Twice Shy
January 13, 2003 - UK
January 24, 2003 - US
4.14

Writer - David Peckinpah
Director - Kate Woods

Guest Cast
Melissa Jaffer . . . Noranti
Walter Grkovic . . . Outurak
Chris Pitman . . . Nazradu
Paula Arundell . . . Talikaa
Raelee Hill . . . Sikozu


TRANSCRIPT
The episode opens with Scorpius, accompanied by a couple DRDs, walking through Moya’s corridors as he speaks to Pilot via comm.

Scorpius: Pilot - why is that trading vessel still aboard?

Pilot: The negotiation is proving - difficult. These traders are asking exorbitant prices for their maps. Yet we dare not traverse Tormented Space without reliable star charts.

Scorpius arrives at the door of the hangar bay and joins Aeryn, Chiana, D'Argo and John who are already standing about on guard and watching said negotiations. A table has been set up near an alien ship that's parked in the bay, at it, Noranti and Rygel sit with two traders while a couple more look on. The traders are completely human in appearance, but their faces are marred by smatterings of small running sores. Their spokesmen are Outurak and Nazradu - and they're finding the Hynerian and Traskan are not easy touches...

Noranti: For 5000 krendars, I want maps that are current and authentic.

Outurak: I said 10.

Rygel: And she said 5.

Outurak: Buy your maps elsewhere. (he stands and makes as if to leave. Noranti doesn't bat any of her 3 eyes)

Noranti: (softly) Are you so sure another buyer will come along?

Back near the door, Aeryn seems a bit on edge - perhaps it's because John is staring at her instead of the goings-on at the negotiating table. She takes a shaky breath.

John: What? (Aeryn responds without looking at him)

Aeryn: Nothing's bothering me.

John: Something I said? (no response) It must have been something I said. (D'Argo nonchalantly strolls past the negotiating table with his Qualta prominently, but casually displayed)

Outurak: 9000. No more talk.

Noranti: Except to say goodbye. (and with that, she rises and leaves the table)

Nazradu: Wait!

Outurak: (to Nazradu) No-

Nazradu: (to Noranti) 7.

Outurak: (resigned) Final offer. (he and Noranti eye each other for a long moment before she steps back to the table)

Noranti: The Dominar will pay you. (moments later, she and Rygel are on their way out of the hangar bay and run into Scorpius, who eyes Rygel)

Scorpius: You look unusually smug. Your deal - it was successful?

Rygel: (gloating) You have no idea. (but before they can get any further, Outurak calls to them)

Outurak: One more trade! No tricks. (they turn to see him leading something out of his ship. It's a woman -she's forced to walk bent over, as he's leading her by a handful of her long hair. She has one hand resting atop his in a pitiful attempt to prevent painful pulling. Chiana cranes her neck at this spectacle as Outurak makes his sales pitch) We enjoyed her. Plenty of good pleasure left. (the woman lifts her face up to peer at Noranti through her mass of black, dreadlocked hair. She's young and her skin is rich brown. Noranti smiles) No value to an old woman but - (Noranti flounces off while Outurak leers and fondles the slave girl) - but to men... (he chuckles - and Chiana takes deep offence. She whips out her gun and steps forward)

Chiana: Touch her again you FEKIK, and you DIE! (D'Argo and John hurriedly draw their weapons too - to stop Chiana from doing anything rash)

John: Calm down.

D'Argo: (quietly) Chiana - this is not - our problem.

Chiana: What? Have you forgotten what it's like to be a prisoner? (D'Argo sighs)

Outurak: 800 krendars. Bargain. (he shoves her towards them) She's yours.

Chiana: (firmly) We can't just leave her! (none of her shipmates make a move as guilt suspicion and the sincere desire to not have to save every stray they meet battles for ascendancy within them. Chiana however, has no qualms) Okay. I'll buy her myself if I have to. (she marches over to the woman and Rygel, who also has no qualms - reminds her of her last brilliant purchase of a living thing)

Rygel: You brought that vorc onto Moya - remember? (Chiana ignores him and addresses the woman)

Chiana: What's your name?

Talikaa: (whispering) Talikaa.

Chiana: Talikaa. (she looks at her inert shipmates with frustration and then raises her gun to the frightened slave girl's head) Here's the deal: We take her - or I take her head off.

Rygel: Shoot her. She's nothing to me. (but guilt has triumphed in D'Argo)

D'Argo: (with a sigh) Rygel... Pay them.

Rygel: But -

D'Argo: (annoyed - this is all against his better judgment) Pay them! (John's annoyed too - but he has to take in the stray)

John: Sparky! Cough it up! (he grabs Rygel’s purse away and marches it over to Outurak)

Outurak: (oily) A smart purchase. You'll have fun with her. (Chiana yells with fury at the mans smug chauvinism and the look on Scorpius' face makes it clear that he's with Rygel on this one)

D'Argo: (quietly, to John) This is a bad idea.

John: 9 times out of 10. First nice planet we find, we drop her off. (Talikaa warily eyes her new owner, unwilling to come too close)

Chiana: (gently) This isn't... No I'm - I'm a friend. (the slave girl looks very dubious. She has a wild beauty about her. Her long rolled hair is embellished with white wrappings at the ends. Her features are strong and she has full, sensual lips and big, brown eyes. Chiana tries to reassure her) Friend. (Talikaa stares at Chiana, and to her eyes, the Nebari's face seems distorted, as if seen through a funhouse mirror. She touches the grey skin of Chiana’s décolletage inquiringly and Chiana reaches to touch her arm) Hey it's okay. It's okay- (but Talikaa slaps her hand away and bolts for the door)

D'Argo: Chiana! Grab her! (but Chiana seems rooted to the spot and it remains for Aeryn to coolly block Talikaa’s exit. The dark woman pushes Aeryn’s hands away and backs up, into John)

John: Take it easy - we're not gonna hurt you. (Noranti watches from nearby as Talikaa touches his face inquiringly before backing away from him as well. She makes a dash for the door, laying both hands on Rygel’s face to push him aside as she goes. He yelps at the indignity and D'Argo barks)

D'Argo: Okay hold her! Grab her! (as Talikaa makes to run by Scorpius, the half-Scarran reaches out and seizes her arm. He too seems distorted in her vision - but she doesn't struggle, instead, she reaches to touch his face, as if curious. He pushes her hand away irritably as D'Argo strides up and grabs her, unceremoniously shoves her into Chiana’s arms and snaps) Okay! Take her to your room. She is YOUR responsibility.

