The episode opens on the high-security Scarran base of Katratzi. Jenek - having lost Aeryn, but gained Scorpius during his encounter with the crew of Moya at the border station - has brought the half-Scarran here instead. Scorpius is being held in a tall narrow cage that resembles a medieval iron maiden. It's lined with inward-pointing spikes - but it also has a dull red light that strobes over him. War Minister Ahkna - 3rd highest ranking macher in the Scarran Empire - is in the process of interrogating him with her heat probe.
Ahkna: (wickedly solicitous) Where does it hurt Scorpius? Here? Or here? (the half-Scarran growls with agony and pants as she directs her heat ray against various parts of his body) Tell me what you know about wormholes, hm? (coaxing) Even the smallest secret - and I'll leave you in peace for an arn.
Scorpius: (defiantly sadomasochistic as ever) I've been searching my whole life for a female like you. (he favors her with a lascivious snarl - and then arches backwards, screaming, as she returns his regard with the full force of her heat ray in his face)
(cut to the crew of Moya. They're packed into Lo'La and are rocketing toward Katratzi)
Rygel: This is madness.
John: Could be genius Sparky. You know there's a very fine line between the two.
Rygel: Geniuses make plans.
Aeryn: (blandly) We're going to walk into the most heavily guarded base in the Scarran Empire, start a civil war and walk out with Scorpius. What part of that do you not understand?
Rygel: How you two can possibly believe it'll work. (Lo'La enters an area of space lit with dull orange light from he rays of some dying sun filtering through clouds of dust that rises, perhaps, from dead planets in its orbit. Before them looms such a planet - a lightless globe, half-shattered, as if it's been eaten away by some monstrous insects. As Lo'La approaches this broken rock, she sails between 2 vast ships hovering near it. One is Scarran - the other is a Peacekeeper Command Carrier)
D'Argo: We've been spotted. (and on cue - a male voice speaking in Scarran crackles over comms)
KatratziControl: Konach! Konach ket!
Sikozu: Nachkavaytev. Verrayay-rekta John Crichton. Ilka dursta bek.
Chiana: What did you just say?
Sikozu: Don't you ever listen to the plans? I told them that we were escorting John Crichton - and he wants to join the negotiations. (apparently Chiana doesn't - she seems surprised)
Chiana: Oh great! Now they're guaranteed to blow us to hezmana!
Aeryn: (whispering) Keep it down!
KatratziControl: Innock hetzat-ya.
Sikozu: They've just given us clearance to dock.
John: That's it - I need it now. (1812 rolls up with whatever "it" is, and John takes it from the old DRD)
Rygel: It's not too late to change our minds.
D'Argo: That's true - but we just passed the Jenek freighter which means that Scorpius is probably nearby. (Chiana peers curiously at what John took from 1812 and now comes to life with a clock like beeping sound)
Chiana: (incredulously) That's it? (John looks down at the steadily beeping device he's holding. It's prominent feature is a blue dial around whose points a light moves with each beep)
John: That's it. Mankind's greatest contribution to the absurd - the thermonuclear bomb.
(Lo'La arcs in on her final approach to Katratzi and the scene shifts to soon after, on the base itself. The setting is a conference room where attendees sit at barrow, curved tables arranged in a circle. The chairs at the table have backs like metal pillars with triangular spikes radiating from them. The dominant Scarrans include War Minister Ahkna, in her black leather and razor-sharp headdress. Her long-faced, golden-cowled, assistant - Pennoch - stands behind her. Then there's the freighter Captain - Jenek, and Emperor Staleek. Staleek is clad in elaborate red-gold leather designed to enhance his already impressive bulk. The mohawk-like spines on his head are also red-gold and his cruel face is sharply intelligent. The ghoulish Charrid delegation is headed by General Rahzaro, whose uniform is a bit more ornate than average. His second - Tugar - sits with him. Also present are 2 Kalish men dressed in dull gold 'business suits' - both are red-haired of course. They are Secretary Vakali, and his younger assistant - Zukash. Grayza, with her exposed breasts and belly, is standing and addressing the gathering. Braca is sitting sullenly next to her)
Grayza: Emperor Staleek - despite what your Minister of War might believe - this offer of peace is genuine. (a long-faced Scarran approaches Staleek and whispers something to him) Every day you fail to take it seriously we build more and more wormhole weapons. Soon the urge to use one will become irresistible.
Staleek: (he voice is like brushed gunmetal) Not to interrupt your bluster - (the door to the conference room slides open and John strides in, trailed by Aeryn) - but we have a guest who should make these talks even more amusing. (Grayza stares at John as he enters and her carefully controlled tone betrays few emotions - but clearly many are present)
Grayza: John Crichton.
John: And partner. What did we miss?
Staleek: You've taken a great risk coming here. Why shouldn't I just have you seized right now?
John: Well maybe this. (and with that - he pulls back his long leather coat to reveal the softly beeping nuclear bomb which is now strapped to his torso)
Ahkna: (instantly wary) What's that?
John: Plutonium core. Tritium shell. Does that translate?
Staleek: A fission bomb! (the long-faced Scarran guards stir and they bring their weapons to bear on John. But Staleek sharply rebuffs them) Put those down!
John: Nice threads. You must be the Emperor. (Staleek rumbles softly as John addresses the room. Grayza sits down and folds her hands- prior experience with this human has taught her to be cool) Now before anybody decides to get clever - you should know I have multiple deadman sensors from every culture on my ship and a few cultures -I haven't heard of. My heart stops - we all go boom. My heart speeds up - it's boom again. Too hot, too cold, too happy, too sad, thirsty, hungry bored - it's John Lee Hooker time. Boom - boom - boom. (to the Scarran contingent) And you try your little psychic trick - kaboom - and we're all pushin' up day-glo daisies.
Ahkna: (defiant) Why do I doubt that?
John: Because you lack imagination?
Staleek: (to John) What do you want?
John: (with angry incredulity) What do I - want? What do I want? *I* - have not been chasing my ass all over the galaxy trying to pull out chunks of my brain. *I* - have not been sneaking fembots - and skreeths into the places where I live. YOU - want something! (the assembly watches him silently - no denials - assessing him) You. You want - what's inside my head. You want - what I know about wormholes. Because I - (he steps up onto the table nearest him and begins walking around the room on them) - can leap tall galaxies in a single bound! I can scorch planets with a wave of my hand - (he points to each dignitary in turn, ending with Grayza) and you - and you - and you. You can't do jack. (the Peacekeeper Commandant stares steadily at him)
Grayza: (firmly) That's - not - true.
