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Pandora

By David D
Page 3 of 4

On the flight deck Avon, who has been alone, turns around to find that Blake, Cally and Jenna are entering. Avon feels that they are different; zombie like, returned from the dead. He fingers his laser gun. 

"You don't need to do that Avon,' says Blake. "If we are not the original Blake Jenna and Cally, then we are at least very good copies."

"I prefer to be cautious," says Avon.

 Jenna makes her way to the navigational console. "We're arriving at Gauda Prime," she says.

"And here is the welcoming committee," says Cally.

Federation interceptors surround the Liberator pod and communications are set up.

"Continue deceleration into a stable, geostationary orbit over the coordinates longitude 51.1 and latitude 321," says the Federation commander in charge of the fleet.

Once this is achieved Servalan begins her own dialogue with Avon and the crew.

Her face appears on a display projected by Zen.

"You should stand in the presence of the Commissioner of the Delta Quadrant of Federation of planets," she says.

Avon puts his feet up on the console and laughs. "You want Orac, and I know where ORAC is." He mocks.

"I could have you blasted out of the sky," says Servalan.

"We are not afraid of death," says Blake.

"Blake!" Exclaims Servalan. "I had hoped you were already dead. What a wonder that ship is. I shall have you modified as my personal fool. Ah! Cally .. and Jenna. Interesting! Cally and Jenna will make nice toys for the troops to play with."

"Enough of this." says Avon. "We've come to trade Orac for our freedom."

"Done" says Sevalan. "So tell me where it is and you can all go free." She says this coldly knowing that they are not going to trust her.

"Orac is at a location on the planet at these coordinates."

Avon relates the details of how to find Orac.

Servalan looks puzzled, but barks out an order to go and search. "You cannot be truthful," she says to Avon. "Whatever you are trying to achieve, you cannot win."

Avon laughs.

Blake, Jenna and Cally also are looking at Avon and wondering what he is playing at. But they give nothing away to Servalan.

Avon gets to his feet. "When you find Orac we'll talk again and you can fulfil your side of the bargain." Avon turns his back on Sevalan and orders Zen to cut off communications for the present.

"What are you playing at Avon?" cries Blake, "Have you really told them the location of Orac?"

"Yes."

"Sevalan won't just turn us all into space dust as soon as she has it?

"She will not."

"How do you know?"

"She could, but I have a prediction that she will not. If I am wrong then we all die."

"You haven't changed," says Jenna ruefully. "Why not include us in your schemes?

"I don't trust you," answers Avon

Jenna looks at Blake.

"We'll go along with him," says Blake. "Quite frankly there is nothing else we can do."

Hours pass until the voice of Zen crackles into life. "Communication channels have been requested from Federation control."

"Put it on." says Avon after everyone on the Liberator has readied himself or herself.

The face of  Servalan appears once again.

"We have Orac," she says with some incredulity in her voice. "Now prepare to be boarded and arrested, or else you can just be destroyed or you can self destruct, it's entirely up to you," she says. "Which would you prefer? Of course the options I outlined earlier are still open to you if you want to live."

"We shall self destruct," says Avon coolly.

"What is this game of bluff you are playing?" says Sevalan and Avon sees that she is unsettled.

Silence.

"I may have Orac" she says, "but I do not have an instruction book. How do I turn it on."

Avon grins and holds up the on off switch.

"I see," says Servalan.  "But this simply takes us back to square one. I am not going to allow you to leave with or without that switch."

"Destroy us then," laughs Avon toying with her.

"My patience is running out," says Servalan. Avon once again laughs. He is really enjoying himself, but suddenly his countenance changes. He leans forwards and says with deadly earnest.

"I want my freedom! I'm fed up with hiding, fed up with running and fighting. I want to be left alone. I propose this. We shall move the Liberator out of orbit and move out of this sector. You will not follow. I will leave the switch in free space and in one half hour beam back the coordinates. In return you will not pursue us and furthermore we will be fully pardoned and given the status of civil administrators within the Federation - your Federation with an income to match."

"Very well you have my word." says Servalan

Avon looks relieved.

"Move the Liberator out of orbit Jenna".

"Blake we can't trust Servalan,' says Jenna.

"We must, and I believe we can," he says and looks at Avon.

"Servalan," says Blake, "I can only beg you to respect human life. I implore you not to destroy life but to use the federation for good."

"We have the same goals Blake," she says. "Order is the first necessity for human civilisation and with civilisation comes peace and prosperity. I shall impose order, but do you really think I want to rule a galaxy of zombies? There must be a strong Federation you must see that. If there is not then there can only be chaos. Go! And enjoy your lives."

Jenna begins to pilot the Liberator away from Guada Prime. Once the communication link is broken Servalan turns to her commander.

