Monday, November 26, 2007

B7: Deceit (iii)

[Earth. Residence One, the grand palace in the countryside, with patrols of troopers in the grounds. The Deputy Supreme Commander is in the Presidents office. An aide enters]


AIDE: Forensic teams have confirmed the deaths of every member of the high council.

DEPUTY: What about the President? Was he one of the victims?

AIDE: No, Supreme Comander. As you suspected, sir.

DEPUTY: [Unimpressed at his crawling] As I suspected. Have the rest of my instructions been carried out?

AIDE: Yes sir. Everyone who had access to the Council Building in the past month has been detained.

DEPUTY: All of them?

AIDE: Well, any that haven't will be detained soon.

DEPUTY: Then my orders have NOT been carried out.

AIDE: [Worried] Supreme Commander?

DEPUTY: I ordered EVERYONE detained. EVERYONE to be interrogated. Until the traitor is found. Not just those who were easiest to detain. EVERYONE.

AIDE: Security have been unable to locate several individuals.

DEPUTY: And why not?

AIDE: Various reasons, sir. Two are known to be off planet...

DEPUTY: Find them. Arrest them. And interrogate them.

AIDE: Sir.

DEPUTY: Make them priority. Or do I need to tell Security that the missing people are the most likely suspects? [Sighs] Anything else to report?

AIDE: One other matter, sir.

DEPUTY: Which is?

AIDE: The interrogation division are reluctant to use the... higher levels of persuasion.

DEPUTY: Are they? Unless I am very much mistaken, that is precisely what the interrogation division is designed to do.

AIDE: Not on senior Administration personnel, Supreme Commander. [quickly] That is what they are saying.

DEPUTY: Then the devision can tell me that in person. Get me the Chief Investigator. Now.

AIDE: Immediately, Supreme Commander.

[The Aide leaves at a run.]

[Liberator cabin. Anders is sitting on the bed. The door opens and Vila enters holding a food tray. Soolin can be seen standing guard outside. The door closes.]

ANDERS: Feeding time?

VILA: Prison meals. You get used to them after a while.

ANDERS: You speak from experience.

VILA: Oh, I do, Mister President. I've been in more detention cells than you'll have state functions.

ANDERS: So I've learned. You must tell me your secret, Restal.

VILA: What secret is that?

ANDERS: Oh, I imagine you have plenty of those. Your lock picking skills are legendary, from labor grades to Alphas. It's become a popular expression, 'to Restal' something. An impossible move that nevertheless works. You know, in a way you're more famous than Blake.

VILA: That means so much to me. I may have to go and cry.

[Vila rises.]

ANDERS: Of course, Blake's dead now. So are the others. You're the only one left.

VILA: Didn't I mention it. I'm immortal.

ANDERS: [Interested] Really?

VILA: Well, so far no one's proved otherwise.

ANDERS: Another secret then?

VILA: The secret to staying alive is not irritating people who might kill you.

ANDERS: I was just curious. You of all people know how futile it is, resisting the Federation.

VILA: And I of all people know how terrible the Federation is. How it treats people. Ordinary people. Even those who haven't commited crimes. Yeah, I've lasted longer than anyone else. I've seen all the death you people have caused. You, Servalan, Travis. Those lovely little laws you've put in so you can kill more people. You think being nice to me is going to change that?

ANDERS: Why not?

VILA: I'm just a thief, Mister President. In the ordinary course of things, they would have adjusted my mind, changed what makes me me, everything that counts changed. Like they do my friends. My family. But my mind won't be adjusted. So the Federation sent me to the worst place they could.

ANDERS: Cygnus Alpha. And you're the only man to have escaped.

VILA: Yes. If I can escape the planet of no escape, if I can kill Servalan, if I can outlive Avon, and Blake, and Dayna and all the rest, then maybe, just maybe, I can destroy the Federation and everything in it. And you, Mister President, with all your politics and deviousness, can't give me one good reason not to.

ANDERS: Of course I can't. You're not a fool, Restal. And niether am I. I just wanted a bit of conversation.