John: Oh really? (he squats down on the table in front of Grayza) You command the stars to do your bidding? I know you can't. (he looks to the Kalish) And you can't. (then at the Charrids) And you can't. (and then back to Grayza) And you won't. But I have. (Aeryn smiles at her man from the sidelines)
Staleek: Then why are you here? (John rises and wings it)
John: Because... I... am an American. And what does an American want? Democracy? CAPITALISM! I WANT TO SELL OUT AND SETTLE DOWN! FOR ONE DAY ONLY - IT'S A BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL ON AISLE 3! My wormhole technology - and - a free set of steak knives for all the tea in China. And anything you - can imagine - to pay - me.
Ahkna: (incredulous) Pay? (John drops to his knees on the table in front of her and points both index fingers at her)
John: YES! PAY! Cash.
Vakali: He's crazy!
Aeryn: (adoringly) Isn't it fun? (Vakali looks sharply at her, and everyone else glowers thoughtfully at John as he sits down on the table)
John: Welcome - to my cold war. Now - what am I offered for all the powers of the Universe.
(cut to soon after. Staleek is conferring privately with Ahkna and Jenek in a darkly stylish office)
Ahkna: I think Crichton's bluffing. The bomb isn't real and he has nothing to give us. He's come for Scorpius.
Jenek: We know they're working together. At the border station the 2 of them- (but the Emperor impatiently cuts him off)
Staleek: Get me a full analysis of Crichton's weapon and how to disarm it! (Jenek grunts his assent and leaves. Staleek continues to Ahkna:) Why would Crichton risk so much just to rescue an ally?
Ahkna: He may be in league with Commandant Grayza - to prevent Scorpius from giving us wormhole technology.
Ahkna: It was Crichton's females who rescued Grayza. (but Staleek nearly cuts her off as well)
Staleek: From your clumsy attempt to abduct her! (Ahkna huffs angrily) Another one of your failures - Minister Ahkna. (she turns on her heel and stalks out)
(cut back to the conference room. The crew of Moya is being permitted to use it as their lounge)
Rygel: Lovely of them to invite us in.
Sikozu: (somewhere between gleeful and very nervous) They did not have much choice did they?
D'Argo: Well I think we've located all of the surveillance devices.
Aeryn: Pilot's enhanced the encryption, so comms should be secure.
John: Anyone have any problems - phone home. Fat man and I will throw our weight around.
Aeryn: You all know the plan.
Noranti: Ooh! Uh - no. Refresh me.
Chiana: (whispering) Wrinkles!
John: (pointing at Rygel) Charrids. (the Hynerian grunts affirmatively and John points at Sikozu) Kalish. (she nods and John indicates Noranti and Chiana) Recon. (ah yes - and Noranti points back at Aeryn and John)
(cut to soon after as a small craft banks in to dock on the Command Carrier. The scene then shifts to Aeryn, Braca and John as they enter the Captains quarters)
Aeryn: (to Braca) A peace conference with the Emperor - very brave of you to enter Scarran space.
Braca: Could say the same for you. (once they're in the grand command quarters - Grayza addresses John from a higher level of the room with the solemn tone of a great stateswoman)
Grayza: John Crichton - do not destroy the Sebacean people. (but John is unimpressed)
John: You don't need me for that. You're doing a great job on your own.
Grayza: Everything that I have done has been calculated to gain peace.
John: So you betrayed the Luxans? Maybe you should check your math.
Grayza: (a noble appeal) Give us wormhole weapons and everyone will be safe.
John: (to Aeryn) Didn't she say she already had that? (Aeryn makes a sarcastically surprised grunt and Grayza steps down to their level as John sits at a table. Aeryn and Braca take up positions behind their respective superiors)
Grayza: We are very, very close. You know that we have sent Prowlers into wormholes. If I can buy peace even for an arn or 2 - perhaps we can develop them. (as she speaks, John overturns 3 metal drinking cups on the table)
John: And what will you do? Kill billions of your rivals? Hey! Maybe you could kill us. (he lays a token on the table in front of the cups)
Grayza: Then name your price Crichton. Anything that you can imagine.
John: Aahhh yeah... There's the rub. (he sets one of the cups over the token and begins to shuffle them as Grayza watches) You see - I can't figure a way out of this situation. But - the first side that does - (he stops his shuffle and whispers) - wins. (and he pushes the 3 cups toward Grayza)
(cut back to the Katratzi docking bay where Lo'La is parked. Jenek is talking to one of his long-faced subordinates)
ScarranSoldier: I'm to allow them onto the ship?
Jenek: If they wish. Crichton and his crew have negotiated full access to all common areas and we will acquiesce - for the time being. (they snarl evilly - and at that moment, Chiana approaches)
Chiana: Hey! (Jenek stops his evil chuckling and eyes her coldly) Let me ask you somethin'. You short-faced Scarrans - you all look alike, y'know? But uh - were you- Were you uh - down- down on the border station?
Chiana: Then you were the one that uh - that ordered Aeryn and me to be cut open? (Jenek nods and rumbles affirmatively with a sort of smile as Chiana giggles nervously) Yeah. I got another one for ya - do Scarrans have mivonks? (and without waiting for an answer - she hauls off and knees Jenek in the groin as hard as she can. He startles a bit - and she collapses to the floor, squealing in pain and clutching her knee. The long-faced Scarran huffs with laughter as Jenek leans over a bit and answers her question)
Jenek: Yes. But they're not external.
(cut to a lounge on Katratzi which is evidently reserved for Charrids. A crowd of them are hanging around, drinking and talking. Rahzaro and Tugar are puffing at a hookah. The General is just delivering the punch line of a joke - "...because the Kalish had no idea 'coos he's a frelling harpooda!" Tugar joins him on one the word "harpooda" and they laugh raucously - obviously it's an old joke that never loses its appeal to these guys. At that moment - D'Argo enters. The lounge goes quiet and a sentry levels his gun at the Luxan, who gags a bit)
D'Argo: Uh - don't you Charrids ever bathe? (needless to say, that only draws hostile stares) Listen uh - the Scarrans have nothing decent to drink and I won't drink with the Kalish. (a smattering of approving laughter is heard) Got any Raslak?
