"Is Argus still in his cabin?" Jenna asked as Cally came down the steps to the flight deck.
"Yes. He has not come to the dining area for his meal again," replied the Auron. "I have asked Vila to deliver the food to him on a tray when he brings Avon his."
"I'm sure he was happy to do that," said Jenna cynically, knowing Vila's aversion to work of any kind.
Since his rescue, Avon had been recovering in the medical bay; attended to by Cally. Avon had complained constantly that he could recover better in his cabin. After a week, she had finally agreed to release him on the condition that Vila bring him changes of clothing and his meals. Avon did not mind that at all. Having Vila do things for him was amusing; especially since Vila complained bitterly that he was not the domestic help on the ship.
It had been a week since Avon had been rescued from Servalan at Residence One. Since then they had all been very concerned about him. Despite the embarrassing circumstances which had caught him in Servalan's bedroom, they knew that there was nothing funny about being a prisoner of the Federation President.
Even though Argus was the only one who had access to the files sent by psychostrategist Sester, regarding the treatment which Avon had received during his three years at the Federation Special Detention Centre; Argus had told them a few of the details.
Cally was the only member of the crew who got to see the two men on a regular basis; and only because she was the resident medic who saw to both men's recovery.
Argus was still experiencing some shoulder pain and stiffness. He had been ambushed on a mission out in Sector Ten for General Borel Reve. His captors had tortured him and nearly twisted both his arms from their sockets, causing extensive tearing. He was nearly a hundred percent but with injuries of this type, there were always residual effects which lingered without proper maintenance.
The Argus always reported to the medical bay on time and submitted to the examination by Cally. It had become such a routine that he rarely uttered a word. It was almost as if only his body came for examination.
Avon was a different case. To Cally's horror, in her initial examinations, she had discovered that there were not many things which were not wrong with him. Three years of being tortured and abused at the Federation Special Detention Centre tended to kill most people. But Avon's will to survive had been strong and they had not let him die.
Argus had allowed the Auron to see Avon's medical records from the Detention Centre. What she read, had made her wish that they had not agreed to work with the Federation, despite the danger from the alien invaders. The torture they had submitted him to had been inhuman. The injuries could be healed and the physical scarring could be removed with the advanced medical facilities of the Justice. But the deeper psychological wounds caused by the torture; Cally was afraid they would scar him forever.
Avon received several hours of treatment from Cally twice a day along with a regular regimen of drugs to reduce pain, encourage healing and to stabilize his body chemistry; and some special ones he could not live without.
The amount of drugs they had to give him made Cally angry. She found it difficult to have to give them to him every day. He accepted them so passively now; it was as if it was a normal occurrence. From the records, she knew it had been like that at the Detention Centre; except there the drugs also contained many other things used to control him and cause him discomfort.
At first he had refused the pain blockers, wanting to reduce the amount of drugs to a minimum. But they had to have Vila break the lock to his cabin one day because he had not come out for two days and did not respond to calls at his door. They had found him collapsed on the floor, so incapacitated by pain that he was unable to move, unable to even call out for help.
After that he accepted that he could not do without more drugs; at least not until he had healed enough for the pain to no longer be a problem. Cally could tell that he hated it at first but after a couple of days, he had become like Argus; his body submitted for treatment but that was all. He refused any personal questions and only responded to requests about his health.
The special drugs she was required to give him made her the angriest. From her limited knowledge of pharmacology, she knew that these were sophisticated chemicals used to regulate his brain function. At first, when Argus had told her that she had to give them to Avon, without an explanation of why, she had refused. He then finally relented and allowed her to see the files pertaining to what they had done to Avon's mind.
What she had read had made her ill. Cally did not see how Avon could have managed to survive and still be sane after what they had done to him. If it had been her, she would have tried to kill herself. In a way it was for the best that he was cold and impersonal during his sessions with her. Knowing what she did now, Cally did not trust herself to be able to remain objective; and he would have hated her sympathy. It was difficult enough for him already; she did not want to inflict that on him.
She now understood why Argus had kept Avon's files coded to himself only; even though the others constantly gave him grief for it and accused him of being controlling by keeping the information for himself. Cally no longer gave him a hard time about it.
Avon's physical injuries, both external and internal were healing. He would still require weeks of rehabilitation to regain muscle strength, endurance and flexibility but he was on the way to recovery; though he would probably never be one hundred percent again and would suffer chronic pains. Cally did the best that she could but even with the advanced medical capabilities of the Justice, the years of being tortured and having his body manipulated had done irreparable damage. If it had not been for the healing tanks and the advanced medical facilities at the Detention Centre, his body would have collapsed long ago. Cally did not know he could have withstood the constant pain he must have experienced at the Centre.
There was only one physical area which still concerned her. The injury to his knee. Avon walked with a visible pained limp but he refused to allow Cally to examine the injured joint. He was so illogically stubborn about it that she wondered if it had some psychological component caused by the interrogators at the Special Detention Centre. She had decided to accept his refusal for now. There were too many other more serious injuries to handle that this one could be dealt with later.
