Taking the Stone
March 31, 2000 - US
July 10, 2000 - UK
2.03

Writer - Justin Monjo
Director - Rowan Woods

Guest Cast:

Anthony Hayes . . . Molnon
Peter Scarf . . . Das
Michela Noonan . . . Vyna
Natasha Beaumont . . . Janixx



TRANSCRIPT
The episode opens with Chiana, alone in Moya's corridors. She is sick, distressed, or both as she staggers slowly along. Cut to John in the Command. Pilot is letting him mess around with the innards of the navigation console. He yelps and lets fly something like a curse as he gets a shock for his efforts. Chiana enters and approaches him with uncharacteristic shyness. Her distress is visible.

Chiana: (making a feint at humor as she approaches him) Crichton. What are you breaking now?

John: (preoccupied) I'm not breaking anything. I'm trying to see how our "quote-unquote" navigation system "quote-unquote" works.

Chiana: (shaky) You got a microt?

John: Ain't got no time right now Chi. (he gets another zotz from the console)

Chiana: (her voice is close to cracking) Crichton, I, uh, I really gotta talk.

John: (not even looking up) Chi - I do not - have - the time.

Chiana: (close to tears) You don't have the time? Okay. (she turns and shuffles dejectedly away. John doesn't even notice her departure and yelps again as he gets a good shock-)

John: YAH! You son of a-!

(cut to the maintenance bay. Chiana limps in, and picks up a laser tool. She cries out in pain as she uses it to make an incision in her abdomen. Then, using a pliers-like tool, she reaches into the cut and extracts a red disk, covered in her black blood, about 2 inches in diameter. At it's center is a pulsating light which fades and goes out as she holds it)

Chiana: Nerri... (sobbing, she clasps the disk in her hands and raises them as she bows her head, A DRD on the table in front of her rolls up inquiringly and with a yell of grief-stricken rage, she smashes the disk against the DRD)

(cut to a view of Aeryn's Prowler arcing away from Moya towards a grey and white planet. Then cut to Moya's Command)

Aeryn: (yelling) That little tralk!

John: Aeryn, we don't know that Chiana stole your Prowler.

Aeryn: (furious) It's gone isn't it Crichton?

Pilot: (cut to him in his Den) I did not immediately detect her departure because several of my control systems have been off-line. (yeah JOHN!)

Aeryn: She could be thousands of metras away by now. (D'Argo and Zhaan enter)


D'Argo: We found this in the in the maintenance bay. It had Chiana's blood all over it. (he tosses the disk Chiana removed from herself to John)

John: What is it?

Zhaan: I believe it's a life disk. Some species have them surgically implanted. This creates a permanent life link between those close to them.

John: Then why would she take it out?

Zhaan: It is no longer functioning. Which means that whoever Chiana was linked to - is dead.

John: (remorseful) Aw man! She was trying to talk to me, and I blew her off.

(cut to the planet as Chiana gets out of the Prowler. It's a gothicly creepy place. The cloudy sky is as dark as night and greenish-yellow lightning cracks constantly casting a sickly strobe light over a dead landscape of rocks and ruinous stone buildings. Thunder echoes are the only sound)

Chiana: (to herself) Come on. You've been in worse places. (but she is skittish and in a flash of yellow lightning sees something move. She screams-)
WHO'S THERE?! STOP BLEEKING AROUND! LET ME SEE YOU! (wavery calls like those of coyotes are heard now, then silence again. Chiana tries to see in all directions at once as two young men emerge into view. One grunts and growls like an animal as the other watches her. He takes a bite from a mushroom and smiles at her as he sizes her up. He is human in appearance, unwashed but with a golden sheen to his skin. His eyes are intensely green and the irises of them are rimmed in black. His light hair is twisted into white-peoples dreadlocks, He is Molnon, the chief of the Clanspeople who live on this dismal world. They are all young, dress tribal-punk and their speech is straight out of "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome")

Molnon: (whispering to his Clansmen) Sweet nixa - (he pulls a knife) Let's mark her. (Chiana screams as they converge on her with seeming ferocity)

(later- cut to Aeryn, John and Rygel. They have come to the planet, armed with flashlights, to hunt for Chiana and the Prowler. They've found the Prowler which Aeryn anxiously checks out)

John: So this entire planet's covered in graves?

Rygel: (unceasingly amazed by John's provincialism) It's a Royal Cemetery Planet. Haven't you ever seen one?

