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The Flax
July 16, 1999 - US
March 6, 2000 - UK

Writer - Justin Monjo
Director - Peter Andrikidis

Guest Cast
Rhys Muldoon . . . Staanz
John Batchelor . . . Kcrackic
David Bowers . . . Goon

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Episode Summary
"The Flax" gets underway when Aeryn decides to improve Johns usefulness by teaching him how to fly a transport pod. So off they go and wouldn't you just know it - John gets into a fender-bender. But it isn't really his fault since the thing he hits is an entirely invisible energy net that has been set across an expanse of space by the Zenetan pirates - a gang of intergalactic ne'er-do-wells who put it there specifically to snag spaceships so they can loot them at their leisure.

Now the pod is more than just stuck - it's damaged by its collision with the Flax and unless Aeryn and John can fix it or are rescued - they are sure to die.

The crew of Moya is oblivious to their plight until a flamboyant renegade Zenetan named Staanz arrives and tells them. This outlaw among outlaws also offers D'Argo a chance to get aboard a Luxan warship trapped by the Flax that may have star maps to lead him home and get him started on the search for his lost son. D'Argo is torn between needing to rescue his friends and his desire for personal satisfaction so he takes off with Staanz to try and do both.

While they're away - Staanz’s old boyfriend, Kcrackic - a big macher among the Zenetan pirates who's ticked with his former amour on at least two personal accounts - comes calling to Moya. Keeping Kcrackic occupied while Staanz and D'Argo rescue Aeryn and John, (or loot Luxan warships depending on D’Argo’s mood) - is a task that falls to Rygel, Pilot and Zhaan.

Meanwhile in the pod Aeryn and John can only effect repairs by venting the little ship to space - and of course they have only one space helmet - Aeryn’s. John obviously can't survive the vacuum and so he undergoes controlled death by PK Kill Shot and then be revived by PK... Kill Shot Undo. But she doesn't work fast enough and must revive him when the limit of the time his brain can survive without oxygen is reached. At that point they're in such despair of surviving that they decide the only thing to do is have a good romp of wild sex before dying. Of course D'Argo - who decided to Do The Right Thing after all - chooses that moment to walk in on them. But there's enough embarrassment to go around for all and soon Aeryn and John witness Staanz’s declaration of love to D'Argo...

Rygel demonstrates his cunning by letting the Zenetan leader "win" the coordinates to where D'Argo and Staanz went and Pilot reveals his capacity for unrepentant deceit by providing coordinates that are a long ways away and in the opposite direction. Zhaan is amazed and appalled by their guile.

And that's it.

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The episode opens with Aeryn and John in one of Moya’s transport pods. Aeryn is teaching John to fly using the alien technology of the Leviathan. The interior of the pod is fairly spacious. Its fixtures and control panels resemble those on Moya. They sit on either side of a central control column in chairs of a shell-like design.

John: Hey, hey, hey. I am doing it! (the pod yaws a bit) Whoa - wait - I'm not doing it.

Aeryn: You're doing it barely, but just -

John: Don't! Don't show me. Don't show me. Port side - port side - thrusters... (he finds and hits them) Slicker 'n snot!

Aeryn: (eyeing him) My microbes had to have translated that one wrongly.

John: Southern metaphors darlin'. You ain't heard the half of `em.

Aeryn: You know, you're picking this up more slowly than the dumbest recruit.

John: But I am picking it up, Aeryn. The more I modify my module with Moya add-ons the more I need to understand biomechanoid technology. (he takes the pod into a burst of speed, Aeryn hits the brakes)

Aeryn: Now you do that one again and I'll kill you.

John: (sarcastic) Oh, sorry. I almost hit that big sun out there.

Aeryn: There's nothing out there John.

John: Exactly Aeryn. That's why we picked this spot. Nothing for me to hit. Perfect for a driving lesson. Like a big mall parking lot on a Sunday morning. (Aeryn gazes expressionlessly ahead. John smiles)

(Cut to Moya’s Command. Zhaan is working at something. Rygel is holding a clear Y-shaped rod which he bangs listlessly against the edge of the table he is sitting at. In front of him is a Tadek game board with blinking geometric shapes on its' surface and stacks of clear game pieces)

Rygel: I used to have 70,000 servants.

Zhaan: Rygel, why don't you get yourself something to eat?

Rygel: And during festivals, I used to have 50,000 more. Mostly females. (he gives a lecherous little chuckle)

Zhaan: Rygel...

Rygel: (the stick makes an irritating twang every time he bangs it) They would worry about my every nanomoment. Make sure I was always smiling, always entertained...

Zhaan: (tense) Rygel!

Rygel: (punctuating each word with a whack of his stick) And never bored! I'm bored! Bored! Bored! BORED!

Zhaan: Will you STOP doing that?

Rygel: Look, whatever you're doing there it can't be important. You're just scared I'll win. (wheedling) Come on, let's play.

D'Argo: (storming in) I can't take Moya’s pregnancy much longer! The walls of my cell are excreting some sort of gel and Pilot says it is due to Moya’s condition.

Zhaan: The center chamber has taken on some kind of strange odor as well. Have you noticed?

D'Argo: I have a Luxans' olfactory sense. How can I not notice? (stomping angrily about) Where the hezmana are Crichton and Aeryn? They should be back by now!

Zhaan: Teaching Crichton takes time D'Argo.

D'Argo: (as Rygel watches them and slowly starts to slap the Y-shaped rod against the table again, It vibrates annoyingly as they talk) Teaching Crichton is a waste of time. Am I the only one here that remembers we are being tracked by bounty hunters?

Zhaan: Aeryn believes that anything we can do to make Crichton more effective, the better. This sector is very peaceful - It's perfect for Crichton’s trai- RYGEL! If you do not stop that this instant -!

Rygel: You'll what? Please do tell. It may be preferable to this mind-numbing tedium.

D'Argo: (stamping his foot) SHUT UP!

(Cut back to the pod)

John: Aeryn lighten up! Have some fun!

Aeryn: Fun? How am I to have fun?

