Natural Election
July 19, 2002 - US
November 4, 2002 - UK
4.06

Writer - Sophie C. Hopkins
Director -Ian Watson

Guest Cast
Raelee Hill . . . Sikozu
Melissa Jaffer . . . Noranti


TRANSCRIPT
The episode opens in the corridor outside Mayas Command where Aeryn is pacing fretfully. John is in the Command with his notebook of wormhole notations, silently busying himself at the consoles. But he's not alone in the room. Sikozu is standing a few paces behind him, arms crossed, waiting. D'Argo is there too - slowly tuning the strings of a shilquin and the sound of his repeated picking on the tightening strings is accompaniment for Rygel’s increasing impatience. The scene shifts between those on the Command and Pilot in hid Den as they speak via comm

Rygel: (archly) We're sitting at a dead stop in the middle of nothing because Crichton thinks he can smell a wormhole about to open? (D'Argo moves on to a string with a higher pitch) Does anyone else find this vaguely preposterous?

D'Argo: (in a low tone) We promised him two arns. We'll give him two arns. Captain.

Rygel: (firmly) You had your turn and now it's mine. Until we elect a permanent captain, I demand the same respect and obedien- Awwgghh! (D'Argo hits a flat note on his shilquin and grunts with satisfaction at its offense to Rygel’s sensitive ears. And in the corridor - Aeryn stops her pacing and focuses on John - as if screwing up her nerve to go in. But it's no good and she abruptly marches away as Rygel grouses at D'Argo) Why did you construct another of those hideous instruments? My bowels make better music! (at that moment, Chiana bounces into the room - she's quite chipper as she takes a seat by D'Argo)

Chiana: Hey! How's it comin'?

D'Argo: Almost finished. I'm close to balancing the harmonics across the difficult center chords- (but Chiana interrupts him with a laugh and an affectionate swat)

Chiana: Not you, you ripnitz! Has Crichton found any wormholes? (and for an answer - John straightens up from where he's been hunched over a console and looks out the main viewport)

John: Ba-boom. Wormhole in - Diez- (Sikozu moves to stand behind him - which irks Chiana) Nueve-

Chiana: (whispering to D'Argo) Does that nixa - really - annoy you?

John: Ocho... (he hands Sikozu his notebook - good little assistant that she is) Siete-

D'Argo: (after thinking about it for a moment) No.

John: Seis- (in his prison cell, Scorpius rises and in a corridor, Aeryn turns to listen as John's countdown drones on over general comms. She seems apprehensive) Cinco... (Sikozu is looking up at the back of John's head now with open admiration for his display of hard scientific confidence) Quatro- Tres- Dos- Uno. (and with that - the starlit expanse of space in front of Moya - remains perfectly serene and devoid of unusual phenomena. There's a long moment of silence while Sikozu’s face falls, D'Argo exhales and the others relax. In his cell, Scorpius sits back , disappointed. John is only mildly perturbed as he whips his notebook from Sikozu’s hands and sighs) Tear out page 42.

Pilot: (straining to say something nice) We're - sorry - Commander. (John wearily responds as he makes his notations)

John: No you're not Pilot. You and Moya hate wormholes. But thanks for - sayin' so.

Sikozu: (friendly) Do you know what you did wrong?

John: You mean other than getting up this morning? (he glances up at Sikozu, as if puzzled - and shakes his head before striding off for the exit with her on his heels as he calls to Rygel) Have at it Cap! Knock yourself out. (the Hynerian is caught off guard by the sudden return of power)

Rygel: Uh - umm - (Pilot immediately pounces with intensely snide expectancy)

Pilot: Your orders Captain Rygel? Have you chosen a flight vector?

Rygel: Give me other microt with this miserably incomp... (but his and Pilot's sniping fade for John as he comes face to face with Aeryn, who's finally just entering. They regard each other in silence for a moment before Aeryn says to the slack-jawed Sikozu)

Aeryn: Would you excuse us? (John casts the Kalish a sharp glance and she retreats back into the Command with a sigh) Can I speak to you? (she smiles disarmingly) Quite a few things I'd like to say.

John: There's a lot of things I'd like to hear. I'd like to offer you a drink, but- (he clicks his tongue and drops his gazeto her flat belly)

Aeryn: My quarters. (she heads off and he begins to follow - but suddenly the Command and the corridor outside it are it up by a flare of watery blue light. John turns slowly back as those still on the Command raise their eyes to the main viewport)

D'Argo: (under his breath) Frell!

Sikozu: (sounding somewhere between pleased and fearful) Crichton... (and there - in front of Moya - a blue/white wormhole spins like water disappearing down a vast drain. John walks back to the forward Command consoles as Aeryn trails him a few steps into the room. Scorpius raises his head proudly in his distant prison cell as the rest of the crew congratulates John)

Rygel: (amazed, under his breath) I don't believe it - it's a frelling wormhole.

Chiana: (delighted and awed) Look - at that!

D'Argo: (quietly) Well done John.

Rygel: (expansively) The frellnik actually predicted a wormhole! (Chiana bops over to John and gives him a hug as he stares at the wormhole and grins)

Chiana: You did it! (momentarily forgotten, Aeryn watches from the sidelines and her smile fades as Chiana calls John's attention to Sikozu, who's staring at the wormhole with a huge open-mouthed grin - which she turns on John for a moment. He returns it happily as the Nebari whispers a tease) Hey - now there's 3 of us who like you. (Pilot however - is not one of them as he cuts in via comm)

Pilot: (anxious) Commander - this wormhole is a great deal larger and closer than your assurances.

John: Back it on up Pilot. Anything you want.

Rygel: (with a little cough) Excuse me - but there is a chain of command in place. (as he speaks, there's a flash of brilliant light and the wormhole recedes to a bright pinpoint - and then nothing. The show over - John starts back to Aeryn)

John: Whatever Sparky. Rock on!

Rygel: (with verbose pomp) All right. Pilot - I think that under the circumstances that yes - I agree we should- (but just as John reaches Aeryn, Rygel’s speech is interrupted by what sounds like Mayas engines throttling back - and a crash. The great ship lurches, violently and anything not nailed down - including the crew - go flying. The lights go out and are replaced by the strobing flash of damaged instruments and the ruddy glow of emergency illumination. Sikozu lets fly a wild scream of terror - but and as the initial shock passes, John helps Aeryn to her feet as Moya continues to shudder heavily)

John: You all right?

Aeryn: Yeah - what hit us?

John: Dunno! (meanwhile D'Argo calls to Chiana, who's on the floor by Sikozu)

D'Argo: Can you move?

Chiana: My arm! (and while the others conduct a quick damage check - Rygel, safely ensconced in his hoverchair - glances out the main viewport - and freezes)

Rygel: (with quiet dread) What happened to the stars? (those who can, look up and see - perfect, featureless blackness outside Moya as Rygel’s voice rises to a cry of sick terror) What happened to the stars? (the crew leaps into action with D'Argo working to repair one damaged Command console and Aeryn and John rushing to get what readings they can from another while Captain Rygel panics) BUDONG! IT'S GOTTA BE A BUDONG!

Aeryn: Unlikely - we're not moving!

Sikozu: (reporting from another console) There's nothing! Everything's blown!

John: (a yelled prayer that Pilot's all right) Pilot - be there!

D'Argo: Okay I've secured a patch but it won't last long! Sikozu!

Sikozu: (stubbornly focused) When I'm done here! (Moya lurches again as another explosion - or collision is heard)

Rygel: (babbling hysterically) OH! There are no stars! It's ah - the Flax! The wormhole got us! We're gonna diiee!

Chiana: Hey! Captain Chaos! (Rygel looks and she lets him have it in the mouth with her good arm. Crude - but effective. Shuts him up momentarily)

Aeryn: (to John) Try comms now!

