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The Choice
August 17, 2001 - US
January 17, 2002 - UK

Writer - Justin Monjo
Director - Rowan Woods

Guest Cast
Stephen Shanahan . . . Tenek
Linda Cropper . . . Xhalax Sun
John Gregg . . . Talyn Lyczac
Raj Ryan . . . Hotelier
Mario Halouvas . . . Voice of Cresus

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Episode Summary
In "The Choice" - Aeryn is deep in mourning for John - really deep - Gothic romance novel deep. Stark helps out by telling her about this great place called Valldon which caters to spirit channelers and the like. So Aeryn up and goes there. Stark immediately informs everyone that it's a dangerous place full of criminals and they must go rescue her before something terrible happens - like she talks to dead people. (Don't ask - I'm only reporting) So off they go.

Valldon is indeed one heck of a dreary place and
Aeryn fits right in as she seeks out psychics and drowns her sorrows in fellip nectar. But the really shocking thing is that none other than her mother - Xhalax Sun - formerly of the PK Retrieval Squad and presumed dead since Crais was supposed to have executed her back in "Relatively" - is also on Valldon! And - she's set a trap for Aeryn there!

Now the good news is Xhalax isn't interested in hunting Talyn and Crais anymore. The bad news is she's on a quest for personal vengeance against the child who she blames for all the disappointments of her life. (That would be Aeryn) To this end - she has devised an elaborate plot to cause Aeryn emotional pain. Part of the plan involves sending a man pretending to be Aerynís father in to help her contact John's spirit - and then killing the guy in front of her.

Crais, Rygel and Stark arrive and proceed to blunder about on the dark planet - (no really - I mean 'bring a good flashlight' dark ) - trying to rescue her. But she rebuffs their efforts and the 3 of them have a nasty spat over Crais' failure to kill Xhalax when he was supposed to have and then not telling them about it.

During all this Aeryn relives her love life with John Crichton as we have seen it so far - unaware of the dastardly trap that is about to ensnare her.

The upshot of the whole thing is that Aeryn makes peace with Xhalax after recognizing her mothers misery as having its roots in the same mistakes that she herself is about to make - bitterness and excessive dwelling on old pain. But alas - Xhalax is killed (For real this time) and Aeryn makes the choice to move on from John - and return to the warrior woman she was born to be. Free of emotional attachment and the heartache it inevitably brings.

Stark makes a choice to move on too. During his visit to Valldon he begins to hear Zhaanís voice whispering his name and he becomes convinced she is calling to him from Beyond. So he sheds his corporeal body and departs to seek her soul - but he leaves his mask behind with explicit instructions for it to be delivered to John.

Talyn picks up a signal from Moya and the wounded remnants of his crew prepare for their reunion with her and their long-lost shipmates.

And that's pretty much it.

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The episode opens on a dark and dreary city street on a planet called Valldon. A multicultural crowd of hooded and robed aliens hurry along on their own business. Their footsteps are accompanied by a hushed babble of languages and distant wailing. They hurry past an incongruous figure standing stock still in their midst wearing jeans and a blue shirt and looking lost - is John Crichton. Another figure appears in the crowd, she sees him but hurries on by as if he's something she doesn't want to see - it is Aeryn. She blends into the crowd in her dark hood and cloak - but for her the very fact that she is a part of this grimly anonymous place is incongruous

As she approaches a building she is accosted by a cloaked and hooded man named Tenek. He stares desperately at her with his haunted red eyes from which rivulets of blood track down his cheeks.

Tenek: (murmuring feverishly) I talk to the dead. I- I can help find the dead one you seek. (he becomes increasingly agitated as she tries to walk on past him and he follows, tugging at her sleeve) Pay me! Pay me and I can help- (but as she mounts the steps leading up to a hotel, she turns and shows him her knife - he gasps with alarm and scuttles away into the shadowy crowd)

Aeryn continues up the steps but pauses as the voice of John softly calling her name echoes in her head. She turns and looks back out over the dim thoroughfare but the spot where he'd seemed to have been standing before is empty but for the peeling remains of a star painted on the grubby street.

(cut to Talyn as he hovers in space. Crais, Rygel and Stark are on his Command sniping at each other)


Stark: (stiffly, his nostrils flared in mad self-defense) IT'S NOT MY FAULT! TRYING TO HELP!

Crais: Trying to help? SHE'S IN MOURNING FOR CRICHTON! HOW are you helping her by filling her head with crazy tales about - SPIRIT CHANNELERS?

Stark: IT'S NOT CRAZY! (then, in a low, crazy tone) She wanted to get away from you - she sees you following her!

Crais: (incredulous) I'm following her? (furious) You're the one that's following her!

Stark: ME? (madly, from between clenched teeth) Aeryn wants me around - she wants me to watch over her! She - she wants me to protect her from people like YOU!

Rygel: You stupid, selfish nak-noks! Aeryn has made it clear she wants nothing to do with any of us! She wants no part of your plan to find Moya-

Stark: (suddenly anxious, he says quietly) Can't leave her on Valldon - it's dangerous - it's filled with mystics and criminals.

Rygel: Then it's just like here! You're a mystic - and we're criminals. But Aeryn doesn't want to be here.

Stark: (his voice quivers a bit with intensity) You don't - understand.

Rygel: I under- (but Crais cuts him off with a curtly imperious demand of Stark)

Crais: What - is it we don't understand slave?

Stark: (with dread) She- she's going to talk to Crichton.

Meanwhile, down on Valldon, Aeryn has checked into a fleabag hotel decorated inside and out with graffiti including an angry-looking pair of eyes with hypnotic red stripes emanating out from the pupils. She's lounging on the windowsill of her room and drinking a bottle of the local brew while a big neon sign mounted on the exterior of the hotel flashes just outside. She contributes to the sleazy local ambiance by tossing the empty bottle out the window. Deep in the depths of lugubrious self-pity, she sighs as she contemplates her knife and casts a rueful glance at her belongings which lay in a heap nearby. She's traded her usual no-nonsense clothing for a long, rather Gothic gown complete with sheer sleeves that hook over her thumbs for a nice fingerless glove effect - all better suited to her dramatically morose mood. Finally she abandons the window - which is nice and big with a low sill to accommodate jumpers - and moves to a large oval mirror on the wall. It functions as a communications device as well as a mirror and she places a call. A cultured, resonant male voice duly answers - it is a psychic she had met earlier.

Psychic: Is it you?

Aeryn: (her tone is dull and weary) Yes it's Aeryn Sun. I've changed my mind. I want you to raise that man.

Psychic: Which one do you seek?

Aeryn: Talyn Lyczac - my father.

(cut to later. Aeryn is dozing on her bed in the hotel. Something catches her attention and she pulls herself up to look at the mirror. The window of her room is reflected there - and in the reflection an old man is sitting in front of it, backlit by the garish flash of the neon sign outside. It's a vision of John Crichton as an old man)

John: (quietly, as he turns Aeryn knife over in his hands) Do you remember? (a scene from an event that had been wiped from their memories flashes by. It's from their sojourn- (back when John was just plain ol' John) - on a planet outside of normal time in a phenomenon called a "center halo" In it they are both extremely elderly, sitting in an orchard of trees grown from saplings in their time there)

Aeryn: (obviously she does not remember, or recognize him as she snorts and lies back down) Who the frell are you?

