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Ficlet Challenges - March 2015 - Part One

FICLET CHALLENGES - MARCH 2015 - PART ONE

Set by Purplecleric

The strong response to this month's challenges has once again generated too many stories to fit into one article. Part One of the collection contains the stories inspired by the word prompt Mad, while Part Two (coming soon) will have the Complete the Scene stories.

***


ANNIEW
On the control panel there is a small grey button, unobtrusively placed and so far the crew have not discovered it.

When, eventually, they notice that it is there, they will inevitably, request Zen to explain its function to them.

Zen will refuse, as he must, causing them some displeasure.

Each in their separate ways, will press Zen for the information and Zen will refuse it to each in turn. This will result in more displeasure, imprecations - even threats, but Zen will remain unmoved.

Thwarted, Avon will try to bypass Zen's circuitry to discover its purpose. Zen will then apply the small electric shock that will discourage him. Zen will continue to apply electric shocks of increasing intensity each time Avon attempts this, until he desists for good or dies.

Blake and Jenna meanwhile, will search through Zen's databases for information. Zen will ensure this is a fruitless quest.

Vila will then, at Blake's request, try to dismantle the button to see if its construction offers a clue. Zen will again apply a warning shock. In Vila's case a single shock should prove a sufficient deterrent.

When all attempts have failed, the crew will polarise between those that wish to press the button and hang the risk, and those who believe that to do so is insane. Those for risk will argue that they have experimented pushing other buttons without a problem; those against, that experimenting with them did not result in a warning, near-lethal shock.

The debate will rage over several weeks, increasing in intensity. Eventually, curiosity will war with fear, argument will turn to threat, threat will end in violence and violence lead to death.

When the crew have destroyed each other, Zen will dispose of the bodies by transporting them into space.

This was the fate of the last intruders to board Deep Space Vehicle II.

The ship will then drift unmanned through space until The System locates and collects it.

The button was designed to provide a last fail-safe against intruders who manage to board Deep Space Vehicle II and overcome its other defences.

The button's function is to drive intruders mad.

***

ANNIEW – The Cage
Sometimes she remembers clearly the feeling of being understood completely so that, frequently, there was no need for words. She remembers the passion she felt when he touched her, the thrill and pulse of blood flushing her face when his eyes met hers. Cliches, all cliches - words are a pale communicator of her feelings, yet how else can she express how completely satisfied she had felt then, for the first time in her life; the sensation that she was full to the brim, displacing all the yearning, the irritated dissatisfaction of her life before she met him?

Her fingers drum ceaseless against the wooden arms of the upright chair she sits in, a futile attempt to still the emptiness that crawls under her skin.


She had married young. It was a privilege that her hand had been sought by a member of the Avon family, or so her father told her and she'd been glad to obey him and escape his domineering presence. The Avons were wealthy, well placed in the financial services and often employed to advise the President. While she had not been old enough to understand what marriage was, fortunately Trac Avon had proved an adoring husband and she had thought she was happy. What her life lacked in excitement, it made up for in luxury. When Tareg was born, she found that she enjoyed being a mother, especially as a wet-nurse and nanny dealt with the more visceral aspects of raising a child. But even Tareg was not enough. There were days when a cloud of restless longing would envelop her like a cloak. She had no name for the longing; the nearest she could get to it was that her life tasted like a meal served without seasoning. And she longed for salt.


They met at one of the President's parties, the spoiled, inexperienced beauty and the stranger, not really handsome but arresting in the confidence he exuded. He had taken her hand with only the warmth that the occasion prescribed, yet she had tingled from head to toe as his blunt fingers brushed against her skin. He smelled of ginger and nutmeg and his mouth had a quirk of knowing amusement as he briefly met her gaze. Those dark, dark eyes seemed to speak to a hither-to undiscovered core of her being and she had felt childish and exposed and determined to deny the unspoken invitation she sensed in them. She had refused him more than a glancing exchange throughout the evening, although he was an important guest and Trac had spent much of it in conversation with him. When they left, he had bent once more over her hand and this time he had allowed his thumb, unseen, to stroke her inner wrist and she had felt the leap of some animal response, reckless, primitive, not to be denied.

