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Green-Eyed Monster
June 22, 2001 - US
October 22, 2001 - UK
3.08


Writer - Ben Browder
Director - Tony Tilse



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Episode Summary
GEM takes place with the half of Moyaís crew who are on Talyn. The young ship has set orbit around a lonely planet to continue repairs after his encounter with the PK retrieval squad. Unfortunately something else is crawling around underneath the rings of the planet - a Budong. A Budong planetoid-sized space slug that is attracted by electromagnetic fields and thus, Talyn becomes its latest snack.

Thanks to the quick thinking of John, they are able to halt their slide into the nuclear belly of the beast by mooring themselves to the wall of its throat, giving them some time to think of an escape plan. Luckily Rygel and Stark wee away at lunchtime and are able to communicate with Aeryn, John and Crais via comm, and it so happens that Stark has some experience with these giant death machines. He informs the others in a suitably hysterical manner that passing through the Budong's stomach will only result in their emergence as superheated liquid poop and proposes a nicer solution - make the monster vomit so Talyn can ride out in grand style on a wave of worm puke. So they start making plans to create adequate nausea by setting off a massive explosion in the Budong's esophagus.

But things are complicated by another sort of green-eyed monster that is lurking within Talyn. John has been finding himself the target of a thousand little insults, which he imagines Crais is responsible for. Their uneasy truce is further strained by the fact that Crais is actively courting Aerynís partnership in piloting Talyn, who continues to be an obstreperous companion at the best of times. Aeryn, seduced by the lure of being joined with the sleek Leviathan, accepts a neural link with him - and Crais. Needless to say, John feels hurt, angry and increasingly shut out by these three. He withdraws into his jealousy and resentment. Aeryn isn't much either, she dismisses his behavior as childish and self-centered.

Things begin to come to a head as Stark leads the Budong on a merry chase around the rings of the planet, getting it to take in ice that is a key component for the upchuck-inducing explosion. Then it is revealed that the beauty of being bonded with a mutant Leviathan isn't quite as sublime as it seemed at first. The little ship sees himself as a PK and he possesses all the duplicity and harshness that they are known for - thus proving that Leviathan piloting is best left to those who are evolved for it. It is revealed that Crais is often horribly tortured by the side effects of the neural link. And Talyn isn't above willful torment to get what he wants. And since he and Crais want Aeryn, it is the ship himself who's been endeavoring to ostracize John with lies and subtle torment. This culminates in him refusing to permit the human back onboard after he goes out to set the detonator for the explosion.

Aeryn, appalled by Talynís - and implicitly - Crais' behavior, realizes that being needed and loved are more valuable than the power and pseudo-intimacy of being one with Talyn. And she tells the young ship so before disconnecting herself form him. Chastened, and perhaps having learned that there are consequences for his actions - Talyn relents at the last possible second and allows John back aboard. The explosion happens, the Budong literally yawns in Technicolor and everyone escapes.

Aeryn and John finally have a heart-to-heart and end up lip-to-lip.

And that's it.

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TRANSCRIPT
The episode opens aboard Talyn. John is sitting on his bunk next to a portal through which can be seen the curve of a violet planet. His bunk is no more than a cramped alcove in one of Talynís corridors. He's hunched in the low space with the pen and notebook he relieved GreenJohn of before leaving Moya and is trying to write. Unfortunately one of Talynís DRDs is clinging to the ceiling just outside the alcove and soldering among the little ships damaged circuitry. Its work is sending a steady shower of sparks on John. The human finds distracting to say the least.

John: Hey fellas! Knock it off! I'm tryin' to work here. (the DRD ignores him. While Moyaís helpful droids are neat little yellow ovals, Talynís are dark, shiny red, elongated and not particularly friendly. John repeats his request - louder) Knock it off! (the DRD keeps right on soldering) That's enough. (he irritably puts his notebook aside and twists around on the bunk to reach his gun which is hanging on a hook at one side of his alcove. The holster is empty - which doesn't improve his temper much - and he immediately comms Crais angrily) Crais! Where is it? (no answer) Crais! (he crawls awkwardly out of his cubbyhole and stands in Talynís narrow corridor. Unlike Moyaís bronze arched halls, Talynís are red and angular, lined with softly glowing horizontal strips of lights. The ship generally lacks Moyaís organic look and seems to be built much more after the fashion of a conventional Peacekeeper ship) Yo Captain! (John raps on the DRDs casing and it swivels its short eyestalks to look at him. He holds up the holster and demands again-) Where is it!?

(cut to Crais on Talynís Command as he idly scratches his skin next to the neural transponder on the back of his neck. He makes no response to John. Aeryn is with him and she's working on one of Talynís control consoles)

Crais: (quietly, to Aeryn) What have you done?

Aeryn: (looking over her shoulder at him she replies quietly) I've taken propulsion offline to optimize the energy transfer rate. I'm hoping that it will ease his pain and speed the recovery process.

Crais: Very elegant. You seem to have an intuitive grasp of Talynís subsystems.

Aeryn: Well - it just felt right. (she rises and moves to another console as Crais watches intently)

Crais: It is more than right. I can sense his easing. (he moves to stand close behind her) Have you given any - thought to my previous proposal? (she looks up and stares straight ahead, her face a thoughtful blank)

(cut to John. Having gotten no response to his comms, he's heading right for the source at a rapid clip and looking deeply annoyed. Arriving at the closed door to the Command, he impatiently waves his hand over the access control - and the door remains firmly shut)

John: Talyn open the door! (he slaps one hand against the door and paces as he wipes at his face with frustration. Nothing. He tries the door control again. Nothing. He's shut out and he knows it, so he yells) Crais:! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! PLAYTIME IS OVER! OPEN THE DAMN DOOR! (he gives the door a swift kick)

(cut back to inside the Command as John's kick echoes and Crais says in a low tone to Aeryn)

Crais: Meet me later in my quarters - there is much more for us to discuss. (Aeryn, who's now facing him, silently acknowledges, and moves away from him) Talyn - open the door. (the gunship obeys immediately and John strides into the room, straight for Crais)

John: Hey you want to mess with me? (Aeryn watches the human with consternation)

Crais: (his tone is smooth but tense) What seems to be the problem?

John: Keepin' the DRDs over my head workin' 24/7 - so I can't sleep!

Crais: Repairs to Talyn- (but his stiff explanation is abruptly cut off by John whose frustration is reaching the boiling point)

John: All of the doors - locked! The shower -ice-cold - so I'm freezin' the boys off!

Aeryn: John what are you talking about? (but he ignores her and continues his grievance with Crais)

John: It's not really a problem - but you do NOT mess with my stuff! Where's Wynona?

Crais: What?

John: Wi-no-na!

Aeryn: (under her breath to Crais) His pulse pistol.

John: My gun!

Aeryn: Well maybe Rygel came- (but he cuts her off)

John: Rygel and Stark have been on recon for more than a day!

Crais: John-

John: DON'T CALL ME JOHN!

Crais: (his tone is even, but his annoyance is clear) Crichton then. Are you accusing me of theft?

Aeryn: (rolling her eyes upwards) Talyn - you've seen them both naked. Perhaps you can tell us who's bigger. (John and Crais both eye her briefly before returning their attention to each other)

Crais: Talyn - (the ship ponks a smart response as his captain continues, without taking his eyes off John) - In addition to their current duties, please have the DRDs keep an eye out for Mr Crichtons pulse weapon. He seems to have mislaid it. (as he speaks John sees something over Crais' shoulder, out Talynís main port) Will there be anything else?

John: Yeah. Hang a left before we hit that moon.

Aeryn: (glancing over her shoulder) What moon?

John: Small one - dead ahead. (he steps past Crais and points. Sure enough, the curve of a large, lumpy gray object can be seen protruding from the shimmering gold ring that encircles the violet planet. Talyn is cruising just above the plane of the ring as if it were a highway)

Aeryn: Our orbital plan is well clear of this planets moons. (she moves to a control panel) How could we miss it?

Crais: Might have been below the ring plane. Talyn! Get a fix on all orbital objects. (John watches as Talyn glides smoothly towards the looming thing that lurks half in and half out of the flat golden surface of the planetary ring)

Crais: (alarmed) It's changing course and speed! Accelerating. (the little ship raises his cannon as he and the object sail rapidly towards each other on a collision course) Talyn! Remain calm!

Aeryn: Main cannon is arming.

