"A gun isn't going to work." Tarrant had an odd expression on his face as Dayna reached into her cleavage. "They're already dead."
Dayna rolled her eyes. "I can't fit a gun down there." Which she thought would be obvious. Even a small gun would create corners and it was an area too high up to have corners where people would notice. Even if it wasn't visible it would be very uncomfortable.
Tarrant peered out from their hiding place behind the buffet table. Dayna was too busy assembling her explosive to see what had caught his attention, but it must have been something important, because he was running towards their zombie invaders. She assumed he was going to do something stupid and heroic as usual. Sighing, she peered over the table and discovered she was right: Tarrant was in the middle of the group of zombies, attempting to prevent Lela from being eaten by punching them.
Which didn't come as a complete surprise. Earlier in the evening he'd decided Lela was a good source of information - or just pretty and he'd wanted an excuse to keep talking to her. Dayna had found out more from overhearing conversations and accepting drinks from multiple men than Tarrant had from waiting on one woman.
Although it made sense that he would try and rescue Lela, it meant Dayna would have to rescue him in turn. Later, she'd tease him about his general uselessness in any area other than flying. For now, she tapped her communicator, which was doubling as a gaudy bracelet. Since they were on radio silence, Tarrant looked over to her, rather than answer it. She held his gaze, then threw the explosive. He got the message and dived to the floor, taking Lela with him.
The ensuing explosion was only small due to the proximity of real, living people, but there was immediate chaos. Although with the zombies having largely been reduced to their constituent parts, it was less frenzied than it had been when the undead had smashed their way through the French doors and disrupted the party.
While the dust cloud settled any guests who'd been cut off from leaving earlier were now heading for the exit. Most were sensibly running, but some stopped to gather their belongings first. One was stuffing the contents of the buffet table in his pockets, putting her in mind of Vila.
Lela was one of the runaways, despite Tarrant's protests. Dayna picked over the corpses on the edge of the pile while she waited for him to give up.
"Thanks for the warning," he said when he joined her, his tone not grateful in the least.
She didn't even look up. "Would you rather have had your brains eaten?"
"I had it under control."
She made a non-committal noise. Tarrant always liked to think he was in control, but in reality, he rarely was.
"Are these really zombies, do you think?" He poked at a dismembered torso.
She was only now beginning to put the pieces together based on the oddments she'd heard this evening. "I think they're a project."
"By some mad scientist, I suppose." He sounded unimpressed. "There seem to be plenty of them around."
She saw a movement out of the corner of her eye and peered round Tarrant to get a better look. "And I don't think the zombies are all dead."
"They're all undead." But Tarrant turned to see what Dayna could now tell was an arm waving around and not just her imagination.
She couldn't see from here but she hoped it wasn't still attached to the original body. Rather than wasting her breath on Tarrant's terrible excuse for a joke, she ran towards the other end of the pile of body parts - the end that had clearly not been contained enough in the blast.
The slit up the leg of her dress made it easier to get to one of the guns strapped to her thigh, and she shot the arm as she approached. It fell back to the ground, but she didn't dare assume that meant it wasn't going to move again.
Tarrant wasn't far behind and they stood, side by side, watching the pile for movement. Which inevitably there was. Dayna sighed. "I'm glad I came prepared."
"We were only here for information." Tarrant watched her pull out another explosive, but pretended he wasn't looking. "How many weapons did you bring?"
"Enough. You're hating not being the hero aren't you?" She grinned at him, while priming the explosive.
He rolled his eyes. "Just blow that lot up so we can get out of here. And not have to answer any questions." He nodded in the direction of the ballroom's entrance, where local law enforcement had arrived. It was just as well it was a big room and they were at the other end of it.
They weren't Federation troopers, but they'd distracted Tarrant. Dayna had to pull on his arm and drag him behind a nearby table that had been upended. She buried her head in his chest as a larger explosion went off. When the dust cleared she looked around the table and found that anything that remained couldn't be big enough to do any damage.
Tarrant coughed. "You don't know the meaning of the word 'small' do you?"