John: Nope. CHIANA!

Rygel: (persistent) Well, where did you bury your leaders on Erp?

John: Just underground. Chiana! (he walks away)

Rygel: Next to where you lived? That's disgusting! BbBbBbleeeghgh! (John finds the fuzzy shoulder pads of Chiana’s top)

Aeryn: (very cheerful) Well, the Prowler checked out all right. At least she landed it in one piece. Let's go. You can take the transport.

John: Nope. These belong to Chiana. You coming? (Rygel groans)

Aeryn: Let's go. (she turns and walks off)

Rygel: What are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying right here.

John: Yeah, like anybody cares. (he walks off after Aeryn, calling back-) Don't rob the graves Sparky!

Rygel: How dare you imply that a Hynerian Dominar would desecr- (but at that moment he spots a golden trinket laying in front of him. He tugs at it and it comes up - to reveal a cache of gaudy burial items beneath it. He gasps and quietly exclaims-) Yotzah!

(cut to Aeryn and John. They have entered a labyrinth of tunnels nearby that seem a likely place for someone to hide. The passages are partly underground and small, high windows with no glass let in the occasional flash of sickly yellow light. Other than that the place is pitch dark unless someone lights a fire)

John: Does this look familiar?

Aeryn: Of course it looks familiar. That's because each of these tunnels are exactly the same.

John: Are we lost?

But at that moment sounds start up in the darkness ahead of them, It starts as a strange animal-like yodel followed by a low pitched moaning and a rhythmic swoosh. Aeryn and John run towards it but quickly step back before bursting in on a chamber where what appears to be some sort of ritual is taking place. Chiana is at it's center, suspended upside-down. She is making the long, low-pitched moaning sound as what appear to be two huge stone blocks swing back and forth on either side of her. Her white hair has been twisted into dreadlocks with something red and she's wearing the revealing, strappy leather outfit of the Clanspeople, several of who surround her.

Aeryn: What are they doing to her?

John: I have no idea.

Aeryn: Do you see any weapons?

John: No. I'll go for Chiana.

Aeryn: I'll pin down the others. (she fires a shot to get the attention of the young Clanspeople) EVERYBODY DOWN ON THE GROUND, NOW! MOVE IT!

John: Chiana! (he gallops in to save her but she lightly drops down from where she was hanging and lands on her feet - facing him)

Chiana: (annoyed) What are you doing? No one's ever lasted more than 50 microts in that thing! I had 'em beat!

Aeryn: (as one of the boys makes to touch her) I wouldn't if I were you. (he doesn't stop and Aeryn delivers a decisive kick that does. The Clanspeople are passive and seem completely unalarmed by Aeryn and John)

Chiana: You had no right to come after me.

John: (fatherly) We were worried about you, so we-

Chiana: (cutting him off) Aw sweet! Now get the frell out of here!

John: Chiana-

Chiana: No, Crichton! Now I don't have the time. (she walks away from him)

Molnon: (mellow as he looks lazily at John) Hey, ancient...

John: Who the hell are you talking to? And who are you?

Molnon: Molnon. (he offers John a clump of mushroom) Taste?

Vyna: (shocked, referring to Aeryn) Look at her! (Molnon walks over to look at Aeryn)

Molnon: Eeehhh well... Vyna's amazed by you. Age lines, dead spots. You're historic nixa.

Aeryn: (not pleased) Historic? (she kicks the first guy again)

Molnon: (chuckling) Let's go, gardas. They're worn out. (to John) Ancientsss... (he and the rest of his Clan leave)

John: Did you catch any of that?

Aeryn: Not much, except all the "I'm worn out" dren.

John: (he turns to Aeryn and proffers Chiana's life disk to her) If you find Chiana, show her this. Ask her about it.

Aeryn: (making no move to accept it) Ask her yourself.

John: Aeryn - she's pissed at me. (he tosses her the disk) And try not to be too angry about the Prowler. Be nice.

Aeryn: I'm not good at nice.

John: Just don't shoot her.

(cut to Moya. Rygel has returned on his own and is in his quarters with a big bundle. D'Argo is there, questioning him)

D'Argo: Okay Rygel. Take me through this one more time. Why did you leave?

Rygel: I told you! They left me first.

D'Argo: Pilot lost contact with Crichton and Aeryn several arns ago. Where did they go?

