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Coup By Clam
August 16, 2002 - US
December 2, 2002 - UK

Writer - Emily Skopov
Director - Ian Watson

Guest Cast
Raelee Hill . . . Sikozu
Melissa Jaffer . . . Noranti
Barry Otto . . . Doctor Tumii
Chris Mayer . . . Mekken
Sara Groen . . . Mujombre
David Field . . . Ho'Ock
Susan Prior . . . Kiryah
Kelly Butler . . . Selva

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Episode Summary
In CBC, Moya's journey through Tormented Space continues to take its toll - mostly on her. She's limped her way to one of the regions dank outposts of what passes for civilization where Pilot and the crew seek to have extra radiation filters installed, which ought to alleviate her misery.

The planet they put in at is called Khurtanan and its people are a neurotic bunch. Before they'll work on Moya, our crew must medically certified free of a dreaded disease that John dubs 'Space Madness.' The good doctor sent to clear them, brings along some local delicacies for the crew to nosh on while he does his examinations. Prominent among these culinary delights is a giant clam called a qatal mollusk. But alas - the clams are Very Bad if the flesh of one is eaten by more than one person. It seems qatals are crawling with a sort of telepathic bacteria that first neurally links their eaters and then kills them. The doctor knew this perfectly well - he just wants to blackmail the crew into paying him an exorbitant fee for the cure.

The crew of Moya has little choice. So off they go to obtain the cure - which is of course convoluted, disgusting and embarrassing - especially when you've shared a clam with someone you don't like very much.

But even when it's already hard it's never easy. Khurtanan is a deeply misogynist society where females are looked upon with near loathing. To their credit - the Khurtanan women are tired of this and in the process of setting the stage for a massive coup d'etat. To this end - they're using the mollusks - whose properties the men don't know - to assassinate males in key power positions. The problem for Moya's crew is that the doctor knows about the pending revolution from having performed autopsies on the assassination victims. and the women have been buying his silence with clams. And wouldn't you just know - NOW the Khurtanan women decide he's a liability - his clam supply is cut off and they try to kill him too.

So the crew of Moya is obliged to go get their own qatals, which isn't easy since the revolutionary women are - to say the least - a prickly lot. They'd rather kill our heroes than spare them a couple shellfish. Things are looking grim as the final stages of qatal poisoning set in. But luckily Scorpius buys them some time by ingesting leftover qatal and using his Highly Advanced Powers Of Scarran Mind Control to link with the poisoned crew and stave off death long enough for them to score a couple clams and escape.

Along the way D'Argo and Noranti - much to D’Argo’s chagrin - are forced to share several Close And Intimate moments. Rygel proves to be a better drag queen than John, Pilot gets treated like dirt and almost everyone gets to either fart, belch, have an orgasm, lose a body part or vomit!

And that's it!

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The episode opens with Moya moving slowly through what appears to be a field of huge, jagged asteroids. One of these unwelcoming space rocks is a planet called Khurtanan though. It's irregular shape prevents normal orbit so she's just hovering along with it...
Cut to Moya's maintenance bay. A buffet has been set up and Sikozu is indiscriminately piling mass quantities of food onto a tray. Aeryn, D'Argo, Noranti and Rygel are already chowing down. No utensils other than fingers are being used at this feast and one of the featured items on the menu are giant shellfish whose flesh is bright yellow, purple or green and whose halves are the size of soup plates. Noranti eyes Sikozu with her heaping tray and murmurs-

Noranti: (disapproving) Highly abnormal.

Rygel: (to Sikozu) Ugh! Even I can't eat that much!

D'Argo: Is that really you're third helping?

Sikozu: Fifth.

Noranti: Highly abnormal. (it's unclear if she's just repeating her opinion of Sikozu’s eating habits or commenting on the gorilla-sized mollusk she's picking at)

Sikozu: (proudly) Highly effective.

Aeryn: (with her mouth full) So - the advantages of only eating 10 times a cycle are…?

Sikozu: (smug) Not eating all the other times. (a deep purple shine passes briefly over the faces of D'Argo and Noranti, who are sucking up mouthfuls of grape jelly-colored shellfish. No-one seems to notice this odd effect - or perhaps they're just distracted by Pilot, who breaks in at that moment)

Pilot: (on comm) Captain?

D'Argo: Pilot. (the scene shifts between the Den and the diners as they speak to Pilot)

Pilot: Moya has asked me to once again convey-

D'Argo: (wearily) Okay stop right there. We're aware that you think this planet is a pit - an outpost of nothing... (Rygel decides to toss in his irrelevant option of the place as long as they're on the topic)

Rygel: Their food's overcooked, undercooked, and not worth cooking. Makes Noranti's food seem edible. (Aeryn at least seems willing to hear Pilot's concerns)

Aeryn: Pilot how bad is it?

Pilot: Without additional zyntian filtration, the electrostatic impulses from surrounding radiation sources will drive her mad. Moya has not had peaceful rest since we entered the Tormented Space. (well whose fault is THAT, Big Fella? And for his part, D'Argo does have a reason for wanting to stay)

D'Argo: This is the only planet we've found whose mechanics are aware of Leviathans. They can get the job done. (as he speaks, Rygel is slurping up great snot-like ropes of lime green clam and Aeryn is lifting spaghetti-like strings of hers and dropping them into her mouth. A poisonous chartreuse flush blooms and fades on their faces)

Pilot: (imploringly) But when, Captain?

Sikozu: When their doctor certifies that none of us has space madness.

(cut to the good Doctor. One of Moya's cells has been commandeered for use as an examining room and he's sterilizing an impressively sized probe by huffing on it and then polishing it up with a rag. His looks don't do much to inspire confidence in his medical skills either. He's a paunchy old man, clad in an ill-fitting suit of shiny beige material. His unkempt grey hair is shoulder length and he's wearing an absurdly complicated apparatus on his head whose expandable business end is currently folded neatly over his right ear. The only thing that prevents him from looking completely, eccentrically, human is his nose, which is a scalene triangle of exceeding largeness and pointiness that precedes the rest of his face by a good 3 inches. His voice is reedy, with the high pitch of an old man and he's prone to interspersing is speech with a lot of nervous little chuckles. His name is Tumii and he leers with pleasure as John enters, he's brought Scorpius along as a decoy)

John: After you. (Scorpius silently marches in - but Tumii dashes John's hopes)

Tumii: He - has already certified free of ah - transmissible celestial dementia. (John's clearly very irritated by Tumii and his fairy-tale troll-wizard voice)

John: We're callin' it space madness.

Tumii: (ignoring John as he insincerely apologizes to Scorpius) Scarran ancestry however - disqualifies visitation to Khurtanan. (Scorpius bares his yellow teeth and growls. John would no doubt would like to do the same - but instead he jerks his thumb in the direction of the door)

John: (to Scorpius) Hit the road. (the half-Scarran slinks out and John has no choice but to take a seat in front of Tumii as he mutters) Space invader.

Tumii: (cheerily) Stillness- (John sits still and the doctor proceeds to measure the size of his cranium with a calipers)

John: (surly) Sure that Pilot told you that Moya's hull protects us from radiation?

Tumii: (apparently leased with the size of John's head) Good... (he removes the calipers) Ah - space madness is so feared on this planet that there are no exceptions. (he rolls his "R's" with great relish as he announces) Now - for the neurologic brain scan. (the apparatus on his head unfolds and lowers a lens in front of his left eye. He smiles as its iris opens, revealing a cobalt blue scope through which he peers at John. A large, pearly drop of snot trembles at the edge of the doctors railroad tunnel-sized right nostril as he bobs and weaves while the iris adjusts itself. He's having a hard time getting a proper fix on John, who's also bobbing and weaving - perhaps trying to avoid a messy close encounter with Tumiis' schnozz. Finally Tumii hums appreciatively and snorts his snot globule back into his nose before reaching for the probe. It's this part where things go from the looking to the actual touching that John worries about)

John: Hey look I know you guys lie and all, but th-this is not gonna hurt too bad is it?

Tumii: (with a snaggletoothed smile) Not a bit. (and with that - he inserts the tip of the probe into John's nose and flicks a switch. The instrument flares like a million watt torch and John bellows as his head lights up from within like a jack-o'-lantern. Tumii is unperturbed by his patients sustained scream as he peers with great interest in through John's eye sockets at his brain...)

(cut back to the buffet where Chiana's joined the others. She isn't hungry and desultorily picks a sample bite from Sikozu’s tray - but the ravenous Kalish is protecting of her roadkill)

Sikozu: (through a full mouth) Nonono! No!