John: Well I don't know how you're supposed to have fun - but this is fun! This is "Top Gun"! This is the need for speed - admit it you like this stuff.

Aeryn: I have no need for speed.

John: Yeess you do. I see it in your eye all the time. You miss the adrenaline of combat flying.

Aeryn: I miss the teamwork of combat flying. The reason why I agreed to teach you to do this is because you may become vaguely of some use to me one day in battle.

John: Oh. Well thank you for that vote of confidence.

Aeryn: Well you may have noticed we're short of hands - I didn't exactly have much choice. (the pod yaws steeply to the right) Watch out for the starboard thrusters! You're banking too sharply!

John: (as the pod levels out) I got it. What exactly do you mean by "vaguely useful"?

Aeryn: You're hardly a quick learner are you?

John: Oh. You trying to tell me you weren't pleased with the challenge of learning to fly one of these things?

Aeryn: Not challenged the way you seem to be. And you have it easy here! In Peacekeeper training there's no room for mistakes. You screw up on the last day of simulation flying, you die.

John: Right. The simulator kills you. (she makes no response, implying the affirmative with the look she gives him as she gets up and moves off to one side of the pod) Now why does that not surprise me? (he flies on a bit) What are you doing back there?

Aeryn: Getting something to eat. I always get hungry when I - (suddenly the pod lurches violently, as it hits something) - Oh!

John & Aeryn: What was that?

Aeryn: (returning to her seat) What did you touch?

John: I didn't touch anything! (the pod seems stuck and shudders as it strains against its' own thrusters, John shouts over the engine noise-) Aeryn? Any idea what this is?

Aeryn: No, I don't!

John: There's something pulling us in. (he struggles with the controls) Still pulling us in! I'm not getting any pulse-back soundings!

Aeryn: That's impossible!

John: Well, you think I'm making this up? Lookit - there's nothing out there. (Cut to an external view of the pod straining against what appears as a sort of membrane that it cannot penetrate)

Aeryn: I can't hold her! (they are both thrown from their chairs as the pod makes a final great lurch. Showers of sparks fly from damaged circuitry. John picks himself up and goes to Aeryn who is motionless on the floor, he has to shout over the noise of fizzling electrical connections and the hiss of escaping atmosphere)

John: Aeryn! Aeryn! You okay? Aeryn! (she stirs) Damn, don't scare me like that.

Aeryn: Scare you? What, you think I had something to do with that?

John: No, I thought you might… never mind. You gonna be alright?

Aeryn: Think so. You?

John: If you don't count a broken neck. A couple of aspirin, I'll be fine. We hit something.

Aeryn: No we didn't.

John: Hey, look. I was in a head-on when I was 19. We hit something.

Aeryn: There's nothing out there. There's no mass readings.

John: No mass? How can there be no mass? Something's blocking our view. (indeed there are no stars visible anymore out the windows of the pod)

Aeryn: The sensors say there's still nothing out there.

John: What the hell does that mean?

Aeryn: I don't know.

(Cut back to Moya’s Command)

Zhaan: (yelling and trying to get the Y-shaped rod away from Rygel) Will you stop playing with that?

Rygel: (shouting back) I will play this game for as long as I like!

Zhaan: GIVE IT TO ME! You are - (but at that moment a horrible high-pitched squeal, like audio feedback fills the room causing all of them to cover their ears and howl)

D'Argo: PILOT! (Pilot shimmers into view on the clamshell)

Pilot: (utterly deadpan and insincere) So sorry. I appear to have hit the wrong comm.

Zhaan: You desired our attention Pilot?

Pilot: An unidentified vessel is approaching. It is signaling, asking permission to come aboard.

D'Argo: Is it armed?

Pilot: That depends.

Rygel: What do you mean it "depends"?

Pilot: Moya’s scan has found traces of weapon pieces.

Zhaan: Pieces?

Pilot: (blandly) But nothing that constitutes a whole weapon. And certainly nothing operational. It seems a most - curious vessel.

(Cut to a shot of a decidedly scruffy-looking ship docking with Moya. D'Argo and Zhaan meet it as it's pilot comes aboard. Staanz is a slightly zaftig humanoid with a right-sided black facial tattoo that passes completely over the right eye. Dressed in a ratty, plaid fur-collared jacket, vertically striped pants and a raggedy, midriff-baring horizontally striped pullover shirt, Staanz is a renegade Zenetan pirate, has an earring, a shock of wild black hair, a cute little ponytail, a beanie hat in the position of a yarmulke and an air of friendly disreputability. And a cheerful, mild Australian accent)

Staanz: (making a beeline for Zhaan) The name's Staanz. (D'Argo steps up from behind, armed) Oh-ho - there's no need for the firepower friend.

D'Argo: I disagree - friend - Move. (he begins shepherding their ragtag visitor towards the Command)

Staanz: (to D'Argo, referring to Zhaan) That pretty little female here's not gonna look at you in quite the same way when she learns you've killed the only person who could've saved you.

Zhaan: Saved us from what?

Staanz: You see how much you need me? You're headed straight for it and you don't even know it's there.

Zhaan: Headed for what?

Staanz: The Flax.

Zhaan: What is that?

Staanz: (proudly) It's a magna-drift mesh. 75 million zachrons long.

D'Argo: I've never heard of anything called "the Flax"

Staanz: And what species are you?

D'Argo: Luxan.

Staanz: (sassy) Luxan? Never heard of it. Doesn't mean you don't exist. (D'Argo gives Staanz an annoyed shove)

Zhaan: Our ships' sensors have not picked up anything that size in this area.

Staanz: (brightly) Well, they wouldn't have picked up much of anything would they? That's the Flax. It's invisible until you get snagged in it and then- (snaps fingers) - It's all over.

D'Argo: Who put it there?

Staanz: Zenetan pirates. What, you never heard of them? Consider yourself lucky! (D'Argo gives Staanz an annoyed swat)

Zhaan: I will warn Crichton and Aeryn.

Staanz: (as they enter the Command where Rygel is sitting polishing his game pieces) Oh, got another ship out there? (giggles) Well warning them's probably a good idea y'know - if you're not already too late.

