Death was coming.
That part of him which was still very much the soldier, instantly took over.
In a split second, he had assessed his situation. One of his knife opponents was directly in front of him, trying to get past his guard. One was to his left, one to the right.
The man in front lunged. Obviously he had learned nothing. Argus rotated his body, allowing the man to continue past him and swept the man's leg causing him to fall. Before the man hit the ground, he was already dead by a quick strike to the neck with Argus's blade; Argus had also appropriated his knife. It had been so quick, that no one saw it.
By now Tain and the two corporals were at the edge of the circle of bystanders, their hands already at their holsters. Two knives flew at them with blinding speed, burying themselves into vulnerable throats.
Three dead in the space of a few seconds.
This was why it had been a big mistake not keeping Argus tied to a tree.
By now, everyone realized something was wrong. It was not the fact that three men now lay dead. It was the look on Argus's face. It was the calm face of death.
There was a flurry of rushed activity as everyone grabbed for their guns. Argus's remaining knife opponents rushed at him together with their blades; which was very silly of them. They died and Argus now held their blades as well.
Thought became action as Argus gave them all a clinic in positional fighting, which was like a fighter's version of speed chess. Argus was very good at chess.
They all tried to shoot at someone who would not stay still and only ended up killing each other. None of them believed anyone could move so quickly. For most, that was the last thought they had.
He had the fluidity and grace of an acrobat. They could see him move, but it made no difference. They all still ended up dead.
If the old sergeant had not been among the first to die, they may have stood a chance. All they had to do was stay calm and not panic.
They were all very calm now.
Out of habit, Argus picked up a discarded cloth and wiped his blade clean. He stared at it for a few seconds, as if it was an alien object; then the knife dropped from fingers which could no longer hold the weapon. He collapsed to his knees, his body bent in anguish; the lifeless bodies of the ten men he had just slain still bleeding around him.
Am I still nothing but a cold-blooded killer? Even after all this time?
At that moment, he hated himself more than he ever had before and cursed all the gods who demanded that soldiers kill each other.
Several days later when there was no longer any pain from Avon's back, Servalan finally indulged her desires.
Afterwards as she slept, Avon lay staring at the ceiling. He sighed. She had forgotten to give him the sedatives again and the bio-injector was coded. He sat up slowly, trying not to wake her. As he contemplated the sleeping woman, he was aware of his own hatred and desire for her, and something which he could not quite place, but which made him uneasy. That night at the height of their passion, she had cried out his name. She had never done that before.
He had accepted her help, although the first few days, he had bristled at her attentiveness; which was not that different from her control.
For three days she had been helpful; more than helpful. She was gentle and considerate; which made him want to scream. As long as he cooperated, she was pleasant and had a sly sense of humour. At times the feeling that she was toying with him was very strong. She enjoyed that, keeping him off-balance; she loved the power.
Sometimes, he could almost forget that he was her captive and that she had taken everything away from him.
They interacted and they developed an ease with each other. He rarely experienced this luxury, not since the days with Anna. Even on the Liberator and the Scorpio, he had never been at ease. Days on board the ships had been full of tension and danger; and people who used him or needed his abilities.
He knew it was only an illusion, these last few days of peace. He had allowed himself to be fooled, because he needed it. He had always been sure of his own strength of will and superior intelligence, but the last couple of months with his two deadliest foes had shaken his confidence. They had taken everything from him and allowed him to play a game where they set all the rules and controlled all the pieces. They had played him like a puppet, and he had not realized it until the very end.
You may have won Servalan but leaving me alive is a mistake which I will make you regret.
For now he would play her game and he would play his part. He had the benefit of time. All human beings are fallible; that was the one constant of the universe. Unlike the mistake he had made before, he would no longer rely on outside forces to rescue him. He would get himself out of this mess and if that meant cooperating with his deadliest enemy, he would.
He got up slowly in order not to disturb her sleep. Pulling on his pants, he crossed over to the bay window; there was a half moon rising in the sky, beyond the barrier of the dome. Faint lights illuminated the extensive Residence gardens.
As he contemplated the view, he was aware that something had changed in the past three days. He had recovered a part of himself. The deadness inside him was receding.
"Do you want to take a walk outside?" At her unexpected voice behind him, Avon turned around.
