Before the door had fully opened, Cally and Reya raced in. Reya already had her pistol drawn. Her eyes were tough and unyielding as she gestured to Grant. "Get away from him." She kicked the rifle out of his reach.
Grant decided that it was better to do as she asked rather than try to explain first. After watching her at work the last few days, he had no doubts that she would have very few difficulties about making him comply, even if she had to shoot him somewhere first.
He got up slowly, keeping his hands visible, and backed away. Cally was already bent down to check on Avon. Her face immediately registered alarm. "He's in cardiac arrest!" She started applying first aid procedures.
Reya's face got even harder and with hostile eyes still trained on Grant, she said, "The rebels have a physician I'll go and get him." She glanced around and spotted some cables that Cally had pulled out earlier in order to replace them. Reya used several to tie Grant to a chair.
Grant protested. "You don't have to do this. I'm no threat to Avon. I was trying to help him."
"That may be. Or it may not. You can explain it to me later." She raced off to get help.
Grant turned his head around to so he could watch Cally continuing to work on Avon.
He didn't know what to think. The discovery that Anna had lied to him all these years was something that he didn't want to accept. He loved his sister and the idea that she would let him believe that she was dead when she wasn't, was knowledge that he rebelled at.
Anna, a Federation spy?
They both worked for the Federation at one point. Almost everyone did. It was the biggest employer and controlled a large percentage of the empire, from food production to mining. Like Argus, he had been an officer in the Federation military forces. Anna worked in various departments; she had never been satisfied with any of them. Being an analysis specialist, she had that freedom. That was how she had met Avon.
How could she be a spy? She knew I was a mercenary helping the rebels. If she really was working for the Federation, she would have had to report me.
It made no sense but he could not ignore the look in Avon's eyes and his collapse. The man still loved his sister, or he wished he still could. The Avon he knew dealt in facts and logic, and he believed that Anna had betrayed him.
Argus said that Avon had been at one of the Special Detention Centre for three years. That must be it! What they did to him there must have confused him. Or they tried to implant memories to make him believe that everyone had betrayed him. Argus said that they implanted memories into Vila too. It has to be.
Cally felt for Avon's pulse. Grant could see her give a sigh of relief. He asked, "Is he alright?"
Cally said icily, "No thanks to you." She took Avon's hand in hers and tried to reach his mind.
Grant said, "I didn't mean for this to happen."
Cally wanted to hold someone responsible for what happened but she knew that there was no one to blame; only a woman who was dead and Servalan, whom she wished were dead too.
She said distractedly, "I know." Avon's presence was faint but she was aware of him. She looked up at the man tied to the chair. "He told you about Anna?"
Grant said reluctantly, "Yes."
"Do you believe him?"
Grant pulled slightly at the uncomfortable cables restraining him to the chair. "No. I won't believe it. They must have done something to his mind at the Detention Centre. It's the only way that Avon would believe that Anna betrayed him, or that she was a Federation spy."
Cally looked at Grant with sympathy. She understood what he was trying to do and didn't blame him. If she had been in his place, she might have tried to do the same. Anything was preferable to believing the worst about someone you thought you knew.
She said gently, "I know you don't want to believe it but I was there too. I saw Anna try to kill Avon after he found out that she was a spy. He had his back to her. I was the one who warned him when she pulled out her gun. Avon didn't have a choice. She would have killed him."
Cally's words hit Grant like a phaser pistol on max. He strained against his bonds, as if by doing so, he could escape from a truth he did not want to hear. A fact that had a witness, could no longer be denied. Anna didn't just betray Avon; she had tried to murder him.
And she made them all believe that she was dead.
Grant said with a tight and anguished voice, "It can't be. There has to be another explanation."
"I wish I could tell you that there was."
Grant stopped struggling and sat back dejectedly against the chair. "I don't know what to believe."
Cally said, "I know. You don't want to believe it."
His eyes challenged hers. "Would you?"