John: I remember it all now.

Aeryn: What are you talking about? (she startles a little as he sits next to and lays his hand on her)

John: Touch me. (she doesn't even look at him) Don't be afraid girl. Ah- Ah ain't gonna bite. Touch me. (she slowly looks at him, with a kind of dread) Remember it all. (her face twists and her hand lashes out to strike him away)

Instantly the scene flashes on John and Aeryn, greatly aged, sitting together in an orchard of tall trees as he says to her-

John: Ah was a pilot Aeryn. Astronaut. Ah was what Ah wanted t'be.

Back in the hotel room, Aeryn is sitting up, her breathing is a bit shaky as she looks at the specter of John sitting in her room.

John: (softly) It's all there.

The scene shifts back to the stolen memory of the orchard. Aerynís aged self groans and clutches her chest.

John: You're all right?

(stoically dismissive) Yes I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine. It's just the same old pain - same pain.

In the hotel room on Valldon, Aeryn gasps and clutches her chest, echoing the movements of her elderly self in that other place.

FLASH back to the orchard -

Aeryn: ...It's just the same old pain - same pain.

In her graffiti-covered hotel room Aeryn bends over and picks her knife up off the floor.

And in the half-remembered orchard the old Aeryn leans down to try and pick up the locket she dropped but John reaches over and retrieves it for.

John: Oh Ah got it - Ah gotchyer locket.
(he hefts it in his palm in front of her) Whose ah - image you got in here anyway?

(deadpan) You know who's in there.

And back in the seedy hotel room on Valldon Aeryn stands, intermittently lit by the flash of the neon light outside, and regards the phantom who still sits by the window. But their reverie is broken by a knock at the door. She goes to answer it, peering at the hooded man standing in the hallway through a grate in the door that is reminiscent of the sort of grate a prison cell door might have.

Psychic: Are you Aeryn Sun? (she makes no response other than to open the door - which creaks eerily - and then to walk over and sit by the window. The phantasm of John is gone and the psychic follows her in, closing the door behind him) I heard you talking to somebody. I thought you were alone.

Aeryn: I am. (she puts her feet up and turns her knife over in her fingers coolly) Now you knew I came here searching for someone else - but - let's do it.

Psychic: (he keeps his face turned away from her but his profile and the shape his head makes under his hood indicates he is not Sebacean) Do what?

Aeryn: You found me, you told me - that you could contact my dead father. So - show me.

Psychic: You don't believe I can reach him?

Aeryn: Look you're here - I'm willing to pay and that is all that should concern you. (he makes no response) Will you show me your face? (he turns toward her and lifts the hood away from his head, revealing a grotesquely unnatural visage. The right half of his head is that of an older Sebacean man in appearance. But the left half is insectile. A big red composite eye stares off the side of his head which is covered by irregular growths resembling twigs. A large, sharp insect mandible hooks out of the left side of his mouth and the skin on that side of his head from the top of his naked scalp on down is rough and ridged like an alligators back)

Psychic: If I may ask - what business have you with Talyn Lyczac? (well she's already told you she's his daughter - but she tells him again anyway)

Aeryn: I was his daughter. (the man peers at her closely and makes a small sound as he turns away. He seems unsettled, as if he's hearing this for the first time) So-? Can you contact him.

Psychic: I can do more than that. I am - Talyn Lyczac. (he faces her again and she just stares woodenly at him as she absorbs this improbable information)

(cut to the hotel lobby which is high-ceilinged and as dim and dreary as the rest of Valldon. The lobby is crawling with a motley collection of aliens shuffling about - either residents of the hotel hanging around and indulging their craziness or the poor schmucks who can't afford a room but are allowed to loiter there anyway and scrounge for whatever they can. Rygel is there and he isn't the type to suffer either crazies or scroungers gladly)

Rygel: (loudly guarding his personal space from the lobby lizards) Get away! Get back! (at that moment Stark bursts in from outside as if fleeing something - (like crazy scroungers maybe?) - outside. He promptly hears the voice of Zhaan in his head, speaking his name)

Stark: (skidding to a halt and looking around) Rygel! Rygel! There-

Rygel: What? Do you see Aeryn?

Stark: (softly wondrous) No - for a moment I thought I heard Zhaanís voice.

Rygel: Oohh- Frelling brazma! Tell me you're joking. Right?

Stark: (distracted) No. No... (he meanders off into the milling crowd and Rygel hails Crais, who wisely stayed back on Talyn. The scene shifts between them as they speak)

Rygel: Crais - Cra-ais!

Crais: Yes Rygel - have you located Aerynís signal yet?

Rygel: (he sounds close to the edge as he eyes the antics of the gibbering headcases around him) No she's masked it. We've been all over this stinking city! Now we're in some kind of nakky hotel! Stark's meeting every cousin and fahrbot he ever knew - it's a planet of Stark's down here!

Crais: (flatly) You're exaggerating.

Stark: (at that moment he reappears out of the crowd. Zhaanís chanting voice echoes in his head) There! There is it again! Zhaanís voice!

Rygel: Crais - get down here! I can't stand it alone with him!

Crais: Nonono - stay with him until you find Aeryn. (Rygel looks dismayed as Stark plunges on through the crowd, looking for Zhaan whose voice speaks his name for a third time in a voice that only he can hear) Comm me when you do. (he signs off)

Rygel: Crais? (no answer) Crais! (suddenly he's beset by a local - the same bloody-eyed fellow that Aeryn had met earlier)

Tenek: (softly, urgently) I talk to the dead. I-I see!

Rygel: Oh stop! Just stop! That blood's so fake it's laughable (he brays sneeringly as he moves off - but he's stopped in mid-air as Tenek starts channeling)

Tenek: (whispering) Kellor - Kellor - She misses you.

Rygel: (uneasily) Kellor?

Tenek: She forgives you. She knows that you couldn't go against your parents.

Rygel: How do you know her name?

Tenek: She knows that a Dominar cannot just- (but Rygel is creeped out by the guy and sails hastily away)

Rygel: NOOO! Get away from me! (he continues to protest in an effort to drown Tenek out - but the channeler scuttles after him, plucking desperately at the Hynerians clothing)

Tenek: Wait! No - I know secrets! Secrets she didn't want me to tell you! Pay me and I can tell you! (but Rygel manages to give him the slip in the press of people in the murky lobby and find Stark)

Rygel: Did you tell them about me?

Stark: (concerned and sounding quite in control of his faculties) Rygel - did you get touched?

Rygel: I'll touch you if you keep telling these FEKIKS about me!

Stark: But I didn't - I warned you that this planet had dark powers.

Rygel: You're full of yotz! (sulky and creeped-out) This whole place is full of yotz.

