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"I'm glad you made it," Avon said, kneeling next to Tarrant.

"So am I," Tarrant said. "Avon, I think he's here." Tarrant struggled to get up, but the sudden exertion was too much, and he sank down, unconscious, a thin stream of bright red blood coming from the corner of his mouth.

"I think he's dying!" Dayna said, moving close to hold Tarrant against herself.

A woman's voice interrupted, "Security personnel to main tracking gallery. Security personnel to main tracking --" Avon swung his gun up to bear on her, but Dayna was in the way. Before he could push Dayna clear, the woman who'd given the alert dropped back into hiding.

Avon took a step forward, to make sure of her, but stopped as Blake entered the room, with another woman behind him. Avon's rifle centered on Blake. "Blake."

"Yes, it's me. Avon, I've been waiting for you."

"Tarrant doesn't have any time to wait," Vila said. He was on the floor beside Tarrant, trying to mop at the blood coming from Tarrant's mouth.

"What did you do to my pilot, Blake?"

Blake raised his eyebrows. "I rescued him from a crashed ship. Where were you?"

Avon changed the subject. "Do you have a medical unit?"

"Yes. I'll take you there." Blake bent down to pick up Tarrant, but dove to the floor when Avon lifted his gun and shot over Blake's back, killing the woman behind him.

Blake rolled onto one elbow and looked at Arlen's corpse and then at Avon. "She was going to shoot you in the back," Avon explained. "Your security isn't what it might be."

"That's an understatement," Soolin said after a brief examination of the corpse. She held up a small box. "Transmitter. And it's on."

Blake picked up Tarrant and spoke to the woman who was crouched behind the control console, staring at them wide-eyed. "Sound the evacuation and check Chavis, Someones's shot him." Blake nodded at the technician lying on the ground. Soolin looked carefully blank.

Two minutes later, when the Federation troopers burst in, there was no one awaiting them except Arlen's corpse.

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December 2011

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