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Fandom: Blake's 7
Series: Tirren Phale
Title: Cygnus Alpha
Rating: Parental Advice Recommended
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction. I do not own the characters or the universe of Blake's 7. Tirren Phale is my own creation, but she is a fan character rather than a canon creation.

Cygnus Alpha

It had been a hard year for Tirren Phale. Any year which starts with being arrested for attempted murder doesn't promise to be a good one. Being shipped out to Cygnus Alpha hadn't improved things. She'd been the only woman on the Berlin, and as the “nice” guard had pointed out, the Civil Authority's prisoner freighters didn't have separate facilities for female prisoners. He'd been willing to offer her the use of his own “facilities”, in return for a small quid pro quo. So for the entire eight month journey, she'd wound up acting as bedwarmer and comfort station for that guard. She'd thought things couldn't possibly get worse (an unfortunate tendency toward optimism had been one of many things her parents hadn't managed to train out of her) but arriving on Cygnus Alpha had proved her wrong.

It took her five minutes to figure out the cult of the God was never going to be a good thing as far as she was concerned. To start with, the “curse of Cygnus” was slightly strange. For a disease to have such a short incubation period was unusual, to say the least. Granted, it could happen, but such diseases were highly engineered and caused far more severe symptoms than the vague nausea and vomiting that the “curse” had ensured prior to being given the “cure”. The message that she would need the “cure” every day for the rest of her life rang warning bells as well. Diseases were generally short-term.

Yet once more she cursed the lack of access to a computer terminal. It was frustrating knowing she could find the information within seconds in one of the many databases available to her professionally. It was even more frustrating realising yet once more that actually, given her current “profession” (involuntary convict), she wouldn't have access to those databases.

So for the first week, she'd accumulated evidence. At the beginning of the second week, she'd spoken with the nice lad who'd been inducting her into the cult, explaining she'd been trained as a biochemist, and that what she was hearing about the “curse of Cygnus” didn't mesh with her professional experience. This had brought the chief priest, Vargas, into her cell, and abruptly, the calm, reasoned debate regarding her conversion she'd been experiencing turned into a nightmare. She'd been called a blasphemer, a witch, a heretic, and threatened with the withdrawal of the cure. When she'd shouted right back at Vargas, telling him she knew the “cure” was a placebo, he'd hit her hard across the face, knocking her to the ground.

She'd awoken in a stone cell, well underground, with Vargas standing over her. “You will never speak of what you've discovered,” he told her, glaring down at her forbiddingly. In some ways she was reminded of her brother-in-law, who was similarly pompous and overbearing. The memory made her smile.

“If I promise not to speak of it, will you let me go?” she bargained.

The man's eyes narrowed. “Why should I do that? Women are valuable here, even over-clever ones such as yourself.”

“Where is my value? As breeding stock?” she returned. At the slight signs of agreement in his face, she laughed. “I cannot bear children.”

“What do you mean?”

“I am sterile.” This was true, in so far as it went. She was two years into a five year hormonal contraceptive implant, and until a year after the implant wore off, she might as well be sterile.

“You think me a fool, woman. I know of the treatments the sinners use. You will bear children in time.”

Damn. So much for that plan. “I won't bear children for at least four years. Would it be worth waiting for that long?”

“You will add to the blood of the faithful,” Vargas told her.

“Not willingly,” she countered. “Do you think I'll keep quiet about the lie you're telling? Do you believe I won't try to tell the truth to my children? You're not offering me much choice. If you want me to keep quiet, you have to offer something better than a lifetime of being used as a broodmare.”

“'From His hand comes Life; from His wrath comes Death,'” Vargas quoted. “Do you truly believe there are any other choices open to you?” He looked at her smugly. “You will remain in this cell until you are willing to submit to His decrees.”

“By which you mean your decrees.” She looked up at him. “I decline.”

Tirren had seen the lights of the ship arriving, and heard the roar of it departing again. She figured she had roughly two hours after the ship left before the patrols would be gone. Possibly she could break some of the group out of the holding cells in the temple. She'd had enough time to consider her strategy. Five months of dodging the patrols, hiding out in the caves, and stealing from the cowed and docile types who did what farming could be done in the harsh conditions had taught her a few new skills. She'd been able to utilise a couple of her old ones as well – it turned out some of the local plantlife was remarkably flammable, and some of the rock contained a few interesting minerals. Crude, but workable explosives had been easy enough to make after liberating a few pots and pans from the small settlement.

