The episode opens where IP1 "Daedalus Demands" left off. The attempt to evict Scorpius/Harvey from Johns mind to he can help the Ancient use wormhole technology to destroy the approaching Scarran Dreadnought and the wormhole data it stole from Furlow, has apparently failed. Jack/Ancient lies on the floor of Furlow's shop, presumably dead, and Johns mind and body are under the control of Scorpius/Harvey, who is about to strangle Aeryn. But Aeryn has her gun to his forehead and is steeling herself to pull the trigger and kill the neural clone - and with it, John, the man she loves.
Scorpius/John: (with silky contempt) How unfortunate you must lose as well. And Zhaan - gave herself for you. What a waste - wouldn't you say? (Aeryn hesitates, lost in regret and self-doubt. Scorpius/John instantly lashes out with two sharp, lightning-fast blows which knock her off him. He springs to his feet, but she recovers fast, keeping her gun on him. Yet she still cannot bring herself to fire) Well! That's - hardly sporting is it? I should have a weapon as well. Then we can settle this. One on one. (he makes a leisurely move towards Johns gun - which Aeryn had dropped on the floor when she came to his aid only a few minutes before)
Aeryn: Don't - (she lunges for him but instead of shooting, she merely strikes him back from the discarded weapon before dancing away, her gun still trained on him)
Scorpius/John: (deadly, as he goads her) It's not - easy - is it? Putting a pulse blast in John Crichton.
Aeryn: (trying to convince herself) You're not John.
Scorpius/John: Not up here - no. But the rest of his body is intact. Be a shame to spoil it with that. I'm much more reasonable - than John is. (mildly regretful) He didn't want to share his mind with me. (with oily lechery) But I'm more than willing to share - his body with you. (wrong thing to say - she finds her ire and her doubt vanishes as she squeezes her trigger)
Jack/Ancient: NO! (and at the moment, the presumed dead Ancient powers up off the floor and pushes her shooting arm. Her shot flies harmlessly past Scorpius/John)
Aeryn: (to the Ancient) Stand - clear!
Jack/Ancient: NO DON'T!
Aeryn: (almost sobbing) It isn't John!
Jack/Ancient: (panting) It IS John! Look!
Scorpius/John: (coolly) Thank you - daddy.
Jack/Ancient: Look at him! The clone is dying - he wants you to shoot him - so John dies too.
Aeryn: (an explosive exclamation of horror) What?
Scorpius/John: (there's a note of strain in his voice now) Officer Sun - next time... Be more decisive. Shoot... quicker. (he wavers a bit - and falls to his knees) A soldier - must not be weak. (with sorrow) Weakness means defeat. (and with that, his eyes fly wide open and a ragged cry of agony and despair rips up from his gut before collapsing to the floor - dead. There's a long moment of silence as Aeryn and the Ancient wait - and then Johns body moves. He slowly pushes himself up to his hands and knees. His head wobbles but he manages to focus on Aeryn)
John: (woozily) Hey Baby! (there's another long pause as he casts about within himself, before saying, with a crack in his voice-) He's gone. He's finally gone. It's just me. (as he struggles, near tears of relief and exhaustion at his return to being something like the innocent man he was before he left Earth, Aeryn drops to her knees too. She takes his head in her hands and pulls him close. Neither has words for what they are feeling as he rests his head on her shoulder and she stares numbly into space)
(cut to Talyn, who is still adrift in the shadow of Dam-Ba-Da, blind and badly damaged from his encounter with one of the local suns solar flares. Stark frantically tries to contact his and Crais' shipmates via comm)
Stark: Can anyone hear me? Aeryn? Crichton? Rygel?
Crais: (he too is still blinded and reliant upon Starks eye - but some intuitive sense that something else is very wrong keeps gnawing at him) Forget the comms! Run a check on all airlocks and docking bays!
Stark: What for?
Crais: Damage! Malfunction! Anything!
Crais: (panting apprehensively) Because - I know this ship! And -and something is - out of balance!
Stark: (he goes to have a look at internal systems readouts) Eh - you're imagining things. Although this is strange.
Stark: Docking Bay 2 recently performed an atmosphere replenish as if it'd been opened. But we landed the pod in Bay 1. (Crais explodes to action, throwing his hands up in horror as he staggers across the Command, bellowing)
Crais: TALYN! SEAL ALL HATCHES! (but it's already too late. Before the Command door can close - it is forced open by a nightmarish intruder - a Scarran named Alcar. He steps into the room and immediately drives the Sebacean and the Banik to the floor with a blast of the deadly heat energy that all members of his race possess genetically)
Meanwhile, back on the surface of Dam-Ba-Da, a small army of Charrids on foot and on wild dune buggies, is swarming in front of the gaping entrance to Furlow's compound - unprotected now that Rygel's down. And deep inside the compound, John is re-acclimating himself to life without Scorpius/Harvey while Aeryn listens and strokes his face as if trying to reassure herself that he's really here. The distant rumble of mortar rounds hitting the compound is heard occasionally.
John: (struggling to find words) I've had Scorpy in my head for so long - that I've gotten used to it and- and not having him... (he pauses) It's like being in pain - your whole life. (his voice quavers, but a small smile is on his lips) And suddenly it's gone. (at that moment, Furlow re-enters with an armload of technical paraphernalia)
Furlow: Jack? I managed t'find some e-transmitter coils. They'll need a - bit o' work.
Jack/Ancient: (he inspects her offering critically) This is it? You can't find anything better?
Furlow: (stiffly) I had t'search half the complex just t'find that.
Aeryn: (she lifts her head from Johns shoulder long enough to cast a bare glance in Furlow's direction and say tonelessly) Then search the other half Furlow. (Furlow doesn't even look at the fawning couple, but her eyes narrow as she stalks back out of the room. But it's time for Aeryn and John to break it up and the Ancient walks over the them)
Jack/Ancient: John? It's time to go to work. (John just looks at Aeryn, caressing her and smiling. The Ancient lays his hand on the back of the humans head) If you're feeling strong enough.
John: (he rises quickly, looking revitalized, and follows the Ancient) I'm good. But ah - you better unlock that wormhole information inside my head.
Jack/Ancient: I just did.
John: You did? Really?
Jack/Ancient: (as he speaks, Aeryn comes to Johns for another caress) It doesn't happen instantaneously. Your mind couldn't process all those equations at once. Give it a little time. (a couple powerful blasts shake the whole compound and Aerynís attention is finally drawn away from John as they all look up)
Aeryn: That's not good.
John: Man, that one was closer.
Things are worse than they know. Outside, the amassing Charrids don't even bother to look and see what was shooting at them from the rusty old gun turret as they advance warily on Furlow's compound. And inside the turret - Rygel lays on the floor in a puddle of his own blood - breathing weakly and cut off from help.
The scene shifts to Talyn, where the Scarran has stayed his heat attack, having subdued the occupants of this strange ship...
Alcar: Who are you?
