And the plot thickens...
The episode picks up where the last one left off - with John in his palace quarters on the Royal Planet of the Breakaway Colonies in the process of being assassinated by Prince Clavor’s henchmen. But before they can deliver the final zap that will kill him - into the room swoops none other than Jena - Prince Clavor’s fiancé. But instead of reveling in the imminent success of the Princes endeavors - she silently launches a deadly attack on the would-be assassins and with a series of martial arts style moves quickly decimates them. While she takes on the hit squad, John staggers to the bed and sinks down onto it, gasping and trying to recover from the attack.
Once Jena snaps the neck of the last assassin, she turns and regards John stonily.
Jena: Which branch are you with? (John stares back at her - uncomprehending and she moves toward him) Which branch? (still getting no response from the stunned man, she curtly introduces herself) Jenavian Charto. Disrupter - Peacekeeper Special Directorate. (she then repeats her demand) Which branch?
John: (wise enough to know he'd best go along with her) You should know I can't tell you that.
Jena: (she mutters softly to herself as she paces the room eyeing the dead assassins) Frell. Trust them to send him back up and not tell me.
John: Yeah well if it makes you feel any better, they did the same to me. (he nonchalantly readjusts his clothing) So - what's your assignment?
Jena: (as she pokes carelessly with her foot at one of her victims) Stay close to Prince Clavor - my vapid little fiancé - and if he assumes the crown - kill him.
John: Well that makes sense.
Jena: I admire your dedication. Wouldn't let them make me a statue for 80 cycles.
John: Interesting coincidence, I was just having the same thought.
Jena: Are you wavering?
John: And if I am?
Jena: (as she sits down next to him) Would you hesitate to kill me if I jeopardized the mission?
John: Jenavian, right? Thanks. (he quickly gathers up his red jacket and leaves)
(cut to soon after in the palace quarters of the Prince Clavor. John enters unannounced and accosts the smarmy royal)
John: How you doing? (he shoves the Prince)
Prince Clavor: Get away from me! How dare you!
John: You want a piece of me? Mm? (he slaps Clavor provocatively on one cheek) Wanna piece? (he slaps the Princes other cheek)
Prince Clavor: (dodging past John) Help guards! Help! (but John catches him and pushes him back again)
John: Nope! Nonono - the guards are taking five so the brothers-in-law can get to know one another.
Prince Clavor: (terrified) Look - I am sorry - if someone tried to kill you using my name - they will pay!
John: (as he delivers a little slap to each of Clavor’s cheeks again and the Prince yips) You are pathetic.
Prince Clavor: (outraged) You cannot strike me! I am royalty! (John punches him in the face, hard and then lowers the wobbly Prince onto a chair. Clavor slurs, as if he's about to lose a tooth-) What do you want?
Jena: (who has entered at some point and is behind a screen through which her silhouette can be seen) Nothing, darling.
John: (grabbing Clavor by the nose and speaking quietly to him) I want off this planet. (ro-NA enters and stops short at the spectacle) Now, you're going to find a way to get Scorpius off my back. (he uses Clavor's nose to make the Princes head nod)
Jena: (calling blithely) Have we company?
John: (to Clavor as he makes his head nod again) Your sister - she gets to marry who she wants. And you get to be king.
Jena: Clavor? (she looks over the top of the screen at John who is standing over Clavor and pinching his nose shut while the Prince shakily mouth-breathes) I'm trying to bathe.
John: Oh my - the future Mrs Valiant. We're just getting to know one another. You should get dressed. (back to Clavor) Do not try to kill me again. It makes me angry. (he makes Clavor nod)
ro-NA: Is everything all right?
John: (as he leaves) He needs a bath and a hug.
Prince Clavor: Get my mother. (ro-NA makes no move) GET MY MOTHER! (ro-NA jumps and scurries out)
(cut to soon after - Tyno is striding angrily along a palace corridor tailed by Chiana, D'Argo and John)
D'Argo: I demand better protection for him!
Tyno: You cannot assault a member of the ruling house!
John: (mildly) Well he was trying to have me killed.
Chiana: (grinning with glee at John) You bitch-slapped the tralk!
John: (in a tone that suggests he'd like her to shut up about that now...) I did, yes.
Tyno: (stopping and saying with frustration) We can find no evidence of an attack.
John: Look, the same weapon that they used on me was used to disintegrate the assailants OK?
Tyno: By a mysterious saviour you can't identify!
John: (frustrated that his story isn't being bought) I was having my ass wiped across the floor! I did not take time to-
D'Argo: (interrupting John to demand of Tyno) Are you doubting Crichton?
Chiana: Well it is a weird story.
John: (pushing Chiana towards D'Argo) You are not helping!
D'Argo: CHIANA! (she ducks aside)
Tyno: (silencing them with a firm tone) I will upgrade security. I will alert the Empress. But I will NOT accuse the Prince of treason without proof!
John: (softly) But you believe me, don't you?
Tyno: The reason your charges against the Prince will be met with scepticism is that the Empress, and by extension - the entire Royal Family - abhors personal violence. (at that moment Princess Katralla strides up behind John and taps his shoulder. He turns around and she delivers a resounding slap to his face before saying-)
Princess Katralla: Follow me. (John eyes Tyno to make sure he appreciates the irony of Katralla’s greeting and silently follows her as Chiana and D'Argo look on speechlessly)
(cut to John and Katralla as they enter a room and she slams the door shut. John has a look on his face that says 'Aw CRIPES!')
Princess Katralla: You humiliated me. (she lays another sharp slap on John's face)
John: That's enough. OK? You have made your point.
Princess Katralla: I don't think I have. Clavor went to my mother and detailed your obnoxious behavior.
John: (quietly incredulous) My obnoxious behavior?
