Excerpt for Hellcats #15: The Hard Goodbye by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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HELLCATS


Season 02 | Episode 06


THE HARD GOODBYE

by Misty Vixen

They fucked us,” Emily said, staring around the table. “But we can fuck them. Syl?” She looked over at the ship's technician, who was staring intently into her tablet. She'd hooked it into the ship's systems so that she could work while they talked.

Yes,” Syl replied, glancing up briefly. “We can. They hit us with a pulse that kicked our systems briefly out of order. It's an old trick that isn't used too often because it can blow up in your face if you don't do it just right. Luckily for us, I know how do do it just right and I can make it work. Right now, however, I'm honing in on Love's tracking signal.”

You've found it?” Lindsay asked. The blue-furred cyvit had an air of worry about her. It clashed with her normal casual laid-back ease. They were all gathered in the kitchen, which had been largely untouched by the boarding action the enemy crew had preformed. Emily was still seething with anger over that.

I've found it,” Syl confirmed.

Where are they?” Emily asked.

About two lightyears from here, in some mining system. I'm boosting our sensors through the power grid to get a better read on them,” Syl replied, staring at the screen again, focusing intently on it. Emily left her to it.

Okay. This is the plan. We're going to hop over to that system and hit them with their own fucking weapon. We do the same thing they did: get onboard and hit them hard. Only during this attack we're going to kill every fucking last one of them, recover our friends and our cargo. Keep it simple,” she said, staring at the others.

They all stared back at her, except for Syl, who was still working. Each of them had looks on their faces that she imagined mirrored her own. Hatred, fury, grim determination. Someone had hit them at home, taken their friends, stolen from them. You didn't get to do that and walk away from it. There was simply no way.

Emily was going to make sure that every last one of those fuckers regretted their decision. She nodded to the door. “Go get ready for war,” she said.

They all responded in agreement with that assessment and left the kitchen. Once they were gone, Emily sat down across from Syl.

How long?” she asked.

From the progress I've been making, another ten minutes of scanning before we get a solid lock on them,” Syl replied.

And the pulse?”

Twenty minutes of reconfiguring to make it work. And it shouldn't take us more than a half-hour to get to the system.”

Okay. Start up the engines and get us going. Keep track of them, make sure they don't leave,” Emily replied.

On it,” Syl said, standing and leaving the kitchen.

Emily lingered for a moment, gathering her thoughts. If it had been awhile since someone had taken some potshots at her, it had been ages since someone had boarded her ship, come into her home, and taken her friends hostage. She had no intention of letting that stand. Anger was boiling up from somewhere deep inside of her. An old anger, a cauldron of fury that had been with her for as long as she could remember.

It had taken years, decades honestly, to get her rage under control. It was nasty and mean and ugly, but she'd done it. Lately, she had hadn't much reason to feel angry, and that had been nice. But now it was back, on tap, and in a way it felt like an old friend you hadn't seen in years, someone who had been with you when you were growing up, who had been a crucial, integral part of your life, but circumstances had forced you apart so long ago...and suddenly they were back. Emily embraced her anger as she stepped out of the kitchen. Those fuckers had no idea who they were messing with and they'd pay, brutally, for it.

A shiver ran through Emily's body as she asserted control over herself. Anger was meaningless without control. In fact, it could be damning without control. She would use her anger as fuel. She stepped out of the kitchen and into the main hallway, looking around. The door to the armory was open. Good. Everyone was gearing up. She felt the slight, subtle shift in the Hellcat as Syl brought her about and shot them off towards their destination. Emily walked down the corridor and stepped into the armory.

Everyone but Syl was there, suiting up, grabbing gear and armor and guns. Well...everyone but Syl and Love. And Ryan. But he wouldn't be in the armory. She felt a pang of guilt at letting them get captured and quickly quashed it. Guilt would do them no good now. Action would. She marched over to her part of the armory and began pulling on her body armor. She felt the burning bite of pain as she stretched and pulled the vest on. Her shoulder still hurt from getting shot. She ignored the pain to the best of her ability.

Nobody spoke as they suited up for battle.

They all knew the score.



Emily stepped onto the bridge and saw Syl in her chair, working the controls with an intense concentration. Through the windows, she could see the slowly growing shape of a dull gray circle. A moon, she imagined. Beyond it, she could see a large reddish circle. A gas giant. She and the others had finished gearing up, now wearing full body armor with pistols on their hips, ammo in their pockets and a weapon of choice in their hands.

What's happening?” Emily asked, coming to stand behind Syl's chair.

Good news,” Syl replied, though you wouldn't think so from the strained tone of her voice. “They're not far from that moon up ahead. I'm going to use the moon to hide us from their scanners. It'll give us quite an advantage. We should be able to swing around and pop out right behind them, slam them with the pulse and be up alongside them in a little bit under two minutes.”