Chiana: (gently) Hey... Talikaa - come on. I'll get you some food and some better clothes. (the now docile slave girl follows her out. Scorpius growls softly under his breath and exits as well)

Pilot: The trading vessel is now leaving Moya.

D'Argo: Good. (Noranti does an abrupt about-face and leaves. As the sound of the traders ship leaving is heard - John ambles over to Aeryn, who eyes his approach balefully)

John: So you're angry with me? Let's talk.

Aeryn: (with quiet fury) I don't want to talk.

John: Aeryn- (but she cuts him off with a powerful slap across his face that sends him staggering. She then stalks past him, and out)

(cut to moments later. John is following Aeryn down a corridor)

Aeryn: There's nothing to say.

John: The hell there's not - you hit me!

Aeryn: You lied to me.

John: Hey! You lied to me! You said nothing was bothering you. (she makes no response as she turns off into a room and he follows - he knows very well what the problem is and decides he'd best deal with it) Okay so I did not tell you about the poppers. You did not tell me about the baby. Does that mean I get to hit you now?

Aeryn: I would not advise that. (John leans down close to her where she's taken up a sharp tool and is scraping at something with it)

John: Oh - you - do not scare me, missy. (she fixes him with A Look and he quickly backs up) Okay... You care me a little. (she returns her attention to her task) You want the truth? (she looks at him and waits) I was taking that crap from Noranti - to forget you. (coaxingly) But you gotta admit - it's kinda romantic. I'm just crazy about you.

Aeryn: So it's my fault.

John: (startled by her extrapolation) No! What?

Aeryn: You should have been stronger.

John: Oh God - Aeryn! - Please! (he splutters with frustration) Honey give me a break! I'm weak! I'm human! (he drops to his knees before her) I'm a guy. (she slams down what she was doing and walks away. He scrambles to his feet and trails her desperately) What is the matter? Aeryn - I'm fine! (he reaches to stop her but she whirls about at his touch and glares at him. He hurriedly withdraws his hand and says quietly) We're gonna be fine.

Aeryn: No. We're not. (and she walks away)

John: Aeryn do not walk away! Much as I LOVE it when you walk away... AERYN! (but she just keeps on walking and he continues to himself, quieter) We're gonna be fine. She likes me.

(cut to Chiana's quarters. The Nebari has evidently been digging around in Jool's old closet and found something more fetching than a slaves rags for Talikaa to wear. The darkly beautiful woman is now clad in a long skirt with a low top that has heavy brushed steel colored armbands and collar to match. Talikaa stands stiffly as Chiana primps her)

Chiana: Wooow... That's much better! (she chuckles) Fits great. It looks nice. (Talikaa tries to imitate Chiana’s chuckle - it's clearly not a sound her kind makes) It looks ah - sexy.

Talikaa: What is 'sexy'?

Chiana: Oh a girl as beautiful as you shouldn't... Shouldn't have to ask that. (she holds Talikaa’s hands and looks at her) Sexy is um... (she steps around behind the slave girl and says softly, near her ear) Sexy.

Talikaa: You like sexy? (Chiana seems mesmerized by Talikaa, and slowly circles her)

Chiana: Yeah. It's my uh... It's my favorite color. (she rests her chin on Talikaa’s shoulder and murmurs) Makes you feel good - knowing men want you. (the slave girl jumps and looks sharply at Chiana, who back slowly off, stammering) Ooohhh... Sorry I- M-m-most men aren't... Aren't like those traders. Most men are uh - are pretty drad. (Talikaa eyes the Nebari with her distorted vision and Chiana seems uncomfortable under her intense gaze)

Talikaa: You like men for sex?

Chiana: They're uh... They're good for other things. (slyly) But they're great for sex. (Talikaa steps closer to her)

Talikaa: Just men? You like this? (she lays her hand on Chinas cheek and strokes softly downward, under her chin, Chiana breathes shakily) Is this sex? (Chiana turns her lips to Talikaa’s palm and breathes the word "Yes...")

Chiana: (murmuring) It's ah... It's getting pretty close. (Talikaa comes closer and their lips touch tentatively. In the corridor outside, Aeryn is passing by. She glances in and pauses to watch the intimate pas de deux as Talikaa touches Chiana’s lips with her tongue while caressing her breast - and they kiss)

Aeryn: Chiana. (the sensual spell is broken, and Chiana leans away from Talikaa. Aeryn beckons her with her eyes and walks away from the door. Chiana is obliged to follow)

Chiana: (annoyed) Okay. What - is your problem?

Aeryn: That the only reason why you brought her aboard? So you can make her your toy now?

Chiana: Uh... We were just talkin'. Girl stuff. (Aeryn’s stare is steely) Oh come on... (she sets her hands on Aeryn’s waist, the ex-PK remains stiff and cold) I get feisty! I'm not like you - (she suddenly pushes Aeryn against the wall of the corridor. Aeryn pushes her hands away but Chiana comes right back) - you don't need it. I do! It's not a crime.

Aeryn: (blandly) This is excessive - even for you Chiana.

Chiana: Well if you're not into it - I could always ask Crichton. (she leans in close to Aeryn to kiss her neck and touch her. Aeryn pushes her hand away again) You mind?

Aeryn: Do what you want. (she brushes past the Nebari and is gone)

(cut to John's quarters where he's amusing himself with a book and a slinky as he shuffles about his room and whistles. He suddenly spots Talikaa peeking around the corner of the doorway at him)

John: Hey! Hey! How you doin'? Come on in! Uh - sorry about the mess. (Talikaa smiles as he hurriedly tries to clear a space on his cluttered floor. But it's a hopeless cause and he decides to try and distract her with a sweet offering instead) Chocolate? It's fresh from Earth. (the dark woman shakes her head and wavers in the doorway) Don't be afraid. Come on in - we're friends.

Talikaa: For sex? (John laughs as he bites into the chocolate himself and Talikaa sidles on in)

John: No. That's a different kind of friend. That's a special friend. (Talikaa imitates laughter again - she does a bit better job of it this time, although she cuts it off too abruptly)

Talikaa: A special friend. (she sits next to John) Like you and Aeryn.

John: (taken aback) How did you-? Oh! Chiana, right?

Talikaa: Chiana - yes. But I can see it for myself. Anyone can. You are hers and she is yours. Or am I wrong? (an odd fugue moment passes during which John shakes his head and looks away and she stares at him, unsmiling, with her distorted vision)

John: No. You're right. You're absolutely right. (the moment passes and when he looks at her again, she's grinning innocently at him, and they laugh)

(cut to D'Argo and Rygel elsewhere on Moya. They're on either side of a table from which a complex hologram is being projected into the air between them)

D'Argo: These maps look legitimate. Information about the dangerous sectors is accurate. It should be easy for us to evade them. Looks like the old witch actually did a good job.