Princess Katralla: Yes! My brother poisoned my DNA, I know - I am NOT a fool - but he would never kill anyone!
John: Well a Scarran might, they are playmates, you know that?
Princess Katralla: Look - If you don't want to marry me - just say so.
John: I already said so. Lady, we have been over this ground with a backhoe. It works for both of us - It saves my life, it saves your ass. (Katralla slaps him again)
John: (squinting from the force of that one) Okay. I did deserve that.
Princess Katralla: My mother now considers you unstable. She wants more medical tests.
John: Katralla, listen to me. Your brother sent men to kill me. Now - John cannot marry Katralla if John is not alive!
Princess Katralla: (upset but firm with her conviction) Clavor is weak. I cannot believe that he would participate in such a heinous act. That means you're lying. And if so - I can't marry you.
(Meanwhile - back on Moya, the twisting ribbon of light approaching her now looks like a missile putting out a great trail of vapor as it rockets towards, and enters her)
Pilot: Zhaan, there's no doubt, the smoke tendril has definitely invaded Moya!
Zhaan: (calling to Pilot as she moves hastily through Moya’s corridors) Where, Pilot? Which way?
Pilot: Directly above you, moving into the maintenance bay. (panting with anxiety, Zhaan lopes off in that direction)
Zhaan: (upon arriving in the bay she looks around and seeing nothing calls again -) Pilot?
Pilot: Still moving through Moya’s ducts overhead - down the wall!
Zhaan: Where? Which wall? (he makes no response and behind Zhaan a finger of vapor enters the bay and begins to expand in a white swirl) Pilot, where? (a DRD at her feet squeaks urgently and she turns around to behold the white whirlwind of vapor coalesce into a semi-corporeal being. He is constantly wreathed in swirls of smoke so only his face and upper body are visible. He is pale, humanoid in appearance and lit in brilliant white light that drains him of color. He has structures resembling a laurel wreath around his head and resembles nothing quire so much as an ancient Roman senator - or if you don't mind a little irreverence - the Little Cesar’s Pizza guy. He is Kahaynu. The DRD runs for cover and in his Den Pilot sits, speechless. Zhaan backs up and chants warily)
Kale tana nash pu ne, kale tana nash pu ne...
Kahaynu: (he speaks in a calm, cultured voice) Be calm priest. I am the ships deity, not yours.
Zhaan: Then you must be one of the ships Builders - one of those who gave Leviathans intelligence.
Kahaynu: Anybody can give a machine intelligence. (in a long low murmur-) We gave her a soul.
Zhaan: Then I welcome you aboard.
Kahaynu: I have been through Moya’s systems. She is in good health. And she has given birth.
Zhaan: To a male offspring, named Talyn.
Kahaynu: A gunship.
Pilot: (breaking in a little defensively via clamshell viewer) Not of her choosing, while held captive- (but Kahaynu isn't interested in anything Pilot has to say and causes the clamshell viewer to fizzle out)
Kahaynu: (imperiously) Pilots do not speak to Kahaynu.
Zhaan: (with slight disapproval) A capricious deity.
Kahaynu: We created these beasts as emissaries of peace.
Zhaan: Then you have succeeded Kahaynu. Moya is a gentle soul.
Kahaynu: And is able to reproduce ships that can dispense carnage. I am here to decommission Moya - to end her existence.
(cut back to the Royal Planet. Aeryn and Chiana are sitting on the shore of a bay outside the back of the palace)
Aeryn: Honestly, Chiana, as long as Crichton's all right, I don't know what else I can do.
Chiana: Go to him.
Aeryn: He's already made his decision.
Chiana: He needs us now - he needs you.
Aeryn: He needs more body guards and you said that's happening.
Chiana: Have you even told him how you feel?
Aeryn: He knows what he needs to know.
Chiana: Look Aeryn, all men are stupid, ok? Men - stupid. If you want them to know something, you gotta to tell them. (at that moment Dregon, cousin to the crown - approaches them)
Dregon: I trust I'm not disturbing you - (he crouches down next to Aeryn) - BUT - I'm planning a trip to the edge of the Barren Lands to watch the Pelkrinos migrate and thought you-
Aeryn: (cutting him off curtly) No thank you.
Dregon: I sense - unhappiness that your friend Crichton is marrying our Princess.
Aeryn: (snapping) Oh yes? And why would that make me unhappy?
Dregon: I simply offer myself as a diversion. (Aeryn snorts derisively) Besides, you never know, we could be extremely compatible. (he holds up a vial of the DNA compatibility test serum)
Aeryn: (Dregon smiles as she reaches over and takes the vial from him - but his smile fades as she pitches it with a careless flick of her wrist, into the water without taking her eyes off him. She then says patronizingly-) Now don't feel bad. It's not you - it's me. I don't like you. (and she returns her gaze to out over the water)
Dregon: Well. You certainly have made your feelings clear. (Aeryn grunts affirmatively and he leaves as Chiana watches him go, seeming to share his loss as to what to say or do)
(cut back to the Royal Palace where John and Katralla are still talking)
Princess Katralla: So now you want to marry me?
John: Well, it works for the situation.
Princess Katralla: (she comes and takes a seat next to him on a couch, her arm thrown casually ever the back of it) Look - John, I'd like to believe you. But our investigators have uncovered no trace of the events you describe.
John: What about the guard that was killed when they came after me? Where's he?
Princess Katralla: (shrugging) He could be anywhere.
John: (frustrated, he waves his hands around his head in a sarcastic gesture) Yeah, he - he's everywhere - he's in heaven. (but he freezes in mid-arm wave as he spots a basketball sized silver orb that has appeared out of nowhere and is hovering in midair a few feet away from them. It bleeps as red and blue lights flicker on its surface) Do we, do we know this?
