Lava's A Many Splendored Thing
June 28, 2002 - US
October 21, 2002 - UK
4.04

Writer - Michael Miller
Director - Michael Pattinson

Guest Cast
Melissa Jaffer . . . Noranti
Raelee Hill . . . Sikozu
Alan Flower . . . Frool
Ross Newton . . . Sloggard
Jack Finsterer . . . Gleeg
John Adam . . . Raa'Keel
Mick Roughan . . . Airek
Teo Gebert . . . Weldon


TRANSCRIPT
The episode opens somewhere in the vastness of space where DíArgoís ship, Lo'La, with Johnís module in tow, makes its lonely way past the inferno of some nameless sun. Hopes for a speedy reunion with Pilot and Moya have faded as Chiana, D'Argo, John, Rygel, Sikozu and 1812 languish in LoíLaís tiny cabin as they gaze dully out into the lonely void before them. Noranti however, is focused on what looks like very dirty glob of bread dough which she's industriously kneading in one hand. The heavy silence is broken by a soft bleep as Lo'La sends another hail to Pilot adrift on the winds of space and John asks - just for the bored sake of asking-

John: No sign of Moya yet?

D'Argo: Nothing. No response on the comms.

Rygel: (pleading) So why don't we land? I am starving - Isn't that a planet out there? (and indeed, a dull red planet glowing dimly in the light of the nearby star looms in the near distance)

D'Argo: Hot and lifeless. Do you eat rock? (Rygel grunts thoughtfully and Chiana answers for him)

Chiana: Right now? I think I could.

Sikozu: (incredulously contemptuous) You ate only 3 solar days ago. How inefficient is your body?

Chiana: (softly dangerous) How edible - is yours? I can see there's not much meat on there but I'm sure there's a lot of chew on your noggin. (but before any noggin-chewing can commence, a tight, airy whistle is heard as Rygelís increasing food anxiety prompts the involuntary release of a little backdoor helium. There's a long moment of appalled silence before John comments in a Munchkin voice-)

John: Aw damn. How do you roll the window down in this place? Shoulda stayed on the module.

D'Argo: (like a disgusted chipmunk with a head cold) Should of left him on the module.

Rygel: (in a faint falsetto) Oh-h-h I need foo-o-o-ood... (unnoticed in the excitement of the cabins ripening atmosphere - Noranti adds a generous mouthful of spit to the wad in her hand. She inspects it briefly before proceeding to busily knead it on in)

John: (reproachfully to Rygel as the effects of the helium wear off) We all need food Buckwheat. Ya don't hear the rest of us fumigatin' the joint. (Noranti finishes preparation of her palm paté and proffers a pinch of it to John)

Noranti: Here. (John eyes her offering warily)

John: What's that?

Noranti: Jilnak. Very good for you.

John: (prudently) Well give it to Mikey there - he'll eat anything. (Noranti turns to Rygel and drops the morsel into his mouth. He moans with gratitude as she hands another pinch to D'Argo, who holds the suspicious-looking glob between his thumb and forefinger and inspects it closely while Rygel looks waifishly up at Noranti and makes like Oliver Twist)

Rygel: More?

John: (facetiously) Hey! Whaddaya know? Mikey likes it.

Noranti: One portion apiece. (she busily hands out a pinch to everyone. Chiana, ever the sybarite, jams hers into her mouth with both hands)

Rygel: (with pitiful desperation) Uh - 3 stomachs - 3 portions eh? (D'Argo puts his share into his mouth and chews slowly, staring straight ahead as if trying not to think about it. Sikozu examines hers with deep mistrust and in the silence, Chiana passes her verdict)

Chiana: It's not bad. (D'Argo and Rygel grunt their agreement) It's actually quite good. (Sikozu sniffs at her portion and jerks her head back sharply)

John: That stuff's not gonna turn anybody into a newt is it? (Noranti leans close to him with a gob of her goodies)

Noranti: Eat it. It's jilnak. Restorative. (John sniffs it and Rygel looks up at him with hungry puppy-dog eyes)

Rygel: Ah - if you don't want it I ah - (but John fixes the Hynerian with a pointed look and eats Norantiís ball of crud out of pure spite. Sikozu is more charitable as she leans in close to Rygel with hers)

Sikozu: (sweetly) Rygel? (and the Hynerian is only too glad to accept her offering as John asks loudly in a voice that suggests he's trying to touch his tongue to what he's eating)

John: How come everything tastes like chicken?

Chiana: What's chicken? (John makes no response as they all chew in silence on the old womanís Traskan jerky...)

(cut to soon after as Lo'La makes a hasty touchdown on the dull red planet. The landscape is a steaming barrens of jagged volcanic rock lit by flaming fissures. Our heroes begin to pile out of the little ship before it's even fully powered down. Rygel is the first one off, emitting a long, rich belch as he exits. He pauses briefly to admonish the others in a choked voice)

Rygel: I'll be back - (he groans as his 3 stomachs make their presence loudly known) - don't you leave without me! (he sails hastily off towards a small cave entrance to do his business in private as Chiana drops like Spiderman from LoíLaís hatch)

Chiana: OooOOoh... (she hunches away. Next comes John, who, in a valiant attempt to maintain some dignity, he straightens his spine, lays one hand on his belly and forces himself to walk at a stately pace behind her. She's in acute distress and he reaches out a solicitous hand to lay on her shoulder as he asks through tightly closed lips-)

John: Hm? (Chiana looks back at him and nods before turning away and doubling over with a with a loud "HHWWAWRGH!" That's all the encouragement John needs and he claps his hand over his mouth as he reels away. Fine jets of puke arc from between his fingers before he reaches a position he likes next to the Nebari - but with a discreet rock between them - and joins her in a duet of dynamic disgorgement. Sikozu steps daintily off Lo'La, looking shocked, but otherwise fit. She's followed by D'Argo, who paces towards John with some concern. The human straightens himself and holds out a reassuring hand) I'm o- (but before he can get the "K" out - he's down for a little more power purging. Thus reassured of Johnís OKness - D'Argo hurries to take up The Position next to him and proceeds to fertilize the barren planet with his own gastric gifts. Noranti is the last to descend from Lo'La. She surveys the scene of rhapsodic ralphing with a smile of satisfaction. John spots her and manages to get out a whole sentence rather well) Restorative? You call that a restorative? Try 'purgative'! (the old woman produces another of her fine pharmaceuticals from a bag and offers it to him)

Noranti: Here. This'll help the cramp. (but John would rather handle his own cramp and gives her The Hand without even looking at her)

John: You better get away from me before I spew on you. (he proceeds to dig in his nose for any upcomings that may have been detoured that way and gotten lost as D'Argo raises his resentful eyes to Noranti)

D'Argo: I - am inside out!

Noranti: (truthfully enough) But you're not hungry anymore. (D'Argo hisses but can't argue the point and turns to John)

D'Argo: Okay - where's Rygel?

Chiana: (indicating the entrance to a nearby lava cavern) Down that hole - takin' a giant schlock. (she manages a sickly chuckle. D'Argo turns towards the hole)

D'Argo: Rygel! (Chiana reels off into bout o' barfing, but John manages to drag himself after the Luxan)

John: Buckwheat?

D'Argo: Rygel! (the two men lurch over to the roughly circular opening of the lava tube cave and crouch at its entrance where they are silhouetted against the sulphuric mist of the planet as they peer into the darkness below)

John: Hey Sparky! You down there?

D'Argo: Rygel! (somewhere far below, Rygel looks up at the sound of his name, but he makes no response)

John: GUIDO! (he vaults over the lip of the cave entrance, followed closely by D'Argo. The lava tube leads to a subterranean chamber which is perhaps a couple stories below the surface. Steam and fire vent from fissures in the rock and pockets of lava add their angry red glow to the place. There, Rygel's stumbled upon something that's distracted him momentarily from his loudly yelling guts. Large containers sit haphazardly about on the floor of the chamber. Some are open and their contents glitter tantalizingly in the half-light. He reaches out to pick a sparkling bauble from one of them - but startles at the approach of D'Argo and John. They ignore the containers as they stride among them - John in particular is much more interested in the treasure still lodged in his nostril) Man I got one of those - chunks - stuck up in my nose.

D'Argo: (sympathetically) I hate that! (and as John covers one nostril and tries to blow the blockage from the other - the Luxan catches sight of Rygel, who's staring at them and managing to look sick and guilty at the same time) Rygel - what the frell are you doing?

John: Buckwheat - I thought you came down here to drop some friends off at the pool.

Rygel: (weakly) I did. I will.

John: Well do your business and let's get outta here - and that stuff belongs to somebody else. (he returns his full attention to his nose as D'Argo removes the sparkly bit of frou-frou from Rygelís stubby hand and tosses it away)

D'Argo: We have enough enemies already.

Rygel: I thought you said the planet's lifeless.

D'Argo: On the surface yes - but down here... (he trails off, indicating that he doesn't know or care as john stands there with his thumb in his nose. But Noranti has found her way down into the cave as well and busily marches up to a container)

Noranti: What's this? (she flips its top open and whips out a bag of something as Chiana and Sikozu appear in the circular cave entrance far above) Medicines!

