The episode opens with a view of an alien ship, moving silently though black space. It is brightly lit and is composed of a complicated series of interconnected spheres- like a model of a molecule. Cut to inside one of the spheres. It is a shop. There are tables and shelves that display a treasure trove of odd knickknacks, jewelry and artifacts. Aeryn, Chiana and Rygel are present, browsing the wares as the shopkeeper, Kyvan, hovers nearby. She is an androgynous, heavily made-up humanoid in a dark robe and a sparkly beaded shawl wrapped turban-style about her head. She has the look of a drag queen in fact and she speaks in a quirky accent somewhere between Irish and West Indian...
Kyvan: There's no rush. Browse all you like. (Chiana lingers over a glass picture of some sort for a long moment) Do you like that?
Chiana: (she turns away from it, as if not liking the shopkeeper's attention) I don't care much for room decorations. I, uh - I prefer to decorate myself. (she walks over to another display and picks up an item of jewelry. Kyvan trails her) Like this for instance.
Rygel: (his voice rings out loudly in the quiet shop) Synthetic kavin stone! Worthless!
Chiana: (she drops it in disgust) Synthetic?
Kyvan: (the consummate merchant) If you like it, what difference does it make?
Chiana: If it's not worth anything, I don't like it.
Kyvan: Oh-ho! So young, and yet so mercenary! (Chiana meanders to an item that resembles a pane of deep purple glass. Its another picture. Etched or captured between layers of glass is the figure of a young woman that. She gazes at it, as if mesmerized for a moment) That portrait is one of me own works. Resembles you, don't you think?
Chiana: (turning away - uncomfortable) Not really.
Rygel: Ah! Look at this!
Kyvan: Mm. Hynerian Royal Tiara from the Neltoth era.
Rygel: (the kind of shopper storekeepers really hate) Authentic Neltoth? Nonsense. It's a cheap copy. And I should know - I gave them to all my wives!
Aeryn: (quietly) If you don't want it Rygel, put it back and we can all get out of here.
Rygel: (loudly) What's your rush? Is there anything remotely exciting happening back on Moya?
Aeryn: Minding you two on a shopping expedition is even less exciting.
Rygel: Nobody asked you to come!
Kyvan: (to Rygel as Chiana is drawn back to look at the picture of the young woman again) You should have that tiara. As a keepsake of your home world.
Rygel: A fake keepsake? (he laughs derisively) I'll give you a single food cube for it!
Kyvan: (flicking her wrists dismissively) Ugh!
Rygel: And that's generous!
Kyvan: (with a shrug) Done!
Aeryn: (disgusted) We're low on food cubes and you gave one away for that?
Rygel: (whispering loudly back) It's a good enough copy to fool the next trader we run across.
Aeryn: Fine. (she gives him a little swat up the backside of his head. He yelps) Can we go?
Rygel: (with great dignity) Yes - now that I'm finished.
Aeryn: Wonderful! Chiana, are you done?
Chiana: Guess so.
Kyvan: Don't go empty handed! I want to give you this. (she gores to a shelf and lifts out another pane of glass - this one has an image embedded in it that is unmistakably Chiana) Now that's a better image, don't you think? (the image is photographic and is superimposed or embedded in panes of glass with abstract forms. In one corner hangs a 3-D cube and a yellow triangle juts upwards from the bottom of it. It's actually quite ugly but Chiana seems impressed so we suppose it must be a fashionable representational style in the uncharted territories...)
Chiana: (shes a little freaked by the clear image of herself) You just work on that? I didn't see you do it. (she notices an odd detail of the image) Hey - that's my favorite necklace - I lost that half a cycle ago!
Kyvan: (motherly) Now you can enjoy that once more.
Chiana: What? You're - you're just giving this to me?
Kyvan: Well, you haven't been given much in your life, have you? Hm? Take it. (Chiana accepts it with both wariness and delight) Perhaps it'll help you get a better understanding of the true value of art.
Chiana: Which is what?
Kyvan: Well, in this case - it's a window on time.
(cut to Moya. D'Argo and JOHN are examining the defense screen that Talyn destroyed before he ran away with Crais)
John: This defense screen is pretty much fried. I'm not even sure it's worth fixing.
D'Argo: There's no harm in trying. (one of them touches something and sparks fly from the tangled mass of wires and panels that is the DS)
John: You were saying?
D'Argo: Just watch what you're doing!
John: (via comm) Pilot - I thought the juice was supposed to be turned off down here.
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) It is. But Moya has been experiencing a number of minor power anomalies. I am trying to isolate them.
D'Argo: Keep trying. And get us some more DRDs.
Pilot: I have no more to spare.
John: What about the ones working on Aeryns Prowler? Aren't they just doing routine maintenance?
Pilot: (primly) Scheduled maintenance. Which is overdue. She would not be pleased to postpone it further.
John: Give us 4 of them. Aeryn doesn't have to know.
Pilot: She's just returned.
(cut to Chiana walking down one of Moyas corridors carrying her picture. A DRD passes by - she stops and looks over her shoulder at it)
Chiana: Hey! - HEY! (the DRD stops and backs up as she looks at something its carrying in one of its little appendages) Is that mine? (she sets the picture down against the wall crouches next to the DRD to takes the item - a necklace) I've been looking for that forever! Where'd you find it? (the DRD natters at her and she looks over at the picture of herself wearing the very necklace) And - and how did she know you'd find it? (and as she looks at the picture she sees something else about it - it seems to have changed, it now shows one of her legs bent at an odd angle. She rises to go examine it more closely. The DRD makes to go with her, weaving like a cat between her feet. She trips over it and falls, fracturing her leg with an awful crunch and then lays there screaming in pain and staring at the picture in horror...)
(soon after - John and Zhaan have joined Chiana in the corridor. Zhaan is tending to her leg while Chiana shakes the necklace at the picture, which John is holding, and tries to tell them what she thinks happened)
Chiana: (weirded out) At first, it didn't even look like me at all. Then it showed me with a necklace and then it showed me with a broken leg! Okay? You know what I think? I-I think it can predict the future!
