Nico (vilakins) wrote,

FIclet: The Star

Last week's b7friday challenge was to write a story about one of three Christmassy pictures. The one I chose is embedded in the story. 700 words, set in season 3.

The Star

Avon strode onto the flight deck and paused at his station to bring up the Liberator's current location. He frowned. "We are not in the position predicted by our course."

"Does it matter?" Tarrant turned and gave him a blinding smile. "It's not as if we were going anywhere, is it?"

He, Vila, and Dayna were seated side-by-side on the couch, facing the screen which showed an ordinary starfield. They looked strangely expectant. "Who ordered a course change?" Avon looked over at Cally, the most sensible person in the room besides himself.

"It is nothing to do with me," she said, looking up from her console. "It is some Earth legend they wanted to find out about."

Ah. Avon walked round to stand in front of the other three. "Vila."

"Well, when I realised we were pretty much 3000 light years from Earth, I thought if we were in the right place, we might see the star the three wise men followed."

"Not of course that we'd find even two on this ship," Avon said scathingly. "But what are you talking about?"

"It's one of the stories of the Festivals of Light. They followed a bright star, you see, and I asked Orac if he could work out which one it was."

"And an interesting problem it was too," said Orac smugly from the table. "I had to account for the dates being adjusted to suit contemporary culture, then sift through the records for the year 5 to 1 BC in the old calendar, and analyse the data. I have deduced that it was a series of planetary conjunctions in the year 3 BC, first of Jupiter and Venus, then--"

"Yes, but a nova's more interesting and anyway we can't see the planets from here."

"As Vila has stated, he nonetheless wished to see the nova observed by the Chinese in March and April of 5 BC despite the fact that it would not have moved as described and cannot be the star in question. I therefore calculated the exact position from which to see it."

Avon closed his eyes briefly. "I might have known. Not only is it one of those ridiculous religious remnants you Deltas cling to, but even then, you can't even accept a simple logical explanation." Avon looked at the screen again. Most of the stars were obscured by a thin dust cloud. "There isn't anything there."

"Yet," Vila said serenely.

Avon turned his back on the screen and looked at Dayna and Tarrant. "I might have expected better of you two."

Dayna scowled. "My mother believed in it. My father saved her books and I read that story. He said more secretly hold to the old ways than you'd think, even though he didn't."

"Of course," Tarrant said brightly," I think it's a load of old cobblers, like you."

Avon examined this ambiguous little statement and had decided to take exception when the expression of all three changed.


"Look!" said Vila. "Behind you!"

Avon turned. A single bright star outshone all the others, lighting the intervening dust cloud to a dull amber.

Dayna sat still, entranced, and Vila clapped his hands in delight. "Perfect! You did it, Orac!" He held out a hand and Tarrant slapped a 100-credit note into it.

"Ah. It was a bet."

"Nah. That was Tarrant's idea. I just wanted to see it."

"Then you're a fool. The fact that an observed astronomical event could be re-observed is as much proof of your legend as the fact that oil burns is of that story you told us last year about the temple lamps that didn't go out."

Vila's eyelids lowered and for a moment his expressive face was unreadable. "You've said before that advanced technology looks like magic. Maybe these stories only look the same to you because you don't know enough about them."

Avon opened his mouth to reply and decided that was an argument he could not win with logic, shook his head in disgust, and walked away.

Vila looked back at the screen and smiled dreamily. "Just imagine," he said to Dayna, "that's the same light those shepherds saw when they were washing their socks that night."

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