Rygel: (eyeing Staanz with distaste) What exactly are you?

Staanz: (whose vocal tone at the sight of Rygel and the Tadek board shifts from the ebullient to something like sensual, approaches Rygel slowly) My name's Staanz. I'm a garbologist. I'm a - connoisseur - of what other people throw away.

Rygel: Hmph. Define "connoisseur."

Staanz: Tadek, eh? (reaches out to touch the game pieces)

Rygel: DAH! (he swats Staanz’s hand away with the Y-shaped rod)

Staanz: (something between wistful and ingratiating) Your set's in... um... very nice shape.

Rygel: Do you play?

Staanz: (modestly) Oh, I used to... dabble. You any good?

Rygel: Hm. Perhaps you can give me a few - pointers.

Staanz: Perhaps I can. (glances back at D'Argo and Zhaan who make no objection, before sitting down across from Rygel with a pleased smile and a sigh of satisfaction. Rygel smiles back slyly)

(Cut back to the pod)

John: We need to get the ship stabilized and assess the damage.

Aeryn: Stabilized? According to this, we're too stable. We're not moving. There's no drift, no spin...

John: What?

Aeryn: I-I don't know. It's as if we're suspended in one place.

John: The sooner we get this thing fixed and blast the hell out of here the better.

Aeryn: No comm signal.

John: Probably busted in the crash.

Aeryn: No, the equipment's working just fine - it's just there's no signal out there.

John: Aeryn, if I'm reading this right, calorics are flat-line. We don't have any power.

Aeryn: Oh, that's impossible. I fed the batteries just before we left Moya.

John: Yeah. Impossible. (the lights go out and the pod goes utterly quiet) This isn't good.

(Cut back to Moya, another technical area on board)

Zhaan: I can't make contact with the transport pod. Aeryn and Crichton aren't responding.

D'Argo: They can't be that far out.

Zhaan: Staanz’s story about the Flax could be true. It could be what's affecting the comm transmission. If it is - if he did come to warn us - then the question is, what does he want from us in return?

D'Argo: (as he brings up an image and data on Staanz on a display) Anything he can get his hands on. I've just accessed the criminal ident files from the Peacekeepers. It seems our Mr Staanz has quite a record.

Zhaan: (following D'Argo as they leave and head back to the Command) He came offering help. Shouldn't we at least give him the benefit of the doubt? We don't know that the Flax doesn't exist!

D'Argo: And what if it does? He may be leading us straight into it. For all we know he could be one of those bounty hunters. No. Staanz is trouble! And we do not need to take that risk especially when Moya is pregnant!

Zhaan: I agree that Staanz may be the most unusual species but you can't surely condemn him just because he's an ex-prisoner of the Peacekeepers! Are you forgetting that we're all ex-prisoners?

D'Argo: (softly) How could I ever forget?

Zhaan: Have you ever looked at your own records to see what lies the Peacekeepers have written about you?

D'Argo: Have you? Not everyone imprisoned by the Peacekeepers was innocent.

Zhaan: (deadly) Meaning?

D'Argo: Meaning that I do not have time to stand here and discuss this with you while he is looting what precious little we have!

(Cut to the Command. Rygel and Staanz are playing Tadek. Staanz, leaning low and watching Rygel, uses another Y-shaped rod to push a stack of game pieces across the board as it buzzes and blinks in response to the play)

Rygel: (inhaling deeply) Interesting move. Very unconventional. Care to raise the stakes? (he holds up a small bottle) Osso scent.

Staanz: How pure?

Rygel: 90 parts. They won't be able to resist - even you. (Staanz grins but at that moment D'Argo charges in with a terrible snarl and hauls Staanz up by the neck. Rygel shouts-) What are you doing? I was just about to raise the - ! I had him right where I wanted him!

D'Argo: (in Staanz’s face) You have a criminal record with the Peacekeepers!

Rygel: Do you have any idea how difficult that is in this game?

Staanz: (alarmed) I have criminal records with a lot of people! It's who I am!

Rygel: Doesn't mean his money's no good.

Staanz: (babbling frantically) I didn't deserve it! I never robbed anybody - well - I used to rob anybody - but now I'm an honest garbologist! Ask anyone! I can give you a list of names! - Well, it's a couple of names - AAAH! Hey! I used to be a Zenetan. One of the pirates who run the Flax and loot ships that get caught in it. I can prove it. (beseechingly) If you put me down. (D'Argo obliges. Staanz beams up at him) Thank you.

D'Argo: (as Staanz makes a move) Slowly. (Staanz proceeds to drop pants and make a "TA-DA!" gestures as the other stare uncomprehendingly)

Rygel: Oh, for heavens' sake.

Staanz: Zenetan gang murals? (calling attention to patterns of thigh tattoos and scars, Staanz goes on, confessionally) I spent nine cycles in a Malsonic labor stockade. My Zenetan "brothers" did nothing to help me. In fact, `cos of what they were doing on the outside, I got beat close to death more than once on the inside. So, uh, when I got out, I went my own way. I work for myself now. Part of the fun is getting to the Flax before they do. (giggles) Also, I like warning people like you. Pisses the Zenetans off no end. Anyway, I figure when you send me on my way - you might give me, (giggles again hopefully) I don't know, a small reward?

D'Argo: (very quietly, referring to Staanz’ss pants-) Put those back on.

Rygel: (pointing at Staanz’ss unpantsed crotch) Where are your, uh... your, uh... your...

Staanz: (looking down and seeming genuinely unsure what Rygel is referring to) My, uh...?

Zhaan: (delicately) For an anthropoid biped, there seems to be something missing.

Staanz: (giggles) Yeah, I know. Well, I'm a Yenen by species. We're not exactly - uh - cut from the standard mold? (D'Argo steps away)

Zhaan: If you are truly interested in helping us, our transport pod is still out there. Two of our complement are aboard and we've lost contact.

Staanz: They're not family?

Zhaan: No.

Staanz: Good. There's nothing worse than losing family.

(Cut back to the pod. Aeryn and John are working by the beams of flashlights)

John: How do we know this message buoy won't get stuck like us?