Crais: (with difficulty, as he struggles to his feet) Merely - commerce traders - seeking repairs for our ship. (but the Scarran isn't stupid, what with the weaponry and PK hardware bristling from Talynís every nook and cranny and all)
Alcar: This is some sort of Peacekeeper ship. (he drives Crais back onto the floor with another blast of his heat ray) Tell no lies! (he then reaches down with one massive, talonned hand, and yanks Crais back up as if he were a rag doll)
Crais: (grunting painfully, he grates through clenched teeth) I am - (he struggles to keep his composure in the face of the Scarrans mind probe - which comes with the heat ray) I - am not - a - Peacekeeper. I have no rank.
Alcar: (in Crais' face) How did you get this ship? (Stark chooses that moment to suddenly bop up and impose himself between the Sebacean and the Scarran)
Stark: (mildly) I will tell you. He stole it.
Alcar: What? (he rears his great, horror-show horse head back to bring this new creature into his field of vision)
Stark: (anxious to help out with info but not wanting to seem too tightly glued) Ah- he was a captain - but now he's a renegade. He stole this Leviathan mutant from the Peacekeepers and now they want him dead! They want all of us dead!
Alcar: Who are yoouu? (he pushes Crais down onto his knees, keeping him in a stranglehold, and turns his attention to Stark)
Stark: (with gusto, complete with slavish hyperventilations) I am a Banik slave - his slave. And I haaaaaate him! He brought me on board this ship to help him fix it! (eagerly) Kill him! And make me your slave!
Alcar: (he looks down at Crais, nonplussed) Kill him? (he flings his free arm out towards Stark, subjecting the Banik to his heat ray and mind probe combo) Is this the truth?
Stark: (he staggers back with an agonized yell) Yes! Yes! Every word! (evidently satisfied, Alcar releases Stark who emits a guttural sigh of satisfaction as he collapses to the deck)
Alcar: (deadly - to Crais) Make this ship operational - and I'll grant you an easy death. (Crais doesn't look especially comforted by Starks help as the Scarran shoves him over backwards)
(cut back to Furlow's bunker/compound where John and the Ancient are at a workbench. They've begun the alterations to the phase stabilizer)
John: You sure this thing's unlocked? I'm not feelin' any smarter.
Jack/Ancient: Give it some time.
John: All right. But something better kick in before that Dreadnought gets here. (another distant roar of mortar fire trembles in the air)
Jack/Ancient: It will (he sets down some widget he'd been turning over in his hands) This may require a - an oscillation damper.
John: (scarcely looking up from his own work, he reaches into the jumble of hardware on the table between them and hands the Ancient a thingy) Here ya go. Use that.
Jack/Ancient: (matching the thingy to his widget) Perfect! Thanks. Why'd you pick this one?
John: You said you wanted an oscillation damper. I figured you could modify the rillon valve.
Jack/Ancient: I can - but how did you know that? (John pauses as the realization that there's no reason he should have known sinks in. Jack/Ancient smiles ever so slightly)
John: (murmuring) That's - cool. (and without further ado, he gets back to work)
Meanwhile, just outside the wide-open entrance to Furlow's underground compound, Aeryn has managed to slip out, unnoticed by the Charrids buzzing around it. They seem to be slowly working their way closer to the compound entrance, using the industrial junk that litters the landscape for cover - as is Aeryn. But she's trying to get to Rygelís gun turret.
A mortar hits close to the turret, and inside, Rygel is startled to consciousness and manages to sit up. He doesn't see the Charrid sneaking up behind him to the turret hatch, ractor drawn. But before the ropy-haired creep can plunge his weapon into the Hynerians back - Aeryn makes the turret and dispatches him with her Big Gun before clambering into Rygelís rusty post.
Rygel: (he turns around, dazed) Mmph - oh! What - what happened?
Aeryn: What happened to you?
Rygel: (grunting painfully) Piece of shrapnel... (then peevish) Why are we still here? Where the yotz is Talyn?
Aeryn: Don't know. The comms are still out. Here, I'll take over. (she moves towards the turret gun, but Rygel stops her)
Rygel: (talking like a guy trying not to move his torso - and he's mostly torso) No, no - you're still mobile. I'm not. Just - bring me food!
Aeryn: (flatly incredulous) You want to eat - now?
Rygel: Bring me food - and I'll keep going.
(cut back to the workshop where the alteration of the phase stabilizer continues)
John: It's starting to make sense - it's all comin' together.
Jack/Ancient: We still need an inversion loop and don't have the right parts to build it.
John: Sure you do. (he picks up some anonymous bit of hardware and hands it to the Ancient) Use this to set up the resonance aaand -(he tosses the alien a second thingy) - this to flip it
Jack/Ancient: (with a little laugh as he looks appreciatively at the components) Good! What an elegant solution. (as the Ancient speaks, John looks down at the partially modified phase stabilizer with eyes that are only just beginning to see) I couldn't accomplish this without you.
John: Jack, what the hell are we building?
Jack/Ancient: (his tone goes very sober) A displacement engine.
John: Yeah and whatever it is will take out a Scarran Dreadnought.
John: And then?
Jack/Ancient: What do you mean?
John: I mean - how far are you gonna take this? Is this the end? Or are you gonna try and put all the toothpaste back in the tube?
Jack/Ancient: (there's an uncomfortable pause) I doubt that's possible.
John: But you're gonna give it the old college try, aren't ya? You're gonna kill - me, Furlow, and Aeryn.
Jack/Ancient: (after another pause) Aeryn poses no threat. Furlow? I'm uncertain.
John: And what about me?
Jack/Ancient: (there's a very long pause as the men regard each other, then, softly, like a father reassuring his son) I no longer doubt your intentions John.
Up topside, Rygel's back in the saddle - presumably fortified with whatever munchies Aeryn could find for him. We hope, what with that belly wound and all, that Hynerians aren't prone to peritonitis. At any rate, he's making up for lost time as he blows errant Charrids off their feet, out of their dune buggies and into whatever dreary afterlife the cosmos has set aside for them.
The scene shifts back to Furlow's workshop where she's joined John and the Ancient and is rather sullenly tweaking bits of hardware for them.
Furlow: Coils are almost ready.
Jack/Ancient: What's the tolerance?
Furlow: Lurg 3. Close as I can get 'em.
John: Should be close enough. (at that moment, Aeryn re-enters the room)
Aeryn: Rygel's keeping the Charrids at bay - but barely. Where do we stand?
John: We're almost done.
Jack/Ancient: (resting his hands on the silver canister of nuclear fuel Furlow had brought earlier) I need a quarter arn. I have to install the partanium and build the emitter array. I want you to stay clear of this hangar until I give the okay. I don't want you exposed to this radiation.
Aeryn: Well I can check the area outside the hangar doors again.
John: You want some company?
Aeryn: Sure. (she and John exit. The Ancient picks up the partanium container and carries it to his workbench. He glances at Furlow as he passes her. She doesn't hurry as she finishes up with the coils, but casts him a look from the corner of one of her pale eyes)
(the great Scarran Dreadnought slides through space towards Dam-Ba-Da like some monstrous sea creature. Back in Furlow compound Aeryn and John talk as they climb industrial metal stairs that rise to the planets surface)
Aeryn: (concerned) I still can't raise Talyn.
John: And the Dreadnought is due in what - 2 more arns?
Aeryn: We may not even have that much time.
