Beware of Dog
August 11, 2000 - US
October 9, 2000 - UK
Writer - Naren Shankar
Director - Tony Tilse
Wayne Pygram . . . Scorpius
The episode opens with John sitting alone in front of a chessboard hes created, using what appear to be machine components as chessmen. As he stares at the game board he mutters to himself and tosses a ball from one hand to the other. Aeryn comes to the doorway of the room and looks in at him. She seems genuinely concerned.
John: (to himself) What are you up to?
Aeryn: What are you doing?
John: Playing a game.
Aeryn: (she enters, studying him, his nervous ball tossing and the chessboard) Doesn't seem like much of a challenge.
John: (without looking at her) Depends on how you play. (he stops tossing the ball to lean forward and moves one of his chessmen, taking a pawn)
Aeryn: You were mumbling again.
John: I was thinking.
Aeryn: About what?
John: (he flashes for a second back to the Gammak Base and the Aurora Chair where Scorpius whispers "Something to remember me by" before driving a long needlelike instrument into the base of John's skull) Nothing. (he abruptly rises and walks away form the chessboard and Aeryn()
Aeryn: (she leaves a big sigh) Crichton, you've told me yourself that your species isn't accustomed to being in space for long periods of time. Now I have seen cases of transit madness before, and if you're cracking up-
Aeryn: -I want to know.
John: I'm fine. I don't want to talk about it. (he leaves)
Aeryn: (to herself. with another sigh) The human doesn't want to talk.
(cut to one of Moya's cargo bays where Rygel is loitering about, apparently waiting for Chiana and DArgo to return from a commerce port. Hes speaking to Zhaan via comm)
Rygel: Hmph! What do you mean," they aren't back yet"?
Zhaan: D'Argo and Chiana are busy Rygel.
Rygel: What? They ran out of places to defile up here, so they had to do it in a transport pod?
Zhaan: Unfortunately for them, nothing so enjoyable. They've learned that organic goods from this region are often contaminated by parasites. (Rygel gasps) So they're looking for a local cure in case there's an infestation on Moya.
Rygel: Parasites? What - kind?
Zhaan: (with irony) I don't have any details yet, but I suppose that's the price you pay for trading in such a prosperous system.
Rygel: Hah! Prosperous? Is that what you call 3 planets filled with nothing but miserable mud-grubbing farmers? (and at that moment he yelps with alarm as something in the vast, silent cargo bay is knocked over by something that makes a chittering sound and scuttles away into the shadows, seen only as a brief movement on the edge of vision)
(cut to later. Moya's transport pod is seen arcing in to dock and the scene shifts to minutes later as Chiana and D'Argo parade into the maintenance bay pushing a covered cage on a dolly. Aeryn is there tinkering with her Prowler)
Chiana: Our parasite problems are solved.
Aeryn: Rygel's decided to leave us then, has he?
D'Argo: Not likely.
Aeryn: (blandly skeptical) We don't know if we even have a parasite problem.
Chiana: Well, that's what this little guy will tell us! (and with a triumphant chuckle she unveils the cage to reveal a small creature. It is about 2 and a half feet tall and naked. Its skin is pinky beige and it's basically human-shaped - but its proportions are grotesque. Its head and hands are large while its neck and arms are spindly, it has big floppy feet but hardly any leg. Its eyes are almond shaped and it has long pointy ears and a pair of stubby, rather phallic antennae standing up off its forehead. Its face is jowly and pinched. It looks like the idiot child of Yoda and ET. It looks around sniffing and wriggling its long rubbery ears as it makes little squeaky sounds like a small monkey)
Aeryn: (deadpan tone of pure disgust) What is that?
Chiana: (very pleased with her purchase) It's a vorc! Cute, huh?
D'Argo: (he seems a little embarrassed as he tries to sell Aeryn on their new pet) We had some problems with our translator microbes and the local merchants - but from what we can gather, this little fellow hones in on one specific parasite, and eradicates it.
Chiana: (the vorc makes little squeaky whining sounds) Aw - look! He's smelling something! (she and D'Argo chuckle indulgently as Aeryn lip curls. Chiana picks it out of its cage and cradles it) A vendor told us about this ship that was infested. The parasites killed everyone on board. Over 200 people! And all they left behind were these - these - these - cocoons... or...
D'Argo: (trying to help Chiana out as Aeryn continues to stand, motionless, and eye the squirming vorc which is making sounds like upset intestines) Cocoons.
Chiana: (finishing lamely) ... eggs or something.
Aeryn: (turning back to her work) If the parasites are that dangerous, we should jettison the food and solve the problem before it starts.
Chiana: When you see what this little fellow can do- (and the vorc suddenly lets loose a stream of pee that hits D'Argo square in the chest)
D'Argo: Aaawww! (Chiana quickly puts the vorc down and it speeds away, its little naked feet slapping double time against Moya's decks)
Chiana: (taking off after the little beast) Come back here!
Aeryn: Yup. That's impressive.
(cut to John. He's now roaming the corridors of Moya with a stick, batting his ball along the floor and carrying on a running patter with himself)
John: Goodness! Let the big daawwg eat! (he rests the stick over his shoulder as he walks after the ball and chants-) "He's a Cinderella boy..." (the ball rolls to a halt and John uses his stick as a microphone) Oh my, Bob! This is a... this is a big chance for the kid from the uncharted territories. He's about 2 feet off the green, here on the 18th - 2 strokes off the lead. Question is, will he chip? Or will he use the putter? (the stick now becomes a golf club with which he makes to line up his shot. But at that moment the silence of the corridor is broken by a short, low growl. John stops and looks around) Sparky? Yo, Ryg - that you? Rygel? (he makes to look through a grate that gives onto a cargo bay and suddenly a large, hairy animal in the room leaps up, its indistinct face filling the grate only inches form John's and roaring like an angry bear) WHOA! (he jumps back and pulls his gun, firing repeatedly at the grate and when the smoke clears, the animal is gone)
(cut to soon after. Aeryn and D'Argo have joined John in the corridor near the grate)
John: Well, I'm telling you, whatever it was, it was going through the food.
D'Argo: (grumbling to himself as Aeryn talks) One of Rygelís tricks...
Aeryn: (speaking very fast as if she's annoyed) Have you considered the possibility that you just saw Rygel?
