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Windows of the Soul

By Kathy Hintze
Page 3 of 5

Devlan approached Vila with questioning eyes. He'd examined Vila as soon as Cally left and knew he was still paralyzed, and yet the Federation spy felt uneasy. Had Cally detected something? Blake had told him she was a skilled field medic but little else. Could she have realized that his state was induced? And if so...

Devlan shook his head and laughed. "I must he getting old. Soon enough, this charade will end. And that promotion to Security Headquarters on Earth in my hands." He looked down into Vila's eyes and smiled in an almost friendly fashion. "And you have made it all possible, Restal. My thanks." Vila's eyes moved slightly.

Faster than Vila could follow, Devlan jumped for the room's lighting control and twisted it to its highest setting. With the sudden burst of brilliance pouring down at him, Vila could not prevent himself from reacting and closed his eyes.

"You are cleverer than I thought, Restal, but not clever enough." He took the miniature disruptor from his pocket. "The Supreme Commander's ships will be here within the hour. Unfortunately, you will not be around to see them." Devlan opened Vila's tunic and Vila's eyes grew wide with terror. "I told you before, Restal, one touch just above the heart and you're dead." He activated the device. "Your usefulness was over anyway. But don't worry, your friends will be joining you very soon."

Vila watched him press the device against his chest, then everything began fading from view. For a brief second, he saw Blake, Avon and Cally rush in through the door, then nothing.

"Get away from him!" Blake shouted, grabbing Devlan by the arm and throwing him clear of Vila.

"Blake," Cally exclaimed, hastily checking Vila. "He's not breathing." She felt Vila's throat. "And there's no pulse." Cally looked at Devlan with unconcealed hate. What have you done to him?

Devlan staggered backwards as the fury of Cally's thought entered his mind. "A telepath! Oh, Restal was ingenious."

Blake jabbed his weapon into the Federation agent's chest. "Whatever it is you've done to him, reverse it or I'll kill you."

Devlan looked at Blake and laughed. "You...kill me? Come now, Blake, I've read your file. You couldn't kill anyone in cold blood and you know it. Not even me."

"Have you also read mine?" a harsh voice inquired and Avon stepped in front of Blake. "Do you think I would hesitate to kill you?" His face was cold, his eyes blazing with fire.

"I, too, would welcome the chance," Cally advised grimly.

Blake smiled at the Federation spy. "I repeat, Devlan, whatever you did to Vila, reverse it or I may choose to walk out of this room."

Devlan looked from Cally to Avon and then back to Blake. "All right. I'll do what I can."

"I do not trust him, Blake," Cally warned.

"Neither do I," Blake agreed. "You will tell Cally what needs to be done and quickly."

Devlan didn't like it but what choice did he have? "Here, take this." He handed her the disruptor. "Place it directly over the area of the heart and activate it."

Cally followed his instructions but nothing happened. You are lying, Devlan.

"Try it again," he pleaded in a shaking voice.

Cally placed the device again on Vila's chest. At the same time, she laid her other hand against Vila's throat, seeking a pulse. Nothing. No, wait. There was something. It was very faint, but the heartbeat was there. "I think it worked, Blake." She smiled as Vila's chest began to move. "Yes, he's breathing again."

Blake smiled in relief and turned to Avon. "Put our guest somewhere secure, will you, Avon?" The computer expert didn't answer, he just gave Devlan a predatory smile and pushed him from the room.

Jenna's voice came in over the comm. "Blake, Zen's picked up eight Federation pursuit ships just coming into range."

Blake crossed the room and activated the wall communicator. "Understood, Jenna. The situation here is well in hand. Get us out of here as fast as you can."

"No sooner said than done," Jenna replied, and Blake felt the ship lurch under his feet.

"Blake, he's coming round," Cally called and he joined her at Vila's bedside.

Vila's mind moved sluggishly as he willed his eyes to open. Then it seemed to take forever for them to focus but when they finally did, Vila found Cally's smiling face along with Blake's worried one looking down at him.

"Everything is all right, Vila," Blake assured him. "Cally told us everything." Vila glanced about the room. "Avon is entertaining Devlan, don't worry." Vila's eyes beamed with mischief and Blake and Cally laughed.

