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Quiet Move by Sue Little & Larasati Widara

Quiet Move
by
Sue Little & Larasati Widara

This story is set in Blake’s 7 Season B, between Redemption and Weapon

Carnell wearily surveyed the crowded room, hoping to find someone amongst the assembled guests who would pique his interest. He so hated these diplomatic gatherings, he felt they were totally beneath his dignity. But of late, he had been required to attend such dull affairs with Supreme Commander Servalan, and sometimes one had to make sacrifices in order to maintain popularity.

Then he saw him. Standing loftily apart from everyone else, but trying his utmost to blend in with the scenery. He had the look of an elite Alpha, his bearing and disdain for those around him made that evident. But if he were an Alpha, what was he doing on this less than gracious vessel with a less than gracious Emperor, whose days were coming to an end? Carnell smiled insincerely at those thronging about him, and decided to circle the dull, milling crowd to seek out this stranger.

The stranger did not seem to register his presence at first, choosing to stare ahead as if hoping that the newly arrived Carnell would simply go away and not bother him. Carnell only found the stranger’s demeanour even more fascinating. He stood quietly beside him, for a moment, pretending to be enamoured of the multitude noisily enjoying themselves. Out of the corner of his eye, Carnell could see that the stranger was doing his best to blank him. He cleared his throat theatrically and decided to make a pronouncement.

“I do so hate these soirees, don’t you?”

The stranger said nothing, preferring to ignore the unwanted attention. Carnell exhaled a soft sigh, which seemed to elicit a reaction. The stranger had seemed determined not to engage in any conversation, but his determination faded, due, in part, to Carnell’s resolute persistence.

“I wouldn’t know,” he replied flatly, deliberately averting his gaze, apparently intent on finding something of far more interest across the crowded room.

“So many hideous people with whom one has to mingle and make small talk,” Carnell continued, undeterred. “It can be so tiresome.”

“I suppose it can.”

“You don’t strike me as someone who finds these events bearable.”

“If you say so.”

“Would you think me forward if I asked you a personal question?”

“That depends just how personal the question is.”

Carnell smiled, his blue eyes now fixed firmly on the stranger. “Do you, by any chance, happen to play chess?”

The stranger turned to face him, his smile not quite reaching his dark eyes. “As a matter of fact, yes.”

“Would you indulge me? I find these affairs so unappetising.”

“And it would seem that I share that lack of appetite.”

“But I have been most lax! My name is Carnell. I would like to know the name of the man with whom I seem to have so much in common.”

“Strangely enough, so would I. I have no idea who I am. I am as much a mystery to myself as I am to you.”

Carnell’s initial surprise quickly dissipated, for he knew exactly who this man was. “Perhaps we could find a quiet corner while I send for my gaming pieces. If that is acceptable, of course? I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“It is quite acceptable. These last few days have been just about tolerable. I appreciate these people helping me, but I don’t seem to fit in.”

“I can understand how you feel. Sometimes I, too, get this sense of not belonging. However, once Supreme Commander Servalan is made aware of your predicament, I’m sure that she will be only too pleased to use the full might of the Federation to garner information about you and resolve your problem.”

“I would appreciate that.”

“I knew you would. Shall we?” Carnell politely indicated for the stranger to walk towards one of the quieter ante-rooms, knowing full well that Supreme Commander Servalan would have no hesitation in helping this lost man find his true identity.

And then this man would wish he had never taken up Carnell’s kind offer.

***


“Blake, you can’t keep blaming yourself. Avon knew what he was letting himself in for,” Jenna said pointedly.

“I don’t imagine the thought of that station suddenly blowing up entered his mind. I should have gone back.”

“If it was you, then Avon wouldn’t have….”

“But it wasn’t me, it was him. And you’re wrong, Jenna, Avon would have gone back for me.”

“Only after we had all threatened to shoot him. Blake, he is dead…”

“You don’t know that.”

“When that section blew, it took half the station with it. You saw the damage, no-one could have survived!”

“Not,” Orac proffered, “unless the bulkheads in the remaining sections were properly sealed.”

“Bulkheads?”

“They would have automatically activated the instant the hull in that area had been breached.”

“We need to go back!”

Blake’s announcement stunned the other members of the Liberator’s crew.

“Back?” Vila asked, horrified.

“What about that fleet, Blake?” Gan queried, remembering how the arrival of a large number of unidentified ships had hastened the Liberator’s departure from the abandoned space station.

“I agree,” Cally stated. “To go back now could endanger all of us.”

Blake found it difficult to believe that Cally, of all people, would be of the same opinion as the others.

“Besides,” Orac continued, “such a course of action would be pointless.”

“Why?” Blake asked.

“Because it would appear that the fleet you saw approaching the space station sent a search and rescue party to investigate. They have recovered a survivor.”


“He’s alive,” Blake said, breathing a sigh of relief.

“It would appear so.”

“Whose fleet is it, Orac?”

