The episode opens with Moya, hanging motionless in space. Near her is her son, Talyn. He has grown, but is still only a fraction of her size. A transport pod falls away from her and makes the short transit to Talyn. Cut to Aeryn as she enters Talynís Command, Crais is there, standing at the helm of the Leviathan gunship, his back to her. The neural transponder at the base of his skull that links him and Talyn is visible as he casually says over his shoulder-
Crais: The invitation was for all of you.
Aeryn: The others are still in the transport pod.
Crais: Prudent. But unnecessary. Talyn - scan Officer Sun. (rather menacing looking scanning devices burst from Talynís ceiling amid swirls of vapor and emit a low electrical thrum before the ship makes its report in a couple terse beeps. Crais turns to face Aeryn as he translates) Unarmed. As I requested.
Aeryn: And you are still armed. How are we supposed to trust you?
Crais: (in response, he speaks to his ship) Talyn - I am now engaging privacy mode and full manual overrides. (manual control panels present themselves sharply amid more vapor) I will re-link with you within the arn. (then, to Aeryn, as he approaches her) My mind and Talynís - (he reaches back and unplugs the neural transponder from its socket on the nape of his neck and proffers it to her) - are no longer joined. I am therefore - defenseless.
(cut back to Moya where Chiana and Rygel are in the Command and taking in the view of Talyn through the main port. The scene shifts between them and Pilot in his Den as they speak)
Rygel: Pilot - has Talyn grown bigger since last we saw him?
Chiana: (apprehensively) His, uh - cannon - sure looks bigger.
Pilot: (sounding almost absurdly proud) He has indeed grown. Moya is pleased that he's healthy and happy.
Rygel: Huh! How happy can he be under the control of that madman Crais?
Pilot: Quite happy - or so he claims. (cut to Talynís Command as John enters. He and Crais eye each other appraisingly. The end of Pilots comment is heard via comm) And he insists that Crais hasn't mistreated him.
John: Is that Talyn talking, or Crais?
Aeryn: (she shows him the device that Crais removed from his neck) Evidently - Talyn. Crais has removed the neural transponder.
Crais: I called for a truce Crichton. I'm a man of my word.
John: Oh yeah? When did that start? (the rest of the crew enter Talynís Command and Crais greets them by name)
Crais: Ka D'Argo. Pa'u Zhaan. A Banik slave.
Zhaan: A Banik, yes. But no longer a slave.
Crais: You were at Scorpius' Gammak Base. Prisoner with Crichton.
Stark: I'm flattered you remember me. My name is Stark.
John: Shall we skip the meet and greet? Why did you call us?
Crais: (after a moments pause) Despite my best efforts, Talyn is becoming more aggressive. More -destructive. You must help me disarm him.
Aeryn: (dubiously) Disarm Talyn?
(shortly later - cut back to Moyaís Command)
Rygel: (with a curmudgeonly grunt) Are mother and child still catching up on old times?
Chiana: (as she slings a companionable arm around Rygel) Yup. Aah - they're chattering away like a pair of bleefiks.
Rygel: Yes? Well what are the others chattering about?
Chiana: Well I don't know-
Rygel: (impatient) They've been over there forever. I can't believe Crais is THAT good a conversationalist!
Pilot: (breaking in via comm) Another vessel is approaching - fast! (cut briefly to a view of an alien ship shaped like a blunt object. It's banking towards Moya and Talyn at high speed) It's a Plokavian ship!
Rygel: (in a "Now what?" tone of voice) Ugh - is that good or bad?
Pilot: Bad! Very bad!
Chiana: What's Talyn doing? (they watch in horror as Talyn brings up his cannon, and with a single shot - blows the Plokavian ship to smithereens. Rygel throws up his hands and gasps as the explosion lights his face with its fire and Chiana startles away from the view port as she gapes) That cannon's definitely growing!
Rygel: (hissing into his comm) Crichton! What the frell is going on over there?
Pilot: There's another Plokavian ship heading towards us!
Chiana: (frightened) Great! Can Talyn go two-for-two?
Rygel: How soon can we starburst? (Chiana glares at him) I'm just asking!
Pilot: (scrambling to track the fast-unfolding events) Talyn's stopped talking to Moya!
John: (breaking in via comm, cut to him and the others aboard the pod as they leave Talyn) Pilot! We're on our way back. Crank up the docking web, open the barn door and pull us in ASAP!
Pilot: Watch your trajectory! Talyn's going into starburst! (and with that, as the pod streaks away from him, the orangish-white light of his starburst energy spreads over Talynís body and he abruptly disappears, leaving Moya and her crew to face the oncoming Plokavians alone) Crichton! You must hurry! A second Plokavian vessel is closing in! (as he speaks the scene shifts to space where the underside of a huge vessel is seen obliterating the stars as it passes over the transport pod, dwarfing it)
John: We're rowing as fast as we can!
Pilot: (as he watches with horror) Not fast enough!
(and what he sees are several tentacle-like mechanical arms that deploy from the bottom of the Plokavian ship and attach themselves to the pod. There are terrible electrical discharges both within and without the pod as the arms pull it to a stop in space. Inside, the crew is thrown violently about. Pilot frantically calls to them) Crichton? Crichton! Anybody? (but as the pod is inexorably drawn into the Plokavian shop, the crew is silent and unconscious, their bodies rigid, and grotesquely contorted)
(cut to some time later. Aboard the Plokavian ship. the crew have been removed form the pod and are in a dark, cavernous chamber. Something that might be a window glares like a single, baleful eye in the distance and a spotlight of blueish light beams dully down on them from directly overhead. Most disconcertingly, they are perched on top of a round platform, perhaps 18 feet in diameter, like the domed cap of a mushroom in the middle of the dark echoing room. John startles awake as Zhaan reaches to touch his face and he sits up)
John: How is everybody?
Stark: D'Argo's still out, but he doesn't seem to be hurt. (he's sitting by the unconscious Luxan who's sprawled with his feet on the downward slope of the platform)
John: Where's Aeryn?
Zhaan: We don't know. She wasn't here when we all awoke.
John: (hitting his comm badge) Aeryn! Aeryn? Pilot! Sparky. (his voice echoes)
Zhaan: No. The comms aren't working. Whatever immobilized us in the transport pod knocked out the comms as well.
Stark: The dampening net. It's the only Plokavian weapon that isn't lethal.
