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Rumours of Life part 1 - A Corpse Too Few

By Marian de Haan
Page 2 of 13

- - - 2 - - -

Dayna lowered her gun. Ignoring the crumbling man, she hurried over to Avon. Still seated, he'd slumped forward, hands over his face.

"He's alive," Tarrant said, bending over him.

"No thanks to you!" Dayna was surprised to find that she cared.

"Difficult to sustain a two-minute alert over five days." Tarrant took Avon by the arms and hauled him up. "This doesn't look too good. Better get him up fast."

"Tarrant." Avon lowered his hands, raising his head. Dayna felt her stomach contract. One eye was covered in gore. The other was tightly shut. "Shrinker..."

"The man who did this?" Tarrant asked.

"Don't kill him." Avon's voice was a croaky whisper. "He's mine!"

"Too late," Tarrant replied. "Dayna got him."

"Damn!" Avon said, and fainted.

While Tarrant was struggling to hold Avon and get a bracelet around his wrist, Dayna extracted an explosive from her clothes. "Get a move on!"

"Ready." Tarrant raised his own bracelet. "Bring us up."

Dayna hurled the explosive through the open doorway into the corridor. Then she was caught by the teleport effect and found herself back on Liberator.

Vila stood holding out a drink. At the sight of Tarrant supporting Avon's limp form, he brought the glass to his own mouth and downed it.

Cally jumped from behind the console. "What happened?"

"Shrinker got him," Dayna replied.

"Help me get him to the sickbay, Vila," Tarrant said. "Dayna, you keep watch."

"Come, quickly." Cally left the teleport room. Carrying Avon between them, Tarrant and Vila followed her, the latter mumbling that his delicate constitution wasn't up to this.

Dayna went to the flight deck. Disconnecting her gun from its power pack, she thought back to the man she had killed. It had been a natural reaction when she'd seen him hurt Avon. But she could understand Avon's reaction. He'd gone to avenge his woman's death - a debt of honour. She too had a debt to collect...

Dayna plugged the gun in again. Why should Avon be the only one to get his revenge? Servalan was on Earth - Orac had caught a message about preparations for the grand opening of her new residence. They'd discussed it before Avon had set out. Vila had suggested they abandon the plan but both Tarrant and Avon had argued it was the ideal opportunity, as for once Servalan would be distracted from her hunt for the Liberator.

Dayna strode to Orac, placed on the couch. Inserting the machine's key, she said: "Orac, I want you to find Servalan, then put me down as near to her as you can without me being detected."

The machine made a sound as if it was angry at being disturbed. "You want to communicate with her?"

"No." Dayna moved to the storage wall and took an extra power pack. "I want to kill her." She clipped the pack onto her belt. "Hurry up, Orac."

She didn't know how long the others would be tending to Avon. If they got wind of her plan, they'd want to stop her. Her only chance was to be gone before they discovered her intention.

Biting her lip, she waited while Orac buzzed away.

"I have found the requested information."

"Not too soon," Dayna mumbled.

"Servalan is at Residence One, her new palace, where a gala dinner will be held in her honour tonight."

"Right. Make Zen set a course for the palace."

"Liberator is on its way. A geo-stationary orbit just within teleport range above the palace will be established in seven and a half minutes."

"Good." Dayna cast an anxious gaze at the doorway, then picked up the machine and quickly carried it to the teleport room. "Make sure to put me down the moment you can."

"An examination of the plans contained in the main security computer indicates that there is no safe place to teleport within that defence perimeter."

Dayna placed Orac on the teleport console. "Outside the perimeter, then." She checked her bracelet, still on her wrist.

"To cross it undetected would be impossible."

She wasn't going to let Orac's caution rob her of her revenge. "Then put me down at the best place inside the perimeter."

"Very well. I will set the teleport co-ordinates. I would however, strongly advise--"

"Dayna!" Tarrant entered the room. "You are supposed to be on watch. What are you planning?"

"What do you think?" She drew her gun, aiming it at his chest. "I'm going to kill Servalan, and I won't let you or anyone else stop me."

He raised his hands. "You're crazy!"

"And Avon was not?"

"Look where it brought him!"

"I'm not planning a five day wait. I'll be in and out, it'll only take one shot."

"All right." He lowered his hands, taking a tentative step towards her. "I'll let you go - on one condition. I'm going with you."

For a moment she thought she'd not heard correctly. "Why?"

"You think you are the only one with a grudge against Servalan? She's the reason I deserted."

The set of his jaw indicating the matter was not negotiable, Tarrant activated the wall communicator. "Vila, come and take over Dayna's watch. NOW!" He released the button, cutting off the whining protest.

"All right, Tarrant," Dayna said. "But I want to kill her. This is MY fight!"

