"What's wrong, Jenna?" Cally approached the woman who was standing by the window, looking out onto the avenue below.
"Don't use your telepathic ability on me, Cally. I do not appreciate it." Jenna said angrily as she turned around and faced the young woman.
Cally refrained from sighing. No matter how many times she told people that she could only read Auron minds, no one seemed to believe her.
"I do not need to be able to read minds, to see that something is wrong," said Cally.
"It's none of your business."
"I do not agree. If it affects our ability to get off this planet then it concerns all of us."
There was a look of pain in Jenna's eyes. She quickly turned back towards the window.
"You don't need me for that," said Jenna.
"We made a good team when we worked together to bring Kameron Reve into the war."
"You mean, when my contacts weren't getting us locked up in cellars."
Cally could see that Jenna was determined to blame herself for everything.
"I failed them, Cally. I nearly killed Allren and I may have crippled Vila for life."
"They don't blame you for that." Cally was just as determined to bring Jenna out of her current mood.
"They should. I do. If we had been onboard the Liberator and it was Blake who came up with such a dangerous idea. I would have tried to stop him."
"You would have failed," said Cally.
Cally could feel another stab of emotional pain in the woman she was talking to. It was also mixed with strong feelings of deep guilt and anger.
"Yes. But at least I would have been the one on the other side. Trying to stop him from risking all our lives on some dangerous scheme. Did Vila tell you that he accused me of being like Blake?"
"He must have been angry. You cannot take what he said seriously."
"But he was right, Cally. I was acting like Blake and I don't know why."
Cally looked at her curiously. The impression she was getting from Jenna was that this was only partially true.
She asked, "Don't you?"
Jenna turned and looked at Cally suspiciously.
"Don't worry. I can't read your mind," Cally reassured her. "But I can feel your emotions. They are very strong right now."
That's almost as bad, thought Jenna. Her deep-seated feelings of guilt were eating her up inside. Maybe I should deal with it. Maybe it is time. Before I get someone killed.
"I left Blake," Jenna told her.
Cally was shocked that Jenna was sharing something so personal. She never had before. Cally waited patiently for Jenna to continue.
Jenna looked silently out the window. In her mind, she was remembering one of the last times she had seen Blake alive.
They were in a dark underground cavern; the sounds of wounded and dying rebels moaning around them. Someone screamed in pain. Jenna wondered how many had died this time. She felt sick.
This time, she had given up trying to persuade Blake not to send more men on a mission which was too dangerous. She had discovered long ago that Blake's idea of acceptable risk was vastly different from her own.
This was my fault too. I should have said something. Even if he didn't listen. At least someone would have spoken up for them.
What was worse, the rebels all gladly went to their deaths for Blake. They believed in the fight. Jenna had thought she did too but she always found herself the sole dissenting voice in Blake's schemes.
Jenna watched as Blake bent down to speak to one of the young rebels who had a gaping wound in his chest. It did not take medical knowledge to know that the man could not be saved. She could see the look of concern on Blake's face.
She remembered the first time she had met him; the feelings he had inspired in her. The tentative hope that here was someone who cared and who wanted to make a difference for others; someone who was bold enough and had the vision to make that difference. He had been like a bright shining light in a world of darkness.
She had not known then, what price that light held for those who followed him; what price he would require of them all.
The young rebel died. Blake's head bowed in anguish.
"Blake." Jenna called out his name.
Blake lifted his head to look at her, the anguish still evident on his face. There were many scars on his face now. It was as if each failure, each death, each betrayal had left its mark.
"I can't do this anymore," she told him.
Blake stood up and approached her. He took her hands in his. They had this conversation many times before, in various forms.
"I need you Jenna."
"You don't need me. What you need is someone who will always agree with you. I can't do that."
"I need someone who will not agree with me. I need someone who will tell me the truth no matter how hard it is. I do not need someone who will always tell me what I want to hear."
"What is the point? You never listen." Jenna said bitterly. She wasn't even angry anymore. It had become too hard. Everything had become too hard.
You can wade in blood up to your armpits...You can lead the rabble to victory, whatever that means...I want it finished. I want it to be over and done with.
Jenna could still hear Avon's angry words right before Star One.
Jenna knew that Avon had a different reason for what he said. But his words fit how she was feeling.
She was sick of it all. The blood. The death. The fight which never seemed to end; which never seemed to make anything better. Seeing eager rebels risking their lives on dangerous schemes which should never have been contemplated; risking their lives and dying; without a protest.
It was this last which was the breaking point for her. Too many people going to senseless deaths for the sake of a cause; no one to challenge the senselessness, except her. She was too tired to fight anymore. Too tired of being the lone voice which was never heard.
Now they had failed again. This band of rebels was virtually wiped out. Blake would begin again. There were always many people waiting in the wings. He already had one lined up. A good man named Deva. A computer technician like Avon.
