Thursday, April 3, 2014

B7 - Over-Complexity Addiction

I wrote this after seeing Sherlock: The Empty Hearse. Does it show?

[Avon looks up from Blake's body as additional troopers enter the room. Avon watches as the troopers form a rough circle around him. He looks back down at Blake and then straddles Blake's body. He looks up. The alarm stops. Avon slowly raises his weapon. He smiles/ grimaces and pulls the trigger. He manages to shoot down three troopers before shots ring out and he collapses beside Blake's body. There is a long moment of silence as they both stare up at the ceiling.]

AVON: Well. That could have gone better.

[Blake blinks and speaks with a slur.]

BLAKE: Don't tell me we'll have to do a retake.
AVON: It's undoubtedly an idea. On the other hand, the mistakes might add verisimilitude to the overall effect.
BLAKE: Have you any idea how much pain I'm in right now?
AVON: You're clearly delirious with agony, otherwise you'd realize I don't care.

[With difficulty, Avon sits upright.]

AVON: The best-laid plans of men and mutoids.
BLAKE: My side of the operation went perfectly.
AVON: Oh yes, Blake. Not all of us have your uncanny luck.

[One of the troopers helps him up.]

AVON: Either we try to bluff this out with your spy or else we start all over again.
BLAKE: I think your crew might get a little suspicious.
AVON: I dare say that's possible. We have to explain the truth to them.
BLAKE: Good luck with that.
AVON: Unlike you, Blake, I am capable of giving a straight answer to a straight question. I'll just tell them what happened.

[Xenon Base. Avon switches on a screen.]

AVON: Blake. This is Avon. Things have fallen apart here completely. It seems Servalan is right behind us. There is no alternative left. I'm coming to find you. The next time we meet, I'll kill you where you stand.
VILA: [VO] What? Hang on!

[Deva's office. Avon sits behind the desk, facing Vila, Soolin and Dayna. All of them look sore and annoyed.]

VILA: That doesn't make any sense!
DAYNA: Vila's right for once. You really have gone insane, Avon!
AVON: I might have found your lack of faith disturbing, but then I engineered it in the first place.
SOOLIN: I suggest you explain better, Avon. I'm very annoyed.
AVON: All right.

[Blake enters, drying his hair. His eyes are normal.]

VILA: Blake!
BLAKE: Afternoon, Vila. Just been washing off that blood. The chemical stains are hard to shift.
DAYNA: Look, just what has been going on here?
BLAKE: Your straight answers are clearly working. Very well, Dayna. I shall explain. Avon found me on Jevron several years ago.
AVON: It was shortly after we secured Scorpio and Xenon Base. Servalan's story about Blake dying there had been dismissed by Orac, so I investigated further. It transpired Blake was alive and a prisoner of one of his more... ardent admirers.
BLAKE: She was criminally insane, obsessed with keeping me as a tame pet to worship.
SOOLIN: Servalan knew you were alive and let you stay that way?
BLAKE: It was humiliating enough to satisfy her sadism. Besides, she could always tell people I was dead.


DAYNA: But Servalan told us he was dead.
AVON: And you believed her?
DAYNA: Well, she had no reason to lie.
AVON: She doesn't need one. It comes quite naturally to her, like breathing.

[Deva's office.]

VILA: So you rescued Blake and didn't tell us?
AVON: Blake's admirer was harder to take down than anticipated. Suffice it to say, I didn't have the opportunity to inform any of you. And then I decided it might have been better if no one knew.

[Jevron. Outside a burning house, Avon has a gun in hand and looking at a pale, bearded Blake.]

