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Ficlet Challenge: January 2022
This is the new thread for posting your ficlets, based on the following prompts from Purplecleric:

1. Phrase Prompt: Rose-tinted glasses
2. The crew have gained psychic powers, apart from Cally. She has lost hers.

Those of you who already contributed fics on the previous website - please re-post them here.

And just a quick reminder for new and returning members to bear in mind that Horizon is PG-13 family friendly.

Looking forward to reading your stories!
Decorative Staff Officers were a particular hobby of Servalan’s. She did so like to surround herself with…pretty things. And apparently her ability to hold a man in thrall had not yet begun to dim, even over those half her age. Must be the genes she had had the good sense to inherit and the years of practice she had put in since a young age.

Her current young officer was a good example. He had replaced Rae, who had grown in administrative experience and also developed the beginnings of a conscience. So she had promoted him to work in the offices of the Governor of an Outer Worlds planet. On the surface a good outcome all round – he was given an overt reward, and an implied threat. She doubted he would be more trouble than any of the previous young men she had moved on and if he was she’d know how to deal with him.

Today she was enjoying the view of Space Psychostrategist Carnell as he sat across the desk from her outlining his strategy for her current ploy. His blond hair and blue eyes were quite appealling, with the long lashes and rather smug smile. While the project they were negotiating was important, and he somewhat older than her usual choice, no one said she could not combine business and pleasure, now did they?

And as she smiled and nodded at Carnell, planning how to use the suggestions he put forward, she toyed with the small souvenir Rae had left her – another pretty thing to add to her collection.

A red tinted glass rose.
Vanessa Doffenshmirtz
This was my entry to the 2020 Advent Calendar , at least part one was. I took an extended SM break in 2021 so in three parts

King of Misrule

“Madame President?,“ the mutoid requested in her intonation-less voice.

Servalan laid the file she was reading down. Being president was all she had ever wanted but the sheer amount of paperwork she had to deal with was unending. Unless she wanted to leave everything to her carefully chosen staff. Since Servalan had chosen them, she was aware of just how much or how little she could depend on them. “Report.”

“As per your orders, our agents believe they have found the Liberator. Or at least one of its crew. “

Servalan picked up the data pad passed to her. Vila was pictured surrounded by happy, laughing people. A man in brightly coloured clothing was holding some kind of crown above his head. “When did this take place and where?” Servalan demanded.

“It happened during the previous Terran day cycle on a neutral planet called Mavludi Iso,” the mutoid said. “There’s a communication base there which deals mainly with low information traffic. No military or other sensitive communiques.”

“Banking?” Servalan inquired sharply.

“I believe so, “the mutoid agreed.

Servalan stood, gathering her thoughts rapidly, “Get me all the latest Starburst class ships and make sure I have plenty of troopers alongside the mutoid crews.”

Avon and Cally exited the Federation building. Avon had been planting programmes that he and ORAC had created to piggy-back on the streams of computer traffic being relayed with or without the consent of the planetary government.

The most important programme was meant to extrapolate any possible military movements from the wealth of communications which passed through the station. ORAC would attempt to clean up the signals and forward the data to Avalon, Tyce or the most vouched for rebel leader in the local area.

The second programme gathered up all the un-noticed milli- and micro-credits from the automatically generated banking system. Every hour on the hour the whole number of credits were deposited into an account named President $ervalan. Every hour:01 the credits were automatically swept into a series of holding accounts from which the money was moved into shell accounts operated by ORAC who funneled the money to various rebel leaders.

“I can’t see Vila,“ Cally exclaimed. Avon scowled and scanned the small alley besides the otherwise innocuous building. It was thief-less.

Angrily he toggled the communication button on his teleport bracelet, “Is Vila with you?”

Dayna replied, “No he’s still on the planet.”

“Was he captured?” Cally asked worriedly .

“Not exactly, “ the strain in Dayna’s voice was more noticeable now.

