The fusillade of shots caught him unawares.
He hurled himself to the ground; a sharp fragment of rock catching his cheek…
…and then it was silent.
He opened his eyes, expecting to see a triumphant Federation guard standing over him.
But there was no black uniformed guard.
Just a young woman; her red hair tied back from her dirt smudged face; her gun levelled at him.
“Just who the hell are you and why are you in my vegetable plot?”
“A power surge?” Blake asked.
“That is what Zen said,” Cally replied.
Vila was staring at the empty Teleport bay, “So if Avon’s not here and he’s not down there,” he turned to look at both Blake and Cally, “Then where is he?”
“Orac, is Avon anywhere on this ship?” Blake queried.
Cally’s breath caught in her throat, “Outside?”
“Oh, no, “Vila mumbled, slumping to the floor, “I’ve never trusted this thing. One power surge and Avon’s….I don’t feel well.”
+Sensors indicate that there are no human remains in the immediate area. +
“Oh, how reassuring.”
“Then where is he?” Blake demanded.
+It would be logical to assume that the power surge at the precise moment of his teleport has resulted in him being transferred elsewhere. +
+That I will have to investigate. +
Suddenly, Jenna’s voice sounded over the intercom, “Blake, we need to leave orbit now, we have pursuit ships converging on our position.”
“Take us out, Jenna. Make a run for it.”
“Just do it! We have a major headache down here.”
“My apologies for destroying your crops,” he said, “It wasn’t intentional.”
But his words cut no ice; her aim didn’t waiver.
He tried to fathom out why a woman dressed in what could only be described as battle fatigues, was so protective of her garden.
“And as to your other questions,” he continued, “…I’m sorry, I have a major headache…”
“You’re hurt.” Suddenly her demeanour changed from one of outright anger to concern.
“So I am.” He touched the side of his face. His fingers were covered in blood.
“We need to get you inside the house.”
“All right, it’s only a temporary shelter, but it’s the best I can do. Now, do you need any help or can you manage?”
“I’m sure I can manage. I’ll let you know if I can’t.”
Every step made the headache worse, but eventually, he found himself standing in front of a wooden structure which seemed to have the entire hill behind it.
“Very nice,” he murmured.
“Look, when you’ve crash landed your ship in the middle of a storm, you make the most of what you’ve got. Beggars can’t be choosers.”
“No, I suppose not.”
“If you prefer, you can stay out here, but the temperature does drop at night and this shelter is far more preferable than spending the night out here in the open.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
The inside of the structure was spacious, but sparsely furnished.
A large table dominated the room and over that was a round, domed, skylight window through which daylight streamed, illuminating the otherwise gloomy interior.
She indicated a chair but he felt just a little uncomfortable with the weapon still pointing at him
“Is that necessary?”
“Until I know who you are, yes. And it doesn’t help that you seem to be wearing a rather powerful looking weapon. I presume you know how to use it?”
“I suppose that I must do, but as you seemed concerned, I’ll remove it.”
She watched him undo the belt and place the gun on the table; her finger still poised on the trigger of her own weapon.
“Better?” he asked.
She seemed to relax a little.
“I’ll just get the medical kit. There isn’t much in it, but I’m sure there is something for that headache.”
She smiled and then disappeared into another room, one set towards the back and hidden behind a large, thick curtain.
“You live here alone?” he inquired, slowly walking round the room.
“Not much choice, I’m afraid,” she replied.
“You built this place?”
“Me? No. As my ship came in, my ground radar picked it up. It was deserted. It had been abandoned for some time; I just tidied it up. Look, there’s water in that jug on the table.”
“Yes, freshly drawn this morning from the well.”
“Yes; the well.”
She returned to the main room and found him standing quite still, staring at the contents of the jug.
“Is there a problem?”
“Can you vouch for this liquid? Has it come from a reliable source? Has it been fully tested?”
“It’s water; I’ve drawn it this morning and I drink it every day, just as I have for the last……few months.”
He looked at her, “How long have you been here?”
“Too long. I was hoping that he would have sent out a search party to find me by now…”
“Yes, he. I was hoping that my distress call had got through the interference.”
“Before you crashed here?”
“It was a very controlled crash landing, if you must know. Now will you have some water with one of these tablets?”
“I’ll forgo that dubious pleasure.”
“Suit yourself. Sit down please.”
