Friday, January 3, 2014

Chapter 21 Rebirth

Time passed, how much I couldn’t say. I made it all the way back to Vit without being podded. I went straight to my room and got in bed. All of the wounds were still open and bloody but it did not matter to me. Eventually, Vicky and Jazz showed up and forced me out of bed to clean my wounds. I did not protest until Jazz suggested I go pod myself. I wasn’t interested in a new clone. I wanted to feel the pain. It was the only thing left that reminded me I was alive.

They took turns watching me for a couple of days then Jazz left for high security space to check on her business. Vicky stayed and made sure I ate a couple of times a day. In the meantime she looked up some old friends to go fly with. The corporation and alliance had fallen apart in the time I was gone. But there were still enough people around to form a fleet and cause trouble.

I spent my days deep inside my mind slogging through a mess of thoughts and feelings that were mixed to the point they were almost unrecognizable.  I had been lucky to see Tasha as she really was.  It helped me start pulling apart my life, starting with her.  There was a pattern to my twisted ways, and with a little time maybe I could figure out my thoughts enough to at least move off this bed.

My life had always been an internal battle between who I wanted to be and who I really was.  I had always felt like two different people at war.  The opposing sides were silent now.  There was no pirate or person that desperately wanted to be, as Tasha had said, a hero.  There was only me, stripped of every wall and defense I had built up since I was a child.  I was exposed now, and the cold reality made me shiver beneath the covers.

Around the second week of my exile Vicky slipped into the bed. She pulled me close and gave me a hug. I recoiled at first, until her warmth spread over my skin. Before I could stop myself I realized how much I missed having a connection to the world I had abandon.  

“Why don’t you come outside and play with us? I can pod you. You will feel so much better,” she said, snuggling in closer as I relaxed.

“Did you shoot her in the head or the chest?” There was no anger in my question, just sadness. There was no reason to be mad. Tasha was insane and evil…and my only light. 

“Do you really want to know the answer?” she asked, pulling away. “There are plenty of good people who care about you. We are glad you are still here. Come out and fly with us. I promise with time you will feel better.”

I didn’t respond, but she wouldn’t leave. She put her arm back around me. Her words and gestures woke up a little part of me that remembered being human. It was almost two weeks since my confrontation with Tasha when I finally gave in and let myself cry. Tears gushed while my body convulsed with the intensity of the release of emotion and pain. She stayed silent and ran her fingers through my hair, not stopping until my sobs had quieted.

Eventually, she slid from the covers and I could hear her open the door. Her warmth quickly left the covers and I missed the contact.

“Lakasha?” she said, voice holding an edge of anger.

I turned to look at her standing in the door. Her face was soft, but her eyes held a dangerous glint.

“Yeah, Vicky?”

“I shot that bitch in the head.”

With that she turned and left.  We didn’t have any more encounters like that one. But between the crying and the warmth she shared, a part of me awoke that remembered living.  Somewhere in the middle of all the pain and suffering good memories started to grow.  At first, I tried to stomp them down but soon realized I couldn’t.

Each day a little more of me clawed its way free from the dark pit. Soon, I couldn’t lie there anymore. I was still depressed and my mind was a mess of stray thoughts that needed to be sorted. But I couldn’t deny there was something inside of me that still wanted to be alive. It was enough to get me out of bed.

After almost three weeks of bed-rest and a poorly healing body I made it to the office. I checked my mail while I listened to the Hell Fleet chat frequency. I closed my eyes and listened to a skirmish near Vit’s top asteroid belt. Vicky and the guys took out a miner and taunted the poor guy on local until I thought he was going to cry. I laughed for the first time in a long time.

Hundreds of good memories competed for my attention. How had I let myself forget so many things over the years? I let my darkness swallow me whole.  The depression dimmed the light and kept me from seeing both sides of my reality.

