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Meltdown
July 14, 2001 - US
November 19, 2001 - UK
3.12

Writer - Matt Ford
Director - Ian Barry

Guest Cast
Linda Cropper . . . Xhalax Sun
Susan Lyons . . . Sierjna
Mark Mitchell . . . Mu-Quillus


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Episode Summary
In "Meltdown" the threat of the retrieval squad that forced the split-up of Mayas crew has been eliminated and the crew of Talyn is knocking around the galaxy hunting for her. They could use a happy reunion with the others - especially John whose ongoing dislike and mistrust of Crais makes for an unpleasant atmosphere aboard Talyn.

So there they are, flying around - when all at once Talyn is apparently seized with a death wish and tries to dive into a sun. This is a problem for his crew, who quickly ascertain that he is not suicidal - but compelled to do so by weird space forces. For the sun is a "siren star" - it emits radiation pulses that are irresistible to Leviathans. The crew manages to coax Talyn back and then, of course, they have to go and fix all the circuits he blew, What they don't immediately recognize is that the excitement and stimulus of the radiation is also causing Talyn to secrete massive amounts of an adrenaline-like hormone called drexim which begins to affect the entire crew in strange ways. It makes Crais (more) angry and controlling, Rygel (more) hungry and Aeryn and John (more?) horny. (But only with each other) And Stark? It seems to somehow heighten his empathic Stykeran powers - for not only does Talyn allow him access to a vestigial Pilotís Den that even Crais doesn't know about - but he finds himself visited by a ghostly woman named Sierjna. Sierjna is being held captive by Mu-Quillus, a strange creature who lives in the siren star and she is unaware that she is dead.

It turns out that Mu-Quillus is the guy sending out the fatal radiation pulses from the star. And he's doing it because he works for a group of shipbuilders who regard Leviathans as a threat to their business - so they hired him to lure passing Leviathan ships to their deaths. Soon Talyn cannot resist the compulsion anymore and is drawn to the star again. This time, Stark, in an innocent attempt to use the vestigial Pilotís station to guide him away - is grabbed and forcibly bonded to Talyn as his "Pilot." This has the unfortunate side effect of rendering Talynís other controls useless to the rest of the crew. Needless to say Crais is not pleased. Neither are Aeryn and John. Rygel doesn't care. But at first Stark does better than one might have expected. He manages to steer Talyn away from certain death - but then, finding that he lost Sierjna, who he wants desperately to help cross over to the next realm, he turns back to the star to get her. Mu-Quillus takes the chance to up the intensity of his lure, Stark loses control and thus begins the longest plunge toward fiery death in science fiction history.

Luckily Aeryn and John are able to pry themselves apart long enough to persuade Stark to allow them some control and they destroy Mu-Quillus and his evil radiation pulse generator. Stark helps poor Sierjna cross over. Crais cuts Stark down as Talynís Pilot (there is some hinting that during their bonding Talyn might have confided true - and unflattering feelings about Crais to Stark, but nothing ever comes of it) Rygel vomits - off-screen thankfully - and Aeryn and John shag each other some more.

And that's it.

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TRANSCRIPT

The episode opens back on the misty, rain forested planet where Aerynís evil OK mother, Xhalax was executed by Crais. The timeframe is just after Aeryn and John have left the scene in order for Crais to carry out the act. Crais is in hot pursuit of Xhalax, who has escaped him and is running through the gloomy jungle.

Crais: XHALAX! (he fires several shots after her and her path is blocked by an impenetrable thicket of jungle growth. Crais emerges form the thick fog and seizes her, holding his gun against her neck)

Xhalax: (exhausted but still defiant) Go on - do it!

Crais: (panting in the heat and heavy gravity of the place) Believe me - nothing would give me greater pleasure. But - I kill you - and another retrieval squad will already be on its way.

Xhalax: Unless - I report you terminated, in which case you free me here and now and - you disappear forever.

Crais: (deadly) You forget who is in charge here. (she cries out as he pushes her to the ground and then crouches next to her, keeping his gun in her face) I'll tell you what's going to happen. You go back to High Command. You tell them I can deliver Talyn and Moya. They can have the escaped prisoners. They can even have Crichton - if they want.

Xhalax: And in return?

Crais: Two things - I want Aeryn.

Xhalax: (with disgust) Oh Crais! You're so predictable!

Crais: I want Aeryn! And I want to be a Peacekeeper again! (he then suddenly rises to his feet with an amused and bitter little laugh as the jungle fades around him and he demands) Is that what you think? Is that what you think happened Crichton?

(the scene shifts abruptly to the present where Crais and John are standing on Talynís Command and talking. Their conversation is more the confrontational than the friendly sort)

Crais: (dismissive of John's ridiculous paranoia) You were there.

John: (surly and unreasonable) No, actually I was busy trying to save Aeryn and Talyn while you were cutting deals to save yourself.

Crais: You know the truth. You know I'll never again be a Peacekeeper.

John: (resolute) Never say never again 007. That's all I know. (at that moment Aeryn enters jauntily)

Aeryn: Still no news of Moya? (she moves to take over the console John was standing at)

Crais: Nothing resembling a Leviathan for a million metras.

Aeryn: Surely the Peacekeepers will send another retrieval squad to come looking for her.

John: (eyeing Crais as Aeryn eyes him with silent disapproval) Actually looking for Crais. (to Crais) So you really should do the noble thing and jump ship before you get us all killed.

Crais: (weary of his sniping) They are hunting Talyn as well - (actually we thought Talyn was target #1 as per Xhalax but what do we know except what we're told. Anyway - Crais suddenly curs himself off, grunting softly as he puts his hand to the neural interface with Talyn on the back of his neck. He staggers a bit as he is overcome by high-pitched feedback from it) I-I-I can't...

John: You got a problem with your head gear?

Crais: (grimacing) Talynís signals - confused. (at that moment Rygel and Stark enter and see Crais, holding the back of his neck and clearly in acute discomfort)

Rygel: What the gletch is happening?

Stark: Happening at full speed - I can feel it. (Talyn is indeed moving - fast - and an ominous orange glow is filtering in through the forward viewports)

Crais: Talyn is fighting with himself!

John: Crais pull him back!

Crais: I can't control him! (the forward viewports are now rectangles of solid orange light as if they were giving onto a blast furnace)

John: Hey guys - we are flying into a sun!
(and indeed they are. Talyn is diving towards a great reddish-orange star, its surface a ragged, pulsating firestorm. On Talyn, the ride is becoming increasingly turbulent as the little ship arcs closer to the hellish surface of the star. Stark begins to chant
"Cheznek sheshna alou alou-" But if there's one thing John isn't into - it's prayer. He pushes past Aeryn, grabs Stark, and shoves him to one side)
Knock it off pop-top! Crais get on the headset and get us out of here! (he then hurries back to stand protectively behind Aeryn at the control console while Stark stares out the windows with Rygel)

Crais: Talyn's doing everything he can to fight against it!

Aeryn: Against what?

Crais: The sun is emitting unusual pulses of radiation, attracting Talyn and compelling him to fly directly into the sun!

John: So uncompel him! Stop him! Knock him out! Disconnect him!

Crais: It's too late for that! (Stark begins chanting again as the others scrabble frantically at control consoles. The glare from the star is reaching blinding intensity) WE'RE GOING IN!

Rygel: SHUTUP STARK!

John: TALYN!

Crais: Talyn!

John: TALYYYN! (Rygel and Stark wail - but at that moment, the little ship turns aside and in a sweeping arc, veers away from the solar furnace. Slowly his crew variously look up or peek out from behind their hands as the glare on the star recedes)

Rygel: (in a hoarse whisper) What the frell?

Crais: (after a long pause during which the crew no doubt checks to see if their anti-per spirant is working) Talyn has pulled away. Saved us.

Rygel: (ungratefully) And we're supposed to be grateful?

Crais: He's now orbiting the sun. His shields are holding but - there are parts of Talyn I can't see or feel.

