Change of DirectionBy Mjo
Page 2 of 6
"Blake, any sign of him?" |
"Not yet, stand by"
Blake and Vila had teleported down outside the compound. They kept low, and in the shadows. Two Federation guards were quickly despatched. Vila moved towards the wire mesh.
"I don't like this" he said pointing to the monitors, high up "They've probably spotted us already"
"If they had, we would be dead by now"
"That's very reassuring"
"I told you, ORAC is disrupting the sensors. We'll be in and out before they realise what's happening"
"That's what you said last time and look what happened"
"I know, Vila" Blake sighed, "That's why we're here" He wasn't going to loose someone else. "Hurry up"
"This is delicate work, one slip and we'll be fried"
"There" said Vila at last "That should do it"
Blake couldn't see any difference "You sure its OK"
"I'm a professional, of course it's all right"
"Er.. You first"
Blake glanced at Vila, then cautiously put his hand on the mesh. Nothing happened. "I knew it would be OK" Vila said grinning.
Blake pushed open the gate and cautiously moved forward
The base was remarkably quiet. He had expected heightened security, but there didn't seem to be any additions since the last time they had visited. That was odd. Perhaps it was a trap after all. Jenna had tried to persuade him to abandon Avon, but he had to be sure. Avon might be dead, but until he saw the body he wouldn't leave.
"Has there been any sign of unusual activity? Has Orac reported anything?"
"No, that's the point, I was expecting more opposition"
"I'll bring you up"
Suddenly there was shooting. An alarm went off.
"I think we've found the opposition"
"We're getting out. Right?" wailed Vila
"No. I'm not leaving Avon again"
Someone shouted "There he is. Get him"
They saw a figure dart swiftly between two cabins, then fall suddenly as another shot was fired.
"OK, got him"
"Hope he's in one piece"
"He's only stunned. I know the orders"
The alarm died.
Blake and Vila looked at one another "Avon?" "possibly" "There's only one way to find out" said Blake
They moved forward, shadowing the guards.
The guards disappeared down a corridor.
The rebels heard feet being dragged and a door open and close.
Vila cautiously peered round the corner, just in time to see the back of the two guards departing. They no longer had the prisoner.
In an office the other side of the base, Servalan was watching the monitor. She saw the two guards drag a slumped figure along the corridor. They stopped by a door, opened it, and pushed the man inside. The screen shifted to show the inside of the room as the man entered. Against the far wall another figure lay on the bed, the newcomer ignored him. Instead moving quickly to a panel in the side wall, he pressed a few buttons and disappeared though a hidden exit.
They must have put him in there" said Vila
"Then go and open it"
"It might not be Avon" at the look Blake gave him Vila continued quickly "but then again it might" and moved towards the door. "Avon" Vila whispered. As he worked "Avon"
Avon stirred. He was muttering to himself, dazed, disorientated. The last thing he remembered was.. it had to be a nightmare. He turned on his side, facing the wall, fists clenching and unclenching
"Avon" a voice from a distance.. a familiar voice. Trust Vila to be in my nightmare he thought. He heard the door open
"Go away Vila" he said
"If that's all the thanks I get for rescuing you, I'll leave you here"
"I don't want you in my nightmare, go away"
Another voice. "Avon, can you walk?"
Avon opened an eye
"Avon" the voice was still there, closer this time. It wasn't a nightmare.
He turned over. Vila was standing in the doorway, looking round anxiously
Blake was coming towards him
"STOP" Avon yelled, sitting up and pushing himself as far back against the wall as he could manage
Blake stopped, startled. He looked back at Vila, expecting the shout to bring the whole of the Federation down on them
Blake heard Avon's voice "There won't be anyone. It's a trap Blake. Get out"
Blake moved forward
"NO! Stay where you are. Any closer and you're dead" "Please" Avon added
That got Blake's attention.
"It's too late for me Blake. Just go"
"Hurry up" said Vila, "I can hear something"
"Quickly" said Avon, "they must have realised their plan didn't work. Must have miscalculated the effect of the virus on the tranquilliser"
"I'm dying Blake. Servalan. She expected me to take you with me. At least that's one consolation" he said bitterly, "she failed. Now go"
"We're not going without you" Blake said quietly
"Don't be an idiot. There's nothing you can do"
"Blake!" yelled Vila as he fired at something in the corridor
"Quickly" said Blake tossing a bracelet to Avon "put that on" Avon dropped it on the couch
Blake dropped his on the floor
"Idiot" said Avon
"I'll put it back on when you put on yours" Blake said
Avon glared, then snapped on the bracelet
"And what do you intend doing when we get on board?"
