Category: Angst, Drama
Rating: PG for violence
11th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to A Difference of Visions
Introduction: Perceptions of truth.
I am posting two chapters because they really go together but I split them because it was far too long.
We've finally reached the most important chapter of this entire story. There is a quote that was always at the back of my mind when I first planned this story and this series. It is why I called it Perceptions.
It comes from the very first episode, The Way Back.
"Reality is a dangerous concept. Each one of us interprets it in a slightly different way. Every sense impression is filtered by the brain and altered, sometimes just a little, sometimes completely, to fit our individual model of what the world is about. If that model should be challenged..."
On the screen, the images from Gauda Prime played out.
[The battered-looking Tarrant said to Blake, "What on earth happened to you?"
Blake said, "Oh, most of it wasn't on Earth, Tarrant. Not what happened to me."]
Nalini blurted out, "So Blake knew who Tarrant was? And why does he look like he's been through an industrial blender?"
Argus paused the images as Vila explained, "Well, when we reached GP, we were shot down and had to get out. Most of us escaped by teleport but Tarrant stayed to control the ship. The ship crashed but he survived. Blake found him."
Paraic, the ex-military man said, "Tarrant sounds like a good man. He was rearguard for the others. It’s a good thing Blake found him."
Argus continued the recording.
[The unnamed man, a technician from the look of his clothes, said to Blake, "Well, now, bounty hunter, that was a short trip even by your standards."]
Nalini interjected again and Argus hit the pause button. "Bounty hunter? Blake was a bounty hunter?"
Rondor said in his scratchy voice, "Must have been a cover. He couldn't use his own name."
The hefty Case said, "I thought this was Blake's base though."
When no one else said anything Argus un-paused the recording.
[Blake crossed around behind Tarrant. "Short, but profitable." He suddenly grabbed Tarrant's gun. "Even by my standards."
Tarrant put his hands up. "Was it something I said?"
The technician didn't seem surprised by Blake's actions and asked, "Who is he?"
Keeping his pistol trained on the young man's head, Blake said, "His name is Tarrant." He said to Tarrant, "Your flight computer mentioned it whilst you were unconscious."
The technician crossed over to the computer console. "Tarrant..."
Blake said, "No, I wouldn't run it through the computer just yet, Deva. You see, this one has a very high Federation price on his head."
The technician asked, "Are you sure?"
Tarrant said cynically, "Oh, give the man credit for knowing his trade, dirty though it is."]
Paraic said, "That technician must be Deva, the computer expert Blake said he'd found."
Argus paused the recording.
Case said, "I don't understand what's going on here. Blake doesn't look like he trusts Tarrant. But he knows who he is."
Nalini said, "Maybe Blake was suspicious of Avon already. And his crew. Would make sense."
Dr. Kendall said, "Or perhaps he was wary because of Tarrant's last name. He may have thought that Tarrant could be related to our Tarrant."
Nalini said, "But Tarrant's a common name. I know at least five."
The scratchy-voiced Rondor said, "Well, for Blake it only took one. I mean, if I were him, I might be suspicious."
The hefty Case said, "But Tarrant seems to think that Blake is a bounty hunter. And Blake certainly acts like one."
Several of the others thought this was very strange.
Argus, wondering how he ended up being the projectionist for this event, pressed the button to continue.
[Blake's image said, "He also has several associates with Federation prices, and one of them is particularly valuable."
Tarrant said, "And all of them are particularly dead."
Blake responded, "In which case, that other flyer was merely a coincidence. A coincidence, however, that might just have analyzed a random flight program?"
The technician said, "And the significance of that is...?"
Blake said, "A very useful device called Orac. Why don't you sit down, Tarrant?" The young man went over to sit down, lowering himself gingerly, his teeth clenched, as if he was in pain.
Blake continued, "If it is Avon, we shouldn't have much longer to wait."]
Case said, "Stop the recording."
The images froze.
Avalon turned to him. "What's wrong?"
Case said, "This must be wrong. It has to be a fake. It looks like Blake is holding Tarrant prisoner and waiting for Avon to bring ORAC."
Nalini said, "It just proves I was right. Blake must have known Avon was going there to kill him but he was ready for him. Blake was going to get ORAC away from him so he could use it for the rebellion.