Princess Katralla: (as she slowly removes her arm from the back of the couch and sits forward) I've never seen anything like it before.
John: (he rises slowly to approach the orb) Obi-Wan had one... except his was a lot smaller. (he touches the orb and it shoots vertically out of his reach before swooping back down to eye level again on the other side of him. It seems to be staring at them and its beeping is becoming more intense and high-pitched. Katralla makes a run for the door but funds they are trapped)
Princess Katralla: John it's locked! (she pounds at the door and calls) Hello? Can anyone hear me? HELLO? (suddenly the orb begins to emit a mist)
John: Get down! (but she continues to pound at the door and cry for help as John runs to a window and attempts to break it out. But the window is shatter-proof and Katralla begins to cough and choke as the room fills with vapor released by the orb) KATRALLA! (he leaves the window and rushes back to her where he pulls her down to the floor, below the level of the rising mist) Get down! Is there another way out?
Princess Katralla: I don't think so.
John: Just keep your face to the floor - shallow breaths. (but the gas has filled the room by now to the point where it is at floor level and they are both choking and gasping for air when Katralla looks up and sees a form moving in the thick fog)
Princess Katralla: John- (they both watch with dread as the indistinct form gets nearer - its eyes are glowing red through the mist - but then the tiny feminine voice of ro-NA is heard)
ro-NA: This way.
ro-NA: Come on! This way!
John: Katralla come on! (he pulls the Princess to her feet and they follow ro-NA)
(cut to moments later - John, Katralla and ro-NA are on the floor of a corridor outside the gassed room, catching their breaths)
Princess Katralla: (coughing) I doubted you, I'm sorry.
John: (gasping) Aw it's all right - just the burden of being right all the time.
Princess Katralla: Your word is worthy. I will marry you.
(cut to later - the Empress and Rygel are in the room where the second assassination attempt was made. They are inspecting the now inert orb. The scene picks up in the middle of their conversation)
Empress Novia: That's unacceptable Dominar Rygel. John Crichton may not leave this planet - but I will protect him.
Rygel: (with a derisive chuckle) I've noticed how efficient that is.
Empress Novia: (defensively) Security was tripled. This device was unknown to us. There was no way we could predict its application.
Rygel: You know why you couldn't? Because it's probably Scarran. The same Scarran who's in conspiracy with your son.
Empress Novia: (stung by the possible accuracy of his theory) Silence! You may once have ruled six hundred billion, but you will not besmirch my sons name!
Rygel: (in the tone of a reasonable peer) Aren't we past that Novia? You posture and deny any longer and we both lose what we want.
Empress Novia: If Crichton leaves, he will flee.
Rygel: Not - if you control the situation. Stash him somewhere. Moya's gone. He's got no where to go. At least give yourself time to identify the conspirators other than your son.
Empress Novia: (with a sigh) Are you familiar with the Jakensh race?
Rygel: The little green creature who saved Crichton and your daughter.
Empress Novia: Precisely. Her Elders Counsel sent a ship filled with wedding gifts. It orbits unattended, unnoticed.
Rygel: Excellent thinking. Do you employ a detail of guards above treason?
Empress Novia: I shall send my very own Paladins.
Rygel: I propose we tell no one. Not my shipmates, or your daughter. Let them all think that Crichton's disappeared. (he chuckles slyly)
Empress Novia: (she chuckles slyly too) Throw them off the scent. Encourage those who are intent on assassination to grow careless.
Rygel: Precisely. You are most wise, Empress. (he makes an exaggerated bow)
Empress Novia: (smiling) And you are most manipulative - Dominar.
Rygel: This - servant - you trust it?
Empress Novia: With my secrets and my life. ro-NA will not betray us.
(cut to Scorpius' palace quarters An aide is replacing one of the coolant rods that prevents Scorpius' heat-producing Scarran half from killing his heat-intolerant Sebacean half. Perhaps he has chosen to have ro-NA witness this gruesome process to intimidate her. She gapes as the gory coolant rod spins into Scorpius' head and he hands her a credit chip)
Scorpius: Something wrong?
ro-NA: (covering nervously) It's so much currency.
Scorpius: One quarter down payment for your excellent services. 3 times as much upon completion of your assignment. (he sighs with both pain and satisfaction as the rod replacement process finishes and shows ro-NA another chip) Do you know what this is?
ro-NA: (hesitantly) The - trans-sequence ident wafer?
Scorpius: Do you know what to do with it?
ro-NA: (in a tiny voice) Yes.
Scorpius: Good! (he suddenly reaches out and pulls her close to him and she squeals with terror, forcing herself to stiffly tolerate his embrace) I predict that very shortly, you'll be the wealthiest Jakensh in this part of the galaxy.
ro-NA: (squeaking) Thank you! (she snatches the ident chip out of his hand and flees the room as Scorpius looks after her with amusement)
Scorpius: Interesting creature.
Aide: Pitiful really.
Scorpius: Notify Lieutenant Braca that at the conclusion of his mission there are to be no - witnesses - left behind. (the aide bows her head in acknowledgement and leaves. Scorpius says aloud to himself with a growl-) Oh to be there when the scales fall from John Crichtons eyes...
(soon after - cut to the transport pod which our crew came to this planet on. John is aboard, accompanied by a contingent of palace guards and ro-NA)
John: (to ro-NA) I take it we are clear. You show the way.
Guard: No one following.
ro-NA: (holding out the ident chip she got from Scorpius) Dominar Rygel said you must insert this before ascending.
John: (flatly) I've already altered our trans-sequence identity code. We won't track as a Leviathan transport pod.
ro-NA: (in a rushed tone) He said it was a last minute security procedure in case we'd been compromised. I'm sorry I don't understand these things.
