The Butterfly Effect (1): A View From the Madhouse

by Kathryn A

Extracts from recordings made by Psychotherapist Sondra Kostos

Hello Teddy. I'm glad Sondra gave me you. Sondra is an old lady with grey hair, but you know that, don't you? She must have got you at Lojold. We were just there. They wouldn't let me go down with them, but Sondra said she'd get me a present, and it was you! You aren't quite as nice as my old Teddy but you listen just as well. And you're very quiet, not like people. They aren't quiet even when they are quiet. And Cally is not-quiet even more than the others. But she's sad a lot.

Sondra plays funny games with picture-cards, not like the games that Vila plays. Vila can be fun when he's not unhappy. But he's unhappy most of the time. He keeps on saying sorry. He says it's his fault. And he's scared a lot. And sometimes he gets too much medicine when Cally isn't looking and gets all sleepy and loud and stupid.

Tarrant is loud all the time. I don't like him. He's too bossy, and he never has any fun. He has curly hair all over his head. Dayna is sometimes fun, but mostly she's cross. She doesn't like talking to me. When I come in a room, she stops talking. Dayna shoots guns a lot. She has curly hair too, but the curls are really tiny. Maybe curly hair makes you cross. You're right. Cally has curly hair, but she's not cross. But she's really sad.

This is a big spaceship, did you know that Teddy? Yes, but I thought you might not have, 'cause you got teleported. It's got lots and lots of corridors and places to hide. When I feel too sad, I go hide. Or when Cally's sad, she makes me feel sad. She looks at me and feels sad. I don't know why, Teddy.

Sometimes I hide when I don't want to do something. Sondra wanted to play hip-tize today, but I didn't want to. I don't like it, it's a bad game. She tried it once, and it made me sleepy and I saw bad things.


Teddy, I think I know why Tarrant's so cross a lot. It's 'cause he's worried underneath. But he doesn't want anybody to know, so he gets all bossy so people will think he's brave. But he still doesn't like me. Well, he didn't have to say that, did he? Maybe I will ask Zen to give him cold showers.

Sondra is funny. She thinks I'm sick. She thinks it underneath. But she thinks everybody's sick, even Cally. But Cally's getting better. I think it's because she isn't so sad all the time. Early on, she was so sad it made me cry. She was so sad she wanted to hurt herself. Then Tarrant went and got Sondra so she would get better. Sondra is supposed to make me better too but I'm not sad.


No, we are sneaking, following it. It belongs to a lady called Servalan. Teddy wants to know why don't we just ask her where she is going.

Teddy wants to know why is she bad?

That's very bad. No wonder Dayna is cross. No wonder Cally is sad. I'm going to whisper this to you Teddy. Sondra doesn't believe Cally. She thinks Cally is making it up. But nobody else does. Sondra thinks Servalan isn't a bad lady. She is a very pretty lady, though, isn't she? Why would such a beautiful lady be so bad? Maybe she didn't have any friends, and that made her sad so she got cross and did bad things. She must be very very cross.


Yes, it is still going the same way. We can go faster than she can, but that doesn't help because we don't know where she is going.

I'm not talking to them. They don't like me. They talk about me when I'm not there. And then they stop talking when I come in.


Sondra knows things she shouldn't. How did she find out? Teddy! How could you?


Teddy, Teddy! The man with the badge put his fingers in my head and tried to suck out my brain. Then he turned into Cally and she tried to suck out my brain.

Go 'way. Go 'way Cally. So I woke you up. You shouldna been listening. Go 'way. You tried to suck my brain.


Cally's very sad today. Sondra thinks she might hurt herself again. Cally doesn't want to talk to me. Well I don't want to talk to her.

We are still following Servalan's ship. I'm bored. I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored! They won't let me do anything. No, not anything. But I want to.


Tarrant did it. It must be him. He must have found out about the cold showers. But it's not fair, him not letting Orac and Zen talk to me. I want to talk to my friend Orac. We aren't going to stand for it, are we, Teddy? Oh, I like that. What a brilliant idea. You are very clever, Teddy. That's what we'll do.


Cally keeps on trying to hug me, but you know we don't like that. She wants to make me feel better. You like Cally, Teddy? Why? But she can't be trusted, Teddy. She's dang'rous. I don't care if she feels good to you, Teddy. She could hurt us again. She's tricksy. She likes us? But that's why she's tricksy, Teddy. You can't tell. She's dang'rous.


Yes, this is a good place, Teddy. No-one will find us here. Just make sure Orac is comfy-bul, and we'll put his key in.

Now, Orac, tell me what they're saying about me.

Teddy can't hear, just a minute.

