Blake’s 7: Return to Action
Chapter 6: Reunion
Blake pounded the armrest with his fist. “I don’t believe it!” he shouted. “They did it to me again! And this time, it was Servalan!” Minutes earlier, his searching had broken a small hole in the mind block. The flood of memories and convictions that followed had proved too much for the damaged conditioning, and it had all fallen apart.
“I should have listened to Deva! Not only was I nearly killed by Avon, but Servalan brainwashed me into blindly following her every order! She made me kill those people on that ship! They would have been my allies, if she hadn’t done this to me!” He hit the armrest again.
Sleer’s voice came over the intercom. “Supreme Commander to Agent Blake.” He calmed himself down, deciding to pretend he was still “Sleer’s” mindwiped dupe and flipped the switch on the console.
“Blake here,” he responded.
“Report to my office for immediate assignment.”
“Yes, Supreme Commander,” he responded. “I’m on my way.”
Servalan went over the message again. Many of the people who had moved to Gauda Prime in the past months and years now resented Space Command’s military presence. The base she was using as a headquarters for Project Turnabout had previously been used by many of the bounty hunters who cleared out the criminals as the planet returned to its original status.
These people had no complaint about the protection from dangerous outlaws, but the growing population seemed uncomfortable under the watchful eye of Space Command troops. A group of rebels had gathered a following in the past few weeks and was demanding to be heard. If Blake could infiltrate the band, he could break it up without wasting soldiers and ammunition. The question was: would he get there before they made their first strike?
Jenna landed the spacecraft in the hangar perfectly. After powering down, she stepped out and greeted Avalon. “Perfect flight after only a day of practice! I told you I was a good pilot.”
“You are, Jenna. I didn’t think anyone could handle that with so little practice time. Congratulations!”
“Thank you. I haven’t heard that word in a long time.”
Del Grant walked through the rubble, heading for the opening nearest the spot where he left his ship. He did his best to put the memories of that dark room and the creature within behind him. If it had been telling the truth, however, he might be closer to finding Dorian. He could finish up this job and go on to something less arcane.
He caught a glimpse of sunlight up ahead. His way out was about twenty yards away, and his ship was three times that distance from the exit. It wouldn’t be long now before he’d be ready to try to locate Avon and his crew.
He paused at the entrance to let his eyes adjust to the sunlight, and then he noticed someone’s ship just outside of the ruin. He ducked down to keep out of sight, and noticed five people walking in his direction. After moving about five feet, they stopped, and all of them stared at the ship as the door opened and someone stepped out. He still couldn’t get a clear view; the sun was behind them and his eyes, still not quite adjusted, could see little more than silhouettes against a bright, hazy background.
He heard one of them speak one word: “Cally?” He recognized Avon’s voice, and could hear the surprise in it. He was a bit confused himself, as well. “I thought she was supposed to be dead,” he muttered.
“So did I,” a voice said behind him. He turned around to face a woman who looked very much like Cally had when they met on Albian, but had red hair and had an angry, driven look to her, as if she were pursuing some quest of revenge.
“Who are you?”
“That’s not important. What’s important is that you don’t let them know we’re here, and you do tell me what you’re doing and everything you know about those people out there.”
“I don’t even know who they are!”
“You mean you don’t recognize them?”
“Recognize them? I’ve been down here all day in the dark, I can hardly see them!”
“That’s Avon and his little crew over there, and that’s Cally, who really should be dead. I was sure I had killed her.”
“Never mind. I’ve no time left now. She knows I’m here, or senses my presence. I’ll be back.” She took off down the ruined corridor and vanished into the darkness.
“Cally?” Avon asked in wonder. There, just standing in front of him, was the woman he thought had died, a woman whose “death” he blamed on himself (though he would never admit it to anyone else). This was the same person he’d spent the past month searching for, checking every lead, investigating even the slightest clue. And now, he had just run into her by pure accident. The most unlikely thing to happen in the universe had just occurred, and, for the first time in years, Avon was caught completely off guard.
“Cally? Is it really you?” Vila breathed. “We thought you were dead!”
“If you survived,” Tarrant queried, “why did it take so long to find us?”
