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Template:PostOn a mission to retake The Hopeful from Green, who has infested the great ship with plants, Clear, Toolkit and Captain Londris were captured by rebel Duke Hyperon and the robot Wai in CatH Post 14. Now, in CatH Post 15, Clear, having been shot, is being taken care of by Toolkit while the other stormtroopers, Vix and Sindra, are clearing the plants from the Power Core of the Engine Room. Clear uses the communicator to convince Green to allow them to free the room. No sooner did this happen than Hyperon executed Toolkit and Londris, but spares Clear thinking she, as a non-human, was being forced to work with the Imperials. Yet he is then also killed by Wai's robot body, which has been hijacked by Note, the ship's psychopathic A.I.. Note, as Wai, heads to the Engine Room to attack Vix and Sindra while Clear is discovered by Green and taken to safety.

Post

Release

Clear jolts awake. She feels like she is going to puke but her body is too lethargic to move. She looks up into a stranger's face. He's human, dark skinned and bald. She frowns at him.

Toolkit: "I stitched you up. But honestly, I don't know anything about your species' anatomy so... I hope there's nothing missing..."

She tries to glance down at the wound but finds she can barely move her head. She opens her mouth to ask for water but can only gasp. Toolkit, however, understands and helps her sip from a canteen. With water in her mouth she feels some energy return to her. Her wound, that hole she had seen, doesn't hurt. In fact it feels completely numb. She guesses high doses of his numbing spray must have been applied. Toolkit isn't wearing his armour anymore. He's wearing what she guesses must have been under the armour - a black, fairly form-fitting, jumpsuit. He is fit and quite strong with broad shoulders. She supposes this is what military training does for you.

She looks around and sees the figure of a woman facing away from her. Like Toolkit, the woman is wearing a black jumpsuit. Only when she glances around does Clear realise that the woman is Londris. Londris looks down at Clear, nods, then turns back to the large monitor displaying her stormtroopers. The remaining four stormtroopers, still in their armour, appear to be burning plants in the engine room. Near the computer is Wai, who is conversing with the computer, she supposes. The human who had shot her is still holding up the laser carbine and has it pointed squarely at Londris.

Clear points angrily at the man but Toolkit lowers her arm.

Toolkit: "Calls himself Duke Hyperon. Turns out he's a major hero for the Rebel Alliance. I guess this wasn't his lucky day. Well, ours neither I suppose."

Clear: "He... shot... me..."

Toolkit: "Shows he means business. It worked. Londris surrendered and we were forced to take off the armour. You're lucky to be alive to be honest. The others are in the engine room, clearing the warp core."

The voice of Vix sounds across the Command Centre's speakers.

Vix: "I think I hear something..."

Vix and Sindra cease burning the plantlife and the stormtroopers in the engine room freeze. The night vision view of the room is projected through the systems in Vix' helmet. She slowly scans the room but there's no sight of anything.

Sindra: "Clear..."

They relax. For a second. Suddenly, from a wall, bursts the believed-dead plantworm. Half of the creature has been blown away and its leafy innards trail behind it as it lunges at the first soldier in sight. Its human-like teeth clamp onto the man's leg and the worm drags him along as it charges past the other stormtroopers towards the opposite wall. Sindra and Vix open up with their flamers but the monster refuses to release its victim. The man is crushed against the metal of the wall as the beast crashes through it and disappears.

Vix: "Sindra! Keep clearing the warp core. Complete the mission."

He does as ordered by Vix while she and the one remaining soldier prepare for another attack from the worm. They keep steady aim at the hole it had retreated through.

Note: "Warp core almost cleared."

Duke Hyperon: "And then I'm out of here."

Clear notes that he referred only to himself.

The monitor vibrates crazily as the worm suddenly reappeared, dropping down from the ceiling like a huge sack of bricks. It lands straight on the remaining soldier and he's gone, through the hole the beast makes in the floor. Vix' flame streams down into the hole after the creature but Clear is sure she, and Sindra, are as good as dead. She wishes she could help them. Save them.

Clear: "Give... me the communicator..."

Duke Hyperon: "You're joking, right?"

Clear: "Let me try talking to Green..."

Londris: "Will she listen to you?"

Clear: "I hope so."

Duke Hyperon: "Fine. Here."

He tosses the communicator at Clear. It slaps her in the face and clatters to the floor. She glares evil at him but he does register any reaction. Toolkit reaches out and holds it up to Clear's mouth.

Clear: "Green..."

She waits.

Clear: "Green, if you can hear me... you need to stop."

She waits again.

Clear: "I know you, Green. But I don't understand why you are killing people. We need to clear the warp core."

Nothing is happening on Vix' view and Clear hopes that's a step in the right direction.

Clear: "If you stop us using the warp core... I'll be executed. Please, Green. Don't kill anyone else..."

She nods to Toolkit and he holds the communicator out to Duke Hyperon. The rebel snatches it. As they watch Vix' view the plants suddenly begin to move. At first Vix seems ready for renewed fight, but then they realise that the long tendrils are retreating away from the core. Green is releasing it to the soldiers. As soon as the vines remove themselves from around the consoles, the core pipes up and whines as it springs to renewed life.

Duke Hyperon: "Well done. I'm sorry I shot you. I thought you were helping these Imperials take the ship. Didn't know they were helping you..."

Clear: "Should I forgive you?"

Duke Hyperon: "Suppose not... Wai?"

Wai: "I'm already jacked in. Subverting the ship's A.I. will be a cakewalk."

