Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters. I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. Based on characters and situations created by the late Terry Nation. Originally published in Gambit #4 from Peacock Press, back in 1989, slightly edited in 2010.

Carleen

by Susan M. M.

A Blake's Seven story, based on characters and situations created by Terry Nation and the BBC

Carleen flung herself on Gan and showered him with kisses.

"Well, you're glad to see me, aren't you?" Gan gently disengaged himself from her embrace long enough to shut the door. "Now then, where were we?"

Instead of returning to his arms, she ran to the table. She picked up a white card and waved it in his face. "Look, look!"

"Well, hold it still and I will," he protested. "What is it?"

"My clearance certificate. Our clearance certificate. The pregnancy permission form!"

"What?" He picked her up and twirled her around merrily. The card fell unnoticed to the floor. After half-crushing her petite form in a bear hug, he looked down at her and said, "Woman, you're overdressed."

"What?"

Gan looked toward the bedroom door.

"Olag, I only got the clearance a few hours ago. I haven't had time to go to the doctor yet," Carleen explained.

"Practice." He grinned lasciviously. "Unless you want to go out and celebrate?" he asked as an afterthought.

"No, I don't need to go out to celebrate." Blushing, she took his hand and led him to the bedroom. "After all, practice makes perfect."

Gan reached down and gently kissed her lips. "You're already perfect."

*** ### *** ### ***

"Olag, you really didn't need to take off work to take me to the doctor. I could have managed on my own."

"I know you could have, luv, but I wanted to come. And my supervisor was very understanding when I explained things to him. He likes you, he does, you made a good impression on him at the New Year's party." Gan smiled, remembering proudly how his supervisor, in an alcohol-induced fit of whimsy, had described Carleen as "an elfin beauty." Gan wasn't quite sure what that meant, but his supervisor had obviously thought it was a good thing.

"I'm excited, and," Carleen confessed, "a little nervous."

"Don't be," Gan told her. "They're just going to restore your fertility, that's all. It won't even hurt."

"Having a baby's easy. What about raising it?" She looked up at him. "I don't want to abandon my baby to some crèche."

"Why, a crèche is the best place in the world for a baby," Gan replied. "Playmates its own age, and trained nursery-attendants - no better place for a young one."

On Zephron, most families raise their own children, Carleen thought. But Earth wasn't Zephron, so she kept her mouth shut.

"Tell you what, though," he continued. "I stand a decent chance of making section chief at the factory. If I do, the extra money might be enough to let you quit the pub and stay home with the baby. Or at least work only part time."

They walked on towards the clinic as they talked. The crowds along the sidewalk grew thicker.

"You'll make a wonderful father," she predicted.

"I'll try."

"The colonies aren't so crowded as Earth," Carleen pointed out. "If we moved to Zephron, or one of the other colony-planets, we wouldn't need clearance certificates. We could have as many children as we wanted."

"Let's start with one, eh, and see how it goes. Speaking of crowded, it certainly is busy today. I wonder what all the fuss is?"

"Re-elect Tomis Welles to the Terran Parliament," they heard. "Welles is the candidate for you. Re-elect Tomis Welles."

Ahead of them, they saw a man dressed in clothes that would have cost half a year's pay for most of the people in this neighborhood. Private guards, most of them off-duty policemen, surrounded him. One them shouted campaign slogans through a loudspeaker. Part of the crowd was caused by the long line at the table dispensing free beer and election pamphlets. The Federation still maintained the outward forms of democracy, and members of parliament had to be elected by the general public, although no candidate won or lost without the High Council's knowledge and consent.

"Political rally. Let's try to go around," Gan suggested.

Carleen nodded her head in agreement. "Politics bore me."

They fought against the flow of traffic, and only Gan's gargantuan stature permitted them to make as much progress as they did.

"If we can just get past this lot," he said, "it should be easy going from here on. We'll be at the clinic in a few minutes."

"Get back, make room there," one of the guards ordered. He pushed Carleen roughly out of the way.

"Hey! Who do you think you're shoving?" Even after four years on Earth, she was still too much of a colonial to submit meekly to the whims of authority.

"Don't talk back to me, woman." The guard shoved her again, harder.

Carleen slipped on a wet patch on the sidewalk where someone had spilled a drink. She skidded, fell, and hit her head against a lamp post with a sickening thud.

Gan hurried to her side. He stared at the angle of her neck, the blood spurting from her scalp.

"You've killed her," he whispered, stunned. Then he roared, "You've killed her!"

He rushed toward the guard. Before anyone had time to react, his hands were around the guard's throat. The other guards had to knock Gan out before they could unpry his fingers from the man's neck.

"Call an ambulance," someone yelled.

"Don't bother," one of the guards said. "It's too late."

Welles swore. Incidents of this nature would cost him votes.

*** ### *** ### ***

The surgeon reached for his laser-scalpel. He turned it on, testing and adjusting the beam.

"The patient is completely under," the anesthetist announced.

"What's that on the monitor?" an eager intern asked curiously.

The senior nurse scolded him for interrupting, but the surgeon smiled behind his mask. Federation schools did not encourage independent initiative. Interns who dared to ask questions were rare. They generally made the best doctors, if they didn't make the mistake of applying their question-asking habits to non-medical matters.

"Heavy REM and alpha brainwave activity. He's dreaming," the surgeon explained. "I hope it's a good one. Once that's implanted," he gestured to the limiter lying on the sterile instrument table, "he'll never dream again. That's one of the lesser-known side effects."

"I wonder what he did to deserve it," the intern mumurred.

The surgeon frowned. That sort of question one shouldn't ask. "That's none of our business. Now observe how I open the skull. Compare this with the two mutoid modifications we did earlier today..."