Category: Angst, Drama, Humour
Warnings for torture
11th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to A Difference of Visions
Introduction: Jenna confronts Avon. Vila goes to find something and runs into some difficulties.
Note: Thanks to jaxomsride for the suggestion for the Vila scene.
Jenna felt along the wall for the two minute depressions. They had to be pressed together or it wouldn't activate the door to the secret compartment. There. A slight indentation. She traced across an arm's length away and found the second one.
She pressed them together. For a moment there was nothing, no movement or sound, and then the wall came forward slightly. She stepped back as the panel began to slide slowly to the side.
Before she could see inside, a stench greeted her, the stifling odours of blood, sweat, and urine; the signs of human frailty and life. How could anyone stand the smells?
She steeled herself as the door slid open further revealing the para-investigator, Breen, menacing in his black uniform, wiping his hands on an already stained cloth.
The reek of seared flesh made her hesitate, and then she saw the object of her hatred.
Avon's severely battered body hung limply; his arms spread and clamped on either side to an open vertical metal frame. Blood and sweat dripped down and were smeared together. Deep wounds covered almost every part of his body. Lungs expanded in gasping breaths, almost like silent sobs. His head flopped down, as if it was no longer attached to the rest of him.
This wasn’t Avon anymore. It was a broken body, waiting to be thrown out. Exactly as she wanted. Jenna looked in victory at the man she hated and took a triumphant step inside, and then another, approaching the broken man with a mixture of delight and horror.
Where is your pride now, Avon? You’re nothing. Blake tried to make you into something but you did nothing but fight him and then you killed him. He was the best of all of us. He was trying to do something great. All you ever cared about was your worthless life. He tried to save you. He tried to save all of us. You’re the one who should be dead. Not him.
She was going to fix that error.
The para-investigator said, “He’s still obstinate but it won’t be long now. He’s nearing the end.” He picked up a short rod-like device. “Give him five minutes. Wouldn’t want him to faint on you. When you're ready, wake him up with this." He handed the rod to her. "Give him some water for his throat if he needs it. But only a sip…" Breen chuckled cruelly; he didn't seem to have any other type of laugh. "…he can't keep anything down anymore."
"You're going to leave him like this?" Jenna asked in surprise as the blood continued to seep from Avon’s wounds.
"For now. You wanted him to die slowly, didn’t you? And painfully? You're getting your money's worth. He won’t die yet but I guarantee you that he’s in a lot of pain. The medtech will tend to him when you're done. Wouldn’t want to spoil your fun.” Breen had the audacity to wink at her knowingly and then he and the others left.
When she was alone, Jenna studied the object the man had given to her. She was all too familiar with it. It was a pain rod favoured by Central Security in the detention centres. She studied Avon as she waited, circling him like a predator.
Avon’s arms were spread and attached on either side, above his head. His legs were shackled in place. Two metal strips bit tightly into his flesh, lashing his body to the frame. He was covered in angry marks, some of which she recognized, some she could guess at and others...she preferred not to know.
The five minutes of respite were up. Jenna hardened herself, set the pain rod on the first setting and touched Avon’s body.
Avon stiffened and a groan escaped his lips. His head moved but he didn’t lift it up.
Jenna turned the device to the next setting and applied it to his body again, “Wake up, Avon. It’s time to have a little talk.”
Avon stiffened again and with jaws clenched, he lifted his head and leaned back tiredly against the frame. His eyes were still closed but it was clear that he was awake. Dry, cracked lips parted and he croaked, “Jenna.” It was a painful, scratchy sound.
“Look at me, Avon.”
Avon gave the barest shake of his head. His head lolled forward again, as if he could no longer hold it up.
Jenna turned the device up two more settings and applied it to his body again. This time, Avon’s body arched and he gave a hoarse cry of pain. He continued to groan even after Jenna removed the rod from his body. Jenna was surprised; this setting should not have provoked such an extreme reaction. The para-investigator was right. Avon was nearing the end.
Avon slumped against the frame, gasping for breath.
She demanded again, “Look at me, Avon.”
Avon slowly lifted his head again. His eyes were still shut tight but then his lids fluttered. He almost seemed to be trying to force them open. Jenna gasped loudly. In the place where his eyes should be, was...
She said in whispered shock, “I…didn’t know.” No matter what Avon had done and what she wished on him, this was not it.
Avon said sarcastically, “You're claiming ignorance?”
“I…didn’t care to know.”
“Then why bother to ask now?”
Jenna paused. He was right. She didn’t care about Avon. They could rip out his guts and leave him to die and she would rejoice. But having him in front of her, his eyes burned out and his body marked by days of torture, it was hard to not have some feeling.
“I have to know what condition you’ll be in when we hold the trial.” Having Avon blinded might prove awkward. Some of the weaker rebels might think this was too much. They’d almost feel sorry for him.
Avon scoffed, “Trial? Or a justification for an execution? Neither one of us has any illusions why you let them do this to me.”
“You’re wrong. I never knew.”
“It doesn’t matter which illusion you want to believe. The end result is still the same.”
“I swear, Avon. I didn’t know they would do this to you.”
Avon's attitude made it easier for Jenna to lose the twinge of sympathy she had felt at his condition. Avon deserves whatever he gets and more. She squared her shoulders and her face assumed a hard mask, not that he could see it.
Something dawned on her. "You don't seem surprised that I'm here."
Avon's lips twitched, as if he were trying to form an expression but couldn't. "Your attempts were transparent."
"You knew it wasn't Servalan? How?"
"She has more…imagination."
Jenna's full lips formed a snarled and she touched the rod to his body. Avon groaned and slumped back against the frame. She said warningly, "Try that again."
"And give you the satisfaction? I’m tired. Tell me what you want.”