John: (to Aeryn, quietly) We're gonna have to do a manual survey for damage.

Aeryn: (to Crais et al) All right. Crais - you should stay up here in this section. The rest of us will divide up the ship amongst us. (Rygel groan a little and he and Stark respectively sail and trudge off after Aeryn)

(cut to soon after as Aeryn and John enter the junction of a corridor, carrying a large tool box between them. Thick vapor is blowing out of a severed duct and pooling on the floor. A structure comprised of two black pillars, perhaps 16" each in diameter that run from floor to ceiling dominates the space. It contains circuitry and lines that are exposed at various access panels. The wiring is clearly damaged and throws off odd flashes and sparks. One of Talynís sleek red DRDs is already at work in a low access panel)

Aeryn: Crais, we're on Tier 2.

John: I'd say that's a damaged area.

Aeryn: The Secondary Control Node - and it is -(she sets down her end of the tool box and peers into one of the nodes access panels) -completely blown.

John: (as they each take a node pillar and set to work) You know, Talyn has got a hog of a power plant - but he's got a piss-poor electrical system. He sneezes and half of his circuits fry.

Aeryn: (absently) He hasn't fully healed from the retrieval squad attack. (she squats down to work in a panel near the base of her pillar)

John: Yeah I know that. I still say he could use some heavy-duty wiring. (near the ceiling, a gentle puff of pink mist begins to billow from the wall and cascade down towards the floor to join the rest of the vapor)

Aeryn: He's still young. He's going to get much stronger as he develops.

John: Not if he flies into any more stars he won't. How big is he gonna get anyway? Is he gonna be Mayas size?

Aeryn: Well Crais seems to think so. (at that moment a circuit shorts out and snaps John's finger)

John: (he yanks his hand back and eyes it) Damn!

Aeryn: (in her usual flat tone) Here. (she reaches for his hand and brings the finger with the boo-boo to her lips - where she administers a big, sucky kiss to it as he watches her, with furrowed brow) Be careful. (he eyes his finger, puzzled by her atypically cutie-pie behavior - but decides not to point it out and quietly goes back to work)

John: Yeah...

(cut to Stark, walking down another of Talynís corridors. He notices the pinkish mist seeping from the little ships more organic structural elements and goes to examine it. As he eaves his hand in it and sniffs at it, he suddenly hears a soft, disembodied voice. It is feminine and seems to echo from far away)

DisembodiedVoice: Are you there?

Stark: (softly, as he looks around) Talyn? Is that you?

DisembodiedVoice: Are you there? Hello?

Stark: (looking around for the source of the voice) Talyn?

(cut back to Aeryn and John. A DRD rolls up to the advancing pool of mist on the floor and prudently makes a U-turn. Aeryn is still working at the low access panel and John is reclining on the floor next to her and helping)

John: You know for somebody who used to look down their nose at tech work - you're pretty damn good at this.

Aeryn: (her face seems kinda limp as she says very quietly) Well perhaps people can change.

John: Well at least some people are smilin' around here these days.

Aeryn: Yeah I know. It suits your face.

John: I was talkin' about you.

Aeryn: (immediately tensing up her facial muscles) Me? I'm not smiling.

John: Yes you are. (they look at each other and both let slip a loose little smile at each other)

Aeryn: (with a chuckle in her voice) Pay attention to your work.

John: Right. (he rises onto his knees to work at another panel) Focus on the work. (he reaches out and lays a hand on her thigh)

Aeryn: (smiling as she says sternly) And don't do that.

John: I'm workin' here! Stop distracting me.

Aeryn: I'm distracting you?

John: Yes. You are always distracting me.

Aeryn: Well then you are easily distracted.

John: No I'm not.

Aeryn: Yes you are.

John: I'm not.

Aeryn: Oh really? (she rises to reach up to a higher part of the node. Her action causes her vest to pull up, exposing a little bare belly - which in their current positions is only a few inches from John's face. He stares at her creamy flesh for a moment and a little 70s porn music starts to play in his head)

John: Okay that's a little distracting.

Aeryn: And it's something I did?

John: (nodding as he tries to avert his eyes) Could be.

Aeryn: What? Something like - (she turns away from him and carefully drops her tool on the floor. Which of course, requires she retrieve it by bending over - with her tushie in John's face) - this? (John brings his hand up, fingers twitching as if trying to decide what to do with the swaying bum in front of him. He finally goes for neither a grab or a slap - but a playful shove. Aeryn stumbles forward a little, laughing)

John: (as he rises to work standing up) You said - pay attention to the work.

Aeryn: (she leans against the wall and watches him with a grin on her face that isn't very sorry at all as she says in a seductive tone) You're right. I'm sorry. I won't distract you any further. (John eyes her a moment, and tosses down his tool as the 70s porn music in his head intensifies. He sidles over to her and runs his fingers around her belly just inside the top of her pants and the bottom of her vest)

John: You - have problem here?

Aeryn: No I don't have a problem.

John: No? (she shakes her head as their lips move closer and his hands slide around her hips) You're not distracted? (she looks into his eyes and nods enthusiastically. They lean into a hard kiss as she pulls his hips to hers amid much creaking of leather, before separating enough of her mouth from his to moan the works-)

Aeryn: Mmwhat are we doing?

John: Better question - Why now? (their heated kissing continues until all at once - John spots the pink mist seeping from the wall just a ways past Aerynís shoulder. He disengages and pulls her around to see what he sees)

Aeryn: What?

John: What the hell is that?

(cut to Talynís strategy room as John enters looking for Crais - who's going over the walls of the room with a hand-held scanner)

John: Crais! Talyn is leaking some kinda - (he stops himself as he observes Crais' and the pink mist wafting from the walls) - Oh, I see you got it in here too.

Crais: As far as I can tell - the mist is exuding from a dozen points on 3 tiers.

John: You know what it is?

Crais: (curtly. without taking his eyes from his scanner) Drexim. A synaptic fluid naturally occurring in Talynís conduits.

John: Uh-huh. Why is it steaming from the walls?

Crais: When it becomes acidic, it can erode the seals joining the conduits.

John: (he seems rather fed up with the whole Leviathan thing) That is a beautiful design Crais. Tell me - i-is this stuff affecting you?

Crais: (wearily) No. But it seems to have made Rygel permanently hungry. (a bit snappishly) Has it been affecting you? Or Aeryn?

John: What exactly does it do to Talyn?

Crais: When he's in danger, it increases the stimulus. Increasing his response rates.

John: All right - so it's like adrenaline. (Crais eyes him questioningly) Adrenaline - in humans when we get in a tight spot, makes us fight - (he illustrates his point by play boxing a couple little jabs at Crais - whose stony gaze merely narrows a bit) - and uh - (his boxing turns into a little sort of hula boogie and he smiles limply. Crais just glares back at him as if he's some kind of faintly revolting chimp) - do other things. (John's little smile fades under Crais' withering stare) It's not gonna affect us the same way is it?

Crais: Quite possibly. But the effects should be manageable.

John: Should - be manageable? Look, Crais, before ah - we all go crackers - (seductively to Aeryn as she enters) Hey baby, how you doin'? (back to Crais) - maybe we should get some space suits, masks or something?

Aeryn: (facing John as he gazes at her - making it very clear how the mist is affecting them. Crais glares and rolls his eyes) Already thought of that. We're too late. The drexim's reached the suits and it's made all the seals dissolve.

John: (slowly, to Aeryn) And what are we gonna do if it increases?

Crais: We ignore it. And we do what we have to do. (he stalks past them, pausing on his way out to say sharply) Is that clear?

John: Oh aye Cap'n. (Crais exits)

Aeryn: (whispering to John with an impish grim on her face) Yes sir!

(cut to Stark, who's still following the spectral voice through Talynís silent corridors. He cones to a place where vapor makes a soft whooshing sound as it escapes a broken duct. Stark lets the mist pour over his hands)

DisembodiedVoice: (very soft and far away) Can you hear me?

Stark: Talyn?

