by Ros Williams

We should measure affection, not like youngsters by the ardour of its passion, but by its strength and constancy - Cicero


I've always said this could never happen to Avon and it wasn't at all what I intended when I started out on this tale, but the plot crept up on me and then refused to go away. So don't take too seriously my liberties with the personalities of Avon, Blake, Carnell and others.



Those oft are stratagems which errors seem - Alexander Pope

Series 2 - Supreme Commander Servalan devises a use for "The Weapon" - Imipak, and tells High Councillor Gort, Director of the Institute for Psychostrategic Studies, to provide the psychostrategist of her choice - Carnell.

Weapon episode is elaborated upon viz Carnell who has a wider strategy than Servalan imagines and which ultimately does not fail.

Servalan interferes in Carnell's scheme as he anticipates, wrecking the obvious plot but not the secret plot, Carnell prudently makes off, then carries out an in depth investigation of rebel Avon's past. He monitors Liberator's course using the immensely powerful, independent computers of the Institute from outside Federation territory.

Blake and co. visit a games planet which provides as its most exceptional challenge nine-dimensional chess which inevitably intrigues Avon. Blake struggles to beat him, and then a fairhaired stranger says "I could beat you.... Avon."

Avon's head jerked up. "Carnell," Avon said slowly. "You are Carnell..." No, he thought, appalled, furiously defensive. No, that's ... impossible. And he felt himself, against his will, tremble.


Plots true or false are necessary things - Dryden

Carnell takes Blake's place and wins the game. Avon guesses that Carnell was not on the gaming planet by chance and was behind the Imipak plot. Carnell explains his true plan was to deny Servalan use of the Weapon, which was in fact achieved. In spite of Avon's curious unease, Blake decides to employ Carnell to devise a strategy against the Federation.

Carnell joins the group on Liberator for a few days, to discuss the strategy requirements. Avon tries to investigate Carnell and discovers Orac cannot access the Institute computers. Avon's unease increases as he already knows Carnell's presence on Liberator is not entirely due to business and that eventually Carnell will force a personal discussion.

Blake is also uneasy. Both the women are flaunting their interest in Carnell, but Carnell is showing blatant preference for Avon's company. Blake is resentful, but also more perceptive than Carnell likes, realising that even Carnell is not quite in control of his emotions. In this rather heady atmosphere, Carnell presents the bones of his plan and makes various predictions about the future.

Carnell assesses that Blake is becoming unstable and cannot be given the whole of his strategy. Instead, he will eventually confide it to Avon. Vila, whom Carnell has befriended, becomes aware of many of the undercurrents. Finally, Carnell confronts the emtions he has aroused on Liberator, bluntly telling Cally he is not interested in her so that she knows where she stands although she cannot forget her passion for him. He then challenges Avon to admit the feelings the experienced psychostrategist knows Avon is struggling to understand. Avon eventually agrees he is confused by his emotions. Carnell returns to his planet, Skar, to work on the strategy after warning Avon to keep Blake away from Travis if he can.

Four months later, Carnell boards Liberator and makes his presentation, which will help Blake find Central Control whose location even Carnell does not yet know. Avon decides Carnell believes Blake should not destroy Central Control. As well as information, the strategy contains ambiguities, which Avon realises are the uncertainties of predicting the future, and the means Carnell is using to control Blake.

"I have detailed strategies but circumstances may change. I have given you warnings which you may or may not understand, but on which I will not elaborate. ........ I cannot give you an immutable strategy to cover all possible futures, and never once did I say I could..." The screen blanked and Carnell was silent. Vila found that he was shivering. He looked at Carnell uneasily, and Carnell looked back at him, his eyes glittering. Vila had the distinct impression Carnell was warning him. But of what?

Carnell tells Avon he will give him the whole strategy - on Skar over a fortnight, whilst Blake is sent off to commence the strategy.

So, here we are, at last. Two whole weeks," Carnell said softly. "Whatever do you think we are going to do with ourselves... Avon?" ....'


What men have seen, they know, But what shall come hereafter, No man before the event can see, Nor what end waits for him. - Sophocles

On Skar Avon inspects Carnell's strategy and discovers Carnell expects him to take Blake's place in the fight against the Federation, that Blake's instability has been effected by the Federation during some recent contact. And that the Institute is not dependent on Central Control and will continue to function even if Central Control is destroyed.

"Psychostrategy," Avon murmured, "is not your prime interest, is it? I think your 'Institute' is a political organisation. Do you seek to overthrow the Federation's r‚gime?" "No, Avon, merely to ensure it does not annoy us. We are not like Blake."

Avon and Carnell clarify their emotions for one another at last.

"I have long predicted a trauma such as this in my life," Carnell said, "though I thought it would probably be a woman. I assessed myself and saw that it must come, that there was no escape. Analysis showed that surrender would be the only therapy. All that I feared was rejection: I was never sure if I would be able to accept it, even with all my training. So the women came and went - perhaps I was searching for one who'd hold me, or perhaps I was anxious to prove none could. And when I found you again, I knew...because it was the only time I had ever really wanted a man, or cared how it might be."