Case said, "I don't know…"
The scratchy-voiced Rondor said, "That must be it. Avon and his crew went to Gauda Prime to kill Blake and betray them to the Federation. Tarrant just lied to Blake. He told him that Avon and the others were dead when they weren't."
Paraic said, "But Tarrant doesn't sound like he trusts Blake. And Vila said that Tarrant sacrificed his life to save the others? He wouldn't have given them up to Blake, not if he thought Blake was a bounty hunter. That's probably why he lied about them being dead."
Nalini scoffed, "That's ridiculous. Who would believe Blake was a bounty hunter?"
Vila spoke up, "Avon had ORAC looking for Blake. ORAC was the one who told us that Blake was a bounty hunter. I didn't believe it. But Tarrant didn't know Blake."
Nalini said, "Then the computer made a mistake. Blake couldn't have been a bounty hunter. "
Case said, "He certainly acts like one there. And supposing, just supposing mind you, that Tarrant was not there to kill Blake, Blake is not giving him any proof that he isn’t a bounty hunter. The opposite in fact."
Nalini said, "It's like I said, Blake didn't trust Avon or his people. He must have known how treacherous he was."
Cally put her hand on Avon's arm. Avon shook his head.
Case said, "Yes, but why pretend to be a bounty hunter?"
Kendall had been looking thoughtfully at the images. His steepled fingers pressed tightly together. "Maybe it's a test. Blake is pretending to be a bounty hunter to see how Tarrant will react? If he was afraid Tarrant might be related to Dev, he might want to make certain."
Nalini said, "It doesn't matter why. Blake obviously doesn't trust Tarrant or Avon."
Case said, "There's another reason I don't think this is real. The way Blake is treating Tarrant…The man seems to be in pain but Blake doesn't act as if he cares. Would the real Blake do that, even to an enemy?"
Avalon said, "Continue the recording."
Argus hit the button again.
[Tarrant said to the technician, "Doesn't it occur to you to wonder where he's got all this information from?"
The technician said, "Give the man credit for knowing his trade."
Tarrant sarcastically, "Oh, surely you're not that naive."
Blake said, "You're wasting your breath, Tarrant."
There was the sound of an intercom beeping.
The technician spoke into it, "Yes?"
A woman's voice reported over the intercom, " There's a flyer just put down in the silo. It had all the right signals, but it isn't one of ours."
Blake said, "Let them through."
The technician said into the intercom, "Let them through." The intercom link shut off. "Is that wise?"
Blake said, "We don't want them damaged, do we? Get me one security guard. I'll deal with it."
The technician said, "Send a security guard to my office, will you?"]
Nalini shouted, "Stop the recording."
Rondor said, "Blake's man doesn't seem to think it's a good idea to let Avon and his crew into the base. And Blake wants a security guard with him when he meets Avon. I think you're right Nalini. Blake didn't trust Avon."
Paraic turned to Nalini, "You might have something. Blake said he was going to deal with Avon. You don't say that if you're going to meet with an old friend."
Avalon said, "Continue the recording."
[Tarrant asked, "What on earth happened to you?"
Blake responded, "Oh, most of it wasn't on Earth, Tarrant. Not what happened to me."
A woman entered with a pistol ready in her hand. Blake turned to look at her. Tarrant immediately kicked the gun out of Blake's hand. He shoved the woman into Blake, and bolted out of the room, strong-arming Deva who tried to stop him.
The woman pointed her gun at the fleeing Tarrant's back while Blake held her. She asked, "Do you want him killed?!"
Blake continued holding her, "No, of course not! When he knows as much about this as you do now, he'll join us, like you did."
The woman asked, "He passed the test, then?"
Blake said, "I'm satisfied."
The technician had recovered and was holding a sore elbow. He crossed over to Blake. He seemed angry. "These stupid games you insist on playing, Blake, will get someone killed eventually."
Blake said roughly, "I have to test each one myself."
The technician yelled at Blake, "No, you don't have to! I set up systems for that. I broke the security codes on their central computer. I got us access to official channels, information, everything we could possibly need! You don't need to be involved at all."
Blake said heatedly, "All right, I find it difficult to trust. It's a failing, I admit--!"
