Jenna sat with a group of rebels as the group took a breather in a cafe. The rebels had found them a farther hideout to avoid the Federation sweeper teams. Unfortunately it required them to cross to the opposite end of the city. Without any operational transport except Federation ones, this meant that they had to travel on foot. It was starting to get dark. They had to reach the hideout before the Security curfew went into effect.
Vila, Ture and Allren sat apart from them a little distance away. They were talking quietly and glancing worriedly back towards the way they had just come from. There was still no sign of Avon and Cally's group.
Jenna knew that Tancit, the rebel team leader was worried that they would not make the curfew imposed by Federation Security. She was not about to let go of Avon though.
Peace was coming. She could almost taste it. After so many years, she might finally be able to find the peace she longed for.
Jenna watched Avon and Cally's group as they arrived. Avon lowered himself into one of the chairs with Cally's help. With his reduced speed, his group had been lagging farther and farther behind. The two rebels who had been assigned to watch Avon rested near them.
"Is he really worth the trouble? He's slowing everyone down. We have to get to the hideout before the curfew. We don't have much time," said Tancit.
Jenna answered him distractedly, her eyes never leaving Avon. "Yes, he is."
She spoke with such forcefulness and resolve that Tancit immediately said, "This isn't just about obtaining a powerful computer is it? Is this a personal vendetta? I refuse to risk my people on your private desires for revenge."
Jenna had avoided telling the rebels about Avon. She wanted him for herself. Revenge was very personal for her, though she wasn't about to let Tancit know that.
Jenna turned to look at him. "He is the man who killed Blake. Is that a good enough reason for you?"
Tancit looked at Avon with surprise and instant hostility. "Yes. Even out here, we have heard of Blake. We will do as you ask. What are your plans for him after he fixes the computer?"
"Oh I have a very special end planned for Avon. Something very fitting. Let's get everyone moving. As you said, we have to beat the curfew."
"What is it, Zen?" asked Argus. He was lying down on the couch with his eyes closed. After running systems checks on all of the main systems, Argus was trying to get some rest again.
"There is an incoming communication."
"Alright Zen, put it on the main viewscreen."
The starfield was replaced by the view of the woman who had been driving him to distraction for three days. He wondered how anyone could be so consistently aggravating over that long a period of time.
It must be a natural talent, he thought wryly.
Servalan was dressed in a black outfit with a touch of deep red. Argus noted that she always maintained an impeccable fashion sense and a freshness which, he suspected, was meant to contrast with his own run down appearance.
"What do you want, Madame President?" Argus absently straightened his jacket.
"I would prefer that you call me Servalan."
"No thanks. What's the game this time?"
"The time for games is over," she told him. There was no smile on her face now.
"I highly doubt that."
"Tell me what happened with the aliens."
"Haven't your own people told you that already?" Argus wasn't about to tell her just because she told him to.
"Is this going to be one of those tedious discussions where we avoid each other's questions until we decide that we've bored each other long enough?" asked Servalan.
"That depends on you," said Argus.
"Are you trying to negotiate with me?"
"Even if you were open for negotiation, your record for truth is not very inspiring. I would be a fool to trust anything you say."
"But we are not talking about an alliance here, Commander. No dramatic or permanent arrangements. Just an exchange of information."
"Then lets exchange. You first."
Servalan looked at him appraisingly and said, "My people on the planet only know that there was an invasion of the planet by a group of unidentified aliens."
Argus was surprised. He hadn't expected her to agree on making the first move.
"Yes. That is what we discovered shortly after arriving," said Argus. "We were hit by an EMP wave which disabled the ship. Of course at the time we didn't know who was responsible."
Servalan waited for him to continue. He didn't.
"You realize that if we exchange information like this, we'll be at this all day?" said Servalan.
"I don't trust that you are capable of an equal exchange unless you have no choice. And even then, you'll try to gain every advantage."
"Such mistrust. How will we ever learn to work together?" she said with mock sincerity.
"Yes, you're right. We will be at this all day," said Argus dryly.
"You interest me, Commander. Tell me, why did you choose to become a field officer? It was not a very smart decision. You would have had access to much more power as a staff officer."
"Do we really have time to get into trite personal details, Madame President? As you pointed out, this exchange of information will already take long enough."
After more than three days of Servalan's games, Argus was used to them. It didn't mean that he liked them any better now than when they had started these deadly conversations.
Servalan smiled. The screen always seemed to brighten when she did. It made Argus nervous whenever that happened. He wondered if it was a deliberate effect she was causing with the transmission. Perhaps it was some subtle form of subliminal conditioning.
I must ask Zen to monitor this, thought Argus.
"How focused you are, Commander. Very well. We will get back to the dreary task at hand. As our next transaction, I propose that you call me Servalan as I had requested earlier. In return I will stop calling you Commander, as you had requested earlier."
