Avon tried to control the pain as he concentrated on the puzzle before him. The level of agony was being increased with each failure to achieve the specified objectives. As with Sester and Argus, he was restricting himself in what abilities he was using to meet the requirements of their captors. He knew he was nearing the end of his limits with the current session. They always tested him to the point where he passed out from the pain and stress. He was very near that point now.
At the last second, before he failed, Avon saw the solution and moved the pieces into position with his mind. The pain was released. He slumped forward in the chair, his head bowed in exhaustion. They would give him a few minutes to recover before continuing with the next test.
One of the green-uniformed scientists gently leaned him back against the chair and gave him some water. Despite what they were doing to him, they always remained respectful and tried to help him as much as they could. They seemed to be very pleased with his performance.
It did not stop them from hurting him though. They were very clinical and objective about it. There was nothing personal in the pain they were inflicting.
Avon closed his eyes and tried to rest. Immediately memories began to surface.
"How much did she pay you to betray us?" Argus asked angrily. He lay on the ground in the teleport room after Avon had shot him.
The memory was so real; Avon could feel the pistol in his hand.
Why does this memory keep haunting me? Why is it important to me?
He had not known this man for very long but for some reason, he wanted Argus to trust him.
Avon lowered the weapon. The memory had shifted; he was now in Servalan's bedroom.
"Are you going to stay then?" asked Servalan. Her voice was soft and hopeful. She seemed to know the war going on inside his soul as he struggled with the desire to kill her and his inability to.
I need to kill her. I have to be able to kill her. I must kill her.
In this bedroom he had suffered many things from her; had experienced passion with her; and had held her as tears streamed down her face.
You were right, Servalan. We are very much alike. But we are also not. I never made the choices you made. That is why we will always be enemies. You have to live with your choices, Servalan. As I must live with mine.
More memories were breaking through to the surface. Avon struggled against them.
""He sold us, Avon. All of us. Even you," said Tarrant as they all stared at the figure that had entered the room.
The man who was standing before him was Blake. But not Blake. Not the Blake he remembered. This man wore his scars on the outside as well as the inside.
Avon lowered his gun and approached.
"Is it true?" he heard himself asking. He did not want to believe it, but he did; because he remembered a Blake who both believed in him and who had played games with the truth in order to get him to do what he wanted. They were two men scarred and devastated by too many betrayals. The chorus of silence behind him was deafening. Blake came towards him. No! Stop! Avon tightened his finger on the trigger and pulled.
No! Not this memory! Avon clenched his fists, trying to fight his own mind.
As he became more tired, it was harder to maintain control. It did not help that he barely got any sleep because of the nightmares. The memories and nightmares always left him feeling drained.
He heard someone sit down beside him. Avon opened his eyes. The blue uniformed leader was looking at him with concern. Avon had not seen this man in several days; he had been hoping to see him again.
Perhaps we can get some more answers now, thought Avon. Though they had been able to obtain information from the bio-tech who attended Argus, they still needed more.
"The sci-techs tell me that the damage to your mind has prevented you from getting adequate rest," said the leader.
"Don't tell me you're concerned about my health," said Avon sarcastically.
"I must admit that your condition has facilitated our testing," said the leader. "You appear to have a high capacity for pain and are able to function even under great stress conditions."
I had years of practice. Another thing to thank Servalan for.
Avon wondered when the day for paying debts would come.
"That still does not tell you why I was able to hold back the fleet at Star One," said Avon.
"That is true."
"Then what is your purpose for continuing to do this?" asked Avon. "Other than a penchant for cruelty."
"You think we are doing this to be cruel?"
"You are not doing this for my health. And what you are doing to Argus is definitely not for his health."
"We have learned much from your tests and those of Commander Argus. Your incredible will to go on, even despite overwhelming odds, gives you the opportunity to win even when logic dictates that there is no opportunity," said the leader.
"That still does not tell you how."
"Yes. Opportunity is only useful if the capacity for winning is present," said the leader.
Avon smiled sarcastically. "But your logic tells you that we do not have that capacity."
"That is also true. But the evidence states otherwise. And we cannot deny the evidence."