I crossed my arms on the table and laid my heavy head down to rest. Vicky and Jazz had risked dying on a station to help me because they truly cared about me. I would have done the same for them. It was proof enough that I was not as evil as I had come to believe. Years of twisted thinking had warped my reality.  Sorting out the truth would take time.

I knew I was messed up on the inside, but I realized I did not want to die. In that moment my decision was made.  But if I was going to live I had to figure out a way to live a good life. I knew these realizations wouldn’t fix the void in me that cried out for love and someone to save me. Maybe just the choice to live a good life was enough. It was a purpose that even the most stubborn parts of me could focus on.

I rummaged around in the closet and found a flight suit that fit me well enough. I managed to shove my unresponsive arm in and zip myself up.  Before I ran out of energy to keep moving I walked straight to the docking bay and climbed into my pod.

I shot out of the launch bay into the awaiting sunlight of Vit’s star. I imagined its warmth on my face as I sent the mental command to the warp drives. The drives spun up sending a jolt of energy over my skin. The pod was sent zooming toward the center of the system.

On the way to my safe spot I opened up a communications channel with Vicky and requested to join the fleet.

“Hey! What took you so long?” she asked.

“You know, I had a lot of stuff to take care of. Could you warp to me? I have something I need you to do.”

“I would love to.”

She came out of warp at five kilometers from my pod. She was flying a Rifter and at that moment it was the most beautiful ship I had ever seen.

“Vic, would you mind killing me? I have a lot of stuff I need to get done today.”

She didn’t say a word over the communications frequency.  As the targeting alarm went off I closed my eyes and imagined her smile on the other side.

I was about to die, so I could start living again.


It’s hard to believe that I wrote Lakasha’s story three years ago.  I want to thank everyone that has read the story.  It was the first story that I actually finished and the first one where the characters talked to me and wouldn’t shut up.  This story taught me how much I love to write.  Since then I have finished three more novels and I hope to have one of them published sometime this year. 

I want to send out a special thanks to those who helped me with their constant encouragement.  Also, I never would have finished posting this story if not for those of you who helped me by reading and editing.  Thanks so much to all of you.  You helped me discover writing and that is something I can never thank you enough for. 

Special thanks to J, Ika, Evi, Fat Kid, and Doba.  Without you guys this story never would have happened.

Like many writers, there were some songs that really connected with me while I was writing this story.  I feel like they are a great representation of the characters and I have linked to them below.  If you enjoyed the story please take the time to listen.

Lakasha - Monster by Skillet

Tasha - Vow by Garbage

Geklov - Head Like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails


Chapter 20.5

I couldn’t hold my head up anymore, at least not for any measurable amount of time.  After Tasha left, the Blood Raiders took over the efforts to convince me to give up the data.  I continued to refuse to talk to anyone but Tasha.  Well, that wasn’t exactly true.  I did a lot of talking, because at some point everyone does.  I just didn’t tell them what they wanted to know.

They had worked around the ropes cutting off the sleeves of my flight suit.  There were long, blood filled furrows, everywhere my skin was exposed.  I lost count of the slaps and punches.  Each strike had been delivered with expert precision, maximizing pain and minimizing damage.  So far they were avoiding my face, no doubt in an attempt to keep me from passing out.  I did not know how long this torture had been going on, but we had to be getting close to the data release deadline.

When Tasha finally returned she motioned to the raiders and they scurried out the door leaving the two of us alone.  I pulled myself together enough to look up at her.  She was smiling again and shaking her head.

“You are always so hard headed.  Why don’t you just tell me what I want to know?  I can put you out of your misery then.  Let’s face it hon, that is what you need.  You have always been so broken and needy.  I thought I was doing you a favor, really,” her voice was soothing and honest.  Her words were like being slapped in the face with a silk covered hammer.  She knew how to hurt me with words more than any of the pain I had suffered over the last few hours.  She had always been a master of that.

