Pattern of Infinity - Part XI - Violence is Life, AlwaysBy J. Kel
Page 2 of 21
|When Servalan reached her apartment and saw her people running from her room she went into a frenzy. She seized a gun from one of them and stormed past the broken door and got a clear shot. The tiny bombs went off and she fell back as plastic, wire and smoke, poured out of the room. The box flared, singed, melted and vaporized. Coughing, disgusted, she hurled the weapon at the man she had taken it from, and screamed "her companion" was dead. They helped her outside to recover.
So as Tarrant had taken Avon to the side, and things had started to calm and it was beginning to look like everyone could talk again, not to mention actually hear what the other person was saying . . . it was out of the corner of her eye that Dayna saw Jenna grab for a gun racked against the wall. In one deft movement she got there first and blocked it being removed; catching a blast of icy fury from this woman in the process. She had never met Jenna, who was only another of Blake's legends, possibly more terrifying than most. Dayna put the gun back, keeping an eye on her. With this woman you took no chances. It was vital to establish authority on their ship: it was Tarrant's and Cally;s and hers. Nobody else.
Dayna had never felt a crippling fear against any opponent, but here for the first time she knew she had met her match. The woman commanded instant respect. But it was territory. It was life. Jenna was the past. They were the future.
"Hello. Forgive me, my name is . . ."
"I know who you are. Don't ever do that again."
Dayna tightened the grip on the gun, but did not move away. She said calmly, keeping her voice low, almost to a whisper. "Mind if I get you out of those wrist cuffs?"
Jenna glared at her. The remains of the cuffs were still dangling from her wrists and ankles
"I'm not quite as good as Vila . . ." Dayna continued as she took out a simple tool and disengaged the cuffs. "In some respects. There. I hope you feel better. You are welcome here, but you need to understand something. The gun is ours; this ship is ours."
Jenna crossed her arms. "I was on this ship years before you."
"I'll be taking Li to the Medroom," Cally interrupted. She went to tend to her sister.
"Yes . . . Please" replied Dayna, then turn back to Jenna. "Forgive me. This is not your ship. It just looks like it. Remember the Sword of Auron?"
"What do you know about that?"
Dayna shrugged. "Enough. We don't have a lot of time. You need to get suited up. Are you with us?"
"Tell me your plans before I agree to them."
Dayna nodded. Though she had never doubted it, she was profoundly relieved: Jenna had shown interest. "Actually Tarrant will do that. In about, oh, five minutes. Would you come to my room, or would you prefer to change here?" she asked blandly.
There was about this woman a terrible smell of sweat and rage. Dayna was as repulsed as she was in awe. Jenna moved away from the gun rack, saying nothing. Dayna continued. "You will be issued a uniform and weapons. Why not decide after Tarrant's briefing?"
Jenna smirked and said too loudly. "We have what we need. Li, the 'messiah'" . . .
"Shut up!" Li had not quite left the teleport room. She turned around violently. Everyone looked at her, astonished. Cally tugged at her sister's arm, urging her to the Medroom. Dayna waited for the expected explosion but Jenna said nothing. Her look was devoid of emotion. But she shut up.
As they walked back to the Medroom, Cally watched her sister with alarm. Li, it was clear, was more than distraught.
"All right," Jenna said. "I can take a hint. And I have already received two. At least until Tarrant has said his piece." And with that, Dayna directing, she quickly went down the corridor to her cabin to change.
Tarrant stared relieved at ORAC, watching the pattern of the lights, occasionally glancing over to Avon, who sat there looking like he was posing for some moss-and-bird covered statue entitled "Utter Defeat." Curiosity compelled him. What had happened to the man? The pattern change in ORAC's lights took place: the lights froze, blinked, then resumed their normal random blinking, though more slowly.
Outside, the rush of atmosphere against the hull caused a thin whistling sound to enter the ship.
He turned to Avon, his hand near his gun: "She killed her companion. One more thing to upset her terribly and muddle her thinking." He paused: "What do they know?" By "they" of course he meant her.
"Nothing. I added nothing."
"You can do better than that."
"They know all they need to know. Look, call this off."
Tarrant eyed him. "That's better, but not much. Not a chance. Why?"
"They have a version of . . . a pathogen . . . similar to the one used on Auron. It is to be spread at midnight . . ."
"Her city, of course."
Tarrant took a breath. He was starting to get a glimmer. "Continue."
"Over every inhabited world. That is all she told me."
Tarrant looked him, neither shock nor disbelief registering. The Combined Fleet. "But what does she know? This ship?" He gestured. "Surely . . ."