John: Oh great. Another klepto. (he flips the lid of the container shut and heads off back towards the surface. But the old woman doesn't budge)

Noranti: Nonononono! These markings are familiar. I've seen them before somewhere - but where? I- (D'Argo cuts her off as Rygel postpones his business a moment longer to retrieve the gleaming object which the Luxan had taken away from him)

D'Argo: Who - cares? Let's get out of here.

John: Exactly. (but alas - before anyone can take another step - Rygelís reaching hand is caught in a beam of intense red light that shoots up from the floor. Three things happen simultaneously - a forest of red light shafts spring up from all over the floor, offering warning to intruders not to move. And Rygel, who tripped the trap - is caught in a fountain of a golden, amber-like substance that instantly hardens around his hand and begins to envelop his entire body)

Rygel: AAaAAHHHHH! He-elp! (the caverns mouth is abruptly sealed off by a translucent iris of the amber substance, shutting Chiana and Sikozu out)

John: Watch it! Trip lights everywhere! D! (the shafts of light recede back into the floor which is now densely speckled with glowing red dots that reveal their locations)

D'Argo: I know - I see them. (frightened, Noranti makes to leave, but John pulls her back)

John: NO! Uh-uh-uh! Booby-traps... (meanwhile, the crackling column of hardening amber encasing Rygelís body has stopped just short of his head)

Rygel: (strangled) I can't move! Help me! Get me out! (and above them, Chiana and Sikozu pound at the amber barrier)

Chiana: (her voice is muffled) D'Argo! Crichton! Will someone frelling answer? (she and Sikozu can make out just enough through the distortion of the amber seal to see the Luxan draw his Qualta as he says)

D'Argo: Stand clear! (Chiana and Sikozu duck away and D'Argo fires - but the pulse bolt from his Qualta just dissipates against the barrier with a dull thrumming sound. The Nebari and Kalish reappear to look down helplessly at their friends)

Chiana: It's no good.

Rygel: (with soft dread) Somebody help me! I'm stuck!

D'Argo: (apprehensively) We're all stuck. (the little group stands for a moment in silence, not daring to move, as they contemplate their predicament. But Rygelís earlier failure to see that man about a horse when he had the chance, quickly begins to catch up to him)

Rygel: (sounding painfully plugged up) OoOOo - I really need to schlock! My bowels hate me! I hate you! Get me out! Do something! (but John can't do much but stand there and prevent the babbling Noranti from tripping every booby trap in the cavern)

John: I'm open to suggestions.

Noranti: (chattering blithely on about the markings on the crates) Where have I seen these markings before? On Kavari - yes. No! Not Kavari - it must have been Eldor II...

John: (quietly) D - we may have to stick Granny in a home.

D'Argo: I think we should burn her.

John: (intrigued) You burn your old folks?

D'Argo: (wistfully) No - It just - sounded like a good idea. (but before they can just let her hit a trip light and become the weirdest bug ever trapped in a piece of amber - a dull clank of machinery like a freight elevator is heard)

John: Wait - you hear that? (Rygel moans miserably as the elevator sound cuts off with a dull thunk and a hiss of steam. Behind him, another container has appeared in a rough cavity in the cavern wall and mow the sound of voices drawing nearer can be heard as well) Sparky! Shut up! (John lets go of Noranti so he can unholster his gun as the flashlight beams of approaching men flicker from a side tunnel into the chamber. The men are a pair of burly blokes, completely human in appearance. The one named Frool sports a curly mohawk and is in the lead - but his companion, Sloggard, whose long silver hair sprouts in 3 wild tufts from the top and sides of his head - is querulously vocal)

Sloggard: Don't - forget - to kill - the traps!

Frool: (bored) Eh - 'course not. (he touches a switch on the tunnel wall and the shafts of red light around D'Argo, John and Noranti jump and wink out) Traps are off.

Sloggard: (loudly peevish) I don't know why they make us set the traps in the first place! (meanwhile D'Argo and John move to Rygel while Noranti continues to ponder the crate markings)

Noranti: Plague-

John: (whispering) Rygel! (he examines Rygelís amber prison while D'Argo watches the tunnel as the men draw nearer and Noranti blathers on, thinking out loud as she tries to correlate her memories with the crate markings)

Noranti: Children sick and dying... Then soldiers came with provisions... (in the tunnel, Sloggard urges his friend to greater speed)

Sloggard: Come on Frool - get- (and in the entrance chamber - Noranti finally closes her memory synapses)

Noranti: (triumphant) Tarkanís! (John, unable to do anything for Rygel, grabs the old woman and starts to push/drag her into concealment)

John: (in a hissed whisper) Yo! Grandma! Go!

Noranti: (as she resists Johnís pushing) These belong to the Tarkanís! I tell you! I tell you the Tarkanís...! (her excited gabbling fades as she's hustled into concealment behind stacks of crates and the caverns natural rock formations. John murmurs some advice to Rygel as he passes)

John: Play dead. (and he's gone)

Rygel: (pleading as he watches his friends disappear) Crichton don't-don't leave me! Don't- (but at least they haven't gone far, for in the brief moment before Frool and his mate enter, Noranti can still be heard nattering as John tries to shut her up)

Noranti: I remember now!

John: SHH! SHH!

Noranti: Tarkan Freedom Fighters!

John: Zip it! (and with that, Frool and Sloggard stride into the entrance chamber. They don't look like Freedom Fighters - they look like a couple of ordinary working yobs. They have pants, and boots and dirty, sleeveless t-shirts on in the heat of the volcanic planet. They do have guns though, and each is wearing a harness-like contraption that fits over their shoulders and around their torsos. A disk on the harnesses sits at about chest-level. Our heroes peep warily from concealment at the laborers, who don't notice Rygel hanging limply from his amber column and playing dead)

Sloggard: Come on - we still got alot of crates to move.

Frool: How come I always gotta do the heavy lugging?

Sloggard: Because you're not smart enough to do anything else. That's why.

Frool: Oh - well why are you here?

Sloggard: Because I'm not smart enough to hang out with anyone else! (Frool seems satisfied with that answer and the two men set to work shifting their crates and bantering with each other while D'Argo and John conduct a whispered Threat Assessment)

D'Argo: Okay - do you think we can take 'em out?

John: I don't know - what if they got friends downstairs?

D'Argo: I'll take these two - you can take the friends.

John: (dubious) What if there's a hundred of 'em?

D'Argo: (dismissive) Of these guys? We should be so lucky. (at that moment Rygelís stomach growls and Sloggard spots him)

Sloggard: Look at this!

Noranti: (in a normal voice) No violence! These are Tarkan! (John claps a hand over her mouth)

Sloggard: Something set off the traps!

Frool: Yeah - and got itself stuck!

Sloggard: Will you come on- (DíArgoís and John leave Noranti to keep a closer eye on Frool and Sloggard as the workers pull their guns and cautiously sidle closer to the tiny crature caught in the amber trap)

Sloggard: (nervously hopeful) Is it dead? (and of course, Rygelís anxiety and intestinal distress causes him to fart with such force that the gas manages to force its way forward between the Hynerian and his amber cocoon to reach the unappreciative respiratory systems of the crate-shifters)

Frool: (in a voice like an Australian Munchkin) Aww! Smells dead - but it's not - (meaningfully) - yet.

Rygel: (in a gravelly soprano) Gentlemen - I apologize for disturbing your work. (he grunts uncomfortably) If you'd be so kind as to ah - get - me - free - I'll be on my way...

Frool: It speaks.

Sloggard: It steals too! (louder) Any more of you?

Rygel: (very feeble and woebegone - and he isn't faking either one) No - I'm all alone.

Sloggard: Yeah I can see why. (meanwhile as D'Argo and John move stealthily about in hiding, John hisses an order back to Noranti)

John: Come on!

Sloggard: (calling out over his comm) We've captured an intruder! (the scene shifts briefly to the recipient of Sloggardís comm, another burly fellow - this one named Gleeg, foreman of the labor team. He's somewhere in the lower depths of the volcanic caverns, striding past bubbling pits of lava as he totes an enormous container) It claims it's all alone!

Gleeg: (he speaks in a tow, tense voice) Is it armed?

Sloggard: No - (and back in the entrance chamber Rygelís guts rumble ominously) - but it's sure making some strange noises.

Gleeg: (on comm) Don't touch it. Wait for me. I'm on my way. (he passes off his container to another of his work crew who sets it on a steaming elevator grid) You! Come with me! (the man obeys and as he follows Gleeg, the container disappears with a clank of machinery and a little cloud of vapor)

(meanwhile, back up near the surface in the entrance chamber, John yanks Noranti back into hiding as she makes to step out into the open towards the crate-shifters and Rygel)

John: (in a furious whisper) What are you doing? Did I not tell you to stay put?

Noranti: Listen to me - these are Tarkanís. They're good people.

John: You know jack about these people! Now you stay behind cover! (Noranti responds by sending a small spit missile - "PTUI!" - into his eye with deadly accuracy. John claps a hand over face - "AH!" - and D'Argo chooses to let the old girl go rather than risk further violation of whatever bodily fluids he has left. She proceeds to march out into the entry chamber and hail to Frool and Sloggard)

Noranti: Greetings Tarkanís! (Frool and Sloggard startle as they whip their guns around to cover her) We're honored to meet you. We mean you no harm.

