Kalinda001 (kalinda001) wrote,

B7: Regrets - Chapter 17

Rating: Gen
7th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to Knowing the Enemy

Note:  The big scene between Avon and Grant is coming up, but not in this chapter.

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Chapter Seventeen

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After Avon and Cally teleported down and all of the introductions had been made, Avon and Grant stood off to the side in order to have a private conversation.

Even though Argus had warned them, Grant was shocked at how worn and pale Avon looked. Except for the intense and intelligent eyes, this was not the Avon he remembered from the old days, not the arrogant genius who had fallen in love with his sister. Grant said none of this as he extended his hand and said, “It’s good to see you.”

Avon looked down at the hand. He always seemed to be unsure what to do with this gesture when it was offered to him. Avon grasped the hand and shook it. “Is it?”

“Of course. Whatever was between us because of Anna, was resolved on Albian.”

Avon could feel his heart beat with stress as he tried to decide how to tell Grant about Anna. He was about to say something when Grant hurried him, “I’ll show you the base computers. We don’t have much time. Half of the planet is under ice again." Grant headed towards one of the smaller exits leading from the large chamber and everyone followed. "We're doing all that we can but it's not nearly enough. What we really need is someone like you to fix the computers."

Avon was somewhat relieved that his news about Anna was being delayed. The stress did not abate, it only moved to a less active part of his mind.

