From her concealed position, Reya had watched as the soldiers beat Argus until he was no longer conscious.
Damn it Argus, tell them something, Reya had thought. You don't really know where I am. You only know the direction I took. Tell them a different direction.
She wanted to rush in and kill all of them. But she was too good to act on emotion. Reya waited. And she planned. She had a good layout of the camp. It looked like the soldiers would at least stay the night. Off to the side were their vehicles. She would have to steal one of them in order to get away; and disable the others.
Reya checked her pulse gun. The charge was low. She would have to obtain another weapon. She would not be able to make any other plans until she knew what they were going to do with Argus during the night; and how many guards would be in the vicinity.
There was one positive thing. The soldiers had allowed a medtech to attend to Argus's injuries and especially his shoulder wound. That meant that she might not have to carry him. Having to carrying him would decrease their chances considerably.
There was one additional thing she had to do in preparation for the rescue tonight. They needed a way to get off the planet and back to their orbiting command cruiser.
"The commando unit reports that they have captured one of them," psychostrategist Tace told Sester. Tace was appearing on Sester's vidscreen in his office at the Special Detention Centre. "They're looking for the other one now."
"Good. We will finally find out who else is interested in causing trouble in this sector. Have you found out anything about the other force at work?"
"Unfortunately no. There are still no indicators. Ellis is getting ready to make a big move against Borel. He wants to neutralize his forces before Borel can regain control over all of them."
"We don't want that yet."
"Agreed. Ellis is much too powerful right now."
" When is he making the move?" Sester asked. His mind was already beginning to form a plan which would include the new piece available to them.
"He's gathering his forces now. It should take another three weeks for them to be in position."
"Let the one you have captured escape. But don't make it too easy. From what you reported, he's good. He would be suspicious if you made it too easy."
"But put a tracer on him first. We don't know who he is yet but as long as we can track him, we can pull him in at anytime and we can watch him. Right now he is much more useful for us, helping Borel."
"I do believe you are getting more devious, Sester," Tace remarked.
I have Avon to thank for that, thought Sester. Working on Avon had increased the level of Sester's own game.
"Send the commando units to disrupt Ellis. Target his communications arrays and supply lanes. Slow him down as much as possible but they must be discreet. Ellis must never find out we are working against him now."
"Very well. Should we bring Kameron Reve back in?"
"No. It will be too difficult to control the situation with him back in the mix. Leave him where he is now. We can always arrange to bring him back in if Borel runs into too much trouble. Has Ellis left the woman alone?"
"Yes. You were right. There is also something between him and the woman. He will not harm her."
"With your prisoner helping Borel and the actions of the commando units against Ellis, we should be able to reduce Ellis's strength. At least until we are able to find out more about the force helping him."
Avon and Servalan were sitting side-by-side on a bench by the lake in the Residence gardens. It was the middle of the afternoon. They had been taking walks out in the garden after their afternoon meal. They had spent three days together. Between them had been peace and sometimes even laughter.
Avon's hands were shackled behind him. Servalan still did not allow him to leave the building without the restraints and the incapacitating drug. Her head nestled against his shoulder.
She had a sense of serenity. Lying against Avon's shoulder made her feel safe and comfortable. Because she had full power over him, she could allow herself the luxury of these feelings.
Servalan reviewed the last three days they had spent together resting. She enjoyed provoking him in fun but there had been no desire to hurt him. This had surprised her. He bristled at her control at times but he had generally cooperated in this exercise in rest. She had always enjoyed hurting and using him in the past. But she found that just having control over him was enough; because she knew he hated it.
All of his life, people tried to use Avon. This was something Servalan had in common with him; it gave them a certain kinship. But in her case, she sought the one thing which prevented people from doing it to her successfully. Power.
She had tried it first with Kasabi. The power to destroy someone who sought to destroy her gave Servalan something she had never realized she needed before; the ability to control her own destiny. After Don Keller, it had become an obsession. It also prevented people from ever hurting her again.
