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Hello Goodbye

By Michelle Birkby
Vila stretched, and smiled lazily. Blake had gone down to some obscure little rock, Jenna had followed and Avon had holed himself up in some distant part if the ship examining Zen's insides. Vila was happy, really happy for the first time since Blake had dragged him off that ball of mud and tried to turn him into a hero. He poured himself another ruby-red, slightly frothy and highly stimulating concoction, and almost giggled with delight.

He felt a sudden chill down his spine, and turned round. Standing in the doorway was the alien, the new member of their crew. She was tall, slender, with penetrating calm eyes of uncertain colour. She smiled slowly, and Vila had the feeling that she knew every wrong he had ever committed.

"Hello Vila." She came down the stairs with the slow measured grace of one who is always prepared to fight, to kill, to shoot whoever's eyes she was looking into at that moment.

//Where's everyone else?//

Vila shivered a little at the voice in his head. 'I'll never get used to that' he thought.

Four years later, when he realised he would never hear those warm tones in his mind again, he broke down and cried.

He smiled and decided to turn on the charm. He held out his glass.

"Drink?"

She smiled and took it hesitantly, obviously not sure what it was.

"It's quite safe." He reassured her. "Lethal next morning, but quite safe when you drink it."

"We don't have stimulants on my world." She told, smiling shyly, and sipping some. She looked up in surprise. "It's good!"

"Of course it is! I don't drink rubbish, except when I'm desperate, which when I think about it is quite a lot really, but this stuff's good and..." His voice trailed off as a thought struck him. "You ... you won't tell Blake I've got this stuff will you?"

"If you do not wish me to, of course not." She stared into the drink, then looked up suddenly.

"Vila, you humans don't like it when I speak in your minds, do you?"

He looked up. The look of sadness and loneliness on her face was unbearable, and Vila suddenly realised that she was far from home, all her friends were dead, and she was with strangers who didn't understand, and maybe didn't like, her. Vila, despite all his faults, was a kind man.

"We'll get used to it. After all, we must seem quite alien to you."

Once again, the shy smile.

"Yes, yes you do."

Years later, Vila remembered how the sweet smile had twisted his heart, and how she was never cruel to him, and how he liked - loved - her, and he began to mourn for her.

Gan joined them later, as Vila was telling her about how heroic he Vila had been, and got them all off the London.

"It was my idea, you see - get the others on to the ship and they would pick me up later."

"You must be very clever."

"Don't believe a word of it." Gan told her, as he settled onto the sofa beside Cally. "Vila is a born liar as well as a born thief."

"Can I help my genes?" grumbled Vila, as he got up to leave. "I could have been someone brilliant you know. I just chose the wrong parents." Vila bowed courteously to Cally, nearly fell over, , straightened himself up, and left.

"Why does he pretend to be stupid? I know he is clever."

"I suppose he's too scared to be clever.". Cally looked at Gan, her eyes questioning. 'She's pretty.' He thought. 'You just can't see it under all that mistrust and bravado.' Cally turned away sharply.

"You ... you can't read my mind, can you?" Gan asked nervously.

"No." she replied hurriedly. "Tell me about Vila."

"He's harmless - just wants to be left alone to steal and get drunk. No, Avon's the one you've got to look out for."

"Avon?"

Gan noticed a sudden spark of interest in her eyes, which she immediately concealed. 'Oh no.' he thought. 'That means trouble for both of them.'

"He couldn't just get himself into trouble, could he?" Tarrant demanded. "No, he had to drag her into it, and now she's dead, and he's alive, as immortal as ever."

"He did tell her not to come down." Dayna said. "He told her to stay on Liberator, to be safe. She decided to follow."

"I know." said Tarrant, calming down. "But he should have known, he should have realised that she would have followed him to the ends of the universe and back, no matter how dangerous."

Dayna glanced up to the dark figure by the entrance to the underground caves.

"I think he did know." she whispered.

Gan looked at her with concern.

"Avon... he's a bit of a bastard. You can't trust him."

