Look at the Princess Part 1
A Kiss Is But a Kiss
July 21, 2000 - US
September 11, 2000 - UK
211

Writer - David Kemper
Directors - Andrew Prowse & Tony Tilse

Guest Cast
Wayne Pygram . . . Scorpius
Matt Day . . . Tyno
Tina Bursill . . . Empress Novia
Felicity Price . . . Princess Katralla
Felix Williamson . . . Prince Clavor
Bianca Chiminello . . . Jena
Aaron Cash . . . Dregon
Gavin Robins . . . Cargn
Nicholas McKay . . . voice of Cargn
Francesca Buller . . . ro-NA


TRANSCRIPT

The episode opens in the cockpit of John's module, the Farscape 1. Aeryn is sitting at the controls giving John yet another flying lesson. He's seated just behind her looking rather bored...

Aeryn: You pull into the roll. It's counter-intuitive at first, but it radically increases your distance from the enemy.

John: Aeryn, my module is a research craft. It's not built for hairpin maneuvers.

Aeryn: (mildly annoyed) Would you like - to learn how to do this, or are you content to continually display your ineptitude?

John: (mildly annoyed back) My ineptitude? You mean my improvisation - the kind that bails your sorry military - (suddenly he laughs a little as he nose brushes her hair in the close confines of the cockpit) - I'm sorry, I'm sorry - but what is that smell?

Aeryn: Wot?

John: (as he takes a more deliberate whiff) It's your hair - It smells.

Aeryn: (with an ever-so-slight note of satisfaction in her voice) Zhaan gave me something.

John: All right. It smells good... I like it.

Aeryn: (turning her face toward him) Well it's not for you to like.

John: Oh. Then what's it for?

Aeryn: For me to like.

John: You don't like that I like it?

Aeryn: Personal indulgences can fracture a small crew.

John: I would never tell them... that you scented your hair.

Aeryn: (she smiles and their lips meet, but as the kiss threatens to become more passionate she suddenly pulls away from him and hits the canopy release button) No! (the canopy flies open and she bails out onto the floor of the maintenance bay and starts to storm away from the module as John scrambles after her)

John: Aeryn? Aeryn - no!

Aeryn: No! NO! I will not be a slave to your hormones!

John: My hormones? Hey, I was lips - you were tongue! (he catches up to her and traps her against the wall between his arms, forcing her to look at him) Why did you do your hair?

Aeryn: To see if you'd notice.

John: (annoyed and waiting for her to continue) Standing - at - attention! (Chiana , who is doing something nearby looks up curiously at them)

Aeryn: (coldly) Well I'll let Zhaan know that you find her oils pleasing.

John: It's you I find - pleasing. (Aeryn ducks under his arm and walks away without another word leaving John alone with his module and Chiana)

Chiana: You want some advice?

John: (as he stalks back to the module and begins tinkering) Not particularly.

Chiana: (teasing) Makes me want to give it to you even more. (then, more seriously as she approaches him) Hey! There's too much pressure. She's scared of the future. So why not just live in the moment?

John: (surly) You come up with that one yourself?

Chiana: (seductively, as she comes in close over his shoulder) Go fast with the body - slow with the soul. Maybe you should find someone like that.

Pilot: (interrupting them via comm) Commander Crichton, Chiana. Please join the others in the Command at once.

(soon after - cut to the Command as D'Argo enters with Chiana and John. Aeryn, Rygel and Zhaan are already there. Pilot is present via clamshell viewer)

D'Argo: Okay Pilot. They're here. Now tell us - why have we stopped moving?

Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) Are you familiar with automated Peacekeeper satellite weaponry?

Aeryn: Self-tracking pulse cannons.

Pilot: We're locked in a cross-targeted helix.

John: Pilot, give us immediate starburst!

Pilot: Impossible. The initiation of an energy surge will result in our destruction.

D'Argo: Is it Scorpius? Do you think they've found us?

Pilot: There are no vessels anywhere near.

Rygel: Then how the frell did they get here?

Pilot: Perhaps from the inhabited star systems on Moya’s sense horizon. These cannons appear to be their first line of defense.

Zhaan: (gasping with alarm) Peacekeeper settlements this far into the uncharted territories? Goddess help us!

Chiana: We gotta do something! (Zhaan begins a prayer chant and Chiana quickly qualifies that-) Something useful!

Pilot: (hesitantly) A representative of the inhabited system has been signaling us.

Rygel: By the yotz! Run! Fight! Surrender! Pick one!

Pilot: (apologetically, as ships approach Moya from alongside the orbiting canon) Moya chooses surrender. Resistance by her means... death.

(cut to soon after as Rygel begins a surrender speech and an image of the representative of the alien planetary system, Tyno, appears on the main view screen)

Rygel: I am-

John: (grabbing Rygel's hoverchair and pushing him back) Oh nononono WAY Jose! You keep your mouth shut!

Rygel: But I am our best negotiator!

John: (as he takes Rygel in a headlock and pinches his mouth shut) Our best self-serving-to-hell-with-anyone-else-iator! Just you shut up!

Tyno: (he is a young attractive man with dark hair in a Romanesque cut whose appearance is completely Sebacean - i.e. - human) Our scan reveals you indeed have no large weaponry or hidden cargo.

Aeryn: Yes, and despite this ships Peacekeeper history, we are in no way affiliated with them.

Zhaan: We are, as stated, Councilor Tyno, peaceful.

Tyno: And as such we now release you to travel as you will.

Chiana: (apparently the scan took awhile) You're not gonna shoot? Well. That was a productive four arns. (she leaves, seeming inexplicably disgusted by the peaceful conclusion of the confrontation)

D'Argo: May we approach your worlds? We are prepared to pay for provisions.

Tyno: I'm afraid that's impossible during coronation time. (John yelps with pain as Rygel, excited by the idea of a coronation - takes a bite of him and breaks free to approach the view screen)

Rygel: Coronation time? I am Dominar Rygel the XVI of the Hynerian Empire! (Zhaan heaves a heavy sigh - they were so close to getting away ...) Would you turn away royalty bearing gifts for your new sovereign?

Tyno: Escaped prisoners bearing gifts?

Rygel: Hear me Councilor Tyno! Your hatred of the Peacekeepers can never approach ours. Fate has conspired to forge this alliance. (John eyes Rygel)

Tyno: The Royal Planet will receive you. (Rygel huffs with satisfaction) Understand, as festivities approach, we are under strict security. Weapons of any kind will result in incarceration. (he signs off)

Rygel: Was I right?

John: (as he turns to leave) Yah. I guess so.

Rygel: (insistent) Was - I - right?

John: (no point in arguing now) Yes Rygel. You were right.

Rygel: Don't ever forget it.

(soon after - cut to John walking along one of Moya’s corridors. Aeryn approaches from the opposite direction and he steps into her path to stop her, she pushes him aside and continues on without a word John turns to follow her)

John: Aeryn - I wanna talk.

Aeryn: I wanna talk less!

John: We tried that. It leads to kissing.

Aeryn: (she groans wearily and turns back towards him) Ugh!

John: That's a joke. It's to relieve the tension.

Aeryn: Wasn't funny. Just give me some space John.