Sloggard: (to Rygel) You said you were alone!

Rygel: (in a strained voice) I've - never seen her before.

Noranti: (smiling - confident of the Noble Natures of the crate-shifters) No-o... Not alone. There's a human and a Luxan too. (behind cover, the human looks weary and the Luxan sighs and hangs his head) Oh - I've told them of your good works- (D'Argo and John just stand there in the shadows, helplessly while she goes on to make them sound like pansies as well as blow their cover) - but they're shy. (Noranti turns and calls reassuringly to the silly boys) Come on out - it's all right.

John: (under his breath to D'Argo) Burning - is too good for her. (meanwhile Noranti continues to coax them as if they were a pair of frightened puppies under a bed)

Noranti: Crichton - D'Argo - show yourselves. Come on Crichton! D'Argo? (they emerge slowly, looking a bit sheepish even though D'Argo still has his Qualta at the ready. But Frool and Sloggard were spooked by an amber-coated Hynerian and they waver nervously as they re-train their guns on these newcomers)

John: Granny! What are you doing? (he throws an arm around Norantiís shoulders and steers her back towards the shadows) You have got to stop wandering off like this. (he gives her a quick little shove that propels her back into DíArgoís custody before turning back to the crate-shifters and calling amiably-) Thanks for lookin' after her fellas! She's a little - (he twirls a finger next to his head and whistles) You haven't seen my dog have ya? (he makes a show of looking around the cave. Frool and Sloggard follow his gaze to Rygel atop his column of amber as John exclaims with mock surprise) Little Bubba! You got caught in a trap?

Rygel: (barely audible) Crichton - get me out - of-

John: I got an idea - why don't we all put our guns down- (but no - a pulse bolt whistles past his head and hits the rock behind him as Gleeg and the other man enter the chamber. D'Argo and John dive for cover and begin to return fire. Frool is hit but the blast dissipates harmlessly ever his belly)

D'Argo: There's two more!

Noranti: (flapping about with distress) Stop! No violence! No firing! Oh!

Chiana: (cut briefly to her and Sikozu up top as they watch the flashes of pulse fire through the distorted window of the amber seal at the cave mouth) What's going on down there?

Meanwhile, the firefight isn't going well for our heroes. But not for lack of getting in some good shots - it's the harness that each of their opponents is equipped with. Every pulse bolt that hits them causes the disks on the harnesses to flash and hum as the energy is absorbed and dispersed.

D'Argo: It's no good - they're shielded.

John: They got body armor? That's a hell of an invention! How come we don't have that?

Gleeg: (to his men) You three! Get them! (in a case of discretion being the better part of valor - D'Argo and John make a break for the maze of lava tube tunnels that permeate the rock as Gleegís men give chase)

Rygel: (sounding truly ill as he gasps feebly) Where are you going? Don't leave me - ooooohh...

Gleeg: (in a deadly whisper) I'll keep you company.

Rygel: Perhaps I should introduce myself, I am- (Gleeg ignores him as he takes up a tool tipped with a donut of green light, it emits a dense mist with he directs at the amber column supporting Rygel, who wails with sick panic) Oh please! Don't hurt me! (but the mist is designed to melt the amber - which softens and drips away from the column in thick globs. Rygelís gratitude is pitiful) Oh-h-h - thank you - this won't go unrewarded. (but then, Gleeg sets the tool aside and simply wrenches Rygel from the top of the softened pillar instead of removing the amber cocoon itself) You-you didn't finish. (Gleeg makes no response other than to carry the immobilized Hynerian over to the freight elevator and put him into it) Oh, wh-what are you doing? (the elevator switch is hit and Rygel disappears in cloud of steam and clank of machinery. His frightened wails fade into the distance as he goes and Gleeg growls)

Gleeg: I'll catch up.

(cut back to the planetís surface where Chiana and Sikozu are still at the sealed cave entrance. Thunder rumbles ominously as Chiana peers vainly through the blurry lens of the amber barrier)

Chiana: CRICHTON? (there's no response as she breathes the word-) Frell... (she backs away from the cavern entrance and approaches Sikozu, who's standing a short ways away) Those lights - I think they were pulse blasts. We gotta help 'em.

Sikozu: (coolly) We have to get to them first.

Chiana: (annoyed) Well you're a genius - how?

Sikozu: (grandly, as she heads off) The cannon on the Luxan ship. (but Chiana stops her progress with a troublesome Fact)

Chiana: Are you tinked? Only D'Argo can operate that ship. (Sikozu lolls her head to one side and fixes the Nebari with a 'You're a moron.' stare. With no response forthcoming - Chiana decides to take some action on her own) Maybe there's another way in. (and she trots off the look for another entrance to the lava cave, leaving the genius stew)

(cut to Rygel, still screaming as he and his amber prison abruptly appear with a loud thunk and a hiss of steam in another elevator access niche)

Rygel: WAAHHAAHHH! OH! (there's a moment of silence while he pants and gets used to the idea that he's still alive) That was some drop...

It's darker on this lower level of the volcanic caverns and it takes a moment for the hapless Hynerianís eyes adjust. When they so - he's greeted by a hellish scene. He's in a low-ceilinged chamber dominated by a large pit of molten lava whose glow is the main source of light in the room. More crates like the ones upstairs sit about - but most alarming is the creature wading through the lava pool towards him.

It's tall and man-shaped and its body is a covered by a gleaming black armor-like material that sports spikes at various joints and dorsal ridges. It isn't clear whether this is its hide, or protective clothing. All that's visible of its face is its sharp-toothed mouth, the rest is hidden by a spined helmet, or carapace that extends off the back of its head like a bicycle helmet. It's carrying a crate encased in a big glob of amber, on its shoulder through the waist-deep lava. As it steps out of the lava pit, it sets the crate down and and regards the terrified Hynerian for a moment with its eyeless gaze.

(cut to D'Argo as he leads the way for John and Noranti through the narrow lava tubes of the volcanic caverns. The voice of their third pursuer, whose name is Airek, is heard in the near distance)

Airek: DOWN HERE!

John: Ho! We got another one! (our heroes and Noranti skid to a halt and change direction)

Airek: I FOUND 'EM!

D'Argo: Think we lost those two?

Noranti: (protesting) There's no need for - OO! (she's interrupted by a pulse blast that narrowly misses john and the threesome quickly pile around a corner where, despite evidence to the contrary, Noranti continues to tout the characters of the lava cave crew) Will you listen to me? These are Tarkan Freedom Fighters - they're heroes! On the planet Kavari there was a deadly plague. The Tarkanís defied the quarantine. They brought food, clean water, medicines! They saved thousands of lives!

John: (without even looking at her as he scans the gloom for their hunter) Whatever - they're angels of mercy. They're still tryin' to shoot us.

Noranti: (snappishly) Well what did you expect? You walk into their house! You steal! You shoot at them!

D'Argo: (angry and frustrated by her demented perception of reality) In case you hadn't noticed - they started to shoot at us first!

John: Right.

Noranti: And they'll keep shooting at us until we die unless we talk to them! So let me mediate! (there's a brief pause)

D'Argo: You know maybe we should let her try.

John: (after a moments consideration) Nah - she's gonna get shot.

D'Argo: And that would be bad?

(cut back to Rygel in the lower cavern where a fourth worker is removing the amber casing from a crate and the gleaming black creature has removed the helmet from its head. What lies beneath is rough dark skin studded with smooth pearly blobs that resemble insect eyes. But two points near where a manís eyes would be glow evil red. He speaks in a low voice tinged with contempt for everyone around him as he holds up Rygelís amber capsule. His name is Raa'Keel and he's clearly The Boss)

Rygel: (full of dread) Can we discuss this? (at that moment, Gleeg enters the chamber)

Raa'Keel: So this - is our intruder?

Gleeg: One of them.

Raa'Keel: One? You mean there's more?

Gleeg: Three more. (Raa'Keel rumbles deep in his throat as he turns and holds Rygel out over the burning pit of lava)

Raa'Keel: How did you find this place? Who told you we were here?

Rygel: Nobody - we found it by accident.

Raa'Keel: (his voice low with suspicion and contempt as the bauble glued to Rygelís fingers tinkles a little) And that mooka chain just - fell into your hand by accident too?

Rygel: I was just putting it back. (Raa'Keel lowers Rygelís face towards the vaporous surface of the lava and the Hynerian squirms with what little of his body he's able to squirm with) No please! No! Lava - oh...! (but at that moment, RaaíKeelís comm sounds - it's Airek, crouched in the lava tubes near D'Argo and Johnís position. The scene begins to shift between him and his bosses in the lower chamber)

Airek: (anxiously) I have the intruders cornered, but I - but I- I could do with some help.

Gleeg: Why? Shoot 'em!

Airek: Well, there's two of them - and they have two guns. Will this - (he touches the disk on his chest) - will this belt stop two guns at once?

Gleeg: I'm coming up. (he makes to leave but Raa'Keel angrily stops him)

Raa'Keel: NO! I'll take care of it. You keep moving those CRATES! (Rygel whimpers as he's roughly shoved into Gleegís arms and Raa'Keel snarls a warning at the man as he makes to leave) Try to remember we're on a schedule! (he strides off, speaking to Airek on comm as he goes) Describe where you are.

