This is a sequel to the season 3 AU story, Boarding Party, in which a certain Space Captain Restal boarded the Liberator instead of Tarrant (because kerravonsen wanted more).
Playing With Fire
"Don't much like the look of that," said Vila.
Avon frowned at him, still unsure of ex-Space Captain Restal. "Why?"
"Doesn't it strike you as odd that there's one ruddy great volcano on the planet and these people choose to live on it?"
"No. They probably get their energy from it."
"But it's active! The thing could blow at any moment!"
"Perhaps they like living dangerously," Selman suggested.
"Not exactly your usual extreme sport though is it, getting blown sky-high. And anyway," Vila warmed to his theme, "the Federation didn't want this place. Must be something seriously wrong with it."
"That's for you and Lauren to find out then, isn't it?" said Avon.
"Oh, nice. Send the new ones down."
"It's good practice for you. And while you're there, you can check out the rumours about Blake." Avon did not mention Arco. He would not mind at all if he never saw that particular oaf again.
Cally leaned towards Avon after Vila and Lauren had been teleported. "You still don't quite trust them, do you?"
Avon smiled without warmth. "It's a good test, and if there are any problems, we can easily leave them there."
"Down and safe," said Vila. He looked around and wrinkled his nose at the nasty niff. Sulphur. "Tell you what, if they decide to let us stay, I'm going for a nice quiet spot on the other side of this planet. Better smelling too."
Lauren laughed. "Come on. It's this way."
"I hope that fellow remembers your father."
"He will." Lauren stopped, puzzled. "Feels like rain."
"I don't mind rain." Vila wiped the spots from his face. "Well, I do really, but it's hot lava I'm not keen on."
Lauren stared up into a sky that was clear of all but a smudge of smoke from the volcano, then noticed two men on a ridge. She turned to Vila to warn him, but unaccountably fell asleep, as did Vila (fall being rather more than a metaphor).
When they woke, they were both lying on a bed. "I think we've found them," said Vila.
"Or the other way round." Lauren sat up, rubbing her eyes. "What was that, some sort of narcotic spray?"
"Something like that," said one of the two disapproving men by the bed.
"Nice." Lauren said, professionally impressed.
"But not that hospitable." Vila swung his legs over the edge of the bed. "I'm not sure I like your friends, Lauren."
"We aren't your friends," the younger one said.
"One of you is," said Lauren. "Or at least, Hower was my father's."
"I'm Hower," the older one said. "And this is my son, Bershar. Who is your father?"
"Was. Hal Mellanby. He was at the Federation Central Science complex with you." Lauren pulled the medallion out of her tunic and showed it to Hower.
"Your claim is extremely unlikely."
Lauren flushed. "I'm adopted, but he was as much my father as Dayna's."
Hower shrugged. "Whether that's so or not, I no longer have any faith in the Federation or in its scientific and technological development."
Vila eyed the robot that glided in with a tray of drinks. "Easy to say when you've got enough already, isn’t it."
Hower frowned. You and your kind are not welcome here."
"Aggressive people armed with offensive weapons. Not that you are now."
"Doesn't rudeness count as aggression, then?" asked Vila with interest.
Lauren felt for her gun, then saw it over on the table with the bracelets they had brought with them, including the extras. "All right, give us our guns and bracelets back and we'll leave."
"I think not. People with guns tend to use them."
"Not necessarily," said Vila. "I mean, I'm not that keen on them myself, but so many other people have them, often pointing at me unfortunately, I've found they sometimes come in useful."
"Ah. As a deterrent."
Vila eyed Hower. "You know what I'm talking about, don't you? I noticed you said offensive weapons. What've you got in the way of defensive ones, then?"
Hower raised his eyebrows. "Quick of you. Let me tell you. Perhaps it will convince you to leave."
Cally looked worried. "They haven't called in yet."
"Have you contacted them?"
"I've tried. There's no answer."
"All right. Take Selman with you and check up on them." Avon stood up. "I'll get Gan to stay on teleport while I go and see if Jenna's identified that ship she picked up." He hesitated. "If it's Federation and Vila's called them in, you know what to do."