AVON: You've been dead too long, Blake. All those contradictory stories are cancelling out your precious legend.
BLAKE: I'll just have to try to get back into the public eye.
AVON: Perhaps you should. But I'm not fighting the Federation, Blake. Not until I have a chance of success.
BLAKE: You're the one who lost Liberator.
AVON: Trying to find you, Blake. At least it was lost with Servalan aboard. I have a planetary base, a ship with teleport and the beginnings of a major resistance force. But until the ship is in full working order, I'm not taking any chances.
BLAKE: You're not taking me with you?
AVON: Why should I? Hiding away on my base is not going to inspire the rabble. What's more, I have enough unruly passionate crewmembers to worry about without you inspiring them in the best traditions of suicidal idealism.
BLAKE: And I thought you'd missed me.
AVON: I have. Several times. The Jevronites can get you back to the resistance. Earn your keep, Blake. Become a legend again, because as far as the universe is concerned I might as well have not rescued you for the difference you'll make.
BLAKE: You don't trust me to know where your base is?
AVON: No. Don't take it personally, Blake. Without Liberator, that is the last sanctuary I have. I can't afford the Federation torturing it out of you, or you trading that information for saving some poor blue-eyed orphans.
BLAKE: And I don't suppose you'll mind if I return the favor?
AVON: Not at all. We'll keep in contact through Orac, but our whereabouts will not be mentioned.
BLAKE: Are you even going to tell the others I'm alive?
AVON: Why bother? The others have never met you. Only Vila knows who you are - and he's grieved you already.
BLAKE: How touching.
AVON: He's maudlin enough, Blake, especially after Cally died. Unless you have a better plan?
BLAKE: [sighs] Not yet.


ORAC: Blake is on Gauda Prime.
TARRANT: [to Avon] How long have you known?
AVON: [smiles] Long enough.
DAYNA: Before Zukan?
AVON: Oh, yes. And the answer to your next question is, yes, I would have left Blake where he was and said nothing.

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: The Federation's pacification scheme allowed them to rebuild faster than my worst fears.
AVON: I had Orac relay the formula for the antitoxin to Blake in the hope of finding a natural source.
BLAKE: And I did. This planet, Gauda Prime. Atmospheric content, mineral composition, all combine to generate roughly ninety-two percent of the enzymes needed for production of the innoculation. The rest can be brought in through legitimate channels without arousing any attention from the Federation.
SOOLIN: Except that GP is an open planet where you could all be killed for the shoes on your feet.
BLAKE: Indeed. I met with the local resisters and decided that it was time for GP to be returned to normal legal status.


SOOLIN: You're not serious.
AVON: Orac?
ORAC: A formal application was laid before the High Council on Earth within the last thirty days. I could get you the exact date, if you wish. But the importance of the application lies not in its exact date, but in its general requirements.
TARRANT: Which are?
ORAC: That the citizens of Gauda Prime put their house in order. Law must be established before the benefits of law can be restored.
AVON: It is the day of the bounty hunter. Thieves, killers, mercenaries, psychopaths, are as unwelcome now as the farmers once were.

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: With the clean-up operations, we could weed out the real scum from this planet but also recruit genuine rebels. A whole army gathered right under the Federation's nose, on a planet they'd never expect which also happens to be perfect for producing the antitoxin.
DAYNA: And you as a bounty-hunter recruiting them?
AVON: It was a long-term strategy. Blake doesn't like having to be patient.

[Xenon base. Avon is speaking to a screen. On it, Blake is pacing.]

BLAKE: ...and Deva has managed to get another flyer working today. That's about the size of it. What have you been up to?
AVON: Working. Orac is spreading the word that the rebellion is the best bet for any specialist who seek to survive. The new regime will be likely to pacify any geniuses that they employ out of sheer paranoia. We've made initial contact with several specialists - a polymath, a computer specialist, a few other visionaries. I've spoken to several acquaintences about the latest projects of the Federation, and established speaking terms with three planterary governors. What's the matter, Blake? Itchy feet?
BLAKE: Something like that.
AVON: You should get yourself a hobby, Blake.

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: With help from Deva and Orac, it was simple enough to establish the best recruits. I did like to test them, but more to see how they coped under pressure than their loyalties. I've often been repaid by my trust.
AVON: You got out what you put in, Blake.
SOOLIN: So you were working apart? Blake establishing this antitoxin factory and recruitment drive while you organized the alliance.
DAYNA: So what went wrong?
BLAKE: You should know. You lived through most of it.

