Jenna headed towards the main commercial avenue. She was determined to find some help for Allren and Vila.
Without any contacts on Papos and with no knowledge of the underground culture of the city, Jenna did not have many options open to her. One option was to find a helpful medical practitioner who would not give them away. The other options involved finding one of the criminal elements of the city; then pay them for information on a doctor who specialized in being discreet.
Jenna had always found a monetary exchange much more reliable than relying on the kindness of strangers. She walked slowly along the busy avenue, trying to understand the flow of the action around her.
I wish Vila was here.
The thief seemed to have a talent for being able to spot less than legal activities.
"Jenna." Someone from behind her called out her name; a very familiar voice.
"Cally," said Jenna as she turned around to face the young woman. "We've been hoping to find you."
"Jenna. Avon's gone. The soldiers came and took him. I think they took him off-planet. Did you spot any shuttles leaving the planet? We tried to contact the ship but we didn't get a response," said Cally.
"They took Avon? I don't understand," said Jenna. "Why would they do that? We're trapped here like you are."
"You're trapped too? How?" asked Cally. "Who came down with you?"
"Vila. And we ran into Ture and Allren. Allren and Vila are injured. Allren very badly. That's why I was out here. Looking for help."
"What happened?" asked Cally.
"They were both shot. Allren still has the projectile in his back. It has to come out. And he's suffering from a high fever."
"I might be able to help," said Cally. Being a field medic, she did have some experience treating various wounds; though she had never dealt with a projectile wound before.
"Let's get you back to the residence then," said Jenna.
As Cally followed Jenna, they continued sharing what had happened to them.
"Vila and I came down shortly after you and Avon did," said Jenna. "We were caught by the systems shutdown as well."
"So we don't know what's happening on the ship," said Cally.
"No," said Jenna. "They might have been caught up in whatever is happening too. Did you say that you tried to contact the ship? Do you have a working communication device?"
"Yes. It was something Avon adapted. But it doesn't have enough power to reach the ship. I was trying to find someone who could boost its power output."
"Allren might be able to do it. If he was well enough," said Jenna.
"Let's take care of Allren and Vila first then," said Cally.
"Cally!" exclaimed Vila the moment she entered the room. His face lit up.
Vila tried to get up from the bed but it was difficult with one arm in a sling.
Cally came over to help him up.
"How is your arm?" she asked.
Vila was about to answer her when he realized that someone was missing.
"Where's Avon?" he asked.
"The soldiers captured him. I don't know where they've taken him."
Vila's face was crestfallen. Seeing Cally had given him hopes that their situation had improved.
He said, "You had better take a look at Allren first. He's much worse than me." Vila lay back onto the bed. He had a depressed look on his face again.
Cally went over to where Allren lay, tended to by Ture.
"Hello Ture," said Cally.
"Cally. Can you help him?" he asked. He immediately got up to allow her to examine his friend.
Cally had never seen Ture so worried before. She and Ture had spent a lot of time together when he was helping them out on their second attempt to infiltrate the medical research centre on Tingash.
"I will try my best," said Cally as she sat down on the bed. She began to examine the injured man. Allren was unconscious and did not react to her. As Jenna had told her earlier, it did not look good. The wound was infected and the projectile had to be removed.
"The projectile will have to be taken out," Cally told Ture and Jenna. "I can do that. What worries me is his fever. The wound has become infected. It requires medication."
"I will go find some," said Ture. "Just tell me where to look and what to look for." He grabbed onto the chance to do something more active than waiting helplessly while his friend slipped away. Now that Cally was here, he knew he could leave Allren in her hands.
"That poses the same problem as before," said Jenna. "The soldiers control all access to medical supplies and any medical help we need."
"Then let's steal some," said Ture.
"I know a thief who can help us," said Cally. "He's very good. He helped me steal a communication unit for Avon from one of the soldiers."
"Do you think you can find him again?" asked Ture.
"I can give you a description of him. He has a regular area where he works. Just tell him I sent you," said Cally. "And bring many credits. He will require payment."
"Well…" said Ture. He and Allren had left behind most of their belongings in the Federation Security building when they escaped.
"Don’t worry about the credits," said Jenna. She reached into her pocket and pulled out several credit markers and handed them to him. "There should be enough on those to satisfy your thief."
