Written for [community profile] b7friday. Prompt: Villains.

PG, c. 1000 words.



Her name was Lyza. She had hair the colour of copper, and the greenest eyes I ever saw. The first time I looked at her, I barely dared hope she'd even notice me, but somehow I got lucky. We liked the same music, the same old stories. The food on a base like this is nothing special, but there's always some sort of choice, and we always seemed to choose the same things. We took to spending our days off together, often having picnics outside the city dome, sharing the extra rations that we'd squirreled away for each other. Sharing stories of other placements. Dreams for future ones. Tentative, early plans for a life together, maybe, should fate and duty allow.

And then one day, when I was busy overseeing a new delivery of supplies, I heard what sounded like an explosion. Nothing too worrying – there were no alarms, and no alerts over the speakers. We downed tools anyway. Safety regulations are there for a reason, and when you spend your work day underground, near generators powerful enough to run everything from your bath water to the planet's entire climate, you don't trust anything to chance. I called over a couple of young recruits to come with me – scrawny youngsters who didn't seem to have grown into themselves yet – and we took the lift up to the next level. Just another day; just another mundane series of checks. It would be good practice for the kids, I thought. Mundane! I could almost laugh at my innocence now. So unsuspecting. So trusting in the familiar, unbreakable routine. In truth there's nothing to laugh at though, then or now. As long as I live I doubt I shall ever forget what I saw that day, when the lift doors opened.

There were three of them. A man, big and burly; dark curls and hard eyes, and a loose jerkin of some rough material. A woman, long, blonde-ish hair, and a cold, confident smile. A laser pistol in both hands, and a deadly aim. One of my recruits crumpled to the ground at my feet before the lift doors had even finished opening. I don't remember moving. My training kicked in, I suppose, but it's all a blur. The third intruder was over by one of the workstations – that much I do remember. Black hair, short and straight. Black outfit. Everything black, including his scowl.

"Get a move on, Avon!" roared the big man. Somebody shot at him, and the woman shot back. Dropped whoever it was with no effort at all. I didn't have a gun of course. I've never bothered. Nothing more deadly on my person than a piece of chalk for marking off the supply crates. The one remaining recruit had drawn her gun, but she looked frozen. She was staring back to where the lift doors kept trying to close, but kept sticking on the body of the boy who had been with us. I could smell blood – hot, scorched blood – but I don't think it was his. There were plenty of other bodies. That cold, beautiful woman was picking off my colleagues without breaking a sweat. The burly man – the leader, I had assumed, from his tone and his bearing – also fired occasionally. He was busy rifling through some data crystals though. I wondered what they were after. I wondered why it was worth the lives of so many innocent technicians.

"Done!" shouted the black-clad one. Avon, they had called him. The burly man nodded then, obviously pleased, and stuffed a handful of data crystals into his pocket.

"Cally!" he snapped – at a bracelet, it looked like. "Bring us up!" A moment later they were gone. The absence of noise felt like a physical blow, like nothing I'd ever experienced. It was some moments before other noises started up to replace it. Whimpering. A keening sound, like somebody in pain, or just terrified. Dripping liquid. Fizzing electronics, half-destroyed by gunfire. That damned lift, forever trying to close itself on the body of my trainee.

We came out of cover slowly. Cautiously. People called to each other, asking for reports of damage, and lists of casualties. Looking for friends. It's odd, but I didn't even think about Lyza until that point. Maybe my brain just couldn't conceive of anything happening to her. In some ways it still can't. I can still see her, lying beside her station, a hole obliterating one of those wonderful eyes; all that beautiful hair bloodied and scorched. They tell me I sat beside her for an hour or more, but I don't remember. There's so much I don't remember. So much I shall never forget.

Avon. Cally. Two names only, but it was enough for an identification. Blake's people. A gang of escaped criminals, who travel through the galaxy, lashing out at the Federation, wherever and whenever they can. Nobody knows what their intentions are. They just arrive, and kill, and sabotage. Then they're gone, off to their next target. Anarchists perhaps; who knows. I only know that they killed or wounded twenty or more people that day, apparently just for a look at some climate records, and a few star maps. Lyza died for that? Just co-ordinates and meteorological data. Not even anything worth any credits. Some say that Blake is a rebel, out to 'liberate' the galaxy. Maybe that's what he claims. Maybe it's even what he believes. It's not true though. All I saw that day was a band of murderers. And I shall never forgive a single one of them, nor give up hope of some day getting revenge. I'm no crack shot. No fighter either, I admit. I'm five foot nothing, hips about as wide as I am tall. Hair you could use for a pipe brush. I daresay there's nobody who would take me seriously as a threat, and maybe that will be their undoing. More likely mine, but I can dream. They killed Lyza. I hope the Federation hunts down every one of them, and I hope I get to be there at the end. With killers like that, it's no better than they deserve.
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