Vila, Jenna, Allren and Ture were discussing what to do after hearing the numerous sounds of gunfire from various directions. The noises had died down but it was still occurring sporadically. People along the avenue were no longer just milling around, they were panicking. Everyone seemed to be running somewhere; there did not seem to be any pattern to it. There was no clear indication which direction would be safer. The gunfire had seemed to originate from all directions.
"Going towards gunfire is not my definition of a good idea," said Vila.
"We need to find out what is going on, Vila," said Jenna.
"And what about my need to not have holes put in me?" asked Vila.
"I'm not keen on that myself, Vila. But I agree with Jenna. We need to find out," said Allren.
Normally Allren would be like Vila, trying to avoid trouble as much as possible. He wasn't a coward, he just preferred living. From his experience, Allren knew that in situations like this, trouble often looked for them. In that case, it was much better to find out what the trouble was first.
"Have you thought, Vila, that if the people with these guns, are the same ones who arranged this disruption of the power systems, then they may be the only ones who have any functional technology right now?" Allren pointed out.
"What do you mean?" asked Vila.
Ture explained, "If I were to disable the power systems using an EMP wave, I would make sure my own equipment was shielded so it would not be affected."
Allren added, "That means they will probably have communications equipment. Working communications equipment. You can use that to contact your ship and get us all out."
"Well, if you put it that way. But I still don't like it. Why can't we just wait here for Avon to find a way to contact us?" said Vila.
"We can split up," said Jenna. "Vila, you can wait here for Avon and the rest of us will go find out what is going on," said Jenna.
Ture and Allren nodded in agreement.
"The most concentrated source of gunfire seems to be in that direction," said Jenna as she pointed out the direction.
"What's wrong?" asked Ture.
"Have you forgotten? The main Federation Security building is that way. And what do you bet that that's where the gunfire is coming from."
"That's probably a safe bet," said Ture.
The look on Allren's face told them that at any moment, he might agree with Vila and not think this was a good idea.
"Since we're going to do this, let's do this now before I change my mind," said Allren.
Jenna looked out onto the street. Other than panic in the streets, there were no signs of danger.
She said, "It's clear. Let's go."
All three stepped out from the alcove and proceeded towards where the most numerous sounds of gunfire had been.
Vila watched them go.
I can do this, he told himself. How hard can it be to wait?
He looked around him at the now empty alcove. In the dark, the shadows took on a menacing quality. The alcove "felt" very empty.
Maybe they might need some help, thought Vila. What if there's a lock that needs opening?
Vila ran after them.
Sester was amused; this was not a normal reaction to becoming a prisoner again. Restraints were being applied to his wrists, this time by a different set of people. The people who were taking prisoners did not appear any different than the people whom they were taking prisoners. The only difference was who was holding the operational guns.
The gun holders appeared to be very discerning people. They used a sophisticated bio-scanner of some type on each prisoner; then separated them into two different groups, those whom they put under restraints (which were only a handful) and those who were herded away towards the holding cells (which was the majority).
From what Sester had been able to observe, apart from the scanner function, the device also appeared to be comparing their visual images to a database. The psychostrategist's face had appeared on the device.
This is different, thought Sester. Just how many people knew I was coming? I must speak to Servalan about the laxness of Central Security.
The scanner had left him feeling slightly dizzy. The amusing thing was, he was still not concerned.
I wonder if working with Servalan has increased my tolerance level for danger? Or perhaps this is a symptom of shock?
Sester's mind was even sharper than normal. Danger focused concentration very well. He was actually enjoying himself.
Another group of prisoners was brought down from the emergency stairwell. They were also separated by the scanner method.
Sester recognized some of the people in this group; Senior controller Dayto and his two guards. All three of them did not look in very good shape. They had obviously put up some resistance.
You are fortunate you weren't shot, thought Sester. The angry look on Dayto's face added to Sester's sense of amusement.
"You!" was Dayto's eloquent reaction the moment he saw Sester. Dayto and his two guards had just been added to Sester's group of detainees. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
Finally a question, but not a useful one, thought Sester.
"The same thing as you at the moment," he told the man. "Being held prisoner."
Dayto spoke to several people in their group. He seemed to know all of them, which was not surprising since he was the senior controller; but Dayto did seem surprised at the composition of the group.
I wonder why? thought Sester.
The controller was looking around nervously.
"Is this a Federation plan?" Dayto asked Sester.
"Do you really need me to answer that?" asked Sester.
A bearded heavy-set man, with two armed assistants trailing behind, approached them. This man's weapon was not in his hand, it was still holstered; but there was no question that he was with the invading group. The other gun-wielders all snapped to attention when he approached. The bearded man looked over the prisoners.
"Have we identified everyone on the list yet?" he asked one of the guards who was watching over the restrained prisoners.
"Not yet sir, there are still two more we have not yet identified."
"Have you set up a room for me to use?" he asked one of his assistants.
Military command structure, identified Sester.