Avon rasped out, “He surrendered then?”

Dayna sighed, “It’s more complicated than that.”

“Uncomplicate it and quickly” Avon ordered.

It appeared that some children had spotted Vila hiding down the alley and he had decided to show them his magic tricks to divert their attention from the building. More children had gathered causing Vila to move up the alley to the street corner. Which in turn had caused adults to cluster around and that drew the attention of the local police. Who joined the crowd. Eventually enough people had assembled that the local authorities had intervened and promptly crowned Vila King of Misrule with orders to make the city and surrounding countryside merry for the next twelve days.

Avon groaned; they would never get Vila to leave now.

Tarrant decided to add his own contribution to Avon’s misery, “ORAC informs us that while Iso is a neutral planet, it broadcasts many of it’s cultural events to the Federation. The Feast of Misrule is very popular amongst the Gamma and Delta grades.”

“Do you think Servalan knows?” Cally asked.

“I’m certain she will know sooner rather than later, “Avon replied. “Tarrant, can you get Vila back to the ship?”

“He’s not answering us. But we can put you down close to where the broadcasts are being filmed.”

“I think we should do that Avon. We need to stop Vila before it’s too late, “Cally urged.

“Agreed. Dayna, bring us back, then get yourself equipped to come down with me. Cally, I need you and Tarrant to keep watch for any sign of Servalan. “

The teleport bay was empty when they materialised but Cally could hear Dayna’s footsteps as she hurried to her quarters. Cally followed Avon to the bridge and the waiting Tarrant. Avon switched on the over-bearing computer, “Well, ORAC. How are the programmes integrating themselves?”

“There is little to report on military manoeuvres yet. But so far we have gathered over a thousand credits in under two hours. As your programme burrows its way deeper into their systems, the amount of information and credits will increase exponentially.” ORAC responded. “Now, leave me in peace.”

“Avon “ Tarrant started. “I know you are fond of Vila. I understand how fighting together making a bond but using your famous logic if Vila doesn’t come with us, then we should leave him and escape.”

“Tarrant, “Cally protested. “We can’t leave him to Servalan’s mercies. We don’t know what she’ll do.”

“My logic says that that the person that knows nearly as much about the Liberator’s workings as I do should not be allowed to fall into the Federation’s hands. Can you imagine what that woman could do if she had warships nearly on a level with us in terms of power, teleportation and weapons? Don’t let Vila’s Delta grade fool you. He’s smart enough to cut a deal with Her and win.”

Tarrant blanched, “I thought it was because you didn’t want Dayna or me to help. Not that Vila was useful.”

Dayna asked tentatively, “Would Vila do that? Align himself like that to save his life?”

Cally answered, “Yes. Vila knows how the higher echelons treat the lower grades. But Avon is correct. Servalan would be greedy enough to bargain with Vila once she realises just what he knows. We can’t allow that to happen. “

Tarrant sighed, “You have a maximum of Forty-eight hours to get Vila and leave. That’s the flight time from the closest Federation base. ORAC doesn’t think that’s where she’s stationed but I’ve got it closely monitored for unusual flight manifests.”

Avon allowed his surprise to register, “Thank you, Tarrant. Dayna are you ready? Cally, we’ll try to check in every hour.”


Servalan looked at the planet below her. Her Starburst cruiser was starting its descent to the spaceport below. The rest of her fleet were stationed in a geosynchronous orbit at three and nine o’clock to the graceful lines of the Liberator.

She exited the ship, pulling her pure white furs closer to her body as the troopers and mutoids formed an appropriate escort. She processed towards the palace where she was sure one of her strongest potential allies was waiting. And if she was lucky, Vila would deliver Avon and the Liberator and their secrets into her eager hands.
I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
Till they got a hold of me
Vanessa Doffenshmirtz
Vila had a hang-over, possibly worse even than the one he had after his excursion to Space City. It was then the start of day 5 of 12. Those little coloured drinks the pretty girls kept giving him were stronger than he thought. And they were constantly plying him with them. He’d taken to hiding in the bathroom to avoid them.