John: (he tries hollering) AERYN? AERYN! (no answer. He walks towards the edge of the platform and peers into the inky darkness below) Wow - how far down does that go? (he hocks up a gob and spits it over the precipice, then waits for the sound of it hitting bottom. After a very long moment, the air currents remain the only thing that breaks the silence of the huge chamber) That's a long way down. Either that or they got deep shag carpet. (but at that moment D'Argo comes roaring to life - and promptly makes to strangle Stark as he screams)
D'Argo: YOU! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!
John: (he quickly moves to intervene, laying his hand on DíArgoís shoulder and saying-) Stop it!
D'Argo: But he-!
John: (cutting him off) Quiet! Cut it out! (D'Argo releases Stark who gasps for air and glances at Zhaan, who has sat and observed this while incident without a word, or even moving from her spot to try and help Stark. she just looks at him, her face is unreadable)
D'Argo: Where the hezmana are we?
John: Some kind of floating hubcap.
D'Argo: Hoobcap? (no-one bothers to explain and D'Argo doesn't care enough to pursue it) Where's Aeryn?
John: Good question.
D'Argo: Bad answer.
(cut to another large, dark chamber aboard the Plokavian ship. This one has a visible floor, a glossy black expanse of liquid in the middle of which is Aeryn, reclining on an elevated interrogation chair. the chair is smooth metal, its curving parts evoke an organic creature. Her feet are propped up on wither side of a central structure that curves up, snakelike, between her legs and ends in a light on the level of her face, More curving structures on either side of her neck also are tipped in lights. Her interrogators are heard only as loud, echoing voices as Aeryn stares into the light)
Aeryn: I have told you. No one is responsible.
Gahv: (a Plokavian man, his voice sounds elderly but strong the accent is meticulous and plummy) Someone is! You destroyed a Plokavian vessel!
Fento: (a Plokavian woman. Her voice also sounds elderly and shrill, but unhesitating and demanding) You say Talyn is a living ship. Is Talyn responsible?
Aeryn: There is no way that Talyn could have fired that cannon on his own. His manual overrides were engaged.
Fento: Then one of you must have fired it!
Gahv: The one who fled on Talyn - er - Crais! Could he have done it?
Aeryn: He was nowhere near the weapons console.
Fento: We don't believe you! Are you protecting him?
Aeryn: No. Look, if I wanted to lie, it would be easy to blame it on Crais wouldn't it? After all, he and Talyn fled, did they not?
Gahv: If they hadn't, would it make a difference to your story?
Fento: You're lying! You don't want to see either of them dispersed!
Aeryn: Look, I am not lying, and I don't want to see anyone... dispersed.
Fento: Not even the guilty party?
Aeryn: There is no guilty party. I'm telling you, it must have been an accident.
Fento: Ridiculous! (and with that the inquisitors appear as dark silhouettes wading through he liquid on the floor. They are generally human in shape and are wearing long robes and big, stiff hoods and shoulder coverings. Aeryn stares with intent apprehension at them as they approach) We should just execute all of you. Then we could be sure that the guilty party was punished! (as they come near the chair Aeryn seems to get a good enough view of them for a look of revulsion to pass very briefly over her face before she quickly looks away. Something is dripping off the Plokavians from their exposed flesh and from under their robes - as it hits the liquid on the floor it steams and hisses. Fento notes Aerynís reaction to her and asks, with a delicate touch of sarcasm) Do I offend your senses?
Aeryn: (swallowing her gorge as she lies) No.
Fento: You seem distressed. Did you do it? You are protecting yourself, aren't you?
Aeryn: No. I'm telling you what happened.
Fento: Tell me again without the LIES! (she has a cane which she angrily plooshes in the floor liquid to emphasize her demand)
Gahv: Start from where the others joined you on Talyn!
Aeryn: All right. D'Argo, Zhaan and Stark followed Crichton in... (and so she begins to recount her version of the events leading up to the destruction of the Plokavian arms dealers ship. The scene shifts back to Talynís Command)
Crais: ...Pa'u Zhaan, join us. (Surprised) A Banik slave?
Zhaan: (defensive) Banik, yes, but no longer a slave.
Crais: You were on Scorpius' Gammak base. A prisoner with Crichton.
Stark: Flattered you remember me. My name is Stark.
John: Shall we skip the meet and greet? Why did you phone us?
Crais: Despite my best efforts, Talyn is becoming more aggressive. More destructive. I need your help to disarm him.
Aeryn: (dubiously) Disarm Talyn?
Crais: Not entirely. We still need to protect ourselves of course. I merely wish to make his armament non-lethal by trading his main cannon for a dampening net, which will incapacitate hostile vessels.
Zhaan: Where will you obtain a dampening net?
Crais: From a Plokavian arms dealer.
Stark: (taken aback) The Plokavians! Are you serious?
Zhaan: Who are the Plokavians?
Stark: (solemnly informative) They're a race who builds powerful and dangerous weapons.
Crais: Yes. However - what I want is a simple dampening net.
D'Argo: (he bursts out angrily and growls) Peacekeeper lies! This has to be a trap to get more dangerous weapons aboard Talyn!
Aeryn: Hear him out D'Argo.
John: Leave D'Argo alone. He has a point.
Zhaan: (almost perky) If Crais is right about this dampening net being non-lethal, then maybe it's a good thing for Talyn.
Aeryn: Exactly. We would need to supervise the installation of course.
Crais: (meekly cooperative) Certainly.
John: I see a potential difficulty here. What if Talyn doesn't want us frelling with his weaponry?
Aeryn: He will if I say it's okay.
Crais: I need your help - and Moyaís - to convince Talyn to accept the modifications.
D'Argo: (angry and suspicious) I will not be a party to this!
John: (siding with D'Argo) Yeah, I have a problem. I mean, c'mere - what do we know about these Plakavoids?
Aeryn: It's 'Plokavians', John. And how much do we really need to know? It's a simple transaction.
Crais: One that benefits Talyn.
Zhaan: (indecisive) Weeelll - I'm not sure I agree. I'm going to have to think about this and perhaps even meditate on the subject.
D'Argo: Enough thinking! If we really want to help Talyn, then we should KILL Crais!
John: (as he and D'Argo advance on Crais) I am up with that!
Aeryn: (stopping them) No! That doesn't help anything.