John: You think they're in trouble?
Aeryn: Well Scarrans will send an advance scout unit before committing the main force.
John: Like what? A Prowler detail?
Aeryn: Anything from a one-man stealth capsule to a full fighter squad. But with Talyn blinded, they may be upon him before he can starburst away.
John: Well hell. We didn't have enough to worry about. (Aeryn acknowledges his sarcasm with an ironic guffaw)
(cut back to the workshop. Jack/Ancient carefully unseals the canister of nuclear fuel. As he opens it, its contents cast cobalt blue light over his face. He reaches in with his bare hand and removes a shining blue orb, which he carries over to the newly minted displacement engine and installs. A few blue light on the device wink on, signaling the juice is flowing)
Jack/Ancient: (calling) Furlow? (the plump mechanic jogs in with another load of hardware which the Ancient takes)
Furlow: Here ya go. This all you need?
Jack/Ancient: Yeah. (eying the displacement engine critically, he mutters) This case could be stronger.
Furlow: (her eyes widen and she recoils in alarm from the hotly radioactive thing) EE-yee!
Jack/Ancient: Don't worry, I haven't initiated the partanium reaction yet.
Furlow: (dubiously) Uh-huh. When you do - just in case somethin' goes wrong - where is the emergency shut-down control?
Jack/Ancient: There isn't one. Once the device is activated, you can't shut it down. (he walks away, and Furlow hurries after him)
Furlow: Then what does it do? Blow up? You buildin' a bomb here Jack?
Jack/Ancient: Not at all. After 1.4 arns, a meltdown occurs and destroys the device.
Furlow: So - you only got one shot at - whatever it is this thing does.
Jack/Ancient: That's all I should need. I'm launching soon.
Furlow: You're flyin' the module?
Furlow: Does Johnny know about this?
Jack/Ancient: No - and I don't want to have an argument with him about it. As soon as he and Aeryn give the all-clear from outside, I want you to open those hangar doors. Now go on. (he gives her a slight smile and heads back for the displacement engine - but then he notices Furlow isn't moving and he looks back) Well go on! I'm about to start the reactor.
Furlow: (shaking her head) I can't let you do that Jack. (as she turns to face him, her arm swings up and out - and trains a gun on his head as she says softly) Back off.
Jack/Ancient: This is the only chance we have to keep the Scarrans from-
Furlow: (cutting him off) -From payin' me - (almost dreamily) - a lot of money. Now - you ain't goin' - nowhere.
Jack/Ancient just looks at her for a moment, as if disappointed by the spiritual failure of this woman, this technical genius so bereft of ethical morality. The furrows in his brow and the lines alongside his mouth deepen in what might be a smile of pity or the start of a sob. Then he turns and continues towards the displacement engine - and Furlow fires. He doesn't make a sound as his body crumples to the floor - and Furlow carelessly blows the tip of her gun. With no further concern for the dead Ancient, she lets loose with a loud whistle.
At her signal, a pair of Charrids immediately drop down on cables from the catwalks far above the floor of her spaceship garage. One steps aside to stand sentry and the other whips off his helmet and snarls furiously at Furlow-
CharridLeader: You had to kill him! He would have made a useful prize! (he's a bit better-looking than the other Charrid faces glimpsed so far - at least his lips almost cover his teeth)
Furlow: (unperturbed, she gestures dismissively at the Ancient) You think he'd'a cooperated? Forget it. This - (she beckons him over tot he displacement engine) - my friend, is the prize!
CharridLeader: TCH! What is it?
Furlow: (with a speculative click of her tongue) Well - it's a - um - I don't exactly know what it is. But I do know that our friend here seemed to think that it could kill a Dreadnought.
CharridLeader: (furiously dubious) It hardly seems finished!
Furlow: Oh - sure it is. (pointing nonchalantly) Just a little here, there - y'know. (anxious to not waste time arguing just now) Aah - anyway you know, I really think we oughta - scoot - while we got the chance.
CharridLeader: Agreed! (he turns and stalks off towards the module copy. Furlow quickly trots around in front of him)
Furlow: 'Scuse me! Ah - where ya goin? 'Cos ah - see I-I'm the one who's flyin' the module here. Not - not you.
CharridLeader: (with a sneer) Incorrect. (he signals the other Charrid, who brings his gun to bear on Furlow. She obligingly puts her hands up)
Furlow: (nervously) No - c'mon! You know I need you guys to cover me when I retreat and-
CharridLeader: No! See - we don't trust you any longer.
Furlow: (outraged) What?
CharridLeader: 'Cos you've - allowed too many of us to die!
Furlow: I had to do that. Y'know - don't you get it? If they knew I was on your side then-
CharridLeader: (cutting her off) We're not sure - whose side you're on! *I* - will fly the module alone! (to the other Charrid) You! Reattach that to the module! (the other guy goes to collect and re-mount what used to be the phase stabilizer to the module. And Furlow shrugs)
(cut to Aeryn and John as they head back to the workshop through the dim corridors of the compound. Suddenly shots ring out from the direction of the hangar and they break into a run)
John: JACK! (monents later, he and Aeryn burst onto the workshop, guns up and ready. They scan the room but only Furlow is there - laying on the floor next to the module, puffing and looking stunned)
Furlow: (gasping) Charrids! They snuck in - I nailed 'em but - they got Jack. (John sprints across the room to where he can now spot the Ancient laying. He kneels down, distraught, next to this creature who looks - and often acts - like his own father)
John: (murmuring) No - oh nononono- (Jack/Ancient stirs a bit at the sound of the humans voice and the touch of his hand. His eyelids flicker and his lips move slightly - but no words come. As Aeryn looks on, John tries to comfort the mortally wounded alien) It's okay. (he strokes his 'fathers' silver hair to keep him from struggling and murmurs) It's okay - Jack. I'll finish it. We'll keep your Ancients safe and sound. (Aeryn, raises her chin, her face unreadable - but John is close to tears as the alien dies. With his passing, he reverts abruptly to his wildly alien, yet strangely gentle
And as the Scarran Dreadnought slides closer to Dam-Ba-Da, John sits back - and abides)
Aeryn: (leaving John with the Ancients body, she strides over to Furlow, who's gotten up and is strolling quietly towards the displacement engine, and demands) What happened? How did they get in?
Furlow: (slightly snide) You tell me. I thought you and the short one were supposed to be guardin' the place.
Aeryn: Well what about your supposed booby-traps?
Furlow: What about them?
Aeryn: I think you should check them.
Furlow: Fine. I will. (she turns on her heel and leaves. Meanwhile, John has dragged himself over next to Aeryn at the workbench)
Aeryn: (businesslike) John - we have 2 arns at most before the Dreadnought gets here. Can you operate this device?
John: (quietly, as he stares at the displacement engine. He sounds tired and remote) It's not finished.
Aeryn: (businesslike) Can you finish it?
John: (murmuring) I'm not even sure what it does.
Aeryn: (her voice betrays a note of alarm) Well you have to! (she stops herself and quickly softens her tone in the face of his clear distress and uncertainty) I-I-I thought that the knowledge - was - starting to open up in you.