At the same time, Soolin whispered, half to herself, “So this is the famous Cally…”
Cally herself seemed to snap back into the world at once, as if she had been listening for something very far off but could not catch it, and came back to the immediate situation. She spoke first to answer Tarrant’s question. “If you were trapped under a pile of rubble half a kilometer below the surface of an unstable planet no-one knew existed, I suppose you’d do better?”
“Well…” Tarrant began.
“Nice to see you all again!” Cally said. “I’ve missed you these two months I was awake.”
Greetings were exchanged, and they introduced Cally and Soolin to each other, and then Dayna asked, “What did you mean, ‘those two months you were awake?’”
“For almost a year,” Cally explained, “I had to remain in a hibernation trance, so that—” She broke off in mid-sentence, closed her eyes, and placed her hand on her forehead, as if she had a headache.
“What’s wrong?” Dayna asked as she moved over to support Cally, just in case she might fall.
“It’s— it’s nothing,” she answered, shaking her head. “Nothing at all. I’m fine.”
“Cally,” Avon voiced, “whenever you sense something unusual, you always tell us that. What is it you sense?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “It’s a—” she paused, searching for the right word,“a presence. One I haven’t felt since—”
“Since when?” Avon said.
“Since just after you took us to Earth to avenge Anna. We found the tomb in space, remember?”
“She couldn’t have followed us here, could she? I thought we left her on Terminal!”
“That alien that tried to use your body to live again. She’s back, and has been chasing us. But we came here from Terminal, where we left her.” Avon turned towards the others. “We’d better get out of here before she finds us.” Turning back to Cally, he asked, “Would you like to come with us, on our ship? We have the space, and I think it would be better for all of us to stay together.”
“Yes,” she replied, “I think I will. I’d hate to leave the Auron, but I don’t have much with me, and I would rather be with all of you again. Solitude is so lonely, especially for a telepath. Just give me a minute to collect my things.”
She disappeared into her small spaceship and reappeared moments later with a knapsack. “So where is your ship?”
Avon handed her an extra teleport bracelet with one hand and pointed upward with the other. “Up there. We have a teleport on the Revenge.”
“Revenge against whom?” she asked, slipping the bracelet onto her wrist.
“Servalan. Who else?”
“Avon,” Cally added, “I sensed someone else. She seemed faded, as if her mind was suppressed by something else, but it was my sister,” Cally’s voice fell off as the six of them disappeared.
“Wait!” Del Grant ran out from the ruined entrance to Xenon Base, but found he was too late to catch the vanishing forms before they were gone. “Blast! There goes the biggest clue I’ve had in weeks! It’s times like this I almost wish I hadn’t taken this job.”
For the first time in weeks, Avon awoke from a sleep plagued by no dreams. He wondered if it was Cally’s return that had finally let him relax his nerves, or if they had been caused by Dorian’s ring, and by destroying it he had put an end to them. Those thoughts he pushed aside as he thought of the previous day and Cally’s return.
After bringing Cally on board the Revenge, they had set a course to take them out into deep space and used the time to catch up on events. They gave Cally the tour of the ship, and told her of what had happened in the year and month she had been gone. Then Cally told them about how she had lived and escaped from Terminal.
She had gone into a hibernation trance, slowing down her body functions so she could survive for months to years unconscious. After eleven months she woke up to find the base was the target of someone’s salvage operation. The salvagers had taken her to their home planet, where she received medical treatment for the injuries suffered in the collapse. She had then hooked up with the local resistance groups and appropriated a spacecraft, which she named the Auron, and set off looking for the rest of the Liberator’s crew.
After hearing of the famed Gauda Prime incident, she had headed there, only to discover they had escaped. Finding out the location of their base on Xenon, she had gone there, hoping to find, if not them, at least a clue to where they went. And there she found them.
Avon got up and got dressed, then headed for the flight deck, where he found Vila “on watch.” Actually, the thief was sleeping in the pilot’s chair. Avon decided not to wake him up, and simply picked up Orac and carried it into his own cabin. He placed the key on the right spot and waited.
Well, Avon, what do you want now that you have found Cally?
“I want you to take what we now know about Dorian and Darya, and try to identify their race.”