John: I do not like skipping out without people knowing.
ro-NA: I thought that was the point.
John: The point is to hide from my enemies, not my friends.
Guard: Your Highness, the 2 attempts on your life demand extreme security.
ro-NA: And Councilor Tyno will be looking for this new code on his tracking screen.
John: (resigned) All right. (he takes the chip and inserts it into the pods computer) Thank you. Buckle in boys and girls. (he does a humorless stewardess schtick) Emergency exits, hammond side . (to ro-NA, who is loitering bear the nav console) I'm driving. (she scuttles away and the pod ascends to join the flotilla of ships drifting over the city)
(meanwhile back out somewhere in space, Moya is proving that religion is the opiate of Leviathans as well the people)
Zhaan: (crying frantically as she barrels into Pilots Den) Pilot! You must arrest her actions! Moya cannot be doing this willingly!
Pilot: (helplessly) She is shutting her own systems down in sequence! I cannot override!
Zhaan: (calling to the great ship) MOYA! HEAR ME! Whatever this Kahaynu has done to you - it is not in your self interest! (there is no response form Moya but Kahaynu materializes to speak for himself)
Kahaynu: How egocentric. As if your way is were the only way.
Zhaan: (with passion) I am a priest. I have long ago come to terms with the idea that alien life practices alien ritual. But all life cherishes life! (we wish)
Kahaynu: Moya can produce gunships. Moya must be decommissioned. She trusts my suggestion to guide her.
Zhaan: You will never convince me that Moya is doing this willingly.
Kahaynu: Then let her do it. (he raises his hand and Moya is endowed with the ability to articulate herself to Zhaan. The voice of Moya is deep and feminine and very slow. It seems to shimmer from the very walls and atmosphere of her being. Zhaan falls to her knees in awe and sorrow)
Moya: Moyaaah... fulfilled...
Moya: Moyaaah... go... willing. Willing... Yesss... Peeeaccce...
Zhaan: (sobbing) This is an abomination. I am so filled with uncharitable rage. (the lights around her and Pilot go dark and Zhaan’s heartbreaking wail echoes throughout Moya) NNNOOOOOO! Ah! OH AAAHHHH!
(cut back to the Royal Planet where Aeryn, Chiana and D'Argo confront Rygel - things are not going as planned. As usual. Tyno is present and looking regretful as D'Argo grabs Rygel and bellows-)
D'Argo: YOU WEREN'T GOING TO TELL US JOHN WAS LEAVING THE PLANET!
Rygel: It wasn't my idea! Grab Empress Novia by the throat if you dare!
Aeryn: When did the transport pod disappear?
Tyno: Immediately after passing through our weather layer. There's been no signal from it whatsoever.
Chiana: Did it explode?
Tyno: Not that I can tell.
D'Argo: Was it commandeered?
Aeryn: Could it have landed somewhere?
Tyno: (frustrated) No!
D'Argo: This is Scorpius. I'm sure of it. (he strides out)
Aeryn: No -the Scarran- (she goes to follow D'Argo)
Chiana: (moving quickly to stop Aeryn) Hey-ey-ey! You and the Scarran - not a good idea. Remember last time? Let me try first. (she exits)
Rygel: I'll uh - be with the Empress. (Aeryn gives him a vicious jab as he leaves, he yelps and swears a little but wisely doesn't stop)
Tyno: (to Aeryn as he leaves too) I'm sorry. I know the worst is being left behind. (Aeryn eyes him as if wondering how many people are aware of what a loser she is)
(meanwhile, the transport pod. may be off everyone else’s radar - but it moves smoothly above the planet towards the Jakenshi cargo ship. Wild-looking areas of the planet pass below them as John talks to ro-NA)
John: So Is there a reason your ship is so far from the others?
ro-NA: It's an automatic cargo runner. Isolation makes it harder to find and discourages looters.
John: And why would someone want to loot an empty cargo runner?
ro-NA: Only empty of crew. It is filled with wedding presents for the Princess and yourself.
John: Presents? Nonono - you've done enough. I'm gonna talk to the Mrs, you can keep the presents. You need a toaster right?
ro-NA: (very nervous) Toaster? (muttering to herself) Toastertoastertoastertoaster - Uh - oh - I couldn't - Highness.
John: It's John. Look, I'm gonna be a statue for 80 cycles. Someone oughta use the stuff while the warranties are still good.
ro-NA: Our culture frowns on acquisition. We live to serve, not to possess.
John: So you don't own your own stuff?
ro-NA: No. To what end does possessory wealth serve?
John: Well - good question. Before I left Earth I had a lot of things that were very important to me.
ro-NA: No more?
John: I live in a converted cell. I don't have a VCR, no remote control... Damn - no Charlie Parker albums. And I do miss my '62 T-bird. (ro-NA seems to like the sound of "T-bird" and mutters it madly under her breath) But - you discover you need very little.
ro-NA: And do you miss not having these things?
John: Not really. Priorities change.
ro-NA: (sounding a bit giddy) I often wonder what I would do with wealth!
John: Well I tell you what - if there's ever anything I can do to help you find it - you let me know.
ro-NA: I shall remember those words Highness.
John: It's John.
ro-NA: (absentmindedly) Yeeesss Highness yes...
(cut back to the royal palace. Katralla is in a room in front of a mirror, fussing with her hair. Jena enters and stands a short distance away, smoothing her own hair in the mirror)
Jena: Poor Katralla. So unaware of what it takes.
Princess Katralla: To be a slut, Jenavian?
Jena: To keep a man. I heard yours ran off rather than marry you.
Princess Katralla: Somebody tried to kill him. Probably my brother. Your fiancé. What does that say about you?
Jena: (looking directly at the Princess) Honestly? That I pick winners.