Aeryn: We don't. All right. Get a move on Crichton. The message buoy is almost ready so we'll need power to launch it.

John: I'm working as fast as I can Aeryn but these schematics are hard to read. Like half CAT scan, half blueprint. I know you don't read 'em at all.

Aeryn: Ridiculous. It's techs' work.

John: What happens if you crash land your Prowler and you have to repair it?

Aeryn: We're not trained to repair. We're trained to fight and secure someone else’s ship.

John: "Secure" is it? Take by force.

Aeryn: Well it beats learning to read those.

John: Not today it doesn't. (he does something and lights start to come up) I think - I've redirected the power from the auxiliary systems.

Aeryn: (activates the buoy which shoots off back in the direction they came from) Message buoy away.

John: You ready to go home?

Aeryn: Very.

(Cut back to Moya, D'Argo is roughly hustling Staanz down a corridor)

D'Argo: Staanz? Where did you get those boots?

Staanz: Huh? (frightened, in a high-pitched voice) Lemme go! Lemme go!

D'Argo: Those boots are Luxan. A Luxan would never lose his boots unless he were dead.

Staanz: I didn't kill him! He was already dead! His ship got caught in the Flax!

D'Argo: Oh so you rob the dead?

Staanz: Uh - no - no - a Zenetan killed him - he, he ejected the body! (D'Argo shoves Staanz into a cell and locks it) I tried to get aboard the ship but - Look, (showing a scar) they blasted the crank outta me!

D'Argo: You tried to loot a dead Luxan ship?

Staanz: Of course I did! That's what I do! I loot ships - I see a ship I try and loot it!

D'Argo: Well that ship, my friend, was a Luxan deep space voyager. Now it may have on board some map fibers I desperately need. Can you take me there?

Staanz: Well, I dunno. It was, uh, earmarked for destruction. They might've already - melted it down.

D'Argo: If you take me there, everything on board after I get those map fibers is yours.

Staanz: Well, that sounds like a deal to me.

D'Argo: What about the Flax?

Staanz: Oh, not a problem. If - you know what you're doing. (D'Argo opens the cell)

(Cut back to the pod. Aeryn and John are making an effort to blast out of the Flax)

John: (calling over the roar of the engines) Let's do this while we still have power. 200 trads, are we clear?

Aeryn: Not yet. I'm increasing to 80%.

John: This is gonna hurt isn't it?

Aeryn: 300 trads.

John: Should I punch it?

Aeryn: 90%.

John: Should I punch it?!

Aeryn: Not yet! 400 trads!

John" Now?

Aeryn: It's too strong! I can't hold her!

John: Now! Aeryn! Now!

Aeryn: 500 trads! Clear!

John: Now?

Aeryn: Wait!

John: Man, this is really gonna hurt! (the pod is shuddering and bucking wildly)

Aeryn: Now! (in a lurch even more violent than when they first hit the Flax, the pod is snapped back into its' grip and they are again thrown around the interior. Clearly Leviathan pods are not up to code with seatbelts. Flames erupt on board) Crichton!

John: Aeryn, were are you?

Aeryn: I haven't the faintest idea.

John: (Aeryn’s foot is pinned in the debris) Aw, man. I knew this was gonna hurt.

Aeryn: I'll be alright if I can get it out. Can you pass me that ax?

John: Yeah. What are you going to do with it?

Aeryn: Gonna hack my foot off.

John: Oh, no. Well, let me then.

Aeryn: Oh just give it to me. Did we break free?

John: You mind if I check in a minute? I wanna get these flames out first. (and Aeryn hacks - at the debris, not her foot)

(Cut back to Moya)

Zhaan: (to him via comm) D'Argo, the distress buoy is broadcasting full coordinates. Aeryn’s message is short, but it's clear. Their pod is caught in some sort of stasis - but they see no stars.

Staanz: (heard over D’Argo’s comm) That's the Flax, alright!

(Cut to Staanz’s ship)

D'Argo: We are aboard Staanz’s vessel now and ready to launch. Wish us luck.

Zhaan: R'ha'nalan be with you

Rygel: (still grumbling about his interrupted game) I had triple quadra-hent. Of course that means nothing to you, but - I would have won all this fair and square. (he sifts around in a pile of small stones with his fingers) Even if he hadn't left it behind. (he and Zhaan eye each other)

(Cut to Staanz’s ship. It has no kind of aerodynamic shape whatsoever. It looks like it was wattled and daubed together from a crane cab, a dump truck and a helicopter. It SOUNDS like a helicopter...)

Staanz: (almost giddy with cheer) Luxan voyager, here we come! (shouting with pride over the din of the vessel) When I get her really firing I can get this baby up to hetch 4!

D'Argo: It stinks in here.

Staanz: What?

D'Argo: (bawling at the top of his lungs) IT STINKS!

Staanz: (shouting happily) Oh, does it? I had my smell pods cauterized. Helps in my line of work.

D'Argo: You mean you actually go out of your way to collect all these things? (the interior of Staanz’s ship is indeed piled with junk. It's also dark. Vapors hiss from battered hoses. Chains hang from the ceiling. Odd bits of rickety equipment are crammed everywhere. At one side there is a furnace which Staanz stokes like a steam engine that apparently serves as the ships' fuel source)

Staanz: I follow space streams and I pick up what others throw away.

D'Argo: That's all garbage.

Staanz: (seriously) Garbage? I don't touch garbage. I'm a professional scavenger. I only pick up the gems of what others throw away. I've got 9 million Onyxi Play Partners! (Staanz produces a green alien kewpie-doll from a hopper and gaily natters on) They particalize! They levitate! Everything! One day I'm gonna sell these babies and make a killing! (Staanz chucks it into the furnace) They burn good too!

D'Argo: You say that you can take me to this Luxan ship.

Staanz: (rushing busily about the ship, operating bellows, yanking chains like he's starting up an old outboard motor) Unless it's already been melted down.

D'Argo: You and me go on board, get what we need, stay no longer than an arn, and then we go to rescue Aeryn and Crichton. You said they'll be safe for a while.