John: PILOTE! COMO ESTAS HOMBRE?

Pilot: Commander - are you all right?

John: A LITTLE SOUTH OF THAT - WHAT THE HELL'S GOIN' ON?

Pilot: Undetermined. Moya is convulsing unlike anything I have experienced before.

Sikozu: (vituperative) And therein lies our problem!

John: (a note of warning in his tone) It's not his fault Sputnik!

Rygel: (shakily accusatory, to John, shaky with fearful) Yes - it's probably yo-o-ours!

Chiana: He wasn't the captain! (Rygel yelps as Chiana peevishly lets him have it gain, this time with a handful of cable upside his head)

D'Argo: (quietly) Pilot what did we hit?

Pilot: Nothing.

Aeryn: We weren't moving at the time - were we?

Pilot: Correct. Something - hit us.

Rygel: (his voice is husky with hear, impatience and maybe pain from Chiana’s salutes to his leadership) Well what you frell-wit? There aren't any stars!

Pilot: (sounding much calmer than you'd think he might under the circumstances) I have - no external readings. Not a single sense neuron on Mayas skin is transmitting.

Sikozu: (decisively) That cannot be right. (at that moment, Moya is shaken by another impact of some kind and Pilot grunts painfully as he shoots back at her)

Pilot: (angrily) It is! You disagreeable hyp- (but unfortunately John interrupts)

John: How can that be right Pilot?

Pilot: (firmly) Something is attacking Moya across all exposed surfaces. Her skin is burning everywhere at once!

Chiana: Well what do we do?

Pilot: (with quiet dread) Under the circumstances - a hull breach will go undetected.

Aeryn: Perimeter hull search.

John: Interior.

Aeryn: With Chiana?

John: Yah.

Chiana: With ya. (she and Aeryn exit and John goes back for another look at the consoles as Mayas decks roll and Pilot expresses the pain of his ship with a subdued, guttural grunt)

Sikozu: Has anyone heard from Scorpius? (being the only one who really cares - she immediately comms him) Scorpius? Are you all right? (in his cell, the half-Scarran grunts as he hefts his duffel and begins to retrieve his precious coolant rods which have been spilled by Mayas turbulence)

Scorpius: Physically yes. However - I would appreciate being let out of this cell! (but John snaps back almost before Scorpius is done speaking)

John: AB-solutely not! (he comms the other missing passenger) Grandmama? Yo! School Lunch Lady you there? (no response - and John mutters) Great we got an MIA. Got no time to look now. Dee - how about a little space walk? (D'Argo assents silently and they head for the door)

(cut to the center chamber where Noranti is nattering feverishly to herself - as if in a trance. Although her third eye is open and fluorescing from deep cobalt blue to magenta - she's as blind as the others in the dark as she gropes abut the room. The first words she speaks are said with a heavy, rather Latin accent)

Noranti: Ver... Verdure? (gasping, as if terrified) Verdure! (she knocks over some pots in her blind haste to get to the rooms viewless windows) Herbage flora. Herbage... floraaah... (and she cries out in horror) PLAAAAANT!

(cut briefly to Moya, floating in normal, starry space - but covered with tangled mats of a violet, Spanish moss-like substance. It's thickest on her head and back and its long runners coil all the way around her entire length. The scene shifts to a short time later on her Command. Noranti's discovery has been noted and Sikozu is working at the damaged consoles in silence. She makes no response to Rygel’s deeply apprehensive questions)

Rygel: What kind of plant lives in space? What kind of plant can grab a Leviathan?

(cut to Mayas external hull. The lush violet growth there moves and gives way with a dry, tearing sound as one of her access hatches is opened. John and D'Argo - each suited up as needed for space work - cautiously push their way out into the colorful jungle which grows well over heir heads)

D'Argo: (grim) I've never seen anything like this before have you?

John: Dee it wasn't that long ago I hadn't heard of you. Looks like Glenda was right. (he affects a pothead voice) We got some kinda we-e-e-eird plant man.

Sikozu: (via comm from the Command) Can you see any stars through its vegetation?

John: Nah. It's pretty damn deep. We're gonna take some samples. (he and D'Argo begin tearing away at the tough plant fibers. They don't notice that the ominously creaking vegetation is already putting its runners down into the open hatch where it's overtaken and immobilized an angrily squawking DRD)

(meanwhile back on the Command - Sikozu, Rygel and Chiana are hailed by Scorpius. The scene shifts between him in his cell and them as they speak)

Scorpius: I suspect inopportune timing - but I require some assistance.

Rygel: You're not getting out of that cell Scorpius.

Scorpius: No doubt. However - I believe the fire - (he eyes orange flames flickering in a small service hatch in his cell) - will not honor that edict! (the trio on the Command exchange alarmed looks and Sikozu sprints for the exit)

Sikozu: I'm on my way Scorpius!

Chiana: Hey! (but the Kalish is out the door and by the time Chiana catches up with her - she's in Scorpius' cell - with the door wide open - and putting out the fire with an extinguisher. Chiana steps just into the cell and brings her gun to bear on them and asks icily) What - are you doing?

Sikozu: (with cold contempt) Fire on a ship is our #1 priority, Chiana. I just happened to get here first.

Chiana: He's a prisoner. Doors stay closed.

Sikozu: (frustrated with what she sees as Chiana’s obstinate closed-mindedness) Does he look like he's trying to escape?

Chiana: Out. OUT! (Sikozu exits the cell and Chiana backs out as well, keeping her eyes and gun on Scorpius. As she shuts the door, Moya lurches violently and she half-stumbles into, half-shoves the Kalish against the wall and hisses) I know you think you're pretty smart. But we know Scorpius better than you do. He probably set that fire.

Scorpius: Look down the passageway - If I can start fires - I am most proficient at it. (Chiana looks, and in the darkness of the damaged ship - she can see little fires burning in two more service hatches that are well out of Scorpius' reach)

Chiana: FRELL! (she punches the wall and grabbing the fire extinguisher, runs to take care of the shorting panels) There's fires everywhere! (Sikozu turns slowly towards Scorpius with a big open-mouthed grin on her face and the half-Scarran makes brief eye-contact with her before turning away)

(cut to Mayas corridors where Aeryn is putting out more service hatch fires as D'Argo and John return and walk down another hall. John has the overgrown DRD tucked under his arm - it looks like a violet Pekingese and sounds like sick puppy too as it squeaks feebly. The scene shifts between them as they speak)

John: (to D'Argo, about the DRD) It's oozing some kinda gunk, dissolving the metal.

Aeryn: Pilot says Mayas fluids are rushing in to protect internal organs. It's causing ruptures everywhere.

D'Argo: This stuff - is KILLING my eyes! How come it's not killing your eyes?

John: It's like an onion. We'll live.

Aeryn: Got to get it off Mayas skin.

D'Argo: You know what?

John: What?

D'Argo: We'll blast it off with Lo'La. (John must like the idea because the scene shifts to soon after in the hangar bay. The boys have boarded Lo'La and have her hovering just off the deck. They aren't unduly concerned by Mayas fungus problem - after all it's just a plant - and D'Argo's taking the chance to teach John to be his co-pilot) Hold it steady.

John: I am trying but it's not responding - I need more of your DNA. (D'Argo obliges by leaning over and filling John's palm with a big squish of white spittle which the human proceeds to rub in like hand lotion while he bellyaches) Y'know - I hate this ship. It's messy.

(cut to moments later as the plant growth covering Mayas hangar tube openings glows, flames and is torn away by Lo'La's exit. The little ship rockets off to proper firing range before turning back and permitting D'Argo and John their first good view of the shaggy mass sprouting from the great Leviathan. They're a bit taken aback)

D'Argo: (softly) Whoa.