She didn't want to fight the priesthood. She could see the point of what they were doing – if the colonists didn't work together, the six monthly incursions of new “colonists” would cause anarchy each time a new batch came in. From what she'd been able to discover through sneaking around the temple during the ceremonies, the early colonists had been dumped on this world with nothing, and had been forced to scratch a living – and nearly wiped out when the next load arrived. The cult of the God at least unified the people, got them working together, provided a structure wherein the new arrivals could be inducted safely into the fragile culture of Cygnus Alpha, and learn how to work together for a time.

No, the cult itself and the priesthood were necessary, if only as a stabilising force on Cygnus Alpha. Vargas, however, was a different matter. She'd spent a month in that little cell in the lower levels of the temple before being thrown out as dead. Indeed, she should have died. She still didn't know why she hadn't. But she'd lived, and come back determined to gain her revenge on Vargas. The cult might be necessary – he wasn't, and neither was the “curse”.

Either way, she had her chance now. She waited for the patrols retreat back to the temple, then followed along in their wake. (She'd been hiding out close enough to where the prisoners passed by to hear one of them describe the temple as being “early maniac”, and been hard put to repress a laugh. She'd try to help that one if she could, she thought. The priests tended not to accept humour, possibly because they couldn't understand it.) The patrols were jumpy tonight. A small group, under the control of one of the more obnoxious acolytes, spoke of a man who appeared and disappeared without notice, although they were dismissed as being mistaken by the priestess, Kara.

Following well behind the patrols, Tirren made her way up to the temple. There was a small back entrance she could sneak in through, and from there, it was easy enough to make her way to “the place of the Novices” (fancy name for a group of cells, in her opinion). However, as she got within range of the cell where the latest group of novices were being held, she was startled to hear a strange voice from outside the cell.

“I've got a ship, I can take you and the others off this planet!”

“It's no good. The priests said there's a disease. They call it the Curse of Cygnus.” At the sound of those words, she decided it was time to involve herself.

“The priests are lying to you,” Tirren said quietly, creeping out of her hiding place. The men all looked at her in shock. “It's not a disease, and you don't need the 'cure' they're giving you.”

“Who are you?” asked the man outside the cell, his voice rising in volume. She motioned him to keep his voice down.

“My name isn't important,” she told him. “The important thing is getting your friends out of there. You're all feeling horrible at the moment, but what you've got isn't a disease.”

“How can you be so sure?” asked one of the men, an argumentative sort, by the look of him.

She gave the man a glare. “Before I got shipped to this rathole, I was a biochemist. The incubation time is too short for a disease, and their claim the cure has to be taken every day is inconsistent.”

“What proof do you have?” The curly-haired man outside the cells was intelligent, it seemed.

“I came in on the last batch of transportees, six months ago,” she whispered. “I was stupid enough to voice my concerns about the disease to the high priest, and he had me punished by expelling me from their little community – and having me beaten nearly to death. Why do both if the Curse of Cygnus was going to kill me?”

There was a sound from further down the corridor. “It's the priest,” she said, tugging at the man's sleeve. “Quick, this way.”

To do the man credit, he followed her without question. She was a little worried he'd have trouble squeezing through the little spillway she used to allow herself access to the temple, but he managed to scrape through. Once they were safely outside the temple, she led him to one of the small caves she'd found.

“We should be safe here, if we keep our voices down,” she said.

“Who are you?” the man asked again, looking at her curiously. She wondered what he saw. Probably a small woman, barely over one and a half metres, long dark hair bound back in a plait, wearing the somewhat tattered remains of what were once good-quality clothes, covered over by a rough homespun smock.

“My name is Tirren Phale. You?”

“Roj Blake. I think I heard about your trial.”

“Well, I know I saw yours. You parroted your evidence very nicely for them.” She flashed him a glance, scanning him over. Aside from looking a bit older, slightly more lines near the eyes, he didn't appear to have changed much from the rebel the Authority had arranged a show-trial for. Same curly hair, same solid good looks, and the same rather rich voice. “Looks like you got over whatever they had you on, anyway. Otherwise you wouldn't be out here.”

“What do you mean 'whatever they had me on'?” Blake demanded. She looked over at him.

“From what I saw of your trial, you were on a mixed dose of drugs which should have stunned an ox. Must have been, in order to sound so damn convinced of your guilt. I didn't believe a bloody word of it, of course.” She turned her attention over to the baskets she had stacked around the inside of the cave, continuing her speech as she did so. “Ah, there it is.” She handed him a large earthenware jar. “Just hold on to that for a moment. Don't drop it.”

