Mental As Anything
January 20, 2003 - UK
January 31, 2003 - US
Writer - Mark Saraceni
Director: Geoff Bennett
John Brumpton . . . Katoya
Blair Venn . . . Macton Tal
Rachel Gordon . . . Lo'Laan
The episode opens with Moya slowing as she travels through space. Cut to Pilot's Den where John is sitting on the floor and leaning against the Console. His arms are around Aeryn who's sitting between his knees with her back to his chest. Pilot talks to them without taking his eyes from his control panels.
Pilot: We have reached the optimal departure point. D'Argo, Scorpius and Rygel are boarding Lo'La. Chiana, Sikozu and Noranti are already in a transport pod. (as Pilot speaks, Aeryn smiles and hands a small, many-buttoned object to John)
John: (to Pilot) Tell 'em we're coming.
Aeryn: (to John) Merry Christmas.
John: (to Aeryn, with a smile) Is there something that comes with this?
Aeryn: It's big. It's taking over your room.
John: Oh okay- (loudly, to Pilot) Tell them we're not coming. (quietly, to Aeryn) We're gonna stay. We'll watch TV. We'll eat popcorn, we'll act like normal people. (he points the remote into the air in front of them and laughs like a doofus as he clicks it. Aeryn grins)
Pilot: (insistent) Captain D'Argo is asking where you are.
John: I gotta go. I gotta go look after Scorpius.
Aeryn: We should do it together.
John: Now you know we can't do that together. (Aeryn sighs) Besides, you gotta look after the girls.
Aeryn: That's not fun.
John: It's more fun than Mental Arts Training camp.
Aeryn: (primly) You know you can do with the mental discipline.
John: (dryly) Huhh - not from someone Scorpy recommends. You got the better job.
Aeryn: (facetiously) What? Rummaging around on a dead Leviathan settlement, looking for a Moya part? Oh - that's infinitely more thrilling. (Pilot eyes them over the edge of his Console)
Pilot: I'm sorry, but now Chiana is inquiring where you are Officer Sun.
Aeryn: I'm coming Pilot. (but she doesn't move)
John: (with a sigh) Well - we gotta go. (Aeryn looks over her shoulder at him and he says softly) Merry Christmas.
Aeryn: Merry Christmas. (and they kiss)
(cut to soon after as Lo'La sweeps low over the surface of a dark planet. A rocky butte is dimly silhouetted against the dark grey sky and on the plain below, a neatly laid-out compound can be seen. It is comprised of a glowing dome that sits in the middle of a square marked by ground lights. At each of the squares 4 corners are smaller domes topped by tall thin cones of light. The whole compound has an ethereal look, as if it were made of clear membranes, lit from within.
The scene shifts to soon after, inside the main dome where its owner, the Mental Arts Master, Katoya, greets his students, who've taken seats on a couple benches set around the periphery of an arena. He is a tall, strongly built man whose face is dominated by an exaggerated Roman nose. It runs in an unbroken line straight up from its tip to form a blunt ridge over his forehead. His shoulder length, reddish-brown hair starts near the top of his skull and he's dressed in a simple, loose grey attire that resembles karate clothing. The black interior walls of his arena are studded with myriad small lights that cast little more illumination than bright, distant stars. D'Argo, John and Rygel are seated on a bench with a couple other guys, including a Charrid with a large tattoo on his forehead. They're all wearing the same karate-style outfit as Katoya - except Scorpius who, because of his thermal disability gets to keep his coolant suit. The Masters voice is masculine and serene - and he has a slight Australian accent)
Katoya: You have all come to my dwelling to learn. Your objective is mental discipline. To focus your whole mind on a single task is a skill few ever achieve.
D'Argo: (to John, whispering) How much did we pay for this? (in addition to their grey uniforms, each student also has a small, faceted, dark blue gem affixed to their forehead or temple. John shrugs and looks back to Katoya, who now directs their attention to a large structure at the center of the arena. It's a 3-dimensional metal frame whose 20 sides are composed of equilateral triangles. In proper geometry parlance - it's an icosahedron. Small light flow at its focal points and with it are 2 seats. This is the working area of the arena)
Katoya: The task chairs provide access to a mindscape - where you'll compete with an opponent, to the point of great pain. (Rygel heaves a sigh and sags) Embrace the pain and you shall succeed. (Scorpius looks grimly approving) Retreat - and suffer the consequences. If you have any self-doubt, you have 18 microts to exit - after which your Juxtowi crystal will be activated. Any attempt to leave and the crystal will bore through your brain. (John fingers the little jewel on his temple. He and the others conduct a quick conversation in low tones while Katoya pauses to let his words sink in)
D'Argo: Do you think it's worth going through with this?
John: Only if this guy can give us some information about that critter that attacked my family and killed my friend.
Scorpius: The creature you described is neither Peacekeeper nor Scarran in origin. If it is from Tormented Space - Katoya will know about it. (as he speaks, another student enters - he has a hood on his grey tunic pulled over his head)
Rygel: (his voice is loud in the silence of the arena) Then why won't he just frelling tell us - (Katoya looks sharply at Rygel, and Scorpius shushes him. He continues in a low tone) - about it? We paid him!
Scorpius: His price - is completion of the course.
John: (louder, to Katoya) Excuse me! Question: Before we commit to your class- (but the Mental Arens Master cuts him off)
Katoya: Are you afraid that you may not be able to handle the pain?
John: Look - I can put up with the fairy crystal and the jammies - (D'Argo suddenly seems distracted, and he sniffs the air) - but I need to know what else we get with the gym membership. (as John speaks, D'Argo flashes on two images, one of a mustached Sebacean man - and the other of his dead wife, Lo'Laan)
D'Argo: (murmuring) What the blitz is that smell?
Rygel: (with passion) The stench of that frelling Charrid.
D'Argo: No - I know that odor. (he scans the faces of the other men sitting on the bench. The last one to enter pushes his hood back - he's a Sebacean man with a mustache. D’Argo’s eyes become steely) Macton. (and with a hiss - D'Argo piles off the bench and charges the newcomer. John comes off the bench after him)
John: Dee? (but in an instant, D'Argo - with a bellowed Luxan curse - has punched Macton, who goes flying)
D'Argo: DADUSH! YOU KILLED MY WIFE! (Katoya blocks John from intervening)
Katoya: This is not your fight. (D'Argo hauls Macton up off the floor)
D'Argo: YOUR SISTER! YOU SET ME UP AND THEN YOU SENT ME TO PRISON!
