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Fandom: Blake's 7
Series: Tirren Phale
Title: Seek, Locate, Destroy
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.

Seek, Locate, Destroy

“You're going to do what?”

Vila's squawk of outrage greeted Tirren and Cally as they walked into the flight deck from the medical section, where Tirren had been showing her new offsider the basics. Saurian Major was two days behind them, Centero approximately three and a half weeks away. Both women turned to look at Blake, who was in the middle of one of his usual arguments with Avon. Blake noticed them, sighed, and decided to explain.

“We're going to steal a Federation cipher machine,” he said.

“That sounds a wise thing to do,” Cally commented. “We would know what the Federation is planning.”

“What's this 'we' business?” Vila said. “Those bases are heavily guarded. Top security. Crack troops. It's suicide!”

Blake ignored Vila, turning to Avon. “We need that machine. If we know what the Federation are planning, we can stay ahead of them, rather than risking our lives in fighting all the time.”

“Strangely enough, Blake, I prefer having my skin in one piece more.” They hadn't started arguing yet, Tirren realised. Avon was sardonic rather than sarcastic. “Your current plan does not make that at all likely.”

“Just out of interest,” Tirren asked, before hostilities intensified, “what is the current plan?”

Blake looked at her. “We teleport down to the base and infiltrate it, take the cipher machine, and teleport back out again.”

“Very straightforward,” Jenna said.

“So is being shot.” Avon's dry tones attracted a glare from Blake.

“If you've got a better plan, let's hear it!” he retorted. Avon remained silent.

“The basics are sound,” Cally said. “It is simple, which means there is less to go wrong. What needs to be worked out is the detail.”

“Such as?”

“How do you plan to deal with locks?”

“I'll take Vila down.”

“Hang on, do I get a say in this?” Vila asked. “What if I don't want to do it?”

“Is there a question of that?” Avon shot back. “Or are we in the unprecedented situation of you actually wishing to do something?”

Tirren hid a grin. Between Blake's charisma and Avon's needling, Vila didn't stand a chance. She wondered whether the man was aware how well he was being manipulated.

“Guards?” Cally asked.

Blake looked away, seeming uncomfortable with the question.

“Blake,” Cally said, “there will be guards. You must make up your mind how we are to deal with them now, rather than during the raid. Are we going to kill them, or knock them out?”

“Couldn't we just lock them up?” asked Gan. He looked shocked at Cally's cold-blooded summation of the situation. He hadn't suspected her of such pragmatism.

“Will there be somewhere to lock them?” Cally countered. The big man looked shamefaced.

“This is all beside the point,” Jenna said. “Let's get back to the details of the raid.”

“Easy for you to say,” Vila said bitterly. “You're not going to be down there.”

“How do you know?” Jenna replied.

“You're the pilot. You'll be up here looking out for pursuit ships.”

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

“No, you'll be up here, Jenna,” Blake said. “You're the best pilot we have.”

Vila's look said it all, and it consisted of 'See, what did I tell you?'

Cally had been watching this interplay with annoyance. She'd been impressed with Blake's crew when she had first arrived on Liberator, but first impressions can change. Avon was contentious, Vila cowardly, Gan stolid and dull, Tirren nervous and sharp, while Jenna didn't appear to trust her at all. Blake was charismatic, but he seemed to have little idea of how to lead the group he was in charge of. Instead he spent his time mainly in arguing with Avon. Even now, the pair of them were beginning another round of their near-continuous disagreements, this time over whether or not Blake was playing favourites by having Jenna remain on the ship.

Really, humans were strange. They hid so many things from one another, yet felt safe enough to throw around strong emotions without caution. Had any two of the Auronar been throwing the amount of anger and fury at one another Blake and Avon did on such a regular basis, both would have died of shock. Had any of the Auronar buried their feelings and fears so deep within themselves as both Tirren and Avon did, or lived so expressively on the extreme exterior of their skins as Blake and Vila did, they would have gone mad. Only Gan and Jenna came near the sort of determination and calm Cally had encountered among the people of Saurian Major. All of them maintained these absurd postures, and hid who they were. She couldn't read their thoughts, but the emotions came through. Particularly during the night watches.