The fortnight comes to an end. Avon realises that Carnell is uneasy about the future, and demands answers.

"I just wish," Carnell replied grimly, "that I knew. Suddenly there's danger all around us." "Why do I feel," Avon asked, "that suddenly you are afraid we may never meet again?" Carnell's fear was flooding over him, almost tangible in its intensity. "Is that what you really think, Carnell?" "I don't know!" Carnell said savagely. "I don't know what to think."

Avon returns to Liberator, obsessed with foreboding, and finds Blake in a foul, obsessive mood mood, aggressive towards Avon about Carnell. Yet later Blake seems his normal self again.

Avon reports on progress to Carnell including Blake's determination to destroy Central Control which they have discovered is Star One, and gives Carnell the co-ordinates. Gort gives Carnell permission to tell Avon about the historic Andromedan threat and that Star One is not working satisfactorily and is to be investigated. Can the Andromedans be attacking again? Finally Gort advises he is to retire, and Carnell has been elected to take his place as High Councillor and Director of the Institute.

Free at last to tell all, Carnell sends a desperate message to Avon although suspecting, rightly, that it will be delayed as Liberator is far out of range on the edge of the Galaxy.

Near Sarran, Orac intercepted Carnell's message, repeated it to Avon who was unconscious in his life capsule, and then held it for replay later. And Avon's message back to Carnell, sent many hours after when at last he had the opportunity to do it, waited patiently in Carnell's terminal on Skar, unwatched for it was personal to Carnell only and he never came, impossible to redirect for Carnell was... missing.

Then Carnell follows Liberator into the war zone.

Series 3. Carnell learns that Avon is on Sarran, unconscious, hears of Jenna heading for Morphaniel, and has found Blake. He has also encountered Del Grant of whom he knows through researching Avon, and taken him into his confidence concerning some of his real strategy, which Grant learns is far beyond Blake's desires and intended to rearrange the Federation hierachy.

Initially, Grant is to leave Blake, who is seething with unstable fury, on a planet where he must remake his revolution by himself without Avon or Liberator. On his way to execute the next piece of his plan, Carnell runs into an old enemy.

No, Carnell raged inwardly, losing control just for a moment, not now...not when I have so much to do, so much to gain, success just waiting for me to reach out... Not now. Avon...think of me, remember me. Avon.


You may not know it but at the far end of despair there is a white clearing where one is almost happy - Jean Anouilh

The Institute, outwardly still run by Gort, has received a message from Carnell who is the prisoner outside Federation Space of Maryk, who bears a grudge as Carnell had devised strategies for his deadly enemies in the past. Gort decides that Avon must not know of Carnell's whereabouts or he would try to rescue Carnell, which could interfere with Carnell's great strategy. Thus Avon, after a desperate search through Orac, is allowed to believe that Carnell must be dead. Meantime, Carnell has saved his life by offering to put Maryk back into power, and is allowed to receive messages from Gort although not to reply.

Servalan has made herself President and put her cronies into High Council, including her close friend Chesku. She tells Chesku of Sula's past, and Chesku willingly agrees to have Sula killed so that he himself may become Servalan's consort. Chesku remarks he's heard a rumour that Carnell is still alive and Servalan decides to investigate.

Avon learns the truth about Anna. Anna. She was not real, he felt, when he saw her. She was a miracle, a dream...and yet a dream that could never come true. So if it was not Anna, who was this woman who seemed to be Anna in every way he could imagine? Only Servalan could tell him the truth, and the truth she told him was that Anna had never existed.

Back on Liberator Avon talks to Cally of Auron, and realises there is a bond between them that may help them a little to bear their pain - they both love Carnell.


that we do is done with an eye to something else - Aristotle

Carnell tells Maryk something of his strategy concerning the Federation, and also that he worked for Maryk's enemies in the past because Maryk was not strong enough to control his Empire. Carnell trains Maryk to take charge in the future. Maryk is awed by Carnell's singleminded determination to achieve what he and his Instutute must achieve to save the Federation from Servalan and eventual anarchy, even when he is a prisoner in enemy territory and apparently powerless. Maryk realises that in making these confidences, Carnell is taking control of him, but that this way they can both achieve what they must. Carnell seduces a woman who can help in the strategy and knows that eventually Avon will seduce Servalan.

Avon encounters Servalan on Teal. She reminds him unbearably of Carnell as he knows Carnell had her also. Seducing her, he taunts her with memories of Carnell and his own relationship with the psychostrategist, infuriating her at first, but eventually she sees how Avon is suffering just as she has done over losing Chesku, and in an unusual moment of kindness, she tells him of the rumour of Carnell's survival.

Series 4. Carnell receives a message from Gort indicating that Servalan has lost the Presidency, and disappeared, and that Liberator has not been heard of for some time. It is essential to Carnell's plan that Servalan continues chasing after Avon. Losing patience at last, Carnell refuses to work any longer until Maryk allows him to send a message to Gort demanding that Liberator and Servalan must be traced.