Rygel: Don't I get any credit?

D'Argo: What for?

Rygel: Look closely at that. (he tosses a coin onto the table and chuckles) Read me the amount.

D'Argo: 100 Krendars.

Rygel: (proudly) It's really only a twelfth of that. I added the extra digit. Fine handiwork, don't you think?

D'Argo: (incredulous) You cheated the traders?

Rygel: That's right. More for me. (D'Argo's eyes bug with disbelief and frankly so do ours - Rygel knows better than to tell him things like that! The Luxan leans across the table and claps a hand on him)

D'Argo: (shouting) Do you know what you've done, you SELFISH little tralk? The traders CONTROL this part of tormented space! (John strolls into the room )

Rygel: (coolly) The kreebold won't even notice. (but D'Argo is enraged and charges around the table at him, bellowing)

D'Argo: THEY WILL NOTICE, YA LYING, CHEATING LITTLE- (as his screaming deteriorates into angry Luxan - John moves quickly to intervene before Rygel gets popped like a tick)

John: Knock it-! KNOCK IT OFF! BREAK! BREAK! (he manages to separate the pair and there's a moment of silence during which they all pant - and Rygel whimpers a little) Neutral corners. What is the problem?

D'Argo: This little piece of DREN gave the traders counterfeit krendars!

Rygel: Not counterfeit! Just altered!

John: (reasonably) Sparky what'd you want to do that for? (Rygel looks a little abashed) These are not the guys we wanna piss off. We have to be out here for a while and we need to be able to do business.

D'Argo: And now he's ruined that for us! When they find out they've been cheated-

Rygel: I'm telling you - they won't! Those forgeries would fool anyone.

John: (paternalistic) Ryg - you can't do stuff like this. You're jamming us up. (D'Argo is as frustrated by John's mellow attitude as he is by Rygel’s stupid stunt)

D'Argo: Crichton - can't you see the damage he has done us? When they come for us, I'm gonna give them YOU! They can enjoy you as much as they like! (Noranti enters and silently watches the altercation)

John: (prissy) Dee - that's not going to solve the problem. Relax. Have a seat. Have a bite to eat. (he slides a plate of food towards the Luxan - which is cause for Rygel to act as if it were the last plate of edibles this side of the galactic core)

Rygel: Get away from those! They're mine!

D'Argo: YOU SELFISH LITTLE DREN! (he sweeps the food off the table, Rygel snarls, D'Argo hisses and John throws himself between them again)

John: (to D'Argo) CHILL! Chill bro- it's under control! All right? We're gonna make it right. We're gonna phone these guys - we're gonna tell 'em we made a mistake and we're gonna make it right.

Rygel: Are you fahrbot?

D'Argo: I'm the Captain here. I'll deal with it - (over John's shoulder, to Rygel) - AND THEN I'LL DEAL WITH YOU!

Rygel: Just keep your hands off my property. (he turns and heads for the exit. D'Argo sidesteps John and storms after him)

John: Dee let him- (he ,makes a grab for the Luxan, who shoves him out of the way) Let him go! Dee! (but D'Argo just throws him a furious glance and continues on - past Rygel and out. John watches them leave, and sighs - then hits his comm) Pilot - can you get that trading ship on the phone?

Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) I'll try Commander - but this area of Tormented Space is making transmissions very unreliable.

John: (with the enthusiasm of a politician on the stump) You can do it, man. You're smart enough, you're good enough - doggone it - people like you! (in his Den, Pilot blinks)

Pilot: (somewhere between annoyed and suspicious) Are you all right Crichton?

(cut to D'Argo. He's breathing heavily with fury as he storms down one of Moya’s corridors. Suddenly he comes upon Talikaa, walking towards him - alone)

D'Argo: (sharply) What are you doing here? I told you to stay in Chiana’s quarters.

Talikaa: (bluntly) I don't have to listen to you. No one else does. (as she watches him with her distorted vision, it's as if her presence causes him to sense - rather than hear, her provocative words) Nobody listens to you. They listen to Crichton, but not to you.

D'Argo: Get back to those quarters or I will THROW YOU OFF THIS SHIP MYSELF! (he rages off down the corridor, nearly knocking Sikozu over as she and Noranti approach. They watch him disappear and then turn inquiringly to Talikaa. But the slave girl just stares back at them for a moment, and says nothing before hurrying away)

(cut to later in Scorpius' quarters. Sikozu has been making more modifications to his coolant apparatus. Now, instead of holding just one rod - it holds 4. All 4 are bright red as they spin with a sound like an electric screwdriver outside his head)

Sikozu: Noranti seems to think that everyone is acting very strangely. (the coolant device stops spinning)

Scorpius: And what do you think?

Sikozu: They are agitated. (she makes some adjustment to the coolant device and it starts to spin again) Unusually emotional. (the rods turn icy blue) Everyone except Aeryn. She's - colder than usual.

Scorpius: She wills herself - against emotions. Like any good soldier. (the mount of the 4 coolant rods folds neatly, enabling the entire expanded device to slide back into his skull)

(cut to soon after. Scorpius, having chilled that hot Scarran blood of his - is walking the corridors of Moya. In passing John's quarters - he witnesses a strange scene - the human is being sexually harassed by Chiana)

Chiana: (panting) You - on the table - right now. (she proceeds to push John backwards onto said table and crawl on top of him)

John: (with a passive little laugh) W-w-what's gotten into you? (he halfheartedly tries to keep her at arms length)

Chiana: Nothing - yet. (she giggles and tries to get her mouth to his face)

John: (amused) Oh-ho-hokay! I just figured out what you need! You need a cold shower! (Chiana laughs as John pushes her upright and she arches over backward in his arms)

Chiana: It's okay! (John makes an 'Oh my I'm so hot' sort of whoop) I asked Aeryn - she said she didn't care about you anyway. (she leans back over John)

John: Yes she does.

Chiana: No she doesn't.

John: We're happy. She loves me.

Chiana: Oh come on - you know you want it. (but before she can deflower our flaccid hero - Scorpius intervenes)

Scorpius: John.

John: Oh hey Scorp! (Chiana looks over her shoulder at the half-Scarran standing in the doorway as she rocks back and forth on John's belly)

Chiana: Hey Scorpy - you wanna watch?