Princess Katralla: You disgust me. (but before this encounter can develop into a full-scale catfight, Aeryn flies into the room and grabbing both Jena and Katralla by the back of the head shoves their faces against the mirror and holds them there where they squirm and their pretty faces are squashed into all sorts of unlovely contortions)
Aeryn: Hello ladies. I hope I'm not disturbing. ("Let go of me!" Katralla grates, "Let GO of me!" Aeryn ignores her) Now listen to me closely so that there's no misunderstanding. I don't know what game's being played on this little planet of yours, and I don't really care. What I care about is that a good friend of mine is not hurt - in any sense of the word. (Jena mutters "How DARE you!") And if he is, I will personally take revenge on both of your overly made up faces. (and with that she lets go of them and storms back out. Katralla leaves too while Jena resumes her preening)
(cut to Prince Clavor’s quarters... He is pacing the floor clutching a silky blue pillow and ranting to his Scarran puppetmaster, Cargn)
Prince Clavor: (backing up as Cargn approaches him) He came into my chambers and he AFFRONTED me b-before my fiancé!, (he punches the pillow and throws it down) I - I will have his HEAD on a POST and his-
Cargn: Silence! Your gas attack on Crichton and the Princess succeeded! He has fled! You have won!
Prince Clavor: (haughty) I assumed the gas attack was yours. I wouldn't kill my own sister.
Cargn: Then you are perhaps unworthy to be Regent. Nevertheless - this imposter to the crown is gone. Your sisters birthversary approaches in 2 solar days- (at that moment Chiana enters)
Chiana: Am I interrupting? Hey? Well of course I am. (she comes further into the room, Cargn growls and follows her movements with menace as she talks to him) Yeah. Yeah, it's so, so hard to conduct a conspiracy with out privacy. Well ask me, I should know. (she hops past Clavor, putting him between her and the Scarran)
Prince Clavor: What do you want?
Chiana: I'm a Nebari. You may have heard of us.
Cargn: Leave this room now chiiild.
Chiana: Well you also may also have heard how we can defeat full Command Carriers. Not to mention, uh, mind cleansing.
Cargn: (humoring her now) We are both impressed and daunted by your means Nebari. Continue.
Chiana: (nervous) So if anything happens to John Crichton - Expect uh - Expect retribution. (Cargn has his eyes fixed intently upon her as he makes a low snarling sound) Yeah. Retribution. (she turns and leaves, breathing softly to herself as she goes-) Frell...
Prince Clavor: What the hezmana was that all about?
Cargn: They don't know where he is either. You are going to rule.
(cut back to the pod as it docks with the Jakenshi cargo ship far above the Royal Planet. The scene shifts to John, ro-NA and the guards as they debark onto the cargo ship. An electronic auto-alert immediately blares a warning, "Invader alert! Invader alert! 20 microts to forced depressurization!")
ro-NA: Occupant lighting low. (bright lights come on revealing the interior of the ship to be - a hodgepodge of indistinct, junky hardware. Odd chirping sounds echo in the musty space. ro-NA continues in her childlike anime voice-) Reduce by half! (the lights dim and John and the guards relax)
John: Wow. This place has an interesting smell. It's not exactly a 5-star hotel is it? But at least it's off the main road. (and at that moment someone shoots one of the guards)
Second Guard: GET DOWN! (ro-NA ducks for cover amid the dim clutter and the second guard is shot down as well. John hits the deck but before he can make another move, someone is on him with a gun)
Braca: Don't. (John freezes) Oh - how disappointing you are in the flesh.
John: I get that all the time.
Braca: To think of all the energy Scorpius expended on you.
John: Yeah. I'm not crazy about it either.
Braca: (to ro-NA) Notify Scorpius as instructed. Sub-pulse shielded frequency. (then to John, who slowly gets to his feet) A little reunion is in order. Don't you think? Hm?
(cut to shortly after. John sits silently at a console, awaiting his fate and listening to the conspiracy that has undone him. They have moved to the control center of the cargo ship)
ro-NA: I've cut his transport loose. It's drifting away.
Braca: The marauder that's coming to pick us up will need to dock in its place.
ro-NA: Now where's the rest of my payment?
Braca: When Crichton is safely aboard the Command Carrier.
ro-NA: That wasn't my arrangement with Scorpius. I want my payment.
Braca: (as an electronic signal begins to beep sibilantly) Ah - that'll be him now.
John: (to ro-NA as she trots to another console near where he is seated) You do NOT get the toaster. (ro-NA stares at him and he continues, to no-one in particular) So. No-one knows where we are.
Braca: Both yours and this vessel have radically altered trans-sequence ident codes, which identify us - as derelict refuelers. (at that moment Scorpius appears via holographic comm and looks directly at Braca and John)
Scorpius: (to John) Inventive. Evasive. In custody. (to Braca) My commendations, Lieutenant Braca. See to it that our - quarry - remains secure.
ro-NA: (her fear overpowered by he greed) I want my payment.
Scorpius: But of course. Lieutenant, reward our Jakensh friend. And at the conclusion of the mission, give her something - additional. From me. (ro-NA gasps with childish pleasure at the mention of "something extra" and takes the credit chip that Braca hands her which she clutches gleefully. Scorpius continues to John again-) Your admirable associate Ka D'Argo was just here to see me. Of course since I have no idea where you are, he left feeling - well - unfulfilled.
John: Why don't you leave me alone Scorpy?
Scorpius: Because the wormhole technology locked in your brain makes you, to my knowledge, unique in the galaxy.
John: (muttering under his breath) Unique.
Scorpius: And unique, is always valuable. Yes. (he signs off comm)
John: (continuing to mutter to himself) Unique. Unique... (he reaches up and flicks at a switch on the consoles around him)
Braca: Stop! Or I will shoot you!
