Psychostrategist Sester arrived at the Federation Special Detention Centre and went directly to the medical wing.
"Why is the prisoner A5428 back in here? Didn't the President tell you to return him to the lab after the medical treatment and rest?"
Dr. Goren replied, "He collapsed again shortly after being returned to the lab."
"I thought he had been given time in the healing tanks?"
"Yes, but the President only authorized the bare minimum; he needs much more than that. You know the effects of the nerve induction unit, it's not just physical. He's been given almost daily, two-hour periods in the chamber for the past two months without any additional time to recover. It was supposed to expose him to the torture without the debilitating side effects, but the effects have become cumulative; we didn't expect that. It's become much worse than multiple full sessions in the chamber; it's never been used this way before. He's been dying slowly for the last two weeks."
"How much rest does he need to recover?"
"At this point, he needs a week in the healing tanks plus several weeks rest. If he doesn't get it, we may not be able to save the heart, he may require a transplant and if the chamber is to be continued to be used on him, we have to change the protocols to allow him time to recover. If we don't, eventually even our advanced medical facilities will no longer be able to bring him back."
"The President is not going to like that; he's at a crucial stage in the lab."
"She's going to like it even less if he dies and we aren't able to bring him back."
"Why wasn't this reported to the President before?"
"As I said, it was unexpected. He has great strength of will, unfortunately for him; more than anyone I've worked on before. He's been able to fight the effects until now, but it's finally overwhelmed him. I did try to tell the President this, but she didn't give me time to explain, and I got the impression that there was no need for him to remain alive after he finishes his work."
"Give me his medical records."
The doctor handed the data crystal containing Avon's records to the psychostrategist.
"This also contains my recommendations for medical treatment, depending on what the final goal is."
"Thank you doctor."
"One additional thing, if the goal is not to kill him yet, then we have to be very careful from now on; because of his strength of will, whenever he collapses from whatever is being done to him, he is actually in much worse shape any normal prisoner. Most people fall apart long before he does, and we fix the damage much earlier."
As Sester left the medical wing and headed to his quarters in order to study the data crystal of Avon's medical records, he was annoyed. I do wish she would tell me when there is a change in the agenda. This doesn't make any sense, I cannot believe she would allow you to die Avon, at least not yet, you are still much too useful. Unless something has changed.
He had to talk to the Federation President immediately.
"Have you finally decided to let him die after he finishes work on the phase engine?" Sester asked Servalan the moment she appeared on his screen.
After reviewing Avon's medical records and the records of what had been done to him while the psychostrategist had been away, Sester was not pleased. Rather than following his carefully planned strategy, it appeared that the Centre personnel had deliberately tried to kill the analyst, slowly; and she had allowed it.
"Is that the way to greet me the moment you come back," she asked, ignoring his question.
"Sorry Madame President, where were my manners," Sester responded. "I tend to become focussed and forget everything else." It was not like him to forget the niceties in his pursuit of a goal.
"You are forgiven."
"Well?" He still wanted answers.
"You should know the answer."
So the agenda has not changed. What game are you playing then Madame President?
"Then why are you letting this happen?"
"Is it really that bad?"
"From the reports of the senior doctor at the Centre, there has been a lot of damage to his heart. At some point, even with the advanced medical facilities at the Centre, it may not be reversible. If you don't tell them to ease up on the use of the nerve induction chamber, and the other punishments, he may require a transplant soon; which will put him out of commission for at least two weeks. I don't think you would want that, considering the stage he is at in the lab. At the moment, any level of stress will cause cardiac arrest; you've only succeeded in breaking his body."
"I was waiting for you to return. You know that the Centre personnel are useless when it comes to him."
"You may have waited too long. The doctor says that the use of the nerve induction unit has had a cumulative effect; we will have to be careful with its use from now on. Mentally and physically, he is suffering from the same kind of trauma as being subjected to several full sessions in the chamber, except that it is even worse. He should have collapsed along time ago but he's been able to fight it and continue working. By carrying on, he's paid a terrible price, and it's finally proven too much for him."
"Have you seen him yet?" Servalan asked.
"Not yet, it won't serve any useful purpose until I can talk to him, and that might not be for awhile."
"You are authorized to do whatever it takes to bring him back but remember I need him in the lab to finish the phase engine as soon as it is physically possible. Keep me informed."
