Chapter 53:


From Nowhere to Sender

"I'm in position, drop him down whenever you're ready!"

Cade stood at the base of the bridge with a mortuary bag at the ready, bags that were typically reserved for crew members who perished during transit.

"Working on it! This guy's fucking heavy and covered in blood to boot!"

"That's a great idea Ev! Lower him by his boots!"

Could always count on Lux for snarky comments at a moments notice.

"Maybe we try shoving one of those massive boots up your ass, see if that'll help get him down!"

Lux shrugged her hands from beside Cade, sporting a guileless tone.

"I don't see how it possibly could."

"Knock it off you two."

Cade accompanied his chastising with a few loud snaps of his fingers, an established habit of his for demanding people's attention.

"Lux, go keep an eye on the faction members. Without an RED to lean on their actions could get desperate. And Browder, I'll head up now and help with lowering Quay. Sit tight."

"Dude, what are your fingers made of? I felt that in MY bones."

Cade ignored Lux and went about hoisting himself atop the bridge to join Evan. And boy she was not kidding about the amount of blood. Being mindful of his footing he moved over towards the once party leader's left foot and grabbed hold. Similarly Evan got a grip on the right and they rotated the large man so they could lower him head first. A strenuous task that might have been impossible without shifting their weight onto their heels.

"If you feel like you're about to slip just let go. No sense in risking injury over moving some dead guy."

"Don't have to tell me twice."

Cade cast a sidelong glance at the security officer as they inched forward in unison.

"Heard you got the finishing blow."

"Joint effort really. Could have been Heenan for all I know."


"What is?"

"A lot of security officers would jump at the chance to claim credit for killing a party leader."

Evan paused her movements, forcing Cade to follow suit.

"True, although I personally consider it pointless. I actually knew a gal who'd mark the ammo she was issued before every convoy. I think it helped put her into the necessary mindset for field service, also made it clear who she was responsible for killing."

"That is pointless, not like her or the LCF would bother with the body collection and autopsies of raiders."

"He says as we're about to drop the body of a party leader into a LCF mortuary bag."

On that note both began moving the body towards the edge again. Evan picked up the conversation again.

"She was desperate. To earn accolades that is. And if a small thing like marking up bullets ended up bearing fruit, she could've been offered a comfy station job somewhere."

"Is that what you're gunning for?"

The two began straining as they lowered the body of Guell Quay in unison. Thankfully his absurd height made it so his head practically touched the deck already, made dropping his corpse down seem less harsh. To them at least, the view for the audience in the bridge must have been disturbing to say the least. But now that it was down Cade moved over to the spot he'd climbed up, Evan followed as she shook out her arms.

"Only thing I have any business gunning for is threats to the convoy. As in gunning them down. Don't need a station job since I'm headed home once my service requirement is up."

"You started at the same time as Lux, no?"

"Sure did, our graduation certificates are even decorating the wall of the same bar."

Cade dropped to the deck with a light thud before reaching up and grabbing Evan's hips.

"Halfway there."

"Halfway there."

Now firmly on the front deck both proceeded to look over at Lux who they realized had grown concerningly quiet. She was pressed up against the weak side railing with a visible scowl. Stepping around the body they'd just set down the two came up on either side of her to investigate.

"This is a unique way of approaching..."

"I think they're...surrendering to us?"

"Could be a trick."

Cade scrutinized what he was seeing. They were all anti-faith faction, no weapons as far as he could tell. In fact they'd all shed their jackets save for the young man in front who was waving his side to side. He also noted that neither their speed or formation facilitated an approach with intent to board.

"Well I'm supposed to be going down anyway."

"I'll head down too, gonna need to re-enter the engine room soon anyway."

Cade hesitated when he saw Evan head straight down the weak side stairway next to them. Bold move considering no declaration of clearance had come yet. Lux called after her descending form.

"Give me the signal if I should start blasting, otherwise I'll go on instinct."

"Good, cause I'm working with jack shit as far as ammo goes."

"Easy there Rougas. No one is shooting anybody, not while they're unarmed and not until we figure out what they're up to. The final decision is Commander Heenan's anyway."

Cade hustled down the stairs after Evan, keeping a close eye on the man leading the charge towards diplomacy. He watched as they came up alongside the platform and attempted to match the speed of the Crusader. No easy task with the current speed the convoy was moving at. It would have to be a quick negotiation.

He slipped past Evan and rang the bridge via the speaking tube. The response from the bridge was swift.

"What is it?"

"Commander you're needed on the weak side platform, we have faction members wanting to negotiate a surrender."

"I think I see where this is going...I'll be right down."

The sound of the lid falling shot indicated the conversation was over and Cade motioned over to Engler and Gandlin that they could head up. They looked skeptical but eventually turned around, Tristler assisting Nocks over to the ladder way. Cade turned back around and walked calmly to the side of the platform opposite Evan. He placed both hands on the railing and dropped his head for a moment, shaking it side to side. It had been a long day. Looking back up he made eye contact with the faction member waiting patiently. Or at least trying to, but the rate at which they were closing in on New Kantler was obviously stressing him out.

"I think you might've dropped your rocket launcher back there, for your sake I hope it came with a warranty."

"Save it Browder, munitions from the black market don't come with warranties."

The young man almost seemed surprised they'd identified him as the rocketeer. But that surprise quickly turned into anger when what they'd said sunk in. Angry or not the man still refrained from responding verbally.

"What you'll shoot rockets at us but won't talk? That's some pretty fucked up logic don't ya think?"

"That'll be enough Ms. Browder."

Commander Heenan stepped out onto the platform then and took a second to verify everyone's current positions, that included Lux at the top of the stairway. Satisfied he turned towards the youth who'd resumed his fidgeting.

"Our time is limited. Let's talk business."