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A Question of Identity

By Jackie
Page 3 of 4

 

Servalan could see the two men transforming into skeletons...

Again... Avon was chasing ... someone through the shuttle.

 

`No!' she shouted, and awoke in the dark.

Her heart was beating hard, her breathing loud and rapid, she was sweating with fear, and some part of her mind recognised she was having a panic attack resulting from a nightmare.

Again.

She had been cutting back on her alcohol consumption, so she would have a clear head to further her plans to use Zukan and the situation there to her advantage. Not that she had a problem, whatever Brierley's hints on the matter.

What had happened?

Yes - Malodaar - on her route to Betafaarl, investigated as part of the Federation re-expansion program. A base deserted except for two skeletons and some equipment, use unknown.

Avon had never been there, there was no such thing as a tachyon funnel, and there was no fake Orac, Egrorian or Pindar.

It took a long time to get back to sleep: perhaps a drink would help...

 

In the morning her reflection in the mirror was paler than she expected. She did not need the holiday Brierley was

likely to suggest. She needed a drink.

 

****

 

`It appears that the woman on Betafarl identifying herself as Zukan's daughter Zeeona was an impersonator. No trace of her has been found. It is assumed she returned with the person identified as Avon,' the report went.

`No!' Servalan wailed, and threw her glass at the wall. There was nothing else to do while she was waiting.

She had lost. Zukan was dead - by her hand, not that anyone would know. Zeeona was presumably dead wherever Avon's base was - she would find out shortly, using the hints provided by Zukan. Whoever emerged from the infighting that would now probably occur on Betafarl would have all the guile and skill of his predecessor - rather than the slightly naive young woman Servalan had intended to use to establish a forward base in the region. Even Brierley would have been forced to admit that having a new leader on Betafarl willing to accept the Federation's direction was an acceptable outcome.

 

She was left with the worst of all situations - she had failed to achieve her own goals, or abide by Brierley's imposition. No, she thought, as she considered the open bottle, perhaps not the worst - Avon might survive, and she could use all her charms to persuade Brierley to investigate details she would provide him with of the rebel. There was only one likely claimant to being the real Roj Blake now. The problem now was finding him.

 

By the time Brierley's angry message requesting the Commissioner's urgent return arrived, Servalan was no longer even attempting to conceal her drinking. The ship's captain decided to follow Brierley's orders rather than the Commissioner's to go to an unremarkable planet for a reason he knew she would not divulge, even if she was in a fit state to do so.

 

****

 

`Commissioner Sleer - you have ruined five years of careful manipulation on our part in the Betafarl region. Zukan has been eliminated prematurely - and his neighbours will have carved up most of his territories long before the Federation can take advantage of the situation. It will take years to get the situation ready for our involvement again.' Brierley was furious - and doing his best to minimise the impact on his own career. He had made it quite clear that the Commissioner had become very expendable.

 

`I was attempting to bring in a group of rebels as well...' If only she could remember precisely what had happened. She felt slightly queasy, and her hands were sweating - she had to concentrate to stop them shaking.

 

`No doubt the same ones who have thwarted your earlier projects,' Brierley said contemptuously. `I told you, you should have passed on such information to others who are not doing so much as you.' And who appeared to be more successful. `You had better tell us everything you know about these supposed rebels... You will be relieved of your duties until you do so.' Perhaps he could shock the Commissioner into sobering up enough to make sense. Brierley judged the Commissioner had not yet fully recovered from her excesses of the return journey. She was bleary eyed, pasty-faced, bloated and looked sick.

 

Servalan felt sudden despair. All her plans were going wrong - and she needed a drink. Now. She could control her drinking whenever she wanted. `What about supervising the Pylene 50 project?' A desperate attempt to salvage something.

 

`Will be passed to others - and we will fully analyse the information on the project.' Putting together the hints he had had about its intermittent effectiveness, and Sleer's present behaviour Brierley was beginning to have doubts about continuing the project. `There are reports that an antidote is available - what use is a suppressant drug which ceases to be effective as a result of rebel activity? Imagine the consequences Commissioner - and start giving me information.' Perhaps the Commissioner herself had leaked the information.

 

Servalan felt furious but could do nothing.

`The rebels include Roj Blake, and Kerr Avon, and their associates. They are on the planets Xenon and Gauda Prime...' She knew how Avon operated, what he would be doing - and she would arrange to get the credit. And given the state of affairs on Gauda Prime Brierley might well be removed from the situation without it reflecting on her. She had to have a drink. Or two. She would have to cut back on her drinking Again. But not right now.

 

When Servalan was confined to her rooms she was glad to find her stores had not been removed - though there were fewer bottles than she remembered. She put in an order for more. How would she pass the time now?

 

****

 

From: Regional Commissioner Brierley

To: Planetary Records Central

Subject: Planet Xenon

 

Please see attached report on the above planet.

 

The present technological capacity of the locals is not sufficient to have produced the hydroelectric power station (location A) and other resources to be found (locations B-M). Who inhabited the now destroyed base (location N) is unclear, but, according to the locals, some of whom can speak Federation Standard, they left in a spaceship within the last two weeks. No further information available at present.

Action: Initial survey being undertaken. No climatic or other control needed.

Possibilities for development: agricultural use seems indicated.

 

From: Planetary Records Central

To: Regional Commissioner Brierley

Subject: Planet Xenon

 

Your report has been received.

 

From: Regional Commissioner Brierley

To: Planetary Records Central

Subject: Planet Gauda Prime

 

(Two days after Open Planet status revoked)

 

Please see attached report on the above planet.

 

I would further like to add that the military presence's statement that nobody would try to kill or kidnap me because I did not carry a bounty is most undiplomatic. Their claims that the problems are under control is manifestly untrue - several unpleasant incidents occurred (see Appendix A). The escape of one group of undesirables occurred before my arrival (see Appendix B). Comments made by troopers and others stating undesirables' base as being superior to their own barracks: see Appendix C. (List of equipment and other resources on the base, see Appendix D.)

 

From: Planetary Records Central

To: Regional Commissioner Brierley

Subject: Planet Gauda Prime.

 

Your report on the above has been received.

 

Please quote the following reference in any future discussion on the subject.

 

For complaints about the military please contact the appropriate department in Space Command.

 

From: Regional Administration Records

To: Regional Commissioner Brierley

Subject: Planets Xenon and Gauda Prime.

 

Your most informative reports have been received.

 

Congratulations on a job well done (all paperwork correctly laid out and presented), which will count towards your application for promotion.

 

Current Federation financial policy dictates that priority is given to planets which have significant resources, require minimal investment for development, or which have strategic value. You will be familiar with the relevant regional development boards if you wish to personally get involved in the development of Xenon. There will be the usual bonus for identifying such planets.

 

 

For reference purposes only

This following message has been intercepted.

From: Travis.

To: Commissioner Sleer.

What about the rebels, my friend?

Message number 416.

 

****

 


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