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By Leia Fee
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The three of them stood around at medical unit waiting for Vila to wake up.  Eventually he moaned and stirred. 

“Vila?”  Soolin moved to his side.  “How do you feel?”

“Everything hurts.”  Vila’s voice was hoarse and faint but he sounded more like himself.

“Here,” Soolin proffered a milky coloured drink, “this will help.”

Vila gulped it down and lay quietly for a few more minutes.  “Thanks.”  He tried to sit up.  “What happened?”

Tarrant moved to help him prop himself up.  “You were busy drinking yourself into a stupor when we found you.”


“Why didn’t you tell us what happened on the shuttle, Vila?”

“What?”  Vila’s voice rose in alarm, “Nothing happened.”

“Vila, we know.  You…  Well, you were very drunk when we found you and you were talking about what happened.”

“Avon?”  Vila sounded close to panic.

“He doesn’t know.  Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Well, Avon didn’t seem to want to.”

“Did he tell you not to?”

“No, but…”

“Vila, why do you care what he wants?  He tried to kill you!”  Tarrant sounded genuinely confused.

“Well I’d say that’s a hell of a good reason not to make him angry with me!”  Vila flared.  He sighed heavily and his voice dropped to almost a whisper.  “And, and I thought… I mean… I didn’t think…”

“What?”  Soolin’s voice was gentle.  “Vila?”

Vila paused a long moment before responding almost inaudibly, “I didn’t think any of you would care.”

Silence followed Vila’s words.  Soolin realised she’d badly misread Vila.  Always assumed the incessant teasing had simply rolled off him.  Now she found herself remembering all the nastier incidents, the casual bullying, the needling about his drinking… How did all of us miss this? she asked herself.  She looked around at the other two.  Dayna looked surprised and rather hurt.  Tarrant slowly nodded his head in understanding.

Vila rushed on, his voice sounding suddenly loud in the silence.  “It’s not like I don’t know what you all think of me.  I know I’m lazy and I know I’m a coward.  I’ve know Avon longer than any of you and he decided I was expendable.  So I must be.”  He paused for a moment before finishing, “Mustn’t I?”

“You’re not expendable Vila.”  Tarrant stated firmly.  “Avon was wrong.”

Soolin added.  “None of us consider you expendable, Vila.  I thought you knew that.  I’m sorry.”

“You really thought we wouldn’t care what happened to you?”  Dayna asked.

Vila nodded miserably.


“So now what?”  Soolin asked.  “Avon has to know sooner or later.”

“Well I’m not going to be the one to tell him.”  Vila sounded more himself now, but was obviously still nervous at the thought of facing Avon.

“You do realise,” Tarrant put in, “that things would have been no different if it was any one of us on that shuttle.  I don’t see how we can carry on as before knowing that our nominal ‘leader’ is happy to kill any of us any time to ensure his own safety.”

“Agreed,” Soolin said.  Dayna dipped her head in agreement.

“We’d better go and talk to him then.”  Tarrant sighed and reached to fasten his weapon at his hip.

“Tarrant!”  Dayna protested.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be necessary, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Soolin sighed.  “Come on then.” 

Vila hung back as they walked out of the room.  “I don’t want to.”

“Vila.  We have to do this together.”  Dayna put her hand on his shoulder.  “It’ll be all right.”

“You don’t understand.  I’m not afraid of what he’ll do.  I just don’t like this.  Telling him he’s out on his ear after all this time.”

“Vila, your loyalty is heart-warming,” Tarrant said wryly, “but Avon clearly doesn’t share it.  After ‘all this time’ he was still ready to shoot you and drop you out of an airlock.”

“I know that,” Vila muttered.  He stopped arguing but still trailed along slightly behind the others.


 Avon looked up from tinkering with Orac as the others walked in.

“Well now, don’t we all look serious?”

Tarrant began, “Avon, we’ve been talking.”

“Clearly.  And you’ve decided that your own sense of self-preservation conflicts with mine.  I rather suspected Vila wouldn’t keep his mouth shut once he got a few drinks inside of him.”

Vila flinched at the accusation and Dayna put her hand on his shoulder in a reassuring gesture.

“So what have you decided to do about it then?  No doubt you’ve had a long, thoughtful debate about it.  Do tell me your solution.”

“We want you gone, Avon,” Tarrant said bluntly.

“We’ll put you down on some neutral planet and you can do as you wish,” Soolin elaborated.  “As long as you stay away from Xenon base and all of us.”

“I see.”  Avon’s voice was still perfectly calm.  “And if I don’t agree?”

“You’ll agree.”  Soolin smiled.  “That sense of self preservation you set so much store by will see to that.  Because if you don’t agree, I’ll shoot you myself.”

Vila looked as if he was about to protest at that but Dayna squeezed his shoulder and he fell silent.

Avon shrugged his shoulders.  “Very well then.  Shall we go?  I believe Keltos is the nearest non-aligned planet.”  He walked calmly past Dayna and Vila.

“Avon…” Vila started.  Avon turned his head and cast him a glance filled with such contempt that Vila visibly wilted.  “Shut up Vila,” he sneered.

Vila turned away.  “Drop him off then.  I’ll stay here, I’ve been on the last space-flight I ever want to share with him.” 

Dayna cast a worried glance at Vila, then at Soolin, “I’ll stay here too.” 

Soolin nodded understanding.  “We won’t be long.”

 “Are you all right Vila?” Dayna asked after the others left the room.

Vila watched on a monitor as Scorpio lifted out and headed for open space and didn’t answer.

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