Resonances (The Out Of The Blue And Into The Black Remix)

by Kathryn A
Summary: Cally is caught between hope and despair. ("Ultraworld" AU)
Rating: PG
Fandom: Blake's 7
Spoilers: Ultraworld,Killer,Gambit
Challenge: RemixRedux 2005
Original Work: "The Ultramarines" by Mistral Amara
Notes at the end.

I shivered in the cold air of the hold. It had been purged to vacuum three times just to be sure there was no contagion, and it still held the chill of deep space. I shivered again as I looked at the ancient hulk which filled the area, and this time it was not from the cold. Would Avon's plan work? That hope was all that was holding me back from walking the final path.

The laser probe wouldn't do. It would cauterise the wound. Ah, no, but it would depend on what wound, would it not? If I could boost the power, it would cut through bone. That would be enough. Straight through the heart, and nobody could stop me.

Fortunately, Avon's tools were laid out in meticulous order. I was no electronics expert, but a specialist in communications has to know which end of a power coupling is which, not to mention the amount of equipment I'd had to jury-rig on Saurian Major and other places. I could do this. And if I electrocuted myself, so much the quicker. I can't bear it. I can't bear it. My vision blurred with tears. I blinked them away. Just a few more minutes and it would all be over.

Wires, check. Power cells, check. Laser probe, check. Connectors, check. I began cutting and stripping the wires I would need. Time was running out; it wouldn't be long before he figured out what I was planning. The wire-cutter slipped and dropped with a clatter. I cursed these clumsy fingers. These too large, too thick, too masculine fingers.

There was someone outside the door. I could tell -- it was him. These dull senses were useless, but somehow I could still tell when he was nearby.

I'd locked the door, but I knew that wouldn't stop him for long. I picked up the wire-cutters and continued my task. I could still do it if I had just a little more time...

The fingers trembled again. I could hear the door behind me open.

"Don't do it, Cally." The voice was all wrong. Of course it was all wrong, it wasn't his proper voice, but it wasn't my voice either, not the voice I'd grown up hearing myself speak. I didn't know whether that made it better or worse.

I didn't turn to look at him. That was definitely worse.

"I can't go on like this," I said to the wall. "Not forever. Not without hope of an ending."

"What, you imagine we're going to live forever?"

I whirled around, my resolution forgotten, and snapped at him, "That isn't what I meant, and you know it!"

He smiled, dark and wry.

I hated that smile on my face.

"You ashvereth! You cannot understand what it is like!" I yelled at him.

He took two steps towards me. The brown leather clothes didn't look too bad, but his walk was all wrong -- stiff, clumsy, compensating for a different centre of gravity. "Don't you think that I hate this as much as you do?"

"I don't know, I can't tell, it is all silence." Like being smothered in snow, unable to see, unable to hear, unable to move.

He stood right in front of me, crowding me. "Can't you Aurons read faces? Look at my face!"

I shut my eyes. "It's not your face. It's my face."

He sighed. "I know."

"There's no hope, Avon," I said. "Ultraworld is destroyed, the Lost are dead, and my people on Kaarn don't have the knowledge to help us. Neural degeneration is probably already starting. There's nowhere else to look, nothing else to try!"

"Yes there is," he said. "It's risky, but it's better than nothing. We could use an imprinter."

"An imprinter? What's that?"

"Very old technology, probably quite similar to the Ultra's devices. It was developed in the early days of space-flight, as part of cryogenic sleep research, to enable the subject's brain-patterns to be restored in case of degeneration after long-term freeze."

"But -- that doesn't make sense -- cryosleep doesn't degenerate brain-patterns --"

"Modern cryosleep doesn't -- because they were highly motivated to improve it, and because it is usually used for medical emergencies rather than decades-long suspension."

"But if the technology is so old that nobody uses it, what makes you think you can find one of these imprinters?"

He smiled, sharp. "All we need is an ancient spacecraft that used cryosleep -- and we know exactly where one is."

"You want to go back to Fosforon."

"It's not as if anyone will have taken the spacecraft."

"You don't even know if an imprinter is still there, or if it works. Or how to work it if it did. Or if the plague has burnt itself out."

He shook his head and said harshly, "I am not going to give in to despair! I'm not going to let what-ifs stop me from surviving!" My voice, my face, my delicate profile, but nobody who knew Avon could doubt that it was his mind inhabiting my body.

"Oh yes, so very like you," I spat. "You must survive. No thought of anyone else! You don't know what it is like, to be suffocating in silence. This is worse than Saurian Major. At least then I had revenge to keep me going."

