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By Unfrequented Ways

By Helen Parkinson
Page 3 of 14

"There was an accident Roj." He said. He used my given name far more easily than he had my surname, as if it were normal for him to do so. "Avon told you. You received a massive electrical shock. We thought it had killed you. Your heart stopped for a few moments." He half smiled and I realised I was rubbing my chest again. It did hurt but this was from no mythical electrical shock, nor from Avon's attempts to resuscitate me, this was caused by that man's attempt to murder me. "Yes, I'm afraid Avon was a little over enthusiastic." Pask said. He sounded fond as well as amused and that proved he didn't know Avon as well as he wanted me to believe. No one could know the man and talk about him that way. "But then you did scare him half to death."

"If this is my base." I asked, ignoring his attempts to be friendly, "Then why am I locked in here with that, " I pointed to the guard, "On the door." Pask looked at the man who shuffled his feet, oddly uncomfortable at being noticed.

"Because until you remember, or at least believe what I tell you, you are not safe out of here. Your injuring of Avon proved that don't you think?" He was clearly close to losing his temper. "Hell Roj you and Avon have been friends for a long time, why don't you believe him? I really expected you to start to remember when you saw this room and his face." He actually managed to sound disappointed.

"I do remember." I told him. "I remember that he tried to kill me. That I went unarmed to greet a friend and that friend shot me three times."

"That was four years ago." Pask said impatiently. "You must be able to see differences in your appearance, and in Avon's. You must realise that some time has passed. Come on Roj you're not stupid If we were Federation do you really believe we'd be pussy footing around like this. You, of all people, know exactly what the Federation is capable of in the area of mind manipulation." He rubbed his eyes. "Anyway why would we bother, what would all this be for? Why haven't we killed you outright?"

"Information." I replied. "You want the names I have locked up in here." I tapped my forehead.

"If you are right we have Avon why do we need you?" Pask insisted. "Come on think about it for a minute."

"So this is my base and you work with me." I said. "What about Avon?"

"Avon?" Pask echoed. "This base is run by you and Avon. That is why we are all still here. You alone, or Avon alone, have a tendency to be a little, well shall we say reckless. Together you curb each others more dangerous ideas. You are a team and one of which the Federation is becoming more afraid each day."

"He tried to kill me."

"He believed he had been sold to the Federation." Pask said.

"It must be catching." I replied.

"Roj, look past your anger. You and Avon came to terms with what happened on G.P long ago. Before I joined you. I don't know what you did but you sorted it." He sounded almost resentful, that something had happened before he had arrived, I could almost believe in this man.

"Sorted it out ?" I snorted, that hurt and I was suddenly tired.I lay back on the bunk closing my eyes. If he wanted to continue the charade then he would go otherwise he would call in his associates and they would begin their work properly. Frankly that would have been a relief, this little comedy was beginning to give me a headache. I heard the rustle of cloth as he moved away from the bunk, his footsteps towards the door. Then he stopped.

"Roj." He said softly, I didn't move, didn't open my eyes. "Avon is your closest friend. He has tried twice to reach you and you lashed out both times. Even if he wants to try again I will advise him not to bother." I turned to look at him then. He had his back to me, the door open in front of him, I could see people moving about in the room beyond. "You've been a Federation prisoner before. Does this seem like anything you remember? I know it is difficult but you might at least try engaging that logical brain you are supposed to have." He went out of the door then, taking the guard with him and I was alone.

The headache that had been threatening since I awoke was building now, I closed my eyes against the light and tried to think. It didn't help at all. I could not understand why they continued with the game. Avon had failed so why did they persist? It didn't make sense unless what he said was true but that was patently ridiculous, you couldn't loose four years from your life just like that.

The noise of the door opening disturbed my thoughts. Just as well as they were running in circles now. I rolled over on the bunk, if this was the beginning of my interrogation proper I wanted to be ready. The young guard came in and I tensed, however he was followed not by a team of Federation interrogators but by a boy of about sixteen. The boy carried a bundle of clothes and a tray upon which was clearly my dinner. It smelt wonderful. He put the tray on the table and the bundle on the chair Avon has used. His were eyes like saucers and remained fixed on me as I got up slowly and walked over, he backed away as I neared him, towards the door, the guard watched us both closely the entire time.

"Briece thought you might be hungry." The boy said. He half smiled. "Hospital rations don't agree with everyone." It sounded like he was quoting, and as if he expected me to know the source. I didn't. I lifted the cover and my stomach growled it looked very nice. I looked sideways at the boy and guard both by the door.

"How do I know this isn't drugged?" I asked. The boy looked horrified and took step towards me as if to deny it, the guard grabbed his shoulder.

