Arsenic, cyanide, what else? Avon was trying to remember. Even memory is impaired now. Have to do this. While my mind still can.
Avon was in the medical bay; he had barely managed to drag himself here. He was desperately trying to recall the little information he knew about poisons.
He was upset at himself for not thinking about this earlier, when he had access to ORAC. It was another symptom that his mind was not functioning properly. He would normally have come up with many ingenious ways to solve his problem and been well-prepared by now.
He wondered if it was possible to be dispassionately upset when one was in the process of losing one's mind.
What are the effects of these poisons? He didn't know which one would be less painful or if any of them were quick. The necessity of having to decide was causing irrational feelings of panic again.
Can't even do this without becoming incapacitated.
He was starting to hyperventilate again. If I don't do this now; soon I won't be able to. Avon picked one at random and positioned it on his arm and depressed the injector button.
At that moment Argus and Reya arrived.
The rebel leader saw what Avon was about to do, immediately guessed why and with blinding speed had crossed the room and knocked the injector out of Avon's hand. It was fast enough to prevent most of the poison from entering the analyst's system, but not all.
Avon grabbed for the injector. Argus stopped him again. The two men fought but Avon was no match for the experience and strength of the rebel leader. Argus tackled him to the ground. He was trying not to hurt him but Avon was struggling like a man possessed.
"No!" Avon yelled out; the struggle was too reminiscent of his experiences at the Detention Centre. His mind was beginning to equate what happened there with his current struggle; his body's familiarity with these sensations was provoking emotional reactions which were confusing his mind.
At the Centre, Avon refused to passively accept being tortured and even though it was useless, he always fought the guards when they came for him in his cell. They always ended up immobilizing him until he stopped struggling; holding him down just like Argus was doing to him now, or beating him until he stopped moving. Then they would bring him to be tortured.
Argus twisted the analyst's arm around behind and held him with his face towards the ground. "No!" Avon cried out again. His confused mind was barely able to separating the reality from the memory now. He didn't want to be tortured again.
"Avon, stop struggling," Argus told him. "Reya, see if you can find Cally. Tell her that Avon may have injected himself with poison. Hurry!"
Reya rushed out.
Avon was too tired to struggle anymore. He was breathing heavily from the effort. The small amount of poison which he had managed to inject himself with was taking effect. He could feel a general numbness; he was becoming calmer. Ironically this seemed to give his mind what it needed to right itself again.
"Hang on, Avon," Argus encouraged him as he continued to hold the analyst down.
"No," Avon responded in refusal. His voice was calm, even though he was still breathing heavily.
He remembered why he was there.
There is no reason to hang on. Not anymore. I want to do something for myself now. He realized it had been along time since he was able to do that.
Argus did not know what to say to him.
"Let me go," Avon told Argus.
"Are you going to stop trying to kill yourself?"
"I'm no use anymore. I can't do what you want. My mind no longer works. It's better to let me die." Avon was calm now. He didn't know if he was regaining control or if it was an effect of the poison.
"I can't do that, Avon."
"Please, Argus. Let me go."
Before the rebel leader could respond, Cally and Reya rushed into the medical bay.
"Cally. I think Avon injected himself with poison. I stopped him in time but some of it may have entered his system. The injector is over there." Argus nodded in the direction of where the injector had been dropped.
Cally picked it up and looked at the settings. "You're right. Some of it did."
"Do you know the poison?" asked Argus.
"Yes. I'll get the antidote." Cally went to the medical stores cupboard.
"Reya, can you help?"
The two commanders lifted Avon up and laid him out on the bio-bed. Avon was passive and unresisting. He knew he didn't have a choice anymore. His opportunity had passed. They were going to force him to live; and it was going to be just as painful as it had been at the Detention Centre.
Avon closed his eyes.
"How could you possibly think that this man could function as if nothing had happened?" Healer Garett was berating all of them.
They had taken Reya's advice and invited Healer Garett aboard the Justice. Argus had allowed the healer to see all of Avon's files; which the psychostrategist had given them, as long as he did not reveal any of the details to the others.
Garett had also made an examination of the sleeping Avon in the ship's medical bay.
They were now all on the flight deck, except for Vila who had been left to watch over the analyst in the medical bay. Vila had insisted on it.
"We thought that it would be easier for him to recover," explained Argus. "And he didn't want us to act any differently."
"You of all people should know that a patient is often the worst judge of what he needs."
Argus remembered only too well; he had been one of those patients.
"What can be done for him?" asked Argus.
"First of all, you should all realize that this man will never go back to the way you remember him. After all that's happened to him, it's not possible. I'm just surprised he lasted this long. He must have found it very difficult when he came back. He must have extraordinary will."
"He does," said Cally.
"You are the resident healer?" Garett asked Cally.
"I am only the medic. I have a little knowledge of medical matters. I am not a healer."
"Have you noticed Avon having problems making decisions? Even something like deciding what to wear or what to eat causes panic?"
"Yes," replied Cally.
They all looked in surprise at Cally.
"Why didn't you tell me about this?" asked Argus.
"I didn't think he would want anyone to know."
Argus did not react but he did make a mental note. I really must provide some training for the crew. These personal considerations are becoming an annoyance.