“I just want answers.”  I choked out the words.  The hours of screams had dried out my throat.  She walked over and got a glass of water then helped me drink it.  When I was finished she put the water down on the little silver tray next to the chair and picked up a bloodied scalpel.

She sat down on my lap straddling my legs.  Her face held that beautiful smile that always made me want to melt.  The one that I would just fall into because it made me feel like everything was perfect.  She grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled back my head.  The smile never left her face.

She leaned forward, placing her face softly against mine and whispered into my ear, “I am really going to miss you baby.  I’m glad we had this chance to see each other one last time.”  As the last sweet word left her lips she took the scalpel and cut along the opposite side of my face.  I screamed as it sliced deep along my cheek.  She laughed and rubbed against me.

My mind burst into an animal-like panic.  Pain seared my skin and the ropes held me down.  I had to get free.  Through the fright a cool voice in my head demanded that I calm down.  If I did not control myself I would never know the answers.  I rubbed my bloody cheek against hers.  She responded with a little purr. 

I dropped my voice to a low sexy whisper and said, “Just explain all of this to me baby, and I promise I will give you what you want.” 

She stood and put the scalpel back on the table. 

“I had a deep spiritual experience Laka.”

“You never believed in god, Tash.”

“Are you going to let me tell this story?” she asked, and then started pacing back and forth in front of me. I waited in silence as the blood flowed down my face.   

“Once we graduated from training I did some odd flying jobs. You know, just trying to make some startup money.  Then one day I lost my first pod.  I woke up in the clone bay and I knew something had changed.  It was like I was on the verge of some great discovery but I just couldn’t put my finger on it, you know?” 

She stopped and stared at me until I nodded my understanding.

“So I kept going out and blowing myself up.  I did it for hours until I was mentally exhausted.  When I didn’t have the energy to pull myself into a pod anymore I rented a room.  I had these vivid dreams and when I woke up I knew the answer.  Laka, there is no God.  We are the Gods!”  She bounced up and down with the excitement of her revelation to me. I smiled and nodded, trying to fake some level of understanding.  

“Don’t you understand?  We can do what we want.  I did anything that was necessary to get what I wanted.  I felt dirty of course, at least at first.  It didn’t matter though; I was always one exploding pod away from a clean body.  My clones are as free from sin as the day I was scanned into the database.”  She turned and absentmindedly picked up the scalpel.

“What about the Blood Raiders, Tasha?” I asked, as I tried to keep her talking and distracted.

“Omir’s power and resources was the last thing I needed.   He leads an army of fanatics dedicated to my cause.  His people believe that the blood of clones is the most pure.  Of course it is!  I offered him a way to increase the number of clones in the universe to virtually everyone, instead of a select few.  Soon he will have so much blood and power no leader will rival him.  I will be aligned with the most powerful man in the galaxy.”

“All you have to do is complete your research,” I whispered, as I realized how insanely evil she was. 

“Exactly,” she said, beaming ear to ear at her new student as she walked over and slid the scalpel down my arm.  I whimpered a little louder than I needed to and watched a shiver of pleasure travel over her body. 

“And when I can offer everyone in the galaxy a viable clone I will be the wealthiest and most powerful little God in the known universe,” she said, as she sat back down on my lap facing me again.

I leaned over and pressed my lips against hers. She kissed me back hard, forcing her tongue into my mouth.  When she pulled away I asked, “Why couldn’t I be in this with you?  You know how much I love you.”

With a bitter laugh she said, “I gave you a choice. You chose your moral standards over me.  You stayed on that station and defended Geklov’s people instead of coming with me.  It was a test to see if you were capable of the spiritual enlightenment.  No matter how much I love you, you picked them over me!”

It all made sense to her.  She loved me and it was ok that she had used me, tried to kill me, and was now torturing me for information I had offered to give her for free. She was so smart, beautiful, and totally insane.  These were the best answers I was going to get. Even in the end, no matter how dead I became on the inside she could still hurt me. 