Stark: Rygel - you must guard your spirit. Now follow me. I was told that the owner of this hotel may know where Aeryn is. (they move off and Rygel continues to snarl at and warn off the denizens of the lobby as they go. They don't see a cloaked woman lurking in the gloom. It's Aerynís mother, Xhalax Sun - who Crais supposedly executed back on the jungle planet where Talyn set down to heal after his disastrous encounter with the retrieval squad which Xhalax had led)

(cut back to Aerynís room where she's listening to the creature claiming to be her father explain himself. She's sitting in the window looking out as he speaks)

Talyn: I had my face altered so I could hide. (that's putting it mildly - she looks back at him - perhaps wondering why he had to choose the Mutant Freak plastic surgery option. He holds up a small device for her to see) Do you know what this is?

Aeryn: Early Peacekeeper standard blood spectrometer.

Talyn: Fairly primitive yes - but accurate - (he flicks it on and slides his thumb into it. It whirs and then beeps to signal it's completed its scan) - to near 100% certainty. (he removes a strip showing his results and passes the device to Aeryn. With a sidelong glance at her 'father' - she runs its scan on herself. When it's finished, he hands her his results) Compare the spectrographs. (she overlays the two strips of their results. They match perfectly) Take a 100 of mine - and they will all match. (he comes to stand next to her and reaches out to lay his hand on her shoulder) Aeryn - (but she pulls away and looks out the window again - he withdraws his hand slowly and murmurs hesitantly) I-I understand. (then quickly, decisively) This is not what you want. (he turns to go) Goodbye - Aeryn. (but as he starts to the door, she swings her legs off the windowsill and stops him quietly)

Aeryn: Wait.

(cut back to the hotel lobby where Stark and Rygel have made their way to the front desk. Behind the desk, an Art Deco style relief of a funereal figure with outstretched arms is downlit for somberly elegant effect. Tarnished lamps stand on the counter and a few shady hotel residents hang around it, scoping out new arrivals. A shabbily ornate chandelier hangs over a once-grand staircase that leads up to a landing decorated by a graffiti-covered stained glass window. Clearly the hotel has seen better days before it became a halfway house for insane asylum clairvoyants and their customers)

Stark: Hello? Is anyone here? (in his haste, he pulls himself up to peer over the high counter - but immediately falls back as a querulous voice shouts)

Hotelier: I wouldn't - do that! Back away slowly - VERY - slowly! (a ghoulish-looking man rises up slowly from behind the desk. His pale skin is scabrous and he has dark circles around his eyes. A long fringe of unkempt red hair hangs from his otherwise bald pate and he's missing a lot of teeth. His voice is sly - like a once-cultured man gone to seed) Lucky I saw you through the peephole and was quick enough to de-activate it!

Rygel: Deactivate what? There's nothing I can- (the hotelier touches the 'up' button on a grubby control behind the desk and a row of vicious spikes about 4 feet long explode up out of the counter with a metallic whoosh and clang. Stark and Rygel look taken aback (as well as oddly normal) as they gape at the hotelier, who continues his informative chat from behind the barrier)

Hotelier: Protection and mutilation combined - much more effective than an attack animal. Are you here to buy dead bodies? You gotta outbid - him. (he points to another visitor who appears to be a member of the same race as Diagnosan Tocot was. He's looking over what may be a prospective purchase) He buys all his from me. Buys 'em - fresh.

Rygel: (with outrage - as some lunatic screams in the background) We are not here for bodies! We are here to find a Sebacean!

Stark: (dreamily) Named Aeryn Sun. She's very beautiful - hair as dark as a fellip berry. (and since a fellip is a little animal - do we get to guess what its berries are?)

Rygel: (in a hissing whisper as the hotelier looks at them as if they've got 5 heads between the pair of them) Shut up Stark!

Stark: (with the dead seriousness of a man who has a Problem Fantasy Life) She usually wears it tight - pulled back. But recently she's taken to wearing it out - down to her shoulders. We're close. Very close.

Rygel: (loudly) They're not close at all! He's some kind of weird probakto and she can't stand the smell of- OoOOoO... (he's cut off by Stark's hand - which takes his and squeezes it hard enough to make crunching sounds)

Stark: (with serene conviction) That's not true.

Rygel: (gritting through his pain) It's more than true! But we are trying to find her so we can get out of this - nak house!

Hotelier: (thoughtfully and quite insincerely) No Sebaceans heerre anymoorre- You might try the Stallik Hotel on the far side of the city, I - hear - they stay there.

Rygel: "Far side of the city"? (losing interest - Stark lets go of Rygel and wanders off. He immediately hears Zhaanís voice in his head again, speaking his name) I'm not traveling tonight! How much for your finest room?

Hotelier: (sneering with both contempt and annoyance) "Finest room"? Where do you think you are? (Stark stops and listens, staring into space as Zhaanís voice whispers his name again) This - is a refugee city and you've got to fight for tent space! (one of the milling swam of nut jobs shakes a rattle at the hotelier as he passes and the besieged innkeeper yells at him) GET AWAY! (then, back to Rygel) Look at my foyer! Infested with kretada! (Rygel backs off from the mans rant to go back to Stark as another deranged soul approaches the desk and snarls like a rabid animal at the hotelier who shouts) FRELL OFF!

Stark: (in a horrified whisper as the Hynerian pulls up alongside him) By the goddess! Rygel-!

Rygel: What is it? It better not be Zhaan again.

Stark: (whispering urgently as he drags Rygel aside - behind a column) Don't let her see us! Don't let her see us! Oh don't let her see us!

Rygel: Fekik! Let go of me!

Stark: Shut up! (he peers cautiously around the column) It can't be her- (his voice is sick with apprehension as he watches a woman who's talking to a hunched and hooded figure a short distance away) It can't be...

Rygel: (straining to see around Stark) Who? Aeryn?

Stark: Nonono! No!

Rygel: (but then he sees what Stark sees and gasps with dismay) Is that - Aerynís mother? (it is indeed and they watch, aghast, as Xhalax speaks with none other than Tenek, the bloody-eyed spirit channeler)

Xhalax: I told you to leave them alone! You were talking to that slug! (she whips out a knife that has a lot more hooks and points on it than any knife really needs to have. No one around them takes notice) Were you telling him about me?

Tenek: (passive and terrified) No! No! No!

Xhalax: (her voice is harsh with anger) I paid you a lot of money! I paid all of you a lot of money!

Tenek: (shaking his head as he makes his whispered protest) I would never betray you Xhalax! I never would!

Xhalax: Not any more. (and with that - she summarily guts him. Rygel winces with the memory of the identical assault he suffered at her hands the last time they met. Xhalax cleans her knife and snaps to couple of ghouls with a wheeled trash bin as she walks away) Get rid of the body.

Stark: (whispering incredulously) By the Goddess...

(cut back to Talyn - the gunship, not the plastic surgery victim. Rygel and Stark have returned to him to discuss the Xhalax issue with Crais. They are upset, as evidenced by the fact that Crais has a gun being held in his face and is pinned down on the floor by Stark. Rygel hovers nearby)

Stark: Crichton was right! You never killed Xhalax!

