Friday, January 3, 2014

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. 

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