John: My Aunt Ruth can do that cept she uses tea leaves.
Chiana: Oh. Okay. Well then how do you explain this- (she brandishes the necklace and then gestures at her leg) -and this ?
John: Have you eaten, drunk, smoked, sniffed -anything weird lately?
Chiana: No - have you?
John: Not lately.
Chiana: Look, ask Aeryn and Rygel. They-they saw it when it showed me in the necklace.
John: They saw it change too?
Chiana: No, but that doesn't mean-
Zhaan: Could Aeryn and Rygel have switched it for another or tampered with it somehow?
Chiana: (groaning impatiently) No no no...
John: So you think maybe one of them's messing with Chi?
Zhaan: I'm only exploring possibilities.
John: Yeah... Aeryn's not the joking type. And Rygel? I can see him pulling her leg, but not exactly breaking it.
Zhaan: You said you tripped over the DRD that found your necklace?
John: Pilot, is anything weird going on with the DRDs?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) No-oo. All DRDs are functioning normally and performing as I order.
Zhaan: Pilot, did you assign a DRD to look for Chianas lost necklace?
Pilot: Ye-es. Some time ago. At her request.
John: Well, there we have it. Coincidence. Some bad luck. Maybe a bit of the power of suggestion thrown in.
Chiana: (eyeing him wearily) Yeah, yeah - except it did change.
John: Uh. I don't know what to tell ya.
Zhaan: I'd like to run some tests on that portrait if you don't mind.
Chiana: (suddenly protective of her little magic 8-ball) Yeah! I do mind! What if you screw it up somehow?
Zhaan: (offended) I am not going to harm it!
Chiana: (gazing lovingly at the picture) Hah! No sorry! It's staying here! I mean, I wanna see - I wanna see what it's going to show me next.
John: (ever seeking a compromise) Zhaan, how about if you take, like, a tiny little chip off someplace where it doesn't show? That work for you?
Zhaan: Better than nothing.
Chiana: (protesting petulantly) But it's mine! I don't see why I should let her-
John: (cutting her off firmly) PIP! - She just fixed your damn leg.
Chiana: (sulky - talking to John, not Zhaan) A very -little - piece.
(cut to Rygel in Zhaans apothecary, snooping about amongst her supplies)
Rygel: (he inhales deeply from the contents of a bottle) Ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Definitely it - I never forget an aroma. (as Zhaan quietly enters to room behind him he tips some of the liquid from the bottle onto the tiara he bought for a foodcube. Theres a sizzling sound and he gasps in disbelief and mutters-) What? Genuine? Not possible! No!
Zhaan: (she comes up behind Rygel and takes one of his earbrows in an iron grip - the earbrow makes a sound like rubber being pulled tightly as she twists it and says softly-) I'm surprised you're using my possessions without my consent Rygel. Especially after what I did to you last time.
Rygel: MMPH! Let go! I'll replace what I've used! I'll buy you an entire vat of pelvoth oil! (she releases him and he giggles gleefully-) This tiara is authentic!
Zhaan: I thought you said it was a copy.
Rygel: Well it's not! And that fool Kyvan sold it for a single food cube! HAH! Silly old woman had no idea what she had! (he hits his comm) Pilot! Reverse course! (cut to Pilot in his Den - His jaw drops and he sits up, muttering “What??” with the air of one getting bored with toting other people's finicky barges) Find that trader womans ship!
Zhaan: Ignore him Pilot. Moya has better things to do than search for Kyvan's vessel.
Rygel: What the yotz are you talking about? We have a chance to turn a tidy profit here! Have you any idea what this tiara is worth?
Zhaan: (in a low, deadly tone) We are not returning to that ship Rygel. (loudly) Now get out!
Rygel: I'll take this up with the others. (he gets into his hoverchair and leaves)
Zhaan: (to herself) Please do.
(cut to Chiana's quarters. She's laying on her bed looking at her picture and talking to D'Argo who stands nearby. Their conversation is gentle and sincere)
Chiana: (quite taken with Kyvan's gift now) Isn't this something? I wonder what it'll show me next.
D'Argo: (prudently not as quick as John to dismiss the possibility of some strange power) Suppose it's not just predicting events, but actually causing them?
Chiana: (unwilling to be talked out of the thing) It brought me my necklace, and then it turned around and broke my leg. Why would it do that?
D'Argo: I don't know.
Chiana: Then why not just believe it's what the old woman says it is? A window into time.
D'Argo: Assuming all that is true - Do you really want to know what the future holds? (he sits down on the edge of the bed)
Chiana: Of course I do. Come on, D'Argo - don't you want to know if you're ever going to find your son?
D'Argo: No. If it's bad news then I don't want to lose all hope.
Chiana: Well it might keep you from - from spending your whole life searching for something that's never going to happen.
D'Argo: If I don't try, it will definitely never happen. Now. I want you to get rid of that.
Chiana: (sitting up to face him at closer range) I think you're just being a superstitious Luxan.
D'Argo: I am being a concerned Luxan.
Chiana: (smiling) Aren't you sweet. What? You really care what happens to me?
D'Argo: Shouldn't I?
Chiana: Of course you should. I'm glad you do. Wonder if the portrait will show both of us next - give us a glimpse into our future.
D'Argo: I am not sure I want to know about that either.
Chiana: Why? Because of what it might not show? Or what it might?
D'Argo: Listen to me. I do care about you. That's why I want you to start being sensible and get rid of that.
Chiana: (breaking the soft mood with quiet vehemence) Oh, okay. So I'm not being sensible now? Well, I'm so sorry to disappoint you, but I'm keeping it. I need to rest now. (she lies back down and looks away) Alone.
(cut to Aeryn and John, they are talking about Chiana's strange gift as they get something to eat)
Aeryn: Even if the object did change, it's still just a trick. I've seen con artists on many planets pull off bigger frauds than that.
