The episode opens with John leaning on a control console in Moya’s Command and staring out her main view port. He looks like hes been doing this for a long time. What he is gazing so intently at is the swirling golden mist through which Moya is traveling - it obscures even the stars. DArgo enters and comes up alongside him.
John: Nothing. (he accepts a drink D'Argo has brought for him) Thanks. There's no sign of her anywhere on Moya’s sensors. Of course, we can't see more than 300 metras in this stuff. It's thicker than pea soup.
Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den as he says via comm) Crichton, Moya's never traveled in a stellar mist as compressed as this. I'm having trouble accelerating and navigating. Perhaps Aeryn's experiencing similar difficulties out there in the transport pod.
D'Argo: Let's hope that's all it is Pilot.
(cut to a figure standing alone near the back of the Command. It is Stark, the man of the Banik slave race who John shared a cell and the Aurora Chair with back on Scorpius Gammak Base. He had escaped with John and the crew of Moya but then struck off on his own - till now. Zhaan enters the Command and spots him)
Zhaan: Stark? (she is pleased to see him) Stark - is that you? I never thought we'd see you again. I was meditating, when did you come aboard?
Stark: (smiling back at her) Almost 2 solar days ago. I finally returned the transport pod you lent me after we escaped from the Gammak Base. (he looks around quickly before continuing in a low tone) I'm glad you woke. I must talk to you privately. I have something important to tell you.
Rygel: (hes sitting nearby and notes Zhaan’s arrival) Ah - What are you doing out here Zhaan? I thought you were locked in your chamber, meditating.
Zhaan: (she leaves Stark and walks over to D'Argo and John) I was. But I woke early from my time with the Goddess.
D'Argo: (indicating the heavy mist outside the view port) Aeryn went out into that and we haven't heard from her since. Perhaps you sensed the danger and that's what woke you.
Zhaan: How long's she been gone?
John: One solar day. Thought we'd hide in this fog - or whatever it is - from the Peacekeepers. Aeryn went on long-range recon and she hasn't come back yet.
Zhaan: No signal from her?
John: Nothing. (but at that moment - something)
Aeryn: (via comm, the signal is wobbly) Moya, is that you?
D'Argo: (relieved) Aeryn! Where the hezmana have you been?
Aeryn: (she sounds tired) D'Argo - I'll come on board now if that's all right.
John: (excited and relieved) Yeah! We've been looking for you! (but the comm signal has gone to static) Aeryn? Aeryn? Pilot - I've lost the transmission!
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he responds) I'm locked on her position, but - some kind of opening is forming in the mist. I can see a planet below us now. (cut to a view of Moya rolling in the thick golden mist as one of her pods moves in to dock. Then cut to the transport hangar - the whole crew has assembled to welcome their wayward shipmate home. The inner doors of the hangar open as the pod steps extend. The crew stare at the pod itself, which looks battered and tarnished)
Rygel: What did Aeryn do to it?
Chiana: (under her breath) Frell!
Rygel: Looks like she's been in some kind of - battle.
Chiana: I told you. I told you she shouldn't have gone out in the mist. (theres a moment of silence as the pod sits there and the crew waits expectantly - but Aeryn does not emerge)
D'Argo: Why isn't she coming out?
John: D'Argo - (he turns towards the Luxan and raises a hand. DArgo obliges instinctively by tossing him, a gun. John then jogs quickly to the pod and up its steps with Zhaan close behind him. But upon entering the pod hey stop and stare. Its interior is almost completely overgrown with thick vines) Whoa - What the hell-?
Zhaan: (glancing at the jungle-like growth) This is Zeccan leaf.
John: Yeah, so?
Zhaan: (perplexed) I gave Aeryn a plant before - before I started my meditation. She said she was suffering from head pains. Chewing Zeccan leaf provides a potent neurogesic effect.
John: You don't think maybe this is overkill for a headache?
Zhaan: Well - No, no - the plant I gave her was this tiny. (she indicates its small size with her hands)
John: (whispering) Blue! Over here. (they move through the vegetation towards a figure John has spotted laying on the floor, he reaches out to touch it-) Hey - (the figure on the floor startles at his touch and pulls away before turning over and sitting up. It is Aeryn. She is wearing a long, homespun dress and a shawl over her hair - which is gray and frazzled. Her face is deeply lined with age as she looks up at him)
Aeryn: (urgently) John - John you have to get out of here. You have to get out now!
(cut to later. Aeryn has been moved to the medlab. She is sitting on an exam table, John is close beside her. She seems disoriented and anxious. Zhaan stands nearby watching)
Aeryn: (fretful) How long -how-how how long have I been here?
John: Not long. Maybe an arn.
Aeryn: An arn?
Aeryn: (agitated, she tries to get up and leave) The mist - the opening - it goes. I have to get back to the planet. My granddaughter's waiting for me. (John tries to sooth and gently restrain her but her voice raises with anxiety) Ennixx can't survive without my transport pod!
John: Aeryn - sshh -
Aeryn: There's no other way off the planet! (she resists John's attempts to calm her. She sounds close to tears) No. I - NO! I only came back to warn you to get out of the mist as soon as possible! While you still can!
John: Aeryn -
Aeryn: (fending him off) No!
John: (gently) Aeryn! No. Stop it, stop it. You cannot - have - a family - a granddaughter. You've only been gone for one - solar - day.
Aeryn: (bitterly, tearfully) One day? (John affirms) Mm-hm.
John: (trying to reassure his clearly delirious friend) Look, you're wearing the locket. The locket that Chiana: gave you. The one that says, "Sorry I smashed your Prowler." The one she stole from the last commerce planet we were on.
Aeryn: (all weepy) She stole it? (John confirms this regretfully) She told me she bought it!
John: Well, that's Chi...
