[Landing bay. A walkway overlooks the Phoenix. Avon, Vila and Orac emerge onto it.]
Vila: [sotto] Looks intact. [beat] Why haven’t they closed the roof, though?
Avon: [sotto] Perhaps they are confident the tractor beams can prevent the ship from leaving. [frowns] Or perhaps they want this bay open to the sky when they launch their new satellite.
Vila: [sotto] That doesn’t make sense.
Avon: [sotto] Doesn’t it? They use that glow of theirs focused through crystals into weaponry. From what Nreeshi told us, the satellite will work on the same basic principle.
Vila: [sotto] You mean it’s actually a weapon? Not a sun at all?
Avon: [sotto] It might be both.
Vila: [sotto] I thought that light only harmed organic things.
Avon: [sotto] Perhaps in small quantities. A lit match wouldn’t harm the hull, but that doesn’t mean it could survive a plasma bolt. Whatever that sun bomb generates, it has to be in sufficient quantities to sustain this entire planet. Orac, what do you make of it?
Orac: [sotto] Your theory is consistent with the information the shadow creature Taihyr has related to Gamren on the flight deck.
Vila: [sotto] Oh, you’re still listening in through Blake are you?
Orac: [sotto] Naturally.
Vila: [sotto] But you didn’t mention it. See, this is why I programmed Blake not to keep secrets from us...
Avon: [sotto] What are the shadow creatures doing now?
[Flight deck. Taihyr is addressing the other shadow creatures with a strange whispering. The shadows start to leave the flight deck, leaving just Taihyr and two guards for Gamren.]
Gamren: What’s going on? What are you doing?
Taihyr: The computer says this landing bay is close to the launching pad the city-dwellers are preparing their sun bomb. We can strike out and seize control of that area of the city.
Gamren: [impressed] Nice plan. How long do you have before the city-dwellers slaughter you?
Taihyr: Enough time. Our lives do not matter.
Gamren: That attitude doesn’t help. I know. I had friends with martyr complexes and it does nothing good. You’ll all end up dead with nothing to show for it except grief for those you leave behind.
Taihyr: [contemptuous] You and your kind must be so weak. You take your sun for granted, the energy and the light have made you decadent and flabby. Victory comes through strength and intellect.
Gamren: And defeat comes from pushing your lucky too far.
Taihyr: We shall soon see, Gamren.
Gamren: No you won’t. You’re all blind.
[Gamren flings herself back against the shadow guards, pulling them back against the console. She breaks free and snatches up her clipgun and fires at Taihyr, who stumbles back and collapses, blurring until he is truly visible. Gamren shoots one of the guards, who collapses. The other shadow merges with the gloom.]
Gamren: Blake! Lights!
[The light instantly increase, and the shadow is visible. It lunges at her and knocks her over as another gunshot rings out. The shadow pinning her down shimmers into a corpse which she knocks free. The lights return to normal as Gamren gets to her feet. She crosses over to Taihyr, who clutches his stomach. Yellow blood spills from his mouth. Gamren aims at his head.]
Gamren: Didn’t see that one coming, did you? That’s how you win, Taihyr. You don’t die for your cause, you make the enemy die for theirs. Rule one.
Taihyr: [coughs] You shoot your own allies...
Gamren: You’re rubbish allies.
Taihyr: We would have spared you... the city-dwellers won’t... now our chances of defeating them are less... you dig your own grave, Gamren...
Gamren: Because I won’t let anyone else do it for me.
[She crouches down beside him.]
Gamren: Your stupid war has cost me two people I care about. And another two more are in this city which means they are in danger because of you. Tell me what your people are going to do.
Taihyr: [wheezing] Wait around... Gamren... and find out...
[Taihyr spits some blood at Gamren and then slumps dead. She straightens up and kicks him.]
Gamren: I hate it when they do that.
[As Taihyr crumples to the floor, a small cylinder rolls free of his dead hand. Black smoke starts to drift from it. Gamren back away.]
Blake: It’s a nerve gas grenade, dead-man trigger! Get out of here, Gamren! Get out of the ship, quickly! I’ll clear the atmosphere as soon as I can, now go! Go!
[Smoke now engulfs Taihyr’s body. Gamren grabs her goggles and runs for it as the smoke floods the flight deck, swallowing everything up.]
[Landing bay. There is an explosion and black smoke starts to billow out around the base of the Phoenix. Then another. Up on the balcony, the others watch.]
Avon: The Odysseus stratagem. Smuggle in your troops inside the enemy compound and set to work.
Vila: Think we can sneak on board in the confusion?