Staanz: Well they're stuck in the Flax. They're going nowheres. You said it was a small pod? The Zenetans aren't gonna be in a rush to get there. Oh we have plenty of time. (to the ship, cranking furiously at a rusty piece of equipment) Okay. Come on baby! Come on!

(meanwhile - back at the pod...)

John: (still making some efforts to get the pod moving) We're not moving. We're till stuck. I think there's some sort of field out there holding us in place.

Aeryn: You mean like a natural phenomenon?

John: You ever hear of a phenomenon like that?

Aeryn: Uh-uh. Well, whatever it is, we have to find a way to break free.

John: Any suggestions?

Aeryn: The distress buoy got away.

John: Well, I guess we just wait for D'Argo and the others to come rescue us. (they eye each other and then say simultaneously:)

Aeryn: I'll deal with propulsion.

John: I'll take environmentals.

(Cut back to Staanz’s ship)

Staanz: (offering D'Argo refreshment - hollering) Go on, have a chew! It's delicious! No, not that bit - it's got to rot a bit more. Here, try this.

D'Argo: No, I think I'll pass.

Staanz: Hang on. If I don't get to this, she's going to blow! (jumps up and runs over to another grotty-looking piece of machinery)

D'Argo: (alarmed, trailing helplessly behind Staanz) What?

Staanz: (banging on the machine with a metal rod) COME ON BABY!

D'Argo: Why don't you just get it fixed?

Staanz: I did fix it! That's why it works when I whack it a few times! Help me! (an alarm like an electronic fart goes off) Uh-oh.

D'Argo: What?

Staanz: Hang on. (opens a panel to reveal a radar screen) You see that? That's Kcrackic's tracer beam.

D'Argo: Who's Kcrackic?

Staanz: He's the Red Mentor to the Zenetans.

D'Argo: Is that like a rank?

Staanz: No there's nothing military about these guys except their firepower.

D'Argo: Then why are you so afraid of him?

Staanz: (nervous) I'm not afraid, exactly. It's just... maybe I should've mentioned it earlier but... I'm kind of on Kcrackic's hate-list. I told a few of his secrets to get out of prison.

D'Argo: So you betrayed your own leader.

Staanz: Betray? Never! Look, the bottom line is if he knows where we're at, he's gonna seal the Flax up and we're not gonna get to that Luxan ship - or your friends. (a ship streaks past them. Staanz is relived) He missed us. But he's headed straight for your ship.

D'Argo: For Moya? (he charges off to signal Moya)

Staanz: (arms waving, trailing D'Argo) Warn them! - But hey! They've never heard of me! They've never seen me!

(Cut back to Moya - the Command)

Zhaan: I understand D'Argo. We will strive to keep them distracted as long as we can. (she turns to observe Rygel, smoking a hookah with his nose and sighing blissfully. Zhaan corrects herself-) I will strive to keep them distracted. (Rygel burps contentedly)

(Later - Zhaan meets Kcrackic as he enters Moya. Like Staanz he sports bold tattoos over half his face and an earring. But his dress is functional, conservative and leathery and his head is shaved. His manner abrupt and to the point. He has a silent associate with him)

Zhaan: Greetings. I am Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan. You are Kcrackic?

Kcrackic: You know me?

Zhaan: (leading him and the flunky towards the Command) Your reputation is well-known in these parts.

Kcrackic: For what?

Zhaan: Cruelty.

Kcrackic: My scan shows that your Leviathan is pregnant. You're lucky.

Zhaan: Why?

Kcrackic: I once tried to commandeer a pregnant leviathan. 80 men died.

Zhaan: (with some satisfaction) A mother will protect her child.

Kcrackic: A tracer ship was last seen heading in this direction. Run by a pewnkah named Staanz. Have you seen it... or him?

Zhaan: No. Perhaps I can offer you and your men something to eat?

Kcrackic: (brusquely talking over her) You offer us nothing. What we want from your ship, we take. And I see nothing of value here. (to the flunky) Let's go.

Zhaan: (quickly) Commander Kcrackic, may I present Rygel XVI, Dominar of -

Rygel: (Cutting her off) Yeah, yeah, yeah. How do you do, pleased to meet you and all that yotz.

Kcrackic: (stopping as he spots Rygel’s 'winnings' from Staanz in a heap in front of him on the Tadek table) Where did you get so many kelvic crystals, little one?

Rygel: I won them.

Kcrackic: Playing Tadek?

Rygel: (sneering) No, inter-species tug wrestling. (mutters) Idiot. (Zhaan looks nervous)

Kcrackic: So you believe you play well.

Rygel: (casually puffing at his nose hookah) I know I play well. And you, I believe, are an easy mark. (Zhaan smiles a little at Kcrackic)

(Cut back to the pod)

Aeryn: I'm still not getting a clear reading. More than half the pods' sensor relays have been fried. Do you think Moya's got that distress buoy yet?

John: Don't know. But even if she did, if we don't buy ourselves a couple of hours - arns - we'll be dead by the time anybody gets here. The atmospherics mix line is crushed.

Aeryn: Can you fix it?

John: Maybe. I might be able to weld it, but I'd need a welding torch.

Aeryn: There should be one in the equipment pack.

John: The problem is - there's too much pure O2 in here right now to risk firing it up.

Aeryn: What about if we depressurize? Blast it out into space?

John: Fix it in our suits?

Aeryn: Yeah.

John: Aeryn, that's a great idea.

Aeryn: You sound surprised. (there is a creaking sound and a support strut breaks loose above her. John lunges, pushing her out of the way and they both fall, John on top of her)

John: You okay?

Aeryn: Yes - You?

John: (panting as he lies there, his face inches from hers) Yeah... just... peachy.

Aeryn: Are you comfortable? Can I get you a pillow?
(he quickly gets up and helps her up too)

(Cut to Staanz’s ship, it is stopped in an attempt to avoid detection by Kcrackic)

Staanz: Do you think your people have kept Kcrackic occupied?

D'Argo: (sarcastic) Well, why don't we just call Moya and ask them? Perhaps you can speak to Kcrackic himself.

