Category: Drama , Angst
11th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to A Difference of Visions
Introduction: Avon wakes. Avalon and the issue of justice. Argus visits Reya and does some learning. Jenna finally sees the truth.
Avon opened his eyes slowly, forcing the lids upwards despite the unpleasant sensation of skin sticking to dry pupils. That simple movement seemed to drain him of energy and he paused, gasping for breath. It was still dark.
For a moment, panic gripped him and fear beat in his chest at the thought that his sight was gone, but his mind forced it down and tried to find a rational explanation.
Where…am I? The darkness seemed to be mocking him and his mind was sluggish. Avon tried to lift his head, but it had become a heavy weight that he could no longer lift.
"It's alright, Avon." A gentle voice beside his ear, reassured him. "Don't try to move."
The man must have a different definition of 'alright' than he did.
Avon realized he didn't recognize the voice. It wasn't Breen or any of the interrogators. Then it suddenly hit him, a thought that exploded and sent his world crashing around him.
He was blind.
Breen had taken his eyes, burned them out with the laser probe as he struggled helplessly, unable to do anything except scream.
The horror of the reality welled up inside him and seized Avon's throat. A strangled cry of anguish escaped his lips, sending him into a dry, hacking cough. Pain that was echoed in a body that was broken.
Gentle, comforting hands rested on his chest. "Try to relax, Avon. I know how you must feel but it's…"
…going to be 'alright'? Thought Avon with biting sarcasm as he tried to do as the voice suggested. You have no idea how I 'feel', nor do you care.
It was all a ploy. He may be blind but he wasn't stupid.
The gentle voice said, "I can't promise that you're safe, but Avalon will not let Jenna hurt you again."
"That…" Avon struggled to speak, to meet the lies with a barbed retort, but his throat would not cooperate.
The caring hands squeezed his shoulder. "Don't try to speak. You'll only hurt yourself. Relax."
Avon's hands clenched. There was an aching need inside him, a painful, desperate thirst for something he could not name. Agony consumed his body. He arched upwards, crying out as healing bones strained to take the load.
He felt cold pressure on his neck. A familiar hiss and something cool invaded his body. It raced through his veins, quenching the consuming fire. A feeling of well-being…no, it was pleasure…began to fog his mind. His voice was an inhuman croak. "No…" They had injected him with Shade and it was clouding his mind. Soon he would be lost in a stupor of blissful oblivion. No more pain. No more thought. "No…" It was already too late, he felt his mind slipping.
From a far distance, he could hear the gentle voice saying, "Rest now, Avon. Let your body heal."
Before his mind lost the ability for all coherent thought, Avon reached out with his mind. Cally! His head exploded in pain.
Avalon had slipped into the ship's makeshift medical room and watched as Dr. Gamboa tended to Avon. The broken man didn't seem much of a threat in this condition. He didn't seem like the monster that Jenna believed he was.
As Avon settled into a drug-induced daze, and his body stopped twisting in agony, Avalon asked, "Are the drugs working?"
Gamboa looked up from his patient. "It's amazing stuff." His eyes automatically went to the dizzying array of medicine that Argus's team had provided. "They appear to regulate the systems of his body that have been compromised. Some of them supplement the chemicals his body no longer produces. I've never seen anything like it. They replace the need for support units. I hope they don't mind but I've taken a few small samples. To..."
"Thank you, doctor," said Avalon, before the man could go into the kind of medical detail that tended to make her eyes glaze over.
"Well…yes. His body is stabilizing. Now, it's just the matter of healing."
"How is that going?"
"Slowly. His body is weak. It doesn't repair as quickly as a normal person's does. And of course, the Shade doesn't help. His body has to fight that as well."
"You're not giving me any confidence, doctor."
"Can't be helped. I'm only telling you what the situation is." Gamboa absently sorted the medication by type.
"I was only able to delay the trial three days. Any longer and they'd all start screaming bloody murder. You know how that lot is."
Gamboa rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "He might be able sit for the trial, with some help."
Avalon scowled. "Do what you can."
"You could always tie him to the chair…transparent rope wouldn't be visible. Of course, if you need him to stand, that might be a bit difficult."
Avalon considered this. "That's a possibility…but, as you said, if we needed him to stand, say for the sentencing…"
Gamboa blinked hard and stared at her in disbelief. "Avalon! I was kidding."
"I'm not. Perhaps shades for his eyes. They used those at Mellenby's trial."
Gamboa had not lost the appalled look on his face. "You mean the Federation used them, after they burnt out his eyes? Avalon, you can't be serious!"
Avalon was unbending. "I'm extremely serious. We want justice, doctor. Unless we hide his injuries, there will be none."
Gamboa's lips curled in sarcasm, "You mean, you're afraid that they'll act with compassion, rather than justice?"
