The episode opens on the surface of some alien world. It is twilight and dark blue clouds dominate a pale yellow sky. Blunt spire-like mountains topped with vegetation rise from a verdant rainforest. Below the forest canopy is a dim blue underworld of ropy vines and moss covered tree boles. The forest floor steams with moisture and small animals flit among the shadows. Reptiles inhabit the foliage and the air is filled with the sounds of birds and insects. But something is out of place in this tropical jungle - it is Talyn, resting in a clearing, his lights softly aglow like some huge bioluminescent slug amid the vines and ground fog.
Inside Talyn, Crais stands gazing out a window at the jungle, as if waiting for something.
In another part of the ship, Stark bounces perkily into a room that might be a storeroom, a control substation, Rygel and Starkís bedroom - or all 3...
Stark: (breathlessly chanting some cheery nonsense) Kahmenah kahmenah kahmenah-NEK! Kahmenah kahmenah kahmenah -NEK! Kahmenah kahmenah kahmenah-NEK! (he bounds up to cloth-swaddled lump on a shelf in the corner and swats both hands down on either side of it) RYGEL!
Rygel: (bolting upright from a dead sleep) HWAH!! (he glares at the grinning Banik bending over him) Oooh - I may be small, but allow me to remind you - that only serves to put me at castration level! (Stark quickly claps his hands over his crotch)
Stark: What's the matter? Didn't sleep well?
Rygel: How could I? With them on the other side of this - (pointedly raising his voice at the wall next to his bed) - very thin bulkhead!
Stark: (sympathetically) Bit noisy were they?
Rygel: She was bad enough. But Crichton! He was louder than she was! He actually sounded like he was exerting himself! (Stark goes and presses his ear to the wall) What kind of a male is he anyway? (with disgust) They're between bouts. Give them a few microts. (he yawns and lays back down)
(cut to the other side of the very thin bulkhead to another room whose floor is strewn with discarded items of clothing. In a bed against the wall lay Aeryn and John. She's dozing a little as he rouses and kisses her shoulder lightly)
John: Hang on- (he props himself up on one elbow and starts to thump on the wall and moan loudly) OOHH!
Rygel: (cut to him as he bolts upright again, slurring groggily) Whazzamatter?
John: (back in his and Aerynís room she smiles with amusement as he bellows and thumps) OH - GOD!! (in the other room Stark grins at his carrying-on)
Aeryn: (chuckling a little as she gives him a swat to stop it) You were louder than that, believe it or not.
(they giggle and Aeryn rolls over to face him. They chat, rather incongruously, as they cuddle and kiss)
Aeryn: How much longer?
John: (around his kisses) How much longer what?
Aeryn: (as she smooches it up) Does Talyn have to stay onboard this planet?
John: (catching his breath) Oh - Well heavy gravity's letting him sleep. (into her mouth as he tries to kiss and talk at the same time) Stark said that the uh - vegetation has restorative power so it's our one - (brief pause for a second of non-yakkitive passion) - quick-stop chance to get him back to full fighting strength. (just as he finishes answering her question and they're comfortably on course for one of those 'right moments' we hear about in adverts for erectile dysfunction tablets - they are interrupted by the strident tones of Crais on comm)
Crais: (cut briefly to him on Talynís Command as he moves about activating ships systems) I suggest you all get up here immediately. Talynís sensors have picked up another ship entering the planets atmosphere. Dangerously close.
John: (quietly, as he and Aeryn roll away from each other) Damn.
(cut to Talynís Command as Stark enters, Rygel's already dressed there)
Stark: (full of nervous energy) Friend or foe? Friend or foe? Friend or foe?
Crais: Talyn's laboring to discern that.
Rygel: If it's a retrieval squad - are we going to be able to blast our way out of here?
Crais: Talyn is powered down to stasis level on all systems - facilitating the recuperation process. We all agreed to take that chance. (as he moves about the Command, Stark trails him obsessively repeating the words "Friend or foe? Friend or foe? Friend or foe? Friend or foe? Friend or foe?")
Rygel: (in the irritated tone of one who just once would like a straight answer to a question) So your answer is - 'No. We can't move.' (he then demonstrates how properly to answer a question by turning around and yelling at Stark) WILL YOU SHUT THE FRELL UP? OF COURSE IT'S A FOE! WE HAVE NO FRIENDS! (that's good enough for Stark. He shuts up. John jogs into the Command with Aeryn a few paces behind)
John: Talk to us. What do we got?
Crais: Talyn has identified it as the Vigilante - (Aeryn looks grim and apprehensive) -the Peacekeeper ship pursuing us.
Stark: (babbling more to himself than anyone else - which is a good thing because they all ignore him anyway) We've got to do something! There's nothing we can do! (hurrying over to John who's looking at readouts) CRICHTON! You always have a plan! (dubiously) Well - sometimes.
John: How close?
Crais: It's just landed.
Rygel: (moving towards Aeryn, who's staring stonily into space) It's your mother who's running the frelling retrieval squad. Maybe we can use that.
John: (stopping Rygel and fixing him with meaningful stare) Yo! Not now Rygel.
Rygel: (bluntly) Not now? They're here Crichton! On the planet! They're gonna be knocking down that door at any microt - and our ship is sound asleep!
(cut to outside. A PK Prowler sits in a small clearing as another one just arriving sends the ground fog billowing. Xhalax Sun has already dismounted from the Prowler with one of her team of Colartas. Xhalax is a handsome woman with dark hair and strong features marred only by a long scar on her left cheek - and her harsh demeanor. Colartas are the tall, hammer-headed reptilians whose long snouts are lined with large sharp teeth. It's hard to distinguish one Colarta from another - (at least it is for non-Colartas) - except by the unique design of their vaguely ancient Egyptian-style leather headdresses whose side flaps fall from their heads onto their shoulders. They're dedicated hunters due to the fact that they are indentured slaves who can only earn their freedom through service. But they have their limitations. This ones name is Thek, he's wearing a large bandage over one shoulder and he's breathing heavily)
Thek: Xhalax -
Xhalax: (sympathetically stating what she knows is the source of Thek's discomfort) Heavy gravity.
Thek: (straining to speak) 2 - 2 and a half times what my species is used to.
Xhalax: How is your wound?
Thek: (grunting as he fights the terrible gravity) I will - earn my share! (but Xhalax has no interest in coddling decrepit slaves - she casually swings her pulse rifle around and puts Thek out of his misery. Two more Colartas, Vek and Kek, have just stepped out of the other Prowler and witnessed this as they trudge over to their Master)
Xhalax: (in greeting to the newcomers) Good news. Your shares have just increased. (Vek and Kek look at each other and growl in a way that might be fear, competitiveness, pleasure - or all three)
(cut back to Talyn, laying on the forest floor, partially camouflaged with a drapery of the living vines of the Jungle. The scene shifts to inside where his little crew, sans Rygel, move through his corridors with grimly purposeful strides. Stark sidles nervously alongside John while Aeryn and Crais bring up the rear. Someone has come up with A Plan)
Stark: Decoys? This is an awfully big ship! You really, really, really think the 3 of you can-
John: Stark - if you have any other ideas we'll be thrilled to hear 'em before we go out.
