggering the shots won't mean jack shit if both of us don't have eyes on the rocket."

"Apparently they'd need to fire from directly in front of the target if they want to reap the maximum amount of benefit from the wind."

"I see. They want the direction of the wind gust perpendicular to the path of the bullet, to increase the chances of it being pushed laterally of course."

"I'll have to take your word for it on that."

The sharpshooter was silent for a moment before making a popping noise with her mouth.

"Tell them I'll play along, first shot will go to whoever is furtherest from the target. Gives the latter shot a chance to observe the trajectory of the first. Should help determine how much compensation will be necessary."

"You got it."

After relaying Leora's message Youn would need to look into whether Preece made any headway in securing ammunition from C326. Could afford Leora the chance to take some shots at the escort before they made their move. Plus it would leave a bad taste in his mouth if they didn't throw all the convoy's resources at those threatening it.

Belveer here we come.