Avon felt a warm presence sitting next to him. The surface he was lying on was comfortable and familiar. It was definitely better than his normal metal sleep platform or being on the floor of one of the interrogation rooms. He recognized the bed which was Servalan's domain and on which she had often used him for her own pleasure.
He was still fully clothed; though someone had taken the trouble to remove his blood-stained coveralls and put on a fresh set. This puzzled him. Servalan usually required him to be in various stages of undress when he was in her bed; if not completely unclothed.
"Are you back with us, Avon?" Servalan asked.
Avon opened his eyes and looked at her. He nodded.
"Can you speak? Try to say something."
"What is your agenda, Servalan?" The words he spoke were barely recognizable and his throat was still sore and hoarse, but she seemed to understood him.
"Nothing different than before," she told him. "I just want you to spend a couple of days with me."
Servalan knew that after all they had done to him the last four days; the last thing he wanted was to spend time with her.
"It amuses me," she replied. "And I miss your attentions." Servalan reached across and stroked her hand across his chest. She was being as gentle as possible; she was afraid that he was still in pain from the healing burns.
Servalan had watched from the feed in her office as the interrogators had tortured him. Even with the sound turned off, she still thought she could hear his screams. It had haunted her sleep. She realized that she no longer wanted to hurt him herself; that task she would leave to the professionals.
In the last few days of nursing him back to a semblance of health, Servalan had controlled herself; she had not tried to take advantage of him. But her physical desire for him had almost become unbearable as a helpless and barely conscious Avon lay in her arms. Not wanting to hurt him did not mean that she did not want other things from him. In his condition, it would have been very easy to induce the appropriate physical responses; but she wanted Avon, not just a responsive physical body.
His mind was back now but she could still not bring herself to use him yet. It would have caused him too much distress. She did not want to hurt him anymore than he was already hurt. The pain blockers could only deal with the physical pain. The nerve induction unit caused more than just that. That is why it rendered its victims incoherent for days afterwards.
In the old days, Servalan knew she would not have cared. She would have used him regardless. But things were not the same anymore; she was not the same anymore, not with him.
Just being near you makes it difficult, she thought. But I will wait for you.
The Justice was in stationary orbit over Ventro. The anti-detector screen was in full operation; as it had been the entire time it had been in Sector Ten. Jenna, Cally and Vila were gathered around ORAC.
"Well ORAC?" asked Jenna.
"It is not possible. The building's material appears to interfere with most forms of carrier wave energy. The probability of unstable matter re-integration is in the order of four to one," ORAC replied.
"Then Myler Reve did not lie. There is no way to teleport directly into the building," said Cally.
"ORAC, will this also affect communication carrier waves?" Jenna asked.
"Wonderful," said Vila. "There goes our means of escape and our chance to call for help if something goes wrong. Do we have any other cheery news? I like all of my bad news in one sitting."
No one seemed to pay attention to him. They were all familiar with his famous lack of enthusiasm for dangerous tasks.
"Zen," Jenna addressed the ship's computer. "Do a sensor sweep of the building specified earlier. How many life forms are in the building?"
"Material of indicated building does not allow sensor beam access," reported Zen after a few moments.
"I knew I had gotten out of the wrong side of bed this morning," said Vila.
"There is only one side you can get out of bed," Cally said to him. She sounded puzzled. All of their bunks were recessed into the metal walls.
"That's not what I was talking about," said Vila. "You don't need me down there, do you?" he asked Jenna. "You have all the access codes to get into the secret tunnel."
"Nervous, Vila?" Jenna asked.
"I'm not nervous," Vila said. "I'm just not up to being suicidal."
"Don't worry, Cally will protect you," said Jenna. "We need you down there, Vila. We may be able to get into the tunnel but once we're inside the building, we have no idea what locks we will run into. You are the only one with the skills to deal with them. Cally and I could probably break through the locks but it would cause too much noise and we would end up getting captured. I know you wouldn't want that Vila."
That's not fair, thought Vila. You're using the damsel-in-distress on me again.
"Sometimes, I wish I weren't so indispensible," said Vila in a resigned tone.
"How can it still be seven days?" asked Argus angrily. They were arguing in his stateroom on one of the fast pursuit ships. They had just finished another successful mission. Reya had come to see that he did the rehabilitation exercises as prescribed by the healer.
"It is still seven days because you overdid the strengthening exercises and put back your recovery again. That is why I am here to make sure you do them properly. Don't blame me. It's Healer Garett's orders."
"And I'm sure you're enjoying enforcing those orders."
"You make it easy to enjoy." She said without a trace of humour.
Argus grumbled; although it sounded more like a growl.
"You're growling again, Argus. You're starting to make some of the men nervous."
"I do not growl," he stressed. "I do not need you to supervise my exercises! And I will not be treated like a child!"
Reya thought how being a patient always seemed to make Argus act like a recalcitrant and stubborn child.
"Yes, you are growling. You need someone to supervise you constantly; because you insist on doing silly things and hurting your own recovery. And if you insist on behaving like a child in this, I will treat you like one." Reya said all of this calmly but firmly; like a parent dealing with a disobedient but valued child. "Now will you do your exercises? We have a deadline to meet if you remember."
At that Argus had nothing to say. Reya had known that no matter how frustrated he was, he would never endanger a mission. She knew that she could always count on him for that.
