Bringing Home The Beacon
January 27, 2003 - UK
February 7, 2003 - US
Writer - Carleton Eastlake
Director - Rowan Woods
Raelee Hill . . . Sikozu
Melissa Jaffer . . . Noranti
Peter Fenton . . . Negotiator
Peter Lamb . . . Rekka
David Franklin . . . Braca
Rebecca Riggs . . . Grayza
Olivia Pigeot . . . Marella
Francesca Buller . . . Ahkna
Jonathan Pasvolsky . . . Pennoch
The episode opens with Moya cruising through space in a leisurely holding pattern. The scene shifts to her center chamber where the male members of her crew are gathered around a table - except for Scorpius, who paces the floor nearby. They're having a drink and bach'ing it while they digest the lessons of their recent Mental Arts training and wait for the women to return from their shopping trip.
D'Argo: Rygel - what is wrong with you? I don't think I've ever seen you not eat for so long.
Rygel: (righteous) I'm learning self-discipline that Katoya taught me. (rueful) Besides, none of you can cook.
D'Argo: Well you could cook for yourself.
John: Yeah I really should cook something for the girls. They're due back - they'll be hungry when they get here.
Scorpius: They are overdue I believe.
(cut to a mess floating somewhere in space near a golden nebula. A rough brown object that resembles a mud wasps nest - or a huge ball of mossy dung - floats amid a debris cloud. The golden posterior of a Leviathan protrudes from the ball.
The scene shifts to the dim, greenish interior of the Leviathan. Aeryn, Chiana, Noranti and Sikozu make their way through a motley crowd of aliens and a maze of stalls that display an array of odd junk. They speak quietly amid the low growl of dozens of alien languages around them. Even Chiana - veteran of dead-Budong and graveyard living - is put off by the scruffiness of the place)
Chiana: You brought us to a dead Leviathan?
Sikozu: The carcass has been fused to this planetoid to house a commerce settlement.
Aeryn: It's an unimpressive settlement. I doubt we'll find what we're looking for.
Sikozu: (arrogantly reassuring) If we want to camouflage Moya against long-range scans, this is the place. (Noranti stops at a stall whose heap of goods is lit by a single lamp and dickers with its owner over a swatch of cloth, but she huffily spurns the sellers price. Chiana is as dubious as Aeryn is)
Chiana: Well it doesn't look like it.
Sikozu: (with relish) Well if you were selling outlawed mods, would you want everybody knowing about it? See these humble stalls? They also sell genetic transformations, species blending - and all the appropriate documents to go with it. (Noranti has stopped at another stall where she's tasting a sample of the wares. She furiously spits it out and snaps at the stallkeeper)
Noranti: 100% natural - my tullum! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! (she slaps the item back down onto the stall counter and Sikozu hurriedly takes her by the arm and steers her away)
Sikozu: This way. (but they don't get far before they're stopped by a young, human-looking man with a mop of glossy brown hair. He's dressed in a high-collared white shirt with shiny buttons, and a black vest and trousers. He seems to be some sort of market manager whose attention has been drawn by this crotchety, 3-eyed shopper)
Negotiator: (soothingly) Hey, hey, hey... (Sikozu eyes him - as luck would have it - this is just the guy she's looking for)
Sikozu: We want to speak to Rekka.
Negotiator: (his voice is velvety murmur) Sure you've stumbled onto the right - dead Leviathan?
Sikozu: I know you - are his negotiator - (Aeryn fixes the young man with her implacable Peacekeeper ice-queen stare. He quickly averts his eyes, only to find Noranti staring avidly at him with all 3 of hers) - and I also know that you make your deals in this pile of dren.
Negotiator: Perhaps you'd like a - private table. (he leads them to a table lit by a fuzzy orb in a nearby bar area and brings them drinks) First round on the house. Care to hear our specials?
Sikozu: Not unless you have a discount on sensor distorters.
Negotiator: Sensual consortors? (Sikozu rolls her eyes and Chiana giggles as the young man asks innocently) Is that some sort of - pleasure toy?