[Another explosion. Thick clouds of smoke drift along the floor.]
Avon: [sotto] Even assuming we can avoid getting killed in the crossfire, those fumes will be lethal.
Orac: Alert. The Blake computer reveals that Gamren has fled the ship to escape the nerve gas.
Vila: She’s run into the nerve gas!
Orac: The gas has also been released into the Pheonix flight deck. It will be another twelve minutes before the atmosphere is breathable once again.
Vila: She’s in the middle of a war zone. Orac, work out where we she is and how we can get there.
[A regular, bee-like droning begins as the trio hurry off the balcony.]
[Corridor. Nreeshi heads down a passageway, followed by Zanto and Gamren. Other light-beings are rushing around as the droning continues.]
Lora: Is that some kind of alarm? Nice to know you changed the pitch for Vila’s sake.
Zanto: Everyone seems to be in a panic. So much for your super-evolution, Nreeshi, you’re still slaves to broken instincts! What’s gone wrong?
Nreeshi: [shocked] THE DARK ONES... [angrier] WE ARE INVADED BY THAT FILTH!
Lora: Couldn’t happen to nicer people.
Nreeshi: THE SATELLITE IS READY TO LAUNCH! A NEW ERA DAWNS THIS DAY!
[Nreeshi storms off and Zanto and Lora are shoved to keep up with him.]
Lora: Does that means you have to put off research to tomorrow? Please say it does.
Zanto: What is this research anyway?
Nreeshi: [briskly] THE EFFECTS ON THE NEW SUN ON UNCONDITIONED MATTER – ORGANIC AND INORGANIC. THE LIGHT FROM THE SUN WILL DESTROY THE SAVAGES, BUT WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU AND YOUR SHIP. PERHAPS YOUR KIND WILL PROVE IMMUNE.
Zanto: And perhaps you’ll scorch us out of existence!
Nreeshi: AS WE SAID. RESEARCH.
Lora: But you’ll kill us!
Nreeshi: THAT IS NOT CERTAIN.
Lora: [shouts after him] Big consolation!
[They enter another corridor.]
Lora: Where are we going?
Nreeshi: A SUITABLE PLATFORM FOR OBSERVATION. YOUR FELLOW ALIENS WILL BE BROUGHT HERE FROM THEIR SUITE IN DUE COURSE.
Lora: He’s still so helpful!
[Zanto rolls his eyes.]
Lora: [defensive] Just trying to look on the bright side.
Zanto: The bright side is what is going to kill us, remember?
[They pass a corner where the shrouded Avon, Vila and Orac are located.]
Avon: Well, now. They’re showing their true colours.
Vila: Which is a neat trick given they’re invisible.
Avon: Altering the visible spectrum won’t make your puns any better, Vila.
Vila: I know, you can’t improve perfection. Come on.
[Avon frowns at that logic, but follows Vila around the corner.]
[Landing bay. The smoke is just starting to clear. The bodies of plenty of both races lie sprawled on the floor. Shadows move along the walls and through a hallway. There is another ambush. Another gas grenade explodes and a couple of light beings collapse visibly.]
[Launch silo. The same basic design as the landing bay, but much larger and the ceiling is closed. A crystalline spear is aimed upright, with a glittering dodecahedron device built into it. The noise of fighting can be heard here. On a walkway, a hatch
Nreeshi: BEHOLD THE SUN ROCKET! ALMOST READY FOR LAUNCHING!
Zanto: I doubt you’ll have time.
[There are explosions and faint screams from below.]
Nreeshi: THE FINAL CYCLES ARE NEARLY COMPLETE. WE LAUNCH IN MINUTES.
Lora: [desperate] That is murder! No, worse than murder! Genocide!
Nreeshi: THE AGGRESSION OF THE ENEMY DEMANDS AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE. YOUR DEMISE IS NOT OUR INTENTION, BUT WE CANNOT ALLOW THE SAVAGES TO OVERWHELM US. IF THE LIGHT DESTROYS YOU, AT LEAST WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS.
Lora: That doesn’t make it any better!
Nreeshi: APOLOGIES. BUT YOU WILL NOT HAVE LONG TO SUFFER THIS INCONVENIENCE.
[Corridor. Avon, carrying Orac and Vila, gun ready, scramble up a corridor to a door.]
[Launch silo. There is another explosion, closer than before.]
Zanto: What happens if we survive? Will you let us go free?
Nreeshi: THAT IS NOT MY DECISION. IF YOUR ORGANIC TISSUE IS UNAFFECTED, WE MUST EXAMINE YOU TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH.
Lora: Examine? And will this examination prove fatal?