Crais: The Peacekeeper ship set down some distance from here. Clearly the planets vegetation is masking Talynís whereabouts as we were hoping.
John: That's not gonna last forever. We gotta get these guys away from Talyn and give him a chance to recuperate. Then we got a shot. Maybe.
Crais: Talynís restoration is nearly complete. We need only buy him a little more time.
Stark: What about me? Hm? What about me? Why can't I go out?
Crais: I agree. I am the logical choice to stay here with Talyn.
John: (cutting Crais off in a show of either his ongoing distrust of the man and/or his unwillingness to be shepherding Stark in one of his manic phases out in the wilds with a PK retrieval squad running around loose) Logical, yes. But it ain't gonna happen boys.
Aeryn: (firmly to Stark) Listen to me! They're here to take Talyn! We can't let them anywhere near him when he's vulnerable like this. Crichton, Crais and I will go down. You will stay here and keep him calm.
(cut to the room that serves as Stark and Rygelís quarters among other things, as Aeryn and the others enter. Rygel is there watching the vidchip replay of Xhalaxís nocturnal visit to Aeryn so many years ago. Her recorded voice is heard whispering as they enter "Wake up Aeryn")
Rygel: Ah! (as Xhalaxíss voice murmurs "My name is Xhalax Sun. I'm your mother") I've been watching this - the night your mother came and saw you.
John: Rygel, what the hell are you doin'? (he seems more upset by Rygelís actions than Aeryn, who with Crais, heads straight for some lockers along one wall of the room)
Rygel: (ignoring John as he continues to speak to Aeryn) She sounds like she likes you. Maybe we could use that to - ah-
John: (whipping the chip out of its projector and tossing it aside) This is Aerynís stuff! Keep your hands off! (Aeryn, who's ignoring Rygel as she and Crais gear up for a jungle expedition, glances over at them. John continues, more quietly, with one hand gripping the front of Rygelís tunic and the other on the back of his neck) And your nose out of other peoples business.
Rygel: (protesting) Well, uh - what are we supposed to do when you're out there and dear old mother comes blasting in? (Aeryn sighs as she straps on a gun belt)
John: Buckwheat - we're gonna keep the retrieval squad away and you're gonna keep your hands - off Aerynís stuff. Is that clear? (Rygel emits a sound somewhere between a sigh and a growl and Aeryn looks like she has more on her mind than Rygelís idiosyncrasies)
(cut to the dark, steamy jungle as Xhalax and her Colartas walk)
Xhalax: (coldly) I don't give a ropy dren about heavy gravity. Our targets are near. Keep moving! (with contempt) How many missions have you been on?
Xhalax: Nine and out, right? This is your last mission as a mercenary? You complete this one and you can buy your freedom. You have a mate? Offspring?
Vek: (rather wistfully) Yes.
Xhalax: (vicious) Nice, it'd be a frelling shame if you and your mate here screwed up and you were to start your mission count back at zero. So frell the gravity! Cinch up your mivonks - and keep moving! (an explosive report is heard nearby)
Kek: Pulse rifles!
Vek: Definitely Peacekeeper! This way! (he swings his head in the direction of the sound and they head off towards it)
(cut to Aeryn, John and Crais as they troop through the heavy vegetation. John raises his gun and fires a couple more shots. His last volley is bit puny and he eyes his gun, which is making a little whirring noises)
John: What the hell's wrong with this gun?
Aeryn: (she and Crais sound a bit out of breath) I don't - know.
Crais: Maybe the chakan mist is ruining the pulse deploy.
John: Well they're either after us, or not. We've left a trail Stevie Wonder could follow.
Aeryn: (she's paused to peer into the jungle, which is lit by only a few low shafts of watery yellow sunlight. John starts past her but she stops him) Oh - wait-
John: What? (she steps ahead of him and with the muzzle of her gun, knocks a silver, pumpkin-shaped thing the size of a softball off a vine hanging in their path. As it hits the ground it cracks open, spilling out poisonous green juice that burns the leaf litter around it like acid)
Aeryn: Oarusk fruit.
John: (eying the sizzling mess on the ground as he and the others duck under the vine) Remind me not to put that on my Cocoa Puffs.
(cut back to Talyn where Stark seems to be decompensating fast. He's keeping up a steady, fretful whine as he walks next to Rygel and hangs onto the Hynerians hoverchair. Rygel has his own case of the nerves with is manifesting itself as hiccups)
Rygel: Oooh - stop that - (hic) - incessant - (hic) - humming!
Stark: When you stop that hiccupping.
Rygel: I - (hic) - hiccup when I'm - (hic) - nervous!
Stark: Well I hum when I'm nervous! (and he resumes doing so which makes him sound like large mosquito)
Rygel: A - (hic) - hiccup is involuntary you pellish -(hic hic) - venker! Humming isn't! (but at that moment Starkís humming stops. He pulls Rygel to a stop and his eyes widen)
Stark: (in a low tone) Rygel!
Rygel: (whispering nervously back) What? (then he sees what Stark sees and gasps with dismay - jungle vines are swaying gently and growing so lushly from Talynís ceiling that their growth can actually be heard as a rubbery stretching sort of sound)
Stark: Vines! From outside - growing inside.
(he begins to hum in a higher pitch and Rygel starts to seize up beyond mere hiccups with an attack of the Hynerian intons)
(cut back to the retrieval squad as they push warily through the jungle. Vek is in the lead, tracking)
Vek: Fresh trail. That way.
Vek: No. Sebacean.
(meanwhile our three decoys continue their attempt to divert the PKs. Aeryn is in the lead as suddenly a gas geyser begins to erupt at her feet. She claps her hand over her nose and mouth and ducks away, coughing)
John: (covering his nose and mouth too as he mutters) Okay - welcome to the butthole of the universe. (they divert around the geyser of reeking vapor)
(cut back to the retrieval squad as they confer in a thicket)
Vek: Very close.
Xhalax: Three point vector. Are you up to this?
Kek: We are ready. (they split off from each other and move on individually)
(cut back to Rygel and Stark. They've overcome their petrifying fear and Stark is flailing frantically at the encroaching vines inside Talyn with a small knife. It isn't much good for the task. He throws it down to begins tearing at the vegetation with his hands)
Stark: (grunting with exertion) This - can't - be good!
Rygel: (he's just sitting there with an 18 inch long hooked space machete and trying to put a positive spin on this mess) It can't be bad. It's the same vegetation that's helping to heal Talyn.
Stark: Rooted to the planet! How's Talyn supposed to take off- (he's throwing torn down vinery everywhere in his frenzy) - with this stuff- (practically falling on the floor as he pulls vines with both hands) - laced through him?