Rahzaro: Sit down.
D'Argo: Thank you. (he rolls over to a masked and helmeted Charrid who's passed out at a table and after tossing him off his chair - sits down)
(cut to Sikozu. She's lurking in a corridor outside the busy Katratzi Control Center. Soon a Charrid soldier appears - he's escorting Vakali and Zukash. Sikozu steps out of the shadows as they pass)
Sikozu: Secretary Vakali? (the older Kalish man turns to face her and Zukash stares curiously at her)
Vakali: What are you doing here? This is a restricted area.
Sikozu: I have urgent information. I believe the Charrids are trying to expel the Kalish from Katratzi by force.
Vakali: (dismissive) And who are you to possess such erroneous intelligence?
Sikozu: (softly) Just like you - I am a devoted Kalish.
Vakali: Without us to administer their empire, the Scarran system of government will collapse. (he turns to leave but Sikozu stops him)
Sikozu: What if they fear you will take it away from them? Please. Please Secretary - we need to talk.
Zukash: Sir - you're too prominent to be seen with her. I will speak to her. (Vakali signals his consent by walking away)
(cut back to the Charrid lounge where both D'Argo and Rahzaro wheeze as they drink their raslak)
D'Argo: (grimacing as he sets his cup down) That is - terrible. Even the Scarrans should treat you better.
Rahzaro: What do you want Luxan?
D'Argo: Me? I've got what I want.
Rahzaro: Oh? You enjoy traveling with a group of thieves and a - Hynerian slug? (he and Tugar laugh)
D'Argo: (under his breath) You would too if you were being paid what I'm being paid.
Rahzaro: (sharply) Which is what?
D'Argo: I think you'd better take that up with my employer. (he glances toward the door - where Rygel appears right on cue)
Tugar: What's this? Dinner? (the Charrids snicker nastily)
Rygel: (unfazed) This - is opportunity!
(cut back to the Katratzi Control Center, which Sikozu has been allowed to enter under the supervision of Zukash)
Zukash: You will submit identification details before we can process a background analysis.
Sikozu: (exceedingly irritated) I will not submit for background appraisal. You can trust me as I am, or I am gone. (they pause and glare at each other. And as they do so - Sikozu's left eye suddenly turns completely around in its socket. Its backside is a brown and white star pattern reminiscent of a coral. Zukash is taken aback as her eye returns to its normal sea green iris and pupil) Now - what of your background? (he glances around - and then rolls his own left eye around to reveal a similar pattern. They quietly rest their foreheads together) How many other bioloids are here?
Zukash: I am the one Resistance member to infiltrate this posting.
Sikozu: How much hatred exists here between the Charrids and the Kalish?
Zukash: Even more than the outer worlds. There's more at stake. Bigger egos.
Sikozu: Then I will be straight - with you. We want to ignite that hatred and we want to use it as a cover for our escape. Will you help us?
(cut to Aeryn and John as they return to the base. A Scarran DRD greets him with a red laser scanner which it passes over him - lingering on the bomb)
John: 1812 - get that Scarran vacuum cleaner outta here! (evidently John's been allowed to bring his pet onto Katratzi as well, and 1812 proceeds to take the Scarran drone down the corridor amid furious squawking) That's a good boy.
Aeryn: Do you think she's figured it out yet?
John: I don't think so. She still looks pretty damned stressed.
Aeryn: I'm not surprised. If she doesn't go home with a peace treaty she's going to be in a lot of trouble with High Command.
John: I reckon.
Aeryn: As long as your stress levels are all right.
John: Ah well - considering the fact that we're now nuclear terrorists... (he comes to stand close behind her. his nuke beeps calmly) Bomb seems to think I'm okay.
Aeryn: Provided that thing's working. (they both look down as the bombs beeping begins to increase its rate and urgency in response to Johns blood pressure going up in proximity to Aeryn)
John: It's working. (they smile and Aeryn looks away as John leans close to catch the scent of her hair and murmur) Uh-oh - you are dangerous.
Aeryn: (pleased, she murmurs back) Well you better keep away them.
(cut to Ahkna and Staleek as they walk in the corridors of Katratzi. Jenek hurries up to them)
Jenek: Sire - we have a good scan of Crichton's fission device but decoding it could take some time. (the Emperor pauses just long enough to fire an angry admonition back at the hapless freighter Captain)
Staleek: Not if you expect to prosper. (and he stalks away)
(cut to moments later as Staleek and Ahkna enter the conference room where Aeryn and John are loitering)
John: You came back. Couldn't figure a way to disarm my bomb huh? (he sits down on the table)
Staleek: Not yet. (he paces over to a dish of dried flowers sitting near John and proffers it to him with surly politesse) Refreshment? (John takes one and crunches into it - but quickly spits it out) Crystherium Utilia. An acquired taste.
John: (carelessly) Streletzia - hummingbird feeder. (he picks a couple stubborn bits of the flower from his teeth)
Ahkna: (surprised) You know of our delicacy?
John: Bird of Paradise? Yeah Moms garden - dime a dozen. Did you come all this way to discuss botany?
Aeryn: Or to make an offer?
Ahkna: Have you got anything to offer - or is all this just an elaborate bluff?
John: You don't believe - that I can control wormholes?
Staleek: Would you believe without proof?
John: Fine - we'll meet you halfway. (he signals to Aeryn, who's standing behind him on the other side of the table. She produces a chip which she slides across the table to the Scarrans)
Aeryn: Navigational data chip. Local star chart. Send a ship to the designated coordinates and let us know when they arrive.
John: Command performance. We're gonna put on the wormhole show just - for you. (neither Scarran makes a move to touch the chip - so John scoops it up and makes to leave) Not interested, huh? I'm sure Grayza will be.
Staleek: Wait. (he extends his hand and John silently reaches back and lays the data chip in it. Staleek turns on his heel and leaves - Ahkna follows after a lingering stare at Aeryn and John)
(cut to soon after in the Emperors office. Jenek has joined Staleek and Ahkna again)
Staleek: (handing the data chip to Jenek) Dispatch a Stryker with full instrumentation to these coordinates. Have you checked Crichton's ship?
