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Therein lies the Shadow
NotExpendable
Hallo!

I've checked with Travisina that it's okay to post my fic here. It is quite a long fic but I've taken her excellent suggestion of breaking it down into more digestable chunks of text.

Intro: I couldn't not write Blake and Avon together so in this fic Blake never left at the end of S2 and Tarrant never arrived. I assume he's still off in the distance somewhere. Dayna still made it to the Liberator though. Travis never died because Travis. I assume he pulled a Servalan at the end of S3 and somehow saved himself from the jaws of Death.

Thank you very much to Travisina for checking it over for me & answering all my questions! Really appreciate it. I hope to post more of this story although probs not if you all comment 'what the bananas is this?!'


Therein lies the Shadow

“Give us the available information again on Penal Colony Eight,” Avon snapped, dark eyes like bitter chocolate flickering to Vila, cluttering up the flight deck of the Liberator.

He stood behind the navigation console of the ship, letting his gaze run from Vila to their illustrious leader {here, his inner voice ran with sarcasm so thick he nearly choked} Blake. Said leader was slouched on the plush couches directly behind Orac, an arm spread out either way over the backs of the couches and his eyes hooded, almost closed. To anyone else, it would have looked like Blake was dozing. To Avon, he knew that Blake was replaying their plan over and over in his head, teasing out the possible problems. It was unfortunate that Blake was of course, an idiot and would therefore miss the most logical problems that would present themselves. As if sensing the insult Blake opened one eye and grinned at him lazily.

“I’ll read it out again, shall I?” Vila asked, hovering over the information Zen had given them regarding their next mission, what Vila liked to refer to as a “bad mission.” They got a lot of those, mind you, Vila tended to classify anything that involved any possibility of him getting hurt as a bad mission.

“That is what I just said,” Avon replied, his words clipped and cold. Vila muttered something and leant forward to read.

“Penal Colony Eight, established on Abora Major to house your general Federation prisoners; minor moral deviationists, thugs, kidnappers, couple murderers, thieves…hey, thieves are highly specialised I’ll have you know, I didn’t pick up my training just anywhere!” He looked up, indignant; he happened to the best thief this side of the Federation. And possibly the other too. Blake was listening, the dark curls tilted his way and the deceptively lazy brown eyes trained on him. Avon was regarding him with the vague exasperated look that always seemed to sit on Avon’s face when Vila spoke, he noticed. Vila gave them a bright, slightly nervous smile and continued. “Ah, Eight was reclassified as medium security before the war when they moved the political prisoner Shadow there, ah, for being a bit of a trouble causer on Earth it looks like. Are you sure we want to rescue a trouble causer? We’ve got enough trouble.”

Blake gave him an indulgent smile and nodded, “Of course we do, Vila, where’s your sense of adventure?”

Vila shrugged, “Probably ran off with my sense of bravery years ago.”

Avon snorted quietly behind them, his face impassive when Vila span round to see if he had in fact made a joke and Avon had in fact responded to it. He watched Avon for a second and then turned back to his information. “Shadow has been there ever since, no record of any trouble causing since then, maybe he’s dead?” he asked hopefully.

“Shadow is a woman,” Blake pointed out, making one dark eyebrow of Avon’s arch infinitesimally. The idealistic Blake would fall head over heels for a revolutionary romantic.

“Ah well now, you never said that,” Vila straightened up. “I quite fancy a bit of being the hero…” he reconsidered, “As long as the hero stays healthy and whole without any bits coming off.”

“I shouldn’t worry, Vila,” Avon interrupted, slow measured steps coming up behind Vila to read the information for himself without the interruptions from his crewmate. “No-one is interested in your bits.” Blake laughed, tipping his head back, white teeth shining. His face was wreathed in a smile as he turned his face like the sun on Avon.