Chiana: This food is dren.

Rygel: I'll agree to that. (John enters with both hands cupped over his face)

D'Argo: (jovial) Ah! If you'd held your scream off one more microt I would have won the pool.

John: Aw too bad. Anything edible?

Chiana: No.

Aeryn: No. (Sikozu offers a dissenting opinion as she leans back and sensuously lowers a string of nasty-looking yellow clam into her mouth)

Sikozu: Remarkable. (but even as they answer his question, John grabs a bedpan-sized shell from the buffet and begins to pick at the pus-yellow flesh within)

John: So Doc Snot commed ahead giving us the all-clear and Pilot says that the mechanic is on approach. (Sikozu slurps down another clam noodle - and briefly flushes yellow. John does the same as he stops in mid-chew of his first bite and says - with long strings of shellfish trailing out of his mouth and down his chin) Wow - that's crap. (D'Argo and Noranti sneeze in unison which causes the old woman’s third eye to fluoresce purple for an instant)

D'Argo: (sounding slightly ill) You know what? I think I might be allergic to something here. (at that moment, Tumii passes through on his way out)

Tumii: (kindly) Gratification at meeting you all. Did you enjoy the repast? (John responds with the voice of someone who's trying to eat something without letting it touch his tongue)

John: Well it's the first thing I've had in a while that doesn't taste like chicken. Kinda reminds me of a big bowl of Alpo I once ate.

Tumii: (with a chuckle) Perhaps when you visit the planet you'll discover better nourishment.

D'Argo: Ah - we won't be visiting the planet, Doctor. As soon as your mechanic fixes our ship, we'll be leaving. (he and Noranti sneeze again)

Tumii: (pleasantly evil) I risk to differ, Captain. Oh - ah - did I forget to mention not to share the qatal mollusks? They're to be eaten whole. Should the flesh be divided among different stomachs - (he pats his own stomach and finishes regretfully) - the food poisoning that results is fatal. (there's a brief indoor shower as everyone spits out whatever they have in their mouths. Aeryn, D'Argo and John are also instantly on their feet with guns trained on the medico - who just smiles ingratiatingly back at them)

Aeryn: What did you do?

Tumii: Initiated the first half of our business arrangement. Bring one quarter million currency pledges - each - to my office. (sweetly) And I will cure - you.

D'Argo: Know what? Why don't we just shoot you?

Tumii: (with a modest giggle) It does sound presumptuous, I know - but I am the only one that can cure - you. (no-one moves) The weapons will only cause the mechanic to resist the modifications your ship requires. (as Rygel responds, the thud of a ship setting onto Moya's deck heralds the arrival of the mechanic, and the hangar bay doors begin to slide open)

Rygel: Suppose we tell him what you did?

Tumii: Well - he will not believe you. He cannot help you. And I will double my price. (the doctor drops his sappy smile) Care to call my bluff? (there's a long silence as they all stand there bathed in the bright light flooding in from the hangar bay. Then weapons are slowly lowered. Tumii has them by the short curly's - and he continues in a low tone) Do not delay payment. Your symptoms will greatly mimic the uncontrolled disorders associated with space madness. A disease they shoot on sight for. (two figures emerge from the haze of the hangar bay. They are completely human in appearance - either Tumii is of a different race or these people age really badly. The newcomers are the mechanic, Mujombre - a shy, fresh-faced youth dressed in a loose coverall and towing a tool chest, and his police escort, Mekken - an adult man in a greatcoat and a chauffeurs hat. Mekken approaches Tumii urgently)

Mekken: Doctor?

Tumii: (expansively) As I communicated - clean health for all! No threat of affective illness. (there's a pause as he looks back at the crew of Moya and says warningly) At - the moment. (D'Argo and Noranti sneeze. Rygel groans and farts and Aeryn looks strained for a moment before frowning as a second brisk letting of gas is heard in her vicinity. John's stomach makes a sound like a bubbling mud pit and Sikozu moans loudly. Tumii shuffles off to the transport and Mekken stares disapprovingly at the occupants of the Leviathan. Someone belches like a bullfrog - and Chiana takes it upon herself to quickly bounce up to Mekken and obstruct his view of the others by planting herself in front of him)

Chiana: (with a big smile) Hey! Glad to see ya! (there's more sneezing and rumbling from her compadres as Mekken glares and she searches for words) As you can see we're... We're all excited by it all.

Rygel: (strained) If you'll excuse me... (he sails away amid stereophonic rump rumbles with Aeryn. D'Argo lays a hand on Chiana’s back)

D'Argo: Chiana.

Chiana: (to Mekken) Excuse me. (she and D'Argo step aside for a quiet chat)

D'Argo: Did you eat any of the mollusks?

Chiana: No.

D'Argo: Good. OK I want you to put this mechanic to work but I want you to stay with him. He goes nowhere - without you.

Chiana: Okay. (she returns to their guests) Where do you need to go?

Mujombre: The zyntian filter must be installed in a primary sensory nerve conduit. (but since there's no-one in the universe who knows Leviathan tech stuff better than Sikozu - the Kalish just HAS to step up and supervise them)

Sikozu: Any neural cluster will do - once we have diverted the synaptic flow. And um - I can tell Pilot how to do tha-AT. (she abruptly doubles over as her and John's intestines do the Twist. He's sitting with his chin nearly on the table and has a death grip on his belly)

Chiana: Right. Come on. (she and the Khurtanan's exit, Sikozu-less)

John: (calling after them as they go) Right! Y'all have fun now! Watch out for those hoolian trill bats -they're killers!

Aeryn: (in an outraged whisper) What the frell is going on here? Every time Rygel vents -I - (she struggles with applying the word to herself) - vent.

John: And every time Sputnik pulls a face, I get major league cramps.

Sikozu: (furiously) I am digesting a large meal! That should NOT be affecting you! (she may be good with concrete stuff but abstractions elude her)

John: (annoyed) Well it does! (to Noranti, for whom absurd abstractions are the spice of life) Is this a - side affect of the Day-Glo clams?

Noranti: It must be - D'Argo and I both ate the purple mollusks and every time he sneezes - I feel it.

Aeryn: Rygel and I had the green one. Somehow it's linked us. (a long whiney squeaker escapes her and she finishes in a tone of almost tearful desperation) We have to find a cure very quickly.

D'Argo: Okay let's go down to the planet and have a chat with our doctor. (to Noranti) Analyze the food. If you find a cure - comm us immediately.

John: So we can chop his head off.

Noranti: (sounding very pleased) I'll need various bodily samples from each of you. (she holds out a dish to John who obligingly leans over it and hawks up a big dollop of phlegm with drops into its receptacle with a tinny plop) Thank you! Next! (Aeryn, who looks like she's got her butt cheeks clamped together tightly enough to tow a gravel tuck with, looks up forlornly)

Aeryn: Are you sure?

Noranti: Absolutely.

(and as Aeryn fearfully prepares to unclamp - the scene shifts to the neural clusters as Chiana enters, followed by Mujombre. Flickering lights and a staccato popping sound are evidence of Moya's problems with filtering out the local radiation)

Chiana: How long will this take?

Mujombre: Couple of arns at the most. (the mechanic sets to work and - and Chiana sets to watching him rather quizzically. He finds her gaze unnerving) Why are you staring at me?

Chiana: Well maybe I think you're cute.

Mujombre: (coldly) Think whatever you want. But I'm just here to do a job.

Chiana: I just want to see that you don't hurt Moya.

Mujombre: Time to bypass the synapses. (Chiana dutifully comms the Great Navigator)

Chiana: Pilot? We need to cut off power to this cluster.

(cut to Pilot in his Den. Sikozu’s gut may sound like a percolating lava pot but that's hardly enough to stop her from rushing to torment Pilot. She's behind his Console and has firm hold of his left rear claw. He's doing his best to ignore the Kalish)

Pilot: Diverting now. (but Sikozu tries to guide his claw elsewhere)

Sikozu: No - it would be more efficient if you simply just- (but fixes her with a sidelong glare and cuts her off, gritting his words out with unusual fury)

Pilot: I do not - need - your - help. (Sikozu stops and looks over her shoulder at him, peeved, yet perhaps aware of him for the first time as a creature big enough to snap her spine and pound her into a paste if the fancy to do so took him. Pilot cuts the power his own way and back in the neural cluster, Mujombre resumes work)

(cut to Moya, floating like a fantastic golden airship over the jagged black surface of the lifeless-looking rock is the planet Khurtanan. Nestled deep within one of its fissures can be seen the ordered lights and lines of a city.
The scene shifts to Doctor Tumiis' office where Aeryn, D'Argo and John are crowded onto a loveseat in his waiting room. Soothing chimes play a little tune and the walls of the room are greenish bricks etched with cryptic designs. The receptionist is a young Khurtanan woman. While the menswear of this world tends to the quasi-militaristic, its women are covered from head to toe in habit-like robes that include a boxy wimple and veil. The receptionists veil is thrown back to reveal a pretty, unmade-up face. She nervously eyes the odd specimens on the sofa)

Receptionist: Doctor Tumii will be back shortly.