Rygel: (as he shakes bits of uprooted vine off his head) Once Talyn's back to full strength, I'm sure he'll be able to tear himself away - (he takes another faceful of vine) - easily! (but better safe than sorry - and as Starkís anxiety continues unabated - he joins in the weeding out of this unwanted garden) Come on! Pull!
(cut back to the jungle where the retrieval squad is closing in on our heroes from 3 vectors. They've crept to within yards of their quarry and can now see them from concealment in the thick undergrowth. Crais seems to sense their presence, he has his weapon at the ready and is peering tensely into the jungle as they stop to consult)
John: (quietly, to Aeryn) How far have we gone?
Aeryn: Not quite one full metra.
John: One more metra, we should circle back.
Aeryn: Right. (she takes another step, but stops, like Crais, sensing that she's being watched. Nearby Xhalax has her in her sights. Aeryn raises her weapon and murmurs) Oh...
John: What you got? (in the sudden silence of the forest, , he and Crais follow Aerynís gaze. Xhalax hits a switch on her rifle and Talynís crew is immediately alerted by the thin whine of her weapon charging. In an instant, pulse fire seems to erupt from all directions at once. Aeryn, John and Crais return fire as they dive for cover)
Vek: THAT WAY!
Crais: THERE! (the ensuing gun battle is a chaos of bright pulse fire slamming into trees and narrowly missing targets as everyone jockeys for cover and a clear shot)
Aeryn: Cover me! (she steps out of hiding to make a dash for a better position and John follows, laying down fire into the jungle behind her. As the wild shooting continues, Crais' pulse rifle is spent and he casts it aside for two hand guns . John moves through the foliage firing virtually blind in what seems to be the direction of the enemy while Xhalax pursues Aeryn. Finally one of the Colartas hits its target - Crais - who is stuck in the shoulder and goes down with a bellow of pain. John is forced into retreat by the Colartas fire - and he, Crais and Aeryn become separated in the dense, gloomy jungle)
The fire of the battle is intense and pulse weapons begin to exhaust their fuel. Aeryn tosses her spent weapon aside and hauls out a backup pistol as well. Xhalax is forced to stop and adjust her own faltering rifle - and becomes the next to sustain a hit. She goes down with a long, drawn-out wail as she takes a pulse shot to one leg.
John: (cut to him as he blunders through the forest - and hears the feminine scream) Aeryn?
Aeryn: (cut to her, alone, and unpursued now as she casts about for the direction of his voice) John!
John: (cut to him as he stands and shouts into the dense undergrowth) AERYYYN?
Aeryn: (cut to her as she turns slowly around, completely lost and unable to pinpoint the direction of his call) John!
John: (cut to him as he discards his useless rifle and softly curses the dark jungle and it's deceptive acoustics) Damn!
Meanwhile Aeryn continues to slowly turn and peer into the dark vegetation. But she is quiet now, on the alert again - and suddenly she's hit hard from behind and knocked to the misty ground. The redoubtable Xhalax has risen and found her prey. She dives down, and kneeling on her good leg, drags Aeryn to semi-upright position and restrains her with a vicious chokehold.
Xhalax: (her voice is a cold command in Aerynís ear) Move - and you die! (Aeryn coughs and chokes in Xhalaxís iron grip) Where is he?
Aeryn: (barely able to speak around Xhalaxís stranglehold) Are you Xhalax? Are you Xhalax Sun?
Xhalax: Where is he? (Aeryn powers one elbow into Xhalaxís wounded leg. The older woman yells with pain and her hold is sufficiently loosened for Aeryn to pull away as Xhalax topples to the ground. Aeryn quickly piles onto her and the two women wrestle briefly. Aeryn, who is unwounded and has the position of best offence, prevails - but her goal is to pin and subdue, not kill)
Aeryn: Stop! (but Xhalax doesn't listen any better than Aeryn and keeps right on fighting. So Aeryn is forced to haul off and deliver a well-leveraged punch to her mothers head. Xhalax is TKO'd and Aeryn sits, panting and looking at her battle scarred and bleeding face) Nice to see you again Mother.
(cut to John, crashing imprudently through the forest. The jungle is quiet now, the silence broken only by the chirr of insects and him)
John: AERYN? AERYN! (there's no response from her, but someone else has heard him from somewhere in the shadows)
Crais: (sharply) Crichton! (John veers towards the sound and practically falls down next to Crais, who's propped against the trunk of a tree) Crichton! Stop making noise or they'll find us! (there's a long pause as they sit there and pant) I've been hit. ( isn't really inteJohnrested, but dutifully crawls over to take a peek)
John: (quickly crawling away) Aw hell! That's ugly. Ah-I gotta find Aeryn. (he makes to move on)
Crais: (urgently calling him back) Crichton don't you leave me here! The retrieval squad - they're using Colartas!
John: They're using what?
Crais: (fearfully) Expert trackers. You leave me here bleeding, they will find me and kill me!
John: (having no special problem with that) And?
(cut to the Colartas, slogging through the murky rainforest. Kek is having some trouble. He pauses to lean against a tree, clutching his chest. A string of bloody drool runs from his mouth. Vek stops to assess his companions situation)
Vek: Are you shot?
Kek: (speaking with effort over his pain) No - the gravity. One of my hearts, it has - burst.
Vek: Can you move?
Kek: Won't slow you down - I can still - track.
Vek: Have you seen Xhalax?
Kek: No - I can - locate her.
Kek: But she might be wounded!
Vek: (as devoted to Xhalax as she is to them) We pursue and retrieve our target. That is our mission. We don't get paid for finding Xhalax. Move.
(cut back to John as he moves about the forest near Crais. Oarusk fruit vines drape the area, some of the silver fruit have fallen to the ground whole, the brittle shards of others lay surrounded with burnt leaf litter. A few have fallen and cracked open - but their round husks sit unspilled like bowls of green soup. John carefully picks up one of these bowls of acid juice)
Crais: What are you doing?
John: Do you want to bleed to death?
Crais: What do you think?
John: Then shut up. (he tips the oarusk fruit husk over Crais' wound, sending a stream of acid to run into the deep hole left by the pulse blast) This might sting a little. (Crais lets fly a wild cream of agony. The acid hisses like Drano as pale foam begins to boil out of his wound. John claps a hand over Crais' mouth) Okay - maybe more than a little. (we bet he wouldn't dump alien fruit acid which could be cyanide for all he knows about it into Aerynís wounds. But - hope springs eternal)
(cut to Aeryn and the unconscious Xhalax elsewhere in the misty jungle. Aeryn has her tied up and propped against a tree. As she finishes setting the restraints in place she glances at Xhalaxís face and stops to look. Then, with gentle curiosity, and longing, she reaches out and touches the one feature of her mothers face that she remembers clearly - the scar on her left cheek. But Xhalax flinches under the caress and jerks back to consciousness. Aeryn quickly averts her eyes and her hands back to arranging the restraints and the field dressing she's applied to Xhalaxís wounded leg)
Aeryn: (businesslike) This should - slow the bleeding. Stop any bone from working its way out. At least temporarily.