Avon regarded his happy face with the same cool detachment. “I might have known that would amuse you.” He returned to the information, “Shadow has been silent since incarceration. Does that not strike you as suspicious? No record of attacks on guards, no uprising, not even so much as an infraction for missing a Federation meeting. Either she is dead or she has reconsidered her ways.”

Blake shook his head, the smile dropping. “It’s… if Shadow was subjected to reconditioning like I was, it’s very possible that she’s injured or traumatized. She may be unable to fight if she wanted to.” His handsome face darkened with his own memories; the light burning through his closed eyelids, the voices in his head, the electricity shutting off his heart, starting it again. You belong to us. We own your life. Life and death in the Federation Blake, do you see how easy it is to stop? He blinked, feeling the old nausea rise up in his throat.

“You are here, you are alive” Avon said calmly, without lifting his eyes from the readout. The fact that Avon knew the grounding technique never failed to surprise Blake. It also never failed to bring a rush of sympathy to him either when he remembered Avon knew it because Avon had survived five days of torture and agony to find Anna’s killer. Anna, who had never been dead. Anna, who had never really been Anna. He heard the semi-silent snarl from Avon as if he knew what Blake was thinking.

“Thank you,” Blake replied, Avon ignoring it as usual. “You understand then why I have to get Shadow out of there? To leave someone else like that, it would make us no better than the Federation.” Vila nodded, his eyes also running down the information available.

“Ah…have you seen this?” he asked, pointing to the list of crimes under Shadows’ name. “She isn’t just political. Murder times four it says here. Are you still sure?”

“Federation crime sheets aren’t worth the data they come in on,” Blake muttered. “You know my charges.” Vila had to agree with that, though he did give the word ‘murder’ one more look just to be sure. Vila himself was listed as a dangerous revolutionary according to Servalan’s Federation records and he was no more dangerous than a puppy. A quiet puppy that just wanted a nap in front of the fire, maybe a bit of Soma every hour. That reminds him, he was about due for a drink.

“I have new information available,” Orac commented smugly. Orac always sounded so smug when he knew something they didn’t and considering he was the most powerful computer invented, he sounded smug quite a lot. Only Avon returned the smug smirk.

“Go on.”

“Penal Colony Eight has ceased to operate,” Orac offered, just as smugly. If anything he sounded more smug.

Blake damn nearly leapt off the couches, “What? How? Penal colonies never cease to operate and Eight was too far out of the path of the Federation war to have been properly affected by their collapse. Guards are guards. Orac, explain yourself.”

“Penal Colony Eight has ceased to operate,” Orac replied.

Avon gave a slight twist of his full lips as he came to stand by Blake, folding his arms behind him. “Orac, give parameters and background for the ceasing of operations of Eight. Specify current state,” he intoned, before glancing at Blake. “He follows me better than you, Blake.” Blake bristled, as he knew he would, before Blake caught the tiny glimmer of a twinkle in Avon’s eyes.

“Penal Colony Eight ceased to operate one week ago. It was overrun by the prisoners within in a strategy initiated by the prisoner Shadow. New crimes to follow,” Orac detailed. “Current state; all guards confirmed deceased pending Federation records. Prisoners detailed 45 now utilising the facility as primitive home base. One prisoner remains within the judgement compound itself. No discernible leader.”

“A…and the new crimes?” Vila asked, focusing on what he considered the most important question. If they were bringing Shadow aboard he didn’t want to find out she was a cannibal or hated thieves or something.

“New crimes for prisoner Shadow total 15. Classification upgraded,” Orac said flatly. The computer somehow waited a pregnant pause, making Villa almost sweat before it added, “15 counts of the murders of the Federation guards on Penal Colony Eight. Classification upgraded to One.”

One. One was Blake’s classification. “One! One and you want to bring her on here? We won’t be safe in our beds.”

“Vila, you are registered as One. You are after all, a dangerous revolutionary,” Avon interjected with no small amount of smugness himself. Him and Orac, like two peas in a pod.