He did as he was told.
She opened a sterilised pack and gently wiped the small wound on his face clean, “I don’t think any damage has been done; it’s just a graze.”
For a moment he allowed himself the opportunity to study her more closely. She must have been in her mid- thirties, at least, maybe older, but it was difficult to tell with the specks of dirt on her face and her hair tied back into a somewhat untidy manner. Her eyes were a fascinating green, but his thoughts were suddenly jolted back to reality when she asked, quite softly, “How did it happen?”
“I don’t know. I seem to remember a gun battle, I fell and then….I woke up here.”
“My name is Ginevra, in case you were wondering.”
“Ginevra,” he repeated.
He stopped her hand, a look of foreboding on his face, “I don’t know,” he said, “I don’t know who I am.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Vila demanded, “You, or Zen, must have had a fix on him.”
“So where is he now? Can’t you scan for the bracelet?”
“They’ve already done that, Vila,” Cally explained softly.
Blake was pensive, “It’s either been damaged, he’s out of range or it is no longer on his wrist.”
“Or he’s dead. Has that occurred to you?”
“He’s not dead,” Cally said.
Blake stopped Vila in his tracks before he could continue his tirade, “So, we work on the basis that he is out there somewhere.”
“If, as Orac has said, that sudden power surge had something to do with it, then he could be anywhere,” Jenna pointed out.
“Then we have to find him.”
“Blake that could take forever.”
“You don’t have any immediate plans, do you?”
“Are you sure that you don’t want anything to eat?” Ginevra asked.
“Quite sure,” he replied. He was seated at the other end of the table, fork in hand, resolutely refusing to eat the meagre rations on the plate in front of him, “That is no reflection on your ability to cook, you understand.”
“So, you won’t drink the water and now you won’t eat the meal that I have prepared and that I am quite happy to share with you.”
“You can’t be too careful.”
“What are you scared of?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“What you wish to believe, or disbelieve, is not my concern.”
“All right, you’re worried.”
“What makes you think that?”
“The way that you’ve been twisting that bracelet around your wrist. It’s important to you, isn’t it?”
“Maybe a good night’s sleep will help you remember.” Ginevra got to her feet, “I’ll fetch a blanket for you. It should be warm enough by the fire. I’ll just lock the door.”
“Are you expecting visitors?”
“No. The wind can get quite wild on this planet and I like to keep it outside. The jug is there if you should decide to risk life and limb and have a drink.”
He smiled. “I didn’t say thank you.”
“No you didn’t, but you have now. I’ll just get that blanket.”
“So you’re saying that we have to set up a search pattern?” Vila asked.
“That’s what Orac suggested,” Blake conceded. He wasn’t exactly sure that this idea would work at all.
“We start at the point he was last in contact and we move out and search the area,” Cally explained.
“That’s a big area, Blake,” Jenna put in, “We don’t even know if he’s still alive.”
“Cally seems convinced. Besides, if I don’t make the effort he’ll never forgive me.”
Ginevra awoke the next morning. She hadn’t slept very well, even though she sensed that this stranger was not dangerous. Despite that feeling, she had kept her gun by her side.
She quietly pulled the curtain aside and found that her guest had vanished; as had his gun.
She shook her head.
The jug on the table was still full and the fire had gone out, leaving just a few embers glowing in the grate. To make matters worse, the wood pile by the side of the fire had drastically reduced in size.
“Oh dear,” she said. She took the jug and went to her room. Usually she bathed in the privacy of her own home, but with the stranger wandering around, she thought it best to just quickly wash in her room.
A few minutes later, suitably dressed, she ventured outside to see where he was. Then she heard the noise; a blast of energy from somewhere down in the woods.
She quickly went back for her gun.
Had someone arrived in the night? Was he facing them…on his own?
She tentatively made her way towards the sound only to see the stranger walking towards her with a small pile of wood in his arms.
“Did I wake you?” he asked.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought that was quite obvious; replenishing the wood pile. The temperature dropped quite rapidly last night…”
“So I see…”
“I thought it only fair to replace the wood that I used.”
“Oh, I fired my gun at the base of a likely looking tree. It shattered, of course…”
“But there’s plenty of wood now.”
“Have you never heard of an axe?”
“I presume that that entails a great deal of physical exertion?”
She looked at him.
He smiled back, “Yes, I thought it might.”
