Reya could feel her body reacting to everything he was doing and she hated herself. The sensations were so strong that she could barely think. Every touch of his hand, every press of his body against hers sent currents of warm energy through her body. Feeling Sester’s hand beginning to slide her pants down over her hips shocked her awake from whatever madness was possessing her.
No! What am I doing? I can't do this! She grabbed Sester’s hand. "No!" Reya desperately tried to regain control. Her body tightened, trying to fight the overpowering sensations.
Sester stopped. "What's wrong?" he asked her gently. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"You already have," she told him in a choked and anguished voice. His eyes met hers; he could see great distress in them; there was a fierce struggle going on inside her. She almost seemed to be in pain.
This shook Sester; he had never intended to hurt her. He lifted his hand from her hip and touched her face gently. "I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I just thought that once you…"
"You thought that if we slept together again that I would suddenly realized how I felt about you?" Reya asked. "Well, you were wrong." The physical sensations were still present but they were slowly fading as she reasserted control over her own body. "I've already done enough things that I will regret. I refuse to do any more." She put her hand on his chest and pushed him away from her.
Sester's eyes searched hers and saw that the passion had passed. Reya was calm and resolved now; she would not accept anything more from him. He nodded and stepped back.
Reya quickly picked up her clothes from where they had been haphazardly discarded. Without another word, she began getting dressed. Her mind was full of confusion; she did not understand what madness had possessed her to do this.
Sester watched her for a moment and then began doing the same. His feelings were chaotic. He found it difficult to focus on the simple task of refastening his shirt. When he came to the flight deck to talk to her, he had never intended to do this. It just happened.
It did not take long for Reya to be fully dressed again. At that moment, Cally rushed onto the flight deck and stopped abruptly as she took in the scene before her. She wasn't sure what to make of it. Cally had been expecting to have to stop Reya and Sester from making a big mistake but Reya appeared fine and fully dressed. Sester looked as if he had just tucked in his shirt, but she wasn't sure. He also looked a bit dishevelled but Reya was not.
Cally was puzzled. Did something happen? Did something almost happen? Did Vanora stop in time? Cally looked at each of them in turn again, trying to discern if she had come just in time or if it was already too late.
"Is something wrong, Cally?" Reya asked her with alarm. She had never seen Cally rush onto the flight deck like that before.
"I came to…," started Cally. She looked at Reya and then Sester again; they both stared at her in puzzlement. "Vanora said that she had done something to both of you. I came to stop you before anything went wrong."
Reya and Sester glanced at each other. Cally saw that something had happened but that neither one of them wanted to say anything.
Reya said, "Everything's fine, Cally. There was a potential problem before but there isn't one now. Thanks for telling me. Are you having trouble with Vanora?"
"Nothing I can't handle. How are things here? Any word from Avon or Argus?" Cally asked.
"No. The energy shield isn't down yet."
"Vanora said that the maturation cycle of the infants has been accelerated," said Cally.
"That’s not a good sign. Let's hope they're not running into a trap down there. Are you able to contact Avon with your psi abilities?" asked Reya.
"I've tried to but his mind is too preoccupied to hear me. I will try again later. I’d better get back to Vanora. I don’t like leaving her alone. If you feel any strange impulses, be careful. It seems that Vanora is able to affect the pheromone centres of both males and females," said Cally.
"I'll be careful," said Reya.
Cally looked at the psychostrategist suspiciously. "You might not want Sester here. Just in case."
“Thanks for the warning. We still have some things to talk about and then he’s going to leave,” said Reya.
After Cally left the flight deck, Reya and Sester stood in awkward silence, trying not to look at each other. After a moment, she sat down on the couch, her shoulders slumped.
Sester remarked, “I thought you would be happy to find out that it was Vanora causing us to act that way before.”
“Was it?” asked Reya.
“You don’t think it was?” Sester crossed over to the opposite couch and sat down.
“Not for you. Not all of it,” said Reya.
“That’s my problem. Not yours,” said Sester. “The important thing is that you didn’t do anything. Your participation was involuntary, as it has always been. You shouldn’t feel guilty.”
“Then why do I?” asked Reya miserably.
Sester paused and then he said, “That’s my fault. When I came to the flight deck, I had planned to manipulate you and that is what I did. The way you’re feeling is the result of the manipulation.”
“What did you do?” she asked guardedly.
“Despite your denials, I know you had feelings for me on the planet. The days and nights we spent together in close proximity, facing death and even worse together; you couldn’t help but to develop some feelings for me. You are human after all.”
Sester held up his hand and said, “Let me finish first. They were not the feelings I would have wished but they were strong feelings nonetheless. And even though you refuse to admit it, you’re also physically attracted to me. That’s something you cannot control. Both of these things make you vulnerable to me. When I came to talk to you, I had intended to use the first one to reach you and manipulate your feelings, using my skills as a psychostrategist to slowly adjust them so that they would become something that I want.”
“Why are you telling me this?” asked Reya. She couldn't understand why Sester would reveal himself like this. What are you doing? How do you plan to benefit from telling me this?
Sester got up from the couch and began pacing slowly. “I’m not sure. I saw the look on your face before…it shocked me.” He turned to face her. Even though he could see that she was wary of him, he also saw how vulnerable she was. The pain and misery he had seen on her face before had shaken him. Her suffering had become his own; it was no longer just about how he felt about her.