Pilot: (on comm - fearfully) How - bad - is the situation?

John: (quietly to D'Argo) Do we tell him the truth?

D'Argo: (shaking his head) Huh-uh-uh.

John: Truthfully Pilot - ah - It's nothing we can't handle. We'll get back to you later on the details. (he hurriedly cuts comms) And we are off the air.

(cut to Pilot's Den. Aeryn is there with him as Moya convulses violently. She steadies herself - but Pilot just keeps bleakly tapping at his Console)

Pilot: (frustrated) Every measure I take is soon overcome by Mayas pain!

Aeryn: (gently) How did you miss the plant?

Pilot: (resolutely, stung perhaps by the thought that Sikozu’s dismissal of his ability might be spreading doubt to the others) I didn't. We assumed it was debris - and quite far away. When the wormhole distracted us it snuck up. (ruefully) Why would a plant be floating so far out here?

Aeryn: I don't know. We'll worry about that later - just don't give up. (she makes to go, but Pilot stops her)

Pilot: Aeryn? (so full of dread that he can't look at her while he speaks the words) If too much of Mayas skin becomes irreparably damaged - she will not - recover. (Aeryn lays a reassuring hand on him)

Aeryn: We'll fix it. (and she's gone)

(cut to Lo'La where D'Argo has his targeting visor on. John seems mildly apprehensive)

John: One last chance, you wanna wait for- (but his hesitation is cut off)

D'Argo: What? So Noranti can tell us how to make a great salad? No. See plant. Kill plant. (he snorts happily)

John: That's gotta be on the Luxan Coat of Arms.

D'Argo: I don't suppose you have a better idea?

John: (with a slight shake of his head) Nope.

D'Argo: (peering into his visor to draw a bead on Moya- er - the plant on Moya...) Well - then hold it steady.

(cut to Aeryn standing in one of Mayas corridors. Her arms are crossed and she's just staring ruminatively at a loudly hissing jet of vapor venting across her path. Chiana rounds a corner and stops on the opposite side of the venting gas. Aeryn ignores her, so she puts her hands on her hips and inquires)

Chiana: Leak?

Aeryn: Scalon vapor return duct. (Chiana just looks at her uncomprehendingly) Can linger in your bloodstream. (perplexed by Aeryn’s unusual health concerns, Chiana squats sown to shut the gas valve - which is on her side of the venting vapor)

Chiana: Never stopped ya before.

Aeryn: (quietly, without making eye contact) Yeah well this time I'm pregnant. (there's a long pause as Aeryn lets out her breath. There! She told someone - and Chiana stares up at her with an expression that can only be describes as - ambivalent)

Chiana: B-before or - or after you left Moya?

Aeryn: Before.

Chiana: Does Crichton know? (Aeryn nods and Chiana mouths the word without enthusiasm) Nice.

Aeryn: What he doesn't know is that it - may not be his. (Moya convulses with dramatic timing, giving Chiana a moment to take this bit of information in while she steadies herself)

Chiana: Well you-you mean the other Crichton? (Aeryn shakes her head and Chiana is blown away by her unexpected promiscuity) Somebody... S-somebody else? (and now Aeryn warms to this girl-talk stuff)

Aeryn: Possibly. I only found out on the Command Carrier and I haven't had it DNA tested yet. (Chiana leans against the wall and says the only thing a young woman like herself can think of under the circumstances)

Chiana: Your life is - is so much more interesting than mine.

Aeryn: Can I trust you?

Chiana: (weakly) Yeah.

Aeryn: I don't want you to tell John.

Chiana: (very quietly) No way. Never, never - that's your speech. (Aeryn nods and lays a hand on Chiana’s) Come here... (she takes Aeryn’s hand in both of hers and lays her cheek against their Clasp of Sisterhood)

(cut to Lo'La where D'Argo is finalizing his target lock)

D'Argo: Okay... if I have calculated the plant depth correctly we'll be able to burn right through it without Moya feeling a thing. (John comms the lab team back on Moya , perhaps hoping for an alternative to the "If" part of D’Argo’s plan)

John: Any news from the candy kitchen? (the scene begins to shift between Lo'La and Mayas center chamber which has taken over the function of Zhaan’s old lab. Noranti and Sikozu are there analyzing the space weed. The Kalish has a dignified array of test tubes and beakers while the Traskan hovers over a bubbling pot like a witch over her cauldron, alternately cooking her samples and stuffing them into her mouth)

Sikozu: (curtly professorial) Nothing unexpected. The plant secretes an acid that dissolves certain types of metal, which it then ingests. The burning in your eyes - is due to a waste gas.

John: Must go a long time in between meals.

Sikozu: No not really. Think of your wormholes. Every time it opens, the sudden gravitational presence draws- (and John finishes her conclusion with her)

John: Draws the debris towards it.

Sikozu: (seeming a bit discomforted by his smartness) Yes. I would - I would think.

John: (whispering to D'Argo) She's - too - smart. (the Luxan ignores him)

D'Argo: 'Kay - I'm initiating the firing sequence. (and as he does so - back in the center chamber, Noranti lifts her pot off the stove - and the bottom falls out of it. The steaming brew of metal-eating plant splashes all over the floor and stove. She begins to howl, as if burned - but her cries seem more terrified than pained. Sikozu hurries to her as her cries become hyperventilations)

Sikozu: What is it? Wha-?

Noranti: (panting and struggling to articulate) Eat! Eat! Cry tears...! Cry-grow-eat! (oddly, Sikozu doesn't dismiss her babblings as mere dementia)

Sikozu: I can't understand! (and on Lo'La - the moment of truth is near)

D'Argo: You ready? (John grunts affirmatively as back in the center chamber Sikozu shouts at the quivering Noranti)

Sikozu: What is it? I can't understand!

Noranti: Eat! (and back on Lo'La, D'Argo pauses to look at John and say very seriously)

D'Argo: John - I'm gonna tell you something I've never actually put into words before. (the human looks at him, waiting - and there it is) I love - shooting things. (John smiles - he knew that. They both turn happily back to face the problem covering Moya. And as D'Argo initiates weapons charge - Noranti howls something coherent)

Noranti: DON'T - SHOOT - THE PLANT!

But it's too late - it's bombs away for D'Argo, John and Lo'La. And for Moya - it's a direct hit. The energy blast strikes the thickest plant growth near her head and from there flames out over her entire body And the shaggy violet carpet of moss is neatly burned away - mission accomplished! D'Argo pushes his targeting visor away.

D'Argo: (pleased) You know what? I'm very good at it. (John smiles a tight-lipped smile as the Luxan laughs and claps him on the shoulder - but the satisfaction of a Job Well Done is interrupted by Sikozu’s' shrill shouting on comm)

Sikozu: CRICHTON! D'ARGO! HOLD YOUR FIRE! (cut briefly to Rygel on Mayas Command where the joy of seeing the stars from her cleared viewport almost overwhelms him)

Rygel: (breathing the word) Stars...

Sikozu: HOLD YOUR FIRE! CAN YOU HEAR ME? I REPEAT - HOLD YOUR FIRE! (and on Lo'La - John puffs and shakes his head as D'Argo snorts)

D'Argo: See? They didn't even feel it. (but his and John's contented pride begins to drain as Sikozu continues yelling urgently)

Sikozu: DO NOT SHOOT THE PLANT! (the two men slowly look at each other as that cold feeling of dread takes hold somewhere seep inside) I REPEAT - DO NOT - SHOOT - THE PLANT!