John: Fine. Have the whole universe. (he turns away and strides towards Chiana's quarters which are nearby. The door is shut and he calls to her-) Chiana!

Chiana: (her breathless voice is heard from behind the door) Yeah!

John: (as Aeryn watches) Yeah I'm going down to the planet - you wanna hang?

Chiana: (breathing heavily from behind the door) Yeah...

Aeryn: (she snorts with amusement and mutters to herself-) That's good. (and she turns and walks away)

John: (still calling through the door) Cool, can I come in? (he hits the door release and strides in as Chiana, who is nekkid and on top of D'Argo lets loose with a gasping scream of pleasure which D'Argo joins. They writhe and howl in ecstasy, ignoring John as he takes in the scene and hurriedly tries to back out without looking at them) WHOA-HO-HO! BAD TIME! G-good time! SORRY - uh - WRONG TIME!

(cut to later - D'Argo, breathless with excitement, accosts John in the corridors of Moya)

D'Argo: (in a low, urgent tone) John, my life has been one crushing disappointment after the next. But with this girl, I have managed to find moments of pleasure. (he pauses and they both watch as Aeryn and Chiana, decked out in their best shore leave outfits, pass by on their way to the transport pod) Don't blow it for me!

John: Never. It's cool. I'm happy for you.

D'Argo: Good. (he pats John absentmindedly on the shoulder and follows the women)

John: All right.

D'Argo: Good.

John: Good. (muttering to himself as he follows D'Argo) How come I'm always last to know?

And with that the scene shifts to a view of one of Moya’s pods dropping away from her and arcing towards an Earth-like planet. It soon joins a flotilla of ships passing over the Royal City which sprawls under a yellowish sky flecked by grey clouds. The Royal Palace itself is a vast pyramid-like structure, its lines softened by curves like those of a pagoda.
The scene shifts again to a palace reception. Our intrepid crew has debarked from the pod and are mingling with the locals. The Sebaceans of the Breakaway Colonies, as this planet and its demesnes are called, are dressed in formal white clothing and of course all "human" in appearance. There are trays placed around the room which bear small glass vials containing a bit of liquid. The guests may take a vial and using the tiny glass stopper that seals each one, they place a drop of the liquid on their tongue and then offer a second drop from the vial to a person of the opposite sex. The couple then kiss, and if the taste of the liquid kiss is right, they may pair off. Rygel maneuvers his hoverchair through the crowd as he observes this social ritual and chuckles with a mixture of derision and satisfaction as he approaches Aeryn.

Rygel: So these are the fabled Breakaway Colonies!

Aeryn: When they declared independence and fled from our home systems no one gave them a chance of surviving.

Rygel: And yet here they are! Still hating the Peacekeepers 1900 cycles later!

Aeryn: And every Peacekeeper attempt since then to forge coalition has failed.

Rygel: I'd say they enjoy their freedoms far too much Aeryn.

Aeryn: (chuckling a little herself as she takes a drink of some local beverage) Yeah.

Rygel: (with approval as he sails off) And why not?

John: (as he pulls up behind Aeryn) Buy you a drink for a few words.

Aeryn: You mean now that Chiana's occupied? Made a run at Zhaan yet?

John: Oh, that is not fair! (he steps back from Aeryn a bit and an attractive local woman bops up to him with a vial and insinuates herself between them)

Woman: Hi!

John: (flustered) Hi. (the woman puts a drop of liquid onto her tongue and then offers John a drop) Oh, nononono - I stopped raving years ago.

Woman: (smiling) It doesn't hurt you. It's just for the kiss. (he seems to have no choice other than to accept the drop, and then briefly touches tongues with the woman)

John: (smacking his lips as he pulls back) There's no taste. Kinda like an ol- (but the woman takes his head and brings her lips to his for a longer, slower and deeper kiss which Aeryn eyes with annoyance as she downs her drink in one savage gulp)

Woman: (she breaks the kiss and looks at John for only a second before walking away) Sorry.

Aeryn: (stepping close to John) It's great you know - it's a whole world designed for your rutting instincts! (but at that moment a man, Dregon, approaches and, pushing himself between Aeryn and John, offers HER a drop from his vial. This only seems to heighten Aeryn's annoyance) NO! Nonononono! Try him - (pointing at John) - he seems to love kissing! (she stalks off and Dregon turns amiably toward John)

John: Ho-no! No. (he quickly turns away and into another woman with a vial standing right behind him, This time he readily accepts her drop and indulges in a long, deep kiss with her. When they part she sighs with mild disappointment and moves off but John is upbeat) I am never leaving this world! (he bops off cheerily amid the dancing, searching crowd and the scene shifts upwards to a beautiful woman standing on a balcony above the crowd and observing the goings-on, her name is Jena. With her are her fiancée, Prince Clavor and an alien emissary from the Scarran Empire, Cargn. Cargn is a creature who is both exotic and vicious in appearance. He is the size of a very large man with a thick, grotesquely elongated neck which thrusts his vaguely reptilian face far forward. His hair is short and mane-like. The effect is as of some nightmarish horse-headed creature and his voice is deep and gravelly)

Jena: Clavor, my sweet, there's a Sebacean down here your sister hasn't kissed yet.

Cargn: (annoyed) You said the borders were closed! No new visitors!

Prince Clavor: And you said that it wouldn't matter. That my sister could never assume the throne, no matter how many suitors they bring in.

Cargn: Her chemical compatibility is irrevocably altered. You will be kinggg...

(the scene shifts back down to the celebration where John is kissing it up with yet another woman as Rygel chats with Tyno, who is also studying John)

Tyno: Is this Crichton intelligent?

Rygel: Surprisingly. Despite his appearance. (but Rygel isn’t interested in talking about John) I find it strange, Councilor Tyno, that you're in coronation time, and have yet to identify your crown successor.

Tyno: As firstborn, it was always intended for Princess Katralla. But by law unless she can find a compatible mate - the kingdom will fall to her younger brother.

(the scene shifts back to the balcony where the conversation about Katralla continues between Clavor and Cargn who are sitting next to each other while Jena watches the party below)

Prince Clavor: (to Cargn, betraying his casual contempt for the huge Scarran-) She's a slave to our mother. I'm the only one who recognizes the Scarran Imperium - even if you are the best they could send. (the Scarran emits a low growl)

Jena: Now, now, you two! (she comes and sits down between them and says in a tone that should be teasing, but isn't-) Well if you're not going to be king, Clavor, I'm not going to marry you.

(cut back to Moya where Zhaan sits alone on the quiet ship, engaged in some arcane activity of her own. Pilot's visage appears on a clamshell viewer)

Pilot: Excuse me Zhaan. Why didn't you visit the Royal Planet with the others?

Zhaan: My solitude is so important to me Pilot. I barely have enough time to pursue the tenets of my priesthood as it is.

Pilot: Being presumptuous, I have opened all the doors on the Chamber on this tier. (Zhaan looks around her as the sound of doors opening echo around her) Moya and I are - pleased - you have once again chosen to stay with us.

Zhaan bows her head, as if modestly pleased and honored. She ceases what she is doing and makes a ritual stroking motion over her face with her hands before lifting her chin and opening her mouth slightly. She sings a high, clear, sustained note. In his Den Pilot listens and then his mouth opens slightly open as if he is picking up the note with her. The sound flows seamlessly through Moya’s empty corridors and it is as if she herself is singing.