They dreamed. It was something her people had lost, in the creation of the Soul of Auronar, that nightly re-ordering of memory, with its happy dreams, sexual fantasies, and the nightmares that sometimes came. When Cally had first encountered dreaming among the freedom fighters on Saurian Major, she had been terrified by it - something completely outside her experience. Over time, she'd learned the role of dreams in the human psyche, and come to appreciate the pleasant ones she shared with some of her friends among the Saurians.

The dreams of the crew of the Liberator were rarely pleasant. Maybe it explained their contentious behaviour while they were awake.

She cleared her throat. The noise drew everyone's attention to her.

“How will we recognise the cipher machine when we find it?” she asked.

“Avon used to work with them,” Blake said. “He said he'd seen one.”

“Five years ago,” Avon clarified, “I worked in the programming section designing scrambling algorithms. They may have altered the design since then.”

“Is it likely?” Blake asked. “I know for a fact they haven't altered the designs of their troop carriers any time in the last thirty years. It was one of the things Salman was angry about.”

“Salman?” Tirren seemed curious. Cally had noticed the woman got distracted by tangential issues at the most inappropriate times. “Who was Salman?”

There was a pause. A shadow seemed to pass over Blake's face, as he tried to place the name and failed. They were getting used to these occasional moments where some of Blake's hidden memories would resurface, however briefly. The moments weren't predictable. Nobody, least of all Blake, knew what would trigger another bout of recall.

“Is Salman's identity relevant to the raid?” Cally asked to break the uneasy silence. Blake seemed to snap out of his reverie, shaking his head as though to clear it.

“No,” he said. “Cally, which other details need to be sorted out before the raid?”

“They would mainly be the small ones - who is going to do which things, what the order of attack is going to be. For example, which type of explosive do you plan to use?”

“I hadn't decided,” Blake admitted.

“There are some timed explosive charges with magnetic clips in the stores,” Tirren told him. Blake looked at her in startlement. “I've been interested in explosives for years now. The armoury was one of the first places I had a bit of a look around once I was up and mobile." Blake still looked slightly surprised. "If you want some, I'll dig some out for you. They're plastique; they'll do for now. Will you need smokers or flash grenades?”

“No, I don't think so,” Blake said. It appeared he'd remembered her supplies from Cygnus Alpha. “Just straight explosives. Plastique should do.”

“Who will you be taking down?” Cally asked.

“Myself, Vila, Avon, and two others,” Blake said. “Gan, I'd appreciate you coming along, if you're able.”

“So long as you don't want me to kill anyone,” Gan said, “I should be fine. Who else?”

“I will come,” Cally said, before anyone else could say anything. The look Tirren cast at Cally had an edge of irritation. “I am the best trained for such raids,” Cally said, looking across at the biochemist. Tirren met her gaze and nodded, accepting the logic of the explanation.

Four weeks later, following their delay at the planet of the Lost, as well as a few minor arguments with pursuit ships, they'd arrived at Centero. Avon was handling the teleport, Jenna was in the pilot's position, Tirren was down in the main armoury fetching up explosives, Vila was putting together his bundle of tricks for opening locks, while Cally and Gan were waiting impatiently. In Cally's case, she'd been suited up approximately five minutes after Liberator had arrived in orbit around Centero. It seemed she was eager to prove her worth.

Tirren was quite happy to be rummaging around in the depths of the armoury. The room was reassuringly quiet, and a haven away from the tension of the flight deck since their mishaps with the web. Blake hadn't taken kindly to having his faults pointed out by Tirren, and while he hadn't been openly rude to her (as Avon or Jenna might have) his politeness had taken on an aura of chilliness. In addition, the after-effects of Cally's temporary posession by the Lost were still being felt. Avon was openly suspicious of the Auron woman, Vila flinched whenever she came into the room, Gan was slightly more cautious around her (as was Tirren, if she was honest with herself), and Blake appeared to feel it was his job to make up for the rest of the crew by being even more supportive than he had been previously. The only person whose attitude to Cally hadn't altered in the least was Jenna - and Jenna had frankly distrusted her. Overall, the flight deck wasn't a comfortable place to be.