John: (dully) Maybe I'll pick it up as I go along. (Aeryn gives his cheek an encouraging caress as she turns to leave his to it - and he picks up a tool and begins tweaking around on the unfinished weapon of The Ancients)
(cut to Talyn up in orbit on the dark side of Dam-Ba-Da. Crais and Stark are alone on the Command)
Stark: (hovering over Crais' shoulder and telling him his plan in an eager, conspiratorial tone) Talynís senses are beginning to recover - once they do - he can target the Scarran and shoot him!
Crais: (grim) It would take heavy and prolonged fire to bring down the Scarran. He won't just stand- (but Stark cuts him off as Alcar re-enters the room)
Stark: (shouting theatrically as he swats at Crais) WORK! WORK!
Alcar: I can find no Pilot on board this Leviathan.
Stark: There isn't one. It doesn't need it. There is a direct interface!
Alcar: Let - him - speak!
Stark: (yelling at Crais as he proceeds to carry on with his plan in that maniacal way he has that tends a bit of uncertainty as to whether he really knows what he's doing) SHUT UP! (then, like a good toady, to Alcar) The best way to operate this ship is via neural transponder - look! (he grabs Crais, who grunts and struggles a little as he's dragged across the room where Stark submits the back of the ex-PKs neck for Alcarís inspection) Here's the socket! You see - his transponder was damaged, so he had to remove it. But the ship - can construct a replacement.
Alcar: You will have the ship make one - for me.
Stark: (slavishly) Yes, yes. Whatever you say. (Alcar turns to leave and Stark watches him go before turning to Crais and offering something between an apology and a rationalization) I had to tell him. He would have forced it out of you anyway.
Crais: (he may not be real sure of Starks plan - but he has one himself anyway) You did well. Instruct Talyn to prepare - a neural transponder. Two - in fact.
Crais: (grim) One for me - and one for the Scarran.
(cut back to Furlow's workshop where the pace of Johns tweaking at the displacement engine has picked up, as if he's trying to match with his hands, the speed of the technical information percolating in his mind. Aeryn re-enters and stands at some distance, watching him)
John: It's - gonna work. It's all comin' together. (as Aeryn approaches him, his inwardly focused mind travels at incomprehensible speeds through the soundless vortex of a wormhole and flashes on the strange face of the Ancient in it's natural form, its eyes glowing a friendly red at him. He returns his gaze outward at Aeryn standing there next to him) I got it. (again, his mind flies through the liquid tunnel of a wormhole - flashing on the stately ribbons of mathematical equations that rotate around and through each other like a glowing 3-D flower. In his minds eye, he reaches out and touches the symbols as they flow past him. Coming back to the here and now, he exclaims with growing excitement-) Aeryn! I got it! (exhilarated, he allows his mind to rocket down the wormhole again, pausing to recall the gentle visage of the Ancient, flying again to the glowing quantum bloom of equations - and then back into the wormhole to return to Aeryn in Furlow's workshop) It all fits - everything fits! I-I-I know how to do this! (panting with excitement) I-I-I can build this thing! I know what it does!
Aeryn: (ever practical) Can it destroy the Dreadnought?
John: (Aerynís real-life question strikes a real-life death knell that brings him down from the quantum flights of intellect. He sobers abruptly with the knowledge of what he and the Ancient have wrought) Um... It could destroy a planet. (Aeryn looks down at the little device, with something between awe and alarm as he continues on, nervous now) Ja-ack... All right - he's uh - built it so it self-destructs after one use. That's... That's good, That'ssss... smart. (his stunned epiphany is interrupted by Furlow's re-entry to the workshop)
Furlow: (sounding put-upon) Big hole in the sewage outlet. Think I might'a found where the Charrids got in.
Aeryn: Did you seal it?
Furlow: (bitchy) With - what?
Aeryn: (heroically, as she marches off) I'll seal it.
Furlow: (under her breath she delivers a very catty imitation of Ms Oh-So Mighty And Popular Goody-Goody...) "I'll seal it."
(cut back to Talyn where Alcar has Crais in a corridor and is roughing him up in a rather bored manner. Crais allows himself to be pushed to the floor, knowing better than to provoke the Scarran)
Alcar: (coolly contemptuous) Feeble Sebacean. You believe that even with vessels like this you can defeat - (grandly) - Scarrans? (Crais struggles to his knees and blinks, casting his eyes about as the Scarran speaks. Stark comes scurrying to the rescue, puffing like a good slave to show how hard he's working, and Alcar addresses him with languid arrogance) Slave - the neural transponder?
Stark: Soon. Nearly finished. Soon.
Alcar: It will give me absolute control of the ship?
Stark: Yes, yes! You will think as one!
Alcar: Assist your - captain.
Stark: (whispering as Alcar paces away) Yes, yes, yes...
(cut back to the hangar workshop where John has finished the displacement engine and is re-attaching it to Furlow's copy of his module. The corpulent lady mechanic is staying close to him, watching his every move, helping out...)
Furlow: How many other people have this weapon?
Furlow: (to the rumble of a distant mortar blast) That's right. Gettin' the idea?
John: (ignoring her avaricious comment) Elucitin capacitor.
Furlow: (she hands him the requested tool before continuing her marketing proposals for the Ancients weapon) See, ah - we can sell it to everyone as deterrence, give it to no one - and charge 'em to maintain the balance. (she tosses in an unconvincing idea just for Johns benefit on the off-chance he might fall for it) Or - of course, we could just keep it ourselves and find a - peaceful application.
John: (he pauses, and exhales wearily) Furlow - is it always about the money?
Furlow: (she takes Johns chin in one pudgy hand and pulls his face closer to hers) Is there anything else? I mean - how much sex can ya have? (good point)
John: (but he's a guy - his response is a bit muffled by her fingers, which are causing his lips to pooch out) I don't know - I haven't maxed out yet. (and Furlow's a woman - she realizes she walked right into that one. She lets go of his face, smiling a little in spite of herself) The Scarrans - have - your data - that's a blueprint that has to be destroyed.
Furlow: Okay so - we use this box to stop 'em. But later - (she clicks the side of her tongue) - we talk business.
John: You help me and I'll make you Miss 21st Century Wormhole.
Furlow: (knowing full well this whole conversation is crap) Outstanding! Now - what do you need?
John: Clear a launch path. (he gestures at various bits of spaceship garage paraphernalia, cluttering up the place) Get rid of that crap.
Furlow: Comin' right up. (they both hop down from the module. Furlow casually advises him on the peculiarities of her facility as she moves a tool cart aside and he pulls on his coat) Tight fit through the exit portals. Shield doors don't open all the way. You better go eyeball the angle or you'll sheer off a wing tip fer sure.
John: (softly) All right.
Furlow: (tool cart aside, she stops and watches, with something like an air of regret, as he takes the tool pouch he'd been using off the module. She then smiles, too ingratiatingly, and asks-) So... Partners?
John: (he stops, and replies in a perfunctory tone) Partners. (Furlow's smile fades the minute his back is to her as he exits)
(cut to the dismal surface of Dam-Ba-Da just outside Furlow's compound. The Charrid troops are still buzzing around without doing much as Aeryn climbs into Rygelís gun turret, the Hynerian looks very tired)
Aeryn: (wondering aloud) There's still plenty of them out there. Enough - of them to squeeze us into a crossfire. Why haven't they?