D'Argo: Well, we'd like to see him now.

Receptionist: (smiling) Nothing I can do. (her smile fades as she lowers her eyes and idly toys with her desk accessories. John rises and peels off his coat)

John: Damn - this place could use some air-con. Where the hell is Sikozu? In a sauna? (nah - that's the heat of Pilot's wrath. Aeryn is leaning against the wall, preoccupied with efforts to control her empathic flatulence)

Aeryn: Don't complain. You're not feeling 3 overfull stomachs.

Meanwhile - up on Moya - Noranti is in her kitchen with her samples of the crews bodily fluids. She's in 7th heaven. She's pouring samples from one container to another and happily tasting them all in their various combinations. She seems very appreciative of the subtle qualities and flavors. Back in Tumiis' waiting room, D'Argo jumps and hiccups loudly.

D'Argo: Okay - this is new. It's not me - it's definitely her. (back on Moya, Noranti takes another guzzle and D'Argo hiccups again. At that moment - the doors of Tumiis' examining room open. It looks like a cross between a health spa and a mad scientists lab)

Tumii: (to the receptionist) That's all for today. (he genially waves his patients in) Ah! (D'Argo lurches to his feet with a hiccup and goes in, followed by Aeryn and John. As the receptionist disappears and Tumii begins to shuffle after his patients with excruciating slowness - John reaches out of the examining room and the doctor yelps as he's yanked unceremoniously inside. He quickly finds himself pushed down onto one of his own couches - with guns pointed at his head)

Tumii: (unfazed) Killing me - kills you. May I speak?

John: No. Cure first - speak later.

Tumii: (with the confidence of a neurotic old ponce) Oh put those away. I promise you - I can't be forced to cure you. And ah - the cure is of my own devising. You won't find it elsewhere. Let me explain the qatal mollusk.

John: Please don't. We give up - we'll pay. (but Tumii is on a roll now. He reaches to wipe a dribble of mucus running from his nose - but he also apparently carries the remote for his hologram projector inside that mountainous honker and with a flourish - his wipe turns it on. An image of the giant clam rotates now in the air over the projector. Whole - the shellfish is the size and shape of a basketball)

Tumii: Each mollusk harbors one colony of neurally linked bacteria - (John wearily lowers his gun and turns to look at the hologram. The doctor is clearly enchanted by the mollusks behavior) - and each colony acts as one organism. So much so - that if the mollusk is halved, its bacteria alternately transmit each halves sensations to the other half.

Aeryn: Why? (there has to be one Stupid Question Asker in every lecture. D'Argo, who's standing there with one hand on his hip, glares at her)

D'Argo: Who - cares?

John: Take the money. Cure us. (but Tumii just burbles happily on)

Tumii: Now that the bacteria have colonized your bodies, they're communicating your emotional states ah - to force you to merge. The problem is you are not mollusks! (D'Argo doesn't get the merging problem)

D'Argo: That's never been a problem for us before.

Tumii: It is now. Your bodies, unlike the mollusk halves, can never merge. And so your symptoms worsen - (Aeryn lets fly a wet whiner) - and eventually the strain - (tauntingly) - kills you.

Aeryn: All right we understand. Fix it.

John: We'll pay double if you shut up. (Tumii sniggers and D'Argo advances slowly, dangerously)

D'Argo: And I'll break your neck if you don't - cure us all - now.

Tumii: I will. But I am down to my last mollusk and ah - each cure requires the same type as was ingested

Aeryn: So get more.

Tumii: More being delivered in a few arns. Until then - I can only cure whoever ate the purple mollusk.

D'Argo: That'd be me.

Aeryn & John: (a sigh of despair - to D'Argo) I hate you.

(meanwhile, back on Moya - Noranti's research is progressing nicely. Not only does she seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough - but she's having a grand old time getting there as well. She's doing a flamenco-style dance as she moves from one station to another in her kitchen/laboratory. And she's accompanying her own shimmy with a spirited beat)

Noranti: Chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-choo! Chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-choo! (she puts one of the samples she's working with into a centrifuge with a typically retro Leviathan design. Its ballast is a bronze ball on the end of an arm that begins to vibrate vigorously as it's set in motion. Noranti blithely carries on with her dance) Chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-cha! (suddenly she remembers something she wants on the other side of the centrifuge. She leans over the apparatus to get it - and the madly vibrating ball presses neatly into that certain very sensitive female Erogenous Zone. The old woman freezes. All 3 of her eyes and her mouth form O's. She gasps, and then looks around to make sure she's alone before leaning harder into the ball. She brings her hands to her cheeks) Ooh! Oh-ho-ohhoOOooOoo...

(and while Noranti is developing a Close Personal Relationship with Moya's centrifuge - back on Khurtanan, Doc Tumii is wrapping up work on her and D’Argo’s cure)

Tumii: When this is finished, you mix it with the other linked patients urine and then you orally ingest. (Aeryn looks stricken by this news)

D'Argo: No way. I am NOT drinking the old woman’s urine. Hm-mm. (Tumii gives him a smile and a knowing nod. Oh yes he will. And suddenly, as Noranti and the centrifuge get jiggy back on Moya - D'Argo inhales sharply. He manages to divert his flying hands from his own Special Erogenous Zone onto his hips instead only at the last second) HaAhh... (he flaps his arms limply and exhales) Hhooo...

John: Dee what's up?

D'Argo: Nothing, it's uh… It's just Noranti - she… (he exhales again - a long, shuddering exhale...)

Aeryn: (dully lugubrious) Is she in pain?

D'Argo: (he coughs and gasps as Noranti moans) Ho no... No it's… It's the opposite. (back on Moya, Noranti wails, "Ah! Oh!")

Tumii: (tickled pink) She's experiencing intense pleasure? (back on Moya, Noranti’s eyes are rolled heavenward as she gulps air "OH!" And in Tumiis' examining room, D'Argo is about to enter the Promised Land right there in front of everyone. No-one has the grace to avert their eyes)

D'Argo: (gasping for breath) Very - intense. Um John! (he points at his buddy and takes a couple stiff-legged steps towards him) Do you think - you could help me- (but the only hand he gets from John is the 'Stop Right Where You Are!' kind)

John: Whoa! Nono! Don't-don't come near me when you're feelin' like that! (and of course a woman is even less sympathetic to this sort of Guy Problem)

Aeryn: (breezily) Come on D'Argo. Just fight it. (back on Moya, Noranti huffs, and down on Khurtanan, D'Argo hyperventilates)

John: Dee - think about baseball. Math. Isosceles triangle. (Noranti and the centrifuge are almost there) Rusty... razor blades. Gravel.

But it's no use - D'Argo begins barking like a dog as up on Moya Noranti hits a note and holds it and D'Argo yelps and Noranti holds it and D'Argo yelps and Noranti holds it and D'Argo yelps and Noranti holds it... Aeryn manages to lower her eyelids just a bit and John cringes while Tumii leers gleefully. Suddenly - Noranti stops and steps away from the centrifuge and D’Argo’s barks peter out to a whimper. There's a moment of silence. D'Argo seems to feel as if he owes everyone an explanation.

D'Argo: (very quietly - out of breath) She lost it. She... (the letdown is just too much. He rises without another word, staggers over to one of Tumiis' counters - and bashes his head against it. Although it's just a little venting of frustration for the hard-headed Luxan - back on Moya, Noranti's eyes roll up again and she hits the deck like a glob of used K-Y)

(the scene jumps ahead a few minutes. Aeryn and D'Argo are standing at a counter from behind which Tumii is measuring out his prescription)

Tumii: This will give more lasting - heh - relief. Divide, urinate, exchange, ingest. You and the linked one must then uh - press bare flesh to bare flesh so the bacteria can migrate.

D'Argo: (worried) How much bare flesh?