Macton: (with contempt) Ahh - you didn't want the truth then - you're not interested in it now. (John breaks away from the Master and rushing over to D'Argo, begins trying to pull him away)
John: (firmly) Get off him! C'mon! (D'Argo ignores him)
D'Argo: (to Macton, deadly) I'm not interested in your lies.
Macton: (to John - but for D’Argo’s benefit) Aw let him hit me - like he hit Lo'Laan. Beat his own wife to death. (with an enraged bellow, D'Argo shoves John away and flings himself at Macton, who takes advantage of the Luxans heedless rage and throws him. Rygel gasps, but D'Argo bounces back to his feet and Macton assumes a fighters stance, fists up. But an enraged Luxan fights by no sort of rules and he lashes out to seize the Sebacean by the throat. Katoya now steps forward and without touching either combatant, slashes one hand between them. They're propelled apart and go sprawling. Despite himself, John looks stunned at Katoya’s display of power)
Katoya: (calmly) That ends this.
(cut to later. D'Argo, John and Rygel are alone in a grimly austere ready room that is accessed by a metal stair reminiscent of those found aboard a sea-going ship. A long, narrow metal mesh table flanked with matching benches sits in the center of the room. John is watching D'Argo, who's sitting on the end of one of the benches, facing away from the others and taking deep, slow, breaths)
John: Ya okay bro?
D'Argo: Macton's a liar. He's a frelling liar!
Rygel: (very apprehensive) He's a frelling Peacekeeper! A frelling Peacekeeper found us! Let's go - fast! Before more arrive. (Scorpius appears at the top of the stairs)
Scorpius: I am afraid it will not be permitted to leave the compound prematurely.
Rygel: Oh ridiculous! What does Katoya care? He's got our currency!
Scorpius: Once you agree to stay - you must abide the rules.
John: I don't give a damn about the rules - we're not gonna stick around till a Marauder lands.
Scorpius: (quietly firm) This sector - of Tormented Space is forbidden to Peacekeepers unless they have received express orders from First Command. Therefore - it is highly likely that Macton is here unofficially. Alone.
John: Unofficially, Grasshopper? How the hell did he find us?
D'Argo: (his voice thick with repressed anger) I'll be sure to ask him before I kill him. (he takes a shaky breath and Scorpius bends down to speak a warning to him)
Scorpius: (quietly annoyed) Katoya will not allow you or Macton - to kill each other.
D'Argo: TO HEZMANA WITH KATOYA! MACTON DESERVES TO DIE! (his cracks with grief) He destroyed my family... My wife... My son...
(the scene cuts to D’Argo’s memory of an incident from his past. In it, his wife, Lo'Laan is confronted in her brother, Macton. The setting is a hall-like area in D’Argo’s home, which features heavy timbering and a big window paned with more timbers in a flower-like geometric design. Lo'Laan has long blonde hair and wears a long, pale gown drawn into pleats with a wide sash She has heavy silver cuff bracelets on her wrists. Her voice is low and strong, but sweet . D'Argo stands out of sight around a corner and listens to the exchange between her an her frustrated brother)
Lo'Laan: He loves me. You mustn't do anything. D'Argo's done nothing to me. I'm fine. D'Argo's fine.
Macton: You refuse to see him for what he really is.
Lo'Laan: He is a Luxan warrior.
Macton: Yes - and he cannot help but hurt you.
Lo'Laan: (firmly) D'Argo will never hurt me. And I won't hurt him either. (Macton turns and begins to stalk out, but he stops and he passes D'Argo, sensing the Luxan behind him, and turns)
D'Argo: Good to see you, brother. (Macton makes no reply other than to turn and continue on his way)
(cut back to the ready room at Katoya’s compound)
D'Argo: (dully) Now we're both here - one of us must die. I wouldn't run, even if I could.
John: (quietly) Dee I got your back on this. Grasshopper may be tellin' the truth. Katoya won't let us disrupt his class. You'll deal with Macton when school is out. (and at that moment, a buzzer sounds)
Katoya: (on a public address system) Return to the arena. (John offers D'Argo a reassuring pat on the shoulder)
John: Recess is over.
(cut back to the arena where all the students have lined up on the benches before the Master)
Katoya: Now that calmer minds prevail - a demonstration. (he bends over to look directly into John's face) Join me.
John: I'm just here to watch. (Katoya moves to stand in front of him)
Katoya: Everyone - must participate. (John's butt doesn't leave the bench)
John: (blandly defiant) After the probes, landmines, corkscrews I've had in my head - I ain't offering up a chunk for your mind games.
Katoya: (shaking his head) It is not a game.
John: It ain't gonna happen, Miss Krabapple. Fail me. Give me and F on my report card - (Scorpius sighs) - but I ain't goin' in your icosahedron. (annoyed, Katoya’s head snaps around to stare at the guy who brought the mule to class. Scorpius rises immediately)
Scorpius: Yes of course. (John looks up at him)
John: Proves nothing to me for you to win, Grasshopper.
