Thursday, August 2, 2007

B7: Nexus (iii)

[The Liberator is now much closer to the skull.]

[Liberator flight deck.]

VILA: If we want to teleport them, we’ll have to lower the force wall.

BLAKE: [Nods] Yes. And that makes us vulnerable. If whatever is controlling the skull is monitoring us...

SOOLIN: They’ll attack the moment they can.

VILA: Any ideas, Orac?

ORAC: The teleport circuit is undoubtedly the cause of the strange illumination in the Magellanic Cloud – and has been pulsing at three hour intervals.

VILA: But they would have got everyone in the Cloud by now.

BLAKE: Not unless the skull is working on automatic. Some kind of timing mechanism?

ORAC: It would be logical to assume so.

SOOLIN: How long until the next time, Orac?

ORAC: It is due to occur in two hours fifty six minutes.

BLAKE: Plenty of time for us to get the others back and leave the Cloud.

VILA: [bleakly] Assuming nothing else happens.

[The skull’s eye sockets stare out of the screen.]

[The cave. Tarrant is working on the bracelet. Kyben holds the probe just above it, to provide light. There is a faint rumble.]

KYBEN: I hope we’re not stuck inside here the next time the skull opens its mouth.

TARRANT: We won’t be.

KYBEN: So confident.

TARRANT: Have to be, the life we lead. Not too much damage, should be fixable...

[The low howl is heard again.]

TARRANT: It would help if that stopped.

KYBEN: It’s just the breeze, coming through that hole in the wall.

TARRANT: Yes. But... it’s gotten louder.

[Another faint rumble.]

KYBEN: We can hear water dripping. That’s probably it. A river or something, causing the rumbling.

TARRANT: That would cause a continuous noise, though.

[The rattle is heard again. Tarrant and Kyben look at the cave exit. Nothing there. Kyben turns around and cries out, startled.]

TARRANT: What is it?

KYBEN: Nothing. I thought... I thought I saw movement over there.

[Tarrant raises the probe, illuminating the dead body.]

TARRANT: That hasn’t moved at all.

[Kyben is not looking at the body. Tarrant follows her gaze. She is looking at the hole bored into the wall.]

TARRANT: Nothing there, either. I had a look inside, Kyben. It’s a tiny passage, too narrow for anyone to get through.

[Tarrant angles the torch.]

TARRANT: See? Nothing there. If it was, it would have blocked that air flow.

KYBEN: Wait. Shh.


KYBEN: Shhh.


KYBEN: Can you hear that?

TARRANT: Something. Like stone, moving scraping...

KYBEN: More important, we CAN hear it. That howling has stopped.

[Tarrant tenses.]

TARRANT: But the breeze is still blowing through that hole.

[Another rattle, louder, from the cave exit this time.]

TARRANT: There's something at the other end of that tunnel!

[Kyben moves over to the exit and peers into the gloom.]

KYBEN: I can’t see anything.

TARRANT: I saw something moving.

KYBEN: No, we’re being silly. Think logically. Who else could be down here?

TARRANT: The crew of those ships.

KYBEN: If they are here, they're probably skeletons by now. There's no food here, no fresh water, no light, and none of them would have teleport to escape. And if they did, they wouldn't be here, would they?

TARRANT: Skeletons...

KYBEN: What?

TARRANT: That's what it reminded me of – what I saw... something very skinny, bony...

KYBEN: [Soothingly] There's all sorts of things can happen in these situations. Paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations. The dark plays tricks with your eyes...

TARRANT: [Irritated] I am not prone to imagining things, Kyben. Or panic - you're thinking about Vila! And you heard the noise as well. Nothing human makes a noise like that!

KYBEN: [Calmly] Is there anything there now?

[Tarrant looks into the tunnel. We see the POV of something watching the two of them through the hole scorched into the rock behind the dead alien.]


[He picks up the bracelet and starts to work on it again.]

TARRANT: Still, if we can just get the emergency frequency working again, that will be enough for...

[A sudden, vicious hissing noise. Tarrant and Kyben whirl around. The noise fades to silence.]

KYBEN: I really... REALLY... think we should get out of here.

TARRANT: I think you’re right.

[The hissing starts again. The probe flickers, plunging them into darkness.]

[Liberator flight deck. Blake stands at the pit console, clearly having been speaking for some time.]

BLAKE: [Into comm] ...please respond. Kyben? Tarrant? Respond please? [Sighs] Right. There’s nothing else for it. Orac, I want you work out the most likely position on the planet they could be teleported to and give me the coordinates.

ORAC: Oh, very well.

BLAKE: I’m going to get kitted up.

SOOLIN: If you need a suit to survive what’s down there, there’s not much chance the others are still alive.

BLAKE: I’m aware of that, Soolin.

SOOLIN: Just making sure you’re not getting your hopes up.

[Blake scowls, then leaves. Vila is still looking at the skull on the scanner.]

VILA: It’s not comfortable here, is it?

SOOLIN: We didn’t come here for comfort.

VILA: No, but it’s something else. It’s not right.

SOOLIN: Vila, you’re not helping.

VILA: Can’t you feel it though? There’s something wrong here. Very wrong. Like we’re standing at the edge of a precipice...

SOOLIN: It’s unsettling enough without you trying to scare me.

VILA: Unsettling. That’s it. That’s the word. Unsettled.

SOOLIN: Why don’t you go and set the coordinates on the teleport?

VILA: Fine. But don’t pretend you don’t feel exactly the same way.

[Vila leaves. Soolin glances up at the main screen, frowns, and switches it off.]

[Cave. The laserson probe is flickering, briefly illuminating the cave around them as Tarrant works feverishly on the braclet. The hissing can be heard.]

KYBEN: Some kind of reptile do you think? [No reply] It’s getting closer, whatever it is!

[Tarrant ignores her and manages to make an LED illuminate in the bracelet circuits.]

[Liberator teleport room. Blake has donned a space suit and is connecting the helmet to the air supply before he dons it. Vila is at the console. Suddenly there is a shrill noise.]

VILA: That’s the emergency pulse!

BLAKE: Vila, lock the coordinates on. [into comm] Soolin, lower the force wall!

SOOLIN: [VO] Deactivating!

[Blake discards his helmet and grabs two more bracelets from the trolley. Vila adjusts the controls frantically. The locator fix spins drunkenly, as if unable to find what it’s looking for.]

BLAKE: Hurry it up, Vila! Hurry up!

VILA: What do you think I’m doing?! One wrong move and you could end up in solid rock.

[Vila presses some more controls. The light on the screen is hovering in a circle, unsteadily.]

[Cave. The hissing is joined by the rattling. Tarrant jabs the bracelet again.]

TARRANT: Why aren’t they answering?! Bring us up!

KYBEN: Maybe they aren’t on the Liberator either?

TARRANT: Orac should have done it! Come on!

[The rattle booms around them. Tarrant looks up at the cave exit. Something is moving.]

[Liberator teleport room. The locator fix goes still. Vila slams down the control and Blake teleports.]

[Cave. Kyben and Tarrant are staring at the cave mouth. The hissing fades to silence. A breeze wafts through the chamber and they both gag and retch.]

TARRANT: What’s that smell?

KYBEN: It’s like something rotting... [Coughs] It’s getting worse!

BLAKE: Are you all right?

[Both Tarrant and Kyben are startled as they realize Blake is standing by the dead body, gun in hand.]

KYBEN: Blake!

TARRANT: Quickly, we have got to get out of here!

BLAKE: What is it? What’s wrong?

[Tarrant snatches the spare bracelets and hands one to Kyben.]

TARRANT: We’ve got to go! [into comm] Vila! Teleport us now!

BLAKE: Tarrant...

[All three dematerialize. The cave is lost in darkness. Another rattle.]

[Liberator teleport room. Blake, Kyben and Tarrant reappear in the teleport bay.]

BLAKE: Tarrant, what’s wrong?

TARRANT: We’ve got to get out of here. Vila’s right. We’ve got to get out of this cloud as fast as we can!

BLAKE: Hold it! What happened down there?

KYBEN: Didn’t you hear that noise?

BLAKE: What noise?

TARRANT: Oh, don’t you start!

VILA: You all right, Tarrant? You look terrible...

TARRANT: Damn it we have got to go!

[Tarrant storms off.]

BLAKE: I’ve never seen him like that before.

VILA: I’ve never seen him like that ever. I don’t know what was down there, but it must have been bad.

KYBEN: [Nods] It was.

[The Liberator orbits the giant skull.]

- the end. for now.

B7: Nexus (ii)

[On the screen, hanging in the multicoloured mist is a huge skull, complete with jaw bone. It is not a human skull, the head being more elongated than normal, with fewer teeth and a large nasal cavity.]

[The Liberator is dwarfed by the skull. It is level with the gaping eye sockets.]

[Liberator flight deck. Everyone is still staring at the skull, stunned.]

TARRANT: Whatever it is, it’s one and a half times the size of the Earth.

SOOLIN: It can’t be... things can’t exist that huge.

KYBEN: But it does.

SOOLIN: Impossible. Creatures that vast... We’d have found evidence of them before! If the skull is that big, we’d have come across the rest of the skeleton by now...

KYBEN: Maybe that life form only consists of its head...

VILA: [Shakes head in disbelief] A race of giant severed heads. Wonderful.

TARRANT: I wonder what killed it?

[Blake steps from his flight console, staggering slightly as he stares at the screen.]

BLAKE: Zen... Zen, what is that?

ZEN: Analysis indicates object on main screen is a planet.

KYBEN: A planet? Carved into the shape of a skull?

ZEN: Confirmed. The surface of the object has been carved smoothly, fashioned by a level of technology more advanced than any used by the human race. The absence of debris in the surrounding orbit strongly suggests the planet has been placed in the middle of the existing Cloud.

SOOLIN: The Cloud isn’t the debris?

ZEN: Negative. Composition of dust particles does not match the material of planetary surface.

KYBEN: Who did this?

VILA: Aliens again. Nasty ones, too, knowing our luck.

KYBEN: But why fashion a planet to look like a skull?

ZEN: Negative information.

SOOLIN: Speculate.

ZEN: Eighty per cent of humanoid cultures use the motif of a skull as a warning of fatal danger. It is possible an unknown intelligence relocated the carved planet as a warning to all sentient humanoid life.

VILA: About what?

ZEN: Negative information.

KYBEN: Maybe whatever caused the crew to disappear?

VILA: Stupid place to put a warning sign, though. By the time you’d find it you’d already be in danger.

SOOLIN: Then maybe the Cloud was placed around it, to cover it up.

VILA: That’s hardly fair. Blake, can we go yet?

BLAKE: Zen, is there life on that... that planet?

ZEN: There is no atmosphere on the carved planet, therefore any life would exist beneath the surface. Density of the geological composition and dust particles around the planet prevent further analysis.

TARRANT: Well, we can assume the crews aren’t on the planet.

KYBEN: They might be inside it.

VILA: How did they get inside? Through the nose?

TARRANT: According to these reading, the surface is smooth all the way over the planet. There’s no obvious way to get... well, inside its head.

BLAKE: Orac?

ORAC: Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. An alien intelligence deliberately carving a universal sign of danger and placing it in the sector of Earth, the heart of the Federation and previous empires. The detail of carving on the surface is so exact one might almost believe it is a genuine skull somehow transmuted into stone. Even with the advanced technology available to the creators of the Liberator, it would have taken over twelve millennia to achieve anything remotely similar on this scale.

TARRANT: But the Magellanic Cloud has always been there!

ORAC: Precisely. Therefore, the relocation of this planet must have occurred many hundreds of thousands of years ago, perhaps before life evolved on Earth.

