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Jabberwocky - Part 5 - Decoy

By Sheila Paulson
Page 1 of 18

Background

Part 1 Link-up

Cally has survived the explosion on Terminal and the crew have escaped in Servalan's wreck of a ship. While in a coma, Cally dreams the events of the fourth season, including Blake's death. Traumatized by her injury, she has lost her telepathy. When the crew, augmented by Hugh Tiver, a doctor kidnaped by Avon to take care of Cally, steal a prototype Federation mindship constructed around a living human brain and capable of bonding with a human in a mental linkage, their adventures are just beginning. Afraid of finding Blake for fear Avon will kill him, Cally bonds with the ship, naming it Jabberwocky. After rescuing Soolin from the Scorpio, they go to Gauda Prime, where the encounter backfires. Blake is wounded but is rescued and joins the crew of Jabberwocky. Cally's telepathy returns and she turns linkage of the ship over to Blake.

Part 2 Mind-Rape

Blake is back, and in linkage with Jabberwocky, and Servalan wants to steal Jabberwocky and link with it in order to take back the presidency. She had meant it to be hers from the beginning. She uses Witt, a telepath who had worked his way into Avalon's rebel army on Ryalon base, to wrest control of Jabberwocky from Blake, leaving the rebel trapped inside his mind. A mental linkage is the only way to bring him back, and Avon the only one who can do it. With Cally's help, and using nearly atrophied telepathic skills he had long pretended he didn't have, Avon is able to draw Blake back from the prison within his mind. Jabberwocky defeats the rogue telepath.

Part 3 - Healer

With Blake in control once more, Avon is gradually accepting he was born a telepath, but his powers were suppressed to the verge of destruction.

      Blake begins behaving oddly, and problems develop with the ship as Jabberwocky begins to remember his long suppressed past - his memories had been blocked when his brain was used in the mindship. In the meantime, Jenna Stannis and Del Grant have teamed up and have one objective: Kill Avon. When their plan goes wrong and Tarrant is gravely wounded, only the combination of the mindship and Avon, the untrained telepath are able to save the pilot's life, and at this point, Tarrant becomes Jabberwocky's linkmate. Jenna joins the crew.

Part 4 - The Froma

On a mission to draw in potential rebel support, Blake and his crew are asked to steal the Froma, an alien artifact that cannot be stolen as it destroys anyone who tries to remove it from its world. When Avon and Hugh are captured, Avon receives an unexpected telepathic contact - from the Froma itself. The strange device proves to be a sentient organism, the last of its kind. Able to link telepathically with Avon, it wants to bond with him on a permanent basis, but Cally helps, and the entity is taken to Kahn where it can be among the newly reviving Auronar.

Decoy

"I'm afraid, my dear Servalan, that you are beginning to lose your touch."

      Servalan stiffened in outrage, all the more angry because Supreme Commander Arpel's criticism had followed a diverting hour spent in his bed. Though the Supreme Commander was not Servalan's type, he was the Supreme Commander, and she was nothing if not ambitious. After her less-than-successful performance on Triana, she was prepared to get back into Arpel's good graces in any way possible, and in truth he was an exceedingly competent lover, making the effort worthwhile - until he had spoken.

      He lay propped against the headboard of his obscenely large bed, smoking the revolting pipe that had become his trademark, watching her through narrowed eyes. A hint of a smile lifted the ends of his moustache and it took a considerable effort to stifle her anger.

      "I'm sorry I didn't please you," she hissed.

      "You mistake me," he corrected, stretching out a long arm and pulling her against his chest. He was too strong to resist and she would have done nothing so undignified. "I didn't mean just now," he went on cheerfully. "You've provided me with a delightful interlude I hope you'll choose to repeat. I meant, of course, the Blake debacle."

      "It is a pity I have been forced to rely upon other people," Servalan replied. While she would assign blame whenever possible in the matter of Blake and his crew, a small part of her mind was preening herself. "Delightful interlude" was not the best of descriptions but it was all she was likely to get from Arpel and she knew she had pleased him, at least in bed. It was the crew of Jabberwocky that bothered her.