John: (with a negative grunt) Ain't nothin' here to see. (he sits up and definitively pushes her off him) We're done. (to Chiana) You're leaving.

Chiana: (to John, miffed) Hezmana to you. What'd she do - cut 'em off? (she makes for the door- but pauses by Scorpius, who responds to her like one animal to another. He snarls and ducks his mouth towards hers. She makes no move to avoid him - and he seems to catch himself, as if wary of letting his primal drives take over. He pulls back and she exits. John is moronically jovial)

John: Whoa - how bout that? Kids! (he laughs) Man - she's in overdrive today.

Scorpius: She's not alone. (John whips out some technical film and begins to look a it in an attempt to avoid Scorpius' eye) How are you feeling?

John: (loudly) Good! Never better! (quickly) Got a little ah - thing going on with the traders, but - ah - that's not a problem. (Scorpius advances into the room)

Scorpius: We do have a problem. Your crewmates - are behaving very oddly.

John: Aw - that's par for the course around here Grasshopper. Don't worry about it.

Scorpius: Noranti does not think so.

John: Well Noranti imagines things. We're fine.

Scorpius: (softly) But you are not fine John. Nor is Chiana, Aeryn, Rygel, D'Argo... Your behavior has changed - since that girl came onboard.

John: (glad to address Scorpius' concerns) You think Talikaa - is doin' a T'raltixx? A mind-frell? (and he knows just how to fix this problem - the same way that he's used so successfully to fix all his other problems) Right. Let's go talk to her. (he claps the half-Scarran on the shoulder) Come on! She's in Chiana’s quarters. (he heads for the door, but Scorpius stops him)

Scorpius: No she isn't! She's disappeared - (ominously) - and we cannot find her.

(cut to soon after, the hunt for Talikaa is on. Aeryn and John have teamed up and are patrolling Moya’s corridors when the strange woman appears in a doorway)

Aeryn: There she is.

John: Talikaa! (the slave girl freezes and backs up a little as John walks toward her) It's all right - it's all right. Everything's gonna be all right. We're not gonna hurt you - don't be afraid. (but Talikaa turns and flees back the way she came. John comms the others) We got her - tier 3 maintenance bay. (he and Aeryn march into the room. Talikaa watches them from hiding as John sings softly) Come out, come out, wherever you are. Taliiii- kaaaa... Taliii-kaaaa... (Aeryn is looking around, she seems spooked by the woman’s disappearance, so John offers her some whispered reassurance) It's all right - we know she's here. (at that moment, the silence of the room is broken by a high-pitched, hiss-like scream. Aeryn and John freeze, and collapse to the floor. They lay with their eyes wide and staring blindly at the ceiling - from which a huge spider-like creature drops. Its golden-eyed face is oddly intelligent as it scuttles toward their inert forms and taps its feelers over their faces)

(cut to soon after. Aeryn and John slowly come to on the floor of the maintenance bay - the spider is nowhere to be seen)

Aeryn: (grimacing as she sits up) What the frell happened? I heard a scream.

John: Yeah - me too. (he looks around, dazed) Then the lights went out. (Aeryn spots something on John's face)

Aeryn: What is that?

John: What? (she taps one of a few pustule-like bumps on his temple)

Aeryn: That. (John winces and gingerly touches the sores himself)

John: Ow - I don't- (he looks at Aeryn, she's broken out as well) You got something - right there. (Aeryn touches her own face and gasps painfully)

(cut to Chiana, D'Argo and Rygel moving through another corridor and sniping at each other)

D'Argo: (to Chiana, agitated) This is all your fault. You brought her onto the ship. Shoulda let you shoot her - in fact - I shoulda shot her myself.

Chiana: (languid) You're not going to hurt her.

Rygel: (peevish) You both owe me currency. Everybody on this ship owes me and I've been far too patient. I want it now.

D'Argo: Rygel - shut up! (at that moment, John breaks in via comm. The scene begins shifting between the maintenance bay and the corridor)

John: D'Argo? Hey listen up man - Talikaa's a lot more dangerous than she looks.

D'Argo: (snide) Big surprise. (Chiana swats him one)

John: (sounding tired) Yeah she - she's got some kind of scream that knocked us flat. We followed her to the tier 3 bay but... I dunno - she could be anywhere by now. (as he speaks, something watches Chiana, D'Argo and Rygel with distorted vision as they walk. Suddenly it lets lose with a hissing scream. As Chiana turns to look in the direction of its source, Aeryn and John hear it over comms) DEE? D'ARGO? (but as Aeryn and John scramble to their feet in alarm - there is no response)

Meanwhile, back in the corridor, Sikozu hurries around a corner and skids to a stop at the sight of Chiana, D'Argo and Rygel sprawled on the floor with a giant spider crawling over them. She and the spider lock eyes for an instant before the Kalish turns and flees - with the enormous insect in hot pursuit. After a brief flight, Sikozu seems to have outrun the chittering beast and she ducks into an atmospheric scrubber chamber. The only sound is the gentle whoosh of the heavy fans - but Sikozu seems wary and she advances slowly inside. She pauses at a slight rustling sound, but hears nothing further - except the drip of something from above. She slowly looks up - and into the eyes of the monster spider on the ceiling above her, it's venom dripping from its fangs She opens her mouth and screams as it drops...

(cut to Scorpius as he paces through the corridors of Moya - and stops as the echo of Sikozu’s scream reaches him. With a growl, he turns and moves toward the sound. And in the atmospheric scrubber chamber - the fingers of Sikozu’s left hand wave gently. The Kalish is laying a few feet away and watching them move as she reaches longingly for them with her right arm - which is still attached to her body. She would, no doubt, get up and retrieve her left arm if only her right lower leg weren't amputated as well. Scorpius snarls as he and Noranti cautiously enter. He drops to his knee next to Sikozu and puts his face near hers, panting as if holding back rage with extreme effort)

Scorpius: (with quiet ferocity) I will kill your attacker. I promise.

Noranti: (commandingly) Save her first! Get her limbs! (Scorpius scrambles to comply)

(cut to Aeryn as she marches into the Command. John is lagging several paces behind her)

Aeryn: (stridently, anxious) I don't understand why she's doing this. I actually felt sorry for her, but she's going to kill us all. We have to do something.

John: (mumbling) Jus.. just give me a minute will ya? I feel like crap. Whatever she did... knocked the wind outta my sails.

Aeryn: (near panic) Listen we won't have much time. She could be anywhere and we have to find her.