John: Well she got it for free. So it's not much of a score if it's a con.
Aeryn: Chiana insulted Kyvan's artwork. Maybe Kyvan wanted revenge or something.
John: So - what? You think she rigged the painting so that Chiana would be spooked into breaking her leg? That's a bit of a stretch.
Aeryn: What's your theory? That it can predict the future?
John: (flaunting his newly developed paranoia) No, I don't have a theory, just a hypothesis. We should've steered clear of Kyvan's ship.
Aeryn: (agreeing wholeheartedly with him) And as usual we have Rygel and Chiana to thank for that. There isn't a single flying junk dealer in the uncharted territories that they'd pass up.
John: (as he opens canisters presumably containing the crew's food and sniffs in them) Well, you know what I say. I say - we lock all of Moya's doors. We don't let anybody in. We don't let anybody out. That way we get no alien critters. No shape-shifting bugs. No- (sniffsniffsniff) -mind altering viruses. No freaky-deaky artifacts. (so much for the wonders of space...)
Aeryn: (declaring enthusiastically) If I had my way, I'd throw Rygel off the ship. Chiana too, maybe.
John: (sitting down with a canister he apparently likes the smell of) Huh? Rygel I can sort of understand - But Chiana?
Aeryn: (primly) She gets us into as nearly as much trouble as Rygel does.
John: Yeah, but - She means well. (muttering-) Sometimes.
Aeryn: That's not the point.
John: (crotchety) What is the point? You know, even Rygel has his moments once in a while.
Aeryn: Once in a great while. On balance, we'd probably be better off without him.
John: (he stops chewing the cracker he just took a bite of and eyes her) Oh yeah? Well, what about Zhaan? Wanna throw her off the ship?
John: D'Argo? (Aeryn looks thoughtful and takes a bite of a cracker) Me? (she silently casts him a pointed Look. He throws down his cracker in disgust and gets up from the table) Pilot! Let's get rid of Pilot. That'd be good. Then you can have the whole ship to yourself.
Aeryn: Mm. Is that an offer?
John: (as he stalks out) Well, let's start with this room, see how it goes.
(cut to Zhaan working alone in her lab. The silence is suddenly broken by a low drawn-out sound like a voice murmuring “paah-oooo”. She looks up, but there is no-one there so she slowly bends back down to her work. At that moment John enters and says loudly-)
John: Zhaan! (she startles and spins about so quickly that she knocks a couple of glass containers off her workbench) Whoop! Hey, sorry, didn't mean to startle you. Is everything okay?
Zhaan: No it isn't.
John: No? Well, you wanna tell me?
Zhaan: (sounding very concerned and spooked) How can I tell you what I don't know? Every test I try finds nothing unusual in-in the material of Chiana's portrait.
John: So - if that junk dealer's faking us out with a magic trick - you can't figure out how? Look don't worry about it okay? You know, the painting probably never changed. Chiana was hallucinating. It's all in her mind. (he turns to go)
Zhaan: (stopping him, she's breathing heavily with anxiety) No John - believe me, this is not in Chiana's mind. She is in danger.
John: From what? Zhaan, tell me.
Zhaan: I can't tell you yet. All I have are suspicions. But if I'm right... (she pauses before hurrying on) John, soon there may come a time when I need you, and everyone, to do exactly as I say. Quickly, and without question. Do you have enough faith in me to obey?
John: Okay, Zhaan. Whatever you're doing, taking a flyer, playing a hunch, I'm in. Can't speak for the others, but when the time comes to make your move, I'll back you up. (he sounds a bit more like he's humoring her than taking her seriously)
Zhaan: Thank you John. I want you to bring me Chiana's portrait.
John: Yeah. It'll look nice in here.
Zhaan: I don't want to look at it. I want to destroy it.
John: (now his tone takes on an approving edge when it comes to getting rid of the “freaky-deaky” alien artifact) One portrait coming up! (he exits)
(cut to Chiana's picture - the image of her slowly fades and is replaced by one of her screaming face engulfed in flames. A series of keyhole shaped arches forms along one side of the yellow triangles, giving it the appearance of a corridor stretching into infinity. Cut to John walking down one of Moya's corridors, D'Argo joins him)
D'Argo: Crichton! I have decided we must take that painting away from Chiana. It's no good for her. (well he always WAS a bit paranoid and paternalistic...)
John: Zhaan's way ahead of you there. Whatever it is, it's got her good and freaked. (at that moment they hear Chiana scream and they break into run for her quarters, Upon entering they find her cringing away from the picture and crying for help) What happened?
Chiana: It changed!
D'Argo: When did it change?
Chiana: (struggling to her feet, completely freaked) Just now! I looked away for no more than a microt.
John: (catching hold of her as she frantically gimps past him) Where are you going?
Chiana: Getting out of here, LET GO! (she pulls away from him and totters to D'Argo and clutches at him in terror) Help me! Please take me somewhere safe!
D'Argo: (comfortingly to her) I will, I will. (to John) You deal with that. (he sweeps Chiana up and starts to exit)
John: (as he grabs the picture) Yeah. No problem. But Zhaan wants to do the honors.
Aeryn: (she runs into them as they come out into the corridor) What is going on? I heard screaming.
Chiana: (sobbing in D'Argo's arms) I'm gonna die here! The portrait told me!
Aeryn: Told you what?
D'Argo: It changed again. This time it shows her on fire.
Aeryn: This is a load of dren!
Chiana: It's real! I'm burning up!
Aeryn: (reaching up to touch her) Chiana, you're fine! You don't even feel hot!
Chiana: (screaming in panic) I'M BURNING UP!
(cut to John bringing the picture urgently in to Zhaan)
John: Zhaan it happened again. Chiana said it happened in the blink of an eye.
Zhaan: Where is she?
John: She's in the cargo bay with D'Argo and Aeryn.
Zhaan: Go, I'll see what I can do here.
