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By Rowena Tucker
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Zakiid couldn't believe his luck.

He'd spent the morning in Myenna's Palace, gaining a little new perspective in life with the help of several of Myenna's potent concoctions, and then as he was coming out, he spotted them. He wasn't sure at first; after all, the central market place of Derondar's main domed city was fairly crowded, so he'd followed them. He wasn't quite close enough to hear what they were saying but there was no mistaking them. He and his group had seen the official vidcasts about them so often, they could practically recite them. Suramma was the worst for that; her life practically revolved around obsessively following this group and their exploits. And now here they were! Well, two of them. He studied the back of the heads of his targets, walking a little ahead of him through the busy market streets. Yes, it was definitely them: the dark haired man was Avon and the woman Cally. Two of the infamous "Blake's Seven" right here on his planet, right in front of him!

He could barely contain his excitement when he thought about how he would be able to tell the others about this. Suramma would just die of jealousy when she heard about this, especially when he told her which two. She had always claimed to be madly in love with Avon, plastering the walls of her room with pictures of him and her collection of articles that appeared about him in any publication she could get her hands on. She was always going on and on endlessly about how if she ever met him she would tempt him away from a life of rebellion and they would then run off together to a new life on one of the Outer Worlds. She saw no reason why this couldn't happen, despite the rest of them all pointing out the million and one flaws in her plan - mainly that he was a dangerous wanted criminal and she was a seventeen year old girl - but she refused to listen to any of them. He wondered what the two of them were doing here. As Derondar was a virtually independent world, it was unlikely that they were planning to attack anything here. There wasn't anything to attack at any rate; no matter how rich and prosperous it was, Derondar was a dull planet. Hence the number of places like Myenna's Palace to be found there. Zakiid dared himself to creep closer, straining to hear what they were saying in the hope that this would tell him what they were up to. He was careful not to get too close though; he wasn't sure if what they said about the Auron woman was true or not. He remembered how that had come up at the party last night, the one he'd held at his apartments while his parents were away. Jiralya, a pale, plumpish girl who took everything far too seriously, was recounting what she'd been reading about Aurons and how some of them were such powerful telepaths they could suck all the thoughts out of your head and leave you a drooling idiot. "Well if that's true," Dalian had drawled. "It wouldn't take them long to finish you off. And I don't think anyone would notice if they did."

The rest of the group had all shrieked with laughter, hurling handfuls of popped isha kernels at each other as Jiralya flushed bright red, trying to shrink away into the cushions she was sitting on. None of them could stand Jiralya really, she was such a cretin; they only let her hang around with them because her father was one of the richest and most powerful men on the planet. Why he'd never used some of that money and power to sort out his only daughter, they could never understand. It wouldn't take much to make her tolerable. Just a couple of operations, some hair augmentation, a few years of intensive psycho-therapy to make her lighten up a bit...

Suddenly aware that his mind was wandering, Zakiid pulled his attention back to the present. He didn't really believe half of what he'd heard about Aurons, but he didn't want to take a chance of being caught out if Cally really could read his mind. Idly, he contemplated what it would be like to have sex with a telepath, then he found himself wondering if he'd be able to find out, if he pulled this off right.

He was a little scared, if he was honest with himself, at what he was planning, but he knew he couldn't let this opportunity pass him by. Besides, the others would never believe him when he told them if he didn't have proof. Taking advantage of the fact that his two targets had stopped in front of a market stall and were examining the merchandise, he half-hid himself behind an ornate pillar and, raising his new portable all-in-one surreptitiously, he recorded a few pictures, being careful not to let them see him. The woman's head tilted slightly, as if listening for something, and she grasped her companion's arm. He saw the man's lips move briefly, but neither of them turned his way, so Zakiid assumed he was safe. It made sense to assume that these people would always be on edge. Even on a planet like Derondar, there could be people who would turn them in. Idiots. How could anyone not realise that these people were heroes? They fought against the Federation! Even here, on a planet virtually ignored by the Federation since time began, Zakiid could see that their cause was a fantastic one. How exciting it must be; to be outlaws, hunted, immersed in a noble struggle against oppression.

The two started up again, moving away from the market place and heading towards the shuttle bays. Zakiid started up in a panic, worried that he might be losing his targets before he'd even be able to talk to them. He knew that they were supposed to have some kind of miraculous teleportation device that they used for transport rather than shuttles, but he didn't want to run the risk that this time they were using more conventional methods and he wouldn't be able to follow them. Away from the crowds now, he could see them clearly as they turned a corner, and he hurried to catch up with them, his mind rapidly turning over what would be the coolest opening line to approach them with. All coherent thought however, was immediately driven straight out of his head once he rounded the corner and found himself slammed up against a wall with an arm against his throat and a gun held to his head.

