Disclaimer: Not mine. Rating: PG13.
Set: post-Terminal, but AU, Cally isn't dead (obviously), and I don't know how or why. (I don't explain them, I just write them.
Notes: Written for RSR, and it went places I was totally NOT expecting. Title is a Kirsty MacColl song. I needed something flippant.
Don't Come The Cowboy With Me by ALC Punk!
The knife passed over her head harmlessly, and Cally slammed her closed fist into the assailant's gut, watching him double over with satisfaction. But he was good and came back swinging a moment later. And she reached out and pushed, twisted his perceptions, her mind sliding across his diagonally. And suddenly up was down and down was up, and his own knife slid into his gut. There was no satisfaction in watching his surprise as he gutted himself; merely acceptance.
A way of life, a movement of the mind. A will to survive. Cliches and platitudes, and she was living by them as it suited her knees.
Grimly plucking the knife from the slowly cooling corpse, Cally wondered if this was the fifth or sixth assassin sent after her. Sixth, she decided, and wiped the blade clean, studying it. There were signs etched into the metal and she wondered if this was a new religious order or merely another in a long line of people who couldn't tolerate anyone who was unlike them.
The Auronar were prized kills these days, their numbers small. Even the thriving colony that the Liberator's crew had helped begin couldn't produce enough to refill the ranks. And so few of them wanted to leave their homes as it was.
A quick search revealed the sheath and she pocketed the knife. A moment later, she moved swiftly from the body, eyeing the end of the alley and wondering how many credits she would have to spend to discover who had bought this contract.
Two blocks later, and she'd picked up another tail. Grimly, she wondered if this were an exceptionally well-paying contract, or if she finally wasn't being under-estimated. Weaving through the crowd, she reached back and touched the mind of her stalker. This one, this woman, was less edgy than the previous one. There was a bluntness to her mind which made it difficult to get a grasp on.
Letting go for the moment, Cally angled her steps towards the communications center, considering her options.
Several minutes later, it s another alley, and this time she let her assailant take her to the ground before turning the tables and rolling them over. It's a move Jenna taught her, but the ex-smuggler had probably never thought to have it used on an assassin. A vicious punch and the woman was half-conscious, her eyes glazed.
Cally slipped between the edges of her mind, ducking and weaving until she found what she wanted.
It took so little to push the woman, to drag out her worst fears and calmly demand, "Who hired you?"
"Please..." Stark fear colored her tone, terror was written across her face. "I don't..."
"You're human, merely." Cally pressed harder, skillfully sliding the nightmares across the assassin's brain like fingers on a synth-board. "Tell me."
"No." Panic etched itself into the woman's brain, and she arched, screaming.
Cally caught a glimpse on the edge, embedded and buried, and grabbed at it even as the assassin's heart gave out, her terror and something else killing her. A man, burned into her retinas, half-smiling, scars cris-crossing the one-half of his face that was still intact.
"Travis..." The name spilled from her lips into the cold air, and she wondered if this were merely an ancient memory.
Or if he was truly alive, and executing his vengeance upon Cally and her people.
There was one way to find out. She pulled the comms from the woman's pocket and studied it. If there had been a designated contact time, it hadn't been in her mind. No specific signal, either. She pressed the button. "This is Cally calling Travis. Let's meet. Discuss old times."
She let off the button and waited, listening to the barely audible hiss and crackle.
Then a voice came back, "As you wish. Two hours. Durkha's Cantina."
"I'll be there," she whispered, standing and dropping the small device. "And you'll be dead."
"They said you were good." His voice was silky-smooth, belying the broken and shattered exterior.
Cally raised her denebian brandy glass and studied the emerald depths. "So they tell me."
Her visitor seated himself with an insolence she well remembered him possessing. "Let me guess. You want to know why I'm trying to have you killed."
"I'd give up. It's proving costly, and the assassins simply end up dead."
"Sooner or later, one of them will succeed."
Cally sighed and set her glass down, "Come now, Travis. We both know it isn't me you want dead."
"Yes, but since I can't kill Blake anymore, his ex-crew will certainly do."
"Why only me? Why not go after the rest -- I think they're running a ship called Scorpio now." The brandy was too watered-down for her taste, but she knew appearances worked in places like this. "Or Servalan. After all, at the heart of the matter, Servalan is the one who destroyed you."
"Haven't you heard? Servalan is dead."
"I'll believe that when I see the body."
Travis half-nodded, "You're right, I suppose." He leaned forward, "And I prefer you. You're more of a challenge."
"You should be."
She wanted to laugh, but didn't. "You will never find the peace that you seek."
"Maybe I only want death."
A grim smile touched her lips, and she stood, "There's more than enough death to go around, Travis. Just give it time."
"I'll see you on the other side."
"Not if I see you first."
Travis was right, of course. There was no way to ever be completely prepared for every assassin. So Cally cut the Gordian knot in half.
She didn't think he was surprised.
"Kill the payer, cancel the contract." In the half-light of his tiny room, he seemed almost human as he stared up at her.
"So I'm told." The knife in her hand poised at his jugular. "Unless you'd like to cut your losses."
"Pity." Instinctively, she reached out and poked at his mind. Ever since Blake, since Avon, she had gotten so much better at touching minds not of the Auronar. Travis was stark blacks and greys, streaked with so much red blood she could feel dimly that there should be wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth. The blade slipped away from his throat.
"What are you waiting for?"
"I could fix you." The words were whispered, as if speaking them aloud would break the world.
"Just kill me and get it over with, Cally. Leave a legacy for Blake to feel proud of to look down upon from whatever heaven he's in."
"Hell would be too simple." She moved off of him and paced to the window.
"So I've got a reprieve. Who should I think, my jury?"
"Judge, jury, executioner." Grey, blank wall stared back at her, as sightless as Travis's destroyed eye. "It's what you want, isn't it."
"Don't feel sorry for me, Cally. I don't want your pity."
"No. No you don't." He was right behind her, reaching for her when she turned and slid the knife into his chest. "But I want it to be the last thing you remember as you die, Travis. I, Cally of Auron, pity you."
A gurgle escaped him, his muscles gave way and he fell to the floor, the hilt of the assassin's knife sticking out as if something someone had accidentally lost. Cally watched the blood stain his lips, reached out and touched his mind.
"You can hate me forever, Travis." She dropped to her knees and touched his cheek. "I won't mind."
The mind touching hers slid away into darkness.
As Travis had said, with the payer gone, the contract had no more value. Cally still looked out for the occasional assassin, but they weren't after her specifically. She could sleep with both eyes closed again.