The next time the bio-tech tended to his injuries, Argus had to remind himself repeatedly that he was trying to be friendly. It was very difficult when his mind was full of a million ways to disable the man with a single blow. It also did not help that Avon and Sester, who were sitting nearby, were trying hard not to be amused by his discomfort.
The bio-tech was quick and efficient, applying various instruments to heal the worst of his injuries; but occasionally he would linger as he felt for additional wounds.
Think of Reya. Think of Reya. Think of Reya.
When the bio-tech was touching him like this, Argus found that thinking of Reya did not help.
I have to stay calm. Have to stay objective. Think about the plan. Aargh. I'm going to break his arm any minute now.
Argus searched his mind for something which would work. There was only one thing he could think of.
He thought of what Reya would do to the bio-tech if she found out what the man was doing.
Yes. That's it. Think of what Reya will do to him.
Argus suppressed a smile. He was calm now; he could do what was needed.
When the bio-tech pressed carefully to explore the extent of the bruising, Argus gave a quickly suppressed groan. The man lifted his hands quickly, as if he had just been burnt. Argus had never reacted in pain before.
"I'm sorry," the bio-tech said apologetically. "I didn't mean to hurt you. You've never shown any pain before."
"That doesn't mean that I wasn't feeling any," said Argus.
The man stared at the man he had been examining. Not only had Argus never reacted in pain before, he had never spoken to the bio-tech before.
"You're talking to me now? Why?" asked the bio-tech suspiciously.
"I know you are not allowed to give me anything for the pain. But is there something else you can do?" asked Argus. It warred against his natural instincts to ask this man for anything.
Avon and Sester watched this exchange with interest. Avon knew that Argus was normally as adverse to admitting weakness as he was.
"Is it really bad?" asked the bio-tech with concern. The man had not been expecting this kind of admission.
"What do your examinations tell you?" Argus asked.
"They tell me that you shouldn't even be able to move," said the bio-tech. "But they've been telling me that for days. How are you able to do it?" The man continued with his examinations.
"It's amazing what you can do when you don't want to die," said Argus. "I know they're going to kill me if I can't beat them anymore."
"Who told you that?" said the bio-tech. There was a mixture of shock, guilt and sadness on the man's face.
Avon turned his head to glance at the psychostrategist beside him. Sester nodded. It was a confirmation of what he had said earlier.
"No one had to tell me," said Argus.
"What are you after?" the bio-tech asked, still suspicious.
"What do you mean?"
"Normally you don't like it when I do this," the man said as he slowly and deliberately stroked his hand across Argus's bare chest.
Reya is going to kill you, thought Argus as he forced himself to remain passive.
"In fact, you hate it. I can usually feel the tension from your body, indicating your anger," said the bio-tech. "But not today."
So you knew, thought Argus angrily; but he remained detached and controlled.
Reya will enjoy taking you apart and I will enjoy watching her.
"You are right," said Argus. There was a tone of resignation in his voice. "I am not used to such attentions from a man. But you are the only one who does not want to hurt me."
The bio-tech looked at Argus. The man's voice dropped to a whisper. "I wish I could help you," the man told him. "But I can't help you escape."
"I understand," Argus whispered back. "I would not ask you to risk your life."
"Then what is it that you want," asked the bio-tech.
"I want to understand. No one has told me why this is happening to me. You are the only one who wants to talk to me. I do not want to die without knowing why."
From the sidelines, Sester whispered to Avon, "He's good."
Avon remarked in a whisper, "I didn't know he was capable of this level of deceit."
"Does that raise or lower your opinion of him?" Sester whispered with amusement.
Avon avoided the question. He said, "Nothing could possibly raise my opinion of you."
The man stopped his explorations and put his hand on Argus's chest. "You have done so well. You deserve to know something," the man said. "I will try to tell you what I can," said the bio-tech. "But it will have to wait until next time. I have other duties to attend to now. I will give you a timed sedative. It is not a pain blocker but at least you will be able to get some rest. They will not be back for you for another four hours."
Argus briefly put his hand over the man's hand, which was still on his chest, and said simply, "Thank you."
The unexpected touch and the warmth in Argus's tone seemed to confuse the bio-tech. For a few moments, the man stood as if frozen; then he took out a medical injection unit, made a few adjustments and applied it to Argus's arm. It was a fast acting sedative, Argus was asleep before the bio-tech had left the room.
After the bio-tech and the guards left, Avon checked Argus's eyes.
"He does appear to be asleep," said Avon.
"That was quick. It may be for the best. He needs the rest," remarked Sester.
"It would be inconvenient if this happens every time," said Avon.
"He did well. I was not expecting that kind of subtlety from him."
"For a moment, I didn't think he would do it," said Avon.
"Near the beginning. Yes. I observed that too. He really did not want to do it."
"He's a soldier. He always does his duty," said Avon with a sardonic tone. "No matter how much he doesn't like it."
"You make that sound like a vice," said Sester.
"Always the cynic."
"You make that sound like a vice," said Avon.
Sester smiled. "I have missed our talks."
"I haven't," said Avon coldly.
Sester sighed. He wondered if things would have been different if they had met on other terms.
"Avon, I recognize there are many unresolved issues between us."
"There is only one," said Avon. The coldness in his eyes reflected the coldness in his tone.
"You want to kill me? Does it not make a difference that I am the one who enabled you to escape?"
'I will never be free from what you and Servalan did to me. So do not expect me to thank you," Avon said with a cold bitterness.
Sester nodded. "For whatever it is worth, I do regret my part in what was done to you."
"I have no use for apologies," said Avon.
"But this won't stop us from being able to working together," said Sester.
"I have no problems in using you to escape our present predicament," said Avon.
"Always practical," said Sester.
"Your profile on me should have told you that."
Not quite, thought Sester. But it's not the time for that.
"Then let us both be practical," he said instead.
Vila held out his hand for Cally to examine. The projectile which had wounded him, had passed straight through his arm.
"I still can't feel my fingers," said Vila. "Why can't I feel them?"
The distress was clear on his face as well as in his tone. As a thief, his hands were most important to him; his survival depended on them. Without them fully functional, he was just as vulnerable as everyone else.
Cally examined him carefully; testing his hand, his fingers and his arm.
"The wound is healing satisfactorily," said Cally. "There may be nerve damage but I will need the medical scanners onboard the Justice to make any accurate diagnosis."
"Nerve damage?" Vila sounded even more concerned.
"There is no need to worry, Vila. Once we return to the ship, the advanced medical facilities should be able to repair any damage you may have sustained."
"Oh. That's alright then." Vila breathed a sigh of relief. As a delta grade, he was used to bad news when it came to health concerns. In the Federation, deltas were not ranked high in terms of receiving advanced medical treatment.
"How is Allren doing?" asked Vila.
"Both of you should be able to make a full recovery, once we return to the ship," Cally told him.
"When's that going to be?"
"Allren should be well enough by tomorrow to examine Avon's modified comm unit."
Even though this was good news, Cally could not shake the feeling that contacting the ship might not be a good idea.
"What's wrong Cally?" asked Vila. He could see that something was troubling her.
"The soldiers came to take Avon almost right after we used the comm. I'm wondering if there was any connection. Or if it was just a coincidence."
They both contemplated this unwelcome new idea. If it was true, then it would added a new layer of difficulty; one which was just as bad as the one they were already in.