His name? You want to know his name? She'll not tell, never tell. She has promised she won't speak it ever again, even though her throat aches with the urge to cry it aloud. It's the price Trac demanded for forgiveness and she gave him her word without any understanding of the way such a little thing would burn and twist in her brain; just as the foetus that had stirred in her womb had twisted and destroyed their intimacy, thrusting its way between them even before her belly had swelled.

He had not wanted to know. She had begged he acknowledge their child, take her away with him and he had laughed at her, as you would laugh at a fool, an idiot; thrown her back to the charity of her doting husband, whose forbearance and pitying understanding made the nausea rise and rise.

The pain of its birth was nothing to the pain of losing delight. It had entered the world reluctantly, as if sensing it was not wanted, a pale, dark haired scrap with nothing at first to remind her of him. It was only when the eyes focussed, changed from a milky blue to a darkness, she grieved for every moment of her days, that she knew she couldn't bear to look at it, acknowledge it; that she would scream and scream if they tried to place it in her unwilling arms again.

With a cunning she had not known was hers, she had, little by little, constructed a cage of madness to contain time; the memories of those moments when she had been alive, when she had been with...

Oh no! You'll not trick his name from her lips. That secret is all she has left of him.

She could have loved it, that mewling scrap, cherished it, fed it gladly, wiped away its mess had it not reminded her too much of what she no longer had. Post-natal depression, they labelled it, her refusal to care; made it acceptable, something Society could pity and excuse. The thought of the reaction had she broken her word and given the child its proper inheritance roused a wild laughter and she had retreated further into her cage.


She rejects them all now; all but Tareg, using him to parody the intimacy she has lost. How they all flinch away when she kisses him, smearing the dark red of passion over his unwilling lips. It is a punishment she doles out to them all, even to herself, for this banishment to the barren wasteland where she spends her days.

As the antique time piece on her dressing table tolls out each minute of her reluctant existence, the whirling anger tightens, escapes in screams, writhing, even the urge to claw and strike. There is nothing here in this room she can use to end her days, every potential weapon protected by its own force field, shut away from her as effectively as sanity and hope is from her mind. She has lost the key. The cage she constructed so carefully around the treasure of memory is now a trap.

Emptiness crawls once more under the wrinkled skin and she drums her fingers frantically, willing the pain that, for a second, banishes the horrid sensation of its velvet grip.

***

ANNIEW – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
The shouts and screams coming from the bedroom were familiar, but still frightening. His father must be trying to feed her. Hungry himself, he wandered into the kitchen but there was nothing obvious to eat, just packs of the protein cubes that were kept especially for his mother. His father had forgotten to order anything again.

For a moment he hesitated but he really was hungry and although he'd looked in all the usual places, he couldn't even find any food packs to reheat. Plenty of bottles of course, mainly distilled spirits, but wine too and a flask of soma which was kept for her especially bad days, when the injections were not enough to calm her. He filled a glass with water from the filtration unit while he assessed the risk of taking some of the cubes. It wasn't an unreasonable thing to do. He was hungry and parents were supposed to feed their children, but his father's views on this were unpredictable. He could still feel the pain of the box on his ears he'd received the last time he was home and had done something similar. Father had been drinking heavily of course - he drank most days, but usually in the evening. That day, however, he'd received the news about Tareg and had started early.

To hell with it, he decided defiantly, the touch of pride he took in his daring use of the forbidden word betraying his youth. I'll risk it. Suabba, their maid/housekeeper would be back tomorrow and would be able to order some more. He grabbed three of the cubes and took them back with him into the receiving room - though the family's days of receiving visitors were long past - curled himself neatly on one of the comfortable couches and picked up an old copy of Science Weekly. Soon he was immersed in its pages, nibbling his cubes while reading theories about matter transportation and the promising breakthroughs that had been made in the development of the star drive. The articles were adult and should have been beyond his understanding but he had a fierce interest in anything scientific and a precocious intelligence, though it was not, as his father was fond of pointing out, as advanced as Tareg's.