(cut back to the ball on the Royal Planet where the white-clad locals continue to dance to an artfully sophisticated drumbeat and pair off. Chiana and D'Argo are sitting together in the middle of it all, Chiana has a vial which she offers with slightly stoned glee to him)

Chiana: A few drops from these little vials, and we can see if our- if our DNA is compatible for children.

D'Argo: No. No, no - I don't-

Chiana: Come on! What have we got to lose?

D'Argo: (like a big kid) I don't wannu! (then more thoughtfully) Our innocence - that's what we've got to lose. (but Chiana persists and manages to get a drop onto both their tongues and they take a long taste of each other - which ends with them disengaging with looks on their faces that suggest the taste was not pleasant, D'Argo takes a deep breath, obviously distressed)

Chiana: (she takes his face in her hands and moves quickly to comfort him) Hey - Hey - It's just a game for us D'Argo. Okay? We don't play by the rules they do.

D'Argo: The truth is we're not compatible.

Chiana: (coaxing) Only our DNA. (she takes one of his head tentacles and licks it, D'Argo gasps dreamily) Not the parts that make us feel pleasure...
(they kiss again, this time without the drops from the vials)

(the scene shifts to Aeryn and Rygel who have spotted Cargn watching them from above and are eyeing him warily back. The Scarrans are well-known in the galaxy - and not for anything good...)


Rygel: Why is he watching us so intently?

Aeryn: When was the last time you saw a Scarran on a diplomatic mission?

Rygel: What do you think he wants? Besides killing Peacekeepers, I mean.

Aeryn: The same thing my former superiors wanted - a covenant with this kingdom. (a dashing fellow in a white long-sleeved pirate shirt open to his navel pauses next to Aeryn and offers her his vial. she snaps it out of his hand and orders him off) Go away. Go! (he eyes this obvious party-pooper with a curious expression before moving on. As he leaves though a second guy, lanky and a bit goofy-looking, with a mass of fuzzy hair gives her a come-hither grin and waves his vial at her from a few feet away, She gives him a big, very facetious grin and waves the vial she took from the swashbuckler back at him before turning to Rygel and offering it to him)

Rygel: Have you lost your mind?

Aeryn: Do it! (she places a drop from the vial on her tongue and one on Rygel's and then leans forward and kisses Rygel a big one on the mouth as he struggles and the fuzzy-haired guy watches incredulously. Aeryn releases Rygel and looks up at the guy, who's only slightly less revolted than we are - and announces with a big insincere grin-) Sweet! I'm so pleased!

Rygel: (hastily playing along) Me too! How unexpected!

Fuzzy-haired Guy: (with a strained smile) I wish you both the very best of... fortune. (he quickly moves off)

Aeryn: Thank you! (and as soon as he's gone she and Rygel yelp and spit violently in very mutual revulsion...)

(cut back to Moya where Zhaan is drifting through the corridors in a meditative state as DRDs chirp at her feet. The high clear note she began continues to fill Moya - but suddenly Pilot's urgent tone breaks the spell-)

Pilot: Zhaan! Zhaan!

Zhaan: (startling from her trance) Pilot, are you calling me?

Pilot: (sounding sick) It's Scorpius! Scorpius has found us!

Zhaan: (with a look of pure dread she sprints to the Command and readdresses Pilot from there) Is the command carrier any closer Pilot?

Pilot: Still held in abeyance at the satellite cannon perimeter.

Zhaan: Can they spot our orbit yet?

Pilot: Confirmed. Moya senses the Peacekeeper scan.

Zhaan: Have we got time to retrieve Crichton and the others?

Pilot: No.

Zhaan: What if we let them see us and then-

Pilot: -starburst. Scorpius may think we're all aboard and pursue. (and with that he decision to flee and attempt to draw Scorpius off is made as Pilot initiates starburst)

Zhaan: (softly) Goddess please send us guidance. Make this the right thing to do. (and Moya is gone, leaving Aeryn, Chiana, D'Argo, John and Rygel on the Royal Planet, unaware of the impending danger)

(cut back to the Royal Planet where the party continues, Our heroes have about had enough of honoring the alien royalty and are ready to leave - but seem to be having some trouble locating Moya... John approaches Rygel)

John: Where are D'Argo and Chiana?

Rygel: (slurring) Alternately exchanging body fluids and checking a tracking station to locate Moya’s orbit.

John: (it's hard to guess what he finds more annoying, Chiana and D'Argo's infatuation or the difficulty locating Moya) Doesn't that just figure? Look, let's get that drink out of your hand. I'm gonna sober you up and get you out of here. (as John struggles with the recalcitrant Hynerian Tyno approaches him form behind)

Tyno: Excuse me -

John: (preoccupied with Rygel) Yeah in a second, buddy-

Tyno: (insistent) Were you once a Peacekeeper?

John: (that gets John's attention - he straightens and turns to face Tyno) No. Oh - it's Councilor Tyno, right? Look, we've got a little problem - our ship-

Tyno: (but Tyno's got problems too and he cuts John off) Your friends have been given access to our space command to find your ship. But for now, if you don't mind - (he motions for John to turn around and when John does, he finds himself face-to-face with Princess Katralla. She is an attractive, round-faced woman with regal bearing and she holds a vial)

John: (smiling wearily) Look, I'm a little partied out, so if you could - (but he catches the look of solemn desperation on her face as she awaits his consent with her vial) - maybe...

Princess Katralla: (with quiet dignity) Please.

John: (after along pause during which he takes in her gentle sorrow) Okay. (she ritualistically places a drop from the vial on her tongue and then another onto his. they touch lips and start back as if in surprise, but then lean in for a long, slow kiss there in the middle of the ball. Rygel gasps with a little awe at the clear sensuality and Tyno looks on tensely. John and Katralla part - she has a joyful, slightly bucktoothed smile on her face now as she looks at him. John also seems happy and a little excited as he says with wonder-) It's... sweet. It's sweet. It's kinda like molasses.

Tyno: (as he turns slowly away the expression on his face is one of quiet pain) Guards! (around them the music and dancing and paring off stops as the crowd clears a space around John and Katralla to stare in amazement. Murmurs of "Look!" ,"It's molasses!", "Oh!" and "She's smiling!" ripple through the room)

John: (he mutters to himself as he looks around, apprehensive at finding himself the sudden center of attention) Uh-oh...

(the scene shifts to the balcony where Cargn, Clavor and Jena have witnessed the miraculous match as well. Clavor is furious and starts angrily towards the crowd and his sister, Katralla)

Prince Clavor: It cannot be!

Cargn: (he catches the Sebacean and restrains him) No Clavor!

Prince Clavor: (struggling as Cargn pushes him to the rear of the balcony, out of sight) Take your claws of me! My sister is not supposed to be compatible with another Sebacean!

Cargn: (wisely, as he continues to restrain the impetuous Prince) And as far as we know, she isn't. Do not make a spectacle Your Highness!

Prince Clavor: (his voice harsh with rage) The kiss was sweet! They're compatible!

(the scene shifts back to John, Katralla and Tyno on the ballroom floor as the guards come)

John: What the hell's going on?