"I never realized it was so hard for you," said Blake sadly as he looked into her eyes. He put his arms around her.
She could feel his warmth as he held her; the comfort of his presence. But it was no longer enough to block out the screams of dying men.
"Send me to Sector Ten, Blake," said Jenna. "I can do some good there."
"What if I said that I need you here?"
"Then you know that I would stay."
Blake sighed sadly and let her go. "I'm sick of losing all the time, Jenna."
"Hopefully Deva will be able to do for you what Avon did."
Blake smiled wryly. "Avon always argued with me. Deva won't."
The look on Blake's face changed. He was still looking at her, but he was no longer seeing her.
The memories faded.
Jenna's mind returned to the present. Blake had let her go shortly after that.
Less than six months later, he was dead. Killed by Avon.
I should have stayed with him. He probably wouldn't have died then.
The guilt felt like hot knives churning in her stomach.
She had gone a little crazy after that. Taking unnecessary risks; trying to find Avon to kill him. Wanting to avenge Blake's death at any cost. It didn't take long for everyone to start avoiding her, especially after she nearly got one group killed. They all wanted to avenge Blake's death, but not at her cost. She was not Blake. They would not die for her.
Argus was the only one who was willing to take her in after that. Even then, he had to be very tough with her.
And now Avon was back.
"Jenna? Are you alright?" Cally asked with concern.
Cally's voice startled Jenna from her thoughts. She had almost forgotten the young woman was there.
"No. But I'm not ready to talk about it yet." The wounds were still too fresh. Even after all this time.
Avon, Argus and Sester were carrying on a whispered conversation, discussing their plans for escape.
"Do you think he will do it?" asked Avon.
Argus scowled. "I can ask."
"He will most likely require more of you than what you are presently giving him," warned Sester.
"I know that," Argus said gruffly. There was a strong look of distaste on his face.
Every plan they had come up with was hampered by a lack of information about the ship they were being held on. They were planning to ask the bio-tech for this information.
"You will have to do it in such a way that will not make him suspicious and report us. Do you think you can manage that?" asked Avon.
"I guess we'll find out," said Argus angrily.
"Don't be angry at me," said Avon. "It was your idea."
"I know," said Argus. He sounded even angrier. Argus couldn't believe that he was the one who actually suggested it.
"I'm just glad that you didn't suggest taking over the ship," said Avon.
"Why would I attempt something so clearly suicidal?" asked Argus.
Avon smiled ironically. "You wouldn't."
"I still think that Reya will rescue us before we need this plan."
"You would," said Avon.
The cell door slid open. The three men waited to see which one of them would face the next challenge. A retinue of guards came in.
Argus and Sester looked at Avon. Avon always rated a large contingent of guards. They didn't know if it was meant to be an honour guard or whether their captors were really that afraid of him; or both.
Avon struggled to stand up before they reached him. The blue uniformed leader had deliberately instructed that the implant be used to keep him physically disabled.
Avon prepared to go with the guards. They didn't move. One of them pointed to Sester.
"You are also required."
The three men looked at each other. Sester got up. The guards plus their two prisoners left the cell.
Argus wondered what was about to happen.
Vila, Allren and Ture were in deep discussion around the computer engineer's bed. They all stopped talking when Cally approached with Jenna.
"Would you mind an observer?" asked Jenna tentatively.
"Sit here." Vila cleared a space next to him on the bench he had pulled over.
Cally sat beside Ture.
Vila said, "Allren has an idea how we can contact Zen safely. That way we can know for sure if the ship has been taken over."
"Yes. I've been studying the way Avon used the diffusing crystal. If the enemy's communications technology is what I think it is, then they're using an advanced version of our relaying technology. With the crystal, I think I can duplicate multiple relay channels which will bounce across their whole comm network. That way when you contact your ship, they won't know where it's originating from."
Ture asked, "Does your Zen have command protocols which restrict usage to authorized personnel?"
Cally said, "Yes. It's restricted to the current crew."
"If one of you contacts Zen, can you direct it to communicate only along the relay channels?" asked Ture.
"Yes. That's possible," replied Cally. "This is a feasible plan."
"It was Vila's idea," said Allren.
"Well, only the bit about contacting Zen," said Vila. "That's what Avon did, after we abandoned the ship after Star One. He contacted Zen to find out where we were. Then he told it to come to rescue us."
"There is one problem though. In order to create the multiple relays, I need access to different versions of these comm units in order to study the channels they use," said Allren.
"I can help with that," said Jenna.
They all turned towards her. So far she had only listened. It was very quiet now. Jenna realized they were waiting to hear what she had to say.
You're all afraid of what I am going to come up with.
"I have been doing a lot of observing from the window. I believe I can identify which of the soldiers would have different units. Then we can find Cally's thief friend," said Jenna.
They all seemed to let out a sigh of relief.
"That's a good plan," said Vila.
Jenna couldn't remember Vila ever saying that to anyone before.