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B7: Mysteries and Discoveries - Chapter 19 
9th-Feb-2009 04:52 pm

Category: Angst
Rating: Gen
9th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to Pursuing Truth

Introduction
: Painful questions and equally painful answers.

Previous Chapter

Chapter Nineteen

Next Chapter

 

"Avon, do you want to get better?"

Cally’s whispered question echoed through both their minds as Avon turned to look at her. His face was expressionless but there was a tightness of the muscles that betrayed what was going on inside.

For a brief while, they had shared Cally’s deepest feelings the previous night. The sorrow, pain and anguish. It had bound them together; one pain touching another. It wasn’t just that Avon was able to feel her greatest emotions; he understood and shared them because they mirrored his own. The misery of guilt and a deep sense of responsibility, the kind that seeks pain.

They were both similar characters in that respect. Cally’s guilt over surviving when all of her Saurian Major friends had died, had driven her to want to destroy until she was destroyed. Seeking in that destruction and self-destruction a way to pay the debt of surviving.

She knew that it was what Avon had tried to do with Anna. Of all the ways he could have chosen to find Shrinker, Avon had chosen the most painful and self-destructive way. She had felt then that he was punishing himself for her death; trying to drown out the guilt and agony of going on alone.

Avon had worried her in his obsession over Anna. Guilt could do terrible things to people; making you lose all perspective and engage in self-destructive behaviour. They both knew it only too well.

Cally knew that Avon was wracked by another guilt now. Until Dr. Kendric had mentioned that Avon had to pay for his flaws, Cally hadn’t realized how much guilt had been driving him. Avon was a man who paid his debts.

She wondered about those three years that Avon had spent at the Detention Centre. Servalan had tortured him to the breaking point; destroyed his mind and body, tormented and humiliated him and made him into a helpless puppet. Had part of him wanted it?

Cally asked again, “Avon, do you want to get better?”

The pain in Avon’s eyes deepened. Slowly and agonizingly, he shook his head.

**********

“You know, we really should be getting out of bed,” said Corinne.

“Oh, I don’t know. I could stay here for a couple of more hours,” said Vila as he ran his fingers down her arm, feeling the smooth skin.

“I’m hungry.”

That did it. At that moment, an embarrassing rumble came from Vila’s stomach.

Corinne smiled. “I think part of you agrees.”

Vila looked down at the offending area and said, “Traitor.”

“We could come back here after we eat,” offered Corinne generously.

Vila put his arms around her and held her close. “How did I get to be so lucky?”

 “You deserve it,” said Corinne as she rested her head on his shoulder.

The simple confidence and trust in her voice pierced him and filled him with guilt. “I don’t. Not really. There are a lot of things you don’t know about me.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

Vila pulled back and looked at her. “It does to me. I want you to know who I am, Corinne. I’m not the person you think I am. I’m not brave. I’m not like the others. I don’t rush in when I see danger; I tend to run the other way. Sometimes the danger gets to me and I want to run from it, even if it means leaving people behind. Sometimes even my friends. It’s not something I’m proud of. I’ve never done it. Sometimes I can be brave but sometimes...I don`t know. I have thought of leaving people behind and I’ve told others to do it. Sometimes I wonder if I ever would. I honestly don`t know.”

Corinne’s eyes studied his. “It’s hard for me to believe. But even if it were true, it doesn’t matter. You’re brave now and you help people, even when you’re scared. You grow and learn. You make mistakes but you want to become a better person and you try to. To me, that is perfect. That’s why I love you.”

Vila hugged her again. “I love you too.”

This time it was Corinne’s turn to pull back. “I’m not perfect either. Sometimes, I get very angry and I find it hard to believe in people. I know my mother doesn’t like it. She wanted me to understand the Chandarans but…sometimes it was very hard. She’s very patient with me.”

“That’s understandable,” said Vila. “I lived as a Delta most of my life. I know how hard it can be to believe in anyone. Or to forget.”

“It’s not the Tellaran way.”

“Well, not many ways are.”

“Sometimes, I don`t think I`d fit here. Sometimes I find it hard to want to help people who hurt me.”

“You’re not the only one,” said Vila. “But I think the Tellarans wouldn’t mind. They’d understand. Besides Alyce said that they didn’t start out like this. They learned too. Just like we can.”