You mean Avon's got Orac? But what's the point? Orac won't listen to him.

That's what they think.

If he's as brilliant as you say he is, he may have found a way around that.

You're not so stupid, then.

But he's acting like a five-year-old! He wouldn't be able to -

Acting. This is a defence mechanism. He would have access to all the skills his mind deems necessary for that defence.

But why would he take Orac? I mean, why would he need -

There are only three beings on this ship he feels safe with: Orac, Zen...

And his Teddy.

Because they can't answer back?

_You haven't been taking much notice of Orac if you think he doesn't answer back!_

It's because with them, he doesn't have to shut out the voices.

Shut out the voices?

_I know you say that the drug overdose triggered his latent telepathy, but you don't mean to say he's still -_

Telepathic? I have reason to believe he is. You have to understand, the records show that he tested flat zero as a child. A sure sign of a latent telepath. Something probably happened when he was very young, to cause him to block out his abilities. To shut off the voices completely.

But if the Federation knew, why didn't they do anything?

The usual practice is to keep a watch on latent telepaths, but not to interfere. It has been found that attempts to force a latent to develop their talents only makes them further blocked. In Avon's case, this regression is the way he found to cope with the trauma he suffered as a result of Vila and Cally's actions. He is telepathically active now, but if he comes to himself - and there's no guarantee that he will - he may retain it or he may block it as he did before. It is entirely up to him. He doesn't need to be frightened by whatever affected him as a child. But right now, you folk aren't the best of company for a telepath! Anger, sadness, frustration, fear, suicidal tendencies - you may think you've got problems, but he's got all your problems, as well as all his own. No wonder he wants to get away from everybody!


No, Teddy, you shouldn't talk to Sondra. I asked you not to.


I just had a strange dream, Teddy. The man with the badge was there, and he wanted to come and take me away, but Papa wouldn't let him. Then Papa went away and the man with the badge came again and took me away. But I built a castle and the man with the badge couldn't get in. None of the voices could get in. Then Cally came and flew over the castle walls, and they fell down.

What does it mean, Teddy?


I am tired of the stupid food. It is so boring. It is all the same. I want some chocolate icecream. Vanilla icecream would be good too. Even strawberry. But all we have is food-dispenser stuff.

That's a good idea, Teddy. But they won't let me. You're right, Teddy. Why should I listen to them? They don't like me.

What are you doing?

This is a bit tricksy, isn't it, Teddy?

Stop that right now!


What are you doing?

Teddy wants some icecream.

Icecream?! What the hell does he think he's doing?

I'm not talking to you.



Oh, leave him be.

They don't like me. They're scared of me.


Ow! My leg! Ow. That was a big bump. Why did Servalan have to go through that asteroid field?

Are you hurt?

My leg.

Can you make it to sick-bay?


Do you need help?


My arm is killing me! Just a bit of adrenaline and soma, please, Cally?

No, Vila, you don't need it.

I wish Vila would stop complaining. Everybody knows it isn't as bad as he says. It just makes people mad.

She is good at that. Teddy says I should say thank you, Cally.


This is very annoying, Teddy. Stop talking to Sondra.


Here it is. He thought he hid it good, didn't he Teddy? But he couldn't hide it from us. Let's break it up. Let's smash it good. Of course he'll be upset. But we have to do it, don't we?

Yes, we did. Teddy says you shouldn't drink that stuff. It is bad for you. You tell him, Teddy!


Servalan's stopped at last. Twenty-seven days. Vila's been keeping count.


Tarrant is so brave isn't he? Bossing Vila around like that. Cally's idea was better, to fix up the teleport.


So Tarrant got caught. Serves him right.


No, Cally wants Dayna to stay and look after the ship.

Something's wrong.


All right, this has gone too far. I told you before to stop talking to Sondra, but you wouldn't listen. This calls for surgery. This will hurt me more than it hurts you. No, you're just trying to get out of it, Teddy. No. (sharp intake of breath). It hurts. Yes, I know they've got her, but are they really - (gasp). They're hurting her, Teddy. They're - But we can't. Because. (gasp). But how? Oh I see. But Dayna's at the teleport. Okay. Orac, and a gun.

What do you want, Avon?

Teddy says you've got to put us down where Cally went.

But Avon -

Now. Or we'll just ask Orac to do it.

But you don't know what you're doing -

Teddy knows what to do. We're going to rescue Cally.

Rescue -?

Orac, operate teleport as instructed.

Now just a minute -

Now, Orac.


Where now, Teddy? Yes, I'll be very quiet. Yes, that's good. Nice and sneaky.

(gasp) They're hurting her.

Drop your guns.

(bang!) (arrrgh!)