(cut to moments later. Katoya and Scorpius are in the icosahedron, seated on the saddle-like task chairs that face each other from opposite sides of the device. The chairs have armrests with handgrips. During the 18-microt power-up, the arms of those who are seated in the chairs are held outstretched one either side of them. When the 18 microt chicken-out window is passed, the armrests slam into their locked position with a metallic crash, bringing each participants arms forward. Then, in the air between them, another icosahedron forms - it's about the size of a basketball and begins to glow fiery orange)
Katoya: Begin! (at this point, he and Scorpius experience the exercise as if they were standing free on a black arena floor. The other students are able to see the action from the combatants point of view on view screens. What they see is Katoya and Scorpius raising their hands, palm outwards, toward the small floating icosahedron, which begins to move toward the half-Scarran) Overcome the pain. (Scorpius grimaces as the glowing object nears his face and disappears with a flash. Back on the bench, John eyes D'Argo)
John: (unenthusiastic) Pain. See that's what I'm talkin' about - pain. (meanwhile, in the arena, the small, glowing icosahedron has re-formed just in front of Scorpius' face. With great effort, he sends it flying towards Katoya - but it stops just short of the Masters hand as if it hit a wall - and he sends it back to Scorpius. Again it comes back to Katoya - and again it is stopped. Katoya sends it back)
Katoya: Try again. (the small fiery icosahedron moves slowly away from Scorpius - who fixes Katoya with a hard stare - and hangs at an even distance between them) Do not withhold your efforts - nor is anger a substitute for clarity. (louder, to the other students) The task may be completed with a minimum of physical harm. (he easily wafts the glowing icosahedron toward Scorpius, who fends it off. But Katoya sends it back - with excruciating slowness. An ominous sound like air being forced into a too-full balloon is heard as Scorpius stiffens, and seems unable to move as it approaches his chest) Shall we end our demonstration? (Scorpius responds defiantly, in a voice constricted by agony)
Scorpius: I was just starting to enjoy the pain. (Katoya smiles, and pushes the little icosahedron toward Scorpius. It explodes into hundreds of glowing, triangular shards that disappear - and then they are back on the saddles in the arena. Scorpius catches his breath before dismounting and exiting. He pauses as John gives a his unflattering critique)
John: Well that was instructive. Kinda led with your chin there.
Scorpius: (annoyed) It's not meant to be painless. (he makes to continue on by, but pauses to zap John with one last bit of harsh truth) It never will be painless John. (John grunts, and turns to leave in the opposite direction of Scorpius . As he does, he casts an apprehensive glance at Katoya, who seems lost in meditation and ignores him)
(cut to soon after as John trots down the metal stairs to the ready room. The only person there is Macton)
John: What the hell are you doin' here?
Macton: Responding to D’Argo’s death threats. He said he was coming for me.
John: Oh. See I was just wonderin' why you followed me to the bathroom. (he heads for a door at the end of the room, but Macton calls after him)
Macton: I don't want to kill D'Argo, but I won't allow him to kill me to conceal what he did. He killed his wife.
John: No. You killed your sister.
Macton: D'Argo murdered Lo'Laan in a fit of hyper-rage. Do you know what Luxan hyper-rage is?
John: Yes I do. Y-you know what a crock is? D'Argo says he didn't do it. That's good enough for me.
Macton: You don't understand - he may not know what he did.
John: Right - 8 cycles and change, just -zoop - (he flicks his hand) - slips his mind.
Macton: You do know that Luxan hyper-rage causes blackouts?
John: Is that a fact?
Macton: Yes. And any honest Luxan can tell you that. (he turns and leaves)
(cut to later as the Mental Arts students settle themselves before Katoya in the arena again. The Master stands with his hands clasped at chest level, contemplating the icosahedron. He turns briefly to the Charrid on the bench)
Katoya: Please. (the Charrid rises and makes his way to the icosahedron)
Rygel: (snarly) The Charrid's going next - I'd love to take him on! I'd show him some real pain. (John enters late and takes a seat next to D'Argo, Macton watches them and seems a bit apprehensive)
D'Argo: What did he say to you?
John: Nothing. Forget about it.
D'Argo: (loudly) I can't! (his outburst attracts the Masters attention)
Katoya: Perhaps you could spend some of that energy in here. (but Rygel’s tiny ferocity is up)
Rygel: Not him - me!
D'Argo: (resigned) He chose me Rygel.
Rygel: (passionate) These Charrid frax killed billions of my people!
Katoya: (sternly) This is not a safe place to settle grudges Hynerian. It is not a game! (but the canny Hynerian is no dope)
Rygel: It's a war of wills! Where else will I get a chance at a fair fight - where I have the advantage?
Katoya: Proceed - at your own risk. (D'Argo immediately turns back to John as Rygel heads out to the joust)
D'Argo: What lies did Macton tell you?
John: Eh - he just mentioned you were sending some threats.
D'Argo: Yeah... It's true.
Meanwhile, Rygel has taken the saddle opposite the Charrid in the icosahedron. 18 microts tick by and with a metallic clang, their outstretched arms are snapped out in front of them. Immediately, the opponents they are standing on a black floor bounded by lights and the small, glowing icosahedron forms in the air between them.
Katoya: Begin. (and as the class watches on the viewers, the Charrid immediately sends the small icosahedron toward his vengeful opponent. D'Argo is more interested in John's encounter with Macton though)
D'Argo: Come on - he must have told you more.
John: I don't want to talk about it. It's just gonna piss you off which is what he wants.
D'Argo: (from between clenched teeth) I'm already pissed off. (in the icosahedron, Rygel and the Charrid are shuddering, their faces twisted in pain and a high-pitched beep is starting to sound. D'Argo keeps at John) What did he say?
John: He mentioned something - about hyper-rage causing blackouts. He said all Luxans get 'em.
(the scene cuts to another vignette from D’Argo’s memory. In it, he's raging through his house)
D'Argo: I DO NOT WANT MACTON HERE! I REFUSE TO HAVE HIM IN THIS HOUSE! (he grabs a massive table, laden with kitchen utensils, picks it up, them slams it back down)
Lo'Laan: You're upsetting yourself over nothing! (but D'Argo not only continues to bash the table up and down, but begins to scream incoherently as well) D'Argo can you hear me? D'ARGO! CAN YOU HEAR ME? (but his only responses are the mindless, uncontrolled roars of an animal as he slams and slams and slams the table against the floor Lo'Laan is terrified and tearful as she covers her mouth and sobs) D'Argo...
(cut back to Katoya’s arena)
D'Argo: (subdued) Blackouts during hyper-rage can... Do - happen. But I learned to control all that.
John: So you got the problem licked.
D'Argo: Young Luxans are genetically violent. Their impulses, chemistry, biology - it takes cycles to master. It's why Luxans aren't allowed to marry young. (John doesn't look at his friend)
John: And you kids ignored all that.
D'Argo: She said she knew I could never hurt her. (earnestly) Even more than that, I gave her my solemn vow if I did ever hurt her - I would leave. Immediately. No questions.
John: Well it must have worked. You guys stayed together.
D'Argo: Lo'Laan was always there for me. (but John is distracted by Rygel, who's starting to blubber deliriously and froth at the mouth)
John: Excuse me - Master Jedi. It looks like Sparky's losin' more than a few brain cells in there.
Katoya: He's expending a lot of energy.