(cut to soon after - Lo'La is back in Mayas hangar and the boys exit the small craft. Sikozu is still in the center chamber and they continue their conversation via comm as the scene shifts between them)

D'Argo: (defensive) Well if it was SO important she should have spoken up sooner!

Sikozu: (annoyed) I tried.

John: (businesslike, to Sikozu) Back up - you say it's gonna eat faster if it's attacked?

Sikozu: (stupendously irritated) It ate its way through the pot rather than be cooked. (Aeryn joins D'Argo and John as they walk)

Aeryn: Wouldn't you?

D'Argo: I didn't boil the plant - I shot it. It's dead.

Aeryn: Then why do my eyes still sting?

John: Dee - your eyes buggin' you? (the Luxans only response is to sneeze - and stare woefully back at him) That's a yes.

Aeryn: Pilot - how's Moya? (cut briefly to Pilot's Den as he speaks)

Pilot: (slowly, as if fearful of saying the words. He sounds sick with worry) No change Officer Sun. Perhaps a slight - worsening. She cannot localize the sensations but she still feels the burning. (at that moment - the trio in the hangar bay catch a muffled creaking sound)

Aeryn: (whispering) What's that? (they home in on the direct on of the sound and John steps up on some storage containers to look at a small curtain of violet moss hanging from the ceiling)

D'Argo: Just a couple of dead roots. (John yanks at the runners - and yells as a big section of Mayas ceiling comes down followed by a rain of compost-like debris . He and the others stagger back and try to cover their noses and eyes against the plants pungent gaseous output. D’Argo’s sensitive nose is most affected and he snorts and blows miserably)

Aeryn: Doesn't look dead to me.

D'Argo: It has to be - I killed it.

Pilot: (on comm - pitifully distraught) Mayas pain is - increasing! What is happening?

(the scene jumps ahead to shortly later. John's back up on the crates peering anxiously into the gaping hole left in Mayas ceiling by the weed. D'Argo's standing amid the litter of plant and Leviathan debris on the floor, he's wearing the breathing mask he normally uses for external space work)

D'Argo: (spooked) It's in the frelling ship. (then angry) The plant is - in - the frelling - ship! (and concerned) Pilot - how far has it spread?

Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den as he answers, clearly in great pain himself now) I can't tell! Mayas senses are overloaded - it could be - anywhere!

John: We'll get it out Pilot. (Aeryn re-enters wearing a face mask and offering another to John)

Aeryn: I found two of these (to D'Argo) Is that helping you at all?

D'Argo: Not much. For once in my life I wish I had your inferior noses. (but John's attention remains focused on the hole in the ceiling - and now it becomes clear why)

John: Pip how you doin' in there? (Chiana’s face appears in the opening. She's wearing goggles instead of a face mask - her eyes being more sensitive than her nose - but she still sounds miserable, perhaps more from claustrophobia than the plant)

Chiana: I'm-I'm-I'm not goin' up there again. (she curses under her breath as John helps her clamber out) Frell... (pitifully) Can- can you send - send Rygel next time okay? (she squats on the crates, brushing plant fibers off herself and shivering as she whimpers, sounding disoriented and chilled) MmMmm - I'm not doin' that. Mm-mMm... I want-I want my weapons - an' I want my comm.

John: They're right here.

Chiana: Thank you.

John: Yeah - (Aeryn watches the Nebari with some concern as she fretfully arranges her gear and John gives her a moment before asking) What'd you see?

Chiana: (stammering, completely freaked out) What did I see? Was plant - everywhere. Up one tier. Down-down two tiers... As far as you can s-see. (twitching and squirming, she's suddenly overcome with squeamishness as she finds bits of weed stuck between her clothing and skin. She squeals hysterically - but quickly tries to regain her composure) It's okay - It's-it's my clothes - it's in my clothes... (John helps her sown off the crates to the deck and into Aeryn’s care) It's in my clothes!

Aeryn: (comfortingly) All right calm down - It's not going to hurt you. It eats through metal, not flesh.

Chiana: (babbling and sobbing) Get it out-- just get it just - it itches...

Aeryn: Oh all right - I'll help you. Come on. (she leads the quivering Nebari away and D'Argo looks grimly at John, who takes a moment to don the other face mask)

D'Argo: It's all through the ship. It's my fault.

John: (sniffling hayfeverishly) Nonono. We all signed off on the plan. It's probably the first time that's happened. If we screwed up - we all screwed up. C'mon. (he pats D'Argo companionably and they exit in search of Plan B)

(the scene shifts to Mayas corridors which remain plunged in near total darkness and are becoming festooned with the space weeds spreading tendrils. Rygel moves slowly along in his hoverchair. The scene shifts between him and Pilot in the Den as they speak via comm)

Rygel: (with weary irritation) Pilot what the yotz is wrong with the lights?

Pilot: (grunting painfully) I - don't know!

Rygel: Well that's hardly good enough is it? Find the problem - and fix it. (Pilot snarls furiously through his pain and Rygel shivers as things shorting out from plant damage flicker like heat lightening behind him)

(cut to later in another darkened corridor. Chiana is on her own again and making her way through the silent, plant-infested gloom with help of a big flashlight. The air is foggy and filled with the little creaking sounds made by the weeds tendrils as they spread. Suddenly a figure hulks in the shadows and she whips out her gun - but it's only D'Argo)

D'Argo: Chiana - put it away. It's in the bulkhead not frelling running around.

Chiana: Yeah. So far. What are you doin'? (she falls in alongside him as he walks. They speak in low tones)

D'Argo: Just checking to see how far it's spread. So far it's on every frelling tier I've looked at. You know what? I think it's spawning.

Chiana: It's not the only one. (D'Argo stops and eyes her with ever so mild disgust, but no surprise)

D'Argo: You're pregnant.

Chiana: (with a laugh) Not me! Aeryn!

D'Argo: Aeryn is pregnant? Nooo...

Chiana: Yeah. It's the truth. I swear.

D'Argo: Does John know?

Chiana: (dishy) Oh yeah. But here's one thing he doesn't know - the narl might not be his.

D'Argo: (speculative) If she conceived on Talyn - If it's Crichton’s DNA then it's his. It's-

Chiana: Yeah but it might not be John Crichton’s at all.

D'Argo: Well then whose?

Chiana: Good question. (D'Argo sighs and shakes his head sadly at the appalling collapse of morals that leads to women getting knocked-up by God-knows-who)

D'Argo: Who told you this? (Chiana looks around before whispering)

Chiana: Rygel. (D'Argo nods - for gossip - a reliable source) You can't tell anybody okay?

D'Argo: Hey come on - he deserves to know.

Chiana: Please - swear - you won't tell anybody. (but the Luxan grunts and averts his eyes as he continue on his way - unsworn. Chiana nervously scuttles after him) D'Argo...

(cut to Noranti and Sikozu in the center chamber where they continue trying to find an exploitable weakness in the plants biology. The old woman has given up cooking it though and is making little incoherent sounds as she sorts through a heap of the stuff. She suddenly straightens up and moaning with relief like a bear scratching its rump against a tree - rubs at her third eye - which is unprotected by the two-eye capacity goggles he's wearing. Sikozu, who has no protective gear of any kind and is annoyingly unaffected by the plants effects, looks up and snaps)

Sikozu: What is the matter with you?

Noranti: This Leviathan is in pain. Dying. (deeply sorrowful) Leviathans are good. Good things shouldn't have to die.

Sikozu: That's right. That's why we have to keep working on this plant. (Noranti goes back to rubbing at her eye and talking to herself)

Noranti: Oh! Oh itches... Can't scratch. Bad to scratch. I might go blind... (wailing in despair) Oh! What to do? (Sikozu sighs and takes a stab at Hysteria Management Of Very Eccentric If Not Flat-Out Senile But Possibly Still Useful Old Ladies)

Sikozu: All right. (she swallows hard and says slowly, using the simplest words she is capable of) All right here's what we do. We - help - your eye and the Leviathan - by finding a way to kill... the plant.