The First Day had been bad. Avon had shouted at him. Tried to drag him off his throne. All while the Isoians had refused to allow Vila to leave. He was King of Misrule for 12 days then he could leave. When Avon had tried to bully the council by threatening to level the city, they had laughed in his face.

Mavludi Iso may well be a neutral planet, but it was not without the means to defend itself. And worse, when Avon had tried to get ORAC to over-ride the council’s computer system, he was horrified to discover it was a world which didn’t use Tarriel cells.

Vila had spent most of the First Day doing broadcasts of his magic act. A faint memory niggled at him, he could distantly remember being a shoved in front of the local vid-screen watching how the less advanced Federation and non-aligned worlds celebrated various local festivals. This one, he had been told, was a winter solstice celebration. Avon was given a bird in a fake tree.

Second Day had opened with Cally’s condescending cajoling being swiftly replaced with glee at the snow festival. She had tried to lead Vila through skiing, snowboarding, making Snow Aurons and into Zero Gravity Ice Dancing. The normally austere alien communications expert reveled in her childish joy and the Isolians followed her to regain their excited pleasure in the cold weather. Cally was gifted a bird in a fake tree along with two other two birds to her confusion.
Third Day had Tarrant trying to talk Vila into returning. He’d lasted less than ten minutes before spotting the Ski-Doos through the open window. Tarrant had whooped with elation, throwing himself whole-heartedly into the demanding winter sports. The Ski-Doos were quickly abandoned for sledging and then the luge. The Isolians found his boyish exuberance and desire to throw himself head-first, metaphorically and literally, into danger a delightful change to their normal drudgery. Tarrant retuned laden with a bird in a tree, two birds and three birds.

The dawning of Day Four brought forth a determined Dayna. She demanded; she was indomitable: she was hunting the huge white bears that legend said had been imported from Earth several centuries ago. She had shot one with her bow before a horned humanoid figure distracted her. She arrived back on the Liberator with a total of ten birds and the now obligatory fake tree alongside a well tanned fur hide.

Tarrant helped her carry her haul to the storerooms where Cally and Avon were discussing a small problem with the livestock. “There’s nothing there Cally,” Avon exclaimed, gesturing at the floor under the trees.

“Exactly my point, “she responded. ”Animals should both eat and excrete.”

“You’re right, Cally. This place should stink by now, “Dayna agreed as Avon grabbed the first bird he had been gifted.

He turned in over in his hands several times, moving wings and legs before discovering the small compartment on the now obviously robot avian. Several small tapes fell from the belly of the bird. He placed one tape in his data reader. Federation information streamed across its interface.

ORAC almost showed a degree of interest as the copious data dumps that were extracted from the cavities of the avian androids. Finally, he agreed to spread the raw data into the Rebellion’s hands. The four trees were examined, and the crew discovered that valuable minerals had been secreted into the interior of the items.

Day Five dawned with the arrival of Servalan. She swept into the hall dedicated to The Feast of Misrule. Vila was slumped, hung-over, miserable and groaning pathetically. She smiled callously and rapidly altered her plans. She left Vila in the care of one of her elite doctors and processed to the council chamber where her demands for Vila were met with the same refusal. Vila was King of Misrule for 12 Days and would remain as such. What happened after his term was up would be left to Vila to decide. However, the council were prepared to off him citizenship if he wished it.

Hiding her anger and impatience with her practiced serene smile, Servalan swept out. Several of the councillors gawped openly as she swung her hips to great effect. Mavludi Iso was now on her naughty list following the Liberator. Just as Vila was the key to getting that ship, the Liberator was her key to controlling the galaxy. This miserable mudball would have the misfortune of being her first conquest.