I didn’t know how much time had passed.  I needed to distract her for as long as I could.  I leaned my head in to kiss her again, but this time she pulled away.  So I kissed up her chest instead.  She tilted her head back and let out a sigh as she pushed the blade of the scalpel all the way into left bicep until the metal handle hit my flesh.  She slowly started flexing it back and forth.  I let out a scream with the initial cut, and little moans each time the blade moved.  She laughed with delight each time I made a sound.

“God, I am going to miss you baby.  I promise to drag this out as long as I can.”

“Don’t you want to know where the data is?”  Panic squeezed at my throat.  She was having such a good time torturing me that she might accidently kill me.

“Oh, yes I suppose we should take care of that first.” 

It was then that an explosion ripped into the adjoining room and gunfire filled the air.  I could hear members of the Amarr defense force calling out for the people in the room to surrender.  Tasha jumped off of me and ran for the door.  I set there until one of the marines came in and cleared the room.  He pulled out a knife and cut me free from the chair.

“You ok, Ma’am?” 

I love marines. “Yes, I’m ok.”  He helped me up, and even though I felt a little wobbly I was able to stand.  I could see Jaz and Vicky through the doorway talking to some of the station police.  Tasha and two Blood Raiders were against a wall being frisked.  I stepped toward the door to the living room when all hell broke loose again.

I dove to the floor as more Blood Raiders spread into the living room.  Bullets ripped into the doorframe above me and shards of wood filled the air.  The marine jumped over me into the smoke filled room.  Within seconds the showdown was over.  I looked up to see Tasha, running toward the kitchen as the few remaining participants in the shootout continued to empty their guns. 

I crawled into the living room to see a mess of downed troopers and raiders.  Vicky and Jaz were near an overturned table helping a young marine.  I stood grabbing a gun from the floor and dashed toward the kitchen, adrenalin helping mask the pain in my legs.  The smoke was clearing through a private door in the kitchen that opened into the access hallway.

I stuck my head out in time to see Tasha make a right turn at the end of the corridor.  I heard someone call my name, but I didn’t look back.  My soul purpose left in this life was to get to Tasha and end this.  I sprinted down the hall after her, slowed by my beaten body and blood loss.  I rounded the last corner to find her waiting for a private lift not far from the public one I had come up in from the hanger.  Lucky for me it wasn’t there yet.

“Drop your gun and turn around,” I yelled.

She turned slowly, but kept a tight hold on her pistol.  She faced me, bringing the gun level with my chest. 

Never in my life would I have thought our relationship would come to this.  It was then I felt the doubt start to sink into my skin.  I didn’t think I could shoot her.  I franticly turned to the part of me that was a cold killer.  But the pirate was just as tired as I was, and loved her too.  Maybe it was time for both of us to rest.

Tasha leaned forward as though she was going to tell me a secret, “You know what I hate most about you Lakasha?”

I shook my head no.

“You always want to be the hero.”

Without a thought I let my gun drop to the floor.  I watched her arm tense as she pulled the trigger.  Her shot went wide and tore into my arm near my shoulder as her head exploded into vapor and a hole the size of a fist appeared in her chest.  Confused, I stumbled forward and stared down at her decapitated body lying on the floor.

Vicky Jackson, you are an enemy of the Amarr State, drop you weapon and wait for security detainment.

Jazzmen Barnes, you are an enemy of the Amarr State, drop you weapon and wait for security detainment.

The alarms were going off. I realized someone was shaking me and pulling my arm.  I looked over to see Vicky yelling something at me.  The lift had arrived and Jaz was standing in the doorway trying to keep it from leaving.  After a few more shakes and a rough grab at my shredded arm I followed Vicky inside.  I took one more look at what was left of Tasha as the doors closed.

Vicky kept trying to talk to me.  She was concerned that I had lost too much blood. Something about that struck me as funny and I started laughing.  Jaz spent the lift ride bitching about how long it was going to take her to raise her security status.  All I could think was I should probably shoot myself, but I didn’t know where my gun was.  