Aeryn: (her agitation increasing again) Look, if I've only been gone one solar day, then why am I so old? Why- Oh why-why? Everything I've lived, my memories, everything -
John: (raising his voice to make her listen to him) Aeryn - Aeryn, we don't know. We're trying to find that out. Maybe - maybe your mind created the memories to compensate for your body getting old.
Aeryn: (with the nostalgic despair of the elderly) Look at you... I'd forgotten how beautiful you were. You're so young. (she lays her hand on his shoulder and neck before removing it and pointing at him with annoyance as she sobs) I'd also forgotten how wrong you could be! If I've only been away for one solar day, how did this locket here get so old?
John: Aeryn! it's an antique locket!
Aeryn: (insist ant) I don't care what any of you say. I have lived for a 165 cycles! I have had 3 sons and watched them die and I have a granddaughter -
Zhaan: Aeryn, stop-
Aeryn: - who will die if I don't get to her!
John: Aeryn! Aeryn! (he and Zhaan struggle to restrain and calm the sobbing, aged Aeryn as Stark enters)
Stark: May I?
Zhaan: (to Stark) Please.
John: (to Aeryn as he makes her lay down and she fights him feebly) No! Stop - stop it!
Aeryn: (wailing hysterically, slapping at his hands) No! Please! Get your hands away from me! (and while John tries unsuccessfully to sooth her Stark leans over her and lifts back the metal mask that covers half his face. Soft golden light illuminates her contorted face)
Stark: (murmuring gently) There. Take my thoughts. There... Can you feel it? (Aeryn nods as she begins to relax and the tears let up)
John: (to Aeryn) Shh. (to Stark) Thank you. (to Zhaan) Zhaan - (he moves aside and Zhaan follows. They speak in hushed tomes) Do you have any idea what's happened to her?
Zhaan: Not as yet. I know it is Aeryn. Same DNA, same blood composition, same scars. By my best calculation, she has aged 160 cycles.
John: In one day?
Zhaan: I've heard of rapid aging, but - nothing this fast.
John: Is it reversible?
Zhaan: It's unlikely.
(cut to soon after. Pilot is at work in his Den trying to pinpoint what might have caused the hyperentropy of Aeryn and the pod. John, who is in the command with Chiana, talks to him via comm. The scene shifts between the Den and the Command as they speak)
John: Pilot -
John: Have you got anything yet?
Pilot: I've been analyzing the stellar mist. It seems to be contracting more, but Moya’s sensors don't find any toxins in it that might have caused Aeryn to age like this.
John: Have you analyzed the planet?
Pilot: Yes. It's atmosphere is acidic and barely life-sustainable.
John: Could Aeryn have survived there for 160 cycles?
Pilot: No. She wouldn't have survived - one.
(cut to later as Chiana and Rygel cautiously enter the transport pod-turned-terrarium that Aeryn flew home)
Chiana: (with breathless awe as she surveys the dense plant growth) Would you look at this frelling place?
Rygel: (unimpressed) Fascinating. What are we doing here?
Chiana: ((slyly) We're just seeing if Aeryn came back with anything.
Rygel: But why? She's only been gone a solar day. You don't believe that other yotz, do you?
Chiana: (as she pokes around) No. But she still mighta come back with something - interesting.
Rygel: Are you going to steal it?
Chiana: 'Course not!
Rygel: (laughing) You're worse than me. I like that. (but at that moment their snooping is interrupted by DArgos entry, Chiana ducks for cover and he spots Rygel)
D'Argo: What are you doing in here?
Rygel: (disingenuous) Nothing. We're looking for -clues - to see if we can find out how this terrible, terrible thing happened to Aeryn. (DArgo doesnt even dignify this with comment. His arm flashes out and he pinches Rygel’s mouth shut while he says with quiet weariness)
Chiana: (she knows shes bagged and peeks innocently out from her hiding place) Yeah?
D'Argo: There is no dignity in what you are doing. Zhaan would like someone to look after Aeryn. Would you do that please?
Chiana: (clearly reluctant to be saddled with baby-sitting grandma) Well you know Aeryn - why don't you watch her?
D'Argo: (reproachfully) Chiana...
Chiana: (petulant) Oh, frell! I don't see why it's always gotta be me. I mean, why do you always get the girls -
D'Argo: (bellowing impatiently) JUST DO IT! (then softer and sadly) She may be dying.
(cut to soon after. Chiana has taken up watch at Aeryn’s bedside in the medlab. Aeryn is asleep and Chiana watches her with intent wonder and caresses her softly. Suddenly Aeryn startles awake, coughing feebly)
Chiana: Hey - I didn't mean to wake you.
Aeryn: (smiling up at her) Hi Chiana. (coughing some more) Would you help me sit up?
Chiana: Sure. (and she does) Is that okay? (Aeryn affirms and Chiana makes a comforting sound)
Aeryn: There's some water over there. (Chiana turns to get it for her and Aeryn takes the chance to plunge a hypo into the Nebari woman’s neck. Chiana gasps and struggles against the drug as Aeryn catches her) Shh! I'm sorry! Don't make a sound Chiana! (Chiana continues to try and scream but slowly quiets down as the drug takes its effect) No - no - no - shh! I'm sorry Chiana. That's it - that's it. I'm sorry. It's just I don't have much time. And neither do you - sshh...
(cut to soon after as Aeryn enters Pilots Den. She stands by the edge of his Console and he gazes at her, shocked by her appearance - which would be less shocking if she werent wearing her hair like Grandmama Addams)
Pilot: (with gentle concern) Aeryn! What happened to you?
Aeryn: I lived Pilot. If you don't believe me, you still must convince the others to stay out of the mist. (she smiles at him) I'm glad I got another chance to see you one last time my friend.
Pilot: (with the innocence of a child who fundamentally doesnt understand what is happening) What do you mean? I'll see you - again.
Aeryn: No, you won't. Good-bye.
