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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.