Blake stared morosely into the almost empty coffee cup. He could not face what he had done and he now regretted asking Jenna for the full story. He wished he had settled for Avon's terse 'He is back to normal' or Cally's gentle reassurance. Jenna's version of the events at, and just prior to, the Atlay conference had been brief but provided him with more than enough of the details. To be totally honest, he remembered most of it now anyway, although it still had that air of unreality of a dream. He looked up at last, his eyes bleak, and met Jenna's concerned face. He tried a smile for her.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"What for?" she asked. "That wasn't you, it was that machine of Ven Glynd's."
"No, it wasn't," Blake corrected her. "The words, ideas, manipulations, they were all mine. I just knew I had to get the ship to that particular mining satellite." He paused. "It is just possible I would have killed you, any one of you, to do that."
"Oh," Jenna said softly. She hadn't known.
"I owe all of you an apology," Blake continued. "Especially Avon and Cally." He took a deep breath. "We have to continue the deconditioning." Jenna went white and pulled away from him.
"No!" she protested, half out of concern for Blake and half out of terror for herself. She didn't think she could face Blake's nightmares with him again.
"Yes," Blake repeated, a touch of finality in his voice.
"I agree." Avon's voice came suddenly. Blake looked up. As Jenna turned, she cursed softly; she hadn't heard Avon approach. The time was when she had prided herself on the fact no one could take her by surprise. Avon and Cally were standing at the top on the flight deck steps. Cally looked concerned, Avon pale but determined. Orac rested in his arms.
"Why?" Jenna asked him. "Revenge?"
"Do not be foolish," Cally admonished the other woman. "Blake, you must finish this." Blake nodded. Avon walked slowly down the steps to place Orac on the table. As he did so, Jenna got to her feet and moved up close behind him. She knew how much Avon hated others invading his personal space but just at the moment she didn't care.
"Whose idea was this?" she asked. "Your's, Avon? Forgive me if I doubt your motives."
Avon turned to face her. Smiling slightly, he tapped the fingers of one hand against Orac's key. "I forgive you, Jenna," he said blandly, then turned to fit the key in place. Orac whined into life.
"Leave it," Blake commanded, moving to stand beside Avon. Jenna shut up but stayed where she was as Cally walked across to listen to the computer. Avon looked at Blake, his gaze steady ™ almost, Blake thought, reassuring. "I'm sorry Avon, Cally..." Blake began. Avon raised an elegant eyebrow slightly and half turned to look at Cally.
"It was not your fault, Blake," Cally told him. "But we must prevent it from happening again."
"The machine's destroyed..." Jenna protested. Blake glared at her and Avon turned a stare that could have been amused on her. She subsided.
"Agreed," Blake told Cally. "How?"
Avon turned his attention from Jenna; very briefly he focussed on Blake, then he placed his hands on Orac's casing. Just for a moment, Blake thought they were shaking.
"Orac," Avon began, his voice steady, hard, "tell Blake, and Jenna, your suggestions regarding the Federation conditioning." He turned to face Blake as the machine replied.
"Blake, it is essential that you complete the deconditioning treatment. The use of the control device has made it almost 90% certain that further treatments will enable you to remember all your past. And remove the danger of the same method being successful in controlling you in the future."
"You can remove the trigger signal?"
"Then we must."
"But you said your memories were coming back anyway..." Jenna protested.
"Yes, Jenna," Avon said, still watching Blake. "At any time, under any circumstances, but especially under stress conditions, Blake could experience flashbacks like those you witnessed via Orac."
"Oh." Jenna paled. She didn't want that for Blake. Bad enough to see it all second-hand, but she didn't want to share his dreams with him again.
As if he had heard the thought, Avon smiled. "Don't worry Jenna," he reassured, turning to look at her at last. "Orac suggests that rather than you, I should share the experience with Blake."
The surge of relief Jenna felt made her quite guilty. "You," she said, more harshly perhaps than she had intended. "Why?"
"Natural affinity," Orac replied.
"You said I was the best suited last time."
"Jealous, Jenna?" Avon taunted softly.
"Why, Avon?" Blake asked. Avon turned to look at him then, his face cold and angry, but Blake thought he saw hurt in his eyes.
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