The episode opens with Talyn leading Moya slowly into orbit around a brilliant white planet. The scene shifts to a fire devastated area within Moya. Wisps of smoke or vapors from hot spots or damaged Leviathan tissues still drift in the air and Zhaan stands, leaning on a charred bit of her home, staring pensively into space. She looks up as Rygel floats in on his hoverchair and interrupts her reverie with a jovial announcement...
Rygel: Ah! There you are! We're dividing the spoils from the depository. (he presents a selection of precious baubles) These were set aside for you to choose from, and I understand that- (but Zhaan cuts him off without a word by lashing out and grabbing him. He groans loudly in her painful grip) WWGGHH!
Zhaan: (hissing with fury) She is burnt! She is badly crippled because of our desires!
Rygel: (choking out his words as the things he brought for Zhaan go tinkling to the floor) Let gooo!
Zhaan: (she releases him with a little shove and snarls) Was all this wealth worth it?
Rygel: (angered - and pragmatic as ever) 'Course not, you blue bitch! But what's done is done!
Zhaan: (resentfully as she turns her gaze back to Moya’s ruined body) Just as long as we're wealthy, huh?
Rygel: (resentful back) May as well put it to good use. Crais and Talyn have located some kind of surgeon - a healer species. (reproachful) We're almost there! We're all choosing one or two items we want. The rest is to pay any fee for Moya’s remedy.
Zhaan: (abashed) I'm sorry Rygel, I misjudged you.
Rygel: Hmpf! It's becoming your career! (Moya shudders and they both look around with concern)
(cut to John's quarters where he continues his short trip to the loony bin as he looks into his mirror and talks to the neural clone of Scorpius that lives in his head - Scorpius/Harvey - whose unlovely visage he sees reflected there)
Scorpius/Harvey: Now listen John - be smart. See the situation for what it is.
John: Screw you! (he shatters the mirror with his fist - or thinks he does - for the face of Scorpius/Harvey is still there looking at him)
Scorpius/Harvey: No John - not this time. We've reached the end of the old. The beginning of the new.
John: (under his breath) I am in control! (howling) I am in control OF ME! (he breaks the mirror again - but the apparition of the neural clone is still there, unfazed)
Scorpius/Harvey: No more, John
John: Screw you! (he smashes the mirror again, to no effect)
Scorpius/Harvey: The reverse is more likely. (John screams incoherently and smashes his fist into the mirror again and again, but each time it shatters, the face of Scorpius/Harvey remains right there, staring implacably out at him. Aeryn enters the room and grabbing the frenzied John, drags him away from the mirror and forces him into a chair where she holds him down)
Aeryn: STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT!
John: (writhing in psychic agony) I can't! I CAN'T!
Aeryn: (firmly - trying to bring him back to reality - without seeming to understanding that the clone IS real) There's no one here John! You made yourself bleed!
John: (struggling and hysterical, his damaged hands shaking with his panic) SCORPIUS! SCORPIUS! SCORPIUS!
Aeryn: (firmly) Yes - listen - he put a neurotracer chip in your head! You know this! You know he isn't really here!
John: (frantic, through clenched teeth) I see him! I see him! (he squirms free of Aeryn, but she grabs him and turns him to face her. She holds his head in her hands, forcing him to look at her, He stares at her, plucking at her shoulders and stroking her hair fretfully as of trying to make sure she's really there and to focus on what she's saying)
Aeryn: WELL FIGHT IT. (then, gently, her tone sick with worry) Listen to me. We've reached the surgical facility. We're going to see if they can remove the chip.
John: (he stares closely into her face for a long moment, running his hands over her head but he can't do it - he leaps away from her and lunges back towards the empty mirror, hissing) I have to smash him!
Aeryn: (frustrated) No! Scorpius isn't really there John! I need you to face reality as it is!
Scorpius/Harvey: (but of course to John, the clone is right there in the mirror, plain as day and talking to him quite calmly) It's ridiculous I know. She cannot see us John.
John: (as he stares dully into the mirror and snorts softly at Aeryn’s imperative) What's happening to me?
Aeryn: (her brow is furrowed with despair as she answers him with weary anger) You know what's happening to you. Scorpius put that frelling chip in your brain.
John: (calmer, but still shaking) Aeryn - what do you see - in the mirror? What do you see?
Aeryn: (her voice is trembling with despair) There is no mirror. There is no Scorpius. Look. (but John is looking, and he sees Scorpius/Harvey looking back at him) You must confront your fears with strength.
John: (he stares into the mirror and replies with unnerving calm) You're right Aeryn. (and as he speaks his face morphs into that of a John/Scorpius hybrid) There's no Scorpius here. Mm... (his face morphs back to plain old John) There's only me. (and he smiles as he morphs back to John/Scorpius again in his minds eye) Yeah.
Later - Moya has settled into orbit around the brilliant white planet - a planet of ice and snow. Cut to somewhere in her fire-devastated section. Aeryn, Chiana and D'Argo watch as the healer, Diagnosan Tocot, inspects the damage to Moya. He is a tall bipedal creature of basically human shape and Caucasian coloration. But he has a large head with small, wide-set eyes that look out from wither side of a red segmented mask that comes over the top of his head and down the center of his face to cover his nose and mouth, He is dressed in a red leather tunic sort of garment and red fingerless opera-length gloves that leave his bulging biceps exposed. His fingers are tipped in long red, claw-like nails and he uses eyepieces attached to his mask to examine Moya. His voice is extraordinary. It's tiny, high-pitched and belies his size and apparent masculinity. Like Pilot, he speaks a language understandable to translator microbes only at his own will - but unlike Pilot, he usually chooses not to. The language is pretty and melodious - like a birds might be, full of delicate trills and short, note-like syllables. He chatters to his assistant, Grunchlk, who can understand him and translates to the others. Grunchlk is not the same species as Tocot. He is thoroughly humanoid in appearance and can be accurately described as a coarse slob. He is heavy and unkempt, with long dirty blond hair that looks as of it's never met a brush, and water only by accident. His face sports a dirty stubble of beard and his complexion is really bad. He looks like he spits when he talks and he usually has something to eat in his hand. He has an Australian accent and his clothing is dirty. he also seems to have some sort of control over the ethereal Diagnosan that makes him seem often more like the common handler of a fine, but high-strung racehorse, than an assistant.
Grunchlk: (in a low voice, responding to Tocot's trilling) If it wasn't serious, they wouldn't have called us, would they? Now, when you're done - the big picture. (evidently a badly burned Leviathan presents the challenge of an ingrown toenail to the rarified talents of Diagnosan Tocot)
Aeryn: (sotto voce to D'Argo) I don't like him.
D'Argo: (murmuring back) He's rumored to be one of the best healers in the uncharted territories.
Aeryn: No not him - his sleazy confederate - Gun-sick.
Grunchlk: (overhearing her, he smiles sweetly, revealing a mouthful of mossy teeth) Grrroon-schlk. (he touches his ear) Splendid here. (then, drawing attention back to Tocot) Doc fix there.
D'Argo: Can he save Moya?
Grunchlk: (patronizingly reassuring) Ooohh- looks good! He's splendid with infections. (Tocot speaks to Grunchlk in his tiny, bubbling voice and the dirty blond translates - it's doubtful his translation is 100% accurate but Tocot seems content to let it be most of the time) He'll make up a mixture that'll be absorbed through the scarred areas - and then a couple of applications - keep the patient sedated - you're all fine.