"I don't think Avon intended to kill Anna, even after he found out the truth about her. If she hadn't tried to kill him first, I think he would have forgiven her, or let her go."
Grant said, "I don't blame Avon."
"I'm glad. And I'm sorry. It's a terrible thing to find out about someone you were close to."
At that moment, Reya, Argus, the physician and the two rebel leaders rushed into the room.
Avon felt warm where he was, in a state between wakefulness and blissful oblivion. There were no tendrils of emotions or thoughts threatening to drag him into another nightmare.
They must have filled him up with drugs again so that he could rest. Cally's voice was a soft whisper from far away; but its very presence was enough to provide the soothing encouragement his embattled mind needed.
The nightmares and memories always left his nerves raw and his emotional state unstable and barely in control. Avon knew that it must have been something done to him at the Detention Centre. It made him vulnerable to the work and manipulation of the interrogators.
How long have I been unconscious?
It was hard to tell. The last thing he remembered was…
Grant. I was telling Grant about Anna. The memory pulled him back in the computer control room. He was looking up at Grant because…he had collapsed onto the floor. He had been telling Grant about Anna.
There was shock and anger on Grant's face. Denial. Anger. Hurt. Questions. More anger.
Avon was surprised that he could think clearly about this. Thoughts of Anna had always sent him into an uncontrollable spiral. The feelings were still there, but it was different. He had power over them; he could feel and remember without being overwhelmed.
What's changed? Is it only because of the drugs? But they had become much less effectively lately. It can't be that.
The only thing that had changed was his telling Grant about Anna.
Why would that make a difference? The situation with Anna has not changed. Nothing can undo her betrayal. Telling Grant had produced no useful information.
The facts concerning Anna remained the same. As did the questions.
I will never know. It was something Grant would never know either. Anna had betrayed her brother as much as she betrayed him.
Grant was someone who understood how he felt. No matter how much the other's tried, none of them, not even Cally, could truly understand, on such an intimate level, the cost of Anna's treachery.
Avon didn't understand why or how, but the fact that he was no longer alone in this burden, was enabling him to see this nightmare clearly for the first time. His mind was busy processing the information.
Even if he did find out, what then? Anna was dead, nothing could change that fact. If she had never loved him, then he would only have confirmation that he had never been anything more than a fool. I already know that. If she had loved him, it only made it worse. She had loved him and still betrayed him.
Avon knew that a part of him would never be able to let go of the Anna of his memories, regardless of what she had done or not done. He knew it was an irrational sentiment. It made no logical sense, but that day in the cellar, it was not logic that motivated him. The irrationality had caused him to be unable to leave the body of his betrayer, even if it meant his own death. Avon had placed his hand over her dead one, unwilling to break their ties even in death.
His love for Anna had been stronger than anything she could do to him. Even now, Avon did not hate her for what she had done. He could never do that to her. There was only sadness and pain, and a need to understand.
I have to accept that I may never find out. Both he and Grant had to accept it. If he had an opportunity to find the truth, he would try, but in the meantime, he had to let it go.
A person who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken.
Cally said that once. It seemed such a foolish sentiment then.
Avon was aware of voices beside his bed.
Argus was fuming. Fire seemed to escape from his eyes. He wanted to yell at someone. "What the hell were you people thinking?" But he controlled himself. It was not productive to yell at anyone in this situation. Instead, he glared at everyone who came within eyesight. Considering the room only contained Reya and Grant, they were at least two of the three people who were his intended targets. He stalked around the room, carrying the aura of an old extinct Earth species, a huge, dangerous bear, rearing up large on its hind legs.
Avon had suffered a cardiac arrest but Cally's prompt actions had saved him. He was in the other room, being tended to by people who could help. All Argus and the others could do was wait.
