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Template:PostClear catches up to the fleeing Hebedee in CatH Post 9, and beats up the guards pursuing him. Hebedee reveals that he has a power source he stole from the Oh My Love! that would fuel The Hopeful. The Boss, however, fins them and demands the return of the power core. Hebedee, detecting fear of the object, throws it at The Boss and the guards which causes an explosion. In the confusion, Hebedee tries to grab the power core, despite the protestation of The Boss, and is promptly absorbed into the device. Clear and Green grab the device in its box and flee, hoping they can later bring back the human mechanic. They escape the Oh My Love! aboard the Bug but, unexpectedly, Kaptin Kwanza and The Jolly Wanker appear in the system. By a stroke of good fortune, the Oh My Love! snares The Jolly Wanker in a tractor beam and the Bug is able to get away. Note reveals that Hebedee has been completely disintegrated into energy and is dead, beyond return. With much heart-ache, Clear places the power source into the power core of The Hopeful's Engine Room.

Post

The Power Source

Finally they wind up trapped at the far end of the music halls, right where Clear was first dumped by the air flow ride. Hebedee is up against the wall, cradling something in his arms, while the guards are stood with guns pointed. Clear releases Green, who slams face-first to the floor and whimpers about the pain... but does nothing to soothe that pain and remains prone. 

Clear sneaks up behind the two guards very quickly and silently. With movements of a woman far more practiced in combat than Clear actually is, she throws her elbow into the face of the man on the right. She brings her left leg up, wraps it around the head of the guard on the left and locks his neck with the inside of her knee. She drops. Holding the man on the right, he flies down and she cracks his head on the metal floor. The left man, whose head was stuck in the crook of her leg, likewise smacks his head on the ground. The right man, however, wasn't completely knocked out and she has to smash his head on the floor a second time. Whence she's satisfied they're out she gets back to her feet.

Hebedee: "That was... pretty violent."

Clear rolls her eyes.

Clear: "Why're you in trouble, Heb? What's going on?"

Hebedee: "It's because of this."

He pulls open the lid of the box he's holding. Instead is a sphere with a lot of spikes on it. Clear doesn't know what the thing is and looks up at Heb expectantly.

Hebedee: "It's a power source, darlin'. I saw 'em usin' 'em down in the engine room. Place is full of 'em. Honestly I dunno why there's so many cause a single one could power up the whole ship for months."

He shrugs.

Hebedee: "I guessed they wouldn't miss jus' one of 'em. Guessed wrong."

The Boss: "Indeed you did, tubby."

Clear turns to see The Boss and his cadre of guards. Green has managed to crawl over to Clear, but she's still sitting on the floor with a bloody nose and glazed eyes.

Clear: "Sorry about this. We really needed a power source for our ship. Like he said, he thought you wouldn't mind missing one."

The Boss: "I would mind. Put the box, carefully, on the ground. Then kneel down. You're all going to be severely punished, I guarantee it. Whips and chains and all..."

He laughs effeminately and Clear isn't sure if The Boss wasn't capable of such an indignant punishment. Clear motions that Hebedee should drop the box. When Hebedee looks like he's going to drop the box The Boss suddenly puts his hands out.

The Boss: "Gently!!"

Hebedee looks at Clear and they share a moment of understanding. Hebedee throws the box at The Boss. He, and the guards, all jump for cover. The box hits the floor and the device bounces violently. Then, suddenly, a strong pulse booms from the sphere and everyone still standing is knocked over. Clear strikes the wall and is rendered groggy for several minutes until she comes to her senses. She sees the box on the ground and one of the guards is starting to stand up. She, with all her strength, gets up and runs at the guard. She swings her fist around as hard as she could and the man went spinning back to the floor. She turns to see Hebedee reaching for the power course.

The Boss: "Don't...! Don't touch i--!"

Hebedee's pudgy hand reaches out for the spiky orb and touches its grey inner sphere. Suddenly the orb seems to react with another pulse, only this one pulled instead of pushed. Clear falls to her knees as she's dragged closer to the power source. But her eyes are fixed on Hebedee. His body is sucked, in a matter of seconds, into the orb - his form disintegrating into pixels of white energy and then absorbed by the metal that now appears liquid.

When it is over Clear sees no other choice. She has to take the power source to get Heb back. She snaps the box shut and, with Green's hand, she runs for the air lift. When she stands on the pad again she feels herself lifted up and whips along the tunnel again. Green still seems unaware of her surroundings as she comes down from her high. The box is heavy, but has a strange weightlessness to it also. It is a peculiar sensation.

Suddenly the air flow stops and the two women topple to the floor. The Boss must have shut it down and intended to chase them up the tunnel. Clear is quick to her feet, despite the tumble and the pain in her knees. Green, if she is in pain, can't show it. They run.

