After leaving Argus in the engine room, Reya had hidden in one of the maintenance tunnels which ran the length of the ship. As she watched, a group of brown uniformed men and red uniformed men came down the corridor and entered the engine room. She could hear voices but could not make out what they were saying. After a few minutes, she saw two soldiers drag Argus's limp form out of the engine room.
Argus had seemed to be unconscious and she had not heard any sounds of violence. She doubted if they would be able to knock him out easily, even with his back injury. That meant that they had taken him by surprise, they had used drugs or he had passed out from his injuries None of these were welcome news as she used the tunnels to follow the group.
As she tailed them, she noticed other groups of soldiers on the ship. The red uniformed ones seemed to be engineers or technicians of some kind. They were opening panels and examining the technology of the ship. Some of them were carrying very familiar print outs.
With the instructions ORAC provided, they can fix Zen, the life-support and the engines easily enough. It saves us the trouble of doing it. And they would be able to do a better job than Argus and I could have. But it won't do us any good if they gain control of the ship.
Reya wondered how long it would take them to break or by-pass Zen's security protocols. If they couldn't then the enemy technicians would have to either reprogram Zen or by-pass it altogether.
Hopefully, that will give me time to free Argus. But we have to regain control of the ship before they do. And disable them all somehow. And fix Argus's injury. And not get destroyed by the other ship. And retrieve the others from the planet. All in a day's work, thought Reya. For a hundred people.
Reya really wished they had one of their elite teams there. But she had never been one to give up, even against impossible odds; and she wasn't about to now. Especially not now.
Argus had been brought to the medical bay and laid on a bio-bed after his jacket and shirt had been removed. A little later, another man entered the room. This one was in a green uniform. The man examined Argus with a medical hand scanner Reya was unfamiliar with. He seemed very interested in Argus's back injury.
After the man finished with the scanner, he began feeling Argus's body with his hands. For some reason, he also seemed very interested in the musculature. At some point during this examination, Argus regained consciousness.
Reya could imagine how uncomfortable Argus felt having this man touching him. It made her feel uncomfortable just watching it.
Hearing Argus's strong bass voice warning the man off, relieved one worry.
At least you're well enough to resist them.
Shortly afterwards, Argus seemed to be unconscious again. She couldn't see if the green uniformed man had done something, or if Argus had passed out again. The soldiers lifted Argus up off the table and dragged him out, followed by the green unformed man.
This time she followed them down to one of the shuttle bays. Both the inner and outer shuttle bay hatches had been opened.
So that's how they boarded. They must have forced the hatches open.
There was a solid tunnel linking the shuttle bay to what appeared to be another ship. The soldiers dragged Argus across the tunnel to the other side.
This complicates things.
The streets of Papos were in chaos or orderly, depending on which one you were on. All the main thoroughfares were now under the control of the brown uniformed soldiers. These ones were very orderly.
Avon and Cally had chosen one of the side streets which was full of people milling about in a state of panic. No one knew what was going on; though there were many rumours.
"You have to rest," Cally told Avon. For the past hour, he had been leaning on her more and more and she could hear that he was breathing in laboured gasps. "We have to find a place where you can lie down."
"No. We have to keep going," said Avon. His voice was strained and she could barely hear him. "If we stop now, I will not be able to get up again."
"Then we will deal with that when the time comes. You must rest."
Avon shook his head stubbornly. "No."
"Well, I need rest, even if you don't. If you want to continue, you will have to do it without my help."
That got the response she wanted.
Resting was a good idea; if there had been any place to rest. In the end, they had to settle for lowering Avon to the ground so that he could lean back against the wall. Avon closed his eyes and tried to rest. His face was pale.
Suddenly a loud message began broadcasting throughout the city on a continuous loop.
"CITIZENS OF PAPOS. RETURN TO YOUR PLACES OF RESIDENCE. YOUR CITY IS NOW UNDER MARTIAL LAW. THERE IS A CURFEW IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. COOPERATION IS APPRECIATED. RESISTANCE AND DISOBEDIENCE WILL BE DEALT WITH IMMEDIATELY AND WITHOUT MERCY. YOU HAVE ONE OF YOUR TIME UNITS TO CLEAR THE AVENUES."
"Is this your idea of rest?" Avon asked.
"How can you joke in a time like this? We need to find a place to go."
"Where do you propose?"
Cally closed her eyes and concentrated. With the emotions high in the city, she had become more aware of people on the edge of her consciousness. She opened her eyes and headed towards a man who was about to walk past them. He was an older man, with greying hair and walked like someone who had many responsibilities. The man was also carrying numerous food packets in a large bag. Cally touched the man on the arm. He stopped and turned towards her.
