Avon and Argus returned to the storage room where the others were. Argus sketched out the plan to go down to the underground research facility.
"Any questions?" asked Argus after he was done.
When there was none he said, "Avon, loop the surveillance feeds that we need."
Avon entered some commands on his handheld computer unit. He waited until each of the video feeds registered on the small screen. "It's clear."
"Alright, let's go." Argus checked the corridor and led the way out. Avon and Vila followed and then the rest of the soldiers. They were silent invaders, passing unnoticed through the facility. Avon had picked the least travelled route.
Meanwhile, back on the ship, Vanora was guiding Cally on how to reach the children with her mind.
"Can you sense them now?" asked Vanora.
Cally had her eyes closed, trying to concentrate. There was a gentle smile on her face. "Yes, I can now. They're beautiful."
Vanora smiled with pride, "They are, aren't they."
"So innocent." Cally gasped in surprise as twenty-four curious little minds turned their attentions toward her. "They know I'm here." She broke off her connection and opened her eyes. "They're very strong telepaths."
"Yes, I know."
* That potentially makes them very dangerous * said Cally.
* Does that mean you're changing your mind about helping them? * asked Vanora.
* No. But if Avon and Argus found out how strong they are, they might decide that they're too great a threat. *
* If these weren't my children, I might have agreed with them * said Vanora. She said slyly * We don't have to tell them. They're not Aurons or psi enabled, they would never know. *
* I would never do that to Avon * said Cally.
* I never thought you were that naïve, little sister. A relationship based on truth? Do those work? How would you ever get what you want? * asked Vanora cynically.
* I feel sorry for you. You must live a very sad life if you think that * said Cally.
* I get what I want. I'm in control. That makes me very happy. I don’t understand why you would be so opposed to this. It's not a bad lie. You're trying to stop them from killing the children. I don't see anything wrong with that * said Vanora.
* You'll never understand * said Cally. * I would never manipulate Avon into doing what I want by lying to him, no matter how good I think my reasons are. That would be saying that I don't respect that he has a right to make his own decisions because I think that mine are better. *
* But yours are * said Vanora.
* I'm not going to argue this with you. I know you'll never understand * said Cally. * I would rather use our time to find another solution. *
Sester sat in his cabin, staring at a full bottle he had just obtained from one of the dispensers.
I should never have gotten involved. I was a fool. And now it's too late. It was foolish to choose someone I can never have.
He sighed and smiled wryly to himself. His fellow psychostrategists would be looking at him with great disapproval if they knew what he had been doing. They would begin to question his abilities and his judgement. He had compromised himself and he had no excuse, other than he was human.
Sester unstopped the bottle and poured a generous portion into a glass. He drained it and then filled it again.
The infiltration team filed into the transport pod. There was barely enough standing room. Vila found himself squashed against the wall of the transport.
"Watch it you big brute," said Vila to one of the soldiers as he was pressed harder into the wall.
"Sorry, sir." The soldier tried to shift away.
Argus saw the last soldier enter the transport and then he and Avon entered, pushing everyone even closer together. There were grunts of discomfort as people tried to shift in further.
Avon pressed several controls on the transport's panel. The door slid closed and the transport began to descend quickly.
* You don't have to be afraid * Cally tried to reassure the young ones with her mind while Vanora tried to do the same. She could tell that some of them were crying.
Cally asked Vanora, "Why are they scared? Can you tell?"
Vanora replied, "They are being 'educated' while they're maturing in the growing chambers. That's why they can talk to us now. But it's not just language skills. It's the other things which are making them afraid."
"What things?" asked Cally.
"From what I can tell from their minds, they're being indoctrinated to despise anyone who is not one of them. One of the aliens. This scares the children," said Vanora.
"It's against their natures," said Cally. "They don’t want to harm anyone. I can sense that."
"Yes. I don't understand it."
"These are very special children. We cannot let the Andromedans twist their minds," said Cally.
"They have the naiveté of the young," said Vanora. "They'll learn in time. We'll just have to educate them ourselves."
Cally looked at Vanora. She didn’t think that having Vanora educating the children would be a good idea either.
Cally told her * Concentrate on reassuring the children. Try to give them something else to focus on instead of what the Andromedans are trying to do with them. *
* I'll try. * Vanora closed her eyes again and focused on her offspring.
"Vanora, how old are the children now? What is their maturation age?" asked Cally.
Vanora replied distractedly, "Physically, they're about a year old but it won't be for long at the rate their growth is being accelerated."
"They've gone from gestation stage to one year in just two days. That does help us. At least Avon and Argus won't have to worry about endangering the children by removing them from the gestation pods."
Vanora opened her eyes and said to Cally, "If they decide to let them live. And even if they do, what would happen to them? Where could they go where they'll be safe? Are you going to keep them on the ship? Not to mention, they have strong psi abilities. You know that requires careful handling. Who could take care of them? There are only two of us left."
Cally repeated, "Only two of us…" She smiled, "That's not true. There is a place where they could go where they'll be safe and can be taken care of. I’m going to try to contact Avon." Cally closed her eyes and concentrated.
* Avon. * Cally's voice came to Avon as the transport pod reached its destination.