John: Right. (he leaves her with the picture which she looks at and gasps, before laying it on a workbench and placing her hands over it. But when she removes her hands there is a sizzling sound and the flames it now depicts seem only to have intensified. The low drawn-out sound of someone whispering a word like “paaah-ooo” is heard again)
(cut to the cargo bay, D'Argo enters at a run with Chiana, Aeryn is on their heels)
Chiana: (pointing D'Argo toward a door) Put me in there!
D'Argo: I'm going.
Aeryn: In the freezer, Chiana? (D'Argo unseals the transparent door and sets Chiana down inside as Aeryn yells impatiently) Chiana! Listen to me! It's all in your head!
D'Argo: (hustling Aeryn out) Leave her alone.
Aeryn: Are you completely out of your mind? If she doesn't freeze to death in there, she will suffocate!
John: (as he enters and walks quickly over to them) Pilot! How long can Chiana last in there?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he says perkily-) Indefinitely. If I raise the temperature, and maintain air flow. (or in other words as ling as he makes it less like a freezer. Good job Pilot)
John: Do it!
Aeryn: (stomping after him) Don't tell me you're going along with this nonsense too!
John: I don't see any harm in playing it safe.
Aeryn: You cater to her fears, you make them worse!
(cut to Zhaan, she slowly raises her head, eyes shut, and she inhales deeply before suddenly shaking herself with a great shiver as if something cold and creepy just passed her by. The sound of distant spectral laughter is heard. Cut back to the cargo bay. Aeryn, D'Argo and John stand a couple yards away from the Freezer, talking quietly. Chiana sits in the freezer alone sobbing and thumping on the glass of the door which is fogged up and stained with nasty yellow streaks. A light begins to flicker around her and a sound like crackling flame is heard, D'Argo notices first)
D'Argo: John - (he runs to the freezer and tries to open the door)
John: What the hell? (he follows D'Argo who cannot get the door open and starts pounding on it frantically as the firelight within intensifies and Chiana whimpers) Pilot! What's going on in there?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den) I don't know. Nothing should be combustible.
D'Argo: Pilot! This door is jammed! Open it!
Pilot: The door controls aren't responding!
Aeryn: (as Chiana's whimpers become screams) Stand back. Stand back! (D'Argo and John stand clear and Aeryn tries to blast the door open with her pulse gun as the flames in the freezer grow brighter and Chiana screams in agony. The door remains sealed and D'Argo throws himself frantically against it as Chiana, shrieking horribly, is engulfed by fire. Suddenly her cries stop and the flames abruptly die out)
Pilot: The door lock's responding now. I think I can open it. (the door slides up and Aeryn, D'Argo and John peer inside. There is nothing but a small heap of smoldering ash where Chiana stood. Pilot asks fearfully-) Crichton, is Chiana-?
John: She's gone Pilot. (back in his Den Pilot looks stunned and a tear rolls down his cheek)
(cut back to Zhaan sitting alone in her lab and chanting softly. Rygel enters in his hoverchair)
Rygel: It's true then? Chiana's dead?
Zhaan: It's true.
Rygel: And she died that way? (he indicates the picture, still showing flames)
Rygel: Then why couldn't you save her? You had warning. You could have done something!
Zhaan: (angry and grief-stricken) At least we tried - which is more than I can say for you! Where were you when she died? Sleeping? Eating?
Rygel: (as D'Argo and John enter) Had anyone seen fit to inform me, I could-
Zhaan: (cutting him off) Get out! (then, to D'Argo, with tears in her voice) I should have gone down to the ship with them. I should have stopped her from bringing it back!
D'Argo: (gently) No, I should have taken it away from her earlier.
John: There are a number of things we all should have done. We can do one of them right now. Zhaan, how do we dispose of this piece of junk?
Zhaan: Fire would be a fitting end. (she takes the picture and dumps a thick green accelerant on it which she then lights with a blowtorch. As flames leap up from the picture she chants softly and D'Argo watches silently, his face reddened by the firelight)
(cut to Pilot's Den. Aeryn is there with him)
Pilot: (insistent) There was no reason for it.
Aeryn: There has to be! What about a defective power doubler in the freezer?
Pilot: All it's components check out fine.
Aeryn: (dogged) All right. You said Moya had some, uh -energy surges and other anomalies that you couldn't isolate. Maybe this is related to it.
Pilot: (protesting) There was nothing wrong with the freezer.
Aeryn: (demanding) Why couldn't you get the door open in time then? (John appears in the doorway of the Den)
Pilot: Chiana must have jammed it when she closed it.
Aeryn: All right. Could she have damaged the conduit when she pulled it shut?
Pilot: I've told you! No malfunction of Moya's caused that fire. Nor was it an error of control on my part.
Aeryn: (frantic to find some rational cause) All right I'm not-I'm not blaming you Pilot, but something had to cause it-
John: (approaching them) Aeryn! Knock it off. It's not your fault.
Aeryn: (defensive) Who said it was?
John: You're grilling Pilot looking for a reason. You're not the reason.
Aeryn: No I'm not. Why would I be?
John: You wanted her off the ship.
Aeryn: (snapping, upset) I never said I wanted her dead Crichton.
John: Fine. (changing his mind - angry-) No. Are you always gonna do this?
Aeryn: Do what?
John: Keep the entire world at a distance! Keep everybody away. Is that ever gonna change?
D'Argo: (on comm) Crichton?
John: Yes D'Argo?
D'Argo: Come to the center chamber. We have a problem.
Pilot: (shaking his head) No idea. (Aeryn and John leave)
(cut to the center chamber as Aeryn and John enter)
John: What's the problem?
D'Argo: This is. (he gestures to the table upon which sits a picture just like the one Chiana had except this one shows a shadowy image of D'Argo)
John: (he eyes it warily from a distance as Aeryn leans in for a closer look) Another one (Zhaan rushes in and stares at it as well) It can't be the same one - we burned it up.
Zhaan: Khalaan, help us.