Staanz: Let's get out of here. Kcrackic isn't the kind of person you give a second chance to find you. (starts cranking away at the ship, coaxingly-) Come on! Sing for daddy! Sing!

D'Argo: (as the ship makes a disappointing sound) What's wrong?

Staanz: Oh, nothing, nothing. Sometimes she just needs a bit of a push to get going.

D'Argo: A PUSH?

Staanz: Yeah, you know - Like a grav-spin around a planet, or something?

D'Argo: (dangerously) I need you to get me to that ship fast so I can find that map fiber.

Staanz: (a bit pissy) If you want to get there, open the furnace. Hm?

D'Argo: This had better work.

Staanz: (shoving armloads of the green dolls into the furnace) COME ON! Come on! Come on! Burn, baby, BURN! (rushing back to what passes for the Captains' Chair) Okay! Here we go! (but at that moment the ship lurches violently, sparks fly and we see it has run into the Flax) Oh - GREAT!

D'Argo: What's wrong?

Staanz: We're caught in the Flax.

(Cut back to Moya. Kcrackic and Rygel are playing Tadek. Rygel pushes a stack of chips across the boards as it blinks and sounds tones denoting points scored)

Kcrackic: Impressive. (he makes his move and a column of light starts up from the board) We'll be out of here in a few microts. (Kcracki's goon growls appreciatively, Rygel groans and his earbrows droop)

Zhaan: Rygel, surely you're not going to give up so early?

Rygel: Who's giving up? I'm not giving up. Leave me alone. (under his breath) I know what I'm doing.

Kcrackic: Ante up, Hynerian.

(Cut back to the pod)

John: It's going to be like a wind tunnel in here when we depressurize. I'll get the release sequence started and leave out the last line that might save us-

Aeryn: We have a problem.

John: What's the matter? (she shows him one of the space helmets) It's broken. Is there another one of those?

Aeryn: Exactly that. One.

John: So one of us gets to die.

(Cut to later - still in the pod. Aeryn and John have donned their spacesuits)

John: (examining the welding torch) Torch looks like it's in working condition. Unfortunately, there's no way to test it before we depressurize.

Aeryn: (handing John a pair of syringe guns in a businesslike manner) Kill shot. We use them in battle triage to stop brain and heart function. And this is a nerve shot. You use this one to bring me back.

John: Whoawhoawhoa! - hold the phone - let's talk about this.

Aeryn: Nothing to talk about. You know welding you should do the repairs.

John: Yeah, but Aeryn, that means that you -

Aeryn: They are Sebacean. They are meant to be used on my kind.

John: Yeah, but still the -

Aeryn: The oxygen is rising in here quickly so you'd better get ready.

John: (he shows her the broken helmet) Aeryn, you notice anything about that?

Aeryn: It's useless.

John: It's also mine. Yours isn't gonna fit me.

Aeryn: (after a long pause) Tell me exactly what I have to do. (a brief pause, then doubtfully) We could wait. The others may come.

John: No. We gotta fix the line, otherwise we're both dead anyway. And if we get another spot-fire in this place, it's going to go up like a blast furnace.

Aeryn: How long do I have to do the repairs?

John: I don't know. Um - without oxygen, my brain can last maybe four minutes. Maybe five or six depending on my body temperature.

Aeryn: Pick a number. Tell me how long I have and I'll follow it - but show me what to do while there's still time.

John: (he hands her the welder) Torch.

(Cut back to Moya. Kcrackic and Rygel continue the Tadek game. Rygel has his hand lying on an orb that is part of the game board. It gives him a shock and he yelps. Kcrackic and his goon laugh)

Goon: Shall I tell Bakka to fire up the engines?

Kcrackic: Why not? I should be there shortly.

It's Rygel’s turn and he makes his move, the same one Staanz had made earlier.

Kcrackic: (staring intently at Rygel) Very unusual move. Where did you learn it?

Rygel: Uh, I made it up myself.

Kcrackic: Did you? I know somebody else who makes that move.

Rygel: Good for you.

(Cut back to the pod)

John: (as he sits, preparing for the kill shot) You sure this thing's going to work?

Aeryn: Mm-hm. It should kill you.

John: Well, it's not the kill shot that concerns me, I'm sure you guys got that one down fine - It's the wake-up call that's got me worried.

Aeryn: Well, we can't be sure it works until you're dead.

John: Great.

Aeryn: It works perfectly well on Sebaceans and
Sebacean and human physiology appears to be similar enough. So I say 50-50.

John: You call that good odds? No. Nonono. I'm gonna teach you CPR.

Aeryn: What's that?

John: It's a human resuscitation technique Aeryn. Very low-tech.

Aeryn: We don't have time for this.

John: Aeryn - I got time, okay? I need a back-up plan in case your little nerve shot doesn't work Aeryn.

Aeryn: What does it involve?

John: It involves you breathing for me - keeping my blood flowing so I don't die.

Aeryn: (dismissive) Don't be ridiculous. It sounds far too complicated.

John: Well, it's a lot less complicated than learning to fly a transport pod.

Aeryn: Fine. Show it to me then.

John: Good. Lie down.

Aeryn: What?

John: Lie down! (she leans back a little) No - flat out on the grou - I can't show you - LIE DOWN! (she reluctantly gets down flat) Okay...

(Cut to Staanz’s ship, still stuck in the Flax)

Staanz: (throwing another armload of junk into the furnace and giggling merrily) Come on!

D'Argo: (looking out a port apprehensively) Where are the stars?

Staanz: The Flax magna absorbs the light before it can get to us. It's a bummer like that.

D'Argo: Absorbs the light? If it's that powerful, how come you're not more concerned?

Staanz: Because I might be able to dissolve a small part of the Flax, unless they've already changed the code.

D'Argo: What?