Xhalax: You knew who I was. Who are you?
Aeryn: I'm Aeryn. (Xhalax stares at without recognition. Aeryn seems slightly disappointed for a moment - but then, perhaps heartened that her mother attacked without knowing who she was, she smiles one her bare, tight little Aeryn smiles) Aeryn Sun. (Xhalax continues to stare blankly) I'm your daughter.
Xhalax: (her stare is unwavering and her expression is cold) If you are my daughter, you are a Peacekeeper.
Aeryn: I'm not a Peacekeeper anymore.
Xhalax: (with contempt) Then you are with Crais.
(cut back to Talyn where Rygel is still working on hacking the encroaching jungle out of the ship with his space machete. Stark bounds in alongside him and immediately begins tearing at the greenery)
Rygel: Where the hezmana have you been?
Stark: On the bridge.
Rygel: Comfortable up there? Because while you've been fotzing around, I've been trying to keep this dren-
Stark: (through clenched teeth) RYGEL!
Rygel: -from taking over every square-
Stark: (yelling over the Hynerians bellyaching) RYGEL! SHUTUP! Talyn - he's almost healed!
Rygel: (amazed) What? Completely?
Stark: (energetically tearing out vines with both hands) It's ah- yes.
Rygel: Can we blast ourselves free of this yotz?
Stark: Soon. (he's panting with nervous energy - and just plain nerves) If-if-if we can keep these under control then I think Talyn will be strong enough to break free! (they share a giddy giggle) But what if the others aren't back by then?
Rygel: (sobering quickly) They're up against a Peacekeeper Retrieval Squad out there. Don't delude yourself, fahrbot. (he sagely emphasizes his words with a wag of his space machete) They're probably never coming back.
(cut back to Vek and Kek as they near their quarry, Kek is snuffling the air)
Vek: What do you smell?
Kek: Two of them. One is unknown to me. The other is ah - (he takes another whiff) - a Sebacean - (sniffing) - wounded.
(cut to John and Crais who are on the move. John brings up the rear - the better to prod the weakened Crais onward)
Crais: (breathing hard) At least with this. - gravity, the Colartas will be in more trouble than - (he stumbles and falls to his knees with a groan) - we are.
John: That's a comfort - get up! (he pulls Crais to his feet with a grunt) Get up! We gotta get outta here. (he keeps one hand firmly on Crais as a not too friendly support, and they stumble on)
Crais: Aeryn had - positioning device.
John: So she'll be able to find her way back to Talyn.
Crais: If she is still alive. (John furiously yanks Crais around and makes it clear he will not entertain any possibility that she is not. Crais emits great guttural groans of agony at the rough treatment and sudden exertion)
John: She is still alive! (he brusquely shoves Crais forward and steps up the pace) She is alive.
(cut to Aeryn & Xhalax who are also on the march, Aeryn also behind her wounded companion, pushing her onward)
Xhalax: Where are you taking me?
AERYN Back to the gunship. Which I named Talyn, by the way. (Xhalax groans with disgust) Yes, I thought you'd find that amusing.
Xhalax: (contemptuously) Naming it after daddy? It's not amusing - it's sentimental and weak. Is that why you're sparing me? (she turns to look at Aeryn as they walk) Because I'm your mummy? (with a swift shove in the back, Aeryn forces her keep her eyes on the trail)
Aeryn: (stung) No. Because with that wound, out here, you will die. Alive, you're potential leverage.
Xhalax: Regulation Field-Op procedure insists you terminate all hostile personnel on point of contact. Eliminate the threat. (sneering) And when I'm dead - you can name your Prowler after me.
Aeryn: (she's annoyed and shoots back with the eloquence of anger) Oh yes that's very funny. Well I no longer follow 'Regulation Field-Op Procedures, and I know it's not by chance that you ended up out here on this assignment. High Command knew I was out here with Talyn and Crais. They probably thought - 'send her mother' or perhaps you even volunteered for the pleasure. Did you? Thought - you know - 'if things go wrong, we end up face-to-face, perhaps the daughter will flinch.' (Xhalax stops and throws a poisonous look over her shoulder. Aeryn stares icily back and says quietly) I'm not flinching. (and she gives Xhalax another rough shove forward)
(cut to John and Crais staggering through the dim forest and its oppressive gravity)
Crais: You have no idea where we are going. We could be going around in circles.
John: We're not goin' in circles, nimrod - because we've never been here before. We're completely lost! (they come to a small clearing and in some unspoken agreement, both collapse to the ground, panting and groaning) Ooh God! I hate mazes! (as he writhes, trying to get a comfortable position, he moans) My first girlfriend, Julie, she loved 'em. Oh boy, did she! (imitating a feminine voice) "Hey Johnny, let's go in the mirror maze together, huh?" (he raises his head off the ground and bellows to the universe) HEY JULES! IS THIS MAKIN' YOU HORNY?
Crais: (zero interest in John's old girlfriends) Our size and weight will give us a slight advantage over the Colartas. But our sweat and blood will continue to lead them right to us. (as Crais talks John snatches his hand away from something slimy on the foggy ground. Of course he immediately smells his fingers which causes him to squeeze his eyes shut and jerk his face away)
John: Shut up.
Crais: (rumbling) You shut up!
John: No - you shut up! I got an idea! (he scoops up a gob of the reeking slime)
Crais: What are you doing?
John: Here - smell that! (he wipes the gob of crud as clear as K-Y across Crais face)
Crais: (flinching away) GGLAUGH! BAARRRGGHH
John: (gagging and daubing the stuff over his own face as he chokes out the words) Dang - if this doesn't cover our scent - or kill us - I don't know what will. (Crais the pragmatist goes with it and smears himself as he continues to groan at the stupendous stench of the stuff) Yeah that's good! (he slaps another dollop onto Crais) There ya go - spread it around! Don't forget to - cover your private bits.
(cut back to Talyn where Rygel and Stark continue to thin out his interior jungle)
Rygel: (panting, barely able force his itty arms to go on hacking) How much - longer - till Talyn's fully healed?
Stark: Look I'm still not sure we should leave. But-
Rygel: (finding the strength to cut him off) We're leaving! Soon as Talyn's ready, we're leaving whether they're here or not. You got that? (and at that moment, who should appear around the corner - but Aeryn, pushing Xhalax ahead of her)
Rygel: (a low murmur of surprise) Oh what?
Aeryn: The hero.
Rygel: (backpedaling furiously) Aeryn! I - always knew you'd make it back. (he makes a lame attempt at a jovial chuckle) The others aren't as capable as you! Not as strong, as superior-
Aeryn: (cutting him off as she walks Xhalax past them) Shut up. (Stark quickly follows her)
Stark: AAh - This is - this is your mother? Aren't you going to introduce us?