Noranti: (croaking helplessly) How? (Sikozu’s voice becomes oddly low and deadly for a moment)

Sikozu: However we can. (then, in her normal tone) Maybe a poison. (there's a long pause)

Noranti: (fearfully hesitant) I-I know lots of poisons.

Sikozu: (smiling) Yes. I'm sure you do. All right? (Noranti nods meekly)

Meanwhile, down in his prison cell, Scorpius is tired of the dark and has taken matters into his own hands. He's standing at the service hatch that had recently been afire and doing some hands-on electrical work. A connection is made - and he steps into the middle of the cell to look up with a satisfied smile at an overhead light that's come on. But he's interrupted by a chittering sound like a nestful of insects coming from a clump of space weed growing out of the wall nearby. He approaches it cautiously and as he nears the quivering tendrils seem to die away. He exhales sharply at this discovery - which he likely figures might be his ticket out of the cell...

(cut to Mayas neural clusters where Aeryn continues to monitor damage to the great ship. The lights are out here too and she needs a flashlight to see her way around in the catacomb-like closeness of these cells. Chiana enters, looking for her)

Chiana: Aeryn?

Aeryn: I'm over here.

Chiana: Hey - uh - I checked the whole lobe. There's no ah - there's no plant in Mayas neural tissue. She's gonna be all right. (Aeryn makes no response) Means we can save her right?

Aeryn: Yeah but we still have other lobes to check.

Chiana: Right. Okay.

Aeryn: All right. (Chiana heads off, but Aeryn calls her back) Oh - Chiana?

Chiana: Yeah?

Aeryn: (very quickly) About that conversation that we had before.

Chiana: What? What conversation?

Aeryn: The one about the ah...

Chiana: Oh! The... (she clicks her tongue)

Aeryn: (she repeats Chiana’s tongue-click) Yah. Aah - I was wondering if you could do me a favor?

Chiana: Sure.

Aeryn: Could you forget that we had - that conversation?

Chiana: (a tiny sound) Oh... (there's a long silence while she tries to avoid Aeryn’s eyes - and flashlight beam - before she stammers) S-s-sure. But-but y-y'know you had t' tell somebody so I don't...

Aeryn: Yeah. Um - now I'm really regretting that I did. (she interprets Chiana’s guilty stare as hurt feelings) I may not even tell him.

Chiana: (torn between scandalized thrill and real dismay) What? E-Ever? Never?

Aeryn: Well - I need to know whose it is first and - I can't tell him that I don't know. (Chiana nods and Aeryn whispers) So... Could you just forget that it - happened?

Chiana: Sure.

Aeryn: Is that okay?

Chiana: (squirming in Aeryn’s flashlight beam) Yeah o-of course it is. Definitely.

Aeryn: Thanks. (adding in one of John's terms of endearment that she must like the sound of) Pumpkin. (she walks away and Chiana waits till she's out of earshot before nearly collapsing from the release of nervous tension)

Chiana: Oh-h-h frell!

(cut back to Scorpius' prison cell as John enters and speaks to him through the bars)

John: All right, you got me here. What do you want?

Scorpius: Watch. (and as John watches, Scorpius approaches another clump of trembling, chattering, space weed and it quickly withers from sight. John is intrigued)

John: Back up. Back up! (Scorpius moves aside and John enters the cell as he calls on comm) Aeryn! (he gets behind Scorpius and directs him towards the door with his gun) This way. (the scene begins to shift between him, and Aeryn in the neural clusters)

Aeryn: John? what is it?

John: It seems that Audrey has tastes - she doesn't like Scorpius. (to the half -Scarran, as they move into Mayas corridors) To the right. (back to Aeryn) What have you got?

Aeryn: Good news as well. I can't find any traces of the plant in the neural cluster.

John: So it likes eating metal but it doesn't like toubray tissue. (but at that moment - an explosion in the neural clusters causes Aeryn to get low fast. A second explosion encourages her to commence a hasty crab-walk in the opposite direction. John and Scorpius stop) Aeryn! What the hell was that? (a third blast - and Aeryn ups the pace of her retreat) Are you okay? (but she's too busy running to respond) Aeryn talk to me... (and as another big explosion flares, Aeryn exits the clusters and into the neural core - also known as Pilot Den - at the level of his station)

Aeryn: (panting) Give me a microt Crichton. (she looks down the catwalk to Pilot at his Console) Listen Pilot - the neural cluster- (but she stops herself at the sight of Pilot, who's sitting unusually still and slumped to one side) Pilot?

Slowly, both driven and hindered by dread, Aeryn walks toward Pilot's too-still form. The eye-like beam of her flashlight touches the base of his Console and reveals violet tendrils of space wed twining around it. But much worse are the slimy purple shreds of plant hanging out of Pilot's mouth. And as Aeryn stands there, frozen with horror, Pilot's eyes flutter open and stare wildly at her. But there seems to be little recognition - only mad panic - as he begins to convulse violently and his choked, guttural cries echo in the vast chamber.

(cut to soon after as John and D'Argo march into Scorpius' empty prison cell. Sikozu trots in behind them to help try and suss out what it is about the half-Scarran that the plant doesn't like)

John: Could be his coolant rods - could just be his personality. (D'Argo pulls Scorpius' duffel from under the sleeping slab/bench - which incidentally must be made all the more uncomfortable by The Fact that its surface is perforated with big Leviathan Deco cut-outs)

D'Argo: Let's just hope it's these rods.

John: (to Sikozu) How's the damage to Moya?

Sikozu: Contained to a small section of one lobe. There should not be any loss of brain function.

D'Argo: What about the plant? Why wasn't there any in the neural cluster?

Sikozu: Because there is no metal in the toubray.
But - there is metal in the electrolyte regulators. And when they jammed - the synapses overloaded. (she reaches for the cylindrical carrier in which Scorpius' blue coolant rods are neatly stored)

(cut to Pilot's Den where the Great Navigator is quiet, eyes open, but looking dazed. He seems to scarcely notice as Aeryn heaves the trussed-up Scorpius onto his Console with an undignified thud and proceeds to chain him to it. This isn't quite the outing the half-Scarran had hoped for)

Scorpius: (outraged) I wish to assist however I can! There is no need for these restraints!

Aeryn: I believe you - the others don't. (and without ceremony - she rolls him towards Pilot which immediately causes the tendrils creeping all over his body to recede. She reports to the others via comm) It's working! Crichton it's working!

And back in the prison cell - John holds a coolant rod up the a tuft of plant tendrils - which chatter and retreat.

John: Yeah - there ya go! We got lucky. It's definitely the rods. (he passes the rod back to Sikozu and eyes the half dozen or so that make up Scorpius' entire cache) Is that all we have?

Sikozu: It may not be enough. I will see how far I can dilute them down. (she hurries out and John starts to follow - but is stopped by D'Argo)

D'Argo: John.

John: Yeah.

D'Argo: (he exhales - and out with it) Um - I know Aeryn's pregnant. Chiana told me. (there's a long pause while John averts his eyes and contemplates the meaning of why Aeryn would yak to everyone but him about this)

John: Chiana?

D'Argo: Rygel told her. (John nods. Of course Rygel)

John: So the whole ship knows?

D'Argo: Well I don't think Moya does but... (he bobs his head indicating that she might and certainly everyone else does. John seems to sag a little and nods again)

John: Go ahead. (there's a long pause)

D'Argo: (carefully) Aeryn isn't sure... if the child is John Crichton’s. (John freezes for a moment before regaining his composure and responding quietly)

John: The thought had crossed my mind.