VILA: You got it. Enjoy supper.

[Vila heads for the door, then thinks and turns around.]

VILA: Just curious, have you ever been in a penal colony? The first meal's always the best. Because it was the usual slop, you'd take all the drugs they put into it.

[Anders looks at the food, unimpressed.]

ANDERS: Poisoned? I doubt it.

VILA: Oh, not enough to kill you. Just enough to make you throw up everything you ever ate, leaving you weak and dizzy and easy to beat up. It's just, while I was making your meal, I remembered all the times that it happened to me. I mean, you wouldn't want any special behavior, you'd wanted to be treated just like any other Federation citizen, wouldn't you?

ANDERS: Most amusing, Restal. The food's fine.

VILA: [Grins] One way to find out.

[Vila leaves. Anders looks at the meal, moves to eat it, then frowns.]

[Residence One. The Deputy Supreme Commander is talking to an older, tough-looking man on the screen.]

DEPUTY: Investigator. I understand that your division is having trouble following orders.


DEPUTY: No? Then you ARE applying the maximum pressure?

INVESTIGATOR: We are applying NECESSARY pressure, sir.

DEPUTY: "Necessary" pressure? That doesn't sound like you're doing everything you can, Investigator.

INVESTIGATOR: We are working to find the traitors who collaborated in the murder of the high council.

DEPUTY: Working, but not hard enough, Investigator.

INVESTIGATOR: Supreme Commander, you have only held the post for fourteen hours. You may not realize the penalty that can come from upsetting those higher than yourself in the chain of command. Those we are interrogating are capable of doing much worse to use than we could do to them.

DEPUTY: That sounded unpleasantly like disobeying a direct order.

INVESTIGATOR: In the current climate, Supreme Commander, we have to look after ourselves.

DEPUTY: You're worried once released as innocents, your suspects might accuse you of treason and have you executed?

INVESTIGATOR: It is something worth worrying about.

DEPUTY: Let me make this crystalline clear, Investigator. I am higher than you in the chain of command. With my superior dead and the President missing, I am the highest authority in the entire Federation. Your suspects are just that. Suspects. Now interrogate them with MAXIMUM pressure. Because if you don't then the highest Federation authority may conclude that the interrogation division itself is somehow involved in the assassination plot. And THAT is something worth worrying about.

INVESTIGATOR: Supreme Commander.

DEPUTY: Carry out my instructions to the letter, Investigator, understood.

[The Investigator doesn't reply, but fades from the screen.]

[Liberator cabin. Anders crosses to the door and knocks on it loudly.]

TARRANT: [V.O.] What is it?

ANDERS: Well, unless I'm very much mistaken, it's the change of guards and it's Captain Del Tarrant.

[The door opens and Tarrant stands in the doorway, gun at the ready.]

TARRANT: What do you want?

ANDERS: Some company.

TARRANT: You're not my type.

ANDERS: Just someone to talk to as I enjoy the first of many prison meals.

TARRANT: And what would you like to talk about? The decor?

ANDERS: Come now, Tarrant. You're a Federation officer. The others are all civilians. We two are military men.

TARRANT: But I'm a deserter, Mister President.

ANDERS: No one truly deserts.

TARRANT: I didn't truly join the service either. I was forced to.

ANDERS: You think you're alone in that? The Federation is a meritocrisy, based on the grading systems and tests. Not all of us deliberately failed them like Vila Restal. And we had no choice in the careers we took.

TARRANT: A pampered Alpha grade like yourself? Surely not!

[Anders crosses to the untouched meal.]

ANDERS: You see? A conversation already.

[Tarrant turns to leave]

ANDERS: You're going to lose you know.

TARRANT: [turns back] What?

ANDERS: Your rebellion. You know as well as I do it will fail.

TARRANT: Nothing lasts forever.

ANDERS: Precisely.

TARRANT: Not even the Federation.

ANDERS: Oh, it will decline and fall at some point. Civilizations come and go. But that is very much looking at the big picture. In the here and now, the Federation will survive and you will not.