"I'll think of something"
"Jenna. Teleport Avon directly to the Isolation unit then bring us up"
Avon was sitting in the isolation chamber, spearing a piece of protein that passed as food. Suddenly he doubled over in agony as pain seared across his chest. So it has started. He knew what to expect.
"Blake" Avon hit the intercom
"Be there in a moment"
Blake rushed to the unit
Avon was leaning against the wall, sweat pouring off him. Suddenly he collapsed into convulsions"
"Cally! Get suited up, hurry"
"Damn" Blake said almost to himself. He had known what to expect, but it had been over 12 hours since the pickup and he was beginning to hope that Avon had been wrong. Of course they had done all the tests, and Orac had confirmed the diagnosis, but the symptoms should have manifested themselves over 8 hours ago.
Cally came rushing through, kitted out in an environment suit. It was clumsy to work with but gave the necessary protection
She went through the intervening sterilisation cubical and into the isolation unit. She pressed a combined tranquilliser and painkiller into Avon's arm. He relaxed slightly, but didn't blackout. Tranquillisers would have diminishing effect the longer the disease progressed
"Cally" Avon grabbed her arm "Help me" he said
"Of course we'll help you"
He shook his head
"That's not what I mean. Help me to die" he said
"No Avon, we'll find a cure. Orac's working on it"
"It won't be in time" he said exasperated.
"The spasms started later than predicted so maybe the next stage will also be late" she said "You should rest"
She had a point he thought. He had seen the synopsis of the disease that Orac had culled from the Federation database. After the initial period of calm, came the spasms, intense pain that wracked the body, with increasing severity. These should have started about 12 hours after the initial contact. After 20 hours came the third phase, slow internal haemorrhage, as bit by bit the body disintegrated, as if eaten alive from within. In the original Thazapolin this lasted for another 12 hours before the body completely failed and the patient died. However the new version was designed to prolong the agony as long as possible. According to the research files, in one experiment a patient had survived as long as 5 days before expiring. If this wasn't enough, there was also the creeping paralysis that could start at any time from 15 hours onwards. Which meant that not only did the patient live in agony, he also could do nothing to help himself. Finally there was the rash and blistering that appeared on the torso, arms and legs in the latter stages.
Cally helped Avon to the couch.
"Cally, I don't intend going through stage 3. As soon as it starts, finish it" She did not look at him
"I have the right to choose how I die!"
"And we have the right not to loose you" she snapped
"Do you also have the right to prolong suffering" he said gently
Cally looked at him, tears in her eyes
"No" she whispered
"Good. Then that's settled. There's a rather fine bottle of cognac in my room. Ask Vila to bring it to me. He knows where it is"
Cally passed on the request.
Vila hovered outside the door of Avon's cabin. He had been in there many times. Avon's had been one of the first rooms he had unofficially entered in the first days after leaving the London. Of course Avon had known what he had done. He had warned him that once could be considered practice on alien equipment, twice .. well he didn't have to elaborate on what would happen if Vila had broken into his private quarters a second time. Yet that was exactly what he was about to do now.
The door clicked open. Vila walked in. It was as if Avon was about to return to it any moment. There were some unfinished scribblings on some paper near a printout. A jacket neatly placed on the bed. Vila moved to a locked cupboard, and took only two seconds to open it. He reached in and took out the bottle. As he withdrew, his sleeve caught on something, as he jerked it free, his grip on the bottle loosened and it crashed down on the desk, spilling its contents. Vila looked down at it with incredulity, tried mopping it up, then sat down and cried. He cried as he had never done before.
Cally was in the medical unit. The intercom buzzed "Where's Vila" said an impatient Avon.
"I told him, Avon. I'll check"
"Vila, did you find the bottle?" No answer
I'd better go and see what's happened, she thought
Even before Cally reached Avon's door she could feel the emotion. There had been a lot of emotion on the ship since Avon's return, she had had to increase her shielding to compensate, but this was total despair.
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