Crais: Indeed not. Talyn would become even more destructive without my guidance.
D'Argo: You mean YOUR CONTROL!
Crais: I can only control him to a point. I can't even convince him to use his weapons as a last resort.
Aeryn: Well, perhaps there I might have more success. I'm willing to link with Talyn for a direct conversation.
Zhaan: (hesitant) But Crais is the only one that Talyn trusts.
D'Argo: THAT is Talynís mistake!
John: (still suspicious) How are we gonna trust Crais again?
Crais: I have not misused Talynís power. I have only used it in self-defense.
Zhaan: Well, maybe Crais is right John. We do know of Talynís encounter with the Halosians.
Crais: They attacked us. It was all that I could do to stop Talyn from utterly destroying them.
John: (annoyed that she's going along with Crais) Aeryn - what a stack of dren!
D'Argo: I still say we kill Crais.
Zhaan: (sounding ditzy) Well - I don't know who to believe.
Crais: I have changed Crichton. My only concern is for Talynís protection. Left unchecked, his aggressiveness will lead to disaster. (Talyn sounds an alert) The Plokavian vessel is here.
Plokavian ship: (on comm) Crais. We've arrived.
Crais: Yes. You're ahead of schedule.
Plokavian ship: Your ship is still active.
Crais: Manual override is engaged, as is privacy mode. Talyn is no longer monitoring this conversation.
Plokavian ship: As you wish.
Aeryn: (as she assesses a holographic display of the Plokavian vessel) They are armed - very well armed.
Stark: (reaching for a control panel) Perhaps we'd better raise the defense screen, just in case.
Aeryn: (stopping him) No! That may be interpreted as a sign of bad faith.
Stark: But with Talynís defenses on manual override, he can't defend himself. (the others stand back and watch all this silently)
Plokavian ship: Is there a problem Crais?
Crais: No problem. Let's discuss the terms of our agreement. (and then, without warning, Talynís cannon fires and the Plokavian ship is obliterated. Talyn is rocked by the shock of the explosion)
Crais: WHO FIRED THAT SHOT?
Aeryn: Nobody! Our proximity sensors were switched off!
Crais: (to Aeryn) I must communicate with Talyn and find out!
John: (in a tone of urgent command) Turn off the privacy mode, we'll tell him ourselves. Aeryn don't give him back that transponder.
Crais: (as he whips another transponder out and plugs it into the base of his skull) I have another!
John: YOU FRELLED US!
Stark: (frightened as Talynís weaponry snaps out of the walls and ceilings amid puffs of vapor and the scene becomes chaotic) What's happening?
Aeryn: He's taking over Talyn again!
Crais: (roaring) LEAVE MY SHIP NOW!
Aeryn: We have to stay and explain this!
John: (as he pulls Aeryn forcibly off the Command) No Aeryn! We have go! Now! Come on!
Aeryn: I can't let you do this!
(cut back to the present, in the interrogation room aboard the Plokavian ship as Aeryn finishes her story)
Aeryn: ...I would have tried to remove Crais' transponder, and forced him to stay, but the others wouldn't risk it. So we all left in the transport pod and watched Talyn starburst away under Crais' control.
Fento: So. (as stuff drips off her and Gahv and plops, hissing, into the liquid on the floor) The cannon just went off by itself. No one had anything to do with it.
Gahv: You understand we might find that difficult to accept.
Aeryn: It's the truth.
(cut back to Moya, where Chiana is stalking through the corridors, hunting for Rygel)
Chiana: That little dren! (but she figures correctly where he is and stops in the doorway of the center chamber where Rygel is indeed going through the cupboards and refrigerators) Why aren't you on the Command?
Rygel: (quite reasonably) There is no food on the Command.
Chiana: You are supposed to be negotiating with the PLOKAVIANS! We've got to get the others back!
Rygel: They won't negotiate. Hmph! They won't even respond. So, unless you have any bright ideas- (at that moment Moya lurches and there is the sound of heavy metal moving)
Chiana: PILOT? (he doesnít respond, she says to Rygel-) Feels like we're moving. Pilot? Are we moving?
Pilot: (he seems a bit hesitant, conflicted) Yes. Moya issss - looking - for Talyn.
Rygel: Heh! Talyn starburst away. Moya hasn't got a skisaks chance of finding him!
Pilot: (same tone) She may not, but she wishes to try anyway.
Chiana: Well, what about Crichton and the others?
Pilot: (a statement of sincerely hopeful rationalization) Our absence will not change their situation. However, if Moya locates Talyn she might persuade him to return with us and help free them.
Chiana: (knowing Moyaís persuading Talyn to do anything would be a first) Might?
(cut back to the Plokavian ship, the prison chamber. John is laying on the slope of the platform and looking its underside. D'Argo is holding onto his feet to prevent him from sliding off)
John: Well... there's ah... There's nothing to hold onto.
Zhaan: (pacing at the flat center of the platform) Where would we go anyway?
John: (D'Argo pulls him back to safety and John remarks a bit fretfully) Sooner or later, one of us is going to have to find a bathroom. (D'Argo laughs heartily at this but the laugh turns into a wistful sigh and he says to John)
D'Argo: I really wish you hadn't said that. (but before thoughts of bursting bladders can become more torturous, the silence of the room is broken by a distant clang and hiss of hydraulics)
Stark: What's that?
Zhaan: Wh-? (and then the center of the platform begins to rise and a circular elevator with bars for walls and big enough for one, slides into view. Aeryn is in it, gazing straight ahead, stone-faced as usual) Aeryn!
John: Aeryn, you okay? (once all the way up, the elevator cage opens and Aeryn steps out) Where have you been?
Aeryn: Being questioned by the Plokavians. They want to know what happened aboard Talyn. We'll all be questioned. Don't lie to them, lying will get us all executed.
D'Argo: What did you tell them?
Aeryn: The truth. (there is a long moment of silence as they all eye each other before John suddenly steps up to Aeryn and throws his arms around her in a big hug)
John: Oh God! I missed you so much. God, I was so worried about you! (he whispers in her ear) Play along. (and as he whispers, Gahv's voice rings out of the gloom - calling the next one to be questioned)
Gahv: PA'U ZOTOH ZHAAN! (Zhaan looks unnerved)
Aeryn: (loudly playing along with John and very unconvincing) I missed you too John. Hold me.