Rygel: Down. Underground. They went looking for Chiana. Crichton seems to think she might still be alive. (D'Argo eyes Rygel and the bundle and slowly approaches. Then in a sudden flurry of movement he tears open the bundle to reveal a stash of the funerary goods from the planet) You frelling Luxan!

D'Argo: (in the silence after the tinny sound of flying tchotckes fades) What is this?

Rygel: My - private property.

D'Argo: You robbed the dead?

Rygel: And believe me, that wasn't as easy as it sounds. Now leave me alone! (D'Argo snorts with disgust and exits) Yes, that's right. Get out! (once D'Argo is gone he begins to look through his loot and finds a beautifully wrought death mask, He removes it with much appreciative oohing and ahing - beneath the mask is a skull and a huge black segmented worm emerges from it's eye socket) Bonus! (he plucks the worm out and takes a big bite of it)

(cut back to the catacombs on the planet. Aeryn finds Chiana alone in a chamber sitting by a small campfire and drinking)

Chiana: What do you want?

Aeryn: You forgot this. (she tosses the life disk to Chiana - it lands on the ground at her feet)

Chiana: (picking it up) It's my brother, Nerri. (there is a long silence) It's terminated. (another long pause) It means he's dead.

Aeryn: I'm sorry.

Chiana: (suddenly eager) Hey I - . I gotta show you around this place. You know what they do if they want you to stay? They make you run through these-these, these rings of fire, like, um, naked. Totally naked. And, once you go through that, you, you go into the sonic call. (she smiles at Aeryn as if hoping to win her over) That's where I just was. Your whole body, it vibrates! It's... You got to try it.

Aeryn: I think you had a little bit too much to drink.

Chiana: Don't be like Crichton. Come on. Everyone's so lame on Moya. (Aeryn smiles back at her a little) Stay with me. You gotta. Or at least stay for the Gathering.

Aeryn: And what is that?

Chiana: Oh, Molnon says it's the draddest. Says it'll blow my mind.

(cut back to John. He's wandering around the catacombs on his own while he waits for Aeryn. Others move around too, members of the
Clans, in the silent dark of the tombs. Molnon and Das, another attractive, but wasted young man, emerge from a side passage. Das stops and John approaches him)

John: (gently, Das seems disoriented and withdrawn) Hey guy. We didn't meet before.

Das: It's too late.

John: Buddy, what you talking about?

Das: (sounding fearful, or close to tears) The lost people know. (he makes to walk past John)

John: (stopping him gently) Hey, hey. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Focus, man. Come on. Focus right here.

Molnon: (calling from a short ways off) Das. Time to jump garda. (Das follows him, as if in a daze, leaving John alone again)

(shortly after - Aeryn and John meet up in a huge room lit only by the flash of the greenish-yellow lightning through high windows. They watch as The Gathering takes place around the rim of a great pit at the center of the room. A crowd of a few dozen young people have converged there and Molnon addresses them ritualistically. They are unperturbed by Aeryn and John's presence)

Molnon: New narl emerges. (he gestures to a young woman with an infant) Clans gather. IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE! (the crowd makes a brief ritualized response) Way back - the ancients dug the Royal Tombs. But the surface is full! And the Royals leave. And now we're alone. But we liiivvve... (the crowd makes a ritualized double-hoot in response) Who'll take the stone? (the crowd begins making a deep droning sound - the word "stone" repeated and drawn out into a mantra. A few of the Clanspeople step up to the edge of the pit and spreading their arms, take a swan-dive into it while the crowd drones, But instead of being dashed to death on the floor of the pit, just before they hit - their fall is broken by an invisible something that is seen only as a ripple of light spreading out from their bodies as they come into contact with it. They all land gently on their feet at the bottom of the pit and throw up their arms in triumph. The droning of the crowd abruptly stops and as one they say, "Ah! Ah!" in the way one might say 'amen')

John: (gaping over the edge of the pit with Aeryn) What the-?

Aeryn: Frell. It's a sonic net.

John: You want to explain that?

Aeryn: It's a net sustained by their own voices. Peacekeepers use them in aerial combat training and the sound actually cushions your fall.

Das: (he is standing with Vyna, his forehead against hers) I'm ready. (he steps to the edge of the pit and raises his arms as the droning begins again. He falls - but the net doesn't activate and the droning abruptly stops as he impacts the stone floor of the pit)

John: (stunned as he looks over the edge) Like I said.

Aeryn: Frell.