After a few moments the computer spoke. There is no information about any race that has the qualities exhibited by these two individuals.
“So you’re telling me you don’t know.”
Precisely, Orac replied.
“And you want me to infiltrate their organization, right?” Blake asked of Servalan.
“Exactly,” she answered. “I want you to break into this band of rebels and break them up as an alternative to suppressing them with troops. A much more economical approach.”
“Yes, Supreme Commander. When shall I begin?”
“Tonight, find their meeting place and join them. You will be equipped with nothing a plantation farmer wouldn’t have. You will use sabotage and other methods to demoralize them so that they will simply fall apart.”
“I will begin immediately, Supreme Commander Sleer.”
“Good. May you succeed in your mission.”
Blake saluted and marched out of the room. Once out in the hall, his manner relaxed, but his mind raced. He could not carry out these orders because they would betray the rebellion, yet if he refused, they would simply mindwipe him again. He would be walking a narrow line between loyalty and secrecy, but he would have to walk it. The dilemma troubled him as he headed for his quarters to prepare for the mission, but, by the time he was ready, a plan had formed in his mind.
As the Revenge progressed towards the frontier world of Sirius B, its occupants handled various tasks. Avon scanned through plans which Orac had appropriated of a Space Command base there, planning a strike in his head. Soolin alternated between trying to join Avon’s work and trying to get to know Cally as a person, rather than a myth. Cally was catching up on everything she had missed in the past year, with Tarrant, Dayna, and Vila. Each of them had something more they were doing, directly or indirectly related to this upcoming strike.
Avon had come up with the idea just a few hours earlier. This outpost was not a key location for communication, troops, information, leadership, technology, or anything else, but it had one thing that made it a desirable target: its isolation from other facilities placed it right in the middle of outlaw territory. With this base put out of commission, the smugglers, bounty hunters, and other outlaws would be largely unchecked, and would disrupt the Federation far more than a single fugitive ship. Oddly, it seemed the idea had never occurred to anyone else. The Revenge was now only hours away from its destination.
Del Grant was once again in the small ship he was using for this contract. With no clue beyond the Gestalt’s mention of Avon, he was not going to allow this chance to be lost. Unfortunately, the Revenge was far faster than Del’s ship, and he had lost distance early in the chase. He was at this point navigating on a guess. From his quarry’s last known course, it seemed they were heading for the frontier.
He was trying to finish up this job as soon as possible, as he had begun to tire of its more arcane aspects. Resurrection and spiritual possession were not exactly topics with which he was comfortable, but he needed the money. It was better than being in debt— but only marginally.
Darya sat in meditation on the ship she had taken from the original occupant of her new body. It was following Del Grant, with a detector shield hiding its existence from him. He had seen the Gestalt, and might know something she could learn after she had first dealt with a small measure. She reached out into space with her mind, searching for the presence of one of her own race. She had not sensed him when she last saw Avon, and was curious about what might have happened. After a long, long time of searching, she finally found him.
“It is too late, my sister. I am dead beyond help. Not even your intervention could save me now.”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes, there is no possibility. You are on your own, now.”
“I feared as much”
As she broke the contact, she could feel Dorian slipping away into true death. Until now, she had had an ally. As he had said, she was now truly on her own in this mission of vengeance.
Blake strode into a meeting hall in Forest Falls, the local town near the Gauda Prime outpost. A man was standing up on the stage at the front of the room, leading the others in a cry for freedom. Everyone was standing, fists raised in enthusiasm, shouting in unison, “Down with Space Command! Free us from tyranny!” All activity halted as everyone turned to the back of the room to observe Blake’s determined entrance.
Their apparent leader quickly walked up to meet Blake, asking, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
Blake answered, somewhat glibly, “Who am I? I’m Roj Blake, at your service. I hear you’re leading a rebellion?”
The leader was somewhat startled by Blake’s announcement of his identity, but he replied, just the same. “We’re— honored to meet you, Blake! My name’s Taggart. We’d be glad to have you with us. Our immediate goal is to get rid of this Space Command outpost—” He started leading Blake towards the front of the room, where there was a table on which various papers had been strewn.