Teddy says that was to show we are serious. If nobody moves, nobody gets hurt. Put down the knife.

{No, you put down your gun, and the lady won't be harmed.}

Teddy says you're lying. Teddy's right.

(bang!) (arrgh!) (thump)

Drop your guns.


Into the corner.


{You're wasting your time. Every move is being monitored.}

Teddy says you don't have any friends. But mine are outside the door.

What the - Avon?

(bang! bang! bang!) (arrgh! thump thump)

Teddy said you were coming. We thought we'd wait for you.

They're all dead. Vila, you see to Cally.

Careful, Vila. Ow.

Who's got a bracelet?

On the machine.

{Never mind about the bracelet, we've got to get out of here!}

(zap! arrrgh!)


It's that thing.

Teddy says it isn't a thing.

Get away from there! It can protect itself.

Protect itself? What is it?

Better keep away, Tarrant.

Who are you?

{I am Moloch.}

I knew you were there.

{For a being of your era, you have uncommon perception, Cally.}

He knows you!

{I know each one of you.}

You don't know Teddy.

What is it?

A man from the future. Someone was foolish enough to take a computer prediction and turn it into reality.

{Colonel Astrid, he caused my being. Then tried to destroy me.}

What do you want with us?

{The Liberator. A perfect vehicle through which to express myself. Servalan was merely the bait to bring you here. There is nothing any one of you can do. The Liberator is mine.}

Dayna will never take you aboard. Never.

{She will, Tarrant. She will... she will... she will... she will...}

He was very stupid, wasn't he, Teddy?

Why you -

Stop it, Tarrant! What do you mean, Avon?

Teddy says it's all right. He couldn't take it with him, you see.

He couldn't take what with him?

His life-support. Of course!

How many teleport bracelets do we need?


We did it, didn't we, Teddy. We rescued Cally. We did it all by ourselves. And Cally's okay now. Everything's all right.

Good night, Teddy. You won't be needing this anymore.

extracts end


And Afterwards

"He's dangerous," Tarrant said, pacing at the front of the flight deck. Dayna, Sondra and Vila sat on the semi-circular couch near the front. Cally was still in sick-bay, recovering from her ordeal.

"Dangerous!" Vila exclaimed. "He destroyed my - my still, and all he said was that I drink too much," he continued. "Self-righteous little brat," he muttered.

Dayna smothered a laugh, as she considered that Vila probably deserved it. But she sobered up immediately as her mind returned to the problem that was Avon.

"But rescuing Cally!" Tarrant continued. "Who knows what he's capable of?" He couldn't forget the scene: Avon calmly fighting Federation goons, talking in a little-boy voice, clutching his Teddy bear. "So much for the mentality of a five-year-old! All that means is that he can't be reasoned with."

"Not to mention unpredictable," Dayna added.

"So what are you going to do about it?" Tarrant rounded on Sondra.

She reacted with a calm demeanour, looking up at the curly-headed pilot. "I'm afraid there's nothing I can do," she said. "I don't even have a means of monitoring him, now that he's disabled the recording device in the Teddy bear."

"Recording device?" Dayna exclaimed.

"Of course," Sondra returned. "Why else do you think I gave the bear to him in the first place? When it became clear he wasn't going to talk to me, I thought at least he would talk to it. And it worked pretty well until he figured out what I was doing."

"How could he figure it out?"

Sondra leaned back and steepled her hands together. "I expect he read my mind, and found I knew things I could know no other way."

"Then what the hell are we supposed to do?" Tarrant exploded. "How are you going to cure him?"

"I don't think I can," Sondra said sadly. "There's no reason for him to want to be 'cured'. He's found a way to cope, and there's no motivation for him to come out of it. And if he doesn't want to be cured, then he simply won't be."

"That's it?" Dayna exclaimed. "You're just going to leave it at that?"

"I've done all I can," Sondra declared. "There's nothing more I can do."

They all stopped silent, contemplating their predicament.

Into this silence, footsteps fell. Tarrant looked up and saw Avon entering the flight deck. Dressed in basic black instead of the greys he'd been favouring for the past month, he held up a Teddy bear by the scruff of the neck, and stalked to the front of the flight deck.

"Whose idea of a joke is this?" Avon growled. "Who left this bear in my room?"

They all gaped at him.

Vila piped up, "Oh, so that's where my bear got to."

Avon dropped the bear beside Vila. "A Delta-grade Teddy bear," he said with disgust. "It figures." Then he stalked off the flight deck, while the others watched his progress in stunned silence.

"Is that characteristic of his normal behaviour?" Sondra asked when she was sure he had left.

"That's Avon all over," Vila said.

"Then I was wrong," Sondra smiled. "He was ready to come out of it."