His eyes blazed in my face. There were dark circles under them. "I don't know? I don't know? You are there, you are there all the time. The others, in flashes. You complain about the silence -- how do you cope with the noise? The presence, like eyes on the back of your neck..." He shook his head. "And you are a fool if you don't put yourself first. Even an idealist like you should be able to see that you can't help anybody if you don't survive." He took a deep breath. "I endure because I must. And so must you." He put out one delicate hand and touched her shoulder. He said gently, "This is not going to be forever, Cally. We are going to solve this."

"The imprinter could drive us insane."

He smiled that smile again. "It's not like we have very much to lose, is it?"

"Fine. We will try this one more thing," I said. But I couldn't help feeling that there was something he was hiding from me.

I had been right, too. Avon had been hiding something.

"Orac, have you located Docholli yet?" Avon said to the computer. Dayna and Vila were also on the flight deck, with a finished game of Galactic Monopoly on the table between them.

"Why Docholli?" I asked.

"He is the only cyber-surgeon I know of who actually owes us something."

"He doesn't actually owe us anything -- it's Chenie he owes it to."

"Well, he's the only cyber-surgeon who won't have an instant motivation to turn us in."


"I have located Docholli," Orac said prissily, as if annoyed at being ignored. "He is on the planet Gellimar under the name of Harding. If he is to be of any use to you at all, I suggest you expedite your plans, as he is scheduled to be executed as a spy tomorrow morning."

"A spy?" I exclaimed.

"Presumably his fake papers finally didn't pass muster," Avon said. "Zen, set course for Gellimar, standard by five."


"Who's Docholli?" Dayna asked.

"An ex-Federation cyber-surgeon," Vila said. "Blake was after him for information about Star One."

"But what do you want a cyber-surgeon for?" Dayna asked. "Prosthesis is hardly going to help your... situation."

"Cyber-surgeons are experts in brain-function," Avon replied. "Which is very relevant to our 'situation', as you put it."

I looked at Avon sharply. "Why don't you want them to know, Avon?"

"Don't want us to know what?" a voice said from the corridor. Tarrant, pilot that he was, had doubtless noticed the ship changing course, and come to investigate.

"Yes, Avon, what don't you want us to know?" Dayna asked.

"It will all be irrelevant if we don't get Docholli," Avon returned.

"That's not good enough, Avon," Tarrant said, stepping down into the flight-deck.

Avon sneered at him. "You are hardly in a position to talk about 'not good enough'."

"Avon!" I said sharply. "I want to know what you are trying to hide. If there is a problem with this imprinter technology, I need to know -- it's my life as well as yours."

"Imprinter?!" both Dayna and Tarrant exclaimed at the same time. Vila just stared at them with his mouth open.

"Are you insane?" Tarrant snapped. "That technology is totally forbidden! It's what turned half of Terra into radioactive wasteland!"

"Well, it wasn't actually the imprinting that did it, just the wars over it," Avon said.

"Anyone who would be loathsome enough to still have an imprinter after all these centuries, would be the last person to trust with your minds," Dayna said.

"That will not be a problem," Avon said. "The owners are all dead. And we don't even know if the equipment is salvageable."

"But I don't understand," I said. "Why were wars fought over a brain-print restoration device?"

"Because after the first deep-space ships went out, someone figured out how to use an Imprinter as the ultimate brainwashing tool. They turned ordinary people into mindlessly loyal fanatics," Tarrant said.

"That's -- abominable," I said. "If the Federation got hold of technology like that, they'd be unstoppable."

"How could you even consider using it?" Tarrant glared at Avon.

"Because I need to," Avon said. "Because this is the only thing left that could help us. I am not going to let your squeamishness stop us."

"You want to swap brain-prints with Cally? Do you know that that would even work?" Dayna said.

"No, that's why we need Docholli," Avon said.

"You can't have one of those things lying around loose," Vila said. "Avon, promise you'll destroy it. Promise!"

I remembered Vila had had his own bout with Federation brainwashing techniques.

"I agree, Avon," I said. "It must be destroyed -- even if the attempt doesn't work. We dare not risk such a thing getting into Federation hands."

"Or anybody's hands," Dayna added pointedly.

"You think I would be tempted?" Avon returned. "Never fear, there are some things to which even I will not stoop. It will be destroyed -- after we've used it."

Rescuing Docholli had been almost an anti-climax. He had been very grateful, and quite willing to help. When he saw the Liberator's infirmary, his eyes had lit up, and I wondered whether he might not stay on after this.

Which brought us to the ship we'd retrieved from Fosforon...

I heard the hatch open and stepped into the shadows. I didn't want anyone to find me here.

"I just wanted to have a look." It was Dayna's voice.

"Well it wasn't locked after all, so you didn't need to bring me along."

"Oh, don't worry, Vila, those nasty little bugs aren't going to bite you -- and if they do, we have Dr. Bellfriar's formula now, so we can cure it."