Tumii: Hands will suffice. (D'Argo heaves a sigh of relief at this small mercy and Aeryn looks less alarmed as well) You see, the cure unbinds the bacteria from your cells and tricks the colony into reaching outside- (but John's the sort of guy who just wants a pill to make it better NOW and cuts the doctor off)

John: One more word of technobabble - and I'm going to cut your tongue out. (Tumii shuts up and John rolls over to D'Argo, who's clutching the cure like a man hoping for a miracle from a gift of Holy Water) D'Argo you want to go check it out. (the Luxan stumbles away without a word and John says quietly to Aeryn) I'm afraid the boy may be ruined for life.

Aeryn: I'm almost jealous. (to Tumii) And if this doesn't work - you're dead.

Tumii: (unperturbed) With all respect - so are you.

(cut back to Moya. It's unclear whether the crew has just stopped trying to contain Scorpius and he's has appointed himself to play host to Mekken or if he's been freed and asked to do so. Whatever the case - he's showing the Khurtanan man around Moya. Mekken has a scanner that he's waving about - he seems skeeved by the whole Leviathan Thing)

Mekken: Bio-scan's negative so far. But how can you travel in something so alive? All the filthy bacteria!

Scorpius: Moya is quite hygienic. She is self-disinfecting.

Mekken: She is female? (the astute half-Scarran has already gathered some useful impressions of Khurtanan culture and his response shows it)

Scorpius: (leaning close to Mekken) Oh yes - but wholly controlled by Pilot - a male of course.

Mekken: (smiling) Ah! Okay. That's not so bad. (he seems suddenly quite comfortable with Scorpius)

Scorpius: And there has never been a case of space madness aboard this ship.

Mekken: Oh you're lucky. We've had to terminate 3 cases in the last half-cycle. (Scorpius is aghast - simply aghast)

Scorpius: An outbreak?

Mekken: I guess so. I thought it had gone... 3 cases out of the blue - they were good men too. Real shame.

Scorpius: (sympathetically) Oh indeed. All male?

Mekken: That's what makes it a real shame. (Scorpius commiserates with the tragedy by giving Mekken a comradely thump on the back and they continue on heir way)

(cut back to Tumiis' office where he waits with Aeryn and John - a harsh buzzer sounds)

Tumii: Ah! I believe the mollusks have arrived!

John: Arrived in less than 30 minutes. Don't forget to tip the driver. (Tumii shuffles out to the reception area. A Khurtanan woman is waiting there. Her dress is identical to the receptionists except that her robe and headdress are black and her veil conceals her face. But instead of mollusks - she produces a gun and fires twice. Tumii falls and she flees. Aeryn and John race into the waiting area, with their own guns drawn. Aeryn goes after the woman and John kneels by Tumii, who is laying very still) Son of a bitch. (Aeryn quickly re-enters with a grim report)

Aeryn: Vanished. (but Tumii is still alive and Aeryn ducks back into his examining room to get a dressing which she brings back to John)

John: Lie still. Don't move. (he tries to dress the fidgeting doctors superficial shoulder wound - the second shot missed him)

Tumii: (moaning weakly) Who is the doctor? Ooh... plainly not you. Did you see who shot me?

Aeryn: Not her face. She disappeared.

Tumii: But you're certain she was female? (Aeryn grunts affirmatively and Tumii seems dismayed) We are all in serious difficulty.

John: We?

Tumii: (he seems genuinely regretful) Yes. I'm afraid - I can't cure you. (regretful perhaps, because his blackmail victims now have little reason not to kill him. And he knows it isn't likely that Aeryn ad John - who rise and pull their guns - will miss a vital organ)

(cut back to Moya's center chamber where Noranti is sending a strong stream of pee into a rusty bucket and smiling contentedly at Rygel and Sikozu, who are sitting and watching her like spectators at a performance art show. She finishes and drops her skirts back down before dipping a juice glass into her product - which is purple - and taking it over to D'Argo. The Luxan is contemplating another glass of pee - which he seems reluctant to give up as Noranti proffers hers to him)

Rygel: (impatient) Go on. Take it. Drink it.

Sikozu: (more impatient) Why do you hesitate?

D'Argo: (disgusted) Why do you think?

Rygel: Would you rather die than drink it?

D'Argo: (with a big sigh) Okay. So we should be touching while we drink this.

Noranti: Oh! So you said - bare skin to bare skin. (she begins to undo her blouse)

D'Argo: (nearly incoherent) AI-YI-AH-AH! Not that much bare skin.

Noranti: (earnestly) But I-I would have thought that the more contact- (but Captain D'Argo is up for some Serious Limit Setting here and he cuts her off - quietly but firmly)

D'Argo: The doctor - said no. (he adds a little 2-note whistle and a downward pointing finger to call the old girls attention to her partly undone blouse)

Noranti: Oh! Yes... (ah - she responds well to limit-setting and hurriedly fixes herself)

D'Argo: (murmuring) Less skin. (she finishes and they sit down at a table and clasp hands like a perfect lady and gentleman with their exchanged cups of purple piss)

D'Argo: Here's to ya. (down the hatch with their clam juice and pee cocktails. A purple sheen passes briefly over their faces)

Sikozu: Did it work? (D'Argo grunts and shrugs) Test it.

D'Argo: Okay. (he reaches across the table and slugs his drinking partner in the puss)

Sikozu: OH! (she glares at D'Argo after she catches Noranti and pushes her back upright) Was that absolutely necessary?

D'Argo: (defensively) Oh - one - little - pop. (his thumb and forefinger hover near each other to show how little the pop was. Noranti's ire is up though and she decides to conduct her own test by taking a snake-like at the Luxans Sensitive Place - they both scream like girls as he jumps back)

Noranti: Oh - I just got a fright, I-I didn't feel anything. (pleased and grateful) It's working. (D'Argo takes a deep breath and comms John)

D'Argo: John - the cure seems to be working. (the scene begins to shift between those on Moya and those back down on Khurtanan in the doctors office)

John: That's great news, Dee. I hate you even more. (he and Aeryn have opted to not kill Tumii yet. They've tied him to one of his own couches with Ace bandages instead)

Tumii: Certainly it's working. Just maintain contact.

Noranti: For how long?

Tumii: Until you feel an oily - sensation which signifies the bacteria have all precipitated out. No more than a few arns.

D'Argo: Arns?

Sikozu: What happens if they break contact before - (she and John share a strong tummy cramp) -tha-AT?

Tumii: Bacteria will recolonize in their bodies and the symptoms recur and eventually they'll die. (D'Argo and Noranti tighten their grip on each others hands)

D'Argo: It's not gonna happen.

Aeryn: Rygel - you and Sikozu get down here quickly.

Rygel: (strained) Right. (he groans as he and the Kalish exit, leaving Noranti and D'Argo alone in Moya's romantically lit center chamber. The old Traskan looks brightly up at the Luxan)

Noranti: Do you know I've been looking for this opportunity for so long. I've wanted to get you alone. There are so many things I don't know about you… (D’Argo’s head droops with the certainty that he's actually died already - and gone to hell - as she natters busily on and on...)

(cut back to Tumiil's examining room where Aeryn has an eagle eye and her gun trained on the immobilized doctor)

John: You know, Doc - you might want to give her a reason not to kill you.

Tumii: (with a nervous laugh) To cure you I need qatal mollusks and I - can no longer get them.

John: Why not? Credit problems?

Tumii: (with an anxious grunt) Let me explain the uh - sociopolitical situation on Khurtanan. (John raises his hand to object - but Tumii ignores him) As you may know - females are oppressed here. There is a resistance movement planning a violent coup to seize power.

John: Girl power. So what?

Tumii: (with much nervous giggling) They possess the only qatal mollusks on this - planet. They employ them to eliminate certain males - in power.

Aeryn: So why use the mollusks?

Tumii: Secrecy. The qatals symptoms are not known - on this planet. They are mistaken for - space madness.

John: Yeah and anyone with space madness is put down like a rabid dog. We got that part.

Tumii: Correct! But during an autopsy on one of the victims - I saw the real cause. (John impatiently makes the motion of a mouth flapping with this fingers as Tumii moves at geologic speed to some unfathomable point that might actually shed some light on all this for him) I found out who was responsible, and I made a deal - my silence for some of the mollusks.

John: So you use 'em for extortion and they use 'em for coup by clam. We still don't care.

Aeryn: Apart from the obvious - why did they just try to kill you?

Tumii: (again with much nervous giggling) I assume that their big takeover attempt must be imminent. Possibly they're afraid I might expose them. (his next words are particularly difficult for him to articulate) All I can do is refund 2/3 of your currency.