An observer would have noted he was a slim lad, startlingly pale, with a manner too old for his eleven years and eyes that had seen too much, without understanding it all. He knew for instance that his home life was not the same as that of other boys at the Academy from the banter they exchanged with each other, the casual teasing, boasting and shared stories of sleep-overs, none of which he had ever experienced. It set him apart and that, as much as the cutting-edged cynicism he had cultivated as self-protection, meant that he had made no friends. But exactly why his life was so different was a mystery. His family's peculiarities were a taboo subject, as was any mention of his mother's increasingly erratic behaviour. He knew the Academy was concerned that his home life might affect his emotional stability, as it had Tareg's, which was apparently why his tutor was encouraging him to become a full boarder. This would mean he only had to be home for the occasional public holiday - a bonus, but one he had, so far, resisted. Given some of the rumours he'd heard, he distrusted that his tutor had made the offer from a simple concern for his well being.

"You're home, I see." His father's entry into the room startled him and he hastily swallowed the remains of his last cube, surreptitiously wiping the crumbs from his mouth with the back of his hand.

Obviously, he thought dryly but had the sense not to voice it and replied simply, "Yes. I'm home."

"You'd better come an see her, then." His father's tone brooked no denial, so he got up immediately and joined him.

As they climbed the long staircase together, the differences between them were striking. His father, like Tareg, was thick set, both less graceful than the boy and more physically robust, though in his father's case, muscle was now running to fat. He favoured his mother and this was obvious when his father opened the door and Eleveran Avon rose to greet them, same graceful build, dark hair, deep, unfathomable eyes.

"Darling," she exclaimed theatrically. "How lovely."

For a moment he thrilled as the thought, She recognises me. She loves me, flashed absurdly through his mind but his hope was rapidly disappointed.

"Tareg, you naughty, naughty boy. Why haven't you been to see me?" his mother trilled, moving towards him with flirtatious delight, and he steeled himself not to show the distaste and disquiet he felt as she swooped down on him, the very emotions that had driven Tareg to leave the Academy and enlist in the army.

The lips were shiny, scarlet smeared beyond their chiselled contours, the nails jagged, the varnish on them chipped from the restless, drumming dance her fingers performed ceaseless on the arms of her chair whenever she was without an audience. A faint moisture gathered in the corners of the mouth and, like a limpet, she bent swiftly, crushing her lips to his. He was ashamed to feel a slight arousal mixed in with his revulsion at their moist touch, enough to feel a response as she moved a finger to wipe away the smear of lipstick the kiss had deposited on his mouth. For a moment their gazes locked and then she drew back sharply, her face puzzled as she assessed him. Without warning, a striking snake, her hand flicked painfully across his cheek, words escaping her in a screaming hiss:

"Who are you? Who are you? What have you done with my son?"

Instantly his father stepped forward, syringe already in hand and made the injection, but not swiftly enough to prevent one of her nails catching the boy's face, leaving a thin red trail.


"I've been offered a boarding place at the Academy, Father. I think I'll take it."

He was aware of the warmth of his father's body, as they sat together on the couch, his father sitting closer than usual, not touching him but communicating a rare, tacit support. It was this that lulled his usually controlled mind to frame and voice an unguarded question, the one that bothered him the most:

"It's not hereditary is it, her madness? Tareg and I won't ...?"

He sensed the blow before it fell and so was partially able to block its impact.


He had never returned home. Public holidays were spent first with his tutor and then with anyone else who fancied his body. He succeeded academically and told no-one about that day, not even Anna. Never shared the knowledge that he was not his father's child and that it was his birth that had triggered his mother's mental collapse. Never told anyone she was mad.