KYBEN: Could it be some kind of warning about us? That humans are dangerous?

ORAC: As has already been pointed out, the skull planet has deliberately been located inside a dust cloud which totally obscures it from the outside universe. Beings capable of carving a planet would not let such an obstacle arise, which can only suggest the cloud is an intrinsic part of the purpose the planet was placed here for.

SOOLIN: And what would that be?

ORAC: There is no information for which I can extrapolate at present and I refuse to conjecture at such an early stage. However, all information suggests that this planetoid might possibly have originated from the Breelacken solar system, which is on the other side of the galaxy, at the very edge of the Milky Way.

TARRANT: Is there any civilization in Breelacken that could have done this?

ORAC: The Breelacken solar system is uninhabited and has been since records began.

BLAKE: Why not use one of the other planets in their own solar system instead of grabbing one from the far side of the galaxy?

ORAC: It is feasible that the Breelacken planet was close to the instigator of this project, and it was moved across the galaxy to be as far away from that intelligence as possible.

VILA: So it is dangerous?

ORAC: The planet itself is in a regular orbit.

VILA: That’s not what I asked! Look at it! It’s... gruesome.

[The skull grins from the screen at the crew.]

KYBEN: I know what you mean. It looks... wrong. Like it’s forbidden.

VILA: [Rubs eyes] Making me feel thirsty, too.

BLAKE: Any excuse for adrenaline and soma.

SOOLIN: It is eerie, though... like something like a nightmare.

ORAC: No doubt its appearance is designed to have a predetermined psychological affect on the viewers, as Zen speculated earlier.

TARRANT: It’s supposed to scare us off?

ORAC: Indeed. Furthermore, it appears that the molten core of the planet has been removed during the carving process.

TARRANT: Without leaving any kind of hole in the surface? How could they do that?

KYBEN: Teleportation?

BLAKE: You can’t just teleport the core of a planet.

VILA: You can’t just carve a planet to look like a skull but these people managed it.

ORAC: There is countless evidence to suggest civilizations more advanced than humanity have risen and fallen over the last one hundred and twenty five thousand years, from the mythic Atlantean civilization on Earth to the Devarni Empire to the Axtran Theocracy...

BLAKE: Orac, wait a moment. You said the core has been removed. What replaced it?

ORAC: That is, at present unknown but it appears to be some kind of power source. What devices it might power I have no information about, however it could be connected to the unexplained glow for which the Magellanic Clouds have been famous for the last hundred thousand years.

BLAKE: Have you found anything new about it on the Federation’s records?

ORAC: No. However, it appears that every President of the Federation until Servalan has sent at least two survey missions into the Cloud to explore the phenomenon. The last President, Sebek, decided to declare the Cloud off limits and keep secret any such disappearances, which were later attributed to disappearance in 61 Cygnii also known as the Darkling Zone. President Anders has followed Servalan’s example that the Cloud unwittingly acts as protection to the Earth sector.

KYBEN: No wonder there’s no pursuit ships.

SOOLIN: Is there no other information?

ORAC: An addendum was made to the data file on the Magellanic Cloud by President Sebek before his death in the coup that elevated Servalan to power, referring to his decision to cancel any further exploration of the Magellanic Cloud.

TARRANT: What was the addendum?

ORAC: It reads “There are places man is not meant to go.”

[A pause as the statement sinks in, as the crew exchange looks.]

ZEN: Information. Sensors detect massive seismic disturbances occurring on the planet below simultaneous with an energy build up at the planet’s core.

SOOLIN: Seismic?!

ZEN: Energy build up increasing exponentially.

[They all turn to look at the screen.]

[The massive lower jaw of the skull is slowly but surely opening, revealing a bright light inside. As the jaw open wider, the glow spills out, getting brighter and brighter.]

[Liberator flight deck. The crew turn to screen as the glow spills from the screen and illuminates the entire chamber, increasing in intensity every moment.]

VILA: It’s opening it’s mouth...

BLAKE: Soolin! Quick! The force wall!

[As the glare gets brighter, Soolin runs for the pit console.]

[The fog is amplifying the glow, silhouetting the Liberator as it hangs in front of the skull.]

[Liberator flight deck. Vila and Blake are still looking at the screen. Soolin presses a control and the buzz of the force wall is heard as the glare fades.]

SOOLIN: Force wall activated!

BLAKE: I think we now know what causes the lights of the Magellanic Cloud.

VILA: The mouth of hell...

BLAKE: Look. It’s starting to close again.

[On the screen, the skull begins to close its jaw, blotting out the diminishing glow.]

VILA: Well, we’re all still in one piece, so... where’s Kyben?

[They look around the flight deck. Soolin, Blake and Vila are the only ones present.]

VILA: Kyben?

SOOLIN: Tarrant?

BLAKE: Kyben? Zen! Where are they?

ZEN: Neither Del Tarrant nor Rela Kyben are still aboard the Liberator.

BLAKE: Then where have they gone?

VILA: [Bleakly] The skull. It gobbled them up.

[As one, they turn and look at the screen, which shows the skull.]

[The skull clamps its jaw shut. The glow has fully dispersed from the mists, and everything is as it was.]

[Darkness. There is the sound of water dripping. A harsh noise like a rattlesnake. A groan.]

TARRANT: [VO] My head...

KYBEN: [VO] Hello? Tarrant? Is that you?

TARRANT: [VO] Kyben? What happened? My head feels like there’s a Space Rat living in it. Where are we? Where are the others?

KYBEN: [VO] I don’t know. It's dark. Pitch black.

[The rattle.]

TARRANT: [VO] Did you hear that?

KYBEN: [VO] Yes.

TARRANT: [VO] I was afraid you’d say that.

[Liberator flight deck. Soolin is interrogating Orac.]

SOOLIN: I want a straight answer for once, Orac! What happened to Tarrant and Kyben?

ORAC: If you would allow me to continue, Soolin, I will explain that it is impossible to confirm their current status. It is clear now that the energy source inside the skull has replaced the core of the planet. When the mouth opens the energy reacts with the dust particles that make up the Cloud and completes a circuit. When that occurs, it creates a teleportation field.

SOOLIN: They’ve been teleported off Liberator?

ORAC: Yes.

BLAKE: Tarrant wasn’t wearing a bracelet.

ORAC: Aquitar is not needed by this process. The teleport circuit itself acts as a bracelet and consumes all organic matter in its path. It is logical to assume that the same process removed the crew of the other derelict craft in the same way.

VILA: But we’re still here!

SOOLIN: Because I operated the force wall?

ORAC: Precisely. The interference in the frequency waves meant that the field was no longer complete, and thus automatically left the three of you aboard the Liberator. The process was more advanced with Kyben and Tarrant, hence their disappearance.

BLAKE: But where have they been teleported to? Inside the skull?

ORAC: Possibly.

VILA: Where else is there?

ORAC: I would conclude that the teleport circuit is designed to collect humanoid life forms and relocate them inside the carved planet. However, on this occasion, the teleport field was interrupted.

VILA: You mean... they might not reappear? Not anywhere?

ORAC: Until I can ascertain the exact nature of this alien teleportation process, if it can continue to operate under certain circumstances and what stage it was at, I can give no real answers.

[Blake crosses to the pit console.]

BLAKE: Kyben’s wearing a bracelet. If she’s alive, she can answer it.

SOOLIN: But if she is, she’d be a long way underground. We might not be able to reach her.

BLAKE: Avon boosted the communication power.

SOOLIN: It would still be a good idea to get closer before we give away we’re still aboard. Remember what Tarrant said – we’re probably being watched.

[Blake takes his hand away from the console and moves to the pilot position.]

BLAKE: All right. We’ll move in closer.

VILA: But that thing might try and bite us!

[Soolin takes her position.]

SOOLIN: Don’t be pathetic, Vila.

VILA: Pathetic? I think a planet quite capable of chewing up the Liberator is something worth getting worried about, thank you very much.

BLAKE: There’s nothing else we can do. Zen, take us closer to the anomaly.

ZEN: Confirmed. Descent beginning... now.

[The Liberator moves closer towards the skull.]


TARRANT: [VO] I think we're underground. You're not claustrophobic, are you?

KYBEN: [VO] No. But I would prefer to be able to see anything.

TARRANT: [VO] Stay calm. We don't want to use up oxygen unduly.

KYBEN: [VO] I won't. And we don't want to get dehydrated either.

[There is a low buzzing.]

KYBEN: [VO] W-what’s that?

TARRANT: [VO] Don’t worry, Kyben. It’s me. Just got to... there.

[There is a crackle and then the darkness is lit up slightly. Tarrant is holding a hand probe, the tip glowing a bright red. He and Kyben are lying in the corner of a cave. Water drips from the ceiling. A jagged hole in the far wall leads to further darkness.]

TARRANT: It’s a Laserson probe from the tool kit. I had it in my pocket. Not much use as anything other than a torch at the moment.

KYBEN: I’m not complaining.

TARRANT: Well, whatever happened to us didn’t happen to the others.

KYBEN: You think we were teleported here?

TARRANT: I can’t think of any other way we arrived here. There's only one way out.

KYBEN: It's a bit small for my liking.

TARRANT: Still, on the bright side, we've only been teleported into a cave. Not so bad. I've been in worse situations. No green sand, for one thing.

[Tarrant rises with difficulty. The tip dims slightly.]

TARRANT: Power’s already starting to run low.

KYBEN: Well, we better conserve it then.


[Tarrant adjusts the probe, which dims until there is just enough light to make out Tarrant and Kyben in the gloom. The water continues to drip. An ethereal noise.]

KYBEN: What’s that?

TARRANT: Not the same noise as before. Like air in a tunnel. It's coming from over...

[Tarrant turns around to face Kyben, then stops.]


KYBEN: What is it? You look like you've seen a...

[Kyben turns round and stops dead. On a small shelf of rock directly behind her, just illuminated by the glow from the probe, is a small, wizened mummified creature. It is skeletal, covered in brown skin with a very wide mouth with fanged teeth. Its long, spindly arms are in its lap, holding a silver conical device aimed at its flattened, slimy head. Just behind it is a gaping hole in the wall.]

KYBEN: ...ghost.

TARRANT: Well. Now we know if anyone else has been here before.

KYBEN: It’s an alien... a proper alien.

TARRANT: Haven’t you ever seen one before?

KYBEN: Not really.

TARRANT: Must have been brought here, same as us. Is it dead?

KYBEN: I think so. That stuff on it’s head...

TARRANT: What is it?

KYBEN: It’s brain. This alien’s head’s been smashed in...

[Kyben takes the cone from its tiny hands and looks at it.]

TARRANT: So it was murdered?

KYBEN: No. I think it was suicide. See that hole in the wall? If this is some kind of weapon, the blast went through his head and into rock. [indicates] Poor thing must have thought it was trapped here, with no hope of rescue.

TARRANT: It killed itself here, though. Why here?

KYBEN: Why not?

TARRANT: There’s a tunnel leading off. Why didn’t it investigate it?

KYBEN: Maybe it did. Maybe there’s no way out.

TARRANT: So it came all the way back here and killed itself?

KYBEN: [Quietly] You do odd things when you’re suicidal.

TARRANT: All right, maybe that is what happened. But it’s an odd coincidence that it just happened to kill itself right beside where we materialized.

KYBEN: Maybe this is some kind of teleport bay, like the one on the Liberator.

TARRANT: So where are the rest of the other crews? There’s plenty of air. And no signs of suffocation...

KYBEN: Tarrant, can we just concentrate on getting out of here?

TARRANT: How do we do that, Kyben? We’re in the same trouble as our little friend here, and I don’t like the escape route he managed.

TARRANT: So are we.

