Valuable Asset chapter 9 of 11Author:
Teen and upWord Count:
1,600 (this chapter) 16,100 (total to date)Summary:
Set after 'Project Avalon'. 'It's your misfortune to be worth a great deal, Blake. The others weren't." (back to start)
Chapter 9: Torment
Chapter 9: Torment
Blake walked slowly down the flight deck towards Avon. The man didn't flinch, not quite, but Blake could see his muscles tighten in anticipation, fingers down by his sides curling into fists.
“I'd rather not hit you again. Couldn't we...” Blake tailed off, vaguely embarrassed.
“What? Make out on the sofa for Zen's benefit? I don't think so. I'd much prefer to be repeatedly punched in the face again.” Avon's voice was harshly sarcastic.
Blake came to a stop in front of him. There was a pause.
“Don't screw this up as well.” Avon sounded exhausted already. “Just do it.”
He nodded, swung a reluctant fist into Avon's stomach. There wasn't much real force behind it but Avon folded over with a grunt of pain that Blake didn't think was feigned. He'd hit the man very hard repeatedly in the gut just a few hours ago.
“Was it only your face that got healed?” he demanded.
Avon was upright again, braced for another blow. “Keep going.”
“I can't. I don't know where you're still injured.”
Avon snorted exasperation. “So hit me in the face then. Get on with it. We have an audience, remember.”
Blake slapped him a couple of times. It felt horrible. “You could at least hit me back.”
Avon was rubbing a reddening cheek. “Stick to the script.”
“I don't have a script! I know less than Zen about what we're supposed to be doing here.”
“I gave Zen access to dozens of video files. Are you telling me you didn't look at even one?”
“No! Why would I? I guessed that you called them private for a reason. “
“Your rarefied code of bloody ethics is incomprehensible to mere mortal humans. You do know that?” Avon sighed. “You're the sadist in this scenario, and so far you're making a pathetically poor showing at it. Push me around. Dominate me. Be a bully. I don't know why you're finding it hard; you do it without thinking most of the time.”
That was not fair. Unfortunately Blake's annoyance didn't make him any more happy about thumping the man. He tried a two handed shove to the shoulders, then another, backing Avon up against the wall. Only playacting. It shouldn't be difficult. If it had been anyone but Avon, any day but today, it would have been easy.
“If you fuck this up, our mutual friend will go back to asking awkward questions and I will probably end up dead.” Avon’s voice was a low murmur. “Compared to that a bit of rough treatment doesn't bother me at all. Just think of the worst interrogator you ever had and be him for ten minutes.”
That was an idea. There had been a man; Blake had never known his name but he'd learned to dread his presence. He stood back for a moment, eyes running down Avon's tense body, then his hand reached out, fingers tightening around the man's neck. “Like this?”
Avon struggled against the suffocating grip, managed to dislodge him. That wouldn't do. Blake dropped to his knees to reach under the nearest console and brought out the restraints that he'd kicked under there days before. “Controls?” he demanded.
Avon fished them out of a back pocket. Interesting. Blake couldn't think of any legitimate reason for the man to still be carrying them around. He grabbed a shoulder to spin Avon around to face the wall and pinion his wrists behind his back.
“On your knees.”
Avon dropped obediently. Blake remembered vividly what it had been like to face a blank wall, knowing his tormentor was behind him. He waited a few seconds then kicked Avon, not too hard, in the small of the back. At least he knew Avon's earlier injuries were all to the front.
There was a gasp of pain. Blake kneed him in the spine, getting another small cry, then closed both hands again around the man's windpipe. It was much easier when he didn't need to look into Avon's face.
He bent down to Avon's ear, his hands not yet tight. “Would you really have sold me back to them?”
“Of course.” The voice was weary disdain.
His thumbs ran over the back of Avon's neck, his fingers interlocked at his throat. “And when we get down to Earth? Will you sell me out then?”
Silence. He pulled one hand away, buried it in Avon's short hair to pull his head backwards. “Answer me.”
Nothing. Blake slammed Avon's face forward into the wall, not nearly hard enough to break anything. “Answer me.”
“What do you think?” Avon snarled, a flicker of anger getting through the tiredness.
“Zen. Give me a countdown to teleport range, thirty seconds intervals.”Confirmed.
Blake glanced down at the detested restraints, now tight around Avon's wrists. “I could put you out of action right now. Make you take your chance with Liberator.”
Avon said something inaudible.