Crais: Get him off me! Let me up!

Rygel: The only time we're letting you up, is when we flush you out the airlock.

Stark: What happened to Xhalax? Tell us!

Crais: Let me up! (Stark yanks him up and pins him against Talynís wall)

Stark: Tell us - YOU TELL US!

Crais: When you left me to kill Xhalax - I saw instantly - the end.

Rygel: For you!

Crais: For all of us! I knew that if I killed her - High Command would send another retrieval squad after us. And if they failed - another - and another!

Rygel: (sarcastic) You made a deal to save us all.

Crais: I offered Xhalax her life.

Rygel: And what did you get in return?

Crais: She would inform High Command that we were all dead.

Stark: (furious) Do I look like an idiot? Huh? (pointing at Rygel) Does he look like an idiot? (then back at himself) Do I look like an idiot? YEAH? Well I'm not! And we're not fooled by you! (Crais looks grim as Stark presses the muzzle of his gun to his chest and hisses) If you've got a deity you'd better make your peace with it now. Because I'm going to lead you to the other side real quick!

Rygel: (firmly) No.

Stark: (caught off guard by the Hynerians nix on the proceedings) No-O? What - No-O?

Crais: Rygel understands our predicament. Talyn has part of my psyche - can you fly him?

Stark: No - but Aeryn can.

Rygel: And she's not here. (Crais eyes Stark and hmphs with satisfaction)

(cut back to the hotel on Valldon where Aeryn and Talyn descend the staircase to the lobby as Xhalax watches from concealment)

Talyn: Why did you come to this planet? You said at first it was not to contact me. Who were you seeking?

Aeryn: I lost someone. (pause) He died.

Talyn: Were you in love with him? (she gives him A Look but makes no response as she crosses the lobby to the front desk with him in tow) Aeryn - on this planet - I have seen things I never dreamed possible. (she stops and looks at him with red-rimmed eyes as he speaks) At the full of the moon I will come back with a being who might be able to help contact the one you loved. (she shakes her head and makes to turn away, but looks back as he pleads) Wait for me please - I want to try to do this for you. (she nods in silent consent and he leaves. Aeryn immediately moves to the front desk and calls the hotelier)

Aeryn: Here- (the hotelier moves over to her and she indicates her departing father) Have you seen him before? (the pasty-faced hotelier isn't quite sure as casts a look at Talyn and then lowers his eyes thoughtfully to his desk. Aeryn helps him along with a brandar tile slid under his nose)

Hotelier: Ye-es. I've seen him.

Aeryn: (urgently) Well do you know who he is?

Hotelier: No one. (he smiles and looks at the desktop again. Aeryn slaps another tile down. She's annoyed but he's quite cheery) Just - I hear he's been studying with the Nelliks - (quietly) - who channel the dead.

Aeryn: Do you know where he's from?

Hotelier: No. (Aeryn grabs him by his shirtfront and yanks his face closer to her level. He accepts this in lieu of another tile) I just heard he's been hiding on Valldon for a few cycles - but everyone's hiding so-

Aeryn: Was he a Peacekeeper?

Hotelier: I don't know. (Aeryn jerks him threateningly but he's unimpressed) Koo-or! Someone could use some fellip nectar. (sneeringly) You know where to get it.

Aeryn: What a good idea. (she shoves him backwards - he snarls and laughs at her impotent anger as she stalks away through the crowd of gibbering hotel guests, grabs a few bottles of blue liquor and heads back to her room to drown her sorrows in private. Xhalax sits with a look on her face that would curdle milk and watches her go. The hotelier watches her too. His thoughtful expression changes to one of something like pleasure though as he spots a familiar odd couple entering his lobby again - Rygel and Stark. They've brought Crais along with them - in handcuffs - to share with them that certain je ne sais quois of Valldon. He's enjoying it already as the trash bin rolls alongside them on their way to the front desk. Its most visible occupant is an elderly lady who looks a lot like the old Aeryn of another lifetime)

Stark: How can no one have seen Aeryn?

Crais: (sourly) They have. They're just not talking.

Stark: Wait - I've got an idea. (and of course he heads for the old lady in the trash cart)

Rygel: (he and Crais watch as Stark lays his hand on the old womanís face) Stark - what are you doing? Leave her alone and let her die in peace. Harumph! Yotz! Here we go again. (he moves a few feet away and Crais follows him as Stark lifts the edge of his mask and bathes the haggard face of the woman in his golden light for a moment)

Crais: (quietly, to Rygel as they wait near a column for Stark) Get these off me! (Rygel just chuckles derisively at him) You're not a child like he is. How can I help you if I'm cuffed?

Rygel: Oh you'll help - If someone starts shooting you'll make a very good shield. (he laughs again at the thought as Stark finishes with the elderly lady and rejoins them)

Stark: She thinks Aeryn may be here on one of the upper levels.

Rygel: Right - I'll go. (he starts off but Stark pulls him back)

Stark: I'll stay calm. (he grabs Crais by his cuffs and starts hauling him away) I'll take this fekik with me - he can tell Aeryn what he did. You keep an eye out for Xhalax. (Rygel moans apprehensively and droops a little as they go - clearly not relishing the thought of standing sentry for Xhalax. But he quickly blends into the life of the Hotel California as a couple of the local voodoo vagabonds fill the void left by Crais and Stark. One of them shakes his rattle at the Hynerian)

Rygel: GUH-OH! Not now! Get away! MMRRAAWWRR! (and they flee as he charges after them with his hoverchair)

Meanwhile, Aeryn continues to make her way to her room with her blue liquor. The mausoleum-like hallways are almost as crowded as the lobby with loiterers skulking about. She stops suddenly at the sight of a pair of aliens indulging in a passionate kiss in the shadows. She flashes on the memory of a shared kiss with John. She slowly passes the amorous couple in the grimy corridor, her eyes drawn back to them as she goes. One reaches up to stroke the hair of the other. Aeryn flashes on a memory of John's fingers combing through her hair as they embraced... She turns away from the couple and pushing the door of her room open, she flees inside.

Once inside - she sets her bottles down - but finds she will have no peace from her memories here either as she senses a presence - and spots John Crichton sitting near the window. Not the old man she saw before - but the young John. Clad in jeans and a muscle tee, he turns to look at her, as if he'd been expecting her. She turns away from the phantom, refusing to meet its gaze.

(cut back to the hotel corridor outside Aerynís room. Stark is advancing down it, gun out, Crais in tow. From the angle they're approaching, the hallway looks like a filth-strewn alleyway)

Stark: Right here!

Crais: This had better not be the wrong room.

Stark: It won't be. (he doesn't knock, but calls into the little security grate - which seems to be open) Aeryn? Are you in there? (movement is seen on the other side of the grate, followed by Aerynís eyes staring out at him) Aeryn - are you all right? You look terrible. (with increasing awkwardness) What have you been doing? Have you be- have you been- (Crais interrupts Stark's quavery puffing by looking in through the grate and bluntly addressing the issue at hand)

Crais: (quietly businesslike) This is serious. We need to talk. Can I come in?