Retrieving the explosives didn't take that long, and neither did fetching something to put them into. Tirren decided to walk back to the teleport area slowly. Even so, she arrived just in time to catch the end of a discussion, or so it seemed.

“If either of you needs something to do,” Avon was saying, “go and assist Tirren with collecting the explosives.”

“Not necessary.” Tirren's two-word comment announced her arrival in the teleport area. One of the two haversacks she carried was stuffed to the gills, the other was decidedly light.

“Is that the explosives?” Gan asked, pointing to the full bag. Tirren nodded, putting down the second bag and removing one of the charges.

“All you have to do is find a metal surface; they'll stick fast,” she said, demonstrating.

“Right,” Gan confirmed, taking the bag from her.

“They're taking too long,” Cally said, sounding somewhere between worried and annoyed.

“That's the trouble with heroics,” Avon commented as he made room for Tirren on the operator's couch. “They seldom run to schedule.”

“They have to find the cipher room first,” Tirren said. “I doubt there're going to be any handy signs.”

“They may need help,” Gan said.

“I think so too,” Cally agreed.

“They would have called in,” Avon said.

“Avon's right,” Tirren said.

“I usually am,” Avon said. Tirren looked at him. The tech was looking unruffled, as usual. Cally and Gan, on the other hand, were both looking at her impatiently.

“Blake said to wait. We wait.”

“But -”

Tirren cut off Cally's protest. “The only teleport coordinates we have are the ones where we put Blake down. By now he and Vila are no longer in the vicinity. Even assuming they require your help, how would you find them to help them?”

Cally looked mutinous for a moment. “You are right,” she sighed. “I do not like this waiting.”

“Is there nothing else we can do?” Gan asked. “Maybe if we had something to be going on with, the waiting wouldn't seem so bad.”

“No,” Cally said. “We have to stay alert for Blake's call. We cannot be distracted.”

The communicator chimed. “We've found it,” Blake's voice said. “Phase one is now complete. Get an absolute locator fix on my signal. As soon as you're set, put them down.”

“Right,” Tirren replied, turning to the directional controls.

“It had better be right,” Avon said sourly. “A fraction out and you could put us down in the middle of the security barracks.”

“Tempting as that sounds,” Tirren said to him, “I'll pass for now. Blake, can you give me a voice check?” She turned her attention to the console, tracking the voice signal Blake was giving. “Got it,” she said after about six seconds of careful manoeuvring, “locked on.”

She looked up at the three standing in the teleport zone. “Ready?” Three nods. “Good luck. I'm putting them down now.”

The teleport whined again, and Tirren was alone behind the console. She switched to the internal communicator. “Jenna, they're all down."

Reaching into her pocket, Tirren pulled out her palmtop console, and continued working on data analysis of the Web organism. It was something to keep her occupied, but didn't demand enough of her attention to distract her from monitoring the teleport comms.

It took them about ten minutes to finish their business on Centero. Tirren pulled them out with very little time to spare. The four of them reappeared in the teleport area looking slightly startled. The bag Avon carried was bulging, while Gan's was light.

"So, you got it, then?" Tirren asked them.

Gan nodded. "It was close, though," he said. The big man looked as though he'd been exerting himself. Or possibly he was just worried.

"Too close." Avon sounded sour, as usual. "Another few seconds we'd have all been blown up."

"Well it wasn't my fault," Vila said, on the defensive immediately.

"Well whose fault was it?" Avon demanded. "I thought you were supposed to guard the corridor."

"You were supposed to disconnect that thing," Vila said, pointing at the bag which Tirren presumed held the device, "not rely on Gan to tear it loose with his teeth."

