Avon put the laser probe down in disgust. Cally had been watching him work and asked, "What's wrong?"
"There's no way to fix ORAC without additional parts," he told her.
"Can we get them from here? What about the shop we went to before?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, these are not the kind of parts which can be bought," said Avon. "Professor Ensor made some very radical breaks with tariel cell technology when designing ORAC."
"Then where can we obtain these parts?" asked Cally.
"Onboard the Justice," replied Avon. "I had suspected as much when ORAC could influence Zen's systems, despite it being based on an entirely different technology."
"You're saying that ORAC's technology contains aspects of the technology which the Altan System used to design their ship's computers?" asked Cally.
"A rudimentary move in that direction, yes."
"Then you can't fix ORAC."
"Not until we get back on the ship."
"I'm glad," she told him. Cally was relieved. She had been unable to convince Avon not to continue with the repairs. This was even better than she hoped.
Avon was about to reply when the door opened and Jenna came in with a group of tough-looking men.
The sound of people coming into the room caused Sester to open his eyes. Senior Controller Dayto entered the room, flanked by several black uniformed interrogators.
Sester had been expecting a visit from this man since the other day. What he was not expecting was Reya being dragged in behind him by several guards. Her body hung limp between then, her head hung down.
"I thought you might like to see an old friend," said Dayto. One of the guards yanked on Reya's hair and lifted her head to face him. Reya's jaw tightened in pain but she made no sound as she saw the person strapped to the bed.
Reya's face did not register that she recognized the man on the bed. She was relieved to see that Sester was alive and had gotten the medical treatment she had hoped.
"What is this?" asked Sester.
"That all depends on you," said Dayto.
Sester made several quick determinations. He could already calculate what Dayto's moves would be. They had been obvious the moment he had brought Reya in.
There were many things which were unavoidable. The objective was to position himself in the best possible position to affect the final outcome; and the least vulnerable position in order to survive.
Sester looked at Reya. She returned his gaze without fear; he thought he saw an imperceptible nod.
As a psychostrategist, it was a matter of calculation and analysis to determine the best course of action. This was what he did. It was what he excelled at as a psychostrategist.
But things were no longer that simple for him. He found that he could not let Reya die; no matter what his abilities told him.
First he had to convince Dayto that Reya was important enough to him that she should be kept alive and unharmed. He had to do this carefully.
"You wish to use this woman to pressure me? Save your time. She means nothing to me." There was no emotion in his voice.
"Is that true?" Dayto asked Reya. She looked at him impassively and did not answer. He struck her hard across the face but still she did not react. Dayto smiled and nodded to the guards. They brought up a chair and strapped her to it. From his vantage point, Sester could see her easily just by turning his head.
"What shall we use?" Dayto mused as he took a bio-injector from one of the interrogators. He made several adjustments and applied it to Reya's neck.
It didn't take long. Reya knew there was no way to fight the drug but it was against her nature not to fight. Her jaw clenched, her breathing became strained as she fought the increasing pain. It all seemed clinical as they watched her struggle. Reya knew that this exercise had little to do with her. She was not the one who was important here.
She began to moan at the inescapable pain that was coursing through her body.
At first Sester watched impassively, trying not to react. But as Reya began to moan in pain, he was finding it difficult to continue watching. It was a useful response; he knew that Dayto was watching him. By the time Reya began crying out in uncontrolled agony, he could no longer stand it.
"Stop," he told Dayto. The Controller continued looking at him. He made no move to stop the treatment.
Sester allowed a play of emotions to pass across his face. Anger. Fear.
"Stop!" this time he said it in a stronger voice. The man kept looking at him with no response.
And finally desperation.
"Please. Stop," Sester pleaded with him. Reya continued moaning in pain.
"Tell me who she is to you," demanded Dayto.
"Stop this and I will tell you," said Sester.
Dayto laughed. He sensed victory; he believed he had the advantage now.
"That is not how it works. You tell me what I want. Then you will get what you want. If I chose. Do you understand now?"
Sester's head bowed in resignation. "She was sent to protect me. But we became close."
"How close? Are you lovers?" Dayto pressed.
Reya cried out. Her body arched against the straps holding her down.
Sester moved restlessly against the restraints securing him to the bed; as if he was trying to reach her.
"Answer my question," said Dayto unrelentingly.
"Yes," admitted Sester. His face was filled with pain and anguish as he watched her. He pleaded again, "Don’t hurt her anymore."
"Once I get what I want. Not a moment before," said Dayto.
"What do you want?" Sester asked in a reluctant voice.
"You will work for me against the Federation and find a way to convince them to leave us alone," said Dayto.
"If I do what you ask, you will stop hurting her? And you will not kill her?" Sester asked.
"Yes. Do that and this can stop. I will even allow both of you to be together as long as you do what I want," said Dayto.