Aeryn: How much?
Grunchlk: (he makes a sound indicating the pittance Tocot works for) Pft! By my calculations, let's saaayy - exchange equivalent, with the meter and all that - 12,000 krepmas. (Tocot lets fly an alarmed squeal and D’Argo’s response is all the translation that’s needed)
Grunchlk: (excusing himself with a nervous little laugh as Tocot scolds like a small bird at him) Just a microt. (he hurries to speak quietly to the tall physician, who continues to bubble sullenly in his contralto voice. Meanwhile Aeryn, D'Argo and Chiana quickly conduct a whispered conference of their own)
Chiana: I don't know - What do you think?
Aeryn: I don't think we have any choice.
Chiana: She's got to get fixed - but this is crazy!
Grunchlk: (a bit of his own hushed consult with the doctor is heard) You think you can run that facility without me? Eh? Eh? (Tocot’s response has a tone of resignation to it and Grunchlk leaves him to come back to our crew. Aeryn shushes Chiana as she sees him coming. He says to them is an apologetic whisper-) He always thinks I undercharge. He's a greedy bastard - it's a species trait. Now, I'm sorry to have to do this to you - but he insists. That's 15,000 krepmas.
D'Argo: I could buy a whole new ship for that.
Grunchlk: (with theatrical regret) I had to let an aunt die once because we couldn't afford t' fix her. (Aeryn and D'Argo both heave sighs. They know they're being gouged but they have no bargaining leverage. They turn away from Grunchlk and Aeryn says sourly-)
Aeryn: I'm going to go and assess our funds. (she leaves. Meanwhile Chiana has flounced over to poor Tocot and is giving him a piece of her mind - she only comes up to his chest but he seems rather alarmed by her. Grunchlk strolls over to them)
Chiana: (to Tocot) If you don't make her better we're gonna get you!
Grunchlk: (to Chiana) Let me introduce you-
D'Argo: (embarrassed) Chiana! (She looks back at him and he says wearily-) Leave him alone. (he turns to go but Chiana turns back to the gently cooing Tocot and asks-)
Chiana: Why do you wear that mask?
Grunchlk: (answering for the softly nattering Tocot of course) Doctor Diagnosan intuits disease through inhalation - (he opens a segment of Tocot’s red mask that reveals large, noseless nostrils and proceeds to indelicately poke his fingers into them) - here. Very, very sensitive. (Tocot sneezes violently and quite adorably at this rude violation of his sinuses - "HAH-KA-TRRRRUISH!!" - Grunchlk closes the mask segment and licks off his fingers that he just probed the Docs open nasal membranes with) Even the siljop bacteria in your beautiful hair would kill him - if he got it in his nose and his mouth at the same time.
(cut to elsewhere in Moya’s burned section. John is wandering a blackened and destroyed corridor as of in a daze. Rygel comes hunting for him)
Rygel: Ah - Crichton. A word if I may.
John: (in his evil PK accent) Not now Rygel.
Rygel: 'Now' works for me. If you haven't chosen a bauble yet-
John: Rygel - shut up. (and now we see just which evil PK he is today. Rygel - who might just as well keep all the baubles for himself with the luck he's having giving them away. sees only John - but John sees himself as Scorpius, wearing a black leather coolant suit identical to the half-Scarrans. He shoves a gem Rygel is holding, down the Hynerians throat, smiles, and walks on, leaving Rygel shaking and coughing)
(cut to D'Argo and Jothee as they walk together through a burnt corridor and emerge into a healthy one that passes the center chamber. They're in the middle of a father/son talk)
D'Argo: If I take you to him-
Jothee: (protesting) I don't want to have them repaired!
D'Argo: (trying to reason with him) He's a surgeon. We have currency. I'm sure that-
Jothee: (wearily) Father, you're not listening to me-
(they draw near to the center chamber where Rygel is registering a complaint with Aeryn about John)
Aeryn: (trying to get away from him) All right Rygel - I'll take care of it.
Rygel: (much aggrieved) Well he just tried to force this chinka stone down my throat!
Aeryn: (exasperated) What did I just say? (she marches out of the room as D'Argo and Jothee pass by, still deep in their verbal sparring)
D'Argo: I don't see why you wouldn't want your tankas restored. I mean - as a Luxan.
Jothee: I'm only half Luxan. (he stops and so does D'Argo) And for many cycles I didn't even want to be that.
D'Argo: (with slow realization) You cut yourself? You - you mutilated your own tankas? (his voice nearly breaks) You hate me that much? (he raises one hand sorrowfully to Jothee’s face, but the young man takes it and gently pushes it away)
Jothee: It's okay. It doesn't hurt any more father. (he walks away from D'Argo who stands staring after him as Chiana enters)
Chiana: Hey D'Argo -
D'Argo: (whirling on her, angry that his kid would probably rather have surgery to take off the rest of his tankas than fix the ones he chopped off) WHAT? (Chiana pulls up short and stares at him uncertainly) Sorry Chiana, I - uh- (but he can't talk and quickly walks away, leaving her nonplussed and staring after him)
(cut to soon after in a burnt area of Moya. Tocot is working as Chiana, Stark and Zhaan watch Grunchlk, who continues to work them over as he noshes on what looks like a sausage roll)
Stark: (in a deadly tone, to Grunchlk) A moment ago you said 17.5.
Grunchlk: (ticking off items on his fat grubby fingers) Expenses. Experience. Expertise. The meter's still running. 20,000 is the rate.
Stark: I'll pay 18 and not a krepma more. (ah, but Grunchlk's bulk is deceptive, it may just be smooth muscle instead of fat - he seizes Stark by the front of his tunic with one hand and hoisting the Banik off the floor, he growls)
Grunchlk: I hate to negotiate like this, but I do find it cuts through the kretaad.
Zhaan: (calmly) Put him down Greenchalk.
Grunchlk: Groon-schlk. This is business. I have the supply. I make the demand. (Tocot coos fretfully in his sweet language and Grunchlk calls loudly to him as the doctor makes concerned sounds) It's all right Doctor! The family are in denial! I won't let them hurt each other! (quietly to Stark) Pay the 20,000 - before it goes up. (Stark looks to Zhaan who nods with distaste, and he passes the nod along to Grunchlk who sets him down without a word)
(cut to Moya’s neural clusters where John is seated, working on a sort of laptop computer that blinks and pulses with the red, black and white geometric symbols of the Peacekeepers. Aeryn enters, looking for him)
Aeryn: Crichton? Um - Pilot says you're re configuring a comms signal outside his control.
John: (without looking up from his work) I want to eavesdrop on Crais' radio traffic without him knowing about it. I still don't trust him Aeryn.
Aeryn: (defensive of her former commander) Crais and Talyn saved our lives. They saved yours.
John: Look Aeryn, if you're worried about the - (he whistles and twirls a finger next to his head) - inside my head? Don't. He's under house arrest. Remember what you said? (he makes a fist) "Strength."
Aeryn: (firmly) That's great John - but you need to stop what you're doing.
John: Aeryn, as long as I stay busy, he leaves me alone. (he rises and moves over by Aeryn) Sometimes if I sing - he leaves me alone. (he begins to playfully sound out the tune of "The Ride Of The Valkyries" at her, but then turns away and trails off)
Aeryn: (gently) Look - once the Diagnosan's finished with Moya, he's going to take a look at you.