Really, Tirren thought, it was almost a pity to interrupt the pair of them when they were arguing like this. It was interesting to hear Vila forget his grade role, snapping back at Avon and giving as good as he got. She'd suspected there was more to the thief than he let show, and moments like this confirmed it. However, they were getting a little loud.

"Calm down, the pair of you," she said. "Let's have a look at what you got."

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Blake heading off to the flight deck. Good, another volatile element out of the equation. Gan carefully lifted the device out of the bag.

"It doesn't look like much," Vila observed. Avon favoured him with a scornful glance.

"It may not look impressive, but it is a highly developed piece of engineering," the tech said. "It is part of a triple level security scheme."

"What does that mean?" Gan asked. He looked at Avon in the expectation of a reply. He wasn't disappointed.

"Federation Security and Space Fleet need to have the greatest possible degree of secrecy regarding their movements. This means they can't just send their messages in plain format. So they encrypt all but the most routine or emergency communications before sending."

"But wouldn't they still be breakable with a computer?" Tirren asked. She knew the answer, of course, but she could see Avon was waiting for the question.

The tech nodded. "Quite. Which is why the Federation needs to send these via a secure method of communication."

"What would that be?" The question was from Vila this time.

"Well, in any consideration of security the question of useability is always a counterconcern." Avon noticed Gan's look of intense concentration. "The most secure means of sending messages is via coded gamma wave transmission, but it takes time to get from one place to another. Far too much time for most routine communications. The quickest method of sending information is by unshielded etha transmission, but this is too easily picked up by just about anyone. So the Federation had to make a compromise."

"What was that?" Gan asked.

"Hyperspace sub-beam is relatively quick, and zeta-three particles are relatively secure. Combining this with the initial encryption and scrambling would have been a suitable choice."

"So what does that mean?" Vila again.

"All communication between Federation units is sent by hyperspace sub-beam. That originates here, and here." Avon pointed out the communication channels on the device before them. "All messages are converted into zeta three particles and scrambled. They in their turn become an unbreakable code."

"Unbreakable unless you have one of those," Blake said. Tirren startled. She hadn't heard Blake come in. He'd brought Jenna with him.

"As soon as I get this linked into our communications setup we should be able to read every message that the Federation puts out," Avon continued, as though Blake hadn't arrived.

"Any sign of interceptors?" Tirren asked.

"We've picked up a flock of them," Jenna said, "but we should be able to outrun them in seven hours."

"This seems almost too easy," Gan said.

"A lot can happen in seven hours," Blake said, taking charge again, "so I suggest we get back to business. Avon, I want you to make a start with that. Cally and Tirren can help you." He looked around the teleport area. "Where is Cally? Anyone see where she went?"

There was a silence, as all of them tried to remember where they'd last seen Cally. The silence grew uneasy.

"Has anyone seen her since she came back on board," Blake asked, uneasily.

Tirren checked the teleport log. The conclusion she reached was unsettling.

"According to this," she said, "Cally hasn't come back on board."

"Then she's still down there," Blake said. "We've got to go back."

"We can't," Jenna replied flatly. "There are a flock of interceptors out there."

“We can't just leave her there.” Blake was in full roar.

“We have to,” Tirren said. Blake turned to glare at her. She met his gaze. Irrationally, Blake wanted to snap at her, force a reaction from the woman. Didn't she care that Cally could be hurt?

“Blake, listen,” Avon said urgently. “If she didn't come back up, then she was in the building when the charges blew. She's dead.”

“And anyway,” Vila added, “the place will be crawling with security forces by now. They'll be on full alert.”

“We'd never even get through their interceptors,” said Avon, taking up the thread again, snatching at Blake's arm. “Listen!”

Blake shook off the computer technician's grip. It was just like the pair of them to worry more about their own skins than about anyone else. He barged past Vila and Gan, heading for the flight deck. He was moving quickly, but Jenna moved even faster.

"Zen," she said through the teleport comm channel, "do not deviate from existing flight plan under any circumstances until all signs of interceptor rockets from Centero are gone. This order is not to be countermanded by anyone except me. Acknowledge with my name.”