KYBEN: Not necessarily.

TARRANT: What do you mean?

KYBEN: I mean... that noise again.

TARRANT: Just the breeze through that hole.

[Tarrant leans so, while not touching the corpse, his ear is next to the hole.]

TARRANT: Yes. Just air circulating.

KYBEN: It sounds like something breathing.

TARRANT: Never mind that. What do you mean ‘we’re not necessarily trapped here’?

KYBEN: You lot. How long have you been using teleport bracelets?

[Kyben reaches down to her ankle and rolls up her trouser leg to reveal a bracelet.]

KYBEN: In case of emergencies. No one ever checks your ankle for bracelets.

TARRANT: Very clever, but why didn’t you say so earlier?

[Tarrant reaches forward and unclips the bracelet. It falls apart.]


KYBEN: I think I landed on it a bit heavily.

TARRANT: So you did.

[He sighs. The gentle howl of the wind seems to echo it.]

- to be continued...

B7: Nexus (i)

611: Nexus

[Darkness. There is the sound of water dripping. A harsh noise like a rattlesnake. The sound of claws on rock, moving quickly. Beat. The rattling is louder and closer.]

[The Liberator moves through the darkness of space.]

VILA: [VO] Why is it you lot never follow any of my sensible suggestions?

[Liberator flight deck. Everyone is at their stations.]

SOOLIN: It's what we're doing now, Vila.

VILA: It wasn't a sensible suggestion, Soolin, it wasn’t even serious! It was a joke!

BLAKE: What made the joke funny, Vila, was that it was sensible. In order to have maximum surprise on the attack, we need to keep a low profile until the last possible moment. The best way to do that is hide somewhere close in Earth sector and where better than the Magellanic Cloud?

[The Liberator moves towards a huge nebula of coiling silvery-blue-and-red mist.]

[Liberator flight deck. The cloud fills the forward screen.]

BLAKE: Right under the solar system's very nose - literally - a huge dust cloud that blocks all sensors and detectors. We simply hide inside the cloud for the next day or so, and we can sneak into the solar system with impunity.

VILA: You don't think the Federation haven't noticed a weakness like that before? Otherwise, other ships would have tried it, wouldn't they?

KYBEN: Maybe they did. But they didn't have a cloaking device for once they were out of the cloud.

VILA: It's because the Cloud is a death trap, that's why. Everyone knows that.

SOOLIN: We've gone through this, Vila. Orac's checked it out. At least thirteen ships this year alone have gone straight through the crowd with no ill-effects whatsoever. The only reason ships are warned off the cloud is because it blocks communications frequencies, and that is an offence according to the navigational code. Isn't that right, Orac?

ORAC: Why must I waste my time confirming facts that have already been proven? This is a gross misuse of my abilities and one which I must protest at!

TARRANT: Even Orac's getting irritated by you, Vila.

VILA: Oh, Tarrant, you’re as charming as ever...

KYBEN: Hang on a moment, what's that?!

[Kyben points at the screen as an unearthly glow fills the flight deck.]

[A bright white light appears at the heart of the dust cloud and expands outwards, filling the nebula.]

[Liberator flight deck. Blake shields his eyes from the glare as it changes to rainbow light and pulsates.]

BLAKE: Nothing to worry about. Natural phenomenon, it happens every three hours, totally harmless.

VILA: How do you know?

BLAKE: We're still in one piece.

[The glare starts to fade rapidly.]

SOOLIN: What's what?

BLAKE: What?

[On the screen, the white light vanishes.]

SOOLIN: I thought I saw something there... in the light, a sort of shape.

TARRANT: Probably all sorts of space debris drifting around in there, normally hidden by the stellar fog. Nothing to worry about.

VILA: But what exactly is that light?

TARRANT: No one's sure. Some kind of electromagnetic energy, like earthlight or sparks from quartz.

KYBEN: And you're sure it won't harm our computers?

BLAKE: Zen, status?

ZEN: Liberator is on course and speed, all systems at full function.

BLAKE: Right. Shall we do this?

[Tarrant, Soolin and Kyben nod.]

VILA: Does it matter what I think?

BLAKE: Of course it matters, Vila. Just not very much. Zen, take us into the Cloud.

ZEN: Confirmed.

[Vila frowns as the cloud grows larger and larger on the screen.]

VILA: I don't like this. I don't like this at all.

[The Liberator glides into the coiling mist, immediately obscured. Moments later, it is gone. Inside the cloud, the ship is silhouetted against the drifting, glittering smoke.]

[Liberator flight deck. Soolin is holding an earphone to her ear.]

SOOLIN: We're already losing focus on the detectors... I can barely pick up any traffic communication outside the Cloud.

BLAKE: That's to be expected.

SOOLIN: Like the whole solar system is fading away.

BLAKE: Tarrant, how are the detectors on the inside of the Cloud?

TARRANT: The fog's not making it easy, but nothing unexpected. You can relax Vila. We're quite safe.

ZEN: Information. Sensors indicate an incoming transmission on a wide transmission band.

VILA: I thought the Cloud was supposed to stop that!

BLAKE: Obviously we're wrong. Zen, playback transmission.

ZEN: Confirmed.

[Nothing happens.]

BLAKE: Is it on audio only?

ZEN: Confirmed.

BLAKE: But there's no sound. Open the channel, Zen. We are receiving your transmission, please identity yourselves. [Silence] Make some kind of signal if you can hear us. [Silence] Hello? Respond, please.

KYBEN: Why send a transmission over audio and not say anything?

TARRANT: I might have an idea. Zen, close the channel.

ZEN: Confirmed.

SOOLIN: What's wrong, Tarrant?

TARRANT: If there is anyone at the other end of that channel, they've heard us speaking and know we're here. As surveillance goes, crude by effective.

VILA: I vote we leave. Now.

BLAKE: Or Tarrant could be wrong. The Magellanic Cloud acts as a wall. No communications can penetrate that wall, but they could function well enough on either side.

KYBEN: So, we can contact anyone... or anything thing INSIDE the Cloud, but not outside.

BLAKE: Yes. Maybe that transmission is intended for someone else, but we're picking it up only because we're inside the Cloud with the source.

SOOLIN: Whatever the explanation, it means we're not alone here.

KYBEN: But we checked - there's no other spacecraft outside the Cloud, so who could these people be trying to contact?

TARRANT: Let's find out. Zen? Scan the immediate area for other spacecraft. Full telemetric band sweep.

ZEN: Confirmed. Scanning under way.

[The Liberator moves on through the fog.]

[Liberator flight deck. Worried, Vila gnaws at his knuckle. Kyben notices and nudges him. Vila stops.]

ZEN: Space craft detected. Origin point at coordinates F1-906 oblique 316.

BLAKE: Visual.

[The screen expands to show a saucer shape, almost invisible in the mists.]

BLAKE: I can't make it out. Tarrant, aim towards those coordinates. Vila, clear the neutron blasters for firing. Just to be on the safe side.

TARRANT: Zen, plot a stand-by course to leave the cloud.

VILA: I said this was a bad idea.

SOOLIN: We heard!

[The ship grows larger and clearer on the screen. All bar Tarrant move across the flight deck to study the image on the screen.]

BLAKE: It's not a Federation ship.

VILA: It's an Auron ship.

KYBEN: I thought the Auronar were extinct.

VILA: They're not... but they're not spacefarers any more, either. That ship must have been here a while.

BLAKE: Zen, is that the source of the transmission?

ZEN: Confirmed.

BLAKE: Any life signs?

ZEN: No life signs are detected aboard the Auron craft.

VILA: So the crew’s dead?

ZEN: Negative information.

VILA: What do you mean, ‘negative information’?

ZEN: No organic material can be detected aboard the craft.

BLAKE: So the crew must have abandoned it.

SOOLIN: And left the communications channels open. Maybe they were about to use it whenever whatever happened, happened?

KYBEN: But why abandon the ship in the middle of the Cloud? And how did they leave without it?

TARRANT: We’ve got a problem.

SOOLIN: What’s wrong?

TARRANT: That isn’t the only ship in the Cloud.

VILA: Course it isn’t, there’s us.

TARRANT: Not just us. Ten others... no, twenty... all around us. Just floating, derelict.

[Tarrant adjusts a control and the screen zooms out to show other dark shapes hanging in the fog.]

ZEN: Telemetric band sweep is completed. There are thirty nine recognized space craft in the immediate vicinity of the Liberator. Twelve are Federation survey ships from the Zephron region, six standard Federation pursuit ships, one Trantinian explorer craft, three Skellarian star-burners, one Farn planet jumper, an Abigazian colony ship, four Akkasps jumpers, two Auronar survey ships...

SOOLIN: That’s enough, Zen. We get the picture.

VILA: I really, seriously think we should go now.

KYBEN: Vila’s right. Whatever happened to those ships could happen to us any minute.

TARRANT: But there are plenty of ships that have traveled through the Cloud, totally unharmed. Jenna was one of them!

KYBEN: They went straight through the Cloud, though, didn’t they? They didn’t linger here. These ships are either explorer crafts or rescue ships. Whatever happens here takes time.

VILA: All the more reason to go now!

BLAKE: Orac, what do you make of this?

ORAC: A paradox.

VILA: Very helpful.

ORAC: While the majority of the craft here are survey ships, there are several contraband space craft clearly trying to enter the Solar System by stealth. However, there is no apparent reason for any of the crews of the various craft to have abandoned their ships since all appear to be in full working order. There are no escape capsules missing from the craft, no damage and from what can be ascertained from the flight computers of the Federation ships, no fault in the life support systems or anything in the respective atmospheres that would be harmful to the crew.

TARRANT: Not pirates, either. They would have taken the ships or destroyed them.

SOOLIN: Any more information on the Magellanic Cloud, Orac?

ORAC: I am reviewing all data sources. The majority of the space craft in the Cloud are not of human design, and thus I have little data on any of their missions.

SOOLIN: What about Federation missions?

ORAC: All the craft match the reconnaissance missions sent into the Cloud since the beginning of the New Calendar.

KYBEN: You knew these ships had gone missing and you didn’t tell us?

ORAC: I was requested to confirm the state of the ships that had emerged unharmed from the Cloud, not to list the details of those that did not.

SOOLIN: [Sighs] Computer logic.

VILA: So? Orac’s thick, we all knew that! Can we just get moving now?

KYBEN: There has to be some reason the other ships passed through intact!

BLAKE: Keep working on it, Orac.

ZEN: Information. Computers have compiled results of the telemetric band sweep. The Magellanic Cloud is now charted.

TARRANT: Put it on the main screen, Zen.

[The screen shows a grid map dotted with a dull blue dots. At the centre of the grid is a bright red circle and on the outer edge is a white rectangle. Tarrant indicates the rectangle.]

TARRANT: That is the Liberator, and the rest are the derelicts...

VILA: What are we worrying about star charts, let’s just get out of here!

BLAKE: Vila! We are on the most powerful space craft known to humanity, with missiles, teleports and neutron blasters! If there is some hostile monster hiding in here, it is at a disadvantage.

VILA: Do you really believe that, or are you trying to just shut me up?

BLAKE: Can’t I do both?


BLAKE: What?

TARRANT: You better look at this.

[Tarrant indicates the blue dots on the chart.]

TARRANT: 645 space craft. Trapped like flies in a spider web.

VILA: It couldn’t be like that web, could it?

SOOLIN: What web?

VILA: [Sighs] Before your time. It was nasty, though. And this could be worse!

KYBEN: What’s that thing in the centre? Is it another space craft?

TARRANT: It’s the nexus point of the cloud, the eye of the storm.

BLAKE: The point where that glow comes from. I think we should check it out.