Avon sat at the main terminal in the computer control room. He had already queried the computer unit for information regarding the current status of the meteorological conditions of the planet. He was currently reviewing reports of damage done to the computer systems and had requested a detailed systems check. The information scrolled across the screen.
Grant, Argus, Cally, and the two rebel leaders, Tayvel and Hess stood behind him, watching.
Avon entered a few commands and the screen now showed the programming logic structure that no one else in the room could understand. There were clearly gaps in it. He studied it carefully.
Grant asked, “Can you do it?”
Avon, in a preoccupied voice, said, “It will take time. The security systems didn't just erase entire sections of code, it scrambled other ones. I’m not a weather systems specialist but I can write a temporary solution that will fix your problem for now. You will still need someone who understands the meteorological sciences in order to rebuild the original logic and return the planetary weather patterns to its optimal state.”
Argus asked, “How long, Avon?”
Avon looked up at them. “Forty-two hours.”
Grey said, “But that’s too long. We’ll be squeezed to less than a quarter of the land mass by then. Too many people have died already because they couldn’t get out of the danger areas in time.”
Hess said to Avon and Argus, “You may not understand it, but this cold kills. Even with the advanced cold weather gear that was adapted for our planet, it’s not enough.”
Argus asked, “Didn’t you build shelters in case something like this happened?”
Hess moved restlessly and his faced looked a bit flushed, “Some, but not nearly enough for the whole population. You know how it is when things are going well; disaster planning doesn’t have the highest priority.”
Argus refrained from asking why they didn’t do this after the Star One computers went down. He remembered Avon’s cynicism about the human races’ lack of intelligence, or as in this case foresight. Sometimes, Avon could be annoying right about a lot of things.
Avon looked at them all impassively, “I could do it in less time but the chances of something going wrong will increase exponentially. You might be fortunate to be left with less than five percent of the total land mass.”
Grey exclaimed, “Less than five percent? We can’t possibly fit the entire population in that!”
Hess said, “We don’t have much of a choice then.”
Grant said, “We’ll continue with the evacuation off-planet and keep moving people to the safer areas.”
Argus said, “We’ll help you. The Justice can take some of your people. I’ll have more of my men come down to help.”
Grey asked Avon, “Can you tell where the ice will spread to? We’ve only been guessing so far.” He looked distressed. “We haven’t always been right.”
Avon turned to the monitors again and worked on the panel in front of him. “I can provide you with a projected path of the ice according to the current meteorological model. It’s not one hundred percent accurate but it will do for your purposes.”
Grey said gratefully, “That’s all we need.” Now that they were all working together towards the same common goal, all suspicions had been laid aside.
Argus said, “What about the Federation troops? They’re still surrounding this base. Have they hampered your efforts to move the population?”
Grant replied, “No. They only seem focussed on the base.”
Cally said sardonically, “That’s civil of them.”
Without looking up Avon remarked, “That would make sense. They need the population. This is a lucrative planet for them.”
Grey said, "I’ve been wondering why they were doing that. “
Hess asked nervously, “And if they don’t?”
There was a chill in the room as Avon said, “Then the population will no longer be of any use to them. They will destroy this planet and everyone on it.”
As Avon issued his dire warning, Argus had a bad feeling. More than any of them, he knew what the Federation was capable of.
The threat on this planet was not an alien one. It had never been, but Servalan had included this planet on the list she had given him. That meant her intention had always been about Avon meeting Grant. She didn’t care about this planet.
His eyes became hard as he came to an awful realization, the Federation forces were here to make sure that the planet was destroyed. “Avon, do you think…”
Avon had already had the same thought. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Grey asked, “What are you talking about?”
Argus said, “We think that the Federation has already decided to destroy this planet. That’s why they’re still surrounding the base and have made no attempt to stop the evacuation or movement of the population. My guess is that once the planet is covered in ice, their next move would be to destroy the ships around this planet.”
Grey said with alarm, “But most of them are defenceless! They’re civilian craft and transports.”
Cally said, “That will only make it easier for them.”
Argus’s mind was already in strategy mode. “Can I assume that you’ve had the ships gathered in staging areas around the planet?” It was a rhetorical question. He had already noticed the formations when they arrived, as well as the Federation cruisers and pursuit ships watching from a distance. Fortunately he had taken the precaution of having the Justice approach in stealth mode.
Grey shifted nervously on his feet as he faced the idea of the imminent destruction of his planet and all of its people. “Yes. It made it easier to manage the traffic.”
Hess rubbed his abdomen, there was a grimace on his face. He was working himself up to being frantic. “Grouping the ships makes it even easier for them, doesn’t it? All gathered in one place. We have to contact the ships! Tell them to get away as far as they can. The Federation can’t destroy all of them. Some of them might be able to get away.”
Argus held up his hand to stop Hess from going off to do that. “You can’t. Right now the Federation ships are only holding off because you’re making it easier for them. The moment they realize you’re trying to escape, they will start firing.”
Grey said, “But what difference does it make if they start firing now or later?”
Argus said, “It’s a matter of time and position. Do you have any ships that have offensive capabilities?”
Hess said, “No. We only have civilian ships and transports. The Federation always provided escort and protected us from pirates and other hostile forces. We don’t have anything of our own.”
Argus let out a forceful breath. “Yes, they would.” The options just got a lot narrower. “There are other things you can do but…it will involve sacrificing some of your ships in order to save the others. We need to slowly position them so that the Federation fleet won’t notice. My ship will provide the firepower but we can’t cover the whole planet.”
It was a risk. Servalan would not be pleased but he had to worry about that later. He was not about to let the Solterans die without doing all he could to help them. Argus scowled as he contemplated what kind of compensation she would demand, or what kind of punishment. They would have to give up something, of that he was certain.
Servalan. There was another way to save the Solterans. It wasn’t an idea he was relishing.
Grant interjected, “Argus, you say that the Federation has already decided to destroy this planet by letting it go back to its original state. But we have Avon now. What will they do when they find out that we have someone who can fix the weather system?”
Argus said, “They already do.”
Grant said, “I don’t understand. You’re saying they know that Avon is here?”
This was awkward. Argus explained to them the agreement they had made with Servalan and the Federation in order to deal with the alien threat.
Grey said with suspicion, “You mean that you’re working for the Federation now?”
Before Argus could reply, Hess answered, “That’s not what he said.”
Argus looked appreciatively at Hess. “We’re not working for them. We’ve only agreed on a temporarily alliance until the alien incursion is dealt with. We already have proof that there’s a real threat. The Andromedans are the ones causing the problems in Sector Ten. They had built a strong presence there but it’s been dealt with now. We suspect that their influence may be widespread. It’s our goal to route them out wherever they are.”
Hess said, “So it’s like at Star One, everyone working together against a common enemy?”
Argus said, “Not everyone yet. At the moment the agreement is only between the Federation President and the people on my ship. I have been hoping to recruit more of the rebel factions to help.”