Crais: Aeryn bring propulsion back on line!

Aeryn: Working on it - 20 microts.

Crais: (firmly, trying to get the ship to think instead of shoot) Talyn - focus on propulsion!

John: (staring hard at the object) That's no moon.

Crais: (increasingly frustrated) Talyn! Focus on propulsion!

John: That's a Budong!

The words are barely are out of his mouth before the mouth parts of a planetoid-sized space creature erupt from beneath the golden plane of the ring directly in front of Talyn. The distant mound they had thought was a moon, is only the distant end of the thing that now towers like a jagged mountain above them, obliterating all light from the nearby sun. They catch a brief glimpse of a stadium-sized green dome on the monsters rough brown surface as Talyn fires his cannon to no avail. His bolts of fire dissipate harmlessly against the hide of the space-dwelling creature and then - darkness - as they become part of the universal food chain.

(cut to moments later as inside Talyn, Aeryn, John and Crais scramble to their feet, having been thrown to the deck by the bumpy ride into the Budongís cavernous mouth. Talyn continues to shoot wildly but the Budong doesn't care)

Crais: AERYN! PROPULSION!

Aeryn: SHOULD BE ONLINE!

John: IT'S TOTALLY BLACK OUT THERE! THIS BIG GUPPY JUST LOCKED US IN!

Crais: TALYN! CEASE FIRE! OFFICER SUN! TRY AND OVERRIDE THE WEAPONS! (the shots from Talynís cannon, muffled within the gullet of the beast, sound like popcorn kernels bursting in a bag) TALYN! YOU WILL DESIST! (no he won't - the panicked ship goes right on lobbing the unheeding Budong with volley after volley from his [comparative] peashooter)

Aeryn: IT'S NOT WORKING! (suddenly in the dark, Talyn experiences a violent thud and his crew are knocked to the deck again. They bounce back up fast though) OBVIOUSLY WE HIT SOMETHING! (she checks the weapons console) THE MAIN CANNON IS OUT! IT'S DAMAGED. (Crais stands in the middle of the Command, communing with his ship while she paces around, checking systems. He seems to be in some discomfort) AND MANEUVERING JETS ARE FIRING.

Crais: (wailing as Talyn shudders and bucks in a frantic effort to escape) NO! TALYN NO! DO NOT PANIC! YOU'RE COSTING US VITAL TIME! (on the center of the Command ceiling is a large, red disk with rings of glowing white light on it. This is Talynís 'head' - the structure where his senses of 'speech' and hearing are focused. Aeryn moves beneath it and looks up to deliver a calm-down talk)

Aeryn: Talyn listen to me! Focus on a single point with your senses - align yourself with that point and block out all other distractions. (we thought that's what Pilots do to multitask effectively - it must work for their ships too. Slowly - Talynís agitation and Crais' discomfort abates. As the ship quiets, she reaches up and touches the sense structure) Well done Talyn.

John: What do we know about Budongís?

Aeryn: Next to nothing.

Crais: Live ones are exceeding rare.

Aeryn: (perplexed and apprehensive) We're still moving. We're - caught in some sort of electromagnetic current and we're moving-

John: Down! We're goin' down! We're bein' swallowed! We're movin' down!

Crais: (urgently) Talyn! Set a course against the current. Officer Sun - options?

Aeryn: We're incapable of starburst.

Crais: Can we shoot our way out?

Aeryn : No. The main cannon is dead. (not to mention useless as has already been demonstrated) We are flying in the dark and we are still losing ground to this current.

John: Down! Do we want to be goin' down?

Crais: (contrary, despite the obvious point of a Budong taking something into its mouth) We have no notion of which way is up or which way is down!

John: YO JONAH! WE HAVE BEEN SWALLOWED! THAT IS DOWN AND I, FOR ONE, DO NOT WANT TO BE BUDONG CHOW!

Crais: YOU WILL LIMIT YOUR REMARKS TO SOMETHING USEFUL-

Aeryn: (trying to separate the flaming men) No Crais-!

Crais: -OR I WILL-

John: OR WHAT?

Aeryn: He's right! John is right. (the shouting stops abruptly but the tension remains thick)

John: Drop anchor.

Aeryn: Anchor?

John: Yes anchor! (they look up as Talyn growls a comment from above their heads)

Crais: I know, Talyn - but only slightly stupid - it might buy us time. Officer Sun - take Crichton, get suited for space. In the armory you'll find a case of taks.

John: Taks?

Crais: Use the hammond-side access chamber. Mooring points are located on the hull.

Aeryn: Outside? Yes sir - I have it - dropping anchor. (she marches off. John shoots Crais daggers once more before following her - and Talynís captain is left alone, looking disgusted and shaken)

(cut to the hammond side access chamber - that's airlock to you - where Aeryn and John have donned black spacesuits and are checking their equipment)

Aeryn: (examining the taks as she dryly educates John on their construction and usage) Tak-five torpedoes. Handheld. Fusion-bonded rhenium claws. Stick. Never let go. Cables attach to the rear.

John: (as he inspects a fancy projectile thrower, like a big harpoon gun for shooting space whales - actually - it IS a big harpoon gun and today it IS for shooting space whales) So we're gonna use this high-grade hardware like a mooring harpoon?

Aeryn: Unless you have a better idea.

John: It was my idea. But it'll work?

Aeryn: Well the cables are iridium alloy. As long as we hit bone, we should hold fast.

John: Good. I must be smarter than I look.

Aeryn: (flatly) That would be easy. (the scene shifts to moments later, John is suited up, helmeted and standing at the airlocks outer door and peering through its portal into the inky blackness of the Budongís throat)

John: All right. (the door hisses open and he stands on its threshold in the eerie closeness of the Budongís interior vacuum) You know - I'd be happy to swap jobs - come back in there and work the mooring control panel.

Aeryn: Forget about it - you can't even operate door controls.

John: There's a reason for that. (he attaches a cable to the end of a tak) Do it. (Aeryn touches a button and the tak clamp snaps shut, nearly taking the tips of John's fingers with it) Damn!

Aeryn: (humorlessly) Your twin got the brains?

John: No. (he decides this might be a good time to talk about Stuff so he changes the subject) Crais - he's tryin' to make a point.

Crais: (via comm, sounding tetchy) If I may interrupt-

John: (under his breath) Damn! Open channel.

Crais: (crisply) Officer Sun - this current is pulling us 1.2 metras a microt!

Aeryn: Almost there. (to John) You ready?

John: Do it. (another touch of the controls snaps the tak into its claws retracted firing position. Back on the Command, Talyn is making noises like someoneís stomach growling)

Crais: (cut briefly to him on the Command as he squeezes his eyes shut and grates at his ship) Do - not - argue! (the scene begins to shift between him on Talynís Command and Aeryn and John in the airlock as they speak via comm)

Aeryn: All right! We don't have visual yet!

Crais: Wall range is closing - 0.5 metras. (at the airlock, Aeryn has moved to the edge of the door and with John's help, is balancing the space harpoon gun on her shoulder. They've prepared 3 taks, each with a cable attached to the mooring rings around the hatch)

Aeryn: I can't see anything yet! I need visual! I need to be able to see the ribs!

Crais: (calling distance to the wall of the Budongís throat) 0.1-

Aeryn: Still nothing! Pitch black!

John: (quietly) Coulda woulda shoulda brought a flashlight. (and at that moment, the stony grey esophagus wall of the Budong looms in the inky darkness - and Talyn hits it. Aeryn fires wildly at point-blank range as she and John are thrown off their feet back into the airlock by a combination of the impact with the wall and the kick of the huge harpoon gun) Crais:! WHOA!

Crais: (intensely) Navigating against this current is proving to be somewhat - difficult. (meanwhile back at the airlock, Aeryn and John watch the cable spool out and wait to see if it holds)

Aeryn: Don't know yet! (the tak cable snaps tight in it's mooring ring as Talynís drifts to the end of its length. A dull ripping sound is heard immediately and the cable goes slack as the tak begins to whip back towards them)

John: SOFT FLESH! WE MISSED THE BONE! NOT GONNA HOLD!

Crais: TALYN REVERSE JETS!

Aeryn: Release the cable! (John hits the cable release and the mooring ring opens)

John: TOO LATE! GET DOWN! (they both hit the deck and the rebounding tak rockets into the airlock, carrying a watermelon-sized hank of pus-yellow Budong meat with it, and slams into the inner door)

Aeryn: Reload.

