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Hello Goodbye

By Michelle Birkby
Page 1 of 2

Vila stretched, and smiled lazily. Blake had gone down to some obscure little rock, Jenna had followed and Avon had holed himself up in some distant part if the ship examining Zen's insides. Vila was happy, really happy for the first time since Blake had dragged him off that ball of mud and tried to turn him into a hero. He poured himself another ruby-red, slightly frothy and highly stimulating concoction, and almost giggled with delight.

He felt a sudden chill down his spine, and turned round. Standing in the doorway was the alien, the new member of their crew. She was tall, slender, with penetrating calm eyes of uncertain colour. She smiled slowly, and Vila had the feeling that she knew every wrong he had ever committed.

"Hello Vila." She came down the stairs with the slow measured grace of one who is always prepared to fight, to kill, to shoot whoever's eyes she was looking into at that moment.

//Where's everyone else?//

Vila shivered a little at the voice in his head. 'I'll never get used to that' he thought.

Four years later, when he realised he would never hear those warm tones in his mind again, he broke down and cried.

He smiled and decided to turn on the charm. He held out his glass.

"Drink?"

She smiled and took it hesitantly, obviously not sure what it was.

"It's quite safe." He reassured her. "Lethal next morning, but quite safe when you drink it."

"We don't have stimulants on my world." She told, smiling shyly, and sipping some. She looked up in surprise. "It's good!"

"Of course it is! I don't drink rubbish, except when I'm desperate, which when I think about it is quite a lot really, but this stuff's good and..." His voice trailed off as a thought struck him. "You ... you won't tell Blake I've got this stuff will you?"

"If you do not wish me to, of course not." She stared into the drink, then looked up suddenly.

"Vila, you humans don't like it when I speak in your minds, do you?"

He looked up. The look of sadness and loneliness on her face was unbearable, and Vila suddenly realised that she was far from home, all her friends were dead, and she was with strangers who didn't understand, and maybe didn't like, her. Vila, despite all his faults, was a kind man.

"We'll get used to it. After all, we must seem quite alien to you."

Once again, the shy smile.

"Yes, yes you do."

Years later, Vila remembered how the sweet smile had twisted his heart, and how she was never cruel to him, and how he liked - loved - her, and he began to mourn for her.

Gan joined them later, as Vila was telling her about how heroic he Vila had been, and got them all off the London.

"It was my idea, you see - get the others on to the ship and they would pick me up later."

"You must be very clever."

"Don't believe a word of it." Gan told her, as he settled onto the sofa beside Cally. "Vila is a born liar as well as a born thief."

"Can I help my genes?" grumbled Vila, as he got up to leave. "I could have been someone brilliant you know. I just chose the wrong parents." Vila bowed courteously to Cally, nearly fell over, , straightened himself up, and left.

"Why does he pretend to be stupid? I know he is clever."

"I suppose he's too scared to be clever.". Cally looked at Gan, her eyes questioning. 'She's pretty.' He thought. 'You just can't see it under all that mistrust and bravado.' Cally turned away sharply.

"You ... you can't read my mind, can you?" Gan asked nervously.

"No." she replied hurriedly. "Tell me about Vila."

"He's harmless - just wants to be left alone to steal and get drunk. No, Avon's the one you've got to look out for."

"Avon?"

Gan noticed a sudden spark of interest in her eyes, which she immediately concealed. 'Oh no.' he thought. 'That means trouble for both of them.'

"He couldn't just get himself into trouble, could he?" Tarrant demanded. "No, he had to drag her into it, and now she's dead, and he's alive, as immortal as ever."

"He did tell her not to come down." Dayna said. "He told her to stay on Liberator, to be safe. She decided to follow."

"I know." said Tarrant, calming down. "But he should have known, he should have realised that she would have followed him to the ends of the universe and back, no matter how dangerous."

Dayna glanced up to the dark figure by the entrance to the underground caves.

"I think he did know." she whispered.

Gan looked at her with concern.

"Avon... he's a bit of a bastard. You can't trust him."

"Do you really think so?" Her voice sounded far away, dreamy almost. Gan leaned forward to look into her eyes.

"What do you see?" he whispered, afraid to break the spell.

"How can I possibly explain that to a human?" Then she looked up, straight into his eyes.

//Tell me the truth about Avon.//

Unlike Vila, the voice in his head didn't worry Gan. Cally was an alien, she was going to do alien things. He frowned, trying to see the behind those dark veiled eyes of Avon's.

"Vila says he's dangerous. Blake doesn't trust him and Jenna doesn't like him."

"But you, what do you feel?"

Gan started to talk, slowly. It had been a long time since anyone was interested in his thoughts.