“You could have least have asked me…”
“I didn’t want to disturb you. You looked so peaceful.”
But he didn’t reply; merely smiled and continued on his way back to the ‘house’ and the diminished wood pile.
“You called out that name in your sleep.”
“I don’t sleep.”
“Admittedly not very well, but when you do, you too, look peaceful.”
“I went to check on you…”
“Two can play at that game.”
It had taken several trips back and forth to bring the rest of the wood back to Ginevra’s ‘house’ and after placing the last piece of wood in its place, the stranger slumped onto the couch.
“You work well,” she said.
“I try my best.”
“Well, will you try this?” She handed over a metal mug.
“What is it?”
“Boiled water…and please don’t go on about its lack of provenance. You have to drink.”
“Dehydration is a dangerous thing and I wouldn’t want this friend of yours, Blake, to accuse me of not looking after you.”
“So, this Blake, he’s a man. Perhaps at long last your memory is returning. And what about your appetite?”
“You haven’t eaten a thing since I found you.”
“I’m not particularly hungry.”
“I am more than happy to share what rations I have with you.”
“Rations? What about that ship of yours? Doesn’t it have a food dispenser on board?”
“I took what I could before it went off line. I supplement those rations with whatever I can find on this planet.”
“But things are getting difficult?”
“I have had to resort to planting the seeds I had bought. They were meant for our burgeoning business; but unless he finds me, then I will resign myself to spending the rest of my days here.”
“Why didn’t this mysterious ‘he’, you speak of, fly this very important mission?”
“Because I am a better pilot than he will ever be.” Ginevra bit her lip, “He’s a good man, but no business sense.”
“Is this ship of yours far?”
“Don’t tell me one of your many talents is repairing inoperable space craft?”
“I’ll let you know.”
“But Cally feels that he is not dead.” Blake murmured.
+The nature of ‘feeling’ is, as yet, an unproven basis of believe.+
“It does not exist?”
+I did not say that. There are many unexplained events surrounding the human condition; they have just not been scientifically proven. +
“Cally’s not human.”
+I am aware of that.+
So what is it then, this feeling?”
He stood back and admired the craft.
It wasn’t a large ship; two, possibly three manned, with a large underbelly for cargo storage. It had settled on an even keel, right next to a tranquil river and looked magnificent.
“I must congratulate you on your landing skills,” he said, “and you missed the river as well.”
“That was quite intentional, but I decided to put it down here to be near water…”
“Even though you do not know the source of the water.”
“All I can say is that you must have led a very mollycoddled way of life. Some of us have to work for a living you know; to be able to eat…”
He smiled back at her, “I suppose the entrance is up that ladder?”
“You’ll need the key to open it,” she said, dangling the small metal object that was on a chain around her neck.
“That was never an obstacle for Vila…”
He stopped. Another name.
First Blake and now Vila.
But the ‘door’ had slammed shut again.
“Another friend of yours?” she asked.
“I think so.” He was silent, trying to claw back that name, “I hope so.”
“Blake, just because Cally ‘hopes’ that Avon is still out there, alive, isn’t a good reason to keep this search up.” Jenna was quite adamant. She had just spent four hours on watch scanning the airwaves and every Federation communication channel for any sign of Avon, “We would have heard something by now.”
“Not necessarily. He could be a long way from civilisation. Maybe he can’t reach us.”
“So how long are you going to wait?”
“As long as possible.”
“He wouldn’t do this for you, you know?”
“Maybe not. But that is the difference between us; I care.”
“I hope you know how to put that all back together,” Ginevra said.
“I do,” he replied from deep inside a panel. “I don’t suppose that you have a backup power source anywhere on this ship? Just something to boost the main power feeds.”
“I’m afraid not, but what I do have are these.”
He extricated himself from the panel and turned to face her. “Clothes.”
“Purchased for him with some of the profits that I garnered from selling our excess produce.”
“And how do I fit into this example of a successful sale?”
She placed the clothes on the seat next to him, “There’s a river out there.”
“Well use it. Obviously you’re not used to such a basic lifestyle, but that’s all there is. At least try and make yourself presentable.”
“I hadn’t really considered all this.”
“That much is obvious. When you’ve finished, I should have some dinner ready…”
“No need. There was still some power in the food dispenser. I have obtained refreshment.”
“I’m sure you have, but just to make sure…” She lifted her weapon from its holster, “I have some hunting to do.”