(cut to a view of Moya in as a transport pod clears her and accelerates away. Cut to her Command as DArgo enters. John is already there, sitting at a control console and looking blank. The scene shifts between Pilot and the others as they speak via comm)
D'Argo: (angry) Pilot! You let her leave?
Pilot: (defensively) She asked me not to alert you. (primly) You're all free to come and go.
John: Are you certain this mist is harmless?
Pilot: (uncertain) It - seems to be. Yes. (Pilot! WHAT were some of Aeryn’s LAST words to you??)
John: And if I go down to the planet, I'm not going to age 200 cycles, right?
Pilot: Moya has not sensed anything on the planet to cause the accelerated aging we observed in Aeryn. (and without another word, John rises and makes to leave the Command, but DArgo stops his with a verbal protest)
D'Argo: John! We do not know what made Aeryn grow old!
John: She will die if I don't go! I'm gonna go get her, pick her up, bring her back. I'll be on the surface 30 microts - max. Worst case scenario? I age a couple years.
(cut to soon after as a second transport pod accelerates away from Moya. It passes through a clearing in the mist and towards a dull yellow planet. Cut to the surface of the planet as John quickly exits the pod. The sky is blue but the landscape is a dun-colored, windswept desert. Visibility in the blowing dust is limited to a few yards as John calls over the howling wind-)
John: AERYN! AERYN! (squinting against the wind and glare, he makes out a hooded figure approaching - bearing a pulse gun. It is Aeryn) Aeryn! I'VE COME TO TAKE YOU BACK TO MOYA!
Aeryn: (shouting back at him in a creaky voice) GO BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
John: I'M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT YOU! AERYN - LOOK AROUND YOU. IS THIS WHERE YOU LIVED FOR THE LAST 160 CYCLES? YOU COULD NOT HAVE LIVED HERE!
Aeryn: I DIDN'T LIVE HERE. I LIVED ON ANOTHER PLANET. ANOTHER PLACE.
John: AERYN THERE'S NOBODY HERE. NO ONE. THERE'S NOTHING.
Aeryn: YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. NOW PLEASE, JUST GO! (but they have edged close enough to each other for John to make a grab at her now)
John: AERYN! NO! COME BACK WITH ME TO MOYA!
Aeryn: (fighting him) Stop it. Go.
John: Aeryn - (she loses her balance as they struggle and goes sprawling to the ground in a faint) - Whoa! (he reaches down to help her and at that moment a warning shot glances off a rock only a few feet from where hes standing. He grabs Aeryn’s gun and whirls to face a young woman. Like Aeryn, she is clad in homespun fabric, her clothing is long and loose and a shawl is wrapped around her head. Shes holding a gun on John. Her name is Ennixx)
Ennixx: Put the rifle down! NOW! (John complies)
You touch my grandmother again, and I will kill you.
(she moves to Aeryn’s side as John stands there with his hands raised and looking perplexed)
John: Wait a minute, you're Aeryn's granddaughter?
Ennixx: Of course! Who the frell are you?
John: I'm John Crichton.
Ennixx: (looking up at him - surprised) You're Crichton?
John: (he slowly crouches down next to her and Aeryn. Even at close range they must speak loudly to be heard over the wind ) Yeah.
Ennixx: Huh. She wasn't making it all up. You're real. All her life, grandmothers talked about you. About ah - a ship.
Ennixx: Yeah. Everyone - my father, her own son - thought she was crazy. She kept returning to this -bulla-forsaken hellhole every cycle, checking to see if you'd come back.
John: She's only been gone for one solar day.
Ennixx: (scoffing) A day? I'm 24 cycles old. I'm her granddaughter.
John: Well I saw her yesterday. (on the ground. Aeryn begins to come to with a cough. Ennixx quickly turns her attention to her)
Ennixx: It's all right nana.
Ennixx: I'm here.
Aeryn: John? Go! Leave!
John: No! I came to take you back.
Aeryn: (urgently, as Ennixx helps her up) But the opening only lasts for 4 arns! It goes away! You have to go! Now!
John: I'm not gonna leave you!
Aeryn: (as Ennixx starts to help her away) I'm trying to save you! If you don't go, you'll get trapped for 55 cycles. Trapped like I was!
John: (he walks along, supporting Aeryn opposite Ennixx, frustrated) Aeryn what the hell is going ON?
Aeryn: Crichton, go back to Moya. If you want to, come back in 8 arns when the opening reappears. Come back down and you will find me then, but you must go now or you will be trapped!
John: (he stops by his pod and shouts after her-) 8 arns! BE HERE!
(cut back to Moya where Chiana and DArgo sit in the medlab. Chiana has regained consciousness and is holding her head)
D'Argo: How's your head?
Chiana: (annoyed) Like I've been kicked by a systic. (a little bewildered) Why did Aeryn spike me?
D'Argo: Chiana... I didn't want to embarrass you in front of Rygel on the transport pod, but...
Chiana: (smiling) You could never embarrass me.
D'Argo: (gently) Maybe not. But you're one of us now. There's no need for you to act like you're not.
Chiana: (defensive) D'Argo - I always do what I want, okay? I don't know why. It's just the way I am.
D'Argo: I understand that, but -
Chiana: Yeah, but you're not gonna change me!
D'Argo: I'm only just beginning to realize that.
Chiana: You're pretty straight, huh?
D'Argo: Yes. I am.
Chiana: We're not gonna make it. Are we? (DArgo makes no response but to stare pensively into space)
Zhaan: (breaking in via comm) D'Argo, you'd better get up here. John's on his way back. (DArgo exits)
(cut to soon after. John is in his transport pod. Stark and Zhaan are on Moya’s Command. Pilot in his Den of course. The scene shifts between the crew in these locations as they speak via comm)
John: Aeryn was telling the truth, or part of it. She had some kind of life down there. I met her granddaughter.
