The rebel leader was on the flight deck of one of the Athol Elite Guard's fast pursuit ships, speaking with Commander Hent. Hent had been the commander of the group, Olean Rane had lent to the Justice crew in order to rescue the treacherous Avon.
"Good man," said Hent. "Brilliant general. Served with distinction with Border Command. He's the only one of Overlord Reve's sons I respect. He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty and he doesn't play dirty, unlike the other two."
Coming from Hent, this was high praise indeed.
"That must have put him at a disadvantage," said Argus.
"That's why Overlord Reve sent him out to Border Command in the first place."
"To protect him?" Argus asked.
Hent laughed, "No. If he hadn't, there would have been civil war years ago, not just now. Borel didn't stand for the nonsense of his brothers and he is just as hard-headed as they are, and even more prone to action than they are. The Overlord hoped that Borel would learn some tactical patience, as he called it."
Sounds like they should have all been preparing for this years ago, thought Argus. More prone to action, that must be the diplomatic term for it.
"Do you think he learned some tactical patience?" asked Argus.
"You can judge for yourself."
Borel Reve's base of operations was one of the border planets out near the edge of the system. Commander Hent had lent Argus a fast scout shuttle to make the rest of the journey.
"Can't take you in any closer," Hent had said. "Rane's orders. The scout will do for you. The coordinates have already been set in the navigation computer. When you're challenged, just say you have a message for Borel and show them the ring, that should get you in. The rest is up to you. It's best you don't go in armed. Good luck."
As Argus piloted the scout shuttle, he wondered how much of a cliché it would be to say, "Take me to your leader."
"Maybe next time, we should bring Vila," said Cally as she once again tried to slip her wrists through the cuffs. There was a bit of give but not enough; all she succeeded in doing was wearing the skin raw around her wrist.
"I'm seriously considering it," said Jenna.
In frustration, Cally yanked the chain hard. It partially detached itself from the wall. Cally looked at it in astonishment. Either she didn't know her own strength, or there was a weakness in the bolt attaching the chain to the wall. She could have sworn that she had yanked on that same chain before without any success. Cally stood up, took hold of the chain where it was attached to the wall, braced her foot up against the wall and using the combined strength of her leg and arm, pulled as hard as she was capable of.
Jenna was about to ask the Auron girl what she was doing but at that moment, the chain came free from the wall and dropped to the ground with a loud crash. Cally had lost her footing and fell with it.
They both froze, listening. There was no indication that anyone else had heard. They both breathed a sigh of relief.
"That's good," said Jenna. "But what does that accomplish? You're other hand is still chained. Unless you can yank that free too."
Cally tried the same method with the other chain, but this time to no avail.
"I guess it was too much to ask for a second miracle," said Jenna.
Cally looked around the room. She realized that with one hand free now, the shelves which were just out of reach before, were now near enough for her to reach some of the items, one of which was the cooking oil. And there had been some give in the cuffs before.
"I don't know about a miracle," said Cally, "but would you settle for some oil?" She held up the bottle which she had just obtained from one of the shelves.
Within a few minutes both women were free and slightly oily.
"I think it's time we gave our respects to our host," said Jenna, picking up a rolling pin.
Cally looked around and then stuffed several hard, round fruits into her pockets. Their choices of weapons were somewhat limited.
Several minutes later, they were moving stealthily up the stairs, their assorted weapons in hand. Whoever had seen fit to imprison them had not bothered locking the door and posting a guard. They obviously had no idea what damage two women with a rolling pin and assorted fruits could do.
"What did the doctors say?" Servalan asked Sester who was appearing on her vidscreen.
"They said that it was to be expected. This kind of conditioning causes a great strain. It takes a long time for the brain to adjust to working at the heightened level being forced upon it. Once it adjusts, then its fine. That's why he has no problems in the lab."
"And when he's not in the lab?"
"When it's used for short periods of time, it doesn’t give the brain enough time to adjust before it's turned off. It causes a great confusion of signals, and this causes the pain he's been experiencing."
"Why didn't he have this problem before? We've used it for short periods in the past without this happening."
"He was stronger then, Servalan. His mind was able to fight the effects but he's very weak now; he's only recovering physically. You've been watching my sessions with him?"
"He's given up. He still won't give you everything but for everything else, he's given up. He just lets things happen to him now without fighting back or even getting angry."
"How far is he with the new security design?"
"He should be almost finished. Another day, two at the most."
"Very well, send him to me when you're done."
"You're still insisting on this?"
"You really must learn to trust me Sester."
"I think the next time I see him, I'm going to kill him," said Vila, addressing ORAC.
It was not apparent to ORAC who the 'him' being referred to was. ORAC did not bother responding when there was no direct question or request made of it and besides, it was busy. Trying to find information on this techno-virus was proving to be an extremely difficult challenge given the restrictions which Avon had given the computer; it was proving even more difficult than tracing one line through the pattern of infinity.
Vila was monitoring things on the flight deck. He was extremely bored and was really trying hard not to dip into the next day's ration of alcohol he had limited himself to.
There had been a couple of close calls with ships approaching, but none of them had been Federation and with the anti-detector screen on, none of them had noticed a rather large ship orbiting dangerously close to the moon.
"The next time Avon needs to be rescued, I'm just going to let him die," said Vila, "that would serve him right." ORAC didn't bother pointing out that this sentence was incongruous with the thief's prior statement. The computer noted that Vila often said things which didn't make sense to it.
"Keep your hands where I can see them."
Argus was surrounded by a two dozen of Borel Reve's black and green clad soldiers, all pointing rifles at him.
The rebel leader put his hands up slowly. After leaving the scout shuttle, he had proceeded on foot towards Borel's base and had encountered this patrol.
If I knew that saying, 'Take me to your leader" would have this kind of reaction, I would have said something else.
Well, he didn't quite say that, it was closer to "Take me to Borel" and brandishing of the ring, which was now situated in the pocket of one of the soldiers pointing a rifle at him.
They bound his hands behind him with a coarse rope and marched him away. Argus hoped that this was just an indication that Borel's men were being overly cautious and that they were actually taking him to see their leader.