D'Argo: (still grumbling under his breath) ... and hoarding food!
John: It wasn't Rygel.
D'Argo: Well maybe it was one of those parasites. We never did get a good description of it.
Aeryn: You said you fired at it while it was in this compartment, right?
Aeryn: Well there's no other way out of there. Where did it go?
John: I don't know.
Rygel: (arriving on the scene via hoverchair) Get away from there! That food belongs to me!
D'Argo: (as he grabs Rygelís hoverchair and swings it upside the wall of the corridor) That food is for all of us!
Rygel: OOF!! What is that foul odor?
D'Argo: (grumpy) It's vorc urine. Would you like a whiff? (he grabs Rygel and rubs the Hynerians face on his pee-soaked jacket front. Rygelís howls of protest are muffled as John asks)
John: What's a vorc?
D'Argo: (he releases Rygel who splutters with disgust) It is a predator that kills PARASITES! (Rygel yips delicately in alarm) Chiana's with it. It's hunting right now.
Rygel: Whatever it is, it better stay away from my food!
John: Hey maybe that's what I saw - a vorc.
Aeryn: It's about this size, naked, with a face like this. (she indicates the vorc's height and then wriggles her index fingers at her forehead and scrunches up her face)
John: No, no, no - it was more like tandoori chicken. (yeah that's been stuck to the bottom of a dust mop for awhile. Cut to Pilot in his Den) Pilot, can you spare the DRDs for a search?
Pilot: (calm for a guy whose ship has an unhousetrained vorc running loose on it) Of course Commander.
Meanwhile, Zhaan is alone in the galley restocking the larders and generally putting groceries away. As she moves about the room the sound of something breathing as if its nose is full goes unheard. She turns away for a moment from a box of space chow, and when she turns back, finds it has fallen over and its contents spilled on the counter. She gathers it up with a sigh of exasperation, but then notices a movement out of the corner of her eye and hears the sound of pattering feet. She warily follows the sounds to their source and startles backwards as she comes face to face with the vorc.
(cut to soon after. Chiana is coming down the hall at a fast trot, pushing the vorcís cage in front of her)
Chiana: (calling) Zhaan? Zha-an?
Zhaan: (urgently, as she comes to meet Chiana at the galley door) Did you get the cage?
Chiana: Uh - yeah. But I don't think the vorc likes it very much.
Zhaan: (as she turns back into the galley, her tone suggests she doesn't care what the vorc thinks) Well what does he like?
Chiana: (with nervous cheer) Well, so far - everything! The parasites- (they begin to move stealthily around the galley while vorc patters just out of their reach, making its whiney squeaks and loud, obnoxious snuffling sounds)
Zhaan: (in a wheedling sing-song to the elusive vorc) Come on little... What's his name?
Chiana: Well I couldn't just name him, Zhaan. He's a free spirit. You can appreciate that.
Zhaan: Well I believe it's wrong to imprison any living creature. (there's a short pause as they hunt around the galley and Zhaan mutters to herself) There are always exceptions. (the search continues for another long moment, then Chiana senses the little critter behind her and turns just in time to see it make a dash for the door)
Chiana: NO! (she makes a futile lunge for the vorc but its escape is blocked by Aeryn, who chooses that moment to enter, and grabs it as it tries to streak past her)
Aeryn: (she stands there holding the squirming vorc by the neck as if it were a rubber chicken, and eyes Chiana coldly) This thing should be out hunting. You can play with it later.
Chiana: Did it look like I was playing?
Aeryn: Yes. This thing needs to earn its keep. (the vorc manages to bend its long neck down as far as Aerynís bare midriff and bites her in the tummy. Chiana chuckle with satisfaction as Aeryn yelps, and drops it) OW! Frelling bit me! That little- (she glares after the vorc who's speeding away and screeching like a small alien monkey)
(cut to John, walking down one of Moya's corridors alone, tossing his ball from hand to hand and talking to Pilot via comm about the animal he saw in the cargo bay)
John: All right then, what about the access shafts?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den. His tone is frankly skeptical) The DRDs are searching those areas. But so far there is no evidence of any creature like the one you've described. I'm beginning to doubt whether we'll find anything at all.
Pilot: Officer Sun mentioned that you'd been -distracted - lately. She believes it's possible that you broke into Rygelís food cache and fired at an imaginary enemy, while playing some sort of - (incredulously) - game.
John: It's golf. Would you believe it's possible that Aeryn: doesn't know what the hell it is she's talking about? (as Pilot responds John hears something in the corridor behind him and turns to see a dark figure emerge from a transept and disappear around a bend - it looks like Scorpius in the dim light)
Pilot: I have never known her to exaggerate. Have you Crichton? (John makes no response but he lets the ball drop from his limp fingers before drawing his gun and starting after the figure) Crichton?
(cut to John as he stealthily enters the cargo bay which he saw the figure of Scorpius enter. He moves warily among stacks of containers towards rustling sounds that break the silence of the bay. He comes to the source of the sounds and makes a fast move around the last corner, his gun out in front of him - but he's only caught Rygel, messing around in some of the crates)
John: (almost as startled as Rygel is) Rygel! What the hell are you doing?
Rygel: (defensively) It's a cargo bay! I was checking my cargo! I was told we had parasites on board. Now would you care to explain why you were trying to kill me?
John: (abashed and perhaps doubting his own sanity) Look, I-I thought you were that thing that I - saw earlier. Sorry. (he exits quickly, leaving Rygel to it)
(cut to Chiana, moving slowly along another of Moya's corridors, looking for the vorc)
Chiana: (sweetly) Yoo-hoo. Little vorc thingy... Little vorc? (hollering to D'Argo who's nearby, also looking for the little varmint ) D'Argo? The vorc got away from me!
D'Argo: (hollering back annoyed) Again? You have to stay with it!
Chiana: Well, easy for you to say. It hasn't stopped running around the ship since it got here.
D'Argo: That's how it hunts! (they meet up at a junction of corridors)
Chiana: (bored now) Yeah I know. It's just I'm starting to get a little tired of following it around.