The rebel leader began to do the first series of warm up and stretching exercises without another word; supervised by Reya. There were more growling noises but he did them properly this time.
With ORAC operating the controls, Jenna, Cally and Vila teleported down to the surface of Ventro, just outside the hidden entrance to the tunnel. They found the entrance without much trouble.
"I don't believe it," said Vila disgustedly.
"What is wrong Vila?" asked Cally.
"I think I landed in something. My feet are wet."
Jenna brushed some dirt away from the wall, revealing a keyed panel next to the doorway.
"Well, here goes," she said as she entered in the keyed access sequence which had cost them twenty million credits to obtain.
For a few seconds there was no reaction, then there were sounds of heavy bolts moving. The door slid open. Beyond lay darkness.
"Did anyone bring an electronic torch?" asked Cally.
They all looked at each other dumbly.
"I never thought I would say this but I wish Argus were here. He would have made us kit up," said Vila. He had a real aversion to long dark tunnels which he could not see the end of.
At that moment the tunnel lit up. It was still dim, but they could make out details now. It appeared to be a long featureless tunnel. They still could not see the end of it.
"Come on, let's go," said Jenna. Holding her phase pistol in readiness, she led the way. Vila, gripping his equipment bag, followed next. Cally, with her weapon drawn as well, brought up the rear. The door slid closed behind them.
The intrepid three made their way through the dimly lit tunnels without incident. They were now standing in front of another access hatch. This one required both a keyed panel access and an override of the computer controlled security system. Jenna again used Myler Reve's information and entered in the door access code and disabled the security system. The door slid open. From the dim light in the tunnel, they could just make out it was a small dark storage room. It was just barely enough to fit all three of them. The wall slid closed behind them, plunging them into darkness.
Fortunately they had already identified where the door was. Jenna put her ear to the door.
"Do you hear anything?" asked Vila nervously. He did not like being in dark confined spaces. Especially when there was imminent danger on the other side.
"Shhh. Quiet," Jenna whispered to him. Vila may be nervous but he didn't appear to understand that whispering would aid in lessening their danger.
"Sorry," Vila whispered in apology. "Well do you hear anything?"
"Nothing," said Jenna.
"Maybe they are all asleep?" volunteered Cally in a quiet voice.
"Let's hope," said Jenna. Actually they were not surprised. They had picked the night cycle for this very purpose. There should have only been the obligatory guards still up. "Are you ready?" she asked them.
"Can we think about this?" whispered Vila. "Maybe there's something we've forgotten?"
"Like your courage?" whispered Jenna sarcastically.
Vila frowned as Jenna activated the door control. The room beyond only had faint light. They all entered cautiously and quietly.
"Bedrooms should be this way," whispered Jenna leading the way. Myler Reve had given them a good layout of the entire building. They had guessed that Ellis would not have wanted to harm the woman and probably kept her in one of the second floor bedrooms.
The little group did not encounter anyone. And there continued to be no noises.
It was completely silent.
Its too quiet, thought Vila. He felt a shiver down his spine. His overly developed danger sense was telling him they should run.
They reached an ornate staircase. Myler Reve had always been prone towards ostentation. His wife had always complained about having to walk up flights of old fashioned steps when they could have installed a perfectly good modern lift system. Myler had finally given in to his whining wife (she had a very high-pitched whine) and had lifts installed as well. But he had kept the staircase.
The staircase served the little group's purpose. From the design of the building, it was more discreet using the stairs than the lift which opened up directly onto the corridor where the bedrooms were. Guards would have spotted them instantly then.
They proceeded softly up the stairs.
"Ugh," whispered Vila.
"What's wrong?" Jenna whispered, instantly concerned.
"Why is it I'm always the one who steps into something wet or slimy?" answered Vila, lifting up a foot. He sounded very disgusted. They could all see a bit of green gooish material on his lifted boot. There was a small patch of it in one corner of the stair he had been standing on. Someone must be a messy eater, thought Vila. And not very efficient cleaning bots.
"Come on. Let's keep going," whispered Jenna. She was also starting to feel nervous.
Cally had not expressed it but she had been feeling a sense of foreboding since they left the storage room. "Be careful," whispered Cally.
Jenna nodded and continued up the stairs. At the top, Jenna peered around the corner leading to the bedroom corridor. There were no guards. There was no one.
"What do you see?" whispered Vila.
"There's no one there," Jenna whispered back. They could both see she was confused.
"What do you mean?" Cally said in a quiet voice.
"I mean there are no guards. No one at all," clarified Jenna.
"I don't like this. I think we should run," said Vila.
"Maybe its a trap?" Cally suggested.
"Yes, maybe its a trap," Vila echoed Cally. "And we should run," he suggested again.
"No," said Jenna. "We still have to find Galena." She proceeded carefully down the corridor leaving them no choice except to follow or abandon her.
You were around Blake too long, reflected Vila as he reluctantly followed her.
Vila need not have worried. None of them needed to have worried. There was absolutely nothing. No guards. No people. And worse of all, no Galena to rescue.
"I don't get it," said Vila. "Where is everyone?"
"Jenna," Cally called her crewmate's attention. She was pointed to a low mark on the wall just outside the bedroom they had just finished checking. Jenna bent down and looked closely at it.
"That looks like a energy weapon burn," she identified.
"What in the galaxy has been going on?" asked Vila.