“Don’t let me stop you.”
“Lock the door behind you when you’ve finished.”
It was beginning to get dark, which worried her, and still there was no sign of him. The daylight hours on this planet didn’t seem to vary, but for some reason the night was closing in earlier this time, and the wind had dropped. It was eerily silent.
She jumped as the door opened and he came in.
“You certainly took your time,” she snapped.
“It took longer than I anticipated. I had hoped to send a rudimentary distress signal, but there didn’t seem enough power.” He shut the door behind him and bolted it, “I trust that I meet with your approval?”
“Only if you sit down and eat something.”
“As I told you; I’ve already eaten. But don’t let that stop you.”
“Very well, if you insist.”
He sat down opposite her, and reached for the metal mug placed by his empty plate, “Ginevra, I do appreciate what you’re trying to do for me.”
“You have a funny way of showing it. And by the way, my close friends and family call me Jane; it’s easier for them.”
“All right; Jane.”
“I suppose that you have some close friends and family somewhere, although I could be wrong on both counts.”
“Perhaps.” He watched as she began to eat the meal she had so carefully prepared. He felt a little guilty, but at least there would be more for her.
“I take it that you were successful in your hunt?” he asked, slightly uneasy, for some unfathomable reason, that she was eating meat.
“Yes. I’ve become very proficient with that gun.”
“I’ll remember that.”
“You would be wise to.”
Later, with the meal finished and tidied away, she watched as he stood beneath the skylight, his face lit by the single moon.
“What are you looking for?” she asked.
“The stars. I found myself wondering if someone was out there looking for me. But it’s a big sky and this is one very small planet. But now, there aren’t any stars; just the moon and a strange haze.”
“I don’t understand. Those stars have always been there; they’ve given me hope.”
“Come and look for yourself.”
She did so.
“See,” he began, “No stars. And you look different tonight.”
That comment caught her off guard.
She had allowed her tied back hair to fall loose about her shoulders, framing her face with a mass of soft curls.
“It suits you. It shows off those green eyes of yours to good effect. But of course, during the day, while you’re working the land, it wouldn’t be suitable.”
“Not many men would appreciate that.”
“I like to think so.”
“He’s a fool not to.”
“And you’re not a fool, I take it?”
He looked at her. There was a stray wisp of her red hair across her pale face. Without thinking, he brushed it aside.
She didn’t move.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I didn’t mean…”
She touched his mouth with her finger to silence him.
“There’s no need to apologise.”
Vila almost jumped out of the seat, “What was that?”
+What was what? Please be precise with your questions. +
“Look, if you did your job properly, I wouldn’t have to sit here listening to all this space chatter on the off chance that Avon tries to contact us. I’m getting Blake up here. Play back the last five minutes, I’m sure I heard a very primitive distress call.”
“And how would you recognise a very primitive distress call, Vila?” It was Blake; a very tired and weary Blake; unable to sleep with worry.
“Oh, I’ve made enough of them in the past; usually when I was just about to be found out. Zen, play it on the main speakers.”
There followed a great deal of static.
“See, there. Did you hear it?” Vila asked.
“Zen, take out the background static.”
Liberator’s computer replayed the recording again.
“There;” Vila smiled, “Three dots, three dashes, three dots.”
“S.O.S….save our souls, or in my case, Help!”
“That could be from anyone.”
“It’s the only clue we have.”
Blake turned his attention to Orac, “Can you narrow the location down?”
+I have already calculated a rough position and have passed the co-ordinates to the Liberator’s Flight Computers. +
“Where is it?”
+ In the Sigma Delta Region. +
“What? But that’s….”
Vila was calling up Jenna, “I think we ought to get a move on. Avon won’t appreciate us taking so long. In fact, I think he may consider it deliberate.”
He woke up with a start.
The noise outside was horrendous.
There was obviously a storm of some magnitude and …Ginevra was gone.
He quickly dressed and went through to the main area. She was standing by the door.
“You’re not seriously considering going out there, are you?”
“This storm; I’ve never known anything like it. My ship is out there.”
“You go out there now and you are dead!”
“I’m dead anyway without that ship…”
Suddenly the wind dropped; the sickening howling noise abated.
But too late, Ginevra had opened the door and was outside.