Servalan had gotten up and was walking towards him, she had pulled on a robe.
Avon looked out the window again. "You like playing games, don't you."
"After three days and you still don't trust me."
"Should I?" he asked cynically.
"No, you shouldn't," she said smiling. This was the Avon she remembered; the hard, sarcastic edge, the cold and calculating mind. He was starting to plan again. She was glad.
The game could continue, but not yet; it could wait until the morning.
"I'm serious, I feel like a stroll around the gardens and you've never seen them."
"You usually keep me busy."
She grinned. "That I do." She put her arms around him and rested her head against his back, she felt him tense and then deliberately relax.
"I'll have to put the chains on you again."
She let go of him and retrieved the manacles from the cabinet where they had lain for three days.
He could hear the clink of the chains as she came up behind him.
"Put your hands behind you," she instructed him.
He hesitated, even at the Centre they had rarely found it necessary to restrain his hands behind him except when he was being tortured. "Even with the agreements and all of your security systems, you still don't trust me not to escape?"
"Should I?" she asked, echoing his earlier response.
He laughed and put his hands behind him as requested.
She snapped the bracelets to his wrists.
He felt a pressure against his neck and before he had time to react, the familiar hiss of an injection. He immediately felt dizzy. "What?" he started to ask then all energy drained out of him, his muscles felt like water. He nearly collapsed from weakness, but she had put her arms around him again to keep him from falling.
"Just relax. You know it's worse if you fight it. Give your body time to adjust," she told him as she held him still.
He rested his forehead against the glass as the dizziness passed; the feeling of weakness remained. He recognized it, it was a stronger variant of the drug they gave him to keep him physically weakened.
"I had to use a much stronger dose," she told him.
"You really don't trust me, do you?"
"I've let you recover too much, in this room it is fine but I can't allow you that outside. It was either that or let the guards work you over."
"Thanks," he said sarcastically.
"Though I must admit, having you stronger made a big difference in bed," she teased him. "How do you feel now?"
"You mean apart from wanting to strangle you?"
She smiled. "I'll take that to mean you're feeling better. Here lean against me."
They made their way slowly to the lift. Avon felt like his legs could barely support his weight. By the time they made their way outside, his body had adjusted to the weakness and he could walk unaided albeit slowly.
Out in the gardens, they walked in silence across the grass. The air was clear and filled with the fragrant scent of flowers and plant life. There was a sense of calmness and peace. They were so used to each other by now that they did not feel the need to fill the quiet with dialogue. Avon found that the natural surroundings seemed to revitalize him.
As they continued to walk in companionable silence, he reflected on how odd that was.
"It feels strange," he mused out loud.
"It will pass," she told him. "Your body should adjust to the drug level."
"No. I mean it feels strange being outside, almost unnerving."
He found that his mind was analyzing this peculiar sensation.
"Later, if you continue to behave, I can arrange that you spend some time outside."
He made no comment; he did not appear to be paying attention to her.
"Avon, what are you thinking?"
"The movement of air is very different. There is a different sense of pressure on the body. The perception of space appears to have an effect on the mind."
She smiled, realizing the source of his earlier comment. "Does your mind never stop analyzing?"
They had reached a bench by a lake.
"Let's sit for awhile, you look like you've been running."
Until she had mentioned it, Avon had not realized that he was breathing hard.
They sat down and looked out over the lake together, the moon was shimmering over it's surface.
"I'm returning you to the Detention Centre in the morning," she told him.
"You mean the honeymoon is over?" he asked sarcastically.
She laughed. "Not quite yet." She turned towards him, placed her arms around his and they kissed. "It's unfortunate you're incapacitated by the drugs," she told him as she broke off their embrace before it could progress further.
"Do you normally do this outside in full view of your security cameras?" he asked. He was breathing faster again but this time it was not because of the walk.
"I had them turned off in this section when we came out here."
"Why did you bring me out here?" he asked her.
"Can't you accept that I just wanted some fresh air? And I thought it might help in your recovery."
"You don't have an altruistic bone in your body."
"You're right, we know each other too well."
"Which is why I will never trust you."
"Or I you," she countered. They smiled at each other. "Do you want to go back inside?"
"Do you have a counter-agent to the drug you gave me?"
"I might be able to find one."
They were still smiling. Servalan helped him up and they headed back to the Residence.