“Orac, say again. Shadow murdered all the guards on Eight? With accomplices?” Blake asked, running his hand over his stubble.

“Information available reports Shadow acting alone.”

“And she initiated the revolt?”

“Information available reports Shadow is not the discernible leader of the inmates.”

“Orac, confirm the prisoner remaining in the Judgement compound is Shadow,” Avon interrupted.

“Confirmed.”

“What?” Blake whirled on him, all 6 foot 3 and muscle, “She’s free! The place is overthrown, rebels everywhere. She ought to be celebrating. Why is she still in Judgement?”

“Information unavailable.”

“Do you still want to do this?” Vila asked hopefully. Maybe they could scrap it.

Blake looked at him askance for a moment before he nodded, “Of course. Ask Cally to prepare medical facilities. She may be badly injured if she hasn’t left Judgement.”



****



Maeve slowly and carefully raised her hand to her waist and, just as slowly and carefully, gave the savagely controlled face of Servalan staring down at them from a screen above the middle finger. She allowed herself a small smirk, keeping her face down, hidden from the Federation guard either side of the slow moving queue heading back to their cells.

Her hand lowered to her side once again, brushing against the tan, shapeless uniform given to prisoners. “Hands behind your back, Shadow,” one of the Federation guards by the Judgement wing called out. Maeve rolled her eyes and over-dramatically made a show of folding her hands behind her back in the pre-approved posture of prisoners. She supposed she should be surprised Servalan hadn’t ordered they all crop their hair like hers. Damn, she should have given her the middle finger with both hands. Maeve turned a winning smile on the guard who’d spoken, his face invisible behind the black shield.

“Sorry about that,” she murmured. Behind her, one of the other prisoners gave a quiet laugh at her tone, before the same guard reprimanded them. Shadow’s fingers extended back in a show of sympathy, touching the hem of the linen tunic the prisoner wore. By the nick cut into the fabric she knew it was George, one of the oldest prisoners in the compound, arrested for stealing from Earth forty years ago. Maeve turned her head slightly and smiled in George’s direction.

“Best be keeping them hands behind your back and not be smiling,” George muttered, making her smile a real one.

“All smiles should resemble Servalan’s, George, just practicing.”

George couldn’t help the laugh that trickled out of his old bones, not even as the Federation guard waded into them and laid a baton between Maeve’s shoulder blades and Georges’ ribs. Maeve listened to him laugh as the blows fell on her back and smiled, worth it just to hear that. 40 years for stealing food.

George was dragged off to the wing to the left of hers, leaving only Maeve and two other prisoners for the Judgement wing. She followed their backs easily enough, her back beginning to radiate pain from the Guards’ blows. In her head she counted off forty steps for the first prisoner before he stepped into his cell, another thirty for the other one and finally, fifty more bringing her to her own. Silly little ritual maybe, counting steps but it kept her sane and there’d been too many nights Maeve had come screaming close to the chasms edge of insanity that she’d ignore anything that might keep her from it.


She froze; the door to her cell was ajar. Federation rules stipulated all cells must be closed after the prisoner leaves and of course, while the prisoner was in it. It was perhaps the only rule she didn’t mind here, didn’t like the idea of people being in her personal space, her cell, as if they could know what she thought and felt in there. “Guard,” she said flatly, “The door to my cell is open.”

Her attacker from earlier turned and even though the visor blanked out his entire face she knew he was smiling. “It sure is, Shadow. Note for you, from Madame Servalan herself.” Maeve straightened, giving him a cold glance.

“What, no personal visit? That’s a shame, you could have got that promotion you wanted!” This time the baton caught her cheek and she stumbled, but kept upright. Maeve stepped into her cell, hearing the door click shut behind her. She stayed stock still for a long moment, her eyes marking out each corner of her cell. Nothing had been disturbed visually, though she didn’t put it past Servalan to have filled the cell with some kind of gas. When she didn’t collapse to the floor, she took four steps to the centre of the room, one to the left and reached down for the pristine ivory envelope resting on the plastic table. Her fingers shook briefly as she scissored the envelope open and slid out an ivory card, emblazoned with the symbol of the Federation and the Presidents’ own branding.