"So the Doc says. I'd rather not chance it. You weren't there when all those people were dying. Very nasty way to go. And how do we know it's the right formula anyway? Plucking a piece of paper from the hand of a corpse -- ugh!"

"It wasn't as if he'd mind," Dayna said.

"Do you have to talk about it?" Vila said. "How's my Delta Blues going?"

"Orac has been rather busy, I haven't been able to get any appropriate samples yet."

Delta Blues? Appropriate samples? What was Dayna working on? Some sort of Delta weapon for Vila?

"Remember what you forfeit if you don't," Vila said. "Ah, I can taste that dessert now..."

A bet? Vila and Dayna had made a bet?

"You didn't set a time limit."

"My patience is not infinite," Vila said loftily.

"Don't worry, you're going to be giving me those neck-rubs before the week is out!" Dayna said. "Why are you smiling?"

"Because I get some Delta Blues, or you forfeit the bet," Vila said. "I win either way."

"Just try to relax, and keep still," Docholli said as he made the final adjustments to the helmet. It smelled of metal and ozone and disinfectant. I could feel my palms damp with sweat. I clutched the chair arms and then, muscle by muscle, tried to relax. I breathed slowly, but all it was was breath, not a cue to relax. I shut my eyes.

"That's it," Docholli said, and I felt suddenly dizzy.

I blinked. The world was fuzzy.

"Cally? Cally?" Docholli peered at me anxiously.

"What --?" I broke off at the sound of my voice. My own, high, female voice. "It worked! I'm me!" I held up my slender hands and looked at them, and touched my face. "I'm Cally."

Docholli's eyes crinkled with a smile. "Good." He lifted the helmet up from my head. Liberator's infirmary met my eyes.

"Avon? Is he...?" But as soon as I voiced the thought, I felt his presence, as clear and strong as if he were one of my sisters. Avon? I sent, then gasped as my head turned to fire.

"I suggest you don't do that for a while," Avon's voice came from my right, with a tightness in it that suggested that his head was aching as much as mine was.

"Do what?" Docholli asked.

"Telepathy," I said softly. "Head aches."

"Where?" Docholli said swiftly.

I described the pain as best I could, and the doctor frowned and nodded. "Tension, possibly, or something else." Then Docholli examined everything from neural readouts to reflexes. Then came the questions. Vila was recruited for this, being the one who had known both Avon and me the longest. He took turns with us.

"So, Cally, what sort of necklace did you want from Space City?"

"Necklace? I didn't -- oh, that necklace. A necklace of your teeth."

Avon smiled sardonically. It looked much better on his own face. "The price of failure, hmmm?"

"Avon, what did we play while Blake was on Freedom City?"

"Speed Chess," Avon replied blandly.

And I remembered. Watching Vila agree to play the Klute, the taste of something sweet and creamy in my mouth, spitting it out...

"You broke the Big Wheel!" I exclaimed. "All that time we thought you were on the Liberator you were -- gambling!"

Vila turned startled eyes my way. Docholli frowned, and Avon looked speculative.

"I had started to wonder..." Avon said. He turned a gimlet stare at Docholli. "The erasure was not completely successful. We have each others memories."

"To a degree," Docholli said. "It would have done too much damage to do a thorough wipe -- you would both have been vegetables. I had hoped that there would be no cross-linkages, but it seems there are at least a few."

"So, we are going to go insane after all," Avon said.

"No!" Docholli said. "The primary neural pattern is strong in both of you. It is, after all, the original. To what extent the secondary pattern remains isn't clear, but while you both might experience momentary confusion when triggering a cross-linked association, your personalities should remain integrated."

"A crossley accommodation?" Vila said.

"A memory from the other person," I said.

"Creepy," Vila said.

"That isn't quite the word I would have used," Avon said.

"Na'thollan," I said.

"A ghost?" Avon returned. "I'm not dead yet, and have no intention of dying in the near future." He turned deceptively mild eyes on Docholli. "Unless, of course, your prognosis is fatal?"

"No, no," Docholli said. "The most risky part is over. The best thing you can do now is sleep, and let the brain sort itself out in REM-sleep. Take some soma to help that, if you need to."

Avon woke with a start. Zelda had been burning, and Lugh was calling his name. "Avon," he'd said. Avon.


"Cally?" he whispered.

I'm sorry, Avon, I didn't mean to wake you.

They were both in the infirmary, but he hadn't expected her to hear him.

A nightmare. Zelda's death. She was burning. And then my - your brother...?

A shiver ran down Avon's spine. Residual effects, he thought.

What residual effects? Avon, what's wrong?

He could feel her concern. Like, but unlike, what he'd felt when he was wearing her body. Oh, please, no, not that.

"Avon, what is the matter?" She was standing by his bed, a dark presence in the faint light.