* Cally. Is there something wrong? * He activated the door panel and everyone filed out. They all held their weapons in readiness as they checked out their surroundings. The transport area appeared to be deserted; which was not surprising since Avon had changed the status of this transport tube to "undergoing maintenance." Avon watched while Argus gave last minute directions to the various teams.
Cally's voice said * The maturation of the children has been accelerated. Physically, they're a year old. *
Argus said, "Alright, let's go. All teams move out. Rendezvous back here when you're done. Team four, secure our escape route." Each of the teams began exiting the transport area. Argus and the final team consisting of Avon, Vila and four of the soldiers stayed behind to wait for their signal.
Cally's voice continued. * We've also found out that the Andromedans are indoctrinating the children to be against us. *
Avon responded * That was to be expected. *
Cally said * There is also something else. I have been able to connect with the minds of the infants. Their psi abilities are very strong. *
Avon said * Then they are even more of a threat then we had feared. *
* Avon, have you found a solution? * asked Cally.
Avon hesitated. * I'm sorry, Cally. I haven't. And from what you've just told me, they're even more of a danger than we first thought. *
Argus, who had been keeping an eye on Avon, noticed that his eyes didn't seem to be focusing. He asked, "Avon, are you in communication with Cally?"
Avon looked at him. "Yes. She says that the maturation rate of the children has been accelerated and that they are being indoctrinated to work against us. They also appear to have very strong psi abilities."
Argus digested this information. He asked, "Have you or Cally found a solution?"
Avon replied, "Not yet."
Cally's voice said * Avon, if you can find a way to rescue the children, I know a place where we can hide them and people who can look after them. People who are used to working with psi enabled children. *
Avon realized what she was referring to, * Kaarn. *
* Yes. No one knows this is the last refuge for what's left of my people * said Cally.
* As long as it stays secret. It is still a great risk, Cally. The Andromedans will probably not rest until they find the children. And if they ever find out the location, then even the last of your people will be in danger. *
* Are you saying that you won't help them then? * asked Cally.
* No. I am just informing you of the risks. I promised you that I would leave killing the children as the last option. We have not reached that stage yet * said Avon.
Argus asked, "Avon?"
Avon held up his hand and said, "Give me a minute."
Avon continued, * With your idea of using Kaarn as a place to hide the children, one of the pieces we need to keep them from the aliens is in place but it is still not enough. I will discuss this with Argus. We will see what we can come up with. *
Cally replied, * Thank you, Avon. *
Avon focused his eyes on Argus. "Cally has found a place where we can hide the children."
"Where?" asked Argus.
"When Servalan released the plague to destroy the Aurons, we were able to rescue two of them along with enough genetic stock to clone five thousand more," said Avon.
Vila said, "That's true. It was so long ago, I'd almost forgotten. "
"Cally never did," said Avon.
Argus said, "Why didn't we hear of this? The Federation news channels said that all of the Aurons were wiped out in the plague."
Avon replied, "No one else knows. We conveyed them to a secret location. A previously uninhabited planet called Kaarn."
Argus said, "I don't want to kill the children but it's still a great risk. What if the aliens find out where this location is? They will be looking for them the moment we rescue the children. Avon, we need more of a protection against this danger."
Avon thought for a moment. He mused, "The danger is that the aliens will be looking for the children."
"That's a given," said Argus.
"What if they weren’t looking for them?" asked Avon.
"What would stop them from looking for the children?" asked Argus.
Avon said, "They would stop if the children were destroyed."
Vila said, "But you can't not kill the children by killing them. That doesn't make any sense."
Avon smiled, "You can if the aliens thought the children had been destroyed."
Argus's eyes widened in comprehension, "If they thought the children were dead then they wouldn't be looking for them."
Argus said, "Alright. We can still use the same plan to destroy the room where the children are being kept except that the children won't be in it. Avon, we need to make sure that they don't see us taking the children. The moment that happens, then it won't work."
Avon said, "I already have control of their security surveillance network. I will make sure that it's disabled."
Argus asked, "Can you bring up a schematic of the complex? I'm going to have to arrange a strategy so that we can fall back towards the transportation tube without allowing anyone to see the children."
Avon had been monitoring the security system on his handheld computer unit but he now used it to project a model of the facility for them to see.
Argus said, "I'll have to get two of the teams to help after they're done planting the bombs. There's no way we'll be able to handle all of the children alone. Not since they're no longer embryos. Dain's team can take point. I'll take one of the other teams to run interference and make sure no one sees the children. You'll have to coordinate the surveillance feeds, Avon. Make sure that either Dain's team or mine are the only ones to have direct contact with the enemy."
"I can manage that," said Avon. "I will also disable all of their communications and transport to the surface. That way they won’t be able to arrange a welcoming committee for us when we get there."
Argus nodded. "Good. And once you take down their energy shield, we'll be able to teleport out."
"Haven't you forgotten something?" asked Vila.
Both Argus and Avon went over the plan in their minds.
Argus said, "I don't think so."
Avon asked, "What do you think we're missing, Vila?"
Vila replied, "Well, I don't know how much experience either one of you've had with children, but in my experience, they tend to make noises. Sometimes lots of noises. It doesn't matter how good your plan is. The moment one of them starts crying, the game's up. "
Avon and Argus looked at each other. Avon said, "Vila's right."