Sikozu: Look -I know you have to check us out. That's your job - that's fine. But now that
you know that I know what I'm talking about - I suggest you start taking us seriously. (the Negotiator stares at her with his lovely brown eyes and purrs)
Negotiator: I'd love to take you. Seriously. (Sikozu closes her eyes and sighs. Chiana laughs, maybe the dead Leviathan is OK after all) Won't your - grandmother - object? (Noranti, who's just taking a sip of her drink, spits it back into its cup and sets it down - but not because she's upset at being called 'grandmother')
Noranti: Don't drink them. They're drugged. (Aeryn decides to help establish their credibility as Serious Women by quietly laying her pulse gun on the table. Sikozu glares at the Negotiator)
Sikozu: A suggestibility potion perhaps? Such an old - trick.
Negotiator: (to Aeryn mostly) My apologies to you. (to Noranti mostly) And professional admiration for your skills.
Sikozu: Thank you. May we see Rekka now? (the Negotiator steps away and immediately Rekka steps into his place at the side of the table. He's a human-looking man, a bit older than the Negotiator and much shorter. He's bald, but for a gravity-defying pouf hair above each ear He has the air of a man who is not only busy but a bit antisocial besides)
Rekka: (curtly) Tell me what you need. What do you want? (as he speaks, the Negotiator returns to the table with a sample case which he snaps open to reveal several odd devices nestled within)
Sikozu: We need a sensor distorter for our ship - to fool long-range scans.
Rekka: And what do you want to look like?
Sikozu: (pragmatic) An oil freighter.
Chiana: (speculatively) A fast... pleasure yacht. With Jacuzzi. (the Negotiator smiles appreciatively at her)
Aeryn: (prudent) What about - several - choices of energy signatures? (Rekka snaps his fingers and the Negotiator snaps the sample case shut)
Rekka: (with a patronizing smile) Well I need to check your sensor modulator. Do you - ladies - know what that looks like? (In response Noranti whips a golden, lozenge-shaped object the size of a zucchini out of her purse and holds it up for him to feast his eyes on. Rekka's smile fades as he eyes it)
Chiana: Gee - I guess we do. (Aeryn smiles and Rekka takes the modulator and cradles it in his hands. When he speaks, it is with a tone of something like wonder)
Rekka: That's partly organic - Leviathan.
Aeryn: Very good. (Rekka takes a breath and glances at the Negotiator)
Rekka: (brusque again) Distorter will only fool a warship if your movements exactly match your new identity - is your Pilot that good? (Aeryn and Sikozu answer at the same time)
Rekka: (with a little bark of laughter) Your problem, not mine. Leviathans need custom builds. I'm going to have to take your modulator.
Chiana: (apprehensive) That'll leave Moya half-blind.
Rekka: It'll take 4 arns.
Aeryn: (incredulous) 4?
Negotiator: And 19,000 krendars.
Sikozu: (outraged) What?
Negotiator: (his velvety tone suddenly goes hard) And we'll give you some complimentary tokens to the facilities of your choice. (but Chiana thinks she has this guy in her pocket. She gets up, pulls his face to hers and tongue first, favors him with a slow kiss. Sikozu cocks her head approvingly - but Rekka's gaze is stony as Chiana finishes and purrs at both men)
Chiana: How bout... I offer you some complimentary choices? Would that lower your price?
Rekka: (icy) 30,000. (Noranti laughs and the poofy-haired engineer points at her) And if it's that - 40,000. (the smile disappears from the old woman's face and she lays her hand heavily on the modulator in Rekka's hands)
Noranti: (warning) Be nice.
Aeryn: 16,000. (she tosses a small bag to the Negotiator) Half up front. (the young man reaches over and gently removes the modulator from Noranti and Rekka's hands. His voice is velvety again, but businesslike)
Negotiator: Meet us at your pod.
Aeryn: Do you know where it is?
Negotiator: Yes we know where it is. (Rekka smiles) Be there in 4 arns.
Aeryn: That's too long.
Negotiator: Our deal. Our rules. Take these tokens and enjoy yourselves in the meantime. (and with that - the odd pair walk away, Rekka first, the Negotiator following with his sample case and Moya's modulator)
Chiana: Do we trust them? (Noranti rolls her eyes)
Sikozu: Of course not.
Chiana: What do we do?
Sikozu: Just keep an eye on them Chi. (Chiana gamely rises and pads after the men as they leave the market area. Although she's only seconds behind them - it's enough to lose them. When she steps into the dark corridor outside the market - it's empty except for a couple of loitering alien woman with gigantic fur-covered boobs. Chiana eyes them and one throws her an annoyed glance, so she trots off in the opposite direction)
(cut to soon after. Aeryn and Sikozu are meandering through the crowded market and wondering what to do for 4 arns)
Sikozu: 16,000 krendars. Not bad.