Jenek: No. It's protected by a force field. We may be able to override it.
Staleek: Do so. Check its logs, its star charts. Get all the information you can. (Jenek nods and exits)
Ahkna: This is folly - Crichton plainly knows nothing about wormholes.
Staleek: (skeptical) And Scorpius does?
Ahkna: We'll soon find out. He's ready for his final inquisitor.
(cut to soon after in the torture chamber. Scorpius is sagging in his iron maiden cage and drooling. Ahkna is standing very close, tormenting him)
Ahkna: You're very resilient, Scorpius.
Scorpius: (softly, painfully) It must be my Scarran genes. We could trade places and find out. (Ahkna grunts appreciatively)
Ahkna: How would you like to punish me?
Scorpius: If you want the pleasure of knowing - release me for an arn.
Ahkna: (mocking) Oh I wish we had more time. But what I need to know now is what you do know about wormholes.
Scorpius: Well torture me and I will amuse myself with dreams of you. (he flicks his tongue lecherously at her) Kill me - and my knowledge dies with me.
Ahkna: Are you sure? Even if an old friend helped you to the other side? (the half-Scarran inhales sharply with sudden alarm as Stark steps out of the shadows)
Scorpius: (his voice is a raspy hiss) Stark?
Stark: (calmly) There's no way to escape, Scorpius. Not even into death. (he steps up close to the cage and lifts his mask. Scorpius opens his mouth to scream - but all that comes out is a strangled choke as the Stykeras golden light bathes his face) Because - as you're making your agonizing passage to the other side - I am going to capture your soul and with it, everything you know. (having given Scorpius a taste of what he's in for - Stark cut his light. The half-Scarran exhales explosively and sags, as Stark continues with vengeful vehemence) Oh I've waited many a cycle for this, Scorpius! Dreamed - so many - sleepless dreams. Every dashed hope, every plunge into - terrified despair that I suffered at your hands in the Aurora Chair. But rather than the 2 cycles that fate gave you to screw with my soul - she's only given me 2 arns to be finished with you. So I guess I better be a little more - imaginative. (he turns his golden light back on Scorpius. Meanwhile, Pennoch has entered the room and Ahkna now comments to him as they watch Scorpius spasm and howl through his constricted throat)
Ahkna: I think this may have possibilities.
(cut to Chiana and Noranti as they snoop around elsewhere on their "recon" assignment. The old woman has found something and is rushing Chiana to see - or as is the case - hear)
Noranti: Listen to this!
Chiana: What? (they pause by a grate in the corridor. A faint, guttural caw drifts up from it)
Noranti: Listen - can you hear that? That's Scorpius.
Chiana: You sure?
Noranti: Yesyes - I'm sure! Completely.
Chiana: You go tell Crichton. I'll try and find out where they're keepin' him. (Noranti hurries off and Chiana stays by the grate, listening intently)
(cut to moments later in the conference room. Noranti had joined Aeryn and John there)
Noranti: Scorpius can't possibly hold out much longer.
Aeryn: If he hasn't broken already. (John hits his comm)
(cut to the Charrid lounge where Rygel is working the room under D'Argos watchful eye. The scene shifts between the crew in their various locations)
Rygel: Ohh the Scarrans will never make you rich. I can make you rich if you come and work for me.
John: (on comm) Rygel? (D'Argo quietly answers for his "employer')
D'Argo: Rygel is busy at the moment John. (the human accepts this response and calls for the next progress report)
John: (on comm) Sikozu?
Sikozu: (creamily, as she trolls through the Katratzi Control Center) Everything is going to plan.
John: (curt) The plan is too slow. Speed things up please.
D'Argo: Yeah well we're going as fast as we can.
Sikozu: I will try - but I'll need some time John.
Aeryn: Why do we never have enough time?
(cut to the Charrid lounge. General Rahzaro is sitting with Tugar hovering at his shoulder as they listen to Rygel)
Rahzaro: Why should I go to work for a frelling Hynerian when I'm already a General in the Scarran service?
Rygel: Hmph! That'll end very soon - when the Scarrans sever all ties with the Charrids.
Tugar: You're a lying slug! They're going to war with the Peacekeepers!
Rygel: But not with you as their allies. Just with the Kalish.
Rahzaro: Hah! The Kalish are just techs.
D'Argo: Well the Scarrans are building a wormhole weapon. They need techs - not soldiers.
Rygel: And the Kalish know it. That's why they're planning to sabotage the Charrids by embarrassing you in front of the Scarrans. (that brings Rahzaro furiously to his feet)
Rahzaro: They would never be so bold as to do that!
Rygel: (inflammatory, to D'Argo) Hah! They are as stupid as the Kalish say they are! (back to Rahzaro) Join me - before the Scarrans throw you off this rock.
(cut to the Control Center where Secretary Vakali is giving Jenek his assessment of Johns bomb - a hologram of which is hovering between them)
Vakali: Crichton's fission device - it's all just spare parts mostly - salvaged from devices I've never seen before.
Jenek: (in a low, evil, tone) I don't care if it's made out of your mothers bones. I need to know how to disarm it.
Vakali: We just need a few solar days.
Jenek: You don't have them! Either you'll disarm it now or I'll find some species that will. (and with a hostile grunt - he exits. Vakali leans down to speak to Zukash, who's sitting nearby and witnessed the whole nasty exchange)
Vakali: (whispering) What do you think? (as Zukash responds, Sikozu strolls into view on some innocent task - listening)
Zukash: It's just like she said - the Charrids are trying to incite the Scarrans against us and it's starting to work. (Vakali looks grimly apprehensive)
(cut to Aeryn, Chiana and John as they walk quickly along the corridors of Katratzi)
John: And what about Scorpius?
Chiana: Uh... he's somewhere on this level.
Aeryn: Alright. Well if we can't make it to Lo'La we're going to be looking for alternate escape routes.
Chiana: To the surface? (Aeryn grunts affirmatively) I'll keep looking.
Aeryn: Thank you. (Chiana hustles off and John, with Aeryn at his heels, enters the conference room. They both stop - Staleek is there and he's angry)
Staleek: You have cost me a Stryker and its crew!
John: Really? How did I do that?
Staleek: At your coordinates - a wormhole opened and swallowed them up!