(cut back to the workshop as John re-enters and approaches the copy of his module)
John: Furlow? (he stops and stares at the module - the displacement engine he just installed on it is gone. Before his jaw even has time to drop - the familiar sound of a plain old combustion engine revving up is heard. His head snaps around in that direction and he jogs to another part of the spaceship garage) FURLOW!
Furlow: Come on in John! (he rushes around a corner to find Furlow at the wheel of a ground vehicle that can only be described as a Post-Apocalyptic Dune Buggy. Furlow's driving and the displacement engine sits in the passenger seat next to her. John skids to a stop at the receiving end of the gun she has up and ready to greet her 'partner') 'Round the front so I don't have t'twist m'neck. (John moves around to stand in front of the vehicle, which - with its unmuffled engine and all - seems like a really bad place to stand. But Furlow has him covered and he has no choice)
John: (sounding slightly ill) This is a big mistake.
Furlow: (unconcerned with his POV) You wanna save your life - you're gonna have to cooperate. I know it looks great on ya - but ah -two fingers - pistol. (John silently unholsters his sidearm and tosses it aside without involvement of a trigger finger) And uh - goggles. (they're hanging around his neck, he removes them and stands there, staring at her) Drop 'em. (he drops 'em - without moving any part of his body but the fingers that held 'em) Now step on 'em. (the sullen glare never leaves his face as he moves his foot and the sound of crushing glass is heard)
John: (not fully comprehending the depth of her treachery) There's a Scarran Dreadnought on the way. Where you gonna go Furlow?
Furlow: To meet 'em. To save my life. Y'know when the Scarrans get this baby - (she pats the displacement engine) - they'll go away.
John: Don't do this.
Furlow: Wormhole fulla reasons why I should. (she hits her garage door opener and as it opens, bright desert sunlight spills into the room. A solar flare starts to build immediately. Furlow pulls her goggles over her eyes and John closes his) And no upside in crossin' the Scarrans. I gotta go while I got cover. Don't stand in my way John. (she guns her engine and peels out of the garage as John dives out of her path. Then, with one hand clapped over his eyes, he turns his face towards the sound of Furlow receding rapidly into the distance and yells)
John: AERYN! (but Furlow, the dune buggy and his displacement engine fly over a bump in the sand and disappear. And all he can do is stomp a foot and blurt softly) Crap!
(cut back to outside the front entrance to Furlow's compound where the Charrids half-hearted attack has given way to - nothing. Aeryn and Rygel sit in the gun turret and survey the landscape before them. Not a Charrid in sight, and no sound but the lonely wind)
Aeryn: (murmuring, more to herself than actually asking Rygel) Why have they stopped shelling? What are we missing? (suddenly the silence is broken by the sound of an engine and they observe a dune buggy coming from back around the compound, heading out into the desert)
Rygel: What-? (they stare as a black-coated figure, apparently in pursuit of the dune buggy, splashes through the puddles of waste water - towards another vehicle that managed to escape all the shelling, parked under some camouflage netting) What's that?
Aeryn: (mildly surprised) It's John.
Aeryn: Cover us! (Rygel groans as she hops out of the turret and sprints towards John and the parked dune buggy. Rygel fires off a shot at nothing in particular) JOHN! (he's already got the dune buggy running. It's open-air construction is mainely twisted metal roll bars and the drivers eat is covered with gray fur. Its also features a pointy nose cone for a front bumper. He veers over to collect Aeryn, who's properly goggled, before gunning it off in pursuit of Furlow. They have to yell over the roar of the vehicles engine as they go)
John: Furlow's with the Scarrans!
Aeryn: That would explain why the Charrids have stayed on the perimeter.
John: Explains a lot of things!
Aeryn: You know we are running out of time!
John: We still got time. (out in the desert, Furlow puts her pedal to the metal - and back in our heroes chariot Aeryn decides it's a good time to have that chat about the future she'd deferred back on Talyn)
Aeryn: You know this new knowledge you've got in your head?
Aeryn: Can you use it to get home?
John: (a bit subdued) Yah.
Aeryn: Let's do what we have to do here and then we'll go. (he takes his eyes off the track to look at her, but his thrill at this - the thing he's wanted to hear - is short-lived as a blast of pulse fire from behind narrowly misses them)
John: WHAT THE-?
Aeryn: Frell! (as John begins evasive maneuvers in the form of wild zigzags across the sand, Aeryn stands up in her seat. As you know - all Post-Apocalyptic Dune Buggies come with rear-mounted guns. Aeryn reaches for theirs with intent to blow the hell out of whoever's chasing them - but she finds out fast why this buggy was parked and drops back down into her seat as their pursuer tries to get a hit on them) YOU'LL NEVER GUESS!
John: IT DOESN'T WORK? (she confirms his correct guess) HOW THE HELL CAN WE HAVE THE ONLY GUN ON THE PLANET THAT DOESN'T WORK?
Aeryn: IT'S YOUR FAULT.
John: MY FAULT?
Aeryn: WELL YOU KNOW IF I WAS HERE ON MY OWN IT'D BE WORKING RIGHT NOW!
John: WELL I HOPE YOU GOT A PLAN BABY! 'COS I'M FRESH OUT OF IDEAS!
Aeryn: DRIVE STRAIGHT!
Aeryn: IT'S A PLAN - HE HAS TO FOLLOW OUR TRACKS. (she tosses a black object out of the buggy) ALL RIGHT YOU GET FURLOW - I'VE GOT YOUR BACK! I LOVE YOU!
John: I LOVE YOU! (and with that, she rises and prepares to jump out of the buggy. Or maybe she wasn't really going to, but Johns affectionate swat to her leather-clad ass just pushes her out. Either ray, out she goes)
The track the vehicles are on runs along the top of a dune. Aeryn hits the sand and rolls down its side for several yards before coming to a stop. She immediately scrambles to her feet and returns to the top, where the little black thing she threw out is laying in the sand between her and the pursuing dune buggy - which is driven by a Charrid.
The Charrid slows at the sight of her and slowly turns his vehicle towards her. She just stands there, hand on the pulse gun at her belt. She even pushes her goggles back as they regard each other and he revs his engine indecisively.
But she seems like an easy mark and he finally hits the gas and comes gunning for her But Aeryn is rarely an easy mark. She draws her gun and takes aim at the little black object laying in the sand - which is of course, a bomb - and as the Charrids buggy comes upon it, she fires. The Charrid and his buggy are blown off the dune and take the same long roll down its side that Aeryn had just moments before. She then turns and begins walking back down the dune towards the Charrid - who's survived the crash and is dragging himself out the upended vehicle.
Aeryn: (murmuring as she nears the wreck) Run away. (but the Charrids trying to get to his gun, which was thrown a few feet from the buggy. She murmurs) Be smart. (he gets to his gun - and lies there - waiting for her to come closer. She calls-) Run away! (but instead, he grabs his gun and tries to bring it around on her. She whips up her sidearm and kills him with a single shot. Alone on the dune, she advises his corpse) Should've run.