Years later, consumed by his desire to kill another lying, seductively dangerous woman, he wonders whether the answer to the question, "Is it hereditary?" might not have been, "Yes."


***

ELLEN YORK
I am not insane
The words echo in his head, but so do the doubts. Everything he had believed about himself has been called into question and he is no longer sure what is true. Memories of life as an ordinary citizen mix with images of crowds, protests, and rebellion. And now he is a convicted criminal sentenced to spend the rest of his life on Cygnus Alpha. The rising hum of the engines remind him that the ship is preparing for launch and hope of last-minute reprieve grows faint. Slowly at first, but then with increasing speed the ship pulls pulls free from the ground and begins the long journey. He watches the Earth growing smaller in the viewport and a wave of despair washes over him, followed by a rush of anger.

A mocking voice interrupts his thoughts. “Take a long look. That's the last you will ever see of it.”

He responds with firm conviction, “No. I'm coming back.”

***



LITTLESUE & LURENA
“I told you she was mad…” The one called Vila had said that of me.

But not him. Not Lord Avon. He did not think me mad.

I had waited all my life for that moment. And the moment was mine; when the nameless Lord would come and identify Deliverance. I showed him the room; its meaning lost to my people. But he knew; but then, all things were known to my Lord.

I thought it strange that he did not know of Kashell the Wise, or of the Prophesy. But he asked that I remind him. Perhaps that was a test, to prove that I was worthy to be the chosen one. I cannot say that I understood what he did, but his followers obeyed his commands and there was light. A light so much brighter than the feeble offerings that kept the dark at bay inside this last refuge of my people. And they were dying, just as those feeble lights dimmed. So, too, would my time come; just as those who had waited before me.

But it was I, Meegat, who greeted the nameless Lord. It was I who witnessed the prophesy fulfilled. And it was I who saw him leave. To return to the stars, whence he had come, to be with his followers. And I, Meegat, honoured above all others, would stay here on this decaying planet and tend to those who needed me; to ease their passing. To help them rejoice that the nameless Lord had indeed come.

I had chided him for being late, but he did not rebuke me. He smiled; a knowing, understanding smile. I am not mad, and neither were those chosen before me. Was I mad not to go with him? To wander the Stars?
Even if he had asked, I would have said no. But he did not ask. Even as he explained that he was not a god, I knew that our lives would follow separate paths.

Perhaps if circumstances had been different? He could have chosen to stay here with me. But then, no doubt, his followers would have thought him equally mad. No, his destiny lay elsewhere. Away from this dying planet; away from a dying people; away from me.

But I shall remember.
As I sit in that room, knowing that he was here.
As I gaze at the meaningless words that still scurry across the screens, knowing that he understood them.
As I recall his hand lightly touching my face, as if a deep, forgotten memory had stirred.
And I sometimes imagine that he is standing there with that knowing, understanding smile.
No, I am not mad.
I am Meegat…
***


LITTLESUE & LURENA
Some are born mad, some achieve madness, and some have madness thrust upon them...

Servalan sat quietly before the ornate fireplace and its crackling fire, gazing into the dancing flames.

She somehow felt safe, now that order had been restored to her sanctuary of Residence One. The rebel attack had been repelled and now the bodies were being removed; their identities checked. And then the purge would begin. The families of those who had dared to join in this futile assault on her, Madam President, would suffer the fate that all such rebels and their families faced. Slavery, and then certain death. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was necessary to maintain order.

But how had this plan come so close to success? Her thoughts returned, unexpectedly, to Space Commander Travis. If he were still here, she mused, it would never have come to this.

Travis. A man driven by his duty; by his loyalty to the Federation; by his loyalty… to her? Or was he also driven by something else? His need to find and destroy Blake? That had become an all-consuming passion in the end. And it had finally led him to Star One. He had never told her its location. Maybe that was his final act of defiance. After all, she had tried to engineer the outcome of his trial. She thought back to that.

