Avon, Cally, Ture and Allren were making their way along the corridor leading away from the storage facility. Their speed was determined by Avon's ability to move.
They heard noises up ahead. Avon held up a hand.
"Quick. Back the way we came. We'll take the other corridor."
They went back and turned down the alternate corridor. Halfway down, they heard more people approaching.
"We're running out of corridors," said Vila.
There were several storage facility doors along the corridor. Avon asked, "Vila, can you open this one?"
"I can open anything if I'm motivated enough."
"Is fear a sufficient motivator? If you don't open it we'll be trapped."
"That's always the best one," said Vila as he set to work on the lock.
In short order it was open.
"Well done, Vila. Everyone inside." Once in, they all stood silently waiting and listening. There were nervous looks all around. Sounds of footsteps rushed past and then disappeared down the corridor from where they had come.
They waited a few moments then exited the room and continued down the corridor. At the junction, they turned right to exit the storage facility and ran straight into Jenna and a group of the rebels.
Both sides raised their weapons at each other. The tension was high.
"You won't get away this time, Avon," said Jenna.
Avon did not believe that Jenna had any intention of hurting those who were her friends. That was her weakness. Her actions here were little more than a bluff.
Unless she had changed.
Are you so blinded by your hatred now that you would risk harming your friends to get to me? Can I take that chance? That's what you expect of me, don't you Jenna? The ultimate selfish man. You never did understand me.
Avon looked around at his companions. They had ranged themselves between Jenna and himself.
Why must it always come down to this decision? Perhaps it would be easier for it all to be over. No one to hunt me as if I'm some kind of animal. No one to use me. No more decisions of life and death.
In the last few months at the Detention Centre, he had been a man on the verge of no longer wanting to live and now he was suddenly very tired. Avon thought that once he escaped that he would have a reason to live again. But he was even now nothing more than a pawn for others. The only difference was that his cell was now larger.
The part of him which was still the old Avon, wanted to fight. But this fight took on a different form. Avon hated that his life would be for nothing. He would not have his last act be the testament of a man who killed his friends.
I cannot risk their lives. I refuse to.
"You will not kill me unless I allow you to. The others won't let you," said Avon.
"That's right," said Cally. "We won't."
He stepped forward so that none of the others was blocking him. Avon faced his gun towards the ground. "I will tell you now. There is nothing you can do to persuade me to fix ORAC for you."
Vila said in warning, "Avon!" Cally reached for Avon's arm. Avon brushed her off and took another step forward. "What will it be, Jenna?"
Jenna lifted her pistol higher. There was a wary look on her face.
What are you playing at, Avon? What is this? A noble gesture? You are not capable of that, thought Jenna.
Avon took another step forward away from the others. His gun was still pointed downwards.
One more step. A quick jerk of the gun upwards. Jenna will take her revenge and then it would be all over. As it should have been many years ago. No more threat to anyone.
A sharp stab of pain in his knee caused him to almost collapse to the ground. Avon gasped and gripped his cane hard. It was the only thing which kept him standing. His gun clattered to the ground as he held his knee.
They all stood frozen in shock as they watched him.
Waves of pain. He could barely breathe. The last time he had felt this much pain from the implant was back at the Detention Centre when he was being tortured.
"What are you playing at?" asked Jenna. Her tone indicated that she believed it was all an act. She stepped towards him, her gun trained on him.
Cally came forward to Avon's side and tried to support him. "Avon, what's wrong?"
"They're here." He looked at her and saw the gun she was holding. Avon grabbed it before she had a chance to react and backed away from her. He pointed the gun at her and the others threateningly.
"What are you doing, Avon?" Cally asked in shock and moved towards him.
He pointed the gun at her. "Stay back, Cally. I don't want to hurt you. But I will." There was coldness in his tone.
Cally could feel it from him. He had completely cut himself off from her. The last time she had felt this from him was when he had pointed a gun at Tarrant before going down to Terminal. Avon was serious then. He was serious now. She moved backwards a step.
"I'm glad you proved me right," said Jenna cynically. "It will make it even more satisfying when I kill you."