Aeryn: (also quietly businesslike) No

Stark: (losing whatever cool he had, he turns furiously on Crais) All right! That does it! (he shoves the cuffed ex-PK away from the door) Get down on you knees! Face the wall!


Stark: (howling) GET DOOOWN!

Crais: (accusingly) YOU TOLD RYGEL YOU'D BE CALM!

Stark: (bawling at the top of his lungs) I AM CALM! YOU GET DOWN NOW! (Aeryn and the rabble camped out in the hallway watch as Crais opts for discretion - and drops to his knees. Aeryn then opens her door and comes out to sit down by Crais on a bit of junk littering the hall. Stark - determined to ignite her outrage - leans down and says quietly to her) Aeryn - you must return to Talyn. We- we saw Xhalax here on Valldon.

Aeryn: (she's a little drunk - which goes nicely with melancholy hysteria) It's this place - you should see who I've seen.

Stark: (patiently - like a guy who's seen this nonsense before) Nono - your mother is really really here.

Aeryn: (with a ghastly grin) No - guess who I've seen? Crichton. And guess who else? My father. Any microt now Stark, you're going to see Zhaan.

Stark: (firmly - but a bit unnerved now) You stop! You listen to me! He - (indicating Crais) - he never killed Xhalax! He was preparing to betray us!

Crais: That is not true. I made a deal for all of us.

Stark: (roaring as he shakes his gun in Crais' face) LIAR! LIAR! (then quietly, and ever so gently, back to Aeryn) Now you must come back with us. I will look after you. I want to look after you.

Aeryn: (in a very low voice as she gazes into Stark's eyes) That would be really nice.

Stark: (he can't believe his luck as he breathes-) Oh - please-

Aeryn: (without taking her eyes off him, in the same, creamily half-stoned voice) Don't touch me. (Stark freezes)

Crais: Aeryn - Xhalax is alive.

Aeryn: (with a woozy laugh) Come on! (she slides onto her hands and knees and crawls over to kneel in front of Crais where she shakes her hair back and plays with his collar in a manner somewhere between seductive and threatening) Come on. Come on Crais - you can tell the truth. Mm? (Stark seems instantly jealous and makes to pull her away from him)

Stark: (scoldingly) You get up! Get away from him!

Aeryn: No that's all right. He wants me. (to Crais as she pulls him close to her) Isn't that right? You always wanted to take me from Crichton and now here's your chance. (Crais isn't sure what to make of her behavior - he can't help but smile ever so slightly at her attention - but he knows she's drunk and distraught as she leans in close, cradling his head and speaking into his ear) And you know what Bialar? If I squeeze my eyes closed - (she sighs) - tightly enough - you could be someone else. (Crais grunts - he suspected as much - and he tries to pull away but Aeryn latches onto him with a vise-like grip, pressing herself against him and throwing one leg around him as she insists hysterically) No! Come on! Right here! Right now! Give it to me. Give me what you've got! (Stark plunges in to drag her off him)

Stark: You're coming with me! I'm taking you now! (oh no she's not - Aeryn comes powering off the floor like a maddened thing and rams him against the wall. Pinning him there - she whips out her knife and holds it poised over his eye)

Aeryn: (viciously) DON'T - YOU - TOUCH - ME! I swear I will spear the last eye you have left! (then, quietly, in his face, her voice full of hatred-) Do you know what makes you so much worse - is the fact that you think you're so much better than him. Always pressing - against me. (Crais lowers his eyes, perhaps not wishing to see her in this state - and yet feeling the sting some fundamental truth in her crazed words) Stealing looks- Get out of here. (she turns and walks away from Stark. Crais starts to rise to his feet and she jerks him up and gives him an enraged shove) Both of you GET OUT! (and with that, she disappears into her cheerless room, leaving the two men standing in the hallway - Stark looking shocked and hurt - and Crais looking grim and contrite)

(cut back to the hotel lobby which is so murky that Xhalax can be sitting right there - looking like cross between a middle-aged harridan and a punk /Goth star with a psychotic glare in her eye - and Rygel can float right past without seeing her. But then now that no-one's looking , he's decided it might be a good time to sample Valldons specialty - so perhaps he's just preoccupied)

Rygel: (he hovers over to one of the too-bright-eyed lobby rats) Ah - excuse me. Have you seen a cripple who was bleeding from the eyes? (he chuckles ingratiatingly) He knew about a certain female I once-

LobbyRat: (cutting Rygel off with an irritable insult) Tak-Nak! Nal - neeee... Naknak! NAAH!

Rygel: (backing up fast) OH! Well! Don't get excited - I just uh-

LobbyRat: (shooing him away) Aa-aAh!

Rygel: (sniffing) Peasant! (he makes to hover off and bumps into Talyn, who's just re-entering the hotel. He's carrying a ;arge bowling ball-sized black case)

Talyn: (gruff) Watch out.

Rygel: (cranky) Hm - watch yourself!

Talyn: (terse) Mooove!

Rygel: (feisty) Pushy! Pushy!

They finally get out of each others way and Talyn continues across the lobby while Rygel shoots him a parting look that could kill. Talynís progress is again blocked - this time by a man with a gun who directs him to where Xhalax is lurking. He sits down by her - Sebacean side to her. He's relaxed and familiar with the PK woman.

Xhalax: Do you know who that was? That slug was with Aeryn. He was trying to save her. (she pauses) How did it go?

Talyn: Oh I think Aeryn's buying it all. When she sees this bastard - (he hefts the case he's carrying) - she'll suffer the way you want her to. (on cue - the case is rattled violently from within and the sound of something making sounds as if it wants out is heard) O-oh- someone's getting restless. I better get up there.

Xhalax: You're all set?

Talyn: Under here - (he taps his chest) - solid krank! (he wags a finger at her) Don't - miss.

Xhalax: (softly) I won't

(cut to the upper floors of the hotel. Aeryn is alone in her room and her misery continues - not only unabated but exacerbated by the dismal surroundings she's chosen for herself)

Aeryn: (her voice wavers as she approaches the limits of her endurance) First Talyn. Then Xhalax. What next? (she pushes the window of her room open and steps out onto the ledge outside. The hotel stands like a squalid tower of babble over the rest of the city whose brown precincts sprawl into infinity hundreds of feet below her. Open fires fill the atmosphere with smoke and air vehicles pass by far below. Aeryn smiles bitterly at the ugly urban panorama and raising her eyes to the smoggy skies above, she begins to howl to the anonymous heights-) CRICHTON! CRIIICHTOOON! CRICH-TOOOOOOOOOOOON! (and on cue - the ghost appears)

John Crichton - sits looking out a window at the stormy skies of a Sydney, Australia conjured up by the Ancients and murmurs to Aeryn-

John: That's it. Earth. Minus the sunshine.

Aeryn stands on her ledge with her bottle of blue liquor, looking out over the brown murk of the city on Valldon with its waste fires and its air traffic and its noxious clouds of smog.