Aeryn: Not bad at all. Now what? (she stops, something's missing) Wait a minute - Where's Noranti? (she looks back the way they came - and spots several PK soldiers in the market behind them) Oh frell! Get down - there's Peacekeepers! (they hurriedly duck behind a stall)
Sikozu: (alarmed) What? How many? (Aeryn peeks out - and sees that it isn't just a few average PK grunts out there - for in their wake come two very unwelcome - and very familiar faces)
Aeryn: Grayza - Braca - 4 SSDs. (Sikozu shakes her head, and the incredulity in her tone speaks for Aeryn as well)
Sikozu: No - they could not have followed us here. That is impossible. (Aeryn is staring hard at Sikozu)
Aeryn: Unless someone tipped them. (Sikozu looks slowly at Aeryn, stung by her suspicion)
(cut to Braca and Grayza as they pause amid the market stalls)
Braca: You are - sure they're coming, Ma'am?
Grayza: (tense and icy) Of course I'm sure. Keep searching.
Braca: (to his men) Keep searching! (and as he and the soldiers move off, Grayza stands for a moment and surveys the rag-tag black market with a coldly determined eye)
(cut back to Aeryn and Sikozu in hiding. The two women are staring at each other from close range as Aeryn speaks into her comm)
Aeryn: Chiana. Chiana can you hear me? (no response. She asks Sikozu pointedly ) Why are the comms frelled? (but Sikozu seems genuinely anxious and not wanting to be on the ex-PKs bad side)
Sikozu: Peacekeepers must have jammed them Aeryn. We need - to stick together. (at that moment, Noranti quietly joins them)
Aeryn: (tense, and quietly angry, to Sikozu) One weapon I have - 6 of them. (Sikozu hastens to reiterate her allegiance)
Sikozu: And 2 outlaws who are on the same side. (they turn to the old woman) Noranti, there are 6 Peacekeepers.
Aeryn: Grayza, Braca, 4 SSD commandos. Can you find Chiana? Can you warn her?
Sikozu: We've got 4 long arns to stay low.
Noranti: Yes - yes, of course. (and off she goes. Aeryn turns to Sikozu, whose alligator-like scales at her temples gleam with unusual prominence in the dim light of the mummified Leviathan)
Aeryn: As I see it, we have several choices. We can follow Grayza, find out what she's up to - or we can stay out of sight.
(cut to the Negotiator and Rekka as they continue on through the sickly green corridors of the dead Leviathan. They know they're being followed, and as they round a bend, they press themselves against the wall. Chiana appears in the corridor behind them - but when she rounds the bend, all she finds are a pair of aliens. One is a woman with metallic green skin, a gold, leaf-shaped object on her forehead and a few thick braids dangling from her mostly bald head. The other is a grey-haired individual of indeterminate gender who has a very thin, pointy nose. The green woman smiles at Chiana, who hesitates and looks around, before continuing slowly on down the hall.
She comes to a doorway in front of which is a desk. At he desk, sits a heavily made-up older woman with a blonde, pageboy hairdo. She's wearing a white vinyl dress that's cut for full coverage and has the distinct air of a drag queen. Her tone is that of an aristocrat whose fortunes have forced her to wait on guttersnipes for a living)
Receptionist: May I serve you?
Chiana: Yeah - I'm just looking for uh - 2 gentlemen that just came through here. (at that moment, an eerie twin to the Receptionist appears out of the room. She's younger, but has the same blonde hairdo and white vinyl dress in a slightly more revealing cut) One's tall - dark hair. The other's um - bald on top? Shorter - hair out sideways... (the Receptionist cuts her off)
Receptionist: (dryly) I haven't seen anyone of that description.
Chiana: Are you - quite sure?
Receptionist: Mm-hm. (but Chiana doubts it, and points her chin at the doorway)
Chiana: What's in there?
Receptionist: (pointedly) Services. Expensive - services.
Chiana: Well - I don't mind - (she fishes out a few of the Negotiators tokens and lays them before the Receptionist, who doesn't deign to even look at them) - expensive services. As long as they're worth paying for. (and with that, she trots around behind the desk and through the doorway)
(cut back to the busy market where Aeryn and Sikozu are lurking in the shadows and observing the Peacekeepers. Suddenly a sound like a jet passing overhead is heard and the wares at the various stalls tinkle as the whole place vibrates)
Sikozu: Do you hear that?