It was strangely still outside, but the damage had been done. In the ethereal light afforded by the planet’s single moon, it was obvious to see what the storm had done. Her carefully tended crops had been flung to the four winds and nothing remained. Even the well, so carefully covered, was now beneath a mound of windblown earth.
He found her some distance away, in an area not yet cultivated.
“You need to get back indoors,” he insisted, but she was rooted to the spot, “Ginevra, this is the eye of the storm; it isn’t over yet.”
But she didn’t respond. Instead she just stood there, staring at the ground.
“What is it?” he asked.
She pointed to the uneven ground and the skeletal hand sticking up as if reaching for the heavens. In the strange blue light cast by the moon, it made for a ghostly apparition.
“Who is it?” she whispered hoarsely.
“A previous occupant. Now, we need to get back inside before…”
Then it hit; the storm had returned, even more ferocious this time.
He wrapped his arms about her small frame and dragged her back to the comparative safety of the ‘house’; a dwelling that was now being battered by the wind and the airborne debris being carried along with it.
It was no use even thinking about shutting the door; it had gone. Caught up by the howling tempest which was threatening to totally engulf the two of them.
Somehow he got her inside the remaining shell and into the ‘room’ at the back. It was cut into the actual hillside and afforded the only shelter in that entire structure.
And there they stayed; he holding her and she burying her head into his shoulder, desperate to keep out the rampaging storm.
It would pass, soon, it was just a matter of waiting.
The sun broke through the clouds. It was a welcome warmth after the cold, destructive night.
She was still curled up, wrapped in a blanket, content to lie in the crook of his arm.
He allowed himself to look round and take in the utter devastation. They had been lucky, although quite what that luck would now bring was a matter of conjecture.
He thought about what she had seen; a ghostly hand, uncovered by the scouring wind. He didn’t want to disturb her, but he had to know just what was out there.
He walked across the field.
The hand was still there, almost beckoning.
He had brought with him a spade and quickly set about exhuming whatever was in that ground.
“What is it?” she whispered.
He hadn’t expected her to come out so soon.
“I thought you were asleep,” he said, not looking at her.
“What have you found?”
He looked up from his investigation of the ‘grave’, “Two of them. There’s not much left but judging by the injuries in the rib area, they were both shot at close range.” He paused, “It wasn’t you, was it?”
“No. How can you even think that?”
“Well, someone is responsible, and that someone even took the time to bury them.”
He got his feet.
“You said that the shelter was already in situ. I believe that these two may have built it.”
“For the same reason as you; they were stranded here.”
“So where is their ship? I searched the immediate area; mine is the only one here.”
“Maybe there was an argument….” He stopped. In the distance came the whine of engines. A ship was approaching; fast.
“Get back to the house. I think we may have company.”
“Who do you think it is?” Ginevra asked.
“I’ve no idea, but bearing in mind what we have just found, I think we should err on the side of caution.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Keep out of sight, until I know if their intentions are friendly or otherwise.”
“And if they’re not?”
He smiled and pointed to her gun, “Use that, if necessary.”
“Oh I will, just as long as you make sure that you don’t stand between me and them.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t.”
The two men halted by the earth covered well.
They seemed intrigued by the stranger trying to replace the missing window in what remained of a wall.
“I see you experienced one of this planet’s storms recently,” the first one said. He was short, dark haired and stocky. Over his shoulder he carried a long barrelled rifle and by the looks of it he knew how to use it.
The stranger turned to face them, “You know about them?”
“Yes. That’s one of the reason’s no-one lives here. Very unpredictable weather conditions. Those storms just rise up and destroy everything in their path. Is that your ship back there?”
“Is it still in one piece?”
“It is. Very nice it looks too; nice bit of landing.”
“I thought so too. How did you know…?”
“Distress call. Very short; very weak. My friend and I thought we ought to just come by and see if we could help.”
The other man, taller, thinner with receding hair, smiled coldly and nodded.
The stranger remained unmoved by his apparent threatening stance, “I would offer you a chance to get out of the sun and take some refreshment, but as you can see, my shelter is totally wrecked.”
“We don’t mind if we do anyway. Don’t we Morgan?”
“No, we’re not fussed.”
The stranger watched as the two men slowly walked round the remains of the ‘house’, opening drawers and the remains of the cupboards.
“Looking for anything in particular?”
“I’m afraid you won’t find anything here.”