Aeryn: (with a little self-pitying choke in her voice) This is my world now. (she steps back into her room and sits down next to the blue jeaned, muscle teed phantom of John Crichton sitting there) I think I liked yours better. (she looks at the ghost and smiles, then leans forward and inhales - her lips and nose close tot his bare shoulder) - FLASH to the room overlooking Sydney - John leans close to her bare shoulder, inhaling - (in the room on Valldon, Aeryn moves her nose and mouth along the curve of his shoulder and neck towards his face - he turns his head - lips slightly parted) - FLASH - on the room overlooking Sydney as John moves his nose and mouth along the curve of her neck and she turns her head - lips slightly parted - (the parallel scenes play out as their lips slowly move closer and closer to each others - but just as they are about to make contact - Aeryn finds herself puckering up into the empty air beside her in her bleak hotel room. She quickly shakes the visitation off and takes a long pull at her bottle before rising and returning to the window ledge. There, she continues to swig at it as something rises up out of the glare of neon light. It's Rygel - doing a little high altitude hoverchair aviation and seeming a bit nervous about it. Aeryn guzzles her liquor and doesn't bat an eye) Let me guess - you're my long-lost sister.

Rygel: (gently - and with simple honesty) Look - Aeryn - I know you're upset. I too had someone important in my life. Kellor was her name - (with sincere sorrow) - I missed her for a long time. But I knew - as I'm sure you do - that self-sacrifice is not the answer. Look - I'm not like Crais or Stark. I'm not trying to save you or recreate with you. You can do whatever you like. But - Crichton loved you Aeryn. He wouldn't want his death to lead you here. (a gust of wind buffets his hoverchair and he huffs anxiously) OH! Ah-oh-h-h-h-h! Please - could we go inside? This height-

Aeryn: (flatly) You're not going in there.

Rygel: (incredulous at her surrender to gloom) Huh? (at that moment they both hear a rap at the door to her room)

Aeryn: (as she climbs back into her room) You have to go now.

Rygel: (peering in after her - in a regretful tone) I should also tell you - Crais and Stark weren't lying. Xhalax is on this planet.

Aeryn: (briskly) And I wasn't lying either. My father's here too. Crazy place Ryg. Now go.

Rygel: But - uh-

Aeryn: Go! (he sighs and hovers away back down the side of the building. Meanwhile, Aeryn goes to the door. As expected, Talyn is standing there with his black case. Aeryn looks at him expressionlessly)

Talyn: I've brought the seer. (Aeryn allows him in and he places the scuffed-up black case - which looks like the pupa of some gigantic insect - on a table in the room. With a hiss - its hood-like top panel lifts up and two lower panels swing open to reveal a fetus-like creature inside. Its head is huge in comparison to its tiny vestigial body. Its skin is pink and moist like a severely premature baby and its facial features are essentially human. Aeryn smirks and claps her hands in deeply sarcastic appreciation of the little monsters artful presentation. Talyn ignores her and intones solemnly) Seer Cresus - the one we seek is not long dead. His name is John Crichton - (Aerynís mouth twists into something that might be a sob at the name of her beloved - but as she tries to hide it behind her hand, it may also be just another smirk at the ridiculous little naked thing in its case and Talynís mystic intonation) - and he's from a race called - human. (all 4 of Cresus' eyes - which are redder than Aerynís and arranged in a line right across his face, 2 on either side of his nose, snap open and stare at the bereaved woman)

Cresus: (his voice is breathy and ageless - it could be the voice of a child or a very old person. His speech is somewhat halting and he draws out the syllables of his words) Come here. Closer. I won't bite... much. (he giggles - an artificial bubbling sound like a pull-string doll might make)

Talyn: Trust him. Don't be afraid.

Cresus: Touch me - I must feel you - to reach him. (Aeryn tosses her hair and reluctantly approaches the tiny seer. She impatiently lays her fingers on Cresus' soft forehead - but quickly snatches her hand back as he gasps and winces painfully) Soofft - touch me - soofft... (she slowly lays her fingers back on his raw, fetal skin) Tell me about this Crich-ton. (Aeryn furrows her brow - less cocky now as she fumbles for something to say)

Aeryn: Uh... he... uh...

Cresus: Did he - looove you? Hoooold you? Touch you - sooofft?

Aeryn: (struggling to keep tears back now) Yes he loved me. He was very... (she stops, and swallows hard) He made me better.

And with that - Cresus appears to go into a trance. His tiny body stiffens and he makes a long, drawn-out choking sound. Aeryn withdraws her hand and backs up to her seat - where she sits on edge as Cresus writhes and chokes out his little screams. Suddenly - a hologram of John Crichtons face appears in the raised hood of the seers case. He stares grimly out at Aeryn and Cresus speaks the words the holograms lips form.

Cresus: (channeling John) Aeryn - Help me. Bring me back. (Aeryn stares at the image as it fades away and Cresus slumps forward, moaning softly)

Talyn: Cresus - are you all right?

Cresus: (he makes wet squishy noise as he writhes and says urgently in his own language) Da! Dakiko pahlah! Bekahlah pindora! Ah! Kalah ah...Ah... kalah... a-kah... (he trails off as he relaxes)

Talyn: (translating the seers words for Aeryn in a tone of awestruck wonder) Cresus says - he has rarely had a vision so powerful! And he wants me to find the Sintar. (mysteriously) He is a creature who can - sometimes turn - spirits corporeal.

Aeryn: (staring at him with teary eyes) That's not possible.

Talyn: Oh Aeryn - on this planet I have seen things I have not thought possible. Wait here - I will find the Sintar. If the connection is strong enough - if he thinks this can happen...

Aeryn: He can bring Crichton back?

Cresus: Perhaps. Don't lose hope - (he chokes a little as he recovers from his unusually powerful vision) - y-yet... (his eyes close and he falls into a deep sleep)

Talyn: Wait here. I will not be long. (he rises to go, but turns back to her earnestly) Just believe! (a tear slides down Aerynís cheek as she watches him go. Then she shakes herself and rises)

Aeryn: (wistfully reasoning with herself) I returned from the dead. Why can't he? (she staggers over to her bed and flops into it with a sigh. Before long, the spectral Crichton returns, coming to sit behind her on the bed, and lays his hand on her shoulder. She doesn't look lest by doing so the pleasant vision be dispelled)

John: This is where it hurts?

Aeryn: Yeah.

John: Right here. (he massages her shoulder as he brings his head close to hers. She sighs with deep comfort and contentment) You can't bring me back you know.

Aeryn: Mm... They said that on this planet there's a... (she trails off sleepily) I've forgotten his name...

John: (gently) No.

Aeryn: (after a long pause) No?

John: (firmly) No.

Aeryn: (she closes her eyes and says after another long pause) Was it easy to be a hero? (there's another pause as the phantom Crichton lies there behind her, looking sorrowful) Leave me behind?

John: (quietly) You never think - you're gonna die. I didn't know.