“It is the Imperial Fleet of the Emperor Danda d’Henegon, ruler of the Sigirid Constellation Empire. This empire is one of the many independent, non-aligned territories outside the sphere of the Terran Federation Influence. The survivor from the wreckage of the station is now on board the Emperor’s personal cruiser, and a request has been lodged for information concerning the identity of an unknown human male who has sustained injuries and is unable to be identified.”

“Injuries? What sort of injuries?”

“A possible concussion that has caused a temporary memory problem.”

“Then we need to intercept that cruiser and find Avon,” Blake said, with a tone of urgency in his voice.

“How can you be sure that it is Avon?” Jenna enquired.

“Before Avon and I teleported over to that station,” Blake explained, “both Zen and Orac confirmed that there were no life signs and that it had been completely abandoned. Is that correct, Orac?”

“That is correct. But it will not be simple to intercept the cruiser,” Orac intoned matter-of-factly. “The request for information was answered by the Federation flotilla on its way to the funeral of High Councillor Cordilla, the lately deceased ruler of the planet Wende.”

Blake sank down on the forward couch. “The Federation? Avon’s as good as dead.”

“Not at this moment. The unknown male is still under the protection of the Emperor.”

“And where is the Emperor?”

“His fleet is also en-route to the Funeral of Cordilla.”

Jenna had become silent. The mention of the High Councillor had stirred a memory.

Cally sensed that the news had upset her. “You knew him, Jenna?”

“High Councillor Cordilla was, shall we say, one of my more important contacts. He was determined to keep his planet and its system independent. I can’t believe he is dead.”

“It was a sudden death,” Orac informed them, “one totally unforeseen. He unexpectedly fell ill upon his return from a diplomatic mission to meet the President of the Federation.”

“I presume a doctor was consulted,” Blake reasoned.

“Indeed. The Emperor’s own private physician was sent to assist a recovery. But to no avail. The Emperor and the High Councillor were old friends; it is seen as a great mark of respect that he should attend his old friend’s funeral.”

Jenna mused upon the news for a moment. “He was a good man. I wish I could pay my respects at his funeral.”

“It would not be prudent for you to attend in person,” Orac said haughtily. “In the circumstances, such an action could prove most foolhardy.”

“I know.”

“However, it could prove beneficial to proceed to that location.”

“Beneficial in what way?” Blake asked.

“The unknown human male is aboard the Emperor’s personal cruiser. And that cruiser is now en route to Wende…”

“You’re not seriously suggesting that we actually go to this funeral are you?” Vila said, genuinely concerned.

“Of course not,” Orac replied sharply, “but what better way to locate Avon, than to be present at the one event where the Emperor and his fleet most certainly will be?”

***

Carnell was quietly darting a look over the rim of his wine glass, trying to catch his new acquaintance unawares, but so far he had not succeeded. The stranger was too interested in studying the chess board and then quickly making his move; a move which enthralled the usually languid Carnell.

And then Carnell’s concentration was suddenly interrupted as a long, slender arm was draped over his shoulder and an exquisitely manicured finger gently tapped his chest.

“Well, Carnell, you have surpassed yourself this time.”

Whether the comment was with regard to the game or to the person sitting opposite him, Carnell wasn’t sure. “Indeed, Ma’am,” he replied, not moving a muscle. He was quite used to this arm and its finger being draped in such a leisurely manner. “Supreme Commander Servalan, may I introduce you to my opponent? Alas, I do not know his name, as he is unable to recall his identity.”

“Really? How quaint… and amusing. Carnell, I do so hope this is not one of your more extravagant ploys.”

“Ploys, Supreme Commander? I am cut to the quick by such an insinuation.”

The stranger leaned back, his move complete, and silently viewed the scene before him, before saying quite softly, “Your move, I think.”

Supreme Commander Servalan found herself staring into the darkest pair of eyes she had ever come across. If there was a hint of recognition, then he wasn’t showing it, and that unnerved her. “So you do not know your name? How terribly inconvenient.”

“A minor inconvenience,” the stranger replied, “until these people can obtain the information that will rectify the matter. I believe it is check-mate.”

Carnell stared at the man opposite him and then at the board. It was indeed check-mate. He pondered the previous moves and realised that his concentration hadn’t been all it should have been. “How obtuse of me. You play well… very well indeed.”

“But I did not have the benefit of such a beautiful distraction.”

Servalan allowed herself a very small smile, but it was not returned. The stranger sat there, unmoving. His expression was blank and dispassionate. Was he really amnesiac or playing a very dangerous game?

“Perhaps,” Carnell began, “you would indulge me again. It is very rare for me to come across a player of your calibre. I find it quite exhilarating.”

“As long as your... distraction is comfortable with that? I wouldn’t want to keep you away from a more… pressing engagement.”

Carnell smiled quite broadly. He was beginning to find this stranger most affable. He gently tapped Servalan’s hand, which was still elegantly draped over his shoulder. “Perhaps my distraction would like to stay and watch. It may give me an edge.”