TARRANT: We've been lucky so far.

ANDERS: Luck runs out.

TARRANT: Which is why you are here. This is the part where you offer me a deal if I save your neck?

ANDERS: [Shrugs] Well, if you're offering...

TARRANT: I'm not.

ANDERS: You should. I can't see the attraction. You're one of the finest pilots the Federation has ever produced, Tarrant. You were a celebrity even before you joined the Liberator - for a while everyone assumed that you had taken over from Blake. The truth is so disappointing, now you're just a lackey for the son of his clone.

TARRANT: But being a lackey for you would be far more respectible?

ANDERS: You're a pilot on the best ship in the galaxy - and how do the others treat you?

TARRANT: Better than the Academy.

ANDERS: You're just a glorified robot to fly the ship.

TARRANT: As they said. At the Academy.

ANDERS: The Federation believes in choice, Tarrant. I do, at any rate. And there will come a time where you'll have to make a decision to either trust me or trust Blake.

TARRANT: When will that be?

ANDERS: Oh, only you will know that.

TARRANT: You may not be alive when that moment comes.

ANDERS: Such is life.

TARRANT: They said you only became president because some puppeters helping you.

ANDERS: More or less the truth.

TARRANT: Your own skills at manipulation aren't up to much. And if I do decide to trust you, release you, what then? What do I get out of this? Money? Power? The Presidency? The governorship of Earth, THAT was always a favorite of Servalan's...

ANDERS: [Seriously] I'm offering you your life, Tarrant.

[Residence One. The aide reenters the office.]

AIDE: Supreme Commander?

DEPUTY: Any more information on the missing suspects?

AIDE: Security believes that one of them may have left the city.

DEPUTY: Then get a sweep force to...

AIDE: [Interrupts] They're already preparing one, sir. The search may be slowed down.

DEPUTY: Are they feeling squeamish as well?

AIDE: No, sir. There's been increased outsider activity in recent weeks.

DEPUTY: Close to the city? [The aide nods] Yes, I can see the problem. Keep me informed of all future developments.

AIDE: Yes, Supreme Commander.

[Liberator cabin. Anders is lying on the bed. Tarrant stands near the door.]

ANDERS: Think about it, Tarrant. Just think about it. Are you a natural rebel? Or are you, as it appears, a self-serving mercenary who had the bad luck to get caught up with the natural rebels?

TARRANT: The Federation collapsed. It seemed like a good career move.

ANDERS: The Federation rebuilt itself. And it will do so again, no matter what Blake has planned.

TARRANT: As you keep saying.

ANDERS: Maybe because I'm being honest.

TARRANT: And I'm not?

ANDERS: You tell me. You're not blinded by idealism, are you? At least, not so much you can't see your own interests.

TARRANT: And how would helping you, an unarmed prisoner of the enemy, help me.

ANDERS: We, that is the Federation, want Blake to put on trial and hurt the rebel cause. We want the Liberator for it's technology. Compared to Blake, YOUR trial would barely be noticed. You we can let slip away with little fuss.

TARRANT: More corruption.

ANDERS: Am I the one who wilfully aided and abetted in the murder of twelve unarmed prisoners? I'm not offering you morality, Tarrant. I am offering you a way out of this.

TARRANT: And I am not interested.

ANDERS: As I said, I'm not after an answer now.

TARRANT: But you want to ask the question.

ANDERS: Any Federation analyst can tell you that Avon and Blake went about their crusade all wrong. The Intergalactic War and then the Galactic War... the Federation was very nearly finished. Even the most fanatical support would concede major damage was done. Avon was too slow to exploit it.

TARRANT: Avon had better things to do at the time.

ANDERS: No doubt. But Servalan didn't and she rebuilt the empire.

TARRANT: Which then overthrew her with your help.

ANDERS: The rebel's biggest asset was this ship and its technology. Your biggest mistake - you, Avon, Blake, his son - was keeping all this... [waves his hands around] yourselves. The only chance you ever had was to spread it around, form alliances, but no you kept it to yourself and that was a fatal mistake.