John: (their following conversation is whispered to each other as they hug) Are they listening?
Aeryn: (as Zhaan trepidatiously takes Aerynís place in the elevator cage) I have to assume so. I told them no one was responsible for firing Talynís weapons - that he must have malfunctioned.
John: That's not much of a story.
Aeryn: Only one I had.
John: We've got to let the others know. (but it's too late to let Zhaan know anything as the elevator cage closes and it begins to sink out of sight. She looks forlornly up at them as she goes and stammers-)
Zhaan: (softly) John! - B-but - (and she is gone. The others look silently at the circle on the top of the platform that marks the top of the elevator shaft)
Aeryn: (tonelessly) Frell.
(cut to the interrogation room aboard the Plokavian ship. Zhaan now reclines in the elevated chair and stares into its light. She seems nervous and uncertain)
Zhaan: Ah - that's one reason Crais called for us. Talyn had been experiencing some um - problems with his circuitry.
Gahv: Please resume your testimony. You are about to enter Talynís bridge.
Zhaan: (she shields her eyes from the light, perhaps trying to see her inquisitors, who can be heard sloshing as they walk, in the dark through the liquid on the floor) Ah... Yes, uh - Crichton went first and... and...
(cut to the events on Talyn leading up to the destruction of the Plokavian ship - Zhaanís version. The crew has just entered and Crais speaks to Stark)
Crais: You were on Scorpius' Gammak base. Prisoner with Crichton.
Stark: I'm flattered you remember me. My name is Stark.
John: Can we skip the meet and greet? Why did you call us?
Crais: Despite my best efforts Talyn is becoming more aggressive. More destructive. You must help me disarm him.
Aeryn: (dubiously) Disarm Talyn?
Crais: Not entirely. We still need to defend ourselves, of course. I merely wish to make his armament non-lethal, by trading his main cannon for a dampening net, which will incapacitate hostile vessels.
Zhaan: (bold and direct) Where will you obtain a dampening net?
Crais: From a Plokavian arms dealer.
Zhaan: (quickly reassuring Stark) Oh, I've heard of them. Quite far advanced technologically. Strong believers in truth and justice.
D'Argo: (gruff, but a little slow on the uptake) So, you wish to trade Talynís main cannon with these Plokavians, in exchange for a dampening net?
Crais: Precisely. Given that Talynís circuitry has been prone to malfunction lately, equipping him with a non-lethal weapon would seem to me, to be in everyoneís best interest.
John: Except I don't trust you.
Crais: (smoothly contrite and conciliatory) John - it pains me to realize you still haven't forgiven me for my past misdeeds. However you can supervise the installation yourself.
Zhaan: (businesslike) Hmpf. You'll need our help, and Moyaís, if you want to sedate Talyn for the modifications.
John: (a bit overwhelmed as he paces away) Oh, wow. That, I-I hadn't thought about that. Talyn might not want to give up his cannon, right?
Aeryn: (to John, firmly) Talyn was designed by Peacekeepers. Peacekeepers never give up their weapons.
John: Good point.
Aeryn: But it's in his best interest, so we should let Crais do it.
John: (easily led by Aeryn) Yeah, I guess we should.
Stark: (mildly) Sounds very reasonable to me.
Zhaan: (nodding at Crais to show the unanimous vote) Mm.
(cut back to the present, in the interrogation room)
Fento: (in her shrill old womanís voice) You're saying that nobody had a problem with Crais' plan?
Zhaan: (trying to tell the Plokavians what they seem to want to hear) Oh... No of course they did - um... And that's when D'Argo lost his temper.
Gahv: And why did he do that?
Zhaan: Well, he's a Luxan and Luxans are subject to fits of hyper-rage. Well - and he lost his son, you know. That made him edgy.
(cut back to Zhaanís story of what happened on Talynís Command)
D'Argo: What are you talking about John? I will not be a party to this!
John: Why not D'Argo?
D'Argo: What if he's lying? What if this is just a trick to get even worse weapons aboard Talyn?
John: (waffling, he turns to Aeryn) Oh yeah - th-that's a good point. D'Argo makes a good point.
Aeryn: (assertive and dismissive) D'Argo is thinking with his mivonks again.
Stark: A Plokavian dampening net is just what Talyn needs.
D'Argo: If this is a trick Crais, I'll break your neck!
Crais: No trick. I just want to help Talyn.
D'Argo: He doesn't need your help.
Crais: He most certainly does. Talyn would be even more destructive without my guidance.
John: Don't you mean your control?
Crais: (with an ingratiating smile) I only control him to a point. Believe me- it's been hard to convince Talyn that the use of his weapons should only be as a last resort.
Aeryn: (as she fingers the neural transponder Crais relinquished to her) Then let me communicate with him. I'll teach him to behave.
Crais: Officer Sun, Talyn trusts me.
John: I sure don't.
Crais: John - I have not misused Talynís power. I've only fired his cannons in self-defense.
Zhaan: Yes, he may be speaking the truth. Consider his encounter with the Halosians. He could've destroyed them, but he didn't.
Crais: Correct. They attacked us, but I showed restraint. Now, doesn't that demonstrate my good intentions? (Talyn sounds an alert) The Plokavians vessels are here.
Aeryn: Let's finalize arrangements.
Plokavian ship: Crais:, we're here.
Crais: Right on schedule.
Plokavian ship: Your ship is still active.
Crais: Manual overrides are in place as is privacy mode. Talyn is not monitoring this conversation.
Stark: (while the others talk, Stark and Zhaan walk over to the holographic display of the Plokavian ship and examine it) Beautiful ship, isn't it?
Zhaan: Mm. Quite aesthetically pleasing.
Aeryn: (very quietly, as she observes Talynís weapons console rotating into view) Weapons console malfunction. (John moves toward it but Aeryn stops him) Nonono! Stay away!
John: We have to disarm it!
Aeryn: You might set it off. (and with that, Talynís cannon fires and the Plokavian ship is destroyed)
Crais: The Plokavians will have great difficulty believing that was an accident! We'd better go!
Zhaan: (protesting, with Starks support) If the authorities arrive, you and Talyn should be here to explain what happened.
Crais: I can't take that chance! Leave now! Or I'll force you!
Zhaan: (informing the others as Crais whips the other transponder out) He has another transponder!