"Out." He said and pushed the boy through the door. "You can eat it or leave it." He told me. "That is up to you entirely." I had the feeling that he didn't like me at all. Annoyed I picked up the plate and hurled it at him. He was out of the door before I had even completed the motion. The food hit the wall with a satisfying splat, but before I could enjoy the mess my stomach growled again. Beaten, for the moment anyway, I reached for a piece of the bread, all that was left on the tray. It was then I saw the knife and a plan began to form.

 

AVON.

"If anyone says I told you so I'll...."

"You'll what Avon?" Donovan asked. He didn't sound amused so I cranked open one reluctant eye.

"Listen?" I suggested. He relaxed slightly then so maybe it wasn't as bad as I had at first thought.

"Don't, make promises you can't keep." He advised. I didn't reply I was too busy trying to put it all together in my mind. I wasn't too keen on the conclusions I was coming to.

"Is Blake all right?" I asked finally. My last clear memory was of a very disturbed man.

"Blake?" Donovan said.

"Yes, Blake." I repeated moving to sit up. The change in position started a pounding headache and the room moved sideways. I decided it was bad idea and settled for leaning on my elbows. "He was what all this was about after all."

"He still doesn't remember." Donovan told me as he pulled the diagnostic sensors off my chest.

"Well that is something of a relief." I replied. "If I thought he had hit me this hard while in his right mind I would have been a little upset."

Sam smiled, relaxing at last, I hadn't realised he was so worried about me. "Would you like something for the headache?" He asked.

"How did you...?"

"I'm a doctor, that's what you pay me for." He replied holding out a tablet and a drink. Cautiously I sat up, the room stayed put, so, unfortunately, did the headache.

"We don't pay you." I reminded him as I took the pill and swallowed it down.

"I knew there was something I wanted to talk to you about."

"Vila's in charge of the money side of things." I told him. "You will have to wait until he gets back."

"That won't be long."

"They've been in contact?" I asked. Silly question as it was obvious they had but he didn't pick me up on it. I was grateful for the distraction of Vila and the others, it stopped me having to think about Blake. Stopped me having to ask Donovan what we should do next. I was all out of ideas.

"Yes. They want to talk to you."

"Did you tell them about Blake?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Vila didn't ask for Blake after Farrer told him you weren't well."

"He did what !" The shout was a bad idea, suddenly I felt very sick. Donovan, recognising the signs, held the bowl while I was thoroughly ill.

"He assumed you were still laid up after the fall." Donovan told me after I had finished. "I didn't correct him. As you hadn't told them about Blake's accident.."

I could hear the censure in his voice "We couldn't put information like that out on an open channel." I protested, again. "Anyone could have picked it up."

"Possibly." He said. I knew he thought me over cautious but it was only a month since my near capture on Priam. I still was not one hundred percent certain that the Federation hadn't been informed, that 'she' wasn't on her way here. "They are calling back, " He glanced at his watch. "In about an hour, you can talk to them then. Avon, " He paused. "I really think you have to tell them now." His tone sent a cold shiver through me.

"Why now?" I asked. "What happened to Blake?"

"Nothing." Donovan replied. He put out a hand to stop me getting up, then changed his mind and offered his help instead. "He is still in the room, still thinks he is a prisoner of the Federation and he still won't listen to reason from anyone."

I sat on the edge of the bunk, head down. I felt terrible sick, dizzy and tired. I lifted a hand to my head and encountered a dressing. "How bad?" I asked Donovan. More out of an attempt to occupy him than out of interest. I was aware and mobile, that was all that mattered, for at the moment anyway. Until Blake had his memory back I didn't have time to worry about anything else. I didn't bother to consider the possibility he might never recover. Donovan was doing enough of that for the both of us.

"You have a nasty cut there." Donovan reached for the dressing, gently checking it was still in place, "Concussion."

"Mmm." I nodded. Been there too often in the past not to recognise the symptoms.

"You also have some lovely bruises on your neck, you might find talking uncomfortable for a time." I touched my throat gingerly, I had been aware of discomfort there but could think of no reason for it. "Blake tried to throttle you." Donovan informed me, it was as if he read my mind.

"You must have been quick." I said. I had seen Blake kill with his bare hands before, he didn't like to do it but he was good and he was fast. The thought of those hands on my throat, intent on murder, sent my blood cold. Donovan didn't reply. "How long was I unconscious ?" I asked.

"Eight hours."

"Eight...." I got to my feet in shock.

"Where do you think you're going?" He demanded grabbing my arm. "If you think I'm letting you anywhere near Blake....."

"Do you imagine you can stop me ?" I asked.

"No." Pask's voice from the doorway, we both jumped. "But you might at least get dressed first."

"He can't go in there again." Donovan snapped.

I left them to it making my way to the bathroom, grabbing the bundle of clothes from the chair, someone planned ahead, as I went.


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