|Previous Chapter||Chapter Seven||Next Chapter|
The dejected rebels were meeting in the underground level of an apartment complex in the crowded quarter of the West Euro Dome on Earth. Two additional rebel groups had joined them, all of them were clearly ex-Federation military.
"We can't afford to wait any longer, " Tess told them. "They've moved him to the Special Detention Centre."
Vila knew exactly what that meant, Avon had spent five torturous days there waiting for Shrinker to show up. It was suicide to enter the heavily secured facility, not unless they had teleport capability, which they didn't. He had warned Jenna of the risks.
"We are all as concerned about him as you are Tess but this has to be planned carefully. It's a Triple-A security installation." Jenna knew they couldn't wait any longer. She also knew the likelihood of casualties in the operation they were about to undertake but Argus had information about several key Federation Military personnel working with the rebels. It would be a great blow to the movement if that information fell into Federation hands.
The information that Argus had been moved to the Special Detention Centre showed that the security forces most likely knew who he was. They were all aware that even with his training everyone broke eventually; it was only a matter of time. They had to get him out before that, or kill him. That was at the back of everyone's mind, except Tess.
The rebels had arranged for various diversions to tie up Federation security forces in the building. It was going to be a quick paramilitary-type strike. The other two rebel groups had all been members in various Federation quick strike forces; no subtlety was required, just precision, decisiveness and ruthlessness.
The interrogation cycles had resumed for prisoner A5428. There was a difference though, the psych and mind-torture cycles were getting worse. The prisoner guessed why, Sester had taken charge of those sessions.
Occasionally Sester would have a conversation session with him, Avon knew it was in order to gauge the effectiveness of the treatments. The politeness and humour of the psychostrategist made what he was doing even more terrifying.
Psychostrategists were held in fear and awe in the Federation worlds. They were brilliant puppet-masters who did not think of human beings as people, only as pieces to be manipulated in a game. Given full information, they could accurately predict the behavior of any individual in a given circumstance. They had been very useful in the Federation's bid to regain control of it's empire.
"How are you feeling Avon?" Sester asked.
It always began with that.
Avon could barely answer this time, pain prevented it; he was still bleeding from the last session. The medical unit had only been partially healing his wounds, it had been one of the change of orders in the past two weeks. He was in interrogation room two again, the one with the table and two chairs and nothing else.
"Service leaves a lot to be desired, " he replied. The psychostrategist could barely hear him.
The fools. Sester was annoyed at the medical personnel who had tended to the prisoner after his most recent torture session. The prisoner was in no shape for a prolonged conversation, he would have to be brought back to the med unit.
Working on the prisoner over the past few weeks, Sester had not been disappointed. Avon was truly a challenge worthy of his intellect and skills. The strategist enjoyed the task, but he knew he would not enjoy the end; when one served the Federation President, distasteful tasks were the norm.
As Sester put the pieces of his psych-strategy together, he suspected that he was working from incomplete information. Psychostrategists only made mistakes when they were not given all the facts.
The key was what happened on Gauda Prime, there was a dark secret there. He wondered how long Servalan would allow him to live if he began to question the official story or more likely was able to piece together what really happened.
"You're not the sacrificial kind Avon why are you continuing to hold out? You have nothing to gain."
"And what do you have to gain?" Avon challenged. He tensed in pain and started coughing blood. The medtech approached to check his condition.
"Bring the prisoner back to the med unit. Now. Tell them to a better job this time, " Sester ordered.
The medtech was perplexed as the guards dragged the prisoner back to the medical services wing. Normally time in the healing tanks would leave the prisoners in much better condition than this. Even with the new orders, he should have been left in a fit enough state to be questioned. Perhaps a malfunction in the instruments, it would have to be checked.
The lead guard coordinated the clearing of the corridors ahead of them. There were only two prisoners in the med wing currently, both in enclosed healing tanks. That was fine, the medical personnel would make sure they would not be removed from the tanks until prisoner A5428 was locked into his.
The final countdown had started, each of the five rebel units was poised to strike the moment the diversions began.
