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Pandora

By David D
Page 1 of 4

The situation on Gauda Prime is in chaos. Faceless, black uniformed, Federation troops have surprised the gathering of a hard core of determined and ruthless activists and appear to have gunned down all except one of the ringleaders - a man called Avon - who now stands over the body of a man that he himself has just shot as though he were protecting it from further harm. He is laughing, as though mocking either in triumph, or defiance - no one can tell - but time seems to stand still. Troops are unsure of orders and point their lethal weapons at Avon. Bodies writhe or lie motionless on the floor. Avon's laugh grows louder distracting the soldiers as a fair hand suddenly hurls a stun grenade and all are thrown to the floor. Into the room steps a tall, fair-haired woman. She would turn the heads of any male audience with her looks and presence. She shoots as a trooper grabs at a laser gun and again, she guns down another. She is merciless in her determination to carry out her mission. She seeks out first the body of Avon, then the man Avon shot, and only one other and attaches dark bracelets to each of their wrists. As she stands again she can be seen to be wearing one of the bracelets herself but a trooper fires and wounds her leg. She falls and calls - almost screaming, "Zen now!!". A metallic, rhythmical sound begins, and as it does so the four that are wearing wrist bracelets are surrounded by the blue glow of a plasma shield. The bodies shimmer for a few seconds and then fade until they disappear and the air of the room is unsettled as it fills the vacuums left in the spaces the bodies had occupied. Troopers begin to recover from the effects of the stun grenade and a white skinned woman, wearing robes that promote her slim and curvaceous figure enters the room. She walks proudly, with an arrogant stride, emotionally unmoved as she stops to survey the carnage around her.  Understanding the scene instantly from the minutiae of what she has observed, heard and felt in the last few seconds, she barks an order to those who have followed her.

"Locate and detain any vessel in this sector of space. Destroy only on my express orders."

She barks out another order. "Captain. I want this establishment searched. You are to locate the instrument that has been described to you as O R AX. Deliver it personally to me. Deviation from my orders will be punished by modification."

The Captain halts for a moment before turning away and although his face cannot be seen behind the helmet, he is clearly shaken by the threat.

Meanwhile, light years away from Guada Prime speeds a vessel carrying the fair haired woman and her three charges. The woman is incapacitated due to the injury to her leg. Avon is recovering slowly from the stun grenade, attempting to gather his thoughts and bring his limbs back under his control. The woman is calling out to him:

"Avon, Avon! Listen to me - there may be a chance to save Blake and Vila, get them attached to a life sustainer, AVON!

Avon struggles to get up and walk, but is unable to coordinate his legs.

"ZEN" he cries with slurred speech, "Transport us to the medical unit."

The four appear in the medical unit where Avon manages to plunge the body of Blake into the cold cabinet. "ZEN" he cries. "Do what is necessary to sustain Blake's life".

 Avon does the same with the body of Vila as a monotone voice calls out.

"Life signs of Blake closed down. Brain potential recoverable using transported patterning, 50% chance of recovery if immediate hibernation initiated.

"What do you mean Zen?" cries Avon. "Brain pattern recoverable?"

"Transport Blake back into the chamber and during re-manifestation use a previous pattern to recondition the brain. You will then immediately place the body into hibernation. During hibernation the vital organs can be repaired."

"Do it," cries Avon. "Do it with Vila as well"

The bodies of both Vila and Blake disappear from the cabinets, to reappear some seconds later. Avon assists the voice Zen to configure the hibernation chambers. Struggling with a massive headache and aching limbs, Avon then turns to the injured woman, who has been unable to help.

"Jenna," says Avon lifting up her head and shoulders from the floor and looking into her face.

"Avon!" she responds. For a moment the face of Avon looses its hardened defences and he gently kisses the woman tenderly upon her lips. He draws his face back and immediately regains the ruthlessness that has enabled him to survive for a lifetime.

"You're losing blood," he says to Jenna. "We must get you up onto a table."

Making a huge effort he assists the injured girl to her feet and onto an operating table.

Hours later, Avon leaves the medical unit. Jenna is sleeping. Blake and Vila are in hibernation. Avon needs sleep and drags himself to a place where he can comfortably lie down. Soon only the dulled sounds of the ships engines and the creaking of the gantries as they sway in the warped time-field are to be heard above the gentle breathing of the sleeping Jenna, and the mutterings of the almost delirious Avon as he wrestles in his dreams and nightmares with a confusion of feelings of hatred, love, shame, guilt and isolation. As the effects of the stun grenade wear off, he becomes more settled and the ship is at last at peace.