Molnon: Das - (he and the other throw their arms up over their heads) -Takes The Stone! (the Gathering is over. He leaves and the others follow him. Chiana jumps up to the edge of the pit and stares over it's edge, impressed, she says to herself-)

Chiana: Drad! I gotta do that.

(later - cut to Chiana and Vyna. Vyna is raising her arms and then lowering them slowly towards Chiana as if she is meditating or doing Tai-Chi. She is hugely pregnant and the skin of her belly is transparent like a window. Chiana seems fascinated by both Vyna and her fetus and places her hands on Vyna's belly. Their interaction has the sensual air of stoned intimacy. Aeryn and John stand nearby watching)

John: Chiana...

Aeryn: Leave her alone Crichton. Come on. (she shepherds John out. He starts to go, but then tries to turn back)

John: Uh-uh! You know what? We're gonna sober her up and get her out of here right now. (Aeryn stops him from charging back to Chiana)

Aeryn: That life disk we found on board Moya was her brothers.'

John: Then he's dead?

Aeryn: Yes. I think that's why she likes it down here. I think she's trying to prove that she's still alive.

John: Aeryn, when I need a psych report on Chiana, I'll let you know.

Aeryn: If you try to force her to leave, she will stay here just to spite you.

John: No. She won't. (Aeryn gives up on him and walks out. He turns back to Chiana and Vyna. they are facing each other, Chiana is gazing slack-jawed at Vyna as she continues her ritualized movements) Later. (he exits too)

(later - cut to Chiana and Molnon in another room. The shrouded body of Das lays on a slab before them)

Chiana: And what are they gonna do with it?

Molnon: Soak the skin and harden the bones. Then Das can be buried in the Gathering Dome. (he chuckles a bit at his rhyme)

Chiana: Your best friend's just died.

Molnon: All die, nixa. But you're frightened of it. Never knowing when it's going to happen. Should I do this? Or do that? Fear, nixa - it overwhelms. Not us. We live. We do what we want. Liberated, 'cos we Take The Stone. The dead jump the last. I know you get it. (he makes a move on Chiana) Stay with us, nixa. Celebrate The Stone. It's the second draddest time. (John approaches them, out of sight, watching)

Chiana: Oh? And what's the draddest? (Molnon answers by kissing her - she reciprocates. John watches them a moment and then leaves)

(cut to Moya. Rygel is laying on his bed wearing the pilfered death mask and a few feet away from him sits Zhaan. She is chanting - much to Rygel's annoyance)

Rygel: Shut up. (he sits up and removes the mask) Shut up! AAAAWWWW! Will you PLEASE shut up?

Zhaan: (serenely) I'm doing this for your benefit Rygel.

Rygel: Oh, thank you! Now benefit me elsewhere! I'm trying to sleep!

Zhaan: Have you ever considered that these items might be protected?

Rygel: Protected? By what?

Zhaan: A curse!

Rygel: Oh, yotz! The only curse here is you! And anyway, if there is a curse, which there's not, it'll just be on me!

Zhaan: Yes, it will. (she leaves)

(cut back to the planet. Vyna is by herself. She has a big jug and is swilling from it as she whimpers a little. John and Aeryn enter)

Aeryn: Vyna... I'm sorry about Das.

Vyna: Oh, don't be, nixa.

John: (eyeing the fetus in it's womb with a view as Vyna gets sloshed) Should you be doing that?

Vyna: Taste? (she offers them the bottle. They decline)

John: Hey. What were you talking to Chiana about on that cliff?

Vyna: When narl comes, Chiana wants to jump. I gave her my blessing. (she lurches away)

(cut to Chiana. She is back hanging in the sonic call room by herself, practicing. She chants "stoooooooooooooone" to create a certain pitch and tone. John enters, Aeryn trails a few feet behind him)

John: Chiana, you got a microt?

Chiana: Not for you. (she continues the chant)

John: All right. Fine. You know what? You made your point, and I'm sorry that I ignored you on the ship. Okay? (Chiana drops down and confronts him angrily)

Chiana: Crichton! Why I'm here- it's not about you. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not your kid, I'm not your sister, and I'm only your - your TRALK - in your dreams! So please, please, go away!

John: I'm trying to help.

Chiana: I don't want it and I don't need it! I like it here. I like these people.

John: (annoyed) Chiana, you realize that nobody here has a clue? They're nothing but stoned monkeys who jump off a cliff!