John: W-what did you do? (but he doesn't wait for an answer) Oh no - do not tell me you ordered them - into the wormhole. She told you to call us when they got there!
Staleek: YOU SHOULD'VE WARNED ME!
John: DON'T LAY THIS OFF ON ME! YOU WANTED PROOF - YOU GOT IT!
Staleek: (dangerously) Did you cause that wormhole to open?
John: No! No more freebies. You wanna do a deal? Or you want me to sell it to the Peacekeepers so they can gobble up all of your warships?
Staleek: (very dangerously, as he advances on them) Do not threaten me! (Aeryn and John wisely back up)
John: I'm not threatening - I'm just a guy with something to sell. You don't want to buy it - I'm sure someone else will! (he and Aeryn back out through the open door - which closes. Staleek snarls with disgust - and in the hall, John mutters) I didn't push him too hard did I?
Aeryn: He'll make an offer. (they hurry away - trying not to look like they're hurrying away - with John in the lead)
(cut to SIkozu and Zukash in the middle of a conversation as they walk in another corridor)
Sikozu: An entire cavern just to grow the flowers they eat?
Zukash: And it's a high security area.
Sikozu: (mystified) Why? (they pause by an elevator, which opens with a clank. A dreadlocked and helmeted Charrid soldier exits it and they get in. It's a grey steel tube with perforated industrial walls - like a big freight lift. Zukash goes to the elevator control panel - which is opposite the door)
Zukash: We don't know. But only the Charrids are supposed to have the access codes. So if anyone else enters the cavern, the Scarrans will assume the Charrids - left it accessible - like - this. (as he speaks - he enters a code and the heavy doors clang shut)
Sikozu: You stole the codes.
Zukash: Which is what the Charrids will suspect. (he touches the panel again and the doors clank open) And they will confront us.
Sikozu: (into her comm) Crichton - we've found a much faster way to incite a riot.
(cut to Aeryn and John in another corridor as he receives Sikozu's communique)
John: That's great - let me hear it. Later. (a Peacekeeper is walking briskly toward them and John eyes him as they pass) Nice pants. (suddenly he pulls up and turns around, calling) Hey Braca! You look a little lost. (the PK freezes - and turns back to them. It is indeed, Braca)
Aeryn: (with mocking concern) Does Mommy know you're here?
John: (aside to Aeryn) Does Mommy know he's Scorpius' boy? (Braca just stares intently at them) Oh no - Mommy doesn't know. (Braca doesn't rise to their bait though. Instead, he strides proudly toward them and asks John point blank)
Braca: Are you here to rescue him - or kill him?
(cut back to the torture chamber where Ahkna and Pennoch continue to watch Stark torment Scorpius. Ahkna seems to have some sort of premonition of Aeryn and Johns approach)
Ahkna: Stark! Conceal yourself. (the Banik melts into the shadows and Pennoch turns to block Aeryn and Johns entrance as they appear in the doorway)
John: We're here to see Scorpius.
Ahkna: Come in. (Pennoch permits John to enter, but as Aeryn makes to follow, the War Minister speaks again) Just - you. (Pennoch blocks Aeryn with one massive arm across her path. John eyes Ahkna warily as he goes to Scorpius. It takes the half-Scarran a long moment to choke out one word)
Scorpius: Jo... oh....John.
John: Grasshopper. (Scorpius shivers and gasps piteously. John turns and paces slowly toward Ahkna. The only sound is the beeping of the nuclear bomb strapped to his body. He stops and stares at her) That's a nice hat. (in response, Ahkna throws out her arm and hits John square in the face with her heat probe. John yells and is thrown back)
Aeryn: Ahkna don't! (she tries to push past Pennoch, but he catches, and holds her back)
Ahkna: (spiteful, to John) What do you say? Too happy, too sad, too cold, too hot? Let's see. Hm? (John writhes and groans) I know you have a real nuclear device, but I'm sure you can disarm it.
John: (struggling) I would - but I can't. So - I won't.
Ahkna: You're bluffing.
John: (choking the words out) Well - so much for nuclear deterrence. Get ready to kiss your ass good-bye Castro. (the beeping of the bomb is ominously increasing in pitch and rate. The face-off goes on another few seconds till the bomb begins to sound a loud warning pulse. John seems to grin in the shimmer of the heat probe - and Ahkna cuts it. John flops onto the floor)
Ahkna: (spooked) You're insane! (to Pennoch) Release her! (Pennoch obeys, and Aeryn rushes to Johns side)
Aeryn: You all right?
Aeryn: (also spooked) You're mad!
John: Just played a game of chicken. Did I win?
Aeryn: Just! This time.
John: (panting) You take the initiative next time.
Aeryn: I'll take it now. Frell it. (she starts toward Scorpius, who's sunk to the floor of his cage and seems barely conscious. But John stops her)
John: Not yet. (there's a long pause as Aeryn stares at Scorpius) Aeryn... (she turns and walks out. John drags himself after her, while the Scarrans - and drooling half-Scarran - watch them go)
(cut to soon after, in one of Katratzis corridors. Aeryn and John have come to hear Sikozu's idea for how a civil ear can be sparked. But the Kalish is annoyed)
Sikozu: (angry) You found Scorpius being tortured and you just left him there?
John: It's not time yet. That's why we're here. (they arrive at the elevator and wait while a couple of Charrids get off) Morning. (the Charrids ignore him and he, Aeryn and Sikozu get in)
Aeryn: As long as this helps start the conflict.
Sikozu: (resentfully, as she punches in the elevator control code) Yes it will. Might even get yourselves killed. (the elevator lurches to life and Sikozu exits it)
John: Then we'll all go together. (he waves at the Kalish as the elevator doors close)
Sikozu: (under her breath) Good luck. (she shakes her head, frustrated and flummoxed by this man. Meanwhile, the elevator commences its long journey down a black shaft. Its bottom is studded with lights and bits of machinery. Inside it, Aeryn and John stand there awkwardly)
Aeryn: (a sigh) Well...?
