Remembering MalodaarBy Susan
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I was angry with Avon after the Malodaar fiasco - who wouldn't be?|
I could understand his trying to get the Tachyon funnel, and the fake Orac was rather clever - it certainly fooled me. It was the real Orac that was the problem.
On the journey back to Xenon Avon had left me to my own thoughts. I considered leaving the group - not for the first time. As before there were more reasons for staying than going, some more important than others. There was now a very respectable price on my head - and I would have been respected for it where I grew up - for a little while at least, until it had been collected. And if, by judicious pressure, I got Avon and Orac to blank my image from the records, what sort of life would I end up leading? Back to where I had started, hand to mouth, drifting from one indistinguishable place to another, trusting few, my most constant companion a drink. The only difference from the life I had had before ending up on the London would be the memory of my time on the Liberator and Xenon base, where I had had some people I could call friends, and the chance to make a difference. I could have made my way to Freedom City or Space City, lived off my wits, but so what? I had decided not! to go with Kerrill - and what she offered was the nearest thing to a decent alternative, but I would have been bored. I knew that if I asked Avon now he would take me to Kerrill, and everybody would have understood why - but we both knew I would stay.
Back at Xenon base I sat in the central hall with a drink and started to think things over. What would I have done had the situation been reversed, or if someone other than Avon had been there?
Avon passed through with Orac. He seemed uncertain how to act. Which was rare for him.
'If we'd been thinking straight,' I said, 'we'd have realised the shuttle had been tampered with.' My anger had emptied with the bottle.
'We?' Avon looked puzzled. I waved at the bottle and the chair nearby. He interpreted my gesture correctly as a desire to talk, and was willing to do so. He put Orac down and got a glass. He played with his drink as usual.
'We'd gone between the Scorpio and the base in it with no problem, so why on this occasion?' Avon nodded at my comment.
'Perhaps if you'd thought of it at the time rather than hide in the hold'
'We both panicked - neither of us were thinking straight.' Avon looked miffed but held his tongue - he realised what I was doing, working out a compromise so we could remain together. And he accepted that perhaps I was speaking the truth. 'I would like to see what Tarrant would have done in the shuttle. By himself,' I added hastily.
'In certain circumstances he can handle a ship better than any of us.' Avon pointed out.
'If only he would engage his brain before he spoke a little more often.'
'For once I agree with you Vila.'
'Besides, it is Orac's fault,' I continued. 'Just because I made snide remarks about the sopron brain and fuzzing itself up with Virn's sand doesn't mean that it should take offence like that.'
'If Avon had not been so quick to react to my statement, I would have explained'
'Just how useful is Orac?' I asked both of them. I poured drinks again. For once Avon did not protest. 'And how much of what this machine can do could you put into another replica?' I waved at Orac.
'I will have to consider the matter. Or the best way to reprogram Orac.'
'Could I help you with that? Now perhaps?'
'You are too drunk to be delicate enough.'
'Best time to do it,' I replied cheerfully. 'What happened was Orac's fault, and I have a right to'
Orac suddenly realised it might be in actual danger and started grovelling, almost outdoing Slave. It even promised to look for Blake. I sensed rather than saw Avon react.
'Do whatever you want Orac, but never do anything like you did on the shuttle again,' Avon said sharply and switched the machine off. He got up, suddenly and obviously weary.
'Avon,' I said softly. He looked at me. 'I knew you didn't want to do it.' His breathing became ragged. 'The way you spoke Perhaps it was the best thing to do, making me go hide, so you could find out what was the correct problem.'
'I didn't want to do it but' For an instant the mask dropped. I knew better than to try and make physical contact now. I stood up so we were equals again.
'We are all to blame - you, me, Orac, Servalan But - you discovered what was wrong, and we made it, somehow.' I had to acknowledge that - we all need our dignity.
'How many more times will we just make it?' he asked. I saw the pain in his eyes, and suddenly I no longer felt angry with him.
'Enough times. You owe me one.'
'I always pay my debts.'
'That is what I like about you. I know how far I can trust you.' A faint smile in return. We had reached our truce. 'Go to bed Avon,' I said firmly, and he left the room.
I switched Orac back on and told the computer exactly what I thought of it, what it should have done on the shuttle, its failure to find Blake and quite a few other things. Orac replied that we had done more for Blake's cause looking for him than he had done for himself, and that Avon had been doing more to unite the anti-Federation forces than Blake had ever managed. By the end of the monologue I was half-convinced.
'That may well be true, but in future consider the wider picture.' I put my hand on the top of its casing.
'Yes Vila.' The threat had been understood.
'And give Avon the gist of that sometime.' These days, Avon needed something like that, and I cared for him enough to give this to him.
I left Orac to consider its future, and went to Avon's room.
He was expecting me, half-fearful. We had both known in the shuttle he couldn't do it, and why. The way his voice changed as he tried desperately *not* to find me, looking for some way out - and, when I left the Scorpio the way he had been sitting at its door, unaware of my passing, but all too aware of what he might have lost.
'How can you forgive me Vila?' The mask had dropped to show despair and hope, and I wished, as elsewhen, that I had known him in earlier days when he felt he could afford to be open.
'You know how and why,' I replied, and went to embrace him so I would not see his tears. He held me tight, needing me as much as I did him. 'For the same reason I will not leave you. We belong together.'
I turned his head so I could kiss him properly, and he responded. What had happened in the shuttle over Malodaar was forgotten.
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