“Shame,” the thick set man said, “Because that would have been your fee.”
“Yeah, for getting you off this dump. Oh well, we’ll just have to take your ship, won’t we?”
“Yes, and you won’t argue about it will you? The previous inhabitants did.”
“So that’s your handiwork out there, is it?”
“At least we buried them,” Morgan commented, “Hello, what have we here?”
Morgan crouched down and pulled out a bag from one of the remaining floor cupboards. He emptied it onto the table.
On the table in the full glare of the sun was the stranger’s hand gun and bracelet.
“And this bracelet? It’s a bit gaudy for a man like you, isn’t it?”
“It’s a trinket.”
“A good luck charm?” Morgan smirked.
But the other man wasn’t smirking. His face was a picture of concentration as he held up the small box in his hand.
“Good luck for us; bad luck for you. We, Morgan, have just struck the jackpot.”
“Look who we have just stumbled across to rescue.”
The taller man crinkled his eyes to see the screen on the box.
“Well, I’ll be blowed, Kerr Avon.”
“Are you sure, Orac?” Blake asked.
+Positive. Someone has accessed the Main Federation Record base and has called up the record of one Kerr Avon. +
“Get a fix on whoever it is and where they are. Someone has obviously just found him and wants to make sure they have the real thing.”
“Won’t that alert the Federation?” Jenna queried.
“Oh, yes, we will just have to hope that we get there before they do.”
Vila smiled, “See, I told you he wasn’t dead.”
“So,” the thick set man was saying, “You are Kerr Avon?”
“If you say so.”
“Look for yourself.”
He took the offered device and looked at the picture. Somewhere inside his muddled head a ‘door’ opened. So, that’s who he was.
“Not the best picture,” the man was saying, “Mind you, you do seem tired.” He took back the device, “So where is Blake?”
“I’ve no idea.”
“Liar,” Morgan snapped.
“You could of course interrogate me, but the answer would be the same. I’ve no idea.”
“You know, that’s not a bad thought,” Morgan said, “Interrogating you. I’d enjoy that.”
“Yes, I thought that may appeal to your limited intelligence.”
“I would be very careful if I were you,” the first man said, “Morgan enjoys his work.”
“I’m sure he does, although any injuries would have to be explained to the Federation authorities.”
“You resisted arrest; that’s explanation itself.”
Avon held out his hands, “Then arrest me; or would that be too simple.”
“Simple, yes.” Morgan murmured stepping closer, “but nowhere near as enjoyable. Now where is your friend?”
He swung his gun up, obviously relishing the thought of inflicting some pain.
Both men turned and came face to face with Ginevra standing on the remains of the hill. She fired twice and the men fell, face first, into the dirt.
Avon watched as she made her way down from her vantage point, relieved that her aim had not wavered.
“Thank you,” he smiled.
But she didn’t return the smile. Instead Avon found himself staring into her gun barrel.
“Is it true? Are you Kerr Avon; one of Blake’s terrorists?”
He studied her for a few moments.
“That all depends on your point of view. Why don’t you read what the Federation have to say about me?” He crouched down and handed her the device, then turned his attention to the two bodies.
“What are you doing?” she asked warily, following his every move with the gun.
“In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve acquired a ship, which means I can, with luck, get both you and me off this planet.”
She watched as he searched the two dead men.
“What about them?”
“I’m sure they won’t object. Now give me your key.”
“Give me the key.”
“How can I trust you?”
“I’m exactly the same man I was two minutes ago, except this time I know exactly who I am. Do you want to get back to that man of yours or not?”
He held out his hand, “The key, please.”
She carefully took the necklace off and handed it over.
“Thank you. Collect everything you want from this place and then get down to the ships. I want to get off of this planet as soon as possible, because I have an idea that our two friends could well have alerted the authorities to my whereabouts. Unintentionally of course, but needless to say, unfortunately.”
He picked up his gun and bracelet, “You do want to go home, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, but…”
“What happened here stays here. Do you understand? No-one will ever know. I’ll see you on your ship.”
She watched him march off and then turned her attention to the device in her hand. She could read it and see exactly with whom she had spent the last few days on this planet, or, she could cast it aside, and keep her memories of him intact; not sullied by Federation propaganda.
She allowed the device to fall to the ground and crushed it beneath her boot.
“Well you heard what the man said; everything.”
