You asked for it, and here it is. The following is a chapter that didn’t make it into the final version of DAUGHTERS OF FORGOTTEN LIGHT. It takes place between the time DOFL land at the shipping port and when they free all of the captive shippees. This is unedited and contains SPOILERS for those who haven’t read the book yet. Enjoy.
One soldier blew a huge pink bubble with his gum.
The other one popped it with her finger. “Try to act professional.”
Their steps squeaked as they left the holding room, and the male soldier tucked the gum back into his mouth. “What’s to be professional about? It’s just a bunch of shipees. I don’t see why we don’t just kill them now and be done with it.”
“Because it has to be done humanely.”
The man began another bubble when two rang shots flew into each soldier, flinging them into the wall.
One of the balls returned to Hurley Girly’s rang as she clomped from around the corner. “What do you think, girls? That was pretty humane wasn’t it?”
“I aimed for the head.” Dipity shrugged.
Sarah moved along the wall and peered into the holding room. The few shipees she saw waited in their cells, doors closed. The guards numbered just over a dozen.
Lena rubbed her chin when Sarah told her what she saw. “I’m going to let all of you vote on what we do next.” She nodded to the two former O.C. girls. “That includes you two. We can leave our cyclones here and go in with stealth and sneakiness, or we can ride or die.”
“Ride or die,” came the unanimous chorus of lowered voices.
Lena smiled. “You girls were never ones for the quiet shit. And Pao? Ride with Hurley Girly and try to be careful with that new rang you have.”
Now where’s the fun in that? Sarah mocked a salute to her gang’s head.
Lena pointed to Dipity. “Grab a key card off one of those soldiers. And you can lead us in.”
“You sure?” Dipity wrinkled her brow. She’d never led the cavalcade before. Always comfortable in the back.
“Why the hell not?” Lena said. “We’ll break up when we get in there. Don’t shoot any shipees. The more of them we have on our side, the easier it’s going to be overthrowing the assholes who sent us away. Ready?”
Dipity grabbed a key card from the soldier with bubblegum all over his face and hopped onto her cyclone. She raised a fist then zipped toward the door. Sarah held onto Hurley Girly, as they jolted into full speed. Dipity was one brave mother, going from zero to crazy in two seconds flat toward a solid object. If the key card didn’t work at the speed she traveled, she’d crash right into the door. Sarah would have chickened out and veered off course, if not shot her rang in the hope that the multitude of shots would go through.
But the doors opened just before Dipity got there, and every soldier in the holding room turned to see them blast through. Three soldiers on the second floor aimed their rifles. Hurley Girly broke off from the group and ramped the stairs. Sarah didn’t feel so much as a bump.
“Shipees, get down!” Sarah yelled as she raised her rang.
The lights flew from her weapon in a scattered mess, taking out each soldier in their path with a shot to the head or chest. The other shots flew around the holding room like loose, rabid birds.
Hurley Girly had to duck to avoid getting hit with one. “Damn it, Pao.”
They neared a soldier who hadn’t noticed them zooming toward him. As he turned to aim his rifle, Hurley Girly plowed into his side with her cyclone, sending him over the railing. They stopped to make sure he didn’t get up after landing on his head.
Now that would be a miracle, Sarah thought.
From this vantage, Sarah took in the glorious surroundings, below and above. Rang shots flew with fury, bouncing off walls and the ceiling where a gaping hole had been covered with clear tarp. Soldiers cried out and bled from wounds that didn’t fully cauterize from the balls of light.
Sarah never felt so much power, or if it wasn’t power, it definitely felt like the complete absence of fear. She wasn’t stupid enough to think it could last, but damn it, she could bask in it for a few seconds.
On the ground floor, Dipity roared past a soldier and smashed his face in with her speeding fist. Another one shot at her, but she dodged it in time for the laser to graze her shoulder. With blood trickling down her large arm, she sped for her attacker and shot a rang shot into his crotch. The soldier dropped and Dipity kept her momentum, driving her cyclone right over him.
The shipees stared from their cells, faces and hands smudged against the clear glass. They were as safe as they could be, but their faces showed an eagerness to join in on the fun.
The holding door opened and another fifty soldiers stormed in with hands filled with rifles. A laser turret followed behind. The turret rolled on chain-link wheels, like one of the tanks outside, its gun barrel just as intimidating.
Sarah searched the holding room for the control box that opened all the cell doors. She’d seen it before she’d been shipped, but her memory was shit anyway, and the sudden wave of panic didn’t help at all.
The box hung from a wall on the ground floor, a hundred feet away from the invading soldiers.
Jumping from the cyclone, Sarah sped round to the stairs on the other side.
“Hey!” Hurley Girly shouted. “Where are you going, dipshit?”
Sarah skimmed over the steps like a runaway sled. She landed just a few feet from Dipity.
“Throw me the key card,” Sarah held out her hand.
Dipity pulled the card from her jacket and threw. When Sarah caught it, the soldiers shot at every inch of the holding room. Sarah hopped onto Dipity’s cyclone and, keeping as low as they could, they zipped for cover behind the stairs.
“Your arm okay?” Sarah nodded to Dipity’s bleeding hole.
“Not for much longer if we don’t get to that box over there.” The control box couldn’t have been more than twenty-five feet away, but it lay right in the soldier’s line of sight.