DisembodiedVoice: Can you hear me? Are you there?

Stark: (he cautiously follows the voice through an open door and into a dark, diamond-shaped subpassage off the main corridor) I know how you're feeling, Talyn. I saw you - I felt you wanted - to die. (as he slowly advances, he comes to another door that swivels open like the ones aboard Moya do. It opens onto a very organic-looking chamber where mist steams off the floors and walls. A lumpish structure rises from the floor at the center of the chamber. The room has none of the PK design elements of the rest of Talyn and it seems vaguely familiar) What is this Talyn? (but the only response is the spectral voice which suddenly booms out very close behind him)

DisembodiedVoice: Please!

Stark: (he whips around with a yell of alarm) AAAAHHHH! WHO ARE YOU? (and from the mist behind him, the ghostly figure of a woman, white as the vapors that surrounds her can be seen)

Sierjna: (pleased and excited) You can see me! I am Sierjna. (she comes to stand in front of Stark and her misty form begins to solidity)

Stark: (with his hands out as if to ward her off, he tries to take in the room and this visitor all at once mutters) This room... this room - I haven't seen this room before.

Sierjna: (but she doesn't care about the room) But you can see me? And hear me? (she's a damsel in distress of an alien if ever there was one. She is human in appearance and wears a long flowing gown of the palest blue and girdled with silver. Her skin is very fair and her lips are very red. Long silvery lavender hair cascades down her back from a deep widows peak on her forehead. Her voice is breathy and feminine)

Stark: (preoccupied with his fright and confusion) Yes of course I can. You're there in front of me.

Sierjna: (looking at her slender hands with delight) I am? Full formed? Visible? (she cries a word of thanks to some higher power of her own) Savasina! (she then tries to grab Starks hands) You can help me!

Stark: (he snatches his hands away and backs up, staring about the room and at her) Wh-What? What do you want? (muttering) This room, this room, this room...

Sierjna: (she steps forward, peering into the small chamber) I seek the Pilot.

Stark: (full of dread) I've never seen this room before.

Sierjna: I may say the same about this ship. In part, it appears Leviathan and yet - not.

Stark: This ship is Talyn. It is a hybrid. It is part Leviathan, part gunship.

Sierjna: (gazing into the room with it's rudimentary Pilotís station at the center) Then where is the Pilot? He should be here.

Stark: (he looks over his shoulder in the same direction she is and replies softly) There is no Pilot. There has never been a Pilot.

Sierjna: There is always a Pilot. But - never one who could see, hear - (she takes his hand and lays it upon her chest joyfully. Stark gasps a little) - feel me! Until now.

Stark: (suspiciously) How did you get on board this ship?

Sierjna: (seeming uncertain of how to respond to his question) I-I kanished. You were in my zone.

Stark: In your zone? I don't understand. How did you get on board this ship?

Sierjna: (she pours her story out with desperate intensity, one hand on Starks shoulder. He tries to back away but she stays right with him) Cycles ago, I came from Delfarion. One microt I was on my ship - and then not! I'm trapped outside my world for so long trying to get back! But I float here unable to free myself! I board a Leviathan, then another, then another. Only to find myself unseen, unheard, by all aboard! Until now - where at last I am given form. Finally I find those who can help me! Please! Only you can save me! (well what can you say to a damsel in distress? Stark gapes and nods mutely at her)

(cut to Talynís Command where Aeryn, John and Crais are trying to figure out what to do. The view out the main port is once again a solid blaze of white light)

Crais: As I suspected - Talyn is overproducing drexim due to the stress he's under. The radiation pulses are still compelling him to move towards the sun.

Aeryn: He is resisting - barely. We're maintaining orbit and we're not getting any closer.

John: We're not getting any further away either. How do we pry this boy loose? Can we stick cotton in his ears?

Aeryn: Crais is there a way to filter out these pulses?

Crais: His shields are linked to his sensors to inform him of ambient conditions.

John: So cut the link.

Crais: That would blind him.

John: (impatiently) Get him some sunglasses - blue blockers! (and get some salt peter for John who wanders over near Aeryn and begins to run his nose along the side of the head)

Crais: Perhaps we could recalibrate his shields to block out that one pulse spectrum.

Aeryn: (more or less ignoring John's olfactory exploration of her left ear) Well we might be able to if the shield overrides were functioning.

Crais: Where's the fault?

Aeryn: (creamily) Secondary Control Node. (at that moment the low pulse of an alarm signal begins to sound)

Crais: Talyn! Intruder! (Talynís interior guns drops into view as the three on the Command draw their own weapons and fall into a line facing the door. Suddenly the intruder appears - he seems to burn into view in a halo of fire and smoke. His name is Mu-Quillus and he is clothed in a floor length tunic that is scarlet in the red light from the star. His eyes glow as red as his robe and his skin is mottled red and black like a very well-done bratwurst off a backyard grill. He has leaf-like, pointed ears and blunt structures like the burnt-off stumps of horns on his head. Wing-like eyebrows of scales and a broad, nose that seems to be wrinkled in a permanent snarl complete his satanic look. He casually takes in the little Command for a moment before fixing his red gaze upon our heroes. His voice is base in pitch and quite cultured)

Mu-Quillus: I want to help you

John: They all say that.

Mu-Quillus: This unusual vessel - is it - a Leviathan?

John: Who wants to know?

Mu-Quillus: (he seems oblivious to the weapons aimed at him as he approaches them) I am Mu-Quillus. You are in great danger. If this is a Leviathan - you must abandon ship immediately.

Aeryn: Why?

Mu-Quillus: (speaking close to John's face, his tongue as red as his eyes) Your ship has been caught by a siren star. Inevitably it will succumb. Like the 83 Leviathans that have already died here. (Aeryn and John lower their weapons, leaving Crais to cover their guest as they all fish for information)

Aeryn: So this sun has claimed over 80 Leviathans?

Mu-Quillus: (ever so concerned for their safety) Yes. Please - get to your lifepods while you still can. I don't understand how this vessel has lasted this long.

Crais: Talyn is a hybrid Leviathan, built for combat, with much tougher shielding.

Mu-Quillus: And weapons I see. Who built it?

John: How about you tell us first - how did you get here? You just beamed in?

Mu-Quillus: (he strolls around the Command with impunity, looking things over) I transmuted. I'm something of a hybrid myself. Able to switch between a matter, and an energy state. That's how I can exist in the stars corona.

Aeryn: So you live here?

Mu-Quillus: (gazing into the blinding light out Talynís main ports) I find the unusual spectrum of the siren star quite - pleasing.

John: (having come, somewhat justifiably, to expect the worst of aliens, he tosses out another scenario) Or maybe you just like watching Leviathans dive in and burn up.

Crais: (never having liked aliens to begin with, at least he and John see eye to eye on this matter) Perhaps you cause them to do so.

Mu-Quillus: The siren stars pulse radiation is a perfectly natural phenomenon. It's not my fault that it attracts Leviathans to it. (he circles around Aeryn who's standing with her back to John, his arms around her waist) I tried to warn them, as I'm warning you. But until now - they have always perished before I could do so.

Crais: I don't believe you.

Mu-Quillus: How severely damaged are you? How closely did you approach before it pulled away?

Crais: And I don't like all these questions. Leave the ship.

Mu-Quillus: (mildly) I'm only trying to help.

Crais: GET OFF THE SHIP NOW! TALYN! (Talyn must've been caught up in the stars radioactive song and not paying attention - but now he snaps his interior gun around again to bear on Mu-Quillus)

Mu-Quillus: (ominously) You'd be wise to listen to me. (but Crais is in no mood for this guys rather unhelpful warnings, and he and Talyn open fire. Mu-Quillus disappears in another wreath of fire)

John: (corn-pone drawl as he stands there with his arms around Aeryn) Damn Crais - you're gettin' a bit trigger-happeh.

Crais: (snapping) I ordered him to leave - he wouldn't obey!

Aeryn: So you killed him? What if he was trying to help?

