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A Choice of Identity

By Judith Proctor
Page 3 of 4

      Caleb awoke on the Liberator and looked around him, the room was spartan in appearance, either his brother had simple tastes in decoration, or two years on the run simply hadn't given him any opportunity to personalise his quarters. Everything was neat and efficient; he got cautiously to his feet and got himself a drink of water, he still felt terribly thirsty. A study of a closet revealed a selection of clothing, Kerr's taste in clothes appeared to run mainly to black, Caleb smiled, black was just fine, it concealed everything, revealed nothing.

      

      The drive section was empty of people, but then it normally was; after two days, Caleb had begun to get a feel for the Liberator and the daily routines of her crew, he avoided them as much as possible and by and large they respected his desire to be alone. It was Cally who had sought him out to ensure that his injuries were healing and treated his many bruises with a pad from the ship's medical supplies. It resembled nothing he had seen before, but was remarkably effective. Even when she had determined that he was physically well, she still seemed worried about him, asking if he felt all right in himself. He'd given a brusque reply and made an excuse to leave, it was obvious that she both knew and liked Kerr, and he had no desire to be pinned down in close conversation where he would probably give himself away.

      Looking around the alien machinery, he tried to determine where he could do the most damage, it had to be something critical to knock out the main drive, and it had to be something that the auto repair system could not handle easily. A series of conduits intersecting in a control panel appeared promising and he investigated closer, tracing the critical circuits by hand. Once satisfied, he placed a mine and checked its timer, an inner sense of caution prompting him to inspect the innards of the device also. He stood back, satisfied with his handiwork, with the spacedrive disabled, he was not going to have to worry about Blake regaining control of the ship, the locator signal he had been sending should ensure Servalan's arrival within half an hour of the Liberator ceasing to move.

      Returning to his room, he strapped on the power pack for the gun he had taken the night before and headed towards the flight deck.

      

      "Information"

      Cally looked up from her console where she was experimenting with different shield overlap patterns, "What is it Zen?"

      "There is an explosive device attached to the main drive controller."

      She turned to Jenna in shock, "How did that get there?"

      Her question was answered by Avon standing casually in the entrance way, "I put it there. It should go off", he glanced at his watch, "any moment now."

      As if to confirm his words there was the muffled thump of an explosion from deep within the ship. Cally looked at him in puzzlement, taking in the gun in his hand which pointed at herself and Jenna, and the relaxed but cold expression on his face.

      "Move away from the controls, sit on the floor in front of Zen." He gestured with the gun to emphasise the point.

      Jenna moved around slowly, trying to buy time; Cally was sure to try and contact Blake, if she could just keep Avon's attention on herself she might be able to create an opportunity of some kind. She stopped in front of Zen's wall display and waited for Cally to join her, then she turned to face the man with the gun and placed her hands on her hips allowing her face to show her contempt for him.

      "Avon, I've thought a lot of things about you, I've always known you were a cold blooded bastard, but I never thought you'd sell us out to Servalan."

      The bitterness in her voice amused him, "If it's any consolation, your friend didn't sell you out. You see", he paused and smiled at her, "I'm not Kerr Avon."

      Then he crumpled and fell to the floor as Blake stepped out from behind him nursing the hand he had used to attack him.

      "Thanks Cally, that telepathy of yours is extremely useful, I'm surprised he forgot to allow for it." He looked thoughtfully at the man lying on the floor, "Now why does he claim he isn't Avon, something obviously happened on Dageron, but what?

      "Cally, is there any chance he could be an android like Avalon?"

      "No, none at all, I checked him out shortly after he came on board, he's human all right, and I'm positive that he is Avon, although he has been acting a little oddly over the last few days."

      "Then they've done something to his mind." Blake was angry, he was unable to forget what the Federation had done to has own memory, it drove him, and gave extra impetus to his crusade. To have one of his crew violated in a similar manner was a personal insult.