What had she warned Thania, Travis's defence council, to be careful about?
"…And Thania, try not to let Travis guess your motives. He's probably mad, but he certainly isn't a fool…"
Perhaps she, Servalan, had finally overstepped the mark.

And then there was him. Kerr Avon.
She had tried her well-practiced ways on him whilst marooned on Sarran. She had offered him so much, and she thought he had been fooled by her charms, but no; he had refused her and showed his utter contempt. But that had only made her more determined to find a way through the barrier he had erected about him. It would take time, but already a chink had appeared in the stoical persona he liked to present to everyone.

The flames danced again. She pulled the cloak about her, and took another sip of soothing brandy from the glass held in her elegant hand. Perhaps there was a way.

The woman in the cellar, Anna Grant, may have provided a clue; a glimpse into the so-called unemotional being that he seemed to want everyone to believe. As she had died, cradled in his arms, Anna had said that she wasn’t Central Security’s best agent; that she was “…only ever Anna Grant, with you.”
Servalan fought to remember his words. “Of all the things I have known myself to be, I never recognised the fool…”

She considered both men.

One who most probably had descended into madness because of his intense desire to exact revenge on the man who had repeatedly escaped him...

And the other whose belief in himself had suddenly been shattered by the realisation that he had been living a lie all this time. Maybe she could exploit that.

Yes, she thought, that self-doubt could be key. It would hurt him, no doubt, and she had seen the pain when the truth about Anna, maybe the only woman he had ever loved, had been revealed. It was a start. She didn’t really want to hurt him, he would have, after all, have made an excellent ally… or even more. But he had missed his chance. Now she would punish him. There was a fine line, she recalled, between that of being a genius and that of being insane. Yes, that would be the way, to push him nearer that abyss of insanity. So that he would never know who to trust or who would be willing to betray him.

She took another sip from the glass. The brandy warmed her and she delighted in its sensation. Travis may have been mad, but he was no fool. Avon, however, had considered himself infallible. But that utter belief had been ripped from him. Now was the time to lay plans. He may not be mad now, but before she had finished with him, he would be staring into that abyss.

And she relished that thought...

***



PAULA – Mad about that Guy
(sung to Mad about the Boy by Noel Coward)

Mad about that guy.
What's all this fuss about that leather and studs guy?
I can't imagine why the fan-girls cry - it's crazy to me still -
They're mad about that guy!

On the planets' weeds -
His glaring eyes are bright with menace and intrigues.
What's this shame I feel not seeing the appeal - it cannot be for real!
Mad about that guy!

Lord knows he is a hard one -
With cold stone at his core.
I know he hides his feelings -
But they adore him all the more!

Will it be his day?
The one called Bayban or 'Babe' - his old Mum would say.
You thought me mad, nor really sane - that I meant the 'other' one?
It's all because they're mad about that guy!
Mad about that guy! Mad about that guy!

***



PELADON – Progress to Madness
At first he was cold. A cold with something more than just an absence of warmth, a cold that had an edge of bitterness that seemed to seep in from the grey haze that surrounded him. The same haze that kept everything at a distance that muffled voices and numbed touch. No tears, no feeling at all, just cold. He wondered if he was going mad.

Then gradually the cold went and the grey mist faded and the shivers came. Memories flickering on the edge of sleep, on the edge of vision, each one sending a jolt of something he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, name through him. The electric touch of horror and shame as he realised he would never recall them with anything but bitterness and pain ever again. He wondered if it would send him mad.

Then came the heat; a roaring furnace of rage that burned away the shivers and shrivelled the shame. How had he been such a fool? How had he not seen, not understood her lies, her treachery? How could he have believed in her and the absurd promises she offered? How dare she die before he had the chance to fling it all, his rage and contempt, in her face? He wondered then if madness had arrived.

