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Trust is only Dangerous...

By Philippa Watts
Page 3 of 4

`Vila, you knew this was probably going to happen,' Dayna said, watching Vila huff and puff as he gathered his equipment together.

`Yes, but I don't have to like it, do I? Sometimes I think Tarrant...' he looked at Dayna, who had returned her concentration to the game they had been playing. `Oh never mind, I'll just go and get it over with.'

`I think that's probably the best idea.'

`Don't you dare cheat while I'm gone, Orac.'

`Since I am incapable of cheating, the likelihood of this happening could not possibly increase with your absence,' Orac retorted.

`Mm, touchy!' Dayna looked up and smiled at Vila. He melted.

`Do I really have to go? I was enjoying myself, even if I was losing...'

`Here, look.' Dayna poured Vila a large drink. `I'll have this chilled and waiting for your return. And I promise I won't cheat on the game either.'

Vila sighed. `OK. Do you have the co-ordinates? You'd better come and teleport me down.'

`You know it makes sense. The sooner you go, the sooner you'll be back.'

`Tarrant. Tarrant! Where the hell are you, Tarrant?' Vila's voice spoke angrily out of Tarrant's bracelet.

`Vila, we'll be with you in...' they rounded a corner, to be greeted by Vila, tense and irate. ` second.' Tarrant gave his crewmate his best beaming smile, to no effect whatsoever.

`Took your time, didn't you?' The thief was obviously nervous. `Come on, let's get this over with. Where's the locked door?'

`Behind you,' Maya said.

`Here?' Vila turned to survey the task in hand, opened his kit and got to work. `If this place is the centre of Federation operations, why isn't there a single guard in sight?... There.' The door emitted a click, and he gave it a little push to prove it was no longer in their way.

`It's the centre of their undercover operations, Vila,' Maya explained. `They're hardly going to advertise their presence with a 3-metre fence and searchlights.'

`Fine. Whatever. You can go in now.' He snapped shut his toolkit and raised his bracelet to his mouth. Tarrant put a restraining hand on his arm.

`Sorry, Vila, your work isn't done yet.'

`What?' As if on cue, Tarrant's bracelet spoke.

`Tarrant. Where's Vila? We need him here now. We've been standing here looking suspicious for longer than is necessary.'

Vila rolled his eyes. `I should have known it was too good to be true.'

Tarrant smiled. `He's on his way, Avon.' He clapped Vila on the shoulder. `You should be glad you're so much in demand. Besides, you'll have Maya for company, that should help.' Tarrant had seen the chance to loosen the grip he had already felt her begin to exert on him, and seized it.

She was taken aback. `I thought I was going to help you here.'

`You'll be more use showing Vila where to go.'

`Quite right. I hate to travel alone.'

Maya sighed. `Come on then. We'll take a transit car. Appearing out of thin air will be the quickest way to attract suspicion. Here.' She thrust the notepad bearing the instructions from Oolak into Tarrant's hand and they hurried away. Vila walked a pace behind Maya (the better to admire the view), and Maya threw Tarrant a final, annoyed glare over her shoulder.

Tarrant smiled, shaking his head, and turned to the now unlocked door. He pushed it open tentatively and stepped inside.

He found himself in a long corridor lined with numbered doors. Checking his gun was set to `stun' he made his way along it as nonchalantly as possible. Thanking Lady Luck that he had so far encountered not a single soul, he had almost reached the end of the corridor when a door opened and he collided rather inelegantly with the person who emerged. His hand went to his gun automatically, but he managed to check his reaction as the person recovered their senses and looked him full in the face.

`Del Tarrant?' The stranger peered at him. `Tarrant it is you. I'd know that hair anywhere.' Tarrant continued to look blankly at him, trying desperately to dredge up the person's face from his memory. He was short, with oiled-back hair and dressed in a Federation uniform.

`Er... sorry...'

`Call yourself an undercover agent?' Ah, so that's what he thinks I'm doing here. `Don't you remember? At the FSA. We did the same particle physics class. You were teacher's pet and I was madly jealous. Randal. Randal Westor. Where have you been?'

`Westor!...' I still don't remember you... He shook Westor's proffered hand warmly, thanking Lady Luck once again that for some reason this old acquaintance wasn't terribly well acquainted with recent editions of the Federation's Most Wanted List.

`I'm just on my way out... would you like to grab some dinner?' Westor indicated the exit, and Tarrant suddenly saw an easy way to achieve his aim. `I'm afraid not, Westor. Some other time. But you could help me... I just got assigned here yesterday...'

`Ah... I was wondering why I hadn't seen you around.'

`Er, yes... and I'm a bit lost. Could you point me to the admin office?'

`Of course!! But they'll be no-one there at this time, you know that...' Westor gave Tarrant detailed instructions. `Well, I'd best be off, meeting this lovely girl so can't be late. Guess I'll see you around.'

Tarrant shot him.

`I doubt that ...' he dragged Westor's unconscious form into the room he'd just left and locked him in a storage cupboard. `Sorry about your dinner date,' he told the cupboard. `I just couldn't risk you remembering what had happened to me.'

Now... the admin office...

What Westor lacked in particle physics ability, he made up for with his detailed and accurate directions to Tarrant's destination of choice. And so it was that he found himself in the room that held the key to the Federation's operations on Santer II. Unlike the building itself, this room was guarded, but he easily dispensed with the unfortunate soldier and dumped him unceremoniously in the corner of the office, before sitting down before a computer terminal.

`Let's see... agents' assignments... information about who's who in the government... what's this?'

It was the rota for the kitchen staff.

Tarrant considered having fun rearranging all the agents' assigned tasks and even putting some of them on kitchen detail, but decided in the end that time was of the essence.

He erased the lot.

`Dayna... bring me up.'

Dayna was slightly taken aback when Tarrant shimmered into view.

`You look like the proverbial cat that got the cream,' she said. `Have fun with your old girlfriend, did you?'

Tarrant laughed. `Sorry to disappoint you, Dayna, nothing like that at all... Is Vila back yet?'

`No, and he's miserable.'

`Put me back down a little way away from where they are, and I'll see if I can't give them a hand. I should really say goodbye to Maya, too.'

`What a gentleman.'

`I know, I just can't help it...' His expression grew thoughtful. `I thoroughly abandoned her once before, and much as I'd like her to get the message, it just wouldn't be honourable to do it again. And she has helped me sabotage the Federation's entire undercover operation on the planet.'

`Really?' Dayna smiled at the news. Or it could have been at Tarrant's desire to be `honourable'. `So not an entirely wasted journey, then.'

`I didn't force any of you to come.'

`Tarrant, it was easier to go along with you, since we didn't have anything else pressing on.'

`Oh, you all decided that, did you? Great. Thank you so much for your support.'

`Stop being so sensitive and get back down there where you belong,' Dayna's tone wasn't unkind.

`Yes, dear.'

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