[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?
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?
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.]
SORLAI: TO THE SHIP!
[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.
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.
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...