"What are you doing here?!"
"I could ask you the same question."
There were various cries of shock from several very astonished people.
"Do you mind if we join you? We're hiding from the Federation patrol," asked Allren.
"Quick. Get in. Did you two get yourselves into trouble again?" asked Jenna as Ture and Allren joined them in the now crowded alcove.
"It wasn't me. It was him," said Allren, jerking his thumb in Ture's direction.
Ture shrugged and asked, "Is Cally here?"
"She's somewhere," said Vila. "We're not exactly sure where. We've been looking for them."
Jenna said, "What Vila is trying to say is that Avon and Cally…"
The mention of Avon's name provoked an immediate response. "Avon?? He's here? On Papos?" The look on Ture's face was one of surprise and something bordering on awe.
Vila mumbled to himself, "Great. Just what we need. Another person who thinks Avon is wonderful."
Why couldn't we find someone who thinks that I'm wonderful for a change, thought Vila.
Jenna continued to explain, "Yes. He and Cally came down for some medical supplies. We're not sure if they've gone back to the ship. Vila and I have been looking for them."
"Do you know what's going on here?" asked Allren.
The two groups shared information quietly as the Federation patrol rushed past them and continued down the avenue.
"I think you may be right, Jenna. We seem to have landed in the middle of a takeover," said Allren.
"They used an EMP wave of some kind," said Ture. He sounded very sure.
"What's an EMP wave?" asked Vila.
"It's a high-intensity electromagnetic pulse wave which produces power surges which damages virtually all circuit based technology," replied Ture.
"Which is just about everything these days," added Allren.
"It sounds like whoever is the cause of this pulse is the same people who are using these," said Jenna holding up the projectile weapon.
As if on cue, numerous projectile weapon-like sounds began filling the night air from all directions around them.
Psychostrategist Sester was making his way carefully down the corridor on the ground level of the main Federation Security building. He was trying to escape before any of Dayto's men found him. This corridor had a window view so it was no longer pitch black but it was still dark. Sester had not failed to notice that the entire city seemed to have lost all power and that none of the emergency systems appeared to be working.
This was no accident. The only way this could have happened is if it was deliberately planned, thought Sester. He knew that it could not have been caused by Dayto or any of his group. The man had been as surprised as Sester had been by being plunged into darkness.
Sester wondered how far the power loss extended.
We never know how dependent we are on technology until we lose it, he thought. Sester was still breathless from having had to use the stairs; Dayto's office had been on the top floor of a twenty-storey building.
He had to risk the corridors, it was the only way to leave the building; but so far no one seemed to be paying any attention to him. They all had other concerns. Another group rushed past him; Sester flattened himself against the wall in order to get out of their way.
With the comms out, Sester guessed that Dayto would not be able to send out a wide alert to have him apprehended. That did not mean that he didn't have some people looking for him. He would still have to be careful and draw as little attention to himself as possible.
Sester wondered how many people in the building were part of Dayto's group and how many were still loyal to the Federation. He couldn't risk trying to find out.
He still did not know who had knocked out all of the power and even the emergency systems. This was an unknown third force he had no information about.
It is too dangerous to trusting anyone in this city. I need a way to contact Servalan. She must have already sent someone after me when I missed my regular contact. I have to find a way to connect with them.
Sester knew she would have sent someone after him.
Are you thinking that I am trying to escape you? he wondered. Despite the inconvenience of being monitored, Sester did not have a burning need to leave Servalan's service yet. He still enjoyed the challenge and danger of working for her; and did not want to lose his role and privileges as a psychostrategist. Servalan was intelligent enough to give him enough freedom and privileges that he would not feel the need to leave.
Sester was confident that he could escape her, if and when he chose; when the game was no longer amusing enough to keep him with her. Unlike Servalan's relationship with Avon, the issue of freedom was not a barrier between them.
The exit Sester was aiming for was close. He could see it.
A mass of people came rushing in through the wide doorway. They were carrying guns of a type Sester was unfamiliar with and attached to them were lights.
These must be the unknown third force, thought Sester.
The newcomers started rounding up people, shooting those who refused to obey. A fight broke out as the Federation forces in the building realized that they were being invaded. It was an uneven fight. None of the Federation energy weapons were working.
Sester started backing up the way he came but one of the lights shone directly at him. The psychostrategist stopped and raise his hands in surrender. He saw what happened to those who resisted. There were no second chances with this group.
Avon was sitting up on the table and examining his inoperative teleport bracelet when Cally came back in.
"The power appears to be out over the entire city," she told him. "No one knows what is happening. Some people are starting to panic."
"That is a normal human reaction to the unknown," said Avon. He snapped the bracelet back onto his wrist. "Not a very useful reaction."
"Don't tell me that you are not concerned," said Cally.
"Concerned, yes. I reserve my panic for when I know there is something to be afraid of," he told her. "Assuming my mind is still cooperating that is," he added wryly.
"It sounds as if it is working," said Cally, noticing that Avon's normal cynicism was more than functional.
"It may not be much longer if we do not get me back to the ship," said Avon. "Unless you brought the drugs I need with you."
"No." This was a topic Cally had been waiting to bring up.
"Maybe Argus should add that to his list of equipment we must carry whenever we leave the ship," said Avon.
"Since your mind is still working, can you apply it to our situation instead?"
Avon gave her a brief cynical smile.
"I have already. There is only one thing I know of which can do this particular type of damage. It is an enhanced EMP wave. Someone is trying to disable all technology-based systems in this city. I suspect that it is not confined to this city."
"You mean that someone is trying to sabotage the entire city? That sounds like someone is attempting a takeover."
"Yes. This also means that someone will have equipment which was shielded from the EMP wave. Otherwise there is no point in attempting a takeover. We need to find those people. They should have communications equipment we can use to contact the Justice."
"How do we find them? We do not know who they are," said Cally.
"That should be simple. Follow the lights. Whoever has a source of light is most likely one of the people trying to take over the city."
"I have not noticed any lights," said Cally.
"There will be," replied Avon with certainty. "We need to get back to the ground level."
"Can you manage with your knee?"
"We don't have a choice."
Cally helped Avon down from the table and with him leaning against her, they headed for the emergency stairwell.
Reya dropped the hardcopy instructions she was carrying and rushed over to where Argus lay collapsed on the ground. She knelt down and felt for his pulse; it was strong. Reya let out a sigh of relief.
She began feeling his body for signs of injury. Argus groaned and tried to move.
"Argus. Are you alright? What happened?"
"Reya? I was going to ask you the same thing. Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. What happened to you? Can you try to get up?"
Argus groaned as he tried to move again. He fell back.
"I can't get up. I remember now. I just threw the switch for the emergency shutdown then there was a sharp pain in my back. I don't remember anything after that."
"Let me take a look," Reya told him as she rolled him over and pulled up his jacket and shirt. "There's a red area in your lower back, very near the spine."
"You mean I'm paralyzed? Ow!"
"Sorry. If you felt that then you're not paralyzed."
"Warn me next time."
Reya rolled him onto his back again. Argus groaned.
"You must have been affected by one of the power surges when the EMP wave hit," she surmised.
"Reya, we still have to get the systems working. You'll have to do most of it now. We should get the engines and computer systems up first."
"I already brought the instructions with me."
He gave her a brief smile. "Why do you even need me?" he asked jokingly.
"Stop trying to flatter me and lets get to work."
"Yes Commander. If you prop me up at one of the panels, I think I can still manage to be of help."
"Argus, ORAC said that we only had just over four hours of oxygen left. We have to get the life support systems working before that."
"Then we'd better work quickly."
There was a loud thud as something hit the side of the Justice.