When Sester returned to the room which doubled as a prison cell, he had already prepared what he was going to say. It was easy for him but he knew that it was going to be hard for his companion.
"Reya." Sester approached her and pulled her into an embrace as he had done the previous day.
"How did it go?" she asked.
"He actually trusts that I'm going to do what he asks," said Sester.
"So he believes that we're lovers?"
"Yes. I don't know where he got that impression from," he said mischievously.
"I didn't know that proficiency in the performing arts were a requirement of being a psychostrategist," Reya said dryly. "You were very convincing the other day. I might have believed you if I didn't know the truth."
He grinned. "It's a natural personal skill. I'm very good at it."
"Is modesty another?" she asked.
"Modesty is not a requirement of being a psychostrategist."
For a moment they stopped talking as Sester kissed her. Despite her lack of interest in engaging in this activity with him, Reya could not deny that he was very good at it. She knew that if she allowed herself to, she might take pleasure in the physical aspects of it.
She had no intention of enjoying it though. Just the idea of doing this with anyone other than Argus made her feel ill. She tried not to think about it. Anything which reminded her of Argus always threatened to send her into a spiral of emotions. She couldn't afford that; she had to remain in control if she was going to be able to do what he had asked of her.
Reya didn't understand why emotions came so easily when she thought about Argus. She was not normally an emotional person; she had always been very self-controlled.
Sester broke off his attentions. "You're thinking about him again, aren't you?"
"Yes. How did you know?" she pulled back from him but stayed within his arms.
"I wouldn't be a good psychostrategist if I didn't know."
"I know I'm not much help with this."
"Don't worry about it. No one could expect you to be. I don't."
Sester realized that his task had fallen within the harder end of the spectrum. Reya's relationship with Argus was as strong in his death as it was when he was alive.
Sester's skill as a psychostrategist pointed out the clear course for maximum success. He had known what he was going to do when he entered the room. For some reason, Sester found it hard to ask her to do what they needed to do in order to allay Dayto's suspicions.
"Do you have a way of getting us out?" Sester asked her.
"To get out of this room? Yes, there are several possibilities. Getting out of this facility is another matter, since they won't let me out of this room. I need to be able to see the security layout of the building. Can you get them to allow me time outside?" she asked him.
Sester's face was expressionless. I have to tell her.
"We have a problem," he told her.
"Avon, what do you think has happened to Reya and Sester?" Cally asked Avon as he worked on ORAC.
She sat opposite him and handed him any tools he required from the equipment satchel. Avon knew that other than wanting to help him, she was also worried about him because of what had happened that morning.
He didn't want this kind of attention but short of telling her to go away, there was not a lot he could do about it. She was quiet and helpful though. He appreciated that.
"Nothing good," replied Avon without looking up from what he was doing. He was taking a closer look at one of the processing modules inside ORAC.
"Aren't you worried? You haven't even mentioned them."
"You know why I don't."
She knew that since they couldn't do anything about it currently, Avon's rational mind would not waste time on worrying.
"Yes, I do," said Cally. "Could we at least discuss the details?"
Avon sighed and looked at her. It appeared as if she was not going to desist unless he satisfied her questions. "What do you wish to discuss?"
"What do you think has happened to them? Who's holding them?"
Avon had already run through all the possibilities the day when he and Vila were observing the searchers in the woods. He told Cally the conclusions he had come to according to the facts that he knew.
After Avon told Cally what he suspected about Reya and Sester's situation, he returned to his work on ORAC.
"There isn't anything we can do for them until we are able to resolve this situation with Jenna," said Cally.
"No," said Avon. His attention was absorbed in what he was doing again.
Nearby Vila, Ture and Allren were checking out the single exit from the room.
Vila was studying the lock on the door. He took out a tool he normally concealed in his person and set to work on it.
"I wouldn't bother," said Avon without looking up.
"I could open this lock blind-folded. With one hand behind my back if I had to," said Vila indignantly.
Avon glanced briefly at Vila before continuing with his work again.
He said dryly, "Entertainment for the masses has never interested me but by all means, if everyone else is bored. I'm sure Cally could provide a blind-fold if that would help."
"I think what Avon means is that even if you opened the door, Jenna likely has several people guarding it from the other side," said Cally.
"Is that what I mean?" asked Avon. He turned his head to look at her.
"Yes, you do," stressed Cally.
There was a hint of a grin at the corner of his lips as he went to work on ORAC again. "If you say so."
"Avon, do you really think it's a good idea fixing ORAC? It's not very smart if you ask me," said Vila.
"No one asked you," said Avon.
The door slid open suddenly, making Vila almost jump back in surprise. One of the rebels came in with a box and put it down on the table where Avon was working. Without a word the man left again.
Cally opened it. The box was full of various containers of food and water.
"Now that's more like it. At least they're taking care of us," said Vila as he reached in and took out one of the containers and a bottle of water. Ture and Allren took theirs as well. They all stood looking at what was left in the box.
Avon glanced briefly at the container and then returned to his work.
"Avon," said Cally. She had been looking at the box too, taking stock of what was left.
"Yes, I noticed," said Avon absently as he changed the frequency on a sonic adjuster. There was precisely enough food and water for four people.
"She's very serious," she told Avon.
"I never doubted it."
Cally said, "We'll split the food."
"Yes. We can't let Jenna get away with treating you like this," said Vila as he put his container down on the table along with Ture and Allren.
