Darkness. Pain. Head feels like its being split open. Groan.
“Kerr!” A familiar young boy’s voice. Another shake of the shoulders by small strong hands.
I must be in the dream again. Can barely concentrate. The pain wasn’t as bad the last time. Still can’t open my eyes. Why can’t my mind manage a memory where my eyes are open?
“You can’t get him up like that,” said the considered voice of the other boy. “They did something to him again.”
“But why?” the strong young boy’s voice was angry. Avon could hear the underlying fear that was almost masked by the anger. This boy was afraid for him.
“Well it wasn’t my fault this time. I didn’t do anything. So don’t look at me like that.”
There was a pause and then the strong young boy said, “Why do they keep him locked up? Why won’t they let us see him?”
There was a long pause this time.
“I think…” Even though Avon couldn’t open his eyes and see this considered young boy, he could almost envision the thoughtful look on his face.
I know who this is. Avon groaned as he struggled to bring up the knowledge he knew that he possessed. Was the pain his own or that of his young self? He couldn’t tell.
The considered young boy. Avon remembered blond. The boy had blond hair. He groaned at the increasing pain in his head. It felt like his brain was being squeezed. Any knowledge he had was being wrung out of him so that he could not remember it.
“I think we should get out of here,” said the considered young voice finally.
“You’re just thinking about yourself! Like always,” the strong boy’s voice was full of accusation. “He’s our friend!”
“He’s mine too! I was the one who got us in here!” Avon got the impression that even at this young age, the considered boy was normally too controlled to get angry but he was starting to. He clearly did not like the accusation. “If I didn’t persuade the nurse, we’d have never gotten in.”
The strong boy said snidely, “You’re getting good at that. Making people do what you want.”
“She felt sorry for us. It was easy. But she won’t risk her job to cover for us if someone comes to check. They'll know we're missing so we’d better get out of here.”
Avon realized something else this time. From their voices, these boys were young, probably no more than eight but they were speaking as if they were much older. Especially the one with the considered voice.
The strong young boy said, “You go! I’m staying. Someone has to be with him.”
“You’re an idiot. Do you think they’ll let you stay just because you want to?”
The strong boy’s voice said in a pleading tone, “We have to do something for him. Let him know he’s not alone.”
The considered young boy said, “There’s nothing we can do.”
“Think of something!”
Avon heard the sound of a door sliding open and feet rushing in. There was a brief scuffle and then a harsh adult voice asked, “What are you two doing in here?”
The considered young boy’s voice contained anger, “We know what you’re doing and you can't get away with it! Our parents won’t let you do this. They’ll find out! We’ll tell them!”
Another adult with a cold, superior woman’s voice said, “This is surprising. It’s not like you to oppose us so directly. You’re usually much more subtle.” There was a pause. Avon could almost feel clinical eyes resting on his young unconscious form. When the woman spoke again, it must have been to the other adult. “It looks like we didn’t removed him soon enough. They deceived us. They’ve already formed strong bonds.”
The harsh adult said, “We’ll have to do something about that.”
“And his attitude seems to have infected this one.”
The considered young voice had developed the same coldness as the woman, “Stop talking about us like we’re not here.”
The superior woman said, “This one has an exceptional mind as well, it would be a shame to have to do to him what we’re doing to the other one.”
“It’d make him useless for what we want him for if we had to do that.”
“True. Bring them.”
Avon could hear sounds of people moving and then another scuffle.
The considered young voice shouted in warning, “Jack, don’t!”
Pain exploded in Avon’s head. He groaned and jerked up to a sitting position. Both hands cradled his head as beads of sweat rolled down his face. The memories were starting to fade. Avon cried out in anguish, “No!” He held his head tight in a desperate gesture, trying to retain memories that someone didn’t want him to remember.
“Avon!” Avon’s confused mind registered Cally putting her arms around him in support.
Can’t let them win. Have to remember this. It was a desperate battle. He was starting to lose everything, just as he had then. He refused to lose the name of his young friend.
“Jack!” Avon cried out the name.
“Avon, who is Jack?” Cally asked with alarm.
Avon grabbed onto her arm as if it was a lifeline and said frantically, “Cally, remember Jack. He’s one of the boys. They did something to me…it hurt…I can’t…can’t remember anymore.” Avon collapsed against her as he panted for breath. The memories were gone. As his mind returned, he sat up and looked at her. His voice was calm and impassive again, “What happened?”
Avon and Cally were back in the examination room again, ready for the physical tests. Different machines were set up this time and several trays of equipment. The specialists greeted them warmly as they came in. Avon expected to be directed to the bed again but Dr. Kendric approached them first.
“Good morning.” Her welcoming professional voice greeted them. “How are you feeling, Avon?”
Avon hesitated before answering. His mind was still preoccupied by what happened earlier. “More dreams about the past. The memories disappear shortly after I wake up.”
Dr. Kendric nodded thoughtfully. “Yes. That’s been happening with greater frequency?”
“With the regression therapy, we should be able to unravel your past. Before we begin the physical exams, we have completed the analysis on your genetic profile.”
Avon listened with an impassive look on his face but his eyes betrayed his sharpened interest. “What have you found, Doctor?”
“You must understand that this is only our analysis of your genetic profile. It cannot be considered as proof but we are fairly certain of our analysis.”