Zhaan: (sotto voce to Stark) Granddaughter?
John: Yeah, she said she had to stay. She had to get back through the opening in the mist before it - (suddenly the pod is tossed by a sharp jolt) - WHOA! Man! You guys feel that up there? (back on Moya DArgo enters the Command)
Pilot: (urgently) Crichton! Moya’s sensors indicate that the opening in the mist seems to be closing.
John: Estimated time to the hole - 15 microts. (the pod is roughly bumped by more turbulence and his comm signal becomes staticky) Man! Holding this thing together is a bitch!
D'Argo: John! You're breaking up! (John replies but his voice is completely garbled by interference)
Pilot: Crichton! The planet is disappearing from Moya’s sensors!
D'Argo: Pilot! What's happening?
Pilot: (ignoring the question with a more important observation) I don't think the transport pod will be able to survive entry.
D'Argo: (urgently) John! You have to break entry! Break entry now!
John: (cut to him in the pod) Aw that's okay. I can hold this thing together- (but back on Moya, DArgo hears only static)
D'Argo: John! John can you hear me? (no response) Pilot what's happening? PILOT!
Outside, on the other side of the golden mist, John hurtles towards Moya who can be seen through an opening in it that is rapidly dilating shut. His eyes are fixed upon Moya as he wills the pod forward saying - "Gonna make it. Gonna make it. Entering the mist - Now." But as he does, the mist swirls away like eater down a drain and John is left alone in dark space, Moya nowhere in sight. The pod slows and he hails his shipmates - "Pilot? Pilot? D'Argo!" But there is no response. They are gone.
(cut to later. Back on Moya, Zhaan has retired to her quarters where she sits naked, in quiet meditation. Stark stands outside the door to her room)
Stark: Are you in prayer for Crichton?
Zhaan: (she makes a ritualized movement of her hands as she says, without opening her eyes) Yes. And Aeryn. (Stark takes the liberty of opening the cell door and scurries in)
Stark: Zhaan - (he's carrying a cup, but sets it down when she ignores him and positions himself right in front of her where he bends down to the level of her face) I've thought of something we might try to attempt to discover what's happened to them.
Zhaan: (she opens her eyes but remains unselfconsciously naked before him) Tell me.
Stark: (earnestly) An Ancient named Delik theorized about what he called Center Halos. He believed that scattered throughout the universe, were mists where all dimensions met and where time ceased to exist.
Zhaan: (softly, willing to believe) What? Do you think that Moya is caught in one of these Center Halos?
Stark: I thought - if you and I joined spirits...
Zhaan: (surprised) Joined with you? What would that do?
Stark: I've been told that Delvians, during a mind link, can sense the time continuum.
Zhaan: Yes, that is what we strive for, but - few have achieved it.
Stark: I thought that maybe together we could catch a glimpse and see if there's a void in the time continuum around Moya, see if no time exists in the mist.
Zhaan: (acknowledging him as her superior in spiritual matters) But, if I join spirits with you, your mind might overpower mine.
Stark: It is possible. (she smiles and rises from her meditation, pulling a robe around herself. She takes up a position in front of him and raises her hands to his face, as she would during Unity)
Zhaan: Like so?
Stark: I will lead you. (he takes her hands and presses them, palms together, between his own, and they bend their heads towards each other till their foreheads touch. Almost at once, intense white light begins to emanate form that point and they grimace with the intensity of the experience. The cup Stark brought into the room shudders and tips over - but the liquid within stops in midair for a long moment as they continue their joining of spirit. Starks mouth gapes and Zhaan’s teeth clench. Then Zhaan breaks the bond by pushing Stark away and the cup and liquid fall to the floor as they stare at each other)
Pilot: (breaking on via comm, then cut to him in his Den as he cries with urgent wonder) Zhaan! What just happened? Moya’s readings just went all over the scale and then everything froze! I couldn't move! Did you feel it?
Zhaan: (furrowing her brow as she pants and stares at Stark) Yes, Pilot. We felt it.
(cut to a bucolic setting on a strange planet. Birds twitter among Earthlike trees and meadows. The sky is blue - and dominated by the huge bulk of the desert planet that John found Aeryn on earlier. But on this planet, Aeryn, still a woman of many years, and Ennixx, are planting saplings in the meadow. Some distance away, a man stands on the green grass, under the spreading branches and great boles of some oak-like trees)
Ennixx: (as she looks at the man) What happened to him nana?
Aeryn: Oh, Crichton. He was happy for a few cycles there too. Something must have reminded him - (Ennixx helps her to rise from the squat she had been in to do the planting) - thank you - of his past. I still think about it sometimes - Moya...
Ennixx: You've never been as sad as him.
Aeryn: Well perhaps I hide it better.
Ennixx: (as she and Aeryn squat to plant another sapling) Will he ever be over it? I've done all I can. We took him from the barren planet. Showed him our favored world.
Aeryn: I know you've tried. We've all tried, But Crichton was always stubborn.
Ennixx: Why are those from the outside always so unhappy?
Aeryn: Because we weren't born here. This is your home. Not ours. Give Crichton a few more cycles. He'll come around.
(cut to cycles later on the same bucolic planet. John is walking among fine trees in a park like setting. He is much aged. His hair is mousey and his eyebrows need clipping. He's dressed in the same sort of homespun fabric that Aeryn is. His American Southern accent has reasserted itself with a vengeance in his old age as he talks to his companion - Scorpius/Harvey)
John: You kin rack awff! Ah'm gonna do what Ah wanna do!
Scorpius/Harvey: (insistently reasonable, as if he's talking to a child and that somehow his needs are going to appeal to John) No, Crichton, no! I need the wormhole knowledge that you have locked in your brain!
John: (with a triumphant cackle) That's great, Scorpy. You ain't never gonna get that. Ah'm dyin'. Ah'm dyin' right here on this planet an' you ain't never gonna get what's in mah head.