Cally said, "Excuse me. My mate and I are visitors in your city. We have no place to go for the curfew. Could you take us in for the night. We would be glad to pay you whatever you think is fair." Cally pointed towards Avon, who was still leaning against the wall.
"He appears ill," the man said. There was suspicion on his face.
"He sustained an injury when one of the soldiers thought he was not moving quickly enough."
"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. But I have my own family to take care of. There are other people you can ask."
They both looked towards the other people; all of whom also had their own concerns and were rushing past them in all directions. No one seemed to notice that there was an ill looking man sitting on the ground.
The man realized that he had been one of those people. If it had not been for the young woman, he would also have gone back to his own residence and left this distressed couple to the mercy of the ruthless invaders.
The grey-haired man looked towards Avon; who had closed his eyes and was leaning against the wall again. The man sighed and asked, "Can he walk?"
"He can, but he requires assistance."
"What's wrong with him?" the man asked as they walked towards Avon.
"He sustained a knee injury."
When they reached the wall, Cally said, "This is my mate, Avon."
Avon looked up at Cally with an amused look on his face upon hearing her introduction.
"My name is Cally."
"And mine is Restin."
Between the two of them, they were able to lift Avon to his feet.
"My residence is this way," the man indicated as they set out as quickly as possible with the injured Avon between them.
Argus was standing alone in the centre of a cold, bare, medium-sized room. It was circular in shape and had padded walls. He was not restrained in any way and no one had bothered to return his jacket and shirt.
The last thing Argus remembered was being in the darkened medical bay on the Justice, being pawed by the willowy man in the green uniform. He had no idea how he got here or how long it had been since being in the medical bay. When he returned to consciousness, he was being dragged into this circular prison and held by two brown uniformed guards until he was fully awake. After making sure he could stand, they had left. None of them had spoken to him.
There was one additional thing he noticed. His body below the neck seemed to be unable to move while the guards held him; but before leaving, they had removed something from the back of his neck and he was suddenly able to move again.
Some kind of paralyzing device. Argus was not aware of any small device which was capable of doing that. At least, not in the Federation.
Unless it's some new technology I'm unaware of. Which is very likely.
He wondered where Reya was and if she was still safe.
Since he was now able and mobile, he needed to escape and find her. Together, they were a very dangerous team. But for now, he could not think of that, or of her. He needed to concentrate on his own situation in order to escape.
Argus stretched slowly and carefully in order to test his back; and as an afterthought, his shoulders as well. They seemed fine. In fact, his entire body felt good; healthy and strong.
Why would they fix my back? And how could they do it so quickly?
The enhanced EMP wave he could understand; being boarded, he could also understand. They were possible preludes to invasion or destruction. Holding him prisoner also had an understandable, if unpleasant purpose. The reasons for healing him were elusive.
Argus wondered what was happening on the planet. The EMP wave had emanated from there. Something had to be happening down there as well. He hoped that the crew would be able to stay out of danger until they could retrieve them. But for now, there wasn't even a way to contact them.
We need to rescue the others. But I have to get out of here first.
Argus could feel that he was being watched; though there were no visible surveillance equipment.
He did some exploring of the room where he was being held. After looking carefully over every square unit, he finally found the exit. It was very difficult to spot as it was designed to blend into the wall, leaving an impervious surface. There was no door panel or any visible means to open it with. It was not meant to be opened from the inside.
The room also contained no hint as to the purpose of putting him here. Argus didn't even know where 'here' was. The only thing he was sure of was that he was no longer on the Justice.
I may have to wait for Reya after all.
Argus hoped that she had been able to track him. He knew that if it was humanly possible, she would have. Nothing could stop her when she put her mind to it.
Not even me, he thought with a wry smile. In the meantime, he would have to do one of the things he hated most, he would have to wait; wait for Reya to rescue him and wait for his captors to reveal themselves and finally tell him what they wanted from him.
It's not just a sense of being watched. It almost feels like I'm on display.
After the unwelcome attentions of the green uniformed man in the medical bay, he was afraid to speculate what he was on display for.
A booming voice resonated in the room.
"Your name is Drel Argus. You are the leader of the ship called the Justice."
No opportunity to pretend that I'm Vila then, thought Argus.
"Yes," he replied. And if you want anymore information, you will be disappointed, he thought defiantly.
"That is a good start," said the voice.
"What do you want from me?"
"We will get to that in time. But first of all, where is the one you call Kerr Avon?"