Aeryn: No. What's the news on Crichton and Crais?
Stark: No news. You're the first back. (Aeryn looks grim and makes no answer but to push Xhalax around a bend in the hall. The older womanís expression is of silent contempt as she scratches at one bound wrist with a filthy fingernail on her opposite hand)
(cut to the Colartas as they pause in the jungle outside)
Vek: (with a low growl) No scent.
Kek: How is that possible? (Vek closes a milky white inner lid over his eyes)
Vek: Body heat. (he carefully scans the dense forest, seen through his infrared eyelid in shades of black, grey, blue - and dull red as he spots the fractionally warmer ground where John and Crais had lain) This way.
(cut to John - he's been foraging again and returns to Crais with a few short, sturdy lengths of wood. He drops a couple of them by Crais who's laying on the ground)
John: Here. (no response. He tries to awaken the wounded man) Crais! Crais! (but Crais is out like a light. With a sigh, John sits back and taking a rock that he also collected - so much for Talynís away gear lockers - he tries to fashion himself a spear out of the stick. But after only a couple whittles at it with his rock, he pauses, near despair, and gives himself a pep talk) All right. Come on John. Come on man. Concentrate. Find Aeryn. Get the hell out of here alive. (he resumes scraping at his stick - and finds that he's been joined by a black-clad figure leaning against a tree nearby)
SCORPIUS/HARVEY: (sighing) Oh poor baby. Poor, poor Johnny.
John: Now is not a good time Scorpy. Go away.
SCORPIUS/HARVEY: On the contrary - you summoned me.
John: (he lurches to his feet and stomps over to Scorpius/Harvey to shake the partially sharpened end of his stick at him) You know what? You are really becoming annoying! Go away!
SCORPIUS/HARVEY: (with a sigh of bored exasperation) But your subconscious did, and that's where I reside remember? (he offers a calm assessment of the spear tip hovering a few inches from his eye) This point - it needs to be sharp, but not so spindly that it is weak. (John withdraws his spindly spear and grudgingly asks for help)
John: As long as you're here - these Pina Colada things chasing us - are they everything Crais has cracked them up to be?
SCORPIUS/HARVEY: Oh yes! In that at least, Crais has been completely forthright. (John's eyes narrow)
John: Where has he not been - forthright?
(Scorpius/Harvey smiles appreciatively at John as Crais lays, senseless on the jungle floor)
(cut back to Talyn - the Command - where Aeryn and Stark check the ships systems. Rygel observes - still toting his space machete - and Xhalax sits and quietly works her bound hands behind her back. She has succeeded in slicing a slit in one wrist with the fingernail of her other hand and now she pulls from the wound - a thin knife, several inches long with which she immediately begins to saw at the vines binding her hands)
Stark: As far as I can tell, Talynís systems are almost back to normal.
Aeryn: Then it's time to wake him up and get aloft. We'll use Talynís sensors to locate Crichton and Crais.
Aeryn stiffens slightly as she hears a very slight grunt from Xhalax. But before she can turn around from the control console she's leaning over, her prisoner is loose. Evidently Xhalax had more secret weapons than just a knife in her wrist - for she now quickly snorts a stimulant from both hands - and lunges across the Command at Aeryn, who goes down with a scream from a single vicious, martial-arts style kick.
Stark makes a charge at the hopped-up PK, but she also puts him down with a single, powerful fist to his head.
When necessary - Rygel is no pansy either and he's conveniently armed with a very large blade. He powers his hoverchair at Xhalax - and alas - takes the worst of it. Xhalax plunges her shorter knife into his belly before he can even touch her - and cuts upward. Rygel, thus gutted, is stopped in his tracks as he lets loose a long, low, wail. Xhalax wastes no more of her consciousness on him and as his machete slips from his hand and clatters to the deck - she turns to Talynís control consoles.
As Rygelís bright green blood drains from him and he sinks slowly to the floor in his hoverchair, Aeryn woozily struggles to her feet. She aims a powerful kick at Xhalaxís wounded leg - but drugs are wonderful things and the PK woman just smiles pityingly at her. Aeryn looks up at Talynís sense structure and begins-
Aeryn: Talyn - activate the intruder- (but she is cut off by a motherly backhand from Xhalax that puts her back on the floor - silent)
(cut to later. Xhalax has imprisoned Stark and the dying Rygel in the room that serves as their quarters. Stark is standing at the locked door - which like Moyaís cells, is an open grating - and screaming maniacally)
Stark: LET US OUT OF HERE YA SNARKING DELLOT! LET US OUT! (there is of course, no response and he stomps away from the door howling from between clenched teeth as he goes to Rygel who's laying on his bunk, dead to the world. It's unclear if Starkís maddened rant is directed at Xhalax or Rygel or both of them at this point) Aaarrh ya murderous little beast! You're gonna be DEAD MEAT! (he trails off as comes closer to Rygel) Dead meat, dead meat, dead meat... (he sinks onto the bunk next to Rygelís still form and moves his hands with infinite gentleness just over the Hynerians belly and head as he softly breathes with empathic agony) Oohh - you really do have 3 stomachs, and the smallest little heart I've ever seen. (he tenderly strokes Rygelís earbrow, his big hand making the Hynerians head seem even all the smaller and more vulnerable. Rygel opens his eyes a little and looks up at him)
Rygel: (in a dying whisper that fades away as his eyes slowly close again) Help... me... Please... Stark. Help... meeeeeee... (but the Banik seems powerless to do anything and he sighs as he looks around the room for help. Then he rises and begins to tear down some of the encroaching vines that have made their way into Rygel and Starkís prison)
(cut to Talynís Command where Aeryn is now tied up, hands and feet, to a support structure. Evidently there's no rope or cable or plastic disposable restraints on this spaceship, since they're still using vinery for restraints. At any rate, it's working - Aeryn can't make any headway against Xhalaxís efficient knots. She winces as Talynís circuits are snapped amid little sprays of sparks by a tool Xhalax is working in them with)
Xhalax: This is a remarkable vessel. High Command could have never anticipated that their hybrid genetic would evolve so successfully.
Aeryn: What are you doing?
Xhalax: Can't fire the ship up while he still has the capacity for independent thought.
Aeryn: You're severing his higher functions.
Xhalax: After which I can fly him home manually. Techs are standing by to bring him back to life. Once he's got a control collar on.
Aeryn: Talyn is not like other Leviathans. He will die before accepting a control collar.
Xhalax: (she could care less) My mission is to subdue the Leviathan hybrid for easy transport. Then track and deliver the second target.
(cut back to John and Crais somewhere out in the rainforest. Whatever Scorpius/Harvey told John has compelled the human to tie up Crais - who now awakens to find himself spread-eagled and bound hand and foot in a sitting position to a log, a fallen hole of a tree whose other truck still stands. He tugs at his bonds - and John, who didn't like him before - now seems to have had his grudge fueled)
John: (deadly cold) Captains - are the elite. The most trusted - (he comes to crouch near Crais) - jarheads in all the Peacekeeper ranks. Cu-uz - you make Captain? You're on the A List for all the top parties. All the heavy duty crap that the Peacekeepers sure as hell don't want floatin' free in the universe.