Aeryn: Oh no - you're going to tell me where the females are. (Tumii squirms and John encourages his cooperation by bringing his own gun - Wynona - to bear on the doctor as well)

(Moya floats among the mountains of blasted rock that are Khutanan and it's neighbors. The scene shifts to her neural clusters where Mujombre is down on one knee, continuing preparations to install the new filter. Chiana comes to hover over him)

Chiana: Um... I thought you might need some help with your equipment.

Mujombre: I'm fine. (he finishes and ignoring Chiana, sits back on his heels to sort his tools)

Chiana: Sure you are - (she seizes the youth, yanks him to his feet, shoves him against the wall and tears the front of his coverall open - revealing the outlines of female breasts beneath) - sister. (Mujombre is horrified and drops her low-pitched monotone to cry out in a distinctly feminine voice)

Mujombre: You can't tell Mekken! (she fearfully pulls her coverall closed) He'll kill me!

Chiana: Oh? Maybe I'll kill you. (Chiana almost casually topples the hapless Mujombre to the floor and then pins her by straddling her belly)

Mujombre: (frightened and angry) What have I done to you?! I told you - I'm just here to do a job.

Chiana: Yeah? Well then why the sex change? Hm? I don't think you're here to help us - I think you're here to spy on us. To make sure we eat those frelling mollusks!

Mujombre: I don't know what you're talking about! I'm here to help you. Fixing your Leviathan. (Chiana’s paranoia softens at the woman’s clear sincerity)

Chiana: Then what's with this? What's with the change?

Mujombre: Because women on my world aren't allowed to do this sort of work. (the concept of misogyny is a bit too absurd for Chiana to fully grasp)

Chiana: Sure. (Mujombre responds by pushing the Nebari off her and making to gather her tools)

Mujombre: (bitterly) If you don't believe me, I'll go. Get someone else - some male - to stop your ship from going mad. (oppression, on the other hand, IS something Chiana knows - and she hears the truth of it in Mujombre's voice)

Chiana: Alright-alright-alright-alright. Okay - maybe… Maybe you're not lying. (there's a pause while Mujombre considers whether she can trust Chiana or not)

Mujombre: (quietly) No maybe.

Meanwhile - in the Center Chamber - Noranti has either talked herself out or had another narcoleptic attack. She's snoozing peacefully with her head on D’Argo’s chest. There he sits, weighing the relative disadvantages of her awake and talking versus her asleep and him unable to move. He gazes longingly at a drink sitting on a nearby counter and reaches for it - a pitiful gesture - it's far beyond his reach. He lets his arm drop - and sits there staring at the drink. Chewing his arm off to get away may be staring to seem like a reasonable option to him...

(cut back to Tumiis' examining room. Aeryn is having to have a lie-down on a sort of dentists chair next to Tumiis couch. She's striving to understand her enemy)

Aeryn: (incredulous) These female revolutionaries run a club to entertain men?

Tumii: Very popular with rich and powerful males - including governing officials. (John is seated nearby, rubbing his head with Wynona’s muzzle - no doubt striving not to shoot himself from being driven mad by the elderly doctors meandering tale of Khurtanan gender-political intrigue)

John: And then one night they chop some mollusk up into the hors d'oeuvres and instant coup.

Aeryn: (sounding rather ill - and more to herself than John) I should probably go alone.

John: (rising quickly - he's not about to be left alone with Doctor DumpenDither) Nonono! I got it. (but at that moment - Rygel and Sikozu enter. The Kalish has a large leather bag which she hands to John)

Sikozu: Currency. (Tumii gasps and strains against his Ace bandages to get a better look at the loot) Do we have the antidote?

John: (nodding as he eyes Aeryn and Tumii) Just goin' for that.

Rygel: Oh! Well hurry up! This place reeks of antiseptic! (Aeryn brushes past John as she exits)

Aeryn: Sikozu - we have a mission. (the Kalish falls in behind her without question)

John: (desperate) I'm happy to go. (the women don't even look back as they leave)

Aeryn: Jirl Power! (Rygel looks inquiringly at John as he shouts after them)

John: Girl! Girl Power! Would you stop speakin' English?

Rygel: Aeryn! Be careful! (to himself) Considering we're linked. (Tumii begins making geriatric attempts to get off his couch - like a turtle trying to rock off its back)

Tumii: I better go before the females try again. (John eyes him - and dropping the money bag - marches over to his couch) I'm going to miss this planet. I- (and that's all the further he gets before John stuffs a roll of gauze into his yap and pulls another Ace bandage across the doctors mouth. Don't worry - the mans subway tube-sized nostrils remain unobstructed - he won't suffocate. But no sooner is Tumii effectively gagged, than the office buzzer sounds. A patient has arrived in the waiting room - and finding no receptionist, calls for the doctor)

Ho'Ock: Anybody here? (John hurriedly pulls the pink plastic privacy curtain around himself and Tumii. He peeps out as the intruder steps into view. Ho'Ock is a Khurtanan man - dressed like Mekken in a black leather greatcoat and a chauffeurs hat. His carriage and demeanor exude macho privilege as he stands with his hands behind his back and looks into the examining room) Doctor Tumii?

John: He's tied up right now.

Ho'Ock: (sharply) So what?

John: (peeved) So ah - why don't you have a seat and wait your turn?

Ho'Ock: Tell the doctor that Ho'Ock is here. Now. (at that moment - Rygel comes sailing to the rescue from around the back of the curtained-off couch. He's turned his little coat inside-out and donned a pair of rubber gloves as well as Tumiis' fancy neurological scope - which completely bypasses Rygel’s pointy head and is hanging around his neck. He also has an instrument in one hand that looks like a fork with its tines bent in all directions . But most importantly - he has an imperious attitude. He clears his throat importantly)

Rygel: What's all the commotion?

Ho'Ock: Who are you?

Rygel: Doctor Rygel. Tumii's at the colon convention. Uh - what seems to be the problem? Hm? (John slowly edges behind the curtain - it's just translucent enough to make out the look of mortification and not wanting to be a part of this as he gazes through it at Rygel. Ho'Ock stares at Rygel too - but he's already conditioned to accept Strange Alien doctors)

Ho'Ock: (sheepish) My zergenbobs are playing up again.

Rygel: Tch-tch-tch. That's what you get for neglecting them. Take off your clothes.

Ho'Ock: Here?

Rygel: Yes. For some - preventive blood-letting. Most anyone can benefit from the removal of one excess bodily fluid or another. Inflamed zergenbobs, you say? Well I think we should take a look. Hm? (he advances on Ho'Ock - leering through the wildly expanding and contracting iris of Tumiis' scope at he comes. The man eyes Rygel and decides this doctors strip-n-scope methodology isn't to his liking. He turns and heads for the door. Doc Rygel is OK with his patients choice) Take care of yourself. (Ho'Ock pauses and looks back rather menacingly - Rygel's still scoping him out through the neuralizer - and he keeps on going)

John: (to Rygel) What the hell's the matter with you?

Rygel: (with solemn self-importance) I'm operating. (and he laughs nastily at his own joke)

(cut to the streets of the Khurtanan city. Bright neon signs designed with clean, futuristic lines cast the only illumination other than the purple traffic lights which direct low-flying vehicles. An unmarked door with a single bulb over it is seen at the end of a long dark alley - it's the club run by the revolutionary women .
Cut to the interior of the club as Aeryn and Sikozu enter. The place is designed for a mans tastes. It's dim, low-ceilinged and sparsely decorated with low-key, expensive-looking materials. A Khurtanan woman approaches them. Her robe is sexed up a bit with a fitted bodice and her veil, which is held in place by a slender metal headdress, is sheer and shows her hair. This Khurtanan tarts name is Kiryah)

Kiryah: You're looking for work?

Aeryn: No.

Kiryah: We don't open for another arn.

Aeryn: We'd like to talk to Selva.

Kiryah: Who?

Aeryn: Your boss.

Kiryah: You claim to know her?

Sikozu: No. But - we have heard that she's trying to improve conditions on this planet for females.

Aeryn: It's a worthy cause. Causes need currency, so we'd like to discuss - a business deal. (there's a moment of silence - and a few more women clad in robes like Kiryah's step out of the shadows. They do not seem friendly)

Kiryah: (coolly) Not interested.

Aeryn: We'd prefer to hear that from Selva.

Kiryah: (smiling, but in a seriously dangerous tone) No you wouldn't. (niceness having failed -Aeryn prepares to move on to force. She moves her hands surreptitiously to her gun)

Aeryn: Sikozu are you up for this? (but before they can make a move, a Khurtanan woman who's snuck up behind them raises a bludgeon...)

