Excerpts from Chapter 23 of "Blake's Rebels: A Historical Perspective", with Interludes

by AstroGirl

...And so we come, at last, to that final, fateful year. Paradoxically, while the remnants of Blake's rebels became more focused and militant in their anti-Federation campaign during this period, comparatively few detailed accounts of their doings exist. In part, this is due to the fact that their activities tended to leave very few survivors, even -- or, perhaps, especially -- among their allies. It is also in part attributable to the records purges of President Sleer's regime.

Where factual evidence is scarce, the popular imagination tends to fill in the gaps with legend and fantasy. As discussed in the previous chapter, little is known of the events on Terminal, save for Sleer's destruction of the badly misnamed Liberator and the death of the Auron, Cally. In particular, it is a matter of much scholarly debate how the survivors of Liberator's crew escaped from the artificial world. Many "spacer's stories," of the sort told late at night in the more disreputable frontier-world bars attribute this seemingly miraculous escape to a shady, legendary figure known as Dorian. It seems quite certain that this Dorian is, indeed, a wholly fictional construct, or at the very least only loosely based on a real person, as stories involving him were already circulating a century or more before Blake's people are said to have encountered him. However, while these fables can be discounted as having historical value in purely literal terms, in literary terms, the linkage of Blake's rebels with Dorian is revelatory, indeed. Dorian, inevitably, is painted as a sinister figure, nefarious in the extreme, and various acts of the utmost depravity are attributed to him over an implausibly extended period of time. Contrast this with the comparisons frequently made between Blake and Robin Hood, a naïve and simplistic hero of primitive Terran legend who nevertheless carries a certain air of dashing nobility to the unsophisticated. It seems that even the masses who once elevated Blake to the status of folk hero had become aware, however indistinctly, of the true darkness their one-time idols embraced....


Dorian's legacy is everywhere, in the decadent décor of Xenon base, in the sometimes disturbing contents of closets and cupboards, in the blocked-up doorway that once led to the basement.

Avon claims Dorian's room for his own. It's the largest and the best-appointed, after all. If it reeks of a vague, cloying smell that can never quite be eradicated, and if the mirrored ceiling reflects more than Avon would really care to see, he pretends not to notice.

Eventually, he learns to sleep soundly in Dorian's bed. That sometimes bothers him, when he stops to think. Mostly, he doesn't.


...The question of Kerr Avon's motivations has been a favorite subject of historians, psychologists, and psychostrategists for many decades, and nowhere are those motivations more unclear that at the opening of the final year of his life. What could possibly induce a man to turn, seemingly overnight, from random, unsuccessful acts of piracy and undirected destruction to a serious attempt at fomenting strategic, carefully organized rebellion?

Theories abound. Kamallan, in her controversial A Struggle Between Right and Wrong, suggests that the strain of the dissipated criminal lifestyle caused a psychological break, which she likens to the re-emergence of a displaced persona in individuals who have undergone psychological reconstruction. Brice argues that, seeing himself as a failure as a pirate, Avon simply turned back to endeavors which had brought him greater success, in an attempt to regain either his status in the eyes of his fellow outlaws or his self-respect. Yarza intimates that grief over the death of the Auron, with whom he may or may not have been having an interspecies affair, was a factor. Delga, on the other hand, suggests it was Blake whose death he was mourning, and that his activities in that final year were, in a twisted fashion, an attempt to preserve Blake's memory by becoming him.

The existing scraps of the Restal Diaries feature a supposed quote of Avon's which may be enlightening, if taken as an explanation for his renewed revolutionary fervor: "Winning is the only safety." As has been noted, the Restal Diaries are most likely apocryphal, but this statement would seem to be quite in character for Avon, based on what is known of him. Is it possible that, rather than the crushing sense of failure which Brice imagines him experiencing, the man instead experienced an inflation of ego so grotesque as to lead him to believe it both desirable and necessary to rip the robust and ancient foundation of the Federation apart at the roots in order to preserve his own individual existence?

We will likely never know for sure...


All of it is useless. Failure is inevitable, and death the only certainty. He knows that now. The Federation will never give up, never leave him alone, and Blake's hope of destroying it is as much a fool's hope as it ever was. Worse, he has come to realize that the smaller, simpler things he himself has always hoped for are just as unattainable. Love, safety, independence... All illusory. It only surprises him that it's taken him this long to acknowledge it.

So, if death and defeat are his future, as they have been his past, what is there left to do? Self-destruction holds some little appeal, but the survival instincts of a lifetime are not so easy to overcome. Hedonism, perhaps? Enjoy the present while it exists? Ah, there might have been a time when that would have been possible, but there's far too little joy left in him now.