No one hears the voice of Zen as it says. "All systems are recovering. No pursuit vessels have been detected. Slowing from time distort to sub-light speed. Awaiting further instruction. I have brought you back. I did not fail you."

After a period of 24 hours Avon has recovered completely and is in his quarters on what is left of the Liberator eating a meal. Jenna appears using crutches to move about, her leg in a splint.

"You should be resting" says Avon hardly looking up.

"Why did you?" asks Jenna with a cold stare. "Why did you kiss me?"

"I thought I would not get the chance again," says Avon without emotion.

"You won't," says Jenna.

"Go back to the medical bay," says Avon. "You need rest."

"Are you saying that - because you care for me.." begins Jenna but Avon interrupts.

"I need you to be healthy if I am to survive."

Jenna sits down. "The feeling is mutual," she says giving away no feelings and playing the same game as Avon.

Avon feels that they have established a mutual respect and looks up. "The last I heard was that you had been rescued by a freighter after the battle in the Star One sector."

"After the battle with the Andromedans, Blake and I made our way across the galaxy. He was badly injured in the face and we took refuge with a group on Gallia 3 that had declared independence from the Federation. Blake recovered there until we were attacked and scattered. After that we looked for another refuge. I went back to running contraband. Eventually Blake chose Guada Prime but he was no longer sure of who was for the Federation and who against. He lived as a bounty hunter. He became hardened, not the man we first knew. He could shoot a man in the back with no compunction. Guada Prime was a lawless planet. The rule was "kill or be killed". He planned a rebellion but we were just two more criminals living on the edge of the Federation. We didn't have the influence that we had on the Liberator and Blake did not achieve the status he had on Earth and I did not trust him entirely, nor he me.

"Did he betray me?"

"Would he have let you shoot him if he had?"

"Did he betray me?"

"No!

"It makes no difference if he did or he didn't."

"He needed you Avon. He knew you had the resources and he believed you would find him and perhaps he thought that together we could recapture what we had, before the intergalactic war."

Avon made no reply but his look was pensive, his eyes staring across the efforts and struggles of the past four years.

Jenna begins to get herself up. "I'm going back to medical,' she says.

"I'll come with you," answers Avon.

Back at the medical bay they look through the perma-window at the body of Blake.

"Zen!" says Avon. "What is the condition of Blake?

"Blake is 24 hours from complete physical recovery and of conscious self-awareness."

"What happened to him when you used the transporter to recondition his brain?"

"The last time Blake was transported, he was escaping from Star One. The pattern recorded then has been reproduced when rematerializing the brain."

"Do you mean that in 24 hours Blake will be the Blake from two years ago? That he will have no memory of what happened since that time?' asked Jenna.

"Correct. The Blake you will meet, will think that he has just beamed up from Star one."

Jenna and Avon look almost horrified at each other.

"But he will not in that case be Blake," said Avon.

"Incorrect." says Zen.

"Can you - bring people back - from the dead?" asks Avon. "Could you materialize for instance a Gan?"

"I have no data for Gan. Memory for the complete profile of a human brain can be held even in my data banks only for two and a half humans."

"So you could materialise another person?" Who else do you have?

"I have data for the person of Cally,' answers Zen.

"My head is spinning with all this," says Jenna. "Let's get Blake back, and see - well just who he is."

Twenty-four hours later Jenna and Avon stand once again in the medical Bay as Zen begins reviving Blake in the hibernation unit. As the perma-screen draws back exposing Blake to the atmosphere of the medical Bay he sits up. Looking around and trying to understand something, he sees Jenna and Avon who both draw their weapons.

"Jenna! Avon!" cries Blake struggling to get up and out of the chamber. Get the Liberator underway we have to hold off the Andromedans until the Federation Fleet gets here." Blake is urgent and struggles to his feet. "Come on" he cries wildly and runs out of the Medical Bay.

"No! Blake wait!" cries Jenna rushing after him, closely followed by Avon. They catch up with him in the control room. Zen is before them as Blake begins searching the navigational and outer sensors for the invading ships.

Avon and Jenna catch hold of him.


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