Aeryn: It looks like you, D'Argo.
D'Argo: Yes it does.
Zhaan: (breathless with anxiety) It appears unfinished. Still in flux.
John: I vote we don't wait around for it to develop.
D'Argo: I agree. (and with that he picks it up and hurls it to the floor, it shatters completely)
Zhaan: It repaired itself once, it may do so again.
D'Argo: Then it shall do so in space. Pilot, where's the nearest access shaft? I want to get this thing as far away from Moya as I can.
Pilot: Tier 3. Hammond side.
John: Zhaan, you cool with that?
Zhaan: Yes get rid of it.
Aeryn: I'll go and find that trader and get some answers. Pilot, is my prowler ready?
Pilot: No, it's still undergoing maintenance.
John: Take my module!
Aeryn: (under her breath as she leaves) Bucket of dren.
(cut to D'Argo and John as they open the access shaft and dump the shards of the picture into it)
John: Go for it, Pilot.
Pilot: Expelling now. (he hits a button and the picture fragments are sent tumbling away from Moya into space) I am tracking the fragments. We are moving away from them at hetch 6 velocity.
John: Works for me. I don't know art, but I know what I don't like.
(soon after - cut to D'Argo, John and Zhaan walking down one of Moya's corridors)
Zhaan: You're certain it's gone?
John: Far behind us and off the radar.
D'Argo: Once Aeryn returns we should do a starburst or two to make sure.
John: Yup. The more distance between us and that thing the better. (suddenly Zhaan stops as she again hears the whispering spectral voice - this time speaking her name clearly) What's the matter?
Zhaan: I thought I heard something. (she moves slowly away from him and the voice continues to speak, her name and chuckle diabolically. She is the only one who hears this)
John: Zhaan? (she makes no response but to look around her with deep apprehension as the whispering natters on)
(cut to Aeryn in the module as she arcs away from Moya. It lurches and makes a sound just like junk rolling around in the back of a pickup truck. A yell of alarm is heard from behind the cockpit seat as an alert beeps insistently. Aeryn points her gun over her shoulder)
Rygel: Don't shoot! It's me!
Aeryn: Reason enough to pull the trigger. What are you doing here?
Rygel: (outraged) Don't you think I have a score to settle with this Kyvan? Just as you do?
Aeryn: (brisk) Score to settle or a profit to make?
Rygel: Can't I accomplish both at once? Chiana was given a dangerous product. Kyvan therefore owes us restitution.
Aeryn: Chiana's dead and all you're concerned about is getting compensation. (is Hyneria anywhere in the United States?)
Rygel: Punitive damages. That's what Chiana would have wanted. She was quite a lot like me, you know. She had spirit. Ambition. Huh! Large appetites. She would have made an excellent Hynerian. (he droops a little) I'm - actually going to miss her.
Aeryn: One way or another, Kyvan will make restitution.
(cut back to Moya - D'Argo is sitting in the docking bay and staring at the picture which has reappeared. It shows him, impaled by a great spear through his chest, John and Zhaan enter)
Zhaan: (running in) D'ARGO? (she stops short at the sight if the picture) By the Goddess, no!
John: What do we have to do to ditch this thing? Drop it in a black hole?
D'Argo: (quietly) John, we have lost. If this is my fate - I will accept it.
John: No. We're not accepting anything. We fight this.
Zhaan: (crying in a panic) We can't keep fighting!
John: Zhaan -
Zhaan: (near hysteria) It's stronger than all of us!
John: Zhaan! All right kids, time to think. First off - what the hell is that supposed to be? (he points to the spear in the picture)
D'Argo: It signifies a Qualta blade.
John: (he takes D'Argo's Qualta from him and passes it to Zhaan) Zhaan, take this and lock it on the furthest tier you can find. (she silently takes it and leaves. John then picks up the picture and sets it aside as he continues to D'Argo-) Next - we get you into a big open space. As far away from any pointy objects as possible.
D'Argo: (following calmly after him) John, you've been a good friend. Whatever happens, it's been a pleasure to know you.
John: D'Argo. SHUT. UP. Have you never heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? (and at that moment there is the sound of something seeming to short out in Aeryn's Prowler which is parked nearby. Suddenly it begins to move toward them, D'Argo pushes John away but in doing so, is hilt by the Prowler and impaled upon a spear-like bit hardware that projects from it) NOOOOOO! (John reaches for D'Argo and before his eyes the Luxan explodes in a flash of light with a sound like shattering glass and is gone)
But D'Argo is not dead. The scene shifts to him as he suddenly appears, alive and very much un-impaled - but still screaming - in another dimension. Sort of. He staggers and looks around himself in surprise. He appears to have been transported into Kyvan's picture somehow. He is standing on a primary yellow walkway that stretches into blank black infinity. One side of the walkway, or corridor, is lined by the keyhole shaped arches. He hears Chiana calling from somewhere-
Chiana: (her disembodied voice echoes) Anybody? Please?
D'Argo: (spinning around, looking for her) Chiana!
Chiana: D'Argo? (he looks around an arch for her but it is pitch black and unclear if there is a floor on the other side - the 3-D cube hangs eerily in the darkness above. He steps back onto the yellow walkway and she calls to him again-) D'Argo!
D'Argo: (he catches sight of her in the next arch. She is upside down though, as if she's in an area with different laws of physics, and she is proportionally larger than he is. Nonetheless, he's glad to see her) You're alive!
Chiana: I am?
D'Argo: Where are we?
Chiana: I think we're in the portrait. (D'Argo tries to walk through the arch to her but he is unable to enter the area where she is and she disappears. He yells with frustration)
(cut back to John and Zhaan who are examining the instrument of D'Argo's apparent death)
John: (agitated & frustrated) It punched - right - through him and he disappeared. No blood. No guts. No nothing. Where'd he go? We gotta get him back. He - look, he cannot just vanish Zhaan!