Only one viable option remains: go down fighting. He mulls the idea over and finds it appeals to his sense of drama. He can almost fancy the idea of himself, defiant at the end, standing, perhaps, over a pile of Federation bodies and smiling at approaching annihilation and the satisfactory completion of his plans.

And if there is such a thing as an afterlife -- a possibility Avon both doubts and dreads -- perhaps then there will be one person waiting for him at the end of it all with a warm welcome and a word of praise.

Yes, that will do. Of all the possible options... that will do. It will have to be a sincere effort, of course, no matter how doomed. To come to the end and not be able to say that he had given it his best would be merely another kind of failure.

To begin with, they will need a better stardrive...


...Given the nature of Avon's training, it is perhaps unsurprising that the rebels at this point began to concentrate on acquiring technological advantages. It is a matter of clear historical record that they began tracking down accomplished but unprincipled outlaw scientists. The commonly-held belief that these scientists were executed if they failed to cooperate, or once their work was completed if they did cooperate, is less well-supported, but nevertheless strongly suggested by the weight of the evidence.

Many scholars, notably Brice, see this concentration on technological superiority as an example of typical inflexible resister thinking, a classic application of the adage that when one's training is in the use of a hammer, all problems can be seen as variants on the theme of a nail. Others, including Terlis and myself, have maintained that this was, in fact, a relatively sensible approach, and that whatever Kerr Avon's moral failings -- and they were clearly legion -- his intelligence has frequently been underestimated. How else could one possibly imagine toppling an institution as gloriously robust as the Federation than by means of a powerful superweapon?

Regardless of how reasonable the attempt may have been or how ruthlessly it was carried out, this program of rebel weapons development was nevertheless an almost unmitigated failure, as scientist after scientist failed to deliver as promised, and simultaneous efforts at raising funds and allies also proved fruitless. One can only imagine that this must have been an extremely frustrating time for the misguided revolutionaries...


Time after time, failure after failure, the universe proves him right. Sometimes he feels as if it and he are partners in a nihilistic conspiracy of cosmic scale. There are moments when the thought almost makes him giddy, when the lovely ironic rightness of it brings laughter from his throat. The others look at him strangely at such times. He has not told them his plan. They need to believe in the possibility of winning. They need to believe that he believes it.

Let the fools keep their illusions. They still have their parts to play in his circus of destruction.


...The events of Gauda Prime, in retrospect, seem simultaneously both improbable and nearly inevitable. Certainly it would have been no feat at all to predict that something of its general nature might occur. Rebels are, by definition, traitorous and untrustworthy types, and it comes as no surprise to anyone that individuals capable of betraying the state that nurtures them are also entirely capable of turning upon each other. And yet, there is much about the specific circumstances that appears extraordinarily unlikely. If, as Delga and his colleagues maintain, Avon's intent in seeking out Blake was to join forces with him -- or even to embrace him as friend returned, as it were, from the dead -- it is difficult to understand how the legendarily charismatic Blake could have handled him so badly as to transform him from friend to enemy in such a devastatingly short space of time. Conversely, if, as many others have suggest, Avon went to Gauda Prime with the specific intent of killing Blake, he would seem, either through appallingly bad judgment or staggeringly bad luck, to have chosen precisely the wrong time do so and to have ignored a great many signs warning of the danger that awaited him.

Of course, the fact that few eyewitness accounts exist, combined with the fact that said accounts differ in some rather striking particulars from the official reports, makes it difficult in the extreme to know precisely what might have been going through Kerr Avon's mind in those final moments...


He's glad that Blake is here at the end. It's only fitting, since Blake is the one who began it, the one who launched them all down the path of absurdity towards... this. And it's exactly the sort of thing Avon's universe would arrange: neat and tidy, a closed cycle, their deaths linked, just as he'd predicted. Avon likes things neat and tidy. He steps over the body, where the heart of the rebellion lies unbeating, and carefully takes his place.

It won't be a blaze of glory. Avon doesn't believe in such things. But after all this time in darkness, it will be wonderful to burn.

requested by Snowgrouse

"Heart and Soul"

Joy Division

        Instincts that can still betray us,
        A journey that leads to the sun,
        Soulless and bent on destruction,
        A struggle between right and wrong.
        You take my place in the showdown,
        I'll observe with a pitiful eye,
        I'd humbly ask for forgiveness,
        A request well beyond you and I.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.
        An abyss that laughs at creation,
        A circus complete with all fools,
        Foundations that lasted the ages,
        Then ripped apart at their roots.
        Beyond all this good is the terror,
        The grip of a mercenary hand,
        When savagery turns all good reason,
        There's no turning back, no last stand.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.
        Existence well what does it matter?
        I exist on the best terms I can.
        The past is now part of my future,
        The present is well out of hand.
        The present is well out of hand.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.
        One will burn, one will burn.
        Heart and soul, one will burn.