John: (dismissive) Damn, woman - would you give it a rest? (he lowers himself painfully into a chair, but Aeryn is near tears of despair)

Aeryn: No. No please don't be useless. Don't be - useless. (she makes for the door, but runs into D'Argo, Chiana and Rygel, who are just dragging themselves in)

D'Argo: John...

John: (with a spent groan) She got you too?

D'Argo: Yeah I'm ah - not exactly sure how.

Chiana: She musta snuck up from behind us. I don't feel so right. (Aeryn eyes the lot of them)

Rygel: (slurring badly) Neither do I. So weak...

Aeryn: (alarmed) No we can't be weak! We have to pull ourselves together and we have to fight back!

John: (peeved) With what? She kicked our asses. Just give it up.

Aeryn: (upset) No - we can't! We can't! (she rushes out of the room)

Chiana: What? What's with Aeryn? (John, whose head is buried in his arms, flaps one hand wearily at Chiana)

D'Argo: We just have to talk to Talikaa, find out why she attacked us. Pilot - do you know where she is?

Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) The DRDs are searching, but no luck so far. (Chiana gingerly touches a few little pustules that have formed at her temples. John raises his head from his arms long enough to offer a little discouragement)

John: She can probably turn invisible. We're never gonna find her.

Pilot: Additionally - the trading vessel has changed course and is now heading toward Moya. We cannot establish communication.

D'Argo: Well their intentions could be hostile.

John: (hangdog) Oh course they're hostile - Rygel screwed them, they're coming back to screw us.

Rygel: (truly dispirited) Then let the traders come. We'll... We'll give them everything they want. All the currency we have. It's only brought us conflict anyway. (now THAT scares Chiana)

Chiana: Okay - something very - very weird is going on. Aeryn - is falling apart. Rygel is... He's not greedy at all - (to John) And you're giving up. (John flaps his hand limply at her again and she paces up to D'Argo) And you're not even angry.

D'Argo: (mildly) Well I have no reason to be angry. I believe with dialogue and compromise- (but he cuts himself off with a howl of pain as Chiana stomps on his foot. Rygel gasps and John looks up)

Chiana: (challenging) There is a reason to be angry.

D'Argo: (with determined meekness) I really don't see how that is going to help- (but he's cut off again by Chiana, who hauls off and backhands him across the face as hard as she can. Rygel almost squeals with alarm)

Chiana: Okay- how about that? (but the Luxan just breathes heavily and rubs his face. So Chiana knees him in the groin and then watches him as he bellows) Still not angry?

D'Argo: No I'm not. I should be - but I'm not.

Chiana: (spooked) It's... It's like she's taken our strongest trait away.

John: (without raising his head from his arms) She didn't take anything away from you. (Chiana looks up at D'Argo and realizes she's going to have to test it out. She steps closer to him)

Chiana: Okay.

D'Argo: What?

Chiana: Jus-just put 'em right- right here. (she takes his hands and puts them on her breasts, he gasps with pleasure) Okay now just... Just do it.

D'Argo: (murmuring hurriedly) I uh - I really don't...

Chiana: (pleading) D'Argo come on.

D'Argo: I can't in front of them.

Chiana: Just do it!

D'Argo: I- (Chiana is obliged to reach up and pull the demure Luxans face to hers. They take a long slow taste of each other while John and Rygel hold their breathes - and them the Nebari abruptly disengages)

Chiana: (gasping, appalled) No - No tingle. No - No nothin'! (she takes herself and her loomas away from D'Argo who clearly isn't having any libido problems) That tralk has - has taken my sex drive.

(cut back to the atmospheric scrubber chamber where Noranti and Scorpius are wrangling Sikozu’s amputated limbs into position near their respective stumps amid much extravagant squelching)

Noranti: Apply pressure - (Sikozu moans a little, she's only semi-conscious as her arm and leg are pressed into place) - and her limbs should reattach.

(cut to Pilot in his Den as he's hailed by a very lugubrious John The scene shifts between him and the others on the Command as they speak)

John: Pilot - has that trading ship responded?

Pilot: No. Our signal still isn't getting through. And - the traders vessel now appears to be - drifting.

D'Argo: (with terrifyingly cool, Trekkish logic) Well with our comms out, the trader ship's probably powered down to signal they mean no harm. Pilot - prepare the docking web to bring them aboard.

Chiana: (cranky) Pilot? Why haven't you located that frelling Talikaa? (she yanks John to his feet, unable to bear the sight of anyone not actively trying to help her get her groove thang back)

Pilot: Her movements are extraordinary. The moment a DRD locates her, she's - (with a soft note of envy) - gone again.

(cut to soon after. Chiana, D'Argo, John and Rygel have repaired to the area just outside the docking bay. As the heavy boom of the trader vessel setting down on Moya’s deck is heard through the massive docking bay doors, Aeryn charges in and accosts the Nebari)

Aeryn: You! This is all your fault! (John makes a desultory move to prevent a fight - but Chiana doesn't seem to have any argument for Aeryn accusation)

John: Aeryn! Whoa! Nonono - that's not helping. (D'Argo pulls Aeryn away and coos at her)

D'Argo: OOoo! OOoo!

Aeryn: All right! (the Luxan continues in an exaggeratedly gentle tone of soothing)

D'Argo: Settle... (Aeryn actually responds positively to his paternal interventions)

Aeryn: Sorry.

And with that - the hangar door open to reveal the trader vessel. Its debarkation steps are lowered and one of the traders appears in the ships hatchway. But as Talikaa watches from concealment - his descent to Moya’s deck quickly becomes a tumble. The crew of Moya rush to his side - and stare in horror. The little pustules on his face have grown into huge, necrotized lesions - and as they watch, he gasps his last breath and dies.

John: (quietly) Now we know how it ends.

D'Argo inhales deeply and mounts the steps of the trader ship. Aeryn, Chiana and Rygel follow him in. He continues on through the first room they enter, but Chiana pauses to look at a dead trader laying on the floor. His face and neck are a mass of raw, purulently diseased flesh.

Chiana: This is what we got to look forward to?

Rygel: (feebly) By my reckoning we won't have to wait that long.

Aeryn: (vehement) Don't - say that. We're gonna be fine. (the sores on her temples have worsened and begun to spread a dark bruise-like splotch over the right side of her face. She goes after D'Argo as she continues to try and reassure herself) We're gonna be fine. We're gonna find something, we're gonna figure it all out and we are going to be - fine.

