Blake looked about the dimly lit cargo room. At first glance, there didn't seem to be any prospect of escape. The door he had been shoved through led back to the bridge and at the far end of the hold was another sealed door. It would probably remain magnetically locked for the duration of the flight. Blake knew that short range fliers, like the one he was imprisoned in, had few pressurized areas. There was no way to know what was on the other side of that door. No, his best option was to somehow get back onto the bridge.
He considered what had occurred moments before. He thought Cay had seemed uneasy. His declaration of allegiance to the Federation had lacked conviction. Or was Blake hoping to see good where there was none? Occupational hazard, Blake thought with a half smile. Certainly, he reflected, Cay been keen enough to imprison him in the cargo hold. But if he could get him alone and speak to him… if he could get through the door.
A movement in the shadows caught his eye. A human form? Softly, he called out into the stillness but there was no response. Just as he began to think he'd imagined it, Blake felt the cold press of steel against his neck.
"I've been watching you and your friends. Give me a reason not to kill you," whispered a woman's voice.
Blake kept very still and forced his voice to remain calm.
"Those men are not my friends. If you have been watching for long, you will know that. As for why you should spare me, we both have a common problem. We are both prisoners."
The woman laughed quietly, "You are mistaken. I come and go as I please. This ship has been my home for many months. I know every inch and can disappear as quickly as a breath. When you first arrived here, I hid and discovered your intentions. I too wished to leave the planet. You have helped me. But do not think that I am in your debt. I would have left with or without your help."
Slowly, Blake began to turn his head so that he could see the woman. Thankfully, the knife did not press its point home. Blake breathed a sigh of relief. He brought his hands into view in a sign of surrender.
"It that case," he whispered, "it appears that I am your prisoner." Hesitatingly, the woman lowered her blade.
"No. I do not wish for prisoners."
Blake gave a cautious nod. He heard something in her voice; a sincerity, an honestly not found in would be murderers. Before he could ask any more, a noise from the door connecting to the bridge startled him. Turning to look, he realized that he was about to have a visitor. Blake spun back round to warn the woman and stopped short. She had vanished. Blake raised his eyebrows, impressed.
The door to the cargo hold swung open and some food packets were thrown in. Before Blake could move, the door slammed shut.
"I'm Blake," he said, unsure if he was still speaking to anyone.
"Tamsen," came a distant reply.
Cay looked at the scanner. The sensors indicated there was a ship closing on their position. He didn't recognise the configuration.
"Sir, what do you make of this? It's only just come in range and there's a transmission being broadcast from it too. I'll put it on speaker."
"Unidentified vessel. Please respond. Repeat. Liberator to unidentified vessel. Please respond."
Greggs spun in his chair as if struck by lightning. Not so long ago, he had been tasked by the Federation with capturing Blake and the Liberator. His plan had failed and he had lost his position in the Federation. Although he was sure he could quickly regain it, now Blake was his prisoner, he didn't want any complications from Blake's crew. He quickly ordered his second in command to check Blake was secure. When Cooplan returned, he turned to Cay.
"Not a word. I'll handle this."
"This is Independent Cargo ship, Dublin. Go ahead, Liberator."
Greggs listened intently to the voice coming through the speaker. Liberator had tracked each ship which had left the planet about the same time they had. They were searching for any trace of Blake. He smiled nastily as he replied.
"We have not seen any sign of the individual you describe. Neither have we encountered any other traffic on this route."
"Understood. Where is your destination?"
"Classified, Liberator. Our client requires the utmost discretion."
"Our scans indicate your ship is not functioning at safe levels. Do you require assistance?"
Greggs was about to answer when he paused. Cooplan knew him well enough to know when he was calculating.
"We would appreciate the help Liberator. We have a docking hatch on the port side."
Cooplan looked across at Greggs, incredulity spreading across his face. He'd always trusted his senior colleague but this was a stretch too far. Greggs however, continued to make arrangements with Liberator. Once the communication channel had clicked off, he turned to Cooplan.
"Cooplan how far out from the Federation world are we?"
"A little under 12 hours, Sir."
"Good. Send a coded priority one message. Tell them we have Blake and Liberator is docked with our ship. Tell them to send all available Pursuit Ships. If we play this right, Cooplan, we may be about to seize the Liberator!"
"What do you think Avon?" asked Cally.
"If they were trying to hide someone, they'd hardly invite us on board," interrupted Tarrant.
"Unless they wanted us to think they didn't have anyone else on board," muttered Vila.
Tarrant looked at him witheringly. "You really think that?"
Vila remained non-comital. Tarrant turned away in frustration.
"As requested, I have plotted the course of the vessel, and likely destinations," Orac said.
"There are far more important things for me to be doing."
Avon smiled, "Orac. Tell us what you found out."
"Assuming the Dublin stays on its present heading, it will rendezvous with a Federation command planet in the next 12 hours."
Avon narrowed his eyes. "I think the Dublin is worth further investigation."