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By Leia Fee
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It took Soolin a few days to decide to talk to the others about her suspicions.  Vila had been unusually quiet and Avon had been in a more sour mood than usual, even allowing for the loss of the tachyon funnel and his near death aboard the shuttle.

 “Soolin, I don’t quite know what you’re getting at.  You think Avon and Vila are lying about what happened on the shuttle?  Why would they do that?”  Dayna asked.  She was obviously uncomfortable with this meeting, behind Avon’s back.

“Vila would, if Avon told him to,” pointed out Tarrant.  “The question is, why would Avon lie about what happened?”

“Vila didn’t get that cut on his head by falling over, the angle is all wrong.  There were other bruises too, on his arms.  His ankle too, a sprain wouldn’t bruise like that.  He was attacked.  And there was only one other person on that shuttle.”

Dayna shook her head but Tarrant merely looked resigned.  “Avon.”

“Think about it, Dayna,” Soolin insisted.  “We didn’t read any turbulence, and there’s no reason the extra weight would cause any.  All it did was alter the angle of their flight path.”

“They were throwing out all the excess weight,” Tarrant continued.  “From Avon’s point of view that would probably include Vila.”

“You think Avon tried to kill Vila.”  Dayna was still incredulous.

“To save his own life?  He wouldn’t hesitate.”

“But why wouldn’t Vila say anything about it?”  Dayna demanded.

“He’s too frightened.  You must have noticed what he’s been like these past few days.”

“Well he did nearly die, that’s enough to upset anyone.”

“Vila’s had close calls before now and he always bounces back.  This was different.”

Dayna sighed, “Okay.  Supposing you’re right, what do we do about it?”

“We need to talk to Vila.”

 Vila’s door was unlocked which was sufficiently unusual for Dayna to admit, “All right. I agree.  He’s not acting like himself.”

“Vila?”  Soolin called, standing in the open doorway, “Vila, are you here?” 

A bitter laugh came from the next room.  “Not hard to find, am I?”

Soolin frowned and looked at the others.  “Vila, we want to talk to you.  Can we come in?”

“Why not?  Can’t stop you can I?”

Soolin walked through into second room with Dayna and Tarrant following her.  “Vila?”  At first glance she couldn’t see him.  She walked across the room and then she found him.  She sighed.  “Oh Vila.”

 He was sat on the floor, curled up between his bed and the wall.  He held an almost empty bottle in his hand and judging by the debris on the floor it was far from his first.

“What d’ you want?” he slurred without looking up.  “Come to tell me to crawl out of my bottle and do some bloody work for a change?  No use at all, am I?”

“We were worried about you, Vila.”

“Why?  Locked yourself out of your room have you?  Need someone to go crawling around in Scorpio’s innards do you?  Maybe you just need to lose some ballast, but shhh, that’s a secret isn’t it.  ‘M in trouble now.  Can’t do anything right see.  Not even just keep my mouth shut.”

Soolin looked at the others, she had been worried about Vila but hadn’t expected him to be in such a bad way.  She was used to his drinking and complaints but she’d never seen him anything like this drunk nor heard such misery in his voice.  Dayna shrugged helplessly.  Tarrant sighed and shook his head before stepping forward.  “Come on, Vila.  Out of there.”  Soolin moved aside and Tarrant picked Vila up and propped him upright on the bed.  Vila protested feebly as Dayna pried the bottle out of his grip. 

“How much has he had?” she asked, staring at the empty bottles scattered about the room.

“Too much,” Tarrant said, grimly.  “If he hasn’t given himself alcohol poisoning it won’t be for lack of trying.”

“We ought to get him to the medical unit.”

Tarrant nodded and picked Vila up again.

Trying to keep Vila awake, Soolin kept talking to him, afraid that if he fell asleep that he wouldn’t wake up at all.

“What about the shuttle, Vila?  What happened?”

“Not s’posed to tell.  Not fair to ask me questions when I’m drunk.”

“How did you hurt your head?”


“No you didn’t.  What happened?”

“Stupid.  Should have shot him while I could.”

“You tried to shoot Avon?”  Soolin was caught by surprise.  This was not what she’d expected to hear.

“Couldn’t.  Damn him, he knew I couldn’t.  Took the gun back off me.  Hit me.  Stupid stupid.  Couldn’t do it even to stop him chucking me out.  Should have kept quiet, should have hid better.  Useless.”

“You’re not useless, Vila.” 

“Am.  Everyone knows I am.  Useless thing to do, just go and hide.  Useless.  Just hid.  Then when he found me, just walked to the airlock like he told me to.  He didn’t want to have to carry me see?  So tired.”

Despite Soolin’s efforts he drifted off, slipping quietly into unconsciousness.



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