Tyno: For your protection.

(the scene shifts back to Cargn, Clavor and Jena on the balcony, Jena again intercedes between the two males and confronts Cargn)

Jena: What if their DNA is cohesive?

Cargn: (he turns away from them to look out over the ballroom as he says-) Then this pawn, whoever he is, must die tragically within a solar day. (and as he exhales with menacing determination, the air shimmers with the intense heat of his breath)

(cut to soon afterward. John is being escorted by Tyno and a contingent of guards through pale Japanesque corridors of the Royal Palace)

John: I understand everything you're almost saying, except - am I under arrest?

Tyno: Absolutely not.

John: Good. (and with that he abruptly turns to go back the way they came, but his path is blocked by the two guards behind him. The little entourage stops and Tyno turns to him)

Tyno: (resigned) Please try to understand-

John: (facing Tyno) I understand! You asked me to kiss that chick!

Tyno: You kissed our Princess.

John: Yeah, and now we're compatible? Well what the hell does that mean?

Tyno: You're the only male we've found who might be able to provide her with healthy children.

John: (quietly incredulous) You want a donation to the sperm bank?

Tyno: (he rolls his head in frustration) I want you to consider marrying her.

John: (he steps back and takes a long moment to process this) You would just have to be on this side of my life to understand how frelling insane that is.

Tyno: (intensely) She will be our next Empress. You will be Regent. (he turns to continue down the hall and John follows) Others would die for this chance!

John: See? Die! There's the problem - there's a die part!

Tyno: All I ask is that you consider this blessing that's been laid before you. (as he speaks he leads John and the guards into a room where he stops short, as if surprised, to find Clavor. With the Prince is an alien servant woman named ro-NA. She is human in shape but her skin is mottled, dark blueish-green in color. She wears to tight cap on her head and a white tunic that makes her look pathetic as she fusses with a red stole which she is adjusting on Clavor's shoulders)

Prince Clavor: (in a bored, imperious tone) Blessing, Councilor Tyno? When the actual truth of power is so much closer to curse. (ro-NA plucks at the stole and Clavor turns to her with annoyance) What?
(she cringes away and he returns his attention to John and Tyno but before he can speak ro-NA starts again and again he turns back to her and hisses-) Stop it! Before I speak with them, not during! (she shrinks away and he turns back to John and Tyno) Ignorant creature.

Tyno: (with clear distaste for the Prince) John Crichton, Prince Clavor. Our second in line to the Throne.

Prince Clavor: (inclining his head slightly with great lese majeste) First among my people. (John flashes the "peace" sign at the Prince from where he's standing behind Tyno) You may take the guards and leave us now Tyno.

Tyno: (stepping up to the Prince) My instructions are otherwise. This potential suitor to the throne is to remain under protective custody at all times.

Prince Clavor: (dangerously) And whose order dares to countermand mine?

Tyno: The Empress. Your Mother. (the two men face off for a moment before Clavor acknowledges the supremacy of his mothers order with a reluctant nod and makes to leave)

Prince Clavor: (pausing by John on his way out) I will speak with you - Later. (he exits with ro-NA scuttling close behind)

John: (rolling his head as he paces past Tyno into the room) There's always one... In every family.

Tyno: If Princess Katralla fails to wed by the anniversary of her birth, the throne goes to Prince Clavor.

John: Well when's the expiry date?

Tyno: A matter of solar days.

John: Is this my cell?

Tyno: Your room, yes. (and without a word John flops down onto the bed, arms thrown out, legs crossed, and stares at the ceiling)

(cut to later, back at the reception hall. The white- clad, mating locals seem to have mostly cleared out and the atmosphere is more like a drowsy late-night lounge now. Aeryn strides in and approaches Chiana and D'Argo who are sitting on a sofa, The Luxan looks exhausted and is laying with his head on Chiana's lap)

Aeryn: Where have you two been?

D'Argo: We've been in the space command center all night. Moya is no longer in orbit around this planet.

Aeryn: And flight control confirm that they didn't crash, so Zhaan and Pilot probably just-

Chiana: (with certainty) -starburst away and abandoned us.

Aeryn: If we wanted to jump to conclusions.

Chiana: You know Crichton's in custody?

Aeryn: What?

Chiana: Mm-hm. He kissed some Princess and now they won't let him go.

Aeryn: Of all the stupid-

Chiana: (she jumps to her feet to interrupt Aeryn face to face and D'Argo yelps as his head loses its pillow and plops abruptly onto the sofa) You want me to jump to another conclusion? We probably wouldn't be in this dren if it wasn't for you!

Aeryn: Me?

Chiana: Yeah! If you hadn't rejected him!

Aeryn: It wasn't my door he was last seen sniffing under.

Chiana: Some women consider that a compliment.

Aeryn: Some women have to.

D'Argo: (sitting up with some effort) Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! As entertaining as this is at the moment, it's getting us nowhere. Rygel's with Crichton. When he comes back, we'll have more information. As far as Moya goes - I think we should just wait.

Aeryn: (she contemplates his suggestion for a split second) No. (and with that she grabs Chiana's arm and begins to drag her off) You're coming with me and you're going to show me where they're keeping Crichton.

Chiana: We already tried! They won't let you see him!

Aeryn: Shut up Chiana! (they exit, leaving D'Argo looking after them with a bemused expression. But as soon as they’re out of sight, a familiar voice addresses him from behind)

Scorpius: Ka D'Argo is it? I don't believe we've had the pleasure. (D'Argo looks over his shoulder and seeing the black-clad half-Scarran behind him, leaps to his feet and away with an alarmed hiss, then stands a few paces from Scorpius, eyeing him warily and brandishing a drinking glass as a weapon, Scorpius coolly circles the sofa and takes a seat upon it) I am totally unarmed. I bear you no ill will. Perhaps we should um - well, reorder - (he snaps his fingers to attract the attention of a servant) - and share a repast.

(the scene shifts to Cargn and Clavor who are watching the room from a concealed area with a 2-way mirror)

Cargn: (deeply suspicious) I knew there was more to it! Scorpiussss!

Prince Clavor: He doesn't look at all like a Peacekeeper.

Cargn: His father was Scarran - my race. His mother, Sebacean.

Prince Clavor: He knows these companions of Crichton.

Cargn: Crichton surely works for Scorpius. By marrying a spy to your sister, they gain the advantage with your dynasty - and block our advance.

Prince Clavor: (with sarcasm) Oh! Forgive my ignorance, Sagacious Teacher! I trusted you to make this work! Was that unwise of me?

Cargn: (impatient with the arrogant Prince) You will rule, not because you desire it Clavor, but because I do. (as he draws out the sound of the word 'do' he directs a dangerously hot breath at the Sebacean, who staggers back from him in fear and discomfort)

(later - cut to John's palace room, D'Argo and Rygel are with him. they seem to be in the middle of a debate)

D'Argo: This is Scorpius we're talking about!

John: Yes and it's my life D'Argo! Look, the Princess is nice. She's sweet. And it might be kinda fun to go shopping for the rest of my life, but I am not getting married! What's the word on Moya?

