It had not been much of a decision for the enemy's leader. He had a heavy responsibility; he could not commit his people to a war which they did not have a clear chance of winning. Facing down the damaged ship in his own lone defenseless life capsule had made the point very clear.
"You win. For now," said the leader with barely suppressed anger. "I will bring the message back to my people."
"It is good to know that we both can be reasonable men," said Avon. "I will stop our attack, once you order your ships to stand down."
The blue leader reached for a control on the panel in front of him. His image disappeared from the main viewer.
"Zen, sensor readings on the remaining enemy ships. I want their shield and weapons status. Report any changes," said Argus.
After a few moments, Zen reported, "All ships within visual sensor range have powered down weapons and shields."
"Reya, look after Sester," said Argus. She nodded and went to the aid of the injured man.
Argus ordered, "Zen, power down the neutron blasters and the aft shields. What is the status of the autorepair units?"
"Confirmed. Autorepair units are currently assessing all ships systems for damage."
"Have them concentrate on the shields and drive engines first."
"Report immediately if there is any change in the enemy ships' weapons and shield status."
"Confirmed. Information. Communication signal from the life capsule at grid position E-20291."
Argus looked expectantly at Avon.
Avon instructed, "Onscreen."
The blue leader appeared on the main viewscreen again.
Before the man could say anything, Avon said, "You have twenty-four hours to clear your people off the planet and to leave this galaxy." He cut off communication abruptly before the leader had a chance to reply.
"You have irritation down to a science," remarked Argus.
"Is that a compliment?" asked Avon.
"I don't know do living legends require compliments?"
"It keeps us humble," said Avon dryly.
Now that the battle appeared to be over, both men were starting to feel the effects of the prolonged stress. Avon's face was pale and drawn. He leaned back. Exhaustion seemed to overcome him all of a sudden.
"Avon?" Argus asked with concern as he came over.
"It's nothing. I'm just tired," said Avon, trying to dismiss his help.
"Here, lie down and get some rest," Argus said as he helped Avon over to the couch.
"This is unnecessary," protested Avon.
"Humour me," said Argus.
Avon fell into an exhausted asleep the moment he lay down. Argus smiled and shook his head. He went over to where Reya was tending to the psychostrategist. She had a med kit open and spread out on the ground next to him. There was a lot of blood.
"How is he?" asked Argus.
"Not good," said Reya. "He's got a severe concussion and I can't stop the internal bleeding with this equipment. There's not much else I can do for him. I don't think your medical bay has been repaired yet. He needs a healer or he's going to bleed to death."
"Zen, what is the status of the teleport system?" asked Argus.
"Teleport malfunction is complete. Automatic shutdown has been initiated."
"Estimated time for restoration of teleport function?"
"Repair of teleport system is undetermined due to prior request to concentrate autorepair units on force-wall and main drive systems. Do you wish to change the priority of autorepair efforts?"
"Damn. How about the status of the medical bay systems?"
"Malfunction of medical units is complete. Do you wish to change the priority of autorepair efforts?"
Argus was faced with a tough choice. Right now they were completely helpless. If the enemy realized it, then they would be in serious trouble. They needed the ship repaired as soon as possible.
Despite being technically the enemy, Sester had helped them a great deal. Argus had come to respect the man and the decision he had made to face the enemy together with them. Argus suspected that no matter how much Avon had against the man that he did also.
I need another solution, thought Argus. He did not like his current options.
"Zen, continue with current priority of autorepair efforts."
Argus went back over to where Avon was sleeping. He bent down and shook Avon by the shoulder.
Avon opened his eyes. Seeing Argus, he asked immediately, "What's wrong?"
"Are you up to doing a little repair work?"
"Have they made a move?" asked Avon as Argus helped him up.
"No. But Sester needs medical attention. He has severe internal bleeding. I need you to repair the teleport or the medical bay systems. Whichever will be quicker."
"Alright. It will be quicker fixing the medical units he needs to stop the bleeding. I'm going to need help though."
"Reya can do that."
Argus looked at Avon curiously; he had expected at least some resistance.
"You're surprised that I would help him?" asked Avon.
"Not really. But I was expecting some opposition first."
"I do not like wasting good opponents."
"Yes, it would be a waste," said Argus sarcastically.
"Cally. Jenna. Come over here!" exclaimed Vila excitedly. As usual, he had been looking out of the window onto the avenues below.
The two women rushed over.
"Look. I think they're leaving," said Vila.