This time the stranger smiled. “An unfair edge, if you don’t mind my saying.”

Servalan shivered. He was looking straight at her… almost as if he were looking into her soul.

“Quite,” Carnell acknowledged, “but perhaps it might be more politically expedient for the Supreme Commander not to be seen in such a frivolous mood… especially as I believe we are about to have company.”

Servalan heeded the warning. She quickly removed her hand and returned to her usual cold, professional demeanour, just as the small party was interrupted by the arrival of one of the Emperor’s advisors.

“Supreme Commander. Your President is about to leave for his ship. He asked after you. I’m sorry if I have intruded.”

“Does your Emperor make a habit of harbouring fugitives from the Terran Federation?” she asked, ever so politely.

“Madam?”

“This man is a wanted criminal. I insist that you hand him over into Federation custody.”

“My sincere apologies, Supreme Commander, but this man is now the guest of our Emperor and has been accorded diplomatic immunity. We only have your word that he is indeed a fugitive from your Federation justice system and as the man is unable to recall any of his past life, he would not be able to defend himself.”

“And you believe this charade?”

Carnell was quietly finding this debate rather amusing. And judging by his slightly bored expression, the subject of the discussion was also revelling in the situation.

“Madam, that is in the hands of our Emperor’s personal physician.”

“And where is this personal physician?”

“He was asked to attend to High Councillor Cordilla, who, as you well know, was taken seriously ill and is now no more.”

“Then his skills are to be questioned…”

“…and he now awaits the arrival of our illustrious Emperor on Wende.”

“How very convenient. Of course, the Terran President’s personal physician is more than capable. Once he has examined this man, then he will tell you that which I already know.”

“Perhaps, Supreme Commander, but the Emperor is most insistent. So, until his personal physician is able to examine this unfortunate individual, then he will stay here, on the Emperor’s ship until such a time comes when the good physician can prove your words.”

“But your Emperor is already in receipt of the information that your people requested...”

“Indeed, Supreme Commander. But, as I explained, we only have your word regarding that. We still await more concrete evidence from your Federation that this man is indeed a dangerous criminal.”

“As you are fully aware,” Servalan continued indignantly, “we have encountered a problem with regard to that information. But…”

“We must wait until that problem is resolved. For now, this man’s amnesia prevents him either confirming or denying that information.”

Servalan did not take kindly to being addressed in such a manner, even if he was the Emperor’s spokesman.

It was Carnell who decided to defuse the tense stand-off. “Supreme Commander, might I have a small word with you?”

Servalan once again returned to her charm offensive mode. “Why, of course, Carnell.”

The two of them adjourned to another part of the room and spent a few minutes in deep conversation, and all the time the stranger watched them.

When they returned, it was Carnell who spoke. “Supreme Commander Servalan understands your concerns, and those of your most distinguished Emperor. Of course this man must stay here within the Emperor’s ship until such a time that the extent of his amnesia can be determined. The Supreme Commander would be delighted to discuss this with Emperor Danda d’Henegon, but I presume he is an extremely busy man at this moment. However, if it is acceptable, then I would like to stay here. I believe that I may be able to help this man.”

The Emperor’s spokesman considered the offer. At least it would get this woman off the ship and having a hostage of sorts would ensure that she wouldn’t risk taking the stranger by force.

“That is acceptable. And now, we need to prepare to move off, as our leaders both have a rendezvous to keep.”

“Indeed,” Servalan agreed.

“This unforeseen delay, although fortuitous, has disrupted our schedule. To compensate for this, our most glorious Emperor decided to make haste to the good Councillor’s funeral and has boarded one of our fast shuttles.”

“An excellent idea. It would not do to arrive late at such an event, would it?”

Carnell was acutely aware that Servalan was looking in his direction as she spoke.

“Indeed,” he agreed, “and perhaps, Supreme Commander, it would be advisable for our President to emulate that action. To be late for such an event would not impress those who have made such personal efforts to arrive on time.”

Servalan smiled her most courteous smile. “I agree. I do so abhor lateness. Carnell, you will stay aboard this ship with this unfortunate man, and we will rendezvous with the Emperor’s fleet at Wende. Once the funeral rites are over, we can then see about discovering this man’s true identity and hopefully bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.”

She stood, for a moment, directly in front of the stranger. “We will meet again, I assure you.”

He was unruffled. “I look forward to it.”

“And if the Emperor’s personal physician confirms that you really are suffering a drastic memory loss, then I will take great pleasure in restoring that memory.”

He studied her and then slowly got to his feet. For a moment, she wondered what he was about to do. Her knowledge of him was only based on the reports so lovingly compiled by one of the agents sent to ‘run’ him.

And then he smiled again; a smile she found very unsettling. “As I said, I look forward to it.”

