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"My name is Reya Reve, I am Borel Reve's sister," Reya told Jenna. "You are Jenna Stannis?"
For some reason, Reya was being very formal. This was the first time she was meeting with someone from Argus's life; which she had no part of.
Reya knew that Argus had regular communications with his people and that they would probably be worried when they didn't hear from him. She had decided to make contact and let them know what happened.
So you're the mysterious, Reya Reve, thought Jenna as a uniformed stranger appeared on her screen. Olean Rane had offered Jenna the use of the private communications equipment in his room at the Athol Palace. It gave her much more privacy than using the normal communications room.
The ex-smuggler knew that the dead Overlord had a daughter but had heard very little about her. The uniformed woman on the screen did not have the strong jaw that the Reve sons shared but she had the same eyes and the same bright energy to her even though she was clearly tired. There were dark circles under her eyes.
"Yes, I'm Jenna Stannis," Jenna replied. Immediately she asked, "Did something happen to Argus?" It was not like Argus to miss a communication, unless something was wrong.
"He's been shot," the uniformed woman told Jenna. "We were following a lead but it turned out to be a trap. We escaped, but Argus was hurt. He saved both our lives."
"Will he be alright?" Jenna asked with concern in her voice.
"He is healing," the woman told her. She seemed to hesitate then said, "He was also tortured."
"I thought you said that you both escaped?"
"Yes, we did, but Argus was captured when I went to scout the area. I was able to get him out, but they hurt him very badly," the woman told her. There was no emotion on the uniformed woman's face. She appeared cold and hard.
Maybe, I'm imagining things, thought Jenna. How could someone be so cold and say what she just said? Maybe it's the resolution on the screen. Either way, you are a very strange woman.
"Is there anything we can do?" Jenna asked, thinking of the advanced medical facilities on the Justice.
"There is no need. We have excellent healers. It will just take time for him to heal. I will let him know that I have contacted you." The woman spoke abruptly.
Why am I acting like this? Reya wondered to herself.
"Is there any message you wish to pass to him? I will see that he gets it," Reya told Jenna.
"Nothing urgent. Tell him things are progressing slowly on this end and not to worry," Jenna replied.
Jenna was not about to tell Argus that they were in the process of planning a major operation to rescue Kameron Reve's lover from his brother, Ellis. She was afraid that Argus would come immediately to help. He was like that, even if he was on his deathbed.
"Take care of him," Jenna asked the woman. She had been about to say "for me" but had decided against it.
"Very well. Reya out."
"Yes, he was rescued four days ago," psychostrategist Tace reported over Sester's vidscreen at the Special Detention Centre.
"Were they able to find out who he was working for?" asked Sester.
"No. They were not able to find out before they let him escape. They did not have much time to work on him," replied Tace.
"Unfortunate. They placed the tracker in him?"
"Yes, it is functioning perfectly. He appears to be back on Zirgon."
"Excellent. He will be able to help Borel. The commando units are being deployed?"
"Yes. They are on their way to disrupt the communications arrays. I do have to report that they were a little too zealous in their questioning of the prisoner. He may not be able to help Borel for awhile."
Federation commando units were always overly enthusiastic in the commission of their tasks and sometimes had more initiative than their overseers would like.
Sester shook his head. "If that was the case then we need not have bothered letting him escape. But let him run for now. He may prove useful later on. Sester out."
Reya was sitting by Argus's bed in the infirmary as he slept. He had tried to leave the infirmary again and she didn't really want to tie him down; so she had volunteered to stay with him. They had set up a cot for her beside him. She couldn't sleep; even though the healer had ordered her to get some rest. How could she tell him that everytime she lay down and as her consciousness clouded into sleep, she would be woken by the sounds of screaming; the memories of Argus's screams as he was being tortured.
It had been the hardest ten hours she had ever spent; waiting for the coast to be clear so she could rescue Argus. She had been lying in a concealed position nearby; watching.
The sounds of Argus being tortured; his moans of agony and his screams of pain had almost made her ill. The only times the sounds stopped were when he passed out and the medtech attended to him. Then they had dragged his limp and bleeding body out to a tree and strung him up. His screams when they nearly dislocated his shoulders had made her so angry she had almost broken cover to kill them all. But she had controlled herself, for his sake.