Crais: (as he re-links with Talyn) NOW GO! (and the crew of Moya flee the scene)
(cut back to the present, the interrogation chamber aboard the Plokavian ship as Zhaan finishes lamely)
Zhaan: There was nothing we could do. So - we boarded the transport pod to return to Moya.. and, um... and that's when you captured us. (there's a long silence during which the only sound is the liquid on the floor lapping against the walls of the room) Any more questions?
(cut back to the prison chamber. D'Argo stares balefully at Stark, who is trying to ignore him, and Aeryn and John sit together on the other side of the domed platform)
John: This is the weirdest hoosegow I've ever been in. Slammer. Clink. Jail. Prison-
Aeryn: Just how many of them have you been in?
John: Just what are you implying? (but their aimless conversation is interrupted by the sound of the elevator. They quickly rise to greet Zhaan as she steps out of it) Zhaan, how'd it go?
Zhaan: I told them what I saw. I hope they believe me.
D'Argo: (to Stark) If they don't, we all die.
Stark: (defensively) I know that! (and the call comes out of the darkness for the next one to be questioned)
D'Argo: Just see that you remember it.
John: D'Argo - chill out, bro. (Stark enters the cage as D'Argo makes a low, menacing growl and he is gone, Zhaan bends to watch him go)
(cut to the interrogation chamber where Stark has taken the chair and is in the process of telling his story)
Stark: He said he only wanted a dampening net, but I didn't believe him.
Gahv: Why not?
Stark: (confidently) He's an ex-Peacekeeper Captain who abandoned his own people and abducted Talyn. He's completely power-mad. The reformed Crais is just an act. Crichton wasn't buying it either.
(cut to Talynís Command as stark tells Fento and Gahv his version of the events leading up to the destruction of the Plokavian ship)
John: (to Crais) You expect us to help you?
Crais: You must help me. Talyn is refusing to permit any modifications.
Aeryn: Good for Talyn!
Zhaan: Evidently, your control over him isn't as absolute as you thought.
D'Argo: (in a low, threatening tone) John - give me the word and I'll break his neck.
Crais: (quietly defiant and unrepentant) You don't dare. Talyn would be lost without my guidance. He needs a Captain, and he chose me!
Aeryn: Well perhaps we should override that choice.
Crais: I have not misused Talyn's power. I've only fired his cannons in self-defense.
Zhaan: As you did with the Halosians.
Crais: They attacked us. I spared their lives. I'm not a killer.
John: I don't care what you say. We're not going to help you.
Crais: You'll regret this, I assure you. (Talyn sounds an alert) The Plokavians are here.
Plokavian ship: Crais, your ship is still active.
Crais: (arrogant) Never mind! Our deal is canceled.
Plokavian ship: I cannot permit that. The contract stands. (but Crais strides over to the weapons console and abruptly hits the cannon trigger. Talyn fires and the Plokavian ship disappears in a huge explosion)
(cut back to the interrogation chamber)
Gahv: That's not what the others told us! You want us to believe they're protecting Crais?
Stark: No. They're protecting Talyn. They know you'd have to destroy Talyn to bring Crais to justice.
Fento: And you don't care about Talyn?
Stark: Not as much as I care about the others. Besides - you may never catch them.
(meanwhile, cut back to Moya, who's plodding through space looking for Talyn. On her Command Rygel sits, slumped onto a console dozing and Chiana is draped over another, one arm flung up over her eyes. The mood is Bored and Powerless To Get Moya To Do Anything)
Rygel: (rousing himself with a struggle) Any sign of Talyn?
Chiana: None. Moya is completely wasting her time. (she rolls over and addresses the image of Pilot on the clamshell viewer) Pilot - we really should head back now.
Pilot: (stubborn) Moya wants to keep looking!
Chiana: She's not "looking!" She's flying around in circles!
Pilot: (pedantically) We are following a spiral search pattern of my own devising, which maximizes the possibility that we-
Chiana: -completely lose our bearings and NEVER find our way back to the OTHERS! (well she does know Pilot...)
Pilot: (deeply miffed) I'm doing as Moya wishes! Do not question us! (and he abruptly snaps the clamshell viewer offline as Rygel sniggers at Chiana)
Rygel: (with gleeful sarcasm) Well done Chiana! You could have a fine career as a diplomat!
Chiana: (deadly) Frell - you - Rygel.
Rygel: Given your excellent way with words! (he roars with laughter as she stalks off the Command)
(cut back to the prison chamber aboard the Plokavian ship. Tempers are wearing thin among the prisoners. D'Argo paces the small domed platform fretfully)
John: Watch your step. It's a long way down.
D'Argo: Keep bothering me and I'll test that theory by throwing you over it.
John: Just trying to cheer you up.
D'Argo: Don't bother. (and at that moment the elevator cage reappears with a hiss and a dull metallic thud as the creaky voice of Fento rings out of nowhere)
Fento: Prisoners! Your testimonies do not correspond! Unless we hear the truth, you will all be executed! (that's all D'Argo needs to lunge at Stark and seize him as he exits the elevator cage)
D'Argo: (furious) What did you say to them?
Stark: Leave me alone!
D'Argo: TELL ME!
Stark: I said get away from me! (but D'Argo slams his fist into Starks face. The Banik's mask flies off and he goes sprawling onto the platform as the mask skitters away towards the edge. The part of Starks face that is a glowing patch of light is revealed, but the light is a deep writhing orange color instead of the usual white/gold and Stark screams frantically as he lays there, somehow incapacitated. Zhaan rushes to his side )
Stark: MY MASK! GIVE ME MY MASK!
John: What's happening to him?
Stark: HELP ME! MY MASK! HELP ME! MY MASK! HELP ME! (Zhaan makes a lunge for the mask and catches it just as it slides off the platform into the abyss below) HELP ME! (she replaces it over the glowing side of his head and sooths him gently as his cries subside)
John: (still standing in the same spot and completely as sea) What - the hell -WAS THAT?
Stark: (gasping to get his breath back) My mask keeps my energies in check. I - I wasn't prepared to lose it. I - I lost control. I wasn't focused.
Aeryn: (reproachfully) D'Argo, that didn't help.
D'Argo: (unrepentant) Oh and Starks lies will? (and the call to the interrogation room rings out in the dark)
Gahv: KA D'ARGO! (D'Argo strides into the elevator cage purposefully and says to the others as its door closes behind him-)
D'Argo: I'll tell them what I really saw.