When the lift opened Jaz ran out toward the hanger.  I slid down the wall to the floor as the room started to spin.  I fell into the vortex of thoughts that I had managed to keep at bay for days.   I struggled to breathe as the universe collapsed on top of me.

The next thing I knew Vicky was on her knees in front of me.  She cupped my chin in her hands and pulled my head up so I was looking into her face.

“I know you have been through a lot.  Please, for us, come on!  Let’s just get out of here and we can figure it all out together.”

Vicky was my friend.  She was a Hellcat, and she needed me to get up and go.  I held on to that thought as best I could as I tried to stand up.   Vicky slid her arm under my left side and helped pull me off the floor. 

Once we got to my pod she stood there and waited for me to plug in and close the canopy.  From there on out it was all instinct.  The pod launched into space and I set my destination to Vit.  With any luck I would die before I got there.

Chapter 20 Showdown

I took my time getting to Rish.  I even did a little hunting along the way.  I scanned out two pirates and sent one of them home in his pod and the other one back to his clone.  The combat had been exhilarating and it reminded me how a few months ago my biggest concern was finding the next juicy target.

I entered Rish’s system and went directly to the only station.  CONCORD singed my shields a little, but did not put up much of an effort to stop me.  On the way to the station I scanned the system out of habit.  There was a fairly large presence of Blood Raiders for a high security system. Hopefully that meant Tasha was still here.

I docked and prepped my ship for undock out of habit.  In order to try and keep the plan on track I waited about a half hour before I sent a message to Tasha.  Once that was taken care of, I hopped out of the pod and waited.  The cavernous bay was empty of people.  The massive machines that normally would have been clunking away were silent.

Before too long, the lift opened and two Blood Raiders stepped out.  I put my hands in the air to let them know I wasn’t a threat.  Both of them marched toward me, feet pounding the ground with a purpose.  As they got closer one pulled out a gun and the other pulled out restraints. 

“I surrender,” I said, as they closed in around me.

Without warning the one holding the restraints punched me in the stomach.  I stumbled back against my pod, breath pouring out of my lungs with a whoosh.  I smiled then looked up at him waiting for the next swing.  It did not come so I steadied myself and took small breaths trying to cool the burning in my stomach. 

“Put out your hands,” he demanded.

I complied.  He put the restraints on then pulled my blaster out of its holster.  With a shove on my back we started toward the lift.  The man with the gun kept his distance as the other held onto my arm.  They were not much for conversation.  I thought about pushing their buttons a bit and seeing what kind of response I would get, but decided to save my energy and witty comments for whoever was waiting upstairs. 

The ride in the lift was short.  The door opened to a large lavishly decorated hallway.  To our left was a smaller hallway that looked like a maintenance tunnel.  If this station was like any other it was actually a private entrance to the very expensive rooms that lined the corridor.  They usually included access to a private lift to the hangers as well.  

After a short walk we were standing outside of a door at the end of the hallway.  The raider holding my arm reached forward and hit the buzzer. The door slid open and I looked up into the eyes of Omir, leader of the Blood Raiders.  The two men pushed me in and the door slid closed with a bang.

The room was a mix between a lab and living quarters.  The living room was filled with tall tables and electronic devices.  The most chilling addition to the room was Peter, tied to a chair in the corner.  He was a bloody mess.  I wondered how beating the poor man would help him produce another transmitter.  I could not tell if he was breathing or not.

“Nice place,” I said, looking up at Omir and giving him my best pirate smile.  He responded by slamming his fist into my face with a jaw crunching pop.  The world went black for a second and when my vision returned I was on my knees on the floor.  I shook my head trying to clear my blurred vision. 

“Fuck Omir, is this how you treat all your guests?” I wheezed, and then spit a mouthful of blood on the carpet.