John: Got it. (they scramble back into position and John loads the second tak)

Aeryn: Crais - I'm gonna go for a second shot!

Crais: Talyn! Back to the wall!

John: (helping hoist the harpoon gun into position on Aerynís shoulder) Steady!

Aeryn: (squinting into the darkness) Still - no visual!

Crais: (in a low voice, coaxing performance from his impatient ship) Talyn - slower.

John: (as he and Aeryn peer into the gloom he spots their gigantic, yet maddeningly elusive target) There it is! (the wall resolves into view an the dim glow of light from Talynís airlock and Aeryn fires. Then they wait tensely as the cable spools rapidly out)

Aeryn: (under her breath as she stares anxiously back into the murk) Go, go, go, go... Come on! (the cable snaps taut - and Talyn lurches sharply, throwing Aeryn and John to the deck again. The ship shudders and rumbles - his downward path has stopped but he's moving sideways, a direction torpedo-shaped Leviathan's aren't meant to go in)

John: Damn!

Aeryn: CRAIS! STABILIZE THE FRELLING SHIP!

Crais: We're holding - swinging towards the wall!
(back at the airlock, John grabs the last tak and prepares to fire)

Aeryn: What are you doing? That one held!

John: Making sure! (he fires)

Aeryn: Door! (she heads to reseal the airlock)

John: (as the last tak hits bone and the outer airlock door closes) Crais! Third tak away! Whose stupid idea was this anyway?

Aeryn: (panting as they stand for a moment at the airlock portal watching their slender lifelines stretching away into the dark) Yours. (Talyn lurches violently again - and stops)

(cut back to open space where Moyaís transport pod glides just above the sparkling golden ring of the violet planet. Ahead, the irregular grey lump of the Budongís tail still projects through the ring plane. Cut to the interior of the pod where Stark is piloting and Rygel is kvetching)

Rygel: What do you mean, "They're not here."? How can you frell up a simple rendezvous?

Stark: (mildly - but annoyed) They're just not here!

Rygel: (disgusted) Not one of you deficients can properly read a chart! Right - let's call the frellniks. (he reaches for the comms)

Stark: (alarmed, he grabs Rygelís hand and says between clenched teeth in a tone that threatens a crazy fit if pushed) Remember Aerynís mother? Aerynís mother - retrieval squad? Yes? Well she's out there - and she's looking for us! Radio silence keeps us hidden and alive.

Rygel: (furious at the fact Talyn isn't where he should be) If those towskas have left us after all I've done for them-! (but the Banik isn't paying attention anymore for he's just spotted the distant mound floating ominously in the ring ahead and he slowly rises without taking his eyes from it)

Stark: (murmuring) Oh no. It can't be.

Rygel: What? What the yotz are you looking at? That lump?

Stark: That lump - is a Budong! (and with that, Stark leaps into action. He scrabbles at the console Rygel is sitting in front of and begins frenetically hitting every switch he can reach)

Rygel: What are you doing?

Stark: Shutting everything down!

Rygel: Stop being a welnitz! We can just - fly around it. Budongís are harmless! (hopeful but uncertain) Aren't they?

Stark: (panting) They're a frelling shipping hazard! Our ships energy fields make us electromagnetic candy!

Rygel: (shocked) I've never heard anyone say that!

Stark: That's because they're all dead!

Rygel: Dead? We're flying out of here! (and with that, he starts to engage systems on the panel in front of him. Stark frantically piles on top of him from behind and tries shut things off faster than Rygel can turn them on)

Stark: NO! NO! OHNO! - NOT THE POWER STATION! OFF! OFF! OFF! OFF! OFF! OFF! OFF!

Rygel: I am the eater! Not the eatee! (but the battle for supremacy over the pod controls comes to a sudden halt as the mountainous head and mouth of the Budong powers vertically up through the flat surface of the ring directly in their path. Stark and Rygel freeze in bug-eyed, slack-jawed horror at the nightmarish sight - but the whiff of "electromagnetic candy" it got evidently wasn't sufficient to make an accurate strike - and the gigantic beast sinks out of sight . The tiny pod coasts turbulently over the Budongís retreating mouth and through the ragged, skyscraper-sized structures that line the rim of its maw. In the pod, as it sails clear of the creature, Stark sits behind Rygel, hugging him like a teddy-bear. The tight little whistle of the Hynerian letting one of his helium farts fly is heard. Stark rolls his eye and grunts as he snaps out of the shock of their near miss and Rygel inquires in a shaky, Munchkin voice) Can we - please re-start the pod now?

(cut back to Crais on Talynís Command as Aeryn enters, still in her spacesuit)

Aeryn: Cables are holding.

Crais: (he's leaning pensively on a panel and not looking at her) Yes. Good. It was well done.

Aeryn: By everyone. (loosening the collar of her suit) It's warm in here.

Crais: Aeryn, ah - there is something we need to discuss.

Aeryn: How to get out of this animal.

Crais: Indeed.

Aeryn: Crichton will be up here shortly.

Crais: What we have to discuss does not concern him. I have engaged privacy mode and I wish to speak solely with you.

(cut to shortly after the corridor outside the Command. John passes his hand over the door control - but he's locked out again. This time he doesn't try a second swipe and makes immediately to pound on the door. But before he can lay a hand on it - Crais comms him)

Crais: Crichton - meet - my quarters.

John: Crais - your comms are fritzing - where?

Crais: (repeating his staticky request) Meet me in my quarters.

John: (under his breath) Quarters. (he heads off down the corridor)

(but Crais isn't inn his quarters - he's still in the Command with Aeryn and the scene shifts back to them)

Crais: (he seems nervous and cannot maintain eye contact with Aeryn) Because of what has passed - between us. I wanted to wait - for you to make up your own mind in your own time. (with a self-conscious little chuckle) But events have led us to a new situation.

(meanwhile, John arrives at Crais' quarters and enters. The area consists of a more or less public main room dominated by a large black desk backlit with red and white PK geometrics. A private bedroom is off the one side. It's a sleek, austerely comfortable place. Parts of the walls have the traditional organic Leviathan look, but Talynís colors are reds, purples and blues)

John: Crais:! No - of course. Not here. (which means it's a good time for a look around) Tell me he's got pumps in the closet. Or an inflatable Scorvian - or Wynona. (suspicious as he is, one might think John would be more wary of the datachip laying on a softly pulsating - and thrumming - white panel of the desk. But he takes the bait) PK vidchip. Home movies? Oh I really shouldn't. (but of course he does. Into the desks projector slot goes the chip. He watches as an image of Crais - and Aeryn - rises into view)

Aeryn: Well you can have anything you want. Anything.

Crais: Aeryn Sun - are you offering yourself?

Aeryn: You can take what you want Crais and I won't stop you. (John stares at the holo, stunned)

(cut back to the Command where Aeryn and Crais continue their present conversation)

Aeryn: Listen Crais - I'm not prepared to remain on board Talyn- (she turns to leave but Crais interrupts her)

Crais: (following her, his tone is urgent) Let me finish.

Aeryn: -under these circum- (she stops, taken aback by his insistence. He continues past her a few steps, brushing at the perspiration beading on his brow)

Crais: Perhaps it would be best for ah... Perhaps it would be best for you to see me as I am. (he turns back to her and begins to undo the high collar of his coat)

Meanwhile, back in Crais' quarters, John continues to watch the events recorded on the vidchip unfold.

He watches an image of Crais, reclining on his bed in this very room. A naked woman whose long dark hair falls down her back is kneeling beside him. As he caresses her, she reaches back and lifts her hair luxuriantly before tuning. She seems to be looking directly at John - and it is Aeryn. John stands rooted the spot, his worst suspicions confirmed as he gazes with icy disgust at the image.


(cut to later. John. looking very hangdog, is making his way back to the command. Upon arrival, he reaches to make a desultory move to swipe at the opening mechanism - but it slides innocently open before him before he can completer the motion. Aeryn and Crais stand in front of him, facing each other and they startle rather guiltily at his sudden appearance. Crais' back remains to him as he steps away from Aeryn)

John: Sorry I'm late. What did I miss?

Crais: (without looking at him) We were just discussing how best - to resolve our - predicament. (as he steps past Aeryn, the sound of him zipping up his coat and snapping his collar shut is heard before he looks back towards John. Aeryn doesn't move, she just continues to stare straight ahead - partly at John and partly just into space)

John: Really. (Aeryn confirms Crais' statement with a little sound)

Crais: Yes. Yes Talyn has completed his scan of the Budong.