(cut immediately to Talynís Command and DíArgoís account of the events leading up to the destruction of the Plokavian arms dealers ship. Stark is terrified and near hysteria, Aeryn stands with her hands clasped in front of her and D'Argo with his arms crossed over his chest)
Stark: PloKAVIANS! Are you fahrbot?
D'Argo: (in a commanding tone, asking Crais, not Stark) And who are the Plokavians?
Stark: (gasping as he searches for words terrible enough to describe them) They're barbarians! Murderers! Builders of horrific weapons! Uh - shatter grenades, novatron gases, seismic disrupters! They're frelling savages who deal in DEATH!
(cut back to the interrogation chamber where D'Argo is perched in the chair)
D'Argo: That was the word he used. Then Aeryn decided to step in and defend Crais.
(cut back to Talynís Command - DíArgoís story)
Aeryn: Crais only wants a dampening net.
D'Argo: (his tone is low and contemptuous of Crais) Dren. I think he wants to equip Talyn with even deadlier weapons.
John: You know what I think? I think you are right!
Crais: Not at all. You can supervise the installation yourself.
Stark: (panicky) No! We must leave now!
Crais: You can't leave. I need your help and Moyaís to sedate Talyn for the modifications.
D'Argo: We will not be a party to this.
Stark: (passionate - and irrational) We must stop the Plokavians! They're evil! Their weapons have helped enslave many worlds! including - mine.
Crais: But this weapon - will help Talyn.
D'Argo: (in a low , menacing tone) I think I know how to help Talyn. Why don't we - break Crais' neck?
John: I am down with that!
Zhaan: Violence will not solve the problem.
Crais: Indeed not. Killing me would harm Talyn. He would be even more destructive without my guidance.
D'Argo: You mean, your control?
Crais: I only control him to a point.
Aeryn: I could help with that, if you'd let me.
D'Argo: He won't. He wants to keep Talynís powers for his own selfish purposes.
Crais: I have not misused Talynís power. I've only fired in self-defense.
Zhaan: He may be right. We do know of Talynís encounter with the Halosians.
Aeryn: (defending Crais again) He stopped Talyn from destroying them.
Crais: (in response to Talynís alert) The Plokavians are here.
Stark: (pleading and increasingly agitated) NO! Tell them you've changed your mind! Don't deal with them! (he gasps with horror as Crais opens communications with the arms dealers)
Plokavian ship: Crais, we've arrived.
Crais: Ahead of schedule.
Plokavian ship: Your vessel has not been sedated.
Crais: Privacy mode is engaged. Talyn can't hear this conversation. (meanwhile D'Argo and Zhaan examine the holo of the Plokavian ship)
D'Argo: It's well-armed.
Zhaan: Look at the cargo analysis. (Stark eyes the weapons console trigger)
D'Argo: Novatron gas. Eats you alive from the inside out.
Stark: (vehemently) We can't let Crais get near these monsters! We have to strike first! (and with that, he suddenly hits the trigger on the weapons console and the Plokavian arms dealers ship disappears in a massive explosion)
D'Argo: STARK! (a body from the explosion of the Plokavian ship flies into Talynís forward viewport and splats in a nasty millisecond as Stark screams)
Crais: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
D'Argo: Give it up Crais!
John: (gleeful) Stark frelled you Crais!
Aeryn: (brandishing the transponder Crais had relinquished) Yeah you're not getting this back either!
D'Argo: (as Crais whips his spare out and plugs it in) He's got another transponder!
Stark: OH! What's happened?
Zhaan: He's back in control of Talyn!
Crais: (growling with villainous fury) Did you think I'd give her my only transponder? Now - GET - OFF - MY - SHIP!
(cut back to the interrogation chamber)
Gahv: Stark fired the cannon.
D'Argo: Yes, but I will never mourn the death of someone who deals in novatron gas.
Gahv: Then why turn Stark in?
D'Argo: Because, the rest of us should not be responsible for something he alone did.
(cut back to the prison chamber where the others wait in silence. Stark is deep in thought before he turns to Zhaan)
Stark: DíArgoís testimony is going to get me executed. I'm sure of it.
Zhaan: But you didn't fire the cannon.
Stark: I know I didn't. You have to believe me. I didn't do it.
(cut to Moya, Pilots Den. Chiana enters and approaches his console. Pilot eyes her as she advances)
Chiana: (looking up at him. She's a mixture of contrition and intimidation and determination to be heard) Hey - I'm sorry I yelled at you. It's just it's-it's been over 3 arns. Just between you and me, wh-what are our chances of finding Talyn?
Pilot: (sheepishly) Miniscule.
Chiana: So - what are we doing?
Pilot: Moya feels guilty.
Chiana: Why? Because-because Talyn blew up some weapons dealer? Well, if you ask me, they had it coming.
Pilot: Talyn's her son Chiana. She feels responsible for what he does.
Chiana: Yeah, but doesn't she also feel responsible for D'Argo, Crichton? Zhaan? Aeryn? Don't you? (buttering him up just a little) You're the Pilot, aren't you?
Pilot: (with dignity) I will not force her to abandon the search. But - I - will ask her.
Chiana: But what if they manage to escape in the transport pod and - and we're not there to get them?
Pilot: Moya understands your concern. (he heaves a big sigh) And she agrees with it.
Chiana: She does?
Pilot: I'm setting a return course now. (he sounds somewhere between relieved and regretful as Moya breaks her search pattern and veers off back towards the Plokavian ship)
(cut back to the prison chamber aboard the Plokavian ship as the elevator cage reappears and D'Argo exits it in silence)
Gahv: JOHN: CRICHTON! (no words are exchanged between the prisoners as John enters the elevator and Aeryn watches apprehensively as it drops out of sight. Stark looks at Zhaan, frightened and imploring, she places her hands on his cheeks in a gesture of silent support)
(cut to the interrogation chamber where John has taken the chair)
Fento: Who fired the cannon?
John: Nobody did. Must have been a malfunction. (the light that shines in the face of whoever is sitting in the chair now becomes a projector that shines an image of DíArgoís face over his. D'Argo is recorded as having said:)
D'Argo: Stark was at the weapons console. He was frantic. Before I could stop him, he fired the cannon.
John: D'Argo said that?
Fento: Was he lying?