Servalan composed herself before continuing, “I’m sure you do… but the pleasure will be all mine.” For a moment she studied him and then remembered exactly who she was and who he was, even though it seemed that that knowledge was eluding him.

“Oh, I’m quite sure it will be,” he replied.

And then she was gone, escorted away by two Mutoids to join the Terran President aboard his ship.

Carnell resumed his seat and began to replace the playing pieces. He shook his head. “And the worst thing is… she means every word of it.”

The stranger turned to look at him. “I know.”

***


“It sounds quite a risk to me,” Gan stated.

“Look,” Blake explained, “we shadow the Emperor’s fleet from a safe distance and that will give Orac time to find out exactly where Avon is on board that cruiser.”

“You are sure that it is Avon?” Cally queried.

“Orac is certain.”

“What about you, Cally?” Vila asked. “You must know if it is.”

“Must I?” Cally replied. She did know that soon after the Liberator had left the space station, and an apparently dead Avon, she had felt a numbing sensation which had worried her. But he was too far away for her to sense anything else.

“Well?” Vila insisted.

“Who else could it be? That space station was abandoned, so the survivor they found must be Avon.”

“Perhaps we could persuade the Emperor to hand him over,” Vila suggested, more in hope than anything else.

“That may not be possible,” Orac informed them. “The Emperor’s fleet has already been joined by the Terran President’s flotilla.”

“They’ve handed him over?” Blake asked.

“Not yet. The human male is still within the Emperor’s fleet.”

“What are they waiting for?”

“Perhaps confirmation of his identity?”

“Once the Federation supplies that,” Gan said, “Avon’s finished.”

“I am currently ensuring that the information requested is not forthcoming,” Orac stated.

“You’re interfering with their communication and computer systems?” Jenna conjectured.

“Of course. However, sooner or later, they will overcome that interference. But even then there is every possibility that the Emperor will require further evidence; perhaps from someone whom he can trust. I should point out, however, that to launch a rescue mission would prove foolhardy. You do not know exactly where within the Emperor’s personal cruiser Avon is being held. And there are too many armed vessels within that fleet to risk a confrontation.”

Blake pondered that. “Why would the Emperor come all this way with the majority of his fleet?”

“A show of force. There are indications that Emperor Danda d’Henegon does not regard the Terran Federation as a friendly power; an opinion possibly shared by his deceased friend, the High Councillor Cordilla,” Orac opined.

“But in the cause of diplomatic niceties, they have to maintain a cordial stance.” Blake paused, reflecting. “The problem is, such a show of force could leave the Empire’s defences severely depleted.”

“But this is neutral territory,” Jenna put in. “Does the Emperor assume that the Federation has ulterior motives?”

“Maybe he suspects that their friendly overtures have a hidden agenda. Orac, what does the Sigirid Constellation territory have that the Federation doesn’t?”

“Numerous deposits of gold; a metal now fully mined out within the Federation borders.”

Blake was pensive. “Something is not right about this; not right at all.”

“I can understand the Federation wanting to get their hands on that gold,” Vila said. “Who wouldn’t? But surely they wouldn’t risk a confrontation out here. Not with that Imperial fleet.”

“Orac, where is the President’s fleet?” Blake asked.

“Undertaking routine manoeuvres along the borders of…” Orac began.

“... the Sigirid Constellation.” Blake shook his head in disbelief. “Very convenient if they have to step in to prevent enemy incursions. That’s very clever. And as Orac said, there are a great number of well-wishers attending this funeral, any one of whom can be blamed for attacking the Emperor.”

“Us included?” Vila asked.

“If it suits the Federation’s purpose, yes.”

“And once Avon’s rescuers find out exactly who he is,” Gan pointed out, “that could be awkward.”

“We need to get him off that ship, but I would also like to know exactly how the Federation intend to pull this off. Orac, keep working on narrowing down Avon’s location. Maybe once we’ve got him back it might be an idea to attend this funeral ourselves and find out what exactly the Federation are up to.”

“But if we don’t succeed in finding Avon, and if he is handed over to the Federation,” Cally wondered, “what then?”

***


The stranger sat perfectly still as the medics scurried around him and checked his bio-readings. One repeatedly shone a light into his eyes then stepped back, seemingly satisfied with his observations.

“Well?” the stranger asked.

“It would appear that our concerns for your health have been alleviated. Are you still troubled by headaches?”

“No. Your people have been successful in curing those.”

“And your memory? Has it returned?”

“Difficult to say. There still seems to be a complete blank. I can almost touch something… but then it goes out of reach.”

“Hopefully, when the Emperor’s personal physician returns, he will be able to assist you. I recommend more rest.”

“Thank you.”

Carnell had sat through the entire exercise, watching as the stranger had, with consummate ease, convinced these people that he was still suffering from bouts of dizziness and complete loss of memory.

“Perhaps a change of scenery,” Carnell suggested. “I believe that you have an excellent viewing platform?”