John: Right. Have him - whip up a hologram. (he steps into the room past Aeryn who remains rooted in place, her face is blank but her demeanor and body language make her discomfort obvious. John looks around the room, up at Talynís sense structure, at Aeryn - who returns his gaze with careful neutrality. The tension is palpable as everyone talks and carefully keeps their secrets)

Crais: (he seems subdued and tired) Not necessary. I have a direct link. We are moored in a passageway above the stomach. The Budong has too much mass to scan its length successfully - but I believe we can navigate the digestive tract.

John: (his tone is even, but tense with anger and suspicion) And what about - gizzards? Stomach acids? Bowel obstructions?

Aeryn: (quickly, nervously) Budongís are very large structures.

Crais: And Talyn is designed for intense combat. We should pass through.

John: You know what, I-I-I may have - swallowed a-a quarter once or twice - but this seems to me to be a little bit different. Can we not find an alternative? Use an alternative orifice? Blowhole or something?

Crais: Not according to our scan.

John: (incredulous and in the mood to contradict Crais anyway) So - according to - your scan - assuming this Budong is not constipated - you -(he laughs with derisive disbelief at what he's hearing) You wanna fly out the ass? An-and Talyn can do that? He ah - he's like - he's not gonna freak on that plan?

Aeryn: Not with help.

John: What help? (Crais moves to stand beside Aeryn where he smiles a smile that might be many things depending upon the eye of the beholder. He starts to say something but no words come, so Aeryn says them)

Aeryn: I have decided to take the neural interface with Talyn.

John: (with quiet resentment) The Hand of Friendship. I see. I thought Talyn was designed for one captain only.

Crais: We have devised a modified transponder for insertion.

John: (deeply bitter) Yes - I bet you have. So you ah - two - three - you three are uh -gonna be one. And ah - anything I can do to help?

Crais: At the moment - no. Nothing.

John: Exactly. (he strides between the pair of them on his way out) It's a good plan.

Aeryn: (sensing his anger, she quickly follows John out) Where are you going?

John: (he continues walking without looking back) You heard the man - nothin' for me to do.

Aeryn: John, wait.

John: Aeryn you do not want me there.

Aeryn: (uncertain) I-I do want you there.

John: Why? To throw rice? Forget about it. I've seen my share of hardware insertion. I'm not watchin'.

Aeryn: It's been modified!

John: Yeah I heard that.

Aeryn: (perhaps trying to convince herself as well) Less invasive. it's-it's safer.

John: (he stops and turns to face her, his anger spilling over now) Yes it's new! It's improved! It's the Finger of Friendship! 19.95! But wait kids! There's more!

Aeryn: (angry now) What's the matter with you? This is the right thing to do.

John: For who?

Aeryn: For all of us! He needs my help to control Talyn to get us out!

John: (taking a step towards her, he leans in and says with quiet fury) Aeryn - do what you have to do.

Aeryn: I will.

John: Fine - but do not sugarcoat it for me! "Right thing to do" my ass!

Aeryn: And what's that supposed to mean?

John: It means that you do things the way you want to - when you want to - with who you want to do them.

Aeryn: (protesting) It's got nothing to do with what I want!

John: It's always about what you want! So yes - walk back in there and let Crais stick a spike in the back of your neck!

Aeryn: Listen to me-!

John: (but he rushes on with his partly accurate assessment of the situation) It'll be a brave new universe Aeryn! You and Crais! You can finally rejoin that Peacekeeper family you've been pining for from the moment we met!

Aeryn: You have got this so-

John: JUST DON'T PRETEND TO ME - that it wasn't what you've always wanted!

Aeryn: (after a long pause during which they stare coldly at each other) You finished? (he stares at her - finished indeed) You're right. I don't want you there. (she turns and jogs back towards the Command, leaving him standing and watching her go)

(cut to the transport pod. Stark is in the pilots seat as he and Rygel assess their predicament)

Stark: (his tone is low and urgent in the semi-darkness of the pod cabin) I know you think I'm overreacting - but I'm not. I'm keeping us alive! A Budong is a killing machine - death incarnate. 5 cycles I spent on a Budong mining operation. Thousands went in, none came out. And those Budongís were dead! This one's very much alive!
(Rygel mutters something unintelligible in response and Stark turns to look at him) What's that? (the reason for Rygelís uncharacteristic inarticulateness is that he is tied up and has a piece of silky bronze Leviathan cloth stuffed in his mouth. He repeats his muffled statement and Stark glares) My mother sucks what? (he yanks the cloth out of Rygelís mouth and the ever-charming Hynerian spews a great wave of watery green vomit at Stark, who takes a mouthful of it along with a general soaking of his front and hands. He staggers back, spitting and choking with revulsion, he hasn't got a dry spot on him)

Rygel: You heard me.

Stark: What have you eaten? (Rygel just looks satisfied as his wipes him mouth off and Stark struggles to keep his own gorge down) Oh! Oh! Ughugh-! Oh! I think I'm going to-

Rygel: Waste funnel's in the back. (he smiles as Stark rushes off and the sound of him retching are heard) I love that trick.

Meanwhile back on Talyn, Aeryn arrives at the Command, whose glossy door throws back a distorted reflection of her face. She passes her hand over the opening mechanism and is smoothly admitted. Crais awaits her with a look of gratitude and quiet pleasure on his face. A few moments later, John jogs up to the closed door and also passes his hand over the open control. It of course remains decisively closed to him.

John: Talyn open the door! Please! (he waits, but the door doesn't move) Talyn open the door! (without hope) Please... (but Talyn is unyielding. John leans against the door wearily and slides to the floor where he sits forlornly and he murmurs to himself) Damn - idiot.

(cut to inside the Command where Crais is preparing Aeryn to be his and Talynís co-pilot. They stand in the middle of the room under Talynís sense structure, the floor beneath it is under lit by red light)

Crais: (in hushed tones that reflect the solemnity of the event) There will be pain. It will pass. Try not to control Talynís systems too quickly. He was an infant when I joined with him. His will and his ways are much stronger now. Accept him for what he is and he will welcome you. (he lays a hand on her shoulder) This is a moment we have long waited for Aeryn. (she makes no response other than to reach back and lift her braid off the back of her neck. From a socket on the floor behind her, a snakelike metal arm, shrouded in vapors, begins to rise) Are you certain?

She nods in response and the metal arm hovers and sways like a rearing cobra behind her as it fixes its target on the back of her neck with pinpricks of red laser light. Then it strikes, driving the prongs of a neural transponder into her spine. She arches backwards and scrams before falling forward where Crais catches and supports her while she recovers and experiences Talynís senses for the first time. In her minds eye, she experiences a lightning fast series of sensations and image, flying like a Leviathan. The linkage process climaxes with the explosive sensation of light and speed that is starburst. As the pain of this sort of bonding passes, she stands, her eyes faraway as she sees with Talynís vision and smiles.

Aeryn: (gasping with savage emotion) He is - beyond beautiful!

Crais: (smiling) Welcome to our world - Officer Sun.

In the corridor outside the Command, John has ended his vigil and is making a slow, dejected exit. He turns back at he sound of one of Talynís shiny red DRDs behind him. It sits there staring at him with intense blue eyelights on the ends of short stalks and whirs inscrutably. John eyes it, and the walls of the passageway before turning and continuing on his way.

(cut back to the Command where the transponder blinks on the back of Aerynís neck as she stands beneath Talynís sense structure. Her eyes are shut, John is forgotten and she concentrates on Crais' lessons on the fine art of mutant Leviathan management)

Crais: Reach out with his senses. What do you see? (her minds eyes flies at breakneck speed along Talynís corridors, most of which have the red-lit tanning booth look. Others are more organic and lit by veined stained glass-like panels that glow red and purple)

Aeryn: Passageways.

Crais: Now - focus on a specific object. (he can follow the view in Aerynís mind as she moves through the corridors again, around a couple sharp turns) The door. (the minds eyes of Aeryn slows and comes to a halt in front of the Command door) Good. Now open it. (the door whips open and she sees herself standing in the middle of the Command, eyes closed, Crais hovering nearby. She speeds ahead, coming up fast as if on a collision course with herself. That's bit too much of a mind-bender. Her eyes snap open as she gasps and jumps back. Crais steadies her with a little chuckle) Very good. You learn fast. I'm tempted to say that you've had enough for today - but circumstances being what they are... (non-verbal as usual, she composes herself and closes her eyes again and Crais continues) Imagine - you wish to speak with someone. Someone far away. (almost immediately, the communication console sizzles to life and a staticky, broken-up voice is heard)

Rygel: (on comm) For yotz sake! Answer if you can hear! Fekkics!