“I have never wanted to hurt you, Reya. At that moment, for the first time, I realized that no matter what I do, as long as I pursue this, I always will.”
Reya’s face softened. It was hard to stay negative about him when he was being like this. “I’m sorry,” she said in a quiet voice.
He asked, “You have nothing to be sorry about. It was my own fault.”
“You can’t help how you feel,” said Reya.
“You don’t understand. I could have helped it. As a psychostrategist, I am trained to have that kind of emotional control but I didn’t want to. And once I allowed it to get a hold of me, it was too late. I could no longer control it.”
“You know that what you want will never be possible?” asked Reya.
Sester nodded and said, “Yes, I’m aware of that. I think I always was aware of it. But what I felt for you made me blind to reason. I didn’t want to know it. I had hope.”
“And now you don’t.”
He caught her eyes with his. “If I wanted to, I could manipulate you into doing what I wanted. I think both of us know that. But it would hurt you and you would always be miserable with me. And you would always hate yourself. I couldn’t do that to you.”
“Are you saying that you’re going to let me go?” asked Reya.
“Yes. I will stop the games,” he told her.
“And how about your feelings for me?”
Sester smiled wryly. “You will never let me go. I think we both know that too. Just as your love for Argus will never let you go.”
“I’m sorry,” Reya said again.
“Will you leave us?” asked Reya.
“If I had a choice, I would. But Servalan is not giving me one. Somehow she found out about us and she deliberately had me sent here as a lesson,” said Sester.
“She wanted to make you miserable?” asked Reya.
“Me, you and Argus. She likes playing games of power and control.”
“We can’t let her win.”
“She already has.”
“You could refuse to follow her orders,” said Reya.
Sester smiled. “You could. Argus could. I can’t.”
“I don’t understand, why would you work for someone like her? You of all people know what kind of person she is and what she does,” said Reya.
“I am not a rebel, Reya,” said Sester.
“Neither am I. But I am against immoral, psychopathic murderers.”
“You make her sound positively evil,” said Sester.
“You don’t understand, Reya. The Federation wasn’t always like this. And there are worse people than Servalan.”
“That’s hard to believe,” said Reya. “You can’t tell me that what she did to Avon was right.”
“Of course it wasn’t,” said Sester. “Why do you think I tried to help him? Servalan does have some very unpleasant characteristics. And when she is obsessed with someone, like she is with Avon, it becomes even worse. But there are things that she does which are not horrible. Things you probably never see because you only see the bad. Did you know that when she lost her presidency the first time, almost every one of her supporters was murdered by the new president?”
“Are you trying to make me feel sympathy for her?” asked Reya incredulously.
“No. But I am trying to help you to see that sometimes one evil can be better than another one.”
“I can’t believe you just said that,” said Reya.
“People need order, Reya. Right now humanity cannot afford the kind of freedom the rebels want. We were on the verge of being wiped out by alien invaders several years ago. Do you think that if Blake and his mob had gotten their way that humanity would have been able to throw such a huge coordinated military force against the alien invasion? As it was, even with help from our neutral allies and some of the rebel groups, almost eighty percent of the Federation fleet was destroyed in the effort. It may be a military dictatorship but that was what saved us from being wiped out. Don’t you see that, Reya? If the Federation had not had the foresight to build that huge defensive minefield, where do you think we would be now? Do you think the fragmented rebel alliances would ever have been able to work together well enough to build something like that? They can’t even agree among themselves. The infighting amongst the various rebel factions is just as bad as the power struggles within the Federation High Council.”
“Perhaps. But it still doesn’t make what they do right,” said Reya.
“Of course not. But until the rebels become a strong and coordinated enough force to defend this galaxy rather than just being interested in pursuing their own personal political and regional agendas, we need the Federation. We cannot just throw everything into chaos and let each planet make their own decisions. That’s what people like Blake wanted. And it would have been the death of us all. They do not see the bigger picture. We already know that beyond our galaxy is a dangerous place. The Federation has known that for hundreds of years; that is why they built the defence shield, that is why they have kept such a huge standing military force. It is about the survival of the human race, Reya. What good is freedom if everyone is dead or enslaved by aliens?”
"You don't sound like just a simple psychostrategist."
Sester laughed. "No psychostrategist is ever simple, Reya. We specialize in human beings; the most complex organism there is. As psychostrategists, we calculate the odds. Whether for an individual or for the entire human race."
"What you say sounds reasonable but there must be another way," said Reya.
"There is," said Sester. "Try to change the Federation into what it once was."
"Are you saying that's what you're trying to do? Is that why you stay with Servalan?" asked Reya.
Sester had a self-mocking smile on his face. "I wish I was that noble, Reya. But I'm not. I'm just an instrument for the Federation. All I can do is help people like Avon when I can."
"I think you can be noble if you chose to be," said Reya. "Just like you're being now, with me."
"Don't mistake what I did for something it's not, Reya."
Reya had a gentle smile on her face. "I may not be what you want me to be. But I do consider you as a friend."
"It will never be enough for me," said Sester. There was silent anguish in his eyes now. "But it is what I will accept."
"I am sorry," said Reya.
"I know you are but it only makes it worse," said Sester. "I think I'd better go." Without another word to her, he left the flight deck.