John: He - was confused Stark's never even been aboard Talyn. He probably wouldn't know how to find the weapons consoles. (now the projector replays part of Aerynís statement - an image of her face is played over John's as she says-)
Aeryn: Stark offered to raise Talynís defense screen. He started towards the weapon console, but I stopped him before he could touch anything.
John: Well that makes sense. D'Argo sees Stark near the weapons console, so after the big bang, he assumes it's Stark because Stark was the closest. (Without any comment form the unseen inquisitors, the projector abruptly superimposes an image of Zhaan testimony over John's face)
Zhaan: No one ever approached the weapons console. When it malfunctioned, Crichton started toward it, but Aeryn told him not to touch it.
Fento: (accusatory) Then you were closest.
John: Look, you guys gotta understand something. Everybody's stories are going to be a little different. Nobody sees things the exact same way.
Fento: We do.
John: (incredulous) What? 10 Plakavoids see a fender bender and you get 10 identical reports?
John: Well the rest of the universe doesn't work that way. There's going to be some inconsistencies.
Fento: Such as this one? (and the projector beams part of Starks testimony over John's face)
Stark: Then Crais got angry and marched over to the weapons console and pressed a control. That's when the-the-the cannon fired.
John: Stark hates Peacekeepers. He'd like to see you go after Crais even if Crais didn't destroy your ship.
Gahv: (roaring) SILENCE! (and as John lays there in the chair, Fento and Gahv come sloshing through the liquid on the floor towards him) We've heard enough!
Fento: You're all lying! Further testimony is a waste of time! The executions will begin immediately! (John gets a good look at Fento as she speaks. she is hideous. Oozing sores cover the pasty skin that sags like the wax of a melted candle on her face and one eye is sealed shut with a glob of mucus. she is bald and the stumps of a couple teeth still cling to her diseased gums. The stiff hood that she wears seems like a practical way of concealing without touching her diseased skin rather than a fashion statement. Gahv is identically attired John turns his head away - but more with an air of weariness than revulsion)
Gahv: (wheedling) Looook - tell us who the guilty one is and we'll spare the others.
Fento: Otherwise, we will commence the executions with you. (a glob of something drips off her and goes hissing and steaming into the liquid on the floor)
John: (he stares at the ceiling and sounds tired as he says, more to himself than to Fento and Gahv) There's just nothing new in the universe is there? It's the same everywhere - good cop, bad cop.
Fento: You think we're bluffing?
John: Nope. I don't think you give a damn about the truth. I think you're looking for a scapegoat.
Gahv: We want - justice. (John sits up in the chair and looks them in the eye as they stand there beside him)
John: All right then. Listen up. Yes. We are lying. (more mucus drips off Gahv and plops into the liquid he is standing in) You say we're going to be executed at dawn. Is it some big surprise that we'd cover for one another?
Gahv: (primly) No. But it must stop.
John: Okay, it stops here. I'll give it to you straight. I don't know what happened. Probably never will. Could have been Stark. Could have been Crais. Could have been any one of us. The best I can do is tell you what I saw. No coverings, no editorials - no axes to grind. Does that work for you?
Gahv: Go on.
John: All right. (he lays back in the chair and begins his story) We're good, right up to the point where Crais tells us about the Plakavoids...
(cut to Talynís Command as John relates what he saw in the moments leading up to the destruction of the Plokavian arms dealers ship)
Stark: (shocked by Crais' intentions) The Plakavoids? Are you fahrbot?
Zhaan: Who are the Plakavoids?
Stark: (he enumerates some Plokavian inventions with rational disgust) They're a dangerous race who build horrific weapons. Shatter grenades that turn bones to powder. Seismic disrupters that can destroy entire planets. And novatron gas, which eats your body alive.
Crais: (mildly annoyed) What's your point? All I want is a dampening net.
D'Argo: (suspicious - but calm) Well, suppose what you really want is to install even deadlier weapons on Talyn?
Crais: (abruptly, as if he'd been holding this offer back for just this contingency - the crew of Moya not cooperating) You can supervise the installation yourself. In fact, I'll need your help, and Moyaís, to sedate Talyn for the modification. He won't part with his cannon willingly.
John: Interesting. Can you blame him for that?
D'Argo: (slowly, thoughtfully) No. We cannot be a party to this.
Stark: (firmly) We can't have anything to do with this. The Plakavoids are an evil race. Their weapons have helped enslave many worlds, including my own.
Crais: (a note of irritation and impatient creeps into his voice as he protests) This weapon will help Talyn.
D'Argo: I know a way we can help Talyn. Why don't we just break your neck?
Crais: (with a dismissive snort) That would exacerbate the problem. Talyn would be even more destructive without my guidance.
Zhaan: You mean your control.
Crais: I only control him to a point. And I can't seem to convince him that the use of his weapons should only be as a last resort.
Aeryn: (as she fingers the transponder Crais handed over to her) Perhaps another captain would have more success.
Crais: Doubtful. He trusts me.
John: (softly) Then he's the only one around here who does.
Crais: I have not misused Talynís power. I've only fired his cannons in self-defense.
Zhaan: John, we do know of Talynís encounter with the Halosians.
Crais: Correct. They attacked us. It was all I could do to stop Talyn from finishing them off.
John: Yeah. Right.
Crais: I have changed, Crichton. My only concern is for Talynís protection. Left unchecked, his aggressiveness will lead to disaster. The solution I propose - (Talyn sounds an alert) The Plakavoidian vessel's here.
Stark: (very apprehensive) This is wrong. We shouldn't deal with them.
John: Crais, assuming we want to neuter Talyn are these really the people we want to be in business with?
Crais: Do you know anyone else who can provide Talyn what he needs?
Plokavian ship: Crais:, we've arrived.
Crais: Yes, you're ahead of schedule.
Plokavian ship: Your ship is still active.
Crais: Privacy mode is engaged. Talyn can't hear this conversation. (as he speaks, stark steps to the weapons console and touches it, it makes a an electronic bleat)
John: (whispering) Stark! What are you doing?
Stark: We have to strike first. (John pulls Stark away from the weapons console and touches the controls himself. The others, who had been listening to Crais and the arms dealers, look sharply in their direction as a high-pitched whine is heard. Stark, who is standing behind John, reaches around him and hits the cannon trigger as he gasps-) What have you done? (the cannon fires and the Plokavian ship is blown out of the sky)
(cut back to the present - the interrogation chamber as John finishes his telling)
John: And then Crais forced us off the ship.