The technician's eyes flashed and he gestured angrily. "And any one of our people could select the people you've collected. You don't need to do the bounty hunter routine, either!"
Blake said in a low voice, "Indulge me."
The technician's face became resigned. He asked in a tired voice, "Do I have a choice?"
Blake said, "Oh, there's always a choice, Deva."
Deva, still holding his sore elbow said, "Not for me, there isn't. I said I'd follow you, and I will, until the Federation's finally destroyed." His voice rose again and gestured, "But if you're killed, where does that leave us?!"
Blake stood up, and with a persuasive voice said, "With a base, the beginnings of an army!"
The technician sounded as if he was trying to talk some sense into Blake, almost pleading with him, "All of it useless if you're not there to lead it."
Blake removed his gun and set it on the console. "You worry too much, Deva."
Deva said with frustration, "Somebody has to."
The female security guard who had come in answer to the summons had been standing in the background, she said, "It might be an idea for somebody to start worrying about the one we just lost."
Blake dismissively, "Why? He isn't armed."
The security guard said, "I didn't notice that slowing him up."
Blake said, "That's true. Relax, Deva. Nobody's indispensable."]
Avalon said, "Argus stop the recording."
There were perplexed looks all around.
Kendall said, "It seems I was right. It was all a test by Blake. To see if Tarrant could be trusted. But…it appears to be a poor test."
Paraic said, "I agree with Kendall, doesn't seem like a good test to me. Make someone believe that you're a real bounty hunter who is going to sell you. See if he reacts badly and tries to sell you in return."
Nalini said, "It's not a stupid test. It shows if someone is the kind of person who would sell Blake out."
Case said, "Even his man, Deva, thinks it's stupid. He said so."
Dr. Kendall said, "If I were to look at it from Tarrant's perspective, he is facing a man who is about to sell him for bounty. A person might be upset enough to consider bringing Blake down with him. Then Blake's test would be useless."
Nalini said, "But Tarrant knew it was Blake. He knew he would be selling Blake out."
Dr. Kendall pressed his fingers tighter, "But Tarrant thinks Blake is a bounty hunter. He would be selling out a man he believes is no longer dedicated to the rebellion and is only after profit. He doesn't see him as Blake the rebel because Blake doesn't act like one and Tarrant doesn't know him. So if Tarrant does try to sell his identity to Deva, it's not a good indication of whether he is a good man or not, or if he's only angry at Blake for selling him. Remember, he asked Blake what had happened to him. Tarrant believes Blake has abandoned the rebellion."
Paraic said, "Well, I don't know about any of that but from a tactical viewpoint, it doesn't seem like a smart thing to do. If someone is a good man, like Tarrant is there. Who stayed behind in order to give his crewmates a chance to escape. He'd try to get away and he'd think that Blake and everyone on the base is out to get him. Isn't that dangerous? Especially if he gets free and knows how to fight? Like Tarrant just did? Or gets hold of a weapon? That doesn't make any sense. Someone could be hurt or killed. Tarrant might get it into his head to do a little damage. He was an ex-Federation soldier like me. He'd know how to."
Case said, "That must be why Deva was angry and said it was stupid. Sounds like this isn't the first time that Blake has done this either."
Rondor was troubled, "Blake is taking an awful risk with his own base and his people. And it doesn't sound like he gives a damn. Deva has just warned him that he's going to get someone killed one day with these 'stupid games' and Blake wants to be indulged. I don't get it. Deva is talking about people getting killed, maybe his own people. Why would someone want to be indulged in that? I thought Blake was supposed to be a good leader? Are we sure these recordings are real?"
Nalini said, "I agree. These recordings must be faked. This man couldn't be Blake. He wouldn't be so callous about his own people. And he's too smart to do something as silly as letting someone believe he'd betrayed him and then let him loose on his own base. I mean, that's crazy. No one in his right mind would do that. It can't be Blake."