“What was that?” He tugged hard on hair.
“Don't. Please.” Avon managed a little louder.
Playacting. That was all they were doing.Seven minutes thirty seconds.
Five minutes to go. Be a bully, Avon had said. Surely the bully would push, now he had an opening. “Begging's good,” he said. “But I'd like to see your face while you do it. Stand up, turn round.”
Avon's eyes met his, slid away. Wary, not arrogant, not disdainful. Blake slapped the reddened cheek again, almost in the role enough this time to feel a certain satisfaction together with the discomfort. Sell me out, would you, Kerr Avon? Not this time.
“Ask me again.”
Avon took a deep breath. “Please,” he said. “Don't leave me behind.”
For Blake the next five minutes took a very long time indeed. He had to seem to hurt Avon in ways that wouldn’t actually damage him, trying desperately to remember exactly what he’d already done to the man a few hours before. Avon would surely warn him if he went too far, but Avon turned out to be a surprisingly good actor, cowering pathetically and mostly silently in what Blake felt might be a fine display for Zen but fairly unhelpful as communication between them.
He spent a great deal of time with his hands around Avon’s neck, fairly sure that he wouldn't be causing any more harm than a lingering sore throat. Avon thrashed and struggled for air while Blake laughed aloud rather too hammily, reciting some more of the lengthy list of the man’s misdoings into his wide eyed and desperate face.
He’d just released him for the fourth or fifth time, watching him slump onto the floor, gasped for air, when Zen finally announced Two minutes thirty seconds.
At last. Avon was curled up at his feet, eyes closed, whimpering, though Blake was pretty sure he wasn’t in any real pain.
“Time to go, Avon.” Blake said. He’d put the controller down somewhere; he looked around, retrieved it from the sofa. “Avon?”
The man hadn’t moved.
“Avon! Game over! Get up.” Blake fumbled with the buttons and the restraints fell off
Avon twitched, and his eyes opened, unfocused at first then sharp on Blake. "Right," he said and rolled elegantly onto to his feet, before his right leg gave way and he collapsed.
Blake dropped to his side. “Hell! What is it?”
“Just stiffness. It was bruised before.” Avon pushed him away, clambered up again more carefully. “I’ll be…” he tried putting his weight on the knee and cursed. “Fine in a minute.”Four ships currently in pursuit. Two minutes to teleport range.
Blake picked up both the heavy bags. “I’ll be back.” He dragged both of them to the teleport room, with a little difficulty, then ran back again. Avon was staggering down the corridor with one hand on the wall; he didn’t pull away from an arm around his waist though he did complain, “It’s just stiff. Don’t fuss.” He looked rough; his face was swelling and his nose was bleeding again. One minute thirty seconds.
Not enough time for the med unit. “Where are those painkillers?” Blake asked.Seventeen ships currently in pursuit.
Zen told them. Teleport window nine seconds maximum.
“Sod the painkillers,” Avon hissed. “Just get me off this fucking ship in the next ninety seconds!”
Zen announced one minute some time before they reached the teleport room. Blake let Avon limp onto the platform unaided while he checked the controls. “Zen, teleport co-ordinates set for inside Academy complex?”Confirmed.
“Status of attacking ships?”Liberator will be in range of hostile weapons in approximately thirty three seconds
“Can we teleport down before then?” Confirmed.
“Right.” He ran over to join Avon. “Countdown to teleport, Zen, low volume.” Twenty two. Twenty one.
Zen droned quietly.Confirm pick up coordinates. Eighteen. Seventeen.
“What? Oh yes. Pick up from the same co-ordinates. We’ll be waiting, Zen.” Crew recovery is necessary.
The old Zen would never have volunteered its opinion on an operation. Twelve. Eleven.
“Don’t worry, Zen.” Avon’s voice was uncharacteristically gentle. “You’ll get all your crew back. Just put us down safely, and then follow your primary objective. Everything will be fine.”Confirmed. Three. Two. One. Teleporting.
Blake felt the solid ground beneath his feet, the accustomed gravity, the taste of the air. No doubt but that they were on Earth again. He glanced up but there was no chance of seeing Liberator or her pursuers in the bright sunlight.
“She’s gone.” Avon said. “Neither of us got her in the end.” He slipped the bracelet off his wrist and tucked it into his bag.
“Your fault.” Blake pointed out without the energy for much anger. “Let’s get under cover. We’re on our own now.”Next chapter