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B7: The Improbability Zone - Chapter 16

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Jenna contacted Argus at Borel's headquarters and explained the situation to him. Because he had already seen the aliens onboard the command ship which Reya's teams had destroyed, he was inclined to agree with their assessment of Sester's offer.
Argus had just spoken to Borel regarding the new development. He was now headed towards Reya's quarters.
He knocked on the door. There was no response. He knocked again, "Reya, it's me Argus. Let me in. I have to speak to you."
There was still no response. He was about to knock a third time when the door opened automatically.
Reya was sitting at a table, with her back to the door. Argus entered.
He stood awkwardly; waiting for her to turn around. This was the first time he had ever entered her room. Reya's quarters was a sparse place; there were barely any personal touches. It was as if its occupant never expected any permanency.
Argus was still standing by the door; as if he was afraid to enter further without her permission.
When it did not appear that she was going to face him, he began, "I…"
Then he stopped. He didn't know how to tell her.
"You're leaving aren't you?" asked Reya, surprising him. She still had her back towards him.
"How did you know?"
"All important communications goes through me."
"You mean you've been spying on me again. This has got to stop."
"You've told me now. Now get out."
"No," he said firmly.
"Please, Argus. Leave now."
"It's better this way."
"No. It's not."
This is getting us nowhere, thought Argus. Ever the man of action, he crossed the short distance to where she sat and spun her chair around to face him.
What he saw made him let go of the chair as if it was something hot which had just burned him. She had tried to hide it but he saw that she clearly had been crying.
No. It's not supposed to be like this, thought Argus.
"Are you happy now?" asked Reya. She stood up and faced him.
"I'm sorry," Argus told her. He didn't know what else to say. Argus had so many things he had planned to say to her; like a precision military manoeuvre. But it all fell apart the moment he saw her face.
"Will you get out now?" Reya asked again.
"Either say something else or leave."
Argus stared at her dumbly. How could he tell her that he was so incapable of thought right now that he could barely remember his own name?
"You really are hopeless aren't you?" Reya said to him when she realized he was frozen.
An insult. This was something he recognized; and instantly responded to.
"I'm not the one who was crying."
"We are a fine pair," said Reya sarcastically. She began pacing the room restlessly then stopped. Argus had still not moved. From behind him she said, "Well, are you going to say something else? Or do I have to insult you again?"
He turned around to face her and smiled.
"Stop smiling at me," she told him. For some reason his smile made her angry.
He could not take her crying. She could not take this look of joy on his face.
Argus turned serious again.
"I have to go, Reya. My team needs me. And with the aliens from Star One causing trouble again, I have to be out there." He stopped and waited for her to say something.
She didn't.
He asked her, "Come with me."
This provoked a response. She stared at him and saw he was being serious.
Insults came easily; truth was difficult.
"You know I can't go with you, Argus. Anymore than you can stay. The battle is far from over; I am needed here. And with what you have taught me, I will be even more effective. For people like us, duty always comes first. Anything else is a distant second."
"No." Argus shook his head. He thought he had the perfect plan and she was determined to destroy it.
Reya sighed. "You know it's true. I want you to leave now, Argus. If you don't, I'm going to cry again; then I'll never forgive you."
She was right; again. Why do you always do this to me? he thought. He had always thought himself the strong one but she was proving to be stronger; and he loved her for it.
"You're wonderful," he told her. He sounded so much like the Argus who had once been so incapacitated and so fixated on a single thought that this brought a smile to her lips.
"I know. Now will you leave?"
"Alright. But I have one more thing to do." He took her in his arms and kissed her.
For two people who were rough and highly physical, their embrace was exceedingly gentle.
After a few moments, he let go of her and without another word, he left.
"Welcome back, Argus," said Jenna as the rebel leader stepped off the teleport platform.
"Yes," said Argus absently. He sighed heavily then said, "Tell me what the situation is." He headed towards the flight deck without even looking to see if she was following.
Ignored, Vila stepped off the teleport platform and followed them. He had been the one to bring the teleport bracelet down to Argus. There was a puzzled look on Vila's face.
It had taken several days but the crew finally gathered all of the materials which ORAC had identified for the synthesis of the antidote.
"I think ORAC likes bossing us around," remarked Vila as they returned from the last foraging trip. This one involved trekking through miles of jungle because for some reason, only understandable to ORAC, they could not teleport there directly.
Vila was soaked to the skin and extremely muddy. He had accidentally fallen down a short embankment and into a stream.
"I will get this to the medical unit," said Cally, who was neither wet nor muddy. She was holding a large bag. From it was protruding plants with long spikey thorns.
