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By Unfrequented Ways

By Helen Parkinson
Page 1 of 14

I woke slowly to the sound of voices. They were pitched low and it was more an impression of words than the words themselves that reached me. It seemed to me they had been there for some time, half heard, but unacknowledged. A room came into focus slowly, or at least a ceiling did. This was all I could see as I was lying flat on my back on a bed. I could feel the pressure across my chest, not uncomfortable but real and rather disturbing and I realised I was strapped down. I couldn't remember how I came to be here, not even where 'here' was, however long practise as a fugitive kept me still while I tried to organise my thoughts.

The ceiling was grey and appeared metallic, the smell was of a hospital and the faint tremor I could feel through the bed that of a ship in flight. The medical unit of a spacecraft then, but whose and why? Alarmed I searched my memory for the answer. It was cloudy and vague, I recognised the effects of drugs. My head hurt and when I breathed there was pain in both my chest and abdomen. It was this pain that triggered the memory. The dreadful memory of how I came to be here.

I remembered a planet called Gauda Prime and an old friend coming to find me. I remembered the hate in his eyes and the pain as he tried to kill me. I think I may have cried out or even said his name then, for something attracted the attention of the voice's owners to me.

Two faces came into my field of view. Two smiling strangers looked down at me and the terror rose in my gut. I didn't know them, or where I was, but I knew now what I was. A Federation prisoner.

"Blake, Thank god." The older man said. "We were beginning to think you were never going to wake up." His voice was friendly but I wasn't fooled, I had been here before. He picked up my hand, trying to take my pulse I think, while the other man moved away. I heard him talking to someone but I couldn't make out the words and I heard nothing of the reply. I think he must have been using the intercom to report my return to awareness to his superiors. The one who had spoken seemed upset by my lack of response, he reached towards my face. Instinct took over then, I jerked my head away in horror, I had no idea what he planned but one always assumes the worst when facing Federation doctors.

"Blake ?" He asked. His concern seemed more genuine than I was used to. Clearly the Federation had found a better school of acting.

"Leave me alone." I said. My voice was disappointing. Weak and soft, embarrassing, but it couldn't be helped and it worked, he pulled away and cast a look of worry at his companion. The room seemed to be closing in on me. It was getting hard to breathe, as if the air was bad. The gentle beeping of machinery I hadn't noticed until now changed, it sounded like the alarms on Gauda Prime. Red lights seemed to pulse with my heart beat as they had when I lay at Avon's feet dying. It was all happening again. Avon was above me gazing down. I wondered what he was thinking, was he glad to finally be rid of me. I wouldn't have thought him capable of this betrayal but be had killed me, what more proof did I need. I think I spoke his name then, accusation or pity I don't know. The room was fading round me, I thought perhaps I was dying and I was glad of it.

Hands grasped my arms. I could feel the heat of them even lost as I was in the darkness. I fought them, but I didn't know what was happening and could get no real purchase against their hold, against their strength, and that was frightening. There are not many men who are stronger than I and to be held against my will is a terror to me. My vision went red then black but I could still hear them talking to me, telling me to calm down, that I was going to kill myself. As if I was supposed to care about that. Dead was infinitely better than a Federation prisoner. Then one voice cut through the confusion and the darkness.

"Blake." Avon said my name again as hands closed on my shoulders. I knew it was Avon's touch even without my sight but I forced my eyes open to see the man who had betrayed me.

He was pale under the lights and looked worried, possibly I was worth more alive than dead to his masters. Alive I could tell them so much, dead I would take it all with me. Well perhaps I would do just that, but I would take him with me too, if I could. The worry in his eyes faded to relief as he realised I was looking at him. Odd to see his face so open, so honest, it had always been a struggle to know what he thought before. Or perhaps it was simply that I was seeing his true nature for the first time. The other faces were still there, hovering in the background.