D'Argo: Listen - if we do have a parasite on board - (they don't hear an ominous snarl coming from the hallway D'Argo just exited) - we need to know what it looks like, which means -
Chiana: (finishing his point) Follow the vorc. Fine. You follow it. (she flounces off)
D'Argo: (irritably mimicking Chianaís whine to himself) "Fine - you follow the vorc."
(cut to Aeryn as she enters her quarters, examining the vorcís teeth marks on her tummy. Just inside the door, she suddenly puts her foot into a pile of something soft and squishy on the floor. She stops short, and looks down at the mess on the sole of her boot - but then looks up again at the sound of the vorc cooing with satisfaction. It's sitting on her bed looking at her)
Aeryn: (approaching it slowly, as it wiggles its gross little nose and ears at her) Get - off - my bed! (she swats it off and it yelps as Aeryn quickly comms for Chiana) Chiana? CHIANA! (there's no response except from the vorc who hops back onto the bed and stares at her) Get off my bed. (she grabs the vorcís face and shoves it off backwards) D'Argo!
D'Argo: (via comm) Yes?
Aeryn: (sounding perhaps more upset than we have ever heard her sound before) That - filthy - little creature of yours is down in my quarters and it's using them as a toilet! (the vorc has now attached itself to her leg and is humping it vigorously) Among other things.
D'Argo: It has to learn the environment before it can find the parasites.
Aeryn: (her whole body is jerking from the force of the vorcís attentions) The only parasite we have is right here, and if you don't come and get it, I'm going to flush it out an airlock!
D'Argo: You're as bad as Chiana. Just leave it alone and let it do its job! (as he speaks, the vorc suddenly lets go of Aerynís leg and sniffs - its big ears flap wildly and suddenly it takes off, making its monkey screams as it goes)
Aeryn: (in a more interested tone as she observes the vorcís behavior) D'Argo - I think it's picked up a scent or something.
D'Argo: (he breaks into a run for Aerynís quarters) Don't let it out of your sight!
The scene shifts briefly to Chiana who's alone in the maintenance bay. She hears an insectile chittering and scuffling sound and looks over her shoulder. "Rygel?" she asks quietly.
(cut back to Aeryn and D'Argo speaking via comm as they try to follow the vorc through Moya's winding corridors. The scene shifts between the two of them as they talk)
D'Argo: Aeryn:! Where are you?
Aeryn: (her tone cool and military) Tier 7 junction. I've lost the vorc.
D'Argo: (softly) Dren - (louder) - Where was it heading?
Aeryn: What does it matter? This is pointless.
D'Argo: Do you know how dangerous these parasites are? They suck the life out of their prey, and leave nothing but a desiccated husk!
Aeryn: (pausing) These parasites are a fantasy. They're stories to frighten you and Chiana into purchasing a useless animal.
D'Argo: (angry) Fine! Fine! Fine! I will find it myself.
Aeryn: Good. Yes. Waste your own time.
D'Argo: (spacing his words with furious deliberation) Where - was - it heading?
Aeryn: (with a shrug) Towards the maintenance bay.
Chiana: (she suddenly breaks in via comm in an urgent whisper) D'Argo? (cut to Chiana and Rygel in the maintenance bay, crouching behind some containers)
D'Argo: (snapping) Not now Chiana! I'm looking for the vorc!
Chiana: (shaky) I'm in the maintenance bay, and uh... there's uh - there's some kind of creature - right in - front of me. (and indeed the indistinct form of a snarling, man-sized beast is advancing slowly upon her and Rygel)
D'Argo: (roaring as he breaks into a run for the maintenance bay) CHIANA! Get out of there. Now!
Chiana: (hissing back as the beast closes in, she and Rygel are cornered) Yeah I would if I could!
D'Argo: (bellowing to the others via comm) CRICHTON! AERYN! MAINTENANCE BAY! NOW!
(cut to Chiana and Rygel in the bay while the rest of the crew are on their way. The monster snarls and growls horribly as it comes)
Rygel: Chiana! Do something!
Chiana: You do something! (but she does rise and try to make her way slowly around the beast, Rygel behind her. But it follow her movements and won't let her pass) Okay - okay - easy. We're-we're not gonna hurt you, okay? So - so - (she lays her hand on some tool laying on a counter behind her)
Rygel: Now slug him!
John: (via comm) We're on the way! Don't panic!
Chiana: (responding to John) I think it's a little too late for that! (and she starts to take a swing at the monster with the tool. But it grabs her first and she is violently thrown to one side where she hits her head and is knocked out)
D'Argo: (as he barrels into the bay) CHIANA!
Rygel: (a cry of warning and despair) D'ARGO!
D'Argo: CHIANA! (he fires at the creature with his Qualta and succeeds in drawing it off Chiana and Rygel - but its only exit is past him and he tries to stop it. He and the thing struggle hand to hand for a short, frenzied moment before D'Argo is bitten knocked to the floor, also unconscious while the monster flees)
(cut to very shortly after - Rygel is at DíArgoís side trying to revive him)
Rygel: (softly) Come on Luxan - come on. You must not die. (at that moment John finally gallops into the bay and stops by Chiana who is regaining consciousness)
John: Chiana! You okay?
Chiana: (weakly) Yeah- (as she struggles to her feet) Yeah, I'm fine.
John: D'Argo - (he quickly moves to the Luxan, who Rygel is still working on) Rygel! What the hell you doing?
Rygel: He wasn't breathing. And I'm fine, too. Thanks for asking.
D'Argo: (gasping for breath and weak) That creature you saw... The parasite... It's real.
John: Yeah I know.
Rygel: I'm delighted you've been vindicated, Crichton. But I'll be even happier when you kill the frelling thing! (at that moment D'Argo begins to choke and convulse violently)
John: Whoa! Whoawhoawhoa!
Chiana: (leaping to his side) D'ARGO! WHAT'S WRONG?
John: HOLD HIM DOWN! HOLD HIM! (they struggle to hold the thrashing Luxan down to prevent him from hurting himself. Aeryn arrives on the scene)
Aeryn: What's happening?
John: I DON'T KNOW! (Aeryn tries to help as D'Argo continues to thrash and froth. Their cries of confusion and panic only add to the chaos - "WHAT'S WRONG" "HOLD HIM DOWN!" D'ARGO!")
Aeryn: (via comm) ZHAAN! GET DOWN HERE! ZHAAN!