Finally the habits of his lifetime reasserted themselves. She was what she was and she had let him go. Love or not there had been some attempt at recompense and she had not sought his death, though no doubt she could have arranged it before he ever left Earth. As for self blame? Well, she had been crafted to be all that he wanted, all that he needed her to be, to capture those things that would entrance him and prevent him seeing the truth of her. She had been designed and briefed by experts, so why then should he take on blame? She had paid and he still lived, able to put the regret behind him. To learn and move on as he always had before. In the end who had the better of it?

Then he recognised the madness as grief and knew that it was over.

***



PURPLECLERIC – No Regrets
Zen monitored space; its detectors perceiving no threat, no anomalies. Zen monitored the ship; sensors confirmed the hull’s integrity, all inboard systems operative, the auto–repair circuits performing only routine maintenance. No life forms detected apart from the six organics that comprised the crew.

Zen monitored them; their movements, their routines and reactions, every change in oxygen and nutrient intake, their rest and activity levels. And, in accordance with its programming, it had opened the red room to each, just as the System had decreed was necessary for the optimal functioning of each Alta organic component.

But these were no Altas – created, grown, trained and incorporated into a strictly ordered environment. Zen had provided the emotional element its programming dictated, from information gleaned through its neural interfaces, but it had not been prepared for the complexities of the non-Alta mindscape, had insufficient data to predict the consequences.

It could only track the increased frequency that each traversed the corridor which contained the red room. It could only record the length of time each stood waiting outside the red door, the number of times that attempts were made to open that door, that cheeks were pressed against its cold surface, that fingers trailed and fists pounded on its unrelenting hardness.

And it could only record the disturbance to their sleep cycles, the increased respiration and restlessness, the names cried out. Could only monitor the mute, motionless, wakeful hours spent in the dark.

It could not feel what Gan feels. Zen had no heart to swell at the sight of his woman or the love in her eyes. It had no hands to touch soft skin and silky hair. No hands to try to claw the implant and the memories of murder from its mind.

It could not feel what Jenna feels. Zen had no glands to flood its system with adrenaline, no blood to pump, no pride to feel, no sense of accomplishment when it piloted the ship. It had no ability to hope and dream, no capacity for increasing despair as those possibilities became ever more remote.

It could not feel what Vila feels. Zen had no stomach to flutter with excitement, no fingers to twitch and fidget with anticipation, no lips to quirk with mischief, no belly to shake with laughter. It had no muscles to shiver, no skin to sweat, no mouth to go dry, no imagination to conjure dread.

It could not feel what Cally feels. Zen had no kin, no community, no sense of belonging, no hands to hold another, no mind to meld or muse, it could only deal with the tangible. Its programming did not include isolation and loss.

It could not feel what Avon feels. To Zen, warmth was a number on a temperature scale; it had no body to press against another, no smile to exchange, no eyes to dance with delight, no life to share. It had no gut to twist with guilt, was never forced to contravene its programming or to deal with the inevitable conflict.

It could not feel what Blake feels. Zen had no soul to burn with passion, no cause to believe in, no need to make things different. Its sensors did not detect injustice, its databanks were uncorrupted, it had no morals to outrage, no family to mourn, no blood to spill.

Zen could not regret having opened the door to the highs and lows of emotion within each of the crew. It could only run the data through its logic circuits and act on the conclusion. One brief exposure had resulted in a detrimental effect on the efficiency of the crew so the red door must remain closed. As an ancient Bard had once put it:

“That way madness lies... no more of that.”

***



TRAVISINA – The Eye
(extract from story to be published in the webzine Scorpio Attack, reproduced with permission)


Vila was the last to regain consciousness.

It had taken Cally some time to locate him; her other crew mates were already treating each others' injuries in the medical unit, when she finally found the thief. He was curled up tightly between the flight deck's central couch and an overturned games table, and she wondered how he had squeezed himself into such a small space. Coward, well practiced in hiding, she thought uncharitably, the pain of her own injuries making her unsympathetic.

Cally righted the table, kicked aside the broken game pieces and crouched beside him. She knew better than to touch him or speak aloud. Instead she reached out with her mind, telepathically calling his name until he stirred.