Aeryn: I certainly do.
Sikozu: Unusual sonic pattern.
Sikozu: Sounds like a Stryker.
Aeryn: I agree.
Sikozu: Fastest ship in the Scarran fleet. (she raises a monocular to her eye and focuses it on Grayza and Braca. They're also attentive to the sound of the thing that just passed over the dead Leviathan)
Aeryn: But what the frell is it doing here?
Sikozu: And Grayza seems to recognize it too. (she passes the monocular to Aeryn. Through it, Braca and Grayza appear blue and their whispered words to each other can be indistinctly heard. Aeryn murmurs a question for the Commandant under her breath)
Aeryn: What are you gonna do now?
(cut back to Chiana, who's now laying semi-naked, face down, on a massage table with the white vinyl-clad woman - whose name is Marella - standing next to her. Marella touches a device next to the table and says in a breathy voice with a hint of an American Southern accent:)
Marella: Nebari neural nodes. (a hologram outline of a figure springs up from the device and rotates slowly, showing her the locations of important pressure points for Chiana's species)
Chiana: What's that? (she twists her head around to see the hologram, but Marella turns it off and lays both hands - which have 4-inch long and white nails - on her back)
Marella: We begin the manipulation here.
Chiana: (ecstatic) O-o-o-o-o-o-o-oo! Hup!
Marella: You carry a lot of tension in your skrillum.
Chiana: Oh yah - tell me about it. (she gasps with pleasure)
Marella: How does this feel?
Chiana: Yeah - yeah! Dig deeper! Deeper! (Marella languidly reaches over and touches the tableside device again. She is instantly transformed into a well-muscled, androgynous individual with close-cropped brown hair and a pieced lip. In this form, her fingers are short, powerful and unencumbered by trailer-trash nails. Chiana doesn't see this bizarre transformation of her masseuse, and Marella resumes the manipulation)
Marella: How's this?
Chiana: (blissful) Sestra... (but she hasn't forgotten the task at hand) Hey uh - the reason why I'm - I'm really tense is because - I've been following these-these two Sebacean males and I uh - I think they came in here. And I-i was wondering if you could help me out. (in response, Marella sighs, reaches to the device - and transforms herself into a burly black man. In this guise, she presses one powerful thumb into a spot on Chiana's spine. The Nebari cries out - not with pleasure this time - and her arms suddenly flop limply down on wither side of the table) I can't move. (Marella assumes her long-nailed blond look again)
Marella: (blandly) Well - pinch of pressure on the mella nerve paralyzes a Nebari from the neck down.
Marella: That depends.
Chiana: (slurring a bit with anxiety and discomfort) Look I'm just a runaway Nebari. A crook - just like everybody else. Just - ask - ask Rekka.
Marella: Rekka? (she releases the pressure point and brings the flat of her hand down on Chiana's back)
Chiana: (with a sharp gasp as her limbs jerk back to life) Ah! Frell! You know, I-I-I forgot to tell him something an' - and it would be really great if you could help me out. (Marella leans close to her)
Marella: You have any idea what else we sell here?
Chiana: Yeah - genetic modification. (suddenly realizing) Shape changes.
Marella: That's right. And whoever buys a transformation kit also buys confidentiality.
Chiana: So he's probably just walked straight by me.
(cut back to the marketplace where a flurry of action is under way. The Peacekeepers are briskly on the move past Aeryn and Sikozu, who are so busy watching them that they don't immediately see the arrival of another ominous party of 6. Like the Peacekeepers, this second group is also looking for someone. Their leader pauses on an elevated area overlooking the marketplace. She is a petite Scarran of the short-faced variety, clad in black leather from neck to toes and wearing a high, black headdress. It, like much Scarran clothing, features lots of sharp, spiky edges. The skin of her semi-reptilian face is grey and although the lips of her wide mouth are full, they do nothing to soften the cruel lines of her features. She is War Minister Ahkna of the Scarran Empire. She barks out a single word)
Ahkna: Gezzah! (Sikozu spins about at the sound of Ahkna's voice and the War Minister, having called her retinue to follow, steps down into the marketplace crowd. She's followed by a long-faced Scarran male and 4 helmeted Charrids)
Sikozu: (in a terrified whisper) A Scarran! (she and Aeryn, who had left hiding to trail the Peacekeepers, beat a hasty retreat to the shadows)
Ahkna: (to her retinue) Yeah kassa tukoht. Sukkon tevoch. (Aeryn and Sikozu have seated themselves at a bar table as the Scarran party sweeps by. Both have their elbows on the table and are partially concealing their faces with their hands as Ahkna snaps at her minions) Defron veevock.