Aeryn: (she looks at Crais with surprise and murmurs) I did that.

Crais: (touching her arm reassuringly) You aligned your comms with long-range scan as I see it. (pleased and almost amused) You learn very fast.

Rygel: (continuing to yell over comm) Hello out there! Anyone! Come and get me off this stinking pod!

Crais: (responding as Aeryn relaxes and rubs her head) Dominar - you're back from recon.

Rygel: Well of course I'm back! Where the yotz are you?

Crais: We are somewhat - inconveniently tethered inside a Budong.

Rygel: (cut to the transport pod as he speaks) Inconvenient? (muttering to himself) Kiss my mivonks. (over his shoulder) Stark! Get out here. (back to Talyn) Stark thinks he's some kind of Budong expert. (the door to the rear of the pod slides open and Stark appears, still trying to clean himself off)

Stark: What? (he catches sight of Rygel at the comm and hasps accusingly) Oh! You're loose!

Rygel: Not half a loose as Chiana. Now listen, I've got Talyn on the comms. (Stark gasps, on the comms!) They're stuck inside the Budong.

Stark: (poor Stark, he gasps again- in horror) Inside!? No-o-o-o! (the scene begins to shift between the pod and Talyn as everyone speaks)

Crais: Not for long. We hope to pass through the digestive tract shortly.

Stark: (staring to hyperventilate) NO! NONONONONONONO! You-you CAN'T! Its stomach is an inferno! Nothing ever comes out of a Budong alive! (this news alarms Talyn rather much and he begins to tug against his mooring lines)

Crais: Talyn!

Stark: (in a panicky rush to dissuade Talyn and the others from their folly) ITS STOMACH BURNS AT 5000 KLANCES! (Aeryn and Crais struggle to keep their footing as Talynís panic mounts with Stark's every word) ANYTHING THAT GOES IN COMES OUT-

Rygel: (sensing that Stark's helpful information may be causing some distress with the way in which it is being communicated) SHUT UP!

Stark: -LIQUID ORE!

Rygel: SHUT UP! SHUT UP! (while Rygel tries to subdue Stark, Aeryn has her hands on Talynís sense structure and Crais is hanging on for dear life as they struggle to bring their high-strung vessel under control)

Aeryn: TALYN!

Crais: CALM YOURSELF!

Aeryn: NO! TALYN-!

Crais: TALYN! DO NOT PANIC!

Stark: (bawling in full hysterical Stykera lunatic mode now) YOU'RE DEAD! YOU'RE DEAD ALREADY! (he continues to rave as the scene on both vessels deteriorates into utter, hysterical chaos. Ever practical, Rygel finally takes desperate measures to stop the neurotic Banik and Leviathan from feeding off each other. He summarily yanks the pods comms cable. The last sound heard on Talyn is Rygelís yelp as he takes a good shock for his effort)

(cut back to Talynís Command where Aeryn and Crais try to regain control as the ship thrashes against the mooring lines)

Aeryn: We've lost the pod signal.

Crais: Talyn! Calm down now! Aeryn-

Aeryn: Yes?

Crais: Is manual override in place - for the mooring?

Aeryn: Yes!

Crais: (shaking his finger to emphasize his point) Stay at that control! Do not let Talyn release-! (but at that moment, he's cut off by a rapid, high-pitched beep and grabbing the back of his neck, he screams and collapses to the deck writhing with agony)

Aeryn: Crais:? Talyn what are you-? What have you done to him? (via comm) JOHN! GET UP HERE NOW! (cut to John heading for the Command at a run. cut to moments later as he rushes into the Command, whose door is open for once)

John: (the Command is literally steaming with Talynís anxiety as Aeryn monitors control panels) What went wrong? What happened?

Aeryn: I'm not sure! Talyn was screaming to be released and then Crais was trying to reason with him and he- (as she speaks she looks towards Crais and stops herself suddenly, puzzled and apprehensive) Where's Crais:?

John: I thought he was with you.

Aeryn: Talyn - where's Captain Crais? (to John) He was! (back to the ship) Talyn listen to me-

John: You didn't see him leave?

Aeryn: (spluttering with frustration) I was busy! (to the ship) Talyn! (to John) He's not responding!

John: Houston - we have a problem. Didn't you take the transponder? (she nods that she did and he says firmly) Then use it. (she closes her eyes and concentrates, allowing her mind to speed through Talynís deserted red corridors, hall after empty hall, until she comes to the place where she and John had been earlier)

Aeryn: I see him. Access chamber. He's trying to release the cables.

John: What? WHY?

Aeryn: I-I don't know.

John: Well can you stop him?

Aeryn: Wait - I... Yes! I can keep the cables secure, but I-I can't leave this override panel - it's the only advantage I've got.

John: Fine. I'll go - you give me your gun. You hold him off.

Aeryn: Listen-

John: AERYN! YOUR GUN! (she hands it over and he starts to leave)

Aeryn: Listen, he's cau- (but before she can say whatever it is she was going to say - he's disappeared out the door)

John: (cut to him as nears the airlock and comms Aeryn) Aeryn get ready to open the access chamber door!

Aeryn: (anxious) I'll try. (in the airlock, Crais hits the cable controls and Talyn lurches, John stumbles, but quickly recovers) Crais: has released a cable!

John: One more and we're Budong manure!

Aeryn: I can't stop him and Talyn is resisting! ( arrives at the aiJohnrlock door and passes his hand over the opening mechanism. The door of course, stays shut)

John: AERYN! THE DOOR!

Aeryn: I'll try. (she shuts her eyes and her mind streaks along Talynís corridors like lightning towards the airlock door while John alternately pounds at it and waves his hand over its control. Inside the airlock, Crais' finger hovers over the release switch for the last mooring cable. His eyes are closed too as he seems to be trying to stop himself. Via the transponder, Aeryn arrives on the scene and passes John, who's taking aim through the airlock window with his gun. Her minds eye moves into the airlock with Crais, and looks back at John readying to take a shot through the glass - and from within, she opens the door)

John: Crais:! Get your fat, hairy ass away from the mooring controls. (Crais pauses and looks up, he looks sick and exhausted)

Crais: (breathing heavily) I see you've found a weapon. What do you intend to do with it? Shoot me?

John: That's one option.

Crais: Of course it is. We've come full circle John Crichton. Now you want to kill me.

John: And then don't make my day. (back on the Command Aeryn listens to them and their voices echo on the open commlink) Step away from the panel.

Crais: I can't. Talyn won't let me. He doesn't believe the Banik. He wants to fly free. You'll have to shoot me. (he turns back to the mooring controls and raises his hand to release the last cable. John fires - but instead of shooting Crais, he banks his shot against the wall just under the mans hand. The force of its impact knocks Crais to the floor)

John: You see, Crais. I don't have t' kill ya.

Crais: (choking out the words) I wish - you had! TALYN! (and as John watches, perplexed, Crais begins to scream and frantically tear off his coat. Beneath it, his naked skin is revealed to be covered with blister-like sores and welts as if someone has been lashing him with short whip strokes)

Aeryn: (back on the Command, she reaches to the transponder on the back of her neck as she turns away from the useless command controls) TALYN! STOP IT! NOW! (but the young mutant Leviathan doesn't, and back in the airlock Crais, on his knees and screaming in agony reaches out both hands to John in supplication)

Crais: KILL MEEEEE! (back on the Command, Aeryn takes drastic measures of her own. Removing her vest, she crouches down by a bundle of cable under the control consoles. Meanwhile, back in the airlock John just stands there, without a clue what to do, staring at Crais who's now rolling around on the floor shrieking horribly as Talynís torture of him continues)

John: AERYN? WHAT THE HELL IS GOIN' ON?! (back on the Command, Aeryn is using her vest as grounding as she pulls the cable bundle loose amid a shower of sparks and flashes of electricity)

Aeryn: (standing up, she implores the ship) Talyn please! (but the faithless young ship is only too willing to take her on as well. His internal guns abruptly rotate into view and take aim at her. Aeryn however, has the advantage of age and cunning and she doesn't hesitate a second time to do what she must. She lifts the cable bundle up and jams it against Talynís sense structure. The resulting electrical surge throws her off her feet - and shorts out the ships senses - effectively knocking him out, Systems die and the ship goes dark)

(cut to later, in Crais' quarters where the battered captain of Talyn lays unconscious on his bed. The room is lit with emergency lamps. John approaches him with a vial of smelling salts and waves it under his nose)

John: Wake up Bialar. (Crais jerks woozily to life and struggles to sit up as John walks away)

Crais: Talyn...?