"He was good to me.. on the London, and before. In the jail on earth, a guard had.. had treated me badly. I couldn't fight because of my limiter, you know? Well, I don't know how, but Avon stopped it. Then he told me to stick with Vila, and that was it. He didn't speak to me again in ages. I know Blake and Vila and the others would say he only did that because he thought I was useful, but..." Gan's voice dropped, became quieter, introspective. "He's never treated me like the others. It's like he's at constant war with the others, got to prove that he's the bad guy, the one they shouldn't trust. Oh, he's nasty to me, but I don't think he really means it, he's just keeping up his cover, you know? We're not friends or anything, but I trust him." He stopped, suddenly embarrassed. "I'm not explaining this very well." he said sheepishly.

"I think you're explaining it perfectly." she said, her face serious. At that moment, the communicator whistled. Gan answered, and a few minutes later, he turned to Cally and said,

"Come on, I'll show you how to work the teleporter."

//I'd like that.//

"I don't know how to feel. I never really knew her. I suppose that's why I'm angry. After all, I took her down here, its my fault as much as his." Tarrant's voice was weak, defeated. Dayna sighed. She would have to mourn later. Right now, she had to be strong for Tarrant.

"If it's any consolation," she said, "I know she liked you." He glanced up in surprise. "Cally just didn't express herself as much as the rest of us." Dayna explained. "I suppose Aurons don't need to tell each other things like that, they just know. And you know perfectly well she wouldn't have come down here if she didn't want to. It's no-one's fault."

Tarrant looked up at her, his eyes full of hate, not for her, but for the man striding towards them.

"Isn't it?" he hissed. Dayna's hand tightened on his wrist. "Don't worry, I'll never say a word, but I know who I blame for this, and I'll never forgive him."

"Yes you will." said Dayna. "Because you know Cally would have made you forgive him." He looked up at her sharply, then nodded slowly. He stood up to meet Avon with not a trace of blame on his lips - that was Cally's legacy to Tarrant.

Blake smiled in surprise as he saw Cally operating the teleport as he came aboard. Beside him, Jenna noticed the smile, and glowered at the newcomer. Gan explained what he taught Cally and Blake offered to teach her more. As Gan and Jenna left, Jenna said, over her shoulder,

"Don't take her education too far, will you, Blake?"

Blake laughed, and turned back to the controls. Cally watched Jenna leave, then said,

"I do not think she likes me very much." Blake looked up in surprise.

"Jenna? Oh, she's all right. She just needs time to get to know you, that's all." Cally looked at him.

"I suppose she does need time to get used to an alien. We do not like aliens on our world either." She sounded lost and lonely and Blake felt a rush of pity for the seemingly-tough stranger.

"Why did you leave your world?" he asked. She quickly looked down, at the controls.

"I wanted to fight for freedom, fight the Federation. That was not possible on Auron, so I left for Saurian Major." Her voice was lifeless, as if she was telling a story she'd learned by rote.

"Perhaps we can visit your home world soon." Blake said, seeking to reassure her. It had the opposite effect.

"No!" she said, quickly and sharply. Blake looked at her in surprise. She continued quietly. "I can never go back. I have failed. Aurons will not accept failure and they will not accept me either."

Blake watched her for a moment. 'I don't think you're telling me the whole truth.' he thought. 'But it doesn't matter. You're a god fighter, and you hate the Federation, and you're alone. I'll help you and one day you'll trust me enough to tell me.' He looked at her, at her sad, serious face, then suddenly saw something he hadn't seen before. He moved closer, and touched her arm.

"You're very young, aren't you?"

She looked up in surprise. Then her chin went up, and she said,

"I'm old enough to die." It wasn't said with the false bravado of the young. It was said as if she had seen all the horror and sorrow of death, and knew she would not be spared that end, yet was prepared to die for what she believed in. Blake felt sorry for her, yet he also recognised the fire, the fervent belief in freedom that had led her to risk her life, to see her own existence as worthless compared to the existence of the Cause, and he recognised that in himself too. She was so like he had been, fifteen, twenty years ago, before all the betrayal and deception and doubt.

"Don't worry, " he told her. "I'll look after you."

"I do not need looking after."

He smiled.

"Nonetheless, Cally, I will look after you, I promise. Now, let me show you how the teleport works." He stopped, as a memory suddenly flashed across his mind, accompanied by a disquieting thought. He'd seen the look in her eyes when Avon had walked over that ridge, surprising and tricking her, and it worried him. He had to warn her.

"Cally?"

She looked up suddenly, and he looked away, almost embarrassed by what he was about to say. "Cally, I just want to give you some advice...about Avon."

"Yes?" she was suddenly very still.

"Cally, be careful with him, stay away from him. He's dangerous, especially I think, to those that care for him."

She smiled very slowly.

"I'll try." She promised. Despite this, Blake felt that something had been started, something set in motion that was dangerous, fateful. 'I can't stop it.' He thought suddenly. 'No-one can.' Then he forgot his momentary unease and went on with his work.

//Blake you promised to look after me, now keep your promise, now that I am about to die and join you. I want to stay now, I no longer wish to die, I need to stay with him now, he needs me, please, where are you Blake, keep your promise!//

"Blake!"


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Michelle Birkby

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