“There’s something you need to know about that base,” Blake explained. “They have this project going there called Project Turnabout which they use to condition captured rebels to make them betray the Cause. They tried it on me, but failed.”
“They can’t brainwash a legend, right?” Taggart quipped.
“Right. One more thing: Supreme Commander Sleer, who is in charge of the project, is really Servalan, former President of the Federation. This makes her doubly dangerous, as well as giving us an edge: we know her true identity, something she has kept secret from all of her enemies.”
Servalan walked through the corridor after another session of complaining to (and about) the workers who were reconstructing the lab after the fire. This setback had had greater effect on operations than anything else could have. Coupled with the rebellion growing in Forest Falls and a situation which was now calling the Supreme Commander back to Earth, it seemed as if events were conspiring to destroy Project Turnabout.
After a brief stop in her office, Sleer walked into the hangar, ready to board the transport that would return her to her home planet, capital of the Federation. The President had better have a good reason for this, she thought. Her presence was needed here, where she could oversee the repair work and bring the project back on line.
The raid on Sirius B was rather mundane. Tarrant and Dayna teleported into the central power station of the base, using Orac’s plans, and set charges. After returning to their ship, the charges exploded, breaking up the reactor core and causing the entire outpost to be leveled. Back on the Revenge, a discussion ensued.
“It was too easy,” Dayna said. “There should have been more guards, or some accident should have occurred. Nothing happened.”
“You’re right,” Tarrant agreed. “We just dropped in, set the charges, and left. There should have been some more resistance. It just seemed wrong.”
“I think,” Vila noted, “we should just say we were lucky it worked, and get out of here before someone notices us.”
“I don’t see how staying here will accomplish anything,” Cally observed, “but I don’t have any suggestion on where to go next.”
“I do,” Avon stated. “The planet Halifax is a completely nondescript world, with no value whatsoever. It will be the last place anyone will look for us. We can stay there for a while, and recharge our ship’s power cells, with little fear of the Federation interfering. It will take about twelve hours to get there from here. Are there any other ideas?”
No-one spoke up.
“Halifax it is, then,” Soolin concluded.
A luxurious starcruiser touched down on Earth at the facility on the President’s large estate. Out of the hatch stepped Servalan. She did not appear to be amused as the attendant arrived to guide her to the mansion.
“Greetings, Supreme Commander.”
“Just get this over with,” she snapped dryly.
The short walk and air-car drive continued in silence. Servalan’s eyes fixed forward and her mind held rigidly to solving the situation on Gauda Prime. She never once noticed the beautiful scenery, the green grass, the tall, graceful trees, the bright blue sky and clear sunshine. Nor did she pay any attention to the snipers hidden in the trees throughout the estate. Instead she preferred the power struggle she waged against the rest of the galaxy. She wanted the ultimate power back: she wanted to become President of the Federation. And she didn’t want to waste time with the current one.
Servalan thought of nothing more than of power. It was in itself both an end and a means, and to her it justified anything. Walking through the hallways of the mansion to meet face-to-face with the President in his office, only one thought occurred to her: “I’ve been here before and I will be here again.”
“Ah, Supreme Commander Sleer,” a voice said as she entered the room. The chair behind the desk turned toward her and she could see the President. He was tall, had white hair and a short white beard, and looked to be about seventy. “Sit down. I was just enjoying the view.” Servalan spared no glance to the view from the large window behind him. She had seen this view of the gardens before and would see it again, if it ever interested her.
“Thank you, President.” She sat in the chair provided. “Why have you summoned me?”
“We’ve learned some important information. Stories, mostly, but we checked into it and found evidence to back it up. I thought you ought to be apprised of the situation.” He brought out a small viewscreen, set it on the desk so that both could see it, and typed a sequence of buttons. A picture of Servalan appeared on the screen. “These are recordings of ex-President Servalan while she held your present office. Look like anyone you know?” He made a show of comparing the image to the person across from him. “Well, the hair’s just a little bit longer, but she looks much like you, Sleer.”
Servalan shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “There are billions of people in this galaxy, President. Anyone is bound to have a double.”