"Avon." I said and I let my voice be a whisper so soft I could barely hear it myself. Just for a moment I thought perhaps I hadn't spoken out loud, then Avon smiled and glanced briefly to the side, at the older of the men. In triumph or so it seemed to me and my hatred for this smug traitor grew. "Avon." I said again and made it a plea. He turned back to me, leaning closer to hear my words. His hands were still on my shoulders warm and reassuring as they had been in the past when we faced death together on Liberator, but now I knew them for the liars they were. Avon's expression was half relief and half annoyance as he bent closer. I waited patiently as he moved nearer to hear my words. What did he expect? Benediction? Forgiveness? Or did he believe I did not remember what he had done. He was close enough now. "Murdering bastard!" I said and spat in his face. He fell away from me then, such an odd look in his eyes, hurt and surprise. One of the strangers grabbed him, seemed to be holding him up. I wanted to say more, but a coldness ran through my veins and into my head. It brought the darkness with it.

 

AVON.

"Well Doctor?" I demanded. It was four hours since Blake's traumatic awakening and his doctors seemed no nearer to explaining his reaction than they had at the time.

"Avon, " Pask began. He had on his best reasonable expression and the slow calm voice that annoyed me so much. Blake had often said Paskonly spoke softly because he didn't like it when I shouted but there was nothing more guaranteed to make me shout than this particular tone. "His system has taken quite a jolt, the amount of power going through those cables could have killed him." I nodded, doing my best not to let his tone irritate me but it was a close thing. "He would have died if you hadn't got him clear." Pask continued, apparently oblivious to my annoyance and he was supposed to be a psychiatrist. "In fact, how are your hands?" He leant forward then as if to examine the offending appendages

Stupid question I thought. "My hands are fine." I replied.

Donovan, our senior physician knew I was annoyed. He was getting too good at reading me, yet I didn't resent it as much as I once would have done. Vila said that was proof I was getting old. "We know he was confused Avon." He said to me. "Didn't really recognise any of us. However he did ask for you."

"And he knew me. And hated me!" It was hard to keep my voice steady as I said this last. I don't know whether I was covering anger or pain.

"I don't think so." Donovan said. "Blake is very disorientated. I think he sees the medical unit as a Federation cell."

"Well now, it does have similarities." I found myself admitting. Pask's eyes lit up, he was always eager for information about my past. Information I refrained from providing, but I knew that Blake, Vila and the rest fed him titbits sometimes. Vila's were mostly exaggerations designed to cause me problems, at least they had been until I pointed out how easy it would be for me to reprogram the base computer not to provide adrenaline and soma whenever he felt like it. "What do you suggest we do ?" I asked Donovan, it helped to distract Pask, and it was why we were here.

"He didn't know us." Donovan said, "But he did know you." That had been obvious. It had also been obvious that he wasn't too happy with me. I didn't bother pointing that out to them again. "We think he may have suffered partial memory loss."

"Memory loss." I echoed, cursing as I did it. I sounded more like a parrot as each minute passed.

"Yes, but only up to a point. He knows who he is. Remembers you. It appears a specific period of time has been lost. It is as if he has travelled backwards in time to a period of trauma, a time of intense emotions, a time before you built this base, met any of us. We have moved him to the medical annexe, hopefully he should find those surroundings less threatening. Pask had some of his things moved in there too."

"Nothing dangerous. Don't worry Avon."Pask assured me. "Just his own things. It might help.

"Even if he doesn't recognise them ?" I asked.

"And we think someone he knows should be with him when he wakes." Donovan ignored my question, seemed almost reluctant to look at me.

"Me?" I heard myself volunteer. I didn't like the idea of that at all but if it was what Blake needed it appeared I was prepared to do it.

"There is just one problem." Donovan continued, he didn't look too keen on my idea. "We don't know what he does remember so whoever goes in would have to go very carefully. From his reaction to you he....well, he may be more dangerous to you than anyone else. I'm not sure you are the best suited for this."

I had to agree with statement that Blake might be dangerous. His reaction to me had been fairly conclusive. Donovan might see ambiguity in Blake's spitting in my face, I did not. Blake had recognised me when he saw me, his reaction had been quite personal and, much as I hated to admit it, quite devastating. I didn't want to know why he had done it and yet I had to know. Any one of the others, especially Vila, would have been a better choice for this I thought, but they were not here. Off base with Avalon to see Sarkoff of Lindor, negotiating for funds. I wished fervently Blake had gone with them, then he wouldn't have been on the station when the power cables in the new teleport section blew, and if he hadn't been there working with me none of this would have happened.