Moments later, she's to work on the Charrids Post-Apocalyptic Dune Buggy - which is a lot harder to kill than he was. She hasn't much trouble using its roll bars to rock it until it rights itself under its own momentum, with a shower of sand, a heavy thump and a lot of squeaking.
Meanwhile Furlow and John continue their chase across the miserable dun-colored landscape of Dam-Ba-Da. Through puddles and past bits of industrial garbage that randomly stud the desert they roar. John's gaining on Furlow and she knows it - but with no-one to man her rear gun, there isn't much she can do other than take the usual evasive maneuvers. But John is patient and waits till he's almost riding her rear bumper before drawing his gun and taking aim over his steering wheel. At the speeds they're traveling at on an unstable surface - one good shot is all it takes and Furlow spins out of control- and off the dune. Over and over and over her vehicle rolls till it finally comes to rest many yards down the slope The displacement engine has been displaced to the sand beside her vehicle.
But Furlow is a long ways from done. She nimbly extricates herself from the wreck and stomps around to stand over the Ancients device. John advances down the dune towards her - both have their weapons drawn and trained on each other.
Furlow: (angry and defiant) Y'know you shoulda git while you had the chance!
John: You shoulda done the right thing.
Furlow: How well you know me? You think I like the Scarrans? They sent in the Charrids, slaughtered my crew, tortured me. You think I faked all my wounds?
John: Turn around and walk away.
Furlow: Rather be dead John. Too old to start over. Got nothin' left. Won't leave without that. (She cocks her head at the precious displacement engine)
John: Furlow I don't have time for this- (but at that moment a solar flare shimmers in the air and the planet becomes bathed in retina-searing light. John is still without goggles and is immediately obliged to cringe down and cover his eyes. Furlow lowers her gun and strides over to him. She pushes him off his feet - and as the flare wanes, John finds himself on his belly in the sand - with Furlow's gun pressed into the back of his neck)
(cut back to Talyn where Crais and Stark are on the Command as Alcar approaches the door. Crais is leaning quietly on a command console as Stark bops up to him)
Stark: (a quick whisper) Ready!
Alcar: Where is the neural transponder? Why do I not yet have control of this vessel?
Stark: (feigning helpless frustration with the quality of what he has to work with) Because - because - because I'm still - (he stops himself and gestures with exasperation at the command consoles) - Tch! Aw! These controls! See for yourself!
Alcar: Are you subverting my commands?
Stark: No - truly!
Crais: Scarran! (Alcar turns his attention to Crais) *I* subvert your commands. (as Crais speaks, the snakelike apparatus that Talyn uses to implant neural transponders rises from its port in the floor behind Alcar, where it sways like a cobra preparing to strike)
Alcar: You deny me the transponder?
Crais: (dangerously) Do you - still want it?
Alcar: Without delay!
Crais: Then - you shall have it. (and with that - Talyn strikes. He buries the transponder implantation device - which is tipped with a sharp, white, tooth-like prong instead of a neural implant now - into Alcarís thick-skinned back. The Scarran lets go with a basso rumble of agony, but makes no move to go down and Crais shouts at his ship) TALYN! FIRE! (the gunships interior guns drop from the ceiling and commences a sustained fusillade of pulse fire upon Alcar. The nightmarish creature stays on his feet, but thrashes and roars terribly as his body is lost in brilliant flashes of energy fire and vapors. Crais squints into the small hell of destruction being played out before him, trying to ascertain whether the Scarran is going to go down or not)
Stark: CRAIS! GET DOWN! (he tackles Crais to prevent him from catching stray bolts of pulse fire and they both hit the deck. Talynís fire ceases shortly after and they watch as Alcar stands there for a moment longer, holding his ruined belly, before falling to his knees. And then, with a thud that shakes the Command - the Scarran pitches forwards onto the deck, dead)
Crais: (to Stark as he and the Banik huddle there staring at the dead monster) Thank you.
Stark: It may not happen again.
(cut back to John and Furlow in the desert of Dam-Ba-Da where their final confrontation plays itself out. John is still on his belly in the sand, Furlow is straddling him, her gun to the back of his head. But now something else is happening. The displacement engine, laying damaged in the dirt has begun to emit pulses of intense blueish-white light)
John: Furlow look! The device - it's active. You can't shut it off. By the time you get it to the Scarrans it'll be useless - it'll be slag!
Furlow: (very softly and vehemently as she looks at the device and realizes the truth of what he says) Frell!
John: I can't deactivate it but you gotta let me use it to take out the Dreadnought.
Furlow: Casing's open John.
John: I can close it.
Furlow: (she sits back and her gun drops away from Johns neck as she watches the displacement engine warily. Each pulse from it's nuclear fuel core produces a little blue halo now) Uh-uh - it's too late already. The reaction's building too fast. I think we both better get outta here.
John: No, you go.
Furlow: Don't be the hero John. Always be the one to walk away while the hero dies. (she gives him a friendly pat on the butt in parting) That's my motto. (and with that - she bustles away up the dune - towards his dune buggy. John meanwhile, pulls himself up to his knees, collects his gun and casts an apprehensive glance at the ominously blinking displacement engine)
John: (he looks up the sky and says softly-) Okay. (keeping low to the ground in hopes of avoiding the full force of the deadly radiation pulses - he crawls towards the damaged device till he's just within arms reach - and pauses. All that's left is to steel himself and try to touch the thing only between its pulses of radioactive death) Okay- 1... 2... 3!
He lunges for the displacement engine - but its pulses aren't 100% perfectly spaced, and in the split second it takes him to close its casing, he takes a hit of its cobalt blue light full in the face. He pulls back with a scream of despair. The pulses have ceased - but he just kneels there in the sand, head down as if kowtowing to the technology of the Ancients. He pounds the surface of this cursed planet with both fists before slowly sitting up, almost sobbing, and looks to the sky as if in supplication. But he's alone - and as his eyes fall back down to the displacement engine, he raises his hands - and unclenching his fists, allows the sand of Dam-Ba-Da to trickle slowly from his hands.
Not long after - Aeryn appears in the vehicle she jacked from the Charrid and pulls up right behind John, who's still kneeling in front of the displacement engine, staring into space.
Aeryn: (standing up in her seat, she pullis off her goggles) You okay?
John: (very tired, without turning to look at her) Yah. I'm fine. (heartbroken) We have to hurry.
(cut to Talyn where Crais and Stark have cleared away the dead Scarran. The little gunship seems ready to work again as they hail their shipmates. The scene shifts between Talyn, Rygel, still in his gun turret on the planet and Aeryn and John, who've made their way back to Furlow's spaceship garage and are re-attaching the displacement engine to the module again)
Crais: Crichton! Aeryn! Rygel! What is your status?
Rygel: (sounding like he's afraid his guts will fall out if he talks too loudly) Frelled. Mivonks-on-a-plate frelled! What's your status?
Crais: (he sounds shaky) I am partially sighted. Talyn has recovered sufficiently to attempt starburst.
Rygel: Well - pick me up and let's go!
Crais: Crichton? Aeryn?