Argus pushed down a very cynical thought. It was probably easier to get the factions to work with the Federation against the Andromedans than with each other. He really hated all the political infighting that most of them deemed necessary. They all had to forward whatever personal agenda they had for being against the Federation in the first place.

The mess after the alien invasion had brought out many conflicts and prejudices amongst them as they jostled for power. At times they seemed to fight each other even more than the Federation. Of course most of their attempts to 'change' the Federation took the form of settling personal vengeances rather than affecting political change. It had become clear fairly early on that most of them were only really interested in killing and destroying their enemy rather than creating a system of goverment that would give people a better life. Argus had been ill to hear that some of them had even embraced vile creatures like Shrinker as a means to an end.

What does that make us?

Argus threw off these unproductive thoughts and concentrated on the task at hand. The more he thought about it, the more Argus realized he had no choice but to talk to Servalan. What was even worse was knowing that he needed Sester's help. There wasn't much time.
While Avon began fixing the programming and the computers and Reya and the advance team replaced some of the rebels so that they could get some rest, Argus returned to the ship to talk to Sester.
After explaining the situation with increasingly bad humour, Argus demanded, "I want you to find a solution to save the Solterans. One that Servalan will accept."
Sester leaned lazily back against his chair, there was an amused smile on his face. "Is that all?" He could already tell that Argus wanted something from him and that he would prefer dying first before asking for help from him. Now was a good opportunity to make Argus pay, just a little, for beating him up.
Argus said urgently, "There isn't much time."
"You've made that abundantly clear. It must be galling for a man like you to have to ask help from a man like me.”
Argus tried to keep the irritation out of his voice but only with limited success. “It’s not for me.”
Sester flicked a non-existent speck of dust off the table and smiled pleasantly. “Why should I help you?"
Every about Sester seemed to grate further on Argus’s nerves; from the man’s friendly manner to his easy smiles. Argus said in a tight voice, "If you don't help then the Solterans will die."
With deep sarcasm, Sester said, "Are you trying to appeal to my conscience? Or is it my sense of compassion? Neither of which you think I have."
Argus scowled at him. "Avon thinks you will do it."
“Does he now?” Sester took in the other man’s increasing annoyance with pleasure. Argus hated coming to him but he was a man who valued other people’s lives above his own. Sester wondered how far he would go. “Perhaps you’re right, I might for Avon. But you are the one asking.”
Argus's face couldn't hide a snarl. "What do you want? An apology?"
"That would be a good start."
Argus bit back an angry retort. They both knew he didn’t have a choice and that Sester was taking advantage of the situation. His instinct rebelled against every word as he said, “I apologize for beating you up.”
“Apology accepted, even if it wasn’t entirely heartfelt.” Sester smiled pleasantly, “I will help you develop a strategy against Servalan.”
Argus waited at his flight station as Zen made the connection to Servalan’s Presidential office. He was in a foul mood after talking to Sester and the prospect of another conversation with someone else he hated made it even worse.
It was bad enough finding out what Servalan had tried to do to Avon, now he had to negotiate something for the Solterans with her. It put him at a disadvantage and he knew that the Federation President would never miss any opportunity to gain a benefit for herself.
He stared at the screen. A tendril of thought was nagging at the back of his mind but Argus could feel a headache starting up. He hated talking to this treacherous woman.
Argus ran over Sester's strategy in his mind. The insufferable psychostrategist had come through with a workable plan, despite the time constrictions.
The moment Servalan appeared on the screen, she was already speaking. “What do you have to report, Commander?”
Argus said coldly, “You broke our agreement. Our agreement.”
Servalan said with feigned innocence and light warning, “I would be careful about your accusations, Commander. Misplaced ones could have unfortunate consequences.”