D'Argo: It doesn't matter. (but it does to John of course and he doesn't nod before asking his friend)

John: So what do you think?

D'Argo: (with compassionate sincerity) I think that either way - you're going to get hurt. So ah... Look after yourself. (John looks away for a moment and frowns as he brings his emotions under control - knowing the Luxan is probably right. He then looks back, his face carefully blank and says)

John: Thanks. (and with that - he puts his face mask back on and exits)

(cut to the center chamber where Noranti and Sikozu are hard at their race to find a useful weapon against Mayas shaggy violet invader. Noranti of course has to taste the glowing blue contents of one of the coolant rods)

Sikozu: (furious as she speaks from between clenched teeth) We're not interested in its flavor you- (but she stops herself as she remembers that she's better than this lot of guttersnipes and continues in a prim tone, as if punishing the old woman) I'm not going to insult you. (Noranti ignores her as she announces her verdict on the coolant fluid)

Noranti: (like a connoisseur of fine wine) Nonononono - It's more like hindrati petal tea. (like an actor in a peppermint patty ad) OoHhH - I can feel the fungus dying as they mingle in my mouth!

Sikozu: Concentrate! We know it works as an aerosol but which element? Or is it the compound as a whole? That is what we have to solve.

Noranti: In a casserole - no. But - if stewed properly, I believe that this plant may compliment a variety of meat dishes. (well be sure to use a rock pot - and Sikozu is dragged down at last to the level of Mayas crew)

Sikozu: (slowly, quietly - with feeling) You defy the whole theory of natural selection.

Noranti: Do I? (she cackles with modest delight at this fine compliment and Sikozu grabs her by the shoulders)

Sikozu: LISTEN TO ME! These people are trying to save this ship and us! Now if their plan fails - WE need to know why THIS - (she shakes a coolant rod in the old woman’s face) - WORKS!

(cut to Mayas Command as D'Argo enters. The Luxan is breathing heavily even with his respirator on. He leans on a console and pants until the beam of a Hynerian-sized flashlight shines out of the darkness at him)

D'Argo: (too short of breath to sound very angry) You are here. Why didn't you respond? You're meant to be checking the circulation.

Rygel: (in a low, disgusted tone) You do it. (he's sitting there in the dark wearing a pair of goggles that call unfortunate attention to the pointiness of his head)

D'Argo: (to his comm) Air flow is still functioning. John and Aeryn are clear to go.

(cut to a corridor in Moya so dark that the only light is the dim florescent shine of the piping on Aeryn and John's space suits and the eerie radioactive glow of Scorpius' diluted coolant fluid in a couple of buckets)

John: (humorlessly) Let's not spill any of this Scorpy-juice - it's all we got.

Aeryn: Got it.

(cut back to the Command where D'Argo turns to deal with Rygel with something often more powerful than anger - truth and empathy)

D'Argo: Rygel you're often insufferable - but ah... (he removes his face mask and moves to sit by Rygel) It's not your fault.

Rygel: (self-condemning) I - was captain!

D'Argo: Yes you were and ah - Pilot's Pilot and Moya's a Leviathan. No matter what orders you give - they're not going to fly into something they can sense.

Rygel: But this plant - this fungus!

D'Argo: It didn't register.

Rygel: Still - I was in charge. (D'Argo sighs and lays a comforting hand on Rygel’s tiny shoulder)

D'Argo: (gently) There are so many other reasons why you should hate yourself at the moment. (Rygel droops miserably) Like sulking - while others are out there risking their lives. (he pauses to let that sink in) Now monitor - the airflow.

(cut to the door of a hitherto unseen room aboard Moya - the atmospheric scrubber chambers. Aeryn and John pause and peer through the window of the tightly sealed hatch)

John: Pilot - we gonna be okay in there?

Pilot: (cut briefly to him in his Den as he slurs and labors to get the words out) Tiering - fan - filters in -the at-mos-pheric scrubber aaah-llows damp-en-ing of airflow.

John: Yeah it's all very PBS, we'll take that as an affirmative. (they enter the chamber cautiously. The scrubbers are a wild variety of huge fans ranging from vertical golden structures whose thick "blades" turn broadside with a heavy whoosh on axles that run from floor to ceiling to murderously spinning air-circulators whose double blades slice past each other with sounds like electric scissors. The floor slopes in places to intake/output ducts and a steady breeze blows eternally. John turns to Aeryn) So you want to talk?

Aeryn: (with an amiable snort) I appreciate you waiting for this appropriate time and place.

John: Yeah I got pretty good at waiting. (they duck down and begin to push their buckets of coolant fluid dilute deeper into the room)

Aeryn: I can't believe this is all we have!

John: Sikozu and Noranti thinned it out as much as they could.

Aeryn: (on comm to D'Argo) All right, they're in position. (the scene begins to shift between the crew in their various locations aboard Moya as they speak via comms)

D'Argo: (from a corridor) I'll let you know when the vapor trail arrives. At the moment all there is this hungry plant and my frelling inability to breathe!

Chiana: (from another jungle-like corridor) I'm as far away from your hammond side as I can get. It doesn't look good.

John: Just hang tough Pip. It may be a little while.

Rygel: (from the Command) Better cut that in half - even the DRDs have given up. The fungus is everywhere. (everywhere including the gears of one of the big fans in the atmospheric scrubber - which begins to emit a metal-on-metal squeal that goes unnoticed in the rushing air of the place)

John: (responding to Rygel) Hopefully that'll change as soon as this Scorpy-juice evaporates into the air stream.

Aeryn: (to John) You know we don't have a contingency.

John: Eh this'll work. Unless that plant can mutate in 5 minutes - what could go wrong? (the metal-on-metal screech intensifies and there's not a splinter of wood in sight to knock on) Damn - I did not just say that... (and with that - the big fan under attack from the space weed shatters, sending shards of itself flying in all directions. Aeryn and John hit the deck as the flying shrapnel zings against other fans - and upsets their buckets of coolant. All they can do is lay there and watch as the precious blue liquid seeps away through grates in the floor. John calls over general comms) Guys we got a problem! The witches brew is down the drain! (he turns to Aeryn and nudges her) Aeryn we gotta get out of here. (no response) Aeryn! (he rolls her over - and through the visor of her space helmet - sees that she's unconscious and bleeding) Oh God...

(the scene jumps ahead a few minutes. Aeryn has regained consciousness and is sitting up. The scene continues to shift between the crew in their various locations as they communicate via comm. John's first concern is Aeryn’s injury)

John: Does it hurt? (Aeryn grunts affirmatively) Where?

Aeryn: (swatting his hand away) Where it's bleeding.

Rygel: (from the Command) Crichton? When is your fahrbot wormhole due to open again?

John: (warily) Why?

Rygel: (grimly) We've drifted directly atop its coordinates. The captain says - "Abandon ship."

Aeryn: (as John helps her to her feet) D'Argo! Can your vessel pull us clear? Buy us time?

Scorpius: (from where he's hog-tied next to the lolling, moaning, Pilot) I hardly believe it's worth the effort. This Leviathan is gone!

D'Argo: (from the maintenance bay) Lo'La could move Moya. But is it worth the risk?

Sikozu: Yes! (from the center chamber where she has a chokehold on Noranti) This old demon has isolated the plant killing compound- (she gives the old woman a shake) TELL THEM!

Noranti: (a bit husky) Solanterum ferbex - tingles on the palate - mildly radioactive in quantity.

D'Argo: So what? We're out of coolant rods.