(...and a second later - back in Tumiis' examining room - Rygel yells as he and his hoverchair dip violently and John just plops to the floor)

Rygel: OOF! CRICHTON! I THINK THE GIRLS ARE IN TROUBLE! (he struggles to keep his hoverchair aloft while John tries to get back on his feet under the blows of an invisible beating)

John: That's - brilliant - Holmes!

(cut to a short time later back at the club. Aeryn and Sikozu have been subdued and tied back-to-back in an unfurnished back room. Selva enters - she has she look of a warrior maiden. She wears the same long robe as the others but her handsome features are framed by a mass of wavy dark blonde hair held in place by a metal headdress like Kiryah’s and her voice is low enough to be a mans)

Selva: I am Selva. You wanted to speak to me?

Aeryn: Not if this is how you treat your friends. Why don't you untie us?

Selva: You're not my friends. (Aeryn decides to skip the sisterhood crap and match Selva's bluntness)

Aeryn: Yes you're right. That's a good point - we're not your friends. We've come to buy something from you at whatever the price. Two - qatal mollusks.

(cut to moments later - Kiryah and Selva have moved to a quiet corner of the still closed club to confer)

Kiryah: Even if they're telling the truth, we can't take that chance.

Selva: Of course not. But killing them will only cure whoever it is they're linked with. (good thing Tumii didn't tell D'Argo about that treatment option. Kiryah has a knife which she rolls restlessly in her hand)

Kiryah: Leaving them free to take revenge. However - if we keep out captives alive...

Selva: Then their partners will be drawn here.

Kiryah: Where they can all die at once.

(cut to shortly later as Rygel re-enters Tumiis' examining room and dumps a load of frothy items onto a table in front of John. The human lifts a large, full-coverage bra from the heap and eyes it)

John: There ain't no way in hell I'm wearin' that.

Rygel: (businesslike) Have I spent an arn shopping for nothing? We have to get into that club.

John: Why don't we just go as we are?

Rygel: The elite male clientele are all known - and know one another. Therefore - we can't go as males.

John: Well I ain't goin' as Maid Marian, and... (he holds up a deep purple Khurtanan women’s robe that's been picked out for him. Rygel gets points for matching the dress and lingerie) Look at that! Th-that is not a slimming color. Black is a slimming color. Maybe - maybe if it was black. But - uh-uh. (he drops the dress. Rygel has been gaping at him throughout this little snit)

Rygel: (deeply offended) I wear that color all the time! (huffy) Look - stay here and die from the mollusks. I'll go alone! (John picks up the dress and then casts Rygel a hurt look)

(cut to soon after at the club. It's open now and the men have arrived. The sounds of flirtatious laughter are muffled by loud electronic base music. John and Rygel appear at the head of the club floor with the other females - pausing to be seen before entering the mingle. No drag queen ever need fear for his job on John's account - he looks exactly like a man in an ill-fitting bra wearing a very conservative dress. He also has a long brunette wig whose lanky tresses he's using to cover as much of his face as possible.
But OK - some men like mannish women. It's Rygel who really makes ya go "Hmm..." - and the awful thing is that he has the air of a guy who's done this before. He certainly seems comfortable in his tiny tiara-like headdress, long white veil and flowing white robe. He looks like an Addams Family cousin at first communion)

Rygel: (from the corner of his mouth) Told you we'd get in.

John: (dubiously) You say that like it's a good thing. One down. Three to go. Get in. Get the girls. Get the clams. Get out. (they move out into the crowd - John is being a wallflower)

John: (murmuring) Over here. Keep your head down. (but Rygel doesn't want to hang out with John)

Rygel: We need - to blend in.

John: (uneasily) Blend in? Hell we got here and the clock stopped. We couldn't blend in on Butt-Ugly Night. (but alas - at that moment, John yelps as his ass is grabbed by one of those men who like mannish women. He's a big, burly bloke with longish hair and the leer of a horse breeder who gets a little too close to his stock sometimes)

BigBloke: What do we got here? I love a powerful woman! (John's just not grasping the point of a club like this - he doesn't even try to sound female as he glares at the guy and says quietly)

John: You put your hand - on my ass again? And I will kill you.

(cut back to Moya where Scorpius and Mekken have come to the neural clusters on their walkabout. Feminine voices drift up to them from the level just below them- Chiana and Mujombre have made peace and are chatting convivially while the tech works. Mekken freezes - he and Scorpius can see the women through gaps between the levels)

Mujombre: You're the first one who's ever guessed that I wasn't really a man.

Chiana: It wasn't a guess. I know a man when I see one.

Mujombre: Pretending to be male… isn't so bad.

Chiana: How can you stand covering up who you are?

Mujombre: Men get treated better.

Chiana: There must be lots of places you can go where you don't have to pretend. (Mekken hurries over to the ladder leading down to the lower level) My home planet's a lot worse than this one. I ran away a long time ago. Never regretted it for a microt.

Mujombre: Khurtanan's my home. (as Scorpius watches, Mekken begins to climb down to there Mujombre is speaking bravely) And I won't have to masquerade forever. Sooner or later - women will take power. (Mekken arrives on their level and wastes no time in pulling his gun)

Mekken: (with loathing, to Mujombre) You - put down your tools and strip. (the Khurtanan woman rises slowly)

Mujombre: (softly, fearfully) No... (Chiana steps between them)

Chiana: (dangerously, to Mekken) Hey... Leave her - alone.

Mekken: Stand clear - or you'll both die. (Chiana raises her chin defiantly)

Chiana: Come on. (but before he can make a move - Scorpius - who's coming down the ladder behind Mekken - leans over, swings one arm around the mans neck - and jerks him viciously to one side. Mekken drops to the floor - dead. Chiana just stands there, dumbstruck, with her chin raised and Mujombre’s boldness evaporate)

Mujombre: (aghast) You killed Mekken! (probably not out of any particular sense of chivalry though. The half-Scarran retrieves the scanner Mekken had been sweeping Moya with and turns away)

Scorpius: (calmly) Resume your work. (Chiana slowly backs away - but Mujombre continues to stare - having just had a sobering glimpse of what revolution often may really mean and demand)

(cut back to the club. Having shed his admirer - John is snooping in a dim passageway just off the main club floor. Suddenly, none other than Ho'Ock himself enters. John quickly turns away and huddles against the wall - but the clear message of his body language is ignored by the man and he comes up on John from behind)

Ho'Ock: Let's dance. (John tries to move away - but Ho'Ock blocks his exit. Our hero looks away and plays with his borrowed hair, trying to keep his face hidden) What's the problem? You don't talk?

John: (in his fake PK accent ) Darling… I don't dance.

Ho'Ock: I do. (and he drags John off to the dance floor)

(cut back on Moya. Scorpius is in Pilot's Den, pacing thoughtfully in front of the Console)

Pilot: Crichton isn't responding. His comms may be turned off.

Scorpius: Or... he could be incapacitated - by the qatal mollusks.

Pilot: Perhaps we should contact the planets authorities.

Scorpius: And if they inquire after Mekken?

Pilot: Uh... What can we do?

Scorpius: You - can do nothing. (Pilot looks bummed - and maybe a little tired of being put down. Scorpius looks grim)

(cut back to the club where there's no Khurtanan male man enough to try Rygel. This leaves the Hynerian doll-face free to hover nonchalantly about and case the joint.
Meanwhile - in the back room, Kiryah stands guard over Aeryn and Sikozu. Selva enters)

Kiryah: Have their better halves arrived?

Selva: Can't tell - too many new faces. Give me 50 microts, then cut off one of their fingers. That should tell us. (she exits and Kiryah unsheathes her knife)

(cut back to the club where Ho'Ock and John sway on the dance floor. John has his hands resting on the mans shoulders - he's a few inches taller than Ho'Ock)

Ho'Ock: (patronizing) Isn't this nice? With the right partner, I could do it all night. (that's probably how ya got those inflamed zergenbobs fella)

John: I really don't think I'm the right partner for you.

Ho'Ock: I do.

John: You know as much as I - (he pats Ho'Ocks shoulders with suggestive force) - love a man in a uniform - shouldn't you be on duty or something? (nearby, Selva positions herself to watch the crowd)

Ho'Ock: (slyly) I am on duty.

(and while John dilly-dallies, Rygel's taking care of business. He's prowling an area that's no doubt supposed to be for employees only, and comes upon a room whose heavy door is slightly ajar)

Rygel: (to himself) This looks promising. (he glances over his shoulder, slips inside - and finds a glowing ice trough with several whole qatal mollusks nestled within. He murmurs appreciatively) Yes. Excellent.