Chiana: (angry) THEN YOU TELL ME WHAT WE'RE DOING ON MOYA THAT'S SO FRELLIN' WONDERFUL! Tell me that- At least they get to live before they die Crichton. That's what I want to do. You said to me - you said to me, anytime I want to jump ship. Anytime I want to leave. Well... see ya.

John: (to Aeryn) Feel free to jump in here anytime.

Aeryn: It's Chiana's choice John.

John: Great. That's just great Aeryn. (he approaches her angrily) You know, I hope if I ever decide to jump in front of a bus, you're not the only one- (but she catches his eye and makes a motion with her chin for him to go. Chiana hasn't moved. She's standing, facing away from them where John left her, breathing heavily. John cuts off his rant and leaves)

Aeryn: Vyna told us you're joining the Clan. You really going to jump?

Chiana: I might.

(cut to John, walking the claustrophobic passageways of the catacombs by himself, looking for Molnon)

John: (calling - his voice falls flat, like shouting in a closet) Molnon! (a zombie-like youth shuffles by Yo! Bob! Marley - you seen Molnon? (the guy is wasted out of his skull and doesn't stop or look at John, who turns away in disgust and mutters to himself-) Forget about it. I'll find him myself. Tch - Molnon... (in the silence he pauses, he can hear raspy breathing nearby. Pinpointing it's source, he pounces suddenly on someone hiding behind a structural element and drags her out into the semi-light. It's a disheveled, wild-haired woman, a bit older than the Clanspeople)

Janixx: (terrified) NO! Please, don't! (to his horror, John sees that her skin is marred by terrible lesions of dead flesh. He quickly removes his hands from her and steps back)

John: Wrong person. Sorry. Didn't mean to hurt you. You've been following me. Why?

Janixx: (gazing at him in amazement) You - old. And still you live!

John: What's your name?

Janixx: Janixx

John: What happened to you?

Janixx: (near tears) This happen to all of us - at 22 cycles, if we do not Take The Stone. Gardas and nixas here don't like seeing this. So we go away, hide. Make ourself lost.

John: Lost? You're one of those lost people?

Janixx: Das said he knew why this happen. He said cliff has answer.

John: What are you talking about?

Janixx: I'm lost. Must stay lost. (she runs off into the shadows. John holds up a bit of dead skin that sloughed off her when he caught her and examines it intently)

(cut to later - John has found Molnon)

John: You must be pushing 22 cycles, huh sport? I'd say the end is near for you, whether you Take The Stone or not.

Molnon: (amused) You been talking to the lost people. You true smart.

John: Yeah, well, it's easy to jump when you know you're gonna die. Chiana's not gonna die. Why drag her into this?

Molnon: (he produces a clump of mushrooms) See this? Three lobes gets you high. One gets you dead. Never know which one.

John: (impatient, he grabs Molnon's wrist) Are we having a failure to communicate here?

Molnon: (teasing) I'm not gonna talk until you taste.
(John tales the clump and bites one of the mushroom caps off. He steps back as Molnon watches. The effects of the 'shroom are swift -)

John: Hoo - man. (he loses his footing and falls down, but sits up quickly, giggling a little. Obviously he got a 'shroom that only kills a few brain cells)

Molnon: Now since you taste, I talk. The only thing worth having is a narl, and I want one. And I'm scared that if next I Take The Stone it claims me. So, Chiana takes my place. She Takes The Stone.

John: (stoned - he aims for Molnon and lunges) You son of a bitch! You've had your time, you leave Chiana out of this! Just don't- (but he's too wasted to hold on to either Molnon or his thought)

Molnon: (laughing) She wants to flyyy! I tell you truth.

John: (he seems to be struggling to keep from drooling) I'm going to tell her - truth! (the hallucinogenic kicks in and John starts to trip - his vision is blurred, sounds echo weirdly to his ears)

Molnon: (taunting him with the 'shrooms) Only if you remember garda. Only if you remember.

John: (goofy) I'm going to remember! (lightning flashes and John begins laughing hysterically and imitating all 3 of the Three Stooges as he collapses)

(cut to later. John laying spread-eagled on the floor, alone, staring at the ceiling. The clump of mushrooms lays nearby. Aeryn enters, looking for him)

Aeryn: Crichton! (she spots him) Crichton? Whuh - (she quickly moves to him and reaching down, slaps his face to snap him out of it and then helps him sit up) Here - Wh-what happened to you?

John: (woozy) I had a pissing contest with Molnon. I won. I think.

Aeryn: Doesn't look like it.