Nreeshi: IT IS POSSIBLE. YOUR PHYSIOGNOMY IS UNKNOWN. BUT WE MUST UNDERSTAND. IT IS WHY WE HAVE FOUGHT TO REMAIN ALIVE ON A DOOMED PLANET. WE DID NOT ALLOW NATURE TO STOP US, AND NOR WILL MORAL SCRUPLES.
Lora: I don’t want to sound xenophobic, but I’m really going off these aliens.
Zanto: I’m not sure it counts as prejudice when they’re trying to kill you.
Lora: Oh good. Glad that’s all cleared up.
Nreeshi: YOU ARE BOTH STRANGE AND OFF-PUTTING.
Lora: We’re also noisy.
[She lets out an ear-piercing scream at the top of her voice. Nreeshi whirls around. Cracks form in the crystal floor of the walkway. Zanto shoulder-charges the light being holding the clip guns. Lora steps forward and stamps her foot on the cracked part of the walkway and it shatters apart. Nreeshi and most of the light beings plunge out of sight. Lora closes her eyes as Nreeshi screams. Zanto grabs her and pulls her back as more of the walkway crumbles away.]
Zanto: [impressed] Good plan.
Lora: [angry] No it wasn’t. A good plan doesn’t kill people.
Zanto: It was still clever. Come on, we’ve got to get out of here before...
[The other light being left on the walkway leaps up, holding a crystal blaster aimed at the pair of them. A gunshot rings out and the light being turns visible and tumbles out of view, revealing Vila standing there with a smoking clip-gun aimed.]
Lora: [stunned] Good timing.
Avon: Don’t depend on it. It was entirely a fluke.
[There is a distant humming howl over the chaos below. They turn and look and see one patch of the wall beginning to blaze with a different light.]
Vila: Now what’s happening?
Orac: It appears the shadow creatures have seized control of the city’s main beam weapons and have turned them on the city itself. They are burning their way through the wall to destroy the satellite.
Avon: The fools.
Zanto: The beam will break down the wall and strike the satellite.
Vila: And it’s not going to be smart to stay here where it blows.
Avon: Unless you want to stay here and find out...
[They all turn. Gamren is present, in goggles, with a clip gun.]
Gamren: I thought I’d never catch up with you two.
[Zanto approaches her, taken aback.]
Zanto: I thought they killed you.
Gamren: Yeah. I thought the same about you.
Gamren: [flirty] Missed me?
Zanto: [disgusted] Oh, don’t even think that way.
Avon: We don’t have time for this. If we’re here when that sun bomb blows...
Gamren: [swallows] And I used to think Avon was a little ray of sunshine.
[The wall is starting to disintegrate. Small holes crumble away.]
Orac: The Blake computer confirms that the atmosphere aboard the Phoenix is now clear.
Avon: Unfortunately, we can’t be able to get to the Phoenix.
Gamren: On foot. What about the teleport?
Zanto: Too dangerous.
Lora: The Phoenix is inside the city, less than a mile away – surely that’ll improve our chances of successful transference! [less certain] Won’t it?
Avon: I don’t see any alternative, do you?
Zanto: If we teleport, we could be killed.
Vila: And if we stay here, we will definitely be killed.
[A light being round around the doorway and aims its weapon at them.]
Zanto: I’m convinced!
[They activate the recall buttons on their bracelets and fizzle away to nothingness as the alien fires its weapon. The beams pass through the spaces they were.]
[Phoenix flight deck. The teleport activates. The crew appear, flicker, fade, then finally reappear. They all look very shaken by the procedure as they take off their goggles and visors.]
Orac: Your continued insistence on taking appalling and unnecessary risks is beyond all understanding...
Lora: Not now, Orac!
Gamren: Blake! Emergency lift-off! Activate all launch systems! Set course three nine zero, we’ll work out a navigational program once we’re in primary orbit!
Blake: Understood. Launch systems activating. Main gyros clear, photonic drives green, orbital booster primed, thrust computer running...
[The engines power up in the background as they run to their positions. Vila and Lora strap Orac down on the console. Gamren is rushing around the control panels, adjusting the settings.]
Vila: Good thing they haven’t closed the roof in on top of us.
Zanto: How long until we’re out in free space again?
Gamren: [checks display] Uh, two minutes, give or take.
Avon: We’ll be dead by then!
[Landing bay. There is lots of smoke billowing around. The Phoenix starts to hum loudly.]
[Launching silo. Two large holes in the wall merge into one gaping hole.]
[Flight deck. Everyone is braced for take off.]
Gamren: All pilot systems are now green. Main drives now running...