How long until you're ready to begin that two minute timer?” Emily replied.

Five minutes.”

Good. I'll go get the others ready. Once we're locked in, stay with the ship. Gear up and make sure no one gets onboard,” Emily replied.

Syl glanced back over her shoulder at Emily. She was looking a bit better. He eyes had regained their full light and she said she'd mostly recovered from the shock to her system, but she still looked pretty dismal. Her expression was one of pain and anxiety. Emily knew her physical ailments and the upcoming attack weren't what was bothering her.

Don't worry, Syl,” she said quietly. “We'll get him back.”

Okay,” Syl replied, returning her attention to the controls.

That's what Emily liked about Syl, liked about all of them. They could set aside their emotions and focus on the work when they were under the wire. Emily lingered for a moment in the bridge, staring at Syl. As upset as she was about what had happened, she imagined Colleen and Syl were even more torn up. Ryan had become a bit more than a living sex toy to Emily since he came onboard. She cared about him, wanted him to be safe and happy, but she knew whatever muted emotions she might have towards him, those two were feeling significantly more. They might even love him. She was sure he loved them, even if he might not admit to himself.

She turned and left the bridge, joining the others in the armory. She quickly updated them all on the plan. Leaving Syl behind alone wasn't ideal, especially given her weakened state, but the situation wasn't ideal. It was how it was and they were dealing with it to the best of their ability. After making sure everyone understood the situation and the plan ahead, she took the remainder of the time to check over her gear once more.

After making sure that her guns and armor were ready to go to war once again, Emily led the others out of the armory. They gathered by the airlock.

Syl?” she asked over the radio built into her helmet.

Coming around the moon now,” Syl replied. A pause. “I just launched the pulse...it hit. They're dead in the water. You should get into the airlock now.”

Great. Ilyse, Angel, with me. We're first. Lindsay, Colleen, you'll be the second wave.”

They all responded and Emily led Ilyse and Angel into the airlock. They stepped inside and closed it behind them, waiting. Seconds ticked by. It seemed to take forever, but, finally, there was a loud clang as Syl locked their airlock with the enemy ship.

We're locked in. You'll have to manually override their airlock since their electronics are down,” Syl said.

Got it. Grab your guns and armor.”

On it. Good luck.”

Yep.”

Emily set to work.



Ryan jerked awake as he heard a loud clang.

A moment of pure fear: he was encased in perfect darkness. He couldn't see anything. Had he been blinded? He couldn't even remember falling asleep. But he could remember where he was, at least, and who was with him.

Love?” he asked. His voice sounded scared and lonely.

Nothing. He laid there in the dark, thinking, wondering about what could possibly be going on. He sat up slowly, fearful of moving at all in absolute darkness, but he remembered that there was nothing in the cell with him but a toilet and a bed. There were no blankets on the bed. He shivered slightly as he felt a cold begin to fill the room. What had happened? Why had they lost power? Why wasn't Love responding?

Had they taken her away while he was sleeping?

This was just like when the mercenaries had attacked-

Ryan smiled in the darkness. He had it. All at once, he had it. Or he thought he did. They were here. The Hellcats. They had come to save him and Love. Speaking of Love...Ryan still couldn't see, but he knew the sound he had heard, the clang: it was Love. He imagined that Emily and the others had hit the enemy ship with a similar pulse to the one that they had originally used, the same kind that basically knocked Love out.

It had been her hitting the floor.

He hoped she was okay. Ryan leaned over and reached out, groping blindly in the darkness for Love's body. He finally laid a hand on her arm. She was definitely out. For a moment, he tried to move her, to get her onto the mattress, but she was really heavy, and he figured that it probably wouldn't matter to her anyway, given that she was a robot. Ryan gasped and jumped slightly as the lights flickered back on.

Not entirely, they were very dim and not all of them were on, so it must be some kind of emergency setting, but it was enough to see by. He wondered how long it would be before Love rebooted. He didn't know how long he'd been out the first time. It could've been twenty minutes or two hours as far as he knew. Obviously Love had woken up before he had then. As Ryan sat there and waited for something new to happen, he began to hear distant gunfire. For once, the sound filled him with hope.

They were coming for him.



Emily came out of the airlock like a demon of death and war summoned straight out of the gates of hell itself. She'd selected a shotgun for her main weapon, as she favored the up-close-and-personal kind of combat advantage it would offer. And her choice was immediately validated as she stepped out of the airlock, into a receiving bay scattered with space suits and benches, spied someone running into the room, flashlight bobbing wildly and she raised the shotgun and fired. The blast was so powerful that, as it hit the hostile straight in the chest, it picked the son of a bitch up and threw his body back out of the doorway he'd come through.