“Will it explode?” he asked.

She grinned back at him. “No, but it's the only bottle of rotgut I've managed to lift from the settlement so far. I don't know about you, but I need something to warm me through.”

“I need to get my friends out of that cell,” he said.

“You won't be able to. Not unless you can make the acolytes on duty ignore you as you get out of the building.” She moved on to another basket, pulling out a rough blanket. “Here, wrap up a bit. You'll freeze, else. It doesn't seem that cold here, but if you stop moving, the chill seeps into your bones.”

“What about your little way in and out?” he asked, as he swathed himself obediently in the blanket.

She looked at him. “Do you really think that big feller is going to be able to squeeze through there? I'm surprised you didn't wind up with half your shoulders scraped away. No, if we're going to get them out, we're going to need the key from the acolyte's belt, and we'll have to take them past the acolyte straight off. Give it about two hours. There's a service in an hour, then they'll be left alone for the night. We can slip in and get them out then. Where's your ship landed?”

“Two hours?” Blake glanced at his chronometer. “Is there any way we can do this sooner?”

She looked at him, and blinked. “Oh. Are you meeting with your ship at a particular time?”

“Something like that,” he agreed. Then he fumbled in his pocket, withdrawing something. “Put this on.”

She looked dubiously at the bracelet he was brandishing. “What is it?”

“We have a teleport system. The bracelet lets it pick you up.” Blake looked across at her. “I have about an hour before the pick up time. Is there any way we can get the others out and away from the temple by then?”

Tirren grimaced. “You'll be pushing it. The priests like to take their new 'novices' to their first service before bedding them in for the night, and they're going to be watching your friends pretty closely before then.” She closed her eyes, thinking. “I can see a way of doing it, but it's going to be pretty touch and go. If Vargas sees either of us, we're in deep trouble.”


“The head priest. Has a voice that could knock down a wall, and he tends to use it to full effect in the services. The first service is going to be a sacrifice – some poor wretch from the congregation. 'So perish unbelievers' is the usual text.”

“Is there a point to all of this?”

“Yes. Our best bet is to get in there and take the place of some of the acolytes. Just knock them out for a bit, and take their robes. Then under cover of getting to the service, pass out the bracelets to your friends. That way, they'll be ready for the teleport when it happens.”

“That sounds as though it should work.” Blake stood up, folding the blanket she'd given him. “Will you lead me to that doorway of yours?”

Tirren looked up from where she was rummaging in yet another basket. “Don't be a fool. I'm coming with you. You don't know the first thing about the inside of the temple, but I've been hiding out around here for five months now. Besides,” she pulled out a small flask and a piece of cloth, “we need something to knock the acolytes out with. This should do the trick.”

“What is it?”

“It's a bit like chloroform, but faster acting.” She dropped the flask into the shoulder bag which held her meagre collection of flash grenades and smokers. “Come on. Do you want your friends out or not?”

The short hike back to the temple was accomplished without incident. It took a moment or two to unstick the slipway door (“Bloody thing always sticks in damp weather,” Tirren explained, “and this place has two types of weather – damp and damper.”) but once it was moving, they were able to slip inside.

“Acolytes' quarters are this way,” Tirren whispered. “I'll go and see about getting us some robes for the service. If you follow that corridor, you'll be in the Place of the Novices.”

Blake nodded, and headed off down the corridor. Tirren, meanwhile, slipped quietly away to the acolyte's bunkhouse. As she'd expected, there were only a couple of them present, one of whom was asleep on his bunk already. The other was reading over a copy of The Book (hand written – a copy of the 'testament' of the cult). Sneaking up on the reader was easy – he was one of those people who needed to sound out each word silently as he read. The hardest part was holding the cloth over his mouth and nose for the minute required for him to fall asleep. The sleeper got a quick dose, to ensure he stayed sleeping.

Two sets of robes later, and Tirren was on her way back to the Place of the Novices. However, she'd only got half-way when the sounds of a scuffle alerted her. Ducking quickly into one of the hiding places she knew, she watched as Blake was dragged past her, unconscious. She bit the inside of her lip. Now what the hell did she do? Quickly she contemplated her options, then slipped into one of the sets of robes she'd “borrowed” and tagged onto the end of the procession. With any luck, she'd be able to spring Blake from whichever cell they put him into, and get on with the rest of the plan.