John: (with resignation) It won't help.
Aeryn: I am - (she bows her head momentarily and rests it against his shoulder) - reminded -at this point, of a word - (she raises her head and looks steadily at the back of his head) -that you actually brought to this vessel - Hope. (John slowly turns back to face her, in his minds eye, he has morphed once again into a hybrid of himself and Scorpius. Facing her at very close range, he murmurs-)
John/Scorpius: I would be lost without you. (Aeryn of course sees only the old John he's always known)
Aeryn: Then you will never be lost. (they rest their foreheads together and stand there like that)
John/Scorpius: No matter what happens - you have worked your way - into my heart.
Aeryn: And you've shown me that I have one.
John/Scorpius: (he cradles her face in his hands as he murmurs) I love you.
Aeryn: (whispered, as their lips move closer) I love you too. (slowly they make to kiss, but just as their lips touch, John/Scorpius drives her head backwards with a vicious, snakelike movement, crashing her skull into a column of neural conduit. She is rendered instantly unconscious and John/Scorpius looks at her insensible face, supported in his hands, and sniffs at her before murmuring sensually-)
John/Scorpius: Mm - You are so - my girl. (and with that, he runs his tongue from the tip of her nose up over her forehead)
(cut to Moya and Talyn in orbit around the ice planet. Then cut to Talyn’s Command where Crais and Talyn are having a former PK megalomaniac-to-mutant Leviathan chat)
Crais: (firm, but sounding a little nervous) Now listen to me - Officer Sun cannot be blackmailed or enticed. If she is to join us, it would have to be of her own volition. (Talyn replies in his vocabulary of muted ponks and beeps) Agreed. If she joins us freely, we will tell her the truth. (the gunship responds with more blunt sounds, but changes the subject when he puts on loudspeaker, a signal he's just picked up - Crais reacts with alarm) What's that coming through? (Talyn natters back at him) Identify the source of the signal! Play it loud! (a repetitive, high-pitched squeal emanates from Talyn’s communications console)
(soon after - cut to Moya. Pilot is talking via comm to D'Argo who has Jothee with him again and a look of grim determination, as he moves through Moya at a brisk pace, hunting for John)
D'Argo: It's a Peacekeeper signal.
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) Crais says it's a special pulse code, known only to Captains rank and above.
Jothee: (protesting) He's never been a Peacekeeper!
D'Argo: (with grim fury) It has to be the neurocircuit that Scorpius implanted in his brain.
Jothee: What are we going to do when we find him?
D'Argo: (snapping) You? Nothing. It's too dangerous.
Jothee: (stopping as he says reproachfully) Dad!
D'Argo: (he whirls about to face Jothee and bellows) NO! (and stopping himself from saying anything else - he strides away, leaving Jothee to think for a moment and then move off in a different direction)
(cut to Moya’s neural clusters where Aeryn lays sprawled on the blood-smudged floor as John/Scorpius sits working at the PK laptop which is producing the same sound heard on Talyn. Jothee has clearly been spending some of his brief time aboard Moya scoping out his new home, since he already knows a shortcut to the clusters and so beats D'Argo to John)
Jothee: (stopping a few feet from John) Stop what you're doing.
John/Scorpius: (without even looking up from his work) Relax boy. You're not in any danger. Scorpius only wants me.
Jothee: My father says you're in no condition to make that decision.
John/Scorpius: And you're in no condition to stop me.
Jothee: (forcefully) Step - BACK!
John/Scorpius: (he looks up wearily, but still doesn't deign to cast his eyes upon Jothee as he says in his evil PK voice) Oh, my - you really should have brought a pulse rifle. (and with that, Jothee opens his mouth and lashes out with the long, whip-like Luxan stun-tongue that he inherited form his father. But alas - John/Scorpius merely reaches up and catches the appendage before it can touch him and yanks it, jerking Jothee toward him where with one flowing motion, he TKOs the kid. John/Scorpius comments to himself in a bored tone-) Like father, like son. (but he gloats too soon. For D'Argo has entered the clusters behind him and now lashes out with his tongue - neatly snapping John/Scorpius who slumps over, unconscious)
D'Argo: (responding in the silence to John's remark) Hardly.
(cut to later as a transport pod leaves Moya and makes its way to Diagnosan Tocot’s Fortress of Solitude - I MEAN HIS SURGICAL FACILITY- which consists of a complex of buildings featuring delicate silvery frameworks that perch upon an ice cliff on the planet.
Cut to inside where John has been brought into Tocot’s pristine surgery. the place is it by softly glowing white panels on the walls. A few bits of odd machinery stand against he walls. John is strapped to a table again, in the center of the room on a slightly raised platform that also glows, like the floor of a disco, white . This time the table is a standard procedure table though and Tocot presides at its head, touching controls on a small console on a transparent stand. Grunchlk is watching and Stark, who's wearing what looks like a raccoon fur coat that's having a worse than usual hair day - is bent over John talking to him)
Stark: How do you feel?
John: (resentfully) Like a popsicle. Kinda like the sphincter end of the universe.
Stark: They're just going to have a look - an examination.
John: Be sure he puts the KY on the glove. (they all look up as Crais enters - except for John whose head is restrained by a clear band around his forehead. He just rolls his eyes) What the hell are you doing here?
Crais: Meager gesture of support - while the others attend to Aeryn and Jothee.
John: Is there any permanent damage?
Crais: Just their pride. (eyeing him carefully) You seem - remarkably lucid.
John: Don't get too close. I could turn any second.
Stark: (solemnly) We'll fix it Crichton. Everyone's pledged to give whatever it takes to- (but he's interrupted by Tocot who moves towards him trilling softly. Stark just stares at the tall creature and Grunchlk - who's even more repulsive in the while light of the facility than he was in Moya’s soft golden glow, offers no translation. Tocot makes himself understood by poking Stark in the side with one of his long clawed fingers and waving him gently away, off the lit platform, with the other hand. Stark yips a little with alarm and retreats obediently.
The lights in the room immediately dim and are replaced by a dark, green light that shines down on John and Tocot on the raised platform. The Diagnosan then reaches up and removes the mask from his face, revealing a small mouth and a concave face dominated by open sinus tissues. His face gives the vague impression of hairless bat)
Stark: I thought he couldn't inhale our contaminants.
Grunchlk: (who's looking like Beetlejuice in this light) You see the green light? That's a biological neutralizer. That is, you could have the Karatonga plague in here, wouldn't touch him. Anywhere else - pick your nose and he's dead.
Tocot: (he speaks to John now is a tiny, halting, voice. His vocabulary that is understandable to translator microbes is limited to the very basic but he is gentle and concerned as he strokes John's head reassuringly) No - pain. Re - lax.
And with that, a brilliant white light envelops John's head. As it fades to normal intensity, the top of his skull becomes transparent - or has been removed by some means - revealing the surface of his brain.