"You don't need to do that," said Avon when he saw what they were doing. "You should keep up your own strengths. Just give me some water."
"We can't do that," she told him.
"My body is accustomed to operating on less food. Yours aren't."
Cally fell silent and Avon continued working. They all stared at him.
"Avon…" said Cally finally.
"It's not a topic of discussion, Cally. If you don't, Jenna might not feel so generous next time."
"Then we'll all suffer with you," said Cally adamantly.
They all nodded in agreement.
"Don't be foolish," said Avon. He finally stopped what he was doing and straightened up to face them. "There is no point in everyone doing this."
"Avon, do you really think that we would do Jenna's work for her by doing what she wants?" said Cally.
"Don't let sentiment…" Avon was about to say something but the door slid open again. Jenna entered the room along with the rebel team leader, Tancit and several of the others. They were all armed.
"I hope the food was alright," said Jenna as she spotted the various containers opened on the table. "You haven't eaten any of it.
"It left a bad taste," said Vila.
"I'm sorry. I'll have them bring something better next time. We can all relax for now. The Federation sweeps seem to be over," said Jenna pleasantly. She crossed over to where Avon sat and stood close behind him. Avon was aware of her movements but did not react. She reached over his shoulder towards the equipment satchel.
Thinking that she was going to do something to Avon, Cally moved towards her. Instantly, there were weapons in the hands of the rebels who had accompanied Jenna into the room.
Jenna stopped the movement of her hand. "There's no need for that." She waved the rebels off. They all pointed their weapons to the ground but kept them in hand. "No one's going to do anything foolish. Are you, Avon?"
Avon turned around to look up at her. His face was unreadable.
"I underestimated you," said Avon.
"Yes, you did," said Jenna.
"It was not a compliment," said Avon scornfully.
Jenna slapped him across the face. He gave her a sarcastic smile. She raised her hand to strike him again but stopped herself.
She said, "You think you're clever, Avon but I'm the one with the gun." Jenna reached for the handgun which was tucked inside her jacket. With shock, her hand found nothing. She jerked backwards quickly as she realized what this meant, Avon followed her movement and with a speed which surprised all of them, had stood up and had the handgun to her throat. It was primed.
"Are you really?" he said sarcastically as he pressed the gun upwards. For a few moments everyone stood frozen in shock; then all of the rebels raised their guns at Avon while Vila, Cally, Ture and Allren quickly placed themselves between the rebels and Avon.
"What is it going to be, Jenna? Is it time to learn how clever I am? Or do you want to think about it?" asked Avon. There was an icy menace in his voice.
"You're not going to get away with this, Avon," said Jenna angrily. "You're surrounded."
A memory began surfacing. Avon's hand gripped the gun. His heart began racing. The room began to fade. The rebel's began to take on black, menacing shapes.
Cally immediately sensed that something was wrong. "Avon!"
Avon shook his head slightly to banish the vision. He took a deep breath. When he spoke, it was in a composed and measured voice. No one else knew how close he had come to slipping into another vision.
"Are you prepared to sacrifice your friends to get to me?" asked Avon.
"You would, wouldn't you?" said Jenna cynically.
He smiled cynically in response, "At least you're not completely devoid of intelligence. Tell your new friends to put their guns down."
Jenna told them, "Do it."
Tancit said, "Are you sure, Jenna?"
"Yes, she's sure," said Avon.
"Do as he says."
Various weapons clattered to the ground.
Avon directed, "Cally. Vila. Gather the equipment and take their weapons. We're leaving."
Vila slipped ORAC back into its case and picked it up. Cally repacked the equipment satchel and picked up one of weapons. Ture and Allren gathered the rest.
"This is not over, Avon," Jenna said angrily.
"It is for now." Avon asked Cally, "Do you have a sedative handy? Jenna and her friends are about to become very tired. I think we should help them."
Cally nodded and re-opened the satchel to take out a bio-injector.
Reya was looking out of the window again. It was getting dark outside. She could see the changes in security personnel as the next shift took over. The details of the outside security, at least what she could see of it from the window, were already ingrained in her mind.
She was standing with her arms folded across her chest. Reya was trying to convince herself that there was a decision she was trying to avoid. Actually she had already made it after Sester had talked to her; she just hadn't told him yet.
Sester had been very convincing. He had known all the right things to say to her. He hadn't even tried to persuade her. She recognized that she didn't really have a choice. He had appealed to her commitment to Argus and what he had asked her to do; and to her own overriding sense of duty.
Reya knew that it was going to destroy her emotionally to do what he proposed but she knew that she was still going to do it.
She was afraid.
Sester had left her alone after talking to her; giving her the time she needed to make her decision. She had been very aware of where he was in the room as he tried to give her space. Dayto's people had given him the computer and the data he had requested and he was busy working.
Reya had been at this window for several hours now, trying without success to divorce her emotions from her mind and body.
Argus had told her about the mutoids which the Federation used and how their minds could be wiped. She wished that she could have her own mind wiped after all of this was over.
Reya tried to convince herself that she shouldn't feel guilty; that she was going to do it because Argus had asked her to take care of the others. For that, she had to stay alive and escape.
It didn't work. That was why she was still at this window, staring out at nothing.
She could hear Sester coming up behind her. He was careful not to touch her. Before he could say anything, she said, "Yes."
"Are you sure?"
She turned around to face him. "Yes. But you already knew that."
He nodded and put his arms around her. "You don't have to do anything. Just let me do all the work."