Blake looked at her in shock, as Zen's reply of, "Confirmed, Jenna Stannis" echoed around the room.

“What did you do that for?” he yelled. “Cally could be dead down there!”

Jenna looked at him. “You'd rather we were all dead up here as well?” she shot back. “If Cally is dead, going back to Centero won't bring her back to life. If she's alive, she stands a better chance of rescue if we're in one piece.”

Tirren laid a hand on Blake's arm. "She's right, Blake. We don't know whether Cally survived, and we don't know whether she's been captured or not. Until we know those things, we can't make any effective plans."

Blake shook off Tirren's restraining hand, stalking out of the room in high dudgeon. Tirren looked around the group. Gan and Vila were both avoiding looking in Jenna's direction, while Avon was looking at her with an expression of calculation. Tirren caught Avon's gaze.

"The most sensible thing to do would be to install that device," she said, gesturing with her head at the encryption machine. "We've seven hours to get it plugged into the communications network. We might be able to find out what's happened to Cally from Federation transmissions."

Blake came out of wherever he'd been sulking for the past few hours to find Avon and Tirren being assisted by Jenna and Gan to fit the cipher machine into the communications setup of Liberator. Vila had told them he was going to put away his tools, then called in from the storage area to say he was due a rest period and was taking it, effective right then. Gan had been scheduled to be on watch on the flight deck; the main assistance he was providing was in stringing various cables from one place to another, in between checks to ascertain whether the interceptors had altered course. When Jenna saw Blake, she left what she was doing and walked over to him.

Tirren, caught up in the delicate business of soldering together various connections, didn't hear the beginning of their conversation. However, as Blake became more passionate, his voice inevitably rose, making eavesdropping less of a solecism than an inexorable consequence of his presence.

“She was ashamed to go back to her own people because she had survived when the rest of the freedom fighters were massacred.” Ah, he was talking about Cally. Tirren hid a sigh. The situation was far more complex than Blake was making it sound. Cally had spoken about the matter once with Tirren. Her exile from Auron wasn't so much because she'd survived, but rather because she'd been interested in the cause of the freedom fighters in the first place. But of course, telling Blake these pertinent details wouldn't alter his view of things in the least.

“Well, that wasn't her fault,” Jenna responded. Absently, Tirren wondered whether Jenna had also been a recipient of the Auron woman's confidences.

“Shame like hers is an emotion, Jenna. It isn't rational.”

“Exactly, and so is guilt like yours. That's not rational either.” Silently Tirren made a note to amend Jenna's total on the scorecard. That particular little torpedo should be worth about forty points.

“It's ironic, isn't it? She was the only one of us who wasn't a convicted criminal.”

“She convicted herself.” Jenna's very level-headed way of looking at the world was (in Tirren's opinion) a refreshing contrast to Blake's unconscious insistence he be at the centre of every drama. “You can't live like that. You've got to make peace with yourself, Blake, if you want to survive.” Another thirty points, Tirren thought.

Apparently he did, for he broke off his conversation with Jenna and came over to where Avon was working. “How are you coming with that?” he asked, pointing at the cipher machine. Tirren had noticed this habit of Blake's - whenever he realised he couldn't win an argument, he'd just disengage and talk about another subject entirely.

“The primaries are hooked into the main instrumentation. I just have to link up to a readout,” the tech replied, continuing to work on doing just that.

“Attention,” Zen said. “Liberator is now out of range of the interceptors' scanning systems. Detectors indicate the rockets have begun to self-destruct. Previous course directives are now invalid.”

“Have the navigation computers put in a course for the planet listing K-14,” Blake said.

“Course laid in,” Zen replied calmly.

“That's a Federation repair and supply base, isn't it?” Jenna queried.

“Yes,” Avon confirmed, “for their deep space cruisers.”

“Are we going to attack it?” Jenna asked.

“One for Cally,” Blake said, looking toward both Jenna and Tirren. “Because I want to survive.”

Twenty-five points to Blake, Tirren decided, and laid aside the soldering iron to update the scorecard on her handheld. Avon happened to be glancing in her direction when she did so.