John: Aeryn knocked him cold.

Crais: Where is she?

John: She's on the bridge, patching up systems. She'll be here in a little bit. But before she gets here, and Talyn wakes up - (he picks up his gun and straddles a chair at Crais' bedside) - you and I are gonna have a little Q&A.

Crais: (he rolls over to face away from John) Put that weapon away.

John: No you might be right, I might want to kill ya.

Crais: Ask your questions.

John: You and Talyn - what the hell is goin' on?

Crais: Cybernetic bleedback. My sores and lesions are physical symptoms. (real Pilots don't have these problems. Talyn needs one. A big fat mean one)

John: You want to expand on that? Talyn did that?

Crais: (his voice is hoarse and weary) In times of stress - our emotions, our desires - can merge. And Talyn can gain a degree of control over me. Resistance - causes pain.

John: Clarification - Talyn controls you? (Crais' silence is all the confirmation John needs and he goes on, weary himself of the never ending duplicity) Crais - you just set up Aeryn for the same problems you're having.

Crais: No - her transponder is limited. She will not be harmed by Talyn.

John: (despising Crais in whole new ways) You cockroach.

Crais: (defensively) The choice was Aerynís. Are we finished?

John: (slowly, with certainty) No. I keep hearing that you've changed. I think - weather changes. And we just keep making the same mistake.
(he puts the gun aside) Remember why you're alive.

Aeryn: (entering) Crais! (she bounds abruptly into the room and the two men startle. John moves away from the bed and Crais pulls his blanket over his wounded flesh) Are you all right?

Crais: I'm alive. How is Talyn?

Aeryn: I overloaded his beta channel. Knocked him into sleep mode. He may have a mild headache when he comes around in a few arns.

Crais: You surpass yourself Officer Sun.

Aeryn: I wouldn't want to try it again. I don't think he knew what I was doing this time.

Crais: Well we must ah - wake him. The sooner- (he tries to get up but is still too unsteady and John cuts him off)

John: Whoa - whoa! Hang on - don't we want to figure out what we're gonna do first?

Aeryn: (to Crais) You're no use to us dead. You rest.

Crais: (mumbling) I have to get to the bridge.

Aeryn: No rest! You're not going to make it out the door in your current condition!

Crais: I must get - to the bridge. (he tries to stand and promptly collapses to the floor with a dull thud)

Aeryn: Why doesn't anyone ever listen to me? (because you're a space-going Eliza Doolittle that's why. She gets down to help Crais and John hands her gun back)

John: I'm gonna check the cables. Don't shoot him unless you have to.

(cut back to Rygel and Stark in the transport pod. Stark is thoughtfully picking bits of puke off himself while Rygel tries to humor him)

Rygel: (patronizing) Is the Budong far enough away? Yes! Is it watching us? MMmMmM- No! Well let's power up and escape while we can. (with a reassuring little chuckle, he starts to power up the pod)

Stark: (eyeing a nasty little gob of Hynerian stomach content stuck on his finger) That's it!

Rygel: That's vomit!

Stark: No! That's it! (he hits the comms and calls eagerly) Aeryn! Crichton! Crais! I see it! A plan! (no response) Aeryn! Crichton! Crais! Why don't they answer?

Rygel: (matter-of-factly) Because they're dead.

Stark: (he spots something laying on the console in front of Rygel) Give it to me!

Rygel: What?

Stark: (with mad vehemence) You pulled the comms relay circuit! Give it to me!

Rygel: (determined) Get back! They are dead! And we are leaving! (and as Stark gapes in stunned disbelief - Rygel grabs the relay circuit, puts it into his mouth, and swallows it) Now be a good little Banik and help me power up this pod. (Stark is making a whining sound that increases in intensity until it becomes a maddened yowl of outrage. He lunges at Rygel - and rams one hand down the surprised Hynerians throat. Rygel clamps down on Stark's arm with force of a blunt-toothed pit-bull and the scene descends into caterwauling chaos)

(cut back to Talyn. John is in the airlock examining the mooring controls and Aeryn is on the hunt for him. Her expression is colder than usual as she joins him)

John: Cable's fine. Mooring control is totally buggered, but we should be able to cut loose if we have to.

Aeryn: (not interested in the cable) What's your problem?

John: (glancing at her and asking evenly) Shouldn't you be with Crais?

Aeryn: He's sleeping. Answer the question.

John: (he turns to face her in the cold blue glow of the emergency light) Aeryn, I am - doing everything I can to get us out of this absurdly large space monster. I am doing the good little soldier bit. What else do you want from me?

Aeryn: I want you to stop acting like a drannit.

John: You know what? I have no idea what a drannit is.

Aeryn: No don't play dumb with me. That hasn't worked for over 2 cycles John.

John: Aeryn - I am dumb! I don't understand you half the time and I have no idea what a drannit is!

Aeryn: Fine! Forget the drannit!

John: (he can't help but smile a bit at he absurdity of the argument) Fine! Screw the drannit! (Aeryn senses the ridiculousness the spat so quickly descended into as well and can't help but return his smile tightly) What?

Aeryn: You really have no idea what a drannit is do you?

John: (there's a moments pause - and he has to ask) What's a drannit? (but we'll never know the answer, for at that moment, Stark, having won his own absurd battle on the pod, breaks in via comm)

Stark: (his voice is staticky and faint and he seems to have to keep reminding himself of the reason for his call) Vomit. Come in please - vomit!

John: Stark - you're still here. (the scene begins to shift between Aeryn and John on Talyn and Rygel and Stark in the pod as they speak via comm)

Rygel: (deeply sarcastic) Oh wonderful! They're alive! Now you can torture them with your inane dribblings.

Stark: (ignoring Rygel) I know how we're going to get you out of there. (he pauses for dramatic effect) Vomit!

Aeryn & John: (dully confounded in unison ) Vomit?

Stark: (all excited) Rygel and I are going to feed the Budong - overfeed the Budong - ice!

Rygel: Ice?

Stark: From the plants rings

Rygel: Beautiful, Stark. They can now die laughing.

Stark: Waitwaitwait! There's more! You're going to have to dump some of your cesium fuel.

Aeryn: (with a little roll of her eyes in John's direction) Our fuel. (and she complains no-one listens to her)

Stark: (ever so pleased that they're getting it) Yes!

John: (checking out whether Stark has thought of this small Fact) Dude - cesium and water - and ice is water - make exploding water? (and not only has he - but it's the whole point)

Stark: Yes. The explosion should make the Budong vomit and you can ride out on the wave of the vomit. In front of the vomit. ( Johncocks his head at the outlandishness of Stark's mad plot)

Aeryn: Stark - give us a moment.

Stark: (whispering gleefully to Rygel) They're going to say yesss!

Rygel: No - Sebaceans are ugly - not stupid. They know that cesium fuel and water do not react without an ignition source. They'll say noooo! (the comm crackles back to life) Here it comes.

Aeryn: Stark we're going to have to say no.

Rygel: (with a triumphant snicker) See?

Stark: (hoping to change their minds) You can light the cesium with-with Talynís cannon.

John: Talynís cannon is out of commission.

Stark: (desperate to salvage his brilliant idea) But we-we-we h-h-h-have to have a really big explosion! You must have some kind o-o-of something that explodes or something!

Aeryn: No. The main cannon is out and I've launched all the t- (she stops herself as she remembers the taks) - Oh.

John: Oh - they had warheads.

Aeryn: (ruefully) Oh - I disarmed them.

John: You really should tell me these things. How big?

Aeryn: Big enough.

John: Stark?

Aeryn: (as she and John look out the airlock portal at the mooring cables receding into the heavy blackness of the Budongís throat) We have an ignition source.