      "I had a great deal of confidence in you," Arpel continued, and there was something chilling in his use of the past tense. "But Blake is still free and the rebels make great strides. I will tolerate it no longer. It is time I took a hand myself. I shall activate my agent on board Jabberwocky."

      "Your agent!" she exclaimed before she could bite back the words. "Are you implying that you actually have a plant on the mindship itself? You couldn't. You've never had access to any of them."

      "You think not? Can you deny that some of them have been in Federation hands at least temporarily? A little judicious conditioning can go a long way. The person in question would behave normally, would side with Blake, convinced of his or her own loyalty to him - until the trigger was tripped. Then the agent would be mine." He purred the last word with considerable pleasure. "Mine to manipulate as I will. Mine to instruct to turn the mindship over to me when I am ready, or to destroy it if it pleases me. Do you know your problem, Servalan, my pet? You continually underestimate me."

      She frowned. "No one could underestimate you, Sharn. Who is your agent?"

      "Does it matter?"

      "It matters. It's true some of them have been in Federation hands, but as for your own personal involvement, I don't recall it. In my position as Supreme Commander, I would have had access to such records."

      "Perhaps, perhaps not. Isn't it entirely possible that what was done was done on a particular planet and never reported to you? It's equally possible that the person in question was not a member of Blake's band at the time. Avon, Vila, Jenna were all Federation prisoners before being shipped out on the London. Tarrant and Tiver attended the FSA and could have been tampered with then. Blake himself has, of course, been successfully conditioned in the past, and I'm told the Auron is susceptible to various forms of telepathy and mind control. I concede that Mellanby might be an unlikely choice, but Soolin could have been anywhere before joining the crew and would not have merited your personal attention then." He smiled at her. "I want you to go out there, Sleer, and bring back the mindship. Once my trigger is activated, through the Orac computer, it should be easy to take the ship. Interesting to think that Orac's abilities will, for once, work for us." He smiled. "Think of it as a stepping stone to power, my dear."

      "I am thinking of it," she said frankly. She was also considering the danger: one conditioned individual might not be able to take the ship, and she could find an angry crew confronting her instead of overpowered victims of Arpel's plan. She had every confidence in her ability to overcome them, though. If she could learn the trigger phrase or at very least the name of the sleeper, she could slant Arpel's plan to benefit her. Up to a point, he would not even fight her. Secure in his power, he seemed to enjoy her scrambles. But this would be no shabby scramble. Servalan still knew key people, not all of whom would remain her enemies if she presented them with Blake. She needn't even dispose of Arpel. It would be amusing to retain him as Supreme Commander to her President, to relish his subservience. He claimed to have no designs on the presidency, but then he wouldn't admit it if he had. No, she couldn't risk it. A lower position, perhaps, if she did not dispose of him outright. It would be a pity to lose his expertise in bed, but there were always others.

      "You've left me the difficult part," she pointed out. "I shall expect to be compensated appropriately."

      "You are skilled enough to manage your own compensations. It's possible that you will emerge from this covered in glory and return to your old position."

      "And you would not regret that?"

      "Should I? You might find me stronger than you anticipate. Perhaps we could share power, you and I. A partnership. Think of it, my dear. Together we could accomplish the impossible."

      I'd be dead in a week. She remembered Avon's reply when she had attempted to seduce him on Sarran. Now she understood Avon's reaction, though she doubted Arpel would kill her, at least immediately. No, there were better options than his partnership. A bit of information in the right ear and Arpel might seem the traitor, bringing her one step closer to power. Several steps if she took Blake.

      "I'm considering it," she murmured.

      "Then come here, love. We'll talk later." He pulled her to him again, but not even the delightful sensations his hands and mouth were causing could distract her from her determination. "Humour me, Sharn," she said against his mouth. "Which of them is it?"

      Arpel told her.


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Sheila Paulson

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