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Word of Honour

By Michael Miles
Page 2 of 2

When one of the Amagons demanded to know why Avon cut in. "If you are going to argue I might as well sit in the shade." With that he casually dropped down beside the rock that was the only shade for half a kilometre. When Tarn and his Amagons ignored Avon Tarrant decided he might as well join him.

"What if the Liberator detects the flyer and sees it going the wrong way, what do you think they will do then? This way they will detect the crash or find it when they come looking for their friends and think them dead. Even if they look for the bodies by the time they realise they're not there we will be long gone." Tarn said finally ending the argument.

"That's very interesting. Tell me will anyone come looking for your bodies?"

They turned shocked to see Avon levelling a gun at them. There were two ways the Amagons could react, they could open fire or they could turn on their chameleon suits. They both went for their suits. As they disappeared Avon gave them a burst of fire. Tarn, who had been too stunned to react, was hit and fell to the ground dead but there was no way to tell if the Amagons had been hit.

"Run for the flyer!" Avon shouted as he let loose with another burst in the general area the Amagons had vanished.

They were almost in the flyer when shots started going past them. They dived through the hatch and Tarrant jumped into the pilot's seat. Within seconds they were screaming up into the sky.

When they were levelled off and on a heading back to the teleport site Tarrant turned to Avon. "Ok, are you going to tell me where you got the gun?"

Avon smiled, "I teleported to the meeting point yesterday and buried it beside that rock. That was the only place I could be sure of finding it again."

"But how did you know where the meeting was to be?"

"Tarn was only a middle man, he had been getting his instructions from someone else off world. Orac had been monitoring his transmissions."

"So you had a good idea this was a trap right from the start. Very clever Avon, but as you are so clever why didn't you leave a couple of teleport bracelets down there as well?"

"I didn't want to risk them finding them if they scanned the site. That's why I got this chemically powered gun from Dayna, they might have detected a plasma weapon." Avon couldn't quite avoid sounding a little smug as he explained it all to Tarrant.

Suddenly an alarm sounded and the flyer began to vibrate violently. Tarrant fought the controls desperately trying to keep the flyer level.

"A stabilizer just went down. It must have been hit in the shooting." He shouted above the alarm.

"We're still twenty kilometres out. Can you keep it flying that long?"

"Not a chance." Tarrant watched the figures on the readouts spiral crazily as more and more systems went down.

"Get as close to the teleport site as you can."

"Good plan Avon, I'd never have thought of that." Tarrant answered through gritted teeth.

The flyer hit the ground, bounced, hit the ground again and finally came to rest in a cloud of sand. A stunned Avon and Tarrant scrambled free of the wreckage just seconds before it burst into flames. Soon the flyer was an inferno sending black smoke pouring hundreds of metres into the air.

Tarrant turned to Avon. "Do you think the Liberator will pick up the crash?"

"Not a chance. I had them leave orbit, they are not to come back until they hear from us."

"Why the hell did you do that?"

"If your friends have a ship up there the Liberator would be a sitting target in stationary orbit. Sometimes you have to prioritise, the safety of the ship had to be my top priority."

"I thought your own safety was always top. You may have been a bit too clever this time, the Liberator may not have seen the crash but the Amagons must have. They are probably already on their way."

Avon studied the horizon carefully. A notch in the distant mountains gave them a landmark on the right heading and they must be less then twenty kilometres from their teleport bracelets, maybe only fifteen. Of course fifteen kilometres on a map would be a lot further if you are climbing up and down sand dunes, and in this heat they would lose about a litre of water an hour. Without water they would deteriorate fast. Avon doubted they would make it even if the Amagons didn't over take them first.

"Come on lets go." He said getting to his feet.

"Go? Go where?"

"I thought the teleport site a good idea."

"It's no good Avon I'd never make it." Tarrant pulled up his trouser leg to reveal blood seeping over the top of his boot. "You'll have to leave me. You can make it on your own. I'll try and draw the Amagons off, give you as much time as I can."

Avon thought with annoyance, it was typical of Tarrant to want to die a hero's death. The most annoying thing was he was probably right. The sensible thing for him to do was to leave Tarrant behind and try and make it on his own. He bent down and pulled Tarrant to his feet by his shirtfront.

"We are getting out of here together. If I can make it so can you." He almost growled.

Every step was an effort, to stop was worse, and to start again almost impossible but Avon found if he just concentrated on the next footstep he could somehow keep going. The sun was slowly drying him out like a raison he knew, and the first thing to be affected by dehydration was the brain. Somehow he would have to keep thinking clearly, he couldn't afford to make mistakes. Tarrant had dropped behind again, when he looked round he had fallen face down in the sand. It took all the effort Avon could muster to go back and check on him. He had passed out, it was a wonder he had got as far as this really. Avon studied the line of dunes behind them. He had seen a glint of sunlight a little while ago; he didn't need to guess just what it had reflected off of. He looked down at the unconscious Tarrant and sighed. Avon knew there was only one way to get out of this. ............................................................

The Amagons had seen Tarrants unconscious body from a long way off but had approached it slowly. He was lying at the bottom of a sand dune, a line of footprints continued past him, disappearing over the crest. They stopped the land crawler twenty metres short of him and continued cautiously on foot, guns held at the ready.

The first Amagon reached Tarrant and reached out a toe to nudge him when behind them something burst out of the sand. Avon fired at the first Amagon killing him instantly, the second panicked and tried to run but got only a few paces before he too was cut down. Avon collapsed unto his knees the adrenaline that had kept him going now leaving him weak and shaking.

After a while he was able to get up and make it to the crawler. He saw a canteen of water and drank greedily from it. To double back, covering his footprints as he went, had taken every ounce of strength and willpower he possessed, waiting under the burning sand without passing out still more. But now the water had an almost magical effect giving him new strength. Even Tarrant regained consciousness after he managed to get some inside him.

Slowly Tarrant became aware of his surroundings again. He was lying in a land crawler. Avon, or a ghastly apparition of him, was leaning over him trickling water into his mouth. With a choking cough he pushed the canteen away.

"Where did you get that from?" He at last managed to say.

"I inherited it." Avon answered his voice little more then a croak.

"The Amagons?" He asked as Avon's meaning came to him. At Avon's nodded agreement he couldn't help saying. "You did well. I couldn't have done better myself."

"I doubt that. I shot them in the back." The show of Tarrant's old arrogance brought an almost knee jerk reaction from Avon.

By the time they made it back to their teleport bracelets he had become aware of the way he must look and did his best to clean himself up. Tarrant he left as he was, without feeling a trace of guilt. It was only the shocked faces of the others when they teleported them aboard that showed him how unsuccessful his ablutions had been. He made Vila get the ship moving before he would let Tarrant or himself be taken to the medical bay.

Once there he felt suddenly exhausted and suffered Dayna's ministrations without his normal complaints. He let Tarrant field most of the barrage of questions until Cally finally had the sense to push everyone out and give them some peace. After a while he began to feel more like himself again and decided to look in on the flight deck before going to his cabin and getting some sleep.

"Are you going to tell me why?" Tarrant asked as he reached the door.

"Why what?"

"Why you didn't just leave me down there?"

"Oh it was Cally really." Avon told him, in that tone of his. The one that always made Tarrant bristle.

"What do you mean?"

"I promised her I would bring you back alive. When you know me better you'll know I'm a man of my word."

"Well I still owe you anyway. When you know me better you'll know I always pay my debts."

Avon looked across at Tarrant. Oh how it must hurt his pride to be in his debt, to owe him his life. He left the medical bay, a cold smile on his lips. Maybe he could learn to tolerate Tarrant after all.

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