Aeryn and D'Argo continue their search of the ship - but it appears to be a tomb. Then - as the Luxan passes a body, it suddenly reaches out and grabs him. It's Outurak, his lesions have become gaping wounds on his face and neck that make it look as if his skin has exploded outward. He gasps a little and looks imploringly up at D'Argo, who crouches down by him.

D'Argo: What happened? (but the man can only choke and gag in response before he dies)

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ship - Rygel has found something that actually does shed some light on what happened. He's sitting and watching a recorded hologram of a Diagnosan. The tiny trills of its click language is being voiced over and translated by the male voice of his assistant. Aeryn, Chiana and D'Argo enter in time to hear the doctors long-distance diagnosis. The image and its sound wavers fitfully.

Diagnosan: I now have information on the symptoms you've described. They're caused by the Wolaxan arachnid. This creatures touch infects its victims and stimulates exaggerated neural functioning.

Chiana: That sounds like us.

Diagnosan: The creature then transforms, harvests that energy from its host, stores it in membrane orbs and hides those orbs in an external nest for later consumption. Finding that nest and opening the orbs in proximity to the victims will allow re-assimilation of the energy and complete recovery. (the hologram cuts off abruptly. Aeryn is alarmed)

Aeryn: WOT? (she stammers anxiously for a moment) We have to get it back! We have to know how to kill the creature. Get him back!

D'Argo: (patiently, wearily) Killing Talikaa isn't the problem. Finding the energy orb is.

Aeryn: (snapping) Really? You think she's not going to try and defend her nest? (D'Argo sighs, Aeryn snaps again) What?

D'Argo: Relax. (he exits - and Aeryn and Chiana look grimly at each other)

(cut back to the atmospheric scrubbers where Sikozu is till laying unconscious. Scorpius sits on his haunches nearby while Noranti wafts a black root under the redheads nose)

Noranti: (whispering) Sikozu... (the Kalish shakes her head violently and begins to wake up - terrified and screaming. Noranti quickly withdraws the root and calls to Scorpius - who seems to have lost his veneer of civilization. Sikozu thrashes wildly) Hold her still! (Scorpius scuttles over and takes Noranti's place straddling Sikozu’s body, lowering himself protectively over her)

Sikozu: (hysterical) I was - I was attacked! I was attacked!

Noranti: We know. D'Argo commed. It was a Wolaxan arachnid. Lie still - you're safe now.

Sikozu: (deliriously) My arm and my leg...

Noranti: Focus your mind on healing yourself. Your limbs may still be saved. The arachnid seeks to harvest neural energy. Why did it attack you? Are you immune to its touch?

Sikozu: Yes... Yes I must be immune. (Scorpius however is having some trouble, he begins to choke and toss his head violently, as if trying to shake something vile out of his mouth) Scorpius?

Noranti: Yes he's infected but not harvested. (she pats the half-Scarran to get his attention and speaks loudly to him) She's doing well Scorpius. You may leave her now. (she gives him a little push and he rolls off Sikozu and away, like an animal making a fast escape . Noranti whispers to Sikozu) The Scarran in him is growing stronger - overcoming his Sebacean personality. I must stop him. Keep him from harming us.

Sikozu: No! He will not harm us! I know him! (but despite her words, she seems alarmed by the snarling, hissing Scorpius who paces nearby. He's agitated and watches them like a wild animal unsure if it should flee or attack. Noranti keeps all 3 of her eyes on him as well)

Noranti: You know only his Sebacean side.

Scorpius: (in a horrible guttural roar) Kill it now! (Noranti rises and moves towards the half-Scarran beast)

Noranti: First we must find its orbs.

Scorpius: Kill it nooowww!

Noranti: Forgive me Scorpius! (and with that - she blows a palmful of dust into his face. He shakes his head and spits - then lashes out at her. Noranti yelps as she's thrown several feet, narrowly missing the blades of one of the fans, whose heavy whoosh seems suddenly malevolent. Teeth bared and snarling, Scorpius advances on her. Sikozu cries out in horror)

Sikozu: NO! (but just as he gets within mauling range of the old woman - her drug takes its effect. The half-Scarran stumbles and goes down, first to his knees, then flat-out onto the floor, unconscious)

(cut back to the docking bay where John is sitting on the floor waiting for the others, who are just exiting the trading vessel. Pilot speaks to them via comm)

Pilot: The DRDs last saw Talikaa in the neural cluster -but they're unable to locate her nest of energy orbs.

John: (glumly) So we're screwed. (Aeryn rolls her eyes and Talikaa watches them from concealment)

Chiana: (to John) Would ya stop talkin' like that?

Aeryn: Well we can't be like this. We have - we have to focus. All right I say we team up - we start in the neural cluster and we search every tier ourselves.

Chiana: And we'll either find the orbs, or we'll find the shahk that took 'em. (she moves off)

D'Argo: (earnestly) Or perhaps we could persuade Talikaa to return the energy orbs. (he exits)

Rygel: Let's 'persuade' her with a pulse rifle. (he sails off after D'Argo with a groan)

Aeryn: (to John) Come on. (she extends a hand to pull him up - but he plops back down after a half-hearted attempt to rise)

John: Oof - hang on a second... I'm just - dizzy. (Aeryn looks concerned. He looks up at her wistfully and touches her hair) You know what the worst part of this is? You and me... we never could get it together. Now we never will.

Aeryn: (husky) Don't you ever talk like that! Come on. (and with that, she pulls him to his feet and leads him out of the hangar bay)

And as soon as they're gone, Talikaa trots out of hiding and up the steps into the traders ship. She makes her way quickly to the control center and taps at a few panels - the sound of the vessels engines powering up is heard...

(cut to D'Argo. He's breathing heavily as he moves through Moya’s corridors with a couple of DRDs as Pilot comms him urgently)

Pilot: Captain D'Argo! The trading ships engines are powering up!

D'Argo: It must be Talikaa.

Pilot: I can't seal the outer doors in time!

D'Argo: You gotta stop her!

Pilot: It's too late! The vessel has left Moya! (D'Argo hits his comm)

D'Argo: CRICHTON! AERYN! RYGEL! CHIANA! GET ABOARD LO'LA AND FAST!

(cut to Aeryn and John elsewhere in Moya’s corridors. Our faint-hearted hero pulls away from Aeryn and sags heavily against the wall)

John: Aeryn I... I can't... I can't keep up. Go without me.