It isn't a pretty sight. The pinkish-white brain tissue is covered by a spider web of thick black, root-like tendrils that curl and crawl over its surface as if they are alive. Crais stares with well-controlled horror but Grunchlk lets out a hearty groan of disgust -
Grunchlk: Frawww! Frelling KRETAADA! (Tocot shakes his head and burbles softly in his own language)
John: You're gonna tell me my health plan doesn't cover this, right? (Tocot speaks his gentle language and there seems to be a tone of regret in his tiny voice)
Grunchlk: (dumbfounded - and for once speaking in complete honesty and even a touch of pity) Doctor doesn't often say this - there's nothing he can do. That thing in his head - he - he can't get it out without killing him. (there is no response - except from John, who can only laugh bitterly)
(cut to later, back on Moya, in her burnt sections. Tocot is fussing at Moya’s burns and Stark has a canister with a hose attached and is spraying a vapor mist on Moya’s charred walls as D'Argo strides in to assist, followed closely by Chiana, fussing)
Chiana: D'Argo - the surgeon said it's-it's a numbing anesthetic, okay? So- so don't breathe too much, and- All right? And-
D'Argo: (stopping to face her , annoyed) All right already! I - remember.
Chiana: (fretful) What's the matter with you?
D'Argo: (confrontational) What's the matter with you?
Chiana: (flustered) Well I'm just - I - I'm trying to have a relationship.
D'Argo: And you think I'm not? (he makes to stalk off to join Stark, but stops, and heaving a great sigh, he turns back to her ) Listen Chiana - you have to understand it's been so long since I've seen my son.
Chiana: (quietly, but with the urgency of a woman who fears she's losing someone she cares about) D'Argo I know how long it is. There is no one - no one - who has lived this dream of finding your son more than me.
Stark: (his voice is slurred from the effects of the anesthetic vapor as he calls-) Y' gonna help, D'Argo?
D'Argo: (turning to Stark and snapping) Couldn't you wait a couple of microts Stark? I was talking to Chiana! (but Chiana turns and fades into the dim corridor and when D'Argo looks back she's gone. He sighs and returns to Stark)
Stark: (dully, as if he might keel over at any moment) Tocot says we've gotta put down another layer of dilandium- (D'Argo curses under his breath "Frelling hell...") - after the first has been absorbed.
D'Argo: (in a low, bitchy tone) Oh and you understand him...
(cut back to the ice planet where Aeryn and John are standing in a huge ice tunnel. Metal containers the size of portable toilets stand in haphazard rows along the walls, each has a little window in it. Aeryn stands several paces in front of John as she gazes at the scene stretching into infinity before them. John's hands are cuffed in front of him)
John: How many bodies did he say were in here?
Aeryn: I believe he said frelling millions.
John: (hesitantly) Aeryn? Uh - did I - say or - do anything to piss you off? I mean - other than caving in the side of your head.
Aeryn: (she swings her head around to look at him) Are you serious? (John stammers a little) Do you not remember? (but before he can respond, a heavy sealed door hisses and clangs open. Zhaan, and Grunchlk enter, he has a small device in one hand which he's studying)
Grunchlk: Splendid news for the patient! I think - I found a biological match.
John: What? You found a human?
Grunchlk: (reading off his device) Well it's called an Interon. It's, uh - bipedal. Central spine, organs internal - oh - single heart circulation and small head. (he looks up and shrugs) Got 3 specimens. That's the best I can do.
Zhaan: (with righteous indignation) There are over 5,000 different species frozen here. This is an abomination against nature.
Grunchlk: It's not as though they're suffering though is it?
Aeryn: (with a creeped-out glance back down the tunnel) Yeah - I mean they're already dead anyway.
Zhaan: (grim) No Aeryn - they're still alive.
Grunchlk: That's a technicality.
John: No. I-I'm not accepting anything from someone who's alive.
Grunchlk: (shaking his head and offering calm explanation) They're all accident victims and the like. Yeah I mean we freeze 'em a microt before their death 'cos the parts last longer that way.
Zhaan: (with quiet outrage) You have interrupted the course of nature.
Grunchlk: (with finality) None of them would survive restoration. That is the Docs rules for accepting a donor.
John: And you've got 3 like me?
Grunchlk: Well - similar. I mean, probably a species offshoot from the same stock.
John: (softly, to Aeryn) Is that possible? We're somewhere near Earth?
Aeryn: (quietly, with a little shake of her head) I don't know. (John thinks for a moment and then turns back to Grunchlk)
John: I want this chip out.
Grunchlk: (with jolly approval) Splendid! (then, a little ominously) 'Course - if it, ah - don't work - we get to keep your body.
(cut back to Moya where D'Argo and Stark are finishing up the undignified Job of spraying the anesthetic onto Moya’s burns. We hope it's working as well on her as it is on our heroes)
Stark: (sounding half asleep and very woozy) This's it, D'Argo.
D'Argo: (in a perky, drunken slur) I don't feel my tongue.
Stark: (as he puts down his gear and walks past D'Argo like a zombie) Whose fault's that?
D'Argo: Aw frell you. (Stark ignores him as he floats away. D'Argo follows, making futile attempts to hurl intelligible insults at the Banik as they go)
(cut to Pilots Den. The anesthetic is working its magic on him via Moya and he's having some trouble retaining an upright position. Chiana and Jothee are chatting while they perch on his Console, baby-sitting him)
Jothee: Y'know what my dad wants to do with his share of the money? Buy a farm. (Pilot is making little nasal snoring sounds to himself that might be snickers in response to Jothee’s revelation. They ignore him)
Jothee: He wants to grow prossi fruit and make wine. I don't want to live on a farm. I've been a slave. Been chained in a mine. He wants to live the quiet life. I want to live loudly.
Chiana: (not making eye contact with him) Well I didn't know that. I-I guess it was gonna be just you two.
Pilot: (he can barely get the words out as he giggles) You too - Chiana!
Chiana: (smiling at him and wanting him to shut up) Pilot, you're high, okay?
Pilot: (with the righteous, drooly indignation of the truly stoned) I am no higher in life - than I've even been. My position is fixed!
Chiana: (trying to calm the wobbling Navigator) Nonono - I mean - the drug in Moya - it's messing with your brain. (but you can't reason with a drunk. He ignores her)
Pilot: He's been using my DRDs - to practice. Wanna see? It's a secret! (and before anyone can protest, Pilot has a DRD project a holo image of D'Argo right there in front of them. Chiana and Jothee gape as the image of D'Argo speaks earnestly)
D'Argo: Chiana, you know that I have to spend a lot more time with Jothee. So I was hoping we could all find a quiet place, and, uh - settle down together. I was hoping you would consent to be my wife. (he exhales from the tension of his 'practice' before the recording ends, leaving Chiana agape)
Chiana: (in a shocked whisper) What?
(cut to later, in Moya’s center chamber. Rygel is sitting across the table form Grunchlk, who's eating huge bowl of some fancifully colored type of Glop Cuisine. Rygel winces as Aeryn enters and says, rather rudely)
Aeryn: What a surprise to find you eating. (Grunchlk stiffens and pauses for a moment) So GunShock - how long will it be before the surgeon can operate on Crichton?
Grunchlk: Oh, 7 or 8 arns. He wants to finish supervising the medication of your ship. (he shovels another spoon load of pink glop into his mouth) He's uh - splendidly conscientious. (he never looks at Aeryn but makes meaningful eye contact with Rygel, who chuckles)
Aeryn: Well we'll just keep Crichton restrained until you're ready.
Rygel: Good. Anything else?
Aeryn: What are you up to?
Rygel: (patronizing) Higher level reasoning Aeryn. If a simple thought occurs, I'll call you. (he chuckles and Aeryn fixes him for a second with a tiny, tight smile that suggests she'll deal with him later, before turning on her heel and leaving)
Rygel: As I was saying... You must know your way around this backwater part of the galaxy. (he lets a clear gemstone roll from his hand onto the table)
Grunchlk: (as he continues to eat) I know who I need to know. That's a very small stone.