"Who are you and why are you following us?" asked the owner of the gun. Avon.

Too startled to take it in - although now only too aware that it was Cally who was pressing him up against the wall, something he had not imagined in any of his projections - he could only gurgle in reply.

The arm restricting his airway slackened off a little, allowing him to gasp in a deep breath, but he could still make no words. The gun was pushed closer to his face and Zakiid realised with a sudden surge of panic that they really thought he was somebody dangerous and could conceivably shoot him.

"Hey, I just - I'm not, I mean..." he managed to stutter. Cally released him, stepping back but drawing her own weapon.

"He's just a boy," she remarked to her companion, taking in his peacock overcoat, chosen specially to match his eyes, his elaborately embroidered trousers with matching shoes and the spiky, multi- coloured hairstyle that took an age to perfect every morning.

"Why were you following us?" she demanded.

Zakiid swallowed nervously, his heart racing. This wasn't how it was supposed to go! He was supposed to stroll up to them nonchalantly, make some stunningly clever remark that would bowl them over with his obvious coolness and intellect. Suddenly he wished he hadn't consumed quite so many of Myenna's concoctions earlier.

"I - I recognised you. From the vidcasts. I wanted to make sure it was you."

"You recognised us? Who is it you think we are?" Avon demanded coldly, the guns still held unwaveringly on Zakiid.

"You're, wow, I mean you're Avon and Cally! You're two of Blake's Seven! You're famous, man!"

"Blake's Seven?" Cally reiterated, a note of incredulity in her voice. "Is that what they're calling us?"

"Yeah! Although, I always wanted to know, why is it Blake's Seven when there's only ever been six of you? And does Blake count as one of the seven, or-"

"Shut up," Avon snarled, pushing his gun right up into the boy's face.

"We should kill him," he said to Cally. "Make sure he doesn't cause us any trouble."

"Kill me?!" Zakiid repeated, horrified. "You can't kill me! You're my heroes, man!"

The two rebels exchanged glances, then turned their attention back to Zakiid.

"What did you say?" Cally asked, sounding more surprised than threatened.

"I said you're my heroes! My whole group worships you guys! We know everything about you!"

On seeing the reaction the two holding guns on him gave to his words, he amended hastily: "I mean, we support you."

"Support us?" Cally queried. "But this planet is independent. Why would you need to oppose the Federation?"

Completely missing that she was testing him, Zakiid saw a way out and leapt for it.

"Because of what you guys do! It's on all the vidcasts and we think it's so cool!" Avon raised his eyebrows.

"Cool?" he repeated, as if the word tasted bad in his mouth, something else that Zakiid totally misinterpreted.

"Yeah! Fighting against the Feds! It's the best thing in the galaxy!"

By now both of them were staring at him in utter disbelief.

"We're wasting our time," Avon snapped in irritation. "He's a bigger fool than Vila."

He cast a disapproving eye of Zakiid's clothing. "Not to mention wearing an outfit that would make those on Freedom City look underdressed."

Cally shot him a suspicious look.

"How would you know? You didn't go down to Freedom City. You and Vila stayed on the ship. Didn't you?"

Avon ignored her question.

"Check him for weapons," he told her. Cally holstered her gun and began frisking Zakiid, who was too worried by the gun in his face to enjoy her attention properly.

"Weapons? I can't carry weapons, I'm a non-majority."

"A what?" Avon demanded.

"A non-majority. It means I'm not old enough to achieve full adult status. We can't vote, bear arms or own property. Or leave the planet."

"So instead you spend your time following strangers around?" Avon asked.

"Strangers? You're not strangers, you're celebrities!"

"So you said. But we don't know you," Cally pointed out.

"I'm Zakiid," he told her, offering a handshake, which was ignored. "That's about it. Like I said, non-majorities can't really do anything. And we're stuck on this boring little planet."

"I can think of much worse places to be," Cally remarked. "So that's why you follow what we're doing? Because you have nothing else to do?"

Zakiid looked insulted.

"Of course not! We watch the vidcasts because they're so exciting, because we all think what you're doing is so great!"

"I've had enough of this," Avon snapped impatiently. "Let's just kill him and get on with what we came for."

Startled, Zakiid began to protest, but Cally spoke over him.

"We don't need to kill him Avon."

"You really believe all that nonsense?"

"Hey man, I'd never sell you out," Zakiid insisted. "You can trust me."

Avon gave him a cold look.

"What about this?" Avon asked, holding up the portable all-in-one Cally had found in Zakiid's coat.

"That's just my all-in-one. Like a sort of pocket computer."

"I know what it is. Were you taking pictures of us on it?"

Zakiid hesitated.

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Rowena Tucker

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