Blast after blast threw sparks off the charged armor plate as Zoe Vasquez whipped the ship's wheel around. One against seven. She liked those odds. The Hard Counter, Zoe's personal flagship, burst through the storm of gunfire and smoke.
Those Draconians were going down. The new armor the Legion had stolen from them was working perfectly.
"Get below and prepare the skiff, Gridiron. We need to disable that last ship in the group. It's got the guy we need aboard."
Gridiron nodded once, her eyepatch and skull-plate glinting in the flashes of gunfire. With one hand she grabbed the pole to the engineering deck and slid down.
Zoe watched her for a moment, recalling the years Gridiron stood by her side. Following her wherever the seas took them.
The former Forsaken leader whipped the ship around again in a tight arc, spray putting out the small fires on the crackling armor.
A freezing blast of frozen air hit the stern.
The sea around Zoe flash-froze and stabbed at the waterline. Razor-sharp ice fragments flew about the bridge, cutting up exposed skin. Zoe looked down at one arm, the one that didn't have blood to leak out, and slapped it against the new hole in the bullet-proof glass of the bridge.
With her other, **** arm, she rocked the ship back and forth, breaking free of the sudden ocean ice. The Hard Counter leapt free.
"Ok, that **** we kill first. THEN we take prisoners!"
A few minutes later, it was done.
Four dead. Not bad for a surprise raid against yet another Drac convoy. But four was still too, too many. The Legion couldn't afford four more gone.
After her break with Harlock and the Forsaken, the Legion had struggled to maintain independence from the larger factions. Aside from some patches of open water and a few rocky archipelagoes, the Legion had no home.
No place to rest. No place to resupply.
Vasquez only knew one strategy. And that was to remain on the offensive. With no home, there was no other course.
The two women regarded the prisoner, who coolly watched them back.
The voice came from a synthesizer attached to the man's neck.
"What did you say to me?"
Zoe gave a nod to Gridiron, who wound up and swung the crowbar into his belly.
He didn't fall. He couldn't, given how they had tied him up.
"You... you say that to your men. It's in your file."
The voice came out of the box evenly, while the man gasped for breath.
"Always forward. Because... because you can't stop. Won't stop."
Gridiron took another swing.
"Because. you. don't. belong. anywhere."
The words ground out of the synth as the man coughed.
Zoe sighed and motioned Gridiron to take another swing.
It was going to be a long interrogation.
An icy north wind blasted the walls of the compound on the tiny Draconian-occupied island. The Hard Counter blasted the south side.
Zoe pumped round after round into the Drac trooper as the Hard Counter offshore sent broadsides into the Drac base.
“This base must have been more important than we thought!”
Finally the defender stopped moving. His cracked armored chestplate sparked once, and then went dark.
Zoe looked over. Gridiron was on the ground wrestling with another, her arm broken and limp at her side.
Still, she kept fighting.
That’s what we do best, Zoe thought.
Then Zoe put a round into the Drac soldier's head.
Gridiron released him and slumped over, a **** gash across her throat. Just missed the artery.
“This guy had a screen on him,” Gridiron gasped while Zoe tried to stem the bleeding. “It said something about a map access code. Some **** named ‘High Officer Melatech' has it.”
Zoe Vasquez looked at the collection of monitors around her. All her captains stared back at her.
It was a security risk to transmit to all of them at once, but this was important. She was already down Gridiron. She was going to be in the infirmary for weeks after that raid. Zoe needed everyone to know. To focus. This was important.
“At dawn we took down a Drac research hub on some bird-crap-infested rock. That’s not important.”
She flipped a switch, and the screens switched from the battle-scarred men and women of the Legion to something else. A green storm cloud.
“You all know the Glowing Sea, I presume.”
“Yeah,” a voice crackled out of the speaker. Picks, he was called. Another Forsaken that had broken ranks to join her crusade against the Draconians.
“Yeah. Radioactive clouds. Constant storms. Weird-**** mutants. No one goes in or out. Except the Reavers.”
“Until now,” Zoe began, and stopped for a moment as the speakers erupted in curses.
She persisted, “We’re dying out here. We don’t have a base. We don’t have a home.”
The speaker crackled again.
“You ain’t gonna find it in those waters. Just a whole bunch of Reaver fire and mutants.” That was Dano, the local expert on such things.
There was a general chorus of agreement. Zoe gave it a moment, then spoke.
“We’re not going to it. We’re going through it.”
Voices rose again, but she wasn’t having any of it.
“The stories are true. It’s there. The land. The continent.”
Everyone shut up. Zoe could hear the water faintly lapping against the hull breach right outside the reactor deck, it was so quiet.
“The continent is in there. The Drac know about it. They’re planning on some expedition to go there. If they think the legend is true, then it is. Land. Land so far you can’t see the sea.”
A moment of silence, then a single bark of laughter. Picks.
“Screw this, Zoe. You ordering us to go on some raid through radiation, Reavers, storms, Drac and the seas-know-what-else for what? Some kids’ story?”
“No, Picks. I’m not ordering anything. But I am telling you something. I founded the Legion because the Forsaken aren’t willing to do what needs to be done. They aren’t willing to pull the trigger when someone needs to take the shot. You know me, Picks. Dano. Hangfire. The rest of you. You know me. I pull the trigger when it needs doing.”
“So I’m pulling the trigger on this. We don’t have a home. We don’t have any land to call our own. We’re dying in Drac’s seas. In Harlock’s seas. In Isirus’ seas. Where do we go? How do we get stronger?”
“I’ll tell you how. There’s a land out there. A big land, bigger than anything ever seen. And we’re gonna take it. We’re gonna defend it. We’re gonna make it home. Legion’s Home. Our homeland.”
“You thought we were on a crusade before, boys and girls? You ain’t seen a **** thing. I’m pointing the Hard Counter at Vassago’s throat. I’m gonna jam my cannons so far up his **** he’ll be burping gunpowder. And then I’m gonna ask him one question: how do we get to that continent.”
You could hear a rivet drop. She had them.
“And then when I get the coordinates the Hard Counter is going into that storm. It’s going through those Reavers. And it’s gonna KEEP going until it touches land. Then I’m going to get off this goddam boat.”
“Follow, or not. But that’s where I’m going.”
"Because I’ll be home."