"It is no longer a factor in her thinking."
"And so she does not fear the fleet above them." He pointed upward with his index finger.
The whistling sound began thinning. The ship was moving into to near space. Finally, the sound stopped.
"They have known of the invasion for weeks. She does not care. Planetary defenses are sufficient to keep you at bay until her purpose is achieved."
"And you want me to call it off?"
"That's what I would do."
"Well, there's a sterling recommendation if I ever heard one."
Acceleration remained constant. Tarrant estimated they would be with the main group in five minutes. Protection enough for the moment. He resumed. "Our allies will have to be warned," he was trying to sort it out. "But not yet. Once we are out of here . . ."
"You truly mean to go through with this?" Avon was incredulous.
'Yes, I truly do. It is your agreement we are carrying out. From where will this pathogen be launched?"
"Probably from her city, but it could be any number of points. She will take no chances."
Tarrant thought it over hurriedly. Perhaps ORAC had that information as well, but it would have to wait. He eyed Avon. Despite the source, he was actually inclined to believe it. The opening they had found for the raid was not the result of a baited trap, but of irrelevance. She had other goals. The Combined Fleet scattered throughout the Federation spoke most eloquently of that fact. It was starting to make sense.
So why am I asking him? He thought.
"I am told she can see into the future," he said offhandedly. "One presumes not only the invasion, but the rescue operation as well. What do you know about her abilities?"
Avon hesitated. "She never discussed or mentioned the children. If she knows about a rescue attempt, she kept it from me." He shrugged. "Or again she doesn't care. I do not know."
"Or perhaps she doesn't know everything. That lack would make her unique in the Federation leadership." He tossed that off, looking for a reaction.
Avon glared at him.
"You really will have to hold up your end of the conversation."
Avon rattled it off. "She knows as much of the future as any of us do of the past. Which is to say, less than you might think. There are gaps in her knowledge. There are confusions and misperceptions. She had god-like powers, but she is not a god."
"We certainly can be grateful for that." He returned to ORAC. In truth, he did not like looking at Avon. "What did she do to you?"
"What she would do to any prisoner."
"I highly doubt that. Let me rephrase: how worried will she be now that you are in our hands?"
"That's what I meant. She told me nothing beyond what she did not mind me telling. Care to know how I survived?"
"Not particularly. Why would I care?"
"I survived by ceasing to care."
"That must have been difficult. Then we should work well together. Will you fight?"
"I will follow your orders."
Tarrant considered it. That isn't exactly what he wanted to hear, but it might suffice. Avon had told him enough to keep him (Avon) alive (for now), so round one to the bastard: you live. His hand dropped from his gun. "Here, do me the honor," he said, all brisk business as he handed Avon the key. Avon leaned over and placed the key firmly in the device.
Tarrant spoke as he did so. "Let it clear itself, but only briefly. It has a lot to sort through. Give it, say, two minutes."
The ORAC device started at once, blurting and shrieking, confused, and terrified. #The other is near . . . It is back . . . I must understand . . . I am fearing . . . correction. I cannot find it. It is gone . . .#
Avon reached over and turned down the sound, but they could still hear it going, like a drowning victim or a victim of mob violence, pleading for rescue, pleading for identity.
Tarrant looked over at him. "Good God, that's enough. ORAC! Item 1: give me the coordinates, deposition, details of the camp where the Auron children are being kept. Feed the relevant information into the ship's battle computers. I will download what is needed from there."
#I have better things . . .#
"You have nothing better if you wish to remain intact. Remember your twin. Item 2: from where and when will Servalan launch the pathogen -- Earth specifically."
#She has identified eight prime locations. On her command they will be . . .#
"Thank you. We'll track later. Just load the information with the other files. Give item 1 priority."
Tarrant looked increasingly concerned. "'On her command' . . . That tells me if we can kill her, maybe we can stop it. And likely the only way to kill her is with a mine . . . Oh, I forgot. We have a couple of mines circling overhead, ready to use."
Avon let the implications hang in the air. Tarrant decided not to mention Vila. He pointed down the hallway. "Well, think about it. I will be eager to absorb your counsel," he said dully. "I presume you can still find your way to your cabin. Go there -- something I have always wanted to say to you. You will find the combat suit and the weaponry you need, should you desire any such a thing."
Avon got up. "And Avon," Tarrant added. "We appreciated the help."
Avon did not look at him, nor respond. Acknowledging internally the shifting borders between them was enough, he got up and left. Tarrant noted, with satisfactory speed. At least the thought of conflict stirs him.
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