The medic had found it tiresome having this Federation man following him and his patient around, but the stranger hadn’t said anything about his constant presence.

“Yes, that may be a good idea. Somewhere restful, until it is possible for the Emperor’s personal physician to examine you himself.”

“And when do you think that will occur?” Carnell inquired.

“When the funeral of High Councillor Cordilla has concluded. Is that a problem?”

“Of course not. One mustn’t rush these things. Although I’m sure my friend here will be most grateful once your good doctor is able to examine him; to put his mind at ease, so to speak.”

The stranger directed a faint smile in Carnell’s direction.

“I’m sure,” the medic confirmed, “that he will be more than pleased to be of assistance and aid this man in every way he can.”

“Excellent. By the way, you don’t mind do you?” Carnell asked the stranger, “but I do find these sterile surroundings so unwelcoming. However, if you would prefer to stay here...”

“Well now, that depends,” the stranger began, “if such a suggestion is acceptable. After all, I am but a guest and I wouldn’t want to be a nuisance.”

“I think the viewing platform will be an excellent idea,” the medic agreed, “but this time, please let us know if you intend to go elsewhere. We were concerned for your well-being.”

“That, I’m afraid, was entirely my fault,” Carnell conceded most graciously, “but I had found that get-together a little overpowering. But I won’t let it happen again; you have my word.”

The medic studied the man seated in the chair smiling up at him, and still found himself unsure as to who or what this interloper was. He was obviously high up in the command structure of the Federation, but he didn’t seem to be of military bearing.

“One of my orderlies will escort you to the viewing platform.”

“Not necessary. If you just point us in the right direction...?”

“It is in the aft section. You will have no difficulty locating it. Now, gentlemen, if you don’t mind, I have other duties to perform.”

Carnell waved him away. “Well,” he said, waiting for the man to leave, “shall we adjourn to the viewing platform?”

The stranger got to his feet. “Why not? I don’t have any other pressing engagements.”

“At least, not until the High Councillor is sent on his way and the Emperor’s personal physician returns to give his verdict on your mental state. Then I think you will have a very pressing engagement, if Supreme Commander Servalan has anything to do with it.”

“You think so?”

“The lady can be most persuasive. Although, if I may say so, your performance so far has been most impressive.”

“Performance?”

“But don’t let one little word come between friends…”

“Quite.”

***


Jenna had taken Liberator on a parallel track to that of the Emperor’s Imperial Fleet, keeping it firmly between them and the Federation’s Flotilla. Orac, too, was busy, narrowing down the exact location of Avon on board the Emperor’s cruiser.

Now Cally was waiting patiently in the teleport section with Vila and Gan; Vila to operate the teleport at Orac’s instructions and Gan ready as backup, should he be required to assist.
Jenna knew that her piloting skills would be called upon again. Another fast run in and then out before anyone on the Emperor’s fleet noticed anything untoward, and then another fast run to pull both Avon and Cally out of danger. Hopefully. It sounded simple enough, but Jenna knew that nothing was ever simple.

Blake could feel his nerves getting the better of him, and as the Liberator and the two fleets closed on the planet of Wende, so the gnawing pain in his stomach worsened.

Orac interrupted the silence on the flight deck. “It would appear that the funeral proceedings of the late High Councillor are being broadcast to the wider area.”

“He was a very well known and popular man,” Jenna murmured, her thoughts returning to another time and place.

“Zen, put in on the main screen,” Blake said.

+CONFIRMED+

The view screen sprang into life and Blake found himself staring at the most beautiful sight he had ever encountered. A vast expanse of water stretched out almost to the horizon, hemmed in by tall, precipitous mountains, their summits cloaked in white. It looked cold, Blake thought, and it would certainly get colder as the planet’s sun began its descent to the far side.

The view changed to show the gathered mourners; a mixture of high ranking official representatives, business leaders, small time inter-world traders and those like Jenna, people of a dubious existence. Jenna called herself a free trader whilst others considered her to be a smuggler. It all depended on one’s point of view.

As the sun disappeared from the sky, so darkness descended, until two moons appeared in the sky and cast their magical glow.

“It looks as though a lot of people have been able to come and pay their respects, “Jenna said, secretly wishing that she was amongst them. “It won’t be long now before the ceremony begins.”

“What ceremony?”

“A ceremony as old as these mountains; one that dates back to the Olden Days, as they call them. It was once considered an important event, to help the soul pass to the afterlife.”

“If you believed in such things.”

“These people still do, Blake. Hundreds of years have passed and yet a ceremony from the earliest times on Earth has survived out here. I think you will find it quite overwhelming.”

“I presume the Emperor arrived in time, Orac?” Blake asked.

“The slight delay of his fleet and the unplanned diplomatic meeting with the Terran President did cause a problem, but he decided to come ahead in a fast shuttle. He is down there now, in pride of place.”

“And the Federation President?”