Ennixx: (approaching) Still talking to those visions in your head?
John: Sure. Yeah, Yeah. Yeah, he's bitchin' agin. (Ennixx chuckles a little) A'right - He's gawn. Bastard. (quietly, to himself as he looks up at sky) Wonder if he's still looking fer me. Oh, well.
(cut back to Moya, where fewer than 8 arns have passed and the remaining crew gather to discuss the situation)
Zhaan: Stark has developed a theory. He believes it's possible that Aeryn was telling the truth. She has in fact lived for 160 cycles.
Rygel: (dismissive) Aw yotz! Have you been drinking fellip juice?
Stark: Now when Zhaan and I joined an arn ago, did any of you experience anything unusual?
Chiana: Well yeah. That was you guys?
Stark: And Rygel, did you experience anything unusual?
Rygel: My thronesled stopped. Huh. I froze in mid-air for a microt.
Stark: And you were still conscious?
Zhaan: Stark believes that Moya is trapped in what is known as Center Halo, where time does not exist at all. We believe when we joined for a moment, we all experienced this absence of time in the mist.
Stark: You see, it's possible that Aeryn aged normally down there on the planet.
D'Argo: So it's us. (Stark nods) It's us who are not growing old.
Rygel: (rot and nonsense!) I don't believe it!
Chiana: (a bit taken with the idea in spite of herself) You gotta be frelling with me!
D'Argo: (showing his fine sense of hell) So this means everyone we know - Crais, Scorpius:, my son - they're all old now?
Stark: Yes. It is believed that nothing ages in a Halo, and eventually it hardens, and everything inside is trapped without time forever.
D'Argo: (alarmed) Pilot says the mist is hardening now!
Chiana: (perhaps freaked by the "forever" part of this) Well then let's go! Let's get out of here!
D'Argo: Pilot! How long until the planet is due to reappear?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den) If what Aeryn outlined still holds, the opening will reform in the mist in less than one arn.
(cut back to the bucolic planet. John is strolling through a forest of tall trees. There's no undergrowth and the ground is park like, level and carpeted in short grass. He's singing loudly to himself. More years have passed as he approaches Aeryn)
John: I'll go no more a-roving with you, fair maid/ A-roving, a-roving , since roving's been my rue-eye-inn I'll go no more a'roving - (he stops his song and comments to Aeryn about the trees) These have grown.
Aeryn: (she's sitting and doing some sort of tree-related work) Yes. It seems like yesterday when we planted them.
Aeryn: How's your knee?
John: Oh, it's fahn. Jus' chasin' beautiful wimmin up n' down th' hills
Aeryn: (she chuckles and gets up to move over to one of two nearby stumps) Well. Why don't you come and sit down here, old man, or you'll give yourself a heart attack.
John: (as he shuffles over to take the stump next to hers. He grunts with arthritic eloquence as he sits) Don't-don't-don't you "ol' man" me, woman! You're 200 cycles older than ah am! (once settled he continues) Ennixx: an' that sleepin' pill she married have arrahved.
Aeryn: He's not that bad.
John: (petulant) He's boring. Just like everything else around here, bo-ring.
Aeryn: Well I warned-you. I tried to make you go back.
John: Ah know y'did.
Aeryn: John, I gave up being who I was, what I was, 100 cycles ago. Why haven't you?
John: Well, Ah ain't a gardener. Ah never wanted t'be one. S'awll we do around here - garden! Plant things! Ah was a pilot, Aeryn. Astronaut. Ah was what ah wanted t'be. Ah ain't going to forget that an' ah can't accept this.
Aeryn: Do you regret this?
Aeryn: Spending the last 55 cycles here with me.
John: (he pauses for a moment) Aeryn you are the one thing which has kept me from doing a kamikaze in the transport. Ah just have t'try to get back to my old life. Just - for a day. That's the hope. Hope! That's what keeps me goin'!
Aeryn: All right. Just don't be too disappointed if it doesn't happen. If you can't- (suddenly she grunts sharply and puts a hand to her chest)
John: You okay?
Aeryn: (quickly dismissing the episode) Yes, I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine. It's just the same old pain. The same pain.
John: Okay. (he rises) Let's, uh, git you back to th'house. You kin lie down. (as he makes to help her up, her locket comes loose and falls to the ground. she quickly reaches for it But John scoops it up for her)
Aeryn: Oh! Gimme that-
John: OH! No, no, no. I got it. I got it.
Aeryn: Give it to me.
John: I gotchyer locket. (he holds it between them for a moment) Whose, uh - image you got in here, anyway?
Aeryn: You know who's in there.
John: Yer husban'? He's been dead 90 cycles. Why would you have his image in there?
Aeryn: (with geriatric coyness) Just to drive you crazy.
John: You know what ah think? (she shrugs) Ah don't think it's him in there. Ah think you've got my picture.
Aeryn: Don't flatter yourself.
John: Yeah! Yeah, mah picture! Surrounded by roses an' hearts an' - yotz!
Aeryn: (smiling as she challenges him) Open it then.
Aeryn: (with her usual deadpan seriousness) Take a look inside. You'll see his image. The only love of my life.
John: (after a long moment) No. No ah don't wanna see his ugly face. (he hands the locket back to her) C'mon. Let's git you back t' th' house.
Aeryn: (twisting the knife playfully as they walk away) He wasn't ugly you know.
John: Yeah, you keep talkin' 'bout him and you kin walk down by yourself - Hell, you can roll down th' hill! (as they walk through the trees, they are shown in a long interlude covered by gentle piano music and they are seen to be laughing and teasing each other playfully as they go)
(cut back to Moya where the rest of the crew are still assembled in the Command, hoping to have one last go at retrieving Aeryn and John as the desert planet nears its time of reappearance)
D'Argo: Pilot, are you picking up any transmissions?