John: Cat lives in the corona of a star Crais. You think you're going to take him out with a couple of pulse blasts? (well Aeryn seems to think he did - why don't you tell her?)

Crais: (terse) He's gone for the moment - we've bought some time. Let's use it. Get back to the conduit.

John: (he and Aeryn glance at each other) Yes, Dad. (and off they go)

(Talyn continues to orbit the siren star - a little closer... Meanwhile Sierjna and Stark are sitting on the young ships half-developed Pilotís station and talking. Poor Stark is like a bumpkin in the presence of a fairy princess)

Sierjna: We must fly away - quickly! Before he discovers I am here.

Stark: Who?

Sierjna: Mu-Quillus, my savior - my captor!

Stark: A being like yourself?

Sierjna: (she becomes increasingly agitated as she speaks) No not like me - another species. He inhabited this star before I came. When my Leviathan perished, he kept me from dying. He claims that he saw me and had to save me. He says that he's in love with me - but I don't love him and I never will! He murdered my ship and all it's passengers!

Stark: (shocked! Shocked!) He did that?

Sierjna: He's still doing it! (too distraught to sit still, she rises and begins to pace) That's why he's here! To lure Leviathans to their doom!

Stark: Why?

Sierjna: He was contracted to - by the Prahtikrah - a race of shipbuilders who see Leviathans as competition. The more Leviathans disappear-

Stark: - the more ships they can sell!

Sierjna: Yes!

Stark: That's monstrous! (fairly hyperventilating with outrage, he comms Crais with the shocking news) Crais! Crais - Talyn is being lured into the sun by-

Crais: (cut briefly to him on the Command as he snaps) By a creature named Mu-Quillus. I KNOW THAT STARK! WHAT I NEED TO KNOW IS HOW TO BREAK FREE! (back in the vestigial Pilotís chamber, Stark looks to Sierjna)

Sierjna: I don't know. I don't know how he's doing it!

Stark: (quickly, back to Crais) Sorry I can't help you.

Sierjna: We must break away! (she clings to him desperately as she pleads) You don't know what it's like! To-to be trapped forever in the light of the sun! Not to be able to feel! To touch! Your only companion a monster! Take me away from him! I want to walk on a planet again! I want to breathe its air! I want to drink its cool water! Give me back my life!

Stark: (he stops her hysteria with a harsh truth, spoken very gently) I can't. You've already passed beyond life. Sierjna - you perished with your shipmates. Mu-Quillus trapped your soul between realms.

Sierjna: (with disbelief) I'm - dead? (Stark nods) Oh no - no that's not true! I-you can see me! (she brings his hand to her cheek) You can touch me!

Stark: (softly) Sierjna - I am a Stykera with certain talents. I can help you cross over to the next level.

Sierjna: (quietly) To death? (determined, she pushes his hand away) No. No I'm alive! I'm here! I'm real again!

Stark: You can never be real again in the way you wish. I can only - release you.

Sierjna: (agitated anew) I don't believe it. You, this ship - y-you brought me back. I'm whole again! I won't give that up!

Stark: (after a long pause, he says very softly) Come with me. (and he leads her away)

(cut back to Aeryn and John, who are back to work at the control node they started on earlier)

John: God-like aliens! Man do I hate god-like aliens! I'll trade a critter for a god-like alien any day!

Aeryn: No. No we'll be all right as - (she looks up at him from where she's working and immediately loses her train of thought. The 70s porn soundtrack kicks in) - as long as we stick together.

John: (now he has to struggle to keep his concentration that she's lost hers) Right, just not too - close together, 'cos...

Aeryn: (quickly averting her eyes) Right, yeah - yes. I-I know. I... (and the next thing she knows she's standing next to John with the sleeve of his t-shirt in her teeth. He slowly looks at her and she stops pulling at it to look back at him like guilty dog. She lets the sleeve snap back and forces herself to go back to her work) We're gonna... we're gonna die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die if we don't get the conduits fixed. (she and John move away from each other to work on opposite sides of the node)

John: Yeah! Right! Focus! Eyes on the task. Remember the mist. The mist is not your friend.

Aeryn: Right. Bad mist.

John: (with a sigh of yearning) Naughty mist.

Aeryn: (in full agreement) OOh.

(cut to Talynís center chamber or, in it's present state - Mess Hall. Rygel is sitting alone at a table covered with the revolting remains of a feast fit for a Roman orgy. Don't ask where the vomitorium is - there may actually be one...)

Rygel: (barely able to talk around his full stomachs) Oh. That's... That's... That's... (he belches and farts at the same time - then continues in a Munchkin voice) Better. But even for me, this is a bit excessive. (he chuckles gluttonously. At that moment, Stark enters)

Stark: Rygel? Rygel can we talk to you? (he stops at the sight of the food splattered, swollen Rygel)

Rygel: (still in his gravelly Munchkin voice) Stay back! Unless you - (want to be farted or belched on? Rygel giggles unpleasantly)

Stark: (standing very stiffly just inside the door) I'm back. I'm back.

Rygel: (groaning with something between epicurean delight and bulimic regret as he sits there with a large food cube in each tiny fist) OOOooh! What d'ya want?

Stark: I - we - just wanted to know-

Rygel: (peevishly cutting Stark off) "We"? What are you talking about? Have you gone totally fahrbot? Who's "we"?

Stark: (he turns to Sierjna who is of course, standing next to him, and says gently) You see? It is as I said. I am the only one who can see you.

Rygel: Staaaark! I'm too sick to witness one of your hallucinations!

Sierjna: (upset) That can't be true! That- (she hurries up to Rygel to implore his mercy as he stuffs things into his mouth like a Lilliputian Jabba the Hutt) Sir! Noble sir-!

Stark: (hurrying to her side, begging her softly to stop tormenting herself) Sierjna, don't. He can't hear you! He can't see you!

Rygel: Mm - yes, but I can see you, you crazy nitnik! Who you talking to?

Stark: (ignoring Rygel as he speaks quietly to Sierjna) Only I can see you. Only I can hear you. Only me. (he puts his arm around the ghostly womanís shoulders) I will take care of you. I promise. (Rygel watches the Stark leave. The flighty Stykera has one arm curled around an invisible set of shoulders and is gazing sympathetically at an invisible face as he goes)

Rygel: Right. That's done it. He's gone. He's totally -(he lets another fart as he sinks forward onto the table) - insaaane...

(cut to Sierjna and Stark as they walk)

Sierjna: (near tears) No please! No! No! This can't be true!

Stark: (firmly) I told you! You are zy-limbron - not alive. (at that moment, Mu-Quillus appears with a puff of vapor and fire to addresses Sierjna)

Mu-Quillus: I've come to take you home.

Sierjna: No. I won't go with you!

Mu-Quillus: Of course you will. You can't stay here.

Sierjna: I can! (she turns to Stark) I have found someone who can help me!

Mu-Quillus: You know better than that! This ship is doomed. Like all the others - it will be drawn into the sun, and all on board will perish. You will come back to me.

Stark: (he imposes himself between the pair of them and declares firmly to Mu-Quillus) No! Not this time! I can free her! I am Stykera! (he raises his hand to his mask) I have the energy! (but Mu-Quillus ignores Stark and talks around him to Sierjna)

Mu-Quillus: (coaxingly) Sierjna - pleeaase - come with me.

Sierjna: (stepping up next to Stark) No - No I remain here, with Stark.

Mu-Quillus: (in a low rumble of a voice) If that is what you wish. (and with that, he raises his arms and recedes into a halo of fire)

(cut back to Aeryn and John at the Secondary Control Node. Being obliged by the "naughty mist" to work outside of each others sight, they work at with their task from opposite sides of the node pillars. They seem to be in a hurry, partly out of fear of dying but probably more out of impatience t o act on their misty impulses)

John: (muttering to himself) The mist, the mist, resist the mist. Resist the mist. (he finishes and calls over to Aeryn as the 70s porn music starts to play in his head) Are you done?

