Monday, May 21, 2012

Blake's 7: Escape (vii)

[Tracking gallery. Four troopers are now struggling to hold Vila back. Avon, bleeding from a cut over one eye, sits on the steps. Servalan tends to him. The Captain chuckles as he watches on, having to step over the pilot’s corpse.]

Captain: Much as it amuses me to watch rebel scum trying to murder each other, I need you both alive – you’re in short supply nowadays. [sighs] Look at you. The computer fraudster and the common thief.

Vila: [furious] Who are you calling “common”?

Captain: [ignoring him] Not Blake. Not Del Tarrant. Not even the infamous Soolin, gunfighter extraordinaire! You two. I don’t suppose you kept the bodies, did you?

Avon: Not for long. They were cremated shortly afterwards. Vila’s idea.

Vila: And good thing too! I didn’t want them turned into exhibits!

Captain: You burned them? Why?

Avon: A mythical end for mythical heroes. I dare say Blake would have approved – he’d always been consumed by the fires of idealism and didn’t care if other people got burnt.

Captain: But... even the corpses could have been handed in for a price!

Vila: The price was too high. Besides, this way the last time I saw them they weren’t blood-spattered corpses. They were incandescent. That’s how I want to remember them.

[Servalan rolls her eyes.]

Servalan: The cult of personality.

Vila: [contemptuous] It’s called respect for your friends. I don’t expect you to understand that. And now there’s no evidence Blake’s dead. No proof against all the rumors circulating that he’s still alive out there. Rumors already too widespread for anyone to ignore any more. He got put back on the wanted list, didn’t he? Without a corpse, the Federation can never stop Blake’s legend from growing. It’ll be unstoppable.

[The Captain draws his gun and aims it at Vila.]

Captain: Very moving, I don’t think.

[Corridor. Gamren lifts away a panel on the wall to reveal several canisters linked to a control panel like a fuse box. She quickly flicks all the switches. Lora and Ravelo stand guard. Zanto hurries back, holding Federation rifles.]

Zanto: They hadn’t even guarded the armory. Complacency must be their middle name.

[He hands out weapons.]

Zanto: Not worried we’ll shoot you in the back?

Lora: A bit. But I want out of this. And you people seem to be the best bet.

Ravelo: You still haven’t explained why you’re helping us.

Lora: I’m a technician in the fleet, I’m not a combat officer. I don’t like violence – especially when it’s the commanding officer murdering people on his side. The Captain shot that pilot and he was going to shoot me. Might still do. I just want to get off this rock and somewhere where murder is properly illegal again.

Gamren: [joining them] How convenient.

Lora: Very inconvenient, if you ask me.

Gamren: We didn’t. [to Zanto] Charges set, the demolition sequence is now primed.

Ravelo: So we just say the magic words and the silo goes bang.

Zanto: [frowns] More sort of “foom”, but yes, pretty much.

Lora: What magic words?

Ravelo: We can’t tell you that, it’d detonate! Just... say nothing until we’re out of here.

Lora: OK.

Zanto: What about Vila and Avon? We can’t leave without them.

Ravelo: Can’t we?

Gamren: No. Not Vila, anyway. And we still need Orac.

Zanto: [to Lora] Where are they?

Lora: [surprised] Can I talk now?

Zanto: Just keep it very simple. Yes or no.

Lora: Yes. Um. Main tracking gallery.

[She winces, expecting an explosion.]

Gamren: That tracking gallery. How many of us have died in that room already?

Ravelo: You’re drifting close to the magic words, Gamren.

Gamren: Oh. Yeah. Sorry.

Zanto: Come on. Time to rescue our new leader.

[They hurry off down the corridor.]

Ravelo: [grumbles] Blake never needed rescuing...

[Tracking gallery. As before.]

Captain: Now you’re going to contact the other rebel base and order an unconditional surrender of all insurgents.

[Vila glances at the gun, unimpressed.]

Vila: Or what? You’ll kill my friends? You already have. You’ll kill me? You can’t do that. Torture me? [indicates Avon] I’ve been living with that psychopath for the last six years, you think anything you can do can frighten me after that? I’m not the one you should be asking, Captain. I’m not the one who betrays the rebellion. Try the man who delivered the fatal blow. You might get more luck there.

[The Captain turns to aim at Avon. He shrugs.]

Avon: Very well. On one condition.

Captain: No conditions.

Avon: You haven’t heard them yet. Just execute the Commissioner right here and now, in front of me, and then I’ll do as you wish.

Servalan: [coldly] Go to hell, Avon.

Avon: Oh, but I did. Eight days ago. And I’m still there. I’m glad you cared to join me.