VILA: You don’t think that maybe, just maybe, all of those other explorers had the exact same idea?

SOOLIN: Hardly any of the ships are near the nexus, Vila.

VILA: That means they didn’t even get that far! Blake, please, let’s just get out of here!

BLAKE: Zen, plot a course for the nexus, speed standard by eight.

[The others return to their positions. Vila stays where he is, miserable.]

VILA: Am I invisible? Why do you only ever listen to me when I don’t want you to?

SOOLIN: Come on, Vila. You better man the neutron blasters.

[Vila sighs and moves to his flight console.]

BLAKE: We better stay on full alert. If there is something hostile in this Cloud...

VILA: We’ll run away?

BLAKE: We’ll have to wait and see.

ZEN: Course computed. Liberator on new heading now.

[The Liberator moves into the depths of the fog, passing shapes of abandoned space craft hanging silently in the mists. A dark shape can be made out ahead of the Liberator, getting darker and larger as the space craft approaches it.]

[Liberator flight deck. Everyone is at their stations, concentrating on their displays.]

ZEN: Information. The Liberator is now in geo stationary orbit at ten hundred spacials from the nexus of the Magellanic Cloud.

[The crew look up at the screen, and their eyes widen in shock.]

VILA: Oh... my god...

KYBEN: What is that?

VILA: What does it look like? It’s a skull... it’s a gigantic skull...

- to be continued...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

B7: Retribution (vii)


KREEL: You’re bluffing, Blake!

BLAKE: [VO] Am I? Ask them about Jain.


VILA: He’s doing it. My god. He’s going to kill us. Actually going to kill us!

[Liberator flight deck]

TARRANT: Zen! Abort the missiles!

ZEN: Modification of missiles means the abort function is no longer available.

[The missiles slice through the atmosphere]

[Liberator flight deck]

SOOLIN: Blake, what have you done?

BLAKE: What I have to!

[Warehouse. Banks and Kreel exchange worried looks, but Kreel is still firm.]

KREEL: I don’t believe you!

[Liberator flight deck]

BLAKE: You won’t have long to find out. Zen? Time to impact?

ZEN: Twenty three seconds. Twenty two. Twenty-one.

[Warehouse. Zen’s countdown can be heard clearly.]

BLAKE: [VO] Goodbye, Kreel.

[The bracelet bleeps]

KREEL: Blake? ... BLAKE!



[The duo sprint for the exit. Kyben moves to follow, but can’t leave Vila, who is now unconscious. She snatches up the uncoded bracelet.]

KYBEN: Blake!

[The missiles split up as they head towards the ground.]


BLAKE: [VO] Kyben? Has he run yet?

KYBEN: I think so!

[Liberator flight deck]

BLAKE: Prepare for teleport!

[Blake looks up at Soolin and Tarrant, who run from the room]

[Outside the warehouse, Kreel and Banks run down the alleyway. In the distance, their ship is visible]

[Inside the warehouse, Kyben and Vila teleport out, leaving the corpses alone.]

[One missile skewers Kreel’s pursuit ship and it is gutted in an explosion, before a second fireball consumes the craft.]

[In the alleyway, the blast of heat and light floors Kreel and Banks.]

[The other missile causes a massive explosion on the other side of the city.]

[As the shockwaves disperse, Kreel and Banks cling to the ground of the alleyway. Another explosion behind them. Debris fall down on their heads.]

[Liberator teleport room. Kyben is supporting Vila with Tarrant’s help.]

KYBEN: We’ve got to get him to the medical unit, quickly.

[Blake takes up Kyben’s role supporting Vila as she stumbles away.]

BLAKE: Fine. Gan’s bringing the Sevener on board the Liberator, then we can be on our way.

TARRANT: What the hell did you think you were doing, Blake?

BLAKE: I said if I found another way, I’d take it. I said we had a locator fix on Kreel’s position and I fired the missiles. I never said I was aiming them at the locator fix. Vila and Kyben weren’t in any real danger, from the missiles, anyway. Serrus is still in one piece – even most of the central city is intact.

TARRANT: Why didn’t you tell us?

BLAKE: Oddly enough, you didn’t give me a chance. Besides, your reactions convinced Kreel. If you lot refuse to trust me, I can at least make that something useful. [Sighs] I saved the Alliance, the planet and these two. Are any of you satisfied yet?

SOOLIN: Not quite. We should have words with Boorva.

[The Liberator turns on its axis and accelerates away from Serrus.]

[Serrus. Banks and Kreel stand at the end of the alleyway, both grubby and singed but otherwise unharmed. The wreckage of their ship is still burning.]

BANKS: Is this something else I shouldn’t mention, sir?

KREEL: Shut up, Banks.

[Liberator is in orbit over Tarl.]

BOORVA: [VO] But I understood these missiles were all-powerful...

[Cathedral. Blake, Soolin and Tarrant stand before Boorva.]

BOORVA: ...surely two of them should have flattened the entire continent!

TARRANT: That’s what I’d like explained, too.

BLAKE: Simple. I removed the warheads from several of the missiles. I had Zen target two of them to destroy Kreel’s ship and the planet hopper. Anyone on Serrus isn’t going anywhere now.

SOOLIN: But the missiles would be useless!

BLAKE: At the speed they were going, the kinetic energy did the job of the warhead. Both ships are gone, so
Serrus is no longer a threat, and we didn’t slaughter innocents, so we’re happy.

BOORVA: Those monsters are not innocents.

SOOLIN: They’re wild animals, Boorva. Until they develop their own civilization again, they should be left alone. Kyben was right. And this way we’re both satisfied.

BLAKE: Well, not both satisfied. Your plan didn’t work out exactly as you expected.

BOORVA: What plan would that be?

SOOLIN: I worked it out. You could have struck Serrus on your own. Certainly you could have found out what we did with a simple reconnaissance mission. Instead you called us in to do it for you. And if we had destroyed Serrus, you would have demonstrated that the Alliance has access to the most powerful weapons there are.

TARRANT: But you decided to go one better. Offer us all retirement here, so we’d allow you continued access to the Liberator. Or maybe you’d just hand us over to the Federation, and get them to forget about the border systems for the meantime.

BOORVA: The other planets have given me full authority to do whatever is necessary to protect the Alliance. And you have done that. I win in any eventuality. Because, unlike you Blake, I am no dictator. The Federation is destroying itself. If the President dies, the Federation will go on. If I die, however, the Alliance ends. They are all dependant on me, and the beauty is, they don’t even notice. I am like oxygen. Or electricity.

[Soolin draws her Scorpio handgun.]

SOOLIN: Oxygen can run out. As can electricity.

TARRANT: Lord Boorva, I reject your offer to live on Tarl.

BOORVA: It’s your loss, Tarrant.

TARRANT: I don’t think so. [into bracelet] Teleport, please, Orac.

BLAKE: Bring me up as well. I think Soolin can take care of this.

[Blake and Tarrant teleport. Soolin trains her gun on Boorva.]

SOOLIN: I can pull the trigger before you call for help.

BOORVA: Go ahead, then.

[Boorva unfolds his arms and opens them wide. Soolin doesn’t fire.]

BOORVA: I’m safe. No one in the border systems would even consider an assassination attempt on me, any more than they would kill themselves. I am indispensable. That is why I am still alive. Not Mida, not Chalsa, not Lod or even you can kill me. Not without destroying everything you came here to save.

SOOLIN: Who said I was going to kill you?

[She fires her gun, which fires a red laser instead of a plasma bullet. Boorva screams out of view.]

[Liberator moves through space.]

[Blake is at the pilot’s position. Kyben and Soolin stand before the screen as Tarl shrinks into the distance.]

KYBEN: You set fire to his beard?

SOOLIN: And his hair. He won’t be needing it when Tarl’s summer starts, though he won’t be making any personal appearances before the burns heal. Considering what he put us through, he got off rather lightly.

KYBEN: At least we made some kind of moral victory.

SOOLIN: Blake let you in on the plan, then?

BLAKE: I told her about what I did to the missiles. Then I had to adapt the plan.

KYBEN: I guessed something like that.

SOOLIN: [to Blake] So you really would have told us, given the chance?

BLAKE: Yes. There you go, Kyben.

[Blake points to the screen. They are passing Serrus.]

BLAKE: Kreel’s stuck on that planet for the foreseeable future. And we have at least ten minutes before the Federation arrives. Enough time for us to find him and kill him.

KYBEN: I thought you wanted to do that.

BLAKE: I do. But at the end of the day, it’d probably give him too much satisfaction. He’s yours.

[Kyben looks at the screen. Then she shakes her head.]

KYBEN: Let him go. We’ve got better things to do than worry about revenge.

SOOLIN: You’re not going to forgive him for what he’s done?

KYBEN: Oh, Soolin. I never said that. I might not kill him, but I’m not going to let him get away with what he’s done.

BLAKE: I’ll settle for anything left after you’ve finished with him.

KYBEN: [Smiles] Assuming you don’t get him first.

BLAKE: Naturally. Zen, set a course for the United Planets of Teal, standard by four.

ZEN: Confirmed. Course computed. Speed at standard by four.

[The screen closes and Tarrant enters.]

TARRANT: Sevener’s docked successfully. Are you going to tell us why we’re heading for Teal?

BLAKE: Why not? It’s as good a place as any for us to part company. I assume you still want to?

ORAC: Attention.

SOOLIN: What is it, Orac?

ORAC: I have pre-programmed instructions to carry out in a scenario such as this. Therefore, all the crew members should be present for necessary instructions to be carried out.

BLAKE: Instructions? From whom?

ORAC: Kerr Avon.

KYBEN: But he’s dead. Did he instruct you before that?

ORAC: It is obvious that he did! How could a dead human being instruct me?

KYBEN: I’ll go and get Vila.

[Kyben exits.]

SOOLIN: He should be recovered by now.

BLAKE: I can’t believe he was so reckless. He was lucky to survive.

TARRANT: Like I said. We’ve all lost people. Maybe now Avon’s gone, Vila’s going to stand up for himself from now on.

SOOLIN: If we hadn’t just saved the universe, I’m sure that would be a sign it was about to end.

[Kyben enters with Vila, who is limping and has a regeneration cast around his leg.]

VILA: What’s wrong? Why can’t I just die in peace?

TARRANT: Orac wants to talk to us.

VILA: He can talk to me separately, can’t he? Or are you planning to ditch me in the next crisis?

BLAKE: I didn’t ditch Kyben. She was about to be attacked by the Serrunite leader who was wearing her teleport bracelet.

KYBEN: I did tell him.

VILA: You should have gone back for her, Nij.

BLAKE: I intended to...

ORAC: If I might be allowed to interrupt this truly pointless bickering and recrimination, I do have a task to perform.

[They sit down in the pit.]

BLAKE: Go ahead, Orac.

ORAC: Avon gave me instructions to be carried out in the event of his death and various other facts of no immediate concern. However, the lack of trust and cooperation with the Liberator crew, combined with the imminent disintegration of said crew were predicted. Thus I shall replay a viscast recorded by Avon on the main screen. Please remain silent until the viscast is concluded.

[The crew exchange surprised looks. The screen opens to show Avon sitting at the teleport.]

AVON: If this recording is being replayed by Orac, then I am now dead. I have just seen the rest of you off in Sevener to collect the guidance crystal we need for the missiles – a malfunction so perfect I am wondering if it might be some kind of trap. In either case, if you are watching this it means you survived the trip to Bartoc 4, if not succeeded in getting the crystal. The reason you have used Sevener is that for my mission I need the Liberator, I need Zen and I need Orac. It is a dangerous mission with a fifty per cent chance of survival. Equal odds to live or die. I do not intend this to be a suicide mission, but I’m not so stupid as to miss the dangers.