D'Argo: Nothing. And what difference does it make anyway? Scorpius has a full Command Carrier out there waiting for us - which is probably why Zhaan and Pilot have taken off.

Rygel: He's right, you know. The only place we're safe is in this palace.

John: I'm sorry. You're saying I should get married?!

Rygel: I would.

John: You're a polygamist!

D'Argo: John -

John: What?

D'Argo: Think it through. Scorpius has offered me a deal to turn you in.

John: What? Timeshare in his condo in hell?

D'Argo: He's gonna leave the rest of us alone, and he promises not to destroy your brain as long as you give him access to the wormhole technology in your brain.

John: And you said...?

D'Argo: (quite reasonably) That I'd talk to you about it.

John: That's it! (he turns away in disgust)

D'Argo: (frustrated) I was STALLING him John! Now, Rygel and I are in agreement about this, so listen up!

Rygel: (patiently) You increase our chances of figuring something out the longer you at least pretend to love this girl!

John: (agitated) LOVE? Love! Rygel, there is no love! I am the reverse King Arthur. I am the one who could put the sword into the stone! (Rygel makes a sound indicating no understanding of what John is yawping about)

D'Argo: (throwing his arms up) All right. So what should we do?

John: I DON'T CARE! I don't care what you guys do! I know what I am going to do - I'm going to tell the nice girl that I am not her ticket to the throne. (and he storms out of the room leaving the other two looking consternated)

(cut back to Moya. Pilot has apparently sealed himself in his Den and Zhaan pushes one of the entrances to it open and enters)

Zhaan: Pilot! Are you certain the Command Carrier is not behind us?

Pilot: (somewhat breathless) Positive. That was the shortest starburst Moya is capable of - practically an invitation for the Peacekeepers to follow.

Zhaan: Then Scorpius has not taken our bait.

Pilot: Perhaps he is already aware Crichton and the others are down on the planet.

Zhaan: If so, that means we have abandoned our friends.

Pilot: There was nothing we could have done had we stayed Zhaan.

Zhaan: Turn us around Pilot. Immediately.

Pilot: I will attempt to plot a course back. As you know, even a minor starburst invalidates all previous navigation points.

Zhaan: (snapping) Just do it!

Pilot: (reproachfully snapping back) Pa'u Zotoh! The decision to flee was a joint one. (Zhaan inclines her head in silent acknowledgment and leaves)

(cut back to the palace on the Royal Planet. John has run into Clavor while waiting to meet Katralla and is talking to him in a quiet palace atrium)

Prince Clavor: Normally this would be a time of great joy and celebration. But I must confess, I feel as if I -

John: (finishing the thought) As if you're not gonna be King 'cos I'm gonna marry your sister. Relax Ace - I'm not gonna be your brother-in-law.

Prince Clavor: Is this some sort of jest?

John: Jest? No. It's not a jest. On my planet, we don't marry people we don't love unless they're critically ill billionaires. No, just take it easy bro. As soon as my ship returns, I'm off this planet. You get to be king. Congratulations. (he rises and walks away from Clavor to meet Katralla who now enters the sunny room from its far end)

John: Princess Katralla, it's good to see you again.

Princess Katralla: I had given up hope of meeting a compatible Sebacean man.

John: Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that. Look, uh - I don't know how to say this so I'm just gonna - (but before he can finish the Empress enters the room. she is an attractive woman who looks very much like Katralla and is dressed in nearly identical white robes. A large blue stone at her throat and another on the bodice of her gown are the only signs of her imperial rank)

Empress Novia: Daughter.

Princess Katralla: (inclining her head in deference, and sounding a little surprised-) Mother!

Empress Novia: (as she strides past her daughter and circles John to inspect him) You must be John Crichton - (greeting him) - With delight.

John: (bowing his head respectfully) Empress.

Empress Novia: I anticipate sturdy grandchildren from you. Let us get to know one another. (she takes him by the arm and walks him away from Katralla, once out of earshot she asks quietly-) Have you proposed?

John: (taken aback at her forthrightness and coming back with a little of his own-) What? No. Nononono - I don't love your daughter.

Empress Novia: (unconcerned) How could you? You just met.

John: Why don't you let your son be King?

Empress Novia: He's a fool. He would betray our neutrality for the genuflect of peasants. And that breach would toll in hundreds of millions of lives.

John: Yeah. Starting with mine.

Empress Novia: (pleasant. but to the point) I have no purpose for you, other than to keep my empire stable. If we recognize the Scarrans, Peacekeepers attack. Pact with Peacekeepers, Scarrans invade. (as Clavor and Katralla stand nearby watching them talk the Empress stops and says with firmly-) You must wed Katralla.

John: Empress Novia, I understand your problems. But you need to understand, there's nothing you can say that's gonna make me marry your daughter. (she smiles at him without malice. But she isn't an Empress for nothing - and she gestures to someone behind John. He turns just in time to see Scorpius enter the atrium)

Scorpius: (as he enters and strides towards John he throws his arms wide as if he's going to give him a big hug and exclaims-) Oh! Hello Crichton! (John freezes and experiences a flashback to the Gammak Base and his horrific torture at the hands of Scorpius in the Aurora Chair. For a chaotic moment he is back in Chair screaming and Scorpius is murmuring "...something to remember me by..." But he snaps out of his terrible reverie as Scorpius does indeed engulf him in a hearty embrace, saying-) I have traveled a long, long way just to see you again!

John: (in a whisper both angry and frightened) I hate to say that you've wasted your time Scorpy, but you have.

Scorpius: You know that no matter what you think, the rift between us need not be terminal.

John: Go away, Scorpy. It's over. Find another girlfriend.

Scorpius: Now don't let her frighten you John, hm? (John is staring fixedly into space as Scorpius pats him companionably on the back) Now you make the correct decision. (John numbly watches him as he steps away and the Empress leans in lose and murmurs-)

Empress Novia: My daughter, or that abomination. Choose. (she steps away from John as well and goes to stand by Scorpius. John hesitates for only a second before walking stiffly over to Katralla)

Princess Katralla: (in a low tone) Bad?

John: (shaken) Enough.

Princess Katralla: She's strong and gets what she wants.

John: What about you?

Princess Katralla: Rarely.

John: So what do you want?

Princess Katralla: To be Empress. To have children. To keep the peace for my people.

John: Even if we're miserable for the rest of our lives?

Princess Katralla: I won't make you miserable. (she pauses and with an understanding that attests to her maturity and sensitivity, adds-) I'm sorry. (John steals a glance at the Empress and Scorpius who remain hovering on the opposite side of the room)

John: (taking a shaky breath) Princess Katralla - will you consent to marry me?

Princess Katralla: (smiling) Yes. (she kisses his cheek and then takes him in a close embrace. John looks deeply troubled as he catches the eye of Scorpius who is smiling at him as if he's just ever so pleased by everything...)

(cut to later. Aeryn and John walking in dim public spaces somewhere in the palace)

Aeryn: What do you mean you have no choice?

John: No choice. Rock. Me. Hard place.

Aeryn: Fight. Retreat. Remain silent.

John: Scorpius? The Empress?

Aeryn: You disappoint me Crichton.

John: You should lower your expectations.

Aeryn: Well at least the Princess is pretty.

John: Yeah. I guess so.

