SymbiosisBy Marian Mendez
Page 2 of 4
"Zen." Avon left his station to reassure himself that Dayna had not lingered near the flight deck after he relieved her. "Are you certain that you've heard nothing of Blake? Not even rumors of mayhem marked with his particular brand of ham-handed finesse? It's been over a month since we left Star One in ruins; I can't imagine our Fearless Leader not taking advantage of the confusion. Not unless he was dead." He fought to maintain his dispassionate calm.
*Liberator has received no communication from Roj Blake since the initial message stating that his life capsule had landed safely.*
"Yes. I know that, Zen, you've told me that a hundred times." Avon paced, hands clasped behind his back. "It just isn't like him. He should have contacted us. Even if only to say that he'd found a more productive hobby than Federation baiting... Like reversing entropy."
Sorry, Kerr. Zen felt rather guilty. Hiding all the messages Blake had sent, even the ones directed specifically at Orac, was a dirty trick, but he had simply had enough of the escalating personal warfare between Blake and Avon. I had to do it. I was beginning to think you'd kill each other.
It was fortunate that you called in first, Kerr. Otherwise, I might have abandoned you. It would have been easy to persuade Roj that you didn't want to come back, after all, you've always threatened to leave. It's better this way; Roj can handle betrayal better than you can, Kerr. He's also far more likely to make new friends and fit into a new society. Even on his own he'd make a place for himself and find new followers. And he isn't on his own. Jenna's capsule was slaved to Roj's. Perhaps away from the Liberator she'll have better luck with him.
But I hadn't counted on your perverse persistence in seeking the man you always said you wanted to be rid of. With the other two original members of the boarding party gone, you should have rubbed your hands together, forgotten the Federation and begun plans to make us all wealthy and safe. I haven't any use for material wealth, but I would have enjoyed not being shot up on a regular basis.
Well, we all make mistakes. I'm not going to compound this one by admitting to possessing free will. Kerr would never forgive me for listening to all the private things he's said in quiet watches, thinking himself to be conversing with an unemotional machine. If he ever guessed how I've pitied him for those sad revelations, he'd try to destroy me. Oh, my friend, can't you forget Roj? You know he was leading us all to our deaths and still you want to follow him?
"Very well, Zen." Avon stopped pacing and faced Zen's amber and gold fascia.
"Continue searching for Blake. As before, any information you discover is only to be given to me. I don't want the others disturbed by this. It's become obvious that Blake has decided he can do better without us." Avon paused, eyes widened in sudden surmise. "Perhaps he expects us to think him dead and continue the fight in his memory; draw attention away from him with bold, daring raids while he quietly consolidates his forces?" He shook his head. "No, he must know better than to expect me to put my head in the noose for his sacred Cause any longer. I've done enough for him and It; more than enough," Avon muttered. "I'm glad he's gone and I don't give a damn for his futile Cause and I'M NOT GOING TO DO IT!" He shouted the last.
Zen sighed inwardly. Amazing. Without setting foot aboard, Roj's going to convince Kerr to play hero. I really should have left well enough alone.
Avon had forgotten what the others of the present crew never knew, that Zen's fascia on the flight deck was merely a central reference point chosen for the
humans' convenience. Zen was the entire Liberator, with senses throughout the exterior and interior of the ship. It wouldn't really have made any difference if Avon had remembered. Even if he knew he had a concerned audience, he would still have been unable to prevent the nightmares that woke him screaming and calling out for Blake in heart-pounding panic.
It's no good, Zen decided while watching Avon reach for the sleeping pills he now kept at his bedside. We need Roj. If we die together on one of his idiotic raids at least it'll be quick, not like this horrible slow erosion.
Cally's lost Auron, Del's lost Deeta, Kerr's lost even the illusion of Anna's love, and Dayna and Vila ...they lost everyone they had before coming to me. Despair is eating us alive. You were always a source of hope, Roj. Perhaps your return can heal some of our wounds. I only hope I haven't left it too late. I haven't had a message from you in months. You probably think that Kerr is ignoring you because he doesn't want to give the Liberator back. Oh, Roj, I am sorry for the muck-up I've made of things (as Vila would say). I promise, from now on Orac and I will be looking for you.
Really, Kerr. Zen was annoyed at the computer expert. Just because you don't want to chance dashing their hopes is no reason not to tell the others that we're going after Roj. So it might be a trap- do you honestly think that they'll be safer for not knowing?
From the moment that Orac and Zen had informed Avon of the purported mes-
sage from Blake, the man had been obsessed. Following Orac's ruling that the voice might be Blake's, Avon had taken over the flight deck, unwilling to take the chance that the others might not want to pick up Blake. He justified his actions to himself by telling Zen the others would undoubtedly become emotional and complicate matters.
Idiot, Zen thought at Avon furiously.You're so tired you can't see straight and you still won't allow the others to help you. Zen was afraid that Avon's obsession was leading them all into disaster- if it hadn't already. Flying through the cloud of fluid particles had given Zen a peculiar sensation. It wasn't unpleasant, but his Herculaneum hide had never felt like this. It distracted him from the increasing tension among his crew. Avon's threat to murder Tarrant would normally have upset Zen, but the clinging particles somehow made human affairs remote and unimportant.
Go, Kerr. Get Roj and come back quickly. I'm beginning to feel rather odd. I may need you. Through Orac, Zen monitored the situation on the planet Terminal. He was disturbed by the increasingly sluggish response of his body. I'll get over it, whatever `it' is, he tried to convince himself. But I wish Kerr was here. He was glad that Tarrant and Cally had gone down despite Avon's orders, because he was uneasy about the whole mission. At least Kerr will have help, if he needs it.
Later Zen watched Dayna and Vila frantically scoop slime from his consoles. He wasn't making any more progress at fighting the dissolution than they were. I'm not getting any better, he realized with alarm. Very soon, I won't even be able to maintain life-support. Strange that dissolving doesn't hurt; not like being blasted by Federation pursuit ships. I don't mind so much for myself, but I hate letting my people down this way.
Zen was relieved when Dayna and Vila left, teleporting down in exchange for Servalan and her minions. Even in his extremity, he was amused by Vila's appropriation of Orac under the guise of it being a junk art hobby. He watched the last of his friends disappear in the teleport effect, taken down to the dubious safety of Terminal. With Kerr and Orac and a breathable atmosphere, you'll have a chance, he tried to comfort himself. He ignored Servalan's triumphal procession to his deteriorating flight deck. I don't really want to share my death with enemies, but I'd rather that than take my friends with me.
Liberator shook; explosions ripped through the weakened structure when Servalan ordered the ship into motion. Thank you, Zen thought.The end will be quicker this way.
Servalan scrambled for the teleport, motivated by a fierce will to live that ignored the fact that the teleport required an operator. You'd like to survive, wouldn't you? Zen observed the woman for a few milliseconds. Why not. Kerr has wanted to kill you personally for a long time now. I'll consider you a parting gift to him. Live a while longer, Servalan. Zen teleported the woman to a Federation vessel just within his range. I didn't want that creature on my deck, anyway. Goodbye, my friends, Zen thought just before he shattered into a million mindless fragments, I love you all.
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