The doctor and his assistants came out of the room. There was a pleased look on his face as he reported, "He's fine and resting comfortably. It was a heart attack but we got to him in time and Cally's quick actions prevented the worst. He hasn't woken up yet but that isn't unusual." Despite the good news, the doctor's face took on a concerned look again. "Did you know that his heart is very weak? It appears to have sustained damage over a long period of time."
Argus let out a breath of pent up tension. "Yes, we know. They had him at the Special Detention Centre for three years."
The doctor nodded in reluctant comprehension. "Not the healthiest place to be."
Argus said, "No. Can we see him?"
"Just briefly. He needs to rest for a few days."
"We'd like to take him back to our ship. We have advanced medical equipment onboard that may help him."
"Yes, Cally had mentioned that. I see no problems with it. His condition is stable now and Cally has more than enough ability to take care of any further needs he has. If there are any complications, I'm available."
"Thank you, doctor. I will keep that in mind."
"It's the least that we can do."
Argus, Grant and Reya entered the room cautiously. Their mood was subdued. Avon was lying on the bed and Cally was sitting on the edge, wiping his face with a damp cloth. He looked even paler than normal but his chest rose and fell with a reassuringly steady rhythm.
Cally looked up at their approach. Argus kept his voice low as he asked anxiously, "How is he doing?"
She replied, "He's recovering. The doctor was able to fix most of the damage but Avon hasn't woken up yet."
Argus hated not being able to do something. "I understand that Avon has been cleared to return to the ship?"
"Yes, I requested that. There is a nano-heart monitor I'd like to inject into him so that I can keep an eye on his progress."
Argus said wryly, "He probably won't like that. He'll consider it an invasion of his privacy." Now that Avon was going to be fine, there was a relieved and lighter atmosphere as some stresses were released.
Cally said, "He will have to if he doesn't want to be confined in the medical unit for a week."
Argus glanced quickly at Reya and said, "I understand chains work nicely if he won't."
Reya gave him an exasperated look, which he responded with a mischievous but apologetic grin and said, "I don't know where I got that idea."
Reya said dryly, "And some people need them more than others."
Argus wiped the near-smile off his face and asked Cally, "When do you want to move him?"
"I'd like to keep him here for another day. I don't want to expose him to the teleport stresses until he's had more rest."
"Alright. We'll be staying here to help the Solterans anyway. At least until the Federation computer specialist gets here." He said with less enthusiasm, "I also need to ask them if they still want to talk to Vila."
Cally's brows raised in query, "Vila?"
"They wanted to know what happened on Gauda Prime."
Cally was immediately concerned. "Do you think that's a good idea?"
Reya reminded herself that she needed to get Argus to explain to her what happened one of these days. The sooner the better.
A familiar but weak voice responded, "We'll find out."
They all turned to look at him. Avon was staring up at them and there was a wince on his face. "I would appreciate less enthusiasm in your voices."
Cally asked in a quieter tone, "Do you have a headache?"
Avon lowered his voice as well to avoid aggravating the pain in his head. "Yes."
"I'll get you something for it." She went to a nearby table where she had laid her medical bag.
Argus asked, "How are you feeling, other than for the headache?"
"I'll survive. How long have I been out?" From where he was, Avon couldn't see any time instruments in the room.
Argus looked at his black military wrist chronometer. "About eight hours."
"Has the ice begun to recede?"
Argus replied, "It started several hours ago."
Avon told him, "There will be severe weather patterns while the system re-stabilizes."
Argus nodded, "I'll let the Solterans know. They've followed your advice and stayed put for now."
"It's refreshing when people actually listen to good advice. Any word on when the Federation specialist will be arriving?"
"Not yet." Argus's face took the resigned look of someone who had to eat something very unpleasant. "I guess I should ask Servalan."
"That would be an idea," said Avon.
Argus asked jokingly, "I suppose you're too sick to take a turn at it?"
Avon said dryly, "How could I? I'll be chained in the medical unit."
Grant had been listening silently while the others spoke and he watched Avon carefully. There was even more of a connection between the two of them now. What Anna did, had affected both of them deeply.