John: He may not even be dead! Either way, we gotta know! (Zhaan has the picture in her hands and is looking at it intently. It shows John being electrocuted) What? (he sees the image in the picture) Great. I'm next. Batter up. This is great, Zhaan. This thing is picking us off like flies, and nobody even knows what it is. Zhaan, I'm ready for this - give me your plan. Please? Come on, Zhaan - this magical mystery crap is your specialty, not mine - you just tell me what to do AND I'LL DO IT!
Zhaan: (between clenched teeth) There is nothing I can tell you.
(cut back to Kyvan's ship as Aeryn and Rygel enter her little shop of horrors)
Kyvan: (jovial and glad to see them) Ah! Welcome back! Now what can I interest you in this time?
Aeryn: I'm only interested in one thing, and that's the thing you gave Chiana.
Kyvan: Oh! Weell, I hope she's enjoying that portrait-
Aeryn: (cutting her off and sweeping off a shelf full of trinkets at the trader just to emphasize her point) Don't frell with me! You know exactly what happened, don't you?
Rygel: (warning Kyvan) It's a very bad idea to annoy her when she's in this sort of mood. (Aeryn sends another lot of merchandise flying as Kyvan yelps)
See what I mean? If I were you, I'd tell her everything.
Kyvan: (protesting) But - I-I don't know anything!
Aeryn: (loudly) Well that's unfortunate for you isn't it? Because if you had something to tell me, I'd have a reason not to shoot you! But since you're not telling me anything- (she whips out her gun and takes aim at Kyvan who backs up fast and raises her hands)
Kyvan: I-I-I had no choice! I was - I was forced to create that portrait!
Aeryn: By whom?
Kyvan: We- He made me do it!
Kyvan: I didn't -
Kyvan: -want to - I didn't -
Kyvan: He threatened me!
Kyvan: (in a small weak voice) Maldis. (Aeryn slowly lowers her gun)
(shortly after - cut back to John and Zhaan on Moya. They are speaking with Aeryn via comm)
Aeryn: That's what she said.
John: It can't be Maldis, we destroyed him.
Zhaan: (murmuring) We merely dispersed him. I knew he'd coalesce again someday. I never dreamt it would be this soon.
John: Okay Zhaan, so what to we do? (no response, he turns to look at her and finds her standing very still with her hands covering face. We know how she feels...) Zhaan? Are you hearing me? Zhaan!
(cut back to Aeryn in Kyvan's shop)
Aeryn: Crichton, what's the matter?
John: (wearily) Zhaan just bugged out on us. Praying or catatonic, I don't know.
Aeryn: I'll leave straight away.
John: Nono - don't do that. Stay there. We need all the information we can get.
Aeryn: Right. (she signs off and walks towards Kyvan) So, start talking.
Kyvan: (her voice is low and flat and she's lost the flamboyant accent) Nothing that I can tell you will do any good. Maldis is too powerful.
Aeryn: (unimpressed) Start talking.
(cut back to Moya. John is trying to get Zhaan back into action)
John: (pulling Zhaan's hands away from her face) Zhaan. Zhaan! Stop bugging out! We beat Maldis before, we can do it again! Don't go chicken on me here!
Zhaan: (without speaking a word she seizes his head in her hands and pulls him to her so their foreheads touch. She then communicates telepathically with him saying-) John, I speak to you via the bond of Unity we shared. Now is the time to trust me. I have a plan. You must focus Maldis’s attention on you for as long as possible. Ignore what I say next. (and with that she pushes him away from her and speaks aloud, madly, hysterically) Maldis cannot be defeated. He's already taken Chiana, and D'Argo. He's going to take you next, then the rest of us. One by one.
John: Zhaan, we can beat him.
Zhaan: No we can't. All we can do is surrender. Shorten our pain.
John: Well I'm not giving up.
Zhaan: (laying one hand on his cheek she says softly) I am. (and with that she shoves him backwards onto some exposed wiring a couple DRDs are working on and he is electrocuted - and suddenly disappears. The DRDs look as if they aren't sure what just happened as the voice of Maldis whispers to Zhaan. She approaches the picture which now shows a portrait of her own face, screaming)
(cut to John as he materializes in the weird limbo of the picture)
John: AAAAHHHH! Whoa- (looking around) That first step...
D'Argo: (heard but not seen) John!
John: D'Argo! (he turns and sees a sideways image of D'Argo through an arch and immediately jogs towards it)
D'Argo: No wait! Don't come through! (John stops partway through realizing that D'Argo isn't there and there's nothing but empty darkness on the other side)
John: What the hell? D'ARGO? (he steps back onto the yellow walkway and sees D'Argo again through a different arch) Where'd you go?
D'Argo: I haven't moved. It's these arches, they lead - elsewhere.
John: You seen Chiana?
D'Argo: (sighing) Yes, but I couldn't get to her. I tried other archways, but I lost her entirely.
John: Great. It's not just a painting, it's a maze. Terrific. (he looks around apprehensively) And I know who built it. MALDIS! COME ON DOWN!
John: None other than. Doesn't that just make your day? (calling) Mal-DIIIIIS? MALDIS! COME ON, YOU OLD BASTARD, SHOW ME YOUR UGLY FACE! Haven't you read the Super Villain's Handbook? This is where you're supposed to twirl your mustache and gloat. (as John turns, looking for him, Maldis suddenly appears behind him at the end of the yellow walkway which becomes a black-floored corridor covered in a series of round arches. He looks exactly as he did the last time we met him, A strong older man, completely humanoid in appearance except for the yellow irises of his eyes, and wearing black, Elizabethan-style garb - updated for the uncharted territories a bit of course)
Maldis: I don't have a mustache John.
John: (provocative) How you doing old man? You're looking kind of pale. You getting enough sun?
Maldis: Irreverent as ever. I missed that.
John: Yeah, it's been a while, huh? Tell me, what you been doing all this time? Putting yourself back together? And what's it like being - dispersed?
Maldis: Less than pleasant. I sustained myself by concentrating on revenge.
