The Federation President was in her cabin aboard her official presidential craft. She had just woken up. The space cruiser would be arriving at their destination in a couple of hours.
Servalan always turned on the vidscreen with the feed from Avon's cell as she prepared for the day. As she watched, a medtech entered his cell. It was time for the analyst to wake up as well. His routine was very different from hers. She watched as the medtech gave him an injection to wake him up. Avon gasped in response as the drug took effect. After a few moments, the medtech said loudly, "Get up!"
Avon's body began to stir and he rolled slowly towards the voice. He opened his eyes and brought his hands up to block the harsh light. Avon continued rolling and pushed himself up; sitting on the edge of the bed. He pulled down the zipper of his coveralls and slipped it off his shoulders, peeling it down to his waist. It was not easy given that his hands were shackled but he was very familiar with this routine. He had learned early on that unless he did this, they would not give him the injection for his back.
The medtech gave him an examination and then proceeded to give him his daily injections. Avon sat impassively throughout the procedure; answering any inquiries regarding his health without emotion. Avon pulled his coveralls back on as the medtech left and the guards entered his cell. They would take him to the shower facilities before they brought him to the lab to work.
Servalan smiled as they led him out. She loved starting the day knowing that they were both working towards her goals.
He was still limping from the pain in his knee. For him it would always be a constant reminder of her.
The Federation President had been struggling to understand her own feelings towards Avon since the three days she had spent working on him. She constantly found herself wanting to see him, to touch him. The anguish he felt when he realized he was losing his mind had hurt her deeply as well.
She was angry at herself. Since Don Keller, she had resolved never to let a man affect her that deeply again. Men had failed her all her life. They always promised but in the end they abandoned her, betrayed her, dismissed or tried to use her.
But she had to admit, Avon never lied to her. That's one thing she appreciated about the analyst. She always knew where she stood with him. They were enemies and they always would be.
He was under her power now; because of that she could feel safe in their relationship. He would always hate being under her power as much as she enjoyed having power over him. That she could trust.
Servalan knew that Sester wanted to curb her impulses to hurt Avon; but the psychostrategist did not understand; the pain was her expression of power over Avon, without it she could not trust him.
"Take this up to the tenth floor," the bar owner Alain told Cally, indicating a tray on the bar. "Bring the tray back down when it's finished."
So Delik was right again, thought Cally as she took the tray and headed towards Alain's office.
This time when the lift doors opened onto the tenth floor, the room was not dark. Cally saw that it was a spacious and comfortable apartment. There were two men. One was seated at a desk working in front of a vidscreen. One stood guard by the lift door. The guard ran a scanner wand over her before allowing her to enter further into the room.
"Alright go on in," the guard told her.
Cally entered the room and approached the man at the desk.
"Where would you like this, sir?" Cally asked.
"Just put it down here," the man told her, indicating a cleared spot on the desk. This was the bass voice. This must be Kam Reve.
Cally did as directed. She noted that the vidscreen had information on troop movements and troop strengths. Interesting. I thought Olean Rane said you were not doing anything with your military units. She turned to go after she put the tray down.
"Where are you going?" the man asked, looking up at her. Cally saw that he had a strong jaw and expressive eyes. His voice was not unkind when he asked her the question. As she would discover, his voice was capable of great hardness, but rarely with her.
Standing directly in front of his desk, Cally could sense an aura of frustration about him and a great sadness.
For some reason, her impressions from him were very powerful. She didn't normally feel it this strong from non-Aurons and especially not from ones she did not have any relationship with.
"I'm going back downstairs," she answered.
"Didn't Alain tell you to bring the tray back down when I'm done?"
"Yes. But I thought I would come back for it," she explained.
"Stay here until I'm done. Then you can bring the tray back down," he told her. "Don't worry Cally, nothing will happen to you here," he added to reassure her.
"Sit over there until I'm finished." He indicated the set of couches at the far side of the room.
Cally went to sit down on the couch, facing the desk so that she could watch him. She picked up a vidzine unit from the table and began scrolling through the various articles.
The man ate distractedly while he worked. At times various people reported to him via the vidscreen. She was too far from the desk to hear what was being said.
There was no question this man was a leader. There was a bright energy to him even when he was seated. His eyes were intelligent. Even though she couldn't hear what was being said, Cally got the impression he was trying to convince people of something.
Sometimes she caught him looking at her when he thought her attention was on the vidzine. Delik had been right about his interest in her.
The only thing of note during this entire encounter was one of the vidscreen calls. Cally immediately noticed the tension as he took the call. Even from this distance, she could feel his coiled anger as he listened to the person on the other end. Cally wished she could see the screen, or at least hear the voice. Kam did not say much during this call. There was only an angry acknowledgement at the end before he turned off the screen. He sat for a few moments, staring at the blank screen.
It's more than just anger, thought Cally. She was sensing something else but wasn't quite sure what it was.
When he finished his meal, he motioned her over. "You can take it away. Thank you Cally."
He was very polite. Cally took the tray and went back down in the lift.