Aeryn: (softly) What? (she comes and touches the fiery red pustules on his temple with concerned. But he pushes her hand away)

John: No! Forget about me and go. (Aeryn looks at him for a moment, then she slowly steps away, turns, and jogs off toward the docking bay)

(cut to soon after as Lo'la speeds away from Moya with Aeryn, Chiana, D'Argo and Rygel aboard)

Aeryn: (listless) I don't know about the rest of you, but we should probably get this done quite quickly. (no-one responds except for Rygel who lets a long slow fart of anxiety...)

(cut back to Moya, where John is talking to himself, trying to shake off his lethargy)

John: Dammit boy - make yourself useful. C'mon. (but he doesn't move from the spot Aeryn left him in)

(cut back to Lo'la. The traders vessel is visible in the distance)

D'Argo: We're almost within range. Their weapons aren't charged up and they're not taking any evasive action. Should be easy to board.

Rygel: (feebly) We might be walking into a trap.

D'Argo: Agreed. Okay - Rygel you stay here and watch that scanner. If it senses any movement, comm us.

Chiana: (deeply regretful) This is all my fault. I'm sorry about this. I'll kill that tralk myself.

(cut to soon after as Aeryn, Chiana and D'Argo board the darkened trading ship with guns and flashlights)

D'Argo: Rygel - any movements?

Rygel: (on comm) No - just you three. (they commence searching the silent ship. The beams of their flashlights play over dead bodies and the inert fixtures of the vessel)

Chiana: (apprehensive) Nothin' here but corpses. This is klempt. She's gotta be here. (meanwhile D'Argo has reached the navigation center)

D'Argo: (with a soft groan) Frell... The guidance system's been activated! This ship's set to fly itself.

Aeryn: She never left Moya.

(cut back to Moya where John has managed to get himself to his quarters and onto his bed for a nice lie-down - which is interrupted by an urgent comm from D'Argo)

D'Argo: John - the trader ship is empty. Talikaa used it as a decoy.

John: (dully) So she wasn't there.

D'Argo: (gasping for breath) No - she must still be aboard Moya. We're heading back now, but - we're very weak. You have - to find - those energy orbs. We're all dead without them. (John just lays there - until Noranti storms into his room like the irate mother of a good-for-nothing son)

Noranti: (commandingly) Get - up! (he groans as she hauls him off his bed - but he just flops onto the floor and tries to crawl back into it. That's not happening with Grandma Grunt on his case though and she drags him backwards) Come on! Now - are you ready to die? Are you ready to watch Aeryn die? (that gets his attention - for a moment) Now Crichton - without those orbs- (but he cuts her off)

John: (whiney) She coulda hid them anywhere. Moya's huge. We'll never find 'em. (it strikes us that now might be a good time for some sort of Positive Energy Drug - but there's never any of those are there? John tries to crawl back to bed and Noranti hauls him back again)

Noranti: That's it! (thoughtfully) Talikaa - is the only one who knows where they are.

John: (sullen) Yeah so we're dead - she's never gonna tell us.

Noranti: Nono - but maybe we can get her to show us where they are. Now - Scorpius is infected but not yet harvested.

John: Why not?

Noranti: Well I made him unconscious. Now - now perhaps she can't sense him, even though he is ripe and ready for her. (John thinks about it slowly)

John: So we… wake him up, use him as bait, let her harvest his mojo.

Noranti: And then we follow her and we find all the orbs.

John: What about Sikozu?

Noranti: Well she's strong enough to help, I'm sure. (John hits his comm)

John: Dee! We may not be dead - (under his breath) - yet.

D'Argo: (cut briefly to him and the others in Lo'la as he mutters) Well sounds like you're almost back to your old self. We should ah... We should be back to you within an arn.

(cut to soon after in the atmospheric scrubber chamber. Sikozu brings a tiny capsule to the lips of the unconscious Scorpius)

Sikozu: Here - swallow this. (his head moves suddenly and he takes her finger in his mouth. Her voice quavers fearfully as he releases it slowly and she whispers) Wake up Scorpius... We need you. (the half-Scarrans eyes fly open. He stares at her for a moment - and then lashes out and grabs her by the throat. She cries out is terror) AAHH-AHH! You don't want to hurt me Scorpius - I'm - ally.

Scorpius: (whispering) Si-kozu?

Sikozu: (quaking with fear) Yes - Scorpius. (the half-Scarran sits up and leans into her face)

Scorpius: (whispering) Arachnid - kill it.

Sikozu : (almost in tears) Yes Scorpius - it's time to kill it. (and with that - he leaps to his feet and sweeps her into his arms. She yelps and clings to her monster)

Scorpius: (whispering) Help. (and with a furtive look around, he strides away with her)

(cut briefly to John as he begins loading his high-yield many-barreled pulse gun. The scene then shifts to Noranti as she walks slowly down one of Moya’s dim corridors. She senses something behind her and whirls about with a gasp - to face Talikaa, who's in her guise as a pretty woman)

Talikaa: What's your hurry old one?

Noranti: Keep away from me. (she backs away, but the spider-lady follows her coolly)

Talikaa: I don't want you. You're old - and bitter. You know who I do want - where is he?

Noranti: I don't know anything.

Talikaa: (hissing) Liar! You know where he is! Scorpius... Tell me or you die.

Noranti: If I don't tell you - you die. You need his energy when you're starving and you can't find him. Come! (she walks slowly away, and Talikaa follows for a few steps before stopping and staring into space)

Talikaa: (to herself) I sense him - close.

(cut to moments later - Sikozu is crouching around a corner of a set of mall, twisting corridors. She's watching Scorpius, who's a few feet away. He's pacing near Moya’s bulkhead and is raging like a caged animal. snarling and spiting. Suddenly he senses something behind him and turns to face it with a guttural roar. It’s Talikaa and she hisses back - but before he can attack - she shrieks and the sound of it knocks the feral half-Scarran to the deck. Sikozu hits her comm as the spider woman bends over him)

Sikozu: Crichton? The arachnid is harvesting Scorpius.

John: Stay with 'em if you can.

The scene jumps ahead to Talikaa as she enters a room. She's finished harvesting Scorpius and has his glowing essence stored in a lovely, lime-green object that's about the size and shape of an ostrich egg. She climbs a ramp that runs up near the rafters of the ceiling and proceeds to hang the green orb on a thick white rope of spider webbing. Several other of the glowing orbs are already hanging there. Sikozu limps into the shadows near the door. Her leg isn't fully reattached yet and is causing her some pain. She hits her comm.