Airek: Look how am I supposed to describe it?
It all just looks like rock to me.

(cut to D'Argo, John and Noranti in the tunnels near the nervous crate-shifter as they continue their whispered conversation)

Noranti: (enthusiastically) I won't get shot! I trust Tarkanís - everyone knows their reputation!

John: (dryly) I don't.

D'Argo: Me either. Listen John - we can't shoot them, we're trapped. Maybe we should let the old lady try and mediate a way out.

John: All right. Fine. (to Noranti) You're up. (and Noranti - as her finest moment nears - lets go with a huge yawn)

D'Argo: Are you all right? What's the matter?

Noranti: Oh just a bit tired, that's all. (and with that - she keels over onto the ground with a thud. D'Argo and John just stare at her in silence for a moment. D'Argo sighs wearily)

John: Grandma - you okay? (he nudges her inert form with his foot. Well alright - he kicks her)

D'Argo: I think she's asleep. (John kicks her harder)

John: (in a loud whisper) Grandma!

D'Argo: (reproachfully) Oi!

John: (his sensibilities thoroughly offended by the old crone) This is unbelievable! What-? Can't cook. Won't bathe - and now she's narcoleptic. She's triple threat! Grandma get up! (he kicks her again and D'Argo doesn't object. Meanwhile Raa'Keel is moving through the lava tunnels in their direction, seeking Airekís position and the scene begins to shift between him, Airek and our heroes)

Raa'Keel: Any markings on the walls?

Airek: No! (but looking around - he spots something in the light of a nearby flame venting from a fissure) Wait - yeah, there's ah - some purple writing but - I don't know what it says!

Raa'Keel: Purple...

John: Grandma! (he kicks her again)

Raa'Keel: The intruders are trapped in the small lower alcove.

Airek: Yeah!

Raa'Keel: Good. I know exactly where you are.

John: (urgently) Grandma get up! (but she's dead to the world despite Johnís frantic attempts to rouse her with boot leather)

Raa'Keel: Do you see those purple markings? (Airek confirms that he does) Shoot them.

Airek: Sh-shoot the markings?

Raa'Keel: Yes - shoot them - now! (and with that - the hapless crate-shifter shoots the purple letters. He has time for only one horrified scream before he's explosively vaporized by the flood of flaming lava that bursts from the hole in the rock created by his pulse blast. Nearby, D'Argo and John sense impending doom as the caverns rumble and things get hotter)

John: Bad news!

D'Argo: Trouble!

John: Somebody's doin' the Pompei thing! Let's go! (they grab Noranti and flee the lava vapors coming down the tube. But they skid to a halt again as they come to the brink of a chasm filled with a rapidly rising river of lava that promises to soon merge with the one filling the tubes at their back) Ah-ha-ah! More bad news!

D'Argo: (dully) Same dren. Different planet.

John: Yup. We're trapped. Again. (they survey the situation for a moment. Egress from the flooding section of the cavern is on the other side of the spreading river of molten rock)

D'Argo: The lava's rising - jump!

John: (incredulous - its a very long jump) Jump?

D'Argo: Jump! (John gauges the distance and pulls out the macho can-do act)

John: Yeah, yeah - I can make that but the uh - (he spares the slumbering Noranti a glance) - old bat can't.

D'Argo: Old bats can fly. (and with that - he picks up Noranti like a sack of potatoes and unceremoniously heaves her across the lave river. She lands safely on the other side without so much as a sleepy snort. D'Argo looks at John) You're up.

John: All right look - I lied. I can't make that jump.

D'Argo: (impatiently) You can't make that jump - gimme your foot! (he stoops and laces his fingers together to make a stirrup John looks down at it) Come on! (John quickly puts his foot in DíArgoís hands) GO! (and the Luxan pulls his hands up, sending the human flying ungracefully over the fiery river where he goes sprawling next to Noranti. The old woman finally raises her head and looks stupidly around as D'Argo readies himself for his go) Okay- (he takes a mighty leap and makes the other side - barely. His heels are over the edge and he begins to topple backward, arms wind-milling frantically as he tries to get his balance)

John: D! Grab my hand!

D'Argo: Can't reach! (but luckily no good alien is without some sort of prehensile appendage and D'Argo is a Very Good Alien. He whips out his 8-foot long tongue and wraps it around the nearest stationary object - which is Norantiís wizened neck. The sleep-stupefied old woman looks quite peaceful as she pitches forward again and the Luxan is able to gain his footing and safety)

John: (awed) I didn't know you could do that.

D'Argo: (thickly as he tries to properly retract his tongue) It takes a bit of practice.

(cut to the planetís surface. Sikozu is seated at the controls of DíArgoís ship as Chiana enters)

Sikozu: (snidely) I take it you did not find another entrance?

Chiana: No. What - are you doing?

Sikozu: (coolly) Trying to power up this vessels cannon.

Chiana: I take it - your memory's frelled. I told you - only D'Argo can operate this ship.

Sikozu: And D'Argo is a fool if he has not set an override sequence. (uh-oh)

Chiana: I don't think you should be blaming D'Argo in this instance. He's already saved your eema once.

Sikozu: (with a bored sigh) All right - fine - he's a big and brave warrior. However; if these controls are locked to his DNA - it was not particularly smart of him not to have set up an override sequence.

Chiana: Wait - Wait! (she laughs slyly) You're right!

Sikozu: (self-congratulatory) Yes - Chiana. I usually am.

Chiana: Then we don't need D'Argo to run this ship. We just need his DNA. (she chuckles and bounces out the door)

Sikozu: And how to you suggest we get -? (she stops herself as she realizes she's talking to herself)

(cut to the lower cavern where Gleeg furious with Raa'Keel as they enter together)

Raa'Keel: The intruders can't be alive.

Gleeg: Well they are! Your miserable lava traps only got one of my men!

Raa'Keel: (dismissive) Your men are worthless.

Gleeg: (indicating the crates standing around) Do you want to move all these yourself? You're the one who's so worried about the schedule. (they continue their angry exchange as they pass Rygel and the Hynerian uses his free hand to comm his friends)

Rygel: (in a choked whisper) Crichton? D'Argo?! Can you hear me? (they can indeed and the scene begins to shift between Rygel and the others as they wander the tunnels of the volcanic caves)

D'Argo: Rygel are you all right?

Rygel: No - I'm dying! Please get me out of here before my bowels rupture!

John: Yeah we'll do that Sparky. Where are you?

Rygel: I don't know - lower level. Some cavern - big pool of lava and- (but he's interrupted by Raa'Keel, who had quietly come up behind him and grabs him)

John: All right - we'll come get ya. (but back in the lower chamber Raa'Keel snarls into Rygelís comm. The scene begins to shift between him and our heroes in the lava tunnels)

Raa'Keel: Who's this? (John pauses in the dark tunnel at this new voice)

John: Lou Costello. Who's this?

Raa'Keel: My name's - Raa'Keel (and back in the tunnels, Noranti, invigorated to new levels of annoyingness after her nap - butts in on Johnís comm)

Noranti: And mine is Uta-Noranti-Pralatong. I'm afraid there's been a huge misunderstanding which we really must rectify.

Raa'Keel: (slowly, slyly) A misunderstanding?

John: (holding Noranti at arms length) Yeah - we really shouldn't be shooting each other. We didn't come here to rob you guys. Hell we didn't know there was anybody on this rock. (the old woman manages to get close enough to Johnís comm to get another very unhelpful two bits worth in)

Noranti: Look we're not your enemies - we know who you are.

Raa'Keel: (cautiously) You do?

Noranti: Yes, every educated species knows and reveres Tarkan Freedom Fighters.

Raa'Keel: (calculating) Then you approve of our work.

Noranti: Yep - (John pushes her back again)

John: Absolutely! That thing you guys did on Calimari? That was beautiful, man! That was Nobel Peace Prize material! (Noranti rolls her eyes at this affront to The Big Heroes and back in the lower chamber Raa'Keel slams Rygel and his amber capsule furiously back down onto the crate)

Raa'Keel: Yet you attempted to ROB US!

Rygel: (ingratiatingly) Only because I did not realize whose stuff it was! Had I but known I- (but John cuts off Rygelís scraping in favor of directness)

John: Yeah please accept our apology on that. Listen why don't you give us the slug, we'll punish him appropriately and we are out of your hair.

Raa'Keel: All right. We'll release him.

Rygel: (desperate) Quickly! (Raa'Keel viciously powers his fist into Rygelís head and John winces at the sound of the blow over his comm)

Raa'Keel: But he doesn't look well - you'd better come and get him.

John: Yeah - we'd love to do that. Where are you?

Raa'Keel: Stay where you are - I'll send an escort.

John: Fine. (Noranti looks pleaded as the comms go off and in the lower chamber, Raa'Keel turns to Gleeg)

Raa'Keel: Find him. (Gleeg silently exits)

(cut to our heroes somewhere in the lava tunnels)

D'Argo: You know I definitely - do not trust this guy.

John: Me either. But I got an idea.