"You mean that he's cured?" Tarrant asked.

"That is what it would appear," Sondra said.

"But how? Why?" Dayna asked.

"Let me think," Sondra paused. "Ah, of course! A positive social adjustment was all that was required. His rescue of Cally gave him the confidence, or should I say, reassured him of his autonomy such that his subconscious was willing to abandon the self-protective scenario he had built up."

"Could you explain what you just said?" Vila asked. "In normal words?"

"Rescuing Cally was the turning point," Sondra explained. "It meant he didn't have to hide any more, he could come out and be himself."

"But he doesn't remember!" Dayna protested. "How can that be okay?"

"It's not surprising that he doesn't remember," Sondra said. "He wouldn't want to remember. And even if he does remember in time, he may not admit it."

"Typical," Vila muttered.

"But what about the telepathy?" Tarrant asked. "Is it possible he's still telepathic?"

"Of course it's possible," Sondra said. "But I don't think it's probable. And if he was, we'd only know if he let us know."

"And that's not likely at all," said Vila. "Not likely at all."


Avon sat bolt upright in his bed. It was just a nightmare, he told himself. It was just a nightmare - wasn't it? He lay back down, staring at the ceiling of his cabin. Was it a nightmare, really? He got up, knowing that he wouldn't be able to sleep. He threw on an over-robe and went out, intending to brood on the flight-deck or the rec-room for a while. But instead, he found himself knocking on the door of a cabin near sick-bay. The cabin of Sondra Kostos.

"Who is it?" came a muffled voice.

"Avon," he said. Somehow, he wasn't surprised that she was awake.

Sondra opened the door, her grey hair braided for the night. He dark eyes were bright with life, and she didn't seem annoyed at this intrusion.

"Well?" she said briskly. "Is it nightmares, or are you just hearing voices?"

"I'm not hearing voices yet," he said, "but I was, wasn't I?"

"Ah," she said. "You remember."

"I was insane," he stated.

"I wouldn't put it that way," she replied.

"Of course not," he said. "You're a psychotherapist. You would qualify it with technical jargon, but it comes down to the same thing in the end."

"The voices were not the insane part of it, you realize," she said.

"I find it hard to believe I was telepathic," he said.

Sondra shrugged. "Don't believe it, then. The tests show otherwise."

"You mean you actually have hard evidence?" he said skeptically.

"Soft evidence," she returned. "I'm sure of it, but a determined disbelief can dismiss anything."

"Try me," he said.

"Very well," she said. "It's all in sick-bay. I'll show you in the morning."

"Now," he grated.

She gave a half smile. "I thought you'd say that. The young are so impatient." She gestured to Avon to lead the way, and they quickly turned the corners to the medical heart of the Liberator.

The lights stayed on in sick-bay for the rest of the night. It wasn't just evidence that ended up being discussed there.


"You're leaving us?"

The crew were gathered on the flight-deck, all except Avon, when Sondra declared her intention.

"I'm not needed here any more," Sondra said. "I have to get back home. Tarrant didn't give me much choice, if you recall."

"She's not going back home," came a voice from the entrance to the flight deck.

"Avon!" Sondra exclaimed. Why was he trying to stop her? Had she been mistaken in her assessment?

"Zen, plot a course for Lindor," Avon ordered, stepping down into the main part of the flight-deck.

"+Confirmed.+" Zen replied.

"But Avon - my family - I have to go home," Sondra spluttered.

"It's too dangerous," Avon stated, biting off his words as he said them, as if that much explanation was almost more than he was willing to give.

"Too dangerous for whom?" Tarrant asked coldly. "If she wants to go home, we should take her home."

"Tell me," Avon sneered, "did you get that thick at the FSA, or did it come naturally? She knows too much about us. She can't go home."

"You don't trust me?" Sondra surmised. "You think I would betray you to the Federation?"

"You wouldn't have any choice," Avon growled. "I'm sure your family means more to you than we do."

"I don't understand," Sondra said.

But someone else did. "Servalan would threaten your family, to get information about us," Cally stated. "They would be safer if you never returned. They would be safer if they didn't know where you are."

"They would be safer if they thought you were dead," Avon said harshly.

"I... see," Sondra said slowly. She looked over at Tarrant. "I should curse the day we met, but that would do no good. I did curse it. I thought you were going to kill me, then, when I was of no more use to you. I expected no less of such desperadoes and terrorists," she held up her hand at Dayna's murmur of protest. "I was wrong. It seems the terror is on the side of the law." She sighed. "I suppose exile is better than death, or harm to my family. What's Lindor like?"

"How are you on history?" Cally asked with a smile.


(Appeared in Gambit #13)