4th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to The Definition of Peace
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"How long have you been standing there?" she asked.
"Not long." He came down the steps.
"Do you have a habit of watching people before you speak to them?" she asked.
"You're very watchable," he said as he approached her.
"How is Avon?" Reya put the datapad down on the table.
"He's fine for now. I've sent him down with Cally. He needs the rest and diversion after everything he's been through. What Cally has planned should work nicely." He sat down next to her.
"She told you what she arranged for him?"
"Yes. I figured it would decrease his stress level if there weren't all the secrets."
"Are you trying to say something?" she asked.
"I've been under a lot of stress lately too?" There was a teasing grin on his face.
Reya leaned forward unexpectedly and kissed him. Her mouth was warm and enticing; he more than cooperated. Before it could go further, she pulled back and asked, "Is that better now?"
"You're not going to tell me, are you?"
"No." There was a mischievous smile on her face.
Argus sighed. "I need you to contact your brother. Avon is going to need Healer Garett's help again."
"I can do that."
"We'll use one of the relay stations. But first, can I have a bit more of that stress relief? It might be awhile before Avon and Cally get back. And Vila and the others aren't due until later. And...." Reya took pity on him.
Avon was surrounded by beautiful women trying to ply him with drinks and other assorted delicacies. After the shock of the sudden attention and his initial refusals of the various items, he began to appreciate it.
"Vila finally found the wine, women and song he's been looking for," remarked an amused Avon.
"And so have you, by the looks of it," said a not-so-amused Cally as she tried to 'rescue' him. She had been trying to save him from their attentions for the last five minutes with little success.
"You did say that I needed some stress relief," said Avon as he accepted a glass of champagne.
"This is not what I had in mind," said an exasperated Cally.
Avon extricated himself. "There are many types of stress relief," he told her as he handed her the glass.
"And being surrounded by clinging females is one of them?" She gave the glass to one of the women near them.
"I can see where it would have limited appeal for you," said Avon.
"Try no appeal."
There was a sliver of a smile as he said, "Why don't we try your method of rest?"
Allren couldn't shake his feelings of worry.
Would these people let you go with so much money? How much did both of you win? They must have suspected you were cheating. But do they have more than just suspicions is the question. I should never have left the two of you alone. I knew there was going to be trouble.
Now he had asked Ture to look into the new management partners. I must be out of my mind to go looking for trouble. Especially with people who are supposed to be worse than the Terra Nostra.
Serella had helped them though. He had to make sure that she would not get in trouble for it. She was smart to have left when she did. He would feel terrible if she suffered because she tried to warn them.
Just a quick look into their system and if nothing is wrong, we continue enjoying the rest of our time here.
Argus asked, "You got tired of Pleasure City already?"
"No. I was hoping to get something from Avon," replied Ture.
"You just missed him. I sent him down with Cally a little while ago. What did you need from him?"
"I was hoping to get a handheld computer unit with interface capabilities." Ture looked disappointed. "Can you raise him on his comm?"
"I'd rather not disturb Avon at the moment," said Argus, with a serious look on his face.
Ture saw the look and recognized that something was going on. "Did something happen to Avon?" he asked with concern.
"He needs rest," said Argus.
"I knew Cally was concerned about his health," said Ture.
"She has good reason to be."
"No one's said anything about what happened to Avon. How he got so messed up. At least not to Allren and me," said Ture.
"He was a prisoner of the Federation for three years. They tortured him."
"Oh," said Ture with a distressed expression on his face. "That explains a lot. We kind of suspected something like that."
"Yes. That's why we try to be careful with him."
"Alright, then I won't bother Avon. But I really do need the handheld."
"Why do you want it?" asked Argus.
"I need to do a little investigating for Allren," replied Ture.
"Is it anything I need to know?" asked Argus. He doubted that it would be anything that would lead to trouble if Allren was involved.
"Not right now. We'll let you know."
"Alright. Let's go check out the storage rooms and see if we can find you something," said Argus.
There was a bright musical tone and the lights embedded into the door began dancing in a circular pattern, indicating that someone wanted entrance.