Aeryn: A Scarran delegation. One's a member of the ruling caste. 4 Charrid escorts.
Sikozu: One Commander, one Adjutant, 4 warriors.
Aeryn: Same as the other side.
Sikozu: Which implies a meeting.
Aeryn: Why? Why would she meet with them? (but as this juncture - Sikozu doesn't care)
Sikozu: Grayza clearly isn't interested in us. So - (she rises and begins to slink away) - if we go and get the modulator, this provides a perfect opportunity for us to leave - (Aeryn stops her and she finishes limply) - here...
Aeryn: Nonononono - This is a perfect opportunity for us to stay - otherwise we learn nothing! (Sikozu's jaw drops as Aeryn gestures after the Peacekeepers and Scarrans) Does this look like an official conference to you?
Sikozu: (with trepidation, since she isn't sure what Aeryn wants, but whatever it is - she doesn't want to support it) On a remote planet with no Scarran Proconsul - no.
Aeryn: (triumphant) Exactly! She's most - likely - exceeding - her - authority. (Sikozu heaves a big sigh) If we could somehow make Peacekeeper High Command privy to that-
Sikozu: (nodding wearily) They will relieve her of her duty.
Aeryn: We get her off our backs.
Sikozu: (dubious) There's an awful lot of 'ifs, Aeryn.
Aeryn: Have we been in a more fortuitous position to try - than now?
(cut to Noranti, scurrying through the corridors of the dead Leviathan in a fruitless search for Chiana. She comes upon the Massage Parlor/Den of Genetic Transformation and pauses at the reception desk)
Receptionist: (her voice thick with disdain) How could I possibly - serve you?
Noranti: I'm looking for a Nebari girl, this high - (she shows how tall) - kind of gray- (the Receptionist cuts her off)
Receptionist: MARELLA! (the Carol Channing-esque masseuse appears immediately and eyes Noranti)
Marella: Another one! (Chiana appears behind her)
Noranti: (ever so pleasantly) Ahh! There she is! Psst - (she takes Chiana's arm and begins to hustle her away while the vinyl-clad twins watch) - we have to go find the pod now and go to the modulator because there are visitors here that we'd rather not run into. (but Chiana is not easily hustled)
Chiana: Are you frelled?
Noranti: We're all frelled. Grayza and Braca are here with 4 SSD Commandos.
Chiana: (skeptical) Grayza and Braca? (the Receptionist steps closer to them)
Noranti: (brightly) Oh you've seen them too?
Chiana: Nonono. - (she hits her comm) Aeryn? Can you hear me? (no response)
Noranti: Oh! Nononono - she can't.
Chiana: What's with the comms? They're pranked.
Noranti: Peacekeepers! Jamming! Oh come on - We've gotta go! (she hurries off, leaving Chiana looking confused and the vinyl twins looking leery)
Chiana: Peacekeepers... (she slowly follows after Noranti, but they don't get far before the old woman rounds a corner and then backs up, putting a hand out to stop Chiana. A PK commando is there questioning people, the words "Nebari female" are heard)
Noranti: Commandos. (Chiana takes a peek around the corner - and then she and Noranti hurry back to where the vinyl twins are still standing)
Chiana: Transform us. Full genetic modification. Good enough t-to pass DNA scan. (Noranti nods)
Marella: (with infuriating languor) But you - have to select a species before we can- (Chiana and Noranti eye each other and then turn back to Marella with much shrugging and head-shaking - but still trying not to look desperate)
Chiana: (quickly) Well - we're not really that choosy.
Noranti: No. No. Not. Not. Not...
Chiana: Maybe-maybe big loomas. (she makes like she's squeezing a pair of giant grapefruit out several inches in front of where her present petit looms extend to as the genetic transformers look on impassively and Noranti vigorous nods her approval)
Noranti: Yeah, yeah, yeah...
Chiana: (to Noranti) Eyes? Eyes would be great!
Noranti: (enthusiastically) Oh! Eyes!