“Use your rang on those soldiers,” Dipity said.
“I will! But I have to have a straight arm, and it burns every time I shoot it.”
“Quit being a turd and light those fuckers up.”
Sarah took a big breath and extended her arm around the front of Dipity’s cyclone. A laser flew past, nearly destroying her rang and what arm she had left. She pulled back quickly and leaned against the bike. A high-pitched whine built up where the soldiers had taken their position. Something spun faster and faster.
“It’s that turret warming up.” Dipity’s dark skin had lost some color. She gripped her injured arm as blood poured steadily between her fingers. She’d lied. Her injury was worse than she’d let on. She needed help, and quick.
Sarah brought her rang around again and fired. Her stump burned hotter and hotter the more the energy balls poured into the holding room. But she kept it shooting. She worried where the other Daughters were and if any of the rang shots were to find one of them in the back, but she kept her arm straight.
When the heat became too much to bear, she fell back behind her cyclone and cradled her rang arm, wanting to rip the gun away, but knowing it would have been a mistake.
“I think you got ‘em,” Dipity said.
Sarah poked her head out. Many of the soldiers lay dead. The others must have scattered when she fired. The turret lay on its side, but was very much still intact, and spinning its barrel.
Then it fired.
Sarah jumped back as the turret lasers racked the wall near the cell control box. The line of fire moved with every shot, pushed by the vibration of the overturned turret. The lasers moved toward the controls inch by inch. In seconds, the box would be destroyed, and the shipees would be stuck in their cells.
With a quick jump, Sarah got onto Dipity’s cyclone.
“What the hell are you doing?” Dipity stared at her with wide eyes.
“The only thing I can.” She rode out from behind the stairs, using her elbow for the left handlebar.
I must be a fucking idiot.
The turret lasers continued their barrage as Sarah rode to the side of them. When they got inches from her boot, she locked her bike into full speed, and jumped from the seat. When the floor caught her, Sarah tucked her body as best she could, but every place her body hit hurt like being punched by a porcelain fist.
The lasers tore into the cyclone as it sped toward the turret.
Just a little further.
The cyclone wobbled, slowed by the laser fire. The blazing wheels kept spinning.
The cyclone slammed into the turret, a symphony of shattering glass and twisting metal. For a moment, everything got quiet. Then the cyclone exploded in a concussion of hot, blue light.
Sarah covered her head and rolled toward the far wall. The tremendous heat slapped her back, and she smelled burned hair. When the noise died, she pushed herself up. The turret and the cyclone smoldered in a black mess, and a soldier on the railing above shot his rifle. Sarah jumped and rolled, ignoring her swollen joints as she ran for the control box. With a slide of the key card and the push of a couple buttons, the cells opened.
Sarah looked back to Dipity, heaving breath. “That wasn’t that hard.”
“Now what?” Dipity shook her head. “The shipees don’t have guns.”
The soldier above screamed and landed with a splat beside the stairs.
“No,” Sarah said. “But there are a lot of them.”
The noise that came next was a mash of screams and lasers. By the time Sarah and Dipity crawled out of their hiding spot, all the soldiers had been thrown over the railing or blasted with a rang gun. One brave shipee was finishing off a soldier with tiny hands around the neck.
A few floors up, Lena stood in the middle of three dozen shipees, breathing like she’d run a marathon. “I swear, Pao. You don’t how to keep a cyclone do you?”
“Everybody okay?” Sarah helped Dipity up the last step.
“Minus a few shipees and one of our newest Daughters.”
The remaining O.C. girl broke through the crowd with a reserved hatred across her face. Sarah’s guts twisted, but she tried to ignore it. She didn’t even know the dead girl’s name.
Lena looked around the floor. “Hurley Girly is around here somewhere. Probably flirting with some shipees on the other end of the holding room. Yep, there she is.”
“Dipity needs her arm bandaged.” Sarah held up Dipity’s arm before the big woman yanked it back.
“I’ll be all right,” Dipity said.
Sarah looked around at all the shipees. Bruises and sweat covered them as they caugh their breath. Bloody, some of them. But in Sarah’s experience, that always fueled the fire to fight.
“How’d you girl’s like to get out of here?” Lena yelled.
The shipees within earshot hollered approval and shook their arms high. The ones farther away, who probably hadn’t heard it, joined in as well. A contagious, electric excitement filled the holding room. The hairs on the back of Sarah’s neck tingled.
“Who are you?” one of the shipees held her hand up. Poor thing still acted like she attended grade school.
“My name is Lena Horowitz. And we’re from Oubliette. They tried to take us out, but the bastards just gave us a good way to come here and kick ass. So, how’d you like to get a little revenge on the cocksuckers who were going to kill you?”
The shipees roared with delight.
“Okay,” Lena continued. “Shipees, gather all the laser rifles in this port. Make sure every girl has one.”
Explosions racked the walls from outside.
“What in hell was that?” Hurley Girly broke away from the crowd around her.
Lena quickly twirled a finger in the air. “Get those guns. All of you. Now, now, now!”
The shipees scattered, spreading the word to those who hadn’t been close enough to hear.
“What’s going on out there?” Sarah tapped Lena’s arm.
Lena snapped her head around. “Do you not remember those big ass tanks?”