For the next few days, the same routine was followed. Alain sent her up with a tray, Ellis would eat while she sat on the couch and then she would bring the tray back down. Ellis did not speak to her except to thank her.
There were no more calls which caused the same kind of reaction as that first time. But the undercurrent of anger and frustration was always there, and something she now recognized as a sense of being trapped.
Argus and Reya were lying side-by-side, faced down; looking down from the top of a ridge. They were observing using distance viewers.
"Are these the same men?" whispered Argus.
"Yes," she whispered back.
Below them were a large number of troops and equipment. They appeared to be getting ready for something. Argus and Reya were observing another group which was just approaching from the north, not far from where they lay.
"What is this place?" asked Argus.
"Borel is getting ready to send some of his troups out to the battle zone in quadrant three. This is one of the main embarkation points for one of the strike forces."
After returning to their air-cycles, Reya had led the way. On the way she had told Argus about the communication the group had received which caused them to abandon their original plans to check out the clearing in the woods. She had heard the coordinates to their new destination and recognized the location. Reya knew all manner of short cuts so they had managed to make it to the ridge overlooking the embarkation point, well ahead of Ellis Reve's infiltrators.
Using the communicator on the air-cycles, Reya had sent for their hand-picked group. Together Argus and Reya had situated the group at key points along the perimeter and come up with a strategy to cause the minimum of disruption to the assembling strike force. Their hand-picked group was now waiting for their command.
You really are very good, thought Argus. Quick, decisive and intelligent. He was finding that he enjoyed working with her.
Argus whispered into his communicator, "Leader two to attack units, targets will be in range in five minutes. Remember, I want them taken out with the minimum of disruption."
Each unit replied with their acknowledgement.
"What do you want to do now?" asked Reya. As commanders, they only needed to stand back and direct the action of their units below. Argus had never been one of those kinds of leaders.
"Are you up for some discreet exercise?" he asked.
She grinned. I knew you would understand, thought Reya.
The operation to neutralize the infiltrators was an unqualified success. The hand-picked units, under Argus and Reya's direction were able to isolate the infiltration group before they realized that they had been identified. When they realized it, it was already too late. The battle was over within minutes.
Most of the infiltrators were taken, relatively intact. The hand-picked units suffered no casualties and only sustained a couple of minor injuries.
Argus and Reya burst into Borel's command centre. Both were flush with excitement.
"I don't even have to ask, do I?" said Borel, looking at the grinning pair.
"Are we that obvious?" asked Argus.
"Only if you're not blind," said Reya sarcastically. Working with someone so obviously talented had been exhilarating but she remembered why she had to keep her distance.
She reported to Borel, "We got all of them. They're being put in the holding cells for now. We'll question them later."
"Excellent," remarked the young general. "Do you think there may be other groups?"
"This one," Reya inclined her head towards Argus, "says it's most likely why we've been having problems with some of our groups."
Argus looked at her. She was deliberately being rude again. He was puzzled by her attitude. Are we at this again? He didn't understand.
"Is that what you think, Argus?" Borel addressed him.
Argus was still staring at Reya. She was carefully not looking at him.
"Argus?" Borel repeated.
Argus turned his attention to the young general, "It's hard to know for sure but it is highly likely. We should get a better picture once we interrogate the ones in the holding cell."
"How would you like to do some more hunting?" Borel asked him.
"I'm at your disposal," Argus agreed.
He would have suggested it even if the young general had not; for many reasons. The primary reason was because he was committed to this course of action after having promised Olean Rane. But he now had an additional reason. He found he had a need to understand this woman whom he respected greatly but who confounded him to no end.
When they worked together during a battle, they had an instant rapport. They could feel each other's joy in the action. But on any other level, she couldn't seem to stand him.
It was the end of another day and Avon was lying on the sleep platform waiting for the sedatives to work. Everyday was the same now. Not even a trip to Residence One to break the monotony. It was a mind-numbing sameness.
They had been increasing the hours of free time they gave him after the work sessions. Avon found that those hours were like torture for him. He was being driven mad with boredom.
There had been no talks with either Sester or Servalan in over two weeks. He never thought that he would miss the forced conversation sessions. They were his only form of human contact. The Centre personnel who regulated his schedule treated him more like an object. He wanted to provoke them just to relieve the boredom; but he couldn't. The game he was playing required that he cooperate in everything.
He wondered what was preventing Servalan from asking for him. In her bedroom-away from the gray walls and harsh lights-even though she used him, it was the only place he still felt connected to the world.
In her bedroom was the only place he experienced pleasure of any kind. It was a physical pleasure only but, in three years of nothing but pain and torment, it was something he needed. One could only take misery for so long.
For the three days in her bedroom, Servalan had promised not to hurt him. And she had kept her word. For that he had been grateful. And even though she had used him, she had not tortured him since.
Avon was angry at himself. Those two may not treat him like an object, but they did treat him like a slave. He realized something was happening. The cage they had designed for him was working.
No! You will not do this to me.
He deliberately brought up memories of his last session in her bedroom. Memories of the loss of control; of his own anger and hatred; of feeling like he had no choice except to ask for the drug which would make him dependent forever.
I will never forget.