Chiana: (beaming at the vinyl ladies) Oh y-y-you choose.
Noranti: (nodding) Yes you choose.
Chiana: N-n-nothin' too special. (she hurries into the Genetic Transformation Parlor. Marella looks at her partner)
Marella: Well I'll do - this one. You - service her.
Chiana: C'mon! (Marella follows Chiana, leaving her counterpart to gaze sourly at Noranti, whose third eye fluoresces bright blue as she cocks her head and gives the woman a winsomely toothy smile)
(cut to the Pilot's Den of the dead Leviathan. Here, near the old Pilot's Console, is the meeting place for the Peacekeeper and Scarran delegations. The horse-headed male Scarran - Pennoch - is well-dressed in a cowl of gold chain mail on his neck and heavy, ornate armbands. His chest is bare and his lower extremities are covered in a long, ancient Egyptianesque skirt. He's snuffing the air as Braca and Grayza enter)
Braca: The site is secure.
Pennoch: (testy) You won't mind if we confirm that for ourselves?
Braca: If you feel it necessary. My troops are continuing to patrol the area.
Pennoch: (sneering) How reassuring. (he resumes his suspicious sniffing. Meanwhile, Aeryn and Sikozu have made their way through the dead Leviathans subpassages and taken up a high vantage point overlooking the old Den. The scene begins to cut between them in their perch and the meeting below, near the old Pilot's Console)
Aeryn: We're too far away. (Sikozu makes adjustments to her monocular)
Sikozu: This magnifies sound as well as image.
Aeryn: Tell me what's happening or I'll take over. (Sikozu peers down at the Sebacean and Scarran women as they meet below)
Ahkna: Commandant Grayza.
Grayza: Minister Ahkna.
Sikozu: (to Aeryn, slowly, to emphasize the significance) That is War- Minister Ahkna. Third in rank in the Scarran fleet.
Ahkna: You've abided by the terms of this meeting?
Grayza: Exactly as we agreed. (Ahkna fixes her with a steady stare, and paces slowly toward her) You'll have to take my word for it.
Ahkna: You've been conditioned to resist Scarran mind-probing.
Grayza: We all have.
Sikozu: (breathing the words) Oh my...
Aeryn: What? (Sikozu softly shushes her)
Grayza: Will you take my word on that? Or will you waste more time testing us?
Ahkna: I dislike wasting time. Why are you here?
Grayza: As I communicated - I want peace.
Ahkna: (unimpressed) Everyone wants peace. But what price will you pay to achieve it?
Grayza: What if I were to offer you - the Luxan Territories?
Sikozu: (aghast) Fr-ell!
Aeryn: (an urgent whisper) Will you tell me?
Sikozu: Grayza says - she is willing to cede all the Luxan worlds to the Scarrans in exchange for peace.
Aeryn: What? She can't mean it. The Peacekeepers and the Luxans have a mutual defense pact. Grayza has to be bluffing - she can't fulfill that promise. The Luxans would go to war.
Sikozu: And how long could the Luxans hold out against the Scarrans without the support of the Peacekeepers?
Aeryn: If that really is Grayza's intention - we can't let her go through with it.
Sikozu: I doubt we could talk her out of it - Aeryn.
Aeryn: I wasn't thinking of talking. I have a gun.
(cut to moments later. Aeryn and Sikozu have retreated to the silent atmospheric scrubber chamber of the dead Leviathan for A Little Chat. The Kalish is annoyed and incredulous)
Sikozu: You would - assassinate - Grayza?
Aeryn: She'd do the same to us.
Sikozu: All right. Then what? Do you have any plan of escape?
Sikozu: Anything more detailed - Aeryn?
Aeryn: Run quickly.
Sikozu: And what if we run - into more opposition than we can handle? (Aeryn has no answer other than to point out that there are some things she'd rather risk than others)
Aeryn: You have the conversation with D'Argo about why his worlds were obliterated.
(cut back to the old Pilot's Den where Ahkna and Grayza continue to make their deal - Grayza is smooth - but Ahkna is very canny indeed)
Grayza: In return for dominion over the Luxan territories, the Scarrans will relinquish all claims to the disputed sectors of the Uncharted Territories.
Ahkna: Disputed sectors being-?
Grayza: Everywhere beyond the Kalag Nebula.
Ahkna: Hardly an equitable exchange.
