A face flashed across his consciousness again. Avon didn't try to reach for it. He had deduced that was what caused the problems the two times he had collapsed; the active pursuing of the memories. It was just a brief image, vague. He couldn't even tell if the face was male or female; only that it was an adult. Older? Younger? He couldn’t tell yet. Good. No lapse into unconsciousness. I still retain the memory, even if it is vague. The experiment had worked. He had been waiting for this to happen again. Avon wondered how many times it would take before the image cleared, or even if it would be the same image the next time. The impression that there was much more to be reached was tantalizing but he resisted the urge. The test had worked. He was not about to let himself collapse again. This gives me a measure of control. As long as I am patient and let the memories come to me.
Avon gasped in pain and groaned. That break in concentration had caused the pain in his head to flow into the consciousness part of his mind. He focused again and forced himself to redirect the pain. Slowly it eased. I wonder how this shows up on the mind mapping.
"Avon, are you alright? Do you want me to tell them to give you some rest?" Cally's soft voice was somewhere near his head. He opened his eyes a little to look at her. You're always there for me.
"No. It's fine." He could see that she looked tired; this bothered him. "Cally, go get some rest. You don't have to stay with me for the entire process."
"I don't care if it isn't rational, Avon. I'm staying," said Cally.
"You're worrying me," said Avon. "That is also not rational."
"Is that your way of saying that you care about me?" she asked in a light teasing tone.
There was a flicker of a smile on his face. "I care that you don't tire yourself out."
She put her hand over his. "How about a compromise? I will get some rest. But I will stay here to get the rest."
"I would like that."
"Shut the machines down." Healer Garett rubbed the back of his neck, picked up a bio-injector and went over to where Avon lay on the bed. They were finally finished with the mind mapping. In turn each of the rays aimed at Avon's head, was shut off. Cally was sleeping nearby in a chair.
"It's over. You can rest," said Garett quietly as he applied the injector to Avon's neck. He was trying not to wake Cally. There was a faint hissing sound as the drugs were administered. "Both of you."
Avon opened his eyes as the pain in his head eased. His jaw relaxed. "I assume you found something?" he asked tiredly.
"You knew we would?" asked Garett as he loosened the straps.
"I would have been surprised if you didn't," said Avon. "You've discovered memory blocks, haven't you?"
"Yes. An extensive network of them. Most of them were placed when you were young. Intermittently after that. Then a cluster of them recently."
"I expected those. Servalan must have done that. But you say many of them occurred when I was young?"
"Yes. They would have most likely started when you were a child. There is also evidence that the conditioning started at the same time." Garett had a sickened look on his face. "That they would do that to anyone is terrible enough. But a child? That is unforgivable."
"I have no memories of that." Avon wanted to remember. He wanted to know what they had taken away from him. And why. "I only have flashes of images. Vague faces I don't remember. Places I have never visited." Another flash in his mind. This time a voice. Kerr.
I need this memory. He started reaching for the fading sound. No! Must not pursue it or I'll collapse again. He closed his eyes and concentrated.
"Avon?" Garett asked worriedly.
With that, Cally was startled awake and got up out of the chair. She immediately asked, "What's wrong?"
Avon opened his eyes. "Nothing to worry about. Another memory."
Cally asked with alarm, "Are you alright? How do you feel?"
"Not about to collapse," replied Avon. He pushed himself to a seated position on the bed.
"You've found a way to control them?" asked Garett.
"In a way."
"You discovered this while we were mapping you?"
"That explains some of the readings."
Avon swung his feet over the side of the bed and attempted to get up. His legs felt weak and he fell forward. Cally and Garett caught him and helped him back onto the bed.
"Seems I need to redefine, not about to collapse," said Avon with wry irritation.
"You require sleep. The mapping takes a lot out of you and the pain in your head did not help," said Garett.
"It appears my body is not giving me a choice," said Avon as they lay him back down on the bed.
"We will talk after you get some rest," said Garett. There is much to talk about.
Reya finished talking with Kameron about some matters regarding the transfer of Tyrellis and headed back to her old quarters. Argus was waiting for her there. She rounded a corner and nearly bumped into Sester.
"What are you doing here?" she immediately asked him.
"Waiting for you."
"This isn't a good idea. If Argus finds you here…" She looked around to make sure no one was watching them.
"Yes. I'm certain that he can take me apart quite effectively. But he's waiting for you, in your quarters. He won't be expecting you yet." He could see that she didn't want to be there. His presence was making her uncomfortable.
"What do you want, Sester?" she asked impatiently.
"I just wanted to talk." He knew that this would most likely be one of the only opportunities, if not the only opportunity, to be alone with her. He found himself wanting to prolong the encounter.
Reya told him, "We have nothing to talk about. As you said before we left Papos, what happened between us meant nothing. We were both victims of circumstance. We are not going to talk about it again."
"That's not why I'm here." Sester took a step forward. Without thinking Reya took one back, trying to keep her distance from him.
Sester was surprised by her involuntary reaction and asked, "What are you afraid of, Reya?"
He was curious and took another step, she retreated again. "Don't do that," she told him.
Her actions showed him something very interesting. He deliberately took one more larger step, forcing her to back up against the wall. Sester was standing very close now, nearly touching. He could feel the warmth of her body. His voice took on a husky quality, "You could always go. But you're like Argus aren't you? You never run away from anything. This presents a problem for you." He inclined his head so that his lips nearly touched hers. They were very aware of each other.
Reya knew she should have left, but Sester was right, she never backed down from a conflict. The proximity of their bodies was triggering a physical reaction that she had not expected. Her body remembered his touch, even if her mind had no intention to. She was shocked.
The next moment, Sester found himself staring up at the ceiling, not knowing how he had ended up flat on the floor, looking up at her.