Rygel: Your ah - savant surgeon - says Moya won't be able to starburst for some time. I'm uh - interested in securing other passage. (he lets a second stone similar to the first, roll out of his hand)
Grunchlk: (with his mouth full) There are some excellent choices available. It depends whether you require speed, stealth, or strength. That's another very small stone.
Rygel: All three. (he sounds disgusted with the hardness of this bargain as he sends a third stone to join the other two)
Grunchlk: That's not impossible. That's uh - three very small stones. (Rygel grunts and sourly tosses a ping-pong ball sized gem into Grunchlk’s bowl of pink pudding. The grubby man fishes it out and sucks the costing of glop off it before spitting it out into his hand. He's impressed) Oh! Splendid!
(cut to Zhaan’s lab where John is continuing his tour of Examining Tables Of The Galaxy by being strapped to one of Zhaan’s. She enters and approaches him)
John: (anxiously) Zhaan what's happening?
Zhaan: (as she dabs his face gently with a moist cloth) They're treating one more tier. Then the Diagnosan wants you.
John: Great. Zhaan, listen...
Zhaan: Yes John?
John: Odds are that I'm not gonna make it.
Zhaan: (softly) Positive spirits. I prayed to the Goddess.
John: Yes but reality tells me... (he trails off)
Zhaan: Your soul is troubled.
John: (he sounds close to tears) When the chip's not controlling me, my thoughts are lucid. There are so many things that I want to say to my family and friends. (as Zhaan listens with her compassionate heart, John morphs into the John/Scorpius hybrid that signifies the neural clone talking. Zhaan of course sees only her friend John, fearful of death) If you could absorb these thoughts - could find a way to get a message back to Earth...
Zhaan: You want me to join with you in Unity.
John/Scorpius: I just want my dad to know...
Zhaan: (she leans over him and undoes his restraints so she can look directly into his face and he can touch her as she lays a hand on either side of his head) Concentrate on me. (but as the bond of Unity forms, she quickly realizes something is terribly wrong and recognizes that she is bonding not with John - but with the Scorpius clone within him. She grimaces terribly with the pain and revulsion of it but seems unable to break away from him)
John/Scorpius: Hello Delvian. 10th level Pa'u? Pity. 12th could break this bond. Time to pray. (and with a roar, he pushes her violently away)
(cut to a private room aboard Talyn. Where Moya’s walls are bronze and gold, his are a metallic purple-red. Aeryn and Crais are meeting. These two, once soldier and commanding officer. Then enemies, now face one another as redeemed individuals. Each struggling to adapt to their new circumstances, to make their new lives)
Crais: Unlike your institutional upbringing - my parents were compassionate. Moral. Emotional. I value those traits. They're beginning to emerge in you. (Aeryn makes no response, her head is bowed in thought as she ponders the new uncertainties in her life) Crichton may not survive. Moya may be permanently crippled. The others are contemplating their next move. You're an officer and a strategist. Have you not planned yours?
Aeryn: Sounds like you have a suggestion.
Crais: This ship - this emotional ship - needs guidance. Talyn has chosen you. (Aeryn’s eyes widen) And I agree with his choice. There is much that you can learn that will surprise you. (at that moment Talyn interrupts with an alarm to Crais) What? (Talyn ponks and skirls) Ah. It's Crichton. Relay us to Pilot.
(cut to moments later as they enter Talyn’s Command - by now they realize something is very wrong)
Aeryn: Crichton why won't you frelling answer?
John: (cut to him in his module) Aeryn don't come after me! I'm not in - (he morphs into John/Scorpius) - control.
Crais: (quickly responding to his ships impulse) You will not shoot him down Talyn! (the sound of the PK code that John had been sending before is squealing in the background again as Crais says urgently to Aeryn) Crichton is broadcasting our location to Scorpius again. He must be stopped!
Aeryn: Track me. (she turns and strides quickly towards the exit, but stops and looks back for a moment) Oh and Crais- (he turns to look at her and she says sincerely) Thank you. (and she heads for her Prowler)
(cut to John, possessed by Scorpius, rocketing away from Moya and Talyn in his module. Above him is black space, below the brilliant white expanses of the ice planet - his goal - to avoid capture and/or surgery until the real Scorpius can come for him. The scene shifts between John/Scorpius in the module, Aeryn in her Prowler and Crais on Talyn)
John/Scorpius: YEEEE-HAAAWW!! (then , in the cool, rational voice of the neural clone, he hails his master) Shielded message for Scorpius. Coordinates on specified frequency. Request immediate extraction.
Crais: (urgently) Talyn! Lock and fragment his message as much as possible. Buy her some time!
John/Scorpius: (still in the crisp tone of the neural clone) John Crichton to Scorpius. (cut briefly to Aeryn in her Prowler listening to his communications) Limited flight capabilities due to the nature of this craft. Repeat - Request immediate extraction. (Aeryn’s Prowler swings in on a close pursuit path above and behind the tiny module and she hails him)
Aeryn: You just called yourself John Crichton. Are you really John any more?
John/Scorpius: Aaaah - little lady. (quite solicitous) How's the skull fracture?
Aeryn: (ignoring his question for the irrelevant mocking that it is) Well if I'm not addressing John Crichton, then I address the neurochip in his head.
John/Scorpius: (courtly) At your service.
Aeryn: (cool and businesslike) You're in an unarmed vessel. I believe Scorpius' mandate is for Crichton to remain alive.
John/Scorpius: And I intend to see that he does.
Aeryn: Given no other choices, I will shoot you down.
John/Scorpius: (dismissive) Ooooh... I doubt it.
Aeryn: Make no mistake.
John/Scorpius: (confidently) I believe you'll pull the trigger. I just don't believe - you'll hit anything. (and with that, he accelerates the Farscape 1 into a steep dive towards the planets surface - with Aeryn in hot pursuit)
(cut back to Zhaan’s lab aboard Moya. She is laying on the table vacated by John/Scorpius. She is terribly agitated, writhing and crying out as Stark tends to her)
Stark: (gently) Focus... Purge the thoughts...
Zhaan: (flailing and reaching to touch his face as she cries, near hysteria from her brief Unity with Scorpius' neural clone) No! Crichton! Stark! He is no more! His body now shelters some horrific evil! Crichton - Crichton's gone!
(cut back to Aeryn and John/Scorpius. They are now close to the surface of the ice planet and their vehicles dip and weave through a forbidding landscape of icy cliffs and spires that rise up from deep greenish-blue crevasses. The scene shifts between the two of them as they speak via comm)
John/Scorpius: (as he rolls and banks through the treacherous ice canyons at breakneck speed) Now this is flying! (to Aeryn) How's the ride back there? Hm? Little bumpy?
Aeryn: (She has a look of fierce concentration on her face as her Prowler shudders and bounces) Weapons locked to your exhaust. I give you one last chance to stand down.
John/Scorpius: (smiling calmly as turbulence rattles his module) Ah - the radiant Miss Officious. So sure. So confident in the void of space. Crichton was trained to fly in atmosphere. Against gravity. (cut briefly to Aeryn looking grim and uncomfortable in the vibrating cockpit of her Prowler) Welcome to our world baby. (he accelerates as he leads her down a narrow ice canyon. One of the rear flanges of her Prowler grazes the wall, sending a shower of ice debris into the abyss below)
D'Argo: (cut briefly to him on Moya’s Command, he's listening in on what's going on and now speaks quietly to Aeryn) Crichton has often said he would rather die than fall to Scorpius. If you get the opportunity - don't hesitate.