Argus said with suppressed anger, “You agreed to leave Avon alone if I did what you wanted.”
Servalan still looked as if she had no idea what he was talking about. “I assure you, I have ceased all attempts to hunt Avon. Besides, with you reporting to me, I have no need to pursue Avon.”
Argus lips curled in a snarl of anger. Servalan had gained a great advantage by having him report to her regularly. He still wasn’t sure why he had agreed to it. “You deliberately included Solteral on the list of potential alien threats even though there was no such danger here.”
She asked reasonably, “Why would I do that, Commander?”
“Because you knew that Del Grant was here. You knew what it would do to Avon.”
Servalan looked astonished and concerned, “Grant? I had no idea. If I had, I would never have sent Avon there. This is very distressing. How is Avon handling it?”
Argus wanted to call her a two-faced liar but had to restrain himself. He could not tell Servalan how he knew. It would mean giving up Sester, and as much as he thought the rat deserved it, he was trying to help this time.
Argus accused, “Don’t tell me that you didn’t know, Servalan.”
She challenged him, “Do you have any proof that I had anything to do with this?”
Argus admitted reluctantly, “No.”
She tolerantly, “Of course, because there is no proof to be found. But I am concerned for Avon.”
“The last thing Avon needs is your sympathies, Servalan.” He bit back a temptation to say something even worse. With no proof, he could not continue pressing this issue.
She said with concern, “If there is anything I can do to help him...”
Argus said, “Spare me, Servalan. Avon does not need your kind of help.”
Servalan was eyeing him speculatively from across the screen. Argus felt naked under her scrutiny but he needed her goodwill in order to help the Solterans. “Your people have surrounded the base here.”
“I’m aware of that,” said Servalan with a knowing smile. “And you’re working with them no doubt.”
“You know I am. You say that you didn’t know that Grant was here and that it was a coincidence we ended up coming here.”
Servalan said, “You’re the one who picked the place, Commander. I did not influence you in any way. It was your decision.”
You manipulative… Argus held back his temper. The flash of an idea caused him to ask, “The inclusion of Solteral on your list was solely because of the potential alien threat?”
“Of course.”
“Even though you had already decided to destroy the planet?”
Servalan hesitated. “What is your point, Commander?”
“Why send us to deal with an alien threat over a planet that is, in your mind, already dead?”
Servalan asked, “You think that you’ve found the proof?”
Argus said, “That your only purpose has been to expose Avon to Grant? Haven’t I?”
She said, “You’re wrong.”
“Would you care to prove me wrong, Madame President?” dared Argus.
Servalan’s voice was dangerous. “I would be very careful, Commander. I am not someone to be provoked lightly.”
Argus could convey equal danger in his tone. “And neither am I, Servalan.”
The screen flashed and for a few moments, he lost his concentration. Argus struggled to maintain his focus. There was a job to do and nothing was going to deter him. Too much was at stake. It was time to use Sester's strategy.
He said, “I have a proposal for you. The people on this planet might be willing to help you in your fight against the alien incursion. In return you will accord them the status of an affiliated but autonomous state within the Federation.”
Servalan regarded him speculatively. Again, Argus had the uncomfortable feeling that he was bare under her gaze. She said, “Solteral is a valuable planet. I will not give it up lightly.”
Argus thought, That means there is a price. Sester was right.
Argus said, “I thought you already did.”
Servalan spoke as someone who did not think in costs of human lives. “That’s different. The importance of Solteral as an object lesson is just as valuable as its monetary significance.”
“You’re a cold-blooded…” Argus stopped himself before he said something he would regret. His head was pounding. “Alright, you see things in terms of power and wealth. At the moment, Federation resources are still stretched thin, especially in the outer sectors, otherwise you wouldn't need our help. For you to maintain a base here, especially a troublesome one like this one, eats into your resources even further. Resources you cannot afford to spare. I propose a beneficial arrangement. The Solterans will provide to the Federation the same amount of profit, less the cost of the resources you would normally expend on maintaining an armed presence and a base here. In return, the Solterans will be allowed free autonomy in governing their own planet and any additional profit they can obtain for themselves."