John: Is he in any real danger in there? (Rygel yowls as, in the virtual arena, the small glowing icosahedron hovers mere inches from his face. His head bobs violently) Alright that's the ballgame. Get him out.
Katoya: It was his choice.
John: (to D'Argo) Let's get him out. (they rise and head for the icosahedron where Rygel and the Charrids actual bodies sit. But with a sweep of his arm - Katoya throws them both back by some unseen force. And in the virtual arena, Rygel throws his head forward, almost seeming to head-butt the small glowing icosahedron - which flies toward the Charrid and impacts his head. The Charrid collapses - and so does Rygel)
(cut to soon after as D'Argo rushes Rygel’s inert form into the ready room, Katoya follows more slowly. John is already there)
D'Argo: He's like ice.
John: Keep him covered. (John looks up the flight of metal steps at Katoya, and snaps) That's a great job. Nice of you to step in before somebody got hurt.
Katoya: What he did was his choice. I hope what he learned will serve him well.
John: I'll tell you what we've learned - we've learned not to take classes from a head-job. Now we're out of here.
Katoya: Your training isn't over.
John: Oh yes it is! (he turns his back on Katoya and the Master sweeps one arm out toward him -John is thrown to the floor, where he lays, unconscious)
Katoya: (without malice) It's just begun.
(cut to later as the students file back into the arena where Katoya awaits them. Macton pauses, with his hands clasped near his chest)
Macton: Master. (Katoya nods acknowledgment and Macton takes his place on the bench. D'Argo and Scorpius are the last to enter. D'Argo pauses in front of Katoya too - to glare at him)
Scorpius: (murmuring, to D'Argo) Crichton is fine. He's been moved for remedial training.
D'Argo: (without taking his eyes off the Master) Yeah I know.
Scorpius: The Dominar is recovering as well. (but D'Argo doesn't move except to shifts his hostile stare to Macton now)
D'Argo: Yeah I wasn't thinking about that either.
Scorpius: (annoyed, he doesn't seem keen at all on crossing Katoya) I'm aware of that. But perhaps you should heed their example and attempt to remain focused on your more immediate tasks first. (D'Argo eyes him and growls)
Katoya: Please. (he invites D'Argo toward the icosahedron and the Luxan moves to comply)
Scorpius: Stay focused.
(but as D'Argo moves away from Scorpius, the voice of Lo'Laan echoes out of the past in his mind and the scene segues to the memory of what happened after his bout of table-bashing hyper-rage)
Lo'Laan: D'Argo? D'Argo can you hear me? (D'Argo sits up, as if he's awakening from unconsciousness. He's panting, and it takes him a moment to focus on his wife)
D'Argo: Did I hurt you?
Lo'Laan: (quickly) No - I know this upsets you.
D'Argo: It upsets you too.
Lo'Laan: (encouragingly) We'll get through it. (she tries to smile bravely)
D'Argo: If I did hurt you - you'd tell me wouldn't you? You promised.
Lo'Laan: You never hurt me D'Argo.
D'Argo: But you'd tell me if I did.
Lo'Laan: Absolutely. I promise I would tell you. (and she reaches to tenderly stroke his face as they sit there on the floor of their home)
(cut back to the arena. D'Argo is alone in the icosahedron as the arm mounts of his chair clang into position. He finds himself in an utterly black room. Several broad, horizontal shafts of light cut sharply through the darkness and restrict his movements to a narrow strip of floor. He touches one of the shafts and jumps back, bellowing in pain)
Katoya: Avoid pain, and find a way out. (D'Argo skitters anxiously between the shafts of light and bellows again as he touches one) Try harder. (D'Argo makes a quick, impatient swipe at the light) Anger will not serve you. (the Luxan drops to the floor and rolls under one of the shafts - which puts him in an even narrower space) Find your path. (D'Argo tries charging through the shafts of light but he only gets a jolt of pain for his trouble and finds himself still caught between the intense beams. He staggers against another shaft and falls down with a yell. Katoya shakes his head) Release your mind. (don't you just hate instructions like that? D'Argo lurches to his feet, only to hit the deck - fast - as a new beam of light flares over his head. A hint of a smile crosses Macton’s face as D'Argo lies trapped on floor in the tunnel of light. Katoya smiles serenely as he meditates and D'Argo thrashes, near panic, in his prison of light)
D'Argo: STOP IT! (he flashes on the memory of Macton, standing over the body of Lo'Laan which lies crumpled on the floor her and D’Argo’s home. The Sebacean has a hint of a smile on his lips. D’Argo’s focus is all over the place as he screams at the memory) I'LL KILL YOU! (he flashes on the apprehensive face of Lo'Laan, and screams with psychic agony. He remembers Macton pulling back in preparation to throw his weight behind a blow. D'Argo howls. He flashes on the image of Lo’Laan’s body laying on the floor of their home with the hilt of a knife protruding from her abdomen. He scrams, out of control - and Katoya releases him from the task chair. D'Argo slumps forward, panting - the Master looks at him and issues a stern reprimand)
Katoya: To exert even a microt of self-control over your personal impulses is the point of the exercise. (D'Argo jerks his arms free of the task chair and stands. The barest hint of a smile remains on Macton’s face)
(cut to later in the ready room. D'Argo is there alone. He has his duffel bag on the wire table and is stuffing his belongings into it. He's breathing heavily as Katoya glides into the room)
D'Argo: I'm leaving.
Katoya: That won't provide you with the answers you seek.
D'Argo: What answers?
Katoya: What questions?
D'Argo: LOOK I'M NOT PLAYING ANY MORE OF YOUR STUPID GAMES, AND I DO NOT NEED TO BE REMINDED OF MY MENTAL LIMITATIONS! IF I STAY HERE I WILL KILL MACTON! I -WILL - KILL THIS MAN! (the Master unflinchingly waits for D'Argo to finish and then, as the Luxan stands there taking great, shakes gulps of air, he makes a simple observation)
Katoya: You see? You can control your anger. (he cocks his head and smiles a little at the Luxan) You have no limitations. (he then turns, and exits leaving D'Argo to stare after him for a long moment before sitting heavily down, exhausted)
(cut to John as he wakes up in the Remedial Training Area. This is comprised of a cramped metal cage below floor level whose only exit is a heavy trapdoor grate that is part of the metal walkway overhead. Directly below the trapdoor is another grate on the floor of the cage - it covers a bed of glowing coals. John jerks to life with a yelp or two and slaps at his clothing in momentary panic of being on fire)
John: Damn! (he takes in his surroundings for a moment and then yells) HEY! D'ARGO? ANYBODY HEAR ME? (but his voice rings in the silent emptiness of the place. He mutters to himself) This must be detention then. (he stands and pushes at the ceiling grate - it's quite solid) HEY! IT'S GETTIN KINDA RIPE IN HERE!