[Xenon base. Avon is the one now pacing.]

AVON: She's everywhere, Blake. Without any of the Presidency to occupy her time, Servalan has focused on trying to seize control of every potential resource we investigate. Feldon crystals, Virn sand, even those animals on Bucol 2. She's hired assassins and even lured us into traps to make her rich with looted Zerok gold.
BLAKE: Why don't you just kill her then?
AVON: Believe me, Blake, since Terminal I have had precisely one chance to take her life.
BLAKE: Which you didn't.
AVON: Which, as you say, I didn't. It seemed a good idea at the time. But the fact is, whatever victories we are achieving are phyrric ones. At the moment, escaping with our lives is the best we can hope for. Of course, still being a person of debated status as the living, you have no such troubles. Any bounty hunters who still think you're alive won't be looking for you there.
BLAKE: Perhaps that's the solution?

[Avon stops pacing.]

AVON: What do you mean?
BLAKE: If you were to join me here on Gauda Prime. No one would expect you to be here.


TARRANT: So where do we find this useable idealist?
AVON: According to Orac, he is on a frontier planet called Gauda Prime.
SOOLIN: Gauda Prime?
TARRANT: You know it?
SOOLIN: Yes, I know it. It's a bad place to be. No self-respecting idealist would be found dead there.

[Xenon Base.]

AVON: Servalan would still be hunting for us, Blake. She's quartering this part of the galaxy. It's only a matter of time before she finds us.
BLAKE: Then get Orac to blow her cover as Sleer.
AVON: It might not work, Blake. The fickleness of the mob could be used to her advantage. Besides... being dead has only improved her fortunes. Servalan is dead, long live Sleer. Anonymous, free to persue her own agenda. No one is hunting her.
BLAKE: Then that's it. You fake your death.
AVON: It may sound vain, Blake, but my reputation is one of the few bargaining tools that remain.
BLAKE: All that matters is if we fool Servalan. As long as she thinks we're dead, she won't hunt us. We can start again, join the multitudes on Gauda Prime as it is reabsorbed into the Federation. We can always resume our identities if it's necessary.
AVON: I seem to find you using the word "we" rather gratuitously, Blake.
BLAKE: It would be cleaner for us all to die together, Avon. With all her enemies dispatched, Servalan will be at a loose end. Less likely to go looking for any other witnesses.
AVON: You believe that could work?
BLAKE: I've been telling people Jenna died running the blockade. The bounty on her head's been canceled, she's got a new name and still alive.

[Deva's office.]

VILA: Now I get this. This is all a ruse, to fool Servalan.
AVON: A ruse you have nearly ruined, Vila.
VILA: Me? What did I do? Maybe if you'd told us...
BLAKE: We couldn't, Vila. Your reactions had to be genuine. Orac agreed that the best scenario would be Avon trying to recruit me to the rebel alliance, then in a paranoid misunderstanding, shoot me dead. The rest of you would then perish in a shootout with Federation troops.
AVON: As you can imagine, certain conditions had to be met to make it convincing.
BLAKE: For Avon to be in such a high-strung state, he would have to be desperate. Have lost everything, pinned hopes on me and then been betrayed. Otherwise, Servalan would be suspicious.
SOOLIN: Which is why you were so pleased when Servalan ruined the base.

[Xenon Base. Avon switches on a screen.]

AVON: Blake. This is Avon. Things have fallen apart here completely. It seems Servalan is right behind us. There is no alternative left. I'm coming to find you. The next time we meet, I'll kill you where you stand.

[Deva's office.]

VILA: That makes a lot more sense now.
AVON: As we knew Servalan had infiltrated the alliance, there was a chance she could have discovered Xenon Base.

[Scorpio takes off as Xenon Base explodes.]