John: Yeah. Yeah well - I got some information. (he grabs Aeryn's legs and lurches to his feet using her as to pull himself up) There's more- Uuunnggghh - All right - , I-I uh... I think I convinced him to get Chiana not to jump.

Aeryn: (a bit uncertainly, as she steadies him) That's good! That's-that's great.

John: (he produces a small container) Listen. I need you to go back to the transport pod. Take this tissue sample - I got it from the lost people - scan it up to Zhaan. See if we can find out what (he takes a deep breath as he struggles to get control of himself) -what's killing these kids. (he begins to stagger off)

Aeryn: Wha - uh- where are you going?

John: To see if this- (he whacks his head on a low doorway, reels a bit, then keeps going) -Excedrin headache was worth it.

(shortly (we assume) after - cut to John with his Peacekeeper Emergency Medical Kit out. He's sorting the contents - perhaps looking for those Excedrins... Chiana enters)

Chiana: (excited) Crichton!

John: (holding his head and wincing) Whoa!Whoa - Not so - so loud.

Chiana: (giggling a bit) Those Morna, they have a real kick to them, don't they? (John smiles ruefully and acknowledges that yes - they DO) Hey, um, Molnon told me what you talked about.

John: He did? (overjoyed, they both laugh) That's fantastic! That is fanta- Let us get the hell out of here then!

Chiana: (brightly) Oh, no. I'm not leaving. I'm jumpin'!

John: (abruptly shutting the med kit) What?

Chiana: (surprised, pleading) Oh don't frell with me. You, you understand!

John: Chiana, I know - that you like - Molnon. But he is using you. He only wants you here so you'll do the jump and he won't have to!

Chiana: No he's not! I want to jump! I have to. (they face each other for a long moment)

John: Okay.

Chiana: Okay.

John: Okay.

Chiana: Okay.

John: You want to jump?

Chiana: Yeah.

John: But whatever you want you cannot want to die. Well, maybe one day you'll understand. (he sniffs a little with some tears of regret and with a quick move brings up a syringe gun from the med kit filled with sedative and injects her. She staggers away - shocked)

Chiana: (sobbing and staggering as the sedative takes effect) You frelling - you frelling kad. You gotta let me... gotta let me fly... you gotta let me fly! (she starts to collapse but John sweeps her up and over his shoulder and begins to leave. But Aeryn is suddenly blocking the passage)

Aeryn: What-? What are you doing?

John: (grimly) Oh I think it's pretty self-explanatory.

Aeryn: You're not going anywhere.

John: Yes, I am.

Aeryn: No, you're not.

John: (angry) She wants - to jump! She wants - to kill herself!

Aeryn: You can't take her like this.

John: Yes! I can!

Aeryn: No, you can't.

John: I ca- Aeryn! What the hell is wrong with you? You are the PIN-UP GIRL for frontal assault! You should be DRAGGING her back to the ship yourself!

Aeryn: (unusually mild) Crichton just listen to me, will you? If Chiana really wants to, she's going to find a way to kill herself. And maybe not here, or now. So you have to let her work through this on her own. You cannot take her back to Moya like this.

John: (he silently turns and carries Chiana back into the room where he lays her on the floor and then looks at Aeryn) When did you get so insightful?

Aeryn: I understand loss.

John: So do I. (long pause with only the sound of distant thunder from the surface) Did you scan the tissue sample up to Zhaan?

Aeryn: Yes, I did.

John: Thank you. Well, let's get her on the dog and bone.

Aeryn: Whatever that means Crichton.

(cut back to Moya - Rygel's quarters. He's redecorated with the grave loot and sits, admiring his work)

Rygel: Now this is what a Dominar's chamber should look like! Hung with the blood-stained trophies from my conquests! (but at that moment a stolen urn topples to the floor and smashes. As he watches - an ducks - the rest of the stolen artifacts also fall - or fly - off the walls. Only the death mask remains in place, staring at Rygel with it's empty eye holes) This cannot be real. Yes, I know what's happening.

(cut back to the planet. Aeryn and John are in the Gathering room by the pit, talking with Zhaan and D'Argo via comm. The scene shifts back and forth between Moya and the planet)

John: Talk to me Zhaan. What have you got?

Zhaan: John, the readings from the tissue samples do indicate long term radiation exposure.

John: Yeah. I thought they might.

Zhaan: But according to your readings, the radiation level is only 76 trads.

John: Is that high or low?