(cut back to the ready room where Rygel has joined D'Argo at the long wire table. The Hynerian seems none the worse for his ordeal with the Charrid)
Rygel: (gently) Macton is lying.
D'Argo: (dully) How do you know?
Rygel: Because he's a Peacekeeper. Because he has to be. Look - he's trying to get to you and it's working.
D'Argo: (wistfully) Lo'Laan and I were happy together - he can't change that. I won't let him.
Rygel: He's definitely getting to you.
D'Argo: (with a deep sigh) I should have killed him.
Rygel: Isn't that what you set out to do when we all left Moya?
D'Argo: Part of me knew - that wouldn't bring Lo'Laan back. And another part couldn't resist letting him know that I knew exactly - where he was.
Rygel: Pay attention to the part that wants to kill him. He's given you a second chance to take your revenge.
D'Argo: I'm not sure I want to.
Rygel: (impatient at the Luxans reticence) For yotz sake! Kill him! And be done with it!
(cut to John, sitting alone and lonely his cage and whistling "The Colonel Bogey March." It's a tiny sound in the deafening quiet of the place. Suddenly Katoya appears on the metal walkway above. He holds both hands out over the trapdoor grate. His right hand is curled into a fist and his left is palm up, the tips of his thumb and index finger touching in a meditative gesture. John stops whistling and looks up)
John: Are you real?
Katoya: Are you?
John: (he sounds famished) Oh - riddles. Riddle me this, riddle me that. I have one: why is it never just the heat, it's the humidity? While you're pondering that, why don't you let me the hell out of here?
Katoya: As you wish. One thing first - (he opens his clenched fist to reveal a metal object) - here's a key. (he drops it through the trapdoor grate. It falls to the floor grate directly below, and onto the hot coals where it immediately begins to melt. John looks stupidly at it Katoya critiques his performance - or lack thereof) You weren't quick enough. Get a key and you many come out. (and with that - he walks away. John starts to whistle again - but doesn't make it though one bar before he stops, and stares thoughtfully at the melting key)
(cut back to the ready room as D'Argo enters it from one door at the same moment Macton enters from another. They stops abruptly - and face each other from opposite ends of the long metal table. Macton’s tone is cool and even, like a layer of ice over freezing hatred below)
D'Argo: (quietly) I'll say this just once: stay away from me, stay away from my friends - and stop spreading your lies.
Macton: I'M not the one lying.
D'Argo: Oh you're full of dren - you've always hated me. You'd have hated any non-Sebacean who married your sister.
Macton: (boldly) I may have come to accept the marriage until you started beating her. (D'Argo takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, Macton waits expectantly, but D'Argo disappoints him)
D'Argo: (slowly) I'm violent - when I choose to be. And right now, I choose not to kill you. But that could change.
Macton: Really? (he steps closer to D'Argo) Well if I chose to kill you - you'd never see me coming. No I came to give you the truth.
Macton: The truth your blackouts stopped you from seeing - that poor Lo'Laan - stopped you from seeing.
D'Argo: You're full of dren.
Macton: (with disdain) Am I lying about your hyper-rage? Am I lying about your blackouts? I say even a stupid Luxan should be able to see the truth.
D'Argo: YOU'RE FULL OF LIES! (he lashes out at Macton and pins him down on the table with one hand and raises the other to strike. But as he does, he suddenly sees not Macton, but Lo'Laan laying on the table. She looks up at him and cries out in terror - "D'Argo - no..." The Luxan freezes and Macton looks up at him)
Macton: (quietly) Look at you. Your uncontrollable rage. (D'Argo slowly lovers his hand) You're violent. You really think you'd be able to protect Lo'Laan from that? No - you must have known the truth. You've always known! (he pushes D’Argo’s away and exits, leaving the Luxan shaken, and full of self-doubt)
(cut to John sitting in a corner of his cage and waiting as without warning - another key falls in. He lunges for it among the hot coals - but his flesh sizzles as it impacts the hot floor grate. He yanks his keyless hand back with a lusty bellow)
John: DAAAAHHHH! GAAWW! AAH! SONUVA- (at that moment, Scorpius appears on the walkway above and peers into the cage. John nurses his hand and sullenly eyes the half-Scarran) You'd better have a key.
Scorpius: (concerned - evidently this key thing has been going on for awhile already) Katoya informs me - you've been experiencing some setbacks.
John: He tell you who sicced that critter on my family?
Scorpius: That is relatively unimportant.
John: It's important to me.
Scorpius: Because it was unsuccessful.
John: (sarcastic) That's okay then. Look I don't need to be in here. Earth is safe - everything's fine. (but as usual, his sarcasm is either lost on or ignored by the serious half-Scarran)
Scorpius: No Earth is not safe. And neither are you. The Scarrans know you exist. ((in an ominous whisper) They are already coming for you John. You cannot run away for your whole life and I - cannot protect you from them!
John: Little cat - A; I don't want you to protect me because, little cat - B; you haven't been doing such a bang-up job of that in the first place which brings us to little cat - C ; get me the HELL OUTTA THIS HOLE! (Scorpius drops to his knees and leans over close to the trapdoor grate)
Scorpius: You are undergoing - a very specific training. Anti-Scarran training.
John: Well I figured that out already. It's not the heat - (he shows Scorpius his burned palm) - it's the humidity!
Scorpius: The heat mechanisms the Scarran employs is just the beginning John. If their heat succeeds in disabling your minds defenses there is no fact - no fear - no deep secret - that they will be unable to extract!
John: (sullen) I'll take my chances on my own thank you.
Scorpius: You misunderstand my objectives John. Without Katoya’s training - when the Scarrans find you - they will take your wormhole knowledge and then they will kill you. I could never allow that.
John: Aw Scorpy-Sue - after all we've meant to each other - (he sniffs his nose loudly) - you'd kill me first.