The Federation Special Detention Centre did not keep records of prisoner identity on their computer network. They were referred to by the Centre identifier coded into the prisoners' clothes. The Centre's Controller and Sub-Controllers were the only ones who knew where the information regarding the prisoner's identities was kept. The rebels had not been able to uncover the location of the information but they could not wait any longer. As a result they would attempt the riskier plan of searching key areas instead of a precision strike.
With much protest Vila had joined the group headed towards the prisoner cells. The second unit was ready to hit the interrogation rooms. Jenna was with the third unit, tasked to check the medical unit. Tess's tech unit would blind the scanners, disable the security computers and isolate all communication channels. She would open up all the doors in the three areas they were interested in and seal the rest. The fifth unit was watching the escape points to ensure they were clear.
The doctor had finished his examination of prisoner A5428 and the medtechs had just put him in the healing tank when the Center alarms went off and the doors opened without warning. Before the guards had a chance to react black-hooded rebels burst in and disabled them.
"No one move, " Prake, the rebel unit leader commanded the medtechs. Prake was a former member of the hated Federation Death Squads. Two quick shots from his pulse rifle brought down the doctor who was trying to press the emergency call button.
"I said, don't move, " Prake stressed again. Nodding to his men he ordered, "Check the healing units." Jenna and two other rebels moved towards the tanks while one stayed by the door.
Each of the rebels opened a closed healing tank; their objective was achieved, Argus was in one of them. The rebel unit leader sent a burst signal indicating the found status. The other teams would stop their searches and concentrate on providing more distraction as they started moving towards their escape points.
When Jenna had opened up her tank, she could not believe her eyes. "Avon!" she had called out in shock. There was no response, the analyst's eyes remained closed. The others were busy helping Argus out of his tank at the far end of the room.
"What's wrong with him?" she asked the medtech nearby.
"He passed out on his way here, he's unconscious."
"Get him out of there, " she ordered him.
"He shouldn't be moved."
"What are you doing beta two? We're ready to go, " rebel unit leader asked. The others had removed Argus from his tank and he was standing unsteadily on his feet.
"We have to take this one too, " Jenna told Prake.
"We don't have time, stick to the plan."
"This is Kerr Avon." They all stopped as the information registered.
"Alright. You two get him out of there." Two of the rebels came over to help her.
"You can't." The medtech blocked their way.
"Yes we can, " one of them pointed his pulse rifle to the man's head.
"You'll kill him if you take him with you now. Look."
Jenna looked at the life sensors the medtech was pointing to, he was right. Jenna was appalled at what she was seeing, but this was Avon the Betrayer, he deserved everything that happened to him. As she had many times in the last few years, Jenna wished they had a teleport.
"How long would it take to get him into good enough shape to be moved?"
"I can do a temporary fix for now, it'll take five minutes but you have to take me with you."
"We don't have a choice, " Jenna told the rebel leader. Avon was a valuable find, even more valuable than Argus. Prake nodded in agreement. The medtech started working on Avon.
Speaking into his wristcomm, the leader broke communication silence and passed on the information to go to one of the alternate plans He repeated the command codes.
One of the other units would be headed towards the med ward to give them aid. One would start planting explosive charges along their route and the adjacent corridors. Tess would be facilitating the new plan by controlling access to the med wing.
Avon moaned and opened his eyes, an alarm was going off and his head hurt. Something was happening; he tried to focus. The medtech applied an anesthetic patch to the patient's neck.
"Why did you do that?" Jenna reached out to stop his hand.
"He's in a lot of pain and he won't be able to stand. Conscious he will be no help to you, he will have to be carried out of here."
They had been hearing sounds of laser and pulse rifle fire, but now it was coming closer.
"We have to go, " Prake hurried them.
"He's ready, " reported the helpful medtech.
They pulled Avon out of the healing tank and one of the rebels, a stocky man with broad shoulders, lifted him over his shoulder.
The escape went according to the alternate plan. They suffered several casualties, one fatal and a score of minor injuries. Sato, the engineer from Tess's group had saved her life at the expense of his own when the medtech, who had asked to accompany them, deliberately led them into a trap. The medtech was also killed in the cross-fire with Federation troops. Except for the casualties, which were expected, the operation was a complete success.
Servalan was furious, they had lost Avon. She ordered West Euro Dome and the three adjacent domes to be put under immediate lockdown and for a massive search to be conducted. The cover story would be the escape of several dangerous serial killers.