Staanz: (giving D'Argo a metal rod and showing him a bit of equipment) Now what I need from you is - I need you to WHACK this really hard on my signal. Whack it REALLY HARD! (leaves D'Argo and runs to another set of controls) Ready? 3... 2...1 WHACK IT! Come on, baby! Come on! You can do it, D'Argo! That's it! Totally! Come on! (D'Argo whacks furiously at the equipment, the ship shudders and pushes against the Flax and suddenly moves out from it. Staanz whoops jubilantly) YES! WE'VE DONE IT! WE'RE CLEAR OF THE Flax! WE'RE CLEAR! DID I SAY IT? HAH! STOP WHACKING IT! WE'RE CLEAR! WE'VE MADE IT! (flies to D'Argo, arms thrown wide to give him a big hug - D'Argo is alarmed) Hah! Go with me brother! We're clear! It doesn't get BETTER THAN THIS BABY! WHEW!

(Cut back to the pod. John is on the floor as Aeryn repeats the CPR lesson back to him)

Aeryn: 13...14...15... then 2 more breaths and 15 more compressions

John: Right. Until I start breathing again on my own. Or not.

Aeryn: Let's do it.

John: You've got about 4 minutes. 180 microts - before my brain starts to go adios.

Aeryn: Let's do it. In the chair.

John: Aeryn, it's real simple what you gotta do to fix the line.

Aeryn: I remember what you told me.

John: (nervous as Aeryn straps him in. NOW they use the seatbelts...) Hey, when Sebaceans die, what do you believe happens? You believe in an afterlife? Heaven and hell? All that jazz? Humans believe - well, some believe, that there's like this bright light. And that you, uh, end up somewhere else along with your friends, family, relatives - all the people who died before you. Does that ring a bell?

Aeryn: (flatly) Sebaceans believe when you die you die. You go nowhere. You see nothing.

John: Yeah, guess I'll find out in a minute huh? Okay. 180 microts.

Aeryn: Yes, I know.

John: Yah. Sorry if I'm repeating myself. It's just, you know - I don't want to take any chances with this so...

Aeryn: I won't let you down John.

John: (grimacing as she prepares the kill shot) Aw! This is gonna hurt like crap, isn't it?

Aeryn: Trust me, it's not going to hurt a bit. (she administers the injection)

John: (nothing happens) That's it? (Aeryn nods as she puts on her space helmet and secures it, then walks away to take her seat at the control console) Well it doesn't hurt - AAGGHH! (he is flung back in his seat by violent convulsions and spasms as Aeryn finishes securing herself for depressurization. Then he goes still and Aeryn vents the pods' atmosphere)

(Cut back to Moya)

Goon: The engines are fired up - ready to go.

Kcrackic: Your wager your lordship.

Zhaan: But we have nothing left to bet.

Rygel: This ship. I'll wager this ship!

Zhaan: You can't do that Rygel!

Rygel: I can beat him! I know I can.

Kcrackic: Fear not, lovely lady. I told you before I've had my experience with pregnant Leviathans. I don't want your ship. I reject your wager.

Zhaan: (to Rygel) Quit now. You must quit!

Rygel: The one you call Staanz - I know where he is.

Zhaan: Rygel!

Rygel: I wager his whereabouts! (he eyes Kcrackic and his earbrows perk up as the pirate smiles)

(meanwhile back at the pod, Aeryn welds and a computer counts aloud: "You now have 60 microts... 59... 58... 57... 56... 55... 54... 53...")

(Cut to Staanz’s ship)

Staanz: Hey, I'm picking up some traces of atmosphere.

D'Argo: Atmosphere?

Staanz: Yeah, they're drifting from the coordinates where your ships' pod is caught in the Flax. Oh and it's not just mere traces, either. Looks like your friends might be out of luck. We may have no reason to rush aboard that Luxan ship.

(Cut back to the pod, the computers' countdown continues. "14... 13... 12... 11... 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3.. 2... 1..." At the count of 6 microts Aeryn stops welding and goes to revive John. But when she initiates repressurization first, returning gravity causes some loosened debris to fall and hit her. The computer continues as John and Aeryn both lay there, senseless, "Time has lapsed. Time has lapsed. Time has lapsed...")

(meanwhile back on Moya)

Rygel: (he makes a move and the Tadek board chimes and a solid column of light rises from his chip) Ahaha! I knew it! I knew I could do it! Hahaha hah! Thanks for the game!

Kcrackic: But the game is not over. (he makes a move and as Rygel gasps the whole board chimes and lights up) Thank you for the game little one. (evil laugh) Now, for that nugget of information you promised me.

Zhaan: Rygel, don't!

Kcrackic: You'll tell me or he'll blow your brains out. (the goon puts a gun to Rygel’s perspiring head) I'll count to three. 1... 2... 3-

Rygel: Okay. Staanz was here. One of our crew is with him now. You can locate him by following the frequency of our crew members' comms unit.

Kcrackic: What's the frequency?

Rygel: It's in the ships' data store.

Kcrackic: (to the goon) Access the ships' data stores. And let's go get him.

(Cut back to the pod. Aeryn comes to and realizes she broke the revive shot when she fell. She removes her helmet)

Aeryn: Crichton! (she gets him out of the chair and onto the floor where she begins CPR) 1... 2... 3... 4... Come on Crichton. Wake up! 7... 8... 9...10...11...12... 13... 14...

(meanwhile back on Staanz’s ship)

D'Argo: (staring straight ahead, talking more to himself than Staanz) Aeryn and Crichton have a second reserve tank. They could still be alive.

Staanz: look. There she is! Your Luxan beauty. (they fly into a great mass of drifting ships. A spaceship graveyard) Oh, you're lucky. We're just in time. She's next in line for the melt.

D'Argo: It's a Luxan Assault Piercer. I dreamt of serving on one as a boy.

Staanz: I'll bring her in nice and easy. What are you looking so down about? You said yourself the two aboard that pod weren't family. Look, the maps aboard that ship might be your only chance to reunite with your real family, huh?

D'Argo: My son.

Staanz: Yeah, yeah! Your son! (D'Argo gazes silently at the Luxan ship)

(Cut back to the pod. CPR continues, Aeryn seems frantic)

Aeryn: (puffing) 13...14... Come on! Come on! (John coughs and inhales) Crichton!

John: (coming around) My God. You did it, Aeryn. You did it. But you lied like a DOG. God! that hurt like HELL! How'd it go? The environmentals - they fixed?