John: Well, here I am dude. Revenge away.
Maldis: Please. You're not even a player. (he disappears and re-materializes behind John, in an arch through which can be seen the floating cube)
I'm saving my revenge for one who deserves it - Pa'u Zhaan.
John: Oh. I'm crushed. And here I was thinking we both kicked your ass last time.
Maldis: (suave) No. She kicked my ass and saved yours. As you say, this magical mystery crap's not your thing. Why do you think that I took you and your two friends first?
John : Because you were lonely.
Maldis: Because I wanted Zhaan to see her shipmates die.
(cut to Zhaan, alone in the center chamber, Maldis calls her name repeatedly and she wails and cries “NO!” again and again as she covers her ears and seems to be rapidly decompensating. Cut back to John and Maldis in the picture)
Maldis: Have you forgotten? Fear makes me stronger. Fear and the terror of helplessness. (with irony) These are a few of my favorite things.
John: Oh, could you do that farewell good-bye song the kids sing? It's one of my favorites.
Maldis: (matching John in smart-assedness) I DON'T DO REQUESTS! You're convinced that Zhaan will pull some Delvian fast one and save the day. (with contempt) Johnny-O, your mind to me is an open book. Full of big print and lots of pictures!
John: Then read this. (he touches his forehead) Kiss.... (Maldis glares at him) I'm betting on her. Not you.
Maldis: Bad bet.
(cut back to Moya. Zhaan is in Pilot's Den talking to the Great Navigator. She is leaning over the Console towards him and he seems to be leaning back towards her, staring intently at her)
Zhaan: (urgently) Do you understand, Pilot?
Pilot: Frankly, no. But I will do exactly as you ask. I wish you luck. For all our sakes. (the voice of Maldis, heard only to Zhaan hisses through the chamber and Zhaan startles, looking over her shoulder) Zhaan - what is it?
Zhaan: It's Maldis, can't you hear him?
Pilot: (shaking his head) I don't hear anything.
(cut back to John and Maldis in the picture)
Maldis: Johnny! Last bout she had help. (referring to the fallen priest Liko in TOBM) Cost the poor fellow his life didn't it? This time she's alone. You might not be afraid - but she is. And that's why I'll destroy her. Excuse me while I remind her how much I care. (he throws his head back and roars her name) PA'U ZHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! (cut back to Moya the vibrations of Maldis’s roar cause Zhaan to lose her footing and fall from the catwalk in front of Pilot's Console as he cries out to her. But instead of plunging to her death in the pit below, she lands in the picture on the yellow walkway in front of John. Maldis, grown huge on the other side of the arches exclaims triumphantly-) So much for that plan! Any more bets?
Zhaan: (sobbing as John kneels next to her) I've failed. Too weak.
John: Zhaan - don't give up. You never give up.
Maldis: (he appears now on the yellow walkway behind them) What a wreck! She begged me to put her out of her misery. Unfortunately, I want to enjoy her misery a little longer. But there's no reason she should suffer on her own. (he blows at two of the arches and Chiana and D'Argo appear inside them.
They cannot see each other but are visible from the walkway and can heat each other)
Chiana: D'Argo? Where are you?
Chiana: You're here? (looking out of her arch she can see John and Zhaan) Oh, frell. (she spots Maldis) Who's that little man?
John: His name is Maldis. He's your basic evil vampire.
D'Argo: (wearily, like a guy who's been there. Done that) He sucks the life force out of people.
John: He just plain sucks. Listen up everybody. This joker feeds on fear, so we're gonna stay calm.
Maldis: Zhaan's not listening to you John.
John: Zhaan, (she pants with anxiety) we keep our cool. We starve him out.
Maldis: (chuckling) Bravado to the end. I have to admire that. Even though deep down of course you are quaking in your boots.
John: Dream on.
Maldis: Stop! You want fear? I'll give you some! (and with that, he imprisons John in the archway between Chiana and D'Argo before continuing)
Picture if you will - Me - Standing on your home planet! 6 billion creatures like you - heavy breeders - your species will keep me well fed for a long time.
John: (in a low tone) You stay the hell away from Earth.
Maldis: See? Everyone has a panic button just waiting to be pushed! Even the Luxan! (he pauses in front of D'Argo) Your son, Jothee, how old is he? I can't wait to run across him. (D'Argo snarls and hisses viciously but Maldis strolls away, unconcerned) Didn't you tell him John, that that sort of thing doesn't work? (he stops by Chiana) And the runaway Nebari! How would you like a free trip home to your planet? You wouldn't? Oho! Scared you'll be mentally cleansed by your countrymen? Well don't worry. BECAUSE NONE OF YOU WILL LEAVE THIS PLACE!
Chiana: You don't scare me! You're all mouth. Bigger the talk, smaller the action!
Maldis: Little girl, I'll show you action. And this is it: I leave. You don't. This realm dissolves and you with it. Except for your essence. Your life force. Your spirit. Whatever you like to call it. I call it lunch! (he ambles casually back to Zhaan who still is half sitting, half laying on the yellow walkway) Time for choir practice, priest?
Zhaan: (cringing away from him) Maldis! Please! I beg you!
Maldis: (he steps up onto her and walks up her back as she screams and the fibers of her body crunch beneath his feet) You beg me? I like that.
D'Argo: (flailing against his prison arch as Zhaan wails under Maldis’s crushing weight) MALDIS! NO!
John: (quietly, from his arch as he watches helplessly) D'Argo - down. You'll just make it worse.
Maldis: Now, now! When all the atoms in your body are ripped apart and I consume what's left, then you'll know what pain is. And all this will happen one hundred microts from now. If you'd like to count down. (and with a few final grinds of his heel to Zhaan's neck he steps off of her and raises his arms in front of an archway that shimmers into a view of Moya. Cut to Moya as 2 DRDs sit looking at the picture which suddenly changes and grows and seems to become a portal from the yellow walkway onto Moya. The DRDs squawk with alarm)
(cut to Pilot in his Den)
Pilot: (via comm) Officer Sun - priority message from Zhaan.