Scorpius: (annoyed) You - have such a limited mental capacity John! But apparently - an abundant will to prevail. Well my advice to you is to use that will right here, right now! Katoya - is the only one that can give you the tools to resist the Scarrans! (he slams the heel of one hand furiously against the grate before storming away - and John begins to softly whistle his military march again)
(cut to another part of Katoya’s compound. The Master and Scorpius are talking)
Katoya: Your Crichton may not survive the training.
Scorpius: (almost rueful) Oh he will. He is like me in that respect. He'll survive.
Katoya: For you to have survived so long - my teachings must have been helpful.
Scorpius: They've saved my life - on countless occasions.
Katoya: I attempted to teach you to overcome your need for a coolant suit and yet - you still have use of one.
Scorpius: (respectfully) One can always learn more. (Katoya nods) I request - 3 favors.
Katoya: Do I owe so many?
Scorpius: (almost humble) I did spare you from both Peacekeeper captivity and my Aurora chair.
Katoya: I would have survived your Aurora chair. (Scorpius concedes the point with a sigh) Proceed.
Scorpius: Firstly - intensify Crichton’s training.
Katoya: Even if it kills him?
Scorpius: Well without the training, he will die anyway. Secondly - Macton has become a distraction. Maybe a dangerous one.
Katoya: He has done nothing wrong.
Scorpius: I believe despite his protests - he will kill D'Argo.
Katoya: Or D'Argo will kill him. I will have neither here.
Scorpius: Still - some preemptive action - could be called for.
Scorpius: Information - about a species I have no knowledge of. This - species - has recently attacked Crichton. May I - describe it for you?
(cut to John in his cage. He's sitting cross-legged next to the charcoal pit with his hands resting on his knees, fingers loosely extended, ready to grab. His hair is plastered to his head and he's looking very ripe indeed. Suddenly, he's distracted by the metal slats that make up the walls of his prison - which begin to glow orange. At the same moment, a key drops through the trapdoor and falls into the coals. John pounces - and misses again)
John: DUURR! YAAAHHH! (and as he flaps his burnt hand, D'Argo appears at the trapdoor)
D'Argo: John - are you okay? (John is desperate, he seems close to tears)
John: Come and help me! Get this thing open. (he reaches up and pushes against the trapdoor. D'Argo takes the cue and pulls at it. They both grunt with exertion, but the pair of them aren't able to do more than shift the heavy grate in its lock a little. John seems near despair) That didn't budge it did it?
D'Argo: It's gonna need at least a Qualta or a pulse grenade. Here -I brought you something to drink. (John turns his face upward and opens his mouth, allowing D'Argo to pour water into it and over his face. The drippings sizzle in the coals below)
John: Thanks. (D'Argo sits down on the metal walkway next to the grate. Both are exhausted)
D'Argo: Listen John - this is really doing my head in. I've been thinking about killing Macton for half my life.
John: (slurring) Aw that's a hell of a thing, man. Look you get me outta here, I'll - kill him for you. All right?
D'Argo: No, no - I can kill him. Frell knows I've wanted to. But uh - what if Lo'Laan lied? If she lied about the blackouts, then perhaps not knowing or remembering - I hit my wife.
John: Don't go there. That's Macton talkin'.
D'Argo: I am there John, if that's possible - and more.
John: D'Argo - many things are possible. Macton is just filling you with possibilities. What Lo'Laan did - and that's what matters. Whatever she did - she did for you. That's what's important. And that means something.
D'Argo: (husky) That means - that it's possible I killed the woman who loved me more than life.
(cut to later in the ready room. D'Argo is sitting at the long table, lost in thought. Katoya enters with two drinking mugs. He sets on in front of D'Argo and then sits down a couple feet away on other side of the table. The Luxan curls the fingers of both hands around the offered cup and stares into it for a long moment and takes a deep breath. They speak in hushed tones, D'Argo shaky, Katoya calm)
D'Argo: Um... Probably won't be apparent from my actions, but I really do have a great deal of respect for your work here. I'm sure many warriors have been made great from your teachings. I just won't be one of them.
Katoya: Do not sell yourself short.
D'Argo: Mental strength is, ah... Well it's not my strength. I know that. It's why I've come to you.
Katoya: Your mind is troubled. Whose isn't?
D'Argo: Can you help me - find an answer?
Katoya: What would you like to know?
D'Argo: What kind of monster I really am.
(cut to later. D'Argo and Katoya are seated in the task chairs inside the icosahedron. They are alone)
Katoya: This need not be difficult.
D'Argo: But it probably will be. (the machine finishes its power-up and D'Argo finds himself standing with Katoya in a black, boundless space) Where do we start?
Katoya: What would you like to see?
D'Argo: I uh... (suddenly he begins to puff with anxiety as something resolves out of the gloom - it is Lo’Laan’s corpse with the hilt of the knife protruding from its belly) I don't wanna see that.
Katoya: Stay - focused. (he paces around D'Argo) I realize this is difficult. (and suddenly, another voice is heard)
Lo'Laan: I know this upsets you. (D'Argo continues to take deep breaths as he turns slowly away from the corpse - and finds himself face to face with Lo'Laan, alive)
D'Argo: (softly) I know this upsets you too.
Lo'Laan: (gently) We'll get through it. (suddenly, she's standing in front of the heavy table laden with utensils and saying sharply) You're upsetting yourself over nothing! (D’Argo’s face twists and he hisses) D'Argo? (but his panting is increasing in intensity now. Lo'Laan stumbles hastily backwards, without taking her terrified eyes off her agitated spouse) D'Argo? Can you hear me?
Katoya: Hyper-rage is a natural function of Luxan physiology.
D'Argo: But it's a function to be controlled, not flaunted. Not to be used against someone you love.
Lo'Laan: Can you hear me?
Katoya: Did you use it against her?
D'Argo: I dunno...
Katoya: But you want to know.
Lo'Laan: Can you hear me?
Katoya: But you came here to know.
Lo'Laan: (insistent) Can you hear me?
D'Argo: NO! (and with that - he lashes out and deals Lo'Laan a blow that sends her sprawling onto the table amid the cutlery. D'Argo is stunned, he stares at Katoya) I hit her. (he turns back to Lo'Laan, who's picked herself up and is standing by the table, eyeing him warily) Did I hurt you?