(later - cut to Zhaanís medical lab. D'Argo has been moved there and is laying on an examining table while she runs a scan on him. He's unresponsive. Chiana is hovering nearby)
Chiana: I don't understand what's wrong with him. You cleansed the wound. You said there were no internal injuries.
Zhaan: I've done all I can do for now Chiana. But he appears to have some kind of secondary infection.
Chiana: Like what?
Zhaan: Like that's what I'm trying to determine.
Chiana: Well try faster. I don't need to be a healer to see that D'Argo's getting worse!
Zhaan: But you do need to be a healer to make him better. Now shut up and let me get back to work, or leave.
Chiana: (she steps away from Zhaan and comms John. She is clearly very worried) Crichton? (cut to Aeryn and John who are patrolling the corridors in search of he creature that bit D'Argo) D'Argo's not so good. You found the creature?
Aeryn: (answering for John) No sign of it yet.
John: It's like it just disappeared. (but just then, he spots something that might be a trail. He calls Aeryn and together they cautiously enter an empty cell, weapons at the ready, following a litter of food crumbs on the floor. But at the end of the trail all they find is the vorc, sitting peacefully in a corner eating and gibbering to itself)
Aeryn: We just found your vorc Chiana.
Chiana: (cut briefly back to her in the medlab) Oh that thing's useless.
Aeryn: Maybe not. It was heading for the maintenance bay when you were attacked. I think it knew what was there.
John: Yeah, but isn't the vorc supposed to kill the parasite? Not just point it out?
Aeryn: And you think this miniscule creature could kill something that could incapacitate D'Argo?
John: No. But we could use it to flush the parasite out. It could be our bird dog! (he makes to grab the little beastie but it stands up, squawking and snapping irritably at him, it's ugly little face all scrunched up. John beats a hasty retreat back to Aerynís side) Whoa! (he steps behind her and gestures back to the vorc) That could be your - uh - you bring it. I'll just, uh - (he hisses to himself as he exits the cell) I hate critters! (Aeryn and the vorc eye each other)
(cut back to the medlab. Zhaan is analyzing test results . D'Argo is awake now but his breathing is shallow. Chiana stands by his bedside as he tries to speak)
Chiana: You want to tell me something? (she leans close and he whispers something unintelligible to her, after a moment she smiles) D'Argo... you're in no condition for sex.
D'Argo: Yeah. Might kill me, huh? (they chuckle a bit together as their mood lightens for a second but at that moment Zhaan exclaims-)
Zhaan: By Kahalin!
Chiana: What's wrong?
Zhaan: D'Argo's been poisoned. There's an alien toxin in his blood stream and it's killing him.
Chiana: (frightened) Well, y-you can make an antidote, can't you?
Zhaan: (uncertain) I don't know. I can-I can try!
The scene shifts to later as a pair of DRDs patrol in a narrow passageway. As they go they send back video data to John who's in the Command, of Moya's myriad smaller halls and service tunnels. Pilot directs them from his Console in the Den. Cut to John in the Command.
John: Next. (he's using a clamshell viewer to examine the video of each shaft junction being transmitted to him by Pilot and the DRDs) Next. Show me another one.
Zhaan: (she breaks in urgently via comm) I'll need a venom sample from the creature John. But most natural venoms decompose rapidly when the creature dies. We can't afford to take that risk. So, it's very important that you capture the creature alive - and quickly.
John: (with quiet intensity as he concentrates on watching the video for signs of the creature) We're working as fast as we can Zhaan. Pilot, is it possible that this critter has camouflage ability? Have you tried switching the DRDs to heat and acoustic mode?
Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den) Yes, and without success. The creature seems quite adept at avoiding surveillance.
John: Show me cargo bay 3. (the requested locale comes into view but suddenly it fades and is replaced by the face of Scorpius. John stares at the apparition as it says to him in a malignant whisper, before just as suddenly fading out again-)
Scorpius: You'll never see it coming John. Yeesss...
(cut to a place somewhere near Moya's neural clusters. D'Argo has been brought there and suspended in a sort of wind tunnel. He's swaying in the breeze and swaddled in a truss that catches the air wafting up from below him. He awakens from unconsciousness again and is understandably disoriented by the strange sounds and sensations of his surroundings)
D'Argo: (gasping for breath) What's going on? Get me out of here!
Zhaan: Pilot has modified the energy fields of Moya's neural clusters so your cells will be fortified. They'll give you strength.
D'Argo: Why - why is it so hard to breathe?
Zhaan: The parasites venom appears to be designed to paralyze the nerves and muscles of its prey. Your hearts and lungs have been affected D'Argo. (Rygel enters the room on his hoverchair)
D'Argo: (bitterly) You're early Rygel. I'm not dead yet! When I do die, Chiana's gonna get all of my possessions.
Rygel: You always expect the worst of me. Is it unthinkable that I might be here simply to offer the gift of my company to a shipmate in need?
D'Argo: Yes! (Rygel looks rather sorrowful and makes a bitter snort of his own)
Zhaan: Are you afraid to be alone Rygel?
Rygel: Hm? I knew you'd be here. That didn't frighten me. Why should blessed solitude?
(cut to Aeryn and the vorc patrolling Moya's larger corridors. In an attempt both to keep track of it and get it to work as a "bird dog," Aeryn has managed to swallow her distaste for the little stinker and is carrying it on her shoulders. The scene shifts between her and John who's still in the Command as they speak on comm)
Aeryn: (as if she's speaking to a child she doesn't like much but has to be nice to) Right. Now. How about - this way? (the vorc indicates it prefers the opposite direction and looks around, vacantly nattering to itself as they go) This way.
John: Aeryn - Any luck with the vorc yet?
Aeryn: (as she speaks the vorc probes curiously at her face with its long fingers) Oh, yes. So far he's led me to the cockpit of your module, a pool of amnexus fluid and - (she removes one of the vorcís exploring fingers from her mouth) - a pile of food cube crumbs. How's D'Argo?
John: Poison's working on him. Zhaan says it's slow, but - steady.
Aeryn: (pushing the vorcís face away from her as it tries to chew on her ear) NO! No biting! (then back to John) Listen - we'll find the parasite and I'll shoot it.
John: Aeryn! No shooting! That's what the sleep gas is for!