(cut to the back room where Kiryah seems to enjoy the tension of her captives as she circles them with her knife. She abruptly makes her capricious choice and points at Aeryn)

Kiryah: You.

Sikozu: Not her! (the ever-flexible Kalish twists bout, pulling Aeryn with her, and kicks Kiryah’s knife from her hand. The Khurtanan woman hurries to retrieve it and another of the feminine guards viciously strikes Sikozu)

(cut to the dance floor where Ho'Ock frowns as John staggers and slumps against him for support)

Ho'Ock: Something wrong?

John: Headache. (he spots a strong-featured woman, intently scanning the crowd and intuitively maneuver s to get his face out of her line of vision)

(and in the back room - Kiryah’s cronies are subduing their prisoners - Aeryn’s arm is yanked into position for easy finger-hacking)

Sikozu: No - NOT HER! (in the cooler - Rygel has just lifted one of the qatals - which are almost as big as his body - out, when Aeryn’s arms is yanked. He yelps as he's thrown off-balance and struggles to right himself and not drop his prize)

Kiryah: (to Sikozu) Are you volunteering?

Sikozu: Yes.

Aeryn: No! Leave her alone! (Sikozu growls at her-)

Sikozu: Shut up Aeryn! (but Aeryn just talks louder-)

Aeryn: I brought her here she has nothing to do with- (Sikozu is infuriated with her stubbornness)


Aeryn: (infuriated by the redheads sudden, inexplicable hero complex) SHUTUP!

Kiryah: Fine. (yeah really - she takes Sikozu’s hand and with a smile, cuts. The Kalish yowls as one of her fingers falls to the floor)

(back on the dance floor - John chokes off a bellow and is only saved from going down by hanging onto Ho'Ock for dear life)

Ho'Ock: Are you all right?

John: (choking) Yeah. Cramps... Bloating... (fighting back a scream) God! (Selva’s hawk eye sweeps the room - but John's successful in swallowing Sikozu’s trauma and her search is fruitless. The seconds tick by and John manages to steady himself and pant to his boyfriend) I'm a little hot. I could... I could use a drink.

Ho'Ock: (suave) To the bar, shall we?

(in the back room - Kiryah watches the prisoners impassively. Their conditions seem to have taken a sharp downturn. Sikozu has gone a sickly grey and fainted. Aeryn’s eyes are closed - she's breathing unevenly and twitching. Selva re-enters)

Selva: Didn't work. No one reacted.

(meanwhile - Ho'Ock has escorted his lovely dance partner to a secluded seat off the dance floor and parks 'her' there. 'She' looks like hezmana)

Ho'Ock: Wait there. (he goes for the drinks)

John: (muttering after him) Pervert. (he then quietly comms this girlfriend) Ryg - how you makin' out? (the scene begins to shift between him and Rygel, who's still in the cooler and stashing clams under his voluminous skirts)

Rygel: I've got the mollusks.

John: What about the girls?

Rygel: (he sounds ill) Don't know. If they're here - I can't find them.

John: We gotta find them - fast.

Rygel: That's your job! I did my part. I'm leaving!

John: You're not runnin' out on me.

Rygel: I can't help it - I'm overwhelmed with dread!

John: That's the clams talkin'!

Rygel: And worse still - my limbs are starting to go nu-umb! (he gasps/groans shakily)

John: (alarmed) Dammit, Rygel! Th-the doc told us what that meant!

(cut to the back room where Kiryah and Selva and their women coldly eye Aeryn and Sikozu)

Kiryah: Should I try the other one?

Selva: It's too late. She's already entered the final phase. The link will get more unstable until she and her partner die.

(cut to a very ill Rygel in the cooler where he's shivering and struggling to pilot his hoverchair and keep hold of the two boulder-sized oysters under his dress)

Rygel: (panting, to John on comm) Oh! If we're not cured soon - we're dead! You get the girls - I'll get these clams to the doctor. It's antidote time! OooHh!

John: (cut briefly to him, as he whispers sharply, trying to get the Hynerian to respond again) Rygel! Rygel! (but he's off - and the good news is that he's so weird looking no-one's likely to try and slow his departure)

(cut back to Moya. Scorpius has been digging through the waste funnels and found a few leftovers from the crews earlier feast. He now carries two qatal shells into his cell. One with green scraps in it, and one with an unappealing heap of yellow orts within. Best not to ask why these couldn't have been used for the antidote all right? If a Pilot-lover had written the story things would have been different. Pilot is fretful and speaks to him on comm)

Pilot: Scorpius - consuming the remnants of the discarded mollusks seems a risky plan. Are you certain that once you've linked with the others you can endure the symptoms and - delay their deterioration?

Scorpius: Certain? No. Confident ? Yes. (he seems a bit fretful himself as he shuts his cell door and kneels on the floor with the clams in front of him)

Pilot: I tried once more to contact them - but there's still no response from- (if there's anything the half -Scarran hates it's someone fretting over him. He rolls his head up and speaks in his evil Scarran voice)

Scorpius: Throg noth-ay! (that sounds more like Pilotish than Scarran and we take it to be a strong form of "Shut up." Pilot sighs, shuts up, and slumps at his station. Fine. Eat the clams and drop dead then)

(cut to D'Argo and Noranti back in the center chamber. The old crone is still sleeping against his chest)

D'Argo: (sing-song) Noranti... I'm really thirsty... (she shifts a little and mutters sleepily)

Noranti: Ooh it's gorgeous! But I don't want any more.

(cut to the neural clusters where Mujombre has a radiation filter in hand - it's a small silver cylinder with glowing blue hoses)

Mujombre: Let's get this filter in place. (she does so)

Chiana: That oughta do it. Pilot?

Mujombre: Restore the primary path and see if it's all working.

Pilot: Restoring - now. (it is done - and the filter smoothly powers up. Pilot seems surprised) Uncanny... It's so quiet. The filter works perfectly. Moya and I sincerely thank you. (Mujombre looks modestly pleased as she begins to pack up)

Chiana: You gonna be all right?

Mujombre: On Khurtanan?

Chiana: Yeah.

Mujombre: Sure. Name change - new identity... (she pulls off the short wig she'd been wearing to reveal her natural shoulder-length tresses) I've done it before. I've got friends who'll help. I'll - probably wind up in an even better job.

Chiana: You're a frelling optimist.

Mujombre: Hard to be a revolutionary if you're not.

(cut to John, he's still sitting where Ho'Ock left him, but he's leaning against the wall now. He's too sick to be bothered with trying cover his face at this point. Ho'Ocks return with the drinks seems to spur him to some action though and he immediately makes to leave)

John: No really - I should go powder my face. (but Ho'Ock grunts negatively and John yelps as he's roughly yanked back into his seat)

Ho'Ock: I think you look beautiful just as you are.

John: No you don't.

Ho'Ock: Yes I do - the moment I saw you - in the doctors office. (John freezes - but isn't really very surprised. He does grunt and spasm though as in the back room, Sikozu shudders and cries out in agony. Ho'Ock goes on) You couldn't fool me for a microt - not with a face like that.

John: All right - here's the deal. I lost a bet.

Ho'Ock: There's no need to lie to me. If you treat me nicely, I might not even have to arrest you.

John: Arrest? (he tries to suppress Sikozu’s critical illness which is wracking his body as well) Dressing up is not a crime.

Ho'Ock: Yes it is. But impersonating a doctor is an even worse one. Central Registry shows no record of your off-world friend. Who is he? And where is he? (John pants and looks away - he's in a life or death situation here and all this guy can think about is getting even with Rygel for mocking his zergenbobs)

(cut back to Tumiis' examining room. He's still tied to his couch, but Rygel's loosened his bonds and ungagged him so he can sit up and mix the antidote)

Tumii: This ah -won't help you without your linked partner. (he chuckles) You know? So - why don't you uh - (in a gushing tone that suggests Rygel will get a lot of satisfaction from this) set me - free? (but Rygel, who's mopping at his tiny brow with a tiny hanky wouldn't bite for that even in the best of times)

Rygel: Shut up! Work!

(cut back to Ho'Ock and John)

Ho'Ock: There's only one thing I like more than dancing. (John emits a sound somewhere between pain and dread - an audible shudder, as Ho'Ock says sensually) Interrogations. Long, hard - interrogations.

John: Oh God! (that's not terror of Ho'Ock- that's the clams talkin')

Back on Moya - Scorpius kneels on the floor of his cell with the two mollusk shells on either side of him. His concentration is intense as he readies his hybrid body and Scarran mental powers for what he is about to attempt. It's unclear whether the process is itself painful or whether he's merely fighting his own revulsion - for as he picks up the shell with the green bits of clam, he rolls his head back and his mouth gapes in a silent scream.