Lo'Laan: No. (he goes slowly to stand near her)
D'Argo: (whispering) Bu... But you'd tell me? Promise me you would. Please?
Lo'Laan: You never hurt me D'Argo. (but he's sure now that she's protecting him from the truth, and his heart is broken)
D'Argo: You promised you'd tell me. Why didn't you tell me? (he slowly touches her chin with his fingertips as Katoya looks on, with his hands folded at chest level) Don't you know how much I loved you?
Lo'Laan: (whispering) Yes.
Suddenly, Katoya cries out and a burst of light explodes from his head. As his clasped hands separate, he falls and his virtual body flies apart into tiny shards with a sound like breaking glass.
(and in the actual arena, with it's vertiginous walls of tiny lights - Katoya’s body lays still on the floor next to his icosahedron. And in his seat, across from D'Argo, sits Macton)
Macton: Sorry to interrupt - Master. (and with that - the hand grips of his chair snap forward and he joins D'Argo in the virtual arena)
(cut to John in his toaster. Time passes. Heat and exhaustion are taking their toll. He stumbles around his the confined space, struggling to stay upright - but finally collapses to the floor. The scene shifts back to the virtual arena where Lo'Laan is sitting on the floor with D'Argo before her on one knee as Macton appears)
Macton: Ka D'Argo. (he paces slowly toward them) Time to revisit your memories.
D'Argo: What have you done with Katoya?
Macton: I refocused his energies. (Lo'Laan turns her eyes toward him) Hello sister. (D'Argo leaps to his feet, hissing - but Macton is fast, and viciously strikes him back down. As D’Argo’s head clears - he finds himself in his old house with the heavy table and the flower-shaped window. There, Lo'Laan lies dead on the floor with Macton standing over her) Welcome home - scene of the crime. (D'Argo rises, panting and angry) Scene of your many crimes. (D'Argo roars and charges Macton, striking him down with his fist - but suddenly, dreamlike - it is Lo'Laan under his hands instead of his foe)
Lo'Laan: (pleading, terrified) D'Argo no!
Macton: Just like before. (D'Argo looks, his brother-in-law is behind him now)
D'Argo: (quietly) That never happened. (in response, Macton slugs him in the face and sends him sprawling - back onto the black floor of the virtual arena. There, he looks up and sees Lo'Laan standing over him, arms akimbo)
Lo'Laan: Go ahead - hit her. (D'Argo struggles to sit up as his wife walks toward him and speaks with Macton’s voice) Never a problem for you when she was alive. (D'Argo is completely psyched out and frantically crab-walks backwards, away from the apparition)
D'Argo: No - I never meant to. (Lo'Laan and Macton begin to become intertwined with each other in D’Argo’s tortured mind)
Macton/Lo'Laan: Oh - never meant to do this? (he reaches down and his leg becomes Lo’Laan’s, with a massive bruise over the whole knee) Or this? (Lo'Laan displays another bruise on her arm) Or this? (Macton stretches his neck and it becomes Lo’Laan’s - grossly bruised all down one side. Through all this, D'Argo gasps spasmodically at each new evidence of his abusiveness)
Lo'Laan: (with Macton’s voice) It was you.
Macton: Because you couldn't control yourself. Because you were WEAK! (he drives his fist heavily into D’Argo’s face. The Luxan cries out as he is thrown against a wall, amid the heavy dull tinkle of chains. He looks around, panicked and confused at the dull bronze gleam of the arched ceiling with its dangling chains) Recognize the place? Your cell.
D'Argo: Not here. Not now. Not like this.
Macton: (calmly) Where else? This is where you belong. You're a wild beast. A mad dog. (D'Argo hisses and tries to make another go at the man, but Macton kicks him back. And in the instant it takes D'Argo to recover, he finds himself standing, chained - a helpless captive once again aboard the Peacekeeper prison ship - Moya) You've earned these chains - and worse.
Meanwhile, back in the toaster, John has positioned himself directly under the trapdoor grate with one foot on either side of the brazier under the floor. A key falls -but he misses again. Into the coals it goes - he dives after id but he cannot get his fingers between the grill without burning them and he snatches his hand back with a yowl. Time passes - he's back to sitting at the edge of the charcoal pit and watching it like a hawk. A key drops, he makes a grab, and again yowls as he pulls his burnt hand back.
The scene cuts back to the virtual Moya where Macton continues to torment D'Argo, who remains chained by his own psyche. The Sebacean plows his fist into D’Argo’s face
Macton: How does it feel to be helpless? (he punches D'Argo again) Defenseless? (he knees the Luxan in the groin) This is what you did to Lo'Laan. (Macton’s voice is calm, almost toneless, as he mercilessly beats D'Argo, who cries out with every bow. His actual body, still locked in its chair in Katoya’s icosahedron, jerks with each of Macton’s assaults as well) This is what your rage felt like. (Macton’s voice breaks a little as his own control begins to succumb to his own anger) Rage that destroyed a beautiful girl. (and the beating goes on)
(cut to John in the toaster. He's sitting next to the brazier of coals and swaying as he looks up, woozy, and waits for the next key to drop)
John: (murmuring) Come on. (a key drops - into the brazier as usual. John makes no move to snatch it this time, Scorpius was right - it'll never be painless) Ahhhaah! Gotcha! (and with that, he reaches over - and with a sustained, full-throated yowl - grabs the sizzling floor grate with both hands and lifts it aside. Then, still yowling, he reaches into the orange-hot embers, picks the key out with his raw hands and hangs onto it)
(cut to D'Argo, chained in his virtual Moya, with Macton facing him at close range)
D'Argo: I didn't kill Lo'Laan.
Macton: No - no you did much worse. Your violence - drove her to her death. (he directs D’Argo’s attention to Lo'Laan, who suddenly appears at the door to his cell, with a long knife in her hand. D'Argo gapes and shakes his head in denial as Macton nods and Lo'Laan raises the knife - and plunges it into her own belly)
D'Argo: (breathing the word with abject horror) No...
