"Avon," a woman's voice was softly called his name. Through the fog of agony Avon found it difficult to focus enough to identify the speaker. Anna? He opened his eyes.
It was Servalan, she was bending down over him as he sat propped against the wall, arms hanging from the chains on either side. Hatred fought through the pain as he stared up at her.
"I brought someone here to help you."
A medtech was standing behind her. The guards released him; he groaned from the pain of the movements as they lay him on the ground.
The medtech fused his broken bones and healed his more serious injuries. When he had finished, he injected various drugs into Avon's neck. Until now no drugs had entered his system, other than the supplements and fluid injections to maintain his life. One of the drugs was a mild painkiller, the other Norphel-54, provoked increased mental activity, and a third injection was a mix of various drugs used by the Centre's psych interrogation specialists.
Servalan had wiped the sweat from his face as the medtech tended his injuries. The healing itself was painful but he would never show any weakness before her.
She was helpful, even gentle; her eyes showed her understanding of his pain. He hated her even more. He recognized the look in her eyes, it was the look she had that day in this same cellar when he had killed Anna with his own hands and no longer cared about anything. She had offered him the release of death then.
When the medtech had finished, the guards chained him back to the wall.
With shock, Avon realized what one of the drugs he had been injected with was, as the pain began to dull, but nothing showed on his face. He only stared blankly at the woman who had been watching him.
Servalan smiled, the man never revealed anything but apart from the hatred in his eyes, she recognized something else, something she had been looking for. That haunted look and the pain in his eyes which did not come from the physical wounds.
Things were progressing as planned; the physical torture had done its job. There was nothing like physical abuse to sap a person's strength and help foster a feeling of helplessness, and now with the addition of the drugs, things were being progressed to the next stage.
"I will come and see you again in a few days." She smiled as she turned to go, leaving him once more to the ghosts in the cellar.
Servalan went back to her private office. She watched Avon from time to time over the vidscreen on her desk as she returned to her presidential duties.
It had been eight days since their return from the Terrus trade center. The first two days, holoprojectors had intermittently projected images of Anna into the cellar when he was left exhausted, alone and barely conscious. They found that it had not really been necessary. Professor Tarkson had been correct, the cellar contained its own ghosts. The atmosphere, the smells and the sounds were much more effective than any illusion the holoprojectors or even any induced hypno-visions could have produced; in this atmosphere, he was being tortured by his own mind.
She was fascinated by the prospect of manipulating a mind into tearing itself apart; the power was intoxicating. She had always considering Avon a playmate as they had sought to destroy each other over the past five years, each was a mirror image of the other. The games were deadly. Their attraction was undeniable, even as they tried to kill each other; but his hatred for her went deep and he was far too dangerous for her to ever allow him to live, unless she could control him and she had discovered that he was much too valuable to be allowed to die.
The news had been bad, the WED group had virtually been wiped out. They had not been able to contact a single member of their group.
Jenna and Argus were nursing drinks in a darkened booth in the Sol Tapis bar in the West Europe Dome on Earth. From their vantage point, they could observe a bakery at the far end of the huge Paris commerce square.
"This one too, you were right."
"Damn," Argus exclaimed under his breath as he kissed her. They were pretending to be a romantic couple.
"That's the fourth one."
Each of the emergency contact points they had visited in the last four days was being observed by Federation secret security forces. The observers were not obvious but there was a distinct lack of uniformed presence. In a society as heavily regulated and watched as the Federation, this in itself was distinctly odd.
This meant that Federation interrogation had already broken enough members of their group that all of their emergency procedures had been compromised. It meant that even if some of the rebels had escaped capture, it was too dangerous to contact them, they would most likely be walking into a trap.
Using Avon's advanced anti-detector screen, the crew had entered the neighboring sector undetected. Argus and Jenna had then taken the fast scout shuttle to the Varb financial centre. Posing as a couple, they had boarded a tourist liner bound for Earth. Their goal had been to check the emergency contact points set up in case of a disaster, such as this.
"We even lost Doctor Alberay."
From reports gleaned by ORAC and their own investigations in the West Europe Dome, they had been putting together a picture of the last days of their rebel alliance group. The doctor had been killed by Federation troops, he had taken a shot in the leg and was covering the retreat of other members of the group from their primary safe house when he was killed.
It had been a simultaneous precision strike by Federation forces, the assault had been swift and devastating. The most damaging had been the loss of the rebels who were part of Federation Landforce Command; a purge had taken place in the weeks following the take-down.
Fortunately there were still a handful of key command contacts in other Federation Elite Forces who were only known by Argus. With the current state of affairs it would be along time before they could risk contacting any of them.
"It's hard to believe that a single ASP virus could gather enough information to cause this much damage. It would mean that they had been watching us for along time, they must have known that we were the ones who freed Avon. Why didn't they attack earlier?"
"You still don't trust him, do you?" Jenna asked Argus.
"It's going to be a long time before I do and he doesn't make it any easier."
Even though he had only known him for a short time personally, Argus knew he did not like Avon. It was not just because of his preconceptions of him from Jenna and Vila and the knowledge that he killed Blake; like Vila, Argus did not trust people who were too smart for their own good. But at least he is only self-serving, that at least is simple. After serving in the Federation's ranks most of his life, the people whom he hated the most were those who were self-serving and felt that they had every right to use and sacrifice others to further those interests.
"He has that effect on people."
"We should spend the last two days doing the tourist thing. If we appear at more contact points, it will look suspicious."
"It's hard to believe he's gone," said Cally as she sat with Vila in the central meeting area on the flight deck of the Justice.
"I know what you mean" Vila said. "I even miss the insults."
"No you don't."
"No I don't."
They had been trying to distract themselves by playing a card game but neither had the heart. Instead they were throwing the cards at a container sitting on one of the information consoles.
Cally said, “What you told the others about Terminal. You didn’t tell them that it was Avon who forced us to go through the particle cloud that eventually destroyed the Liberator.”
Vila looked uncomfortable. “I didn’t.”
“Why did you do that, Vila?”
“Because of what he did for you. I didn’t want them to know that. Avon thought he was doing it to save Blake then. Just like he risked everything to go down to save you. I couldn’t have them think that of him. Especially now that he’s died trying to do the same thing.”
There was a period of silence as they both recalled the events of those stressful days; how Avon had acted erratic and strange throughout, even for him. First threatening them and then trying to save them; risking their lives and then telling them to abandon him at the first side of trouble. It was confusing to remember, even now.
After awhile Vila said, "You know, things were really bad between Avon and me before Gauda Prime."
Vila told her about the autoshuttle incident. When it appeared that death was imminent and the only way to survive was to lighten the vessel before they crashed and there was nothing else to throw out, Avon had come looking for him. ORAC had told him that Vila had the necessary weight to be jettisoned but in the end it hadn't been necessary because Avon found a different solution. Things between them had never been the same after that, their constant insults of each other had taken on a bitter edge on Vila's part.
"But then sometimes he does something like this. I don't get it."
"No one does, Vila. I wonder if even Avon does. Vila, you mentioned Gauda Prime? What is that?"
"Oh, I forgot. You wouldn't have known about that." Vila looked troubled.
"Vila, what happened?"
Vila hadn't thought about the events of that day since Professor Tarkson had helped him sort out the memories Servalan and the Federation had fed into him, from what really happened. He wasn't sure he wanted to remember.
"It's not pretty."
"Alright." He began telling her what happened.