A Choice of IdentityBy Judith Proctor
Page 2 of 4
Caleb Avon crouched in the shaft, he was tired and he was thirsty and his head hurt, the doctor had assured him that the pain was transient and that he would be able to function normally within a day or two, this would have been reassuring if he had trusted the doctor. Once this job was over he wanted nothing more than to have a decent rest. Time and rest should restore his memory, at least it should if the doctor was telling the truth.
He hoped someone would come soon, it was almost dark here, only a small amount of light filtered in from the factory floor. He could hear the sounds of workers clearing the debris from the rebel's handiwork, it had been an efficient job from the sound of it, it would probably be a year or more before the factory resumed full production. He shifted position again, he was getting cramp in his left leg from sitting still too long, lying down again might help, but the dust on the bottom of the shaft made him want to sneeze.
He wondered if they had buried his brother's body as he had requested, it wasn't that he cared particularly, but family was family.
He knew there was something he needed to remember, something that he desperately needed to know, but whenever he tried to concentrate, the effort made his head start throbbing again. The only good thing about this whole situation was the money, the bounty for the whole group would come to millions of credits. He wanted that money. Blake's people didn't matter, they were nothing to him. Money was the only thing that really mattered, money was freedom to do whatever he desired.
Would Blake come anyway? According to Travis' reports, Blake was incapable of abandoning a friend, Caleb wasn't so sure about that, if he were in Blake's place, he would have cut his losses and run. Returning to a zone that was now in a state of full alert, with Federation pursuit ships known to be in the area was folly, to be added to that was the chance that the set up was a trap. No man was worth running a risk like that for, no matter how valuable his skills were.
There was a sudden brief light in the shaft behind him accompanied by a noise. He squeezed himself around to be confronted by a beautiful girl with a worried expression on her face.
"Avon are you all right?"
He nodded, not trusting himself yet to say anything, this had to be the Auron girl, and he perceived her as the greatest threat to himself of all the Liberator crew.
"The others thought you were dead."
"But you didn't?", this was going to be easier than he had thought. Servalan had obviously been correct when she had told him that the Auronar could not read the minds of humans.
Cally smiled and touched him lightly on the shoulder and Avon found himself suddenly regretting the possibility of her death.
He put on the bracelet she passed him, leaving the old one in the shaft, damaged or not, the supreme commander would want it for her research programme. Now he had to prepare himself to act the part of his brother, it wasn't going to be easy, he didn't know enough about them or how well they got on with Kerr. He wished he had had more time to do research on both his brother and the rest of the Liberator crew, but Servalan had been adamant, it simply wasn't plausible for him to have hidden himself, injured and without food for more than a day or two at the most. At least he had information in his datapad which included everything the Federation knew to date about Blake and his crew; as soon as he was alone, he could punch up some of the information he needed and start memorising it all over again.
"Bring us up." Cally spoke into her bracelet, and the world around Avon wavered and reformed into a different place.
They were all waiting for him, the man dressed in green, that had to be Blake, he recognised him from the photographs; the smaller man holding out a glass filled with some kind of red liquid must therefore be Vila. He took the glass and gulped down its contents gratefully, he didn't recognise the taste, but it was warm and probably alcoholic in nature. "Thanks."
He looked at Blake and realised that he had absolutely no idea of how he was expected to react, what was the relationship between his brother and this man, was he expected to be eternally grateful for being rescued, or simply to brush it off?
Feigning illness seemed like a good idea, and then fighting back the dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him he realised that he didn't need to fake it. He staggered slightly, and Cally caught him by the arm, Blake took him by the other. "He's ill", he heard Cally say, "I think he lost a lot of blood. Help me take him to lie down."
The doctor looked nervous which Servalan took to be a bad sign, if he had something to feel guilty about then he obviously hadn't been doing his job properly. She moved onto the attack automatically, "How long will the block hold? You told me two weeks at least, and that he would retain all his skills but be unable to access any personal memories"
He wasn't actually shaking, but the probe he was spinning between his fingers gave him away just as badly.
"Two weeks, I assure you two weeks supreme commander, if only I had had time and the proper equipment I could have done a much more thorough job. It could be most unfortunate if something occurs to trigger his memory."
Servalan managed to look bored, "It could indeed be unfortunate." She steepled her fingers in front of her on the desk and then smiled maliciously, "For you."
She thought back to her conversation with Avon-
Night reigned in the hospital, and as in hospitals everywhere the subdued lighting lent a slightly eerie aspect to the silent corridors. The walls were a pale green colour, no doubt chosen by some psychologist to have a soothing effect, doubtless, she thought, it worked in the day, but at night it merely made the place look emptier. Not that Servalan was worried by the dark, she was a creature of the night, and so perhaps was Avon. The monitors reported that he had regained consciousness, so now it was time to see if the more predatory and mercenary aspects of his character had survived the memory block. If he proved to be disinterested in her offer, there was always good propaganda value to be gained from executing him.
The door opened quietly, but audibly; the man on the bed turned quickly towards the sound, then winced momentarily in pain. Servalan snapped on the light and paused, framed in the doorway, well aware of the effect she made and playing it for maximum effort. The white dress flowed from shoulder to ankles, hugging her figure tightly, with small geometric patterns picked out here and there in delicate pearl beadwork. Power dressing was something she had been unable to indulge in at lower ranks in the service, but having reached the top, she knew exactly how to utilise her assets and enjoyed the reactions she obtained from men. She was beautiful, desirable, and totally out of their reach.
Avon was watching, waiting for her to make the first move.
She moved towards the bed and seated herself in a chair so that her eyes were just a few inches higher than his own. "Caleb", she loosed a devastating smile at him, "don't you think you overdid the desire for realism?"
There was a momentary touch of confusion in his eyes, rapidly covered up. This was the point where most people would have begun the "Who am I, where am I?" routine, Avon didn't disappoint her, he smiled slightly ,"Overdid?"
Servalan waved a hand negligently in his general direction.
"The injuries; I know you needed to look convincing enough to pass a possible medical check up, but you came close to killing yourself."
Rising to her feet, she looked down at him, her face totally serious and her voice crisp, "We've invested a lot of time and money in this project and this is the only shot we'll ever get at it. Your twin is dead, there will be no future opportunity for you to take his place among the rebels. Understand this Avon, I want Blake and I want his ship, alive or dead."
She tossed a small datapad onto the pillow beside him, "Here's your files on the rebels and some final updates that I've added, I'm told that a degree of amnesia is not uncommon in cases like yours, so I suggest you do some last minute revision if you need it, you leave in two hours." Turning on her heel, she exited the room with a swirl of fabric, leaving behind her a man with no memory of himself desperately trying to gather up the threads of an identity, any identity.
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