[Outside, the Phoenix starts to lift up on four pillars of smoking thrust.]
Vila: How long until we leave the atmosphere?
Blake: Count is 100 seconds and reducing.
Lora: That’s the default settings, though. We can go faster.
Avon: What’s the maximum speed if we pushed everything to the limit?
Blake: Time Distort Twenty-Five. Primary orbit can be achieved in point two six seconds.
Vila: Sounds good to me. Do it!
Gamren: [snorts] No way!
Avon: Vila’s right, we’ve no other option!
Zanto: Avon, you might have missed the last time we tried anything like this with the main drives, but we nearly got blasted across temporal hyperspace...
Avon: It’s worth the risk. Do it!
Gamren: At that speed we’ll disintegrate!
Vila: If we stay here, we’ll disintegrate anyway. Do it, Blake!
Blake: Resetting default systems. Brace yourself, everyone, this is going to be rough...
[Launching silo. The wall collapses completely and the beam shines onto the rocket.]
[Landing bay. The Phoenix is lifting up when suddenly it powers away at a crazy speed.]
[All the crew are thrown back into their seats and pinned there by acceleration.]
[Launching silo. The dodecahedron is starting to dissolve in the glare. Suddenly it shatters and everything goes a blue-tinged white.]
[Plain. The city glows brightly until the entire landscape is lit up. The glow spreads out in all directions engulfing everything. The sigh of the wind is swallowed up in perfect silence.]
[Space. A disc of blue-white light appears against the shadowy continents and starts to expand across the planet. Soon the whole world is glowing silently with light. Further away, the Phoenix slows to a halt.]
[Flight Deck. The crew recover from the jolt.]
Gamren: [weakly] Blake. Status?
Blake: Three energy banks are now exhausted. Time distort facilities have overloaded and the photonic drive linkages are no longer registering on the circuit tracers.
Lora: We’re lucky we didn’t crash into the asteroid belt!
Vila: Lucky? It was a bloody miracle!
Avon: The miracle was us escaping the blast zone in time.
Blake: Which we did. Narrowly.
Zanto: [rubs eyes] You think there were any survivors, Orac?
Orac: There are far too many variables to consider, especially given the sun bomb was not designed to be detonated inside a planetary atmosphere. Certainly, all the Shadow forces in the city would have been annihilated in the initial blast – along with most of the city itself.
Gamren: But there would still be plenty of the shadow people still underground.
Zanto: And that’s where they’ll have to stay now the surface has been flooded with that artificial sunlight. I suppose they might be able to evolve a new form that lets them survive above ground again – but that would basically mean becoming one of the enemy themselves.
Gamren: So one way or another, Nreeshi’s people won the war? Light beats the dark?
Lora: Thanks to us. Aren’t we great?
Avon: The point is entirely academic now. Whether either or both races were annihilated, the entire planet is now off-limits to unmodified life forms like ourselves. If any of you lets guilt overwhelm your self-preservation remember that once inside the atmosphere the Phoenix itself would be vaporized, along with all of us. This will have to remain one of life’s unsolved mysteries.
[The others exchange grim looks.]
Lora: So let’s focused on what we learned today.
[Zanto and Gamren frown, bewildered.]
Zanto: ...we learned something today?
Lora: Yes. We have to put up with each other unless we want to end up like Nreeshi and Taihyr.
Gamren: I’m not seeing the connection...
Lora: [cuts in] Don’t we??!
Gamren: [quickly] Yes. You bet, Lora.
Lora: Because us fighting amongst ourselves doesn’t help, does it?
[They both start to humor her.]
Zanto: Just curious, but where are you going with...?
Gamren: Zanto promises not to storm off on a weird alien planet ever again.
Zanto: Yes. I, uh, promise never to storm off on a weird alien planet. Because that can put us in danger.
Gamren: Yes. I’m glad you learned that today, Zanto.
Zanto: As am I. And you’re not going to spend every waking moment thinking up insults, criticism, holier-than-thou sarcasm and abuse, are you, Gamren?
Gamren: [laughs] You make it sound so organized!
Lora: [sternly] Gamren!
Gamren: I’ll stop. We’ll all be the very best of friends from now on.
Zanto: You bet.
Vila: [surprised] You mean that?
Zanto: Of course. Cooperation is better, isn’t it Gamren?
Gamren: [nods] Oh yeah. I realize that now.
Zanto: [smirking] You might even say we’ve seen the light...
Gamren: [giggles] You might indeed say that...
[Avon laughs. Lora face-palms. Vila slowly turns to glare at them.]
END OF EPISODE