Aeryn: And wealthy.

John: I suppose so.

Aeryn: Think of all the power you'll have.

John: Yeah can't stop thinking about it. That and how I'm gonna get off this planet the way I got here - single and alive.

Aeryn: Well, I'll see what I can do. (and at that moment they are approached by Dregon, the cheery bloke they met back at the mating ball)

Dregon: Congratulations!

John: Sorry?

Dregon: Marrying our Princess! (he introduces himself) Dregon Carsinova - cousin to the Crown.

John: (as they shake hands and Aeryn eyes the bare-chested blond Dregon without one iota of appreciation) John Crichton - Astronaut.

Dregon: Katralla's a lovely girl. I wish you great happiness. (he turns to Aeryn) And ah - you would be-?

Aeryn: Extremely preoccupied. Excuse me. (she shepherds John away)

Dregon: (calling pleasantly after them) Perhaps some other time then?

John: We'll do lunch! (then, quietly to Aeryn-) Seemed like a nice guy.

Aeryn: Stop it.

John: So, any word on Moya?

Aeryn: I think she got spooked by Scorpius' Command Carrier.

John: Yeah - spook. Spooky - that's a good name for him. He has that effect.

Aeryn: On you?

John: On everybody. How many guards have you seen since you got up here?

Aeryn: (they pause and glance around) Too many.

John: That's right. They're protecting me. From him. Look - the Empress - this is her ball game. But if you have some suggestions, now would be a good time.

Aeryn: I'm just trying to figure out what they're hiding from us.

John: Well see if you can figure out someone else to marry the Princess.

Aeryn: And if I can't?

John: Better wed than dead. (Aeryn grimaces thoughtfully and continues on. He follows)

(later - cut to the grounds outside the palace. There is a pond of green water upon which float waterfowl and small pleasure boats. Aeryn is walking among the greenery at the ponds edge when she hears Princess Katralla’s voice and stops. She sees Katralla and Tyno standing on a small dock that zigzags out onto the water and listens to their conversation from concealment)

Princess Katralla: (in a voice deep with regret and despair) Tyno, I believe my mother will truly force me to marry this stranger.

Tyno: We can only hope.

Princess Katralla: (incredulous) We can only hope?

Tyno: (frustrated) What am I supposed to say Katralla?

Princess Katralla: (distraught and beseeching) You're supposed to say "No! Stop this travesty!" You're supposed to say `I will not let you marry that man!' You're supposed to take me away from this madness that is my life!

Tyno: (after a desolate pause he shakes his head and says gently) There's too much at stake to stop this now - you must exchange espouses-

Princess Katralla: (interrupting him, she sounds close to tears-) But I love you!

Tyno: As I love you. But our union is not destined to be. (as Aeryn watches Katralla lays her hands on his neck and kisses him, he returns her embrace for a long moment before gently pulling away and continuing-) You must go to Crichton. You must do your duty. (she makes no response, but steps back from Tyno with a look of sorrow and resignation on her round face)

(cut back to the room where yesterdays reception was held. Chiana and D'Argo are still crashed thereon a sofa. Don't they have hotel rooms on other planets? Aeryn has returned from her stroll in the palace gardens and is ranting)

Aeryn: Crichton is such a frelling fool!

D'Argo: He had no choice.

Aeryn: Oh, please! Princess Pretend doesn't even love him! She wants that Tyno!

D'Argo: You're forgetting about Scorpius.

Aeryn: We can hide from him in the barren lands outside the city until he leaves! (there's that Pilot DNA asserting itself again...)

Chiana: (impatient) Marrying her is the only thing that will save Crichtons life Aeryn, don't you get that?

Aeryn: (annoyed) I've had just about enough of you.

Chiana: No, no, no, it's not me that you're mad at. You should have told him how you felt about him when you had a chance.

Aeryn: (between her teeth-) You - don't - know - anything.

Chiana: Oh yeah? Well I know about men. You see that one over there? (she indicates Dregon, chatting with a man on the other side of the room) How many times has he tried to come onto you? What, three? Four? Look. He's well bred. He's rich. Handsome. Perfect. You're gonna let him get away too. You know why?

Aeryn: (daring her) Oh go on. Tell me.

Chiana: Because you only want the ones you can't have! So you're gonna go to Crichton, you're gonna mess with his head, he's gonna get turned over to Scorpius and - dead!

Aeryn: (righteously ignoring Chiana's analysis she declares loudly-) This marriage is wrong and you both know it! (and with that she stalks hurriedly away from them)

(meanwhile back on Moya things are not going according to plan. Moya and Pilot are moving - but not in the right direction. Zhaan rushes into Pilot's Den and up his Console where she cries in breathless desperation-)

Zhaan: Pilot! Why are we still moving further away from the Royal Planet?

Pilot: (in a maddeningly matter-of-fact tone) Moya is following a signal of some sort and refuses to give up the trail.

Zhaan: (agitated) Does she know that Scorpius did not follow us? Does she know that we have to return to the planet to help our friends?

Pilot: (placidly) Yes. But she is driven forward.

Zhaan: (panting) What sort of signal is it Pilot?

Pilot: Impossible to describe to our satisfaction. But one of her eight senses clearly identifies it as -familiar - and compelling. (Zhaan's eyes have the look of a woman with no paddle in a canoe on a river and a distant roar in her ears...)

(cut back to the Royal Planet where Aeryn is marching down one of the pale palace corridors by herself. A pair of sandaled, white-clad natives stroll past her but then suddenly the Scarran Emissary, Cargn, steps out from a doorway in front of her. His brutish face and form are jarring amid the tame. clean lines of the palace)

Aeryn: (stopping and muttering) Oh, perfect.

Cargn: I don't believe I've had the pleasure.

Aeryn: Yes, I've heard that about Scarrans. (she about-faces and begins to walk away from him)

Cargn: (politely persistent) Perhaps we could talk for a moment - in private. (he motions to the room he just stepped out of and Aeryn stops, clearly very put-out. But she opts to not write off this powerful creature as a mere annoyance and turns around, preceding him into the room he indicates. Once inside, she faces him and he continues-) I have a message for Scorpius.

Aeryn: Scorpius?

Cargn: I know you work together. I saw your Luxan with him.

Aeryn: (she immediately knows she's stumbled onto something and coolly strolls a bit further into the room) Go ahead.

Cargn: We will not tolerate your interference so far out in what you condescendingly call the uncharted territories.

Aeryn: (with a slight smile to suggest to him that he's talking to the right person) Is there anything else?

Cargn: Yes. Is your presence here the vanguard of a larger invading force?