(cut to soon after. Aeryn runs into Crais' quarters as the plan for their escape swings into motion. The scene shifts between the crew as they speak from their carious location on comm)

Aeryn: Crais! Crais wake up! (back at the airlock, the outer door slides open to reveal John standing on the threshold, suited for space)

John: Budong eats - you guys dump the cesium, I set the bomb and free the cable - we all fly out. (and with that, he steps out into the inner space of the Budongís gullet and begins to pull himself along the single cable holding Talyn in place)

Aeryn: I'll talk you through the procedure to arm the warhead and release the cables.

John: Then we're on the clock?

Aeryn: Yes. You can delay the detonation by 500 microts. But if you are outside the ship when it goes off-

John: (as he pulls himself towards the tak) I'm toast.

Aeryn: Stark? We're waiting on you.

Stark: (thrilled) Yes! (he veritably leaps into the pod's pilot seat as Rygel groans. Stark grins maniacally at him) Electromagnetic candy! (and with that - he takes the pod down and skims the surface of the golden ring of the violet planet. Beneath the pod, on the underside of the ring the Budong moves and a massive green glow lights the ring from below, silhouetting the comparatively miniscule pod)

Rygel: (horrified) You flew across its eye?

Stark: I had to be sure it would follow.

Rygel: Well it is! And it's gaining!

Stark: (perkily) This pod could never outrun a Budong! We just want it to eat, 'cos we're candy!

Rygel: Candy! You've killed us all you trankass! (as he babbles, Stark gets up and stands beside him, tapping controls on the panel in front of him) Mother always said I'd die from incompetence! I finally know what she meant! That's why we keep people like you chained in the first place! Your entire ra- (without even looking at him - Stark backhands the Hynerian with his left fist, knocking him senseless)

Stark: Shut up! (Rygelís flat little face slowly pitches forward onto the console as Stark purrs insanely and keeps his single, wild eye fixed on the view out the front portal) Now we're can-deee!

John: (arriving at the tak buried in the wall of the Budongís throat) Okay, I'm there. (ever curious, he has to reach out and rub the throat wall with morbid fascination) Man - you guys should see this ugly sticky-flesh. Kind of like my Aunt Ruthís Special Jell-O.

Aeryn: Can you access the panel?

John: Aaaah yah - gimme a second. (on the butt-end of the tak that protrudes from the Budong, is a small lid which slides open to reveal 3 glowing buttons - 3 blue and one green) Yah - got it.

Aeryn: (she has Crais with her now as they walk through Talynís dark corridors) Right - don't press the green button yet. That arms the warhead. Blue keys the cable release. Crichton - ready for the sequence? Don't frell this up. (back at the tak, John sighs heavily and utters a response that has more than one meaning)

John: Aeryn gimme some slack.

Aeryn: (she and Crais have reached the Command and she moves to position Talyn so the cable won't snap away like a rubber band when it's released) I'm on maneuvering jets. Crais can you start waking Talyn up?

Crais: (quietly - and with a little dread) Talyn is already awake.

Aeryn: What? John?

John: Hey Stark! You ready yet? I'm stuck out here in Spamland.

Outside over the violet planet, a horrific scene is underway. The pod thunders low over the surface of the planets rings and behind it comes the Budong. Its gargantuan wormlike maw is spread wide and an impossibly large green eyespot glows atop its head. As it comes, its gaping mouth cuts through the ring like a shark through a school of fish and ice pours in. It's so close to the pod that its shadow obliterates all light behind them. Inside the pod, Stark dives from one control console to another - he's a little less cocky now with a planet-sized space worm on his tail...

Stark: (babbling and panting) Yes -sort of - eeehh - Nonono...

John: (waiting, waiting... As Stark natters, he mutters to himself) Come on.

Stark: (practically falling over himself in his haste to maneuver the pod and keep an eye on the Budong) Eh - nono! Wait!

Aeryn: (perplexed as to why John isn't responding. Crais looks grim, he can guess way...) Why isn't he communicating? John? I need you to put a hold on what you're doing, I need you to wait. His comms aren't- (but she cuts herself off as suddenly Talyn begins to power up around her)

John: (muttering wearily to himself as Stark quips and dithers frenziedly) Aw give me a break.

Stark: (by Jove he's got it!) OH YES! NOW! DO IT NOW! DO IT NOW!

John: Damn! Gotta love that boys confidence. (he hits the green button and announces on comm to anyone who Talyn is allowing to hear) Warhead armed. 500 microts and counting. (and who that is wouldn't be Aeryn or Crais as Talyn rumbles under their feet)

Aeryn: We're moving.

Crais: (quietly apprehensive) Talyn...

Aeryn: John - answer me. (but he cannot hear her. Outside, the cable, which Aeryn had made slack to avoid rebound and give John a rope to follow home, goes taut as Talyn pulls)

John: Releasing cable - now. (the cable whips violently away, but he manages to keep a hold on it and is yanked away from the wall) Mother! (he's whipped around like a fish on a line as he tries to keep a grip on it) THE CABLE AERYYYYN!

Meanwhile the Budong is looping up and down out of the rings of the violet planet as it chases the pod. As it powers its Himalaya-sized head up again Stark pleads with Aeryn.

Stark: Aeryn, Aeryn we can't outrun the Budong much longer! You should have dumped enough fuel by-

Aeryn: (cutting him off) Not now Stark! Talyn -Crichton is outside the ship.

Crais: He already knows. He's been awake for some time - and moving into position for the fuel dump.

Aeryn: He's doing what?

Crais: He's leaving Crichton behind.

Aeryn: He-he can't!

Crais: (defensive of his ships actions) He correctly fears being too close to the point of detonation.

Aeryn: (she shuts her eyes and with her minds eye flies through Talynís corridors to the airlock which stands open to the space of the Budongís throat. Back on the Command, her eyes fly open as she exhales sharply and says with disbelief) Talyn just spaced John. (meanwhile John has managed to keep hold of the mooring cable and is pulling himself along it as swings freely in space)

John: (panting from the exertion) AERYN CAN YOU READ ME? CAN YOU READ ME? (no response but he finally makes it to the airlock door) Ho-kay! I'm at the hatch! Comin' in! (no you're not - for just as he pulls himself up to it - it serenely slides shut. He screams with horror and frustration as he pounds frantically at it) NNNOOOOOOO!!! OPEN THE DOOR!

Crais: (he seems dazed and disturbed by the actions of Mr Beyond Beautiful) I never thought... I tried to warn... Talyn never - trusted Crichton.

Aeryn: What are you talking about?

Crais: Crichton's not a Peacekeeper - he's not a Sebacean.

Aeryn: So?

Crais: So - he finds him offensive! Perceives him as a threat! (gee - wonder where he could have picked up that idea from)

Aeryn: To who?

Crais: You! He wants to protect you. (oh goody - another man who knows what's best for her. Aeryn'll be really grateful)

Aeryn: (she can't believe her ears. She turns away, frustrated and agitated, before rounding back on Crais) John is only dangerous to himself!

Crais: (not really very convincingly) I tried to persuade Talyn that he was wrong about Crichton.

Aeryn: (angry) Well then persuade him now to go back and get him!

Crais: (dismissively, not even willing to try) He cannot be coerced! He will do as he wants. I can do nothing! (sounds familiar - and Aeryn doesn't like how it feels)

Aeryn: Don't you lie to me Crais! This is not about what Talyn wants. You have taught him everything he knows! This is about you, me and John! (well that only took the fast learner a few whacks with a 2x4 to get. Meanwhile John's still clinging to Talynís hull doing some sussing of his own while he talks to the one person he knows is listening)

John: (breathing heavy in his space helmet) Hey Talyn - I've been reviewin' this situation. Aeryn's pretty pissed at me, but - she kinda likes me. (and back on the Command Crais is showing the same dislike of being confronted with his foibles as Aeryn has when John hones in on hers. He's reacting to Aerynís observation by ignoring it and plowing stubbornly ahead with what he wants to do)

Crais: Talyn prepare to dump 70% of our cesium. (the young ship ponks a snappy" aye-aye Captain!" sort of sound)

Aeryn: No! Talyn!