      Jenna was less certain, mistrust of Avon was deeply ingrained in her, but she could see no logical reason for Avon in his right mind to claim to be anyone else. He had nothing to gain by it. She had other more immediate problems to consider though, "Zen, set detectors at maximum range, report all ships in scan area."

      "There are three ships approaching on an intercept course, at present speed they will reach the Liberator in twenty two minutes."

      "How long until the main drive is operational?"

      "Auto repair systems require forty seven minutes."

      She swore under her breath and looked at Avon who was beginning to come around, she wanted dearly to kick him hard. There simply wasn't enough time left to them.

      Blake considered his options, and didn't much care for what he came up with.

      "Jenna, Cally, find Vila and all of you do what you can to speed up the repairs. I'm going to have a word with Avon."

      "It won't do any good", protested Jenna, "We simply can't work fast enough to make a difference."

      Defeat had never been something Blake accepted easily, and he wasn't going to change now, "Then we'll go down trying. Now do it!"

      They departed the flight deck as ordered, leaving himself and Avon alone. He looked cautiously at Avon and then sat down, pointed to the seat opposite, "You might as well make yourself comfortable."

      He got no initial response other than a suspicious look, but then Avon shrugged and seated himself, spreading his arms along the back of the couch. That was irritating, and probably intended to be so, the man looked so infernally relaxed in spite of the gun aimed at him. Not knowing where to begin, Blake resorted to the straightforward approach, "Avon, I think the Federation have tampered with your memory. They can remove true memories and implant false ones, I know, they did it to me once. Right now, I need you and I need your help, and I can't do it unless you can get past whatever they have done to your mind."

      Was there a flicker of reaction? He wasn't sure.

      He pressed harder. "You said that you weren't Avon, who are you then?"

      That produced a result, although not altogether one that he had expected, "I'm not Kerr Avon, I'm his twin brother Caleb. Your Avon is dead."

      Dead. Blake wasn't sure how to take that. He knew Avon had a brother, he recalled when they had first boarded the Liberator, that the automatic defence system had shown Avon an illusion of his brother. Beyond that basic fact he knew nothing, Avon never discussed his family, his personal history or indeed anything to do with himself; it was, Blake reflected like living with a stranger. For the first time, his certainty that this man was indeed Avon wavered. Then he reflected that had nothing to lose by trying to convince him of his identity; the thought that he might have nothing to gain by succeeding, he tried to push to the back of his mind. He was all too aware of the slow passage of time.

      He needed information. He took Orac's key from where it was resting on top of the computer and plugged it in, a circle of lights cycled around inside the transparent casing and an irritated sounding voice queried him.

      "What is it?"

      "Orac, query the Federation computers for birth records. I need to know if Kerr Avon has a twin brother."

      "The information will take some time to obtain."

      "Better get started then."

      Avon was watching, trying to look indifferent, but not totally succeeding, Blake moved to the attack once more, trying to work out an approach that stood a chance of success.

      "There would appear to be two possibilities", he commented, "either you are Caleb Avon in which case I'll shoot you before Servalan arrives, or else you are Kerr Avon, in which case Servalan will ensure that you stand trial and are executed with the rest of us. Not much of a choice really, the question is, which would you rather be?"

      Avon, whichever one he was, smiled. "I've got a more interesting idea. Why not give me the gun? If I'm Kerr Avon, I could get you out of this; if I'm Caleb Avon I'll probably shoot you, but then you're a dead man anyway, so you've nothing to lose." The smile deepened, "You don't trust me of course, and I'm not sure that you trust him either."

      He shifted his position and leaned forward slightly.

      "You shouldn't have gone back for him. That was a stupid mistake,the risk of a trap was far too high. You have Orac, you don't need a computer expert any more.

      "Why?", he sounded genuinely puzzled, "Why did you go back for him?"

      Blake looked at him, sadness and sarcasm mingled,

      "If you have to ask the question, then you'll never understand the answer."

      


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Judith Proctor

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