“Do you think so?”

“We can try.”

Corinne gazed into his eyes for a moment, as if trying to read something. “Vila, do you want to stay here?”

Vila was troubled. The question he wanted to avoid thinking about for a few more days was staring him in the face and demanding an answer.

**********

Sester always liked to know where the key people on the ship were; those he cared about and especially those who could take him apart and had very good incentive to. That’s why he knew that Argus was on the flight deck and Reya was down on the planet.

As was his habit, he paused at the top of the flight deck steps and took in the situation. Argus was at Avon’s station, looking intently at one of the monitors screens. The man had a strong and professional profile. His back was straight, reflecting a lifetime of service in the military. Calm energy radiated from him but there was also something very dangerous about this man; a hint of violence contained. Sester doubted if most people saw that quality until it was too late.

The man was like a bulwark against the solar storms. Sester knew that people normally gravitated to him for leadership and reassurance. There was an indestructible quality about him. This man was prepared for everything. Sester smiled. But only when it came to physical danger. Argus had very few defences against someone like him.

He could see Argus’s back stiffen and could imagine the displeased look on the man’s face before he turned around. Argus snapped, “What are you doing here?”

Sester adopted a friendly smile and came down the steps towards him. “Not spying on you if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Argus’s eyes were trained on him like a security camera that wanted to pick out any suspicious behaviour. Sester knew that he would be watched carefully every second he was here.

Argus almost growled, “Then what are you doing here?”

“It’s not a social visit either, if that worries you at all.” There was an almost-smirk on Sester’s face. For some reason, he liked needling this man. He noticed that one of the other man’s hands had become taut on the panel in front of him. Not quite ready to form a fist, but definitely tense.

Argus said, “I’m in no mood for your games, Sester.”

“Are you ever?” Sester asked pleasantly, as if they were discussing a friendly chess match instead of squaring off against each other as rivals.

Argus said irritably, “I’m busy. I don’t have time for this.”

“Oh, but you will make time,” said Sester smoothly.

The tone in Sester’s voice immediately made Argus’s senses go into high alert. He looked at him warily. He demanded, “Explain.”

“Have you talked to Servalan?”

Argus stiffened. “I told you that I won’t unless I’ve exhausted all other options.”

“Then you’re a fool and you’re going to kill Avon.”

Argus asked angrily, “What are you talking about? Avon’s fine. He’s on the planet receiving treatment.”

“I didn’t realize that you have such a high capacity for self-delusion,” said Sester with detached sarcasm. “The Tellarans methods of therapy only work if they have time to work. Even if all emotions are removed or dampened, his mind will not be able to handle the rate at which the mind-blocks have been breaking down. Not to mention the breakdown is not controlled. It is chaotic and fragmentary. It is impossible for him to separate out truth from implanted memories or even the nightmares. If they all collapse, then you will lose Avon. His mind will forever be trapped. I have seen it happen. I…have seen it done deliberately. I don’t want it to happen to Avon.”

Argus’s voice was like a sharpened blade, cutting into him. “You’ve ordered it done?”

Sester felt the accusation like a hot slice of guilt that lay bare all of his previous actions. Why did he feel guilty now? He had never before. It was a job, nothing more. The people were puppets.

He had never ordered it personally, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t know what would happen to people that he manipulated. Other people always did the dirty work after him. It was his job to trap them, to guide them, to make them do what they were supposed to do and when they didn’t, to neutralize them.

It was his job. He should not be feeling guilty and definitely not at the hands of his greatest rival. But he did feel it. The shock of the inexplicable feeling caused him to become angry and defensive. He said heatedly, “Of course I did. That’s what I do. I destroy people.”

Argus could no longer hold back a snarl from showing on his face. “It’s good to know that I wasn’t wrong about you.”

“It must be refreshing being right about something.” Sester could see the fist now. He smiled sarcastically, “But only half-right. I am here to stop it from happening to Avon.”

“How can we trust you? How can Avon?”

Sester was disturbed by his own lack of control. He should never have lost his cool when he needed the other man to trust him. For some reason Argus always brought out the worst in him.

In a subdued and sincere voice, Sester said, “You’re right; it’s hard for any of you to trust me. But for Avon’s sake, you need to.”

Argus said in warning, “Don’t try to manipulate me.”