Captain: [thoughtful] Why not? It’s worth a try...

[He aims the gun at Servalan. A shot rings out and the gun explodes. The Captain reels back, clutching a bloody hand. Gamren stands in the doorway, gun smoking. Zanto hurries forward and collects Orac.]

Gamren: One move from any of you and your Captain dies.

Zanto: Release the prisoners.

Captain: [pained] Do it.

[The troopers let go of Vila, who snatches their guns and backs away from them.]

Vila: Very wise. Avon, come on.

[Avon looks surprised but does what he is told.]

Avon: Surely I’m a liability.

Vila: Yeah. And much more dangerous out of my sight. Gamren, have we got a way out of here?

Gamren: Ready and waiting.

Servalan: Far be it from me to sound egocentric, but what about me?

Avon: Leave her here. Poetic justice.

Orac: No. Commissioner Sleer has cooperated with all requirements we have demanded from her during this alliance. She has earned her safe passage from the planet and, what is more, could still conceivably be useful.

Zanto: I agree. [grins at Servalan] I’ve got plans for you, Sleer. Lots of plans.

[Servalan is unnerved but joins them.]

Servalan: [sweetly] Don’t I get a gun?

All Rebels: No.

[They start to retreat deeper into the base. Zanto lingers, carrying Orac.]

Zanto: One last thing. This silo is mined with enough explosives to blow Gauda Prime out of orbit. The fuses are ultrasonic and keyed to respond to one of three triggers – a particular set of words, a certain pattern of movements, or a specific command into the computer systems. Take my advice. Be very, very careful what you say or do and be on the safe side – in no way try to stop our departure. [brightly] Bye!

[He turns and leaves. The Captain slumps against Klyn’s console.]

Captain: [carefully] We know where they’re going. Do what needs to be done.

[The troopers looks doubtful but then carefully head off after them.]

Captain: [growing confident] Bluff. All a bluff.

[Corridor. Rafelo and Lora are struggling to force back a heavy hatch built behind a wall panel. Beyond is a dark stone tunnel leading downwards.]

Lora: [with effort] Some escape hatch!

Ravelo: [heaving] Computer controlled! We were supposed have used it before destroying the systems!

Lora: Very thorough!

[A trooper appears around the corner and spots them. He raises his gun, but hesitates when he sees and recognizes Lora. Rafelo takes the chance and shoots him down.]

Lora: [horrified] You didn’t have to do that!

Ravelo: Shut up and help me!

[Scowling, Lora helps him force the hatch open wide enough for people to get through. Vila and the others arrive at a run. Gamren is incredulous.]

Gamren: You haven’t even got the hatch open yet!

Ravelo: I noticed! [nods at Lora] She’s on our side!

Vila: [nods] Right. Vila Restal. Nice to meet you.

[Caught up in the pleasantries, Lora smiles brightly.]

Lora: Lora Mezin, maintenance technician second-class.

[They shake hands. Avon glares at them.]

Avon: By all means, let us stand around and introduce ourselves.

Vila: Yes. Sorry. Come on.

[Vila squeezes through the gap. Servalan, then Lora, then Avon follows. Zanto and Gamren awkwardly shuffle through with Orac turned on its side. Ravelo stands guard as three more troopers arrive. They exchange gunfire. Ravelo kills one trooper, but his legs are blasted from beneath him and he collapses.]

[Tunnel. It ends in another hatchway. Zanto and Gamren pause at the entrance.]

Zanto: Ravelo!

[Shoving Orac into Gamren’s hands, Zanto runs up the tunnel. A trooper is squeezing through the doorway. Zanto shoots the trooper, who slumps dead, blocking the entrance. Zanto turns and runs back into hatchway.]

Gamren: What about Ravelo?

Zanto: If he’s alive, we can come back for him later! Come on!

[They hurry through the second hatch which slides shut.]

[Cockpit. Similar to that of a flyer, with two pilot chairs at the front. Behind are two benches. Vila and Avon stand at the flight console with Orac as Lora and Servalan watch on. Zanto and Gamren hurry inside.]

Zanto: Hatches locked, sealed and pressurized. Get us out of here!

Avon: Not yet. Orac. Secure all shuttlecraft in this silo and override the hanger controls. We can’t allow anyone to follow us.

Lora: They’ll override that override with the manual controls!

Servalan: Delay’s all we need. Just take off!

Orac: [impatient] Very well. Prepare for lift-off...

[Vila and Gamren scramble into the pilot chairs as the others head for the benches at the rear of the cockpit. A roar of engines builds up.]

Vila: Up, up and away!

[Sky. Dawn is breaking. The arrowhead-shaped spacecraft rises out from the forests and hurtles up into the sky, faster and faster.]