Grayza: More than equitable. The Luxan worlds are wealthy. There's little of value in the Uncharted Territories.
Ahkna: So why would you make such an exchange? Especially now - the Luxans are your allies.
Grayza: High Command already regrets that decision. Luxans are warriors - not diplomats. They are a liability to our peace efforts. (Ahkna takes this in for a long moment)
Ahkna: (there's a note of contempt in her tone) So. You would just abandon them?
Grayza: (blandly) Yes - for the greater good. We are also aware of how long you have coveted their resources.
Ahkna: In the same way you've coveted the expansion room the Uncharted Territories would give you.
Grayza: Each party gains advantages - and a costly war is averted.
Ahkna: You would never get your Council to support such a treaty.
Grayza: A majority of the Counselors already support me. They are ready for a change of leadership.
Ahkna: (shrewdly) You - would seize power?
Grayza: (piously) For the greater good. The beneficial effects of this treaty will also, of course - speed your ascent - through the Scarran hierarchy.
Ahkna: (dismissive) I need no help in that regard.
Grayza: Ahh - how many cycles ago was your father deposed? (there's a long pause) How long since your last promotion?
Ahkna: Too long. But then I don't resort - (she looks pointedly at Grayza's nearly naked breasts) - to the methods you utilize to advance.
Grayza: (defensive) Would you have a weapon in your armory and leave it unused - out of squeamish good taste? (at that moment, one of the PK soldiers strides in)
Soldier: Captain Braca. (the Scarrans startle and Braca quickly reassures them)
Braca: It's all right! (he turns to his man) Yes?
Soldier: We have word of a Nebari female somewhere in the settlement. Description matches the escapee - Chiana. (that gets Grayza's attention - Ahkna listens carefully to everything)
Braca: (to his man) Stay here. I'll check it out.
(cut to moments later as Braca and another soldier approach a vendor in the marketplace who has bright red hair in two massive rolls on wither side of her head and feathers in the part between them)
Braca: (brusque) You. Nebari. Female.
At that moment - Chiana and Noranti hurry back into the market. Chiana got her bigger loomas - along with a mop of coppery red hair that is particularly nauseating against her pale blue skin and green pantsuit. As for Noranti - the Receptionist couldn't do much more other than take about 40 years off her appearance and get rid of the third eye. Her hair is wavy brown with nice brows to match and her skin is positively nubile compared to what it had been. But her big, Traskan monkey-ears are still sticking out of her hair - and she's fretting. Both their voices also seem to have been lowered an octave and taken on the vinyl twins tone of bored disdain.
Chiana: You look - fine.
Noranti: Yes I look hideous. No wisdom creases. No memory lines. (she realized her third eye is gone) My eye! (Chiana groans as she spots Braca and his man turning away from the feathered woman) Look I've earned all these things and I-
Chiana: Aw - shut your wacket hole. Let me do the talking okay? (she hustles Noranti over to the bar as Braca turns to address the whole marketplace)
Braca: WE'RE LOOKING FOR A FEMALE NEBARI. (and of course - he picks Chiana out of the crowd to question next) You! (she ignores him, so he strides over to her) You! We're looking for a Nebari. Female. (she slowly looks over her shoulder at him and replies with bored languor)
Chiana: Well, then try Serat's. Level 3. Any kind of - f-female - you could care for.
Braca: (annoyed) Right. (he claps a hand on her arm)
Chiana: Hands - off. I'm not on the market. Besides - (she pulls Noranti closer to her) - I don't even like men. (but Braca's no fool and his eyes are fixed intently on this unfamiliar - yet very familiar - face. He yanks her away from Noranti) What - are you doing?
Braca: (to his man) DNA scan. (the soldier hands him a device and he urgently applies it to Chiana's arm. She jumps and gasps as it takes its sample) Be quiet.
Chiana: (annoyed) Oh quiet? Quiet my eema! (but Braca ignores her as he checks the results)
Braca: No match.
Chiana: (grumbling) What? Just because you've got a fancy uniform does that make you important?
Braca: Old woman. (he presses the DNA scanner to Noranti, who clings to Chiana. Her voice is low enough to pass for a mans as they put on their Lesbian Flake Act)
Noranti: What is that?
Chiana: What is that?
Noranti: I don't need drugs - I've got true love. You don't need drugs if you've got true love. (she and Chiana gaze soulfully at each other. Her DNA scan is negative too, but Braca seems reluctant to abandon the lipstick lovers)
Braca: You. Have you seen a Nebari female?