But power did not fill the void inside her; that aching emptiness which Don Keller had filled. In this Servalan also felt a kinship to Avon. When Avon had found out that Anna Grant had betrayed him, she had seen the look of hurt and betrayal in his eyes; as if Anna had ripped out an essential part of him.
She had felt that loss as well; that sense of betrayal when Don Keller had abandoned her for his research. It felt as if he had torn out her heart. She had completely cut herself off from human relationships then and sought power; the one thing which would not betray her.
That was why she had wanted to grant Avon's desire for death as he knelt over the dead body of his lover. After he had accidently escaped, she continued to seek him out; to destroy him. But at the same time she knew that she would miss him if she succeeded.
She had tried to kill him then, because they were enemies; and he was dangerous to her. She had not understood it then; the reason why she wanted him; and at the same time she kept trying to kill him. Now that he was in her power and she could hurt him whenever she wanted, she understood. She could want him now without fear that he could hurt her and he would never be able to leave her.
Avon sighed. Servalan raised her head and looked at him. There was a sadness to him which tugged at her heart.
"Why the sigh, Avon?"
"I do not want to come out here anymore."
"Why?" Servalan sat up and turned towards him.
"It is too difficult. You want to pretend but for me it is just a cruel joke."
There was no emotion in his voice or any expression on his face; but it still conveyed such sadness that she wanted to put her arms around him and hug him. But she didn't. She knew he would hate it. He hated pity. It was not the time to exert her control over him.
He continued, "I miss the days on the Liberator. They used me. But I used them as well. Here the only one being used is me. I hate being powerless and alone. You will not even let me die."
It was the first time he had shared anything with her, about himself. There was a naked honesty about him which drew her to him.
Could we really have a different relationship within these guidelines? wondered Servalan. Maybe your cooperation is real. Part of her wanted it to be true.
She wondered if she was fooling herself; wondered if the desire for someone she could feel at ease with was clouding her perceptions of Avon.
They finally had the best of both worlds with him. He had given up fighting them but at the same time he hated his imprisonment and would always try to find a way to be free. That meant that his mind stayed sharp and this made him very useful; but it also meant that it would always be terrible for him.
She regretted this necessity.
He looked into her eyes and asked, "When you are finally finished with me, can you kill me? Do not leave me on some prison planet. Don't let the madness claim me."
"You will not even do that?"
"I can never let you go, Avon. I will always need you."
He looked away from her and stared out over the lake. She could almost feel the depth of his sadness.
In that instant, Servalan understood why Sester had insisted on the new guidelines. As long as Avon was a prisoner, the depression would always return. The agreements may prevent him from trying to kill himself now, but eventually they would no longer be enough. When Avon decided to end his own life, Servalan doubted they would be able to stop him; short of keeping him so incapacitated that he would become useless to them.
How can I make it better for you, Avon? Wondered Servalan. He may fill a need in her but she realized that this man, who needed to be free, was slowly dying inside. They would never be able to stop that but perhaps they could slow it down.
Vila put a glass up to the dispenser and prepared to fill it.
When did you finish the bottles in my room, Vila? Vila could clearly hear Argus's voice. He almost dropped the glass.
"Oh no!"said Vila. "Not your voice too! This is just not fair."
Vila lifted the glass to the spout again.
Again Argus's voice sounded in his head, When did you finish the bottles in my room, Vila?
This is worse than having Avon's voice, thought Vila. He tried it once again. This time, the first splash of liquid hit the bottom of the glass before he heard the voice again.
When did you finish the bottles in my room, Vila?
Vila stopped. He did not remember finishing the bottles. The thief put the almost empty glass down on the table. He closed his eyes and tried to remember.
You're useless, the Avon-voice insulted him again.
"I am not!" protested Vila.
Then why can you not remember?
"There's a medical term for this condition. I can't remember what it is."
It's not fair! You're both ganging up on me! Thought Vila.