However, she panicked when told that she had to supply entertainment. The Liberator crew mostly had been physical in their offerings so far and Servalan knew there was no way that she could respond in kind. However, several of her decorative staff officers had musical talents. They made a suitable musical quartet and played the politically correct Fedmas songs. But as the day wore on and strong drink appeared, Sheara started to play the old forbidden songs. Internally, Servalan sighed as he was one of her more favoured protegees. Now he was Mutoid fodder. When the final chords died down, Servalan was presented with five rather shoddy golden coloured rings, ten assorted birds and a very heavy tree. Then she was told in no uncertain terms that neither she nor no other member of her crew was welcome on the planet until Day 10 when it would again be her turn to supplement the festivities.
I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
Till they got a hold of me
Vanessa Doffenshmirtz
For both the sixth and seventh days, Servalan sulked in her luxurious cabin until the cacophony of raucous bird sounds, feathers coating everything and above all, the stench drove her to seek sanctuary on the planet. The Isolians quickly found her and returned her to her flagship.

In the meantime, on day six, Avon had repaired the out-dated video player and now all the pre-Federation discs could be seen by the populace. This gave him six geese along with the rings and other birds. ORAC had identified the metal as being Monopasium-242, an isotope which is more stable than Mp-239 but which can easily be converted to fuel spaceships. A further investigation shows the tree structure is made of the same material.

The Liberator crew had spent their leisure time learning about the culture of the planet they were currently hostaged to, in order to best impress their hosts. Cally’s return on day seven lead to the population learning Auron yoga and then Terran Tai Chi. Slow controlled movements fitted the sensibilities of the world. And then seven swans were added to the rapidly accumulating treasure trove.

Tarrant’s return on day eight had led to ice hockey. Three days of relaxation had girded loins to be more physically active. The Inaugural Vila Cup was won by an Isolian team of young women emboldened by Dayna. A very happy Tarrant was accompanied back by eight young women.

This threw Avon since he was expecting more fake birds rather than real ones. Suddenly Dayna burst into the room as she had recognised one of the women. This woman was the daughter of one of her father’s former friends, another failed rebel leader. Avon was starting to get worried.

Day nine was Dayna’s return day. One of the local landowners had arranged a faux hunt. Dayna was giddy with delight at being able to ride again. In order to make it period correct per President Sarkoff of Lindor, there were small groups of protesters and saboteurs. The wily, wiry and wirey faux lead the equally fake dogs on a wild faux chase. The hunt rode over fields and greens, along roadways and greenways. Brave riders avoided the panels and jumped over hedges and other barriers. Some foolhardy souls managed to part company with their mount. Dayna enjoyed herself immensely.

Drones followed the action for all the uninvolved to follow, Servalan was basking in her refusal to attend such a cold, wet and dirty sport. Dayna returned to the Liberator with nine mature women. All appeared to be local rebels or at least related to them.

Servalan had decided that sophistication as the way to go for her second chance on day ten. Her version of Fed Lake was in retrospect over-ambitious. Possibly there are many valuable skills that Mutoids might have. Sadly, ballet is not one of them. The sight of the beauteous Supreme Commander dancing with the lead Space Commander led to some sniggering.

The Pas de Deux between the evil rebel leader complete with bouffant curls and his paramour with long blonde hair was followed by the Pas de Deux of the blonde rebel seducing the virtuous Space Commander. Vila was opening laughing now.

The highlight was the Dance of the Fednets. Four Mutoids were trying to dance to the sprightly tune. Their helmets crashed into each other. One had fallen slightly behind causing a ripple effect through the other dancers. Another tripped while she was en pointe, dragging the rest down. Vila, slightly drunk howled hysterically, “Servie, love. I never thought you had a sense of humour.”

The final set-piece of the two Federation Officers, betrayed, throwing themselves to their deaths had Vila holding his sides, speechless with laughter. Servalan sat stiffly, a tight smile stitched firmly in place as the whole auditorium erupted into applause.