Paraic looked uncomfortable. "Well, I don’t know about the crazy part, but Blake took big risks and his plans, well…they never seemed to be thought through very well. I mean, I've served under many commanders in the Federation and if anyone planned like Blake did, they'd have drummed him out long ago. Or his men would have killed him. I was with him on Jevron, his group and two of us ex-military ones. One of our patrols scouting the perimeter was wiped out. I told Blake that we should pull back and let things die down. But he wouldn’t have it. He said that…" Paraic's eyes became unfocused. "… 'We still have the element of surprise. Even more so now with the patrol wiped out, security aren't going to expect another assault so soon.' That's what he said. I told him he was nuts. Any installation I ever served in, if there's any sign of trouble, the place goes on full alert and security is doubled for days after. No one goes home for tea and calls it a day. You'd be sent to the punishment cells if you did. I told Blake that he was going to get us all killed but he said that wasn't a good enough reason. I'd had it then. None of us was prepared to commit suicide to make some heroic gesture. I was going to pull my group out right there. But Blake said he was going with our help or without us. And…he just went."
Nalini said, "But you went in with him. You must have believed he was right at least a little."
Paraic said, "We didn't. I definitely didn't. Thought he was suicidal. But we couldn't let him go in alone. So like a bunch of idiots, we went after him." His fists clenched in anguish and his voice tensed. "We…I shouldn't have…Less than half my people got out. The other group, including Blake's…didn’t at all. It was a massacre! We thought Blake had been killed…but we found him later. I never had anything to do with him again after that. I couldn't. How could I face my men?"
Rondor said uncertainly, "That…doesn't sound like Blake. At least, not what I've heard."
Case said, "That's not his reputation."
Avalon said, "I don't know what happened on Jevron, Paraic. And I don't doubt what you're saying. You were there and you lost men. Some of that sounds like Blake. Some...is not the Blake I knew. Yes, he was very focused and when he wanted to do something, no one could stop him. Very single-minded in purpose. I'm not unlike that myself."
Several of the others tittered and she glared at them. "You have to be like that sometimes as a leader. Or you'd never get the difficult things done. You need a strong hand and sometimes, we're wrong. We're only human. But the Blake I knew, came to my rescue when I needed him most. The Federation was breathing down my neck and I had to get out. I called the one person I knew I could count on. Someone who would come running if another person was in trouble. Blake came down and...unfortunately I had already been captured by Servalan and Travis. But he never gave up, he came back and found me and forced them to release me. Blake might be hard-headed and he might even break a few heads at times to get his way, but he was essentially a good man. He didn't think he had a choice. And I don't at times either. I don't know about Blake's other planning abilities but he did get me out, despite the Federation's trap. To me that counts for a great deal."
Case said, "Some thought he was a plant by the Federation."
Nalini said, "That's ridiculous! Next thing you'll be saying is that Blake was a spy for the Federation."
Dr. Kendall said, "I've heard those rumours as well but never gave them much credence. But…it is curious. All of the rebel groups that Blake has worked with in the past, they all ended up being destroyed in one way or other. It's very coincidental."
Avalon said, "That's just speculation."
"You're right," said Kendall. "We should not listen to idle rumours."
Avalon had been staring at Avon. "Avon, do you have anything to say?"
He stayed silent.
"Did you know what was on these recordings?"
When Avon still did not reply, Argus said, "He never knew this part. Only the end."
"Then why doesn't he say anything?" asked Avalon.
Avon said, "Argus…"
"I have to say something, Avon. Even if you won't." He addressed the assembled rebel leaders. "Avon knew how it would look for Blake if you saw these recordings. He didn't want to destroy Blake's reputation. He cared about him, even if he won't admit it, and he knew that the alliance needed Blake. He confessed at the trial…"
Avon's voice rose, "Argus!"
"I have to tell them, Avon. You can yell at me later." He continued. "Avon confessed because he didn't want the truth about Gauda Prime to come out."
Dr. Kendall asked with astonishment, "Avon was willing to die in order to save Blake's reputation?"
"That. And as payment for killing Blake. He did kill Blake. He's never denied that."
Nalini said incredulously, "I can't believe this. Are you trying to make Avon into a hero now?"
Argus said, "Avon would be the first one to tell you that he was never a hero and he never wanted to be one."
Silence fell over the room. Soft sighs of air passing through the overhead ventilation ducts were the only sound. If the combined thoughts in the room had been vocalized though, there would have been a cacophony of voices.