Servalan seemed to be studying him, or considering his proposal. He couldn't tell which.
When she didn't say anything, he asked, "Well?"
Servalan responded, "The conditions are interesting."
"Everyone gets what they want," said Argus.
"Who came up with this idea?" she asked.
"Does it matter?" he asked.
Servalan smiled. "I seem to have underestimated you, Commander. But you have also underestimated me. I will agree to this only if the Federation retains control of the weather control system on the planet."
"That's not part of the proposal," said Argus. Sester had already anticipated this move from Servalan. He had warned Argus that any agreement with Servalan would be a flawed and limited one at best.
Servalan said, "It will have to be, otherwise there is no deal and the planet will be destroyed. Beyond which, the Solterans do not have the capability to maintain the complexities of the weather control computers and we are not about to teach them. As you have most likely discovered, even Avon does not have this knowledge or skill."
Argus's lips twisted in a scowl. Servalan was being true to form; she was not going to let this go without trying to obtain as many advantages as she could. "With control of the weather systems, the Federation can regain control at any time."
Servalan said coolly, "It is within the Federation's best interests to gain profit from this planet at this time. As you've said, our resources are stretched thin at the moment. We will restore the weather system of the planet, for our own purposes, of course, which will temporarily benefit the Solterans. But I promise you, the day will come when we will regain control of the planet."
"So we understand each other," said Argus. From Sester, he knew it was as good as they were going to get out of Servalan. Until the day the Federation regained its former power, the Solterans would have the time to build their own power base and seek to build a protective alliance with other planets in order to fight the Federation. It would be a race against time for both of them. Given the resolve of the rebels on the planet, Argus believed they might have a good chance; if they took it.
Argus said, "I will present the terms of your offer to the Solterans. They are the ones who will decide whether they are willing to accept it or not."
After Sester talked to Argus, he went searching for Vila. As usual, after a shift on the flight deck, Vila could be found in the dining area. It was empty now. The usual contingents of perpetually hungry soldiers were mainly down on the planet or performing various duties around the ship.
Vila was having a light meal of sandwiches and some hot tea.
Sester approached, "Do you mind if I sit down?"
Vila pushed his cup out of Sester's way. "Go ahead. I could use some company. I don't like eating alone."
Sester sat and watched as Vila took a bite out of his sandwich.
The staring made Vila feel awkward. He liked company but not if it stared at him. He still had part of the sandwich in his mouth when he asked, "Did you want something?"
"No," said Sester restlessly as he brushed his hand absently cross the table.
The session with Argus had been fun. It was good to antagonize that man and he liked being able to use his skills to build a scenario that would be used against Servalan. The woman could use a few jolts to her composure occasionally. It was much less dangerous having someone else do it for him.
Now he was bored. He wasn’t really being used as a liaison and any participation he had in the operations of the ship was nominal at best. Sester wasn’t used to being so unoccupied. Even the solitary chess games were getting stale. Normally he had any number of personal projects and agendas to work on but none of them seemed to interest him at the moment. He needed interaction with people and most of the ones on this ship avoided him like the plague, unless they wanted something from him.
The only one who didn’t seem to mind his company was Vila.
Vila watched him out of the corner of his eyes as he ate. Sester had sought him out. Either he wanted something or he wanted some company.
Sester asked with casual interest, “Are you going to be going down to the planet?”
Vila allowed just a hint of Delta resentment to enter his voice. “No locks down there, are there?  And nothing dirty to do. What would they want me for?”