Crais: Crichton listen to me-
John: (ignoring him) You know, I always wondered - why a swingin' cat like you would be way out here in the boondocks. Why you wanted so baaad to be Talynís prom date - and then suddenly it all came very clear to me. (he lowers his tone a bit) You need us. You knew we wouldn't lift a finger to help you, but we would do anything to protect Talyn. The Peacekeepers - they're not only after Talyn. They're after you. From the moment you set foot on Moya, you knew that this day was coming. And you kept us as allies when they came gunnin'.
Crais: (nervous - but keeping his voice steady) That's not true. That's not the only reason I wanted to help you. (but John is finished. He rises and steps behind Crais) Crichton! You can't leave me here like this.
John: Yes, I can.
Crais: What are you going to do?
John: If you're what the retrieval squad wants - (he raises the large, curved husk of some plant, filled with water) - brother- this is their lucky day! (and with that, he dumps the water over Crais' head, which takes off at least some of the jungle cologne they'd smeared on earlier. Finishing - he yells) HEY BOYS! CAN YOU SMELL HIM NOW? (he ducks away into the underbrush) OH PINA COLAAAAADAAAAS!
Crais: Crichton! NO! COME BACK! CRICHTOOONNN! CRICHTOONN!!
(cut back to Talyn. The little ship rumbles and shudders as Xhalax works)
Xhalax: (with something like fierce admiration) Even in this dormant state he still struggles against me!
Aeryn: Don't do this.
Xhalax: (with satisfaction) He won't struggle when I've finished crippling him.
Aeryn: My entire life - on every assignment, every transport ship, I scanned the soldiers looking for a face I'd only ever seen once. And now finally seeing you - I feel nothing but shame!
Xhalax: (pausing to tongue-lash Aeryn for her presumption) Officer Sun - do you actually believe I care what you think? Your sentiment disgusts me! I have not wasted a microt of my life thinking about you! You're ashamed of me? You? A traitor? An enemy to everything you were bred for?
Aeryn: The Peacekeepers made me the enemy that I am. (Xhalax turns back to her work and Aeryn tries again) Look at what you are doing! You are butchering this magnificent creature in its sleep! When it wakes it will be a slave! And there is no guarantee it will survive the procedure!
Xhalax: (she shakes her head with exasperation at these absurd attempts to convince her what she's doing is wrong) You are pathetic. You are not my daughter!
Aeryn: I am. You made me very aware of that the night you came to me when I was a child and you told me what you'd done. Which - may I remind you, was not regulation.
Xhalax: (vehement) I never came to you! You only dreamt it.
Aeryn: (with a bitter snort) Oh well! For many cycles I believed that. But you see, I now have a vid recording which I would be happy to show you if you'd like to see it. Or are you ashamed of your sentiment?
Xhalax: (pausing again as she replies with passion) Yes I am! And I paid for it! My superior officers knew I visited you that night. They interrogated me, and I professed my - attraction - for a certain Peacekeeper Officer.
Aeryn: My father.
Xhalax: (fixing Aeryn with a frigidly bitter stare) Yes. Talyn. He was older than I was, no longer as effective in battle. But my superiors didn't want to lose me. So. They gave me a chance to redeem myself.
Aeryn: What did you do to redeem yourself? (Xhalax gazes unwaveringly at her - Aeryn knows perfectly well how she redeemed herself - but the younger woman wants to hear her say it) How did you redeem yourself?
Xhalax: (poisonously) By killing your father.
(cut to the Colartas on their dogged track)
Vek: I found the scent again. (they scan the area and spot Crais - trapped like a fish in a barrel) Ah! At last! (they start towards him - but Kek thinks it's too easy)
Kek: Wait - this could be a trap. The other might still be near. (and indeed - John waits, pressed against the standing bole of the tree whose broken trunk Crais is tied to)
Vek: Do you smell him?
Kek: No. (thus reassured - they approach Crais as John readies one of his little spears)
Vek: Ah - Captain Bialar Crais! Or should I say - former Captain Crais? Do you have any idea how many Inquisitors want you back in High Command?
(but he doesn't really want to hear anything the struggling Crais has to say - and he claps one enormous, talonned hand over Crais' mouth) Our orders are to take you in alive. But half alive is still-
Kek: (interrupting him as he sniffs suspiciously) Wait! There's - I smell something! (he tests the air with his nose some more) Yes-
And at that moment John powers his spear into the belly of the nearer Colarta, Vek, who staggers back and goes down. Kek, who's already down by one heart thanks to the planets gravity - turns to look at his fallen companion and immediately finds himself with the equivalent of a 400 lbs man - John - on his back. He crashes to the ground where the howling earth monkey proceeds to finish him off by burying his other spear in the creatures stomach and leaning on it.
John: (triumphant) HEY HEY CRAIS! COULDN'T A DONE IT WITHOUT YA!
Crais: (not really very pleased at all) WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME!
John: NEEDED YOUR FEAR HOMEBOY! NEEDED THE SWEAT!
Crais: I've served my purpose as your lure, now untie me!
John: You don't get it do ya? (he rifles the bodies of the Colartas and finds as least one useful thing - a space compass) Ain't no way son. You stuck the knife in one time too many.
Crais: (with sharp disbelief) You're just going to leave me here like this?
John: Well - you earned it. (and off he goes)
Crais: (furious - and not entirely unreasonable) If you're going to execute me - execute me! KILL ME! But don't leave me here to die! (John whirls back, rising to the confrontation)
John: YOU LIED TO US! YOU BETRAYED US AND YOU USED US!
Crais: (honest - and with a simple pragmatism that can't be denied) I USED ALL MY ASSETS TO STAY ALIVE! AND THOSE ASSETS WERE YOU! (confronting John with his own failings and immaturity) You think of your own survival now - what if Aeryn is dead?
John: (pure denial) She's not. (but Crais won't let him get away with it this time)
Crais: WHAT IF SHE IS? How are you going to command Talyn? How are you going to get off this planet without me? And what if Aeryn isn't back at Talyn when you get there? What are you going to do then? ( stares back at hJohnim - angry - but unable to deny Crais' logic)
(cut back to Talyn. Xhalax has moved Aeryn to the room where Stark and Rygel are being held. Rygel is laying dead to the world on his bed, his belly rudely laced shut with vines. After firmly tying up Aeryn and Stark, Xhalax moves to continue her disconnect of Talynís higher functions at the control console in the room)
Aeryn: (to Stark, in a whisper) What about Rygel? Is he dead?
Stark: He died for several microts, but I managed to get his little heart beating again. Then I sewed the wound closed with the vines - the restorative vines. But I'm no Diagnosan - I don't know what else to do. (he eyes Xhalax) She doesn't know it yet, but Talyn is almost recovered. All we have to do is wait till he wakes up.