You're a fool, Jenna, thought Avon.
The pain from his knee was increasing. He couldn't spare the energy to think of a clever retort. It took all of his self-discipline to control the pain.
I have to get out now. Get away from them while I still can.
"If you make a move, I will kill them," said Avon coldly. His gun pointed towards Cally and the others.
The look on Vila's face almost stopped him. There was disappointment, anger, betrayal and hurt.
Avon backed his way towards the exit but kept his gun trained on his friends. His limp was very pronounced now even with the cane. He could barely keep going.
Jenna didn't make a move.
Well, at least you're not capable of that. You won't harm your friends, thought Avon.
He could hear the door slide open behind him as he approached. Before he cleared the exit Avon warned them, "Don't follow me. Get out now. They're coming."
He cleared the exit. The door slid closed. He shot out the door panel, preventing them from following him.
Before he could turn around, Avon could hear people approaching from behind. He studied the gun in his hand. Before he could do anything else, there was an explosion of pain. Avon screamed and fell to the ground. He couldn't keep his hold on the gun and it fell beside him. He writhed in pain; holding a knee which was now in someone else's control.
Through a haze of agony, he was aware of people surrounding him. Familiar black shapes. They kicked away his gun and cane and lifted him to his feet. A set of restraints was secured around his wrists. The pain gradually reduced until he was able to concentrate again.
Avon looked around him. It was as he had expected. They were Federation troops.
I was a fool to not end it while I was still inside.
His shoulders slumped. Avon felt ill.
The Federation soldiers dragged him away.
When the door slid closed, crewmates and rebels alike, rushed towards it. Then there was the sound of a shot as the door panel was destroyed from the other side. They all reacted to protect themselves from something which never came.
They approached the door cautiously again. The first one to reach it was one of the rebels. He looked cautiously through the window which was embedded in the door. He immediately ducked down. "Federation!" he whispered.
The others immediately ducked or flattened themselves against the wall. There was the sound of a scream.
Cally went to the door and peeked out carefully. She saw Avon writhing on the ground in pain. He was surrounded by Federation troops. One of them kicked away the cane and gun which lay near him.
"Vila! Get this door open!" she whispered urgently.
"Why? There's Federation on the other side."
"They have Avon."
Vila hesitated. He wasn't sure he wanted to open the door for the man who had just tried to kill them.
"Vila! Don't you remember? Avon tried to warn us. He said that they were coming. He was trying to protect us."
Jenna said cynically, "You're fooling yourself, Cally. Avon did no such thing. He was just trying to save his own skin. Like he always does. How could he know that the Federation was out there? Unless he has telepathy like you do. We should just leave him to them."
Cally was angry. Angry that Jenna's hatred had blinded her to the truth. I will not let you do this.
She took a step towards Jenna and before anyone realized what she was going to do, punched her in the face.
Jenna reeled back in shock and put her hands up to protect herself. Cally struck again and punched her in the stomach. Jenna doubled over in pain and went down.
"You don't understand!" said Cally. She stood angrily over Jenna. "Avon did know. He knew the moment he felt the pain in his knee."
"I don't understand, Cally," said Vila. "How could the pain tell him that they were coming?"
"None of you understand," Cally told them. "The pain from his knee doesn't come from any injury. It never did. It comes from a device they put in his knee to cause him pain. They used it to control and torture him. When the pain suddenly increased, he knew that they were here."
"He must have told you that just to get you to feel sorry for him," said Jenna sarcastically. She got up. Her hand was rubbing her face where Cally had punched her. There was an ugly bruise developing.
"How can you be so blind?" asked Cally angrily. She felt like hitting the woman again but restrained herself. "When has Avon ever wanted anyone to feel sympathy for him? He has always hated it. I examined his knee. There was no injury. I felt the device."
Vila swallowed. He had made a terrible mistake. "We have to get the door open." He went to the door and looked out.
There was no one there. The Federation troops had all gone and taken Avon with them.
"They're gone!" Vila told them in shock.
What have we done?