Avalon finally said, "I think we should continue with the recordings. That is why we're here. As for the rest, we will discuss them later."
She nodded to Argus.
Argus scrolled through the images from the various security cameras.
Avalon said, "Wait. That's Avon's group coming in. Play it from there."
[Avon, Vila and two women (Vila identified them as Soolin and Dayna) entered the base from the launch area. Their eyes alert. Their weapons, the ones from the Scorpio, still holstered.
Vila asked, "What do you think this place is?"
Avon remarked, "Does it matter? We're here to find Blake. Let's get on with it." He led the way.
Soolin said, "Try to look casual, Vila. They won't suspect us if we act as if we belong here."
"Easy for you to say," said Vila.
A man with several days growth of beard and very little in terms of personal hygiene, walked pass them. He stopped and whirled around, his large, serious-looking rifle pointed at Avon. "I know you." He peered intently into Avon's face.
Avon said, "You must be mistaken."
The man's rifle was steady and pointed in the middle of Avon's chest. "No, I'm not. You're Kerr Avon. The Great Bank Fraud. Must have been…over ten years ago. There's still a price on your head and…" His eyes looked hard at the others. "Hands up, all of you! Some of you were with Blake." The way his eyes lit up, it was clear that he must have been adding up the reward money on all their heads.
Soolin's hand was a blur as she drew and shot in one motion. The man must have still been adding up very slowly when he fell over, an astonished look on his face.
Dayna looked down critically at the sprawled out bounty hunter, her gun also out now. "Nice shooting."
Soolin was sweeping the corridor with her gun. "I told you I was fast."
Avon bent down and picked up the bounty hunter's rifle. "So you did. Shall we go?"
Vila asked, "Are you crazy? The place is crawling with bounty hunters and we've all got big targets on our backs if you hadn't noticed. We should get out of here."
Avon said fiercely, "No! We came for Blake and we're going to get him."
Dayna was also looking around nervously, "Are you sure Blake is here? Would he be crazy enough to be in a place full of bounty hunters who might recognize him?"
"Then that's another reason to find him, isn't it?" said Avon as he continued down the corridor.]
Argus found footage of Tarrant running through the base.
[Tarrant entered the tracking gallery and walked past a woman at the control panel. She spotted him and came around. "Hey, you. Wait a minute!" She reached for Tarrant, pushing him and with her left hand formed a fist. Tarrant did an inside block to push her hand away, reaching with his right for her throat and choking her into unconsciousness. The woman fell to the ground.
A technician had entered and saw them. He took a dive at Tarrant. Tarrant fell backwards but positioned himself so that he could kick the man away. The technician flew backwards and hit the ground. Tarrant tried to run but the technician reached around and put his arms around his neck.
The base alarm started sounding. The man kneed Tarrant in the side and the young man cried out in pain.
There was a shot and the technician fell as they saw Avon's group rush in. Soolin's gun still trailed smoke from shooting the technician. Avon saw the woman on the ground and covered her as he came down the steps. They all bent down and gathered around the injured Tarrant, Dayna helping him to sit up.
Avon said, "I'm glad you made it."
Tarrant said breathlessly as Dayna brushed his head, "So am I. Avon, I think he's here."
Avon and Vila look at each other.
The woman who had been unconscious before, started shouting into the intercom, "Security personnel to main tracking gallery. Security personnel to main tracking --"
Avon stood up and shot her.
Blake rushed in, followed by a woman aiming her gun at them.
Avon raised his own gun and followed Blake's movements as he came down the steps.
Tarrant was standing now and asked, "Is it him?"
Vila had a stunned look on his face and his voice didn't seem happy. "It's him."
Tarrant said, "He sold us, Avon. All of us. Even you."
Vila's eyes narrowed and his brows knitted while Avon lowered his gun and opened up his arms as he approached Blake. There was a look of disbelief on his face and his characteristically flat voice was full of question, "Is it true?" It was as if all of the emotions of pain, anguish and betrayal that had begun with Anna, finally erupted and he could no longer be the emotionless machine.
Blake said, "Avon, it's me, Blake." He moved towards him.
Avon put his hand forward as if to ward him off. He said, "Stand still!"