Avon instructs Orac who now suggests that Carnell might be forced keep his whereabouts secret from Avon in order to further his grand strategy. Orac notes that messages have been sent from near Carnell's planet Skar to Maryk's empire and although he cannot read Institute messages, he deduces Carnell could be with Maryk. Teleporting to where Gort is, Avon holds a gun to his head, but unnecessarily as Gort is expecting him and now is ready to tell him the truth. He agrees to keep away from Carnell, so long as they are allowed to talk together, which is arranged.

Carnell warns Avon of various threats to him and his companions, and that his computations predict Servalan will find Blake. Also he has computed that, somehow, Blake, now completely unstable due to the Federation conditioning, intends to assassinate Avon for political gain.


Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time - Winston Spencer Churchill

His strategy for Maryk sufficiently completed, Carnell is at last free, going to his institute and then to Earth to be welcomed as a member of High Council. Avon advises Carnell he has tired of Servalan's pursuit and is going to Blake. Carnell learns about Arlen and deliberately allows Servalan to discover when Avon will be on Gauda Prime, then meets Avon to discuss the last details of the strategy which is now, with luck, nearing completion. He also soothes some of Vila's fears generated by the incident of the neutron star. On Gauda Prime Blake rails against Avon's perfidy, as he sees Avon's failure to rescue him, blaming Carnell for keeping Avon away, and swearing vengeance.

Come soon, Blake thought, clenching his fists. I've waited far too long. I can't take much more of Gauda Prime. I can't take much more of oblivion. I need you, Avon, to get me out of this place, to give me your success, to be...mine. Soon, Avon...or I shall go mad with the waiting. He was at times, now, insane.

Scorpio reaches Gauda Prime and Avon enters Blake's command centre. Servalan arrives, and Carnell but he is delayed by some of Blake's people. And finally, on Carnell's orders, Del Grant with his squad of troopers. The grim scene between Avon and Blake plays to its end. Avon makes the only possible decision when he is convinced Blake is mad, and though sick at heart, shoots first.

He does not want to kill me, Blake thought, lucid at the last and beginning to understand. Why has he done this, then? Am I to be the martyr, not Avon? Is that the true purpose, the real victory? Avon was holding him. There was no hatred in Avon's eyes, only shock and pity. I don't want pity, Blake thought bitterly.

Servalan enters and tells Avon it is the moment of his death. She presses the trigger of her gun and Avon falls although Carnell, just entering, attempts to deflect the shot.

Carnell did not have time even to look at Avon. He aimed instinctively and fired, and Servalan screamed as the gun was jerked out of her hand; but he was not quite in time and Avon fell. Had she killed him? Fear in his heart, Carnell went to Avon. If you are dead, he thought savagely, I'll wring Servalan's neck here and now.

But Avon is not dead yet. He has been injected with a vicious drug which will lead to a lingering, agonising and terrifying death. He is taken to Carnell's ship.

Grant's men have taken control of the building and Grant is holding Servalan captive as Carnell is now her superior. Ruthlessly threatening her with brutal torture if she will not speak, Carnell forces her to tell him what the drug will do to Avon.

"I warn you," Carnell said, "if Avon dies, you will have murdered him. If he dies, therefore, I personally will break your pretty neck and stop me. The Federation's laws favour the corrupt, as you well know. Remember that, and pray that Avon lives. High Councillors, Servalan, can be quite as ruthless as you." He laughed into her face, then turned his back on her. "Take her away," he said. Grant dropped his gaze. He had been as startled as Servalan by Carnell's sudden savagery. He felt Servalan quivering against him and realised that she was absolutely terrified.

Vila staggers to his feet. It is clear he dropped to the ground unhurt when the firing started and his companions are not dead but drugged, though not as cruelly as Avon and they recover soon enough on Carnell's ship.

Orac has been found and assists Carnell's medical team to tend to Avon, who is desperately ill. Carnell, Grant and Vila help Avon fight for his life, encouraging him during his occasional lucid moments and watching him suffer persistent, terrifying nightmares and pain caused by the drug. Grant is appalled to learn the truth at last of his sister's identity. Finally Avon awakes fully and lucidly. He has won his fight to live.

Carnell takes Avon and Vila back to Earth, where he will have Vila regraded to Beta, in spite of inevitable sarcastic comments from Avon. Finally, Carnell attends High Council and, completing the current stage of his strategy, convinces them that Servalan is a traitor and Avon a saviour of the Federation. Using his devious skills with devastating effect, he explains how the use of Pylene-50, which had been encouraged strongly by Servalan, is actually destroying the people's will to work and the Federation is descending into lethargic chaos and persuades High Council to have its use reduced. Servalan is to be held pending High Council's decision on her future. The President grants Avon a full pardon and Carnell returns to Avon - to discuss with him his next strategy, which they will work on together.

This is now in the Library.

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Last updated on 29th of October 2001.