Meanwhile - in the back room of the club, Aeryn is having convulsions. She and Sikozu topple off their seat and onto the floor as they enter their death throes under the dispassionate eye of Kiryah.

And in the club - John slumps at the little table he's sharing with Ho'Ock - the man either doesn't grasp or doesn't care that John is in serious medical trouble here.

Ho'Ock: You'll tell me now - or you'll tell me later.

On Moya - Scorpius lifts some of the green clam to him mouth and eats.

And in the back room of the club - Kiryah rolls her knife in her hand as she paces around the dying Aeryn and Sikozu so she can get a nice view from every angle of their agony.

Kiryah: (softly and completely disingenuously) I'm told it's a terrible death. Wish I could make it quicker.

On Moya - Scorpius finishes with the green mollusk. His mouth works, as if struggling to keep it down - and it's only a matter of seconds before his body jerks in violent symphony with Sikozu’s convulsions where she lays on the back room floor next to her own severed finger.

In Tumiis' examining room - the good doctor observes that Rygel is now choking and spamming helplessly. A short, claw-like blade is within his reach and he takes it up now as he leans towards the Hynerian.

Back on Moya - Scorpius overcomes Sikozu’s convulsions - and begins to shovel yellow clam into his mouth.

Rygel can barely stay upright in his hoverchair as Tumii gleefully watches and waits for him to fall close enough to have his little throat slit.

Scorpius thrashes with terrible violence as the yellow and green clam mingle within him.

Sikozu twists agonally on the floor of the back room of the Khurtanan club.

And at the club bar - John writhes and snarls at Ho'Ock-

John: Get you're hands - off me!

And suddenly - back on Moya - Scorpius achieves control. He stops convulsing, and back on Khurtanan - so do Aeryn and Sikozu and Rygel. But while the women remain motionless on the floor of the back room and surreptitiously take in the miracle of their unexpected recovery - Rygel finds himself face to face with an armed and leering Tumii. He gasps and instinctively attacks the nearest part of Tumiis' anatomy. The doctor drops his blade and flails frantically as Rygel’s teeth sink into his nose. One long bite later - the Hynerian leans back with an inch or so the doctors humongous honker in his mouth - and he doesn't give it back either.

Tumii: (with dithering dismay) My nose! You bit off my nose!

Rygel: (hoarse - with Tumiis' green blood running down his chin) There's plenty left! Now get back to work!

On Moya - Scorpius remains on his knees. His teeth are clenched tightly shut and droplets of saliva fly out from between them at every hyperventilation as he exerts his will to counteract the primeval biomechanics of the qatal mollusk bacteria.

Aeryn and Sikozu lay still on the back room floor.

And John, who's slumped on the table back at the clubs bar has also found himself reprieved from death - but not of Ho'Ock, who leans over him and sneers.

Ho'Ock: Don't be shy. (John looks resentfully over his shoulder at the man - and slaps his face. Ho'Ock yelps with surprise, but before he can strike back John follows up with an elbow and a fist that puts the Khurtanan down and out)

Back on Moya - a look of satisfaction comes over Scorpius' face as he regains control of his body - and passes his triumph over the bacteria to the 4 down on Khurtanan.

(cut to the back room of the club. Kiryah is standing alone over her apparently deceased captives. She reaches down to check Aeryn’s pulse - and the ex-PK lashes out with snakelike speed. Kiryah’s head snaps back with the force of the blow and she crashes to the floor, out. Aeryn and Sikozu don't immediately rise - they're still suffering the effects of the qatals, they've just been pulled back from the brink of death)

Aeryn: I thought we were done. What happened? (the Kalish has eyes only for her lopped finger, which she reaches painfully to retrieve)

Sikozu: I do not know.

Aeryn: Why did you volunteer your finger?

Sikozu: Do your appendages reattach?

(cut back to the main club floor. The other women who'd been in the back room are there - Selva is redeploying them. Her orders are simple and paranoid)

Selva: Tell me of anything suspicious at all. (well she's already missed the 3-foot tall green Bride of Yoda - it's about time she's got some better eyes working in this. Nearby - John has hurriedly ditched the Very Suspicious unconscious Body of Ho'Ock and resumed his hunt for Aeryn and Sikozu. He soon spots them, slinking low on the periphery of the dance floor and heading for the door. Seems like a good plan to him and he falls in behind them)

John: Hi. (Aeryn startles and turns - and then startles again at that Vision Of Not-So-Loveliness that is John in a ladies gown) Don't ask. It was Rygel’s idea. He's got the clams. We gotta figure a way to get out of here.

Aeryn: All the exits are guarded.

John: May be something I can do.

Aeryn: (trustingly) All right. (and with that - John clambers up onto a chair and loudly addresses the patronage of the club)

John: EXCUSE ME LADIES! (Selva’s head snaps around, as does that of everyone else in the joint) CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION? DO ANY OF YOU HAVE - (Selva furiously reaches for one of her women’s weapons saying "Give me that!" as John lifts his gown) - ONE OF THESE UNDER YOUR SKIRT? (besides one of those - he also has a couple guns under there and all hell breaks loose)

Sikozu: Now! (she and Aeryn make a break for the doors along with the rest of the crowd as John whips up his guns and begins shooting - not to kill - just to create a stampede for the exits that they can be swept away in. But Selva spots Aeryn in the melee and takes aim as Sikozu shouts a warning) AERYN! (the Khurtanan revolutionary is disarmed before she can squeeze off a single shot. John happily shoots the place up a little more - no doubt letting out pent-up frustration from having had to dress up like a broad...)

John: YEAH! GIRL POWER! (he hops down and is lost in the rush for the exits)

(meanwhile, back in Tumiis' examining room - Rygel's proving yet again that one really oughtn't mess with Hynerians. He's hand-feeding Tumii yellow qatal mollusk. The doctor isn't fighting it too much)

Rygel: (sweetly) That's it - Just one more bite. Mm! Mm! Oh good. Oh thank you for preparing the cures. I'll leave this mollusk in the garbage - (suddenly deadly) - outside.

Tumii: (he seems genuinely surprised) But it will be consumed by druttle flies -or a wild flibisk. (pitifully appalled) You can't do that to me! (he don't know Rygel very well do he? The Hynerian presses another handful of shellfish into the mans mouth)

Rygel: (nice as pie) I risk to differ. Mm - nice mollusk. What's that? One more mouthful? (although Tumii helplessly chews what he's been given - he shakes his head violently in a plea for no more)

(cut to later, back to Moya. D'Argo groans with disgust as he and Noranti peel their hands apart. Their palms are covered with thick, purple slime. Noranti gasps with absolute delight and rubs it around with her other hand)

Noranti: OOOOH! Look at that! Isn't that amaaaazing! Now that - we study.

D'Argo: No - THAT - we will throw away. (on comm) Everyone - the cure works. Ours is finished. (the scene begins to shift between them and the maintenance bay where Aeryn, John, Rygel and Sikozu have just downed their clam partners piss punch)

John: Dee - how long did yours take?

Noranti: (brightly) No time at all!

D'Argo: (vehemently) Frelling forever! (Noranti joins him as they put a specific timeframe on forever and no time) 3 arns.

Rygel: (woefully) 3 arns?

John: Eh - it's not that long.

Aeryn: For some. (she and Rygel eye each other over their clasped hands. Rygel growls)

John: (doing a spirited imitation of a tent preacher) Well - put your hands together and feel the power! YEAH! OUT WITH THE EVIL SPIRITS! GIMME YOUR HAND RYG! (he lays his free hand on Rygel’s, but the Hynerian's feeling the spirit of something rather different just now and he shoos John off)

Rygel: Go - away. (to Aeryn) I'm hungry.

Aeryn: You're not eating anything until we are completely separated.

Sikozu: The antidote has already dissolved our emotional linkages.

Aeryn: I don't want to take any chances.

Rygel: I ah - hate to bring this up - but Scorpius ate the mollusks as well.

Sikozu: Yes - to link with the 4 of us and temporarily override our symptoms. (she takes some reproachful pleasure rubbing their noses The Fact) And we would be dead by now if he had not.

And who shall take the antidote with their half-Scarran savior to draw the deadly bacteria from his system? No-one. Whether for reasons of loathing and mistrust on the part of the others or his own sense of fierce solitude - Scorpius remains alone in his cell. He's still on the floor between the two clamshells, but he's on his hands and knees now. His rangy body jumps and spasms violently as he vomits the poisonous biles from his system - and silently seeks to maintain control.


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