John: Give me your hand - put it on my shoulder. (he takes one of her hands in his and brings her other hand to rest on his shoulder) All right now stand on my feet. (she does as he asks - with a little closed-mouth laugh) Comfortable? (she nods and grunts affirmatively)
Aeryn: You? (he nods and grunts back)
John: Hold tight. (and with that - he takes her on a little girls waltz. She smiles and laughs shyly, before laying her head on his shoulder)
(cut back to the Charrids lunge where Rygel's puffing at the hookah while he, D'Argo , Rahzaro and Tugar chat)
Rahzaro: I don't care what you think the Kalish might or might not do. The Scarrans would never dissolve our partnership. (Rygel laughs wheezily)
D'Argo: What partnership?
Rygel: You aren't their partners! You're nothing more than ill-paid, ill-treated and - (he takes a deep whiff) - Ill-smelling servants! (Tugar reaches for a knife - but a fast lunge from D'Argo stops him)
D'Argo: I don't think so.
(cut back to the elevator as it clanks to a halt and its doors rumble open. Aeryn gets off Johns feet and they peer out)
John: Is this our floor?
Aeryn: I don't know. Have to get out and have a look around. (she steps out and John follows)
(cut back to the Charrid lounge where D'Argo's still leaning over the table with his hand on Tugars arm, when a dull alarm begins to whoop and a Scarran voice grumbles over the PA system. Everyone freezes and looks up)
Rahzaro: (urgently) Intruder alert in the Crystherium chamber! (to his men) Quick! Check it! Now! HURRY!
(meanwhile - Aeryn and John trot down a short flight of steps and find themselves in an underground greenhouse devoted to the cultivation of one kind of flower - what John would call Bird of Paradise. From the midst of the carpet of plants rises a Scarranishly sharp crystalline alter crowned with a lush bouquet of the spiky blossoms)
John: Never knew Scarrans were so sentimental. (they stroll in among the tall plants. John plucks one of the red flowers) No one around.
Aeryn: (coy) So... what do you want to do to get noticed? (she sashays a little further into the flower bed)
John: I got arrested once. College. Let me show ya. (he sinks down among the tall plants. Aeryn smiles and sinks down with him)
But it isn't long before Tugar leads several Charrid soldiers into the chamber at a run. He stays on the steps as the others position themselves - the blue sight lights of their weapons glowing - at the edge of the Chrystherium bed.
Tugar: What are you doing here? Come out - now! (a soft curse drifts up from the flowers)
Tugar: Up! NOW! (Aeryn and John rise. She puffs and tosses her hair out of her face while John pulls his pants up and zips them)
John: There's never enough time.
(cut to soon after in Emperor Staleeks office. He fortifies himself with a bit of dried Chrytherium from a dish before turning his attention to the miscreant human and Sebacean standing before him)
Staleek: Who gave you the codes?
Aeryn: What codes?
John: (in a Mexican mafia accent) Codes? We didn't need no stinking codes.
Ahkna: You could not have accessed the cavern without the codes!
John: We didn't try to access anything. Some Charrids got off the elevator, we got on, we got off- (muttering) Well - we tried to get off - we got interrupted.
Ahkna: (an angry bark) Which Charrids?
Aeryn: Are you serious? They all look alike.
John: You should put numbers on their uniforms.
Staleek: (to Ahkna) The Charrid troops are your responsibility.
Ahkna: I'll order a full inquiry. (Staleek glares after her as she leaves. After she's gone, John turns to Staleek)
John: You know while you're at it - give me Scorpius.
Staleek: You want Scorpius? Why? Is it because he's going to give us what you're trying to sell us?
John: No - because the hat lady is pissing me off and I wanna piss her off. Tit for tat - call it a whim. And, I don't like watching people be tortured who don't know anything. (he nods and quickly looks away)
(cut back to the torture chamber. Ahkna and Pennoch watch as Stark stands near Scorpius' cage and urgently presses him)
Stark: What do you know about wormholes Scorpius? Tell me!
Scorpius: (gasping and struggling to speak through painfully clenched teeth) I know nothing!
Stark: You're lying! You tell me! (he lifts his mask and bathes Scorpius in the glare of his spectral light)
Scorpius: (his voice is a guttural howl) I said I know nothing! Know nothing! (since there's nothing forthcoming - Stark releases him and Scorpius pitches against the bars of his cage, twitching. Stark turns nervously to Ahkna, who's staring stonily at him)
Stark: It's - a normal part of the procedure. He, um - he's strong. He's very strong. That means when he finally breaks - it'll be all the more catastrophic.
Ahkna: You promised me-! (Stark hurries to appease her)
Stark: That I would break him - not that he knows anything. But if he does - you will know. (at that moment - the door flies open and a furious Staleek strides in)
Staleek: WHAT IS HAPPENING IN HERE?
Ahkna: You wanted the information taken from him. (Staleek eyes Scorpius, who's slumped in his cage slobbering and twitching and generally looking very much the worse for wear)
Staleek: ALIVE! I said - alive. And have you learned anything?
Ahkna: No. Not yet. But I- ("No" is all the Emperor needed to hear though)
Staleek: Crichton has destroyed a Stryker and found a way into the caverns - but you have achieved nothing! Get out! (the Scarran woman may be tiny - but she doesn't budge)
Ahkna: (deadly) This is my jurisdiction.
Staleek: Not unless I say it is. Now get out - all of you! (with a jerk of her head, Ahkna signals Pennoch and stark to follow her, and the shamed threesome slink out of the room. There's a long pause while Staleek waits for them to be gone before he steps up to the shivering, gibbering Scorpius and says in a low tone) I'll get the truth from him. I thought you said she couldn't harm you. (the half-Scarran draws himself up and grits out his response with blustery determination)
Scorpius: AND SHE COULDN'T! I'm fine! Quite fine! I've caused enough harm in my time to mimic it well. (Staleek accepts this, and shows no further concern)
Staleek: We still haven't found a way of disarming Crichton's weapon. But he has demonstrated a convincing command of wormholes.
Scorpius: I can separate him from the bomb. He trusts me - more than he realizes. (he finishes with a guttural howl) JUST BRING HIM TO ME!
Staleek: Will you? Or will you betray me? (he reaches out and grabs Scorpius through the bars of the cage. The half-Scarrans voice is a raw-throated caw)
Scorpius: I've served you for 10 cycles as a spy. Why would I betray you now?
Staleek: Betray me and you will die in this machine. But deliver Crichton's knowledge to me - and all the power you seek will be yours. (and with that - he lets go of Scorpius, who slides tho the floor of his cage - and exits)
(cut to a transport craft as it slows on approach to the Command Carrier hanging in space near Katratzi. The scene shifts to the Captains office of the carrier where Grayza sits at the desk with Braca hovering over her shoulder. Aeryn and John enter)
Grayza: Thank you for returning.