Emily cocked the gun, grinned darkly, and set off.

Ilyse and Angel backed her up as she swept across the room and called for the others to come through. As she approached the door across the room, someone else stepped into the doorway, wielding a pistol with intent to kill. Emily shifted her aim and fired again, blasting the fucker straight off his feet to join his friend. She cocked the gun again and stepped through the door into a hallway. She stepped out of the way so that Ilyse could join her. Emily broke left, Ilyse broke right. For now, it was just a sweep and clear, a run and gun.

The shotgun jumped in her sure grasp once again as someone joined them in the hallway. She blew the guy's fool head off, spraying the wall behind him with blood.

We're in,” Colleen said.

Spread out. Ilyse and Angel, Colleen and Lindsay. I'll go it alone. Kill everyone you see, keep an eye out for Ryan and Love,” Emily said.

Everyone snapped off sharp replies and split up, spreading out throughout the ship. Emily poked her head into the nearest door, found an empty maintenance room and moved on. Everything seemed to be moving in fast motion. Her blood was boiling and she was alive with rage and righteous fury, feeling more like an animal than a human at the moment. The intent to kill was alive and well and powerful within her right then.

She made her way through the ship, clearing every room she came across. At first, most of them were just bedrooms. She found and killed another five crew members, three humans and two xenians who had apparently slept through the whole thing. Given the messy state of their rooms and the amount of empty bottles, (beer and pill), they were probably drunk or high. With each of these people she found, Emily pulled out her pistol and fired off a single, quick shot. Killing people in their sleep was about as nasty as it sounded but Emily was beyond caring right now. She wasn't in a very giving mood and neither, she imagined, where the others.

Once she was finished with the bedrooms, she found her way into the cargo area, getting occasional updates from the others. Colleen and Lindsay had apparently found the fast track to the bridge, where the captain of this ragtag little group of assholes would very likely be holed up, but they were running into some heavy resistance. Ilyse and Angel had found their way into the engine room and were wrecking everyone's shit down there, which was fine with Emily. She told the two cyvits to stay on it, then kept looking.

As she began clearing out the cargo area, the lights came back on. About that same time, she found herself hip-deep in bad guys as half a dozen mercenaries, in various states of armor, rushed into the large, open room she was in. She had just finished reloading her shotgun and put her considerable combat skills to use. Spinning around, Emily blew the head off of the nearest asshole, spraying the others with blood and distracting them, both with the blood and, she imagined, her speed. She had a hell of a quick draw.

Emily blew through them pretty quick, working the shotgun as fast as her hands would allow. They only managed to get a handful of shots off, only a few those connecting with her suit and none of them getting through. She reloaded and continued on through the cargo bay, stepping through a far door and finding herself in another hall. Something about it made her pause. There were doors along the walls to both sides of her, six each. Something about it resembled a prison complex. Maybe this was where they were holding Ryan and Love...provided they were still alive and whole. Emily shook her head, no time to think about that now.

She began checking the doors and, before long, she finally found what she was looking for. She opened the third door on the left and felt an immense relief sweep over her as she saw Ryan helping Love get to her feet.

Emily!” he cried.

Hello, Ryan. Love.” She activated her radio. “I found them. Angel, meet me back at the airlock,” she said.

Got it,” Angel replied.

Is Ryan okay?” Colleen asked.

He's fine.”

And Love?” Lindsay asked.

She's fine, too. They're both safe and healthy,” Emily replied, inspecting them both first to ensure that her assessment was correct.

Thank you for coming,” Love said as she and Ryan stepped out of the room they'd been holding the two of them prisoner in.

You're welcome,” Emily replied, taking her pistol out of its holster and passing it to Love, who accepted it with a nod. “Keep your head about you, Ryan. If the shooting starts, duck. We're getting you two out of here.”

Got it,” Ryan replied. He looked pale and shaken, but largely in control of himself. Good. She was worried he'd be worse than this. Maybe he was just in shock. Either way, she needed to get him out of here now.

The trip back through the ship wasn't as bad as she thought it was going to be. She got updates from the others as she retraced her path of destruction back to the airlock. Angel and Ilyse had cleared out a ton of them from other parts of the ship. Ilyse had gone on to join the assault on the bridge and Angel had broken away to get back to the airlock. By the time Emily led the others there, Angel was already waiting. She looked relieved to see them.

Now what?” Angel asked.

Make sure they get back onto the ship fine and help Syl shore up the defenses on our ship in case anyone slips by. I'm going on ahead to help the others with the bridge,” Emily replied.

Got it.”

She made sure they got onto the ship safely, then hurried on to complete their mission.



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