Aeryn: (she smiles broadly and rolls over to face him, teasing him) You - you did!

John: No.

Aeryn: (she chuckles, tapping his lips with her finger as she playfully accuses him) Yes! You did!

John: (he laughs a little too - but sobers to murmur very softly) No. (but she drowns out his protests with a kiss that becomes many kisses as the scene of she and her phantom lover are interspersed with scenes of their intimate encounters from the past and bleed together into one soaring crescendo for a long, passionate moment)

Abruptly her pleasant dream of love is over and Aeryn startles awake to a half-imagined sound like a distant thunderclap. Her room is dark but for the silent pulses of light from the neon sign outside and she is alone. She moans like a woman with the makings of a bad hangover on top of her other woes, and lowers herself slowly back onto the rumpled bed where she lies, staring into space.

But she flies off the bed as the sepulchral silence of her room is suddenly broken by the sound of her door being kicked in and the harsh caw of her mothers voice-

Xhalax: Hello soldier! What's the matter? Surprised to see your old mum? (with her gun drawn, she advances on Aeryn, who has moved to the window) This isn't quite the - family reunion you'd imagined. Sit down! (Aeryn complies, looking ridiculously unprepared for anything but drunken reveries in her romantic dress and dramatically loose hair. This in contrast to the old battle-axe standing over her) Soldier without her weapon. That's against regulations. (Aeryn looks a bit guilty. Xhalax catches her looking at something else too subtle for the rest of us to see in the murk) My leg huh? After you left me on that planet - it got infected. And I had to amputate it myself! Now that - that hurt. (she circles around Aeryn) You thought you could get it all. Get away. Be safe. (at that moment, Talyn re-enters, feigning surprise)

Talyn: Xhalax!

Xhalax: Hello - dear! (she strides over to him and pistol-whips him. He cries out and falls onto the bed. Aeryn comes to her feet)

Aeryn: NO! DON'T!

Xhalax: (with vicious fury) You've only just met and already you're trying to protect your father! (she pushes Aeryn back down)

Talyn: (protesting) Xhalax stop! 20 cycles ago we made a pact to survive for - for our daughter. You couldn't hurt her then. You couldn't hurt me.

Xhalax: I can hurt you now old man! So get ready to die!

Talyn: Remember when Aeryn was born? I snuck into the medchamber - you had just woken-

Xhalax: Lie down!

Aeryn: Listen he's not the one that you-

Xhalax: Shut up!

Aeryn: Just leave him alone!

Talyn & Xhalax: SHUTUP!

Talyn: Oh go on! Shoot me! I'm not scared of you! Shoot me and leave Aeryn alone!

Xhalax: You know - I think I've changed my mind. You're too ugly to kill - look at that face - now lie down! Lie down and roll over!

Talyn: Xhalax w-what?


Aeryn: Xhalax don't!

Xhalax: SHUTUP! (brandishing her gun at Talyn) LIE DOWN!

Talyn: Xhalax-?

Xhalax: ROLL OVER!

Talyn: No-no-no!


Talyn: Xhalax don't-!

Xhalax: ROLL OVER! (and as he lies there on the bed - she fires several shots into his back and he dies with a soft moan. The PK woman turns back to Aeryn) So. So it's just you - and me. (she leans back and surveys her work serenely) You know - things couldn't have worked out better. I'm glad you two got to meet.

Aeryn: (staring at the body of Talyn sprawled on the bed) Why?

Xhalax: For this. For you to suffer. For everything you did. For everything that went wrong.

Aeryn: (stunned at the womanís hatefulness) I- We did nothing to you. (she gets up and fetches another bottle of her liquor as Xhalax watches)

Xhalax: (in a bitter whisper) You did everything. (louder, as she spills her bile) After your birth High Command said I could redeem myself if- (she stops herself) But they lied. The damage was done. And no matter what I did I was never - truly - reinstated.

Aeryn: (as she takes a drink) And now you want my pity.

Xhalax: Oh no I want your pain. To know how close I was - to love. So close... And then to lose it all in an instant. I've heard - loved ones leave you in pieces. That little by little you start to forget things about them. But that's not true. You lose them - everything - instantly. And suddenly nothing can replace them. Nothing. (she levels her gun at Aerynís head and Aeryn, who had listened intently to this speech, closes her eyes as if uncaring of what this woman will do) And now you - have nothing. (Aeryn opens her eyes and throws a tearfully defiant look at the bitter, hateful woman who cannot move on from her past - but Xhalax has no comprehension of the impact her words have) How does it feel?

(cut to the hotel lobby where Stark has the hotelier hauled halfway over the front desk by the shirtfront as Crais and Rygel look on)

Stark: You lied to us! Said Aeryn wasn't here!

Hotelier: (innocently) No No I-I didn't lie!

Crais: Did Xhalax pay you to keep us away?

Hotelier: Who? I've never heard of them.

Rygel: (he pokes his head between Stark and the hotelier from the hoteliers side of the counter) Now tell me again. How do you activate this security grille? (his stubby fingers creep towards the "up" button of the spiky security fence) Do I press this?

Hotelier: (alarmed) No! No! Don't touch that!

Rygel: (innocently) Why? Will those speary things shoot up if I-?

Hotelier: (hastily cutting him off) Look! Look! I had to lie to you - if I'd helped you before - that maniac upstairs would have killed me!

Rygel: Go on.

Hotelier: There - (he kicks another control behind the desk and a small door slides open) - is a service lift. Xhalax doesn't know about it. One of you could go up in that. Surprise her. (but before anyone can do anything - Rygel spots something that resembles an armed mob forming in the lobby behind Crais and Stark)

Rygel: Uh - Stark?

Stark: What?

Rygel: Who are they? (but "they" answer his question themselves by opening fire on our heroes and the hotelier)

Crais: DOWN! (Rygel and the hotelier hit the deck behind the front desk counter and Stark uses his own gun to squeeze off couple shots at their attackers before joining them. Luckily the lobby is so gloomy that none of the mob can see to get a decent shot at any of them. That doesn't stop Crais from being somewhat upset at the fact that he's cuffed to a decorative grille and can't join his pals under the desk as the wild shooting continues) UNCUFF ME! UNCUFF ME!

Rygel: (thoughtfully) Under the circumstances- (screaming in panic) - UNCUFF HIM!

(cut back to high above the fray in Aerynís hotel room where the confrontation with her mother continues. Xhalax is risking her Psychos Victory by listening to Aeryn talk for some reason)

Aeryn: (she's standing over Xhalax, speaking calmly) Wasn't killing Talyn once enough? But did you have to kill him in front of me? Is that what was missing? When I first met him - I knew he wasn't my father - but he knew all these details about you and me.

Xhalax: You're lying. You didn't know. (Aeryn laughs a bitter, woozy laugh as she turns away from her mother and goes to sit in the window)

Aeryn: (loudly) Of course I hoped - that he might be Talyn. Just as I hoped that I might see Crichton again. (she laughs tearful, bordering on hysterical, at the bitter irony) But in my heart - I knew that that - (gesturing to the body laying on the bed) - was not my father. And then you walked in. (she steadies herself before going on) You know - we Peacekeepers think that we are so remarkable. Soldiers without - (she draws a deep breath) - equal. Precise tacticians. Purebloods. But I've realized - we're not remarkable. We do nothing for love. Not one thing.