Aeryn: (very quickly) I'm almost done. I'm really close.

John: Close?

Aeryn: (grunting with haste) Nearly there!

John: God, I love you.

Aeryn: I love you too.

John: Tell me when you're done.

Aeryn: (her hands are flying to finish) I'm - nearly done.

John: (urgently) Tell me when you're finishing. (Aeryn moans with impatient excitement)

John: (impatiently) Yah? Yes?

Aeryn: Almost!

John: (fairly exploding) Yah?

Aeryn: Last one! Finished! (she throws down her tool and she and John hit each other like a pair of colliding trains - but just as they lock lips - their high-maintenance home lurches ominously under their feet) Frell!

John: Yeah.

Aeryn: (pushing him off) No! Nono! I mean bad frell! (he releases her and they both take off for the Command)

John: Mr Sun still wants Talyn!

(cut to the Command where Crais is on duty amid cascades of drexim steaming from Talynís walls as Aeryn and John enter. Aeryn moves to a command console)

John: Crais! What's with the rumble?

Crais: (trying to compensate) The radiation pulses have intensified and changed!

John: How the hell could that happen?

Crais: I don't know! But they have, and their still changing!

Aeryn: Shield overrides are working. I'll try and block out the pulses.

(cut to Sierjna and Stark in Talynís corridors. The floor is awash in vapor and a distant vibration, like a tuning fork can be heard)

Sierjna: Listen - I know that sound! He's luring your ship back to the sun!

Stark: (with dread) No...

Sierjna: You'll be killed! All of you! I've seen it before! Over and over!

Stark: Sierjna!

Sierjna: (despairing) Every time! Mu-Quillus was right. He's all I have! I'm going to be trapped with him forever!

Stark: Listen to me! I won't let that happen! I have a plan!

Sierjna: A plan?

Stark: Yeah! Come on. (he leads her back towards the vestigial Pilotís chamber)

(cut back to the Command)

Crais: I can't change Talynís course - his compulsion is stronger than ever!

Aeryn: The pulse spectrum is shifting too quickly. I can't block it out.

John: The Pied Piper's found a new tune.

Crais: Explain.

John: 'Natural phenomenon' my ass! Mu-Quillus is generating these pulses! (triumphant, he pimp-rolls over to Aeryn and makes to swoop in for a kiss)

Crais: How?

John: (annoyed perhaps that the others don't find his observation particularly helpful and are demanding elaboration - he swoops back out with no kiss and snaps) Aah - orbiting boom box! He's ah - whistling out his butt! How in the hell should I know? The point is - we gotta find the source, and w-we gotta squish it. (gee John - no one else had thought of THAT. Crais glares sourly at him and even Aeryn manages a reproachful stare. He backs off fast) I'm on scan.

(cut back to Stark as he brings Sierjna back into Talynís lonely little Pilotís Den)

Stark: (muttering softly to himself) A plan, a plan! Save Talyn - a plan! (he hurries up to the vestigial stump of a Pilotís Console and speaks louder in a bold, confident tone-) Talyn! I will lead you away from danger!

Sierjna: What are you doing?

Stark: This is a Pilotís station. Maybe I can control Talyn from here, guide him away from the sun. (he clambers over the low wall of the station. But once standing where a Pilot should sit - he finds Talyn must be in agreement with his offer - for he is almost instantly caught up in a traumatic biological process that he has no control over. Tendrils begin to whip out from the Pilotís station like snakes, binding him in place and burying themselves in his flesh so fast he can't even scream as he becomes bonded to Talyn the old-fashioned way. He groans and pants with helpless terror and the tendrils begin to lift him into the air. He reaches for Sierjna, who gapes at the spectacle with wonder and horror)

Sierjna: Stark!

(cut back to the Command)

John: Hey guys - I think maybe I got something here- (oh no you don't - for at that moment, with a few bright flashes of light, all of Talynís Command consoles go dark)

Aeryn: What the frell just happened?

(cut back to the Pilotís Den where Stark gags and gutters in agony as his body becomes massively ensnarled in Talynís tendrils and brilliant white light shines up from the Pilotís station. The light intensifies till Stark is a mere grey silhouette within it - and then he is suddenly pulled down into Talyn)

Sierjna: STARK!

(cut back to the Command where confusion and concern reign)

John: Who pulled the plug? Crais?

Crais: (he touches the transponder at the back of his neck - its red lights are dark) Talyn? My transponder's dead too - I can't hear him!

John: Aeryn! Overrides. (they go for the manual controls)

Aeryn: Gone. everything's out.

Crais: (genuinely concerned) Talyn! Where are you?

Aeryn: (grim) Nothing's responding. Talyn is gone.

(meanwhile. back in the Pilotís Den, a new and unlikely Pilot is born. Stark rises into the air from beneath the vestigial Pilotís console. His arms hang limp at his sides and his head slumps forward onto his chest. The lower half of his body is lost in a mass of tendrils that now link him physically with Talyn. Vapors rise around him as he levitates, bobbing and swaying in the invisible wind of Talynís soul)

Sierjna: Stark? Stark! Can you hear me?

Stark: (he raises his head and spreads his arms rapturously) Talyn - Talyn! I am part of you now. Oohh - I can sense all of you - I can guide you!

Sierjna: Stark! Hurry! The sun!

Stark: Yes, the sun! Talyn! You will turn away! You must - turn - away!

(cut back to the Command as Aeryn, John and Crais watch the intense glare of the star recede. The scene begins to shift between them and Stark in the Pilotís Den as they speak via comm)

John: Talyn is turning.

Crais: How?

Stark: (intoxicated with triumph and Talyn) EVERYONE! WE'RE SAVED! WE'VE DONE IT!

Aeryn: Who has done what?

Stark: TALYN AND I! WE'VE ESCAPED FROM THE SUN! AND WE'VE SAVED SIERJNA FROM MU-QUILLUS! (ah but triumph is a fleeting thing - for at that moment - he notices that Sierjna is gone. Stark is instantly deflated as he stares frantically about the tiny Den, panting, almost in tears) Sierjna? Sie-? Sierjna? Oh no! We must have gone too far! She-she couldn't stay with us!

John: STARK WHAT IN THE LIVING HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Stark: We must - go back! Must find her! (and no sooner said - than done. Talyn makes a turn back towards the star. And Starks confounded shipmates watch the sun light up the forward viewports again)

Aeryn: He's turning again.

Crais: (with slowly dawning suspicion) Stark? Are you controlling Talyn?

Stark: (pitifully - it was a great idea but poor Stark is just not emotionally up to this job) Yes, yes. I must, I must, I must... (Talynís tiny form is lost against the hellish sunscape of the siren star)

John: YO ASTRO! CALM DOWN AND TELL ME WHAT - THE HELL - IS GOIN' - ON?

Stark: (veering back into grandiosity again) It's very, very simple. I AM NOW TALYNS PILOT! AND WE ARE FLYING BACK INTO THE SUN!

John: (sneering) What do you mean you're Talynís Pilot? Talyn doesn't have a Pilot!

Stark: (pleased in a non-malicious way to inform the human that he sneered too soon) He does now. I've bonded with him. Formed a neural link - joined with him in the Den.

Aeryn: (flummoxed) What Den?

Stark: (all the busy Pilot) Can't speak now. Searching for Sierjna. Must find Sierjna. (he signs off leaving those on the command with their heads spinning)

Crais: (outraged) STARK! STARK YOU RELEASE CONTROL OF TALYN AT ONCE!

John: Good 'ol Stark. Count on him to jump right in and wig right out. (that's it in a nutshell)

Aeryn: (struggling to process this Event) How could he have bonded with Talyn?

Crais: (annoyed) Talyn must have developed a rudimentary Pilotís Den.

John: (pointedly) Crais - I thought you bred out the need for a Pilot in Talyn.

Crais: We tried to, but Leviathan biology is complex. Enough linked genes must have remained for Talyn to grow a vestigial Pilot facility. (so there's hope for the little guy then - hooray for Talyn!)