Duke Hyperon turns from Wai to Toolkit, who is sitting over Clear. The streak of red laser courses through the air and whips him in the chest. He falls back and Clear finds she is covered in his red blood. Her own blue blood had mostly been cleaned up by him, but she now had his on her face, her neck, her chest. Her head is rested on his lap but his face slides out of view as his torso slips backwards. Londris cries with rage and runs at Duke Hyperon. But the distance is too great. He fires once, misses, twice and hits. Straight to Londris' head. The Captain falls to the floor dead. Clear whimpers and shifts so that she isn't lying on Toolkit's dead body. She doesn't get far as the pain rattles in her stomach. Londris hadn't been Clear's greatest hero but she had come to respect her. Londris and Toolkit had saved Clear's life. And now theirs is gone. 

Duke Hyperon walks over to Londris and stares down at her.

Duke Hyperon: "Imperial dog."

He fires into her chest twice more for good measure. He turns to Clear. She doesn't move. She can't move. He smiles.

Duke Hyperon: "Don't worry. I won't kill you unless you become a problem. I know you were forced into this by these *******s. Am I right? They think non-humans are animals... until they're useful for something. That ***** murdered my friends in cold blood... A quick, clean kill was too good for her."

Wai: "Coordinates lost... attempting to re-establish."

Clear looks at the robot. She had heard those words before.

Duke Hyperon: "Wai, I gave you the coordinates. We need to get to Alliance space. What's the problem?"

Wai: "Your specified coordinates do not adhere to the target destination. Astro-navigational maps need to be resynched as displacement has occurred..."

Duke Hyperon holds up his laser carbine and approaches Wai.

Duke Hyperon: "What're you trying to pull, Wai? I thought you were in on my plan?"

Wai looks at Duke Hyperon. Then at his gun.

Duke Hyperon: "Intruders detected. Initiating defensive measures."

Wai's movements are incredibly fast. He reaches out and grabs the top of Duke Hyperon's head and, with one quick movement, spins his head like a bottlecap. His head now faces Clear, though his chest is still facing Wai. The rebel hero's body falls flat to the floor.

Wai: "Intruders detected. Unable to communicate with warp core."

Clear looks up at the monitor and sees Vix and Sindra are destroying the consoles for the core. She isn't sure how much of the console Note, who evidently inhabits the body of Wai, actually needs to operate the core - after all those consoles were meant for human use, not the A.I.. However enough has been damaged that Note is unable to control the jump systems. Clear is internally freaking out as the situation has gone from terrible to catastrophic. Her allies are dead. The usurper is also dead. The crazy A.I. that caused all this is in a robotic body, Green is awol and also crazy and she is seriously injured.

Wai: "New operational parameters are accessible. Defensive measures to be extended."

Wai turns and walks out of the Command Centre, on his way to the engine room. She wonders if Note still considers her a crew member and therefore not an intruder, guessing that's why he hadn't murdered her along with Hyperon. She crawls over to the communicator beside the body of the rebel.

Clear: "Green... I need help.... The Command Centre..."

Broadcast all over the ship, she hopes that Green has enough sense to help her still...

----------

Clear wakes up again. She's no longer in the Command Centre. The room is too dark to clearly make out but there is a source of dim light that creates a soft gentle glow. The halo of light emanates from a hanging bulb with petals of pink. Clear's communicator crackles.

Green: "Are you okay, Clear?"

Clear rolls her head and sees Green huddled in a corner. She looks the same as ever, though perhaps more nervous than Clear had ever seen her.

Clear: "Not really, no. Green... what happened to you!? You killed all those people!"

Green bursts into tears instantly.

Green: "I'm sorry, Clear! I didn't know you were here! I didn't know what to do!"

Clear pokes her injury and finds that it doesn't seem as bad as it had before. However she detects a soft gel on her skin that she is sure Green must have put there. She hopes Green's medical plants may prove more effective than poor Toolkit's medical spray.

Clear: "Why did you kill them, Green? They were here to help!"

Green: "Notes said... Note said they came to kill me... and I didn't want to be killed so... I just... I'm so sorry! I should have let them kill me!"

She holds her hands over her eyes as she weeps loudly. Clear sighs. Of course Note wasn't lying. The Stormtroopers had come to kill Green because she seemed to be destroying the ship.

Clear: "Why did you do all of this to the ship?"

Green: "Note wouldn't stop. He jumped without you! I told him to stop but he wanted to jump again! I wanted to go back but he said no! I couldn't stop him! Not with words at least... then the soldiers came and he said they wanted to kill me so I... I did that... I didn't know you were here, Clear. I really, really didn't! Note didn't tell me!"

Clear: "I think Note is smarter than we've ever given him credit for. And much more devious. He's somehow stolen the body of a robot that was trying to override his systems. He's gone after the last of the Imperial soldiers that were trying to help me. They shut down the warp core but I'm sure Note can bring it up again easily."

Green: "Wh-what should we do, Clear? What should we do?"

Clear: "Can you help the two soldiers in the engine room?"

Green: "Maybe. I can try to help them escape maybe. Or carrying them away like I did for you."

Clear: "Do it. We save them first. Then we figure out how to deal with Note..."

Notes

Britt's Commentary

"The death of Londris was something of a big deal as she was becoming a very well-established character and killing her off gives the impression that not even big characters are immune to being killed off in CatH - a huge contrast to NeS Characters. According to Al Ciao the Writer, he was particularly upset by the death of Toolkit who he'd come to like. I wanted character deaths to both be meaningful, impactful and unexpected. This was also the first time that Duke Hyperon was named, named to be the unexpected brother to Flax Hyperon." - Britt the Writer

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