Aeryn: What makes you think I would?
D'Argo: Because if our positions were reversed - I would.
John/Scorpius: (as he rollercoasters through the ever narrowing and darkening ice canyon) As Crichton might say - YEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAW!
(and with that, he abruptly makes a 90° upright turn which powers him out of the canyon. Aeryn, caught unawares, finds herself in what appears to be a deep blue ice tunnel. She squints out her windshield with consternation, at the depthless, horizonless blue shimmer beyond her windshield)
Aeryn: (murmuring to herself) Where... the frell... am... I? (she guesses that it's still the same ice crevasse - just narrow enough now to have iced over the top and so she too takes a 90° upwards turn and bursts through a thin layer of ice, back out into the brilliant sunshine over the snowy planet. She looks around, her brow furrowed as she tries to get her bearings and see where John/Scorpius could have got to. But she doesn't need to look long because he's waiting for her up above)
John/Scorpius: Lose your dance partner? (and with that he rolls down and pilots the module to within mere yards of the Prowler and rides there. just above and a little behind her)
Aeryn: (she eyes the black bottom of the module as it creeps into view over her cockpit with trepidation. He is now in the position of the hunter but her tone is calm) You don't have enough fuel to last until Scorpius gets here.
John/Scorpius: (unfazed) Depends on how close he is.
Aeryn: (the barest hint of alarm in her tone. All she can do at this point is try to reason with him and she knows it) Look - John - if you're even in there any more - look at what you're doing.
John/Scorpius: You fail to understand the extent of your friends misery. (that much is probably true) He wants Scorpius to find us. He wants to end his pain.
Aeryn: (firmly) No, I'll never believe that. (the module glides in closer on top of the Prowler and Aeryn continues her reasoning in an attempt to intimidate him) Look Crichton, Scorpius - whatever you are. Recognize, atmosphere included - I am the superior combat pilot.
John/Scorpius: (pleasantly) Darling - uncontested.
Aeryn: So land your craft now or I shall be forced to demonstrate that skill.
John/Scorpius: You really would shoot your friend down, wouldn't you?
Aeryn: You know the answer.
John/Scorpius: Well then - I shall comply. (cheerily, as he touches a switch) Lowering landing gear. (the modules wheel wells open and the landing gear extends)
Crais: (his tone is filled with foreboding as he urgently advises Aeryn) Officer Sun - trust nothing!
John/Scorpius: Oh hush Crais. She doesn't need you to tell her that. Descending now. (and descend he does - like a rock - right on top of Aeryn and her Prowler. She ducks as his front landing wheel crashes through her canopy and both craft shudder from the force of the ramming. John/Scorpius disingenuously excuses himself) Terribly sorry. Didn't see you there. (he pulls up, removing his wheel from her seriously damaged vehicle. Alarms
aboard the Prowler are beeping urgently and if the ride was bumpy before it's pretty near out of control now)
Aeryn: (she immediately falls back on her training as a soldier as she makes her distress call over the roar of the wind now whipping through her cockpit) I am under attack! I repeat - I am under attack!
D'Argo: (cut briefly to him, Chiana and Jothee on Moya as they listen helplessly) Aeryn... AERYN!
Aeryn: (the Prowler is shuddering violently as she tries to maintain some control of it. Her face is contorted with strain) Attempting to gain ejection altitude!
John/Scorpius: (smiling from the serenity of the module) I take it our encounter is terminated - Officer Sun.
Aeryn: (calling over the insistent cockpit alarms) All options depleted! Requesting position track!
Crais: (cut briefly to the passionate man aboard Talyn, his face is as twisted with the agony of the moment as hers is) Climb! Eject!
Aeryn: Ejecting - NOW! (and with that - she hits her eject button. What's left of the Prowlers canopy blows and her pilots seat rockets up into the pale blue sky over the ice planet of the Diagnosan. once clear, the ejector rocket drops away and the chair begins to arc downwards to the planet far below. Aeryn has no helmet and she gasps for breath as she is violently jarred and whipped by the wind and the speed of the ejection against the gravity of he planet. She is held firmly to the chair by a thick red safety harness)
John/Scorpius: (chuckling and clapping appreciatively) Well done! Officer Sun! Are you still conscious?
Aeryn: Frell you! (she watches her Prowler as it takes a nosedive in the distance and crashes with a boom and a fireball. Her chair continues to fall. By design, it maintains her in an upright position)
John/Scorpius: Ooh - fireworks!
D'Argo: (cut briefly to him on Moya’s Command, fearful of her terrible descent to the frozen surface of the planet) Aeryn! AERYN! (but at that moment her chair leaps skywards again as retro-rockets on its base flare)
Aeryn: (there is a little chuckle of relief in her voice as she calls to Moya over the roar of the open wind around her) It's all right, D'Argo! The descent brakes auto-ignited! I'm all right! (cut briefly to Stark and Zhaan back on Moya as they hear this news and smiles of relief spread over their faces. But John/Scorpius breaks the hopeful mood by tossing off a nasty little nugget of information)
John/Scorpius: Officer Sun - in deference to the part of Crichton that still cares - I inform you that you descend not over solid ground, but a frozen lake. (Aeryn, strapped to her chair and now on a slightly slower, more controlled descent, frantically leans this way and that over the edge of her seat to look down)
Aeryn: (with renewed dread) He's right! D'Argo! Crais! Do you have my position?
D'Argo: I got you Aeryn! Can you avoid it?
Aeryn: (her pilots chair vibrates violently as she watches the fast-approaching surface of the frozen lake below her. She tugs at her safety harness) Negative! I go down where this chair takes me down!
Crais: (shouting frantically) Your jets will weaken the ice! I suggest you separate before touchdown! I repeat - separate before touchdown! (Aeryn’s breathing is unsteady with fear as she struggles frantically with her harness. Back on Moya, Chiana and Jothee stand, frozen and helpless as they listen to the terrible scene being played out over the comms. Meanwhile, back in the module, a terrible struggle of another sort is going on between John and the neural clone. The fight for control of John's body, signified by John morphing in and out of John/Scorpius and his real self - suddenly - the real John prevails and he bursts out frantically, his voice atremble, the words tumbling from his lips as if he needs to get them out while he has the chance)
John: (with a despairing cry) AAAHHH! Aeryn! Aeryn, can you comply?
Aeryn: (as she tears ineffectually at the thick straps that bind her to the rapidly descending chair) Negative! The harness is jammed! Your frelling tire must have damaged the mechanism!
John: Alright listen to me - This is John - it's John!
Aeryn: (angry and doubtful) Yeah? Is it really you, John?
John: (desperate and trying to focus her) Yes - listen - You do not want to be in that chair when you set down!
Aeryn: (her brow furrowed as she continues to worry at the harness) Well - this harness won't release. I don't have anything to break it-
John: Aeryn! You have to get out of the damn chair!
Aeryn: I don't have any choice!
John: (softly , to himself, sick with fear and willing someone to think of something) Oh c'mon, please - do something. do something... (he swoops the module around close to the falling chair but all he can do is watch its deadly descent to the frozen lake with Aeryn trapped upon it)
Aeryn: (things seem suddenly quiet as she stops struggling with the harness and stares at the module) I don't have any options!