There was a look of pain in Avon's eyes and it was clear that he was considering the possibility that Tarrant had mentioned. That Blake had betrayed them. "Have you betrayed us? Have you betrayed me?!" Every word was filled with anguish and was reflected on his face.
Blake's voice rose forcefully, almost yelling at Avon. "Tarrant doesn't understand!"
Avon said, "Neither do I, Blake!" His face was one of a man who desperately wanted to understand why.
Blake was almost angry. "I set all this up!"
Avon's pained face hardened into anger and he shouted, "Yes!" He brought his hands together to hold the gun but turned it away from Blake. Avon's anger was momentary as his mouth opened and he stared at Blake, a shocked, sickening realization that another person had just betrayed him.
Blake moved forward again, his hand reaching out. "Avon, I was waiting for YOU."
Avon brought the gun around and prepared to fire.
"You're a fool, Blake," the woman accompanying Blake said with disgust.
They all stared at her in surprise.
The woman said, "This man is about to shoot you. Are you blind? It's evident he thinks you betrayed him. How much clearer can it get? All you had to do was say, 'no.' One simple word and you can't even manage that. I really should just shoot you and put you out of your misery before you get any more people killed." She smiled smugly. "But that is the point. We need you for that very quality."
Blake asked suspiciously, "Who is we?"
"The Federation, of course." The Scorpio crew all pointed their guns at her.
Deva rushed in, in a panic, "Blake! They've found us! The base is under --"
The woman shot him before he could finish. Behind him black-uniformed Federation troopers rushed in and pointed their guns at the crew. Deva fell to the ground.
The woman said coolly, "Be so kind as to drop your guns, all of you."
Three Scorpio guns hit the floor in short order but Avon kept his trained on her.
The woman said, "You and this nest of rebels are now prisoners of the Federation."
Blake looked sick. "You're a Federation agent?"
The woman said, "I'm a Federation officer. You told me that you couldn't tell any more who was Federation and who wasn't. You were right. You haven't been able to in a long time. It made it very easy for us to keep track of your activities and guide them along. Not that we needed to much. You're oblivious, you don't even see that you're death to everyone you touch. Oh, you feel bad about it. But it never stops you. That was what was so perfect about you. You cared and people loved you for that caring. But that quality also made them blind to the fact that it never stopped you from getting more people killed. They're such fools, the rabble." She shook her head. "And so are you. But you're our fool. We made you."
Avon's eyes narrowed, "What do you mean, you made him?"
The Federation agent laughed. "I don't mind telling you."
Avon said dryly, "Since we'll all be dead."
The agent chuckled. "Some of you."
Blake went towards her.
The woman pivoted and shot Dayna. "Dayna!" shouted Soolin, but the young woman fell dead. At the same time, Avon had pointed his rifle to shoot the Federation agent but the troopers all trained their guns at him and he stopped.
The agent said, "One more move like that and I'll shoot another one."
"Alright! Don't kill any more people!" Blake put his hands up in surrender. "What do you want?"
Avon said, "She wants you, Blake!"
The agent smiled. "You always were the smart one, Avon. The only time we couldn't control him was when he was with you. But…even then, we did manage, until he got it into his head to destroy Control and Star One. Foster's destruction was brilliant. You did it twice to him and he never knew. Then Avalon, Kasabi, and Ven Glynd. All of the rebels who tried to unite the alliance. They posed the greatest threats to the Federation. And now your dismal little group here. No one ever suspected it was you. Your bumbling got them all killed. It constantly amazed me how you could think relying on luck was a good substitute for intelligence. But we made you. Of course, you're a bit broken now. We're going to take you back…" She smiled cruelly. "Just like we did at Jevron. A bit of fixing and mending and you'll be ready in no time. Our little puppet. After we're done, you won't be able to remember this delightful little conversation and even if you did, you won't be able to change anything. You're genetically programmed. We own you. Didn't any of you think it was suspicious that Blake had received conditioning to control him? But that we just let him run loose?"
Avon said, "The London."
The agent asked, "What about it?"
"I had always found it curious why someone would put a top technical expert, a talented thief and a first-class pilot on the same ship. Along with someone who has a pathological need to be free of the Federation. My guess is that you had always planned to have Blake escape. It was most likely already arranged before we left Earth. The Liberator coming along was pure chance."