Travis smiled. "They swallowed the bait; they're here looking for Blake. There are two of them down on the planet, Mori, and four bracelets you can use. You have your orders, and you should soon have the Liberator as well." And with that, he should be able to buy his way back into Space Fleet.
"Bershar! There are more of them."
Vila glowered at the screen, thereby missing that Bershar was nowhere near as surprised as his father. "And me without my uniform to bluff them with."
"Now would be a good time to leave."
Vila turned to see Hower holding out two bracelets. "What about the others we brought?"
"You only need one each. You will have to go outside however as they will not work in here."
"What about our guns?" Lauren demanded.
"Never mind that." Vila grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the room and down the hallway.
"You're going the wrong way!"
Vila gave her a sly grin. "Got something to pick up first."
"What are you doing with those?" Hower asked.
Bershar paused with the extra four bracelets in his hand. "An idea I had for our defence, Father." Let them kill each other.
Mori looked at the two Pyroans sent to meet him. "Are you from Bershar?"
"Then you have something for me."
Mori grinned as he and the other three troopers snapped the bracelets on. "Run," he suggested.
They both stood there, looking at him blankly.
He sighed and said, "Shoot them." He raised his bracelet to his mouth and, as the shots rang out, said urgently, "Get us up, quick!"
Who was that? Never mind; whoever it was sounded like they were in trouble; those were gunshots. Gan hit the control that would bring up the user of the active bracelet and any others in close proximity. His mouth dropped open. "Who the hell are you?"
Mori jerked his head at a trooper. "Just tie him up. We'll need to know how this thing works. The rest of you are with me." He set off towards the flight deck.
Cally waved. "There they are!" She and Selman climbed up to where Vila and Lauren were struggling with... "What is that?"
Lauren smiled fondly at Vila. "He said they weren't very nice to guests."
"And I thought a souvenir from exotic Obsidian might make up for it."
Cally shook her head. "All right, Gan. Bring us all up."
Gan rolled his eyes, and leaned forward with difficulty to nose the controls. He resisted the urge to comment on the more unexpected contents of the teleport bay. "We've been boarded! There are four of them."
Cally dropped one in the corridor and another as he emerged from the flight deck to see what was happening. Selman got a third when Jenna landed a stiletto boot in his spine as he brought his gun up to shoot (which caused some arguments later about who had actually killed him). The fourth one was already lying on the flight deck floor.
"Someone's going to have to clean that up," said Vila, hoping it wouldn't be him.
"Who shot him?" asked Cally.
"Avon." Jenna nodded towards the couch behind which they could see the ends of a pair of boots.
Vila was the first to him. "Winged you, eh?"
"I see you’re a master of the obvious."
A voice crackled from the comms "Mori? Are you there?"
Vila crossed to it. "No, he isn't, but I am. Who's that?"
"Space Commander Travis. Who are you?"
"Captain Restal." Vila peered at the screen. "Travis, I think I can see you on the screen. Oh yes, I know exactly where you are. Grid reference one three seven zero. Better start running." He paused, then shrugged stepped over to his position and fired. He turned, grinning triumphantly and saw Avon staring at him. "What?"
"I thought you disliked guns."
"It's all right if I can't see who I'm shooting at. And besides," Vila's eyes darkened, "Travis likes to say 'run' to unarmed civilians. Liked to, anyway." He crouched beside Avon. "You're bleeding."
"Once again, you--"
"All right, all right." Vila took the emergency medical equipment from Cally. "What're you looking so annoyed about anyway? Besides the arm, I mean."
"I should like to know what we achieved here."
"They weren't that welcoming. And you know what a big smoking volcano looks like?" Vila straightened Avon's arm out and cleaned the wound, screwing up his face.
"I'm sure you'll tell me."
"A big gun. Set to blow the whole planet up if they don’t like their neighbours."
Avon sighed. "No base, nor any recruits. So the short answer is 'nothing'."
"Apart from Travis you mean? Not quite." Vila turned his head. "Jeeves," he called.
"Jeeves?" Avon struggled to a sitting position as the robot trundled in.
"I thought I'd call it Jeeves. Adrenaline and soma all around, I think, Jeeves."
Avon closed his eyes as Vila started applying the healing cast. "I'm not counting it. Blake's Ten just doesn’t sound right."