Pilot: There's nothing.
(cut to the desert planet that looms so large in the sky of the bucolic one that Aeryn and John have been living on. They are here now as the time approaches for the mist to open and for Moya to reappear. They are all dressed in homespun robes designed to t keep out the blowing sand and must speak loudly to be heard over the constant wind of the place. Ennixx is with them as John brings out his old comms badge from Moya)
John: 50 cycles Ah've kept this thing sealed up. Hope it works! (and he proceeds to signal Moya) Pilot! Can y'hear me? (he laughs with delight) Been waitin' t'say that fer 50 damn years! Feels good! (and so he does it again) PILOT! Can y'hear me? (he walks away from Aeryn and Ennixx as he continues to hail Pilot)
Ennixx: (to Aeryn, pleading) Why are you going? Stay with us! Look, come back to the favored planet and I will take care of you. The mist is dangerous! It-
Aeryn: (cutting her off) Ennixx - listen to me! I grew up a Peacekeeper. We are born in space and we must die in space.
Ennixx: But what about-?
Aeryn: (cutting her off again with determination) Now I have spent most of my life down here with you, and it has been glorious! But when I die - I belong up there.
Ennixx: (after a long pause she backs away from her grandmother, her face scrunched up as she fights back the tears) Good-bye nana.
Aeryn: Good girl. Now, go. Before I change my mind. (she moves off and Aeryn goes to John who is continuing to try and hail Pilot)
John: Pilot? PILOT? (no answer. John says to Aeryn with disappointment and despair) Nothin'. Ah'm not gettin' anything!
(cut back to Moya, Pilot is in his Den and the others are all in the Command)
Pilot: Wait! Something's happening. The opening in the mist - I can see it forming!
D'Argo: (he and the others rush to the communication console) John! Aeryn! Can you hear us? (nothing) John? John! (no response. D'Argo bows his head in sorrow)
(cut back to the desert planet where John eyes his comms badge with disgust)
John: Aww, maybe this thing's bust. Maybe Moya decided not to wait for us.
John: (he makes one last yell into the comm) Pilot can you hear me? Pilot? PILOT! Anybody? PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE, YA USELESS PIECES O'-
(cut back to Moya as D'Argo hears him and responds. The scene shifts between the crew on Moya and Aeryn and John on the planet as they speak via comm)
D'Argo: We hear you!
John: (he ends his tirade abruptly and chortles with excitement as he does a Happy Dance and shakes his fists at the sky) HO! HA! HO! HOO! HOH! NO! D'ARGO! (he proffers the comm to Aeryn so she can hear too) HEYHEY! LISTEN TO THIS! (then back into the comm) D'ARGO! IT'S ME, JOHN!
D'Argo: John are you all right? Can you make it back to Moya, or you want us down there?
John: (overjoyed) Oh, no, no. It's all right! We can get back up to you. We will come back up. Right away! (to Aeryn) THEY WAITED. OH! HO! HO! HO! OH! THEY WAITED!
Aeryn: (as glad as he is) Yes they did. Come on. (she grunts and falters a bit)
John: (catching her) Aeryn - baby, you all right?
Aeryn: I'm all right. I'm fine. Let's get back to Moya.
John: Goin' home! (softer) Goin' home.
(cut to soon after as the transport pod makes its way through he dense fibrous mist to dock with Moya. then cut to the hangar as the doors open and the crew hurry in to greet their lost shipmates. John has already debarked form and is sitting at the base of the pod steps, cradling Aeryn across his lap as they approach. She is very still)
Zhaan: John... (her smile of joy at their reunion fades as she takes in the scene)
John: (in a faint, wobbly voice, southern accent fading now) Ah... ah tr-I tried to get back here before, uh - So we-we could... you, uh... She, uh - she died. On the way. She's gone. Aer-Aeryn's gone. (and with a quiet sob, he envelops Aeryn’s lifeless form in a final heart--broken embrace)
(cut to later. John, looking old and worn-out, and the rest of the crew are gathered in the medlab around an empty exam table)
John: (he sounds tired) The opening is on some kind of interdimensional orbit. It appears in the mist over the barren planet every 55 cycles.
Zhaan: Do you know how to get us out of the mist?
John: Well, you could go back down to where ah was.
Chiana: Then let's do it. Let's go down there.
John: Oh, ain't nothing down there Chiana. Just a few planets, a small colony of people. Ah searched it from end t'end, there just isn't anything there.
Rygel: It still sounds better than being stuck up here forever.
John: Yeah. Maybe. But I have had a lot of time to think. I believe - that if we can get out of the mist at the exact point that we entered it I might be able to get my life back. Might be an arn later, maybe 200 cycles later. But I, uh -
D'Argo: But - how do we get back to that exact point where we entered?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den, the scene shifts between him and the others as they speak via comm) Uh - (he clears his throat and says, as if aware of the witless simplicity of it) - I might have an answer for that. I'm not sure, but I think we just have to go - backwards. (is he brilliant or what?)
D'Argo: What do you mean Pilot?
Pilot: Since we've entered it, I think the mist is moving with us. I think the back of Moya is still right at the edge of the mist.
Rygel: Then go for it. Just - back up!
Pilot: I've been trying to but I can't! The mist has been hardening so much in the last arn, Moya can no longer move.
Chiana: (slowly) You mean - we're stuck.
Pilot: (regretfully) I'm afraid so.
John: Have you tried starburst?
Pilot: (primly) A Leviathan is not structurally designed for a reverse starburst. It could destroy us.
John: Pilot, just do a small jump and get us back to where we started.
Pilot: (in odd defiance of his own logic) No. If we're going to try and starburst out, I think we should go forward down to the planet, not backwards.
