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A Ray of Hope

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Tucker notes that the Fed base they're in is abnormally empty. They know that Sarge, Wash, and Donut are in here somewhere, but why aren't there any soldiers guarding them? The place is empty!

"Simmons, unlock the door." Grif says, pointing at a control panel.

"Okay! Jeez!" Simmons says, fiddling with the panel.

"Let me see." Caboose says.

"Caboose, don't- oh."

"Oops. " Caboose says. The door slides open, despite the sparking control panel.

"They should be right in here." Simmons says.

"Alright, let's go." Tucker says. The four soldiers walk into the narrow corridor, checking every place a Fed could be hiding.

"Guys!"

"Donut?" Simmons says. The blond is standing in a cell, looking out at them.

"Simmons, get him out." Caboose says in a rare moment of seriousness.

"Working on it." the maroon soldier responds, unlocking the cell. Donut rushes out and hugs Caboose, who drops his gun to return the hug.

"Sarge!" Grif says. The orange soldier is down the hall from the rest of them. "I found Sarge!"

They join him outside the cell. Sarge, within, is pacing his cell.

"Sarge!" Simmons says.

"Huh- oh, Simmons!" the older soldier says, stopping.

"We're getting you out of here, Sarge!" Simmons unlocks the cage. Sarge walks out, directly to the opposite wall, and grabs his shotgun, hugging it tightly.

"Where's Wash?" Tucker asks.

"Oh, they took him to the room at the end of the hall!" Donut pipes.

"Grif, Simmons, Caboose, take Donut and Sarge and get them back in their armor." Tucker says angrily. "I'm going to go get Wash." They nod and set off back down the hall. Tucker walks the opposite direction."If you bastards have hurt him..." he snarls under his breath, pulling out his sword.

He slams open the door. Opposite him, Wash is kneeling on the ground, wrists tied behind his back.

"Wash!" Tucker says, relieved.

Then he hears the shot, and everything slows down as Wash slumps to the ground.

That's war, Tucker! Not everyone makes it out alive!

Felix's words echo in Tucker's head as he finds the barrel of the gun and follows it to a gray and orange hand connected to a gray and orange body. The figure emerges from the shadows.

"Hello, Tucker."

"Felix!" Tucker says. "You- you son of a bitch!"

Felix shrugs.

"I'm going to kill you. I'm going to fucking kill you." Tucker says breathlessly, starting toward the mercenary. A second figure appears between them.

A figure in black armor. For a moment, Tucker thinks it's Tex and swears under his breath. Then the color fades to an aqua, and he realizes it's Carolina.

He's not paying attention as Felix and Carolina exchange words. She fights the mercenary away from Wash, allowing Tucker to scramble over to him.

He whispers three words and then he's gone. Tucker looks up as Felix runs off. The other Reds and Blues walk in cautiously, joining Tucker by Wash's body. Carolina tells them to stay close and tosses something down, and then... They're somewhere else. Tucker is still kneeling by Wash's body. The dull eyes looking away from him. Carolina crouches next to them and closes Wash's eyes, mumbling something. An apology.

I'm sorry, little brother...I'm sorry I couldn't save  you. 

Tucker gives Carolina a startled look. She sighs and pulls something out of Wash's pocket, tucking it under her armor.

They turn away. Tucker pulls off his helmet and presses his lips to Wash's one last time. 

Tears stream down his face, for once. Caboose glances over and realizes he's never seen Tucker cry.

I'll kill him, Wash. I'll kill that son of a bitch. Murdering traitor bastard. He'll pay for this. He'll fucking pay.

They go back to the New Republic the next day and bury Wash there. Tucker turns colder, harder. He trains every day with no complaints, training with the rebel soldiers. He helps Kimball run the army.

And all the while, he plots his revenge.

Chapter Text

Carolina looked up helplessly. She was pinned down, quite literally, by five of Locus' elite soldiers. Felix stood above her, twirling his knife as he explained everything.

She wasn't listening. Instead, Carolina's mind was racing, trying to find a way out of her predicament. 

Felix finished his monologue and raised his knife. "Goodbye, Agent Caro- hrrrk!" 

Felix fell to the side. The soldiers released Carolina's legs.

Mistake. She swiped the legs of the two near her feet out from under them, then got herself on her feet and wrested her arms and head free of their grips.

She felled one, took his gun, and eliminated the other two before spinning to face the other two.

They were already on the ground, either unconscious or dead.

Carolina couldn't tell. 

A figure emerged from the shadows of the room and Carolina instantly moved into a stance. "Who the fuck are you?" 

"Not now. Let's get out of here." the figure said tersely.

Male, clearly tough. Taller than me. Heavier too. Nimble, though. And quick. Carolina thought. I can beat him. I think.

"Let's go!" he insisted. "It's not safe here. There's more of them coming. We need to leave."

"Fine." Carolina said irritatedly. They made their way out without incident and returned to the New Republic camp. Wash was the first to greet Carolina, casting a glance at the mysterious soldier beside her. 

He sent her a message a moment later. Who's he, Lina?

Beats me, she responded. Stay on your toes, little brother.

Wash nodded almost imperceptibly. 

She turned. "Now will you tell me who the hell you are?" 

"Have you really forgotten me, Carolina?" the soldier responded.

"I don't know who you are." she replied.

"Aw, come on Carolina," 

Her heart fluttered, but she ignored it.

He pulled off his helmet.

"Don't be like that." York smirked.

Carolina ripped off her own helmet, tossing it aside, and flung herself at York. "You fucking asshole!"

Wash stared at his friend. "But...but... I don't...I can't...what?!" 

York grinned over Carolina's head. "Chill out, Wash. Not everything is always as it seems."

Wash shook his head, pulling off his own helmet.

York blinked at the younger man. He'd changed far more than Carolina had. Become scarred and battle-weary. Experienced. Worn. Whereas Carolina...Carolina was the same as always, aside from the look in her eyes. It had changed. Become harder. 

It was like a punch in the gut to see how much the siblings had changed compared to York himself. 

But it didn't matter as long as he had Carolina back.