John: (snide) Like - an appendix? (no - like a third nipple)

Aeryn: Wait - where is this Den?

Crais: Mostly likely somewhere below Tier 3. If I can't restore the overrides I'll go find it myself.

John: Fine, you do that - get his hands off the wheel. We're gonna do something else. (he grabs Aerynís hand and drags her out, she smiles vapidly as she allows herself to be swept away)

(as Stark murmurs Sierjna's name in the Den, Aeryn and John return to the Secondary Control Node they had just finished fixing)

John: Which one is guidance?

Aeryn: (pointing) That one. (and without so much as a 'What d'ya think of this idea?' - John whips out his gun and blasts the guidance connections to hell)

John: (via comm - a bit maliciously) HEY STARK! DIDJA FEEL THAT?

Stark: (cut to him in the Den as his eyes widen with horror) No... No! I-I can't - can't maneuver!

John: (with satisfaction) That's right. You might want to hit the brakes. We just took out your steering. (in the Den, Stark roars with fury and on the Command Crais moves from console to console as sparks fly and drexim steams from the walls)

Crais: (raging) TALYN! YOU LISTEN TO ME! I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME! YOU'RE TAKING THE WRONG OPTION! YOU WILL KILL US AND YOU WILL KILL YOURSELF! (but if Talyn hears, he isn't listening - Crais storms off the Command. Meanwhile, back at the node, Aeryn and John circle arm in arm)

John: (in his good ol' boy voice) Come on, Stark, talk to me. We can work this out. (oh sure - now you want to work it out after you've been a jerk. In the Den, Stark is furious, his eyes bug with rage and he makes no response to John's backhanded offer. Back at the node, Aeryn watches over John's shoulder as one of Talynís blue-eyed DRDs approaches) Yo Astro - talk to me. (as John talks, he undoes Aeryn gun belt and runs his hands over her hips. She runs her hand over his ass. He bends over to undo her thigh holster. The DRD stops and triangulates on them as Stark, with teeth clenched, focuses in the Den) We can work it out. Lava-Boy is not your friend. I- (Aeryn cuts him off with a limp-wristed smack to his conveniently positioned butt. The DRD opens fire and Aeryn grabs John's conveniently positioned gun out of its holster and blasts the little droid to kingdom come as she shoves John out of the line of fire. The DRDs shot goes wild)

Aeryn: You okay?

John: Yeah. Yah - I'm - I'm all right. Thanks for watchin' my backside.

Aeryn: Couldn't help myself. Stark - you listen to me now! You try anything like that again, and I will personally take you to the other side! (in the Den, Stark grimaces with frustration)

(meanwhile, Crais is stalking the corridors of Talyn with his gun drawn, hunting for his infernal Pilotís Den. He passes a small, dark doorway and stops. Talyn isn't a big ship - you'd think the man would know every passageway on it. But he doesn't. He turns back and passes his hand over the access panel twice - but the little door stays shut)

Crais: (he starts out softly - but cannot keep his fury down) Talyn - I am trying to help you! All the lower decks are sealed off. I can't get into the Den to free you from the Banik slave! (but Talyn isn't listening. He's got a new friend now)

Stark: (cut briefly to him in the Den as he whispers) That's it Talyn - bypass the primary guidance system. That's it! Careful! We don't want them finding out what we're doing!

Crais: TALYN YOU LISTEN TO ME! I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOU! TALYN! (sure, everybody's trying to sane the little guy and all he really wants is a Pilot. Enraged, Crais empties the charge of his gun into the door - which remains firmly sealed)

(cut back to Aeryn and John. They're kind of out of ideas so they're sitting back to back on the floor with the mist pooling around them. Trying to keep watch, talk Stark down and avoid looking at each other)

John: Hey Stark - talk to me. You gettin' lonely up there? You like bein' alone? (as if they're his buddies when he's out amongst them!!)

Aeryn: Don't think he's listening.

John: (ruefully) No.

Aeryn: But it's not good to be alone.

John: No, it's not. Maybe we should go find him.

Aeryn: And leave these conduits unattended? He'll send up another DRD to repair it all.

John: Yeah, and lead us like a moth to the flame.

Aeryn: Let Stark make the first move. You know what he's like. He doesn't have much patience. (that's what is known as projecting your own faults onto someone else)

John: Right. We have, uh - all the time in the world. No need to rush. (70s porn music as Aeryn rises and comes around in front of him. She straddles his legs and lowers herself onto his lap with her arms on his shoulders, keeping a wary watch around as she does so) You comfortable? (she indicates that she most certainly is, as he runs his lips down her arm and lays his hands on her back) Aeryn - this is the mist talkin'.

Aeryn: I like what it's saying.

John: So do I - but we gotta... We gotta focus.

Aeryn: (her eyes flick up and down the hall as John nuzzles her) I'm doing my job. Corridor is all clear.

John: (murmuring) So it's just you and me...

Aeryn: (whispering as she turns to his face) Just you and me.

(and in the Den - it's just Stark and Talyn)

Stark: (his voice wavers with intense concentration as he whispers-) Slower... slower... Turn... That's it - mustn't let you get too close. Just close enough...

Sierjna: Stark? (Stark cries out in joy as the ghostly woman swirls into view before him) STAAARK!

Stark: SIERJNA!

Sierjna: But you got away! You were free!

Stark: (joyful) I came back for you!

Sierjna: (innocently thrilled and yet appalled) No. No you're risking everything!

Stark: Nothing else matters! I told you I would save you, and I will! Even if it takes my own life!

Sierjna: Stark!

Stark: I will take you - I will walk you to the other side. Do you trust me?

Sierjna: Mu-Quillus will kill you!

Stark: DO YOU TRUST ME?

Sierjna: (after a long pause during which she stares at this strange and wonderful man) Yes.

Stark: Are you ready?

Sierjna: I'm frightened.

Stark: Don't be frightened. No need. Come closer. (he holds his hands out to her and she approaches, coming to kneel on the stump of the vestigial Console. He holds one palm up and she lays her palm against his)

Sierjna: (softly) I'm ready. Thank you.

Stark: Nava hajma, nava heerma, ehkittin raiss...

Sierjna: I will find you in the next life. (Stark lifts his mask and the lovely golden light of his incorporeal self streams out upon her face. Her skin glows softly beneath her lavender hair - and nothing happens. Stark lowers his mask and they stare at each other)

Stark: (at a loss) You're still here.

Sierjna: I have neither moved - nor changed.

Stark: It's not working. Why is it not working?

(cut to the center chamber as Crais enters. Rygel is sitting among the remains of what has to be every last ort of food aboard the ship - he' swollen like a tick and looking unhappy)

Crais: (curtly) Are you still eating?

Rygel: (moaning) Oh, stop me Crais. Make me stop! Shoot me! Do something, please! AAargGHh - Here! Here! Tie my hands! Yes!

Crais: I need your help.

Rygel: (desperate) No! Nononono! Tie my hands now or I'm going to explode! OoOooHhHh - this is all your fault! This is your gunship! Peacekeepers designed it and you can't control it!

Crais: (he storms up to the Hynerian and puts his gun to Rygelís stomach) I can control you now!

Rygel: You press that into me and I'm going to vomit all over you! (Crais backs off quickly)

Crais: Stark is a mutineer!

Rygel: (panting nauseously) He's also out of his frelling mind. Came in here and had a conversation with that wall!

Crais: Must be the mist making him see things. Rygel, Stark has taken control of Talyn. He must be flushed out so I can take back command.

Rygel: Well go ahead. (he turns back tot he table and his eyes light up as he spots some bit of food he missed)

Crais: (he brushes the morsel out of Rygelís reach) I need your help! Slug!

Rygel: Please let me eat that little piece! Please!

Crais: Now you listen to me! Talyn has sealed all the entrances to his Den. But maybe you - being so small - can slip through a ventilation duct.