John: (gazing at her longingly, desperately out the module window, pleading, willing this to not be so) Baby, you're not gonna die like this. You are not gonna die like this.
Aeryn: (tears for her own impending doom and loss glisten in her eyes) I hope you meant what you said in the neural cluster. I did. (and with that, she tucks in her arms and chin in preparation for impact. The pilots chair hits the surface of the frozen lake and instantly crashes through, taking a great arc of ice with it)
Aboard Talyn, Crais throws his head back and screams the passionate agony of him and his ship. On Moya, D'Argo roars Aeryn’s name while Jothee and Chiana stand holding each other in a terrified embrace. Rygel turns away, with his hand to his mouth. Back in the lake the chair, with Aeryn strapped to it, rebounds to the surface of the freezing lake once and Aeryn flails uselessly at the water for a second as she cries-
Aeryn: Crichton! Cri-
But her cry is cut off as the chair pulls her under and begins its final descent to her ice water grave. All her friends stand in stunned silence, Stark and Zhaan, with their foreheads touching as their souls fly with her for a ways to the next plain of existence. And in the deathly silence of the module as Aeryn swallows water and no more air bubbles rise form her lips John murmurs to himself-
John: Oh... God... What have I done?
Some time later, as the sun shines brilliantly, but without warmth on the snowy planet of Diagnosan Tocot, Aeryn’s body is recovered and brought to the dim blue tunnels where the great cryotanks bearing the remains of thousands of accident victims are kept. Aeryn has been laid in one of these. It lays on a floor covered with icy vapor All her friends are gathered to say a final farewell, including John, who stands apart from the others and is cuffed and shackled. Grunchlk and Tocot stand respectfully behind the others.
Zhaan: (she stands at the head of Aeryn’s cryocoffin and speaks) The Goddess graciously receives to her bosom all those who pass from this existence, regardless of faith or belief. (Crais approaches the cryocoffin and pauses to look at Aeryn for a moment, overwhelmed by the waste of her loss, then returns to his place) She holds, however, a special place for those who travel this life as a journey. (Chiana now steps up and reaching for Aeryn’s right hand, takes it, and holds it to her lips for a long moment before returning to her place next to Jothee) Aeryn Sun will surely harvest favor. Her life was a series of strides toward enlightenment. Casting off the chains of prejudice and hatred. (John looks on with a dead expression on his face as D'Argo unsheathes his Qualta blade and comes to Aeryn’s side) Reaching beyond violence and bigotry. (silently, D'Argo places the Qualta in with Aeryn, it's haft rests upon her chest and the great blade points towards her feet. He takes her hands and lays them around the haft) She sought a balance of lasting inner peace. (Jothee quietly takes Chiana’s hand in his) In her name. (as D'Argo trudges back to his place Rygel moves to the cryocoffin)
Rygel: (he looks very old, as if this grief has aged him) You are more worthy of this. (he has the seal of his reign as Dominar of Hyneria, a medallion on a broad ribbon. He entwines it around her hands) At peace Aeryn. (back on Moya, Pilot sits, very still at his Console. His eyes are closed and his lips move in some inaudible benediction of his own)
Zhaan: (she swings a censor back and forth over Aeryn’s lifeless body) May the Goddess receive you with charity.
Zhaan: May the Goddess sanctify your spirit.
D'Argo: (sobbing) Ahmet
Zhaan: May the Goddess purify your soul.
Stark: Ahmet (John stares into space, numb and unfocused)
Zhaan: May the Goddess recite your name in the whispers of the wind.
Stark: Ahmet. (Chiana mouths the word with him)
John: (barely a whisper) Amen. (and then as Zhaan finishes, he shuffles forward to stand next to Aeryn’s cryocoffin and stares at her a moment before saying) D'Argo, give me your knife. (D'Argo makes no move and everyone looks dubiously at John as if wondering what god-awful thing he might do now. John looks at the Luxan and repeats his request quietly, but more insistently) Give me - your knife. (D'Argo draws his knife with a metallic ring and hands it to John. John flips it in his chained hands so the blade points down towards his wrists and then he bends low over Aeryn and lays his lips and cheek against her forehead) Aeryn... Forgive me. I love you. (he then kisses her lips in a final, lingering touch and a short snick is heard as something is cut. He straightens up - holding a lock of her hair. He looks at it and the knife as Zhaan and Crais watch him with pity. Then he returns the knife to D'Argo and turns to look back at Tocot) I'm ready.
(cut to soon after, John is back on Tocot’s table and prepped for surgery. The doctor makes some adjustments at his little console and the biofilter bathes the room in its dark green light. Tocot removes his mask and Grunchlk leans in to ask John a final question)
Grunchlk: (genuinely gentle and solicitous) Are you sure you don't want your friends here?
John: No - I don't want 'em here. (Tocot offers a soft bubbling comment in his own tongue)
Grunchlk: The Doc says because of that thing in your brain, there's no way you were responsible for what happened to that Sebacean.
John: (whispering) Yes I am. (Tocot burbles and purrs)
Grunchlk: (nodding) Right. (after a pause, he continues on in the serious, gentle tone) After the Doc's cut the tendrils that have hijacked your brain, he's gonna try and take out the neurochip completely. But he needs your help.
John: What do I gotta do?
Grunchlk: Because there's no template of your brain pattern on our database, he doesn't know what bits o' grey do what. So when he probes, you tell 'im.
John: Right. Where will you be?
Grunchlk: (still in that gentle, even tone) Anywhere else. I vomit when things get messy. (John eyes him dubiously)
(cut to Crais who has returned to Talyn and sits talking to his ship, In his black gloved hand he holds a silver PK datachip. Talyn blips softly to him)
Crais: (his voice is halting and unsteady like one who's been crying and is trying to stop) Yes Talyn. I too, would have liked to have shown Aeryn what we learned from this chip. I think - I think it would have made her the happiest soul among us.
(cut to Moya where Zhaan sits with Pilot, leaning close to him and stroking his cheek. He sits with his eyes shut, exhausted from the pain and grief of the recent days. Stark watches them from the catwalk)
Stark: Everyone else is preparing to move on.
Zhaan: I know. (Pilot opens his big amber eyes and looks at her without words, imploring) Tragedy often heralds flight.
Stark: What are you going to do Zhaan?
Zhaan: My concern now is for Moya and Pilot.
Stark: If you are in agreement, Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan, it would be an honor and a pleasure to share the future with you. (she gasps with pleasure and demurely bows her head in consent)
(cut back to Tocot and John. The Doc has pulled one of the ugly black tendrils out of John's head and stimulates it to see what part of his brain it is attached to. He speaks haltingly in his high, feminine voice, using simple words)
Tocot: This - is - what? (John gets a blinding series of memory flashes of aliens he's met, the Ilanics, the keedva, the Draks, Sheyang and Namtar among others)
John: Critters. More close encounters. (Tocot acknowledges and touches further along the tendril)
Tocot: And - this? (now he gets flashes of the US capitol, Nixon denying being a crook, Oliver North taking an oath, Jesse Jackson and Monica Lewinsky to name a few)
John: American politics. Nixon to Clinton. Lose it. (Tocot severs the tendril and the ugly web covering John's brain retracts a little. Tocot moves on to another one)
Tocot: Here? (the faces of a dozen happily drooling canines romp like lightning before John's eyes and leave a bark echoing in his ears)
John: All of my dogs.