Blake said, "You were controlling me the whole time?"
"Well, not the whole time. As I said, you…" She pointed her gun at Avon. "…were able to disrupt some of our plans. You managed to save Albion."
Blake seemed unsteady on his feet. "I don't understand…"
"Of course you don’t. You never could. We encouraged those qualities in you. Just as your aversion to the idea of being a unifying force for the entire rebel alliance. We could never allow that. Not with your ability to persuade. It was the greatest thing you could have done for the rebels and we made certain that you would never do it. You were our finest creation, Blake."
Avon said, "But we broke the conditioning."
The agent scoffed. "That pathetic attempt? You don’t understand. It can never be broken. It's part of his genetic makeup."
Blake's voice was tight, "You made me?"
"Well, more correctly, it was the Clonemasters. They created a detailed genetic imprint of you. The original you. And adjusted it for our purposes. Didn't you ever wonder why you can contain two opposite qualities at the same time? Of course, some of those were your very own. The arrogance of thinking that your way is the only way. The need to dominate and control everyone and everything. The inability to think beyond short-term goals. Your indomitable spirit and refusal to give up no matter how impossible the situation. And of course, your brilliant ability to persuade others. You're very convincing. For some people at least. Not the strong ones. But those weren't the ones we were interested in. It was quite beautiful really. You've done very well for us. We really should give you a medal but I doubt if you would appreciate it. You're the last one now. Someone destroyed the Clonemasters and their headquarters. The imprint is gone. You're very valuable to us because you're the last one. We have to keep you alive and safe. We have much more work left for you to do."
Blake's face had become pale. He put his hands to his head and screamed, "No! No! No!" He asked angrily, "How many? How many of me have there been."
"Including you? And the two created for Servalan? Yes, she had two of you created. Not exactly copies though and they didn't contain your memories or personality. She never knew about those. Every clone created by the Clonemasters has built-in carrier signals on a non-standard frequency. There have been seven." She chuckled. "You do tend to get yourself killed a lot. But all in a good cause. Now it's time to come back to your masters, Blake. Like a good little puppet." The agent lifted her free hand and snapped her fingers. Three shots rang out and Vila, Tarrant and Soolin fell.
Blake shouted, "No!" His legs buckled but Avon held him up.
Avon said, "Blake, run! I'll hold them off! They won't hurt you! They can't risk it!"
Blake grabbed him. "No! Avon! They'll kill you!"
Avon pushed him away and prepared to fire on the guards, "They'll kill me anyway! Run, Blake! For once in your irrational life, do as I say!"
Blake stood looking at him. There was a sad look in his eyes. "Avon. I want you to know that…no matter what else has happened between us. I did care about you. I know it didn't always seem that way. I…had to complete my goals. I was obsessed. And that meant that I hurt the people around me. I used you. I'd like to believe that if they hadn't tampered with me, that the part of me that cared about you, was the real me. That the real Blake would never have hurt you or betrayed you. That we would have been the partners you always wanted. But…" Blake put his hand to the back of his head. "…I could never do that. I had to be in charge. I had to control everything. Damn them! Avon, if you have any regard for me at all, I want you to do one last thing for me. Of your own free will." He pressed up against Avon and whispered something into his ear.
Avon reeled back in shock, anguish reflected in his eyes. "No! I can't! Blake!"
"Avon, for once I need that icy logic of yours. We can't let them win! I can't."
The Federation agent moved forward, her eyes ripe with suspicion. "What are the two of you up to?" She raised her gun to point at Avon.
Avon raised his gun slowly, pain and shock on his face. "Not for logic, Blake." Suddenly he fired three quick shots point blank at Blake and he winced as if he had been shot himself. Blake's chest seemed to explode with sprays of red. Blake staggered back a little and then he took a few steps forward and fell into Avon's waiting arms. "Avon…" There was a smile on his face. "…my friend." He collapsed dead on the ground. The Federation agent and the troopers people seemed frozen in disbelief by what just happened. Then the agent screamed, "No!" She shot Avon.]
The screen became black. Everyone in the room stared straight ahead, with looks of stunned horror on their faces.
Cally shouted, "Avon!"