[We pan across the crew’s faces as they watch.]

AVON: The Federation boasts the finest interrogation techniques known. If any of you are captured, you will tell them everything. It’s a fact. They will make you talk and you will not be able to stop them. Normally, this would be an acceptable risk, and so I would ensure you all knew what I am attempting to do. But not this time. If the Federation so much as suspects what I am doing, the consequences will be catastrophic. I use the word with precision. Catastrophic. That is why I have made Blake give me his word that he will not allow any of you to know what my mission is... [Smiles] Was. I trust Blake will keep his word, as I keep mine. However, I can imagine his sudden reticence may, when coupled with his total lack of subtlety, lead to friction on the crew. Tarrant, you I’m sure can be relied upon to complain. Perhaps Blake will already have convinced you of the reasons for his silence. But if not, I am leaving this message in case I am not alive to do so in person.

[Avon pauses, thinking.]

AVON: Vila, you and I were there at the very beginning. Tarrant and Soolin, we have been together for several years. I was designated the leader of this group and with a few notable mistakes, I believe I was a good one. Certainly good enough to command loyalty from the three of you. It is because of that loyalty I make one final order – stay with the Liberator, trust Blake, and if necessary obey without question. Because by doing so, we might actually win this once and for all. I won’t be there to see it, of course. But after seven years living on the run, with all the others dead... even Servalan at the end. Perhaps it is time. If this message is playing, I trust that Blake will have at least confirmed if I succeeded in my mission. And perhaps, that will be enough. I may never see any of you ever again, and that will certainly be one compensation. For what it’s worth, I hope you survive what is to come. And I trust you Vila, and you, Soolin, and you Tarrant, not to let me down. [Beat] Good luck.

[On the screen, Avon gets to his feet and moves out of sight. The screen shuts down. Silence.]

TARRANT: Well. That’s it then. I’m going to remove the cloaking device from Sevener and reinstall it into the Liberator.

[Tarrant rises.]

SOOLIN: I’ll help you carry it.

TARRANT: Thanks.

[Tarrant and Soolin leave.]

KYBEN: Vila ought to get back to the medical unit.

VILA: All right. I’m coming.

[Kyben helps him up.]

BLAKE: Do you need any help?

KYBEN: I’ll manage.

[Kyben and Vila head for the exit.]

BLAKE: Vila? I hope you feel better soon.

VILA: [Nods] Thanks, Blake.

[They leave. Blake sits alone in the pit for a moment. He smiles to himself and closes his eyes.]

[The Liberator flies off into the distance.]

The End

B7: Retribution (vi)

[Kreel, Banks and the troopers stand to one side. Kyben is held by one trooper. Before them, Serrunite bodies are scattered in a heap. Blake is still fighting the surviving ones. He drop kicks one, backhands another, kicks the first one again and decks a third.]

BANKS: We’re running out of trainees, Commander.

KREEL: We can afford to.

[Blake grabs the second Serrunite and snaps his neck. He returns to fending off each Serrunite and killing the one that sags first. Sorlai is watching from the gantry above. He jumps from it, landing on top of Blake and flooring him. Sorlai grabs the back of Blake’s head and slams it against the floor. Kreel leans forward, interested. Blake manages to roll over, only to be punched in the face twice by Sorlai. He blocks the third blow and hurls Sorlai back but the other Serrunites charge him. He manages to hurl one Serrunite into Sorlai, but another grabs his arm and refuses to let go, holding him in place as the others attack. Blake snatches the sword from the belt of the Serrunite restraining him and kills the three remaining Serrunites, before ramming it backwards into the one behind him. Kreel applauds.]

KREEL: Well done, Blake. Now surrender, or your pitiful companion dies.

[Banks aims his gun at Kyben’s head.]

KREEL: Of course, you can replace a medic on your crew easily. Very well, keep fighting. Banks...

BLAKE: [cutting across him] I surrender.

KREEL: Take off your bracelet.

[Eyes locked on Kreel, Blake does so. As he removes it, he presses the signal button, before throwing it at Kreel’s feet.]

KREEL: How many of the others are here on Serrus?

BLAKE: It’s just us.

KREEL: I don’t believe him. Banks...

BLAKE: It’s just us! Vila is on the Liberator, Soolin and Tarrant are on Tarl!

KREEL: And what about Avon?

KYBEN: Avon’s dead!

BLAKE: She’s telling the truth.

KREEL: You can do better than that.

BLAKE: He is. I swear. He is dead.

[Kreel turns and approaches Blake.]

KREEL: Then you will soon be joining him, won’t you, Blake?

[Sevener flight deck.]

ORAC/GAN: [VO] Alert signal detected. Activating teleport.

[Sevener cargo bay. The teleport bay lights up, and a shimmering sphere of white lines appears and vanishes twice before it dies down.]

[Liberator flight deck. Vila is stuffing a shirt into his tool box.]

ORAC: Attention. Blake has used his emergency communication signal, but teleport is not possible as his bracelet and the one coded for Rela Kyben are not operable.

VILA: So they’re not wearing them?

ORAC: Exactly.

VILA: What’s happened to them, can you tell?

ORAC: There is a high probability they have been attacked by a hostile agency. In order to defeat Blake, they would have to be talented in combat and many in number.

VILA: Chances of survival?

ORAC: Federation presence on the planet indicates there is a one in three chance of them being taken alive for public execution.

VILA: But a two in three chance of them being hacked to pieces by mutant madmen, right?

ORAC: It would seem so.

VILA: Fine. Nij’s not going to get the moral high ground on me. Zen, set a course for the planet Serrus, speed standard by twelve. Get us going on my order.

ZEN: Confirmed. Course laid in.

[Cathedral. Boorva watches from the lectern as Tarrant and Soolin approach.]

BOORVA: Ah, my friends, there you are.

TARRANT: Lord Boorva...

SOOLIN: Tarrant, don’t!

TARRANT: It’s about your offer to stay on Tarl.



[Their bracelets beep.]

VILA: [VO] Sorry about this.

[They teleport out, leaving Boorva startled.]

[Liberator flight deck.]

VILA: Are they aboard?

ORAC: Of course they are!

VILA: Zen, get us moving. And contact Gan and the Sevener, make sure we don’t crash into them.

ZEN: Confirmed. Moving onto new course now.

VILA: How long to arrival time?

ZEN: Two minutes and counting.

[Tarrant and Soolin enter.]

TARRANT: Vila, what the hell are you up to?

VILA: Blake’s in trouble. So’s Kyben. One last rescue mission, for old time’s sake?

SOOLIN: How long ago were they captured?

VILA: Er, dunno. Orac?

ORAC: Blake triggered the emergency pulse one minute and seven seconds ago.

VILA: Well, normally this is when Avon would tell us what to do.


VILA: All right. Who wants to be leader now?

[Liberator flies through space.]

[Warehouse. Blake lies on the floor. Troopers kneel on his arms and legs and have their guns trained at his head. Banks stands behind the group, holding Kyben with one hand and aiming a gun at Blake with another. Kreel is pacing, hands behind his back. Sorlai is sitting on a crate, rubbing his face.]

KREEL: I first went up against the Liberator before the Intergalactic War, under the command of Supreme Commander Servalan. After that fiasco, I was unjustly demoted, arrested and imprisoned. It was the war that saved me. I was released and helped the battle against the aliens. When Servalan made her coup, I kept my head down and survived the civil wars. But I’ve worked my way back to Space Commander, only for Blake and the Liberator to return.

BLAKE: And what a wonderful job you’ve done. No wonder you’ve been left to rot here.

KREEL: Perhaps I have been abandoned. But this assignment, if it succeeds, if the Rebel Alliance is destroyed, then the Federation will have expanded its outer limits for the first time since the New Calendar began.

BLAKE: You won’t succeed. You never do. You’re incompetent. How many ships did you lose at Freedom City? Then you let us escape with all the missiles from Agro 34. And IMIPAK, you made a real mess of that. The ultimate weapon destroyed, the ESD wiped out. You were given the perfect opportunity to stop us on Demos V. And you not only missed us, you showed the planet you couldn’t stop us from saving our allies from under our very noses. Servalan achieved more in a week than you ever have. No wonder the President sent you out here. A situation that could only be improved – either you succeeded or you got eaten. You’re nothing, Kreel.

KREEL: Oh, I’m not nothing Blake. I’m incredibly important. To you.

BLAKE: You flatter yourself.

KREEL: Do I? I’ve achieved quite a lot in a sense. Your father, the late lamented clone. That mutoid you somehow brainwashed. And thanks to me your friend Jenna is now a severed head at Residence One. It was your petty blood vendettas, your useless emotions about a soldier simply following his orders, that let me set up this trap.

BLAKE: Yes. And thanks to you, I went and destroyed the Mutoid Factories. Thanks to you, the new legislation is tugging the Federation apart from within. Thanks to you I have every intention of destroying you and everything you ever stood for.

[Everyone is now so focussed on Blake and Kreel, Kyben is no longer being held tightly. She gently starts to reach round behind Banks.]

KREEL: But you won’t, Blake. Instead, your capture has allowed me to take control of the Liberator. With that, and your missiles, I can destroy Tarl. The Liberator crew prisoner, access to the Liberator, to Orac, and the border systems defenseless. All in one day’s work. President Anders will realize his mistake in underestimating me.

BLAKE: If you were that efficient, you’d be a danger. You’d be killed before the rest of us.

KREEL: That, Blake, remains to be seen.

SORLAI: Enough of this talk! You have him! Don’t waste words. Take this Leebrayta, and let me feast on this creature that has dared killed my best brood!

KREEL: Out of the mouths of barbarians. Very well, Sorlai. Put on the woman’s bracelet.


KREEL: Just do it, you stinking mutant! And you can feast on the rest of this criminal’s gang!

[Sorlai sniffs the bracelet Kreel hands him, then clips it round his wrist.]

SORLAI: I might do the same to you, Space Commander.

KREEL: You and what army? The one this single criminal just wiped out? Shut up, Sorlai. Blake.

[Kreel crosses over to Blake and holds the bracelet above Blake’s head.]

KREEL: Unless you want Miss Kyben to be shot here, you will contact your ship and tell them to teleport you both up to the Liberator. No tricks or she will lose her other eye.

[Blake scowls, then nods.]

KREEL: Sensible.

[Kreel holds the bracelet closer to Blake for him to speak. At that moment, Kyben jabs a sharp punch into Banks’ spine. Banks moans, gasps and falls onto the group around Blake. Kreel leaps back with surprise as Kyben snatches a Serrunite blade and charges Kreel, knocking him to the floor and scattering the troopers. Blake, freed, snatches up the bracelet. Sorlai whirls to face Kyben and charges towards her.]

BLAKE: I need teleport now!

[Immediately, Blake and Sorlai vanish as Kyben holds the blade to Kreel’s neck.]

[Space. Sorlai snaps into existence to explode into nothingness. Above it is the Liberator.]

[Liberator teleport room. Vila and Soolin are present. Orac sits on the desk, working. Blake materializes and runs over to the console.]

VILA: Blake, where’s Kyben?


SOOLIN: Blake!

BLAKE: Are the missiles prepared?

ZEN: [VO] Confirmed. Missiles are ready for immediate launch.

SOOLIN: Blake, where is Kyben?

BLAKE: Zen, I want a scan made of the planet’s surface...

VILA: He’s left her to die! [Angry] Hasn’t he?

[He snatches two teleport bracelets from the trolley.]

BLAKE: What?! Of course I haven’t!

SOOLIN: Vila, what are you doing?

VILA: Orac, teleport!


