Jenna had finally gotten off Papos. It had been a frustrating time for her there. The rebels had only seemed interested in fighting amongst themselves rather than fighting the Federation. Besides, she had more important things to do.
She sat in a seedy bar on a dirt-rich border planet. People called them dirt-rich because there was nothing else here, just dirt. Jenna wondered at the idiocy of people who would want to settle on a planet like this. But there was no accounting for rationality among some of these colonists.
A young man came to take her order of one of the weak brews which was barely stronger than flavoured water. As she tasted the mug he handed her, Jenna made a face; flavoured water might have been a better choice.
As she waited for her contact, Jenna hoped that it would not be like some of her other contacts that left her chained up in a cellar. This time there was no Cally to keep her company or Vila to pick the locks. At the thought of them, Jenna felt a pang of regret. She missed her crewmates; people she still considered friends. Though they were on opposite sides now, she didn’t consider them as adversaries, only friends who needed to learn the truth. She would show them the truth about Avon; she would show all of them. And then Avon would get what he deserved.
After his shift on the flight deck, Vila went looking for Avon. The first place to start with was the workshop. The second would have been Cally’s cabin, or rather Cally and Avon’s cabin. Vila grinned. After witnessing the display in the medical unit at General Reve’s headquarters, Vila found that the two of them were much more open about their relationship. Avon did not get defensive when it was mentioned, though he did seem a bit testy when sleeping arrangements were touched upon. But Vila would never dare disturb them in their cabin. He valued his life.
Vila was in luck. Avon was in his workshop; he was working on a bracelet-type device which Vila did not recognize. Cally was at a nearby computer terminal, studying detailed diagrams of the human body. This was occupying most of her time now outside of her normal duties and activities and spending time with Avon.
Argus had asked her to upgrade her medical knowledge. He wanted her to be more than just a field medic. Cally had instantly agreed. She didn’t know why she hadn’t thought of it herself. The experience with Avon had shown them all the inadequacies of not having someone with more medical qualifications onboard. Using the detailed information banks of the Justice and mentoring from a helpful Garett, her goal was to obtain a physician’s certification.
Avon and Cally looked up as Vila came over to the workbench. He was hesitant and nervous and said, "Avon, I was wondering. You know about the banking system. I was wondering if you knew anything about investments. You know. We were given all that money on Pleasure City and I’d like to invest it. Sort of plan for the future. I’m not getting any younger, you know."
Vila was determined to work on their relationship. He wanted to find something they could both do together.
Avon put down the energy module he had been working with and asked, "What are you asking?"
Cally was watching this interaction with interest and said, "I believe Vila's trying to find a topic of interest to you. So that you can relate to each other."
"Is that what you're trying to do, Vila?" Avon asked.
Vila said, "Well, yes."
"Then why didn't you say so?" asked Avon.
"I thought you would laugh at me,” said Vila.
Avon said, "You're right.”
Vila moved to get up and said, "Well, fine. I tried. But if you…"
Avon asked Cally, "Do I look as if I'm laughing at him?"
"No, Avon. You look quite serious,” said Cally. There was a very solemn look on Avon's face.
Vila was paused half-way between sitting down and getting up. He looked at both of them suspiciously. Cally couldn’t help herself and began chuckling.
Avon said, "Sit down, Vila." There was an amused look in his eyes.
“Oh, I see,” said Vila as he sat down again. He wasn't sure he could get used to this side of Avon. Part of him still expected some disparaging remark to be directed his way.
Avon said, “First we need to set up some aliases for you and open up several sealed accounts. Any preference of names?” The last few days Vila had found himself staring at Avon, when the other man was not looking. Avon looked at ease and his features had lost some of its hard cynicism, which Vila found very strange. This Avon seemed, not quite happy, but…. Content? Vila had never seen this look on Avon's face before so he wasn't sure.
“If you help me plan an investment strategy, I can help you with your comedy routine. It needs a little work,” remarked Vila.
“I thought it worked quite well,” said Avon. “We had you fooled.”
“Only for a few seconds,” said Vila with consternation.
Avon cleared aside his tools and slid the computer monitor over. “Now what kind of return did you want on your investment?” he asked.
“Where is the psychostrategist?” asked Cally.
“You mean Sester?” asked Argus absently as he checked something on his flight panel. The full crew was gathered on the flight deck. They were about to rendezvous with several of the Athol strike groups in quadrant seven. A large-scale military operation was being readied and Borel had asked for their help.
“Yes. Where is he?” asked Reya suspiciously. She realized that she had not seen the psychostrategist since his observer craft had docked with them two days ago, when they left Zirgon.
“He’s in his quarters,” replied Argus. He was being very casual with his answers as his hands continued checking things at his flight station.
“That’s what you said the last time,” said Reya.
“Yes. Because that’s where he was the last time as well,” replied Argus.
Reya was getting a suspicion. “And what if I ask tomorrow?”
“Argus! You’ve locked him in his quarters!” said Reya angrily. Everyone looked up from what they were doing to pay attention.
“Yes,” Argus replied.
“Well?” asked Reya challengingly. “Are you going to let him out?”
“I’m not ready to yet,” answered Argus flatly.
“That means never.”
“Never is such a permanent word. I prefer to think of it as, only so long as he graces us with his presence on this ship.”
“You can’t do that,” said Reya.
“Yes. I can. It’s my ship,” said Argus in his best commander tone.
“And you’re in charge?” she asked. Everyone else on the flight deck could recognize this tone.
Argus hesitated. He knew he was treading on dangerous ground here.