AVON: [VO] Either way, it was logical we would abandon base and destroy it to leave us with nothing but Scorpio and the clothes we stood in...


SLAVE: All explosive devices have functioned correctly, Master. The base complex has been totally destroyed.
AVON: Thank you, Slave.
VILA: I never liked that place anyway.
SOOLIN: Especially not once the wine ran out.

[Deva's office.]

AVON: To add credibility to my homicidal urges, I needed you all to doubt my sanity - or at least my reasoning.


TARRANT: The last time you went after Blake, it was a trap. We were lucky to get out.
VILA: Cally didn't get out.
DAYNA: And Blake wasn't even there.
VILA: Never had been.
AVON: Do you take me for a fool?
SOOLIN: Only a fool would go to Gauda Prime without a very good reason.

[Deva's office.]

AVON: What could suggest declining mental faculties then for five infamous fugitives seeking the assistance of a bounty hunter on a planet full of bounty hunters where we would be least welcome?
BLAKE: Servalan had been curious at the sudden desire for GP to become legitimate, and my own presence had gained attention. With Orac's help, we'd avoided attention. But now, we needed one of them as a recruit to be shown a lie. The idea that we were a tatty, easily-broken unit of unreliable and inefficient idealists...

[Deva's office earlier. Deva and Blake are arguing in front of Arlen, who is listening.]

DEVA: These stupid games you insist on playing, Blake, will get someone killed eventually!
BLAKE: I have to test each one myself.
DEVA: No, you don't have to! I set up systems for that. I broke the security codes on their central computer. I got us access to official channels, information, everything we could possibly need! You don't need to be involved at all.
BLAKE: All right, I find it difficult to trust. It's a failing, I admit--!
DEVA: And any one of our people could select the people you've collected. You don't need to do the bounty hunter routine, either!
BLAKE: Indulge me.
DEVA: Do I have a choice?
BLAKE: Oh, there's always a choice, Deva.
DEVA: Not for me, there isn't. I said I'd follow you, and I will, until the Federation's finally destroyed. But if you're killed, where does that leave us?!
BLAKE: With a base, the beginnings of an army!
DEVA: All of it useless if you're not there to lead it!

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: Once I recruited Arlen, all we needed was for you to arrive and a fatal misunderstanding.
AVON: Arlen would return to Servalan with evidence to prove we all died in the silo.
DAYNA: And probably end up being tortured to death to make sure she's not lying.
AVON: That is a distinct possibility. However, instead of witnessing the gunfight first hand, Vila punched her lights out.
VILA: Well, excuse me for being genuinely on edge!
SOOLIN: This plan of yours. Did it include having Scorpio blown apart?
BLAKE: To an extent. Even if Servalan believes us all dead, she'd still go looking for Orac and the teleport.
AVON: The simplest solution was to allow the ship to be damaged running the blockade, land the ship on the planet and then await Blake's arrival. He would escort us to his base, pretend to betray us and then I would shoot him.

[Scorpio. Avon is strapping down Orac.]

AVON: [VO] As I knew we were going to have a rough landing, and Slave has never been the best at maintaining a level flight path during a crisis, some precautions were required.
DAYNA: Why are you tying him down?
AVON: Perhaps I'm just working out some of my frustrations.

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: However, the gunship blockade are not the most disciplined of groups.
AVON: They opened fire without the warning I expected.


SLAVE: Scorpio is under attack!

[An explosion rocks the flight deck.]

[Deva's office.]

AVON: And with the damage worse than I imagined, we did not fake a crash-landed. Scorpio actually crash-landed.


AVON: Powerdive the atmosphere. Fake it. Make it look as though we're out of control.
TARRANT: I may not have to fake that.
AVON: Do it!

[The gunship pursuit falls off as Scorpio makes a run for the planet.]

AVON: There isn't enough power to get us back out.
TARRANT: Or enough control to land.
VILA: You mean we really are going to crash?!
SOOLIN: No wonder they were convinced!
VILA: There must be something we can do!
AVON: I'll accept suggestions!
VILA: How does "Abandon ship!" grab you?