"Justice must be blind, Gamboa. There must be no bias."
Gamboa said scathingly, "Well then it's a good thing that Avon is already blind, isn't it?"
"You don't understand, doctor."
"Oh, I understand alright. I just don't like it."
"You don't have to like it. As long as you continue working on Avon."
"Don't worry, I will. I have compassion." Gamboa gave a humph of disgust and went off in a huff.
Avalon sighed. She liked the doctor. As he said, he was a man of compassion. But he didn't understand.
Argus leaned against the edge of Reya's bed, his hand holding hers. "I wish I'd sent someone with him. I don't trust him."
Reya sighed and brushed her fingers through his short-cropped hair. He must have had it cut recently, it was bristly and stiff. "You know that he'll do his best to help Avon. He cares about him."
"I don't know if 'caring' would be the right word," said Argus, not pleased that Reya always wanted to see the best in the man.
"I can't wait until I can get out of this bed." Reya's fingers followed a path down to his broad chest.
An eager grin eased the tension from his face. "I can't either."
"I miss this." She drew her hand across his bulging chest. Even unflexed, the muscles were well defined.
Argus breathed in slowly, his eyes partially lidded, enjoying the sensation of her touch through the shirt. "We should stop…" He hissed as she touched a sensitive area. "…before someone comes in or…" He brought his own hand up and began undoing the top button of his shirt. "…we can keep going."
Reya quickly put her hand over his. "Don't you dare."
Argus grinned and put his hand down reluctantly. "Vila saw something odd."
"Odd," asked Reya, her brows rising.
"He went to see Sester before he went off."
"Sester had asked him to do something."
"What was strange?"
"He said that Kirsten was with him."
A flash of irritation crossed Reya's face. "She didn't take my advice. What was odd?"
"Well…" Argus's brows knit in perplexity. "…he said that Sester was chained to the bed."
"It wasn't me this time." He raised his hand. "I swear it. Vila was about to say something else but…he started coughing or choking...or maybe he was laughing. It was hard to tell."
Reya looked up at the ceiling. "I see. He must have realized what was going on."
"What was going on?" asked Argus, still mystified.
She patted him reassuringly on the chest. "Don’t worry about it. It doesn't concern us."
"But…if it has anything to do with the security of this ship…"
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure." She looked up at his concerned face. "Do you know what you're going to say at the trial?"
"I was going to tell them the truth about what happened on Gauda Prime."
"And?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
"That might not be enough," said Reya, her eyes thoughtful.
"But it's the truth."
"Some of them might still want to kill Avon, even after they hear the truth."
"But…they can't. Avon didn’t mean to kill Blake when he went there. He thought Blake had betrayed him and…he was…"
"There are many factors at play during the trial. You have to address all of them. You have to appeal to their humanity. And you have to make them see that it's the right thing to do. That it will be good for the alliance. You have to make them see that there is value in keeping Avon alive."
Reya's eyes softened as she regarded him with affection. He was an honest and honourable man. His mind didn't lean towards the devious or the political. It gave him a great weakness when dealing with people who had complex and variable agendas.
Argus said, "Hopefully Sester's plan with Jenna works and it won't depend on my speaking skills." A hopeful expression crossed his face. "Maybe…you should do it. You're better at words than I am."
"It has to be you. You're the one they respect."
"I…don't know about that."
She touched his face lightly, tracing the strong line of his jaw. "They do."
"I…almost…" His lips flattened and he nearly bared his teeth at the idea. "…wish Sester could do it. He's…" The admission was almost painful. "…good at persuading people."
Reya sighed. "Avon must be very important to you to say that."
Argus muttered. "The rat."
Reya asked with amusement. "Avon?"
Reya shook her head slightly, knowing that he was trying, but his relationship with Sester was a work in progress. It would take a long time. "Do you want to go over what you're going to say at the trial?"
As the last few seconds of the scene in the tracking gallery played across her screen, Jenna sat transfixed in horror. It was like watching two ships in slow motion, crashing into each other, the hulls buckling, systems exploding, bodies sucked out into the darkness of space, while she was paralyzed, her mouth open to scream out a warning but unable to speak. The images cut off abruptly as the vid footage ended.
She was paralyzed, eyes wide and mouth open. It didn't matter that the recording had ended. They were replaying over and over again in her mind like some unending nightmare.
Her mouth finally moved in a silent whisper. "Blake." Her eyes closed in grief as tears welled up at the corners and dripped down her face. "Blake," she sobbed. "What happened to you?" Her fists clenched. "Damn you, Avon! You…I…" Her body shook as the tears became a torrent. It was some horrible tragedy that no vid-drama could possibly compare with. Someone's insane idea of a cruel joke. "Why?!!" she screamed out to the heavens. She wanted to hate. Wanted to shout. Wanted…anything but this.