Sikozu: Found it - tier 7 - the cargo bay. (the DRDs could not have missed this - they and Pilot must be willfully trying to get rid of these losers)

John: (as he drags himself through Moya’s corridors) I'm never gonna make it. (but as Sikozu creeps carefully further into the cargo bay - he does make it. Talikaa watches as he meanders in and with a glance at the concealed Kalish, proceeds to wearily address the room) I know you can see me. Bad guys always see me - 'cos my plans suck. People die. It's always a mess.

Talikaa: (a soft hiss) Crichton.

John: Yeah that's me. The dumbass. I help someone an' they screw me.

Talikaa: I have no remorse. You are food and I eat.

John: (exhausted) There's always an excuse lady.

Talikaa: Are the others coming to - attack?

John: (moaning) Ohhhh I don't... I don't think so. It's just... you and me. (Talikaa likes those odds - she begins to make her way down to the floor. John gestures limply at the hanging orbs) I was planning on uh - grabbing those nads there, but - I guess you're not gonna let me do that, are ya? (Talikaa shakes her head silently as she faces off with John. Behind her though, Sikozu moves surreptitiously up the ramp toward the spiders nest) I'm tired - of this. Why don't we just - end it? Come on I'm - tired. (he plops down onto the floor, utterly fatigued) I'm tired of worrying. I'm tired of fighting - just - bring it on. End it now. (the spider woman is creeping towards him, almost on all fours)

Talikaa: Do you want me to kill you?

John: Yes please. Fast, slow - ladies choice.

Talikaa: I like it slow. (she taps him a bit and he flops over onto his back)

John: Oh god - I was afraid you were gonna say that. Bring it on.

Talikaa: (murmuring as she leans close over him) I already have. (at that moment - Sikozu, who's up by the nest - realizes what's gong on below her)

Sikozu: CRICHTON! DON'T LET HER! (and with that - Talikaa realizes what's going on up above HER. She flies at the Kalish and shrieks in an attempt to fell her, but Sikozu is either too far away or immune to the spiders scream as well as her poison. Meanwhile, John, roused a bit by Sikozu’s cry - reaches for his gun and takes aim at Talikaa. The spider woman turns and opens her mouth to shriek at him too - but he fires at the same instant she screams. It seems to render the sonic knock-out ineffective and amid a ball of pulse fire - Talikaa abruptly morphs with a whoosh into her huge, monster spider form. John takes this in for a split second)

John: Whoa - freaky. (Talikaa starts toward him and he fires again - the pulse blast knocks her back - but doesn't even scorch her. He yells to Sikozu) GET THE ORBS! (Sikozu hustles and John lets fly another cannon-like blast of fire. Talikaa slashes at him with one of her claws and he throws himself out of her reach) HURRY IT UP! I CAN'T HOLD HER OFF - MUCH LONGER. (Sikozu frantically pulls down the glowing orbs while Talikaa hisses viciously and corners John against a wall. She seems impervious to his portable pulse cannon - but at the last second, as she makes her final charge at him - he rams the barrels of his weapon into her gaping mouth and pulls the trigger. The blast is contained within the spiders body for a few long seconds which causes her to glow like some fiery insect as she rolls - and then explodes like a gooey bomb. Sikozu cowers up in the lofts as bits of spider fly in all directions and then plop wetly the floor in a rain of gore. John looks up and mumbles) Along came a spider - exploded beside her... (and with that, little John faints away)

(cut to later in the center chamber. Noranti is stirring a bubbling pot while D'Argo and Rygel finish a meal)

Rygel: (with a groan of pleasure) Excellent Noranti. Best roasted spider soup I ever ate.

D'Argo: It's the only spider soup I ever ate. But it's really quite good.

Noranti: Are you feeling like your old selves again? (Rygel makes to sneak an extra tidbit from D’Argo’s plate)

D'Argo: Hey! (he swats the Hynerians hand away and say wryly) Rygel obviously is.

Rygel: How about you? Still affected? You don't seem very angry. (the Luxan leans very close to him)

D'Argo: Would you like me to show you how angry I am? (Rygel prudently backs off)

(cut to Scorpius, who's sitting in his quarters and looking despondent. Sikozu is with him and looking disapproving)

Sikozu: What is worse? Having us see that you are half-Scarran - or remembering it yourself?

Scorpius: I know what I am Sikozu. This interlude was simply a fortuitous - though troubling - reminder.

Sikozu: If you want my help - the price is inclusion - and honesty. (Scorpius inhales deeply and doesn't look at her)

(cut to Aeryn. She's sitting on the floor of one of Moya’s corridors, leaning against the great ships curving wall and contemplating a hit of lakka. John approaches her and pauses)

Aeryn: Do you have any idea what you've done?

John: You won the coin toss. (he makes to walk on by, but she scrambles to her feet and he stops)

Aeryn: But we lost - didn't we?

John: Aeryn - it's over.

Aeryn: (angry) So your mind is now so full of this dren that you can't even see straight. Is that it?

John: (muttering) Move on Aeryn... (but she's mad)

Aeryn: You see I did everything - everything I could to keep us together. I did exactly what you told me to do and the whole time you have been cheating!

John: Yeah I'm the coward. Move on. It's over.

Aeryn: (furious) No I'm gonna tell you how this is gonna go from now - YOU are going to stop sniffing this dren-

John: SHUTUP!

Aeryn: Don't you tell me to shut up!

John: Pilot! My comms are a bit buggy. Can you test the system please?

Pilot: (on comm) Yes, Commander. But that will take all comms offline for about 30 microts.

John: I thought so. That'll be fine, thank you. (the comm system clicks off and John turns to Aeryn) Shut up and listen to me. Scorpius is here - looking for the key to what is inside my head. Neural chips, Aurora Chair, threatening Earth - none of it works because he does not understand me.

Aeryn: Stop using him as an excuse.

John: PLEASE! (quietly, urgently) You're the key - my Achille's. You. If he figures that one out - the world and all that's in it is nothing. He will use you and the baby and I will not be able to stop him.

Aeryn: (disbelieving) So you think he's been using the comms? Look what it's done to you. You're completely paranoid. (and right on cue - the comm system crackles back on and Scorpius' voice is heard)

Scorpius: (on comm, urgently) Pilot? Are we having a problem with the comms?

Pilot: (over comm. responding to Scorpius as John stares at Aeryn) I was just checking them. Some slight irregularities - but they appear to be functioning normally. (Aeryn draws a shaky breath at this convenient performance and after a long pause, says in a loud stage voice to John)

Aeryn: S-so it's over.

John: It's over.

Aeryn: There's nothing more between us.

John: Nothing.

And in the silence, they look into each others eyes and touch faces as they smile and embrace.

THE END