Slip to Black

David R. Sanderson

Servalan turned toward her escort. "Doctor, I want this corridor cleared until I summon your people."

The doctor bowed slightly, turned on her heels, and slowly retreated back down the long hall. Servalan stood straight, almost at full military attention, for the agonizingly long time it took the doctor to disappear from view. The doctor obviously resented her commandeering the hospital. On any other occasion, Servalan would have considered action to correct the good doctor's attitude. As it was, she barely took the time to be annoyed.

Once the doctor was out of sight, Servalan allowed herself to lean against the hospital wall. Pressing her spine against the hard surface. Enjoying the support it provided. A small fire was extinguished in her lower back as the coolness of the wall seeped into her muscles. The last few days had left her on edge. She knew that the stress was the cause of the pain in her back, but knowing that didn't help. She needed this time alone in the corridor to recover some of her equanimity, and to prepare for the mental anguish to come.

The plain, metallic door across the hall waited for her. It's only markings were the room number - twenty nine. A red light, indicating a locked door, glowed on the small control panel next to it.

She had hoped she would never have to come here. She'd found excuses for avoiding this room until now.

Circumstances had made that avoidance impossible. If Servalan had been able to get what she needed elsewhere, she could have just walked away. She had to try and get the answers here, now. Time was pressing.

She closed her eyes, blocking out the harsh hospital lighting. Images from the last five days flickered across the inside of her eyelids. Servalan, with her natural desire for order, began to sort through them.

Servalan had been on Seltairn Four when the message arrived. The Seltairn government had always been one of her strongest backers as president. It would be a key ally if she were to seize the reins of the presidency again.

She received the message in her suite - a scrambled communique from one of her agents. The man was a communications officer aboard a local relay station. He had intercepted an Earthbound message concerning Scorpio. Naturally, the young officer had contacted Commissioner Sleer at once. Those were Sleer's standing orders concerning Scorpio and her crew.

The agent's information was succinct: Scorpio destroyed and Blake killed. After viewing the message Servalan considered its content, the minor details, as well as the ones that really mattered. From the brief description given, the dead woman had to be the Mellanby girl. The rest were apparently alive - but Avon was damaged.

Continued in Star Two

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