Test the hypothesis. Cally, can you hear me?

"Of course I can hear --" Avon?

We shared the same nightmare. Residual effects.

Telepathic resonance.

He could feel her hope, the delight which she reigned in and stifled even as it bloomed. What is telepathic resonance? he asked.

The basis of telepathy amongst clones. Similar brain structures resonate --

Like a tuning fork?

Like a what? -- yes, like a tuning fork. Because of what we've been through, because of the traces of what Docholli called the 'secondary pattern', we must now be resonating on a close enough 'frequency' --

To be telepathic? But I'm no telepath!

Only with me. And it may only be temporary.

"But you hope it isn't," he said. He felt bare, exposed, like a deep-sea creature cast up to die on an arid rock.

"And you fear it," she said.

"You should know, shouldn't you?" he snarled. He knew, too -- knew that he'd hurt her with his hostility. He also knew when she sidestepped the hurt, stiffening her spine into something cool and practical.

She bent over and looked him in the eye. "You value survival, Avon. This wasn't the kind of risk we envisaged, but it's happened, and you are going to survive. Fear is not a survival strategy."

His mouth quirked in a smile. "No, I suppose not. I shall endeavour to ignore it."

"There is a --"

"Saying among your people?" Avon interrupted her.

"Yes. Understanding vanquishes fear."

"As usual, overly optimistic, but it is true that all knowledge is valuable."

Then ask, and learn.

I usually learn by doing.

That also. Cally smiled.


Dayna wouldn't have sung it if Vila hadn't spiked the drinks; and she might have resisted even then if she hadn't been feeling wonderfully relaxed from one of Vila's neck-rubs. But they'd been celebrating the restoration all evening (or what passed for evening on the Liberator) and Dayna hadn't noticed how many glasses of fruit punch she'd imbibed.

So when Vila said "Dayna, sing me my song," she'd taken out her sono-harp and gone straight in...

"Well I woke up this morning, 
     there was an echo in my head. 
Well, when I woke up this morning, 
     there was an echo in my head. 
I telepathed myself a message, 
     and warned myself to stay in bed.

I dragged myself down to the flight deck, 
     and all the rebel gang was there. 
Reluctantly I dragged myself down to the flight deck, 
     and all the usual gang of criminals was there.
The room was full of snarls and leather, 
     aggression, soma, curly hair. 

We found a planet shining silver; 
     Zen didn't know what it could do. 
We found a planet, it was lumpy and bumpy and silver, 
     and Zen's scans couldn't show what it might do. 
But you know, Avon seemed to like it; 
     I guess that should have been a clue. 

Well, honey, I've had the blues, the indigos, aquas, and greens; 
But there ain't nothing compares to these lowdown Ultramarines. 

You know, I don't know how I got there, 
     my memories are very few.
I said, I don't know how I got there, 
     this sort of thing happens often since I joined this crew. 
I found myself down on this planet; 
     there were some men, and they were blue. 

They said hello, we are the Ultra, 
     and we're so glad you came to call.  
Yes, they said we, we are the Ultra,  
     and we're so glad, so very glad you came when we called;  
But now you look a little tired, child.  
     Why don't you lean against this wall?  

Well, honey, I've had the blues, the indigos, aquas, and greens; 
But there ain't nothing compares to these lowdown Ultramarines. 

Well, when I woke up this evening,  
     someone else was in my head. 
Yes, when I woke up this evening,  
     that cold sententious misanthropic Alpha's mind was in my head. 
So now when I catch up with Tarrant,  
     he's going to see just what an Auronae can do when she sees red. 

It's hard to see him in my body,  
     the things he does with it are vile. 
Oh, yes, it's hard to see Avon use my body,  
     the things he gets up to can only be called vile. 
It isn't that I mind the leather,  
     but my face just looks so awful when he smiles. 

Well, honey, I've had the blues, the indigos, aquas,  
     and those sickly blue-greens;  
But there ain't nothing compares to the headache they give you, 
     these lowdown Ultramarines. 

No there ain't nothing compares to these lowdown, unappealing, 
     set your mind a-reeling, back-stabbing, double-dealing, 
     greedy, grasping, psyche-stealing, lowdown

Author's Notes:

The Delta Blues song Dayna wrote is, of course, the original thing that was remixed. Okay, so maybe I'm cheating, to remix a filk, but it was up there on her site on the same page as the fiction and it describes Alternative Universe events, so you could call it an AU narrative... and I liked the idea, so there.

Thanks to Judith Proctor for brainstorming and looking over one scene. Thanks to Ross Mallet for helpful suggestions. Thanks to Betty Ragan for a speedy beta.

The idea of the imprinter was a combination of the imprinter from "Helm" by Steven Gould, and the Stargate SG-1 episode "Lifeboat".