“Welcome to our home, Lakasha.  You should make yourself comfortable.”  The two raiders behind me laughed hysterically.  Omir was quite the comedian.  I had to be careful.  Getting myself knocked out or killed before I had a chance to confront Tasha would do me no good.

“I am here to talk to Tasha.”

“Why should I stop myself from killing you right now?  Your blood will be pleasing to God.”

“Well, it looks like Peter is not going to help you anymore.  So unless Tasha has become an expert on whatever it is Peter does then you are going to be short a transmitter.  All that clone blood you are wanting for your God isn’t going to happen.  I have Peter’s data.”

“Give it to me!”

“I’m not giving it to anyone but Tasha,” I stated, choking back fear that he would kill me before I confronted her.

“We will see.  Find her a chair in the back.  I have a feeling my love will sacrifice this one in the most pleasing way.”

The two men behind me grabbed an arm each and yanked me from the floor.  The room spun enough from the movement to make me wonder if I had a concussion.  I was able to walk on wobbly legs into the next room with my two jailers, yay me.  Inside there was a chair and two tables filled with what looked like a mix of dental tools and surgery devices.  I was shoved into the chair and tied up quickly and efficiently. 

Sooner than I would have liked, Omir came into the room followed by Tasha.  She walked up to me, gently grabbed my chin, and proceeded to yank my face to the left and then the right evaluating the damage Omir had done.  She stepped back shaking her head and letting out a loud sigh.

“Oh baby, why didn’t you just die?” she asked, as she stomped her foot on the ground.

“I have all of Peter’s data,” I stated, struggling to keep the anger out of my voice.

Her eyes lit up like a child getting a gift.  “Give it to me and maybe we can make this painless.  I promise hon, really.”

“I will give it to you.  I just want to know one thing.”

“What’s that hon?”  

“When exactly did you become a psyco bitch?” I asked, letting the hate pour into my words.  It probably wasn’t the best move on my part but I needed to stall as long as I could. 

“Oh Laka.  I’m so sorry we are going to have to do this the hard way.”  I could tell by the look on her face she was not. 

“Soften her up and come get me when she is ready to talk,” Tasha commanded, and the Blood Raiders looked happy to comply. 

With that, she turned her back on me and headed toward the door.

“The data is going to be released to the top three implant producers in less than two hours,” I yelled at her back.

She lifted her hand into a little waive as she exited the door.  Omir turned to follow.  I was left with my two guards and an unknown amount of future pain.

Chapter 19 Tipping Point

I woke up in the cloning facility in Vitrauze. The last few seconds of my life were a little fuzzy, but apparently the brain scanner had done its job and I was safe in a healed body.  The thought of a healed body made me laugh.  I didn’t know what the laugh sounded like, but a facility robot stopped and looked at me, then rolled on.  

I set outside the clone canister in a pile of rapidly cooling goo.  I should have been cold, but I did not feel the chill.  I played with the thoughts in my head like they were children’s building blocks.  I picked each thought up and looked at it from every angle.  Slowly, I rebuilt my life one block of memory at a time. 

I had made Tasha into a religious fanatic’s idol.  She had been a false symbol of hope, a tiny flickering candle that kept me from falling into darkness.  No matter how much the storm inside me raged, and how distant that little light seemed, it kept me alive.

There were no words in existence that could comfort me.  I was filled with a burning hatred for the only person in the universe that I loved completely.  It was a mix of emotions that could not exist together.  If there was something in me that had its own strength, or some kind of self-worth that I could draw on, maybe it would be different.  I had been cut off from the light, and my thoughts turned to dark places.

I drew on the dark rage that was always boiling deep inside of me.  I fed little sparks of hate with memories of pain and hurt.  The anger grew, giving me purpose and a direction to move forward.  We were two opposing forces that had obtained critical mass.  One way or another it had to end.  I would get her to tell me the truth, and then I would either kill her, or die trying.  