"You have a dilemma then," said Avon.
"Not a dilemma. A lack of complete information."
"You believe that if you can gather enough information, then you will understand. And that understanding will give you a certain victory over us."
"You are correct," admitted the blue uniformed leader.
"And you are going to continue to test us until your information is complete, or we die," said Avon.
"And what happens if you don't find out before we die?" asked Avon.
"You have not reached that point yet."
"You are avoiding my question."
"You do not need to know," said the leader.
Interesting. You almost sound defensive, noted Avon. Sester will find this reaction useful.
"It is time for your next test," the blue uniformed leader said. It was clear the man did not want to continue the conversation.
Yes, very useful, thought Avon.
While the scientists readied him for the next test, Avon wondered what the leader was trying to avoid telling him.
As the pain began again, he had to use all of his concentration on the puzzle. This time partway through the test, he finally passed out.
Argus was trying very hard not to kill the bio-tech. He was using all of his discipline to remain calm and to control his anger and revulsion. In his mind, he was running through the gamut of ways Reya could kill the man.
Now that they had developed a relationship, the bio-tech was becoming increasingly bolder. The man was proving very useful in providing information but he was also openly caressing Argus now as they conversed; dropping all pretence of a medical examination.
Argus suffered his attentions because he knew they needed the man's information.
Even when the questions had been asked and the conversation had ended, the bio-tech did not stop stroking his body until Argus gave him the appropriate responses; the increase in breath rate, the flush of the face and the quickening of the pulse which indicated arousal. Though the bio-tech never said anything specifically, from the way he was touching him, it had been very clear what he was waiting for. It was the price for the man's continued cooperation. The first time Argus realized it, it had made him ill. He had almost decided that he could not go through with it; but he knew what the stakes were. His personal discomfort did not matter.
Argus had to force himself to think of Reya in order to give the man what he wanted.
Mercifully, the bio-tech hadn't gone any further. Argus was afraid of what he would do to the man if he did.
Argus preferred the beatings. I really need a shower.
As long as Argus satisfied the requirement, the bio-tech was even willing to talk to Sester and Avon. He was eager to tell them anything they wished to know.
Sometimes Argus wished that the bio-tech was not so helpful; then at least, he would no longer have a reason to submit to this man's attentions.
Please hurry, Reya.
At first Avon and Sester had found it amusing, but as the bio-tech had became bolder, it was no longer. Watching Argus allow himself to be humiliated after being beaten, for the sake of their goal; made it difficult to bear. They tried to finish their questions quickly.
After the bio-tech left, Argus would roll onto his side, facing away from them and pretend to sleep. He needed to be left alone for awhile.
When he had recovered enough to talk, the two men carefully avoided all mention of what the bio-tech had been doing.
Between the information from the bio-tech and the talks Avon had with the blue uniformed leader, Sester was beginning to formulate a psychstrategy.
Allren was propped up on the bed with a soft pillow supporting his back. He had the comm unit open and was looking at the modifications that Avon had made.
"Amazing," he said to himself. "Didn't know you could use a diffuser crystal like that."
"Like what?" asked Ture as he sat back down on the chair beside Allren's bed. He had gone to get them some water. Ture extended one of the cups.
Allren looked up at his friend and took the cup. "You really don't need to be here every minute. I'm not about to die. Why don't you go talk to Cally? You must want to."
He took a sip of the water and put it down on the table.
"I would feel bad if anything happened to you," said Ture.
"Well, you're making me feel crowded being around all the time," said Allren. The other man's guilt was starting to irritate him.
"I'll sit further away then," said a determined Ture.
"That's not going to help. I need you to go away," said Allren. He said it more forcefully than he had intended.
"I'm sorry," said Ture.
"And stop saying that."
"But I am."
"I heard you the first time," said Allren. "You don't have to keep repeating it. Look we're partners. I came after you because we're partners. It was my decision."
"You came after me because I'm an idiot," said Ture.
"Well that's beside the point. Next time listen to me for a change," said Allren.
"Now go talk to Cally and let me work," said Allren.
"You'll let me know if you need anything."
"You'll be the first one I call."