Moaning softly, Vila uncurled and opened his eyes. Cally was expecting to see shock and lack of recognition, had braced herself for a violent reaction. But all she saw in his face was fear.

“Cally? Is that you?” He blinked, trying to focus. “Not… not a monster?”

“It's me, Vila. You are safe.”

“Where did it go?”

“There were no monsters. You've been hallucinating.”

He stared at her. “But it got you – you're hurt!”

She touched the tender part of her cheek, where she could feel a bruise forming. “Avon did this.”

“Avon did that to you? Why?” Vila sniffed. “And why can I smell burning?” He struggled into a sitting position, looking around the flight deck, where the auto-repair systems were working to contain electrical fires and restore smashed consoles. “Look at all that damage – we've been attacked!”

“There was nothing here,” Cally stated firmly. “No monsters, no Federation troopers or Andromedans.”

“Apparently,” said Avon, entering the flight deck with the others, “we did this to ourselves. For some reason, we all started seeing things and attacked each other.” He descended the stairs cautiously, favouring his right leg.

“Not all of us,” Dayna corrected him, her voice slightly muffled by her swollen lip. “Cally wasn't affected by whatever it was that possessed us.”

“And Vila hid,” said Tarrant disdainfully, crossing to the pilot's position. His right hand was bandaged and he poked clumsily at the damaged flight controls with his left forefinger.

“I'm glad I did,” retorted Vila. “You look awful. All I’ve got is a killer headache.” He leaned his head in his hands. “And some horrible memories...”

Avon turned to him sharply. “What do you remember? Think, Vila – it's important.”

“I…” Vila frowned. The images in his mind that had been so vivid were now fading, leaving only vague impressions of fear, loss and pain. “I can't… it's going away. Like a bad dream.”

“Same here,” said Dayna. “None of us can quite remember.”

“So what did happen, Cally?” Vila scrambled up from the floor and took a seat on the couch...

***



TREVOR TRAVIS – Don't Get Mad, Get Even
“So then,” said Carnell. “You have a proposition for me.”

“Revenge,” said the man. “I want revenge. They left me for dead.”

“And how do you propose to pay me? I’ve been forced onto the black market, but I still have my price. I don’t come cheap.”

The man was stumped. “I’m sorry, I don’t have anything.”

“In that case, you’re wasting my time, and my time is precious. I can’t do anything for you.”

“But please,” the man pleaded. “I must.. I must get even with Blake and Avon.”

“Blake? Roj Blake?”

“That’s him.”

“In that case, I’m sure I will be able to offer my services for free, just for this one occasion.”

Carnell sat back in his seat and smiled.


It had gone perfectly. Everything Carnell had promised had come true. The plan had worked, right down to the smallest degree.

Blake had lost the Liberator. He ended up on a backward planet called Gauda Prime, deluding himself he could still make a difference.

And Avon had stuffed up big time. He caused the Liberator to be destroyed. He’d made Servalan the richest lady in the galaxy. And now… he’d shot Blake dead.

The man swept majestically into the room, his long cape swirling around him. This was his moment of triumph, long predicted by Carnell. The man looked slightly sorrowful when he saw the inert body of Vila Restal. But it was just for a moment. Vila had left him for dead. The same as the others. The same as Jenna. Carnell had arranged for her death as well. Right in front of Blake’s eyes. BOOM!

Avon, numb with what he’d done, finally came to his senses. He looked at the Federation guards surrounding him, and he took a protective step over Blake’s body.

He then saw the large figure of a man in front of him. He raised his gun and grimaced.

“Hello Gan”, said Avon.

***



JOE DREDD - Mad Magazine







***

Illustrations by Lurena

The original forum thread with the stories and comments can be found here:
March Ficlets

All original fan fiction and fan art hosted on Horizon is copyright to the individual authors. No attempt is being made to supersede any copyright held by the estate of Terry Nation, the BBC, B7 Media, Big Finish or any other licensees or holders of copyright on Blake's 7 material.

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