Macton: You beat her beyond her capacity to endure any more. (Lo'Laan sinks slowly to her knees)
D'Argo: (a long, shaky gasp) Oh no... (Lo'Laan topples over on her side to the floor and dies. As Macton continues to speak, the actions he describes play out before D’Argo’s eyes)
Macton: But I got there first. I doctored the scene. Provided the evidence that put you in prison - (D'Argo heaves great, sobbing gasps, as Macton shows how he rolled Lo’Laan’s body over on its back and took her hand off the hilt of the knife,) - to rot forever. (Macton steps away from him, and back in Katoya’s icosahedron, foamy spittle oozes from D’Argo’s lips with each spasmodic sob) Don't try to resist. It's my gift to you D'Argo. (the Luxan begins to sway and flail feebly in his chains as his grief approaches hysteria) Your own hyper-rage in a place where you can rot in it forever. (D'Argo screams and thrashes impotently) Just you and your hyper-rage, for eternity.
Macton walks away, leaving 'D'Argo to flail and cream, and scream, and cream within the prison of his mind. In reality, back in Katoya’s task chair, he murmurs to himself-
D'Argo: Focus. (and in his psychic prison, he screams and screams and screams and screams as he trashes wildly) Focus. (in virtual Moya, he screams and screams and screams) No. (his psychic screams begin to subside, and Lo'Laan begins to rise from the floor. D’Argo’s breathing is harsh as he struggle s to come down from his hysteria. Lo'Laan withdraws the knife from her body and is whole again. Macton, who is still exiting from D’Argo’s prison, pauses, and turns slowly back, with a look of dread on his face. And then, the Luxan pulls free of his chains. D'Argo fixes him with a steely stare and says quietly) You're lying. Every word you've said - is a lie.
Macton: (a long, slow gasp) No... (firmly) You beat her - and you killed her. You know the truth. (D'Argo walks slowly toward him)
D'Argo: (quietly) You never knew Lo'Laan. And you knew nothing about love. (he delivers a powerful blow to Macton, who is thrown backwards and falls - into the virtual house of D'Argo and Lo'Laan) I know what Lo'Laan went through for our love. I wish I could have loved her half as well.
Macton: Ohhhh - you loved her to death! (he struggles to his feet and takes a swing at D'Argo, but the Luxan catches his hand and shoves him away. Macton is furious) You do not have this power!
D'Argo: Lo'Laan told me I do have power - over my hyper-rage. And it's more than enough to control you in here.
Macton: (snarling) You cannot kill me - not in here!
D'Argo: I have no intention of killing you. I loved my wife. But you wouldn't know that - you didn't know Lo'Laan. I did. She could have left me for my failings. Maybe she should have, but I know this - she would never - have left her son - without a mother. (Macton gasps softly at the Luxans sudden self-assuredness. D'Argo grabs him and turns him around so they're both facing the virtual stage of the house) So - I want you to show me your memories. Tell me - why - you killed - Lo'Laan.
Macton: (harshly) Trying to save her from you!
(but his protests notwithstanding, D'Argo forces the scene to cut to Macton’s memory of the day Lo'Laan was killed. In it, Macton stands with his sister in front of the flower-shaped window in her home and tries to impose his will upon her. Her arms are crossed as she defies him)
Macton: (coolly) D'Argo will be dishonorably discharged, jailed - for as long as you need.
Lo'Laan: (protesting) But he's done nothing wrong!
Macton: (angry) He has done everything wrong! (patronizing) You'll thank me for this, sister. (he begins to walk away)
Lo'Laan: No - I won't let you! (she strides after him, taking a knife from a mount on the wall as she comes. Macton wheels about and throws his arm out to knock her blow aside - she cries out as the knife plunges into her own abdomen in the brief flurry of action)
(cut back to where D'Argo and Macton stand in the virtual environment of the arena)
Macton: (panting, distressed) It was your fault. She attacked me. My reflexes took control. My Peacekeeper training- It was over before I realized. (he remembers catching his mortally wounded sister in his arms and lowering her to the floor. He remembers his breaths coming in quick gasps as he watched her die)
D'Argo: It's not the truth. Not the whole truth. She was beaten.
Macton: (sounding sick and bitter and guilty) It was your fault she died. You had to pay - had to make you pay. Had to make it look like you'd done it in a fit of hyper-rage. (he remembers sitting there on the floor of D'Argo and Lo'Laan's home, rocking back and forth, with his dead sister cradled in his arms) Had to make sure you were blamed. (he remembers gently lowering her body back to the floor and looking around for a moment. And then, with great difficulty, he makes a fist, and slams it into his dead sisters face. He pauses, his breath shaky, before hitting her again, harder. And then again...)
And in the virtual arena, Macton grovels on the floor, gibbering and sobbing- and slowly miming how he beat his sisters corpse. D'Argo, realizing that this man lives in a hell much worse than any revenge he could inflict, steps past him, and without a second glance, walks away.
And having done that - D'Argo is released from the task chair back in the icosahedron. He leans forward in the silent room and looks at Macton, slumped in the chair across from him - and Katoya laying dead on the floor nearby.
(cut to later as Lo'Laan streaks through space, away from Katoya's planet. The scene shifts to the ships tiny cabin. The only sound is the squelch of clear analgesic jelly which John is smearing copiously over his burnt hands)
John: You okay?
John: You want me to drive?
D'Argo: No I'm fine.
Rygel: (gruff) If you were fine you'd have killed Macton instead of leaving him there.
D'Argo: (quietly) He's trapped in a coma with his own nightmares. Killing him would have been merciful. I'm not that enlightened.
Scorpius: (innocently) So tell me John... were you able to obtain the key? (John whistles the first bar of "The Colonel Bogey March" in response) Incidentally - that creature that attacked you on Earth - it might interest you to know it is called a Skreeth. Apparently - it can communicate telepathically over vast distances.
John: Yeah - Katoya give you that?
Scorpius: If it did map Earth's location - it may well have passed on that information.
John: Who'd it pass it on to?
Scorpius: (with mild disgust) Grayza - almost certainly.
John: So the Peacekeepers know where Earth is.
Scorpius: May know.
John: Would Grayza go there?
Scorpius: Eventually perhaps. Grayza - does not want Earth. Grayza - wants you.
John: (murmuring) Why do I always attract the psychos? (louder, to D'Argo) Hey man - you sure you're okay?
D'Argo: (very quietly, preoccupied) Yeah I'll be fine. I've - got things on my mind. Things I've done... Things I can't take back.
And they fly on, in silence.