Aeryn: He's not going to wake up. (she watches as Xhalax notices the vidchip of her long ago visit to Aeryn laying on the console, picks it up - and inserts it into the projector. Xhalax watches the recording run, her face a solemn mask - dreading to relive the event)
Xhalax: Aeryn. Wake up, Aeryn. (on the video - the small child that was Aeryn, sleepily sits up and looks at her) Aeryn - my name is Xhalax Sun.
Aeryn: (quietly naming for Xhalax what she is looking at) The night you've so conveniently forgotten. (Xhalax makes no response as she watches it play)
Xhalax: I'm your mother. You mustn't reveal to anyone that I was here, do you understand? (the child Aeryn nods) I came to tell you something. Aeryn - your life was not an accident.
Aeryn: (her voice is flat and low as she speaks to her mother from the here and now) You cared enough then to risk everything to meet the child that you had conceived. You can't have burned that love away completely.
Xhalax: Talyn - that's your fathers name - he and I - chose to have you. You were conceived in love. Our love.
Aeryn: I am that child. I am part of you. I am part of Talyn.
Xhalax: I wanted you to know this.
Aeryn: Peacekeeper way isn't the only way. It's not too late for you. (Xhalax watches, her face dead with bitter regret that she has no way to deal with or express or undo)
Xhalax: It makes you special. We wanted you.
Xhalax: (howling) NOOO! (and with that, she brings her fist down on the projector, destroying it in a brief fountain of sparks. She then snarls at Aeryn in an ugly, venomous, hiss) This is dead history! Your father is dead! And you - you will face a Peacekeeper Tribunal - on a charge of high treason! (and she stalks out of the room, leaving Aeryn truly alone and Stark, not daring to say anything - watching Aeryn and understanding)
Out in the jungle - one of the Colartas stirs and opens its eyes. Vek, the stronger of the two, with all his hearts intact, rises and pulls John's spear from his belly.
(cut back to the prisoners on Talyn. Stark has turned around so that Aeryn can lift up her bound feet and use them in a desperate attempt to rub loose the vines binding his wrists. As they work - they hear a moan from the bunk next to the wall)
Rygel: (moaning feebly) I've been - filleted.
Stark: (surprised and pleased) The restorative vines - they're working!
Aeryn: (urgently) Rygel! Come over here now and untie us!
Rygel: (gasping and moaning in postoperative pain) Get over there? I need bed rest, for at least the next 50 arns! (as Aeryn frantically wrenches her wrists against the tough vines that bind them - Rygel raises his head up with great difficulty and sees his mangled belly - which really does look bad - think of sutures done with rope stout enough to hang a swing off of) Have you seen these so-called stitches? Who did this to me?!
Stark: (softly) I did.
Rygel: Oh, great! A one-eyed hingmot with no 3-D vision! (he can barely speak around his strangled groans) How many of my vital organs did you puncture?
Stark: (annoyed and defensive) I saved your life!
Rygel: (horrified now, as well as in terrible pain) Saved my life? Look! (the great, uneven stitches reveal that Stark obviously either didn't have the stomach or the foresight to undress him before sewing) You sewed this to me!
Aeryn: (grimacing as she struggles with her bonds and having no interest in Rygelís medical condition beyond the fact that he's alive and his vines aren't on his hands or feet) Rygel!
Rygel: My robes! You sewed my robes to my chest!
Aeryn: Get over here now!
(cut to Xhalax - she has abandoned Talyn for the moment and returned to her Prowler from which she fetches a fresh pulse rifle. The scene then shifts to John and Crais who are back to hauling their sweating, stinking, wounded, nearly triple-weighted bodies through the misty jungle)
John: (eyeing the blinking space compass he took off the Colarta) Is this thing workin'?
Crais: It had better be. We'll never find Talyn without it.
(cut back to Talyn where Rygel has somehow dragged himself over to Aeryn and is sitting on the floor sawing at her wrist restraints in a rather desultory manner)
Aeryn: (impatiently) Oh for frell's sake Rygel! Use two hands! Two hands?
Rygel: (gasping) I'm going as fast as I can! My robes are stitched inside my chest cavity!
Stark: (sullenly) You are so ungrateful.
Rygel: And - I'm trying to keep my guts from spilling out all over this frelling floor! (he keeps on sawing away and finally the vines are weakened enough for Aeryn to snap them and work the rest off herself. Rygel sits back, panting, his earbrows drooping wearily)
Aeryn: Right! See if you can wake Talyn. If he's up to it - when I get back - we're going. (she rises and jogs from the room. Stark holds out his bound hands to Rygel, who just sits glaring at him and growling)
Stark: Come on- Come on! Jus-jus- Come on!
Out in the jungle - Xhalax, confident that Talyn is adequately secured, is after her second target - Crais. Aeryn is out too - with a gun looking for whoever she can find. Vek is closing ground on Crais as he and John make for Talyn as fast as they can - unaware that they are being hunted again. They pass the reeking geyser that they had encountered with Aeryn earlier.
John: We've been here. That's Old Faithful, we must be near Talyn.
At that moment - Vek comes out of the foliage and jumps Crais from behind. He yells and John joins the melee with the large reptilian. Aeryn and Xhalax - each in their separate locations - hear the sounds of the struggle and alter their courses in that direction.
Vek throws John off his back as Xhalax nears the fray. John is rolled, but plunges back in as Crais tries to bring his pulse gun to bear on the tracker, but his wound and weakened condition has him at a disadvantage. Xhalax arrives on the scene and takes aim at the tussling threesome from cover - but her shot goes wild as Aeryn impacts her and the two women crash to the forest floor where they wrestle in their own grim confrontation. Xhalax has years of experience and cunning on her daughter though and manages to brain Aeryn against a tree. Meanwhile John and Crais have Vek under something like control - at least he's pinned to the ground underneath both of them - but he's still very much alive and kicking. They obviously saw Xhalaxís wild shot - but aren't sure who fired it or who's involved in the other nearby battle. John calls Aerynís name questioningly - but she's preoccupied with Xhalax. She comes after her mother again, and again ruins Xhalaxís pulse fire aimed at the men. Xhalax turns back to Aeryn one last time and beats her to the ground with her gun - which she then trains on her daughter-
Xhalax: I would take you back - attempt to redeem you if it was possible! But your corruption is too advanced!
Aeryn: My corruption began the moment I was conceived!
Xhalax: (blurting almost involuntarily) NO!
Meanwhile, John and Crais are dragging Vek towards the gas geyser.
John: Watch his teeth!
Aeryn: (as she lies there waiting for her mother to pull her trigger) Don't you see? My independence comes from you anyway! I grew up wanting to be just like a woman I'd only ever seen once!
Xhalax: You are a traitor!
John and Crais make to finish off Vek by holding his face over the geyser while he screams as he's either suffocated by the stench of the thing, steamed to death by it, or both. John casts an anxious eye in the direction of what he now knows is Aeryn and Xhalax.