[Blake runs into the bay, but Vila dematerializes. Blake remains in the teleport bay.]

BLAKE: Vila...

[Warehouse. Vila arrives on the other side of the warehouse. Meanwhile, the troopers surround Kyben, who is crouched over Kreel with the scimitar at his throat.]

KYBEN: If any of you... ANY of you... move. He dies.

KREEL: Stay back. All of you.

KYBEN: Thought so. You’re not going to die for the Federation, are you?

KREEL: Not like this.

KYBEN: You’re better than this, I suppose? You deserve to live?

KREEL: I think so.

KYBEN: And what about Poul?


KYBEN: My son. He would have been seven by now.

KREEL: I didn’t kill him.

KYBEN: No, you just had your men kill him! And Renna... and Senna... and Rak. My Rak. They didn’t harm anyone. They didn’t threaten the Federation, they didn’t threaten anything. But you decided they had to die. So, why EXACTLY do YOU deserve to live, after all the lives you’ve ruined? If you hadn’t killed that mutoid, Blake wouldn’t have destroyed them, and those laws wouldn’t have been introduced. You’re the one who caused all this. All of it. So why do you deserve to live when they didn’t?

KREEL: Because unlike you, Rela Kyben, I matter. You, your career, your alliterative family, are nothing. Kill
me and you die here and now. Release me, you’ll be executed as an example to traitors everywhere. No matter what you do, you aren’t important. I am. And I don’t care at all about your shattered life. Unlike you, I have a purpose that can’t be stripped away by a simple death squad.

[Kyben stares at him, suddenly calm.]

KYBEN: You sad little soldier. You’ve got two eyes, and you can’t see anything, can you? You don’t have anything at all. The Federation couldn’t care less about you. You’re nothing to it. And I’m nothing to it either. But I had a family. I had a life. You don’t. You’ve got nothing.

KREEL: Shut up.

KYBEN: [Not listening] Nothing at all.

KREEL: Shut up! Just shut up!

KYBEN: Is there anything even inside that body?

KREEL: Shut up, you stupid little bitch!

KYBEN: If I cut you, do you bleed?

[The knife at his throat draws blood.]

KREEL: [Terrified] KILL HER!

[There is a volley of gunfire – from a Liberator sidearm. The troopers collapse, crying out in pain as Vila emerges from hiding, wielding his gun.]

KYBEN: Vila!

[Taking the moment of surprise, Kreel headbutts Kyben and knocks her off him. Banks, who has finally recovered, grabs a knife from a dead Serrunite and flings it at Vila. It buries itself in the thief’s leg and he screams and collapses. Kreel darts forward, snatches up a fallen trooper’s sidearm and aims it at the two rebels. There is blood on his throat.]

KREEL: Restal. Fine. It doesn’t matter if I have to get all of you down here by rota. The Liberator is mine. Banks?

BANKS: [Weak] Sir?

KREEL: Keep an eye on them. Execute them if you think it necessary.

[He reaches out with his free hand and snatches up the bracelet.]

KREEL: Liberator. This is Space Commander Kreel. Can you hear me, Blake?

[Liberator flight deck. Blake, Tarrant and Soolin stand by the pit console.]

BLAKE: I hear you, Kreel.


KREEL: Then you will be pleased to know that I am in a no-lose situation. Even if I don’t get you, the Liberator and the Alliance, I can reduce your manpower by two.

BLAKE: [VO] You might already have done so. Prove they’re still alive.

KREEL: How? Kill them now over the audio link?

[Liberator flight deck]

BLAKE: That won’t be necessary. Let them speak. I want to be sure.

[Warehouse. Kreel jabs the bracelet at Vila.]

KREEL: Go on then, Restal. Talk?

VILA: [Dazed] Oh. Help. Someone. Please. Oh God... I think I’m going to faint...

KREEL: And our friend Kyben.

KYBEN: [rubs head] Blake, Vila’s injured. Very badly...

KREEL: And he’ll get worse. Now, Blake, I want you to land both your ships on Serrus and then have Orac teleport all three of you to my location.

[Liberator flight deck. Blake is calmer.]

BLAKE: That would require us to have a precise locator fix on your signal.

[Warehouse. Kreel is angrier.]

KREEL: Then get one!

[Liberator flight deck]

BLAKE: I have one already, Kreel. I know precisely where you are. Vila? Kyben?


KYBEN: Yes, Blake?

BLAKE: [VO] I’m sorry.

[Liberator flight deck]

BLAKE: Zen, fire the missiles!

SOOLIN: No, Blake, you can’t!

ZEN: Missiles launched.

[Space. Two missiles shoot down from the underside of the Liberator and hurtle towards Serrus.]

- to be continued...

B7: Retribution (v)

[Space. Sevener moves away from the Liberator down towards Serrus.]

[Sevener flight deck. Blake is at the controls. Kyben sits beside him.]

KYBEN: Don’t you ever get tired of travelling in this ship?

BLAKE: It was my home for the best part of my life... my real life, anyway. I like it. Gan, commit full automatics and activate the cloaking device.

GAN: Automatic controls activated. Cloaking device engaged. Arrival at Serrus in eighteen minutes.

BLAKE: If there are any detectors still working down there, they’ll have picked up the Liberator but possibly not us – their technology would be decades behind ours. Let’s keep it that way.

KYBEN: If there is a Federation force on Serrus, what are we going to do?

BLAKE: It depends. It can only be a small force, so unless they’re trying to recruit the natives, it should be simple enough to deal with.

KYBEN: What if they are trying to recruit the natives?

BLAKE: Then there has to be some kind of training camp where the Federation are training the warriors. A few explosives there will remove the problem and the Federation presence as effectively as an orbital strike.

KYBEN: That sounds reasonable.

BLAKE: People will still be killed, Kyben.

KYBEN: I know. I should be disgusted by this. By us even talking about it.

BLAKE: Boorva was right, though. If you try to fight a war with no casualties you will lose.

KYBEN: That doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

BLAKE: It wasn’t supposed to. Gan, I want a surface scan over the main continent and report any functioning space craft detected.

KYBEN: What if they’re using a cloaking device as well?

BLAKE: Then we’ll know they’re doing it when Gan detects a blind spot large enough to cover a pursuit ship.

KYBEN: Vila was right, you really are better at this without us. You wouldn’t have to explain so much, for one thing.

BLAKE: If it weren’t for the rest of you, I’d have been killed any number of occasion by now. And even if you weren’t "useful", I wouldn’t get rid of you. Believe it or not, I am still a human being, Kyben. They’re my friends. And if they really don’t trust me, I’ve been doing something wrong.

KYBEN: You’ve changed so much, though, even since I’ve met you. It’s aged you.

BLAKE: [Quietly] You have to adapt or die in this universe. And I don’t intend to die any time soon.

[The forward screen shows a map of the continent with two bulls eye graphics close together.]

GAN: Detectors registering two functional space craft on the surface of Serrus. One is a modified planet hopper, Wanderer Class Mk 1. The other is a high speed Federation Command pursuit ship. Both craft are located in the area designated central city.

KYBEN: Any blind spots on the detectors?

GAN: Negative.

BLAKE: Can we land inside the city without being detected?

GAN: Negative. Architectural layout allows only one suitable landing position...

KYBEN: And the Federation ship’s the one using it?

GAN: Acknowledged.

BLAKE: This isn’t going to be as easy as we’d like is it?

KYBEN: It never is.

[Warehouse. Kreel, Banks and the troopers stand to one side of the warehouse while, on a gantry, Sorlai screams to a gathered mass of Serrunites.]

SORLAI: When we inside Leebrayta, we KILL! All them, we KILL! STRIKE FAST! AND DEEP!

[The Serrunites roar and grunt in cheer.]


[Roaring, the Serrunites run out of the warehouse. Sorlai grins and troops down some metal steps to where Kreel’s group is waiting.]

KREEL: Your battle tactics are refreshingly simple, Sorlai.

SORLAI: The plan is complicated enough.

KREEL: Should I explain it to you again?

SORLAI: Hah! You think that because I did not attend your "Eff-hess-say" that I am a fool?

KREEL: [Shrugs] Yes, actually, I do.

SORLAI: Our ship heads for Leebrayta. Your machine tells the computers of Leebrayta our ship is empty and make them let us dock. Then they open the hatches, we kill them all and use the Leebrayta to attack Tarl and Boorva, who thinks the Leebrayta is still on their side.

KREEL: Of course. I’m pleased you trusted me to program the flight computer.

SORLAI: Of course I trust you, Space Commander. Because you will come with us for the mission.

KREEL: I’d rather not. Our chats have given me something of a lung infection.

SORLAI: But, Space Commander, you are so much cleverer than us. Surely you should be on the ship. You will know how to deal with the Leebrayta and the renegades aboard. It would be... foolish for you to be left behind.

KREEL: I will be aboard my ship during the maneuver.

SORLAI: No. You will be aboard my ship. In case I forget anything about this ‘Odysseus Horse’ trick of yours.

[Sorlai steps closer, menacingly. At that moment, the blocky handheld communicator beside Banks squawks. He picks it up and listens to it.]

BANKS: Commander, it’s the ship. Computer’s detected a sub-ether communication from low orbit. All scanners indicate they’re nothing up there.

KREEL: Then all scanners are wrong, Banks! Is the Liberator still in orbit over Tarl?

BANKS: Yes, sir.

KREEL: Then it’s their courier ship with its cloaking device. They must suspect we’re down here.

SORLAI: But how?

KREEL: Darnel’s been caught. Boorva must have contacted the Liberator to take us out. Obviously the rebels have decided to check the facts for themselves. [to Sorlai] Is there anywhere a ship could land in central city?

SORLAI: Only the grass lands – and your ship is already there, crushing the fire plants!

KREEL: Perfect. Do you know what that means?

SORLAI: The fire plant harvest is ruined and winter starts in the next few months?

KREEL: No, it means they must be using their teleport. Excellent.

SORLAI: How is this good if the enemy are going attack now?

KREEL: Because we can set a trap. Get your posse of cannibals out of the planet hopper and surround this building. Banks – I want the flight computer to relay a full scale status report.

BANKS: That will take fifteen minutes, sir, at least. There’s no other communications on this planet, we’ll stand out like a beacon if we transmit that long!

KREEL: Exactly. Get on with it!

[Sevener in orbit over Serrus.]

[Sevener cargo bay. Blake and Kyben enter. Blake crosses to the console.]

BLAKE: Still no answer. [Into bracelet] Liberator, do you receive me? Soolin?

VILA: [VO] This is Vila. Soolin’s popped out for a moment.

KYBEN: [Into bracelet] Popped out? Where?

VILA: [VO] Down on Tarl. Seems to be a nice place to retire, all told.

[Blake lets out a controlled sigh.]

BLAKE: [Into bracelet] We’ve detected a pursuit ship landed on the surface, so we’re leaving Sevener cloaked, in orbit, while we teleport down.

[Liberator flight deck. Vila is using the pit console. He has a hamper-box which he is storing bottles of adrenaline and soma into.]

VILA: Not sensible, Nij. There’s no one there to teleport you up.

BLAKE: [VO] Switch on Orac. He can use the interface with Gan to activate the teleport.

VILA: I thought Orac couldn’t control Gan.

BLAKE: [VO] The interface overrides that.

VILA: Well, you could have told us all sooner, Nij.

[Sevener cargo bay. Blake snaps.]

BLAKE: [Into bracelet] Maybe I didn’t think you’d listen!

KYBEN: [firmly] Blake. Vila, just switch on Orac, please.

VILA: [VO] All right, I’m doing it. Say hello to the Serrunites for me.

[Blake breaks contact.]

BLAKE: To think. We used to be drinking buddies.

