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Deadly Reflection

By Kathy Hintze
Page 3 of 4

Their escape path took them into the same unused section of the base he had been imprisoned in and Avon grew uneasy.

"If this is some trick, Servalan...." he warned.

The party rounded a corner then and saw Tarrant kneeling beside a body. He looked up at their approach. "It's Vila," Tarrant told them. "He's dead."

"Keep moving," Avon ordered.

"Why, Avon?" Servalan said, stopping. "Are you afraid they'll find out?"

"Find out what? What do you mean?" Tarrant snapped, picking up Miles' discarded weapon and getting to his feet.

Servalan turned around and looked at Avon. "Ask him," she purred in delight.

"Avon?" It was Cally and her eyes searched his face questioningly. //Who killed Vila?// her silent voice asked. The look in his eyes was enough of an answer.

"Shall I tell them then?" Servalan.

"Tell us what?" Tarrant demanded, looking from Servalan to Avon, then back again.

"Can't you guess, Tarrant?" Servalan said in surprise. "I should think it obvious. Avon killed Vila." And the silence which followed her words was everything she hoped it to be.

"He betrayed us," Avon told his companions, meeting their eyes levelly. "The meeting, the information on the base, everything--it was all a setup."

"It's easy for you to say that, Avon," Tarrant accused. "You're alive and Vila can't defend himself. How do we know you didn't arrange this?"

"If I had, Tarrant," Avon countered, "you would not be alive at this moment." His eyes flashed dangerously and the grip on his gun tightened.

"Stop it, both of you," Cally intervened. "This is not the time. We can discuss it later on the ship."

"If we get back to the ship," Dayna amended, coming up behind Servalan. "I think you've said quite enough, Servalan, now move." She shoved the woman on down the corridor. Tarrant glared at Avon, then followed her, Miles' gun held tightly in his hand.

Cally knelt down beside Miles' body. "I sensed that something was wrong when he came back up with Tarrant. But for him to betray us? Why did he do it, Avon? Why?" She looked up at Avon.

Avon shook his head staring down at the dead man's face. "I don't know, Cally," he answered softly.

Cally sighed and got to her feet. "We must go, Avon. The others are waiting." Avon lifted his eyes to hers and nodded slowly.

#

Twice they were challenged by guards, but each time with Servalan as their hostage, the party was allowed to pass. Then they walked through the main gate and out of the compound to the cover of a wooded area.

Avon signalled them to stop. "We should be beyond the shield now," he announced and started to call Orac when Servalan interrupted him.

"All right, Avon, I've kept my part of the bargain. You and your companions are safe," she announced. "What happens now?"

Dayna's answer was not long in coming. "I say we kill her."

"That is what you always say," Tarrant commented with a slight smile. He did not look at Avon but rather at Cally. "What do you think we should do with her, Cally?"

"The decision is not mine nor yours to make, Tarrant," Cally stated firmly. "It is Avon's."

"Is it?" Tarrant challenged. He looked at Avon coldly and said, "All right, Avon. What do you want to do with her?"

Avon did not look at any of them. He just said, "She's of no further use. Leave her here."

"Alive?" Dayna could not believe it.

"Preferably," came his reply.

"But why?" the girl asked

"Why?" Avon echoed. He suddenly felt very tired and wanted nothing more than to get back to the ship and leave this planet far behind.

"Because we know her, Dayna," Cally answered for him. "We know how she thinks. Blake could have killed Travis not once but many times but he didn't."

"Blake is not here," Tarrant pointed out.

Avon looked at him grimly. "No, but I am," he snapped. "And I say we leave her here."

Dayna glanced first at Servalan, then at Avon. "All right," she agreed reluctantly. "But I'm tying her up first." She searched the underbrush and came up with two strong vines which would serve as satisfactory bindings.

Tying her up was a bit of an understatement. Dayna made sure the vines came very close to cutting off Servalan's circulation. Then the girl tore a piece off of the bottom of Servalan's dress and stuffed it into her mouth to prevent her crying out. The woman glared at her angrily.

"That will keep you occupied for a while," Dayna chuckled. She cupped Servalan's chin in her hand and smiled coldly. "Make no mistake, Servalan, next time, I will kill you. With or without Avon's approval."

"Ready?" Tarrant called to her.

"Ready," the girl returned and moved to stand beside her companions.

"All right, Orac," Avon announced wearily. "Bring us up."

#

As the group materialised on board, they were anything but prepared for the sight which greeted their eyes.

"Uh...what's the matter?" cried Vila in a frightened voice, then ducked behind the teleport console as first Avon's, then Tarrant's gun came to bear on him.

"You tell us," Tarrant demanded, glancing sideways at Avon. The computer expert had gone quite pale. "Step from behind there."

"I...I don't understand," Vila stammered as he complied.

"Neither do we," Tarrant continued, eyeing the other man's Federation garb. "Especially since we just left your body down there."

"Body?" Vila repeated in a shaky voice. The thief sank down on the teleport couch and closed his eyes. "Then he's finally dead."

"Who's finally dead?" Cally asked, her eyes looking worriedly at Avon who seemed not to have moved an inch since they materialised on board.