John: Really? (he bounds to his feet and faces Braca) You promise?
Braca: Sit down! (John ignores him) I said - sit down!
John: Or what? You're gonna shoot me?
Braca: If I have to.
John: Do me the favor! I don't think so, you know? I don't think Scorpy's gonna give you your badge of commendation if you shoot "unique."
Braca: Sit down or I'll shoot your limbs off one at a time.
John: Nononono - see - (he points from himself to Braca) Human. Sebacean. Human. Sebacean - we're different - one wound - I bleed out! (mimicking Scorpius' velvety voice) Oh! Officer Braca! What the frell happened? Hm? Hm? Hm? Hm? (he grabs the muzzle of Braca’s gun and jerks it up to his forehead, Braca looks alarmed, PKs don't deal well with crazy people and John is now yowling insanely) Fine! Let's do it then! LET'S DO THIS THING! Come on! Shoot me! Right here! Right here! Come on! (Braca struggles to get his gun away from John's head) Oh, nonono - not the brain, he wants the brain. The heart! (John yanks the muzzle of Braca’s gun down to his chest as ro-NA whimpers) Here! The heart. You should shoot me in the heart! Uuuhhh - kinda - yer left, right - (he yanks the gun back and forth ver his chest), Oh yeah! My right your left! My left your right! (Braca looks frantic, fearful now of accidentally shooting "unique" and unable to get the muzzle of his gun away from John, he even glances at ro-NA for help, but she has never seen a crazy human either and just stands there slack-jawed. John pushes the muzzle of the gun down to his crotch now and roars madly on-) Here! John Wayne Bobbit! Vienna Boys Choir! (he yodels a Tarzan-like imitation of a male soprano) OoOOoohH-waAaAAaaHhHh!
Braca: You're insane!
John: (taking the muzzle of the gun in his hand and screaming wildly at Braca) My sex life! Kill my sex life! Now! Quick! Shoot! Just shoot! (by now Braca is completely psyched out and doesn't know what to do. John takes advantage of his discombobulation to push hard on the gun, sending it and Braca sprawling. He mutters "Pussy" as he then walks over to the console near ro-NA and starts pressing buttons. The Jakensh now makes a move towards him and John spins about, holding his finger to his throat as if it were a gun and says in a gangster voice-) Get back ! Get back or da white boy gets it! (ro-NA jumps back and he whines in a patsy voice-) Man, don't let him kill me! Don't let him- (ro-NA flees and John turns back to messing with the control consoles) You people are so dumb!
Braca: (he's struggling to regain control of the situation and now aims his weapon at John again) Sit down! (this time John willingly sits - at a control console where he starts pressing buttons like a child pretending to type. The ship lurches and lights begin to flash, Braca yells at ro-NA-) What's he done?
ro-NA: I don't - don't know (she tries to see what systems John is hitting) Coolant - um - cyclic fuel generation, generators, cabling, weapons priming-
Braca: (alarmed) Weapons priming? Shut them down! (he lunges for John and manages to throw him out of the seat. John trots a short distance away and watches as Braca shouts to ro-NA) Shut the weapons down!
John: (as ro-NA wails, paralyzed with fear) OH-OH-OH! SHUT 'EM DOWN YOURSELF BRACA! SHUT 'EM DOWN YOURSELF! (the reason for the panic quickly becomes apparent. Activation of the weapons has blown the cargo ships cover and activated the automated defense system of the Royal Planet which now blares its warning over comm- "Undeclared Craft. You have engaged weaponry in a tactical free zone surrounding the Royal Planet. Power down your weapons and identify yourself immediately" As the message repeats, lights flash and ro-NA squeals John happily offers to help out by answering the planets hail signal-) EXCUSE ME - SHOULD I GET THIS?
Braca: Stay away from the comms! GET AWAY FROM THE COMMS! (he pushes ro-NA) I said get Crichton!
John: (egging on the chaos by putting on his crazy act again) Aw - maaaannn! (outside intercept ships from the planet rise and surround the cargo ship and he howls madly) WE'RE SO SCREWED MAN! WE'RE GONNA DIE! (the interceptors begin firing on the cargo ship which becomes a maelstrom of explosions, screaming and flying sparks as John whoops it up. He grabs ro-NA and carries her off, doing a little dance as he goes and pushes her against a wall. She gets the toaster after all as she is electrocuted by damaged circuitry and fries rather horribly. Braca then comes for John, perhaps thinking to grab him and make an escape, or perhaps just for revenge, but his cold PK sense of order is no match for a human who believes he's about to die and is having his last hurrah. John attacks Braca and soon overpowers him, gun or no gun)
Braca: You're insane!
John: What? You just figured that out? I thought that was common knowledge!
Braca: We have got to get out of here NOW!
John: Really? ALL RIGHT THEN! (he yanks Braca to his feet and slams him against the glass of the space door through which they had entered the ship)
Braca: Do you want us both to die?
John: You didn't think I was gonna go alone did ya? (ah but Braca isn't completely without resources - he gets hold of a space helmet bear the door and deals John a heavy blow with it, John staggers backwards)
Braca: Bye, Crichton - The ship's yours, and I've got the helmet! (he claps the helmet on and opening the airlock steps out of it and into space where he'll likely be rescued by one of the interceptor ships or the expected Marauder. He leaves John howling with frustration and alone on the damaged and dying ship. With no audience to play to the insanity is gone now and John sprints back into the control area and tries to comm the interceptor ships)
John: This is John Crichton! I'm on the ship! This is John Crichton! (but the comm panel shorts out violently and John is forced back. He stops, as if weary, and awaits death. But suddenly, a voice speaks to him and the din around him seems to fade into the distance as its calm, soothing, cadence fills his head. It is the voice of Scorpius)
Voice of Scorpius: Focus, John. Panic is unacceptable. You'll survive.