[Cockpit. Gamren resets some controls. The others are strapped in on the benches in the back, like soldiers about to parachute.]

Vila: Entering upper atmosphere.

Gamren: You sure about this, Zanto?

Zanto: Straight up. They can’t follow us in outer space.

Servalan: What about the blockade?

[Zanto gives her a knowing look.]

Zanto: You tell me, Servalan.

Servalan: [calls] Orac. Feed coordinates of my cruiser into the navigation systems. If we can dock with my ship before the gunships spot us, we will have a better chance of both fighting them off and escaping this system entirely.

Lora: Sounds like a trap to me.

Servalan: And do you have a better suggestion, technician?

Lora: [humbled] No, ma’am.

Avon: Do it, Orac!

Orac: Of course. Have you any further demands on my time?

Vila: Send a message to Horizon Base. Let them know what’s going on.

Gamren: And tell them Ravelo might have been taken prisoner.

Vila: Soolin’ll know what to do. Pity we couldn’t bring her with us.

Gamren: [sarcastic] Yeah, she’d really hate missing all this mortal danger...

[The shuttle hurtles away from Gauda Prime into free space.]

[Through the forward port, Servalan’s grey-black ship can be seen. As Gamren and Vila operate controls, we pan across to the others.]

Avon: Enjoying the life of a wanted fugitive, Servalan?

Servalan: I’ve known worse.

Avon: [smiles] Oooh, I’m sure you have. You hunger for death even more than I do.

Lora: [confused] Is he always like this?

Zanto: [shrugs] Of late.

Servalan: I don’t think you hunger at all, Avon.

Avon: Perhaps you don’t understand me as well as you think.

Servalan: I think I may be the only one who does understand you. And what you’re scared of. [idly] Just how many of you aboard this ship really know what happened to Blake? How he died? Who killed him?

Zanto: You seem to want me to put my fist in your mouth, Servalan.

Servalan: [snorts] You’re all fools. Avon murdered Blake.

[Lora is very startled – she is the one sitting next to Avon.]

Zanto: And you’re telling us this out of the goodness of your heart?

Servalan: Avon is a danger to all of us.

Zanto: So you really have joined the rebellion?

Servalan: Why not? I owe the Federation nothing.

Avon: [tutts] Oh, Servalan. You used to be so much better than this.

Servalan: Did I? What a pity I’m slipping.

[Long, awkward pause.]

Lora: [brightly] So. You’re that President Servalan then? Wow. Don’t suppose I could an autograph?

[Servalan sighs.]

[The shuttle is now docking with Servalan’s ship. Two gunships approach.]

[Flight deck. An alarm is going off. The outer door slides open and the group scramble through, stumbling to a halt as they spot the bodies of the mutoids. Gamren runs to the pilot position. The screen lights up with the gunships.]

Gamren: A patrol’s spotted us. They’re closing in for the kill.

Servalan: How long before the rest of the blockade arrives?

Gamren: Not long.

Vila: Activate the force wall. Get the targeting array online. I still haven’t forgiven that lot for shooting my last spaceship down...

Avon: [bored] What does it matter any more? It’s over. Finished.

Gamren: Oh, shut up, Avon! You’re not in charge any more.

Zanto: Orac. Plot a standby course out direct into the flight computer.

Gamren: Hold on, everybody!

[Vila shoves a slide-control to the hard left. The flight deck shudders.]

[Space. The gunships close in on the docked ships. Twin bolts of red light shoot out of the cruiser and impale the gunships. They glow red briefly before exploding in silent bursts of white light.]

[Flight deck.]

Servalan: We can’t do that to all of them, we don’t have enough ammunition!

Zanto: We don’t have to. Engage standby course. Get out of the solar system.

[Gamren looks at Zanto then at Vila. Vila nods. Gamren begins adjusting controls.]

Gamren: Steady as she goes...

[The engines hum.]

Servalan: That shuttle docked alongside will slow us down.

Zanto: We still have need of it. [smiles] Trust me.

[Servalan stares at him.]

Servalan: No.

[She turns and sits behind her desk console. Zanto shrugs and sits in a chair.]

Zanto: Your loss.

[Vila slumps into a chair, exhausted and drained. Avon stands over him.]

Avon: And just where exactly do you intend to go, Vila?

Vila: Somewhere safe. If there is anywhere safe left.

Gamren: The nearest neutral planet on the charts is Harz V.

Lora: [helpful] Oh, I’ve been there before. It’s quite nice.

Vila: [impatient] Then set course for Harz V!

[The cruiser and shuttle head off into space. Attention turns to Gauda Prime.]

- to be ended...

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