"Do you really think so?" Her voice sounded far away, dreamy almost. Gan leaned forward to look into her eyes.

"What do you see?" he whispered, afraid to break the spell.

"How can I possibly explain that to a human?" Then she looked up, straight into his eyes.

//Tell me the truth about Avon.//

Unlike Vila, the voice in his head didn't worry Gan. Cally was an alien, she was going to do alien things. He frowned, trying to see the behind those dark veiled eyes of Avon's.

"Vila says he's dangerous. Blake doesn't trust him and Jenna doesn't like him."

"But you, what do you feel?"

Gan started to talk, slowly. It had been a long time since anyone was interested in his thoughts.

"He was good to me.. on the London, and before. In the jail on earth, a guard had.. had treated me badly. I couldn't fight because of my limiter, you know? Well, I don't know how, but Avon stopped it. Then he told me to stick with Vila, and that was it. He didn't speak to me again in ages. I know Blake and Vila and the others would say he only did that because he thought I was useful, but..." Gan's voice dropped, became quieter, introspective. "He's never treated me like the others. It's like he's at constant war with the others, got to prove that he's the bad guy, the one they shouldn't trust. Oh, he's nasty to me, but I don't think he really means it, he's just keeping up his cover, you know? We're not friends or anything, but I trust him." He stopped, suddenly embarrassed. "I'm not explaining this very well." he said sheepishly.

"I think you're explaining it perfectly." she said, her face serious. At that moment, the communicator whistled. Gan answered, and a few minutes later, he turned to Cally and said,

"Come on, I'll show you how to work the teleporter."

//I'd like that.//

"I don't know how to feel. I never really knew her. I suppose that's why I'm angry. After all, I took her down here, its my fault as much as his." Tarrant's voice was weak, defeated. Dayna sighed. She would have to mourn later. Right now, she had to be strong for Tarrant.

"If it's any consolation," she said, "I know she liked you." He glanced up in surprise. "Cally just didn't express herself as much as the rest of us." Dayna explained. "I suppose Aurons don't need to tell each other things like that, they just know. And you know perfectly well she wouldn't have come down here if she didn't want to. It's no-one's fault."

Tarrant looked up at her, his eyes full of hate, not for her, but for the man striding towards them.

"Isn't it?" he hissed. Dayna's hand tightened on his wrist. "Don't worry, I'll never say a word, but I know who I blame for this, and I'll never forgive him."

"Yes you will." said Dayna. "Because you know Cally would have made you forgive him." He looked up at her sharply, then nodded slowly. He stood up to meet Avon with not a trace of blame on his lips - that was Cally's legacy to Tarrant.

Blake smiled in surprise as he saw Cally operating the teleport as he came aboard. Beside him, Jenna noticed the smile, and glowered at the newcomer. Gan explained what he taught Cally and Blake offered to teach her more. As Gan and Jenna left, Jenna said, over her shoulder,

"Don't take her education too far, will you, Blake?"

Blake laughed, and turned back to the controls. Cally watched Jenna leave, then said,

"I do not think she likes me very much." Blake looked up in surprise.

"Jenna? Oh, she's all right. She just needs time to get to know you, that's all." Cally looked at him.

"I suppose she does need time to get used to an alien. We do not like aliens on our world either." She sounded lost and lonely and Blake felt a rush of pity for the seemingly-tough stranger.

"Why did you leave your world?" he asked. She quickly looked down, at the controls.

"I wanted to fight for freedom, fight the Federation. That was not possible on Auron, so I left for Saurian Major." Her voice was lifeless, as if she was telling a story she'd learned by rote.

"Perhaps we can visit your home world soon." Blake said, seeking to reassure her. It had the opposite effect.

"No!" she said, quickly and sharply. Blake looked at her in surprise. She continued quietly. "I can never go back. I have failed. Aurons will not accept failure and they will not accept me either."

Blake watched her for a moment. 'I don't think you're telling me the whole truth.' he thought. 'But it doesn't matter. You're a god fighter, and you hate the Federation, and you're alone. I'll help you and one day you'll trust me enough to tell me.' He looked at her, at her sad, serious face, then suddenly saw something he hadn't seen before. He moved closer, and touched her arm.