Crais: Aeryn! (and back on the outer hull John continues his chat with the recalcitrant ship)

John: Crais - well he hates me, but he's not stupid. He knows if he kills me that Aeryn would do the math - and his shot at domestic bliss would be cut off along with his balls. (and back on the Command Crais tries to appease Aeryn)

Crais: I regret - losing Commander Crichton. He was an honorable man. But we need you here now! (and back on the hull John finishes his review of his situation - and Crais' influence or no - the blame for it has to be laid with the immediately responsible party)

John: That leaves one suspect. Open the door YOU SOULLESS, TINHEADED, ADOLESCENT PIG! (and at the same time, Crais finalizes his case, in hope of appalling to Aerynís coldly pragmatic side)

Crais: Crichton is gone. You've seen it. (yes she has - but niggling doubt now compels her to look again. She closes her eyes and her mind flies once more through Talynís vacant corridors)

Aeryn: (as she arrives at the airlock via the transponder - she sees it still standing open to space. But her suspicion has been aroused) Talyn - show me. (her minds eye image flashes and flickers a little - and the airlock door still stands quietly open) The truth. (again the image flashes - and whether by force of her will or some cruel impulse of Talynís - the image flashes again and changes to what is real. The airlock door closed and John looking in from outside, screaming with despair and fury. Back on the Command Aeryn opens her eyes and her cold gaze is fixed upon Crais) Peacekeeper lies.

Crais: I'm, uh- (much abashed - but before he can say anything else, Aeryn cuts him off and shoves her way past him)

Aeryn: (snapping him off) So you should be!

Crais: Aeryn! (everybody wants Aeryn - including Stark who howls via comm)

Stark: AERYYYYYN! YOU HAVE TO DO IT NOW! YOU HAVE TO DUMP THE FUEL NOW! (but Crais responds, there's only the slightest hesitation in his tone)

Crais: Yes Stark - 200 microts are left - I concur. Talyn - initiate the fuel dump now. (the scene shifts to Aeryn, flying through Talynís corridors as fast as she can run now. Somewhere along the line she's pulled on her space suit again. Arriving at the airlock she can see John outside through the windows of the inner and outer doors. But Talyn is giving her a taste of John's medicine now, and the inner door refuses to budge)

Aeryn: OPEN THE FRELLING DOOR! (she uses the transponder to try and override Talyn from within, but between their opposing wills, the inner door just stutters in its track like a sticky elevator door) OPEN IT!

Crais: (finally taking an ethical stance with his ship) Talyn! I recommend you do as Officer Sun requests!
(but a poor moral upbringing isn't so easily corrected, and back at the airlock Aeryn is forced to abandon the war of wills with Talyn and she and John stare helplessly at each other through two windows and the insurmountable expanse of the small airlock as Crais' time call is heard via comm) Detonation in 80 microts! (Aeryn turns away from the portal, breathing heavily, trying to think of something, anything that might sway the implacable ship. Unable to arrive at any solution, she resolves to return to the ship what it has given)

Aeryn: Talyn - I want you to share something with me. Before he dies. (on the Command, Crais listens) You can taste something that is denied to Peacekeepers Something that you will never know. (she closes her eyes and focuses on Talynís sense structure back on the Command - then she shows him the face of John, in his space helmet, gazing at her and speaking her name softly, questioningly. She goes on to explain the image to the mutant Leviathan) Can you feel that? Good. Talyn - that is what it is to need someone. You don't need me. You never will.

Crais: Aeryn? NO! (but yes - Aeryn takes hold of the transponder on her neck, and with a guttural cry of pain - rips it out - thus teaching Talyn the concept of consequence, of karma. the young ship shudders violently at the sudden disconnect and outside John gasps fearfully as he struggles to retain his hold on the door. But there's no time for reflection now, Talyn must fly) 10 microts!

Outside, the Budong, its hideous black mouth yawning, plows through the ring of the violet planet in pursuit of the "candy." Aeryn and John stand and watch one another in silence across the boundless chasm of two panes of glass and a few feet of distance. On the Command Talyn steams and twitters as Crais shouts the count to detonation of the cesium fuel.

Crais: 5! 4! (at the airlock, the outer door slides open) 3! (John steps inside) 2! (the inner door opens as the outer one closes and Aeryn steps into the airlock) 1! DETONATIOOOOON!

And detonate it does. The force of the blast in the relatively close confines of the Budongís throat throws Aeryn and John to the airlock floor and Crais to the deck of his lonely Command. Outside, the Budong erupts like a monstrous volcano as a plume of fire laced with black smoke spumes from its mouth - and riding at the leading edge of the beasts hellish vomit comes Talyn. The young ship dives below the golden surface of the planetary ring and doesn't slow down or look back as he streaks away in the blue shadows beneath it, with the pod in close pursuit. Inside the pod, Rygel slowly comes to and finds all is forgiven now that something has tossed up a bigger mess than he did.

Stark: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! (he plants 3 jubilant smooches on the back of Rygel head) YES!

Rygel: (woozily) I - knew it would work. (Stark seems to suddenly realize what he's kissing and he shakes his hands a little as he removes them from Rygelís shoulders. Back on Talynís Command, Crais looks tired and relieved and sorry)

Crais: Talyn - docking web. On that pod. (and in the airlock Aeryn and John slowly sit up and rest there on their knees, looking at each other. She reaches out and slides up the visor of his helmet. But there are no words and they just stare, their faces unreadable blanks, their own issues, unresolved) And set a course... away from here.

(cut to later, in Crais' quarters)

Crais: I wish you would reconsider.

Aeryn: My life has been filled with doing what others think is right. For me - for now. This is right. (she lays the transponder she tore from her neck on the desk. Crais takes it without a word)

Crais: Before you go - (he picks up a vidchip laying on the desk) This contains various surveillance logs. I believe - Talyn showed them to Crichton. Have you seen them?

Aeryn: No.

Crais: Perhaps you should. Some of the entries are very... creative.

(cut to John's indentation in the corridor. He's sitting on the edge of his bunk, staring into space, his notebook is balanced on one knee. At the sound of someoneís approach, he quickly pretends to be busy at his journal. Aeryn appears and leans against the wall)

Aeryn: I see you found Wynona.

John: DRD had it. (there's a long moment of silence as he focuses on his writing before she moves towards him)

Aeryn: Have you seen - (she tosses the vidchip onto his bunk beside him and then sits down next to him) - this?

John: Yah.

Aeryn: When did you see it?

John: (his words are rushed) Aeryn - I'm not your boyfriend, I'm not your husband, I'm not your anything. You can do what you want. (he picks up the vidchip and tosses it away like a disagreeable piece of trash that he doesn't want on his bed)

Aeryn: It's not real. You know that don't you? The - um - the last part. Talyn - altered the image. (John stops his writing and looks up , but not at her. He looks tired) I never - recreated with Crais. (he makes no response, unable to let go so easily of the resentment. As for Aeryn, she also can't let go of her need to dismiss others) Not that it should matter. (and therein lies the problem)

John: (quietly, still not looking at her) It does.

Aeryn: It never did before. See, uh - (a bittersweet smile at the memory) I had this life. I liked it! it had rules - I followed the rules - and that made everything right. (resentfully) And then you come along and you frell everything up. (she struggles to find the words) S-strange human, - with - arrogance, stubbornness...

John: (offering a word of his own) Dumb.

Aeryn: Let me finish. You saw the recording - and you didn't say a word. You are like a plague, John Crichton. And you have ruined my life. (that analogy compels him to look at her) And yet I just - (she throws up her hands in disbelief at herself) - keep coming back. (there's another long silence as he watches her and she stares at her knees before she says in a husky voice) You can talk now.

John: Let me show you something. (he crawls back into his bunk, which is situated so the head of it is at the portal looking out into space) Come here, I'm not gonna bite. (she hesitates, and then crawls in after him. They lay on their bellies, propped on their elbows, looking at the stars out the portal and John unfolds a roll of rough paper) This is a star chart. These are the names I give the stars.

Aeryn: (glancing at the map and out the portal) They've already got names.

John: Yeah, I know, but Mintaka 3 sounds boring to me. Anyway - (he points to marks on his map) - that's Hughie, Louie, and Dewey. You see that one? (he taps another notation on his chart) That's that star right there - (he points out the port at the actual star, a pulsing point of light bigger than all the others) The bright one. That's my point of reference - my guide - and it always becomes the center of my chart. I always name it Aeryn.

Aeryn: You say it's your guide?

John: (softly) It's my one constant. Would you like to name some stars?

Aeryn: There's a lot of them.

John: And we could take our time.

They lean towards each other and their lips meet at the spot where the reflection of the pulsating star reflects on the portal. The scene slowly fades to just the star, winking within its cartoon constellation.
THE END

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