“The Federation President was unable to attend, due to an unexpected occurrence which required his personal attention,” Orac explained. “But he did send his regards and insisted that the ceremony continue without him.”

“How very magnanimous of him,” Jenna smiled.

The view changed again and the screen filled with a growing number of fires beginning to amass on the shore of the vast lake.

Blake was pensive. “You know, if Avon had died on that space station, leaving him there wouldn’t have seemed right. Not like that.”

“So you would like to have had his body brought to a place like this and his funeral carried out in the same way; aboard a replica of an old sailing vessel which was then set alight?”

Blake nodded, a wry smile on his face. “At least he would go out in a blaze of glory, wouldn’t he?”

***


The stranger leaned on the handrail running the length of the panoramic viewing platform. His gaze was fixed on the distant star field and it was obvious that he was searching for something quite distinct.

Carnell had made himself comfortable on one of the cushioned seats. He was inspecting one of his well-manicured hands. “Are you looking for something?” he asked eventually.

The stranger did not reply.

“Or maybe it’s someone.”

Still no reply.

“You seem preoccupied. I suppose you’re anticipating the arrival of Blake.”

This time the stranger deigned to speak. “Who?”

Carnell sat back, his admiration growing for this stranger who still felt compelled to carry on with the game; for in Carnell’s mind that was what exactly they were both revelling in. A game.

Unperturbed, Carnell continued with his musings. “As I told Supreme Commander Servalan, it would be much wiser to leave you here, on this ship within a far greater fleet. Your friend would not dare attack a fleet this size… besides, it would be like seeking a needle in a haystack. Don’t you agree?”

“As I said, who?”

“Your friend, Roj Blake.”

Carnell looked up and met the dark eyes of the stranger who had now turned to face him and was smiling.

“I don’t have a friend called Blake.”

“Colleague, then. I’m sorry if I have spoken out of turn.”

“And colleague doesn’t come into it, either.”

“Anyway, from my understanding, it seems that Blake and his crew are somewhere in the vicinity of the planet that we are rapidly approaching. And please don’t deny it. You are here, therefore Blake and the Liberator must also be in the area. Although quite what attraction an abandoned space station could possibly have had, is beyond me.”

The stranger was quiet, considering his next move. “Why should that concern me?”

“Doesn’t it worry you that Blake may leave you to the tender mercies of Servalan? Not that the word tender could possibly be used to describe our illustrious Supreme Commander.”

“Why would he want to rescue me? I don’t mean anything to him.”

“Why do you persist in this useless exercise?” Carnell sighed. “You are Kerr Avon - of course you mean something to him. And please do not deny it. I have access to all of the records pertaining to the enemies of the Federation, and I recognised you the moment I set eyes on you.”

“As you’ve been told, I have…”

“…lost your memory? A nice try, but you don’t fool me.”

The stranger drew in a deep breath. “All right. You win. I am Avon.”

“Thank goodness we’ve got that out of the way. You were very persistent.”

“Don’t hold it against me. How long have you known?”

“The moment I asked if you played chess. You didn’t hesitate.”

“I must apologise for my over enthusiasm.”

“Apology accepted. You have no idea how refreshing it was to acquaint myself with such a consummate player as yourself. The art of chess gaming is an almost forgotten skill amongst those who now populate the upper echelons of the Federation. It is such a shame that the one man who I find is my equal in such matters, is, unfortunately, an enemy who must be destroyed. I’m sure you would be pleased to know that I, for one, will mourn your passing.”

“That’s most considerate of you.”

“I thought so. Perhaps now that we have cleared the air between us, you could enlighten me as to why Blake had such an interest in that space station? Or was he, like the Emperor and the President, en-route to the funeral of the late, lamented High Councillor?”

“Neither,” Avon replied, folding his arms, equally enjoying this refreshing interlude. “That was my idea. I have an innate curiosity about such things; technology and the like.”

“Curiosity killed the cat, as the old saying goes. And in your case, that almost proved to be true. Now, why don’t you take a seat and make yourself comfortable? It won’t be long now.”

“What won’t be long?”

“That would be telling, wouldn’t it?”

***


Orac had located the Emperor’s personal cruiser amongst the numerous ships approaching Wende, and Jenna was fully engaged with the complex manoeuvre about to take place. Liberator was now running towards the Emperor’s fleet and as it made its first pass, Vila operated the teleport on Orac’s instructions.

“Down and safe,” were Cally’s only words, as the ship flew back out and waited for the signal to return.

Blake had watched Jenna's skilled piloting in admiration, but his attention was once more drawn towards the view screen and the drama still being relayed from the planet’s surface. He was transfixed as a wooden craft containing High Councillor Cordilla’s body was set alight and cast adrift to float out to the middle of the vast tract of water.

“How old is this custom?” Blake asked, enthralled.

“Very old,” Jenna replied, taking her eyes off of the instruments before her. “Even they don’t know its origins.”