Dr. Kendric seemed to gather her thoughts for a moment. “You were most likely part of a eugenics program. Whether it was a widespread one is undetermined but…”
“It would make sense if it were.”
“Yes. To achieve the best results, it would most likely have been a large-scale program.”
Cally asked, “So Avon may not the only one?”
Dr. Kendrick said, “Likely not. But I imagine that Avon would have been one of their desired results. The quality of his genetic makeup is too high to have been a result of natural random breeding. Both physically and especially mentally, his profile predisposes him towards exceptional development.”
Avon’s face was blank as he digested this information. For as long as he could remember, he had the feeling that he was special. People treated him as if he was, at least his mind. Sometimes he wished he wasn't but it was only a fleeting thought during moments of insanity.
His mind was the only thing he had. Without it, he was nothing, he had nothing, he would be lost if he did not have his mind. Everyone coveted his brain, even himself; even as he realized that it made him little more than a tool for others, an object to be used. He had never thought much about himself; but his mind was a different matter. No one could insult his intelligence or his mental abilities and get away with it. They could insult anything else, but that was out of bounds.
Dr. Kendric added, “That’s not all. Normally, even with selective breeding, a complete gene profile carries deleterious elements. There are virtually none in Avon’s genetic makeup, except for a few that confer a heterozygous advantage.”
From her studies, Cally knew that people normally carried two copies of a gene, one from either parent. Two copies of a harmful gene would cause problems but a single copy might give advantages that aid in immunity to certain types of diseases. “Are you saying that Avon’s genetic makeup was altered?”
Dr. Kendric looked at Avon, “Yes, that is what we have determined. That is most likely why the Ultras considered your genetic material to be of such high calibre. To be almost free of harmful genetic elements is virtually impossible.”
Avon asked, “And the things done to my mind? Are those the results of genetic alteration?”
“No. Those were done afterwards. It gave them a great advantage. The degree of tampering done would not have been possible with a weaker mind.”
Avon's fist tightened and he wanted to shut his eyes to the idea that he had been someone else's genetic experiment. A mind like his should have been an asset. It should not have been a curse! But they made it into one.
Dr. Kendric continued, “There was also one other very surprising thing that we found. It appears that your brain has the precursors for psi abilities.”
Cally asked with shock, “You mean that he’s part Auron?”
“No, we don’t think so. From Earth history, there have been stories of people who appear to have psi abilities of some kind. They were usually dismissed as hoaxes or fantastical tales. But it may be that some of these people did have limited psi abilities of some sort. It is like your own people, Cally. Such abilities were extremely rare until Franton developed the cloning technology that produced consistent psi capabilities in your people.”
Cally asked with trepidation, “The Federation is trying to produce their own psi-enabled humans?”
Cally looked at the silent Avon. She could feel the anguish radiating from him. “It would explain many things.”
Dr. Kendric asked, “You’re referring to your connection with Avon?”
“Yes. I’ve never run across a human who could do what he’s been able to. I can sense humans to some extent, especially ones I’m close with. But I've always been aware of Avon on a level that I am not with the others. I am able to sense him even from a far distance. I’ve always thought it was because of our…feelings towards each other. But now…”
Kendric said, “It may still be because of your close connection. Avon only has a precursor to a psi ability. He is not psi enabled. He has no abilities on his own.”
Cally asked, “You’re saying that because of our mutual affinity, I enable Avon to access his own abilities?”
“That is a possible explanation,” said Kendric.
Avon’s mind was in a whirl, he could barely hear what the others were saying anymore.
One thought occupied him, it's implications cascading like a tide of destruction through his very existence. They made him. The Federation had made him. Was he even normal? Or human? Or like one of the banned texts he had surreptitiously read, was he someone's Frankenstein's monster? Was that what had led him to say that Cally was more human than he was? Did he know on a subconscious level that he wasn't human? Had he been put together like a puzzle for someone else’s amusement and then they had played with him? Had his life been full of Servalan’s? The thought made him ill. He swayed on his feet.
No matter how much they had made him to take, he couldn’t take this.
"Avon!" Cally's caring and concerned voice was always the first one to reach him. Avon felt her comforting hands holding him up on one side. It filled him with anxiety that she was worried for him. She shouldn't have to keep worrying about him. She deserved more. Someone she didn't have to worry about. Someone who could take care of her.
Avon's barely focussed eyes recognized that Dr. Kendric was holding up his other side. Her voice seemed vague as she said, "Let's lie him down on the bed. He'll be alright once we get the machines working."
Avon felt other hands lift him up. The surface of the bed formed around his body, hugging him in its support. The hum of the machines greeted his ears and seemed to enter his mind; clearing it, soothing it and giving him a sense of calm again.
His first thought when he came to himself was always, * Cally? *
Her mental voice projected her relief. * Avon. It's alright. *
There was faint distress overlaid by calm. * I lost control again? *
* Yes. Do you remember what happened? *
* I do remember. * It was not like this morning. He could clearly remember what Dr. Kendric had said; the idea that he had been the product of someone else's project of genetic manipulation. To produce the perfect mind. Like a biological computer.
The Tellaran machines whispered to him. Humming sounds of calm and reassurance before the thoughts could take him beyond his control.
In a voice that expected the worse, Avon asked, "Am I human?" It was almost the voice of a child.