by Jenny Hayward

To Jean&Laurie for T.I.C.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

Vila was crying. When you're hiding in an overloaded shuttle and your best friend is looking for you to kill you, you don't cry. You are angry and afraid. But you don't cry. He was afraid, all right. Afraid of death... and sacrifice.

"Vila, Vila, help me!"

He couldn't do it. He couldn't pull the trigger. Now that he had dragged Vila out of his hiding place and up here to the airlock, he couldn't kill him. "You've got to," he told himself. "It's him or both of us."

Vila stood there with the tracks of tears on his face, wanting, wanting so much to live, but knowing he was doomed. Avon raised the gun again, but Vila took the decision out of his hands. With a jerk faster than Avon could move, Vila slammed his hand down on the door button. The airlock door shut in Avon's face, with Vila on the other side of it. Then the lock cycled through, and he was gone in a glitter of frozen fog, like a mist of tears.

Avon clung to the door, stunned. Then he shook himself - the shuttle still needed piloting, there were no spare moments to waste. No more sacrifices to waste. He stumbled to the control room, where Orac still hummed smugly.

"They'll pay, my friend, they'll pay," he growled as he urged the shuttle upwards. And unheeded tears trickled down his face.