"Madame President, I will not be able to arrange a meeting for you with Drel Argus," Sester reported to Servalan. "Not for awhile."
Sester had been in communication with the psychostrategy team in Sector Ten. It appeared that the Justice was still in that sector.
"Why is that?" asked the Federation President.
"They are on their way to check out a potential threat in quadrant eight of that sector."
"How do you know this?"
"We still have spies with each of the Reve brothers."
"Very good. Keep me informed and arrange the meeting as soon as they have dealt with the threat. I think I like having the Justice crew handling potential threats to the Federation."
"They don't see it that way."
"Of course they don't. They have no sense of the poetic. But it is only a matter of time before the entire sector is ours."
"You may also be interested to know that it appears Avon is having problems. Our people with Borel's group report that he is suffering a mental breakdown of some sort."
Even though Servalan's face revealed nothing outwardly; inwardly she was reacting in shock. She had not expected this news; in her eyes, Avon had always proven to be strong in the end, no matter what they did to him. He had always been able to bounce back before.
Did we do too much to you, Avon?
She hoped not; she did not want to accept a world where Avon would no longer be able fight.
Avon had been returned to the Justice and was set up in the medical bay; with Vila in attendance. Vila had refused to leave Avon's side, despite Cally's insistence that he get some rest.
"I can watch Avon," Cally had told him. "You can help him better if you got some rest. You are no good to him if your judgement becomes impaired from lack of sleep."
Even faced with this perfectly reasonable argument, Vila still refused to leave. So Cally had set up a cot for him next to the Avon.
Avon opened his eyes. For a moment he was disoriented; the last memory he had was of being somewhere unfamiliar. He did not recall any specific details. Now it appeared he was back on the ship.
This is disturbing. Was it even real? Or was it another nightmare?
The memories he did have were vague and full of unreasoning fear and panic; they seemed to belong to someone else.
He would have preferred a nightmare rather than this uncertainty; and the possible indication that he was losing his mind.
At least my mind is clear now. He could not remember the last time that was true. Feelings of fear and panic threatened to surface again.
He closed his eyes in concentration. As long as my mind is functioning, I will maintain control. His will was strong. The feelings of fear and panic receded to where they belonged. He opened his eyes again.
I appear to be in the medical bay on the ship, he identified. Avon still refused to call the ship by the name the crew had given it while he was at the Detention Centre. The Justice sounded too much like rebel politics. He had enough of that to last a lifetime.
"Avon. You're awake," said Vila.
The thief had been sitting on the cot next to Avon's bio-bed; preoccupied with doing finger exercises with a small round disk. He had only just noticed that Avon's eyes were open.
"Observant as usual, Vila," said Avon. You were there too, thought Avon. In those memories. Should I try to find out if they were real? Do I want to know?
Vila thought with alarm, Oh no. It's happening again. He must be reliving the same memory. I can't let this happen again.
"Don't do that Avon," said Vila, putting the disk down on the table beside the analyst's bed.
"What are you talking about Vila?"
"You're repeating the same words again. You can't do that."
"You are not making any sense Vila." As usual, thought Avon. "Explain yourself."
"Don't you remember?" asked Vila.
"If I knew what you were talking about, I would not be asking."
You don't remember anything? wondered Vila. Should I tell him? Maybe it's better if you don't know. How do you tell someone that they are losing their mind?
Vila wished Cally were there or even Healer Garett. They would know how to handle this. He realized he had to tell Avon something. In the end it was Avon's character which helped him decide.
You always wanted to know the truth, thought Vila. You would hate if we kept this from you and you found out later.
"Do you remember being down on Zirgon, Avon?" Vila asked him.
"I have vague recollections," answered Avon guardedly. So the memories are of Zirgon. He remembered Argus mentioning that he had spent several months there, helping out one of the Reve brothers. My memories are not completely impaired then.
This was both a relief and a disturbing discovery. It means that the memories may be true. The unreasoning fear and panic were mine.
He did not remember being brought down to the planet. I must be suffering from memory lapses as well.
Vila decided to try something. "Do you remember attacking me and injuring me horribly?"
Avon looked at Vila critically; studying him from head to toe. He knew the thief was trying to be clever. And not succeeding.
"If I were to injure you horribly, Vila; you would be dead," said Avon. "Now tell me what happened on the planet." It is clear something did.
He sounds like the old Avon, thought Vila.
"When you were on Zirgon, we put you in the infirmary. I think it reminded you of when we were in the secondary safe house on Earth," explained Vila. "When you woke up, you started reliving what happened there. Then when things started being different, you began acting strangely. Healer Garett said that your mind couldn't handle it."
Avon had brief flashes of memories as Vila was explaining. The memories seemed disjointed and unreal. They were accompanied by unwelcome feelings.
He also remembered Garett now; the Healer from General Borel's staff. The man had examined his brain with various machines; machines reminiscent of the ones used at the Special Detention Centre.
Garett had also asked many questions in order to assess the condition of his mind; like someone else had done when he was at the Detention Centre.
Avon was beginning to piece together how his brain must have been working. If I understand it, perhaps I can prevent it from happening again. This was his hope.
Garett does not look like Tarkson. But the combination of all these similar factors must have been enough to set off a negative reaction in my mind.
It sounded like a plausible explanation.
"When did this event occur?" asked Avon. "Was this before or after Garett examined me?"
"It was after," replied Vila. Why would this be important? he wondered.
It makes sense, thought Avon. His theory had more confirmation. This did not explain the other instances of unreasoning panic he had experienced.
But it is a start.
Since they were going to force him to live; he was going to make sure it was on his terms. He refused to be a source of sympathy for the others.
"Why aren't you on the ship with Argus?" Borel asked Reya.
Borel made it a point to share at least one meal with his sister when she was at the command centre. They were sitting around a table in his office; enjoying a delicious meal of grilled meats and vegetables. Borel always tried to arrange some real food whenever he invited his sister for a meal. He knew that the constituted foods onboard the ships may contain all of the required nutrients but what they made up for in nutritional value, they lacked in anything else appealing.
"I have several things to check out here. I will be joining the Justice tomorrow," said Reya.
"What happened?" asked Borel with concern in his voice. Reya and Argus's relationship was so volatile from day-to-day that he wasn't sure if they had another blow out fight again. He had been concerned about the two of them since he found out that they had not returned to Argus's ship together.
Instead of answering his question, Reya asked, "Don't you think you've caused enough trouble little brother?"
"I don't know what you mean," said Borel innocently; he had not expected the tables turned on him quite so quickly.
"Remember. No one knows you as well as I do Borel," said Reya. "You have been trying to push Argus and me together since the beginning.
Was I so obvious? thought Borel.
"The two of you didn't need much pushing," he told her. "You forget that I know you well too Reya. You have been fighting this since the beginning. I just gave you a little help."
Though at times I thought that help might involve sending out a healer team after the two of you. Or perhaps several guards, thought Borel.
Was I so obvious? thought Reya. It was disconcerting having a brother who understood her as well as Borel did. How did you know I was trying to avoid it, when I didn't know it myself?
"You don't need to worry about us," she told him. "Whatever comes out of our relationship will be determined by us. Now can we stop talking about this? Or do you want me ask about the state of your relationship?"
"Let's talk about something else," said Borel hastily.