Sester's voice droned on. The Federation President was only half paying attention to what he was saying. He was reporting on various possibilities for alien activity. It was an important topic but she had already received similar reports from Central Security. That was not why she was having him report to her. She was more interested in how he was saying it.
It had been almost a week since she had him released from the Special Detention Centre. He was very tame now. She had not expected that from him.
Sester had concluded his report and had been silent for a full minute. She started when she realized that she had been staring at him.
Perhaps it is time to give you a push, she thought. Like this, you are of no use to anyone.
"I thought I had told you to remain useful?" she told Sester.
"I thought I was. Isn't that why I am here? Giving you a report?"
"Come now Sester. This information you have given me. I already have my security people for that," she told him.
"Then I don't know what it is that you want from me," he told her.
"Yes, I'm wondering that myself."
Sester was looking at her suspiciously. There was something his mind couldn't quite grasp. It had been like that since the Detention Centre.
Being a psychostrategist meant making bold leaps of logic; like walking over invisible bridges. They were bridges which other people could not see but which were no less real. On these bridges psychostrategists built structures of possible realities. Sester had been one of the best.
Now I can barely build realities on bridges I can see, Sester thought. Maybe she's right.
His report had been nothing but a logical exercise.
A common genius could have done this, he thought.
Sester was no common genius; at least he didn't use to be.
Argus and Reya were still in an embrace; their bodies tightly pressed against each other. Their hands were roaming over each others bodies. Things had changed between them again and there was a desire to explore this different dynamic.
"We should stop now," said Reya; but Argus was irresistable and insistent. She moaned lightly as his lips found a sensitive part of her neck.
"You're right," he agreed; but he found it difficult to stop.
"My brother is going to come back." She was about to push him away but instead her hands began undoing his jacket.
"I thought you wanted to stop," he said in a teasing tone as he helped her.
"I said should, I didn't say wanted to," she told him. His jacket was now off, along with his shirt. He hissed as she her lips explored a ridge made by the muscles across his chest; he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
"Do you want to go back to the lake?" he asked as her hands explored his back.
"No. We can use my quarters," she told him.
"Then I should at least put my shirt back on."
"I like it off," she said teasingly.
"Yes, I know you do. Can we get something to eat too? I'm starving."
"Yes. We can stop by the kitchens. They always have something. I wouldn't want you to run out of energy." She smiled.
All was quiet aboard the Justice. After the unbearable hours of hearing Avon's screams echoing through the corridors, everyone seemed to be afraid of making loud noises of any kind. The analyst was still recuperating in his quarters. Cally was resting in hers. Vila was keeping Jenna company on the flight deck. Or rather Vila had just finished his shift but didn't want to go back to his empty cabin alone.
Even being on the outside of the door to the med bay had been terrible for him. Actually he found it was even worse. He didn't want to close his eyes because he was afraid of what his imagination would come up with.
The old Vila would have been well into a bottle of alchohol right now but he had made a mental promise to Avon that he would not touch a drop until the analyst's ordeal had ended. It had ended and Vila still couldn't. He had gone to the dining area and filled a glass after the screams had ended but the first drink had made him ill. His stomach was in knots.
"Vila, go get some adrenaline and soma," said Jenna when she noticed that Vila looked in bad shape.
"I can't," replied Vila. "I don't know why I can't, but I can't. So don't ask me." He didn't tell her that the idea of entering the medical bay also made him ill; just the thought that Avon had been in there hours earlier, screaming in pain, made it impossible.
"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Jenna.
Vila had never been good at pain; not even watching other people in pain. Or listening through medical bay doors as someone screamed in agony on the other side.
Tell us what we want to know delta-grade scum! Where is ORAC? Shouted a black shirted Federation guard even as he kicked him.
No! thought Vila. Why am I remembering this? I don't want to remember this.
After being shot on Gauda Prime; after watching all of his friends die; after witnessing Avon shooting Blake and then feeling the pain as a Federation pulse rifle shot hit him in the back; then darkness and oblivion; Vila had woken up in a prison medical facility. They had patched him up and then the interrogators had come for him.
They tortured him for days trying to extract the location of ORAC. Vila unconsciously cradled his right hand in his left at the memory. They had almost dislocated every finger of his right hand. He thought that he would never be able to use it again. Vila's hand clenched at that thought.
I told you, I don't know! I don't know! Only Avon knew.
Vila had screamed at that point as they dislocated another finger.
Vila winced at the memory. It wasn't just the pain; it was the thought that he had betrayed Avon.
"Vila, are you alright?" Jenna asked as she noticed his look of pain.
"I'm fine. Maybe I'll go get some sleep," said Vila, getting up. He didn't want to be alone right now, but neither did he want these questions.
"That's a good idea, Vila," said Jenna. She was relieved that Vila had decided to go get some rest. He looked very tired.
Vila left the flight deck. He proceeded along the corridor a distance and stopped. He didn't want to go back to his cabin and sleep; and neither did he want to go to the medical bay, or the dining area; and definitely not back to the flight deck. There was nowhere on the ship he wanted to go.
Except one place.
Jenna was glad that Vila had left. She wanted to be alone for awhile. The solitude of the flight deck, with only the random computer and ship sounds was what she needed right now.
Since they had rescued Avon, Jenna had been conflicted and confused. When they all thought that Avon had betrayed them or that he had gone over to work with the enemy, it had been easy. Hating him was something she wanted to do. Avon had killed Blake. No matter what reasons he gave for doing it, that was something he could not change.
When Avon had shot Argus in the teleport room; Jenna had gladly embraced the anger again and the feelings of revenge. But things had changed again. It was no longer easy.
Now it seemed that he had done it in order to save Cally's life. He had saved all of their lives; at a terrible cost to himself.
Why Avon? Why did you do it?
She still could not believe he was capable of such a thing.
Not that cold, self-seeking, calculating mind. You could not be capable of that.
But the evidence said otherwise.
What did you have to gain? Jenna did not understand it.
Why did you believe in him Blake? Why? For some illogical reason, she was mad at Blake too. Blake had insisted on trusting in Avon even despite her warnings.
You didn't know, but he wanted to abandon you on Cygnus Alpha, Blake. I was the one who had to stop him. She remembered telling Blake after Star One. She and Blake had gone off together to fight the Federation. Blake had been proud of Avon when it appeared the analyst and his new crew were doing the same. But Blake had just smiled. He had known even then.
Part of Jenna's anger was directed at herself. When she had heard the screams and found out they had come from Avon; she could not be entirely cold to his suffering. But I can never forget what you did to Blake, she thought. Someone has to remember.
Borel had noticed Reya and Argus coming out of his office. The young general had been deep in discussions with his admirals and generals. They were in the midst of planning a major campaign. Borel and Kam wanted to prevent Ellis's forces in quadrant five from receiving anymore reinforcements. It had been a long battle there and it was still not over.
Reya and Argus had been very quiet; they were clearly trying to not draw attention to themselves. No one had noticed, except Borel; who had been looking towards the door to his office intermittently during his meeting. Borel pretended not to notice them. The situation with the strange phenomenom in quadrant eight was important but it could wait another day. Borel wondered if they had resolved anything yet.
At least you're still together, Borel thought; breathing a sigh of relief. I should have realized that nothing could separate the two of you, not even yourselves.
From the little he had been able to observe before they left the room, they seemed to be almost conspiratorial. He could swear he could see a hint of a mischievous smile on his sister's face. And there had definitely been a grin on Argu's face.
The young general shook his head. He would never be able to understand their relationship. Borel turned his attention back to his generals and the much more understandable problem before them.