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Seven Deadly Virtues

By Belatrix Carter
Page 1 of 3

COURAGE: "Attempted Rescue"

There was a crushing pain in his chest. He looked down - just moving his eyes. He couldn't move his head. He didn't want to think about the fact that he couldn't move his head. He looked down, and there was blood, blood all over him, sticky and red and horrible. My own blood he realized, and suddenly he had to close his eyes to stop the room from spinning.

I'm dying he thought. He was certain he should be panicking - maybe, deep down, some part of him was panicking - but the part of him that was capable of thinking was oddly dreamy and detached. Except that he felt like he wanted to cry. I'm not supposed to die like this! I'm supposed to die in bed with a beautiful woman - with two beautiful women - on some tropical pleasure planet at the age of 103!

He heard a faint noise, couldn't move his head to look. Tarrant? No, just some debris shifting. Tarrant was probably dead, too. Dead too. Just like me. He tried to sob. Couldn't. It hurt. It hurt to breathe. I'm not supposed to die for Tarrant!

Tears were running down his face. He couldn't wipe them. Couldn't even think about moving a hand to his face. Wasn't even sure he still had hands. The clear fluid rolled down his cheeks and dripped to the floor to mingle with his blood.

He imagined Avon finding him here, tears on his dead face, Avon standing over his body and saying "That's Vila. Weak and cowardly to the last. Couldn't even die with dignity." Avon would never even know he'd tried to be a hero. Vila couldn't figure out why that hurt (oh, not as much as the pain in his chest - nothing could hurt that much - but it hurt). Avon believed that "hero" was a dirty word every bit as much as Vila did. One of the few things they'd had in common. Wish I could tell him he was right. Avon would smile, that superior smile of his, and say "Naturally." Vila would never see that smile again. The thought made him sick. Or maybe that was the support beam crushing his stomach.

But I am a coward he thought, desperately, as if somehow that could make it all un-happen. I am. I am!

I was.

He was growing light-headed now, his vision greying out. Nothing here worth looking at, anyway. Just the sight of me dying. He almost giggled at the thought.

He seemed to have stopped breathing. It was a relief. He kept not doing it.

Damn you, Tarrant. Damn you. Damn...

...me...

Nothing.

PURITY: "It's Your Loss"

Blake paused outside the door, making a few last-minute adjustments to his clothing. He was a bit uncomfortable in this skimpy, brightly-colored outfit, but Avon had assured him that it was the only acceptable clothing for an official function on this planet, and he did want to blend in. Besides, Avon was also wearing it, so he could be pretty sure it wasn't simply Avon having a joke at his expense. Not that he quite believed Avon would stoop to that kind of thing.

Actually, he was a bit surprised that Avon had taken it on himself to do all the research and preparation for this mission. Blake would have liked to think that it was due to a sudden rush of enthusiasm for the rebel cause, but most likely it was simply that he enjoyed pursuing research with Orac. Whatever the motivation, Blake was grateful that Avon had deigned to cooperate, even to the extent of using Orac to forge convincing false identities for them as minor planetary officials entitled to attend the talks. It would be incredibly useful to know what this strategically important world's official response to the Federation's "offer of admission" would be long before the news was ever made public.

With a fleeting smile at Avon (who seemed unnaturally pleased with himself - maybe the research project had been more challenging than Blake had thought?), Blake opened the door and entered the chamber.

And stopped short, his mouth hanging open.

"Avon," he managed to get out in a strangled whisper. "What... What are these men doing?"

"Oh, dear," said Avon in a mild, utterly innocent tone that immediately made Blake suspicious. "We appear to have arrived during a festival period. Orac and I must have overlooked that in our research."

"I think you'd better explain," Blake hissed, as Avon led him over to an unoccupied couch and Blake tried hard to avert his eyes from what was going on on the occupied couches.