"Why would these things cause him problems?" Argus asked Garett.
"For someone who has been imprisoned and tortured as long as Avon has, the mind tries to hold onto to whatever security it can. In Avon's case, it seems they deliberately did not allow him anything. The only thing he could do was to find comfort in the familiar; the routine. Even being tortured or used or having all choice taken away becomes something familiar. He must have been terrified when all of that changed; and not know why he was feeling that way. It would have been something beyond his conscious control; which given his character, would have made it even worse for him."
"What can be done for him?" Argus asked again.
"There is also something else you need to consider."
"Unfortunately. What they did to his mind. And the drugs they used to manipulate him. They are very disturbing and had great potential for doing damage. I am going to have to examine him more closely when he wakes up. The injury they did to his mind will have to be assessed. I'm afraid that when you broke the conditioning, it may have been too soon. You should have waited until his mind had more time to recover; and you dealt with some of the other problems first. There is no telling what additional damage was done."
"When he was on the flight deck, I go the impression that he was having great difficulties concentrating," Cally volunteered.
"That's probably why he tried to kill himself. He thought that his mind was lost," said Argus. I really must provide guidelines on communication soon, he thought.
"That's what I was afraid of," said Garett. "His mind is beginning to break down."
That was something none of them wanted to hear.
"Can it be stopped?" asked Argus.
"That is something I need to assess. I will need access to some sophisticated machines which I can arrange to have brought in. They will be able to determine the physical state of his brain and I will need time with him to assess the rest. Bring him down to Zirgon. It's probably best if some of you came with him. He needs people around him who he is familiar with and trusts. He must never be left alone. People who have suffered this kind of trauma often become suicidal or exhibit self-destructive behaviours."
Argus and Cally realized that they were very lucky that Avon was still alive.
"Alright," said Argus. "Cally and Vila can go down with him. And Commander Reve and I will also go down and inform the General. Jenna, you can watch things here."
An hour later Garett was examining Avon in the infirmary at the castle; while Cally and Vila observed. Argus and Reya communicated with Borel; informing him what was happening and those they needed a few days before they could proceed to quadrant eight. The machines the healer had mentioned would not arrive until the next day.
After that, with nothing else to do except wait for Garett's results, it did not take long for Reya to have Argus out of his shirt and jacket again. She was very determined.
Reya was doing what she originally wanted to do when they were aboard the Justice. Her hands were stroking his bare chest; feeling the definition of the muscles there. Argus lay back in the sand with his eyes closed, enjoying the sensation of her hands on his body.
They were by the lake again; they had wanted to avoid accidently running into Vila or Cally back at the castle.
"What will you do if Healer Garett finds that nothing can be done?" asked Reya.
"Hmm?" asked Argus. He was too preoccupied; he was only aware of her hands.
Realizing he was finding it difficult to concentrate on what she was saying while she was playing with him; Reya lifted her hands.
Argus opened his eyes. "What?"
"Pay attention dear."
"When did you start using that?" asked Argus.
"Calling me dear?"
"You want me to stop?"
"No. I just thought you weren't like that."
"Like what?" Reya was confused.
She gave him a mock punch to the shoulder. "Watch it you. I can be sweet if I want to be."
Argus intercepted her hand and pulled her on top of him.
"I thought you would never stop calling me Commander Argus," he said as he began kissing her neck. He was gentle and teasing; passionate and irresistible.
"That was just on the ship. If you think I'm going to call you that in bed, you are dreaming."
"We're on a beach," he pointed out reasonably.
"Do you want me to hurt you?" she asked smiling.
"You're the only one who can."
Reya looked down into his eyes; he had turned serious.
"What am I going to do with you?" she asked, touching her hand to his face.
"I can think of many things," he said playfully. The brief serious moment had passed.
"So can I," she said as she kissed him deeply. They were soon lost in each other's passion.
Afterwards as they lay resting beside each other, Argus asked, "Well?"
"Yes, you are amazing and I'm still not calling you Commander Argus in bed. You still haven't answered my question."
Argus smiled and rolled his body to face her. He started to caress her; he loved the feel of her body and how she responded to his touch.
"Which question?" he asked.
It was her turn to find it difficult to concentrate. "What will you do if Healer Garett finds that nothing can be done?"
"Hopefully that won't be the case," replied Argus as he began kissing different parts of her body while his hands explored others.
"You have to face the possibility."
"Then we'll have to find a place where he will be safe and can be taken care of."
"You're going to leave him behind?"
"We can't take him with us. He would become a liability and we can't spare the time or resources to take care of him. There will be too much danger in what we will be doing; it wouldn't be good for him or us. He would be better off somewhere they could take care of him."
Argus said all of this intermittently as he continued to caress her. Reya also responded intermittently as she tried to maintain enough of a focus to continue their conversation. It was not easy; he was very good. He seemed to instantly know what would increase her desire.
Reya gasped as his lips reached a sensitive part of her body; and began to moan softly as he continued to assault her senses.
It was now impossible for her to concentrate on anything else except the sensations he was arousing in her. He rolled on top of her. She didn't think it was possible for a man to be ready again so soon; she was discovering that he was no ordinary man as he entered her again.