KYBEN: Back when they trusted you.

BLAKE: Yes, it HAS been mentioned, Kyben. I’ve treated them no worse than Avon ever did.

KYBEN: Maybe you should stop trying to be Avon and be yourself.

BLAKE: Maybe you’re right. How’s the bracelet?

KYBEN: Tighter than the ordinary ones. Why I have to use this one?

BLAKE: It’s coded specifically to your genetic body print. If anyone except you tries to use that bracelet, it will automatically teleport them into deep space and vaporize them.

KYBEN: That’s disgusting.

BLAKE: It means whoever is on teleport duty isn’t killed in a surprise attack. You ready?

KYBEN: As I’ll ever be.

[Blake presses a control and hurries over to stand with Kyben in the teleport bay. The control depresses and they teleport.]

[Alleyway. Blake and Kyben teleport in.]

BLAKE: [Winces] Oh, that stench!

KYBEN: Methane, sulphor and... something I’d rather not think about. Are we going to stay down here long?

BLAKE: Just a quick check. Gan detected a communication to this building. Some kind of status check with the pursuit ship. So obviously the officer in charge is here. Once we confirm that, we get out of here and have the Liberator fire a missile at this city.

KYBEN: You’re sure about this plan? If you’re wrong, there’ll be massive destruction! This whole city could be flattened...

BLAKE: I thought we’d agreed to trust me on this? I’ve worked out how to... wait.

[They pause by a pair of doors in the warehouse that are open. Blake frowns.]

BLAKE: Where’s your gun?

KYBEN: I didn’t bring one.

BLAKE: What?!

KYBEN: Hippocratic oath. I am a doctor, remember.

BLAKE: Oh, brilliant. Stay out here then.

[He creeps inside, drawing his Liberator gun.]

[Warehouse. Blake moves through the crates and sees Kreel and a trooper standing nearby, listening to the communicator as it recites another report..]

COMPUTER: [VO] ... data suggests further mutation in the natives but no further study has been carried out. Topographical notes: mercury swamps have been located at the equator, and unusual orbit has caused seasons lasting no less than twenty-five years with a mean temperature...

[Blake sees it is Kreel and his face twists with anger briefly. He calms, steps forward and raises his gun. He fires. The communicator crumples and explodes spectacularly. Kreel and the trooper whirl around. The trooper raises his gun.]

BLAKE: Drop it! Or I kill you!

[Kreel nods. The trooper drops the gun and puts his hands behind his head, as does Kreel.]

BLAKE: Space Commander Kreel. How the mighty have fallen.

KREEL: [Shrugs] The Federation is undergoing something of a difficult period, yes.

BLAKE: I was speaking more... specifically, Kreel. Look at you. [Tutts] One of the most senior officers in the empire. Reduced to deep cover in a swamp like this, abandoned and forgotten. I can’t imagine how low a priority this operation is to President Anders. Does he even remember starting it? Just what exactly happens to career soldiers when they have no careers left?

[Alleyway. Kyben is keeping watch. Banks steps from the shadows and grabs her, attacking from her blind side. She struggles but Banks clamps a hand over her mouth to stop her from crying out.]

[Warehouse. Blake covers Kreel and the trooper.]

KREEL: I suppose you’re going to kill me in mindless revenge?

BLAKE: I’ve not decided yet. Someone else has requested the honor of killing you.

KREEL: More cowardice. Still, what can I expect? Your father was deeply disappointing in that regard. He wept and begged for his life. It was embarrassing, frankly.

[Blake’s eyes widen and he aims the gun at Kreel.]


[Serrunites start screaming from all sides, surprising Blake who spins around. A Serrunite jumps from an overhead gantry, clutching a scimitar. Blake spots the attacker and shoots him, and the Serrunite crashes dead to the ground, but the distraction allows the other Serrunites to attack. One tackles Blake, who grabs his arm, spins and sends the attacker crashing into two other Serrunites. Blake smoothly fires his gun rapidly, killing all three. Another savage charges him, crashing into Blake before he can fire. The gun goes off and another Serrunite collapses. Another slashes at Blake with the sword, slicing the cable to his gun and jolting it out from his grasp. Blake reaches behind him and flips a Serrunite over his head, snatches up a sword from the first, dead attacker and skewers the Serrunite that cut his gun cord. Four Serrunites charge him from all sides.]

[Cathedral. Tarrant and Soolin are now dressed in fur-lined purple robes as Boorva wears.]

SOOLIN: You’re not really planning to give up the Liberator, are you?

TARRANT: Vila’s right. We’ve got more reason to leave than stay.

SOOLIN: The Federation still exists. I thought we were going to destroy it.

TARRANT: Before it destroyed us? I wonder if it already has. How much do we have to lose before it gets too much? Avon’s dead. Blake’s dead. Jenna, Cally, Jain, Dayna... even Servalan. The fight goes on when we don’t. I really don’t think we’ll live long enough to destroy the Federation.

SOOLIN: I never thought you’d give in.

TARRANT: You think I crash landed Scorpio to prove something?

[Soolin is silent.]

TARRANT: I didn’t intend to survive, Soolin. But staying alive was easier. Less trouble.

SOOLIN: Zeeona...

TARRANT: Zeeona wanted this Alliance to work. She made sure of that before she died.

SOOLIN: Tarrant, she killed herself.

TARRANT: We don’t know that.

SOOLIN: You think she removed her radiation suit by mistake?

TARRANT: Her father was dead, her honour ruined. She discharged her responsibilities and then ended it all cleanly. She was right. We should have spared ourselves all this. Maybe that’s how Avon died? He realized it was pointless and switched off the oxygen supply. Maybe we’re the unlucky ones, the ones who haven’t made sense of it.

SOOLIN: Zeeona was weak, Tarrant. I’m sorry to tell you this but she was. She ended her life when she didn’t have to, and no one gained by it. You loved her, I know you loved her. But if she loved you she wouldn’t have killed herself, would she? And if life is so pointless, why didn’t she let you go with her, die with her, in one last grand gesture?

[Tarrant turns and walks off. Soolin follows.]

SOOLIN: And if Zeeona thought it was all pointless, what about Dayna? She died fighting. She wanted to stay alive, to change things. So did Jenna. And did Cally just give up? If you had died on GP, would you have wanted us all to just give up? Forget the whole thing and hide away? We make a difference, Tarrant. Just the few of us. You know things are changing. And if we give up now... Blake’s right, we’ll have wasted the last few years of our lives for nothing.

TARRANT: I’ve almost run out of people to lose, Soolin. My parents. My brother. You know, you and Vila are all I have left now.

SOOLIN: If I matter that much to you, listen to me...

TARRANT: And what? Put up with Blake’s secrecy? Get used as canon fodder so the Federation can become even harsher and more dangerous? Count the days till I join the glorious ranks of the dead followers of Roj Blake?

SOOLIN: It’s your choice, Tarrant. It doesn’t have to be like that.

TARRANT: And that’s why I want to leave.

SOOLIN: Then why aren’t you packing your bags like Vila?

[Tarrant doesn’t answer but keeps walking.]

- to be continued...

B7: Retribution (iv)

[Liberator teleport room. Kyben is at the console as the others teleport in.]

KYBEN: I take it, it wasn’t a trap?

BLAKE: [heads for exit] No. Not at all. If you’ll excuse me.

TARRANT: Blake, what are you doing?

[Tarrant runs out after Blake.]


KYBEN: [Sighs] Now what’re the arguing about?

VILA: It’s Boorva, he wants us to...

SOOLIN: You can explain it to Kyben on the way, Vila.

VILA: But...

SOOLIN: Come on. Quick.

[They hurry out.]

[Liberator flight deck. Blake enters at a run and crosses over to Orac, switching him on.]

BLAKE: Orac...

ORAC: What is it now?

BLAKE: I need some information about the prototype missiles, specifically how to adapt individual missiles for planetary assault without triggering an earthshock level detonation.

ORAC: Such information can easily be ascertained from the schematics and blueprints already held by Zen and the other computer systems aboard the Liberator.

BLAKE: I don’t care if this is beneath your dignity, Orac, just do it. I am first authority aboard the Liberator now.

ORAC: That is of no concern to me, Blake.

BLAKE: [Rolls his eyes] Why is everyone on this ship so stubborn?

ORAC: There is a noted rebellious element aboard.

[Blake frowns at Orac, then laughs.]

[Kreel and Sorlai are walking through a smoggy alleyway outside the warehouse. Moss and weeds are everywhere. Sorlai is the more relaxed and cheerful of the two.]

SORLAI: Your memory does not seem very good, Space Commander. You wanted our help to destroy the cultists of Tarl and overthrow their Alliance, did you not?

KREEL: Of course. That’s what I’m asking you to do.

SORLAI: Yet, in return you were to teach us the secrets of your army the better for us to succeed.

KREEL: It’s what I have been trying to do for the last seventy-eight days!

SORLAI: You were also to restore all the factories by the sea. The ones that would allow us to build our own spaceships so we can go to Tarl. Believe it or not, Space Commander, it is a very long way away from here. To attack Tarl on foot would be very difficult.

KREEL: I’m aware of that. My men have got one of your hulks working again, you can use that.

SORLAI: A planet hopper with no armaments? You really think we can take the Temples of Chumran with that? Boorva’s stronghold will not be undefended...

KREEL: I’m not asking you to attack Boorva’s temple!

[Sorlai stops and turns to face Kreel.]

SORLAI: Then what exactly ARE you asking us to do, Space Commander?

KREEL: Priorities have changed. Your new target is another space craft, currently in orbit above Tarl.

SORLAI: A space craft? Your own ship is better equipped for that.

KREEL: I don’t need you to destroy the ship. Merely board it and kill those aboard.

SORLAI: What is this "ship"?

KREEL: It’s called the Liberator.

[A long pause. Sorlai stares at Kreel in silence.]

SORLAI: Stupid name. Right. So we take over this "Leebrayta" for you. How does that help us conquer Tarl?

KREEL: It’s called the Odysseus Stratagem...

SORLAI: You said it was called "Leebrayta".

[Kreel sighs and gags abruptly. Sorlai watches as he coughs again.]

KREEL: Right. Let me explain this in as fewer syllables as possible...

[Liberator hangs in space above.]

[Liberator flight deck. All are present, but Blake sits alone in the pit.]

KYBEN: [Aghast] You are joking, aren’t you?

BLAKE: Do I look like I’m joking, Kyben?

SOOLIN: You’re seriously going to carpet bomb that planet?

BLAKE: I said we were capable of doing it – which we are.

VILA: But you’re going to go ahead, aren’t you?

BLAKE: I had Orac check out Boorva’s story... [Tarrant starts to speak] EVEN though I was sure he wasn’t lying to us. The population of Serrus is barely nineteen million, and those are all devolved psychotic cannibals. Whatever their biology did to adapt to Phobon Plague removed their sanity. They’re held in check more by pheromones than reason. Most of the native fauna have gone the same way. You really want to spare a planet of insane mutants?

KYBEN: Who’s to say they’re mutants? Maybe they’re just evolving – like everything is supposed to!

TARRANT: That IS an unpleasant thought.

KYBEN: You can’t go round deciding who gets to live and who gets to die! We didn’t just save the universe so you could annihilate all the bits of it you don’t like!

BLAKE: We have the only source of missiles in the galaxy, Kyben. Did you really think we went to all that trouble with the crystal if we DIDN’T intend to use them?

KYBEN: If you start blowing up planets to solve problems, you’re no better than the Federation!.

BLAKE: As Boorva made quite clear, either we solve the problem or lose the Alliance. Do you want that?

KYBEN: It can’t be worse than outright slaughter!