John: (quietly, to all, as they think about it ) Is that what you want? You want that? You wanna live yer life on that planet? The place where you'll never see anyone you know ever again. (he sighs heavily) I have done that. And let me assure you, whatever the risk, it is worth getting your life back.
D'Argo: I'm with John. I do not want to live a life without a past. I want to see my son again.
Chiana: Me too. I never wanted to go into the mist anyway.
Rygel: I guess I'm in agreement as well.
Zhaan: Goddess be with us all. Pilot! Start initiating sequence for reverse starburst. (John stands and exits the room)
Zhaan: (softly) Leave him D'Argo.
(cut to the hangar bay. John has gone to visit Aeryn’s corpse, where it has been laid within the leafy confines of her transport pod)
John: Aeryn - we're going to try to get out of this. I told them our plan, and, uh - (he sits down beside her stiffly) Oh... Oh, baby... There are so many places that I wanted you to see. People... There's this lake in Maine. Used t'spend summers there when ah 's a kid. Had more mosquitoes than a dawg had fleas. Mah Dad an' ah, we'd camp out there. An' one night, the astronauts landed on the moon. Ah remember looking up at the skah. Ah knew right then what ah was gonna do with the rest of mah life. Couldn't a been more'n 4 years old. Yeah ah really wanted you t'see that. (he sniffs, near tears) Damn, baby ah miss you already. Who else'm ah gonna tell this crap to? (he brushes the tears away and leans over to kiss her cold lips) Ah love you. (he touches her grizzled hair and then sits back, but as he does so, her locket catches his eye and he takes it. And he opens it. And as he recalls Aeryn’s words - "Take a look inside. You'll see his image. The only love of my life." - he gazes for a long moment upon an image of himself. He breaks down into tears)
(cut to Pilot in his Den as he reports - in a sullen tone of deep resentment - to the others)
Pilot: Priming first phase of reverse starburst. (and then. perhaps as a little dig at Zhaan?) Kahaynu protect Moya. (without even looking, he hits a panel that initiates the build-up of energy for starburst. Cut to a view of bronze Moya, barely visible in the golden mist as she powers up)
(cut briefly back to the pod where John remains bowed over Aeryn. His grieving is interrupted by a crash and a lurch)
John: (annoyed by the disturbance) What now?
(duh! well ya wanted a reverse starburst! "What now.")
(cut to the medlab, Stark hurries to Zhaan’s side as the rough ride continues and sparks drop from Moya’s fixtures. The scene shifts between them and Pilot and the others in their various locations)
Stark: Zhaan! What's happening?
Zhaan: Pilot! What's happening? (we wonder if Pilot could about kill them all now)
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he continues to work his Console - but his voice is deepening and slowing like a recording being played at too slow a speed) Priming for starburst is making everything stop!
Zhaan: We must break free!
Pilot: (the pitch and cadence of his voice fluctuates in the unnatural energy exertion that is disrupting time) My arms! I can't move! You must initiate manual starburst from Command!
D'Argo: Doing it! (cut to him as he rushes for the manual starburst control, his movements are slow in the reversing time currents and just inches from his goal, he is frozen in time. Cut briefly to each member of the crew in their various locations as they too are rendered slowly immobile) I can't reach the panel!
Chiana: Help us!
(cut to the medlab where Stark and Zhaan are close together as the time currents pull them inexorably to a halt)
Zhaan: (her voice is deepened and drawn out) Stark! Crichton and I once shared Unity. So I can help him. If we join, we can keep time alive for him! (with effort, they come together, this time cradling each others head in the embrace of Unity. As before, intense white light emanates form them as Zhaan cries) John? John?
(cut back to the transport pod where John sits in despair and mourning as he hears Zhaan call to him)
John: (loudly) Zhaan how th'hell'r you talkin' t'me?
Zhaan: (her voice echoes in his head) I fused my spirit with Stark. You must get to Command and initiate starburst.
John: (crotchety) Whah cain't Pah-lot do it?
Zhaan: He can't move. No one can move except you. I don't know how long I can keep time alive. Hurry, John!
John: (rousing himself begrudgingly) Ah'm too old fer this shi-it
(cut to John gimping in slow motion through Moya’s corridors. Back in the medlab Stark and Zhaan shudder and wobble. The light produced by their combined energy blurs the outlines of their bodies and they grimace with th strain)
Zhaan: HURRY JOHN! THIS IS RIPPING US APART! John continues his geriatric jog for the Command but the walls of Moya around him begin to smear and blur as Stark and Zhaan’s mastery of time loosens) YOU MUST - YOU MUST KEEP GOING! KEEP GOING! (John makes the Command and reaching past the time-frozen D'Argo. hits the panel that will initiate starburst)
In space, , the fission plates of Moya’s tail burn to life with the brilliant blueish-white light of starburst. But instead of creeping forward over her body to form an extradimensional gateway for her to enter - the energy leaps out behind her, like bolts of lightning. In the distance, outside the golden mist, the bolts of starburst energy come together to form a point of light and then, Moya’s molecules are reduced and pulled through the bolts where she is reformed, in black space, outside the mist.
Back inside her, there is deathly silence for a long, long moment. Nothing moves in her empty corridors. Then - Aeryn, Chiana, D'Argo, John and Rygel are seen standing together in the Command. They are looking out the main viewport at the cloud of dense, golden mist.
John: What the hell is this stuff?
Pilot: It appears to be some kind of stellar mist. I'm running tests on its chemical properties now.
D'Argo: What do you think? That we should go in there?
Rygel: Well, it might be a good place to hide from Peacekeepers.
Chiana: Scorpius hasn't been chasing us for a while. I'm not sure we should go in there.
Aeryn: Don't worry Chiana. I'll fly a long-range recon in a transport pod to make sure it's safe.