Fento: You assert that Stark did touch something at the weapons console?
John: After I shut down the console. With the safety on, Stark couldn't do a thing. He did not fire the cannon. Nobody did. And that's how I saw it. Cross my heart, and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.
(cut back to the prison chamber platform where the others wait. Stark sits between Aeryn and Zhaan)
Stark: (despondent) There's nothing Crichton can do. I'm going to be executed. Wonder how they'll do it? Pulse fire? Strangulation? Maybe even novatron gas.
Aeryn: (ever helpful) They mentioned something called 'dispersal.'
Stark: (his interest piqued) What else did they say?
Aeryn: I didn't ask the details. Why?
Stark: (with a glimmer of hope) Because there's a remote chance that I could survive dispersal. My physical form is only part of my reality. Much of me is energy that I can control and project.
Zhaan: The energy his mask holds in.
Stark: Maybe if I'm prepared for it, I can transfer enough of myself into another realm to survive.
Zhaan: Well, we do know that creatures like Maldis can be dispersed and-and re-coalesce.
Stark: Maybe I can return to this realm someday. (Zhaan smiles with hope at the chance, Stark looks at Aeryn who is hazing at him with perfect blankness. Stark deflates) Nah - I don't believe it either. But even a remote possibility is b- (but at that moment he is interrupted by John's return in the elevator cage)
Fento: (her voice rings out in the darkness and she and Gahv are revealed to be standing on a balcony at some distance above them) Prisoners! We have considered your testimonies and reached a conclusion. Your lack of candor gives us no choice but to have you all put to death. (our crew bursts out with protests, but Fento continues impassively)
Start with the Peacekeeper! (there is a long moment of dreadful silence - which is ended by Stark leaping to his feet)
Stark: Wait! I cannot let the others die on my behalf. I have to tell the truth. I fired on the Plokavian ship and destroyed it.
John: Stark! Don't! (but before another word can be said, he, Aeryn, D'Argo and Zhaan collapse to the platform, conscious, but completely limp, they can only watch helplessly as Stark remains standing alone to face Fento and Gahv)
Gahv: You freely confess your crime?
Stark: Yes I do. Does that surprise you?
Fento: Not in the least.
Gahv: You were our prime suspect from the start. (Stark makes no answer but to remove his mask. the brilliant light beneath it is extinguished and is seen only as an indistinct sooty black patch of nothingness where the right upper side of his face should be. He places the mask in the limp hand of Zhaan who stares up at him helplessly and then, stepping carefully over the sprawled forms of the others, he enters the elevator cage. Its bars thud shut behind him)
Stark: (he addresses the prostrate crew of Moya briefly) I thank you all for the great risks you took to save a mere Banik slave. Your acceptance... Your friendship... has meant a lot to me.
Fento: You have confessed to the crime of murder. Are you ready to accept the penalty?
Stark: Ready. (and as a bell tolls deeply from somewhere, Starks body seems to become enveloped by a white fog. He screams in agony as he undergoes molecular dispersal within the elevator cage. His screams fade to echoes and then silence as his body disintegrates and is swept away like pollen in the wind)
(cut to later - the transport pod has left the Plokavian ship and is carrying the surviving crew members back to Moya)
Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den as he addresses the returning crew) The Plokavian ship has departed and Moya is ready to starburst once you're back aboard.
Aeryn: Thank you, Pilot. (the mood in the pod is subdued)
D'Argo: (quietly repentant) I misjudged Stark. I thought he was trying to save himself but he was really trying to save us all. He shouldn't have died for his crime.
John: What crime?
Aeryn: Stark committed no crime.
D'Argo: I saw him fire the cannon.
Zhaan: So did I.
John: You saw him press the fire button. I had shut down the weapons console, so he couldn't fire.
Aeryn: Did you know what else would happen when you neutralized the controls?
John: I knew that shutting down the weapons console would kill the manual override, yeah. (Aeryn affirms this with a quiet grunt)
Zhaan: You returned control of the weapons to Talyn.
D'Argo: Why would Talyn fire?
Pilot: (cut to him briefly as he answers DíArgoís question) When Talyn scanned the arms dealers cargo, he asked Moya what it was. She realized it was novatron gas, one of the 6 Forbidden Cargoes no Leviathan may carry.
John: (softly) Moya clued him in.
Pilot: (cut between him in his den and the stunned faces of the crew in the pod as he speaks) And Talyn destroyed that ship. He - thought he was protecting Moya.
(cut to later after the crew has returned to Moya. D'Argo is alone in his quarters, sitting on his bed, head bowed pensively. Nearby lays the picture of Jothee, his lost son, that Stark had brought to him. Chiana enters and picks it up, mistaking it as the source of DíArgoís sorrow)
Chiana: You'll find him.
D'Argo: I know I will. But only because Stark came back to tell me where he was. Why did he do that?
Chiana: (offering a hesitant explanation based upon her own perception of the universe) Well, he... he felt he owed you and Crichton a debt. Maybe this was his way of repaying it.
D'Argo: (very softly, thoughtfully) I've become so distrustful of people, even when they're trying to help me. What does that say about what I've become?
(cut to elsewhere on Moya. Aeryn and John sit at a table. She is working on something and he sits with his head bowed, brooding)
John: Can I ask you a question?
John: When the Plokavians were questioning you, why didn't you try to finger Crais?
Aeryn: What if they believed me? They probably would have gone after Crais and they would have had to kill Talyn to get to him.
John: So, you were protecting Talyn?
Aeryn: Of course.
John: (after a long pause, dubiously) And that's it?
Aeryn: (she doesn't look at him till after she says the word) Yes. (then she looks back at her work and there's another long silence) Can I ask you something?
Aeryn: Do you think it's possible... that Stark survived?
John: Since I got here, I've seen a lot of impossible things.
Aeryn: Zhaan thinks it's possible.
John: Yeah - she says she does. But I don't think she believes it. (Aeryn looks at him sidelong and is clearly in the midst of her own brooding)
Meanwhile Zhaan sits alone in her quarters, caressing Starks mask. She lifts it to her face and touches it with her lips, tears trickle down her cheeks as she catches his scent upon it. And with both hands, she cradles it next to her heart.