Aeryn: What is it?
Grayza: I would like to make an addition to my offer. (she proffers 2 data films to them. John accepts them and eyes their inscrutable markings upon)
John: I'll have the Kung Po Chicken. (to Aeryn, who's reading the films - she looks stunned) You want a spring roll?
Grayza: Actually - they're a pardon from the Supreme Council. No Peacekeeper would dare violate them.
John: Is she for real? (Aeryn doesn't look up)
Aeryn: It would seem so. However it is conditional.
Grayza: Of course - on no wormhole technology being shared with the Scarrans. (John sobers)
John: What if we give these back?
Aeryn: Still valid. She wouldn't dare destroy them.
Braca: I've witnessed them. So have all our - principal officers. (John puts the films on the desk)
John: Keep it. We'll let you know.
(cut back to Katratzi where a couple of Charrid soldiers are dragging a groaning Scorpius through the corridors. The scene shifts to the conference room as Aeryn and John re-enter - speaking to their cohorts on comm)
John: Guys! Listen up!
Aeryn: They're bringing him now.
John: One riot - well done, hold the mayo - now!
(cut to the command Center where Pennoch confronts Rahzaro as Vakali looks on. Sikozu watches from behind a pillar)
Pennoch: Your troops compromised the security of the cavern.
Rahzaro: No! That is not what happened!
Sikozu: (quietly, into her comm) We are very close to a conflict now.
(cut back to the conference room as John snaps his response to Sikozu)
John: This ain't horseshoes or hand grenades - now means now! (as he speaks, Staleek enters with the Charrids and Scorpius)
Staleek: (to John) A bargain is struck. (the Charrids heave Scorpius onto a table and then leave. The half-Scarran lands hard on his back which causes him to send up a little fountain of saliva) However an agreement requires trust - which thus far has been one-sided. Now you tell me what else you really want. (there's a brief pause while John thinks about his response and finds this is one of those times when truth works well)
John: (quietly) When you wake up, in the morning, on your big, Emperor bed and you listen - what do you hear? (he begins to pace around the tables and Staleek slowly pivots to watch his progress) Do you hear the little Emperor birdies singing outside your window? Do you hear the Emperor wind whistling through the trees? Or do you hear people dying? Do you hear your friends begging for mercy? Do you hear doors being kicked in because people are hunting you? Do you hear the sound of your heart pounding in your ears? What I want - Santa Claus - for the rest of my life - I wanna wake up like an Emperor. (he finishes his speech standing next to Aeryn. Staleek gets the point)
Staleek: Your safety, guaranteed. In just a few arns.
John: Bill Gates can't guarantee Windows - how you gonna guarantee my safety?
Staleek: (fiercely) With great effort - (softly) - and great sincerity. (an with imperious warning) Though at some point, my largesse will dissipate! (he exits)
Scorpius: (from the table - choking his words out) My - appreciation.
John: My - ass. (he grabs Scorpius by the front of his coolant suit and leans over him) Did you tell them?
Scorpius: (a tiny croak) No.
John: (furious) Wormholes - my brain - Harvey! WHAT - DID YOU TELL THEM?
John: Listen up - I am Johnny Radiation because of you, Nosferatu. Everyone I care about west of the moon is here and in danger to make sure that you keep your mouth shut! NOW - did - you keep your mouth - shut?
Scorpius: Yes! (he pants and averts his eyes)
Aeryn: John. (John looks over his shoulder at her)
John: You believe him?
Aeryn: (blandly) Yes I do.
John: Good. (he straightens up) Kill him and let's go. (Scorpius startles and stares up at them)
John: Kill him and let's go.
Aeryn: We came here to free him!
John: No we came here to make sure that my knowledge didn't slip out of his mouth. Kill him Aeryn - and let's go.
Aeryn: (annoyed) Oh you want me to kill him?
John: Well I'm not the assassin - am I?
Aeryn: If you want him to die you can kill him yourself. (Scorpius lays there, looking from one of them to the other as they argue)
John: You made me promise that I wouldn't.
Aeryn: Well I release you from that promise.
John: Say that again.
Aeryn: I release you from that promise.
John: Thank you. (he whips out his gun and levels it at Scorpius' face. There's a long silence. John cocks her head. Aeryn looks down. Scorpius stares at John with his suddenly big, limpid, eyes. John says to Aeryn) I'll give you my bike if you kill him.
Scorpius: (an anxious squawk) May I speak?
Aeryn: (wearily) No. (John holsters his gun)
John: He's tellin' the truth. (Scorpius' head makes a motion somewhere between a wobble and a nod before he lets it fall back onto the table. John says to him) We'll sort you out later. (on comm) Guys! I apologize in advance for any incivility or insensitivity on my part but it is beer o'clock - where the hell is my riot?
(cut back to the Control Center where Pennoch continues to confront Rahzaro. Several observers from Moya, the Charrids and the Kalish hang back discreetly)
Pennoch: The logs show your Lieutenant had just returned from the cavern.
Rahzaro: WHOSE LOGS? HIS? (he points at Vakali and sneers) Kalish documentation!
Vakali: (outraged) What are you implying Rahzaro?
Rygel: (a comment aimed at John) Ohohoho - you're going to get it.
Rahzaro: That our intruder could not decipher the access codes to the cavern by himself. Someone - had to have given them to him.
Vakali: I protest this baseless accusation! (Pennoch lashes out and seizes both the Charrid and the Kalish by their shirtfronts)
Pennoch: Then find out where the fault does lie. I expect a full account from each side in less than 2 arns. (he releases them an storms out with a snarl)
Rahzaro: (he snarls to as he turns to Tugar) Tear down the system to the foundation! Find the leak! (his second grunts and leaves. Rahzaro turns back to the Kalish Secretary) I will not be humiliated by you Vakali! You will not destroy my relationship with the Emperor!
Vakali: (furious) What the frell are you blathering about Charrid? Your security forces prove useless and you seek to refocus the blame!
Rahzaro: (apoplectic) USELESS? MY - FORCES - USELESS? Ordering biscuits and repairing urinals has never won a war!