Tocot: Nec - ess - ary?
John: (sighing) No - but - keep it if you can.
(cut to outside the operating room. Grunchlk and Rygel are talking. Grunchlk leans against one cold blue wall and says in a subdued tone)
Grunchlk: The ship that you wanted will be on its way shortly.
Rygel: Thank you. (neither of them look happy)
Grunchlk: Service paid, service rendered, I guess. (Rygel tries to chuckle but he has no humor and it trails off as he looks away) Too bad, eh?
Rygel: Yes... But that's life.
Grunchlk: (sounding unconvinced) Yeah. (he leaves Rygel who looks after him forlornly)
(cut back to John and Tocot, who continues to saw away at the tendrils one by one)
Tocot: This - sect - ion? (images of Aeryn flood John's brain, in battle, tender moments. John's eyes fly wide open. Tocot notes the reaction and nods) Keep - this. (John's eyes slowly close)
(cut to Chiana and Jothee talking in the center chamber aboard Moya)
Jothee: It's too bad we won't get to spend more time together.
Chiana: (a tear stands visible on her cheek) Yeah...
Jothee: My whole life, I never stayed in one place long enough to - build any real relationships.
Chiana: (smiling a little) And I always stay too long. (they both laugh a little and then they lean in close to each other, slowly, hesitantly, each watching the other, Chiana’s lips part and Jothee tilts his head - but just before their lips meet, the voice of D'Argo, looking for Jothee interrupts them. They hurriedly pull away from each other)
D'Argo: Jothee? (finding them, he pauses in the doorway) Let's stay close. Once we find out about John, we should discuss our future.
Jothee: (tersely, staring at D'Argo with a less than happy look on his face) Sure Dad.
Chiana: (after a pause, she whispers) Yeah...
(cut back to John and Tocot. The Doctor has found something interesting attached to one of Scorpius' hellish tendrils. Images of the wormhole that brought him here flash before John's eyes)
John: Whoa! Wormholes! That's it!
Tocot: Good - job - from - you. (John laughs with pleasure) I - should - desist?
John: (grimly) No frellin' way.
But all isn't well elsewhere. Company has arrived at Tocot’s facility and Grunchlk doesn't seem to want to greet them. He's running down icy corridors as fast as he can - with Peacekeepers hot on his tail. Back in the surgery, Tocot has reached a particularly delicate phase of his work. As he pulls out a long, nasty tendril and stimulates it John gets no memory flashes - but splutters incoherently for a moment before Tocot quickly releases the pressure he is exerting.
John: (alarmed) Mwha- What - the frell was THAT?
(cut back to the PK squad as they rush into the ice tunnel where the Diagnosan’s specimens are stored. They abruptly halt as their leader, who also managed to survive the horrific collapse of the shadow depository, turns to them and barks smugly)
Braca: Return to the Marauder. Inform Scorpius we have successfully maintained our zero presence profile - NOW! (the squad retreats leaving Braca alone there)
(cut back to John and Tocot)
Tocot: Sor - ry - but - speech - close - to - neu- ral - im - plant.
John: (showing real fear for the first time during this procedure) You're gonna take my memories and I'm gonna talk gibberish? Why - why don't you just take my mojo while you're at it? (don't tempt the guy with the clippers John)
Tocot: Remove chip - then attempt - re - place - you - nor - mal.
John: What the hell. There's no one I really want to talk to
(Tocot’s bizarre face is beyond human expression but we swear he looks almost thrilled as he picks up a huge wicked-looking tool that looks like a socket wrench. It begins to spin and whine as he aims the business end of it at John's pinkish-grey matter. It is fortunate John can't see this thing) Not much worth remembering. Take the damn thing out. (his eyelids flutter madly as Tocot goes in)
Shortly after, Tocot drops a nasty-looking tangle of black tendril knotted around a chunk of pinkish-grey brain matter into a jar. John gapes and loudly congratulates the good doctor on his success.
John: YLAL YLAL HNTH NYA BMPH NYA!
Tocot: (who seems to actually understand this, points at the mess in the jar and says) I - re - move - then - re - store - you. (John laughs triumphantly - even his laughter seems incoherent)
(cut to Brace pacing in the ice tunnel where the cryocapsules containing Tocot’s specimens are kept. He pauses briefly by Aeryn’s. Like the others, it now stands upright and her face if visible through the window on its lid. He pauses by another one that's too frosted over to see what's inside and then moves on - and spots a bun laying on the ground outside another capsule. He smiles)
Braca: Very clever Grunchlk. (he looks up at the window in the capsule door and sure enough, Grunchlk is inside, with his hands over his face, hiding)
(cut back to John and Tocot)
Tocot: Ac- complished - chip - remoooval - now - replace - brain. (but alas - at that moment, just outside the surgery, a familiar pair of black leather clad legs, long leather tails slapping at their heels, is seen. It is Scorpius, humming the "Star Spangled Banner." He enters the surgery without so much as knocking, Tocot is horrified) Oh!
Scorpius: (warmly) Hello doctor! So good to see you again! (John spews a stream of gibberish and so does Tocot as he quickly dons his protective mask. Scorpius seems to be able to understand Tocot’s alarmed trilling) No, no - quite the contrary really. My, um - (he offers Tocot a chivalrous hand down off the operating platform as the doctor trills anxiously and makes to close the door) - cooling apparatus is just as functional as the day you installed it. Eternal thanks. (Tocot reaches for the door but Scorpius takes his hand again and gently prevents him. John watches the scene in silent horror) Oh! I'm so sorry to disturb the, uh - sterility of your theatre, but - (he cheerily snatches the mask off Tocot’s face. The doctor gasps and cries out delicately) - you no longer serve a purpose. (he then leans into Tocot’s face and blows into his open nasal cavities. Tocot continues to make what passes for wild screams in his tiny, bird-like voice as he slowly collapses to the floor, he head resting on the edge of the surgical platform. He appears to be dead or dying) What irony. Sensitivity to heal anything - (he tosses Tocot’s mask away carelessly) - but oneself.
Scorpius strolls around to John now, who speaks to him in unintelligible, but fear and hate-filled gibberish.
Scorpius: Well Crichton... So much to say. (John makes some quietly furious gagging sounds) And yet, such little capacity. (the half-Scarran picks up the jar containing the snarl of black tendril and John's brain as John lays there, his brain exposed, terrified and unable to express himself in anything but saliva-laced splutterings) I only hope the wormhole technology I've waited so patiently for makes more sense. (John grits his teeth together and grates out a short, particularly expressive bit of aphasic prattle. Scorpius eyes him, as if offended) Don't need a translator microbe for that one, do we? (there's a long pause as he moves to stand in Tocot’s place over John's naked brain. John tries to keep an eye on him but looks worried as Scorpius says in a low voice-) You've cost me much. And I do not suffer disappointment well. (he sets the container with the brain and tendril in it between John's eyes) I condemn you, John Crichton - to live! So that your thirst for unfulfilled revenge - will consume you. (John's lips move, but nothing comes out as Scorpius comes around and stands in front of him one more time so that John can see him eye the contents of the jar triumphantly) Goodbye.
Scorpius leaves and John opens his mouth and screams, not only with rage and defeat and futility, but with the knowledge that he has truly been sentenced to an unendurable hell.
TO BE CONTINUED