Aeryn: I shall send your regards to Scorpius. (she begins to leave but he isn't finished and follows her aggressively)

Cargn: I had hoped to learn your mind by conversation - however if I must invade it - (he gets in front of her and raises a clawed hand, but before he can do any mind-invading Aeryn attacks. She is strong and well-trained but neither this nor speed gives her any advantage over the great Scarran diplomat. He quickly recovers from his probable surprise at the temerity of her attack and casually beats her across the room where he smashes her into a wall mirror with such force that it cracks in its frame. He then tosses her onto a long table and proceeds to wipe it with her face, dragging her down its length and taking various decorative items upon it with her as he goes. At the far end of the table he slams her savagely onto the floor. Aeryn scrambles backwards away from him as he calmly advances on her again, but at that moment the Empress appears in the doorway of the room)

Empress Novia: (pleasantly) Don't stop now. Go on - kill each other. Save me the trouble. (Cargn turns to her, once again the consummate envoy, respectful of her primacy)

Cargn: My apologies, Empress. (he exits calmly as Aeryn gapes from the floor)

Empress Novia: (she saunters to the broken mirror and adjusts her hair as she speaks to Aeryn) I rarely bother with warnings. Consider yourself the beneficiary of largesse. (Aeryn looks beaten and shocked as the Empress exits the room, passing Rygel on his way in. He murmurs his deference to her and approaches Aeryn)

Rygel: (with the wise and warning tone of one familiar with royal politics) Listen carefully Peacekeeper - the longer Crichton plays the part he's been assigned the more likely we'll keep our internal organs internal. Do not dissuade him from this marriage.

Aeryn: (defiant, but with some effort due to the drubbing she’s just taken) Thank you, Rygel. I'll do what I think is right.

Rygel: (pointedly) For Crichton, or for you? (he exits, leaving her alone in the wrecked room looking shaken and miserable)

(cut to a medical area somewhere in the palace, Katralla is there being seen by a physician who murmurs, “Just a small bump it says... almost finished...” as he applies a twittering instrument to her arm. In another part of the room John and Tyno talk. Apparently John is there for some testing as well)

John: You know, if you take any more samples of my DNA there's not gonna be enough left to be me.

Tyno: (with mild consternation) What species are you? Since you're not Sebacean.

John: Human. I keep trying to tell you guys that, but you don't seem to want to listen.

Tyno: We still don't. The Empress has ordered the revelation sealed. No one will ever know.

John: It's that important that I marry the Princess?

Tyno: (with conviction) Our dynastic integrity has always ensured peace. Any fracture, and the whole region could erupt.

John: Then why don't you marry her?

Tyno: Her DNA was poisoned. Unreceptive to anyone. Until you. (he glances in Katralla’s direction as she approaches a, open-framed medical device that sits in the middle of the room)

Princess Katralla: (to the doctor) Would you activate the machine for me please?

John: (taking a guess as to the identity of the DNA poisoner) Her brother?

Tyno: (quietly) Very discerning. With help, we believe, from the Scarran Emissary.

Princess Katralla: John! Come look! (he looks to where Katralla is standing by the open-framed machine and walks over. She’s been joined by Rygel)

Rygel: (appreciative) Oh! This is truly amazing Crichton! I must have one for my Kingdom!

Princess Katralla: Boy or girl?

John: I'm sorry, what?

Princess Katralla: The DNA testing confirms our incipient kiss. Our children will be healthy. Disease free.

Rygel: And you can see what they'll be like! Oh-ho! How many nasty surprises could I have avoided! (he laughs. John looks a bit perplexed, so Katralla demonstrates by speaking to the machine, choosing a gender for him)

Princess Katralla: Male infant please. (the machine emits a violet light before her as she holds out her arms and in a moment a baby appears which she cradles as she laughs with delight. John steps through the open arch of the machine and touches the infant in wonder. Tyno stands with his arms crossed and averts his eyes sadly. At the moment Aeryn also enters to room but stops at some distance as she observes John touching the baby gently and cooing to it)

John: Hey buuuud-dyyyy! What's up? Where'd you come from? Look at you slugger! (Aeryn watches, in silence the clearly delighted John with the phantom baby and listens to him and Katralla speak) This is - this is what our child would look like?

Princess Katralla: (with maternal delight as she and John stand, touching and making over the child) One possibility. The choice is ours. (Aeryn turns and leaves, John is so engrossed with his potential progeny that he never noticed her entry - or exit)
Would you like to see him grown up?

John: (softly) Yes - please. Not - not too grown up. (he strokes the baby’s head as it fusses and reaches for him) ssh, ssh, ssh... (the scene fades and now a little boy, clad in snowy white, stands in the violet light of the machine and speaks to John-)

Little Boy: (smiling shyly) Hi Dad. (John, crouching by the virtual child, grins with pleasure)

Rygel: (sounding almost as delighted as John) Astounding device! Oh! Oh - looks just like you! (John and the Little Boy tussle gently)

John: (grinning with fatherly joy) Yeah, he does kinda.

Rygel: (chucking) Yet he may be able to overcome it! (John knuckles the Little Boys tummy with exceeding tenderness and the Little Boy playfully punches his arm in response)

John: (softly, without taking his eyes from the child) Thank you - that's all. (and the Little Boy fades away as does John's smile. His expression becomes pensive and Rygel sighs wistfully)

Tyno: Not to be intrusive, but the Royal Tailor would like to see you for a fitting. You're scheduled to meet members of the Royal Family Court and you must work on a pose for your governance statue.

John: Statue? (he laughs as he rises and steps away from the machine) Get out of town! (Tyno’s look is solemn) All right fine - well on Earth we have this Queen, she uh, she's got this wave - (and with a little smirk, he demonstrates the familiar wave of QEII) I'll do that.

Tyno: (the Councilor is not amused and replies dryly-) Hardly a pose you'd like to hold for 80 cycles, I'm afraid. (he begins to turn away)

John: What ei- What 80 cycles?

Tyno: (stopping, hesitant-) I - just assumed you knew. (oh... oh yeah there’s just this one little thing...)

John: (stepping up close to him, suddenly apprehensive) Knew what? (so much for the warm fuzzy feelings created by the baby-projector...)

(cut to a patio outside in the pleasant palace gardens. Prince Clavor, Cargn and Jena speak)

Prince Clavor: (furious) Crichtons DNA is compatible! It's not a trick!

Cargn: (forceful) Then your loyalists must assassinate him!

Prince Clavor: You really frelled up this time Cargn! This is not part of our bargain!

Cargn: Scorpius is here because your mother let him attend!

Prince Clavor: Oh! So! Now it's my mothers fault huh? I have half a mind to tell her about you! (Cargn snarls and sends a furnace-like breath at the Prince who throws his head back with discomfort. But Cargn also raises a clawed hand to him and holds him in the grip of Scarran mind control which renders him unable to move way from the painful heat)

Cargn: You do have half a mind Your Highness. But will you actually reveal our plans? (the Prince chokes and gasps with heat-induced agony) Can you see past your childishness to realize any betrayal means your instant death - even if mine follows?

Prince Clavor: (strangled) Yes! (Cargn releases him and he collapses, groaning. The Scarran turns to Jena and now delivers the same treatment to her)

Cargn: I am - curious - dear Jenavia, to know of your loyalties? (she too begins to choke and spasm and is unable to step away from his heat and mind probe)
As I interrogated your loving fiancé, what was going through your delicate little miiiind?

Jena: (with much effort - she reveals her callowness) I was hoping you wouldn't wear that to our wedding! (the Scarran releases her and she too collapses, vomiting, as Cargn shakes his head with mild contempt and walks away from them)

Cargn: Destiny’s couple, you are.