[Deva's office.]

AVON: I had not planned to abandoned Tarrant to his fate. Had it been possible, we both would have left.
VILA: Oh really?


AVON: [picking up Orac] Come on, Tarrant!
TARRANT: I can't. If I leave the controls for a second, she'll flip over and break up! Look, there's nothing you can do. You're not a good enough pilot.
AVON: ...I can see that.
TARRANT: So get the hell out of here, will you? There's no point in both of us dying.

[Forest. As Vila, Soolin, Dayna and Avon react, Scorpio crashes into the forest.]

[Deva's office/tracking gallery.]

DEVA: [into intercom] Deva.
KLYN: We've been tracking a ship that tried to run the blockade.
DEVA: [V.O.] Did it get through?
KLYN: There was a full squadron of gunships on its tail when it hit the atmosphere.
DEVA: It didn't, then.
KLYN: Bits of it, maybe.
DEVA: What was it? Do you know?
KLYN: A planet hopper from the scope reading. Might have been Wanderer class. We estimate it must have crashed somewhere in Plantation Five. Do you want a search patrol sent out?
DEVA: Uh, no, just log it.
KLYN: [V.O.] Right. [intercom link breaks]
BLAKE: Chalk up another one to law and order.
DEVA: Smuggler, do you think?
BLAKE: Something like that. Do you know it's getting so you can't make a dishonest living on this planet anymore?
DEVA: That is the object of the exercise.
BLAKE: Hm. I wonder if those gunships challenged him before they opened fire.
DEVA: I doubt it.

[Deva's office, present.]

BLAKE: Arlen was in the holding cell. Due to deliberately-pour audio systems, it meant she could overhear every word we said. She knew that Scorpio had crashed nearby and we were not expecting any arrival. I didn't realize, though, that Klyn was not exaggerating the extent of the damage.
AVON: I expected as much. I had Orac make contact with you in a surreptitious manner.

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: Plantation Five, did she say?
DEVA: Yes.
BLAKE: I might just take a swing out in that direction, see if there's anything left.
DEVA: You'll be wasting time.
BLAKE: I'll bear that in mind.

[A card comes out of the computer. Deva reads it and hands it to Blake.]

DEVA: Hm. You've been given a temporary appointment as a law enforcement officer.
BLAKE: That central computer doesn't care who it makes respectable, does it?
DEVA: It's an inferior model, I'm afraid.
BLAKE: I'll be in touch if I find that ship.

[Deva's office, present.]

DAYNA: The card was a message from Avon?
BLAKE: He was telling me it was time to play the law-abiding good samaritan, a signal the crash was worse than we imagined.
AVON: I took the initiative and used Orac to speed up my collection.


AVON: Orac, can you simulate the official signal of a Gauda Prime distress beacon?
ORAC: Of course I am.
AVON: Then do so.
ORAC: And for what purpose am I undertaking this task?
AVON: I want to attract a search party.
ORAC: Might I point out that in the present political environment, such a party is likely to be heavily armed?
AVON: I also want you to tap into the nearest GP tracking center computer and notify me when any flying vehicles come into this region. And see if it's possible to make contact with the Slave computer. It's just possible it survived the crash and is still working on emergency power. Well?
ORAC: Your hypothesis is accurate. The inferior system is still functioning. Just.
AVON: Tarrant?
ORAC: The Slave compute reports that he appears to be alive but unconscious. The extent of his injuries cannot be determined.
AVON: Is it possible to reach the crash site on foot before nightfall?
AVON: Well, then there's no point trying.

[Blake enters the tracking gallery just as a console alarm goes off.]

BLAKE: Problem?
KLYN: Someone's operating a distress beacon. It's on the official frequency.
BLAKE: Nothing in it for me, then. Outlaws tend not to use distress beacons.