Returning to her ship with twenty-three birds and twenty-seven automatons plus five tacky rings and a gigantic tree, Servalan discovered that several of her staff officers had requested asylum, citing the zoo-like conditions on board the ship. The release of the geese and swans made her remaining staff rush for cover as both sets of birds went into attack mode; people, other birds, furniture were fair game. The robots were discovered to have motion detector switches, so maids were clattering buckets while ladies and lords cavorted. Servalan fled, pushing her way through the melee.

Day eleven broke and Vila had decided that the Isolians should entertain him one the penultimate day of his rule. A pro-Federation group responded with a Pant Of Mine. A traditional pre-Federation comedy show to which Servalan and her staff officers were invited alongside the Liberator crew. Servalan quickly accepted while Avon sent Cally and Tarrant as his representatives.

They told the popular tale of Commander Wittington who sought fame and fortune in London Dome, where the streets were paved with gold. A poor Gamma grade taken in by an Alpha family who sponsored him through the Academy where he graduated with honours. Accompanied by his loyal Mutoid, he captained a Starburst Cruiser from which he subdued planets and destroyed rebel out-posts.

It was not a popular show. Though Servalan enjoyed it, asking Vila if he had a sense of humour?

But Cally and Tarrant returned with eleven pipers along with the other gifts. The now twenty lords were obviously rebels. Avon wasn’t very happy. Neither Avalon nor Tyce were answering him. And it was from them, he got nearly all his information about local groups and individuals. The Liberator was getting very crowded. Avon had many rooms locked. There were nearly sixty women and thirty men and boys. And Avon suspected there would be another fifty or so joining them tomorrow. So, rec rooms and corridors were repurposed as dormitories.

For day twelve, Vila decided to honour an old Delta custom. Everyone who could spare food or drink was invited to share their meagre offerings with the rest of the neighbourhood. Most families scrimped and saved in order to make their dish. Co-ops were formed to produce favoured dishes. Vila and several others had stepped up their professional work in order to provide extra drinks and money for the fest. The authorities turned a blind eye to the celebrations since it kept the Deltas happy for a short while. As an act of clemency, petty criminals were occasionally released.

At the top table of this feast, Vila sat alongside Cally and Tarrant. Cally had brought an approximation of an Auron dessert while Tarrant had a Sarran fish stew. Two pro-Federation Isolian councillors were partnered with Servalan. The strain of six days of assorted birds and one day with the robots had worn her down. Her dress was no longer pristine, and the feather trim looked like it had lost a battle. She had had to pay a local restaurant to provide her take on a Federation classic, Trooper pie.

The feast was successful. It seemed that the whole of the capital had turned out to join in. The two pro-Fed men effectively kept the president trapped, unable to reach Vila. She saw Vila dancing the raucous, vivacious local dances. Sometimes, she caught sight of Cally or Tarrant. Once, she swore Avon’s dark brooding gaze had racked dispassionately over her dilapidated finery.

The one time she stood up to dance, the music changed to a slow, dirge-like tune which the far older of the pre-fed councillor offered his hand. Servalan was obliged to dance with him as the youngest of three couples on the dance floor. She excused herself shortly after.

Arriving back at her ship, there were gifts of local products awaiting her. She grabbed a couple of bottles and stormed into her suite. Less than thirty seconds later, she was screaming for some-one to get those vicious birds out of her staterooms. She settled down with the slightly sweet, sparkly liquor and before long had drunk all three bottles. And a bottle of adrenaline and soma. She collapsed into sleep.

Avon prepared to board all the newcomers onto the Liberator. They had been given safe passage out of the system by the Isolians. Avalon had sent a two-word message ”Albion, Ralli” and Avon had Tarrant plot a course to the planet Albion. Once the group had boarded, Avon ordered Tarrant to take them out of orbit at standard by Eight.