Dayna smiled, but however surprised the local law enforcement had been by the explosion, they weren't going to stay on the floor forever. "Come on." She pulled on his large collar to convince him out from behind the table and away from the house. They didn't make it far down the drive before they had to drop behind a wall to avoid more troops on their way in.
"You're enjoying yourself far too much," Tarrant whispered, peering through a gap in the crumbling brickwork.
"I'm not good with parties. I'm not used to having so many people around. And you were having far too much fun before the zombies attacked." He opened his mouth to dispute it and she put a finger to his lips. "I just hope you got some useful information."
"Not useful enough," he admitted, when she removed her finger.
But even her information wasn't that useful now she'd blown it up.
Just as she was thinking it was safe to carry on down the drive, she heard more troops marching up it. These were Federation troopers with Lela in their midst. Tarrant's eyes widened as she pointed at the house and gave orders to look for a man matching Tarrant's description.
Dayna turned to glare at him, but he just shrugged. She rolled her eyes. He did have terrible taste in women. She would have to do something about that. But later. The troopers were preparing to fan out and search, and the two of them would soon be discovered. It was up to her to have to rescue Tarrant. Again.
She crawled along the wall, staying low where the brickwork was most intact. Her dress was already worse for wear, so a little more dirt could hardly do it any more harm. Tarrant hissed her name but she ignored him. Once she was behind the rearmost trooper, she climbed over the wall. The smack of her boots hitting the tarmac made them turn. She didn't flinch. "I saw someone like that. At the party."
None of the troopers had got far and they all turned to face her. Which meant none of them were looking in Tarrant's direction. She hoped he had the presence of mind to call the Liberator, but she couldn't even as much as glance as his position for fear of giving him away.
"You were at the party?" Lela's coat flapped open in the wind, to reveal her dress was torn.
Dayna pretended not to notice and motioned to her own tattered dress by way of answer. "I was trying to get as far away as possible."
"You didn't get far." Lela's eyes narrowed.
Dayna shrugged. "I left my bag. I was hoping it was safe enough to come back and get it."
Lela shook her head. "I don't think so." She pointed to the trooper nearest Dayna. "Seize her. We can find out what she's up to later."
The trooper took hold of Dayna's arms. "I'm not up to anything," she protested. She put up a token struggle while she considered whether Tarrant needed more time.
A shot rang out from behind her and the trooper dropped, releasing his grip on her. "Now, Cally," Tarrant shouted and Dayna saw the other troopers raise their weapons as she and Tarrant were teleported out.
As soon as they were on board Tarrant said, "The Federation are down there."
"We know," Cally said calmly, standing up and coming out from behind the teleport console as Tarrant and Dayna removed their bracelets. "We're hiding from them."
"That's not going to work any more," Tarrant said. "They know who I am."
"Of course they do." Cally sighed. "I'll tell Avon."
She reached for the comm as Tarrant and Dayna ran for the flight deck. By the time they were at their stations the Liberator was already on their way out of the system.
"Tell me you at least got something for our troubles." Avon glared at Tarrant.
Of course Avon wouldn't take the news as calmly as Cally had. Dayna wondered if he'd even noticed the state of their clothes and therefore considered the troubles they'd been in. Probably not.
"We only foiled a Federation plot," Tarrant replied. "Is that enough for you?"
"All on your own? I am surprised."
Dayna sighed at the macho posturing and told the story herself. The Federation could probably just make more zombies, but it wasn't as if they could take the Liberator back and shoot the place, when the Federation were busy chasing them out of the system.
"The Federation ship has broken off pursuit," Orac announced, as Dayna reached the end of her story.
"Good timing, for once," Vila commented, but everyone ignored him.
"Pity." Avon really did look like he wished they were still being chased. "Let's just hope Dayna has given them pause for thought."
Tarrant pressed a button on his console with more force than was strictly required. "I think I'll get changed." He paused on his way to the door to look over at Dayna. "Coming?"
"I think I'd better." Tarrant needed saving from himself and Avon needed some time away from alpha males.
Tarrant's jaw was still set, so once they were in the corridor Dayna caught at his arm. He was unlikely to listen to reason, but there was one aspect of the evening's events she could do something about. "I still have some explosives hidden on me. Would you like to help me find them?"
That put a smile on his face.