“I’m not. I want to help Avon. How many times do I have to prove it to you?”

Argus said coldly, “Ask Avon.”

Sester had a self-mocking smile on his face. “Of course. Are you at least willing to listen to what I have to say?”

“I can listen.”

“The reason why Avon is in the dangerous condition he is in now is because you ignored my warning about the drugs. I told you that Avon needs them all in order to function. Removing one or two, especially the ones for his mind, upsets a very carefully balanced system of controls.” Sester noted the anger in Argus’s eyes as he said this. “I have asked Servalan for the synthesis machines and the codes that produce the drugs. She has agreed to provide them.”

The anger was no longer confined to Argus’s eyes. “You went to her without telling me?”

“Someone had to. By the time you decided you had no choice, it would have been too late. Besides, it’s already too late. The equipment is on its way here. I will give you the rendezvous coordinates. I didn’t think you would want Servalan to know your exact location.”

Argus’s voice was tight with anger, “You had no right to go to her without asking us!”

“Someone had to,” Sester said reasonably.

With unbelievable speed, Argus had come around his flight station and stood toe-to-toe with Sester. “Not you!”

It was so quick that Sester barely had time to suppress a reaction of shock. He stood his ground and said sarcastically, “It definitely wouldn’t have been you. Your delay could have cost Avon his life.”

Argus grabbed Sester’s collar in an iron-tight grip. He said in a low, menacing growl, “That’s the point! Do you think that Avon would want to continue living under Servalan’s control? He would rather die first!”

Sester grabbed Argus’s hands, trying to loosen the grip that was making it hard to breathe. He gasped, “You were going to let him die?!”

Argus’s entire body seemed to stiffen and his eyes reflected deep pain. He pushed Sester away from him, causing him to stagger back and fall onto one of the couches. “Do you think I want him to?! I can’t force him to live when living is worse than dying. No matter how much I don’t want to lose him.” Argus sat down heavily on the couch opposite, his head hung down and his whole body reflected his anguish.

Sester said in a quiet voice, “You care a great deal about him, don’t you?” There was something about this man that had just touched him.

Without lifting his head, Argus said harshly, “It’s none of your business.”

“I know it’s not. What are you going to do? The equipment is on its way here.”

Argus did not respond.

Sester said, “Look, Argus. You’re not the one who approached Servalan. There are no conditions in accepting the machines. It does not give Servalan any advantage. I made sure of that.”

Argus looked up at him. There was both interest and wariness reflected in his eyes.

Sester continued, “I did not tell her that the Tellarans are trying to remove the memory blocks and may be able to fix whatever damage was done to his mind. These drugs are a temporary measure to give them time to do that. Servalan never need know when Avon has recovered until you decide to tell her. Think about it, Argus. It gives you an advantage if she thinks that Avon is in worse condition than he is.”

“These are highly classified drugs. No one knows about them. We used the last samples on Avon. What if these synthesis machines produce ones that are designed to make his condition even worse? We won’t know until it’s too late. Servalan is capable of anything. And so are you.”

Sester said, “Alright. I will take the drugs first. Will that satisfy you? Then the Tellarans can study their effects on my mind. If they’re confident that they won’t harm Avon then you can give them to him.”

Argus asked suspiciously, “What effect would they have on a healthy mind?”

“I suppose we’ll find out.”

“Do you trust Servalan that much? Are you sure that she won’t try to do something to Avon without telling you?”

Sester stared at him. They both knew the answer. “That’s why I have to do this, don’t I?”

 

Previous Chapter

Chapter Nineteen

Next Chapter

Perceptions Story Index
Avon_Concerned
Comments 
9th-Feb-2009 11:57 pm (UTC) - Re Sester as guinea pig
Surely the Tellarans biological knowledge is far enough advanced that they can analyse the drugs and model accurately the physiological effects and hence the psychological effects too?
10th-Feb-2009 12:31 am (UTC) - Re: Re Sester as guinea pig
Yes they are advanced enough but that's not why Sester is doing it. He is doing it for purely psychological reasons.

He knows at this point that Argus is paranoid about Servalan and about him, despite what Argus may know about the Tellaran's knowledge. So the only way he could get Argus to even try this is to be willing to put his own life on the line. It's a test.
10th-Feb-2009 01:32 am (UTC)
I’ve never done it. I’ve never been in a position to.