Meanwhile, in her cell, Zhaan sits deep in meditation. Suddenly her eyes flutter open and she mouths the word "No." Then she cries it aloud - "NO!" - and she scrambles to her feet. Back on the Command Aeryn turns to head for the transport hangar. As she goes she picks up a cup with a tiny plant in it that she had left sitting on a table.
D'Argo: What's that?
Aeryn: Something Zhaan gave me for my headaches. (cut to Zhaan, running down a corridor, screaming frantically)
Zhaan: PILOT! PILOT! (she runs into Stark at a junction, he's rushing to alert the others as well) STARK!
Stark: (panting) You know what they're about to do?
Zhaan: Yes! And these frelling comms don't work! PILOT! PILOT!
John: (meanwhile back in the Command the calm discussion of what course of action to take continues) Pilot, looks like we're all agreed here.
Chiana: Except me.
John: Except for Chiana. (Aeryn rolls her eyes a little and turns to go) Let's head into the mist.
Pilot: Accelerating now. (but at that moment, Stark and Zhaan burst into Command)
Zhaan: STOP! PILOT! STOP THE ACCELERATION! (in his Den, Pilot pauses)
Stark: (to John, his one eye wide with wonder) You're young!
John: (gazing at Stark as if he had one eye and 4 heads) Uh-huh. (Stark swivels his head to take in Aeryn’s youthful visage. John eyes the wide-eyed, panting Zhaan) Zhaan - you all right?
Rygel: What are you doing here? I thought you were locked in your chamber mediating or some yotz like that.
D'Argo: Shut up Rygel. What's the matter Zhaan?
Zhaan: Don't you remember?
Aeryn: Remember what?
Stark: (blurting, knowing they'll never explain this one) Just - trust us! Don't go into the mist!
John: Why not?
Zhaan: (hastily scraping some sort of semi-credible explanation together) W-we had a vision. We sense there's danger in there.
Chiana: (triumphant) I told 'em! I told 'em we shouldn't go in there! (she moves quickly to establish the reliability of her intuition) I-I felt something too Zhaan!
John: Pilot - ah - change of plan. Hang a louie. (no response) That's - left. Away from the mist. (and he does)
Pilot: (as Moya wheels away from the swirling mist, he sounds relieved) Hard acceleration - Away.
(cut to soon after. Stark and Zhaan are walking slowly together along a corridor of Moya)
Zhaan: (contemplatively) Stark - how is it that Aeryn and Crichton are young again?
Stark: We seem to have returned to a time just moments before Moya went into the mist.
Zhaan: None of them remember anything. Yet - yet we do.
Stark: Because we've returned to a time before any of it happened. They have nothing to remember, Zhaan. I think we only remember because we were joined when Moya broke free.
Zhaan: What about Aeryn’s life and the family she had?
Stark: Let's theorize that through every opening in a center halo, our world splits into an infinite number of universes.
Zhaan: Are you saying that Ennixx could still be alive?
Stark: Yes. And mourning the loss of her grandmother. (Zhaan sighs sadly) But - it's time to tell Ka D'Argo why I came aboard.
(cut back to the Command where D'Argo is alone now. Stark and Zhaan re-enter)
Stark: D'Argo - um - I've been waiting to show you this. (he produces a small metal tube. D'Argo takes and opens it and removes its contents, a rolled-up picture of a young Luxan man) I found it in a manifest of slaves being sold to the Caton mines.
D'Argo: Who is this?
Zhaan: The manifest lists him as - as "Jothee - son of Ka D'Argo."
D'Argo: (after a long pause he says under his breath, shocked) My son. My son is being sold into slavery. (and then, enraged, he seizes the hapless messenger, Stark, and pins him to a table as Zhaan tries to intervene and Stark gasps with terror while D'Argo screams at him) HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?
Stark: (meekly) I - just found out.
Zhaan: (in a tone of strong command to the raging Luxan) D'ARGO! STARK WANTED ME AWAKE BEFORE HE TOLD YOU! D'ARGO! LET HIM GO - PLEASE! THERE'S PLENTY OF TIME. THE AUCTION ISN'T FOR A FEW SOLAR DAYS. WE WILL - FIND - A WAY TO RESCUE JOTHEE! (threateningly) D'Argo... (sharply) D'Argo! (very softly) D'Argo...
D'Argo: (shaking off his rage with great effort he releases his hold on Stark and says, panting from exertion and emotion) All right. I'm sorry, Stark I - uh - I've got... I've gotta... save my son Zhaan. We've got to find a way.
(cut to the maintenance bay - Aeryn and John's habitual hang-out. She's tinkering with her machinery off to one side as John wrestles piece of metal that looks like a giant bolt nut onto a workbench and sits down to tinker with it, but he pauses and eyes Aeryn in silence. She feels his gaze and stops what she's doing to look back at him)
John: Nothing - um - (curiously) Do you get a feeling?
Aeryn: About what?
John: I don't know. I-I just had this - feeling. Something happened.
Aeryn: Between us?
Aeryn: Well what kind of something do you think happened?
John: (eyeing her across the room as he says with great deliberateness, and almost smiling) I -don't - know.
Aeryn: (she's fiddling with her locket) If something happened, I'm sure we would have remembered. (she looks up at him and smiles)
Aeryn: Come here. Have a look at this. (he comes over to see what she has) That's, uh, the locket that Chiana gave me. I found it in the transport pod and somehow it's fused shut. I'm trying to- (she grunts as she pries at it)
John: (he leans in close to have a look) Did you put something in there?
Aeryn: No, nothing. (it suddenly pops open - and reveals itself to be filled with little reddish-golden flakes) Looks like something disintegrated in there.
And with that, she pours the debris out into the palm of her hand and pokes at it with one finger as they both examine the flakes with mild curiosity. Then Aeryn shrugs and makes a little "Hmf" sound as she turns her hand over and lets the debris fall away to the floor in a faintly shimmering shower of gold. And she and John look at each other thoughtfully.