"This planet has a very... interesting... view of sexuality," Avon explained calmly. "Women are for reproduction, men are for pleasure." He grinned in an extremely disconcerting manner. "And the natives take their pleasure very seriously." He sat down on the couch, extending a hand for Blake to join him. Blake swallowed, reminded himself about the importance of not blowing their cover, chided himself for the unfortunate phrase... and took his place next to Avon, who continued his explanation. "During festival time, it is traditional that no official function can begin without... well..." He waved a hand languidly to indicate the indecent activity occurring all around them. The hand eventually came to rest on Blake's knee in an unmistakably suggestive manner.

"Avon..." Blake said in his darkest tone.

Avon merely smiled at him, completely undaunted. "Blake, we're starting to look suspicious." The hand moved farther up Blake's leg, and Avon leaned his face in towards him.

"Stop it!" Blake was trying hard to keep his voice low.

Avon gave an elaborate sigh. "You've been going on for weeks about how important this is, and how necessary it is that we are not detected as spies. You charged me, personally, with making sure we were not detected, if you recall. Well, I am attempting to do that, Blake, but you are making it rather difficult. People are starting to stare! Now, are you going to kiss me, or do we call this whole fiasco off?"

Blake licked his lips nervously, immediately regretting it, as Avon responded with a look that was disturbingly like a leer. "Those men are doing more than just kissing, Avon."

Avon had leaned in close to him, was breathing in his ear, his hand kneading perilously close to Blake's groin. "Yes, and I must say, it looks rather like fun."

"Avon!"

Avon began running his tongue around the folds of Blake's ear.

"Avon, dammit, you know how I feel about this! I've told you my policy: no sexual relations amongst the crew! It creates too many complications!"

"Oh, is that the reason?" Avon said mildly, nibbling at Blake's neck as Blake tried to push him away discreetly, and failed utterly. "I thought it was out of some desire to maintain your illusion of godlike purity. After all, I haven't noticed you going outside the Liberator for sexual release, either. I should think you would be getting very frustrated by now." He lifted his head, flashing Blake a grin as he slid an arm around Blake's shoulders. "I however, have never believed in your godlike purity in the first place, so I see no reason not to proceed."

Blake snorted, turning his head aside so that the kiss Avon had aimed at his lips instead glanced off his chin. "I don't know about 'godlike purity,' Avon, but frankly I can do without the distraction of sex."

"Oh, am I distracting you?" Avon purred, moving his hand to a place it had no business being.

"Yes, dammit!"

"Good."

Blake dodged another kiss.

Under the circumstances, it was perhaps not surprising that neither of them noticed the couple on the couch behind them holding a quick, whispered conversation and ducking quietly out of the room.

"Avon," Blake's voice was tight and furious. "I am not amused by this, and I am not staying here and participating in this perverted fantasy of yours." He stood up. "I am leaving. I am going to walk out of here, find an unobserved spot, and have Jenna bring me up. No amount of advance information is worth putting up with this."

"Fine," said Avon, with a grand air of unconcern. "Go. I'm sure I can find another companion for the evening."

Blake gave him a last withering look, turned on his heel, stomped over to the door, strode out... and immediately bumped into a grinning Federation trooper. The two men who had occupied the couch behind them were standing a short distance behind, looking nervous. "That's him!" one of them exclaimed. "That's Blake!"

Blake reacted quickly, attempting to punch the trooper in the gut, but the man blocked the blow easily, his gun coming up to point directly at Blake's chest. Blake cursed himself for sixteen different kinds of fool.

"Well, well, well." The trooper's eyes moved up and down, taking in Blake's scantily clad form. "So this is the famous rebel Roj Blake. Tsk, tsk, tsk." His ugly grin widened. "Personally," he said in a casual tone, "I would have fucked him."

And then he pulled the trigger.

The last thing Blake heard as he spiraled down into darkness was the trooper's infinitely malicious voice saying "In fact, maybe I just will..."

The last thing he thought was Avon!

And the last thing he felt was regret... and the phantom touch of Avon's hand.


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