My dear Shadow,

I do hope my guards are treating you well.

I apologise for not contacting you earlier, only, of course, you would have created such a panic and I do so abhor panic. The clean-up is always rather messy.

So please forgive the late notice, but I regret to inform you that your city was destroyed in the aftermath of the Federation war. Your family home was struck by ground weapons. There were no survivors.

Please do not try to check. I ensured there were no survivors personally. Your little sister has rather a charming room for the relative of a serial killer doesn’t she?

Perhaps this will remind you what happens to those who threaten me.

Ever,

Madame President Servalan.




The ivory card blotched rapidly with fat tearstains, smearing the handwritten ink. Maeve’s air became thin, choked gasps as she crumpled the card between her fingers. Her knees gave way, collapsing to the floor in a loose mess of tangled limbs, tearing at her hair, her skin, clawing at the tunic. The two other prisoners in Judgement sat stone still in their cells, frozen by the agonized, animal howl ripping from Shadow’s cell. They listened as one letter did what two years of indoctrination and torture had failed to do. Inside the room, Maeve curled in on herself, her heart ripped open. The one thing she loved, the one thing she loved. Her arms locked over her head and she gave way, giving in to the agony lurking behind her eyelids.

Outside the cell, the Federation Guard who’d been so free with his baton waited. He was indeed smiling behind the visor, laughing too. “Is that all it takes to break the great Shadow?” he crooned through the door. “Just a couple kids and old people dead?” He listened to the sobs with great satisfaction, his fingers tracing underneath his visor at the jagged scar Shadow had left him 2 years ago when she’d been imprisoned here. “If we’d have known sooner, sweetheart, my face would have appreciated it.”

The room went silent suddenly, making him pause. Her monitor readout showed her life signs as unchanged. She was still there, of course she was, there was no way out of the cell save the front door and he was stood by that. She was just quiet. The powerful revolutionary had probably cried herself to sleep. The corridor seemed to grow colder suddenly, making him adjust his black jacket. Idiots in central heating were probably asleep again.

Inside the cell once again, Maeve stared at the floor, her tears drying. She waited until she could feel them almost evaporate into the air around her. Her wobbling lip stopped as her teeth bit down hard, almost drawing blood. She breathed deeply, keeping her hands locked over her head. “Thank you,” she called out, her voice cold and sharp as she inhaled.

“Thank you? Shadow, you understand what Servalan has done right? Don’t tell me we need another trip to your healers again.” The ‘healers’, ironically named and never to their faces by the rest of the Federation Guards were responsible for the indoctrination of new prisoners. They’d seen Shadow many, many times since she’d been imprisoned. The only other prisoner who’d withstood such conditioning was Roj Blake.

“No, no, I get that,” Maeve replied, holding on to the ball of agony that arose as she spoke. She swallowed it, feeling it spread like ice through her. That’s it. Maeve closed her eyes and felt her veins burn with frozen blood. She kept them closed and took the words on the letter in her mind, locking them down. She let the devestation she felt fester in the pit of her soul and turn to ice. The rage, oh the rage, she kindled. Felt it flare bright and brilliant in her soul, like the only thing she could see. Her family were dead. The Federation and Servalan had seen to that. Maeve stood, straightening out her ill fitting outfit as she did so. She brushed dust from her knees and stretched out her calves. No sense getting a stitch while she was at it. Seven paces took her to the right wall, where one flip against it brought her to the loose ceiling panel. Her hand slid inside, pulling out the makeshift blade she’d been working on for two years. It slipped easily into her hand and she dropped down to the floor. “I meant,” she answered, “I meant thank you. Thank you for reminding me who I am.”
 
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