Avon glanced at Vila who was ineffectually hiding at the weapons section. He walked over and looked at the thief, “You made a lot of people happy. Mavludi Iso have managed to gain the support of most non-aligned planets. We have evacuated some very important rebel leaders and their families. And, as an added bonus, all of her command ship staff have defected. “ He smiled, viciously.

Servalan eventually woke-up, hungover to a loud protest outside her ship and a louder one inside. Since her calls to the Medi-deck were not answered, Servalan hurried there first to find painkillers. Her flight startled the flocks of birds who rose in a hissing and squawking mass of feathers.

Then the drummers started.

And then the pipers.

The silence of the Medi-bay was ensured by the insulation surrounding it. The only other person there was a Mutoid medic. Servalan had to use her rank simply to get the medication she required. Feeling better, she returned to the flight-deck, no officers just Mutoids. Captain Sheara had led them off the ship and not returned, ordering the Mutoids to stand down.

“Call Space Port Authority and tell them I am leaving in the next available slot, “she commanded.

The next available slot was three days hence and how did she wish to pay for her three weeks port fees? Federation credits were 10 FC to 1 Isolian Lira. SPA fees were currently 1,000 ISL per hebdomad so they were owed 3,000 ISL or 30,000 FC. Fees to be paid before the ship could be released.

Servalan screeched like a fishwife, she wasn’t going to be held hostage by some third world planet. Any attempt to lift off resulted in a gravity net holding the ship in place. And further fines. And being sent to the back of the queue.

The port was incredibly busy due to pleasure cruisers diverting for the Misrule Festival which in previous years had not been as successful and in consequence not as widely screened.

Servalan had finally got Central Bank to release the money for the port fees. Just before her ship was granted final clearance, the two pro-federation councillors turned up with some parting gifts. One was small deserts called roscón de reyes. Servalan picked one at random and following her supposed supporters lead bit into the sweet treat. Her teeth met a ceramic article. A bean. A cheer went up.

Misrule festival was going to be celebrated on Terra for the first time since the New Calendar. Servalan was going to need a dentist, first.
I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
Till they got a hold of me
Moon Disc
Could someone remind how this works again, please. Word count?

Moon Disc wrote:

Could someone remind how this works again, please. Word count?

Pick a theme, or both if you like and start writing. We suggest it be around 500 words but we are not going to penalize you for going over count. Please keep it PG-13 as this is a family site and post for all to enjoy!
Resist the Host

“So what would you have done? Left her there to die?” Blake said, breaking the long, gloomy silence. “No, don’t answer that.” Avon didn’t look up, merely sneered at the probe he was restlessly fiddling with. The others could all sense what he would do with it if he could get away with it.
“Ever since she came aboard, she has been nothing but trouble,” he said through gritted teeth.
“How do we know this is even Cally’s fault?” Vila paused abruptly as the wave of incredulity hit him but he persisted. “No, seriously, think about it- has anybody actually spoken to her? Has anybody actually seen her at all today?” Nobody answered. They didn’t need to.
“Then how do we know something is wrong with Cally?”
“Because,” Blake answered patiently, “something is wrong with us. Since when have we all just known exactly what the other of us is going to say? How do we all feel like this, and we all just know that everybody else is feeling the same? When did we become such an expert at human feelings? Don’t say it, Avon.”
“I didn’t-“
“We know,” intoned the other four in bored unison. Jenna got up.
“Somebody needs to talk to her.”
“What’s the point?” Groaned Vila. “We know she feels the same as we do.”
“But as you just pointed out, we don’t know why. Something must be up with her. And I wasn’t asking your permission, sarcastic or otherwise.” Avon sneered again in reply. Blake allowed himself a bitter amused smile.
“How does it feel to be so predictable?” Avon glared. The others smirked.
“I’ll go,” said Gan, getting to his feet. Nobody answered, or tried to stop him. “Vila, I might need help with the door. She might be in trouble. Don’t worry,” he added. “Just get the door open, I’ll deal with the rest.”