Vila answered without opening his eyes. "I told him it was stupid, but he wouldn't listen. He thought he could do anything." The thief opened his eyes and looked at his companions. "Did one of you...." The moment the words left his mouth, Vila knew. The others' nervous glances at Avon and the way Avon was staring at him said more than anyone could.

Avon started as from a daze, lowered his weapon, removed his bracelet and walked quickly into the corridor. Cally looked at her companions, then followed him.

"Suppose you tell us about it," Tarrant advised, but he kept his gun in his hand.

Vila didn't answer at first. He was still wondering about Avon when Cally came back. "Is he all right?"

Cally regarded him curiously a moment before answering. "Yes. He just went to his cabin...to rest." But something in her eyes told Vila that all was not well.

Dayna moved up beside Vila. "I believe you were going to explain?" she prompted.

Vila sighed. "I suppose I should, shouldn't I? First off, though, can we get out of here? Being this close to Servalan makes me nervous."

"Now that's the first sensible thing I've heard all day," Tarrant said, and passed his weapon over to Dayna. The girl took it wordlessly and the pilot headed for the flight deck. Vila and Cally followed, with Dayna bringing up the rear, the gun in her hand pointed squarely at Vila's back the entire time.

#

Two hours later, they knew all there was to know about Miles and his little scheme.

"Once I was sure the camera was off, I went to work on the door. It took me nearly an hour to get it open. Had nothing more to work with than my fingernails." Vila held up his hands and there were a few broken nails to justify his story.

"But how did you get back to the ship?" Dayna asked. The girl was seated across from Vila. Her weapon lay in her lap, a hand casually lying on top of it.

"Once I located my bracelet and that was no easy matter, let me tell you. I might not have found it at all except I overheard a guard talking to Miles asking if he could have it for a souvenir. Fortunately for me, Miles gave it to him."

Vila shook his head in wonder. "It's strange, come to think of it, him doing that. Miles never gave anyone anything...not unless it would benefit him. Strange. Anyway, I followed the guard and knocked him out, took my bracelet and teleported up." He wondered at his companions' expressions. "Why?"

"Because we tried teleporting and it didn't work," Tarrant told him.

"Vila," Cally queried. "How long have you been on board?"

"I got here just a few minutes before you called in," he advised.

"You say there was a camera in your cell," Tarrant questioned. "Which section of the complex were you taken to?"

The thief looked at him blankly and scratched his head. "Uh...I don't know. When they brought me in, I was out cold."

"There was no such device in our cell, Tarrant," Cally pointed out. "He must have been in another part of the base, one which was not shielded."

"That's one possibility, Cally," Tarrant mused, studying Vila. "Or else the dead man on the planet really was Vila and this is a Federation spy they've substituted in his place."

The thief stared at his companions in disbelief. "I'm not a Federation spy! I've explained what happened. Why won't you believe me?"

"We might," Dayna remarked quietly. "If we could be sure you were telling us the truth."

"What do I have to do to prove it?" Vila cried out.

Tarrant's expression grew thoughtful for a moment. "Avon might know a way." He winced as Dayna pinched him on the arm.

"He's not in the mood to see anyone," she warned the pilot.

"Why?" Vila inquired innocently.

"I should think that obvious, Vila." Dayna stared at him a moment, then added: "That is, if you are Vila."

"Damn it, Dayna, I am Vila." The thief turned pleading eyes to Cally. "You know who I am, don't you, Cally?"

The Auron gazed at him for a moment, then sighed. "I...am not sure."

"This is marvelous," Vila erupted, jumping to his feet. "I thought once I made it back here, my problems would be over. Why don't you just shove me out an airlock then? That would solve all of your problems, wouldn't it?"

"He has a point," Tarrant admitted, standing up. Vila took a step away from the pilot in fear.

"He was only joking, Vila," Dayna laughed. "Look at him, Tarrant, you've got him shaking in his boots now."

The thief was trembling, his eyes wide in alarm. //Vila.// The call brought his frightened face around to look at Cally. //Perhaps if you could tell us something which only we here would know about. Maybe that would convince us.//

"Of course, Cally, you're right."

"I've a feeling we missed out on something, Tarrant," Dayna accused.

"Ask me something, one of you," Vila begged. "Something only we would know. That'll prove I'm Vila."

"That won't be necessary," Tarrant conceded with a grin. "There's not two people in the Universe who can beg and plead like you, Vila."

"I don't know if I like that," Vila mumbled, sitting back down. "In fact, I'm sure I don't."

"There's always the airlock," Dayna offered.

"Dayna!" Vila wailed.

"We are all just happy you are alive and safe," Cally murmured softly and she hugged him.

"Not as happy as I am," Vila agreed with a smile. "I think this calls for a drink." He stood up and looked at his companions. "Anyone care to join me?"

"No thanks," Dayna replied, warily. "I still remember the last one you made for me."

Vila laughed. "Tarrant? Cally?"

"Thank you, no," Tarrant replied. "I'm supposed to be on watch, you know."

"I will pass this time, too," Cally added with a gentle smile.

"All right then, see you later." The thief scampered up the steps and into the corridor, humming contentedly to himself.

#


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