“It’s quite spectacular…”

The eerily silent image suddenly acquired a faint sound; a strange rumbling noise that grew in volume and began to echo around the steep valley walls.

“Is that part of it?” Blake asked.

“I don’t think so,” Jenna replied, her attention fully on the screen. “It sounds like a sonic boom….”

“What, out there?”

Then it came. There was a loud cracking noise and Jenna and Blake watched in horror as in the strange light afforded by the two moons, a massive section of mountain began to slide down into the lake, gathering speed every second.

It hit the water….
…..and the wave thrown up by its weight and volume began to thunder across the lake towards those assembled on the beach, growing in height and ferocity as it did so.

“Blake, they don’t stand a chance!”

But Blake was stunned. As the scene unfolded before them in all its horror, he and Jenna could only watch as they waited for Cally’s signal.

***

“Who are you?” Avon asked.

“A mere public servant doing his job… and quite well, actually. Your arrival and the unexpected presence of Blake and his ship have not hindered the outcome.”

“And what exactly is your job?”

“I’m a psychostrategist by profession.”

“And the outcome?”

“Oh, a terrible misfortune. And at such a sombre ceremony.”

“The High Councillor’s funeral, I take it.”

Carnell seemed almost delighted to explain all to such an attentive audience. “The Emperor and his entourage have been caught up in a terrible accident, which not only will create a power vacuum, but also leaves his territory open to exploitation and invasion. It is most fortunate that the Federation were conducting manoeuvres in the vicinity and can ensure that no-one takes the opportunity to annex that territory.”

“This fleet may not take kindly to that.”

“Maybe not, but once they realise the futility of the situation, they will be only too pleased to accept the offer of the Federation’s help in the matter.”

“What if they refuse that kind offer?”

“They will come round, eventually.”

“Do they realise that this offer comes with strings attached and a permanency that they can’t even begin to imagine?”

“They will, eventually, but by then it will be too late. As I fear it is already too late for you. I’m afraid the situation now means that you will become the property of Supreme Commander Servalan, to do with as she sees fit.”

Carnell smiled as he said that, and he thought he saw a fleeting smile on Avon’s face. But then it was gone. Avon seemed to be thinking about something else; his mind elsewhere.

“Then Supreme Commander Servalan will have to be disappointed, won’t she?” It was a female voice and its owner was standing right by Carnell, her small gun pressed against his temple.

“Oh, touché….you’ve beaten me again, Avon. May I ask who this delightful creature is?”

“You may,” she replied as she came round into his line of sight. “I am Cally.”

Carnell attempted to get to his feet, but was thwarted by Cally’s gun now directed straight into his face.

“Your picture does not do you justice. I may have to personally select another portrait for your file. The ones they have chosen are just so… bland. Am I correct in the assumption that you are here to take Avon away from me?”

“You are.” Cally studied the benign features of the man before her. She then turned her attention to Avon; but her eyes never left the smiling face inches from her gun. “Who is this man?”

“A mere civil servant, Ma’am. At your service,” Carnell replied.

Cally was taken aback by the charm this man exuded; so much so, that she momentarily forgot about the teleport bracelets on her wrist and the fact that Avon was patiently waiting to be handed one. She watched in silence as Carnell leant forward to take her free hand into his, but then suddenly jerked the gun closer to his face.

/Don’t move!/

Carnell visibly paled as he heard her soft voice in his head. He sighed a defeated sigh as he leant back against the cushioned seat, his hands raised in mock surrender.

“You found me,” Avon stated, taking one of the bracelets and putting it around his wrist. He was privately enjoying this moment as Carnell suddenly discovered the delights of being in the presence of an Auron.

“It took some time. Orac called it akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.”

“Oh, a man after my own heart…” Carnell began, but was silenced by Cally.

“Liberator is on its way,” Cally informed Avon. “You seemed to be engrossed in your discussion, but I thought it wise to tell them to make haste.”

“Not on my account, I trust?” Carnell remarked. “This chance encounter, though brief, has been delightful. And I really would like to meet this crew member of yours. He seems to think along the same lines as I.”

“That is not possible. Maybe you should ask Supreme Commander Servalan about this crew member,” Avon suggested, “I’m sure that she would be more than delighted to tell you all about 'him’.”

“Just as delighted as when she discovers that you have left without saying goodbye? I think she may well be quite devastated.”

“Then you will have to make sure she doesn’t stay devastated for too long, won’t you?”

Carnell conceded that. It would be a challenge, to say the least. He smiled as he focussed his blue eyes on first Cally and then Avon. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Avon returned the smile, “You do that.”

And then they were both gone.

“Oh dear,” Carnell sighed, “how inconvenient. I think Supreme Commander Servalan will be disappointed. And I never had the chance to become fully acquainted with either of them.”

***


Blake and Jenna had watched, powerless to do anything, as the tidal wave rushed ashore, destroying everything in its path. As they realised the enormity of what they had both witnessed, they were silent, even letting Vila's message that Avon and Cally now were back on board go unanswered.