You will not win this game of control, thought Argus.
"Do you have some perverse need to have all your enemies call you Servalan? Does it make it more personal when you kill them?" he asked her.
Servalan laughed. She appeared to be enjoying herself.
"Very well, you will continue to call me Madame President and I will continue calling you Commander," said Servalan. There was an amused look on her face.
"Alright Servalan, where were we?" asked Argus.
"I thought you had decided not to call me that?"
Argus gave her a cold smile. "I have decided that when I do kill you, I want it to be very personal."
The room was dark. They had barely made it to the hideout before the curfew went into effect. Everyone was trying to get some rest now.
"I am not taking no for an answer, Avon. Not this time." Cally was holding a bio-injector and was seated at the edge of his bed. This time it was set to a pain blocker.
Avon's face was strained and he leaned tiredly against the wall. His jaw was clenched tightly; he couldn't deny the pain he was in. He nodded to Cally and closed his eyes. There was no reaction on his face as she applied the injector to his neck and there was a slight hissing sound as the drug entered his system.
Cally waited a few moments for the drug to take effect. It was the first opportunity they had to talk together since they had started running from the Federation sweeper teams.
"Avon, when we get back to the ship. Are you still going to try to fix ORAC?" Cally broached the subject carefully, mindful of Avon's reaction before.
"Are you worried about me, Cally?" His eyes were still closed.
"We're all worried about you."
"You know that once ORAC is fixed, there will be nothing to hold Jenna back. Do you understand why she's acting the way she is?"
"It's not hard to figure out. I'm just surprised it hasn't happened sooner. Did you really think I was going to let Jenna know when I had fixed ORAC?" asked Avon.
"It's always dangerous to assume, Cally. Especially where I'm concerned," he told her.
"I should have realized your survival instinct would never allow you to do something that foolish," said Cally wryly.
Avon laughed. There was a tone of light cynicism. "Of course."
"Jenna is going to want you to fix ORAC before we get back to the ship. She must know that Argus won't let her kill you," Cally told him.
"Yes. I'm aware of that. And I doubt if she will believe that I can't fix ORAC until we get back to the ship."
There was a question Cally had been wanting to ask. "Do you think that Argus is still alive?"
Avon opened his eyes and looked at her before answering.
"Yes. If the ship had been destroyed at the orbital distance it was at, it would have been very noticeable."
"What do you think has happened then? Why do you think he hasn't tried to contact us?"
"Either the Federation has taken the ship. Or something else is going on that we're not aware of."
"You don't think the ship has been taken, do you?" asked Cally.
"Why are you so certain?"
"Argus would never allow the Federation to take the ship. He would have destroyed it first."
"It sounds as if you trust him more now," remarked Cally.
"I trust in his desire to overthrow the Federation," Avon told her.
"You think he's another idealist? Poor but honest?" asked Cally with gentle sarcasm; knowing his opinion of idealists.
"No. I think he's something much more interesting. He's a killer with a conscience."
"I think you're wrong," said Cally.
"You don't think he has a conscience?" asked Avon with a cynical smile.
"No, I don't think he's a killer."
"He's just a man who's very good at killing then," said Avon.
"I think he's a good man."
"Is this based on fact, reason or some indefinable sense only known to Aurons?" asked Avon with a light sarcastic tone.
"Just observing him putting up with you," countered Cally. "But seriously Avon, what are we going to do with Jenna? She's not going to accept that you can't fix ORAC until we get back on the ship."
"I'm open to suggestions."
"We're going to have to get away from her," said Cally.
"I had considered that. But as Jenna identified, I have a handicap in that respect. We are currently outnumbered and have no weapons. Even without these factors, if we did get away, we do not know the terrain. Where would we go? We would most likely be caught by the Federation sweeper teams," Avon pointed out.
"We have to do something," said Cally.
"For now, the only thing we can do is wait and watch for opportunities. I will stall with the repairs to ORAC and I'll try to fix the teleport bracelets without bringing Jenna's attention to them."
"Do you think she'll try to take them?" asked Cally.
"Not all of them. Just mine. I would in her position."
"Maybe Allren and Ture can help with the repairs if you tell them what they need to do. Allren was able to adapt the comm unit you modified."
"The two mercenaries? I would rather not," said Avon.
"Why?" asked Cally.
"They're tech heads. I keep getting the impression they want to hug me or something equally distasteful."
"You're exaggerating. They admire you. For some reason they think you're a genius."
"That's what I'm afraid of. They'll never leave me alone if I talk to them."
"You're a snob, Avon."
"Yes. Well this snob needs some sleep. If you would do the honours," said Avon.
Cally took up a different bio-injector from a nearby table and gave him what he needed.
She sighed as she watched the drugs take effect.
When will you realize that you don't have to do it all alone, Avon?