Aeryn: I know that- (but the vorc is now screaming, ears flapping wildly) Whoa!
John: You got something?
Aeryn: (the vorc is wriggling and the tips of its little antennae are glowing like DRD headlights) Well, apparently the vorc thinks it does. It's getting very hard to control. (she lets it down to the floor and says to it-) Listen to me. I'm going to let you out. So not too far, and not too fast. Is that clear? (the agitated vorc grimaces and makes it s monkey screams as it tales off down the corridor)
(cut to the neural cluster where D'Argo is buffeted by a sudden explosive gust of energy and a bump is heard. The scene shifts between the various crew as they speak and move about)
Rygel: (startling at the bump) What was that?
Pilot: The DRDs have located the creature. (Aeryn breaks into a run after the vorc)
Zhaan: (looking up in the direction the bump came from) Pilot!
Pilot: It's in the airlock above you Zhaan!
Rygel: (with a gasp of terror) The creature! it's coming for us!
Pilot: I'm trying to seal off the tier to keep it confined.
Rygel: Crichton! Anybody?
Pilot: It's moved out of the air shaft. Tier 4. (a DRD tracking the creature in one of the smaller service tunnels is abruptly smashed by it) I've lost contact with a DRD!
Meanwhile in Moya's dim, twisting corridors, Chiana and John, working separately , move to intercept the creature. Chiana runs into it first and with a wild scream she begins to just as wildly fire a weapon at it. John hears the shots and races for her, screaming -
John: NOOOOOOO! (in the confusion of Chianaís fire, the monster escapes and John barrels into her full speed. They ricochet off the wall and land on each other, yelling)
Chiana: FRELL! Where'd it go?
John: Dammit Chiana! I don't trust Aeryn: to wing that thing and she's a good shot! We have to get it into a confined space where the gas grenade can do some good! (they disentangle themselves angrily)
Chiana: Well what did you expect me to use? Harsh language? THAT was a warning shot!
John: Oh yeah? Well 10 is more than a warning! Pilot, we lost it!
Chiana: I know what I'm doing okay? I DIDN'T ASK YOU TO COME ALONG, AND I DON'T- (she starts to storm off, but John catches and shushes her)
John: (patronizing) Shshsh - Chiana - go back to D'Argo, and give him a reason to live.
Chiana: (upset) And do what? What - sit by him and watch him die? This is the only way I know how to help him.
Pilot: (breaking in via comm) The creature is on tier 3! (John and Chiana drop their argument and take off in that direction) Hammond side and moving rapidly!
(they intercept with Aeryn on their way)
Aeryn: It's heading for Command!
John: Pilot! Seal off the exits!
Pilot: (proudly) Done! The creature has NO way out! (Aeryn, Chiana and John arrive at the Command and pause outside it)
John: Do it?
John: Pilot, open sesame! (the portal to the Command swings open. The trio enters warily and begin making a search of the big room. It appears to be empty)
Chiana: (nervous) It couldn't have gotten out. Could it?
Aeryn: (in a loud whisper) Shut up and keep searching. (John nears an alcove in the Command and hears a low growl. He turns and sees Scorpius standing there grinning evilly at him)
John: (in a whisper to Scorpius) Not now!
Aeryn: (hearing him) Crichton? (he looks around the corner at her) What's the matter?
John: Nothing I'm fine. (he quickly exits the alcove and changes the subject) Thing's gotta be around here somewhere. (they continue to move carefully around the Command - suddenly John spots something and lowering his gun, calls-) Chiana.
Chiana: (she quickly comes to his side and sees what he sees, sitting under a control console) Aw frell. The vorc.
Aeryn: Must've chased the creature in here.
John: So, where is it? (the vorc natters as if in response)
Aeryn: (to the vorc) Why don't you show us? (it squeaks sand shakes its head violently. Its long pointy ears slap about furiously and it grimaces) Come on, show us the parasite.
And with that, the tiny vorc throws its head back, opens its little pink mouth wide - and vomits itself inside-out to become the huge monster the crew is looking for. The transformation is violent and the vorc lands a few yards away from them on the other side of the Command, roaring as Aeryn, Chiana and John gape for just a moment.
John: Grenades! (and with that he, Aeryn and Chiana arm their gas grenades and hove them at the snarling creature, which quickly goes down in a thick fog of sedative mist)
Chiana: (panting, to Aeryn) That thing was the vorc all along?
John: Wait a minute - you saying the vorc is the parasite?
Aeryn: (to Chiana) The only thing I know for certain, is that you brought it on board.
Chiana: How was I supposed to know?
John: Girls, quit the sniping. Zhaan needs a venom sample.
(cut to later - in the medlab. Zhaan has examined the vorc in its monstrous form, but is no closer to finding anything to help DíArgoís plight)
John: All right, what do you mean there's no venom?
Zhaan: (frustrated) I can't find any! There's no trace of any toxin whatsoever in any of the samples I took from that creature!
Aeryn: You must have missed something then.
Zhaan: I checked down to its hair follicles! I tried every technique I know.
Rygel: I'm sure that didn't take long.
John: Shut up Rygel. (to Zhaan) There has to be another explanation.
Zhaan: Perhaps its only poisonous in its other form.
John: (pacing , also frustrated) No - it attacked D'Argo in its present form.
Aeryn: Besides, it bit me when it was small and I'm fine.
John: And the poison had to come from somewhere. Pilot! How long would it take us to get back to where we bought this damn thing?
Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den) At maximum speed, Moya could reach the planets in less than 32 arns.
Zhaan: D'Argo won't make it. His respiration is failing. The fields in the neural cluster won't sustain him much longer.
(cut to the room where D'Argo is suspended in the rush of energy from Moya's neural cluster. Chiana is there with him, standing alongside the vent where he hangs, and holding him close to herself)
D'Argo: (his voice is hardly more than a whisper) The thing that attacked me - was the vorc?
Chiana: Zhaan's getting a venom sample from it now. You're gonna be fine.
D'Argo: Don't lie to me.
Chiana: I brought the frelling thing on board. (there is a long pause) This is all my fault D'Argo.
D'Argo: You didn't bring him here. We both did.