John: (whispering) No.
Voice of Scorpius: You must survive.
John: (louder) No!
Voice of Scorpius: You've come too far to die. (slowly and resolutely John picks up a gun and walks back to the space door, almost as if he is in a trance)
John: (he pauses in front of the door and says feverishly-) Never get off the boat. Never get off the boat, man! (and with that he hits the door release and with a wail he is sucked out into the vacuum of space as the cargo ship continues to break up. As he tumbles head over heels he pulls the trigger of the gun which acts to propel him a little at a time towards Moya’s transport pod which is still adrift and open to space nearby. With a mighty explosion the Jakenshi cargo ship explodes and the shock wave hurls him the last few yards. He pulls himself across the surface of the pod and in, where he manages to hit the control to repressurize it. He collapses onto the floor of the pod, skin blue and mouth agape as he struggles to breath. When breath finally comes he exhales in a long, agonized scream of pain and despair)
(cut back to Moya. Zhaan is walking the dark corridors of Moya with a flashlight and she is furious)
Zhaan: KAHAYNU! PRESENT YOURSELF! KAHAYNU? I WILL SPEAK WITH YOU NOW! (Kahaynu materializes behind her)
Kahaynu: The spirit of the warrior resides in your priestliness.
Zhaan: (turning to face him) The spirit of an executioner within yours.
Kahaynu: Pointless recrimination. Is there anything else you wish?
Zhaan: As a symbiotic part of Moya, Pilot is trapped. Build him a new ship so he - he does not perish needlessly.
Kahaynu: We are not prepared to do more than we have. I should say goodbye - before it is too late.
Zhaan: This is wrong. I will not allow this! (she charges Kahaynu but he swirls into insubstantial mist and she passes right through the spot where he stood. He then rematerializes and looks back at her over his shoulder with a slight smile on his face)
(cut back to the Royal Planet. John has made his way back and is laying on a couch in a dim palace room with an oxygen mask over his face. He looks exhausted. D'Argo enters)
D'Argo: I've uh, spoken to the Empress John. She's not going to do anything.
John: 3 near death experiences in a day and she's going to do nothing.
D'Argo: The Empress has put Scorpius on notice. The Scarran too. Her son. Everyone. Security is so tight that last night they burst into my room just as Chiana was, ah - screaming...
John: (sitting up and taking off the oxygen mask) I'm tired of this.
D'Argo: It's all politics John. As a neutral, powerful kingdom, they expel someone during coronation it will have negative consequences which will ripple outwards.
John: You know you're starting to sound like an old history professor.
D'Argo: (grudgingly) Rygel's been very... excellent at teaching me.
John: So nothing's changed. Options?
D'Argo: You could run as you did before. Or you could submit. Stay here. Either way, I'll back whatever you do. (Aeryn has come to the doorway of the room and is standing there listening. John silently acknowledges D’Argo’s support with a Guy Friendship Punch and the Luxan gets up to leave so Aeryn can come in)
Aeryn: I'm very proud of you.
Aeryn: (as she sits next to him) Yes.
Aeryn: Being Crichton. The Crichton I always knew.
John: Yeah? (Aeryn makes an affirmative sound) Getting my ass kicked all over the universe.
Aeryn: For getting yourself into a position to get your ass kicked fighting. Resisting. Never giving up.
John: (sounding sad and tired) Aeryn, is there a way off this planet? Have you convinced Scorpius to stop chasing me? The Empress, is she no longer intent on her daughter being heir to the throne?
Aeryn: Those are not good reasons for getting married.
John: (louder, bitterly) Oh I know, bigger picture. Let's say that the idiot son inherits the throne. He starts wars. He makes bad alliances. Millions of people die. (he mumbles softly) 80 cycles. It's not that long of a time.
Aeryn: (angry) Oh, so you've rationalized this all out have you?
John: Aeryn I'm tired. What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do when there's no fight left?
Aeryn: You run away.
John: (he touches her hair) With you?
Aeryn: (after a moments pause -) With all of us together. (he touches her hair a moment longer before slowly laying back down on the couch) What? You can't just quit!
John: I'm not quitting. I just can't go on.
Aeryn: Was I wrong? You're no longer the Crichton I knew? (but sometimes a challenge is not a productive thing and John makes no response so she turns and leaves the room, angry)
(cut to soon after - Aeryn passes Dregon at a tailors stall being fitted with a red formal jacket. She stops by him)
Aeryn: I'm exploring the Barren Lands. If you think you can keep up. (Dregon chortles and tossing the jacket to the tailor he gives the man a gleeful smooch and jogs off after Aeryn. We realize the women of the planet are vapid. but what they see in Miss Empathy here we sometimes wonder...)
Back in John's darkened room, he lays curled into a tight ball on his bed. But he is restless with the inescapable dread of his situation. He sits up on the edge of the bed and desolate, buries his face in his hands.
(cut back to Moya where Zhaan stands next to Pilot in the darkness of his Den. She is stroking his face as he sits dying, her cheek pressed against his)
Pilot: (his voice is soft and weak, like a sick child falling asleep) Moya has slipped from my consciousness. She is gone... and I am shortly to follow. (Zhaan takes a deep shaky breath and Pilot moves to comfort her by laying one great claw gently on her shoulder and neck) Don't feel sad. Our lives were good. Moya is right - we are - fulfilled.
Zhaan: Pilot, it has been a pleasure.