Sester asked with amusement, “Are you trying to give me the impression that you don’t like being here on this ship?”
Vila said, “No. That’s just the way things are. Doesn’t matter if it’s on the ship or off. People in my position can’t be choosy and besides I have nowhere else to go.” Vila found it interesting that Sester had come to seek him out. Either what he was doing was working or Sester was after something. He would have to find out which.
Sester had a need to understand people. Like Vila, he enjoyed solving puzzles. The ones he was interested in were human dynamics and motivations. He knew that Vila wasn’t telling him the whole truth. The thief had much greater depth than just the ordinary Delta resentments. “Oh, I doubt that Vila. A man of your talents has many options. Why do you really stay?”
Vila didn’t have to think hard about this question, he knew why he was staying. “Do you know what I find even more interesting?”
“What do you find interesting, Vila?”
“I’d like to know why you stay.”
Sester wasn’t bored anymore. He leaned his forearms against the table. “I have a job to do here.”
“For Servalan?” There was a slight challenge and disapproval in Vila’s voice.
“Who else?” The tone was not missed by Sester.
They were both trying to understand each other, trying to seek some truth.
“There’s got to be more to it,” said Vila.
“Why would you think that?” Sester was curious; he wondered why Vila wanted to know.
Vila’s eyes were direct. “Did you tell Servalan what they did to you?”
Sester started in surprise and then he gave a short chuckle. “No.” He looked at Vila speculatively. “You’re imagining significance in that detail?”
Vila said, “If it was me and I’m on a ship where people like beating me up, I’d want to leave.”
“Wanting to leave and being able to leave are two different issues.” Sester was very curious now. Vila was skirting the edge of asking him for a personal reason. Would the others care enough to want Vila to ask? He doubted it. Argus thought he knew everything about his motivations. Avon wouldn’t care.
At the moment, he was sporadically useful, as was evinced by his help with the Solterans. They would use him as long as he was here. He was under no illusions that this usefulness was far out-weighed by their continued desire to have him off this ship.
That left a reason for Vila. Vila wanted to understand him. For what reason, he wasn’t able to ascertain yet.
Vila finished the last of his sandwich and picked up the steaming cup of tea. “Are psychostrategists all like this?” The liquid was too hot. Vila blew into it to cool it down a bit.
Sester was enjoying this conversation and the company but he found that he was still restless. “If you mean, do we never provide a simple answer to a question? Then yes.”
“Why?” Just keep asking him questions, Vila reminded himself. Avon had said that Sester liked answering interesting questions. He liked working things out.
Ask the right ones and you might get want you want out of him, Avon had told him. Avon and Argus had trusted him to find the right ones. Vila felt uneasy at the responsibility and trust being put on his shoulders. They didn’t just trust his skills as a thief, which would have been too easy. They were depending on his intelligence, his experience and his instincts. It felt good, but at the same time it filled him with nervousness and insecurity. The problem with breaking the conditioning that had been done on him was that it didn’t automatically give him the opposite characteristics. He had to do that himself.
Just keep going, Vila. You can do it, he encouraged himself. At least he wasn’t alone in trying to change.
Sester replied to his question, “I can see too many angles to be able to give simple answers.”
“Well, then you’re going to have to explain things to me because I don’t see all those angles you’re talking about,” said Vila as he tentatively tried a sip of the tea.
“I think you do. At times.” Sester wondered if a cup of tea would make him feel better.
“Not this time.”
Sester smiled genially, “Are you asking me for an explanation?”
“Only if you want to,” said Vila. The tea was finally cool enough that it didn’t burn his tongue. He took a few larger sips.
Sester got up to get himself a cup of tea. “Then I’ll need some liquid refreshment.” After picking a soothing camomile tea, he sat back down again. “Ask your questions.”
Vila had been expecting Sester to explain himself; he wasn’t expecting to have to provide more questions. “Do you want to leave this ship?”
Sester smiled at the directness of the question. Vila was refreshing at times. He answered, “No.”