Sester nodded. "I accept. Release her."
Dayto signaled the interrogators to administer an antidote.
Sester allowed relief to show on his face as Reya stopped reacting in pain. She leaned tiredly back against the chair as her body recovered.
Sester reassured her, "It's going to be alright."
Reya looked at him and nodded. In that look, Sester realized that she understood what he had just done. He suppressed a smile. It was a mistake for Dayto to allow both of them to be together.
Cally rose from the table where she had been helping Avon. She approached Jenna and the group of men warily.
"Jenna, what's going on? Who are these people?"
"We have to get out of here," said Jenna. "The Federation is carrying on a building-wide sweep of the entire city. These men are rebels who are opposed to the Federation. You remember the group we were observing before?"
"During the street battle? Before the Federation troops arrived?" asked Cally.
"Yes, this is the group we were going to contact before," she told her. "They've offered to help."
Avon had not reacted when Jenna and the men had entered the room. He still had no reaction now but he could not help noticing that all of the men had looked at him and ORAC with interest. Some of them were watching him warily now.
"Why are they searching? What are they looking for?" asked Vila nervously.
"Anyone who doesn't belong presumably," said Avon from where he was sitting. "It makes sense that this would be their next logical step."
Jenna turned towards him. There was a neutral expression on her face.
"You expected this? And didn't bother telling anyone?" she asked.
Avon looked at her with the same neutral expression.
She had made an error in her conclusions from what he had said, but he doubted if she would appreciate him pointing out the flaws in her logic.
He also did not tell her that it had not occurred to him until now. He knew she would never believe him. It troubled Avon that he had not had the foresight to anticipate the Federation's plans. He knew that this was the kind of thing which Argus would have thought of immediately.
"Do we really have time to discuss this?" he asked her. "Or is it your intention to leave me here?"
"Don't tempt me," said Jenna.
"I would think that temptation would be the least of your motivating factors at the moment."
"We would never do that," said Cally. She stared at Jenna, challenging her to disagree.
Avon said, "No. You wouldn't. But I don't think that Jenna has the same problem."
"Cally is right. We can't afford to let you fall into Federation hands. I would rather kill you first," said Jenna. "Though the prospects of letting Servalan have you does have its appeal."
Avon stared at her coldly.
"What happened to you, Jenna? Why are you doing this?" asked Cally.
"I woke up and remembered," said Jenna. She looked pointedly at Avon. "Someone had to."
"Shouldn't we get out of here?" asked Vila, trying to redirect all their attention to something more important.
"You're right, Vila. We can deal with this later. It's not as if you can run," Jenna said to Avon. "Bring him, and ORAC," she directed the men with her.
Avon stood up and placed a hand protectively over ORAC. He stared at the men approaching. His unspoken message was very clear.
Before anything else could happen Vila said, "Here, I'll carry ORAC." He picked up the soft case which ORAC had been transported in and approached the table. Avon looked at him and removed his hand. Vila slipped ORAC into the case and slung it over his shoulder.
By the time they had gathered up the rest of their equipment and followed Jenna and the rebels out into the avenue, Federation sweeper teams were already nearby. They had gotten out just in time.
"Wake up," said Servalan.
Argus opened his eyes with a start. He had drifted off while Servalan had been talking again.
She gave him a familiar cold and calculating smile. "Am I starting to bore you?"
"No," said Argus. He shook his head and breathed deeply, trying to keep himself alert. "You could never do that, Madame President."
"Are we on a formal basis now, Commander?" she asked with amusement.
"Calling you Servalan implies a level of familiarity that I could do without."
She laughed with cold amusement.
"And you are annoyed that I call you Commander," she noted.
"If you say so," said Argus in an uninterested tone. "What were you saying before I so rudely interrupted you by falling asleep?"
Servalan hesitated a second before speaking. Argus had the impression that what she was about to say had nothing to do with what she was saying before. He really wished he had been paying attention before he nodded off earlier. Exhaustion was beginning to affect his mind.
"My Security people tell me that Papos suffered from an alien attack."
Argus instantly became alert again. He had been avoiding being the first one to mention this in their conversations; he didn’t know what she knew or what information she had access to and she would never have believed his version of the events just on his word. He had no proof about what happened.
But now that they were broaching this topic, more possibilities could be opening up.
Servalan suppressed a smile as she saw his reaction and his increased alertness.
This will be interesting. But not yet, she thought. I think we'll keep you off-balance just a little longer.
She reached forward to the panel in front of her; it was off-screen to Argus. She said, "I'm sorry, something requires my attention. We will talk about this later." Servalan smiled and turned off the vidscreen.
Argus stared at the blank screen. Servalan had never closed the vid feed before. He expected another communication any moment but it never came.
Argus was still wary. After days of wearing him down, he could not believe that Servalan would allow him time to rest.