Aeryn: (she's taking radiation readings with a scanner) Low, I would have thought.

John: Huh. Is that too low to make somebody sick?

D'Argo: Yes. But Pilot thinks that the cliff chamber you're describing may be acting as an amplifier, which would increase the exposure.

Aeryn: I imagine that would be why they all die at 22 cycles.

Zhaan: I believe it would.

John: Maybe Das figured that out. You know? Maybe he knew if the Clans moved out of the caves, they'd stop dying so young.

Aeryn: They wouldn't have a reason to "Take The Stone."

John: Thanks, guys. We'll all be back up real soon.

Zhaan: Goddess be with you John. (she signs off and Rygel enters the Command)

Rygel: Curse, my mivonks! I know what you're up to and it's not going to work!

D'Argo: What are you talking about?

Rygel: It's you that's making everything in my chamber cursed! But I'm not returning any of it no matter what you do! I'm keeping it all, you hear me? Everything! (he exits, Zhaan looks thoughtfully after him)

(cut back to the planet. Vyna is wailing, she's in labor. Aeryn and John enter)

Aeryn: (approaching) Do you need help? Can I get someone for you?

Vyna: (panting) OH, DON'T TOUCH ME! We give birth alone as our Clans prepare for the Gathering!

John: Yes, and somebody has to do the bungee without the rope, except this time it's our friend jumping.

Vyna: (screaming) Ah it's too late garda! Now go! AAARRRGGGHHH! Leave! (but they don't - they stand there while she sweats and screams looking down at her and yakking)

Aeryn: Listen, Vyna. We know why you all die young here.

John: It's radiation. We think that Das knew it, too. He knew that there was a way to stop the jumps.

Vyna: Das... Oh my poor Das...

Aeryn: Vyna, if you move out of these caves and up on to the surface, you can all live longer lives. Your child can, too.

John: We need you to talk to the Clans. If they hear it from you, they'll believe it. No one ever has to jump again.

Vyna: (straining) Molnon didn't make Das jump garda. the rules of the Clan did. Das understood. in the final, Das scoped that truth!

John: You let him die?

Vyna: NO! He Took The Stone! (sobbing) He'll live forever now. (screaming with the agony of birth contractions and spite) LOOK AT YOU! YOU'RE OLD.! YOU'RE WORN OUT! NOW GO! JUST GO! (they leave her)

(cut to the Gathering room where the Clans shuffle in silently. Aeryn and John enter as well. Chiana is there - at the edge of the pit, with her arms over her head as she anticipates her moment in freefall)

John: Chiana - don't. (he addresses the gathering Clanspeople) Listen to me! All of you. There's radiation in the rocks. That's what's killing the lost people. That's what's killing all of you.

Molnon: (chuckling) Garda doesn't understand. He's old! (there's a smattering of laughter)

John: That's right. I'm old. And you can be old just like me.

Molnon: I don't want to be ancient garda.

John: Move to the surface. Live as long as you can!

Molnon: (to the Clanspeople) The surface belongs to the Royals and their tombs! (he makes a hissing sound and points suddenly at Aeryn and John who whip out their weapons and level them at him)

John: You think that Janixx has it bad? Wait till you see what this does to your face.

Chiana: (from the pit's edge irritable) Crichton, get the frell out of here! This is about me!

John: Chiana, shut up! Don't move another step! (he grabs Molnon and pushes him to the lip of the pit. Molnon doesn't seem too put out as John hisses-) Ready boy? There's your stone. What do you say? Wanna take it together? Tick. Tick. Tick. Time's running out.

Molnon: (grinning) Garda doesn't understand. (he throws his arms back, pushing John away, Chiana throws her arms up too) We want The Stone! (The Clans hoot in assent)

John: Oh you think? Let the Clans decide. LET THE CLANS VOTE!

Molnon: (grinning lazily) The Clans will vote. What they scope - I'll follow. (John backs off him)

Chiana: You satisfied?

John: Chiana, I'm just trying-

Chiana: (cutting him off as she turns away from him and Aeryn) You can't - help me.

(cut to Moya - Rygel sits in his quarters, trying to talk himself out of being spooked by the strange behavior of his tomb booty)

Rygel: They're just trying to scare me. Get me to cut them in. Well they can forget about THAT! It's not going to work! (something plinks in his room and he startles) Who's there? Yotz! There's nothing wrong with any of this. Nothing! You hear that? I am Rygel XVI! YOU CAN'T SCARE ME! (a set of jeweled darts, or hat pins in a case tumble down in a heap. Rygel gasps) All right! All right! I'll take it back - all of it. I promise! Just make it stop. (as if to seal the deal the jeweled darts fly at Rygel and embed themselves in the wall around his head. Rygel doesn't dare to move as he says in a loud whisper-) Pilot. Is the transport fueled?