(cut to Aeryn and John walking down a corridor and applying logic to the situation)
John: All right, riddle me this - because we think we may have parasites on board, we get a vorc 'cos someone tells us that vorcís kill parasites. Now - all of a sudden, this other critter shows up - this Ewok gone bad - bites D'Argo, poisons him. Yeah? So we capture the parasite and surprise! The parasite and the vorc are the same thing - but - neither one of them is poisonous. (they stop and face each other) SO - for $10,000, and the Caribbean cruise - What poisoned D'Argo?
Aeryn: Something else must have.
John: Yes. (they resume walking)
Aeryn: You're suggesting there's another creature on board.
John: Yes. The real parasite. What if the vorc is working as advertised? It's hunting the parasite, but it's doing it in two different forms?
Aeryn: A smaller, faster form for tracking. A larger, more powerful form for attack.
John: Exactly. (they enter a cargo bay)
Aeryn: Why did it attack Chiana and D'Argo?
John: I don't know. Maybe they scared it. Threatened it somehow. You know D'Argo has that affect on everything. (they walk to a heavy cage with a DRD sitting sentry on top of it. Inside, the vorc, in its large mean form, rattles the cage and growls)
Aeryn: Even if this real parasite exists - which I'm still not convinced it does - we have no idea what it is. Is it an insect, a microorganism, another creature like this?
John: I don't know. Why don't you ask it?
Aeryn: Oh that's very good Crichton. I know my translator microbes are working, because deranged as it always is, I do understand what you're saying. But this creature can only grunt and growl, it cannot talk.
John: No - Aeryn - This is a good idea. Why don't we see if we can get the Incredible Vorc here to understand us? (Aeryn eyes him incredulously) D'Argo is dying. You got a better idea - lay it on me. (the sounds from inside the cage become a gargling rumble that segues into the whiney squeaks of the vorc in its small form. John slaps the top of the container and it goes silent. The scene shifts to moments later, Aeryn and John have sat down in front of the cage, which has round translucent ports on each side through which they and the vorc can see each other. Slowly, the little vorc sits up, and peers miserably around, whining incoherently) All right Pilot. Shoot him up.
Pilot: Injecting translator microbes. (an intrepid DRD which has entered the cage, indelicately rams the vorc with a hypodermic. The vorc squalls)
John: Hey! (he taps on the portal nearest him and Aeryn. The vorc stares at them, never letting up its whiney moaning) Over here. Listen up. You understand me? We just want to talk to you.
Aeryn: This is a waste of time Crichton. Translator microbes don't take this long to work. Let's take it to Zhaan. She can dissect it, see if she missed something.
John: Dissect it? (the vorc quiets down and looks from one of them to the other as they stalk)
Aeryn: Yeah, I say we kill it. (the vorc makes a shriek that sounds like "WHAT??" and begins yelling and bouncing up and down, its face all screwed up with distress)
John: (sotto voce) Psst - Aeryn! It understands what you're saying. Take it back. (she just stares at him and he repeats, between his teeth) Take - it - back.
Aeryn: (she reluctantly leans forward and addresses the upset critter awkwardly) Hello? I'm sorry. I don't want to kill you. (the vorc screws up its face and seems not one bit comforted as it starts to jump up and down again)
John: (staring incredulously at Aeryn, amazed by her ineptitude with the Little White Lie) That was - terrible! That was- that wa- Look - Lassie here is trying to communicate with us!
Aeryn: Yeah? (loudly and slowly to the gibbering vorc) I don't understand you.
Pilot: (breaking in via comm) Officer Sun. I believe it's asking - "Why?"
John: Pilot, you understand him?
Pilot: (the scene starts to shift between him in his Den and the others in the cargo bay) Somewhat. Because of my bond with Moya I am accustomed to non-verbal communication. While I don't believe this creature has language in a true sense, it seems to be expressing itself in a mixture of simple concepts, sensations and instinctual reactions.
John: Keep translating.
Pilot: (slowly, as the vorc squeaks and whines) "Why... pain... me?"
Aeryn: (loudly, in the way people often talk louder to people who don't speak their language as if an increase in volume will somehow facilitate understanding) Well we hurt you, because you hurt us. Why did you attack D'Argo - our friend?
John: (miming DíArgoís head tentacles) Friend.
Pilot: (the vorc jabbers as if protesting) "Attack... Defend."
Aeryn: D'Argo attacked you first?
Pilot: (the vorc squeals as if frustrated) "Friend... Friend." It keeps repeating "Friend."
John: (quietly to Aeryn) In the Command it showed us it could change shapes.
Aeryn: (murmuring back) It wasn't trying to hurt us.
John: No. (back to the vorc) What do you want?
Pilot: (as the vorc shudders and squeaks madly) "Bad... Danger... Here!"
John: There's a parasite on board? (the vorc bobs up and down wildly)
Aeryn: Are you the parasite? (the vorc stops and gapes incredulously at her and makes a sound like "Huh?" John does pretty much the same thing)
John: (unable to believe Aeryn could ask such a dumb question) The answer to that is, "No!" Who's gonna say yes to that? That is - "No!"
John: (dismissively) Oh! (he turns back to the vorc) Can- (he shoots another disbelieving look at Aeryn) - can you help us find the parasite?
Pilot: "Hunt... The bad... Kill the bad. Free... Kill the bad."
Aeryn: Right. So you want us to free you, so you can kill the parasite. (the vorc confirms this with much enthusiastic wriggling and squealing. She looks at John and says) That's a better question - clarification.
John: And that's a "Yes." Do you trust it?
Aeryn: I don't know.
John: We could have it describe the parasite to us and we could find it ourselves.
Aeryn: Who knows how long that could take? D'Argo doesn't have that much time to spare.
John: You're right. (he taps on the glass of the cage with his gun to get the vorcís attention) Hey little fella - we're gonna roll the dice. But you make one wrong move, I will shoot you. You understand shoot? (the vorc watches soberly as John m acts out "shoot") Ka-tow! Ka-tow! Ka-tow! Little bolts of light. Owwwwwch.
(cut to soon after. The vorc is pattering down a corridor looking this way and that while Aeryn and John follow a few paces behind)
Aeryn: Here we go again.
John: Pilot - can you dial down Moya's atmospheric scrubbers? It might enhance whatever this little guy's sniffing.
Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den) Reducing scrubbers now.