Xhalax: (after a long pause) You're wrong. Cycles ago - after your birth - I was given an order. They called it a choice. "One of you must die." they said. I killed your father so you could live. (she leans over Aeryn and says spitefully) I did that - for love.

(cut back to the brouhaha in the lobby where Stark hears Zhaanís voice whispering his name again and pops out from behind the desk amid all the shooting)

Stark: IT'S HERE AGAIN! (he fires at their attackers who are lurking somewhere out there in the murk) ZHAANS VOICE! CAN YOU HEAR IT?

Rygel: (from under the desk where he's cowering with the hotelier) Not now Stark!

Crais: (also from his position behind the desk) STARK! GET DOWN!

Stark: (bellowing heroically - inspired perhaps by the voice of his beloved - he tosses Crais a gun) SAVE AERYN! I'LL HOLD THEM OFF HERE! GO! GO! (Crais accepts the gun and the order without comment and crawls into the little service elevator behind the counter while the one-eyed Banik - either with Zhaanís help or because he has great night vision in that one eye, takes out a couple of their attackers)

(meanwhile - back in Aerynís room, Xhalax has her daughter out on the window ledge and a gun to her back)

Aeryn: So. This is it? Kill me now. Destroy the last piece of your life... and leave nothing.

Xhalax: I wasn't an assassin until I killed your father. (wistfully) I was a pilot... (yeah flying killing machines) I was bred to be a pilot. But they made me kill again and again - and finally I stopped caring. But I knew your suffering would ease my pain. And it has. (as if trying to convince herself) It has.

Aeryn: The battle's over Xhalax. You don't want to kill me.

Xhalax: No. (she wants Aeryn to kill herself. She fires two shots over Aerynís shoulders, but Aeryn doesn't even flinch)

Meanwhile Crais has made it up on the service lift and is moving cautiously through the hotel corridors. The halls are more deserted now and everything Crais sees, he treats as a potential threat, taking down one hooded figure before moving on. He comes to Aerynís room - but is forced to duck back as a guard posted there takes a pot shot at him.

(cut back to Aeryn on her ledge with Xhalax in the room behind her)

Aeryn: Why don't you come out here a bit closer? It might make it easier for you. (and Xhalax does - both her legs look quite intact BTW - Aeryn guides the muzzle of her mothers gun to the base of her throat) Here - you can't miss from here. Unless you want to.

The scene shifts quickly from the standoff on the ledge to Crais as shots in the hallway are fired and the last of the obstacles between him and the door to Aerynís room is removed.

Aeryn: Drop the gun Xhalax.

Xhalax' gun wavers on the ledge and in the hallway Crais moves carefully through the trash-strewn corridor to Aerynís door, mindful of any hidden assailants in the gloom.

Xhalax closes her eyes and her gun wobbles.

Crais steadies himself to storm the room.

Slowly, almost miraculously, Xhalax lowers her weapon and she and Aeryn stand there on the ledge, facing each other. Aeryn smiles.

But at that moment - the door to her room bursts open and Crais charges in - he sees only Aeryn and Xhalax on the ledge - Xhalax with a gun-

Crais: AERYN!

Aeryn: NO! (alarmed - Xhalax turns towards Crais and brings her gun up - but Crais fires first and Xhalax is hit in the chest. Her gun goes spinning away down the side of the fearsomely tall building and she begins to topple over backwards herself. But Aeryn catches her and holds her back) NO! (Crais holds his fire as he watches them down the barrel of his gun, wide-eyed, as he begins to realize what he's done)

Xhalax: (gasping) Let me fall Aeryn.

Aeryn: No. (she sobs and pulls her mother closer, bringing their foreheads together)

Xhalax: Do it. Let me go. (she chokes with agony as the life ebbs from the holes Crais put in her) I died a long time ago. You live - for me. (Aeryn nods, and knowing the truth of the situation - releases her mother and watches as she falls, arms outstretched, to her final resting place on the dismal planet of Valldon)

Crais bows his head as Aeryn stands there, one foot out over the abyss. But after a long moment, her choice is made and she turns away from oblivion, back to the wretched hotel room where Crais waits.

(cut to later - back on Talyn. Crais and Rygel are on the Command, somberly watching a hologram message - from Stark)

Stark: (his voice is calm and quiet) Zhaanís voice keeps getting stronger. I know she's trying to reach me and I must discover what she needs to communicate. Please do not waste time trying to look for me. It is vital you take what I have left you to the Crichton on Moya. (Rygelís earbrows are drooping and he sighs sadly as he looks at the object he has in his hands - Stark's mask) He - and only he - will know what to do with it. (his voice drops to hardly more than a whisper) Good-bye my friends. Take care of Aeryn. I will find you again. (and with that, the image of Stark undoes his mask, sending the golden light of his incorporeal self shining out over them as his image fades away. Crais turns away, deeply affected by the Baniks departure)

Rygel: Crais? Why would Stark leave this? What d'you think the other Crichton wants with it?

Crais: (softly, his voice full of regrets) I have no idea. Talyn believes he's located Moya. His long-range scans have detected Leviathan transmissions from the - Manin Nebula.

Rygel: (trying to sound glad, but trailing off as he recalls that Moya is not Crais' home) Well let's try to find them. It'll be good to get back to Moya.

Crais: Perhaps. As soon as our ships are reunited and - Talyn can find someone other than me to pilot him - I shall leave.

Rygel: (awkwardly) I ah - hope Moya's done better than we have. Is - Aeryn on her way up?

Crais: She'll be leaving Valldon within the arn.

(cut back to the miserable hotel room on Valldon. Aeryn has cast off her mourning rags and is finishing reassembling herself as a woman of the Peacekeepers. Pants, vest, hair pulled back into a tight braid. Weapons. The ghost of John is standing, looking out the window as she dresses)

Aeryn: (watching the reflection of the ghost behind her in the mirror) Maybe... I could have become something different. If you'd lived I could have truly changed. But you are gone. And I am - (she holsters her pulse gun) - what I was bred to be.

John: Aeryn - (she turns to look at him. He cocks his head at her) - come here.

Aeryn: No. (there's a long pause) You have to go now. (and after another long pause - she turns back to the mirror - which gives back only her reflection. She is alone)

Well almost alone. With a final deep breath as she regards her image in the mirror, she turns to leave. But she's stopped - by Cresus who's still on the table in his case - which hisses open now.

Cresus: Wait! (she stops as the fetus-like creature speaks to her in his halting voice) Most of the time - Aeryn - what we do is a distortion - a hoax. But - with you - Aeryn Sun - it may - have been - real. Shall we try? One - more - time?

She pauses for only a fraction of second, her face an unreadable mask, before continuing on her way out the door.


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