"Don't I always?"
Servalan closed the connection from her end.
Sester sat staring at the blank screen, thinking.
You nearly killed him this time but you clearly did not want him dead. What is it about your relationship with him which causes this conflict of purposes?
He wondered if he should do something about this state of affairs. One thing he did not like was having his carefully constructed strategies destroyed by the illogical whims of others.
The research team was gathered in Professor Tyler's apartment. The prisoner's collapse had shocked them all. His subsequent return to the lab and his second collapse had spurred Professor Tyler to action.
Tyler found that she could no longer ignore what was happening to the analyst. She had taken a big risk in trying to contact the Federation President but it had done no good. She had only gotten as far as the President's secretary and had left a personal recorded appeal, it was doubtful it had even reached the President.
The prisoner had not made an appearance in a week and they were all worried. When they asked, they were informed that he was ill and was receiving medical treatment but after witnessing the guards' and minders' handling of him in the lab, they were not sure what kind of treatment he was getting.
Tyler had called her companions to discuss what they could do to help him.
"Look Professor, I don't like what's happening anymore than you do but what can we do? It's a secure facility, guards and security everywhere. I'm not about to commit suicide." York told her.
Delan added his opinion, "I want to help him too but I will not risk my career."
Tyler looked at her fellow professor. He also disappointed her. "Brena, I don't see what we can do; we're scientists, not rebels."
"I'm not saying that we should break him out; but there must be something we can do to help him."
"We've tried several times already," York told her. "You know what they did to him when we did that, it only made it worse."
Tyler was exasperated at their lack of imagination. "First of all we need to get him away from the lab."
They were all about to register a protest at this seemingly unwise idea when she continued. "One thing they want from him is success on this phase engine. It's clear that none of the people assigned to watch him have the ability to understand what we've been doing. When we set up the full-size prototype in a real ship, it cannot be in the lab, it will have to be in a remote location away from the lab. What if we set it up so that it is essential that he be there personally?"
Professor Ekron said, "That may just be possible Brena, but once we get him out there, then what? He'll probably have a heavily armed security escort, rescue will still be out of the question, and getting him out there so he can enjoy the sunshine doesn't seem much of a help.
"If he is rescued, they will know we had something to do with it," pointed out York.
Tyler told him, "You work on a plan to get him out of the lab, leave the rest of it to me."
"You have an idea, don't you?" Delan asked. "Hopefully one which doesn't involve us being executed or sent to a penal colony?"
"Yes, but it may be safer for all of you if I don't reveal what it is just yet." She wasn't about to tell them that she didn't have any idea yet but she was confident she would be able to figure out something.
"We have a problem," Argus told Allren and Ture as they stood guard outside the sensitive storage area. "Someone from my commando days recognized me."
"Who?" asked Allren.
"The new lieutenant, Klesson. He was a corporal when I first met him."
"Can you trust him?"
"That's the problem, I don't know. He wasn't part of my group when I became Land Commander. For now, we have to assume that he's a loyal Federation soldier."
"That's definitely a problem," mumbled Ture.
"You aren't in the stockade now so you obviously told him something to satisfy him," asked Allren.
"I told him that I was working undercover for Central Security and that I was investigating Commander Feldon," said Argus.
"That's clever," said Allren. For some reason, just the mention of Federation Central Security made people back off.
"Hopefully that will keep him nervous enough that he won't keep asking questions, but we will have to be careful. I'm going to send an extra set of instructions to Vila."
ORAC had just reported another unexpected burst signal from Argus.
"First he locks up all the liquor, now he wants me to go down and rescue him?" said Vila incredulously. He was definitely not in a good mood. All attempts at unlocking the alcohol dispensers had only resulted in several dismantled dispenser units and no alcohol.
"Obviously," said ORAC.
"I wasn't asking you," said Vila.
"There are additional messages from Argus," said ORAC.
"I don't know that I want to hear it," grumbled Vila.
"Argus says to remind you that he has the authorization code to the alcohol dispensers and he promises not to get you killed. The final message is that Zen also has coded orders to only follow your instructions if those instructions are to go to Elarus to complete the mission."
"That is really unfair," said Vila angrily. "I'm sure there's a name for this, like blackmail or extortion or something."