Unfortunately for the pair of them, the procession of acolytes was heading down toward the high priest's accommodations. Stifling the urge to swear, Tirren ducked into a nearby alcove and reconsidered her plans. She had a horrible feeling who would be winding up in pride of place at the 'service'. Time to get back to the cells.

Bowing her head, and hiding her face within her robes, Tirren turned to make her way back to the Place of the Novices, only to walk head-on into Laran, one of the few acolytes who was likely to recognise her, having come in on the Berlin as she did. Fortunately, she had the advantage of being quicker on the draw – before he was able to grab his knife, she'd been able to grab a flash grenade and throw it at him. Closing her eyes before the glare, she ran for the nearest exit, throwing down a smoker to cover her tracks. By the time the choking smoke cleared, she would be out of sight of her pursuer.

She arrived at the Place of the Novices out of breath and less than serene, to find there were two acolytes on duty. Or rather, one acolyte, and Kara. The acolyte was no worry – she was able to knock him out fairly quickly. Kara, on the other hand, was talking to the new 'novices' – particularly to the tall fellow.

“From His hand comes Life; from His wrath comes Death,” Kara was saying. “The Rite of Sacrifice will be performed this night, and you must Witness.”

“Must we?” asked a smaller man. With a grin, Tirren recognised the voice of the “early maniac” comment.

“It is His command that you do so.” To Kara this appeared to be a satisfactory argument.

“Can't we talk it over?” the small man said. Clearly he didn't share her view. Anyway, he was distracting Kara, which gave Tirren time enough to slip up behind her, and drug her into unconsciousness. Swiftly, Tirren flipped back the hood of her robes.

“Talking won't help Blake,” Tirren said. “I've a feeling he's just made the top of the list for sacrificial victims tonight. They were taking him to Vargas.”

“Who're you?” asked the big man.

“I'm a friend. That's all you need to know for now,” Tirren replied, searching Kara to find the key to the door, but having no success. “Damn. Where's that key?” she muttered.

“This one?” asked the small fellow, holding it up.

“That's the one!” Tirren grabbed the key, and quickly opened the door. “Come on. We have to get Blake.”

“Why?” This was the argumentative fellow from earlier on. “Why should we believe you?”

“Give over, Arco,” the big man said, sounding somewhat exasperated. “She's letting us out of here, isn't that enough for you?”

“Letting us out to do what?” Arco returned. “Die?”

“Well, you can do that if you want to,” Tirren snapped, “but I'd rather you helped me rescue Blake. Get her,” she said, pointing at Kara. “She's the high priest's cousin. She'll do as a hostage.”

The big man picked up Kara, as though she weighed next to nothing. The little fellow slipped out, sticking almost in the shadow of the big man. Arco stood in the doorway, his head down and jutting forward, rather like a bull. “What's in it for us, eh?” he demanded, looking at the big man. “What's in it for us, Gan?”

“You heard Blake,” Gan replied. “He has a ship. He can get us out of here. We can be free.”

“Free?” Arco gave a sour laugh. “We're criminals, Gan. Tried and convicted. There's nowhere we can be free. First planet we land on, we're caught and sent right back here, or somewhere even worse.”

“Blake said he had a ship. He said Jenna and Avon were on it, and that they'd pick us up. He said he needed a crew. Surely it's worth a chance?” Gan argued.

“Listen to yourself, Gan,” Arco said. “Blake, Stannis and Avon? Those three? Three alphas in the one bloody ship? Probably need someone to order around.”

“Look,” Tirren said, interrupting, “if we had time, I'd love to hear this argument out, but the sleeping stuff I gave your guards is going to start wearing off soon. Either stay here, or come with us, but for the sake of all of us, decide now.” She glared at the group. “That goes for the lot of you.”

In the end, the group going to rescue Blake wound up consisting of four. There was Tirren herself, Gan, Arco, and the small man of the “early maniac” comment, whose name turned out to be Vila. They decided on a variant of the earlier plan, having found another couple of robes for Vila and Arco. A few of the 'novices' were willing to be escorted to the Rite of Sacrifice, which gave the four of them an adequate cover. The details of the plan had been worked out just in time for the gong which started ringing for the sacrifice.

Kara was bound, gagged, and left in the small cell where Tirren had spent her time as a 'novice'. The woman had been furious, but there was nothing else to be done. Gan wouldn't allow them to kill her, which was the only alternative.

