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By Judith Proctor
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Through the brownish water, it was possible to see the black shapes of the cichlids. Fins drooping slightly, they looked decidedly miserable about life. A few uneaten flakes of fish food drifted on the surface of the water.

      Cally looked sympathetically through the glass. Ensor's fish couldn't possibly know of his death, but she felt sorry for them all the same. It had only been when they were all safely back on board Liberator with Orac that she had remembered the fish. Avon had thought her stupid of course; Vila hadn't been impressed either. Blake had laughed at her insistence on going back for the fish, but had agreed to let her teleport down to Ensor's laboratory once the force field had dissipated.

      //You're going to be all right.//

      A fish drifted out of the huddle in the corner and swam towards the finger she held near the surface.

      //I'm going to take you somewhere safe.//

      Cally felt its mouth touch her finger for a moment, then it decided to go for a flake of fish food instead. She wondered what it had thought her finger was. Another fish? Some kind of new food? Perhaps it recognised humans and had always reacted in this way. Cally was sure it had responded to her telepathy, but with no way to read its mind in return, it was hard to be sure.

      She looked around for some kind of container. The tank itself was too large to take in the teleport; it was far too heavy for her to lift. After rooting through a couple of drawers, Cally found a supply of plastic bags.

      Catching the fish turned out to be harder than expected, but eventually she had them all safely imprisoned. Collecting a plentiful supply of Ensor's fish food, she contacted the Liberator for teleport.

      "That's it?" asked Vila as she materialised in the teleport bay. He eyed her collection of plastic bags with some misgiving. "Wouldn't they be more use fried up with chips?" he said hopefully.

      Cally gave him a withering look. "No, Vila, they would not." She headed determinedly for the flight deck with Vila in tow.

      Blake looked up from where he was sitting on the couch. "Got what you wanted?"

      "Yes." She held the bags up for inspection. "I {kern 0 -50}couldn't leave them to die. Now Ensor is dead, who would have fed them?"

      "That's all very well," Avon said, from his position beside Blake, "but where are you going to keep them?"

      "I don't know. I hadn't thought that far ahead."

      "I know!" Vila piped up suddenly.

      His eyes strayed to the small table in front of the couch. Avon followed his gaze and grinned. Blake came to his feet and clapped Vila decisively on the shoulder. "You're right," he said. "Orac would be far more useful as a fish tank..."

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Judith Proctor

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