Heroes of the Hydra
by Scott D. Coon
After a long, slow slog through complete blackness, the storm drain opened into a crater within a moonlit cluster of quaint buildings on a deserted street still lined with picket fences. They’d made it to suburbia.
Izzy lead Hank to a small cottage. “I think we’re out of the way for now. The Goryuns are too busy ripping up the city,” she said as she peered out the kitchen window at the flashing lights in the distance.
Izzy parked Hank in the kitchen while she checked the rest of the house. Alone, Hank tried to remember what it was that he’d remembered in the tunnel. It had something to do with his wedding. He thought hard about “wedding” but it didn’t help. He tried thinking about Izzy, what she wore at their wedding but instead he remembered a fight he had with Izzy... something to do with a wedding... But what? He thought hard, but all it did was make his head ache so bad that his eyes began to water.
Returning to find tears pouring down Hank’s face, Izzy rushed to his side. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m sorry,” sobbed Hank softly. “I am so sorry that I can’t remember you. I don’t know why but I can’t.”
“That’s okay, Hank,” she said as she carefully gathered him in her arms. “It’s not your fault.”
Hank stopped sobbing and held her close. Izzy could stay there in his arms forever. She’d fallen in love with Hank as they ran for their lives across the remnants of Borrain. Now, they were running for their lives again and she’d never felt closer to him, not to anyone, not since Everett.
Hank’s stomach interrupted with an operatic groan.
“Yeah,” chuckled Izzy, “that’s my next chore. This kitchen is dry but there’s gotta be some food around this neighborhood. You stay put while I go forage. Okay?”
“Okay,” said Hank. He took her hand and kissed it.
“I’ll be quick,” she promised as she reluctantly let go and headed out.
Hank sat alone in the dark. Despite the rumble of the Hydra in the distance, Hank felt calm for the first time in his memory, what little there was. He was too tired to try remembering anything now and that was okay. Izzy was going to get them out of there, he just knew it and he didn’t need to know anything else.
A tremor ripped through the skeleton of the house, cracking the kitchen window in half. Another quake followed, shaking the refrigerator away from the wall. The Hydra was getting closer. As soon as Izzy got back, they’d have to get moving again.
It wasn’t long before a crunching footstep drew Hank’s attention. He stood up, surprised that Izzy was back already. Then he heard another crunch coming from the other direction. There was more than one; it definitely wasn’t Izzy. Hank sat back on the floor and held his breath. He hoped they’d just pass on by before Izzy got back.
A gun clicked. Hank looked up. There were two of them, one in each doorway. They spoke softly to each other in a language Hank didn’t understand, clearly exchanging jokes about Hank’s head wound. Chuckling, both men leveled their laser sights at Hank’s head. Hank was about to die and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. Fire already, thought Hank. Fire and get out of here before Izzy comes back and gets killed too.
Hank closed his eyes. Gunfire filled his ears. But he wasn’t hit. Hank opened his eyes to see one Goryun lying dead while the other turned his gun on Izzy. Izzy dove behind the wall and the Goryun poured bullets into it.
Hank found a spray can under the sink and emptied it into the Goryun’s face. The smell of flowers filled the air; it was air freshener, not what Hank had hoped for. Eyes burning, the Goryun turned his gun on Hank, giving Izzy the opening she needed. She rolled out from behind the wall and fired. The Goryun dropped.
Izzy jumped to her feet and hurried over to Hank. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” said Hank as he pulled himself to his feet. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, they missed me,” said Izzy as she checked the windows for any more of them. “When I was out there, it was nothing but Goryuns. We can’t even get back to the storm drain. The Hydra is coming this way and we’re surrounded by its ground support. We’ll have to hide here until it passes.”
The house didn’t have a basement so they hid in a walk-in closet. They were supposed to be disabling the Hydra, not hiding from it, thought Izzy as they huddled like frightened children. If they brought it down, the Marines would swoop in and establish a foothold. But Hank was the real hacker and Izzy... she wasn’t even a real Trooper. What could she possibly do?
Suddenly, Izzy realized that Hank was staring at her, smiling. She looked at him, puzzled.
“You saved me,” explained Hank.
Izzy thought about it a second. “I guess I did. But you saved me first.”
“Yes,” said Izzy as she put her arm around him and pulled him close, “you did. On Borrain, we made it into the Hydra, all the way to the central server room. But it didn’t work, the virus failed. You did a lot of damage, locked up its lasers, even disabled a leg, but it kept going. So you downloaded what you could and we got out of there. We were forced to make a run for it, all the hackers were, only we didn’t get to the rally point in time.”
Izzy put her head on Hank’s shoulder. “But you had a plan. You got us to a Goryun spaceport hidden in the woods and found us a shuttle. While you were hacking the controls, I was supposed to be cutting the chock tethers. I wasn’t paying attention and let a guard walk right up on me. He hit me in the back of the head and, the next thing I knew, you were standing over me fighting off three of them. “After that I remember flying away on the stolen shuttle; you were telling me to stay awake until we got up to the medical ship but I blacked out again. Still, you got me there in time. You saved me.”
Izzy pulled a data chip out of the hard case clipped to her belt. “This is what you did,” she explained. “This chip is based on what you got out of that Hydra. This chip is supposed to turn the war around.”
When Hank tried to remember saving Izzy, he came up blank. But something else came to him, something that happened while he was on leave after Borrain. He got married! But Izzy wasn’t in that memory. Why? “We got married on leave... after that happened?” asked Hank, his brow furrowed in painful concentration.
Izzy looked him hard in the eyes and said, “I love you, Hank. I loved you even before you saved me. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you.”
Izzy pulled Hank to her and kissed him hard.
As Hank kissed her back, a memory seeped into his thoughts. It was of a delicate hand putting a wedding ring on Hank’s finger. The image was so clear that he could see the engraving inside his ring just before it vanished against his skin. What did it say? Hank pulled away, took off his ring, and read the inscription. Hank and Elsa Forever.
“You lied to me!” yelled Hank, jumping to his feet.
“You remember?” asked Izzy, terrified.
“Yeah,” growled Hank, turning away, his face in his hands. “I remember Elsa.” He could see Elsa’s face now. After Borrain, he went on leave and married Elsa, the only woman he’d ever loved. How could Izzy do this? How could she lie to him?! Who was this woman? How could he believe anything she said?
“I am so sorry,” pleaded Izzy. “Please, sit down.”
Hank waved a hand at her while the other held his face. He staggered across the room, pain titling the floor with every step.
“I lied because I love you,” wept Izzy. “I didn’t plan to hurt you. I didn’t plan to kiss you. I just wanted to feel married to you, even for just a little while. I just didn’t want to feel alone. I am so sorry, Hank.”
“I don’t want to hear it,” said Hank, bracing himself against the doorframe. “I can’t stay here. I can’t trust you. I’ll be better off on my own.”
“You’re not being rational, Hank,” begged Izzy. “You can’t make it on your own.”
“Leave me alone!” cried Hank, the pain blasting from the top of his head.
“I really am so sorry, Hank,” whimpered Izzy as she inched toward him. “I hope you can forgive me.”
“I don’t believe you,” said Hank. “You lied.”
“Not for that,” explained Izzy. “For this.”
Copyright © 2012 by Scott D. Coon