Rygel: (breaking in via comm. He is in another corridor by himself) Crichton, have you taken leave of your senses? I don't expect much from Aeryn, but you!
John: Relax Sparky. We're on it.
Rygel: I saw what it did to D'Argo. If it comes near me - I'll kill it! I swear!
John: Lock yourself in your room and do whatever the hell it is you do in there by yourself.
Aeryn: Crichton - (the vorc has stopped and with a violent shudder, vomits itself inside-out into its more beastly from, directly through a small grate and disappears. John lunges for the grate and calls after it-)
John: HEY! HEY! WE HAD A DEAL! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO LEAD US TO IT!
Rygel: (cut back to him in the other corridor) Pilot! I demand that you fuel a transport pod and make it ready for departure this microt!
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den) Rygel! I told you, my DRDs are occupied. I cannot help you now.
Rygel: (at that moment the snarling vorc appears somewhere behind him. As it moves unseen in the shadows, Rygel gasps and tries to back his hoverchair away from the vicious sounds and gasps in a loud whisper-) Help! Anybody! Help!
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den) Rygel? Rygel? Are you there? RYGEL!
Aeryn: (cut back to her and John as they break into a run for Rygelís location) IT'S NOT AFTER YOU RYGEL, IT'S AFTER THE PARASITE!
John: JUST KEEP MOVING! GET OUT OF THE AREA!
Rygel: (cut back to him as he is backed into a cargo bay by the vorc) It's closing in! I can hear it! (Aeryn and John arrive at the dim, cluttered, cargo bay) Crichton! You said I'd be safe. You said-
John: (the monster vorc is prowling in the shadows around Rygel, who is cornered against stacks of cargo crates) Rygel - don't move.
Aeryn: (calling to the beast as she moves among the shadows with her gun drawn) Rygel is your friend! Rygel - tell him you're his friend.
Rygel: (rasping with terror) Yotz! Kill it!
Aeryn: (as the beast slinks towards Rygel swinging its hideous head back and forth) No! Friend!
Rygel: Kill - it!
John: Rygel, it's probably not after you. It's just looking for a gopher, man. (he whispers, beckoning Rygel to come to him) Real slow.
Rygel: (in a panicked squeal) Kill it! Kill it! Kill it! (and with that he makes a break for safety but instead turns his hoverchair right into the vorc. He flinches, but the threat of death brings out the fighter in him and he charges the monster, throwing himself onto it, biting and clawing. It roars with fury and confusion as Aeryn and John shout and fire shots in the dark melee)
Aeryn: GET OFF IT!
John: NO! NO! RYGEL! GET OFF! NO! (their shots succeed in driving off the vorc and Rygel drops to the floor, gasping and shuddering)
Rygel: (crying in a hoarse gasp) Help - me! (he falls back and lies very still)
(cut to soon after. Rygel has been taken to the medlab and examined by Zhaan while John waits)
Rygel: (laying on his back on an exam table, gasping for air) I... can't move. So cold... Body feels... Broken.
John: (gently) Rygel you're going into shock. Zhaan says you have internal injuries.
Rygel: (he's barely able to choke out the words) Your fault... You... let... that thing do this... to me.
John: (genuinely worried for Rygel and not knowing what to say) Sparky- Sparky, just... shut up.
Zhaan: (to Rygel) Try and stay calm. (to John) He's been poisoned.
John: (surprised) What?
Zhaan: There were massive traces of toxins in Rygelís wound. The same compounds I found in D'Argo. (the Luxan is laying nearby now, Moya's neural energy fields having done all they could for him. Chiana hovers over him and listens to the grim conversation)
John: Zhaan, we had the vorc in our hands. You said-you said it wasn't poisonous.
Zhaan: I made a mistake.
John: If I bring it in dead, is there any possibility that you can make an anti-venom?
Zhaan: Well, it's possible. There's nothing I can do for Rygel and D'Argo without it.
John: Well one way or the other, you're getting it, okay?
Zhaan: Yeah. (John goes over to Chiana and D'Argo)
John: Can he talk?
Chiana: I don't know.
John: (to D'Argo) How you doing?
D'Argo: (gasping and delirious) Find my son. Find my son.
John: We'll find him together. (to Chiana as he leaves) You take care of him.
(cut to soon after. Aeryn and John are moving through Moya's corridors in search of the vorc)
Aeryn: (motioning to some dark spots on the floor) Blood. I knew we hit it.
John: (with grim anger towards the vorc) Yeah, hide from me now friend - When we see him, he's mine.
Aeryn: We'll see. (she continues on and at that moment John sees something - but not the vorc. He sees Scorpius walk up behind Aeryn, peering over her shoulder and then glancing back at him. John fires reflexively at Scorpius, who disappears, and the shot hits Moya's wall near Aeryn, who whirls around) AAHH! What the frell was that for?
John: (he swallows hard and covers quickly) It was nothing. Just clearing my head. (and at that moment the vorc, in its big beastie form, darts across the hall a short distance in front of them)
Aeryn: CRICHTON! (they pursue, but it seems to have disappeared again. They come to fork in the corridor and pause, looking for the trail)
John: Do you see any blood?
John: All right - (they each point down a different fork of the hall and say: "That way!" before starting off in opposite directions. John stops her-) Aeryn! Nononono! We are not splitting up!
Aeryn: We are running out of time. We don't have another choice. (and at that moment the vorc pops up down the hall again. Aeryn and John open fire but when the smoke and flying sparks from ricocheting bolts of light dissipate, the vorc is gone)
John: Whoa! Whoa-whoa-whoa! That thing just gave us the slip. Why would it come back for us, unless it was leading us?
Aeryn: Into a trap. What else?
John: (in a tone that suggests that hadn't been what he was thinking but he goes with her at this point) Right. As long as we both know.
Moments later - Aeryn and John warily enter the cargo bay where this whole mess began. Somewhere in the shadows the vorc snarls. They slowly approach the sounds, and upon catching sight of it - they open fire. The monstrous vorc goes down in a hail of fire.
Aeryn: We got to get it back to Zhaan.
John: (but in the silence John hears an ominous chittering sound and looks behind him, in the direction the vorc had been facing) Aeryn? What is that? (she turns and sees what he sees, a bulging black mass, like an untidy cocoon, stuck to and between cargo containers)
Meanwhile, in the medlab, Chiana lays with her head resting upon DíArgoís inert form and Zhaan busies herself at a work counter. Rygel is laying deathly still - and black, insect-like creatures begin to emerge from his mouth and move just under his skin.