"Have the Liberator tracked. Pick up the remaining part for Orac if they really do eject it and then pursue and if possible capture them. You may destroy the liberator if necessary. If there are survivors I want them brought to me before modification."

 

Hours later Servalan holds the on off switch for ORAC in her hand. She studies it, and caresses it, switching her gaze from it to Orac itself. She gets up and moves across to Orac. Holding the switch just over the receptor she thinks deeply. "Why?"

She draws away her hand and returns to her chair but the temptation to try Orac is strong. "What then?" she asks herself. "Why did he give this to me? Once I have Orac in control I can reclaim the Federation. But it may be a trap, it was too easy. Damn you Avon." She resists the temptation but the more she resists the more the temptation for ultimate power strengthens. "I have only to turn on this machine, and I can become the most powerful person in the universe," she thinks. "Avon must have been weakening. He must have wanted to be free." Servalan is convincing herself that Avon had no ulterior motive because she wants power. She longs to turn on Orac and release the potential. "I must resist until I can be sure it is not a trap' She says.

 

Meanwhile, Jenna is piloting the Liberator Pod into a planetary system where she can find asteroids and small planets to escape the pursuing Federation vessels.

"There are a couple of comets nearing the star, I might be able to take a ride on one and lose them." She exclaims.

"Just keep them at bay." says Avon.

"Unlike Zen I don't have an inexhaustible power supply', says Jenna pulling the ship into a steep turn in order to avoid some ships that have got ahead of them.

"Are you going to tell us why you have led us into this corner?" asks Blake. "Why give Orac to Servalan knowing that as soon as she had it she would kill us all?"

"I thought that the answer would be self-evident by now. But I was wrong. She is holding out much longer than I thought she would," answers Avon.

Jenna pulls the ship around narrowly missing a squadron of interceptors.

"That was close," exclaims Cally. "Tell us what is going on would you Avon?"

"I can't go on dog-fighting like this much longer," cries Jenna."

"Very well, let's go into time distort. They can only follow us then, but skirt around this sector of the spiral arm. We may have to return to Gauda Prime," answers Avon.

Blake says "What? I may be a facsimile Avon but I value my life. If I am going to die again I should like to know why?"

Jenna boosts the Liberator into time-distort drive and sets an elliptical course.

"Very well," says Avon. "Before I set Orac down in a hidden place inside the dome on Gauda, I gave final instructions. I first asked Orac to predict Servalan's decision; what would she do if she had possession of Orac, but she suspected some sort of double cross?"

"What do you mean? asks Jenna.

"I see," says Blake. "Set up an action for Orac when it is next turned on, and then give Orac to Servalan. But the action would have to be devastating, it would have to be worth the risk."

"Yes" says Avon it would have to be worth the risk of our lives or worse - modification."

"Don't," says Cally, "Nothing is worth that."

"Why not just perform the action yourself?" asks Jenna. "Why is it important that Servalan should do it."

"She betrayed us all to a lingering death on Terminal., and has been the agency for millions of ruined lives, I want her to know that she had brought about the end of her beloved federation. Servalan does not fully understand Orac's potential; She only knows that it is an incredibly powerful computer. She may not know that Orac is in fact at the centre of a galaxy wide network of computer information with access to "all the information of all the known worlds" as Ensor put it, including Zen although Zen does not contain Tariel cells."

"Yes I remember," says Cally. "Ensor told us that Orac could examine any computer containing Tariel cells without a direct link."

"And every computer in the federation does," says Blake.

"I have given instructions to Orac to send out a command - a cyber-space worm, a virus, disease if you like - to every Tariel cell to wipe out all data on a continuous loop," explains Avon. "Normally the protection devices would stop such an attack but Orac will propogate it to all cells virtually instantaneously."

"That will bring the federation infrastructure to a halt; all communications, space travel, the credit system. It may be the end of civilisation as we know it."

"I hope so," says Avon.

"But people, a lot of people may die because of this."

"We've faced that question before on Star One."

A short silence follows.

Avon says; "But Servalan has not yet turned Orac on. Orac projected that she would be unable to resist the temptation despite the risk. Yet she has done. She must be tortured by the desire to use it."

"So you are trying the old Pandora's box test on her?"

"Then we must tempt her more," says Jenna.

"Any ideas?" asks Blake.

"What's going on? Jenna? Blake? Cally? It can't be, I must be dreaming," says a voice from behind them. "The last thing I remember I was shot dead."

They turn to see the familiar figure of Vila.

"And then there were five," says Blake.

"Well four and a half." says Avon.

"You didn't die," explains Cally. "Your heart did stop for a few moments but you were not brain dead."


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