Aeryn: (shaky) Uh, I - I didn't finish.

John: You didn't what?

Aeryn: Your time was running out.

John: Wait a minute - you stopped because -

Aeryn: I think we have about half an arn of breathable atmosphere left. (she gulps air)

(Cut back to Moya as Kcrackic's ship roars away from her)

Rygel: I thought we'd never be rid of them.

Zhaan: You wanted them to leave!

Rygel: Didn't you?

Zhaan: (angry) Yes, but I -

Rygel: You didn't expect them to leave us unscathed unless they thought they were leaving with something of value, did you?

Zhaan: You gave them the comm frequency.

Rygel: The wrong frequency, yes. I told Pilot to change it the moment Kcrackic stepped on board. (Pilot flickers into view on the clamshell) Where are they headed Pilot?

Pilot: (carelessly) Not exactly certain. I could plot it for you.

Rygel: No, don't bother. As long as it's far from here.

Pilot: (slyly) Oh. It's certainly that.

Zhaan: (incredulously) You lost to Kcrackic on purpose?

Rygel: You think it was easy? He's an abominable player. A switched-off DRD would have made a better showing for itself. Oh, please. Bluffing is what the game's all about. (he sails off as Zhaan watches him quizzically)

(Cut back to the pod. Aeryn and John are sitting and waiting for rescue or death. Whichever comes first)

John: The message buoy got out. They could still come for us.

Aeryn: Maybe they've been trying this whole time. The phenomenon that's got hold of us might not be letting them through. They might've tried and given up already. (shivers) it's really cold in here.

John: (as they huddle closer for warmth) It's colder than a frogs' ass.

(Cut back to Staanz’s ship)

Staanz: Okay. We're docking. If I get this right, we'll be nice and snug in the aft access port. Oh, c'mon, you gotta be a bit excited. You're 15 paces away from your own Luxan Assault Piercer. The maps - you'll be able to find your son! You gotta be looking forward to seeing your son, huh? (smiles at D'Argo)

D'Argo: (pensively) Yes. But when I do, I want to be able to look him in the eye. (Staanz smiles again and begins to back them away from the spaceship graveyard)

(Cut back to the pod. The atmosphere is running out)

John: Aeryn, you should have kept working... finished the repair. At least one of us would have survived.

Aeryn: To be sitting here alone now? I chose not to.

John: I thought Peacekeepers were trained to fight alone, survive alone. Die alone.

Aeryn: Well, it appears my training is failing me. I don't want to die alone. What did you see?

John: Hm?

Aeryn: (shivering) You know, after the kill shot when you were dead. Did you see the things humans believe? The light. Friends.

John: No. No, I didn't. All I saw was black. I don't know, maybe Sebaceans are right. Maybe there's nothing after this maybe... Maybe I wasn't supposed to die that time.

Aeryn: Well... maybe you'll find out for certain this time. (they look into each others' eyes and kiss. The kiss turns into a frantic roll, with both of them struggling to get their suits off - then something bumps the pod, they stop and look around) Somebody docking?! (D'Argo enters)

John: D'Argo... um... What took you so long?

D'Argo: (eyeing the scene awkwardly) I had to... uh... find someone to help me.

John: Right.

D'Argo: I think it's time that we left.

(Cut to Staanz’s ship as they evacuate the pod. Aeryn and John look around the funky ship incredulously as Staanz shouts affably)

Staanz: It's about time! Hey, your friends are okay! I told you they would be. D'you think you could untie me, please? (and why did D'Argo tie the little pirates' hands? For some Luxanish reason we're sure) This is not fun. Hey, welcome aboard, people! I'd offer you something to chew, but hey, my hands are kinda tied. (giggles)

John: (as he and D'Argo gaze at Staanz) Is he dangerous?

D'Argo: Merely annoying. (he goes to release Staanz)

Staanz: (to D'Argo) The Flax is huge. There's bound to be another Luxan ship stuck in there somewhere. I thought... maybe we could go and look for it... (pitifully hopeful as D'Argo approaches) Together?

D'Argo: We go together? Hmph.

Staanz: (looking up soulfully at D'Argo) I'm lonely. Everybody needs a mate Ka D'Argo. Even you.

John: A mate?

Staanz: (adorable) I am the female of the species, you know that don't you? In fact, false modesty aside, I am considered quite the Zenetan beauty. (smiles beguilingly at D'Argo)

John: You know big guy, I think I'd better give you two a little time alone here 'cos you know, in a universe this vast, when two hearts collide...

D'Argo: Shut up! (John and Aeryn retreat to a respectful distance)

Staanz: You and me? Hm? (D'Argo glances over his shoulder, clearly wishing he weren't alone with the poor lonely Staanz. His lips move but no sound comes out. He shakes his head)

D'Argo: (smiling weakly, not wishing to be cruel) Oh, uh - I don't really -

Staanz: I love you.

D'Argo: Um... well you... um... (he's backing away)

Staanz: I love you! I LOVE YOU! (D'Argo flees)

(Later - cut to Moya, the Command. D'Argo sits there alone)

Zhaan: (entering) We are now well out of the range of the Flax - and Kcrackic's tracer. What happened out there D'Argo? D'Argo?

D'Argo: A Luxan warrior must never be indecisive in battle. My indecision nearly cost Aeryn and Crichton their lives.

Zhaan: But you saved them.

D'Argo: Barely - and by saving them, I may have given up my only chance of ever seeing my son again. On every front, I failed. (he gets up and leaves)

(Later - in the Command. Aeryn and John. She's working. He's looking out the main viewport)

John: Heat of the moment.

Aeryn: Exactly. Too much pure oxygen.

John: Affected our judgment. If had been you and D'Argo there, the same thing probably would have happened.

Aeryn: Or you and Zhaan.

John: Anyway, one thing's for sure - it'll never... never happen again.

Aeryn: Never.

John: Never.

Aeryn: Never.

John: (walking over to face her) One thing, just to be absolutely certain. You are the female of your species, right? (she looks at him and we see their shoulders moving as if she took his hand and laid it somewhere... John smiles) I'll take that as a yes. (he exits)


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