Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: Fair Exchange

I'm behind on cross-posting my b7friday stories again. This one's from a couple of weeks ago. The challenge was to use one of my first lines from here. 500 words, cut for length.

Fair Exchange

Vila slapped down the crystals he had been clutching in his hand. "There you are. Genuine Feldon."

Boorva nodded to one of his people. A severe-looking woman stepped forward and ran a scanner over the crystals. She drew in her breath sharply. "He's right."

Lucky there'd been more than circuit boards inside poor Gambit; Vila had guessed they were real when he'd decided to keep them to himself. He grinned. "Then it's a deal." He swept a handful of small, slim, shiny devices towards himself. "Don't mind if Soolin and I check these first, do you?"

"Not at all." Boorva leaned back in his chair, eyes narrowed. "Each of those things is worth a warlord's ransom, but the Feldon crystals are bloody near priceless. So what's the catch, Restal?"

"None. I've already got money," Vila said, thinking of his five million salted away in a neutral bank. "But some things are worth more than that." He turned one unit on and faced Soolin.

She frowned at him. "You ordered five?"

Vila shrugged. "Always useful to have a spare."


They lay prone and partially stunned by the impact until the troopers had surrounded Blake and Avon, then opened fire, led by Soolin.

"Most unprofessional of them not to check the casualties and then turn their backs," she said disapprovingly as she stood up. She shook her head. "And your Blake ought to have been wearing some protection if he's really a bounty hunter."

Vila looked sadly down at Blake. Had he been wrong about him too?

"He wasn't," Deva said softly, getting up. "He was looking forward to seeing you and ... him again. Used to say..." He bit his lip, unable to continue.

Vila believed him; it was, despite all this, a consolation. "Thanks."

"Oof!" Dayna rubbed her middle. "Whatever that bitch fired at me packed a punch."

"It's only a personal force-field," Vila said, turning away from Blake and Avon. "It's meant to throw back anything that hits it, but nothing's ever perfect. You'll probably have a nasty bruise." He rubbed his own back.

"I've got several of them, but I'd never have survived that crash without Vila's thingamy." Tarrant winced, then grinned. "Right. What do we do now?"

"We've got a flyer," Soolin said. "And Vila can get into any spaceship if we can find one."

"There's one in the silo," said Deva, holding his bleeding arm.

"All right, you're on." Vila pulled a unit out of his pocket and turned it on. "Here you go. Just in case there're more troopers around."

He'd have given the fifth one to Avon if he'd only shown some remorse for Malodar, or any sign he cared. But he hadn't--not even for Blake. Vila looked down at Avon. He was crumpled against the wall, still alive, but not for long by the look of him. The glazing dark eyes that stared back at Vila held bitter understanding.

"That's right, Avon," Vila said. "I never said you'd be safe with me."
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