Cally was lying curled up on her bunk, as motionless as a tomb effigy. Only her occasional blinking showed that she was conscious. Her face was swollen and streaked with dried tears. Gan approached quietly and knelt down beside her.
“What’s happened, Cally?” He asked, softly.
“Nothing.” She croaked. Gan was about to point out that it didn’t look like nothing; then he realised from the emptiness in her eyes and voice what she was saying. She could feel nothing.

She lifted her hand slightly. Gan risked a peek down, and what he saw filled his dark eyes with tears.
“Oh, Cally,” was all he said.

Pressed to her chest was the familiar round shape of her pet moon disc; but it was not itself. It was no longer that deep, opaque brown that he remembered so well- it was a smoky, cold grey. It didn’t whisper, and it didn’t move. The last moon disc had died.

“It was with you,” he managed to say. “It wasn’t alone.” Her stare shifted slightly in his direction, but didn’t meet his gaze. Her words were barely more than a murmur; Gan felt them rather than heard them.

“But I am.”
Rose Tinted Glasses

The Admins had a meeting.
"The website is getting old," said one.
"Yes, it's too slow and it's clunky," said another.
"Let's build a new one," said the first Admin, "We've done it before."
"How hard can it be?" said the second.
The Website Mutoid sighed, and started work.

(Dedicated to SC, WM and T)
Edited by M1795537OCVirn on 23-01-2022 11:38
"You're not sulking, I hope?"

And indeed, all due kudos to everybody who’s worked so hard to get us here!
Website Mutoid

M1795537OCVirn wrote:

Rose Tinted Glasses

The Admins had a meeting.

(Dedicated to SC, WM and T)

Hahaha! This is painfully close to the truth!
This month I have combined both prompts into a two parter.
Once again, Lurena has supplied the lovely pictures!

Part One

Through Rose Tinted Glasses

Avon asked himself; why can’t they see who he really is?
It was if they were viewing Blake through rose tinted glasses, whereas the person he could see was something totally different.
A flawed man.
A crusader with a vision that couldn’t possibly come to fruition; someone whose self belief overrode any logic.
Yet he, Avon, stayed, despite knowing the failings of the man.
From his station on the Flight Deck, Avon casually checked the Liberator’s systems, all the time watching them as they celebrated their latest good deed.
Gan, Vila, Jenna and Cally all seated on the forward couches with Blake in the centre, basking in the glory that was rightfully Avon’s.
It had been Avon and Orac who, between them, had found the cure; a simple vaccine, to combat the deadly infection rampaging through the planet’s population.
Yet it was Blake who had taken the plaudits.
Avon wondered if Blake has considered the possibility that the Federation may not be too happy that the leaders of the planet had turned to and accepted the help of their most wanted rebel.
Maybe the Federation would take retaliatory action.
Did Blake ever consider that?
Did Blake even care?
“Hey, Avon.”
It was Vila with that smile of his again.
“Why don’t you come and join us? Aren’t you interested in the present they gave us?”
“Not particularly.”
“I think you should,” Gan began, “These glasses are remarkable.”
“You think do you?”
“I agree, you really should come and look at these glasses,” Jenna put in.
“Or is pretending to check the Liberator’s systems really that important,” Cally said meeting his gaze.
Avon was even more convinced that somehow Cally could read his thoughts, even though she vehemently denied it.
“Well, Avon, I think you’re outnumbered,” Blake informed him, “. Would it really hurt you to just put aside your concern for the Liberator, and its systems and come and see exactly what gift they’ve given us? After all, if it hadn’t been for you and Orac…”
“Exactly. If it hadn’t been for…”
“I think someone’s a bit peeved,” Vila murmured.
Avon took a deep breath, “Very well…if you all insist.”
Slowly and deliberately, he stepped down from his station and joined the others.
Blake held out one of the glasses; a rose coloured bowl upon a slender rose stem and an equally exquisite rose base.
Avon was mesmerised.
“Carved from a single piece of crystal…every one of them,” Vila explained, as he poured some wine into it.
Avon watched the liquid as it seemed to swirl around catching the light.
“What is this crystal?” Avon asked, finding his voice at last.
“It’s found in one spot of their planet and is highly prized,” Blake explained, “They say it has strange qualities…”
“I’d agree with that,” Jenna smiled. “It even improves this wine of Vila’s.”
Avon held up the glass.
It certainly did have strange qualities…suddenly he saw what the others saw in Blake...even if it was through a rose tinted glass…