Avon walked in then, carrying Orac. "You must have read my mind," Blake announced.

Avon looked at him in disgust. "I gave up reading fairy tales a long time ago, Blake." He set Orac on the counter and inserted the key. "Devlan was not sure how long the paralysis would last. Limited treatments usually wear off in 24 hours. But Vila has sustained two lengthy sessions as well as a limited one yesterday morning. According to Orac, there is a possibility of the paralysis being permanent."

Blake no longer felt like laughing. Neither did Cally as she gazed down at Vila. Vila's eyes had filled with fear.

"But it is a very minute possibility," Orac interrupted. "As I told you on the flight deck. The possibility is well in excess of one in one million."

"How very reassuring," Avon commented sarcastically. "By the way, I found this in Devlan's pocket." He placed a small round metallic object on the table next to Blake.

"Homing device?" Blake inquired, picking un the small disk.

"Yes," Avon confirmed. "That accounts for the Federation pursuit ships. I took the liberty of deactivating it." He turned his attention back to Orac. "You were saying, Orac?"

"Hmmm," the computer continued grumpily. "The device in question has been in use by the Federation for several years. Its ability to severely restrict even halt the flow of the electrical impulses in the body has proven most successful in the interrogation of political prisoners. The threat of total paralysis is apparently a most effective way of obtaining needed information."

"We do not need a history lesson on the device, Orac," Blake snapped.

The computer sniffed irritably. "If I might continue. Further data indicates once the electrical impulses begin transmitting again, there is a definite possibility of severe aftershocks to the subject's system resulting in...."

"Pain," Cally finished with a gasp. "The muscles so long in tension...when they relax... Blake, there will be pain, a great deal of pain when the paralysis wears off."

"If it wears off," Avon amended.

Cally looked down at Vila and saw the terror in his eyes. Do not worry, Vila. You will be all right. I promise. Sleep now.

Vila was tired and obediently closed his eyes, but he did not go to sleep. Who could with the possibility of such a future lying before him?

Cally glanced at the monitor and knew that Vila was only pretending. "Orac," she asked, "if I gave Vila a sedative, would it harm him in any way at this time?" Vila's eyes shot open in surprise.

"I see no threat in such an action," advised the computer.

"Thank you, Orac," Cally answered. Preparation of the sedative took only a minute. She placed the injector against Vila's arm. "If you cannot sleep by yourself, Vila, then I will help you."

Vila tried to fight it. He didn't want to stay paralyzed the rest of his life, unable to move or even to talk. He had to stay awake, he had to hear the rest of Orac's report. He had to... The drug was just too powerful and swept him into a peaceful oblivion.

"Was that really necessary?" Blake inquired, watching Cally as she checked the monitor.

She sighed and looked across the sleeping thief at him. "Yes, Blake, it was. Vila was exhausted and needed rest."

"So you took it upon yourself to assist him," Avon commented. "How very noble."

"What would you have done, Avon?" Cally demanded.

"Orac," Blake asked, interrupting his companions' glaring match, "do you know how soon these aftershocks will begin?"

"There is no exact way of knowing; however, I can speculate."

"Then speculate," Blake snapped.

The crystalline box flickered with multi-colored lights for a minute. "Judging the length of exposure to the device and his present condition, I would estimate they will commence in approximately twenty-four hours."

"Then we have that long to prepare," Blake said.

"If Orac is right," Avon reminded.

"Avon, you are ever the pessimist," Blake returned, shaking his head.

"Someone has to see reality, Blake," Avon replied, retrieving Orac and turning to leave. "Especially when you choose not to."

#

The shocks began exactly as Orac had predicted. Fortunately, Cally was on duty and recognized the signs immediately. She activated the restraining mechanism just as the first frantic quiver ran through Vila's body. His eyes popped open in surprise, then grew drowsy as Cally flooded his system with a strong sedative. In seconds, Vila was in a deep drug-induced sleep, one in which he would feel nothing.

Cally also injected him with muscle relaxants in a vain attempt to ease the release of long tensed nerves. Beyond that, there was nothing she could do but watch and wait.

#


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