A bit of hurried coaching, and the procession of novices set off down the corridors, Tirren in the lead, flanked by Vila. Vila's task would be to relieve as many of the acolytes as possible of their knives before the ceremony began. Arco and Gan were at the rear of the procession, and they would ensure the novices were able to run off, and keep the doors open. Tirren had given each of them a flash grenade and a smoker, and kept one of each for herself, as well as the flask of sleeping gas.

As they entered the main temple room, Tirren surreptitiously looked around. There were several bracelets like the one Blake had given her sitting on a table. Good. That was Vila's other task then – she'd shown him the bracelet, and told him if he saw something like that he was to pick it up, and put it on.

Vargas was in full theatrical flow at the moment, taking centre stage. It was fortunate he kept his back to the congregation as they flowed into the room, heightening the tension. Otherwise, he would have stared Tirren full in the face, and things would have got uncomfortable very rapidly. As it was, they took their places, Tirren going to the right hand side of the room, while Vila drifted left around the group of acolytes and made his way toward the table. Gan was backing up Vila, standing to the left of the group of novices, while Arco had insisted on being Tirren's backup. Everything was going quite well, until the sacrificial victim was escorted in.

It wasn't Blake.

Tirren looked on the face of the young man who'd handled her own induction, and tried very hard not to either swear or cry. Neither would sort the plan out now things had gone pear-shaped, and both would only bring the attention of Vargas down on her very rapidly. Speaking of whom...

“Ah, so you have discovered my little deception, have you, woman?” Vargas had clearly been practicing – the amount of venom he was able to inject into a single word was astounding. He turned to her, and smiled. “You were supposed to have died a long time ago. You will wish you had,” he told her. “Get her!” he commanded his acolytes.

Tirren ducked quickly, avoiding a grab from the man behind her, then dodged right to avoid the man in front. Grabbing the smoker from her bundle, she threw it to the floor, and tumbled through the smoke, to the centre of the altar.

“Gan, Arco, Vila – find Blake!” she called, ducking and dodging as two more acolytes came running toward her. Fortunately, these were two Vila had been able to disarm earlier, so she was able to capitalise on the moment of confusion when they reached for their knives and found them gone. A quick kick in the kneecap brought down one of them, howling. The second grabbed hold of the back of her robes, which proved a mistake, as she slipped out of them with ease.

Four accounted for, three more and Vargas to go. Grabbing her flash grenade, she threw it over the altar, and ducked behind it as the flash went off. From the volume of the howl, Vargas had been looking straight at it when it went off. So had Gan, it appeared, for he was trying to hold the last acolyte, while blinking and shaking his head. Tirren rushed over and punched the acolyte in the stomach, hard.

“What was that?” Gan said, still blinking.

“Flash grenade. Do you have the ones I gave you?” Gan handed over the two grenades he'd been given earlier, and Tirren looked to see where the others were. Arco was still on the right hand side of the room. One of the acolytes had made it through the smoke, and was wrestling with Arco to try and get to where Tirren was standing with Gan. Tirren threw the next flash grenade, yelling “Arco” at the same time.

Luck was on their side. Arco had closed his eyes in time, and the flash blinded the acolyte. Tirren pointed to the high priest's vestry, the most logical place inside the temple proper to keep a prisoner, and dragged Gan toward the room. As they ran over, the acolyte she'd kicked earlier tried to grab at her legs and trip her over. This time she kicked his face. Vila joined them, the skirts of his robes holding a combination of knives and bracelets, and dived through the doors a split second before the rest of them.

The vestry door was solid wood behind the curtain, and easy to close. Throwing out the second smoker into the main temple building, Tirren slammed the door behind them, and gestured to Gan and Arco to keep the door closed. Blake was slumped in a chair, the bruises forming on his face testifying to the rough and ready interrogation tactics used on him. Tirren rushed over to him.

“Vila, make sure the three of you have a bracelet each, then give me a hand here,” she ordered, rummaging in her bag. Damn. Nothing suitable. She gently shook Blake, trying to coax him toward consciousness. “Come on, Blake. Wake up, damnit.” She shook him again. From outside the door came the sound of coughing and thumping. Damn, damn, damn.

“Tirren, they're trying to get in,” Gan reported.

“Can you hold the door?” she asked

“Not forever, I'm afraid.”

“Is there some other way out? Only I'm a bit nervous about being trapped,” Vila said.