“You’re original misfortune was due to a wiring fault. That is now repaired and I’m recharging your main power source.”
“And what about you? Will you have enough power to get away as well?”
“Why don’t we just leave in their ship?”
He turned to face her, “Because this is your livelihood. Everything you own is tied up in the goods that you have in the hold.”
“What do I tell him? He’s bound to ask?”
“You tell him the truth.”
“All of it?”
“Well now, perhaps being economical with the truth may be the best course. You merely explain that you were stranded on this planet and a passing stranger came to your assistance. He will understand.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“Make him. I’m sure that you are most adept at twisting him around your little finger.”
She lowered her gaze. “What will you tell Anna?”
“Let me guess; you overheard me while I was sleeping.”
“I’m sorry if you think that I intruded.”
“You didn’t intrude and as for Anna…” His voice trailed off as those memories returned.
“You know,” Ginerva began, “I think I preferred you when you didn’t know who you were.”
“Really. I suppose that you read my record on that device.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Then perhaps you should have. I’m not a nice man to know.”
“I don’t believe that, which is why I didn’t read it. I would much rather remember you as the lost and confused stranger who came into my life for a few brief moments and rescued me.”
“Your systems are all fully charged. You can leave whenever you want.”
“And I like the way you change the subject when it gets too uncomfortable for you.”
“I presume that you can set the co-ordinates for your home planet and him?”
“He’s a good man…just like you.”
“That is debateable.”
“Do you have enough power for the other ship?”
“More than enough. Now it’s time for you to be on your way.” He vacated the pilot’s seat and began to walk towards the exit hatch. “By the way, I believe this is yours.”
In his hand was her necklace. She offered her palm and he allowed the necklace to fall into it.
“Thank you,” she said.
He slowly closed his hand over hers.
“It is I who should be thanking you. Good bye.”
She watched as he stood a safe distance away, and then powered up the engines. Slowly the ship lifted clear of the surface, throwing up a curtain of dust. She could see him shielding his eyes and then he was gone.
A single tear ran down her cheek as the secondary engines roared into life and took her away.
Kerr Avon sat in the smaller ship. It was cramped but functional. As the systems engaged, he was mentally going through how she would explain the last few days to her ‘family’, but more to the point, how he would explain everything to his.
The ship shuddered as the he took control and lifted from the surface.
Now, it was just a matter of contacting the Liberator.
“Welcome back,” Blake said, “What on Earth has happened to you?”
Kerr Avon stood in the teleport section. Tired, hungry and feeling just a little worse for wear. His usual clean shaven face was dirty and sported a few days stubble.
“I survived. You took your time.”
Vila handed him a glass filled with cool water, “I thought you might need this.”
He drank it down gratefully.
“Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to…”
“What about that ship of yours?” Blake queried.
“It’s of no use to its owners; not now anyway.”
“And who may they have been?” Cally asked.
“Two disreputable characters that preyed on anyone unfortunate enough to land on that planet.”
“You killed them?”
“Does it matter?”
“Anyway,” Vila began, “it’s nice to have you back. I never gave up hope….all right, I did, but Cally insisted that you were still alive.”
“So what happened down there?” Blake asked.
“I survived, that’s what happened.”
Blake could sense that Avon was being deliberately evasive, “You don’t appear to be wearing the same clothes that you were wearing when I last saw you.”
“How observant. There was a shelter of sorts and whoever had been there before had left some behind.”
“How very convenient.”
“Why the questions?”
“What about the other ship? The one that left that planet, I presume, just before we found you.”
“That was a stranger who heard my distress call and came to help me.”
“Perhaps we should follow it and thank that stranger personally.”
“Shouldn’t you be concentrating on finding Provine and the elusive Central Control?”
Cally cleared her throat, “I’ll go and get some food for you…”
“Maybe we can talk after you’ve had some rest,” Blake murmured, and left for the Flight Deck.
Only Vila remained, holding Avon’s teleport bracelet in his hand.
“This stranger; pretty was she?”
“What are you talking about?”
“This long strand of red hair caught in the catch…” Vila handed him the evidence, “Well, was she beautiful?”
Avon’s expression said it all and Vila quickly made his excuses and left.
He looked at the single strand of hair in his hand and then closed his fingers around it, “Yes,” he murmured, recalling that first meeting with a warm, fond smile, “She was.”
© 2016 LaraSue-Lectori Salutem