BLAKE: What about you, Tarrant? You’re so desperate for the Alliance to succeed.

TARRANT: There must be some other way.

BLAKE: Boorva’s intelligent, if he could have handled this problem on his own, he wouldn’t have called for us. The choice is ours. Well?

KYBEN: Fine, Blake, do whatever you want. I’m with Vila.

VILA: [Brightens] Are you?

KYBEN: In leaving this ship at the earliest opportunity! You can’t be trusted with ANY of this technology!

[Blake frowns, clearly hurt.]

BLAKE: I’ve asked Orac and he agrees with the strategy I suggested.

SOOLIN: This will be the same strategy you didn’t discuss with us? Again?

VILA: Come on, Nij, we don’t even know the Federation is even on Serrus! Blowing up a planet when it could just be some deserters, it’s a bit extreme.

TARRANT: Vila’s right. Desertion rate’s increased dramatically.

VILA: How dramatically?

TARRANT: There IS a desertion rate. Before the new laws, there wasn’t one – at least not to speak of.

KYBEN: So there could be civilians down on Serrus as well?

BLAKE: If so, they’d be eaten by the Serrunites. They’re cannibals, aren’t they, Orac?

ORAC: Incorrect. A cannibal is defined as a living being who is capable of eating members of his or her own species through either cultural imperative, prolonged famine or mental instability. As the Serrunites have manifestly developed into a different humanoid form of life, their consumption of human beings is clearly simple carnivorous tendencies rather than outright cannibalism...

[Soolin rips out the key and Orac falls silent.]

SOOLIN: The point is, we can’t do something this big without checking first.

BLAKE: I say we can.

SOOLIN: Say it louder and maybe someone will listen. I’m with the others on this. If you start the missile run without checking, then I’ll leave as well. What about you, Tarrant?

TARRANT: We can’t let the Alliance fall apart. People have died to keep it together.

KYBEN: And many more people have to die before the price becomes too high?

[Tarrant lowers his eyes. Quietly, he joins the others. Blake is pensive.]

BLAKE: You’re all serious, I take it?


BLAKE: All right. And if I check Serrus? Find absolute proof of Federation presence which will destroy this Alliance? If I can prove that this is right thing to do? Will you stay?

VILA: You really need us, Nij? Don’t all those implanted skills make us all redundant?

[Blake rises angrily.]

BLAKE: If it did, surely I would have murdered each and every one of you in your beds by now! Yet I seem to be spending a lot of time keeping you all alive and safe AND fighting a war against the Federation without our resident computer genius and moral absolute! I ask you all to just trust me. And after all we’ve been through, you’re acting like I’m really Kreel in disguise!

VILA: You can’t ask us to trust you if you don’t trust us!

BLAKE: We cannot be split up now! The Federation is weaker than it has been for centuries. Its replacement central control is strained to breaking point, there is no more Mutoid modification, pylene fifty is useless and not even the great masses are prepared to put up with Anders’ rule! This is a time where unity and loyalty are absolutely paramount – because if we miss this chance, like you did when Star One was destroyed, then we will never win. Not in this life time, not in any other. And if I can’t convince you with that, then you simply can’t be convinced at all!

[A pause. Soolin and Kyben look doubtful. Vila folds his arms. Tarrant is still looking at the floor.]

BLAKE: I swear to you, I give you my word: if we do not NEED to destroy Serrus, if there is another option, then I will take it. The question is, can YOU give me your word that if there is no other way, you will stay with me for the missile run? Soolin?

SOOLIN: All right.

BLAKE: Tarrant? [Tarrant nods] Kyben? [Kyben nods] Vila?

VILA: How exactly are we going to check Boorva’s story?

BLAKE: Simple. We’ll go to Serrus for ourselves.

[Cathedral. Blake, Vila and Tarrant stand before Boorva.]

BOORVA: You’re insane, Blake! You actually intend to go to that rathole? I forbid it!

TARRANT: I’m sorry, Lord Boorva, but you have no control over us or our actions.

BOORVA: If you were even remotely sensible you would not need me to tell you not to go. [to Tarrant and Vila] Surely your computers will have told you all about the plagues? About the Serrunites? How they treat humans as walking flesh to feed their hunger?

VILA: The Federation seem to have coped.

BLAKE: We’re not going to destroy a planet and its people on hearsay, Boorva.

BOORVA: My word should be enough.

VILA: I thought you said ‘words were nothing more than words’.

BOORVA: No, that was Chalsa. And even that mental defective would still be intelligent enough to stay away from Serrus. No expedition, not one person who has gone there has ever returned – or survived more than a few hours on its surface.

BLAKE: No expedition, not one person who has gone there had access to a teleport and the most advanced medical technology in the galaxy.

VILA: [Doubtful] Boorva DOES seem to know what he’s talking about...

TARRANT: Shut up, Vila. Lord Boorva, you have no evidence of Federation presence on Serrus...

BOORVA: Does it matter? No excuse is needed to destroy that hell-planet!

BLAKE: Wrong. An excuse is very much needed. Besides, it strikes me that Serrus, the planet of no return, is a very good defensive barrier for Tarl. You’d lose more than you gained.

BOORVA: If you are killed on the surface, I will lose everything. I have no doubt your ship will not function for any except your crew. I will not be able to destroy the Federation presence, or use the ship to defend the border systems when the Federation strike in force.

BLAKE: We’re not giving you access to the Liberator, Boorva.

BOORVA: You underestimate me to that extent, Blake? I do not wish control of your ship. But I demand you leave some of your crew here. When you die on the surface, the others will see your folly and do what is necessary.

VILA: As prisoners?

BOORVA: Of course not. Guests. On Tarl you have no enemies, only allies. It is in our best interests to keep you safe. And if you are right, Blake, then no harm will be done.

[Blake glances at the others.]

BLAKE: Well?

TARRANT: Lord Boorva won’t betray us.

BLAKE: All right. Vila?

VILA: He who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken. Old Auron saying.

BLAKE: Soolin will mind the Liberator, and Kyben can keep an eye on me. Satisfied?

VILA: You see how easy it is, Nij?

BLAKE: Must you call me that?

VILA: All the other names I can think of are rude.

BLAKE: [Sweetly] Has anyone told you you’re a charming gentlemen, Vila?

VILA: Yes, actually.

BLAKE: Then they were lying. [into bracelet] Soolin, Vila and Tarrant are going to be staying on Tarl for while I’m gone. Bring me up alone, please.

TARRANT: Good luck, Blake.

VILA: Hope the cannibals don’t bite.

[Blake opens his mouth to snap, but teleports before he can speak.]

BOORVA: Well. You now have the free run of this planet, my friends. I would advise, however, you not leave the Chumran temple – at least until I’ve arranged suitable clothes.

VILA: It does look a bit cold out there.

TARRANT: It’s because Tarl and Serrus are twin planets, they have extreme climates.

BOORVA: Yes. Summer and winter here last twenty five years here. But I’m sure you will glad to know that we have a few months before Spring occurs. Then Tarl will become a tropical paradise once more.

TARRANT: Sunshine for a quarter of a century. Not all planets are so lucky.

BOORVA: Not all planets are Tarl. You are welcome to stay here permanently, Tarrant.


BOORVA: I apologize for my rudeness earlier, but my people must always be my priority.

VILA: You’d let us stay here? For free?

BOORVA: Of course. Your... companion will not return from Serrus.

VILA: So it IS a trap.

BOORVA: A trap? A trap where I almost begged him not to go into danger? Where I gave him every reason not to go? Where he went into danger of his own free will? Did I threaten him? Blackmail him? No, your companion’s stubborn lack of caution will lead him to death with no help from me. However, it is plainly clear that his death would not greatly distress the two of you.

VILA: [Sighs] After a while you lose enough people that you just stop caring. But who said we cared about Nij? If he does die on Serrus, we’ll have full control of the Liberator.

BOORVA: Then perhaps I should try to convince the two of you of the necessity of destroying Serrus.

VILA: Knew there would be a price.

BOORVA: A small price. Of course, you can leave in your ship and never return. But that ship is a viable target for every Federation craft. The galaxy is becoming a smaller place as the Federation expands. There are fewer choices of where to hide. But if you were not on Liberator, but living in luxury on the seat of the Rebel Alliance...

TARRANT: The Federation will still attempt to attack.

BOORVA: And if the Liberator stays in the border systems, as part of the fleet? The Federation will abandon their plans and concentrate on controlling their own territories. Stability is what they desire. [Smiles] As do we all, to an extent. But I am wasting your valuable time. I shall arrange some attire for you, and then you may go where you wish and do what you want. Should you require anything, the guard will obey your every request.

[Boorva smiles at them and leaves.]

VILA: I think he’s trying to sell us something.

TARRANT: Or maybe get us to sell something. Like our souls.

VILA: He did make it sound nice here.

TARRANT: "Fine words butter no parsnips".

VILA: What does that mean?

TARRANT: Not sure. Probably something about gardening. Just sounded cynical enough.

VILA: You? Cynical? Your more passionate about this Alliance than I am for soma.

TARRANT: The Alliance, yes. I’m just not sure I trust Boorva.

VILA: You’ve changed your tune.

TARRANT: I hadn’t seen him act like that. He’s being more generous to us than he has to be.

VILA: Wouldn’t be too bad settling down here. If it was warmer. And it soon will be. I was planning to go anyway. You could too. Eh? You could settle down on Betafarl like you were going to.

TARRANT: Not much point now.

VILA: None of us are getting younger, Tarrant. And it’s becoming a choice of spending our autumn years dodging plasma bolts or a grave on an artificial planet. [into bracelet] Soolin? Can you teleport me up, please?

SOOLIN: [VO] Is there a problem?

VILA: No. I’ve just decided to pack my things. You should come down here again, it seems like we might actually be welcome for a change.

SOOLIN: [VO] Vila, be sensible about this...

VILA: I asked for teleport, Soolin! [to Tarrant] See you round, Tarrant.

[He teleports out.]

[Liberator flight deck. It is deserted bar Orac.]

ZEN: Cargo bay doors open. Sevener is now launched en route for Serrus.

[Soolin and Vila enter.]

SOOLIN: ... I thought we agreed not to do anything until after this was resolved?

VILA: Ah, but I didn’t agree, did I? Old trick I learned from Avon – he learned most of the good ones from me. Well, the ones I think are good.

SOOLIN: You really think Boorva will make you an honoured guest there for the next twenty five years?

VILA: He could do it if he wants to, and he wants to. The border systems are about the safest place there is in the galaxy now. He said we were all welcome to live on Tarl if we want.

SOOLIN: And presumably the price will be the Liberator joining the Alliance fleet?

VILA: Well, it is already, in a way, isn’t it?

SOOLIN: We’d be effectively giving Boorva control of the most powerful ship in space.


SOOLIN: Vila, he’s a warlord!

VILA: You speak to him, then. He’s welcome to the thing if you ask me. More trouble that it’s been worth, all things considered. No offence, Zen.

ZEN: Confirmed.

VILA: Besides, he won’t have total control of the Liberator. There’ll be you and Tarrant running things. Unless Tarrant throws the towel in, too.

SOOLIN: This is a bit sudden, isn’t it, Vila? Blake isn’t even dead yet.

VILA: I don’t care if he survives. I’m still leaving. I thought you were, too?

SOOLIN: Well, like you said, Vila. You outlived all the others. Your opinion might be worth listening to this time. And I’m going to do what you said.

VILA: [Confused] What’s that?

SOOLIN: I’m going to speak to Boorva in person. You can work the teleport one last time.

VILA: Oh yes, teleport duty. How will my life go on without it?

[They exit.]

- to be continued...