Then she had to force herself to continue waiting until the camp settled in for the night while the cruel guard continued to torture him. By the time it was safe and she could go to rescue Argus; so much of her hatred was concentrated on the guard that she wanted to rip his head off. She had never killed in anger before.
"Reya," Argus called her name.
Reya sat up and leaned towards him.
"Where are we?" he asked. His voice was a faint whisper. "Are we safe?"
"Yes, we're back at the castle."
"Good. Are you alright?"
Reya nodded. She didn't trust herself to speak anymore. It was the first time in days that he sounded like himself.
"When was the last time you got some sleep?" he asked weakly. Even though his vision was blurry, he saw that she looked terrible.
Reya did not answer. She didn't remember the last time she slept. At least you're not telling me that I'm wonderful, she thought. Reya did not feel wonderful.
It was painful but Argus reached out with his hand and placed it on hers.
"Get some sleep," he told her. "I'm going to get some sleep too," his voice trailed off as his eyes closed and fell asleep again. The effort of speaking had tired him out.
She looked down at his hand. It was still resting on hers. Holding his hand in hers, she leaned back in the chair and was finally able to sleep.
"Vila, are you still bored up there?" Jenna asked innocently. She was appearing on the central visual display on the Justice's flight deck.
"Why?" asked Vila. His well-honed instincts instantly made him suspicious. It sounded very much like he was about to be volunteered for some dangerous task.
"How would you like to rescue a damsel in distress?"
In the old stories, dragons of some kind were usually involved, he thought, remembering fairy stories from his childhood which used to scare him. Vila was not fooled for a minute.
"Did Argus put you up to this?" the thief asked. So he's getting someone else to do his dirty work, thought Vila.
"No. Argus has been injured. He is out of commission for awhile. He will not be able to help us. That is why we really need you, Vila." Jenna looked very serious and sincere.
That's not fair, thought Vila. One damsel in distress, he might be able to resist. But three. All depending on humble Vila. That was almost too irresistable.
Vila had been feeling very uncertain of himself lately. Argus had created a circumstance where the thief had been forced to face his own relationship with alcohol. It did not help that his inner voices had been haunting him; and they sounded like Avon and Argus. It had been weeks, but Vila had still not come to any kind of resolution. He had spent the time bickering with his inner-Avon and inner-Argus. He wanted to feel better about himself, but he had not been able to. And he was feeling isolated and left out.
"Well, if you really need me," said Vila. I know I'm going to regret this, thought Vila.
"Thank you," Avon told Servalan.
"Why do you say that?" Servalan asked.
They were both sitting on her bed at Residence One; Avon was leaning back against the headboard; Servalan was nestled against his shoulder. She would have liked him to place his arm around her but he was not that kind of man.
It was early morning. They had shared another night of passion. This had become a comforting ritual for her; she now sent for him regularly.
Even though their physical relationship was more a shared venture now, Avon was starting to feel very used. Servalan sent for him whenever she had a need. He had no say in the matter. His scheme to cooperate meant that he would not find out what she would do if he ever denied her.
"For this," said Avon, holding up one wrist. A wrist which was normally bruised and marked by abrasians looked almost normal now, except for the scars. No longer having to wear the shackles when he was in his cell had allowed it to heal.
"You're welcome," she said as she took his hand in hers and stroked his wrist lightly, barely touching him. For some reason, the scar tissue made him very sensitive to her touch.
"How did you know that I wanted to work with people again?" he asked.
Now that he had completed work on the anti-detector screen, he had been assigned his next project; a new phase-compression rifle which had been very promising but appeared to have major design flaws. This project was headed by a new team; a team which Servalan had allowed Avon to work with.
"Despite your protests to the contrary, we both know that you are not a cold machine. At least, not always," Servalan told him. "You need to be with people occasionally and I cannot be with you all the time."
He gave a hissed intake of breath as her touch wandered up his arm and across to his chest. Servalan smiled. He would soon be ready for her again.
Avon did not mind when she did this to him. It made it easier to hate her.
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