Pilot: I am ready now. I have seen the stars... (Zhaan kisses his forehead and he sighs as he seems to slip into unconsciousness)
(meanwhile back on the Royal Planet the joyous nups of John and Katralla are about to get underway at last. The various invitees are assembling in a large chamber in the palace. There is no music. In fact the quiet is positively funereal. John enters as unceremoniously as any ordinary guest and seeing Prince Clavor standing there looking sour in his red formal wear, takes special care to make him feel welcome)
John: Hey bro. Glad to see you could make it. (Clavor gives him a resentful glare and walks away. He is replaced by Jena, who's looking glamorously grim in a silver tiara)
Jena: (she offers a quick mazeltov that sounds more like a condolence) Much fortune. (and she quickly steps away. John starts to cross the room amid the hushed tones of his wedding guests. The Empress stands at the far end. Scorpius approaches him)
Scorpius: You're ah - making a mistake Crichton.
John: (stopping) Oh, I don't think so, Scorpy. I had one request for a wedding present; that you be banned from this planet forever. You know what they said? (he looks directly at Scorpius) 'Yes, Your Highness.'
Scorpius: (ever inscrutable. he bobs his head and looks down as if embarrassed and says-) Oh.
Now John's attention is attracted by a few soft tones and Katralla enters the room on the arm of an older man. Both are dressed in rich red robes and the crowd parts as they cross the floor to where John stands near the Empress. As Katralla and the man advance the guests, including Tyno and Scorpius are obliged to drop to one knee in obeisance to her. John makes to do the same as she nears him, but the Empress stops him.
Empress Novia: Not you. (he straightens and stands at the Empress' right while he watches Princess Katralla be led by the man around the room where she touches the hands of the attendees and the Empress proceeds to officiate the marriage) In the presence of the Spirit of all who have sacrificed so that we may rule ourselves in peace, I call public the joining of my daughter and her betrothed in the sacred ceremony that shall ensure compassionate governance and harmony. Should any one among you feel cause to sway the will of love. To question the ability, the sincerity, or the destiny of this union, rise now, and be heard. (Princess Katralla comes to stand on the Empress' left and there is a long pause. No-one says a peep although there are a lot of disappointed, pained and wary facial expressions among the gathering) With your silence as benediction, I invite you to now rise and witness the crux of power pass from one generation to the next. (to John and Katralla) You will now be wed. (she steps away from between them and tosses Scorpius a smug smile . Scorpius growls silently. Meanwhile, John, who looks dubious to say the least, has his hand loosely bound to Katralla’s with a red silky ribbon before facing the Empress for their vows. The scene fast-forwards to the final pronouncement) It is more obligation than honour. You are not only responsible for each other but for the lives of your subjects. Do you accept this burden in matrimony?
Princess Katralla: (as she gazes at John) Without hesitation.
John: (as he stares dully at the Empress) Without hesitation.
Empress Novia: (she removes the red ribbon from their hands) As Reigning Monarch, it gives me great pleasure to formally introduce our Successors - the future Empress and Regent of this great and peaceful civilization - Katralla! And John.
Rygel: (also in formal red and quite possibly the only guest who enjoyed this, mutters to himself) Oh magnificent! I smell power again! (meanwhile Katralla kisses her groom lightly on the lips - when he doesn't seem to reciprocate she whispers into his ear-)
Princess Katralla: Pieces of different kindling often build the strongest fire. (John cocks his head dubiously as Katralla turns to embrace the Empress)
Thank you. (she then goes to embrace her guests and John walks over to Chiana and D'Argo)
Chiana: (looking better than Rygel in formal red, she tries to be upbeat) Hey - you were great! (John ignores her)
John: Where was she D'Argo?
D'Argo: You must forget about Aeryn, John.
John: (he hands them a small datachip) I recorded some messages - um - Zhaan, Pilot and Aeryn.
Chiana: Yeah, I'll make sure they get them.
Chiana: Yeah - I love you. (she hugs John)
John: (smiling with the sort of pleasure one would have hoped he felt at his embrace with Katralla) I know.
D'Argo: (awkward with his emotions and joking, also trying to be upbeat) All right, all right! Enough with the kissing and the cuddling! (and at that moment they are interrupted by Princess Katralla who has now mounted a pedestal over which arches the open framework of a machine similar to the one that created projections of John and Katralla’s future child)
Princess Katralla: (she calls across the room to him) John! I will stand beside you for 80 cycles with love in my heart, and long for the day when we may revive. (John nods and smiles tightly and with that Princess Katralla raises her chin in a regal pose and the machine is activated. A beam of light engulfs her and she hardens into a dark blueish-grey statue as the wedding guests applaud)
John: (softly) Whoa. (he eyes D'Argo, who just echoes)
Tyno: (he's standing behind John and says to him) It's calibrated only for Sebaceans. Endure the pain. But rule wisely. (he pats John shoulder and leaves. John gazes after him for a moment and then tubs his temples with one hand as if he's just developed a splitting headache)
D'Argo: The time has come for farewells my friend.
John: (in no mood for lugubrious farewells, he starts toward the machine) Aw - this is not happening - just feel free to wake me up any time D'Argo.
D'Argo: (following him) Well now I can only speak truth. And that comes as good and bad news.
John: (he turns to face D'Argo as he steps up onto the pedestal next to Katralla) All right. Give me the bad news first.
D'Argo: The bad news is that you're married, and must endure as a statue for 80 cycles in a strange world.
John: What's the good news.
D'Argo: Chiana and I are having fantastic sex.
John looks at D'Argo in disbelief for a moment before starting to laugh. He and D'Argo continue to laugh and John throws up his arms is a whoop at the moment the statue-making machine is activated. The whoop becomes a scream of agony as he is forced to his knees by the merciless light of the machine. He is frozen like that, in blue-grey, next to the serene Princess. On his knees, one arm raised as if to shield himself, his face contorted with pain.
The wedding guests clap politely. D'Argo stops laughing and sighs sadly.
TO BE CONTINUED