Bridges (an After Terra mini-series) Part One

The Battle of Triton was still hot on the System com-net’s memory. The victorious crew of Unyielding Virtue were meant to be celebrating their victory and subsequent reunion with jubilations and libations, but for them instead there were shots exchanged with bullets rather than liquors.

Jessie didn’t exactly mind though, despite the complaints. By now Matt realized much too well how much danger both excited Jes, and distracted her from her torrential past. As a way to center himself, trapped as he was in the moment behind an improvised barricade and waiting for a chance to shoot back at their assailants, Matt considered how things even got to this point.

When arriving on Logos, fresh from his parents’ funeral, Matt had regained some sense of normalcy. He was back among his friends, back aboard Virtue, the cruiser on which he was now a Captain. Her relaunch had been thought of as an opportunity to finally explore space, to see what truly lay beyond the bounds of his old Crop and the Saturn territory. That notion was out the airlock rather quickly when a scant twenty minutes after launching, a distress call was tightbeamed to Virtue from a man claiming to be Jessie’s uncle.

It was suffice enough to say that any person who dared suggest that they knew anything of Jes from what she called “the before times,” drew both her ire and undivided attention, so out of both placation and curiosity Matt ordered a return to Logos. Once again moored to the furthest-flung human settlement in the known Solar System, the crew set out to meet this would-be uncle, only to wander into the middle of a battle. It was a three way struggle, best Matt had been able to grasp, between two schisms of the Solar Consortium, as well as the criminals fighting on behalf of Logos’s Nexus Lords, the property and business owners who now smelled a rare opportunity to get out from under Corporate control.

A large-caliber bullet struck Matt’s cover, chipping a piece of metal that landed on his scalp. The heat and impact snapped him back to the present. He’d always been one to reflect, but ever since the Battle of Triton and his encounter with the Baron, his reveries had tended to get away from him, to the point of daydreaming his way into danger. His faculties refocused, Matt dared to blindfire his ion cannon over the barricade. The flash-charged particles suppressed the shooters for a moment, and that’s when Jessie took her chance to escalate their self-defense strategy. Leaning out from low cover, she slung a grenade disc, managing to stick it to the top of the enemy’s own barricade. Half a second after it landed, she triggered it, spraying shrapnel in a ninety-degree fan. The explosion and fragments killed both shooters instantly.

“That was excessive,” Matt said as they cautiously approached and surveyed the carnage.

“They wanted to shoot both of us in the head, you sod,” Jes said, while checking the shredded bodies for ammunition. “Fuckers. They were using forties and thirty-eights, no wonder they couldn’t punch through.”

“One day you’ll have to explain how to understand so much about guns and bullets,” was all he could think to say. His disgust at the waste of life was something he didn’t know how to articulate, least of all to her and in that moment.

“One lesson at a time, boytoy,” she said with a wink and a pat on his bum as she walked past.

That statement felt both affirming and embarrassing. With freshly flushed cheeks, he followed her. They’d been pinned at the bottom of a hill on Sublime Street, one of many junction points in Logos’ merchant ring. Like so much of the sector, it was a jarring intersection of new and old architecture, of repurposed ship hulls and contemporary habitation tenements. That so many streets in the ring were built on inclines was a holdover from Logos’ original construction, when it was meant to emulate planetary conditions. Aside from his brief EVAs on Titan and Triton, Matt hadn’t been exposed to natural environments and found Logos’ halfway simulation of them to be highly disorienting.

Now at the top of the hill they’d claimed by force, Matt and Jes looked around for their shipmate who’d ostensibly been trapped there under fire.

“The fuck is he?” Jes fumed as she peaked into an apartment on their left, through a door that had been blasted open. She kept a pistol at the ready while scanning with her free hand.

More leisurely in his approach, Matt split off from her and activated his device as well. His scan didn’t reveal any motion or passive heat signatures… on the horizontal axis, at least. Upon hearing someone drop behind him, Matt realized too late that he’d forgotten to check up high, toward the tenement awnings, before he’d already stepped wide out into the open. Though Jes was on her toes and already had her gun pointed at whoever had dropped down, Matt hadn’t been able to even turn around before feeling a yank on his arm, causing him to drop his ion cannon…


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