"It was mildly interesting. Why do you say that?"
"I have the report from the doctor," he replied. "That's why I'm here."
You're relaxed and brimming with confidence today. Even more than usual, and you're very pleased with yourself, Sester thought as he studied her.
"How is he doing?"
"He's back in the lab but he's not doing very well. You destroyed what was left of his knee, the pain is making it impossible for him to work. I have told the guards and his minders to ease up on him. The surgeon reports that he will never be able to walk on it again, unless the whole thing is replaced. He made a suggestion, which I want to run by you."
"The damage to his knee is useful but not in the state it is in now. The surgeon wants to give him a replacement and embed a device which will cause the same pain and physical sensations as a real injury. It will also allow us to be able to control the frequency and kind of pain he experiences using an external control. He would never be able to tell that there is no real damage. It's a new device the medical division has been working on."
"They want to use him as a test subject?"
"No. It has already been tested. They thought it would serve our purposes better than a real injury. It's a much more flexible tool, and with it you don't have to be concerned about the damage causing further health issues."
"Very well, tell them to prepare it, but I want to speak to him first."
Avon opened his eyes slowly, the last thing he remembered was being in his cell after the medtech had given him his sedative, now he was restrained to a chair in one of the interrogation rooms. He was getting very tired of having no control over his own life.
He had been expecting some unwelcome attention since his performance, or lack of it, in the lab the last two sessions. When nothing had happened and he had been returned to his cell for his rest period, he was puzzled; but now it made sense, they had been waiting for her.
His knee was in constant agony now and he was no longer able to stand unaided. The attacks of stabbing pain had been getting worse and more frequent since the night with her. He waited to see what she wanted; his face was impassive, which was hard to maintain considering the pain he was in.
Servalan traced his jaw with her index finger. She tilted his head back and kissed him lightly; he responded to her. After a few moments she drew back and smiled, Sester had been right about the conditioning.
Avon glared at her. He hated this woman who kept him imprisoned and he hated being helpless before her; but he had enough of lessons for awhile.
"Your tech minders tell me that you've stopped progressing on the problem. You know that's not healthy for you."
"Must we go through this charade?"
"But that's part of the fun Avon."
He sighed. "I can't work and fight the pain anymore."
"You do well enough in bed."
He definitely was not going to respond to that.
Servalan drew her hand slowly along his chest, further on down to his leg and finally resting on his injured knee.
He steeled himself for more pain.
She traced the outline of his knee through his grey prison coveralls, teasing him.
"Did I hurt you too much the other night?" she asked.
He looked at her. What do you want from me? "Are you here to finish the job?"
He didn't disappoint her; she pressed down lightly on his knee, he stiffened but did not make a sound. She pressed down harder and was rewarded with a groan. Servalan stopped pushing but kept her hand resting on his knee.
"I don't think there is anything left to destroy."
"You could always start on the other one," he told her.
"Is that what you want me to do?"
"Only if you don't want any progress in the lab."
"Are you asking for your knee to be fixed?"
So that's what you're after, he thought, realizing why she was there. It's not going to be that easy.
"I don't think the guards would appreciate having to carry me everywhere," he told her, ignoring her question.
"The surgeon tell me you will never be able to walk on that knee again."
"Isn't that what you wanted?"
She reached up and pulled open the zipper on his coveralls and exposed his body. Stroking her hand gently down his bared chest, she said, "I know what I want."
"And you're too talented for your own good."
His jaw tightened as the stabbing pain came again.
"You're going to be useless until we get that knee fixed aren't you?" she asked as he struggled with the pain. "Very well. I will speak to the doctors."
Argus was arguing with Jenna. Vila was arguing with Argus. Cally kept to her cabin a lot. Everyone kept yelling at ORAC.
The members of the Justice crew were out of sorts with each other, and especially out of sorts with themselves. They knew that the mining disaster had been their fault. It had been fun manipulating the miners and watching the Federation negotiators become increasingly frustrated.
They had not known how quickly things would escalate out of control; and now all of the miners were dead. All two hundred and eleven of them and the mine had been destroyed.
The Federation had been denied some potentially deadly new weapons but at what cost?
Days later, Avon was back in the lab, working on the Federation Banking problem. He had spent three days in the medical unit while they repaired the injuries to his knee. They had kept him unconscious most of the time.
He rubbed his knee, it was sore. The surgeon had only repaired enough to return it to the condition it was before Servalan played with it.
He turned back to what he was working on.
The Federation Banking computers had been infiltrated by a new type of hacker. Whoever it was had managed to bypass the main shell of the security system and set up a resonance in the LC crystal which was used to encode transactions. LC crystals were lesser variants of the TP crystals used to encode Federation communication transmissions.
Very creative. This method meant that the person had mapped the crystal's frequency responses and decode enough of the signals to gain access to financial records. This person was also intelligent enough to get pass the next level of security; it was very similar to the method he had originally used many years ago to bypass this level.
Further efforts by the hacker to trigger specific transactions had set off a third series of security protocols which they had not been aware of. The person was obviously a gifted amateur who did not know the paranoia of Federation security. Repeated attempts to protect against this hacker had failed, that was why the problem had been brought to him.
This method would not have been successful against a TP crystal but in this system it was very effective.
Avon ran a few tests and simulations, the key was in the resonance of the LC crystal; it pointed to something the security personnel had dismissed. It had to be someone who had physical access to the crystal at some point.
First the crystal had to be replaced, that would fix the immediate problem. Second, he began to develop a smarter, more flexible shell which would give the new hacker a few surprises the next time he or she tried to access the system, hopefully this person would learn the dangers quickly. Any further access would set off a trap.
"I have been reviewing the isolation footage," Sester reported to the Federation President over her vidcomm as she was working in her Presidential office; he was referring to the two hours of being restrained to a chair in her empty office that Avon was subjected to whenever he was brought to her.
"Do you have anything urgent for him to work on after this? I'll need four weeks with him."
"Nothing which can't keep for awhile. Why?"
"I want to find out something about the nightmares and now that we have the implant in his knee we can test it's effectiveness. I'm going to give him a full session in the nerve induction unit then use the isolation chamber. He will be out of commission for the duration. We need to find out what he did in those hours he disappeared."
"Very well. Keep me informed."
"I will have a feed patched to your monitors so you can observe."
"You always have my best interests at heart."
"That's what you pay me for, isn't it?"
"Four weeks," she mused. "Don't kill him."
"Don't worry. Though he will probably wish he were dead."
After the psychostrategist disappeared from her vidscreen, Servalan looked thoughtful. They needed to find out what Avon did in those hours aboard the Justice. As he had shown them in the last few months, he was never going to tell them willingly.
Sester was one of the top psychostrategists in the Federation. People caught in one of his psych-strategies, always ended up doing exactly as he had planned. He had never been known to fail.
This is going to be interesting, thought Servalan.