John: (as he finishes up reinstallation of the device on the module, with Aeryn looking on) Crais! We got one shot at this. The ah - displacement engine will take out the Scarrans - you need to pick up Sparky and get the hell outta here.
Aeryn: Yes - starburst immediately. (back on Talyn Crais looks to Stark, who shakes his head ever so slightly)
Stark: (very quietly) No.
Crais: (broadcasting via comm) It is unanimous. We stay. (that's unanimous to everyone on Talyn)
John: (softly) Aw dammit Crais - knock it off. You're gonna make me start liking you.
Crais: (if he heard Johns comment, he's too mature as usual, to acknowledge it) Is there anything we can do?
John: (he sounds as if he isn't feeling well as he says louder) Yeah. It would be helpful to have the Dreadnought - ah - directly in line with the mouth of the wormhole.
Crais: What wormhole?
John: (he begins to climb down from the module) The one I'm about to rustle up.
Crais: We will attempt to lure them. Good fortune!
(cut to Furlow's spaceship garage where Johns feet hit the floor as he drops down from the module - and keeps going as his legs give out from beneath him)
Aeryn: (alarmed, she springs to help him to his feet) John? (he quickly backs up against the wing of the module to use it for support) Are you hurt?
John: (trying to brush her off) No. No I'm fine.
Aeryn: (persistent) What happened? What did she do to you?
John: (quickly) Nah - she didn't do anything. (he tries to slide past Aeryn, but she won't let him by, having now the full feminine intuition that something is very wrong since she found him in the desert)
Aeryn: What's the matter?
John: (fretfully) She didn't- (but he cuts himself off and taking Aerynís dear face in his hands, kisses it. She accepts this for only a moment before firmly pushing him back)
Aeryn: What - is the matter? (there's a pause as he rests his forehead against hers, his hand still on the back of her neck and she waits, her hands on his shoulders)
John: (his eyes downcast as he says quietly, sick with regret) Radiation. Massive radiation. (his head wobbles with sorrow and radiation sickness as he finally looks at her - and apologizes, nearly in tears) I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop it.
Aeryn: (she pulls back from him, her face is blank but her words register dull shock and denial) There has to be something you can do.
John: (mumbling as he turns back to the module) No I have to finish this.
Aeryn: (ever practical, she makes a determined decision, grabbing his arm and making to push past him) You're finished here, I'm flying the mission.
John: (he grabs her and pulls her back) Aeryn you don't know what to do.
Aeryn: (angrily) You will talk me through it. You will get help! And you will not argue with me on this one! (she pushes past him again to the modules cockpit ladder, but John finds the strength to haul her furiously off it)
John: (his tone is harsh with resolve as he grates) DAMMIT! This is NOT something I can COACH you through! It's half intuition - it's half feeling! (softly vehement) I know it like I invented it!
Aeryn: (deeply resentful, her voice husky) So it's your life for everyone elseís?
John: (in a whisper) And you're different how?
Aeryn: I'm different because I love you.
John: (gentler, coming down again, he touches her face and says softly) Then you know I have to do this. (her breath catches in a tearless sob and she shakes her head in a motion like a shiver) I'm coming back. (she can only stare at him doubtfully as a tear slides down her thin cheek)
Moments later the launch doors of Furlow's spaceship garage slide open to reveal John sitting in the cockpit of the copy of his module. Another of the many improvements made upon the tiny craft is that it no longer needs a space shuttle to become airborne, and a second later it rockets out of Furlow's compound for the last time, on a low-angle trajectory for space.
(the Scarran ship is up there in space, very close now - and the scene shifts to Talyn as Crais hails them)
Crais: (with grand dignity) Scarran Dreadnought! This is Captain Bialar Crais. Peacekeeper. Approach any closer - you will be engaged and destroyed.
Stark: (in the ensuing silence, he observes in a perfectly dead monotone) They must be terrified.
Alone in Furlow's dark compound of workshops and garages, Aeryn occupies herself with an air of desperation by walking around and slapping explosive charges on structural elements and combustibles. But she can't keep her mind off the emotional bombshell John handed her, and she stops to press her forehead against the cool metal of a beam and try to calm herself.
And up in cold space, John has his own problems as he fights radiation sickness and peers out the modules windows in a vain search for the Scarran ship with its darkly glowing red engines.
John: (a little moan escapes him as he tries to steady his wobbly head before hailing Talyn) Crais - where is it? I can't see that damn Dreadnought anywhere.
Crais: (cut briefly to him on Talyn) Closing fast on an intercept vector with Talyn. But Crichton - there is no wormhole to maneuver them! (back in the module, a flare from the local sun fills the cockpit with its blinding light)
John: (he just squints against the glare in the shielded cockpit) Oh there's my flare. Mama Crichtonís baby boy - makin' wormholes. (he touches a switch that initiates the cascade reaction to form a wormhole. With a brief, brilliant bloom of light - the quantum vortex appears on cue between him and Dan-Ba-Da. It blocks out the sunlight and bathes his face is bathed in its cool, dark blue light as he turns the module towards it)
(cut to Talyn where Stark watches the progress of the Dreadnought towards them)
Stark: (murmuring, with dread at the monstrosity heading for them) Close... Close... (louder) Very close. (close indeed. The black Scarran vessel is upon Dam-Ba-Da, whose angry, swollen sun can be seen as a huge semicircle behind the curve of the planet while the bright blue wormhole glows just this side of the desert world. On Talyn, an alarm begins an urgent tone. Stark turns inquiringly to Crais) This is-?
Crais: We're being targeted.
(cut back to the surface of the planet where fire from a massive explosion belches forth from the gaping front door to Furlow's compound as Aeryn sprints out of it. The shock wave causes the ground to tremble and throws Aeryn off her feet for a moment - but she bounces up fast and clambers into Rygelís gun turret)
Rygel: What was that?
Aeryn: I DESTROYED Furlow's LAB! (she throws herself against the interior wall of the turret and rests as she finishes quietly) There's nothing left.
(cut to Furlow's module where John prepares the coup d' gras)
John: Okay displacement engine - time to displace. (he flicks a couple switches and there's a little warbling sound as the Ancients weapon comes to life. The blue wormhole takes on an orange glow at the waves of its outer lip, and just inside it, a fiery trail begins to fan out behind the module as John flies in a circle around the wall of the vortex)
(cut to Talyn who's still in the target lock of the gigantic Scarran ship)
Crais: Scarran Dreadnought - withhold your fire! We surrender! I repeat - we surrender! (then, quietly aside to his ship-) Talyn - stand down your weaponry. Make them believe. (slowly, to inspire all the cunning the little gunship possesses) Draaww them in. (outside, another solar flare causes the wormholes outer edges to glow ominously as John maintains his holding pattern just inside it. The tiny module is visible only by the hypnotic trail of displacement engine energy stretching out behind it)
(cut back to the gun turret as Aeryn wistfully hails her love)
Aeryn: (worried) John?
John: (cut to him - his voice slurs just a bit as he stares intently out his front windshield) I'm almost there.