Sikozu: (her voice shrill with fury at the stupidity of those around her) Don't you people know your own ship? We HAVE solanterum! (well at least they're quick on the uptake. The scene jumps ahead a few minutes to Lo'La as D'Argo, Noranti, Rygel and Sikozu pile aboard while the Kalish finishes her lecture) Solanterum is a toxic-absorbing regulator within Mayas filter system. Pipes of it run all the way through her sys- (D'Argo gives her the hand)

D'Argo: Okay okay - we got it already. (he looks out at John and 1812 who are watching them from the maintenance bay. Chiana is there as well, preparing a concoction of some kind at a workbench) John how long till your wormhole?

John: Too far away to tell - but it's coming. (he turns to the DRD) All right - 1812- (the old squeaker snaps and crackles attentively) Even spacing - all tiers - no gaps. Cannons set to minimum. Tell all your cousins. (he pats the DRD as if it ere a dog he was encouraging) Go do it. (1812 speeds off and John looks to Chiana) You sure you want to be here?

Chiana: Yep. My skin reflects radiation. We don't tan - but we don't burn either.

John: (calling on comm) Aeryn? (Aeryn responds from behind Pilot's Console. Pilot is sitting next to herbut he's too sick to do anything but stare into space)

Aeryn: I believe I've set a simple control sequence to fire all DRDs simultaneously.

John: All right - come on back.

Aeryn: I'll stay and activate. Unless - you'll agree to trust Scorpius. (she glances at the half-Scarran who's still trussed up like a fancy roast on the Console as the crew of Moya resoundingly responds - "NO!")

John: Aeryn one word: Radiation.

Aeryn: I can handle it.

John: And what about the baby? (Aeryn groans softly. And in Lo'La, D'Argo sighs, then turns around)

D'Argo: Volunteers?

Sikozu: Even minimal ion exposure breaks down 3 of my internal organs. I doubt I shall survive until I am needed. (D'Argo and Sikozu look at Rygel, who knows he's trapped. The equally silent Noranti gives his hoverchair a shove forward and he casts her a stricken look. Moments later, Chiana and John welcome their new partner as he hovers off Lo'La to Join them)

John: Hey Fluffy! Captain goin' down with the ship?

Rygel: (grumpily) You wish! Just don't frell it up.

John: (to Chiana) So - 1,000,000 SPF - you sure this is gonna work?

Chiana: Nope. But Aeryn said it would. (she steps close to him and begins to daub his face with the shiny gold poultice that she's prepared) Something about you wanting to have more babies? (John rolls his eyes a little)

(cut to moments later - Aeryn has taken the co-Pilot's seat in Lo'La where D'Argo's pressed her into service as well with the help of a handful of spit)

Aeryn: (dryly) Fortunate this fungus causes you so much mucus.

D'Argo: Excellent. Just - hold it steady. Here we go.

(and as Lo'La lifts off - the scene shifts to Chiana and John as they enter the atmospheric scrubber chamber. John's in his space suit but Chiana, who's carrying a long metal pole, needs only her goggles for protective gear. She yelps and staggers under the force of the gale now blowing through the room)

John: It's like a wind tunnel in here.

Chiana: Yeah! (he leads her over to one particular fan with heavy, slow-moving blades)

John: Can't be helped. Filters gotta be off and we gotta stop this fan from spinning. (with a grunt for the effort - Chiana jams her pole into the slowly rotating blades and the fan grinds to a halt) That'll keep the stuff from getting sucked back in here and being cleansed. We gotta keep the mist out in the ship or we're toast. (and as Chiana leans on her pole against the fan, she sends John on his way)

Chiana: You get to it!

(cut to Pilot's Den where Scorpius watches Rygel eying the Console dubiously)

Scorpius: That one first - Officer Sun was quite clear in her- (but Rygel cuts him off with a zinger)

Rygel: (regally snotty) IF - this goes bad - please die first so my last moment can be joyous.

(meanwhile back in the atmospheric scrubbers - John has gone just a few paces from Chiana where he looks up at the low ceiling and finds what he's looking for - a solanterum pipe. He jumps and bring it down with his weight, its broken end spews a fine, highly pressurized purple mist)

John: (triumphant) Whoo-hoo! (and as Chiana strains against the intake fan, John aims the solanterum pipe at the output turbines and calls on comm) Ryg! Be ready for my signal - we ignite the purple haze too soon - the radiation won't penetrate Moya. Too late - we'll blast her apart.

(and as Mayas interior begins to fill with a fog of purple solanterum vapor, the scene shifts back to Pilot's Den where Scorpius is gulping it in)

Rygel: (responding to John) Acknowledged.

Scorpius: It will make me stronger. (Rygel eyes him)

Rygel: Radioactive mist makes you stronger?

Scorpius: Perhaps my - final moments will be joyous. (unable to tell if Scorpius is just trying to psyche him out or is serious - the Hynerian swallows hard)

(and while John blows smoke in the scrubbers - Lo'La sidles up to Mayas underside, near her head. With great care, the small, but powerful ship makes contact with her and like a tugboat - exerts pressure. Mayas nose begins to ease up and away from the spot where the errant wormhole is due to reappear)

Sikozu: It's working - we're pushing Moya clear.

John: (from the scrubber chamber via comm) D'Argo! Wormhole in four- (on Lo'La, the Luxan steels himself) Three- (Chiana grunts as she struggles to keep her footing against the inexorable will of the intake fan to rotate) Dos- (Lo'La continues to push the great leviathan back) Uno. (and the wormhole explodes into existence before Moya, bathing her in its eerie blue/white light)

(cut to Lo'La, where Aeryn smiles as the little ship trembles in the wormholes gravitational force)

D'Argo: (to John) We're fine -thanks for the big warning. Now get it done.

Scorpius: (cut briefly to him as he calls, determined to get his two bits in) As a single element - solanterum needs to be heated to achieve effectiveness.

John: 1812 - poll the brothers! Everybody seein' the mist? (somewhere on Moya 1812 squawks back as it runs in a little circle and other DRDs from all over respond) THAT'S AN AFFIRMATIVE! THE MIST SHOULD BE THROUGH THE SHIP ON EVERY TIER! (Chiana yells "JUST GO!" as her battle with the intake fan starts to turn against her) ALL DRDS STAND BY. RYGEL - BATTER UP!

(cut to the Den where Rygel moves to fire the DRDs - only to be stopped by Pilot, who chooses that second to come roaring out of his quiet stupor - completely disoriented and freaked)

Pilot: AAH! WORMHOLE! TOO CLOSE TO WORMHOOOOOLE! (Scorpius tries to sit up as Pilot yowls and flails in a wild panic)

Rygel: Pilot! Calm down!

John: (on comm) FIRE THE DRDS! (but Rygel's not firing anything just now due to The Fact that Pilot's seized him by the neck with a claw that's as big as the Hynerians whole body and is waving him around like a drunk who's not quite sure what to do with the saltshaker)

Rygel: (strangled) Pilot! (Scorpius pulls urgently against his restraints)

John: RYGELLLLLLLLLLLL!

Pilot: NO! GET AWAY! (Scorpius jerks furiously on his chains while Rygel hangs helplessly from Pilot's huge mitt and chokes)

Rygel: I'm trying to help!

(cut briefly to Lo'La)

Sikozu: Too much chemical and the explosion will destroy us all.

Aeryn: Crichton - do you copy?

John: (from the atmospheric scrubbers) Dammit Aeryn - what do you want me to do? RYGELLLL!

(cut to Pilot's Den where the loudly incoherent Great Navigator continues his nervous breakdown)

Rygel: Let me go! (and with a gargantuan squirm - Scorpius manages to free one arm. He lashes out at the arm of Pilot that's got hold of Rygel and with a vicious chop - breaks it. The Hynerian and the Leviathan Pilot howl as the arm goes limp and Rygel thuds to the floor)

John: (from the atmospheric scrubbers) RYGELLLLLL!