“I want you to make a full confession that you killed Blake."
In his head, Avon could imagine Jenna's hate-filled obsessed eyes; the ones she had when they last met. He said with little emotion, as if he was reporting the state of the weather. “Yes. I killed Blake.”
Jenna hadn’t expected Avon to give in this easily. She expected him to deny the charges, to give excuses for what he had done. To tell her what she already knew. For a moment, she wasn’t sure what to do next.
Avon's pained voice asked, “Are you in contact with the others?”
“You mean Argus? No. Not yet. But I will let them know.”
Avon gave a hoarse laugh, which caused him to grimace. "You need Argus at the trial."
"Yes…" Jenna's voice held regret. "…he's one of the rebel leaders."
"He is going to try to stop you, of course."
"That's why I haven't told him yet. They're probably still in the Athol Territories, looking for you."
"You put something into my head. A limiter of some sort."
"Of some sort. It was to stop Cally from contacting you."
Avon said, “I want to see them…speak to them.”
Jenna watched him carefully, wondering why a man who never cared about anyone except himself would have a need to say last words to anyone. Was it vanity? Or a trick?
He did love Cally. She had to concede that. He had sacrificed a great deal for her. This selfish man was capable of loving one person, latching onto them, to fill his own need for companionship. Even the most selfish man had a need for someone to fill the loneliness of whatever shred made them human.
She said, “I will if you do something else at the trial. I want you to confess that you planned it from the beginning. You went to Gauda Prime to kill Blake. You were the one who betrayed him to the Federation troops. Then you went in to assassinate him.”
“Then you don’t get to meet with anyone. Not Cally. Not Vila. No one.”
“More revenge? Or more politics?”
"It doesn't matter which one. You will confess to it all or I will not let you see them. Once you confess, then I will arrange it."
Avon thought hard. He needed to see Cally, to speak with her before the end but Jenna was demanding that he admit to betraying Blake and killing him in cold blood. Using his love for Cally, manipulating him. Avon knew Cally enough by now that he knew it would hurt her if he gave in. Even more than he would hurt himself by not seeing Cally before he died. He…couldn't. "No."
"Then it seems that you need more persuasion." She reached into her jacket, brought out a small, slim case and opened it up. Nestled inside was an injector and a vial of Shade poison. Without his eyes, Avon wouldn't be able to see what she was doing. She decided to be helpful as she placed the case on the instrument table and filled the injector. "I'm going to give you a concentrated dose of the Shade poison."
Avon's head tilted. "There might be a cure for it now."
"I know. Argus sent a message."
"So Rane survived?"
Jenna hesitated just as she was about to give him the injection. "Yes. You did keep your promise. That's why I will let you see Cally if you agree to confess."
Avon shook his head. "No."
Jenna placed the injector on his neck and sent the poison into his body.
Vila snuck into the medical unit on a mission to help Sester. It wasn't a real assignment, more a mercy mission. And he didn't have to sneak but since this was something for Sester, and given how Argus felt about the man, a little covert tiptoeing seemed right.
He muttered softly to himself. "Bedpan. Where would I find one?" He was sure there had to be one around here somewhere. It was a medical unit after all. The patients had to 'go' somehow. The ones who couldn't walk around by themselves.
One of the doctors was talking to a patient but other than that, it was quiet and empty. The Commander was in an adjacent room recovering. He should look in on her, see how she was doing.
Wait a minute. The Commander. They had to use one for her, didn't they? He couldn't imagine they could move her. She had woken up the other day, Argus said so. The man spent every waking moment either looking for Avon or in the Commander's room.
Vila snuck into Reya's room, quietly so he wouldn't disturb her if she were sleeping. At least, he hoped she was. He didn't want to have to ask to borrow her bedpan. Or to explain why. Vila doubted if Argus told Reya what he had done to Sester.
Bedpan. Now if I were a bedpan, where would I be hiding?
He spied a metal objecting glinting at him from the foot of the bed and reached over carefully.
Vila put a hand over his eye. With his other eye, he saw that Reya's eyes were open.
"I'm sorry, Vila," she said with profuse apology. "You shouldn't sneak around. I thought…" She eyed the bedpan that he was holding up defensively, as if to ward her off. "I heard something, saw a shadow, and thought someone was attacking me."
Vila, with his hand still over his left eye, said, "It's only a bedpan."
"I see that now."
Vila rubbed his sore eye; he could feel a big bruise developing.
Reya said, "You can put that down."
Vila looked at the bedpan he was still holding up and put his hand down."Oh. I came to get this."
"You came…to get a bedpan?" she asked in puzzlement. "For one of the patients? Shouldn't they have other ones?"
"I didn't know where they were and…I didn't want to ask anyone. I mean…I didn't want to disturb anyone."
"Why? Who's it for?"
"Well…it's like this…" he stammered.
Reya eyed him suspiciously. "Vila, out with it."
"Well, it's for Sester."
"Sester?" she asked astonished. "He's back on the ship?" A displeased look came over her at the thought that Argus had neglected to tell her this.
"Yes, he…came back. A couple of days ago."
"He's injured?" Reya asked with concern.
"How, exactly?" pressed Reya.
"Maybe you'd better have Argus tell you." Vila began edging away.
"Vila…" Reya said with a chill. "Tell me what happened to Sester."
"He's in his cabin."
"Not in so many words."
"Vila…" This time it was a clear warning. "Tell me."
"He's locked up."
Reya's eyes flashed dangerously. "Argus locked him up again?" Something he also conveniently failed to mention.
"And…he's chained him to the bed. That's why…" Vila lifted the bedpan to explain.
"I see…" Reya's face darkened.
"Get me, Argus. Now!"