VIOLET: What business had you all to take it for granted that I had no right to wear my wedding ring? (Man and Superman)
GOLDFINGER: Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.
BLAKE: You're a Federation agent.
ARLEN: A Federation officer!
My uncle Dev limped over to the sideboard. He'd done all right for himself, got cushy bunker accommodations after the Intergalactic War, and he even had bottles of liquor and a seltzer siphon. He fixed highballs for us.
"It's not that I'd bottle out of this assignment--or any assignment," I said. "But really, what's the point? Klegg's got the ship, why all the carry-on?"
"The ship is all very well, but if you handle this assignment right, we can clean out that little nest of vipers. And they'll lead you to Blake." He rubbed his knee reminiscently. "Just don't ever forget that they're dangerous, the Freedom Party and the whole boiling."
As it turned out, I probably needn't have bothered. Left to his own devices and his motley crew, Avon could have fucked up just as royally by himself. Or maybe not quite as royally. In which case my assistance did count for something.
I hoped that Blake would be the first one back, but all we got was a message that he was still alive and not too badly injured. The first to return was Avon, dragging that skinny colored girl along with him. Then Cally and Vila, Jenna never did get back, I waited a while for her.
And so we started hunting for Blake, sometimes intently, sometimes we'd just pick it up and drop it, like a bored kiddie with too many toys. They didn't know if they were rebels or pirates or just rats scurrying through the walls.
Of course I'm glad they accepted my explanation, and Klegg & Co. weren't much of a loss, but...Jesus! If I'd had anyplace to spend the money, I could have sold them each a bridge in return for the contents of the Treasure Room.
There's a simple, logical explanation of how a chap gets his hands on a custom-tailored Federation uniform, after all.
2. Dawn of the Gods
Oh, what a surprise that Avon would try to show a clean pair of heels when there was trouble. You only had to know him five minutes for that, you didn't have to have read thousands of screens worth of his files.
But, with all that under my belt, I was disgusted--but not surprised--when I straddled him and knocked the suit out of his hands and he bucked his hips against my body and got hard.
The Federation asks a lot of its brave soldiers, doesn't it? Fortunately I didn't have to do it very often, just enough to keep him gasping for it. And when he whispered, "Hurt me...," well, that part I enjoyed.
3. Harvest of Kairos
I'm just not lucky, that's all. Now, Blake was lucky--at that point, he was still lumbering around somewhere. I really thought it was all over bar the shouting when Avon ignored the potential of lashings of money and spent all his time snogging that stupid fucking rock.
Woke up in time, though. I mean, that shuttle was supposed to be for me and my mate Jarvik, once we'd staged that fight (and they were a lovely audience, too, just stood there like stuffed dummies).
4. Rumours of Death
Five days and all the equipment you could wish for and at the end of it he's still on his feet. I ask you. Where are they recruiting the Interrogation Division these days--the Sisters of Charity?
Poor old Deeta. I couldn't tell him what I was really doing, of course. He would have been so proud.
I know Avon got a few bangs on the head during this little cock-up, he must have had a fair few before to come up with a scheme as hare-brained as this.
Bloody obvious that they weren't much cop as spacefarers, anyone who knew anything could tell you that a bit of goop in the ducts is easily cured with a Hobermann scope to neutralize it, then a thorough scrubbing. But by that point, you could tell them that the nearest moon was made of green cheese and they'd believe it.
And that little farewell speech from Zen! Oh, I cried when I wrote it. But what does he care--he's a computer, he'll say whatever you program him to say.
And when I got to Terminal, it was a pleasure to force Vila to teleport Dayna, and hear Avon bleat, "Tarrant, no!" I'd heard "Tarrant, yes!" often enough to sicken me by that point. So it was a pleasure to grind that good, icy logic of his into his smug face.
To tell him that he'd lost the game. I didn't have to tell him that now the rest of the crew hated him as much as I did, he could figure that out unaided.
Too bad that Vila managed to get Orac off the ship. Never thought he had it in him.
A couple of chaps in gorilla suits as a terror device? Don't make me laugh. The same geniuses who couldn't do for one pudgy middle-aged laser probe jockey in five days of torture must have set it up.
Still, the operation wasn't a total loss, the only person with a working brain cell was dealt with. Bloody good luck for me she couldn't read minds. And once again a spacecraft turned up just when they needed one, they must have thought it was like putting up your hand and whistling for a cab. Or, I suppose, we conditioned them to think that.
With Vila to clean out glycolene tanks and Avon to clean out cellars, I had a full domestic staff.
The new girl, Soolin, was a bit of an unknown factor. But I figured that, if I had to, I could shut up her up with a bribe or a dick in her mouth or a gun in her mouth, as the circumstances dictated.
Well, I managed to put paid to Avon's little Unstoppable Weapon scheme, I could have left out that Frankenstein bit at the hydropower plant, but I suppose I needed it to dull Dayna's none-too-keen-anyway suspicions. They're not like us, after all.
It was nice to renew my acquaintance with Servalan. I'd heard so much about her in the barracks. And read so much about her on the walls of the bogs.
It had been a relaxing few weeks for me, what with Avon buggering everything up unaided. But then he caught a bit of momentum with the Pylene-50 antidote and so forth, and he managed to dredge up an alternate personality from somewhere that other people could stand to spend five minutes with.
Good job that stupid bint turned up, I really would have had to come up with some fancy footwork otherwise. And good thing my faithful crewmates had their noses stuck in Mills & Boon when they should have been reading Marx & Engels. And that they'd no objection in the world to going behind Avon's back.
It takes talent to land a dead ship, but not much to do a few loop-the-loops to impress a small crowd of yokels who may have spent the last few years on spaceships but knew as much about them as a pig knows about astrogation.
So there I was face to face with the famous Blake. And a grizzled, jowly, lumpy face it was, down to one working eye, good old Travis' revenge I suppose. And this was the face that launched a thousand pursuit ships. Some fucking Helen.
"He sold us all, Avon," I said. "Even you." And for a very long moment his head swiveled between his ex-lover and his current one, the past and the present and of course he didn't know he had no future. And, in the end, he wanted to believe the worst anyway, so he went ahead and did our work for us.
At that point, he and Blake had a life expectancy of about three minutes anyway, but I'm glad to say that it was a short life but a miserable one.
And when the smoke cleared and I spat the blood capsule out of my mouth and took the rest of the squibs out of my jacket, Commissioner Sleer was there (just as soon as she saw that there was no danger other than perhaps a latent building code violation) to award me my field promotion and hang the ribbon of the Order of Nine Planets around my neck.
When I got back to Earth from GP, Uncle Dev insisted on hosting a dinner to celebrate. What a treat to eat real vat-grown meat again. Everyone looked delightfully resentful and couldn't wait to kiss the arse of the youngest Space Admiral in the fleet. But what they really wanted to hear about was Sleer, still a knicker-free zone whatever she called herself, and her incentive scheme for the heroes of the Federation.
So, although the assignment took several years, alternating between dull stretches in uncongenial company and exciting stretches with far too much risk of a friendly fire accident, it all ended well, with the scrubbed-up DSV in Federation hands, and the entire Blake Gang drifting through space in charred fragments. I suppose you could say, on balance, that I've made a success of my life.