Rygel: (with a sickly laugh at the absurdity of Crais' suggestion) Look at me! Look at my stomachs! I'm not slipping through any ducts!

Crais: I am your Captain! (poor Crais, he gets no respect anymore)

Rygel: You're not my captain!

Crais: THIS IS A DIRECT ORDER!

Rygel: Dream on!

Crais: IF YOU DON'T OBEY MY ORDERS-

Rygel: (cutting him off) Yes - this mist isn't affecting you huh?

Crais: IF YOU DO NOT OBEY MY ORDERS RIGHT NOW AND GO INTO THE PILOTíS DEN AND FLUSH OUT THE BANIK I WILL SHOOT YOU AS A MUTINEER! (Rygel gasps. All right - Crais wants to play hardball...)

Rygel: As you wish. (he glances around the room and then whispers) Crais - come here.

Crais: (wary) Why?

Rygel: Closer - this is a secret. (Crais leans forward)

Crais: If you try anything...

Rygel: Closer- (Crais bends down with his ear to Rygelís lips - and the Hynerian lunges forward and sinks his teeth into it. Crais bellows and claps his hand to the side of his head as Rygel laughs mockingly and speeds off in his hoverchair. Crais squeezes off a wild shot after him - but he's gone)

Crais: (that didn't do much to improve his temper) RYGEEEELLLLL!

(cut back to the Den where Stark is still trying to figure out what's happened to his Stykeran power)

Stark: (consternated) I don't understand it! You-it-you- It should have worked! (but at that moment, Talyn rumbles heavily and Mu-Quillus appears before him and Sierjna)

Mu-Quillus: (pointing one red clawed finger at Stark) Let - her - go!

Stark: If we try again- (but Mu-Quillus cuts him off)

Mu-Quillus: Nothing will happen! Why do you think she never crossed over in the first place? What do you think is keeping her between the realms? Me! My power! You had your chance to escape! You might have saved your ship, your crew, your own life! But you returned!

Sierjna: (pleading) You have me back Mu-Quillus. You can let them go!

Mu-Quillus: No. It is not for me to make that decision. My task is set. This ship will continue to the sun. Sierjna - come with me. (he holds out his clawed hand to her and she approaches him as if mesmerized by him)

Stark: (frantically) NO! NO!

Mu-Quillus: (softly calling her) Sierjna...

Stark: DON'T DO IT!

Mu-Quillus: Oh you must... (she closes her eyes and steps into his arms. He runs his hands over her hair and sighs)

Stark: WAIT! SIERJNA! DON'T GO! (but Mu-Quillus disappears in a wreath of fire and Sierjna looks back at Stark - as she too is pulled away. Talynís flight begins to rumble and Stark droops a little as he realizes that he's in way over his head now) Oh - nono!. Talyn! Please! FIGHT IT! FIGHT IT! TURN AWAY! (but he's lost control of the little ship which is now increasing speed towards the inferno) TURN AWAY PLEASE TALYN! NO! (in the corridor, Crais hears Starks hysterical plea over comm) TALYN PLEASE! TURN AWAY!

Crais: (bellowing with frustration and rage) STAAAAARRRRK! (but back in the Den, Stark abruptly switches gear. Having rapidly come to the conclusion that death is inevitable now, he practices what he preaches and seeks to make peace with. No raging against the night for Stark)

Stark: (over general comm - gently. very calmly, with one hand raised in the gesture of passing) Everyone - I'm sorry. (Rygel, who's snuck back to the table, looks up from his gorging) Talyn is once more being drawn into the sun. (Crais listens from the corridor, aghast) The lure is stronger than ever and Talyn can't fight it and I can't stop him. So I suggest - (Aeryn and John are into each other but sit back at the sound of Starks voice) - you prepare yourselves for peace. Because I have failed you. And we're all going to die.

(cut to Aeryn and John who, like Talyn, have given themselves up to their compulsions and are laying in the mist on the floor by the control node. Aerynís on top as they squirm and schnoodle. They're taking Starks news with unusual aplomb)

Aeryn: All we can do now is wait.

John: I'm not letting you go.

Aeryn: I'm never letting you go. (she lets John nuzzle her ear a moment longer before suddenly blinking) Wait a microt-

John: What?

Aeryn: This is wrong. (she pulls herself to her feet, leaving John laying there on his back, and begins to pull herself together)

John: (groaning as he drags himself to his feet as well) Gaw- The mist! The damn mist is messing with our heads!

Aeryn: (briskly) That's why we're giving up.

John: (staggering as he collects his gear) I'm not giving up!

Aeryn: (as she arranges her gunbelt) I never give up.

John: Okay - I'm gonna go to the bridge, I'm gonna tear it apart, I'm gonna find something.

Aeryn: Okay. The same with Crais and Stark.

John: You tear 'em apart, Baby.

Aeryn: All right, listen - (they face each other briefly) - I don't want to lose you either. Can we definitely get back to that later?

John: Oh God I love you.

Aeryn: I love you too. (they indulge in a heartfelt good-bye kiss before each taking off in a different direction)

(cut to moments later as Aeryn finds Crais trying to force the little door behind which lies the dark passage to the Pilotís Den)

Aeryn: Crais! What are you-?

Crais: (furious) I CAN'T GET IN! TALYN WILL NOT COMPLY WITH MY ORDERS! (in a low, resentful tone) And the drexim has obviously driven him INSANE! (he goes back to hammering at the door)

Aeryn: Blast your way in.

Crais: (he shoots a wild-eyed stare over his shoulder at her) Yes! Give me your gun! (haven't we tried blasting already to no avail?)

Aeryn: (eyeing him as he stares maniacally at her with his hand out) Perhaps - not.

Crais: (almost incoherent with rage) DO NOT QUESTION MY DECISIONS! I AM YOUR CAPTAIN! AND I ORDER YOU! (he fumbles his own gun. She oughta know drexim-induced craziness when she sees it - and casting him a wary look - she silently jogs away into the mist. He rails impotently after her) I AM YOUR CAPTAIN! I ORDER YOU! (not today you don't, baby. With a frustrated sigh, he resumes his futile pounding at the door)

(cut to the Command as John enters and begins randomly flipping switches in hopes of finding something that works and can be used to turn Talyn from his suicidal run towards the siren star. The scene shifts between him and Stark in the Pilotís Den as they speak)

John: (yelling to Stark) ALL RIGHT PHANTOM! NEW TUNE FOR THE OPERA!

Stark: (his morose voice is heard over commlink) Sierjna's gone. I failed her. Failed Talyn. Failed Aeryn. Failed you Crichton.

John: YES - AND YOU HAVE FAILED GLORIOUSLY STARK! (he moves to another bank of controls and flips through them with no effect) AND I WANT YOU - TO FAIL AGAIN! I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME CONTROL OF THE CONSOLES! I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME SOME CONTROL!

Stark: (staring into space as he dwells on his failures) She came to me for help. Many do. But - I could have done more.

John: STARK! I - am coming to you for help! You are gonna give me control, OR I AM GONNA RIP OFF THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUR DAMN FACE!

Stark: (infuriatingly calm) There's nothing you can do Crichton. We are gonna be lured into that sun and we are all going to die inside there.

John: That's because the bastard - IS LURINING US IN STARK! OKAY? HE'S GOT BAIT - AND WE CAN CUT BAIT! WE GOT A MOTHER OF A CANNON! SO I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME BACK CONTROL! I WAS ZEROING IN ON THE DAMN POWER SOURCE WHEN YOU TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS!

Stark: You remember when we met?

John: (incredulous) You wanna take a trip down memory laaane? STA-ARK! (but he show he remembers, even though Stark can't see him - complete with the requisite throwing back and forth of his arms as he bellows) MY SIDE! YOUR SIDE! MY SIDE! YOUR SIDE! MY SIDE! YOUR SIDE!

Stark: (he's having a right good wallow in his inadequacies - real or imagined ) I tried to help you then, but I failed. Scorpius put a chip in your brain - I failed.