“Your hands are shaking. Get some rest,” he said, before looking back at what he was doing. Tirren held up a hand to check. As usual in matters of competence, Avon was right. She'd been on shift for the majority of the past ten hours - firstly with her normal shift on the flight deck, then the arrival at Centero. For the past seven hours, she'd been working fairly intensely putting together the linkages. In addition, she'd been awake for the majority of the past twenty-four. Now she'd stopped concentrating with such ferocity, she felt the effects of such a long time without sleep. It would do as an excuse, she thought. She nodded her agreement, and gathered up her things.

“By the way,” he said as she stood to leave the flight deck, “Blake got thirty-five points for his last comment.”

Six hours later, Tirren was awakened (reluctantly) by a summons to the flight deck. According to Vila's rather confused communication, Blake had managed to remember a vast amount of his past, all at once, and he wanted to share it with the rest of the crew before he forgot it again. As she made her way to the deck, she stopped in at medical to swallow a mild stimulant, something to wash the last of the exhaustion from her system. She also picked up a couple of fast-acting hypnotics - from the few indications they'd seen so far, recall was generally rather traumatic for Blake.

She was the last of the crew to arrive on the flight deck, and found herself squeezed into a corner of the seating area. Blake had already started speaking.

"... The group had arranged to meet in a sub-basement. There were about thirty of us. I was very particular about security. I had our people watch the entrances and exits for a full twenty-four hours before we were supposed to meet. No Federation forces came anywhere near the place. I was absolutely sure that we were safe. That night we were assembled and about to begin, and Travis and his men suddenly appeared from nowhere."

"Didn't you post any guards?" Avon asked. He sounded annoyed such a basic precaution could have been forgotten.

"Of course I did," Blake snapped back. "Travis was already there. He'd been hiding in that basement for more than two days."

Tirren listened as the tale of Blake's capture, arrest, memory erase and trial unfolded. The events brought back some unhappy memories of her own; memories of colleagues and friends caught up in the security sweep. She'd even been brought in briefly for questioning herself (an event she'd considered traumatic at the time) as a result of having been a close colleague of one of Blake's co-conspirators. The death of that person had led directly to her first research posting, and indirectly to her own capture and trial.

"Do you remember enough to recognise Travis again?" Avon again.

"The man who killed twenty of my friends?" Blake replied. "Oh yes, I'll recognise him."

Tirren had offered to take a spell listening in to the unscrambled messages from the cipher machine, knowing that although she was tired, she wasn't likely to get any more sleep until the stimulant wore off. So it was she was the one who caught the message. It arrived in the middle of a bundle of random traffic - troop movements, routine relocations, bureaucratic doublespeak and the standard blather that accompanies any armed force anywhere - and it took her a couple of seconds to recognise its significance. When she did, she leapt for the communicator.

"Blake, get down here fast," she called. "The cipher machine has just paid off in spades."

Blake arrived, puffing slightly and followed by Vila, within minutes. Avon had apparently heard the communication as well, and appeared from the opposite door.

"What is it?" Blake asked.

"Space Headquarters Priority. Injured female prisoner taken after attack on communications base planet Centero to be held for treatment and interrogation."

"She's alive!"

"I knew she wasn't dead!" Vila said.

"No you didn't," Avon shot back.

"No, I didn't," Vila agreed. "I'm going to tell Gan and Jenna."

"Treatment and interrogation doesn't sound promising," Tirren said, sounding a note of caution.

"She's alive," Blake said. "That's all that matters. Zen, immediate course change. Direct route to Centero, speed Standard by six."

"Confirmed," Zen said.

"I want a repeat readout of everything in the databanks concerning Centero. The whole lot again."


"I want it now!"

"What's happening?" Jenna asked, dashing onto the flight deck. "Vila said something about Cally being alive, but he wasn't very clear."

"She's been taken for interrogation," Tirren said. Jenna blanched. It seemed the pilot had also had spent some time coping with the tender mercies of the Federation's interrogation squads.