TARRANT: We had our reasons.

ANDERS: You know what they are?

TARRANT: Curiously enough, yes.

ANDERS: Something about dangerous technology in other's hands, using it before you're mature enough to develop it on your own?

TARRANT: Something like that.

ANDERS: And when it looked like the Federation was gone? When you were all free? Why didn't Avon change his mind? He could have sold the technology at the very least - there was, after all, no Blake to stop him.

TARRANT: Since he's dead I guess we'll never know.

ANDERS: Mmm. You want to know what I think?

TARRANT: Not particularly.

ANDERS: As long as Avon and Blake had this ship, this unique ship, they're special. They can lead the fight, have their names be a rallying call for the war, have power within the ranks of those resisting the Federation. As soon as they give it away they're nothing, reduced to the level of any other tiny rebel group chipping away at the Federation. Reduced to the ordinary.

[Tarrant laughs.]

TARRANT: Yes, of course. Avon was always obsessed with popular opinion.

ANDERS: Maybe not Avon then. Maybe he had different reasons. But when I look at Nij Blake, I'm convinced that that is the reason. It makes complete sense to me.

TARRANT: You may be right but I'm still not interested.

ANDERS: Then, why are you still here talking to me?

TARRANT: I'm not.

[Tarrant leaves. Anders sighs and looks at the food.]

ANDERS: [Annoyed] You could have at least taste-tested it for me!

[Lower levels of the dome city. A twenty man squad of troopers is assembling near a door used to leave the city. They perform a last weapon check and move out.]

[Outside. The city it is twilight. A young woman is running for his life. She moves quickly through the woodland and across a river.]

[Tunnels. She hurries through the ancient underground. There is a group of outsiders waiting.]

[By the river, the Section Leader in charge of the search consults a scanner and moves forward followed by the trooper squad. They reach the tunnels.]

[Tunnels. The squad enter without incident. They walk a bit further and then find the outsider group. The outsiders talk and don't seem to notice the troopers. The troopers stand there for a minute, unsure what to do. The Section Leader fires at the ceiling. Finally the outsiders bother to look at them.]

SECTION LEADER: Veron, make yourself known immediately.

[The young woman leaves the group.]

VERON: Now what?

SECTION LEADER: Everyone here is now a prisoner of the Federation.

VERON: No, they're not. Now give you your security pass. We don't want the alarms going off when we make our move.

VANON: Now we can get back without the alarms going off. Take their weapons and lets move.

SECTION LEADER: You are ALL prisoners of the Federation!

VERON: The Federation is about to end. Do you really want to stay on the losing side?

[The Section Leader aims casually at Veron, but before he can fire, Veron shoots him dead.]

VERON: Well, that answers that question.

[There is a volley of gunfire, and the Federation troopers fall. Some of them survive long enough to spot the rebels in the hidden positions behind the squad. The outsiders with Veron draw their own weapons and the second salvo kills the last of the troops. Veron steps forward and searches the Section Leader's body. He holds up a key card.]

VANON: Take their weapons. Move!

[Outside city. We see Veron place the card in a reader.]

[Undercity. A trooper is guarding the entrance. The door opens and the trooper turns and, taken by surprise by the rebels, is gunned down. Without missing step, Veron heads past the dead trooper and up the steps to the upper levels. The rebels follow her.]

[Upper level. The rebels spread out. A security camera watches on.]

[Security office. A trooper sits at a console, studying various monitors. The trooper suddenly adjust a control and the main screen changes to an image of the rebels pouring out from the doorway. The trooper presses a control and the familiar blaring alarm sounds as the trooper activates the communicator.]

TROOPER: Armed rebels detected on level two!

[City. The various zombie like dome dwellers are mildly distracted by the alarm and flashing lights.]

P.A.: All security personnel to stations. All security personnel to stations. All civilians to their quarters. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. All security personnel to stations. All civilians to their quarters. All security personnel to stations. All security personnel to stations...

- to be concluded...

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