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"How did you destroy the Federation ASP?" Sester asked the prisoner.
They were both in the lab; it was the first time Sester had visited him here. The guards and the minders were standing off to the side, except for one who stood behind the prisoner, a pain rod in his hand.
The prisoner was sitting in front of the computer terminal. There was a Federation senior military computer specialist who was seated in the tandem terminal beside him. A Federation advanced military engineer was also in attendance. The engineer was bent over the open back panel of the computer, making some connections as Sester questioned the prisoner.
"I built the equivalent of an electronic cage using a hand-held unit," the prisoner answered.
"Show us what you did," Sester directed.
The prisoner drew a circuit diagram using the guided laser pointer. The engineer studied the diagram after he had made the final connections to the computer. The computer specialist began typing away at his terminal, testing the connections.
"What do you think? Do you have the parts here?" Sester asked the engineer.
"It's a clever design, didn't realize you could do that with the reversal circuits. The parts are all here," he tapped his equipment satchel.
"Good, give him the parts," Sester directed the man.
The engineer removed a hand unit from his satchel and several tools and placed them on the desk beside the prisoner.
"Build it," Sester told him. The prisoner took up one of the tools and began removing the panel on the hand unit, each of his movements were slow and deliberate. The engineer was monitoring him carefully.
After a few minutes, the prisoner handed the unit back to the engineer who checked over the modifications.
"Is everything alright?" asked Sester.
"Looks fine to me sir," was the reply.
"Hook it up then." The engineer took one of the leads which now protruded from the back of the computer and connected it to the hand-unit.
"Bring it here," Sester directed the prisoner.
The prisoner turned back to the terminal and began typing in a set of instructions. The instructions were reflected on the screen on the tandem terminal screen.
"Let me know the moment there is something wrong," Sester directed the computer specialist.
"Yes, sir," the specialist replied as he monitored the input from the prisoner.
The prisoner stopped typing and sat back.
"Why have you stopped?" Sester asked.
"I'm waiting. It might take a few minutes depending on where it is. I've just sent a general recall code and a destination address."
The computer specialist nodded to the psychostrategist, indicating that the prisoner had not lied.
After a few minutes, both terminals beeped and went blank.
"What did you do?" Sester asked, his voice was cold.
The guard leaned forward in anticipation, his pain rod ready.
"It's here," the prisoner replied calmly.
The computer specialist began to type on his keyboard furiously. He looked up and nodded to the psychostrategist.
"Trap it," Sester directed the prisoner.
The man looked up at the psychostrategist briefly then back down to the screen, he did as directed. It was the first time he exhibited any signs of being anything other than someone who was only there to follow directions. Throughout the whole process the prisoner had been completely expressionless, not looking anyone in the face and did exactly as he was told without comment or any other reaction. The military engineer and computer specialist had started wondering if the man whom they were monitoring was a robot.
"It's in," the prisoner reported.
The screen on the hand-unit began scrolling; screen after screen of data began appearing. The computer specialist studied the data, and then he nodded to Sester.
"Remove the connections," Sester directed the engineer who unplugged the lead from the unit. "Now remove all the network links."
To the specialist he said, "Did you get all you need?"
"Yes, I've made a back-up of its data core so it can be studied more closely." He removed a small data crystal from the unit.
"Very good, now give him the unit."
The specialist handed the hand-unit back to the prisoner.
"Destroy it," Sester ordered the prisoner.
The man input the destruct code sequence, the scrolling data on the screen slowed and stopped, and then the screen went blank. Shortly it returned with a single message, "Data error." He put the unit down and looked at the psychostrategist.
Sester turned to the guard, "Secure him." The guard unlocked one of the bracelets on the prisoner's wrist and secured his hands behind him to the chair.
As the guard was doing this, Sester addressed the computer specialist, "Send me a preliminary report by the end of the day."
"Everyone clear the room and I want a full security black-out." Everyone filed out.
The red lights on the security monitors went out.
When the door slid closed, Sester addressed
"She didn't get what she wanted."
The psychostrategist looked up at one of the deactivated monitors and laughed. "No she didn't. She understands your character, but she doesn't know what your mind is capable of. Once you gave up the ASP, you cut it out of your calculations, didn't you?"
The sarcasm was back but here was also a resigned aspect to the analyst now, and an element of bitterness. It was as if he now accepted his prison, but a part of him would always try to break down the walls.
Sester picked up the implant control which had been sitting on a table nearby; he increased the constant pain setting and changed it to a sharp stabbing pain. The analyst responded by gasping in pain. Sester waited a few moments, giving him time to adjust to the new pain level.
"Keep your eyes on me when I'm talking to you
The questions came fast; the pressure constant and insistent.
"Did you program any other countermeasures?" the strategist asked.
"No. I only had time to program this one."
I highly doubt that
"Did you tell anyone about the techno-virus?
"Other than Cracer, did you ask anyone else for help?"
"What does Cracer know?"
"Nothing. I was careful not to reveal anything to him."
"You know we had him pulled in?"
"I'm not surprised."
"We will know if you've lied to us."
"He doesn't know anything."
"Did you tell anyone about the agreements you made with the President?"
"Did you tell anyone what you have been doing here?"
"Why do you have such a strong reaction when you're isolated in the President's office?"
"If you were required to do what I have to, you would have a strong reaction too."
You avoided that question nicely.
"Why is the Justice crew not coming after you?"
"I made them suspect me."
"It wasn't difficult; I have never given any of them any reason to trust me."
"You've never had any loyalties except to yourself?"
"I have never made a secret of that, if they thought otherwise, that was their own mistake. I just showed them their mistake."
"You still haven't answered my question."
"They were suspicious from the beginning when I refused to tell them what happened since Terrus. I made it logical for them to assume that I had made a deal with Servalan to save myself."
"Clever. It's not that far from the truth, is it
"Then I shot Argus when he tried to stop me from leaving."
"No wonder they haven't done anything to try to find you."
"If they do, it would only be to kill me."
"Why would you cut yourself off from the only people who could help you?"
The analyst paused. "Even Cally."
"Did you make any other plans to obtain the antidote to the techno-virus?"
"You're a terrible liar Avon."
There was a pause in the questions as the psychostrategist gave the analyst time to digest his last comment.
"Are we finished playing this game? Or do you have more questions before you have me tortured?"
"You're right. She wants you punished for the ASP, but she has something for you to do first."
"Yes I know, save the human race. Again." There was a very strong tone of sarcasm and bitterness.
"You don't have any use for us do you?"
"Use? That's an interesting choice of word."
"You won't be punished until after you complete the anti-detector screen; but don't think to delay the inevitable
Sester nodded, acknowledging
"I want you to stop provoking the people here."
"Why, have they been complaining?" he asked cynically.
"I know why you're doing it," the strategist told him. "And you will stop it. I have told you many times, you do not have control here. I will not say it again."
It was the stripping away of another layer of control.
The analyst sighed and nodded.
"By the way, Cracer already confirmed what you said. He's on his way to a penal planet, his memory has been wiped."
"The Federation's Rule of Law? Or Servalan's?"
"For you, it's the same thing."
"Yes, for you it will always be my dearest