Aeryn: (cut to her back in Kyvan's shop) What is it?
Pilot: (carefully reciting) Kill Kyvan and get out of there fast.
Aeryn: Acknowledged. (no hesitation here, Kyvan stands but before she can make a move Aeryn swings her gun up and blasts the woman - who explodes like shattering glass as Rygel yelps with alarm) Out. Now. (she grabs Rygel and takes off. A moment later - as the module streaks way from it, the trader's ship seems to flatten out into a huge glass picture, which shatters explosively. Cut back to the prison picture which Maldis, with a long, drawn out wail, falls back into and lands next to Zhaan on the yellow walkway. Then cut to the cockpit of the module)
Rygel: How did you know all that would happen?
Aeryn: I didn't.
Rygel: And you shot Kyvan anyway?
Aeryn: Crichton said I should follow Zhaan's instructions without question.
Rygel: (outraged) Did he? Well, he didn't bother to tell me!
Aeryn: Of course not. When have you ever followed instructions?
(cut back to inside the picture)
Maldis: (struggling to his feet as he shouts at Zhaan) Was that your doing? Well it won't help you! Because I'm much stronger than you think!
Zhaan: (dangerously) So am I. (and with that she rises and attacks him, He fights back but cannot overpower her and she shoves him though the archway that John is in. As Maldis passes through it some unseen barrier shatters like glass. Chiana, D'Argo and John are able to step out of their prisons onto the walkway as the whole construct begins to vibrate and a strong wind sweeps over them. Zhaan, who has collapsed again from her exertion, urges them out through the portal Maldis had opened onto Moya) Go! Hurry! Hurry!
D'Argo: Chiana! (he runs to her and helps her towards the portal)
John: (he goes to help Zhaan) Get up! Come on!
Zhaan: Leave me!
John: Come on! (Chiana and D'Argo break through the portal and land, sprawling, on the floor of the transport bay. D'Argo cushions Chiana's fall and they look into each others eyes. Meanwhile John continues trying to drag Zhaan out)
Zhaan: Leave me here.
John: Get up.
Zhaan: No! Leave me here!
John: No. Get up! (he picks Zhaan up and stumbles towards the portal, The barrier is difficult to break through and D'Argo rushes to help pull Zhaan through first, and then John. They crawl clear of it as it shimmers and buckles) Home sweet home. (but Maldis isn't finished yet. With his mouth twisted in a howl of rage, he reaches towards the portal, and thrusts his hand, King-Kong sized, through it. D'Argo whisks Chiana way as John and Zhaan scramble back too. John grabs a DRD, and aims it like a gun at Maldis, It obligingly lets loose with a volley of laser fire) Fire one! (he hands the DRD to Zhaan) Pray. (and while Zhaan lays on the floor praying and aiming the DRD at Maldis, John makes a dash for the Prowler, which he brings around to bear on the portal-) Fire two! (and with that he opens fire with the Prowler's pulse weapon, sending volley after volley into the portal. Maldis resists like a good villain but it's too much for him and the Prowler fire warps and distorts his construct until it shatters away, leaving our heroes panting on the transport bay floor in shock)
John: (looking at Zhaan after a moment of thundering silence) That was your plan?
Zhaan: Yes. Like it?
John: Well, what's not to like?
(later - cut to Chiana and Rygel in the center chamber. They're eating and doing the same thing the rest of us are - trying to figure out what the heck happened...)
Chiana: Explain this to me, Froggy. Crichton comes back - he's not really electrocuted. Okay. D'Argo comes back - not a scratch on him. I come back - nothing burnt - but I still got a busted leg! Why is that?
Rygel: Why ask me? I'm still trying to figure out the whole Maldis and Kyvan thing.
Chiana: Oh nonono! Look- Zhaan laid that bit out for me. Okay - when Maldis recorporealized-
Chiana: (spewing it out at high word velocity, probably along with a few cracker crumbs since she's eating while she speaks - as Rygel grunts and tries vainly to follow-) Well, put himself back together - he couldn't yet break through to our physical plane. So he had to manipulate matter to form Kyvan and her ship, and create the painting which would not only bridge both realms but also allow - well, play on, our fears - which would allow him to capture us, and grow even stronger. Clear? (as magical mystery crap) Then when Aeryn blasted Kyvan, which was actually just an temporary extension of Maldis, it weakened Maldis enough for Zhaan to make her move. Simple.
Rygel: (perplexed) But why - I mean how did Zhaan-? Ugh- Best not ponder questions like these that only make your head hurt.
Chiana: Forget about it. Sit back and enjoy the happy ending.
Rygel: What happy ending? My priceless Hynerian tiara is gone. Vanished! Just like Kyvan and her ship!
Chiana: Oh. Well, we can't have everything, Ryg.
Rygel: (sulky) I can't have anything. (Chiana laughs and throws a handful of crunched up crackers at him as he yelps. Cut to Zhaan's quarters. John stands outside her door, watching as she tidies her alter)
John: So, what do you think Zhaan? Is that son of a bitch gone for good this time?
Zhaan: With a being like Maldis, we can never be entirely certain.
John: (as he enters her room and meanders over to her) Zhaan - this would have been a reeeally good opportunity to lie to me. You know - (he offers a few examples) “Sure John! He's toast! Strike him off your Christmas list! Stick a fork in him! He's done! He's over! The fat lady is singing.” It does not have to be true, Zhaan. But I certainly would have slept better.
Zhaan: I'm sorry John. I'm not a very good liar.
John: Yeah, right. Now I know you couldn't tell me the truth about your plan. Maldis would have picked it out of my brain. But you had us all fooled with that scared Nelly routine.
Zhaan: My fear wasn't an act John.
John: You were really that scared?
Zhaan: I've never been more scared in my life. (she looks at John solemnly and he gazes back at her, knowing he'll probably be sleeping even more fitfully than he'd thought)