(meanwhile, Moya, Pilot and Zhaan have arrived at a huge interstellar dust cloud. Great lights, like infant stars, glow from within the grey clouds and occasional lightening-like flashes of brilliance stutter ominously)

Zhaan: (as she observes the magnificent scene from a viewport) Why has Moya brought us here Pilot?

Pilot: I don't know. Moya continues to be evasive with me. However, I assume it has something to do with that. (he directs her attention to a large ribbon of intense white light that appears to be moving from the dust clouds towards them, it twists and writhes in the silent solar winds of space)

Zhaan: (with dread) What is it Pilot? Is it alive?

Pilot: Yes.

Zhaan: (it’s 20 questions time) Does Moya know this living thing?

Pilot: (in a gently amazed tone as he seems to get more information from his evasive ship) Yes.

Zhaan: Who is it?

Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he says slowly, with a mixture of utter awe and dread) The Builders... Her Creators… Her - (in a long, drawn-out whisper) - god.

(cut from the sublime to the ridiculous. Back on the Royal Planet, Chiana and D’Argo seem to have finally found a hotel room and they’re indulging in more guttural alien whoopee. Just as Chiana throws her head back in a long moan of pleasure - John walks in on them again. This time he doesn’t care though and bellies right up to the bed where he leans into D’Argos’ face)

John: Did you hear? - ABOUT THE STATUE? (he glances at Chiana, who’s stark nekkid and on top again. She has a nice back but that isn’t the side of her John is on) Hi Chiana. (Chiana grinds) 80 cycles - EIGHTY CYCLES! That is roughly 80 YEARS to you and me and - (he’s barely coherent with distress, shock, outrage, etc.) - OVER 500 YEARS TO DOGS! (Something moves under Chiana and D’Argo, with a nice white quilted comforter over his head - comes up for air and fixes John with a baleful glare as he says quietly)

D'Argo: Why don't you stay and tell us about it John? (John doesn’t move and with a sigh, Chiana dismounts and flounces off, presumably to finish by herself. D’Argo sits up, demurely swaddled in his blanket and listens to John)

John: (in a tone that suggests he’s fighting down anger and panic) Did you know about the statue when you were convincing me to marry the Princess?

D'Argo: (with the verbal equivalent of a shrug) I don't know about it now.

John: After we're married, and I mean - right after - we're married - they turn us into statues.

D'Argo: (in a rather disinterested tone) That - is - fascinating. (friends in heat are aren’t worth a used condom)

John: Excellent. D'Argo discovers science.

D'Argo: (trying hard to Be There) To what purpose?

John: (in a tone that suggests he’s imitating someone’s lofty explanation of this craziness) Governing continuity. (then adds his own frank assessment) They screw with out molecular structure, turn us into pigeon perches, and we preside over their senate or whatever the hell they call it for 80 cycles.

D'Argo: (trying hard to grasp this) As - a statue?

John: Yeah. An’ we can see, we can hear - don't ask me how - and we're supposed to absorb every single facet of their governmental system that way when Mom and Pops finally kick it - we rule.

D'Argo: (thoughtfully) Perhaps that's why they've endured 1900 cycles of peace - It works.

John: You're like a brochure.

D'Argo: (after a short pause) You have to go through with it John.

John: (unable to believe his predicament and why no-one else seems upset by it) 80 - cycles. (he snorts bitterly) My college loans will be delinquent. I'll miss the strippers on my 100th birthday. (his voice rises to a scream of protest) I'll get a utility bill for three trillion dollars for a single porch light I left on AND EVERYBODY I KNOW WILL BE DEAD!

D'Argo: (quietly) The alternative is having your brain dissected by Scorpius.

John: Humans do not live as long as Sebaceans - or Hynerians, or Delvians. When I get back, everyone - my Dad, DK, my sisters - Cameron Diaz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - WILL BE DEAD!

D'Argo: You may never see these people again anyway.

John: (desolate) Hope. D'Argo. It's what keeps you going. You're gonna see your son. I'm gonna get home. Hope. I have hope - or I have nothing. (he buries his face in his hands)

D'Argo: (sympathetic, trying to be encouraging) Look at what Fate has given you. Scorpius will no longer be a threat. And as a ruler you'll have power. Peace. Prosperity. You could create a family. Perhaps you've only just discovered your true destiny.

John: You've been spending way too much time with Chiana you know that?

D'Argo: Amongst all the fluff she can make a lot of sense. Our time was good John. We had each other when we needed each other. But now it's time to move past your fears. See what's on the road ahead.

John: If I do this - you have to be my best man.

D'Argo: (a little surprised, but gently-) Uh... I'm with Chiana now - John. (as if it were a taste of the alien aloneness that lies ahead - John stares at him a moment and shakes his head a little, finding no humor in D’Argos misunderstanding)

(cut to later - John's room. He is donning local clothing - but his are in red instead of white. ro-NA is there assisting him, laying out a jacket on the bed)

John: (as he reaches past her for the coat) So, do you talk?

ro-NA: (she freezes, wary, and replies in a tiny, high-pitched feminine voice) When asked to, Highness.

John: So ah - you work for the Royal Family.

ro-NA: For 22 cycles. Since Katralla and Clavor were children. I'm happy she has found you as a mate Highness.

John: No, uh - loose the ‘Highness” part. I'm John. Call me that.

ro-NA: I am ro-NA.

John: ro-NA. (and at that moment Aeryn barrels into the room)

Aeryn: (loudly, to ro-NA) Could you give us a moment alone please? (the servant scurries off)

Aeryn: (stridently) So you're going to listen to D'Argo over me are you? Is that right?

John: The Empress has made it clear, I marry her daughter or she hands me to Scorpius.

Aeryn: 80 cycles as a statue?

John: (vehemently) It's better than Scorpius!

Aeryn: Is it? (they face each other for a long moment)

John: (with quiet dread) He's in my head. Back of my mind, corner of my eye - he scares me Aeryn, and I can't shake him.

Aeryn: (determined) I don't know what you're talking about - but there's never been anything we couldn't overcome together.

John: Except each other. (he turns away from her and adjusts his red silky jacket)

Aeryn: (sounding deflated and upset) I can't come to the wedding.

John: I want you there.

Aeryn: Don't be absurd.

John: I need you there. Aeryn, I - Aeryn don't you think that there are things to say?

Aeryn: (angry & resentful) At this point, what else is there to say except goodbye?

John: (also angry) You're right. You're always right. (Aeryn turns on her heel and storms out as fast as she came in, leaving John to murmur-) Bye. (he sits to put on his shoes and mutters) Welcome to Barbie-world. (at that moment another servant enters and stands just behind the armed guard near he door)

Servant: They're almost ready for you - Highness. (but then, instead of leaving he seizes the guard from behind and breaks his neck. John, who had been sitting with his back to the door, spins around and grabs the bench he was sitting on to use as a shield against the servant who fires a weapon at him. John then goes on the offensive by using the bench to knock the servant to the floor and pin him there where he proceeds to beat him. Several more servants rush in at the commotion - but they aren’t there to help John and quickly pull him off the first servant. Then - while 2 men hold him, a third aims a weapon at John and says-)

"Here's your wedding present, from Prince Clavor."

And with that - he shoots. John is hit in the chest by a sustained beam of white energy that seems to distort his flesh as he screams in agony.

TO BE CONTINUED… THE END