----------

Green is able to at least guide Clear to where the Bug is parked and they are able to get out of the strange mystical ship. However as they're leaving, Clear notices that the ship is turning to get closer to The Hopeful. Clear chews the inside of her lip as she tries to get all the speed out of the old Bug as she can. Then her ship stops. The engines groan and strain against an invisible force that is pulling them backwards. Clear, in all her years of salvaging, treasures one find more than any other and now, for the first time ever, she is able to use it.

She opens a menu on her display and shuts the engines down before they broke. The menu swipes to display the tractor projection. Clear activates the tractor-shears. The Bug gives a shudder and then the tractor is cut at the ship's rear. Clear doesn't waste time admiring the simplicity of the device and starts up the engines again. They cough and splutter but activate and she is able to continue on towards The Hopeful. Almost home.

Then something explodes from warp space. Another ship. The Jolly Wanker.

Clear is surprised that a smaller vessel like The Jolly Wanker has a warp signature trace, usually those were bulky arrays for large craft. Clear pulls the Bug away from the trajectory of The Jolly Wanker and aims straight for the hangar of The Hopeful. She has to commit a spiral dive as The Jolly Wanker opens up laser fire on the Bug. Though Clear is sure Kaptin Kwanza still wants her alive, these shots are closer to home than is comfortable for the old bird. She almost thought the Bug creaked as it rolls away.

Then a stroke of luck.

The tractor alarms blare but it's not the Bug that is being pulled in by the Oh My Love. It's The Jolly Wanker. And Kaptin Kwanza, for all his advanced tech, doesn't appear to have a tractor-shear. Clear smiles to herself in victory. It's short lived though as she recalls Hebedee being sucked into the power source...

----------

The Hopeful bursts from warp and Clear is alone in the command centre with the power source in its box. She hasn't opened it yet but Note is performing scans on it.

Note: "This will power The Hopeful. We can use it."

Clear: "I don't care about that. What about Heb? How to get him out."

Note: "From your description, Hebedee was broken up into energy matter and transferred into the device to provide more power. The device recharges in this fashion. It will break down organic matter into energy."

Clear: "You didn't tell me how to get him out."

Note: "... Hebedee was broken up into energy matter and trans--"

Clear: "Don't just repeat the same answer. How to get him back?"

Note: "... Hebedee was broken--"

Clear: "You're saying he's dead? He's gone forever aren't you?"

Note: "Hebedee has deceased."

Clear pushes the box away and feels tears coming. She couldn't say she liked Hebedee much, but he seemed to like her a lot and that meant something to Clear. He was a good man. Simple and human. But good in his heart. She wished he hadn't touched the stupid thing. She would rather be back on the Oh My Love than here without him. The tears finally came and she pushes her hands through her messy hair.

Note: "You can take the power source to the engine room."

Clear: "What? No!"

Note: "The power source can power The Hopeful."

Clear: "My friend is in there! He is the power! You want to use his death to fuel the damn ship!? No! It's not going to happen!"

Note: "The Power source can power The Hopeful."

Clear: "No! I won't use my friend as fuel!"

----------

Some hours and many tears later, Clear is standing in the engine room with the power source still in its box. She slowly lumbers to the core and, as directed by Note, she climbs onto the central apparatus and opens a hatch.

Note: "Drop the device inside."

Clear: "Last time it was dropped, it exploded."

Note: "The warp core casing will shield the engine room from such an explosion."

Clear does as told. The power source topples in and lands with a thud. She quickly closed the hatch and watches the device blast out a ripple that seems to swish around the inside of the transparent metal of the warp core. Then white energy unleashes from the device as Note draws on the power within it. As the energy begins to surge into The Hopeful, Clear feels sick and tries not to vomit as she thinks of her friend being used in such a way...

Notes

Britt's Commentary

"Hebedee's death was probably one of the most significant moments for Clear and the Hopeless as a series. With the series being more serious in tone, death can be, and often now is, a permanent state. In the main series, the Never-ending Story, and other iterations, like Hero Force One (Story) or NeS 1888, death can, and often is, reversed or mitigated by the Writers. In NeS proper, death is often used almost as a joke and rarely sticks. In CatH, however, it sticks and Heb's death was the first time it was done and it was the moment I knew it would happen again. The reason he was killed off, however, was mostly because I didn't know what to do with the Character, how he could possibly develop. I feel I may have given up on his quickly, but he wasn't interesting me enough to want to keep him around. And so he was killed off. However the legacy of the Character has been incredibly important to the series and to the Characters, especially Clear who often thinks of him and the way he died." - Britt the Writer

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