Part Two

Shattered Illusions

Blake’s head ached.
Not just behind his eyes but all over his brain and to make matters worse he had the distinct feeling that he was not alone.

Avon met his gaze as he staggered in to the medical room.
“You too?”
Blake nodded then wished he hadn’t.
“I thought so. Vila seems to be suffering from the same affliction, but he has sought solace in a large adrenalin and soma…”
“I know.”
“You do?”
“Just as Gan thinks his limiter is malfunctioning.”
“Did he tell you that?”
“No...I just know.”
“As do I.”
“And there you were thinking that you knew more than me…”
“I wasn’t…I don’t…”
Blake managed a weak smile, “I know exactly what you’re thinking and it’s not pleasant. Now let me have something for this headache.”

Vila was staring at the playing cards fanned out in his hand.
“This isn’t right…it can’t be right…if it is I can retire to…”
Jenna glared at him.
“What? I didn’t say a word.”
“You don’t have to. Blake, something is very wrong.”
“I know. Just as you knew I was on my way to the Flight Deck.”
Jenna was silent.
How had she known?
“It’s something to do with these headaches we are all experiencing,” Avon explained.
“So it’s not my limiter?” asked Gan warily.
“No,” they all replied at once.
“Has this headache anything to do with me being able to tell exactly what card is next in the sequence?” Vila ventured.
“Yes, possibly,” Blake replied, “What do you think, Avon?”
But Avon’s thoughts were elsewhere.
“Where’s Cally?”
“She said she didn’t feel well,” Jenna explained. But her words fell on deaf ears as Avon turned on his heels and left the Flight Deck.
Blake silenced her questioning look.
“It’s better not to ask.”

Cally was curled up on her bunk.
She felt so alone.
The comforting thoughts that usually surrounded her very waking hour were gone.
She felt nothing.
There was a soft knock on her cabin door.
“Who is it?”
Avon didn’t reply. There was something seriously wrong if Cally had to ask that question. After all she…No Avon stopped that thought straight away. The last thing he wanted was for the others to suspect that Cally seemed able to sense a connection with him.
He lowered his usual brusque voice, “Cally, could you come to the Flight Deck please? We seemed to have a problem.”

By the time Avon and Cally returned to the Flight Deck, Gan had his head in his hands, Vila had given up playing pick a card with Jenna and Blake was trying to get a straight answer out of Orac.
+An outside influence, obviously+ the computer was saying.
“What outside influence?”
“Must you shout so loudly?” Vila begged, throwing the pack of cards down on the table and knocking one of the red crystal glasses to the deck.
Gan sighed, “My head doesn’t hurt so much.”
“It’s those glasses,” both Bake and Avon ventured.
“It can’t be,” Vila said.
“They’re too beautiful…”Jenna added.
“Beautiful or not, they are the cause,” and with a sweep of his hand, Avon sent the rest of the glasses crashing to the deck.

With the last of the shattered crystal finally disposed of, Blake felt that he could at long last relax. He took a sip from the plain cup.
“I don’t know how Cally does it, having all of us in her head?”
“I, for one, found it quite illuminating. At least I knew what you were planning,” Avon replied.
“That was a double edges sword, Avon, I also knew what you were thinking…about me.”
“And did you find it interesting?”
“Frightening was the word I would use.”
“Then you best not forget it…”
“Don’t worry; I won’t.”

Cold! You don't know the meaning of the word cold!
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of your window!!

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