"Fine by me." He checked his gun, then fingered the bracelet on his arm. "Right, Orac. Put us down as soon as you can."

"As I was about to say, I would strongly advise waiting until dusk."

"Why not full dark?" Tarrant asked.

"Despite all efforts to eliminate this weakness, dusk and dawn remain the human being's most vulnerable times. Therefore, insofar as the security system contains human components it will be at its least efficient at these times."

"How long until dusk?" Dayna enquired, eager to get on with it.

"Twelve minutes."

"We'd better follow his advice," Tarrant said. "A few minutes more won't matter, Servalan isn't going anywhere tonight."

Dayna nodded reluctantly. "All right. How's Avon?"

"He'll live. Cally's with him. Vila was useless, as usual. He's gone to his cabin. He said he was feeling queasy." Tarrant's teeth flashed. "Can't stand the sight of blood."

Dayna snorted. "I'd have thought that only goes for his own." Impatiently she stood waiting until, at last, Orac announced:

"The optimum time for teleport will be in precisely one minute."

"Good." Tarrant moved to the teleport bay. "Let's get on with it, then."

Dayna positioned herself next to him. "All right, Orac. We're ready when you are."

"Teleporting now."

The machine's voice faded. Dayna took in her new surroundings. They'd materialised in an enormous garden. Across a well-kept lawn a building loomed, huge but uninspiring in design. Running towards it, she saw what Orac had meant: the open space provided little to no cover. Reaching some low bushes, she halted - she'd nearly stumbled over the corpse of a trooper. She bent down to check the body.

"He's been shot," she told Tarrant, whose shadow fell over her. "Not too long ago."

"Probably forgot to salute."

"Don't try to be funny!" She looked at the house. More bodies were decorating the lawn. "What's going on here?"

"We must have stumbled upon a revolt."

"You mean someone else is out to kill Servalan?" Discarding caution, Dayna set off at a run. She wasn't going to let anyone else deprive her of the pleasure of killing Servalan!

Vaguely aware of Tarrant coming after her, she reached the entrance. The door stood open. Gun at the ready, Dayna entered. More corpses were lining the wide corridor, but they encountered no living souls.

"Let's try these doors," Tarrant suggested.

Systematically they kicked open door after door, only to find the rooms empty. Dayna was too intent on her revenge to take in the splendour of the furnishings.

They came upon a room from which agitated voices sounded, as if a fierce argument was raging. Tarrant held up his hand, whispering: "I don't hear Servalan in there."

Dayna nodded. "She wouldn't keep quiet." Her eye fell on an open door that seemed to be battered with an axe. "Let's try this one."

They found themselves in a large room full of surveillance gear.

"Must be the security headquarters," Tarrant said.

About to leave, Dayna heard a groan. She turned and saw Tarrant bend over a man who was lying on the floor. The chest of the man's blue uniform was covered in blood. He must be a member of the security team, she thought.

"Major!" Tarrant said.

The man opened a bleary eye. "What?"

"Major," Tarrant repeated in a clipped military voice. "Where are they holding the President?"

The man frowned as if he had trouble concentrating. "I... I think below..."

"In the cellar, of course!" Dayna exclaimed. "The logical place to keep a prisoner."

Tarrant gently placed a hand under the major's shoulder. "If we help you, can you show us where?"

That would take too long! Dayna strode to the door. "It can't be difficult to find."

It wasn't. The next door had a stairway winding down. Every fiber in her body tensing, Dayna softly descended the dimly lit stairs. A last bend, and she was face to face with her enemy.

Her heart beating fast, Dayna took in the picture of Servalan, bruised and chained to the wall. She jumped forward.

"Dayna," Servalan said in a strangely flat voice.

"Yes." Dayna aimed her gun. "I'm going to kill you."

"Yes."

Dayna's finger hesitated on the trigger. This was not right. It was almost as if the woman didn't care...

A sound disturbed her thoughts. Dayna turned. Someone was coming down the stairs. Before she could find somewhere to hide, a woman stepped into the cellar. Small, slim, dressed inelegantly in a heavy grey suit.

The woman eyed Dayna arrogantly. "What are you doing here?"

"I've come to kill Servalan."

"No!" The woman reached into a pocket. "We need her alive--"

Dayna fired. The woman collapsed.

"Splendid," Servalan said. "You have killed the ringleader. Without her, this pathetic uprising will fail."

"You won't be here to gloat." Dayna aimed her gun. The single shot shattered Servalan's chain. "Close your eyes!"

"What?" Servalan lowered her arms. Parts of the severed chain were still attached to her wrists.

"Close your eyes," Dayna repeated. "I want you to experience what my father felt, when you killed him!" All the pain of her loss rose up in her again. "I'll make you suffer, Servalan, before I kill you!"


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