And as Scorpius pants and Pilot sits bolt upright and takes deep breathes - Rygel manages to crawl back up into his hoverchair and hit the sequence Aeryn had set up. Throughout Moya - DRDs fire their little lasers as one and the purple mist of solanterum ignites into a ghostly blast of radiation that flashes through Moya like a windstorm of light. So intense is it that as this hellish radiation wave passes through the atmospheric scrubbers, Chiana and John briefly become x-ray images of human and Nebari skeletal structures.
From Lo'La, where the others keep watch - the radioactive maelstrom aboard Moya is quite lovely. She glows from within, the light amber through her skin.
But for those left on the great Leviathan - maelstrom is the operative word. Moya rumbles violently. Rygel hangs onto Pilot's Console for dear life and in the atmospheric scrubbers - Chiana can't hold the intake fan in the turbulence. Both she and her pole go flying and the fan resumes its implacable rotation.

Chiana: CRICHTOOOONNNN! (he catches hold of her leg as she slides past him across the yawing deck)

John: I gotcha! (but they both continue to slide towards the scissor-like blades of another fan. Luckily John still has hold of the solanterum pipe and they slide to a stop as they reach the end of its length. That's not much comfort to Chiana though as her precarious stoppage has left her face only inches from the scissor-fans open blades. The scene shifts between them and Rygel in the Den) I GOTCHA!

Chiana: I'M SLIPPING! HELP!

John: RYGEL!

Chiana: PULL ME BACK!

John: SHUT OFF THE FANS!

Rygel: WHAT - FANS?!

John: SHUT DOWN THE FANS! SHUT OFF THE FANS!

Rygel: (spluttering as he stares wildly at he hundreds of cryptic marks on Pilot's Console) NOBODY TOLD ME ABOUT ANY FANS! (and in the scrubbers - the slender solanterum pipe creaks ominously under Chiana and John's weight)

Chiana: CRICHTOOOOON! (John tries to grab her a bit higher up on her leg - but he manages to get only a handful of her pants fabric) PULL ME BACK! PULL ME BACK!

John: I'M TRYIN'!

Chiana: Please! I'm slipping!

Rygel: (panting to himself as he searches Pilot's Console) Oh! Fan! Fan!

John: PIP! JUST HANG ON! (Chiana arches away from the double-bladed fan as the fabric of her pants stretches in John's hand) RYGEL! SHUT - THE - FANS - OFF!

Rygel: I don't know how! (he turns to the shell-shocked Pilot and tries to shake him but winds up shaking only himself) Pilot! Fan! Fan-fan-fan!

John: SHUT - THE - DAMN - FANS - OFF! (to Chiana) Quit wrigglin'! Just hang on!

Rygel: (muttering as he turns back to the Console, having found Pilot out to lunch) Frelling fan!

John: (bellowing as Chiana screams) YOU BAS-TAAAARD! (and in the Den - Rygel picks a switch and hits it. Whether it's specifically the fan switch or not is immaterial - all that matters is that there's the sound of power being cut - and the scrubber fans spin to a gradual stop)

Rygel: (panting from the pressures of performance anxiety) How about that? Hah! Did that do anything? (Chiana and John go limp where they lay, gasping for their breath)

John: Yeah... Fan's off.

Rygel: It is?

John: Yeah.(he watches as Chiana rolls on the floor and giggles with that profound, glad-to-be-alive sort of relief)

Rygel: We did it! (to Scorpius, who looks annoyed) I did it. (and back in the scrubber chamber, Chiana staggers to her feet and John looks up at her and laughs - the crotch of her pants is several inches below where it ought to be)

John: Hey! You still got you're pants on.

Chiana: Well that would be a first. (he laughs woozily. She chuckles and grabs a handful of the sagging fabric)

John: (teasing) That's a good look.

Chiana: Very funny. (she tries to hitch her out-of-shape pants back up as John lays and laughs) Very, very funny!

(cut to later. Moya moves at a good clip through space, well on the way to recovery from her near fatal encounter with the violet space weed. Cut to Pilot in his Den - he too is back to his usual self - except for the golden sheet draped around his shoulders to offer a little comfort and a makeshift sling for his arm. The scene shifts between Mayas crew in their various locations as she speaks)

Pilot: (his voice echoes a bit as he broadcasts over general comms) The voting for the captaincy is complete. With Moya abstaining and everyone except for Scorpius casting a vote - including myself - our total comes to 8. (Chiana, D'Argo and Rygel listen from the Command while they mop up. A note of relieved dismay creeps into Pilot's voice as he announces the first result) The tally is as follows: One vote for Dominar Rygel XVI. (Rygel grunts and nods his approval - no doubt as cover since he probably voted for himself. Pilot seems proud of the next result) One vote for Officer Aeryn Sun. (and perplexed by the next) Astonishing as it seems - Scorpius received one vote. (in his cell, Scorpius bares his teeth and growls appreciatively while Sikozu smiles in the center chamber. Pilot doesn't seem to object much to the next result) One vote was cast for the Divine Eternal. (Noranti fixes her eyes on you, makes a little flourish with her hands before pressing them together and rolls all 3 eyes heavenward) And finally - 4 votes for our new and deserving captain - Ka' D'Argo!

D'Argo gasps quietly - but the expression on his face is one of pleasant surprise as he ponders the confidence that his shipmates have expressed in him. Rygel turns and leaves the command quietly, too disappointed to be happy for anyone else. But Chiana has a big smile and a chuckle of pleased approval for the Luxan.

Chiana: Well done.

(cut to the atmospheric scrubber chamber where the fans have resumed their normal, leisurely pace. John and 1812 are there, clearing away the bits of debris from plant damage there. Aeryn enters. He glances up at her before returning to his work and there's a long moment of silence before she comes to crouch next to him)

Aeryn: I didn't want to tell you about the pregnancy until I was sure.

John: Sure you were pregnant, or - sure who the father was? (Aeryn is speechless for a moment)

Aeryn: Chiana will be killed.

John: (sharply) Yeah it's Chiana’s fault. Why don't you blame her? (he looks down at his work a moment and then to Aeryn again with what he supposes is the next thing) It's the other Crichton’s.

Aeryn: There's no distinction in my mind any more. (John pauses and his brow furrows - well if that's not why he's been getting the cold shoulder - then what?)

John: Okay - now you've confused me.

Aeryn: All right. (she sits back and takes a breath before proceeding in a steady, informative tone) Military campaigns can last for many cycles. Imagine if even a portion of a female unit fell pregnant. Those of us born on a Command Carrier can retain an embryonic fetus for up to 7 cycles.

John: So this could be from... (he trails off and she finishes)

Aeryn: Perhaps, 4 cycles before I met you. And only a surgeon can release the stasis so the baby can grow.

John: And that's why you left?

Aeryn: I didn't even make it that far. (John bows his head into his hand for a moment to process this before looking back at her)

John: Aeryn... I figure a relationship - the kind we're not having - is based on trust.

Aeryn: (her voice husky) I'm so sorry.

John: Yeah. Me too. (long pause) 'Cos you don't - trust me. So I don't know how to trust you.

Aeryn: I think I've earned your trust.

John: I would put my life - in your hands. But not my heart. (there's another long silence as they both struggle with their disappointment and loss at what to do about it. When Aeryn responds, her voice is tight with the effort to keep tears at bay)

Aeryn: So what's it gonna take? What do I have to do?

John: Just come back... When you have your story straight.

And with that, he rises and leaves her crouched there alone to contemplate his words and her own actions. She watches him go - this being perhaps, one of the scenarios she had dreaded most - and a tear makes its way down her cheek.

THE END