"Blake, what are you planning?" Avon's question was sharp. "What exactly have you got in mind?"

"I'm not sure yet." Blake was pacing the flight deck, chewing on a knuckle. "Tirren?"


"Hand that over to Jenna. You'll need to get the med unit ready for Cally."

Tirren nodded. "Zen, please transfer all available data on Federation interrogation techniques in all databanks to the medical unit computers." She turned back to Blake. "I'll have to research their techniques." She looked over at Avon. "Is there any way we could link Cally's bioscan information to the teleport directional systems and locate her?"

Avon looked surprised, then thoughtful. “Possibly. It would depend on whether there were any other Aurons in the area, of course.”

"Let's work on the assumption there aren't," Blake said. "One way or another, we are going to get Cally out of there."

The next few hours were filled with frantic activity. Tirren printed out Cally's physioscan and passed it on to Avon, then headed back to the medical unit, to absorb as much of the nauseating detail of Federation interrogation procedures as possible before the pickup was made. It didn't seem likely they'd use a crude physical beating on Cally - not at first. However, given the tools they had available - drugs, psychostrategic interrogation, white noise and sensory deprivation - physical torture was really the weapon of last resort for the Federation's interrogation section. Tirren frequently found herself battling flashbacks of her own as she read through the data on hand.

It was almost a shock when the comunit buzzed.

"Tirren, we're nearly there. Are you ready?" Jenna sounded worried, tense.

"As ready as I'll ever be. Who's going down?"

"Blake. Who else?" Jenna sounded resigned. "Avon needs your help interpreting the bioscan information."

"I'll meet him at the teleport area." She cut the communication, and left the medunit.

At the teleport, Avon and Tirren had their heads bent over the console, trying to figure out how to use the bioscan information from Cally to their best advantage.

“It looks as though the major difference between the Auronar and humans is the lack of the gall bladder,” Tirren said, looking over the scan in annoyance. “Well, aside from the telepathy, but that doesn't appear to show up either anatomically or physiologically.”

“That doesn't help,” Avon commented.

“I know. But it's all we've got to go on. We'd have to scan for it, and hope nobody in the vicinity has had a cholecystectomy.” She noticed his look of bewilderment. “Gall bladder removal operation,” she clarified.

In the end, the process of retrieving Cally was almost routine. With the information from her bioscan, and the information Zen had about the Centero base, it was fairly straightforward to pinpoint the one entity in the detainment block without a gall bladder, and teleport Blake down with a vial of stimulant Tirren gave him. Tirren waited in the medical unit, listening out for the whine of the teleport to indicate the pair of them had returned.

Cally arrived in the medical section not long afterwards.

“It's good to see you back,” Tirren said, smiling. She found she was learning to like the company of the other woman. Had any of the crew declined to risk retrieving her, they would have had a fight on their hands with Tirren as well as with Blake.

“It is good to be back,” Cally replied. “What must you do?”

“That really depends on what the Federation did to you,” Tirren said, sombrely. “I'm going to head off to the lab for a while, and let you tell what happened to the medical computers.” She turned to leave, and was stopped by Cally's hand on her wrist.

“I would rather speak with you,” Cally said, looking at Tirren cautiously. “Would you stay and listen?” Inside her mind, Tirren heard the words Cally would not say aloud. Words about trust, and friendship. Words she hadn't expected.

Tirren nodded. “If you would rather my presence than my absence, I will stay." She sat down in a chair near the Auron woman. "Shall we start with a debriefing?"

Cally nodded. "I shall start from when we arrived on Centero. We arrived in the cipher room, and we each went about our tasks. I was assigned the task of watching over the prisoners. There were four of them - three technicians and one guard. Gan and I took them to a storeroom, then Gan left to set the charges. When the alarm went off, I was distracted. They overwhelmed me, and in the scuffle, I lost my teleport bracelet. I was trying to find it again when the charges went off..."

Tirren listened as Cally told her story of what had happened, and held the other woman as she wept. The healing would be slow and uncertain, but at least there would be the chance to heal.

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