Part of me flinched at the thought.  A small weak voice told me I would never be able to do it.  But I knew what I had become.  All I had to do was return to that place inside of me filled with anger and revenge.  I would find peace in the same cold detachment that had allowed me to butcher Geklov and Antov. 

With the decision made I found a new source of strength.  I pulled myself from the floor and went to the shower. There, for the first time since Tasha died, I let myself cry.  Strangely enough I was crying for the same reason.  I cried for the death of love and hope in my life. This time Tasha had killed that part of me herself.  

I got dressed and headed down to my old office.  The code to the door was always the same.  Any Hellcat, new or old, could come here and use whatever resources that were available.  I grabbed a blaster out of a weapons bin and set down at the computer.  I logged onto the network and pulled up the data Peter had given me. 

Peter could have been the key to stopping this before it was too late.  He had not wanted to come with us.  He gave me all of his research without any mention of compensation.  His body language had said it all.  He was not relived when we found him; he had been caught by someone he was not sure he trusted anymore.  If I hadn’t been in such a rush to get one more of Tasha’s little errands done maybe I would have noticed.

Peter’s data was filled with scientific bullshit that I didn’t understand, but I didn’t need to.  All I needed was Tasha’s most likely location. There were two locations mentioned repeatedly in his notes.  One was a well-known Amarr vacation spot.  The other was a research station on the outskirts of Amarr space, called Rish.  I was willing to bet that was where she was. 

While I encrypted Peter’s data and packaged it into smaller files I turned on the communicator and dialed in Karver’s number.  It did not take him long to answer.  His smiling face filled the screen and I could tell he was happy to see me. 

“I heard you were dead,” he said, with a relived laugh.

“I am,” I said, the cold truth seeping into my words.

“Well, you look great for a dead person,” he stammered. 

“I need one, no make that two more favors.”

His smile slipped fully from his face as he looked into my eyes from unknown thousands of miles away.    He started to speak twice before he managed to say, “Okay, what do you need?”

I asked him to help me verify Tasha’s location.  That was the easy part.  Then I told him I had a massive amount of encrypted data.  I wanted it put on a secure server that only I would have access to.  Most importantly, his life depended on no one being able to trace the data back to him.  He agreed, and we finished our business with little chatter.  When he told me goodbye I could tell he knew it was for the last time.

Within an hour the data was being uploaded to the server. As soon as Karver messaged me to confirm Tasha was at Rish station I finished my planning.  I set up three messages that would automatically be sent at 2100 the following day.  The messages contained the encryption keys for the data, and the server password.

I had a plan, but I was going to need help.  I needed people who were willing to risk their life for me.  That list was short, only two.  I sent a message to Vicky and Jazz, both prior Hellcats.  The message I left was simple and explained everything down to the last embarrassing Tasha filled detail.  My pride did not matter.   If I had asked for help to start with maybe I wouldn’t have been in this mess. 

They both sent me a message back within two hours.  I was not surprised by Vicky’s response.  Vicky was always ready for any kind of trouble she could get into.   She was born to be a space marine, but due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with a drill instructor on her first day of training that dream had quickly gone up in flames. 

Jazz on the other hand had moved on from the Hellcats to pursue more legitimate things.  She had been watching her security status for years.  It was a little shocking that she quickly replied that she would be there as fast as she could.  It was good to know that I did have friends out there.

I sent them the final details of the plan before I logged off.  They were in reality the backup plan.  Everything hinged on them being where I needed them on time.  If things went wrong, they were my only hope that some kind of justice would still be served. 

After all the coordination was done I stood and headed for the door.  I turned around to look at what had been my office one last time.  A flood of good memories filled me and I wished that it was enough to make me happy.  I turned off the light and closed the door leaving that part of my life behind.

I went to my favorite place to eat and grabbed a little food.  After that I went to my room.  It seemed like once I made the decision to go find her and end this game everything in my head quieted down.  I had purpose again.  I fell into a deep dreamless sleep knowing that one way or another it all ended tomorrow.