John: Stark - BLOW THE DAMN AURORA CHAIR! (in the sort of coaxing tone you might hear from a junkie hustling a fix) Let's talk about the good times, huuuuh? Do you remember Zhaan, Stark? (he makes Zhaanís ritual motion of greeting, sweeping his hands over the contours of his face and head) Let's talk about Zhaan.

Stark: (softly) I tried to help her - but I couldn't.

John: Well she would piss on your grave right now! YOU WANNA KNOW WHY?

Stark: (his eyes are faraway as he murmurs) My soulmate.

John: Because - Aeryn - is my Zhaan! She's my Zhaan in every way. I love her and I would die for her and you know what? Stark? You're killing her!

Stark: (confused) What? Me?

John: You're killing her you freakazoid psycho bastard! You are killing my Zhaan!

That gets Starks attention - he snaps out of his lugubrious reverie with a groan of horror at the idea of seeing such grief visited upon anyone else. And on the Command - John watches as the lights begin to systematically come back up on every control panel and systems array in the room. As John stands there, silhouetted against the glare of the star, Aeryn strides into the room. up to him - and jumps up onto him with her legs around his waist.

Aeryn: Hi.

John: (glad to see her) Hi. I - got some control back - lemme show you.

Aeryn: I love it when you take control.

John: That's the drexim talking.

Aeryn: No it isn't. I can manually prime the cannon.

John: I'd love to see that.

Aeryn: Talynís cannon.

John: (dryly) I'm stoked, not stupid. Do it. (he sets the stupid one on her own feet)

Aeryn: We've only got one chance with it John. We're too close to the star - we've got one chance.

John: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Hey - check this out! (he pulls her over to look at a holo he's brought up of Talynís sensor readings) A throbbing pulse of energy coming straight into your living room. I got it!

Aeryn: Stark - are you still there?

Stark: (dreamily proving that he really IS insane) You're just like Zhaan in so many ways. (they're both female, have ten fingers, two eyes, one nose... Yeah, yeah it's poetry)

Aeryn: (wise enough to hesitate at that one) If you say so. I am going to manually prime the main cannon. Crichton has located a target. Please prepare Talyn to fire.

Stark: (concerned and ruminative) Would Zhaan approve of this use of violence?

Aeryn: She's speaking through me now. It is her wish. (she glances at John and shrugs, indicating she doesn't know what else to do - he sucks his lips in and turns away)

(cut to the Den as Stark prepares to act on Aerynís Zhaan-sanctioned use of violence. Suddenly - the lost Sierjna appears before him again, fearful that he's making yet another run for her)

Sierjna: No - you're risking everything!

Stark: (pleased to see her) You're back!

Sierjna: You're too close! Don't do this for me!

Stark: I'm not - Mu-Quillus has Talyn mesmerized!

(and speak of the devil - back on the Command Mu-Quillus appears via his portal of fire as Aeryn and John prepare to blast the source of his lure)

Mu-Quillus: Stop what you're doing! (John turns to deal with him while Aeryn continues her work)

John: Is there some kind of stupid alien quotation book you guys use? (yeah they got it off the same shelf as the one with all the stupid juvenile sexual clichťs)

Mu-Quillus: A deal between us can be brokered.

John: Lava Boy! You are losing!

Mu-Quillus: A compromise assures your survival.

John: Again with the quote book - hey - quote me on this - We're gonna blow up your fuse box!

Mu-Quillus: I will release my grip on your vessel.

Aeryn: (she comes to stand next to John) And in return?

Mu-Quillus: Go awaaaay.

John: (he and Aeryn look at each other) W-ow, he's gonna give us our freedom in exchange for his.

Mu-Quillus: Leave us to our own.

Aeryn: What about other Leviathan's you'll encounter?

Mu-Quillus: Why should that concern you?


Aeryn: (looking at John with a little sneer) That was the wrong answer. (she turns away and John shrugs at Mu-Quillus)

John: Sorry. (and with that - they turn their backs on the monstrous creature and prepare to carry out their plan)

Aeryn: Stark!

Stark: (cut briefly to him in the Den as he rallies the ship) Talyn! It is time!

Mu-Quillus: Power down your weapons! I can offer you better terms.

John: (mockingly) Damn Smokey - you can't argue with a woman!

And as Talyn continues his fall into the siren star, he fires his cannon. The shot streaks ahead of him and impacts something unseen near the surface of the star. The unseen something erupts in a massive blue explosion. Back on the Command Mu-Quillus throws his head back and wails the name "Sierjnaaaa!" once, before seeming to turn to dull gray ice - and shattering to thousands of crystalline shards that tinkle to the deck.

And in the Den - Sierjna staggers forwards and leans on the rudimentary Pilotís Console as the passing of Mu-Quillus takes with it whatever forces he was using to hold her. Stark murmurs "Now..." and extends his left hand to her, palm out, while raising his mask away from his face with the other. Sierjna seems drowsy as his golden light envelops her and she places her palm against his while he says his prayers of passage - and then she is gone, like fading light.

(cut to later. Talyn rests in cool, dark space. Not a spark of star-fire in sight. Within him - Crais has finally gained access to the Pilotís Den where Stark ramains tied to the ship by hundreds of organic tendrils that have become one with his body. Not for long though - Crais is using a knife big enough to gut large game with to sever the connections while he lectures the hapless Banik Stykera)

Crais: (very calm now) This apparatus was not designed for any species but a Pilotís. What you did was beyond foolish Stark. Hold still. (well he didn't mean to - It just happened... Anyway, with a grunt - apparently those tendrils are tough as tree roots - Crais severs one. Stark winces and yelps)

Stark: You cut me!

Crais: You moved. (he cuts another one - it makes his knife ring sharply)

Stark: (grimacing) EE-YAW - GAWD! (it's gonna be a long night for poor Stark)

Crais: Talyn is now off limits to you. All functions, all programs, all controls.

Stark: (resentfully) I know.

Crais: You know nothing.

Stark: (whispering) I know how he feels, what he thinks - about everything - about you.

Crais: (with a dismissive chuckle) Talyn was not of his right mind. Anything you think you experienced - (he whips up his knife and holds it between his and Starks faces) - must take that into consideration.

Stark: (he doesn't flinch from Crais' stare) I know. (Crais turns the blade of the knife to Starks neck) Even if you slit my throat - I will still know. (there's a pause - and Crais brings his knife down to a handful of tendrils and slashes through them with a sharp upward motion. Fluid glistens like teardrops at the severed tips of the vine-like growths)

(cut to the Command. Rygel is there moaning and trying to digest his titanic binge. Aeryn is at the controls. Talyn is quiet - not a puff of funny mist is in evidence)

Aeryn: Most of Talynís internal systems are back on line and his drexim levels have returned to normal.

Rygel: (groaning) I wish my levels were returning to normal.

Aeryn: (sharply) Next commerce planet, you are restocking the galley - you ate everything.

Rygel: I never ever want to even look at food again. (he groans miserably) Must go to chamber. Need sleep. Vomit. (he makes a sickly exit, passing John who's just on his way in. The human glances at Rygel briefly before turning his attention to Aeryn as she moves about the Command checking systems)

John: How's it goin'?

Aeryn: He's recovering well. He's a remarkable vessel.

John: (eyeing her) Speaking of - remarkable vessels...

Aeryn: (ignoring his come-on) How is the Secondary Control Node?

John: I got a chain gang of DRDs workin' on it. Everything will be up and runnin' in a couple of days.

AERYN : We were very lucky. (she makes to leave - but he intercepts her as she passes him)

John: (as the 70s porn music starts up in his head) Well I think that, uh - fates - (she stops and smiles a little) - would have brought us together anyway. You know - Crais is gonna be cutting Stark free for about an arn. Rygel's gonna take at least that long - he's got 3 stomachs. (their lips meet and she takes his hand and extends both their arms in a waltz-like move to the door controls. It closes, leaving them alone in the Command where they reel away, locked in a passionate embrace)

THE END

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