(cut back to the cargo bay where John answers his own question)
John: Can you say - "cocoon"? (the wounded vorc snarls)
Aeryn: Chiana said the parasites leave cocoons behind.
John: Aeryn - It led us here to see this. (and with much effort the vorc manages to stand and use its claws to slice open the cocoon - to reveal Rygel suspended within, gasping for air and looking much the worse for wear. Aeryn and John gape) Holy body snatchers! Start talking. (as they talk, back in the medlab the other Rygel sits up, zombie-like, while Zhaan works and Chiana dozes)
Rygel: (hoarsely) That frelling thing went through my mouth. Could barely frelling breathe! Strands pouring out of me - from my ears, nose, my pores, every frelling hole in my body! F-formed this cocoon around me, to feed to its frelling offspring! Imagine me - food for something else! It took my shape, and then it-
John: (interrupting this lurid story) How do I know you're Rygel? (whether intentionally or just luck of a nervous moment - Rygel farts. Aeryn and John look at each other as the helium turns Rygelís gravelly voice soprano. Then, leaving him hanging there in the mass of black threads they take off for the medlab)
Rygel: (like a Munchkin) Where are you going?
Aeryn: (via comm as she and John run) ZHAAN! GET OUT OF THERE NOW!
John: (adding) IT'S NOT RYGEL! IT'S THE PARASITE!
(cut to the medlab where Zhaan hears Aeryn and John's warning and turns just in time to see "Rygel" gather himself and leap at her, roaring in a distinctly un-Hynerian sort of way. She screams as she is thrown to the floor with him on top of her and black threads begin spreading out form his eyes. Chiana is awakened by the commotion and looks over at the goings-on)
Zhaan: RYGEL! (Aeryn and John burst into the room; Aeryn grabs "Rygel" off Zhaan and flings him aside)
Chiana: (in a brief moment of silence-) Ryg? (-before he sits up, with his horribly disfigured parasite face. Chiana screams and John and Aeryn open fire. The body of the parasitic Rygel is blown open and out of it pour hundreds of small creatures, like crosses between frogs and grasshoppers that sweep across the floor towards them)
John: Cover me! (he gives Aeryn his gun and she lays down fire against the oncoming swarm while John grabs a hose and begins spraying the hoard with a freezing mist - between the fire and the mist, when the smoke and vapor clears, the army of parasites lies still upon the floor, effectively crisped, There's a long moment of silence as they all wait to see if there's any further movement, and Aeryn grinds a parasite or two under the toe of her boot before Chiana yells)
Chiana: What the frell is that?
John & Aeryn in unison: Sorry about the mess.
(cut to later in the medlab. The real Rygel is recovering form his ordeal as is D'Argo. Chiana and Zhaan are there as well)
Rygel: (like a man telling a ghost story) That parasite was hiding in a crate of marjools I was inspecting in the cargo bay. (he shudders) A hideous experience. It was actually feeding off my essence. My thoughts! And it would have done the same to all of you!
D'Argo: I remember Rygel - uh, the other one - standing over me after I was wounded.
Chiana: That parasite was gonna use you next. Why didn't it?
Zhaan: I suspect it tried, but DíArgoís reaction to the venom was so strong, it didn't have enough time to complete its task.
Rygel: How could you have all been so stupid to let that thing fool you?
D'Argo: It was a perfect copy of you Rygel.
Rygel: Hmph! Perfect! Perhaps to undiscerning observers like yourselves. Fortunately, that courageous vorc was here to rescue me!
(cut to the cargo bay where the vorc has resumed its small form and is now laying in Aerynís arms, dying as John looks on. It whines weakly)
Pilot: He says he's... happy.
John: Is there anything we can do to help?
Pilot: I don't think the creature understands the concept. (the vorc continues to squeak, barely audible) "End... End..." He knows his time is near.
Aeryn: I am so... so... sorry. (the vorc reaches up and strokes her cheek with one of its long fingers, and then dies. In his Den, Pilot closes his eyes and sighs)
(cut to later. The excitement of the parasites and the vorc is over. John is back in his quarters, playing chess with himself as Aeryn stands and looks on)
Aeryn: Crichton. When we were hunting, you uh - almost blew my head off. That was a bad shot, even for you.
John: Yeah. (there's a long pause) What's your point?
Aeryn: What were you firing at? Really. (John moves a chessman and goes to the other side of the board as he responds)
John: I've been, uh - having these - Well I wouldn't exactly call them hallucinations - I've been having these... flashes of Scorpius.
Aeryn: Flashes? Like memories?
John: No they're not memories. It's more like he's talking to me. Have you ever been in a - in a crowded room and everybody's talking all at the same time, so you can't hear anybody and suddenly someone says your name, and then - (he snaps his fingers) - like crystal, you hear every word they say. No matter how far away they are, it's like they're talking only to you.
Aeryn: What is Scorpius saying to you?
John: He says he's gonna get me. He says he already has, I just don't know it yet.
Aeryn: Why didn't you kill him when you had the chance?
John: I tried. Tried - but I couldn't. Something stopped me. Something inside.
Aeryn: Crichton, if you need help-
John: I'll ask. Just like you do. (she gazes at him with concern) Aeryn don't worry. (he chuckles reassuringly) I'm not gonna lose my mind. It's all I've got left.
Aeryn: (she smiles and sets down a chessman she'd been holding) All right. (she leaves John crouching at his chessboard and the voice of Scorpius is heard whispering)
Voice of Scorpius: You'll never see it coming John. When the trap closes - it'll be too late.
John: (whispering back) You think? (he makes a move on the chessboard. White knight takes black pawn) Checkmate. You lose.
And John watches as the black-gloved hand of Scorpius reaches for the black king and lays it on its side, thus conceding defeat. The half-Scarran now takes the chair opposite John as he remarks-
Scorpius: That, um - wasn't the trap that I meant.
He fixes John with an intense stare as he leans forward, making a shrewd rumble deep in his throat and a look of numb bewilderment comes over John's face as he once again finds himself alone in the room with the black king still standing on his chessboard.