Noranti: (protesting) But th-there's no reason not to trust him! I mean why-

John: (firmly) Grandma - zip it! We don't want to hear what saints the Tarkanís are. We are not going in there un-de-fended. So you can either get with the program or you can shut up.

D'Argo: Preferably both. (he and John step away from her to plot uninterrupted) What's your idea?

John: All right - here's the thing - I think that we ambush the escort, we hit 'em with a rock and take his belt.

D'Argo: (incredulous) That is your plan?

John: Yeah.

D'Argo: (outraged by Johnís stupidity) To hit him with a ROCK when they have these - like - shield things?

John: The shields work against pulse energy - they don't work against other things. We saw the guy get burned.

D'Argo: Yeah but not by a rock!

John: All right let me lay this out for you - fire is thermal energy.

D'Argo: Okay...

John: Thermal energy is like - kinetic energy. A rock has kinetic energy. Ergo - a rock will work.

D'Argo: (quietly, nodding) Uh - okay. Okay I'm with you - I just have uh - one small, little question: (Professor John sighs wearily) Who is - Lou Costello?

Noranti: (barging in on the conversation) Wait!

John: What?

Noranti: (heroically) I want to help! (John shoves her aside and turns back to D'Argo)

John: Abbott and Costello. We've been over this...

D'Argo: Right... (they set off down the tunnel with Noranti tagging on behind)

(cut to Chiana and Sikozu back on the planetís surface. They're just outside of Lo'La, inspecting the 3 puddles of organic leavings that now grace the lifeless rock of this lonely world. Sikozu eyes a large frothy blob of thick blue effluvia)

Sikozu: That was yours... (moving on, she pauses at a delicately chunky coating of familiar beige slime that decorates a rock like a moist lichen) So this must be DíArgoís. (but Chiana knows better)

Chiana: No-no-no. This - is Crichtonís. (she takes another couple steps and glances at a cone-like mass of glistening matter that's the size of a termite mound) This - is DíArgoís. (she pokes a finger into the spew of her former beloved and tastes it rather wistfully as Sikozu gapes at the ominously steaming monolith and gasps)

Sikozu: (disbelieving, almost offended by the obscene extravagance of the Luxan Product) No living creature could produce that!

Chiana: Ya haven't met many Luxans have ya? (and without further ado - she plunges both her gloved arms into DíArgoís Bounteous Barf almost up to her elbows. Sikozu cringes and groans as Chiana squishes around in it to ensure optimal coverage before they return to LoíLaís cockpit where the Nebari takes the pilotís chair) Okay...

Sikozu: (annoyed) I should be doing this.

Chiana: Excuse me - I'm the one that put my hands in the vomit.

Sikozu: (loftily) And I'm the one who happened to observe D'Argo's starting procedure when we left Arnessk. (she curtly points out what Chiana is to do) Press - this, this, that, and those two together.

Chiana: (repeating Sikozuís directions as she follows them) This, this, that... (and as she finishes - they're rewarded with the sight LoíLaís control consoles flickering to life and the sound of her engines powering up. The little ship then announces in her stern, Luxan male voice - "Power systems at your command Ka D'Argo." Sikozu smiles and Chiana chortles gleefully) How do you fire up the cannon?

Sikozu: That I do not know. (Chianaís good spirits sink) I've never seen him use the cannon.

Chiana: (under her breath) Right. (she proceeds to begin flipping every switch within reach)

Sikozu: (pedantically) Random flailing is pointless Chiana. Move aside and let me wo- (but the Nebari cuts her off with a slimy, raised hand)

Chiana: Hey - I am the one that put my hands in the vomit. Okay? You want a turn? Go get your own vomit. (Sikozu glares - to no avail - as Chiana resumes her random switch-flicking)

(cut back to the lava tunnels where Noranti is concocting something in a little bag)

Noranti: (whispering to herself) Yes... the powder is ready... (John appears a short way down the tunnel, and she blows a big plume of fine powder into the air before hurrying to meet him) Come through - but don't inhale.

John: Okay. (the old woman leads him past the area where her powder hangs unseen in the air and ushers him into a small side tunnel where D'Argo is waiting)

D'Argo: What is it? Sleeping powder?

John: I dunno - she's pretty vague. But this'll knock 'em out. (he passes the Luxan one of two good-sized rocks he has. And right on cue - the loud complaints of their 'escort' is heard approaching. Gleeg has delegated the task to Frool and Sloggard, who are - disgruntled)

Sloggard: I signed on to haul crates! Not get killed!

Frool: (faintly) Me too. If I get killed - all my wives will throw fits. (suddenly they step into Norantiís powdered air and stop abruptly. Sloggard gasps sharply and looks around, but seeing nothing, urges his comrade onward)

Sloggard: C'mon, c'mon, c'mon Frool! (but they don't get more than a couple of steps before being hailed by Noranti, eho sashays coyly into the tunnel behind them)

Noranti: Hey fellas - (Frool and Sloggard do an ungainly about-face, their guns at the ready - and freeze at the sight of Noranti, seductively tossing her grizzled hair and swishing her filthy skirts about. D'Argo and John move to a better vantage point from which to gape with horror at her geriatric vamping. But Frool and Sloggard seem quite appreciative as they gasp and look at reach other)

Sloggard: Ooooo... Let's do it! (they turn back toward Noranti - for what they see is a shapely young woman clad in a filmy open robe over a scanty bikini covered with gold coins. She has long electric blue hair covering her large cranium and setting off her big, midnight blue insectile eyes rather nicely. She beckons the drooling crate-shifters, who forget about their guns as they grin loopily at her swaying hips and arching back) Oh yeah baby! (she lets the filmy robe slide off her arms, exposing an acre or so of firm fantasy-dancer flesh beneath) Take it off! (D'Argo and John just stare like a couple kids who've caught their Grandma doing something very naughty as Noranti grinds and purrs)

Noranti: I am the flower - you are the bee... (John manages to tear his gaze away from the old crone and look up at D'Argo who nods as he stares at the spectacle in morbid fascination) I am the pod - you are the pea... (the pace of her dance intensifies and the crate-shifters are transfixed as she writhes and bumps. D'Argo and John step into the tunnel and begin to sneak up behind them with their rocks. The disadvantage for our heroes of this is that it allows them a full-frontal view of Noranti - and what THEY'RE seeing isn't any fantasy dancer flesh) I am the target - you are the gun! (Frool and Sloggard are on their knees, but D'Argo and John quail a bit as - for the crate-shifters - glittery bits of Norantiís costume begin to fly off. Her dance is nearing its climax and there's not much standing between her and the rest of the universe now. D'Argo and John choose that desperate moment to bring their rocks down - and the crate-shifters at least, are momentarily put out of their misery. But alas - Noranti has herself whipped into a frenzy. She fixes our heroes with a sultry stare and husks) I am the woman - you are the man! (John sees it coming-)

John: Ooohhh my god- (D'Argo however, is caught off-guard as the old woman savagely rips open her bra, throws her head back - and freezes - with the proud and triumphant smile upon her face of a woman positively glorying in her sexuality)

D'Argo: DDYYYAAAGGGHHH!

Noranti holds her pose as the two men silently turn and march away. DíArgoís breath is coming in a shaky pant. They pause and John casts a reproachful eye back at the old woman before solicitously returning his attention to his suffering and traumatized friend....

(cut back to Lo'La, where Chiana frets with the ships targeting visor while the poor orphaned 1812 squawks cantankerously)

Chiana: (to the DRD) Well you're not any help. (at that moment Sikozu re-enters the ship. She's taken Chianaís suggestion and gotten her own Luxan puke. She holds her bare, slimed hands like a surgeon preparing to operate)

Sikozu: Now - move aside.

Chiana: All right. (they awkwardly trade places in the tiny cockpit, each trying not to use her hands)

Sikozu: Oh - careful...

Chiana: Sorry - (they settle down with Sikozu in the Pilotís seat and Chiana in the co-pilot chair. Both proceed to start poking at the ships consoles. Chiana glances at the conservative coating of Luxan DNA on the Kalishís hands) You better hurry - you're losing your vomit.

Sikozu: I think I've decoded the right sequence. (as she speaks, the distant thunder of LoíLaís engines is heard and the ship begins to rise. The women hold their breaths while Sikozu cautiously maneuvers it to rotate and face the sealed lava cave entrance) Slowly... (the rotation complete, she carefully sets Lo'La back down amid a great deal of Luxanish steaming and windy roaring from the little vessel before smiling, very pleased with herself) Actually - it's really quite simple.

Chiana: (snidely) To a great mind like yours. (Sikozu misses her tone and beams) Okay - fire the cannon.

Sikozu: (confidently) Certainly! I see the pattern. This - (she busies herself at the Pilotís console) - locates the target.

Chiana: Right.

Sikozu: This one primes the charge - (the sound of an energy build-up fills the cabin and arcs of electrical energy writhe at the cannon muzzle until a continuous blaze of blue light shines from it) - and this one - fires! (she hits LoíLaís trigger - and the disappointing sound of the power build-up going flat is heard. The blue light at the cannon muzzle peters out and so does Sikozuís ego)

Chiana: (disgusted) Really- quite simple. (she slams her fists on the co-Pilotís console) Frell!