Argus said, “We can’t afford to let him loose. Not until we know that he won’t be a security risk to everyone on this ship.”
“He is supposed to be the Federation liaison,” she said with exasperation.
“He can liaise perfectly fine from his quarters. He has access to the comm in his cabin.”
“And have you been feeding him?” she asked sardonically.
“Every day. At least once,” said Argus. “I’m not trying to kill him, Reya. I’m just trying to make sure he doesn’t put the rest of us in danger.”
"And have you tied him up as well?"
"I'm not a barbarian," said Argus, trying to sound reasonable. "He just can't leave his cabin."
“Argus,” Cally spoke. “I don’t like Sester any more than you do. And trust him even less. But I agree with Reya. You can’t keep him a prisoner. That was not your agreement with Servalan.”
“My agreement was only that we will work with the Federation against the aliens. There were no provisions regarding the treatment of random representatives of dubious natures. Just allowing him onboard this ship is a big favour.”
“He did help Avon,” said Vila.
Argus gave Vila an unfriendly glare. Not you too. “Yes. And that is supposed to make up for all of the other things he did? Avon, what do you think?”
“I think you should let him out,” replied Avon.
“What? Not you too?” Argus asked.
“The tracer you asked me to build is finished. You can use it now,” said Avon.
“Oh. Why didn’t you say so?” asked Argus. I really wish you would tell me these things beforehand.
“I just did.”
Argus had a suspicion. He asked, “When did you complete it?”
Avon smiled. “I also preferred that he be kept in has cabin. But the others are right. If we want his cooperation, it is best to let him out occasionally.”
“The two of you are terrible,” said Reya.
Avon looked at her and then he said to Argus, “Perhaps a little less than occasionally would be best.”
Cally said, "I am disappointed in both of you."
"I am too," said Reya. "You're not giving him a chance."
Vila decided the smartest and safest thing to do was to stay out of this argument.
Argus said, "I never really intended to keep him in his cabin indefinitely. I was waiting for Avon to finish the tracer. That way we can always tell where he is and be able to prevent him from accessing sensitive areas of the ship."
"And do the non-sensitive areas of the ship include anything other than his cabin?" asked Reya sarcastically.
"I believe the dining area and the cleaning facilities are included as well," he said jokingly. "Seriously, he will have access to everything except the computer core, the engineering areas, the weapons lockers and the storage rooms. And one or two others."
"What is this tracer you've developed?" Cally asked Avon. He reached into a pocket in his vest, brought out a bracelet and handed it to Argus.
Avon replied, "It is a positional signal that will tell us where he is at all times."
Argus turned it over in his hands, examining it.
"Why is it so large?" asked Vila. "Aren't tracers much smaller than that?" He recognized the object Avon had been working on in the workshop yesterday.
"This one is very special," said Avon. "It delivers an increasingly uncomfortable charge if he tries to access unauthorized areas of the ship."
“Is it going to hurt him?” asked Cally.
“Most certainly. It will incapacitate him once it reaches the maximum setting,” said Avon.
“That’s not what I was asking,” said Cally. “Will it do any permanent damage?”
Avon replied, “I’m also not a barbarian, Cally. There will be no permanent physical after effects.”
"That's not much better than keeping him in his cabin," said Reya with consternation. "He's still a prisoner if he has to wear this."
"That's the point," said Argus.
"You agree with this?" Cally asked Avon, her opinion of this action very clear on her face.
"We have to do it this way, Cally. He's too dangerous and he still works for Servalan. You know that yourself. If he is allowed any kind of advantage, he will use it. If we give him a chance, only to find out later that we were wrong; then it's too late. It's the kind of mistake which can have serious consequences. Do you want to risk it?"
"I still don't like it," she told him.
Reya had been looking at Argus; he stared back defiantly. She said, "I know what Avon's rational for doing this is? What's your excuse?"
"I already told you why I'm doing this," said Argus. "Unless you don't believe me."
"I do," said Reya. "But I do not believe these are the only reasons." She fixed him with an icy glare.
Argus said uncompromisingly, “This is not a topic for discussion. It deals with the safety of this ship and everyone on it. Sester will wear this tracer or he will be kept in his cabin for the duration of his stay. Now if anyone else has a better idea that will guarantee that Servalan will not gain an advantage by having him here, I’m listening.”
No one had anything to add.
“Very well. Avon. Let’s go and release our guest and introduce him to the capabilities of the tracer.”
“Argus,” said Reya.
“I believe it’s your shift on the flight deck,” he said to her. He and Avon left on their task.
As they walked towards the corridor with Sester’s cabin, Avon said to Argus, “You realize that Sester’s most dangerous quality is his human engineering capabilities, not with anything he can do on the ship?”
“I’m aware of that,” said Argus. “But apart from locking him in his cabin, or making him mute, I don’t know of any other non-lethal option than what we’re doing. The only thing we can do is to be on our guard and warn the others not to trust him.”
“I can ask Cally,” said Avon. “Her psi abilities have been developing nicely. She has greater range with what she can sense in humans now. As long as she continues working on it, I believe that she is capable of even more.”
Argus looked thoughtful. “It would be very useful to have a fully developed telepath onboard.”
“I doubt if she will ever be fully telepathic with humans. Her Auron brain structure is somewhat different from ours,” explained Avon.
“She seems to do well with you.”
“Of course,” said Argus knowingly.
Avon gave him a cold stare.
Argus said with a suppressed smile. “You were saying that you are going to ask Cally to help?”
“Yes. I will have her monitor him. If she senses anything suspicious, we can confront him.”“I’m looking forward to that,” said Argus.