Cally gave him a description of Palty and a list of suitable medications. Ture went off to find the thief.
"What do you need to remove the projectile?" Jenna asked Cally as they prepared for some improvised surgery.
At the other end of the room, Vila had been listening with his eyes closed. He had not missed the conversation about the new thief.
They've already found a replacement for me, he thought. And I'm not even dead yet.
This made him even more depressed.
By the time the soldiers came to take away Avon for testing, Sester and Argus were very concerned. Both of them had spent a sleepless night as Avon had struggled with his nightmares. Neither of them said anything to Avon. They knew that he would hate their concern.
"What happens when they find out that he is no longer the man they were expecting?" Argus wondered aloud, but not loud enough for the monitors to pick up.
"That is hard to tell. I do not have enough information to make an accurate prediction. They have built such a legend surrounding him, it would have been difficult to meet their expectations even if he had been undamaged. With the damage, it will be even harder for him," replied Sester in the same low tone.
"He has you to thank for that. And Servalan," said Argus.
"I am very aware of that," said Sester.
"We need to find a way to help him. They may respect him as a legend now. But will it be enough to protect him?" said Argus.
"You are very protective of him."
Sester smiled. The warning could not have been clearer.
The cell door slid open. The soldiers took Sester to his next testing session.
Argus lay back on the ground and tried to get more rest. He was constantly exhausted now. Though his spirit was still strong, his body was beginning to fail him.
In limiting himself, he had allowed them to hurt him too much; but he was still determined to deny the enemy the knowledge they wanted. He knew it was a race now between his eventual collapse and being rescued.
Avon was strapped to a chair in one of the laboratories. The setup was almost the same as the one which had been used on the psychostrategist. The one difference was the presence of the blue uniformed leader.
"Our scans reveal extensive damage has been done to your mind," said the leader.
"Does that make any difference?" asked Avon.
"It does if you are no longer able to do what you did at Star One," the leader told him.
"Why don't you release me, give me a ship and I will show you if I am still able," said Avon coldly.
"We have too much respect for your abilities to allow you that opportunity," said the leader.
The leader signaled one of the scientists. A holographic puzzle appeared in front of Avon.
This must be the same test they gave Sester.
Another one of the scientists explained the rules of the puzzle to him.
"If you concentrate on the appropriate pieces, the brain monitors will pick up your thoughts and move the pieces for you."
"It would be a more useful test if you did give me a ship," Avon remarked to the blue uniformed leader.
"I am sure it would be more useful for you," said the blue leader. "Then you would be able to escape and we would have to find you again."
"You are holding Argus," said Avon.
"Are you saying that you would not escape because we have him?"
Would I? thought Avon. He is not Cally. Or Vila. Or even Jenna. This is an interesting question.
"You have many things to find out then," said Avon in reply. As do I.
The blue uniformed leader nodded thoughtfully.
"Why did you hold the line at Star One?" he asked. "It was an action inconsistent with your character."
"You think that understanding the reason will give you insight into how it was achieved?"
"No. It is an inconsistency which is outside the scope of our experiments. It is for my own personal understanding."
If you do not understand the relationship between the two, then you will never find out what you want to know, thought Avon. No matter how many tests you perform.
"I have no interest in enlightening you," said Avon.
The blue uniformed leader returned to the task they were there for.
"Unfortunately, in order to make this a useful experiment for our purposes, we will have to introduce an additional stressor."
The leader picked up a small device, made some adjustments to the controls and then depressed a button.
Avon cried out at the intense pain which radiated from his knee; his body was arched against the metal bands securing him to the chair.
The pain stopped as suddenly as it began. Avon slumped in the chair. His breathing was laboured.
He glared at the leader but did not say anything.
The man nodded. "Good."
He made more adjustments to the small device in his hand.
This time it was a steady pain which increased incrementally. The leader slowly increased the pain until it was just barely manageable.
"Are you still able to concentrate on the puzzle?" asked the leader.
"What if I said no," said Avon in a strained voice.
"Then I would be disappointed," said the man. "You would still be a respected legend but you would quickly become a dead one. Do not mistake our resolve, Avon."
"It appears you have left me no choice," said Avon.
He began to concentrate on the puzzle in front of him.