It was Blake who broke free from his shock first. “That wasn’t an accident, Jenna.”

“But why? Why choose this moment?”

“The Emperor was down there, as were several high ranking officials...”

“But not the President of the Federation. Some of my friends were there, Blake. I have to go...”

“No!” Blake snapped, then realised that Jenna had found that retort maybe too abrupt. “No. They are dead, Jenna, together with the Emperor. I expect Servalan will be here soon, to inspect her handiwork.”

“This was her doing? But why? What did she hope to achieve?”

“What she always wants to achieve... kudos in the eyes of the President. Power.”

“So that’s what he was talking about.” It was Avon.

Jenna turned to face him, visibly relieved. “Welcome back. For a while, we thought we had lost you.”

“Obviously not.”

“So, did you actually suffer severe memory loss?” Blake asked.

“Why, did you think I had forgotten you? It was a ploy, to give you time.”

“You knew about this?” Blake gestured towards the view screen.

“Not precisely. A new acquaintance of mine alluded to a plan of some nature. But this is neither the time nor place to discuss it. Servalan knows that we are here. I think it would be wise to leave immediately.”

“A new acquaintance?”

“One who will be most pleased with himself. However, Cally’s timely intervention may take the shine off his triumph.”

Blake wondered what Avon was referring to. But explanations could wait. “Jenna, take us out of here; speed standard by seven.”

Jenna returned her gaze to the view screen. She'd had friends down there. Friends, acquaintances, even rivals, but they had all perished… and there was nothing that she could do.
Nothing.

***


Carnell could hear her approach. Even her footsteps seemed seductive. And then, there she was, the lady herself, resplendent in a long, white flowing dress with two Mutoids for company.

“We seem to be missing someone,” she purred.

“He had an urgent appointment. I did warn him that you would be devastated, but that did little to change his mind.”

“That was very careless of you, Carnell.”

“But it was remiss of you not to inform me of another crew member; one who seemed able to locate and retrieve your guest. Ma’am, unless I am in full receipt of information, then I cannot predict a successful outcome. Still, at least he will live to fight another day.”

“Indeed.”

“I found his company most refreshing. So different from those with whom I usually mix. And I think you would agree with me about that... his company, I mean.”

“Carnell, your impertinence...”

“…is neither here nor there. You have succeeded in what you set out to achieve. Avon was a mere bonus, a bagatelle, if you like. So now you must move on to your next plan of action. I presume you do have one? I wouldn’t like to impose.”

“No, of course you wouldn’t. Besides, you do want your fee, don’t you?”

“Ma’am, such matters are an anathema to me. I enjoy the challenge… but my fee would be welcome at this juncture.”

“Of course it would.”

“I presume the Emperor’s fleet is now on side, so to speak?”

“It will be, once it realises that it will need the Federation to protect it and, of course, the Empire itself, from any hostile incursions.”

“That is most magnanimous, Ma’am.”

“I thought so. Carnell, I think it is time we returned to my ship and then Space Command headquarters. We have much to discuss and arrange.”

“Of course.” Carnell slowly got to his feet and perused the star field beyond the plexi-glass. He shook his head and then turned to follow Servalan along the corridor to her waiting ship.

“Is there a problem, Carnell?” Even when she said his name, her voice beguiled him.

“Ma’am. I am concerned.”

“About what?”

“The question should be, ‘About whom?'”

“And who is this mysterious whom?”

“Avon.”

“What about him?”

“He is a formidable opponent, Ma’am. I know exactly what I am up against, should our paths ever cross again. The question is, do you?”

“He’s just a man, like any other.”

Carnell drew in a deep breath. He did not want to embarrass her in front of her attendants, even though they would be ignorant of what he was suggesting. “Ma’am, it is my task to notice certain things; to make sure that my predictions come about successfully.”

“Notice what things, Carnell?” She was actually beginning to blush.

“Ma’am, it is not my place to call attention to the obvious. Perhaps you were not even aware of it at the time.”

“Please don’t speak in riddles…”

“Mutual attraction.”

“Carnell…”

“To an untrained eye, it would be dismissed, but in my profession… well, let’s just say, I notice these things.”

Supreme Commander Servalan slowly turned on her heels to face him. “Then you will do well not to notice such things, if you wish to continue in your profession.”

“My lips are sealed. But he is a dangerous man, Supreme Commander. If Blake were no longer around to contain him…”

“Then perhaps we should find a way to take Blake out of the equation and see if your predictions come true.”

Carnell smiled down at her. “For a fee, of course.”

“Of course,” she smiled back.

For a moment they locked eyes and then she took her leave, walking away from him in a way that would have left many men somewhat perturbed.

Carnell sighed. “If only that were true.”

***


Quiet Move © Sue Little & Larasati Widara 2014
Illustrations by Lara
Edited by Jackie Emery

All original fan fiction 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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