Argus was restless. He had just come back from his daily examination by Cally and was in his cabin. He had a major concern. As the leader, he responsible for the safety of the crew. There was someone onboard who posed a potential threat to this safety.
Back at Residence One, Argus had given Avon a chance to kill Servalan; and Avon had spared her life and gave no explanation as to why. Argus was worried that it was part of the conditioning which Avon had undergone at the Federation Special Detention Centre. Psychostrategist Sester's extensive files on Avon had revealed that only one type of conditioning had been done on him. Argus doubted that was true. They had Avon for three years; he did not believe they did not subject him to other forms of conditioning. This was what was troubling Argus.
Regardless of whether it was the only form or not, what was done to Avon was a horrifying type of conditioning which had made him little more than a puppet to be used by Servalan. His mind was forced to work on anything she had directed him to work on. It was a state which could be turned on or off according to her whims. He was completely helpless when it was activated. And from the records, they had forced this condition on him for long periods every day, barely allowing his mind time to rest. Any attempt to refuse resulted in building pressures in the brain which became exponentially unbearable until his mind could no longer withstand the pressures and he descended into madness. Argus could not imagine the horror of having to be forced to live like that; to be used like that even for a few days. Avon had endured it for three years.
Argus had not yet informed the crew of this. They were already distressed enough reacting to Avon's physical condition.
Argus knew that the sooner they broke the conditioning the better but Avon was not yet strong enough for them to attempt it. The method the files recommended required that the analyst be much stronger than he was currently.
After having endured torture himself, Argus knew that the last thing Avon would want was to see sympathy or pity in other people's eyes. It was hard enough experiencing the weakness of your own body without that. That was why Argus had locked the files Sester had sent regarding Avon's time at the Special Detention Centre; and refused to allow the rest of the crew to see them. No matter how much Argus distrusted the man; Avon did not deserve to have his dignity taken away. The only one Argus had allowed a limited access to the information was Cally, and only because she required it as their resident medic.
As a Federation commando, Argus had received specialized training to resist torture and other forms of persuasion and conditioning. But the training had also taught him that no one could hold out forever, especially not against the kind of advanced techniques used at the Special Detention Centre. That Avon had been able to resist spoke a lot about the strength of his mind and will. In this Argus admired him a great deal. But this kind of strength and will in someone who had few scruples and whose first priority was to himself, made him an extremely dangerous man. Argus knew he had to always keep his guard up with Avon. He could never allow the analyst to endanger the crew or their mission; especially with the looming crisis with the alien invaders.
Argus got up and headed towards the door, he had made a decision.
"I can't find him anywhere," said Vila. "I went to his cabin to deliver the tray like you asked and he wasn't there."
"How do you know that he wasn't just ignoring you?" asked Jenna.
"Well, I just do," said Vila.
"Vila, did you break into Argus's cabin? You know he's not going to like that," said Jenna.
"He hasn't eaten in two days. He has to eat something," Vila defended himself.
Jenna shook her head. Cally had been right, Vila was worried.
"Is Avon still in his cabin?" she asked.
"Yes. He told me to go away. I left his tray outside his door," replied Vila.
"Let's go and get Cally and we'll all make a search of the ship."
They headed off to conduct the search.
"Vila is very persistent," remarked Argus. He had come to talk to Avon after making his decision. They had both heard Vila outside Avon's door, trying to persuade the analyst to let him in.
"But not as successful as you apparently," said Avon.
The two men were seated opposite each other at a table in Avon's cabin.
"Ask your question," said Avon.
"Why did you do it?" asked Argus.
"You mean, why didn't I do it?" said Avon correcting him.
Are we going to play word games now while you avoid answering the question? thought Argus. Argus did not respond; he just waited.
Realizing that Argus was not to be baited, Avon sighed. He did not want to answer the question. He did not like his own answer any more than he knew that Argus would.
"You already know the answer," said Avon. "Otherwise you wouldn't be here confronting me."
Argus had remembered teleporting into Servalan's bedroom with Vila in order to rescue Avon. He had found what he had expected to find; Avon in bed with Servalan. This was not why he had been disturbed. He had guessed that given Servalan's controlling nature and her fascination with Avon; it was not inconceivable that she would force that kind of service from him.
It was Avon's actions when he saw Argus and Vila suddenly appearing in the room which spoke volumes. Avon and Servalan had both been naked on the bed; but when Avon saw the two intruders; his first response had been to pull the blanket over Servalan, protecting her dignity.
Argus had given Avon the chance to kill her; to have the opportunity to exact revenge on the woman who had used and abused him for so long; and as a test of Avon. Argus had known that killing Servalan would cause great complications in terms of the conflict they were all about to face with the alien invaders. But he had been willing to give Avon the chance; and deal with the fallout later.
"What are you going to do?" asked Avon. Avon knew what he would have done in the Argus's place.