Ah, but he has been! In 'Ultraworld' when he was the last one left on the Liberator, and in 'Gold' when he was alone on Scorpio and could have run in it. He's actually quite loyal despite the sometimes awful things (see 'Traitor') he says. Frankly, I'd have disappeared the first opportunity I had.

And I'd leap at the chance to live in a society like the Tellarans'.
10th-Feb-2009 02:08 am (UTC)
I've made a bit of an adjustment to the dialogue.

True about 'Ultraworld'. Though I'm not sure it would have done him much good escaping alone and he must have known it. I think Vila needed at least a pilot because I don't recall him ever piloting either ship.

In 'Gold' though, I don't think his life was in danger. He could have taken the ship and just left the others.

But I guess what I'm getting that here is that when Vila's life is in imminent danger, he tends to think about abandoning people and tells the others to do it. It must bother him that he does say and think that. That is what I am trying to bring out. That Vila has a conscience and that he feels bad that he would even say it or ask others to do it and that it makes him afraid of himself if he were ever in a situation where he could do it.

Given that, I personally don't think that Vila would ever do it. He might come across a circumstance where he would be really tempted but I think that having him as a person who is afraid of his own weaknesses and is very aware of them, it would really make him think twice about doing it when it came down to it.




10th-Feb-2009 02:50 am (UTC)
I think Vila needed at least a pilot because I don't recall him ever piloting either ship.

He did in both those cases: taking the Lib out of Ultraworld, and flying up to and docking with the Space Princess. Vila however is a huge extrovert so needs people around him whereas I'd rather have none than unfriendly ones.

Yes, in 'Gold' there wasn't any danger for him, and that was what he was talking about. He may have hoped (against experience) that the heist would work and things would get better.

I think he says things like that so others will convince him why it's not a good idea to. He needs reassurance, or a reason to be brave.

I think he's much more loyal than he lets on, being a very people person. IMO he will need a very good reason this time to leave Tellar and a society that is safe and peaceful, like the others pointing out how useful he is. Surely Corinne will go with him too?
10th-Feb-2009 02:55 am (UTC)
Yes. I think that both Vila and Avon said alot of things but in action, they did something else.

You know, I've never really understood why people have the impression that Avon kept failing all the time. Actully if you count the number of successes he had and the number of times he survived traps vs the number of times Blake did, they are either on par or Avon is actually slightly more successful.
10th-Feb-2009 02:57 am (UTC)
In S3, yes, but in S4 most things they try go wrong, though at least they're alive at the end of them. Even on GP, given that it was written as a cliff-hanger for S5.
10th-Feb-2009 03:20 am (UTC)
Well, in terms of S4.

Rescue (they escaped the planet successfully)
Power (they obtained the Scorpio and the base)
Traitor (obtained the antidote)
Stardrive (obtained the stardrive)
Headhunter (Avon did get the robot, it wasn't his fault that his crew decided to destroy it),
Assassin (they set out to find and survive/kill the assassin, which they did)

The failures were not really failures because of bad planning but more of bad luck. Just like alot of Blake's successes were really the result of incredibly good luck.

Traps I rate on a different scale. I consider it a success if they survive a trap because someone is trying to kill/capture them but don't succeed.

Animals (Servalan's interference kills Justin before Dayna can gain his help to research producing an antidote)

I count an episode that we don't see as a success for Avon because obviously by Warlord, Avon has successfully found a way to synthesize the antidote, something he had been trying to do in Animals. So even if they didn't have an episode for it, he obviously achieved his goal.

Games (they fail; but their goal was to deny the Federation resources wasn't it? which I believe did happen; of course it was only because there were never any crystals in the first place, both the Federation and the crew lost; but in a way the crew didn't fail because they still met their primary objective of denying the Federation the crystals)

Sand (they were trying to prevent Servalan from gaining whatever advantage may have been gained from going to the planet; of course both Servalan and the crew were trapped by the sand; but they still met their primary objective of preventing Servalan from gaining an advantage)

Gold (I count this one of only three clear failures of S4. Avon tries to target Servalan and he lost very convincingly to Servalan.)

Orbit (Avon's objective in going to Malador was to survive Servalan's trap and after he found out about the weapon, to make sure it did not remain in Egrorian's hands; both of which I believe he did achieve. I do consider it a partial failure because Avon's actions lost Vila's trust.)