(cut back to the lava tunnels. Noranti's taking her sweet time about getting dressing and Frool and Sloggard sit with their hands clasped behind their heads. John's donned one of the body armor harnesses)

John: All right so there's nothing to turn on? Someone shoots me - and I'm protected.

Frool: (quavering) Yeah. (D'Argo approaches John with his Qualta rifle)

D'Argo: Well I think we'd better test it. (John eyes him) Do you have any ah - small appendages you don't need?

John: (surly) Small? (Noranti - who seems to be in unusually high spirits, bops past them with the other harness slung over her shoulder)

Noranti: Shoot him in the buttock! That's big! (she gives him a couple saucy pats on his shapely rump. He turns around to defend his sullied honor)

John: Hey! You know what? Don't touch my ass! That's sexual harassment! (he turns back to find D'Argo drawing a bead on his bum) Whoa! No! We are not shooting THE BUTT!

D'Argo: (soothingly as he lowers his gun) Okay...

John: THE BUTT is off-limits! Try the - heel or - (his outrage getting the better of him) Why don't we shoot you? You got a small appendage!

D'Argo: Shoot me? (perhaps it's just his survival instinct kicking in - but the very idea so annoys/alarms him that his trigger finger slips and he shoots John in the leg)

John: Oh! (he jumps a little - but disk on the harness hums and lights up as the pulse bolt is deflected without touching him) Son of a gun - it works!

Noranti: Now can we go and talk to the Tarkanís?

John: (snapping) There is no "we" - white girl. We appreciate what you did - it was different. But we have two belts, three people. (he takes the other harness off her) You're stayin' here. We're not takin' chances. (he and D'Argo turn away, but he stops as the disk suddenly hums and goes dark and asks anxiously) Is this thing cuttin' out on me?

Sloggard: (quickly, in response to an impatient hiss from D'Argo) Energy save mode - It'll reactivate when it's needed.

D'Argo: Okay let's get out of here. You guys! Show the way - come on! (Frool and Sloggard rise and begin to trudge off as D'Argo shoots Noranti a parting order) Put some clothes on. (she smiles smugly after him as they leave her)

(cut to the lower chamber where Raa'Keel, Gleeg and one other worker - Weldon - in preparing crates for transport. Rygel and his amber capsule sit atop a crate and his increasingly feeble pleas for mercy are being completely ignored by all)

Rygel: You don't understand - if I don't take a schlock soon, my insides will explode and I'll die! (at the moment - D'Argo and John, drive driving Frool and Sloggard before them)

John: (a la Gomer Pyle) Sur-prahz! Sur-prahz! Sur-prahz! (Raa'Keel turns to face them, gun drawn - and seems unsurprised at the sight that greets him)

Raa'Keel: (flat) What happened?

Frool: (sheepish) They - uh - they have our belts.

Sloggard: (nervous) Yeah th-that's right!

Raa'Keel: (dryly) I can see that. (Rygel moans)

John: Sparky - you okay?

Rygel: (strangled) What do you think?

John: Just hang in there. (to Raa'Keel) Okay - here's the deal Tin Man. You can't hurt us, we can't hurt you. You've got our Whoopie Cushion, we've got Larry and Moe here. What do you say to a simple trade?

Raa'Keel: Why would I want these morons back? (and with that - he summarily executes poor Frool and Sloggard with two quick shots)

Gleeg: (angrily) Will you stop killing my men?

Raa'Keel: Shut up and stand still. (he touches a small device and as John makes a lunge for him - a dense forest of red lasers spring up from the floor of the cavern. D'Argo quickly stops im)

John: I got it-

D'Argo: One of those frelling booby traps. (the shafts of light disappear, leaving only a circle of red dots on the floor that neatly corral D'Argo and John)

John: You know that thing I said? About the Nobel Peace Prize for Tarkanís? (Raa'Keel chuckles with contempt) I take it all back.

Raa'Keel: (sneering) You think we're Tarkan Freedom Fighters. We're not. We're robbing them - and you can identify us! Need I continue? (D'Argo gives a little 'It figures' snort and at RaaíKeelís behest, Gleeg fetches a bucket of molten lava from the pool that dominates the chamber. He passes the bucket to Raa'Keel as D'Argo and John watch apprehensively)

John: Right - so you're robbers - whatever. We're not cops. We don't care.

D'Argo: Actually we've performed quite a few burglaries ourselves (but Raa'Keel just paces slowly around them with his bbucket of fire)

Raa'Keel: Well - you picked the wrong place to burglarize today. (he stops by D'Argo and dips a bit of lava up with his hand) Who else is with you?

D'Argo: Aahh... Get frelled. (Raa'Keel flicks a few droplets of liquid rock onto the Luxan, who yelps and tries to avoid tripping the amber trap as he instinctively winces away. Gleeg tries to appease the Tarkan)

Gleeg: There's an old woman - but she's no threat.

Raa'Keel: What would you know? (to D'Argo and John) She can't get out and no one else can get in. Why prolong her agony? Save us some time and tell us where she is!

John: (sincerely) Out riding her broomstick. (he gets a flick of lava that vaporizes against his gun belt for his flippancy)

Raa'Keel: I wonder which is worse - to burn to death in lava or to suffocate in a column of omorak. (he hefts his bucket threateningly at them) What do you think?

(cut back to Lo'La where Chiana and Sikozu continue their futile efforts to access the little ships big guns)

Chiana: (increasingly anxious) Try something -

Sikozu: (annoyed) I have tried every plausible combination.

Chiana: Well then try something else!

Sikozu: Like what?

Chiana: Anything!

Sikozu: All right - (and without taking her eyes off Chiana, she slaps her hand down on the console in front of her - and LoíLaís cannon roars as it fires a blob of pale blue energy. The blast takes the roof of the lava caves entry chamber completely off and Chiana falls down while Sikozu throws up her hands as they both scream with surprise)

(cut to the lower chamber of the cave where the roar and impact of LoíLaís gun shakes the cavern)

Gleeg: (anxious) It's the Tarkanís - they've come back early.

Raa'Keel: (calmly) Don't - be - stupid. Why would they attack their own race?

Gleeg: Maybe they found our transport. If they blew it up - we're trapped.

Raa'Keel: It's well hidden - how could they find it?

D'Argo: (murmuring to John - and sounding a bit irritated) That was LoíLaís cannon. Someone is in my ship.

John: It's gotta be the girls. But how did they get your bodily fluids?

D'Argo: Don't go there. (John decides to take his advice and so raises his voice to address their captors instead)

John: You wanted to know who was with us? You just found out - that was our squad blasting their way in.

Raa'Keel: Your squad?

John: Yeah - a whole platoon of big hairy guys with really cool tats and more guns than you can count. If they come down here and find us dead, they're gonna slit you from crotch to eyeball with a dull deer antler.

D'Argo: In other words - we die, you die. We live - and you might have a chance. (but Raa'Keel is too smart for Johnís nerdy bluster and DíArgoís macho threats)

Raa'Keel: You're lying - (he makes to heave the entire bucket of lava onto his prisoners - but Gleeg isn't so sure and stops him)

Gleeg: Wait! If it's true - we're gonna need some hostages. (RaaíKeelís resolve wavers and he shows real frustration as he rails at D'Argo and John)

Raa'Keel: Why now? Of all the times you could have come here - why now? Do you know how long I've been planning this?

John: Life sucks - don't it?

D'Argo: (dolefully) Well - quite often in fact. (Raa'Keel snarls with frustration and pushes the bucket of lava into the hands of Weldon)

Raa'Keel: Here - take this. If they try anything - THROW IT AT THEM! (Weldon moves to stand guard with the bucket as Gleeg and Raa'Keel exit)

(cut back to Lo'La where Sikozu is trying to help Chiana to her feet)

Chiana: No-no-no-no-no-no! Don't-don't touch me!

Sikozu: It's not my fault!

Chiana: Don't touch-!

Sikozu: Don't get angry!

Chiana: Not angry - vomit. Vomit. (Sikozu quickly withdraws her hands and Chiana scrambles to her feet unassisted)

Sikozu: Oh. Yes. We must conserve it.

Chiana: Okay - you stay at the controls. I'm gonna go down and check things out. It may be an idea to ah - to try and turn the ship invisible. If - if you can figure out how. (Sikozu returns to the ships controls and Chiana draws her gun as she makes her way into the smoking ruin of the lava caves entry chamber)

(cut to soon after. Noranti is wandering through one of the caves honeycomb of tunnels as Gleeg and Raa'Keel come marching along another. The two tunnels merge and Noranti pulls a perfect Harpo Marx by falling silently in behind them as the Tarkan and his flunky snipe at each other)

Gleeg: You said this'd be easy. While the Tarkanís are off delivering food to the orphans, we loot the place then disappear. Gun battles weren't part of the deal!

Raa'Keel: Stop complaining. You're wearing a shield belt. (Noranti steps aside into concealment again)

Gleeg: (angry) We were six! We're now three!

Raa'Keel: Then try and shoot straight you incompetent - it'd make a nice change.