(cut back to the planet - Aeryn and John - having barged into every other aspect of the Clanspeople's lives - seem to have chosen NOW to develop some cultural respect and have bowed out of monitoring the vote which they insisted upon. Now John seeks out Molnon to see how it went)

John: Yo, Molnon! How'd the vote go?

Molnon: (disingenuous, bouncing as he speaks to emphasize his words) You got no idea garda. No idea. All the Clans, every one, voted to stay. To keep jumping.

John: (fool) What? They didn't believe the radiation was killing them?

Molnon: They don't believe, they know what's killing them. I'm rechanting The Gathering. They want The Stone. I've already told Chiana. I've given her a head start. It's gonna be drad! (he walks off)

John: Hey! Molnon! Please, just wait - (he starts after the Clan chief) Just- (John catches up to him and lets him have it with a left hook. Molnon goes down like a sack of Purina Kangaroo Chow and John walks away shaking his punchin' hand) Why does it always end in tears?

(cut to the Gathering room. Chiana is there alone, standing at the edge of the pit, practicing her form for her dive. John enters)

Chiana: (trying to be cool - but her voice is a bit nervous and the words that are an insult from the Clanspeople sound more affectionate coming from her this time) Hey old man.

John: Chiana...

Chiana: Don't come any closer.

John: I won't.

Chiana: The Clans voted?

John: Yah.

Chiana: And they're gonna stop jumping?

John: (sitting down) Nope. They voted to keep jumping. They want to die. I just can't believe that you want to die.

Chiana: I never had any courage. As a kid, Nerri gave me everything. I just - I just followed him. (she takes a long, shaky breath)

John: You've shown me courage plenty of times.

Chiana: I've gotta see if I can do this, Crichton.

John: And if you die? (Chiana makes no answer. She turns her back to the pit and raises her arms over her head - and begins to make a tone with her voice - as she lets herself fall backwards over the edge. John rushes to the lip of the pit in horror and watches her falling as she hits the long, low note of the Clan chant. As she approaches the bottom, the sonic net activates and breaks her fall - she floats gently to the floor and stands there - stunned. John whoops -) CHIANAAAAA! YOU DID IT! WOOOO HOO-HOO-HOO!

Chiana: I did it?

John: WOOOOOOO! HA! HA!

Chiana: (laughing and throwing up her arms) I DID IT!

(later. Aeryn and John stand outside near the Prowler among the tombs and the yellow lightning)

Aeryn: It's been three arns John.

John: Just give it a few more microts, okay?

(cut to Chiana, a short distance away from them. She lays Nerri's life disk in a shallow hole in the dark ground and scrapes the dry, pebbly soil over it. Cut back to Aeryn and John)

John: Lately... Do I seem - a little crazy to you?

Aeryn: What do you mean, "lately"?

John: Well, I ate one of Molnon's mushrooms. One in four gets you dead.

Aeryn: Was that supposed to get Chiana out of here more quickly John? You eating a mushroom? (he has no response, she smiles at him. The silence of the tombs is broken by a loud grunt and the tinny clatter of Rygel dumping his snurched loot back where he found it) Rygel! We're out of here in 90 microts, with or without you.

Rygel: I'm going as fast as I can. (as he mutters to himself and scrapes trinkets back onto the grave from whence they came, John approaches Chiana and sits next to her. She's sitting with her hands resting on the little mound that covers her brother's life disk)

Chiana: (softly, tired) Hey old man.

John: (gently) Hey little girl. You okay?

Chiana: Yeah. (looking up at him) You know... Molnon was right about one thing. The jump was incredible. You should have tried it.

John: Nah, I'm too old. (she looks back to where the disk is buried and lays her hand over it again. John reaches down and places his hand over hers) It's time to go. (he helps her to her feet. They look over the dreary landscape for a moment)

Chiana: Let's get out of this dead place.

They turn and walk away. As a bolt of greenish-yellow lightning illuminates them, John throws his arms up and makes the sharp intake of breath as the Clanspeople do before "Taking The Stone." Chiana playfully follows suit.

THE END