"You're very young, aren't you?"

She looked up in surprise. Then her chin went up, and she said,

"I'm old enough to die." It wasn't said with the false bravado of the young. It was said as if she had seen all the horror and sorrow of death, and knew she would not be spared that end, yet was prepared to die for what she believed in. Blake felt sorry for her, yet he also recognised the fire, the fervent belief in freedom that had led her to risk her life, to see her own existence as worthless compared to the existence of the Cause, and he recognised that in himself too. She was so like he had been, fifteen, twenty years ago, before all the betrayal and deception and doubt.

"Don't worry, " he told her. "I'll look after you."

"I do not need looking after."

He smiled.

"Nonetheless, Cally, I will look after you, I promise. Now, let me show you how the teleport works." He stopped, as a memory suddenly flashed across his mind, accompanied by a disquieting thought. He'd seen the look in her eyes when Avon had walked over that ridge, surprising and tricking her, and it worried him. He had to warn her.

"Cally?"

She looked up suddenly, and he looked away, almost embarrassed by what he was about to say. "Cally, I just want to give you some advice...about Avon."

"Yes?" she was suddenly very still.

"Cally, be careful with him, stay away from him. He's dangerous, especially I think, to those that care for him."

She smiled very slowly.

"I'll try." She promised. Despite this, Blake felt that something had been started, something set in motion that was dangerous, fateful. 'I can't stop it.' He thought suddenly. 'No-one can.' Then he forgot his momentary unease and went on with his work.

//Blake you promised to look after me, now keep your promise, now that I am about to die and join you. I want to stay now, I no longer wish to die, I need to stay with him now, he needs me, please, where are you Blake, keep your promise!//

"Blake!"

Cally found Jenna alone on the flight deck, and decided to seize the moment and confront her. She was anxious. She had faced Federation troops, laser cannons, photon blasters and poison gas, yet she had never felt as apprehensive and awkward as now, preparing to face the cool, beautiful, strong woman in front of her. She sat down next to Jenna, who was studying some star charts. Jenna didn't look up.

//Jenna?//

Jenna looked up slowly. She didn't appreciate someone entering her mind. In fact, the whole idea scared her, although she wasn't going to admit that to herself, let alone Cally.

"Jenna, why do you not like me? Have I done something to offend you?"

Jenna was surprised. She hadn't expected the alien to so gutsy as to ask that. Her respect for Cally grew. She turned to face her and put down the flight charts.

"All right, an honest question deserves an honest answer. It isn't you personally I dislike, its all aliens. It was aliens that sold me out to the Federation, not once, but several times. I don't understand them, I don't trust them, and I don't like them. Does that answer your question?"

"Yes, and now I understand your hostility. Not all aliens are alike though, and it is unfair to condemn me because of the actions or people I do not even know. How would you like it all humanity was judged by Avon, for example?"

Jenna found herself speechless, and almost laughed. The girl was clever, no doubt about that, and Blake seemed to like her ... Jenna's face darkened again.

//I am not in love with Blake, you know, and he certainly isn't in love with me.//

Jenna stared at the alien in shock.

"What did you say?" she demanded. Cally almost blushed.

"I only meant that I am no threat to your relationship with Blake."

Jenna got up and strode to the pilot's position.

"My relationship with Blake is purely professional." Jenna stated curtly. "There's nothing more between us."

"I'm sorry. It's just, when I saw the two of you together...it doesn't matter. Jenna, I'm sorry you don't like me, but I'm not like those other aliens. I hope you can learn to trust, even like me, in time."

Jenna stared as her suspiciously, then nodded.

"I hope so too."

'I trusted her right from the beginning, even depended upon her. I think she was the only one who knew how I felt from the moment Avon introduced her, well, introduced her awake, anyway'. Cally had smiled as Avon had introduced her to Dayna, and held out her hand to her and Dayna had found she had someone to help her through the long dark nights when she had been so lonely. Cally had always been so strong, so sure. 'I was so in awe of her at first, but I never really knew her like Vila and Avon did, and now I never will. Now I have to be strong and independent and clever, like she was. We all leaned on her, all of us, and we didn't realise how much we depended on her until now.'