Gleeg: You're lucky I'm here at all! (Noranti steps back out into the tunnel to watch as they move on - and nearby, Chiana creeps with wary urgency through the dark passageways)

(cut briefly to Sikozu up in Lo'La whose consoles tone and bleep at her touch as she tries to engage the deception shield. Then cut back down to the lower cavern where Rygelís pain is palpable and there's nothing D'Argo and John can do but fidget in their prison of amber-trap trip lights)

Weldon: (edgy) Keep still. Hit a beam and you'll be trapped like your smelly friend.

John: (American realism) Mr Redshirt - whatever the Tin Man's paying you - we'll double it.

D'Argo: (Luxan realism) Come on - you heard what Raa'Keel said. He doesn't want any - witnesses. Do you think you can walk out of here alive with your share? (Weldon looks uncertainly from one of them to the other as Rygel begins to squirm frantically in his amber cocoon)

John: Don't take the chance - throw in with us - you'll come out ahead. We're the good guys.

Weldon: Shut up or I'll give you a face full of this- (but before he can finish - Rygelís thrashing causes him to fall off the crate it is on and roll across the floor as he wails)

Rygel: AARRGGHH! CRICHTON! (Weldon snaps around to see what's going on and John uses the chance to whip out his gun and shoot the lava bucket. Its contents spew out onto Weldonís leg and he goes down screaming. Meanwhile, Rygelís cocoon rolls towards D'Argo and John and hits the amber trap trip lights that encircle them. The Hynerian is instantly completely encapsulated in amber although his muffled cries from within are still audible. Our heroes are able to use him as a stepping stone to exit their prison and D'Argo quickly deals Weldon a blow that puts him out of commission for the moment before wheeling back to John, who nonchalantly ducks the Luxans carelessly brandished Qualta as he stares thoughtfully at poor Rygel)

John: Damn - he's completely encased. Where's that gizmo? (D'Argo spots the amber-melting device first)

D'Argo: There. (John retrieves it and steps up to Rygel)

John: Do you know how this thing works?

D'Argo: (disgusted) I dunno - just press the button! (John presses the button and the tools green beam flashes about wildly) Watch where you're pointing it!

John: Whoa!

D'Argo: Set it lower! (John awkwardly slings the green-lit end of the tool towards Rygel and plays its mist over him. The amber begins to soften and John shuts the tool off)

John: There ya go. (D'Argo reaches to move Rygel and gooey casing) Prop him up so I can grill both sides.

(meanwhile - up on the planetís surface - Sikozu continues to work on Lo'La, She remains obstinately visible)

Sikozu: (a very lady-like curse) Oh - damn it!

(cut back to Gleeg and Raa'Keel as they near the surface - still snapping at each other)

Raa'Keel: I'm telling you - it couldn't have been an attack. Probably just a pressure eruption on the surface. Nothing to worry about. (as they pass, Chiana emerges from the shadows and follows them, looking pleased)

Gleeg: Nothing to worry about? If our transport's damaged - we're dead.

(cut to Sikozu, punching away at LoíLaís command consoles with much frustrated grimacing and muttering to herself. Suddenly - she hits it! And the little ship shimmers away to nothingness just as Gleeg and Raa'Keel emerge from the gaping hole in the planetís surface where the neatly little entrance to the lava caverns used to be)

Raa'Keel: Check the transport. (Gleeg sets off to do so while Raa'Keel surveys the blasted - but seemingly empty - landscape)

(cut back to the lower chamber where John, with D'Argo hovering over his shoulder, is trying to free Rygel. But the amber-melting tool is fooping and wheezing in his hands like a fire extinguisher being operated by a sissy)

D'Argo: (irritated) What are you doing? It's too low!

John: (with macho certainty) No! No! It's right.

D'Argo: (he tries to reach around John with equal macho certainty and adjust the tool as they talk over each other) It's too low! (FOOP! FOOP!) Give it more power! (FOOP! FOOP!)

John: It's not too low. (FOOP! FOOP!)

D'Argo: What are you do-? (FOOP! FOOP!) Look you're gonna break- (FOOP! FOOP!)

John: I think it's outta juice (FOOP! FOOP!) and that- (FOOP! FOOP!)

D'Argo: No you're breaking it! (FOOP! FOOP!)

John: -that it's maxed out! (suddenly to tool quits entirely and there's a moment of silence) It's outta juice.

D'Argo: Oh great! Okay there's another one of those canisters on the level up top. (he turns and begins the long trudge back upstairs while unnoticed - Weldon comes to on the floor)

John: (without much enthusiasm) All right - go get it. Don't drag your heels, Rygel's gonna die here on us. (but the minute D'Argo exits - Weldon springs to life. He powers up off the floor and deals a heavy blow to Johnís head. But the human has developed a lot of calluses there over the past 3 years and recovers quickly, using the amber melting tool to knock Weldon down. The crate-shifter grabs the nearest object to use as a weapon - Rygel in his amber casing - and raises the suffocating Hynerian high with intent to bash Johnís skull in. John reacts instinctively and pushes Weldon back with the tool. Unfortunately Weldon is standing on the edge of the lava pit - and screams as he teeters. John yells too as he makes a grab for Weldon) OH! NO! RYGEL! (but it's too late and both the crate-shifter and Rygel topple into the lava pit and are instantly vaporized. John is stunned) Rygel... Oh crap! (he stands there for a moment and thinks - then draws his gun and begins to count the fingers on his left hand ) Eenie, meenie, mienie, moe... ((his pinkie is the last digit outstretched and he takes aim - but he's interrupted by Scorpius/Harvey who appears at his side encased head to toe in an asbestos suit)

Scorpius/Harvey: DON'T EVEN CONSIDER IT JOHN! (John groans wearily) YOU KNOW FAR TOO WELL - THE SHIELD BELT DOESN'T WORK AGAINST LAVA!

John: Yeah - I figured that out. But it might work if it's already activated.

Scorpius/Harvey: (scoffing) Far too risky!

John: Look- I put Rygel in there, I'm gonna have to get him out.

Scorpius/Harvey: (primly) He's already dead.

John: You don't know that. The amber protects the crates - it might protect Rygel.

Scorpius/Harvey: HOW LONG HAS HE BEEN WITHOUT AIR?

John: He's amphibious - he can last! Would you quit buzzin' around in my head? You're givin' me a headache! (the clone huffs and John waves him away) Go. (the clone glares resentfully - but goes and John takes aim at the very tip of his pinkie, screws up his face - and fires. The body armor activates instantly as the disk hums and flashes. He then reaches down and dips his small, expendable appendage into the lava. The digit remains plump, pink and unscathed. He grunts softly with amazement as he examines it and the body armor disk powers down. He reaches for the lava again - and snatches his hand back as the flesh sizzles against the liquid rock. Satisfied with the outcome of his experiment, he murmurs-) Okay - at least we know I'm insane.

(cut back to the surface of the planet. Chiana lurks at the wide open mouth of the lava caves and watches Gleeg and Raa'Keel)

Gleeg: Raa'Keel - transport's fine. Not a scratch. Did you see anyone?

Raa'Keel: (wary) No. It had to be a bluff.

Gleeg: (indicating the blast site) Then what did this?

Raa'Keel: (slowly) I - don't - know. What's the difference? We're getting out now before the Tarkanís get back. Load up as much as you can. I'll dispose of the hostages. (and he heads back into the caves)

(cut to moments later back to the tunnels where Chiana is trying to trail Raa'Keel as she's jumped from behind by Noranti)

Noranti: Shh! We must hide!

Chiana: What'd you think I was doin'?

Noranti: Shh! Come on! (she pulls Chiana aside as Raa'Keel passes nearby, ranting softly to himself)

Raa'Keel: ...morons...

Noranti: (whispering) These aren't real Tarkanís at all! They're highly evil men!

Chiana: (sarcastic) Oh - well I wouldn't have guessed. C'mon - let's get the others and get out of here.

Noranti: No it's not that easy - our weapons are useless. Now we have to find the real Tarkanís and tell them what's happening - send a message.

Chiana: Right. (Noranti turns and heads off down the tunnel but Chiana makes a lunge and grabs her back) Are you klempt? Come here, come here, some here come-here! Hey! These - are highly evil men - right? (Noranti nods) Okay - Sikozu probably doesn't even know how to work the radio - right? (Chiana startles at some sound nearby - and Noranti takes the split seconds chance to disappear into the shadowy tunnel again. Chiana hisses into the darkness) Where are you going? (she darts off in pursuit - but the old woman has vanished and Chiana finds herself alone as she comes upon the upper cavern chamber. There she observes the eerie, flame-lit scene of the steaming, moaning freight elevator being silently loaded by Gleeg. She edges past the chamber, muttering) Frell her...

(cut back to the lower chamber where John, his pulse gun in hand and the body armor disk aglow - has taken the plunge and is wading waist-deep in the pool of molten lava)

John: All right Sparky - where are ya? C'mon Bubba! I'm too old to be playin' hide and seek. (the glow of the disk dims and John shoots himself point-blank in the hand. The disk hums to life) At least that works. (meanwhile - D'Argo reaches the upper chamber and comes face to face with Gleeg. They yell and charge each other, leaving their useless guns holstered. Back in the lower cavern, John continues to wade, feeling along the bottom of the lava pit with his feet for anything that might be an amber-encased Hynerian. He talks to himself as he probes) Damn - this has gotta be bad for the sperm count. (suddenly - he feels a likely something) Is that you? Give me a bubble. (he holsters his gun and with slight hesitation - submerges, beneath the vaporous surface of the molten rock. Then something slowly rises out of the lava pool - Raa'Keel - who stands and waits. A second later John rises as well with a grunt - and with the amber-cocooned Rygel on his shoulder as he mutters) Okay - let's get you some O2.