There were columns of enemy soldiers marching towards the central square where the main Federation Security building was. Shuttles could be seen lifting off and landing one after the other.
"I think you're right, Vila," said Cally.
"This means that we won, doesn't it?" Vila asked.
"We should contact the ship," said Jenna. She got the modified comm unit from the table.
"Argus, this is Jenna. Are you receiving?"
"Receiving you loud and clear, Jenna," said Argus's voice over the comm unit's speaker.
"It's good to hear your voice," said Jenna.
"Are all of you alright?"
"Yes. We're all fine. We should be asking you that," said Jenna. "I take it congratulations are in order? The invaders are evacuating down here."
"Good. Avon and Sester came up with a plan. We can go into the details later. I can't bring you up yet. The teleport system is still out."
"Don't worry about us. We're safe. We can stay here as long as you need."
"Alright. I will contact you when we're ready to bring you up. It might not be for a couple of days. There was extensive damage to the ship's systems."
Extensive damage to the ship's systems did not sound good.
Cally interjected, "Argus is everyone alright?"
There was a pause.
Argus's voice replied over the comm unit, "Sester sustained severe injuries. I have Avon working to repair the medical units. Let me know if the situation changes down there."
"Will do," said Jenna. "Stay out of trouble."
"It's too bad you didn't say that before," said Argus jokingly. "Argus, out."
The invaders did not need twenty-four hours to clear their troops. They were very efficient. Within ten hours, the ground invasion force and the remaining ships were on their way out of the system.
"Zen, are the extra-range sensors operational?" asked Argus.
He was now alone on the flight deck. Avon was in the medical bay making repairs. Reya was attending to Sester, also in the medical bay.
"Confirmed. Extra-range sensors are undamaged."
"Activate extra-range sensors. Have the battle computers track the ships leaving. Inform me if they make any unusual movements. Have the navigation computers triangulate their heading when they leave sensor range."
Argus slowly sat down on the couch. Exhaustion was starting to overtake him as well. The pain from his injuries was starting to bother him again. The drugs were wearing off and unfortunately the bio-injector had been returned to the medical bay with Sester.
He decided not to call Reya, the pain helped keep him awake. Someone would have to monitor the invaders retreat until they left the system.
Cally, Vila, Jenna, Allren and Ture were celebrating the withdrawal of the invaders by sharing a meal together. Allren was recovered enough now to join them.
Vila provided a bottle of wine for the festivities. How he managed that none of them knew. No one had seen him leave their hiding place.
Vila raised his glass in a toast, "I don't know how they did it but I'm glad they did. So cheers to them."
They all raised their glasses in a salute to the four who were on the ship.
At that moment there were sounds of gunfire. Lots of gunfire.
"I thought they all left?" said Vila in alarm.
They all rushed to the window to take a look outside.
Avon found it difficult to keep his eyes focused on the fine details of the medical apparatus he was working on. He was tired and his hands were starting to shake. Whenever he was tired, his knee seemed to hurt more. He leaned back against the chair and closed his eyes.
"Do all men find it necessary to suffer in silence?" asked Reya. She had come over to check on his progress with the medical equipment.
Avon opened his eyes. "If humanly possible, yes," he said wryly. "I take it Argus is like that?"
"Yes, he seems to treat pain more as an annoyance than a symptom," said Reya.
"Would it interfere with your suffering too much if I offered to give you another shot of adrenaline and a pain blocker?" she asked.
Avon said, "Argus never mentioned you had a sense of humour."
"He wouldn't mention a lot of things," said Reya dryly.
"How is our psychostrategist doing?"
"Not good. He's losing a lot of blood. How are you doing with the repairs?"
"I've had to improvise. We don't have all of the parts required. It should take another two hours."
"He might not have that long."
On the flight deck, Argus was sitting on the couch. He was trying not to fall asleep as he listened to a detail systems status report from Zen.
In the middle of the report, Zen said, "Information. Intermediate range sensors have detected a fleet of ships approaching."
Argus immediately sat up and grimaced. He had forgotten that quick movements were painful for him.
"Put them on the screen."
The viewscreen showed a star field and at a distance, many fast moving dots.
"Available data classifies them as Federation pursuit ships."
"Twenty ships have been detected."
A strike group.
"Zen, with our current engine status, what is our maximum speed and distance?"
"Standard by two, three million spatials."
No hope of outrunning them. Just once, I would like to deal with only one impossible situation per day.
Argus activated the internal ship's comm.
"Avon, I need you up here now!"