"How long do you think it will take to synthesize the antidote now that we have the final ingredient?" asked Jenna, who had been operating the teleport controls to bring them back up.
"That is up to ORAC," Cally replied. "It has not been very forthcoming with information about that."
They all left the teleport room.
Argus had already left without a word to any of them.
The crew had noticed that since coming back from helping Borel, the rebel leader seemed different. Although he was normally not very communicative, he seemed even quieter than usual; only speaking to them when there was something operational to be discussed. And the way he acted did not invite questions about anything else.
They had all felt that it was better to leave him alone for now.
"You must be Argus," remarked Sester over the main viewscreen on the Justice.
"Yes, and you are Sester?"
"Why are you helping us?" Argus asked. Even though the others had explained it to him, he needed to assess the man on the screen for himself. The rebel leader was currently alone on the flight deck. He had asked to be alone for this meeting.
Sester nodded. If he were in the rebel leader's place he would also not be satisfied with second-hand knowledge. With him, Sester recognized that he would have to tell the truth. But he would have to be careful.
"I have been studying your group. I believe that your team will be essential in helping with the upcoming crisis. You are able to do things and access people who are otherwise inaccessible for us. You have proven that in how you handled the Athol situation. If it were not for your group, the aliens would already have taken over that Sector of space."
Even though Sester was speaking sincerely, his manner and his carefully measured words told Argus one thing. You are clever, thought Argus. Like Avon. Much too clever. What are you hiding?
"You are a military commander and I know that you would already have worked out that you need the Federation's forces in this crisis. The rebels are too few and too disorganized currently to provide much of a resistance alone. And you cannot fight both of us at the same time."
That much is true, thought Argus. If you have worked that out already then you will know my next question.
"I know you do not trust me. There is no reason why you should. We are enemies and will always remain so. But even enemies can use each other for common survival."
The man's logic was impeccable. I really hate psychostrategists, thought Argus.
"You told my team that you were giving us back Avon," said Argus.
Although if it were up to me, you can keep him, thought Argus
"Yes. As a gesture of how serious I am. I am doing this at great personal risk. And you know that although your team is very good; with him, you become exceptional."
Why are you so confident? wondered Argus. You would must know that giving us Avon is a double-edged weapon for the Federation.
"I am sending a coded burst signal directly to you. The files that you will need for Avon. They give a detailed history of what has been done to him and what drugs you will require."
"Drugs? Explain." This did not sound good.
"You spent some time at the Special Detention Centre yourself. You know some of the things which are done. But you were not there long enough to know all of the things which can be done to a human mind. Unfortunately Avon has been there longer than anyone has ever been. Some techniques were also devised specifically for him. I'm afraid that without the drugs he will no longer be able to function."
This made Argus very angry. But he was never a man to show emotion.
I would not wish this on anyone. Not even you Avon, thought Argus.
"One day the Federation will be held accountable for what it does. I will hold it accountable," promised Argus. His voice was cold and no one could mistake his seriousness.
"I would not expect anything else. But not today. And not until this crisis is over."
"You are very sure that we will cooperate."
"You do not have a choice. And neither do we," pointed out Sester. "We can go back to destroying each other when it is safe to do so."
The man was irritatingly superior.
"Very well. Send the files," said Argus.
The man on the screen did something offscreen.
Zen registered, "Report. Incoming files from active communication frequency."
"Accept the files and store under my personal security code, Zen."
Sester added, "I have also sent information to break his conditioning."
"Is there anything which was not done to him?" asked Argus sarcastically.
"We had a lot of time to work on him," replied Sester without apology. There were some details which were missing from the files sent; specifically what happened to Avon when he was with Servalan. Those details had never been recorded on any official record.
Sester continued, "The best place to rescue Avon is when he is at Residence One."
Argus didn't think he wanted to know why Avon would be there.
"Even though it will be heavily guarded, it will not be as inaccessible as the Special Detention Centre would be."
"It would be better if we were able to intercept him enroute."
"Unfortunately the route is highly classified and changes each time. I have no access to that information. And he has a heavy security escort. In the files you have just received, I have provided a detailed plan of the Residence and the weakest spots in the security system. The rest I leave up to your military skills. I will communicate one more time with you to tell you when Avon is at Residence One. After that, I do not think we should communicate again."
Sester judged that things would be a little more relaxed at night. It was unfortunate human nature that the earliest hours of the morning were also the weakest. As well, after Avon had been there a few hours, their guard would definitely be down.
Embarrassing for you Avon, but also your best chance, thought Sester.
"Do you have any questions?" Sester asked.
"No," replied Argus.
"Sester out."


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