John turns to exit to lava pit - and finds himself face-to-face with Raa'Keel who without a word deals our hero a heavy blow that causes him to drop the Hynerian back into the lava. He takes a couple more hits before he's able to orient himself and return the attack. But Raa'Keel has the advantage in size and comfort on this superheated turf. John goes under briefly but staggers back to his feet just in time for the body armor disk on his chest to go dark. He draws his gun and shoots himself in the hand to reactivate it.

Raa'Keel: Nice use of the shield belt - but without that pathetic little weapon YOU'LL BURN! (he lunges for the gun - but John doesn't suffer insults to his beloved pulse pistol gladly)

John: (beating RaaíKeelís head with the gun at every word) You do not ! Talk! About! Wynona! Like that!

(meanwhile, in the upper chamber - D'Argo and Gleegís battle comes to an end when the Luxan grabs the chief crate-shifter and jams him head-first into the freight elevator. He hits the elevator control and Gleeg emits a brief, choked squeal before being decapitated amid a cloud of vapor. D'Argo lets the manís headless corpse drop to the ground as it spouts bright blue blood)

D'Argo: (softly, deadly) Lift going down.

(and moments later - the small elevator arrives in the lower chamber with the usual clank and hiss of vapor as John and Raa'Keel slug it out in the lava pit. John spares the elevator a look as Gleegís head rolls out and bounces onto the floor)

John: (alarmed) Whoa! Is that a head?

And as Chiana catches the sounds of their struggle - Raa'Keel gets hold of Johnís right hand and begins to slam it against the stony lip of the lava pit in an attempt to dislodge Wynona from the his grip. It doesn't take long and the gun skitters away to lie outside the pit. John, his body armor failing - lunges for it, but is restrained by the triumphant Raa'Keel.

Raa'Keel: PREPARE TO FEEL FIRE! (and at that moment - Chiana bursts into the room)

Chiana: CRICHTON!

John: CHIANA! SHOOT! (with a curse - she of course immediately fires a shot of pulse energy into Raa'Keel whose body armor renders it completely ineffectual) NOT HIM -ME!

Chiana: (confused) What?

John: JUST SHOOT ME! (she knows John well enough by now to comply with his crazy requests in a crisis and without further ado - shoots him. His body armor hums to life and he desperately lays into Raa'Keel, first with his fists and then, using the stony lip of the lava pit as a brace - with his feet. As Chiana dodges lava being splashed up by their struggle - Raa'Keel turns and makes for Johnís gun where it lies by the edge of the pool, intending to rid himself of the Nebari. The lava pit flames as John hastily sloshes after him - but it's over almost before John knows it. For Wynona landed by the circle of amber trap trip lights that had earlier imprisoned him and D'Argo and as he lunges at RaaíKeelís back, the tall black creature stumbles forward. His head hits one of the trip lights, instantly encasing him from the neck up in amber. John pauses for only a second to look at Raa'Keel suffocating in his own trap before, panting heavily from exertion, he yells to Chiana-) Keep shootin' me - I gotta find Rygel... (she shoots him again, refreshing the strength of the body armor - and he submerges into the lava. Chiana pants and paces anxiously, watching the vaporous pit of molten rock, as D'Argo re-enters with a fresh amber-melting tool)

Chiana: What's goin' on? Tell me wha- (But DíArgoís expression as he watches John paddling around in the lava pit makes it clear he's not up on events down here. So they both wait breathlessly - until suddenly John erupts from the fiery pit with Rygel held high over his head)

John: (roaring) Can I get a "HELL YEAH!"?

(cut to moments later as John runs the amber-melting tool over Rygelís partially-freed body)

Rygel: (choked) Quickly! Quickly!

John: I'm workin' it!

Rygel: Hurry up! (John shuts the tool off and with a final great wriggle - Rygel slithers s out his amber cocoon like a bit of tomato out of a soggy taco) Oh Hez-mana! (scarcely is the words out of his mouth than a sound like a loud raspberry being blown by someone with very rubbery, anesthetized lips is heard as that giant schlock he's been dreaming of finally becomes a joyous [for him] reality. Chiana, D'Argo and John stagger about in paroxysms of loathing at their misfortune at being witness to this Event as they cry in Munchkin voices)

D'Argo: HOOOOOO!

John: WHOA! HEY SOMEBODY HAD SOMETHIN' CRAWL UP THEIR ASS AND DIE! (Rygel has a look of brainless pleasure on his face as his exuberant fugue of gaseous emissions goes on and on...) Damn! Nobody light a match!

Chiana: (oddly androgynous Munchkin voice) Or breathe... (and at that moment, a deep, dignified voice interrupts the Fartsome Festival of Feces)

Tarkan: Or move. (D'Argo hisses as our heroes whirl around to face - Noranti - accompanied by a couple members of the same race as Raa'Keel. They're identical to him but for the grey cloaks pinned about their shoulders. The crew of Moya instinctively brandish their weapons - except for John who brandishes the amber-melting tool and Rygel who just brandishes his ass. Which in this case may be the most fearsome weapon of all)

Noranti: No! No wait! These are Tarkanís - good people!

John: That's what you said the last time.

Noranti: No, no - don't worry - I've told them all about them and us and us and the robbery and how we're not their enemies.

John: And they believed you? (as he and Noranti speak, the Tarkan newcomers inspect the remains of Raa'Keel)

Tarkan: Raa'Keel - once one of us. Now just a traitor and a thief. (he dismissively kicks the corpse of his former comrade)

John: (quietly, to D'Argo) I guess they believed her.

Tarkan: You're free to go. (Rygel releases another long, splutter of gas as he half laughs and half cries with joyous relief. The tall, dignified Tarkan finishes in a voice like that of an adolescent boy) As long as you take him with you.

(cut to soon after. The crew of Moya and Noranti have returned to the fire-lit surface of the volcanic planet where they prepare to take their leave. John raises the body armor harness in a farewell gesture to the Tarkanís)

John: Thanks for the belt.

Tarkan: (graciously) A pleasure. (to Noranti, who he is escorting on one gentlemanly arm) And - thank you - for the uh...

Noranti: Oh! Jilnak! (she's ever so pleased that he apparently liked her treat and goes to give him another wad of it. D'Argo and John freeze with horror for only a second before making a dive and lifting her off her feet in their haste to get her away from their benefactors)

D'Argo: Ahhh - we have to go... (he and John babble in unison as they drag the old woman back to Lo'La)

John: Oh-h-h - my module is parked in orbit and the meter is running out...

(cut to moments later in LoíLaís cabin as as our crew pack themselves in and prepare for departure)

Rygel: (miserably) Oh-ho-ho... I'll never eat again. The very thought of food nauseates me. (Chiana tests his resolve - and twists the knife a little by cooing the names of some his favorite dishes)

Chiana: Sork wings? Crispy grolack? (Rygel groans and she ducks away as John squeezes through to the co-pilotís seat)

John: Excuse me - excuse me... (D'Argo's already reached the formerly pristine control consoles of his beloved ship - and can't believe his senses)

D'Argo: What is this mess? And the SMELL!

Sikozu: This - is all you. Well - from - you. (D'Argo nods with resignation as Sikozu grins at Chiana)

D'Argo: (quietly) Whose idea was this?

Chiana: Mine.

John: (nervous) D - why don't we fire this thing up before the Tarkanís realize that Grandma has poisoned them.

Noranti: (prim) Merely a cleansing restorative.

Rygel: (sickly rueful) Not - one - word. (D'Argo touches his befouled controls and LoíLaís engines roar to life as she growls)

Lo'La: Power systems at your command. (as she rises from the planetís surface - she goes on to inform D'Argo of one other thing) A received transmission awaits your review. (a thrill of excitement passes over the crew of Moya)

John: (grateful) We have an answering machine.

Chiana: (wondering who'd want to call them) We've got a message?

Rygel: (anxiously hopeful) Quick! Play it! Play it now!

D'Argo: (hardly daring to hope as he hunts for the playback button) Just shut up! (and they all sit in silent jubilation as a beloved, familiar voice fills the tiny cabin)

Pilot: Ka D'Argo - Moya and I have received your signal. Here is our location. We look forward to your return.

Chiana: (almost unable to believe what she's hearing) It's Pilot.

Pilot: Repeat - Moya and I have received your
signal.

John: (smiling as if hearing the sound of the voice of a long-lost loved one) Pilot.

Rygel: (with profound relief and gratitude) Oh, by the yotz - Moya's all right! She's waiting for us!

The tension of LoíLaís passengers flees like a dreary mist before a fresh breeze as D'Argo sets course for Moyaís position somewhere out in the deep blue beauty of a glowing nebula in the distance. Only Sikozu is a bit apprehensive, as they ride on home and keep their own thoughts and hopes for the coming reunion to themselves.

THE END