As Argus and Reya left, Grant stayed behind.
Cally told him in no uncertain terms, "Avon needs rest."
"This won't take long," said Grant.
Cally knew that Avon wanted to talk to Grant too. After what happened the last time, she was not about to leave the two of them alone. Her eyes caught Avon's and she said, "I'm staying."
Her tone told Avon that short of bodily carrying her out of the room, which he could not do in his present physical condition, she was staying. "Very well."
"But I'll be at the other end of the room," said Cally in compromise.
Avon inclined his head slightly in appreciation.
The two men waited until she had moved off before Grant said, "Cally told me the rest."
Avon responded impassively, "Of course."
"I can't believe that Anna tried to kill you, or that she was a Federation spy, but I have to."
"I'm…" Avon didn't know what to say to someone who had just found out his sister was the enemy. How could words be enough? They seemed such inadequate things, but they would have to do, for now. "Sorry you had to find out this way."
Grant's usually self-assured face seemed stained with sadness and anguish. "I don't thank you for telling me."
Avon thought, Perhaps Vila was right. For some people it is preferable to remain ignorant of the truths that would destroy one's soul.
Grant continued, "But I don't hate you for it either. We were both victims of my sister's treachery."
"I couldn't keep the truth from you. You were Anna's brother."
"That still means a lot to you, doesn't it?" asked Grant.
"I wish it didn't."
Grant extended his hand out to Avon, "I would like to remain friends, if you don't mind. Even if we don't have Anna to connect us anymore."
As with the last time, Avon stared at the offered gesture a moment before he grasped Grant's hand in a firm shake. "Anna will always connect us."
Vila went looking for Sester. He hadn't seen the psychostrategist all day and was wondering what he was up to. The door buzzer elicited no response. Vila was sure that Sester was in his cabin, he had checked with Zen.
Vila took his all-purpose thieves' tool out of its normal place and set to work on the door panel.
If the tracer signal still registered inside Sester's cabin, then either the man needed help or Sester and his bracelet were no longer in the same location. Either way, Vila had to find out. He had the door open in no time and went inside.
Sester was in his cabin. He was in a chair and bent forward with his head and arms sprawled across a table. There was a large empty bottle lying knocked over beside him and an empty glass. The smell of alcohol confirmed what had been in the bottle and was most likely inside the sleeping man now.
Vila said to no one in particular, “Just wonderful. Why do I get all the fun jobs?”
He took Sester by the shoulders and pushed him up to a seated position. This caused Sester to open blurry eyes. He blinked hard several times to try to focus. When he finally registered who it was, a big alcohol-friendly smile lit up Sester's face. “Vila!"
Vila said disapprovingly as more strong smells of alcohol wafted his way, "You're drunk."
Sester said in a slur, "I hopsh show. Wouldn't want feel like thish ‘n not be drunk."
"What's wrong with you?" asked Vila. "Don't tell me that you have a drinking problem to add to all of your other vices."
Sester favoured him with another big smile and corrected him, "Ish not a drinking problem." He seemed very certain of this, but of course the slurred speech made this highly suspect. "Ish a me problem. Or a me 'n Avon problem. Or maybe iz just Avon." This train of thought seemed to confuse him as the smile slowly faded and his forehead furled in concentration. Then Sester's eyes opened wide in shock, as if he suddenly realized what he had said. For a moment his eyes became clear and he said, "Don't tell anyone. I can't say anything. She’s terrible, Vila. It wouldn't help…" He stopped and his eyes glazed over again. He put his head on the table and instantly fell asleep.
Vila sighed, "I can't say anything if you don't tell me anything." Vila had a thoughtful look on his face as he looked down at the sleeping man. He was supposed to keep an eye on Sester and find out information about him. This definitely qualified. There was something Sester knew about Avon that he wasn’t telling them. He had lied about Servalan not telling him anything useful.
How do I get a psychostrategist to reveal his secrets?