Dayna stood, gathered her strength and strode forward to the others, maturing with every step.

Jenna left the flight deck, saying she had to talk to Blake. Cally stood there for a moment, wondering if she had succeeded with Jenna.

"Hello, Cally."

The voice was smooth and cultured. Cally turned, looked into the deepest, darkest eyes she had ever seen, and smiled.

'Cally, just a word, just one word, I need you Cally, for God's sake...for my sake don't leave me now.'

"Hello Avon."

He stepped forward, down into the flight deck, watching her all the way. She didn't take her eyes from his. She fascinated him, this strange alien with the sad smile and unreadable eyes. She was so different form the only ever woman who had intrigued him this way.. or was she? All people were the same, they made you trust them, like them, love them, then betrayed you and laughed.

'You were the only one, the only one I could trust, the only one who never betrayed me.'

He couldn't understand the expression in her eyes, he couldn't read her like he could the others. He could tell that there was so much hidden from everyone, from him, so much he couldn't understand about her. He decided there was only one way to deal with his curiosity, and that was to discover. He would know what went on behind those strange eyes, he would know what she thought. She wasn't going to hide from him.

'I never understood you - or maybe I did. Maybe I did know all you thought and felt and would never admit it to myself.'

"I hear you've been charming all the others," he said, his voice sardonic and dry as always.

"Charming?"

"Yes. Going around, persuading all the others what a wonderful person you are."

"I've only been talking to them."

He smiled slowly.

"What about?"

She looked away.

"Lots of things."

He nodded, and stepped a little closer. He could just imagine what the others said, and he was rather annoyed that he hadn't got in first, told his side of things.

"What did they tell you?"

She looked up, now he was standing so close, looked directly into his eyes, and said,

"To stay away from you."

He had the grace to look surprised, although tit didn't quite ring true.

"What exact reason did they give?"

"They told me you were dangerous, not to be trusted, that you don't trust or like anyone, and if I had any sense I would stay as far away from you as possible."

"Now that's interesting. I wonder why they would say that?"

As if he didn't know.

"I think they want to protect me from you." She said, smiling a little in return, gazing into his eyes, unafraid, unflinching. Avon smiled too. He'd never met anyone less in need of protection, although there was something vulnerable about her.

"What do you think?" he asked.

She moved a little closer. She looked straight into his eyes, a piercing, penetrating gaze, and he almost looked away....but didn't.

"I think there's more to you than just the cold-hearted bastard everyone sees. I think they all think they know you, but they don't know anything. I don't think even you know yourself, but I think that one day, I'll know who really are."

Silence. He looked straight into her eyes, her unfathomable, unreadable eyes, and felt a sudden rush of feeling. He suddenly felt dizzy, and aware, as if he could see it all, like she could, see his future, but what he saw was beyond his gasp.

She looked away and the spell broke. She walked past him to the stairs. As she reached the top, she turned to face him, and said,

"Of course, I could be wrong."

He smiled, and then heard a faint echo in his head, one he knew he shouldn't have heard.

//But I don't think I am.//

'You always knew me better than the rest, right from the very beginning. You could always see right down into the very heart of me. I was so used to having you in my head. I needed you, but I never told you that, and you left me. Now I'm alone, like you were in the beginning, and I know how painful it is. Oh God, Cally, why did you leave me? I need you. But soon, I'll die, I'll die and join you, soon, Cally, soon, I promise you, my love.'

Avon smiled as she left the room, a rare genuine smile. He wondered if Cally ever would really know him, when he admitted even he did not know exactly what went on inside himself sometimes. She was interesting but 'she's just a girl. Nothing special. In a few months I'll be bored with her.'

So Blake wasn't dead. But he should have been and now he is. They're coming for me, and all I have to do is raise the gun and fire, and I'll be with you, Cally, my love.


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