ORAC: I assume you have given some thought to how you will explain your presence here, not to mention my impersonation of an official distress beacon.
AVON: Just keep sending, Orac. I don't particularly want to spend the night out here.
ORAC: You may have to. There is very little daylight left, and search parties are unlikely to operate in this terrain at night.
AVON: [rising] Stick to the distress beacon, Orac. When I want your impersonation of a pain, I'll let you know.

[Deva's office.]

AVON: Blake was supposed to come directly to me, homing in on the distress signal.
BLAKE: But, it was close to dark. The nights on GP can still be deadly and that plantation would soon be crawling with bounty hunters. After all, Avon, you were far from helpless - you had a gun and Orac. So I went straight for the wreckage.
AVON: With night falling, and a rather important rendezvous tomorrow morning, I started searching for you three.

[Hut. A low droning is heard.]

DAYNA: What is it?
SOOLIN: Flyer, coming fast.
VILA: Flyer, as in transport?
SOOLIN: As in transport.
VILA: Well, let's get out there and attract their attention.
DAYNA: No --
SOOLIN: Wait a minute, Vila.
VILA: What do you mean, wait! That's the sound of civilization!
SOOLIN: Not necessarily!
VILA: It's got to be better than this!
DAYNA: Vila!
SOOLIN: I wouldn't bet my life on it!


ORAC: Avon, a flyer has entered the area.
AVON: Tap into the flight and sensor computers.
ORAC: I have already done so. The flyer was launched from an underground silo some distance away, and now appears to be searching the area. Sensors have picked up heat from three bodies, closely grouped. The flyer is moving to investigate.

[Hut. Vila, Soolin and Dayna scramble for cover as the flyer approaches, seems to hover for a moment, then departs.]

VILA: They might have been friendly.
DAYNA: They might have come to apologize for shooting down Scorpio, but it doesn't seem likely, does it.


ORAC: The flyer is moving away, continuing its search pattern in a different location.
AVON: Pinpoint the location of the people spotted by the flyer and keep tracking it. Also, maintain a watch for additional flyers.
ORAC: Very well.

[Deva's office.]

BLAKE: Having located you, I was able to get Orac to guide Avon to you. I didn't doubt you'd be able to find your own transport to this base, so I went to Scorpio's wreckage to render any assistance that might be needed.

[Forest. It is now dark.]

ORAC: The flyer has reached Scorpio's wreakage, as confirmed both by Slave and the flyer's on-board computers.
AVON: Well?
ORAC: The Slave computer has noted that there is one human. They have checked Tarrant over and are continuing to look around.
AVON: Still no word on Tarrant's actual condition?
AVON: I can't risk voice contact... Orac, instruct Slave to ignore this do-gooder. But inform Tarrant if any other flyers approach. The bounty hunters will be coming to pick over what's left all night...

[Scorpio's wreckage.]

SLAVE: Sir? Are you still not awake, sir? I would be most grateful if you could try to stir yourself and listen to my report. My emergency power cells are virtually exhausted, I'm afraid. There is a flying vehicle approaching, sir. I'm sorry, but I will have to close down now. Crash damage and power loss make it impossible for me to continue. May I express the humble hope that the same is not true for you, Tarrant.

[A flyer approaches and fires into the wreckage. Tarrant crawls away from the blasts.]

BLAKE: Lie still.
TARRANT: Who's that?
BLAKE: Let them think you're dead. Plasma ammunition is scarce. You're lucky that you weren't hit. They won't want to waste any more.

[Blake fires at the flyer. It crashes and burns.]


I never bothered to write the rest. Anyway, after Avon and Blake explain everything, Vila, Dayna, Soolin and Tarrant call them both a couple of complete and utter fuckwits who they never want to see again and storm out, leaving our heroes wondering if such blatant and cruel manipulation is a good thing, morally-speaking.


Miles Reid-Lobatto said...

I love you

Youth of Australia said...

Does Rhianna know about this?

Coz, otherwise, it could get awkward.