Warlord (Avon's plan to create an alliance almost succeeded but he ran into Servalan's trap. So I consider this half and half. His plan failed but he survived the trap that had been setup for him.

Blake (Avon failed here in getting a figurehead for a new alliance. He and his crew were extremely unlucky to be caught up in Blake's final disaster.)

Categorizing all of Blake's episodes, you'll find the percentages are the same for his as for Avon. If you don't count the successes that he had where he barely survived or only won through sheer luck, the numbers drop. I also include 'Blake' as a failure for Blake. This is why I don't understand why people consider Avon's seasons as a failure but Blake's as not.

And in terms of failure, Blake never achieved anything, something he himself recognized by Star One and why he was so desperate to destroy it. He himself called everything he had done up to then pointless violence and destruction. It never caused the Federation anything other than a minor inconvenience, his actions made the Federation even more brutal and oppressive, Blake's plans/involvement caused the wiping out of three rebel groups and there were no mass uprising against the Federation because of Blake. About the only thing he seemed to achieve was a lot of office cooler gossip that fed his legend. Hardly a success other than creating hardship for a lot of innocent people.

If Blake had once listened to Avon's advice about bringing all of the rebel groups together or using Star One rather than destroying it, Blake would have had a far better chance of affecting real change for people with far less bloodshed than any of Blake's plans.

Avon showed a great deal of skill in Warlord in gathering the hostile warlords and brokering the terms of the deal. The deal itself showed a lot of political skill. The only reason why it didn't work was because Zukan betrayed them with Servalan. Despite not having the kind of charisma that Blake did as a leader, Avon was still quite effective. But he did know his own limitations, which is why he needed Zukan.

Edited at 2009-02-10 04:49 am (UTC)
10th-Feb-2009 02:46 am (UTC)
Frankly, I'd have disappeared the first opportunity I had.
Yes, for Vila. And I often thought that for Avon too. It's not like anyone on the ship showed him any kind of consideration most of the time, often putting him down even after he saved their lives or spent most of his time improving their chances of survival. Avon was always much safer without Blake. It's one of the reasons why I separated Avon and Vila both out and put them in their own story for The Way Forward story.
10th-Feb-2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Vila stayed for people as he needs them, but Avon must have stayed for other reasons altogether. He says he wants the Liberator, but there must have been more than that, or he'd have disappeared in S3 with it. By S4 he's being the rebel Blake wanted him to be, so it's a complex question with him.
10th-Feb-2009 02:58 am (UTC)
Actually I think Avon started fighting the Federation in S3, right after Ultraworld and they noticed that the Federation was expanding again. It's right after that that they started hunting Federation mining ships and became so tired that Vila suggested they go to Teal-Vandor.
10th-Feb-2009 03:02 am (UTC)
[nods] Up till then, Avon was happy to have a good ship and explore the galaxy. As I would be. :-)
10th-Feb-2009 03:26 am (UTC)
Yes. I think that Avon, like Vila, was a peaceful man by nature. He would prefer exploring the galaxy and new technologies and staying out of everyone's way. I think both Avon and Vila were both peaceful men at heart and would have prefered not harming anyone if they could help it. And they both had natural instincts to help people they run across who are in trouble. That's what I'm exploring in the other story. And to a different extent, I am exploring different aspects of doing that in this story.

I also think that Avon and Vila didn't object to being rebels against the Federation. What they objected to was being the kind of violent, reckless rebels that Blake and the other rebels were. Avon became a rebel on his own terms, completely unlike Blake. Avon did not go around bombing and causing mass violence and destruction.

Edited at 2009-02-10 04:05 am (UTC)
18th-Feb-2009 09:56 pm (UTC) - link to other story please?
Anonymous
And they both had natural instincts to help people they run across who are in trouble. That's what I'm exploring in the

other story.

And to a different extent, I am exploring different aspects of doing that in this story.

What other story (link) please? Cally survives Terminal? (backtracking Sester's brain problem) Thank you.


19th-Feb-2009 03:14 am (UTC) - Re: link to other story please?
The story I am referring to is a PWB story. The story isn't finished yet. I am currently working on 3 concurrent WIPs. The one referred to here can be found at this link:

http://community.livejournal.com/b7fic/106502.html
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