"Good. I want to talk to this one," the bearded man said, pointing to Dayto. "You and I have many interesting things to discuss senior controller Dayto."
"You know who I am?"
Does this man ever plan to ask a useful question, thought Sester.
"It is obvious that I do," said the bearded man. "We may be of use to each other. Your people can wait here."
Sester realized why Dayto had been concerned. He suspected that most of the restrained group was part of Dayto's rebel group. Then why am I here? They cannot mistake me as part of this group.
It had been along time since Avon had felt this much pain. He wondered how much damage had been done by the overload of the implant circuits in his knee.
Cally was still bearing the bulk of his weight as they proceeded down the main commercial avenue. Avon admired her physical stamina, it could not have been easy to help him down the twenty flights of steps from the tenth floor. He stifled a groan of pain. Avon suspected that Cally's telepathic ability already made her aware of his pain; he did not want to add to her burden.
"We need to find a place to rest," said Cally.
"Yes," agreed Avon. You must be tired.
"I am going to examine your knee," she told him. "I know you are having great difficulties."
I was correct then. You are aware of me on that level, thought Avon. It made him feel uneasy. He wondered what other things she was aware of from him.
"I am not accepting your normal refusal," she told him.
"There is no need. There is nothing you can do."
"Why must you continue to be stubborn? It is not logical."
"It is not stubbornness. Or a misguided sense of bravado. The fact is that you cannot do anything to help me."
"Let me judge the facts for myself. I have more medical knowledge." She stopped walking. "Either let me help you or I will not proceed any further."
"You did not used to be so stubborn," said Avon.
"I must have learned it from you," she told him. "Are you going to let me examine it?"
"It appears I have no other choice."
"There is a bench over there," said Cally. She had spied a group of benches in a small parkade area. Cally lowered Avon slowly to the bench, trying not to cause him any more pain; but he stifled another groan.
She began rolling up his pants leg while Avon lay back on the bench, trying to rest.
"The area appears to have major swelling, and there is extensive interior injury. You must have been in considerable pain. Why did you not tell me?" she asked as she examined the knee. She still did not understand why he would not have allowed her to see this.
"I am used to pain," said Avon.
"There is no indication what caused this injury," she told him. Cally was feeling something from him now; she could not identify what it was. She took a guess.
"You know what caused this injury, don't you?"
He opened his eyes and looked at her.
How much can you sense from me? he wondered. Even from the earliest days of their meeting, Cally seemed to be able to sense things from him that she could not from the others.
Why Cally? Why me and not the others? This was a question which had always intrigued him but he had never had the time to explore; it had also threatened a level of intimacy he was not ready for. Especially not after Anna.
He sighed. It also meant that it was harder to keep things from Cally; though she had never been this direct in trying to find out what he was trying to conceal.
"When I was at the Detention Centre, during one of the torture sessions, they destroyed my knee. Servalan found it a very useful source of pain so they never repaired it."
"Servalan did this to you?" asked Cally. She was outraged.
Servalan again. She will pay one day, Cally resolved.
"That was just the beginning. I found out later that they eventually did repair my knee but they also embedded a device which simulated the original injury. I was never told and I was never able to tell the difference, not until they wanted me to."
"Why would they do this?"
"The device gave them much greater control over the level and type of pain they could inflict. They could inflict short bursts of intense pain in addition to keeping a constant level of pain. It is a very versatile device and it was very effective." Avon's stomach churned at the memory of what Sester had done to him in the isolation cell using the implant.
"You have been experiencing constant pain from this implant?"
"Why did you not tell me?"
"There is nothing you could have done. To remove it would require a neurosurgeon. Servalan would know this."
That is not the whole reason, thought Cally. She could sense there was more he was hiding.
"That is the logical reason," said Cally. "I know there is another. But you do not need to tell me if you do not wish to."
He could tell that she was being genuine. You always were, thought Avon.
Unlike Blake, Cally had known him and had never taken advantage of that knowledge in order to manipulate him.
"I do not want anyone's pity," said Avon. "I can see it in everyone's eyes whenever I come onto the flight deck after a setback. Except for Argus."
That must be why Healer Garett picked Argus to help Avon and not one of us, thought Cally. She knew that she had been one of those people.
"I can see my own weakness whenever they look at me," he continued.
"It is not pity, it is concern. That is a normal human reaction when someone you care about is hurting. You cannot stop that, Avon," said Cally.
"Caring and needing are two different things Cally," said Avon.
"You think that we are doing all of these things for you because we need you?"
"I am a realist."
"You are also a fool. I care about you. We all do in our own way."
"Within reason?" asked Avon cynically; reflecting what Tarrant had once said right before Avon had teleported down to Residence One, the day he had found out about Anna's treachery.
There was another reason he had not told Cally. One which he did not think she needed to know. The pain reminded him of what his enemies had done to him. Sometimes in his weakness, when his mind was not entirely in his control, he missed the conversations with Sester and the times he spent with Servalan, when she had not seemed like an enemy. The pain helped him to remember; he wanted to always remember.