“See whether you can open the window,” Tirren told him. “That's your best bet.”

“But it's a six foot drop outside!” Vila protested. “I'll break something.”

“That window would be favourite,” Arco said. “Do it, Vila!”

“But I could hurt myself,” Vila whined.

“Do you want me to hurt you instead? Bloody do it, will you!” Arco turned away from the door for an instant, to snap at Vila, then gasped, and stumbled forward, landing heavily on Tirren. As she struggled to get him off her, she noticed the hole in the back of his robes, and the blood which was soaking them.

“Gan, get away from the door! They're poking knives through the gaps!” she cried, trying to combine shaking Blake awake with staunching the flow of blood from Arco's wound. Vila was staring at Arco in shock, while Gan had moved away from the door and picked up a large piece of wood from the pile near the fire.

A metallic chime interrupted the tension, and a female voice could be heard coming from the bracelet still clasped around Blake's wrist.

“Blake? Blake, come in. Blake, this is Liberator, come in please.”

For a moment, all activity in the room ceased. The voice from the bracelet continued. “Blake, please respond.”

Tirren siezed Blake's wrist, and pinched his hand, hard, wrenching a groan from the man.

“Blake? Blake, are you there?” The voice sounded as though it were losing hope. Another voice, harsher, masculine, could be heard.

“There's no response. Blake is probably dead.”

“He's not,” Tirren said, pressing frantically at the various buttons on the bracelet. “He's not dead.” From the echo of the transmission, it seemed she'd hit on the right one.

There was a silence from the other end. Then the female voice again.


“Blake's unconscious,” Tirren said, gabbling in her haste to get the information out. “There's four more of us, but Arco's bleeding badly, and I don't know whether he'll live without a medical facility, and we're trapped, and please, please, we need to get out of here.”

There was an exclamation from the other end of the link, suddenly cut off. The seconds ticked past. Gan and Vila were exchanging looks. Then the chime rang again.

“We're picking you up now.”

The air shimmered around them, the world dissolved, and suddenly they were... somewhere else. A blonde-haired woman and a dark-haired man looked at them from across a console of some kind. Tirren glanced around from where she was putting pressure on Arco's wound. Blake was with them – Gan had picked him up at the last moment - as was Vila. As was Vargas, who was looking around himself with an expression of acquisitory greed. He was also holding something short, black, and stubby, with a transparent wand at the end.

“So, this is the spaceship,” Vargas murmured. “I will have it. I will spread the word to other worlds, to other galaxies. I will become as a god.” He turned to the pair at the console. “You will land this spaceship on the planet,” he told them autocratically.

The dark man just looked down his nose. Certainly, he had the nose for it. The blonde woman scowled and said, “We can't.”

“You shall,” Vargas said, in his most silky tones. “I command it.”

Tirren spoke up from where she was kneeling. “Command away. Good exercise, don't you know. I doubt you're going to get anywhere. We're not on Cygnus Alpha now, and you don't have your silly curse to control us.”

“Silence, woman!” Vargas bellowed at her. “Silence, or I shall use you as an example.”

“Oh yes, do use me as an example, Vargas. I'm the one you had left for dead. I'm the one who escaped you. I'm the one who freed your latest batch of 'novices'. I'm the one who told them, as I'll tell everyone here now: there is no curse of Cygnus. There's no disease. There's no need to take a drug every day for the rest of one's life. It's all a con.”

“Blasphemy,” Vargas howled, launching himself at her, and catching her a blow on the jaw. The last thing she remembered was her head hitting the wall, before blackness enfolded her.

When Tirren awoke, it was to find herself lying on some kind of couch, with Blake sitting nearby keeping watch. She blinked a couple of times, then shook her head. The groan from the resulting headache caught Blake's attention.

“Ah, so you've woken up.”


Blake sighed. “Arco died. By the time we were able to get him to the medical bay, he'd lost too much blood. Gan and Vila are still alive, and they're settling in.”

“What happened to me? I remember Vargas coming at me, then nothing.”

“He hit you and knocked you into a bulkhead. You were knocked unconscious. It gave Vila and Gan enough time to get Arco and me out of the teleport bay; then Jenna teleported Vargas outside.”

“Explosive decompression. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving person,” Tirren commented dryly. She looked over at Blake. “Would you happen to need a biochemist on board?”

Blake grinned. “I was just about to ask whether you'd be willing to stay. Welcome to the Liberator.”

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