Vakali: And neither have you - if I recall! (Rahzaro lashes out and grabs him by the throat)
Rahzaro: (a dangerous hiss) Insult a Charrid at your own risk - Kalish harpooda.
Vakali: (choking as much with outrage as from the Charrids grip on his windpipe) Harpooda? You dare to call me harpooda?
Rahzaro: (sneering) And I bet - not a very good one. (Vakali thumps Rahzaros arm and both men stagger back from each other. Zukash helps things along by grabbing a metal cylinder and throwing at a Charrid, and with that - all hezmana breaks loose. Another Kalish scuttles up a pillar and begins shooting, the Charrids begin firing at the same time. D'Argo fires over everyone's head and Sikozu gets into a dust-up with a Charrid. Several people are hit and finally - Punnoch returns and wades into the firefight)
Pennoch: (growling to himself) What is this? (louder) Stop it! STOP IT AT ONCE! (he is completely ignored by all - so he comms for back-up) Strike warriors to the Control Center! Confiscate all weapons!
Rygel: (into his comm) Now Crichton - leave now. And never doubt your Dominar again! (he and D'Argo quietly begin to edge out of the Control Center. Sikozu tussles briefly with another Charrid attacker before pausing to take Zukashs arms)
Sikozu's: I must go. Sho-kana-sho.
Zukash: Sho-kana-sho. (a shot whizzes past them) Go!
(cut to Emperor Staleek as Ahkna hurries up to him)
Ahkna: We've been sabotaged! The Charrids and Kalish are fighting!
Staleek: Guards! Secure Crichton and report!
Ahkna: Scorpius - we must secure Scorpius.
Staleek: Don't worry about Scorpius - he's not going anywhere.
(cut to Aeryn and John. They're moving through a corridor as fast as they can, given they they're obliged to drag a big black sack of potatoes named Scorpius between them. Aeryn comms the others)
Aeryn: Everyone - go! We're on the move.
John: (to the limp Scorpius) Some help would be appreciated.
Scorpius: (raspy) Where do you expect us to run?
John: Got a taxi waiting. First rule of piss-poor planning: Have your exit ready before your entrance.
Scorpius: What? This disturbance?
John: Yeah - pretty cool huh?
Scorpius: (annoyed) Yes - I'm impressed.
John: There's just no pleasing some people. (suddenly a masked and helmeted Charrid steps into their path - his gun leveled at them)
CharridSoldier: Remain where you are, or I'll shoot. Release your weapons now! (but before anyone has to do anything - the soldier is hit in the back by a single pulse shot. He goes down and Braca is glimpsed lowering his own weapon. He faces our heroes with the smallest, grimmest of smiles before sucking away again)
Scorpius: (almost longing) Braca!
John: Yeah feel the love Mr Burns. (they hurry on)
(cut to Chiana, she's pulling Noranti through a corridor filled with soldiers. A large Scarran is guarding the concourse they need to enter)
Chiana: Frell! (she runs up to the Scarran soldier) Hey - can you help us? We're... we're afraid.
ScarranSoldier: (in a deep, noble, voice) You have to turn back - can't pass here. (Noranti steps out from behind Chiana and blows a palmful of powder into his face. He rears back, groaning, pirouettes for a long moment while they wait - and crashes to the floor)
Noranti: It works!
(cut to D'Argo, Rygel and Sikozu as they weave their way through the melee that Katratzi has become)
Rygel: (into his comm) We're getting close - don't leave without us! (D'Argo goes up to a Charrid and shoves Sikozu at him)
D'Argo: Warrior! Can you take this Kalish piece of tralk? (the Charrid shifts his attention to Sikozu - and D'Argo knocks him into tomorrow. The Luxan and the Kalish look at each other) Nice.
Rygel: (impatient) Hurry up!
Sikozu: (to D'Argo) We try it a third time?
D'Argo: (to another Charrid) Warrior!
D'Argo: Could you take this Kalish piece of tralk? (and the game repeats itself...)
(cut back to Aeryn, John and Scorpius. They're within sight of Lo'La in the docking bay)
John: We're almost home - there it is.
Scorpius: D'Argos vessel, even shrouded cannot outrun a Stryker!
Aeryn: Moya's disguised as an oil freighter in the shipping yards.
John: She's rested and ready to starburst. (a guard is spotted moving in the shadows of the docking bay) Oh crap! Aeryn- (John take Scorpius' weight. permitting Aeryn to pull his gun)
Scorpius: We can broker - a bargain!
John: Where's yer nerve Grasshopper? Just stick with me - they ain't gonna pop fat man.
Scorpius: I can't! (and with that - he goes completely flaccid. John can't hold him up and he plops onto the floor where he lays, gurgling. John drops to one knee beside him)
John: You better not pass out. (Scorpius seems to do just that. Aeryn aims her gun down at him)
Aeryn: Get up - or I kill you now. (Scorpius doesn't move or respond) Choose.
John: You need to know when a woman's serious.
Aeryn: Are you coming? (John grabs the front of Scorpius' coolant suit and pulls. The half-Scarran chokes - but thinks better of playing possum, and he allows John to help him to his feet) Okay. (but before they can stagger a step - Charrids pour into the hall behind them. A shot is fired and Aeryn fires back - over their heads to get their attention) DROP YOUR WEAPONS! DON'T FIRE OR YOU'LL DETONATE THE BOMB! (the Charrids lay their guns aside and John and Scorpius gimp on into the docking bay under Aeryn's guard)
John: Well there you go - someone finally got smart. (but at that moment - Scorpius doubles over and gags. John leans over too in an effort to keep him on his feet. And suddenly the half-Scarran strikes 2 heavy blows, one with each hand. The first hits Aeryn in the face and puts her out - the second sinks into Johns stomach. The human goes down - and Scorpius body-pins him as John roars) You stupid son-of-a-BITCH!
Scorpius: (his voice is velvety and devoid of any discomfort) I'm sorry John. You need to breathe deeply if you expect to live. (the bomb is indeed beeping urgently)
John: You're gonna get us all KILLED!
Scorpius: (quietly) Now - if you trust me enough to live - you may well discover the truth!
John: Trust you? TRUST YOU?
John lets loose with a roar of pure rage - and the bomb begins to sound alarm of its imminent detonation...
TO BE CONTINUED