Aeryn: I am the part of you that wanted to be a rebel! The part of you that knew deep down inside what was right-
Xhalax: Shut up!
Aeryn: You've resisted Peacekeeper doctrine before-
Xhalax: Shut up!
Aeryn: -why can't you do it again now?
Xhalax: (vicious and infuriated - but seeming unable to pull her trigger) Yoouu - are an ABERRATION!
Aeryn: I am your child! (at that moment - John, having finished with Vek - powers into Xhalax and knocks her off Aeryn. They roll as Xhalax fires wildly, but he manages to tear the gun from her hand and throw it aside. Aeryn retrieves it and comes to where he has her mother pinned - but struggling furiously, on the ground) Right. John - get out of the way. (but he has a thing against matricide and doesn't move)
Xhalax: (her voice as rough as a harpyís) Let her do it! Let her shoot me!
John: No Aeryn! Don't kill her!
Aeryn: We have to.
John: (passionately) You can't! There's been too much killing!
Aeryn: (not entirely dispassionately as her voice quivers a bit) No. We let her live - she comes, she hunts us down again.
John: Aeryn! You should not be the one to do this!
Xhalax: (spitting her contempt - and goading Aeryn) SHE CAN'T DO IT! (sneering softly ) She's afraid.
John: (pleading) Aeryn please. Put the gun away.
Crais: (as he steps up to take the side of the Peacekeeper way) You're wrong. Aeryn is right. We must not let Xhalax live. (Xhalax suddenly becomes very quiet) Officer Sun knows Peacekeeper regulations. If we don't kill Xhalax, she will come after us again.
John: Aeryn is not going to be the one to kill her mother. You want her dead? Fine - you do it. (he rises from Xhalax who slowly sits up but makes no move to fight or flee as John snatches the gun from Aeryn - who lets it go without a word. He then hands it to Crais, who calmly accepts it)
Crais: As you wish. Somebody must do it. (he moves quickly to stand over Xhalax and shouts over his shoulder at Aeryn) GO! Go now! You must not witness this!
Xhalax: Coward! She can't kill me. (despairing, Aeryn sinks down to the level of her mothers face and performs a final reality check, perhaps hoping on some level for Xhalax to turn aside from the course she has set herself on - but knowing she will not)
Aeryn: I am right, aren't I? (Xhalax stares at her with eyes wide - with fear. Fear of the emotions this young woman is capable of arousing in her) We let you live - you come and you find us again.
Xhalax: (there is no hate in her tone, only the sound of a woman offering a harsh lesson to a young one) What? Do you expect me to lie? To beg for my life? Crais is right. I will hunt you down and I will kill you. (she and Aeryn stare at each other for a long moment, each knowing there's no going back)
Aeryn: (a tear slides down her stony cheek) Good bye Mother.
John: (as he reaches down to help her to her feet) Aeryn, you have to go.
Xhalax closes her eyes as John leads Aeryn away into the jungle. Once they're out of sight she opens them to stare expressionlessly at Crais as he steadies his wounded shooting arm.
In the jungle, on the way home to Talyn, Aeryn moves in a daze as time seems to slow for her in this watershed moment of her life.
Crais stands with Xhalax at near point-clank range and his gun wobbles.
Xhalax: Go on - do it. (Crais jerks his weapon back up to bear on her) Do it.
John hustles Aeryn through the tangled thickets of the jungle, pushing vinery and branches away from her face - which is now twisted into a grief-stricken grimace. As she stumbles along next to this man, she recalls the images from the vidchip of her mothers gently smiling visage and her own small innocent one, upturned and uncomprehending of the ugliness that assails and threatens beauty at every step of its existence.
Aeryn: (she breaks away from John and starts to run back) No-
But it's too late, for at that moment, the sound of pulse fire rings sharply through the forest. She throws herself back at John even as he reaches to pull her close and he holds here, pressing her head to his chest, her face contorted with agonized heartbreak as she wails her grief for this irrevocable loss of one innocent hope.
(cut to some time later. Talyn has lifted off from the planet and soars off into the wild black yonder of space. Cut to his interior where Stark is examining Rygelís wounds)
Stark: Your recovery is truly a miracle.
Rygel: If I don't die of heklakos from these threads in my chest!
Stark: (as he works at removing the vine stitches from Rygelís torso) Don't move!
Rygel: (squirming fretfully) Let me see!
Stark: Eh - eh! That's done it!
Rygel: Does it look all right?
Stark: (indulgently gazing into his eyes) You're, you're as handsome as you ever were. (Rygel grunts a little as he eyes Stark) And all things considered - you know, Rygel, you're lucky just to be alive again.
Rygel: Alive - again?
Stark: Yes. For a while there you were dead.
Rygel: (gasping) No!
Stark: Yes. And when I joined with you to bring you back - I met with Zhaan.
Rygel: (accusatory) That's why you stitched the frelling tunic to my chest! You were busy hallucinating!
Stark: (dreamily) She looked - contented. She whispered to me - kala kalash atir kalash atir amaz.
Stark: (softly) It's a prayer of guardianship. It means she's watching over us. (he makes a ritualized motion, tracing the outline of his and Rygelís heads with the palms of his hands as he chants the prayer again) Kala kalash atir kalash atir amaz. (existentialist to the end - Rygel watches Starkís solemn performance - and farts. Stark gazes back at him, dead serious - and Rygel uncertainly laughs a little)
(cut to Talynís Command where Aeryn is piloting Talyn manually while Crais works on fixing Talynís new wounds inflicted by Xhalax. He is standing with his eyes closed, in deep communion with the ship. John enters, and with a glance at Crais, goes to stand next to Aeryn, touching her shoulder lightly as he faces her)
John: How is he?
Aeryn: Crais is attempting to splice his neural engrams with Talynís - and if he can, then Talyn will be able to navigate on his own once again - (John doesn't take his distrustful gaze off Crais as she speaks) - and we can get some sleep. (he returns his eyes to her and she smiles a bit at him) Or not. (he wants to smile back - but can't quite get his mind off Crais and all the recent events. His eyes keep flicking back to the meditating Captain of Talyn) You don't have to wait up for me if you don't want to.
John: Nah - I don't mind. (he casts another dubious glance at Crais)
Aeryn: It is all we can do. (she follows his gaze and looks at Crais as well)
John: Yeah - it's just a large part of Crais' psyche will now reside in Talyn. (Aeryn nods and in a gesture of weary understanding of his reservations about this - leans her forehead against his)
Aeryn: It's the only way to bring Talyn back to life. (she lifts her head away to look at him as she says in a voice barely above whisper) My - Xhalax - was my last connection to the Peacekeepers. All my ties to them are now completely severed.
John: (as he gently strokes her face) I know.
She rests her forehead against his again as her mouth twists and she fights back the tears for her losses - and seeks comfort from the new hopes and life she will live.