It's doubtful that's what she really wanted to hear as she rests her forehead on one hand and Rygel stares up into the sky, waiting for - what- he cannot know. Back on Talyn, the targeting alert has gone quiet and Crais and Stark also wait. Johns revolutions around the wormhole seem almost leisurely, like a chef meticulously stirring a slow pot. The blue of the wormhole seems increasingly grey as its color mingles with that of the orange sun - which is slowly becoming visible at the far end of its spinning tunnel. Stark stares, transfixed by what he sees out of Talynís main viewports, which he describes for Crais.
Stark: (murmuring, awestruck) The wormhole is touching the star. It's touching the star...
John: (cut briefly to him in the module as he turns his eyes heavenward and murmurs) Okay Jack - this one's for you.
And with that - he abruptly cuts away from his revolutions around the wall of the wormhole and crosses to its center. Once there - he turns the nose of the module towards the stars - and rockets up and out and away into space, past the hulking Dreadnought as it passes the mouth of the wormhole toward Talyn.
Displacement. Not of the great Scarran warship - but of the very sun of Dam-Ba-Da. As John comes up and out of the wormhole - the weapon of the Ancients seems to literally pull the sun from the other side of the planet and vomit it partially out directly in front of the Dreadnought. John, Crais and Stark watch as much of the resultant horror as they can. And what they see is the huge Scarran ship dying a strangely slow and hideous death. Whether by dint of its own momentum or the gravity of the star being squeezed up through the mouth of the wormhole - it cannot stop. The vast length of the mighty vessel slides sedately, inexorably, never faster, never slower, into the star, exploding inch by inch as it goes. One can almost hear the thing screaming as it is slowly vaporized in the corona of the sun of Dam-Ba-Da. And when the last bit of its rear rockets disappears into the fire, the star, bloated and ugly - is sucked back down into the wormhole - which winks out in a brilliant flash of light that dwindles quickly to pinpoint and then nothing but black space. Stunned silence reigns everywhere. On Talyn, Crais and Stark slowly lower their hands, which they'd raised to shield their eyes from the hellish light of the Dreadnoughts death.
Stark: (murmuring, horrified) I have no prayer for that.
(cut to Aeryn and Rygel in the gun turret on the planets surface. It's still light there and unclear how the suns vacation to the other side of the planet looked from their vantage - but Rygel is gaping upwards. Aeryn remains with her head in her hands)
Aeryn: (breaking the heavy silence with a cry, near tears, over comms) John? Are you-?
John: (his exhausted voice is heard on com) Yeah Baby. I'm - I'm still here. (Aeryn leans her head back with something between a smile and a grimace of relief on her face. The scene shifts briefly to John, looking very weary, in the module) Told ya I'd come back. (the relief slowly fades from Aerynís face and is replaced by blank, tearful dread at what she knows they must now face)
(cut to later. Talyn has moved away from the wasted world of Dam-Ba-Da and floats in the cool dark of deep space where the stars twinkle at a safe distance. The scene shifts to his captains quarters, where John is propped up on the bed. His head lays back on his pillow and his hands rest limply in his lap. He is very pale. Aeryn and Stark attend him - he keeps vigil and she sits near John, touching his arm, offering what comfort she can. Crais and Rygel appear in the doorway of the room. Aeryn moves aside to let them enter and pay their respects)
Crais: (he comes to stand stiffly next to the bed and, uncertain of what to say, tries to assume a businesslike tone) The - radiation sickness treatments from - Talynís emergency kit should-
John: (his voice is weak as he stops Crais' uncomfortable reassurances) Relax. It was a big hit. Nothing to be done. And I hate long good-byes.
Crais: (he sits on the edge of the bed and offers, man to man, the best he can say) Your sacrifice... does not go unnoted, Commander.
John: (he speaks very slowly, with great effort, and he seems to be struggling to keep his eyes open) Crais... you... find the better part of yourself. You... have to take care of them.
Crais: I will. (he rises, and stands with his upper body bent slightly forwards, almost in a bow of formal respect) I - hope you can believe that. (he reaches out and lays his hand on the humans arm) Goodbye Crichton. (John looks up at him and nods in silent farewell and Crais quickly strides from the room)
John: (he sees Rygel, with his own belly bound up, watching from a distance, and beckons him closer with a feeble attempt at jocularity) Hey, hey, hey - Spar-ky!
Rygel: (he guides his hoverchair closer to the bedside and says hesitantly) They say... it's not good.
John: Sparky - come here. (Stark pushes the reluctant Hynerian closer) My stuff- (Rygel grunts) You can't have it. (they both laugh a little, but Johns chuckles turn into a pained cough and Rygelís head droops sadly)
Rygel: (with sorrow as deep as he can express) It will be hard... not to think of you.
John: I'm gonna miss you Dominar. (his eyes flutter shut. Rygel lowers his own eyes and quickly leaves the room lest his emotions assert themselves in a more unseemly manner. As he goes, Johns stillness is broken with a groan, he rolls his head sideways, gasping as much with fear as from pain)
Aeryn: Stark! (they hurry to Johns side, she takes his head in her hands and steadies him as she says quietly) It's okay.
As John gasps and sobs, Stark raises his right hand and with his left, lifts the metal mask that covers half his face. Beautiful golden light emanates from beneath it and bathes the humans ashen face in a warm glow. He lays his right hand on Johns forehead and the dying man becomes calm. Aeryn watches, no doubt wishing that there was some golden light for her pain as well - but the time is not hers. The dim light of the room darkens Johns face as Stark lowers his mask and begins to take his hand away from Johns forehead. But the humans eyes open and he takes Starks hand, guiding it back to his forehead for a few more moments. Stark waits for him and John finally lets go. His face seems young again and his blue eyes are clear as he looks up at the Banik, who nods silently before getting up and leaving the room. Alone with him now, Aeryn comes to sit close to John, her face twisted with grief.
Aeryn: (tearfully) I'm very angry.
John: Me too.
Aeryn: We had good times.
John: I wouldn't change it for the world. (there's a long pause as she strokes his face) You made me - a better person.
Aeryn: (smiling trough her grief) That wasn't hard. He smiles too, then she whispers) I love you... so much...
John: (he's no longer able to move, to return her touch) I love you.
Aeryn: (softly) I would have gone to Earth.
John: (sleepily) I'm... sorry you never got to meet my dad - my real dad. I'm - sorry I never met your dad. I'm sorry about a lot of things.
Aeryn: Don't be, I don't want you to go that way.
John: I won't. (there's a long pause while they linger together) Huh.
John: (ruminatively, very slowly) They say - it's a lucky - or an unambitious man who goes when he's ready. That said - Scorpius is gone. I'm at peace. (Aeryn pulls a cover up over his legs as he talks) I don't - hurt. I... I did some good things. I'm proud of my life. And I'm with you. (Aeryn leans her tear-stained face over his and kisses him, long and passionately. Long and softly. Johns eyes seem focused somewhere faraway as he murmurs) Don't worry about me... I've never felt better.
And with one last soft flutter of his eyelids, his soul flies to those faraway places. Aeryn gasps as her tears overwhelm her. She makes a couple shaky moves to touch him - but pulls back each time, knowing he's gone. Finally she reaches for his eyes and brushes them closed, then slides under the cover next to him, and reaching one arm around him, rests her head on his shoulder and for a little while, closes her eyes too.