"Don’t do that again," she warned him. "Or I will take you apart myself." Reya left, leaving him lying on the ground.
Sester got up slowly. He rubbed the spot where his head hit the floor. She had been gentle with him. If she hadn’t, he knew that he would probably have been unconscious as well as on the floor. What's wrong with me? I never meant to do that. He had only wanted to reassure her that he had no intentions of causing her or Argus any problems. She's never going to believe me now. He smiled wryly to himself, I'm not sure I believe me either. But I will try. I owe that to you.
Argus and Reya arrived in the medical unit to check with Healer Garett after finding out that he had finished. The lights had been dimmed while Avon slept. As usual, Cally was near him in a chair, also sleeping, albeit less comfortably. The Healer's team was collating and analyzing the data, at the other end of the room. Garett looked up as Argus and Reya approached.
"How did the examination go?" asked Argus.
It was a simple question but the answer would not be.
"The examination went well," replied Garett. The assorted looks on the faces of the people on Garett's team, did not indicate that the wellness extended to the results.
“How is he?” asked Argus.
“He should be waking up soon.” Garett led the way to the patient area.
Avon was sitting up and was talking to Cally when they approached.
Garett examined him and asked, “How are you feeling?”
“Better. You’ve analyzed the results?” Avon got up off the bed and stood with them.
They all looked at the Healer expectantly.
“First of all, I need to explain that the mind mapping machines work on two levels. One is a physical level. It maps the physiological details of the brain. This mapping is very precise. The other is less precise and identifies psychological impacts by studying brain wave patterns.”
“I understand,” said Avon.
“As you suspected, Avon. There has been extensive tampering.”
“Extensive?” asked Cally with concern.
“How extensive?” asked Argus.
“We have identified three different methods used. Including physical re-engineering.”
“You mean they altered his brain?” asked Argus. He looked at Avon. There was an unreadable blank expression on the other man’s face.
“In a manner of speaking.” Garett addressed Avon, "We’ve found several regions of neural scarring in your brain, indicating that microsurgery was done.”
“Which areas?” Avon asked. He was starting to look pale.
“They mainly targeted regions of the brain which deal with the ability to experience and process emotions.”
“But that doesn’t make any sense. I can sense emotions from Avon. I always have,” said Cally.
“That may be,” said Garett. He turned to speak directly to Avon. “What was done did not remove emotions. They tried to do it in two ways. It looks as if they wanted you to have a greater ability to control emotions, specifically, to turn them off. This was most likely achieved by extensive conditioning. I suspect it was done to enable you to process information on a purely cognitive level.”
“You mean they tried to make him into a human computer?” Argus was angry at what he was hearing from Garett.
“It’s a crude way of putting it, but yes.”
Argus looked at Avon again. Say something, Avon! The other man stayed silent; his eyes were focused on Garett.
The Healer continued, “The other method involved microsurgery. I suspect the conditioning did not work as well as they had hoped. You most likely resisted what they were doing. So they took the more drastic step of physically overwhelming certain areas of your brain, essentially blunting your ability to experience emotions. You would still feel them but they would be harder to access except for strong ones like anger and fear.”
Cally said, “That makes sense. The emotions I sensed were usually dulled. At other times you seemed to be bursting with anger.” There was a puzzled look on her face. “But it’s not like that now,” she told Garett. “I don’t understand.”
Sometimes being coldly dispassionate had it's uses. Such as now.
Avon finally spoke again and said to the Healer, “What you explained makes logical sense given the facts. I have always been…detached from emotions. Except, as you specified, when they were strong. At the Detention Centre, because of what they were doing, sometimes they were very strong. But after being rescued, as Cally has said, it has been different. I experience emotions, even when they are not strong. Could the intensity of experiences while I was imprisoned, have opened up the areas which were suppressed before? Enabling me to feel them now?”
“That’s not possible,” said Garett. “Even with the advances in the medical field, damage to the brain still cannot be repaired. At least, that is what I thought. That is what has always been accepted and understood.”
“Until now?” asked Avon.
Garett smiled, “Let me show you something.” The Healer moved to one of the medical terminals. He entered in some commands. The screen showed various scans of Avon’s brain. Detailed images. One of the images zoomed in and filled the screen. On the top right corner were coordinate markings, D-7.”
Garett said, “This is a section of your brain. It deals with the area which controls and processes the electro-chemical responses associated with human emotions.” He input a few more commands. The screen changed and the picture was bathed in a light green colour, except for a large spot of angry red. “This red portion here represents neural scarring. It becomes quite visible under this type of scan.”
Avon eyes narrowed in a wince, as if feeling a phantom pain from the area affected.
Garett input more commands and the display changed. The coordinates now read D-8. The picture was still light green and they could all see more red.
Garett said, “This is the quadrant next to the one we were just looking at. As you can see, the neural scarring extends further.”
“There’s something different,” said Avon, as he studied the monitor carefully.
Garett smiled and nodded. “You’re right. There is a slight colour change in some areas of the scarring.”
“It’s lighter in colour,” said Reya.
“Yes. It appears that those areas of the brain are regenerating.”
“I though that was impossible,” said Avon.
“It is. Believe me. We are just as astonished as you are. Perhaps even more so. We know that it should be impossible. But someone made this happen.”
“Someone?” asked Avon. This was a shock.
“There is evidence that something was done on a cellular level to enable this to happen. I cannot pinpoint the exact timeframe it was done. But I know that it was over a year ago but less than three,” said Garett.
“But that means it happened while I was a prisoner at the Detention Centre.” Avon was confused. They all were.
“Why would they do this? Why would the Federation repair the damage?” asked a mystified Argus.
“Why would Servalan do this?” asked Avon.
“I can think of one reason,” a voice said from the entrance to the medical unit. They all turned to see who it was.