“You can give a simple answer,” said Vila.
Sester chuckled, “Are you assuming a simple answer because I gave you a single word response?”
“Well…yes,” Vila wasn’t so certain now.
“You have much to learn about psychostrategists.”
Vila said, “I’d like to understand. Maybe not psychostrategists but I’d like to understand you.”
“It’s my turn to ask why.”
Vila wondered how far he could go. “I’m not like the others on the ship. I don’t hate you.”
Sester said cynically, “I’m surprised, Vila, and I don’t quite believe you. After what I did to Avon, how could you not hate me?”
“Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like what you did. I did hate you for awhile and every time I see Avon having problems, I can’t forget it.”
Sester suddenly realized why he was feeling uncomfortable and restless. He was worried about Avon meeting Grant.
With a tone of regret he said, “It is an unforgivable thing I did.”
“That’s the thing, I think you are sorry and you’ve been trying to help the best way you can. I think that’s part of the reason why you stay. That’s why you don’t want to leave even though they treat you rotten.”
Sester said in an off-hand tone, “If you say so.” He didn’t want Vila to know that he had hit upon a partial truth.
Sester’s mind was trying to process something. The realization he had just made was that he cared about what happened to Avon. It wasn’t just a sense of guilt at the terrible things he had done. It was no longer just an appreciation of a worthy opponent. He was surprised that he hadn’t seen it before. All the signs had been there. If he had been watching someone else exhibiting the same symptoms, he would have identified it right away. Having it close enough to be personal had blinded him.
The realization had also shocked him. He was getting too personally involved again. Sester looked across at his companion. He liked Vila too. Sester wanted to shake his head and tell himself to snap out of it. Psychostrategists did not get personally involved with their puppets.
Vila challenged him, “Am I wrong?”
Sester knew what he should say in order to do his job. He knew the answer to give if he were being honest.
“No. You’re not wrong.” Sester was surprised at his own answer. Though…giving them a bit of the truth might facilitate the crew trusting him more and break through some of the hostility. He had no taste for being beaten up again.
Vila found it easy to like Sester. The man was an enjoyable person to be around. He had a way about him that was very affable and warm and his sharp intelligence applied to any situation made things more interesting. The truth was, Vila believed that Sester regretted what he did and was genuinely trying to make it up to Avon. He knew that Avon and Argus would not agree but they had personal reasons for how they felt. Reasons that didn’t make it possible for them to believe Sester or to do anything other than hate him.
He asked, “Then what was that about not being able to leave?”
Sester smiled, “Even though I don’t want to leave, for now. I like to know that I have that option.”
“You don’t think you do?” asked Vila.
“Not unless the Federation President wishes it.”
“But couldn’t you…psychostrategize your way out of it? That’s what you do, isn’t it?”
Sester asked Vila, “Do you think that Avon and Argus would let me back on the ship once they thought they had gotten rid of me?”
“So it goes back to you not wanting to leave?”
“Yes. And with a host of other conditions and complications.”
Vila decided that it wasn’t the time to bring up the other complication.
There was a genuine note of concern in Sester’s voice as he asked, “Do you think that you can find out how Avon is doing?” He was still very anxious about this meeting and he felt burdened by the information that Servalan had given him. It was better that Avon find some peace in his memories of Anna. The information Servalan had given him, would not be conducive to that peace. He almost scowled at the thought of what Servalan was trying to do.
“I could try,” said Vila. “I’m worried too.”
Sester studied his companion’s troubled face. He knew one of the reasons why Vila was staying. Despite the flaws in their relationships, this was a ship of friends who cared about each other. For a brief second, Sester wondered what it would be like to be part of it.
Vila put his finished items back on the tray and got up. “I’ll go ask Argus. He should know.”
“I don’t think I’ll go with you,” said Sester.
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”


Tags: b7_fanfic

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