"There is no one else." Pask said. Donovan threw him a look that even I wouldn't have liked to be on the receiving end of.

"It's still a risk." He told Pask. "You don't have to do this Avon." The intensity of his concern convinced me it was real.

However "I think I do." I replied. "If he doesn't need a medic then there is no reason that it cannot be me."

"Avon, he might be dangerous."

"I can take care of myself." I told him. "Pask get everything ready, then let me know what you want me to do." It was a dismissal and I expected them both to recognise it as such.

 

I sat for a moment considering my options after the room went quiet.

"It isn't your fault." Donovan said softly. I hadn't realised he was still there. I could have sworn I heard him leave with his partner.

"No ?" I asked.

"No. Accidents just happen, and Blake is very good at being in the wrong place."

"He pushed me out of the way." I explained. I would have died if Blake hadn't acted as he had, Donovan knew that even better than I. Blake had only survived because, unlike me, he was wearing protective clothing. I had been so annoyed that the cable had dared to give I hadn't taken the time to dress properly before going to fix it. A fact that could have killed me and may have driven Blake insane. If that wasn't blame then I didn't know what was.

"Avon this isn't your fault, or mine. Blake is hurting but he will recover. You don't have to do this, there is a risk to you that wouldn't be there for me, or for Tomas."

"You said he needed things he could remember." I said. "He remembered me. He did not know you, nor did he know Pask. I have to do this. We can't allow him loose on the station reacting like that every time he sees me, who knows what he might do to someone else." I know he saw through me, that I was doing this for Blake, but as long as he said nothing it didn't matter.

"Traumatic amnesia." Donovan said as if convincing himself. "Give Blake familiar surroundings and faces and he will be his usual irritating self in no time." It still annoyed me when Sam Donovan spoke of Blake like that, that was my place and he knew it. "He remembered you Avon so we start with that. If you can find out just what he can recall and then help him to put the other pieces in place."

"From his reaction." I replied "I have fairly good idea what he remembers." I felt suddenly too tired to do this thing and it must have shown in my face for Donovan put a hand on my shoulder. I shook it off and climbed to my feet. "Any contact from Avalon ?"

"No." But I knew the answer, I would have been the first to know if they had called in. "We can't wait for them Avon." Donovan answered the rest of the question. The question I hadn't asked.

"I know that." I snapped, I must have sounded almost as tired as I felt because he put his hand back on my arm and he wasn't going to be shaken off this time.

"We need to know what he remembers and to help him get his memory back as quickly as possible." He paused. "The Federation's meddling has...." He stopped again.

"What ?" I asked afraid of what I might hear. The Federation had already stolen so much from Blake, what had they done to him now? Correction, what had I helped them to do?

"They caused damage with the original programming." Donovan said slowly. I nodded, I knew all about that, so did Blake and I was well aware it bothered him sometimes. "There is a chance, a slim chance admittedly, that this memory loss could be permanent if we don't act quickly."

"So it has to be me." I said. Suddenly I felt as old as Vila insisted I was. "I'm going back to check on the teleport let me know what you want me to do." I didn't wait for his reply but went back to the job Blake and I had been doing when he was hurt. My hands had recovered enough at last to make the delicate work possible.

 

They came back for me far too soon.

Blake was in the medical annexe under very light sedation. I was simply to wait for him to come out of it and offer reassurance. I would have laughed at that suggestion if I could have found the energy. Donovan made it sound so easy, so straight forward but I know Blake, nothing is ever that easy where he is concerned. His reaction to me was also worrying, he had never seemed to hate me before except for the brief time after I shot him on Gauda Prime. He believed then that I had sold him to the Federation. Ironic as it was my belief that he had sold me that lead to the 'incident' as Blake liked to call it, in the first place. So I waited in the quiet of the medical bay, pretending to read while all the time I watched Blake sleep and wondered at the damage I might have caused.

 


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