That can't be Ture. It must be Serella. Allren smiled and went to activate the door panel. "Ser..." He stopped in mid-name as he was shoved back into the room by the person at the door, and barely avoided falling. Several men entered. Allren recognized two of them; they were the ugly-looking characters from the casino who had been watching Ture and Vila.
"What in the Fed is going on?!" asked an outraged Allren.
"Where's the other one?" One of the rough characters with a scar down the side of his cheek asked. Allren wondered why anyone these days would support such a look when it was easily fixed.
"He isn't here," replied Allren. One of the men shook Vila roughly but the thief was sound asleep.
The other harsh character from the casino grabbed Allren by the collar and pushed him up against the wall. "Are you trying to be funny? We know he's not here. Where did he go?" This man had a hard face and a sharp chin. Everything about him was hard, even the snarl on his lips.
"I'm not his guardian. How should I know?" Allren asked, continuing to act outraged. The man holding him punched him in the mid-section. The hardness of the man's fist matched the hardness of his face. Allren doubled over in pain and gasped for breath.
The scar faced one said, "We don't have time for this. Sevisia wants to see them. Search them first."
As the hard man patted him down, Allren said, "The management will hear about this! You can't treat customers like this!"
"We are the management," said scar face. "The new management." He had an arrogant and cruel smile on his face and seemed to be the leader of the group.
The searchers handed the items they found to their leader.
"What's this? Matching bracelets? How adorable," the leader said sarcastically and with an unfriendly sneer on his face as he compared the two teleport bracelets in his hands.
"They were gifts from your mother," said Allren. Normally he would not be so impulsive with his offences, but he didn't like this scar faced man. Everything about him exuded malice.
The hard man punched him in the face, causing his head to snap back at the force.
"Save that for Sev," said the scar face. "Bring them."
Allren wiped the blood from his cut lip as two of the men grabbed his arms and half-dragged him out of the room. Another two lifted the still sleeping Vila from the bed and followed.
Before he left the room scar face instructed the hard man, "Cobb, keep a watcher on this room. The other one should show up eventually. Bring him when he does."
Vila groaned. His head hurt and he was in an uncomfortable position. He shifted his body and tried to open his eyes. The movement brought opposition and pain. His hands were being restrained by something, and the light hurt his eyes and his brain. Vila moaned and shut his eyes tightly. He knew that he was in some kind of trouble, but his hurting head make it difficult to want to think about anything other than going back to sleep.
"Vila," a whispered voice called his name.
"Allren?" Vila tried to identify the voice. His own voice sounded raspy and his mouth felt and tasted like dry sand.
"Yes. How are you feeling?" Allren was restrained to a chair. They were both in a small, bare room with a single exit.
"Like I want to die," said Vila miserably. He really wanted to go back to sleep and forget that he had woken up.
"You might get your wish soon if we don't figure a way out of this," said Allren.
"What?!" Vila asked. He rolled towards Allren's voice and groaned again. Quick movements were not being encouraged by his head.
"Your activities at the casino upset some nasty people. Someone named Sevisia."
"WHAT?!" exclaimed Vila. He sat up. His hands went to his sorely protesting head as he said, "We have to get out of here!"
"You've heard this name before?" asked Allren. He had been alarmed by Vila's reaction.
"I wish I hadn't," said Vila. "He makes the Terra Nostra look like amateurs." He tried to reach for a tool he normally used in such occasions.
"That's what Serella said," said Allren.
"Serella? What happened? Why are we here?" asked Vila, as he began to work on the restraints on his wrist.
"Serella came to warn me that the two of you were in trouble. I got you out but they came after us in the suite."
"Why is it every time I think things are finally going right, something goes horribly wrong? Where's Ture?" asked Vila when he realized the computer technician wasn't in the room.
Allren looked around the room carefully. He couldn't spot a camera but he had no confidence that they weren't being listened to. He said casually, "They're looking for him too but he went out before they came for us. They're still looking."
"Hopefully we can join him and not the other way around," said Vila as he unlocked the manacles.
"Yes, hopefully," said Allren.
The door opened.
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