The President called up several more images and then spoke directly to her. "An anonymous tip caused some lower members of my cabinet to look at the records closely. It was found that you first appeared one month after Servalan was killed trying to steal the Liberator. It then occurred to some of us that the Liberator’s teleport capability might have allowed the former President to escape alive. Then there were the deaths of people who had known the President and the destruction of her likenesses. With Servalan’s reputation, the only reason she was not suspected was that she was supposed to be dead.
“The new leadership, as well as other hostile changes upon her apparent death, was obviously something that she wouldn’t want to face; it could prove disastrous. So, perhaps, she changed her identity and tried to work her way up the command structure. Could she not have taken the name of Commissioner Sleer?”
“Perhaps,” Servalan smiled uneasily.
“Welcome back, Servalan.” He extended his hand across the desk. “I’ll let you know I’m proud to be working with you again. Don’t worry about enemies, your secret is safe with me. I’ll tell my aides this was proven incorrect and keep the knowledge from the rest. Unless, of course, you do something foolish. Keep in line, Servalan, and a promotion may be on the way for you. Fail, and hunting season’s open.”
Blake strolled through the trees outside Forest Falls. He thought of how good it felt to really be alive again, with his own mind in control. And now helping a rebellion. This was what Roj Blake was born for: the restoration of freedom. The deep shadows of late afternoon did not diminish the beauty of the woodlands. Blake took in the clean air with relish. Soon he would pay Servalan back for what she had done to him, and he could live free of debt. The galaxy needed Blake, and he was ready for any challenge it could throw at him.
“Blake?” a voice called from behind him. He turned his head to see a young woman running toward him. “Blake? Is that you?”
“It was last time I checked,” he quipped in response.
“Taggart needs to see you immediately. He says he has some new data on the situation.”
“I’ll have to meet him. Where is he?”
“This way.” She pointed back towards the way she had come. Then she led Blake down a path and into a small clearing. Taggart was standing there with two other members of his rebellion.
“You have something new?”
“Yes,” Taggart explained. “We just received word that the President will be visiting the Space Command base here in four days. If we attack then, we could wipe out the President of the Federation!”
“It could also be a trap,” Blake observed, “since we know they’re aware of our presence. But since they think I’m demoralizing you, they might not think us to be a threat. This could be the break we need to re-draw the face of the Federation in a new image.”
“Someone worse will just move into the position. It won’t help,” one of the two others said.
“Don’t give up hope, that’s what they want us to do. We can win this struggle. Freedom will prevail. We each have to do our best to be part of it. Perhaps I made a few mistakes trying to set up here two months ago, but if I know anything, it’s that the spirit of freedom will always triumph over oppression.”
“There it is,” Del Grant muttered as he saw the blip appear on his scanner. “Avon’s ship.” He had picked up the trail at Sirius B, identifying Halifax as their destination. It seemed they had already arrived. He started entering a sequence to land his ship near the Revenge’s location on Halifax. Unknown to him, he was still followed by the “sister” of his prey. He thought of what he could do without worrying about the almost supernatural concepts he was now faced with. He also wondered how Avon might react to his appearance. Only a few more minutes would pass before he learned the second answer and came closer to learning the first.
Just after he landed, he stepped out to find Avon approaching, armed. “Avon, don’t you recognize me? It’s Del! Del Grant!”
“Del?” Avon stopped and lowered his gun. “Why didn’t you warn us you were coming? How did you find us?”
“My communications system is damaged. I’m on a job looking for a man— a thing that is supposed to be following you. His name is Dorian.”
“Dorian? How do you know about him?”
“I can’t reveal anything about my clients. Sorry, but I’m a professional. I need your help to—” His voice was cut suddenly short as a blast of energy hit him from behind. He fell to the ground, dead. Avon looked past the smoking body of his former friend to see Darya standing beyond. Dayna and Tarrant had just come through the door and stood there, aghast.
“Well, well, Avon,” she said. “You didn’t expect to see me alive again? I’m not surprised. Now, where is Cally? You did meet her on Xenon. Ah, there she is!” As she waved her hand, Cally appeared out of thin air beside Avon. “You two have caused me enough trouble already, and I am ready for my revenge.”