Noranti: Why I wouldn't know one if it bit me on the prang. Though that could be fun.
Braca: (briskly) Gray girl. Thin. Young. (Chiana and Noranti look at him)
Chiana: Good looking? (Braca shrugs)
Braca: Mm. (we think he feels at home with these two)
Chiana: We don't even notice - the good looking ones. (Braca turns on his heel and leaves. And Chiana says softly into Noranti's enormous ear) I said I would do the talking.
Noranti: Well you didn't way all - the talking. (she looks into Chiana's eyes and murmurs) I thought we did rather well. (in response, Chiana bites Noranti in the prang for a moment before whispering into it)
Chiana: Come on - we've gotta get back to Aeryn before the treatment wears off.
(cut back to Aeryn and Sikozu in their hidey-hole above the old Pilot's Den. Sikozu is watching Ahkna and Grayza with her monocular. The scene cuts between them and Ahkna and Grayza below)
Sikozu: They're still arguing about how to carve up the Uncharted Territories.
Aeryn: But you still believe that Ahkna wants the deal to go ahead?
Sikozu: (nodding) Yes I do.
Grayza: So you would approve a division point at the Lonthal System?
Ahkna: In principle - yes.
Grayza: Then it would seem we have an agreement.
Ahkna: First - let's talk about disarmament.
Grayza: I'm not prepared to discuss that. At present - I'll deal only with territory, not weapons.
Ahkna: Unsatisfactory. You claim you have military superiority.
Grayza: (firmly) We do more than claim!
Ahkna: Yet you will not even talk about arms reduction.
Grayza: We are prepared to coexist in peace, but not to make ourselves vulnerable.
Ahkna: There are some in our hierarchy who believe you are already vulnerable - that your claims to military superiority are - exaggerated. Perhaps the loss of our Dreadnought was only an experiment that you haven't been able to repeat. Or - perhaps it wasn't you - who did it. If this is so - why should we settle for peace?
Grayza: Because you would lose a war.
Sikozu: Ahkna's suspicious. She thinks the Peacekeepers might be lying about have wormhole weapons.
Aeryn: (voicing Scorpius' point of view) - The fear of wormhole weapons is the only thing stopping Scarrans from invading Peacekeeper space. Without them thinking they've got those weapons, everyone's frelled. (Sikozu sighs and returns her attention to the women below. Grayza is writing on an electronic pad)
Sikozu: Grayza is making out a document. Ahkna is looking it over.
Aeryn: Okay - It's time to intervene. (she pulls out her gun, but just then Sikozu's monocular picks up a communication from one of the PK soldiers)
Soldier: Maintain internal alert.
Soldier: Full search pattern. (cut briefly to a PK soldier patrolling the corridors of the dead Leviathan, then cut back to Ahkna and Grayza)
Ahkna: The treaty appears satisfactory.
Grayza: It is.
Ahkna: Your Captain should bear witness.
Grayza: There is no need to wait for him - if you're ready. (she offers Ahkna the "pen")
Ahkna: (gruffly) Pennoch - bear witness.
And as Ahkna and Grayza prepare to make treaty - Sikozu is using her ability to shift the gravity of her body to sneak up on a PK soldier standing guard outside the old Pilot's Den. The hapless PK whirls about as she drops down behind him from the ceiling - but it's too late. She knocks him down and uses a garrote to drag him aside
In the old Pilot's Den - Ahkna and Grayza hold devices like stamps with faceted ends over the electronic document Grayza prepared.
And in the corridor outside - Aeryn darts in to help Sikozu. She's apparently decided her pulse pistol wasn't reliable enough and so she snaps the soldiers neck and takes his rifle. Moments later, she and the Kalish are back in their aerie and Aeryn draws a bead on Grayza - but little flashes of light from the stamps signal that it's already over.
Aeryn: It's too late. They've already signed.
Sikozu: Kill her anyway. They will never enforce treaty if she's dead. (unfortunately though - the witnessing Pennoch is hovering right between Aeryn and Grayza)
Aeryn: (resigned) I can't - get - a shot. (and as she lowers the rifle, Braca re-enters the room)
Braca: There was no Nebari Ma'am.
Grayza: No matter Captain Braca. (Aeryn tries to sight her again as the Commandant says with haughty pride) This - was an historic day.
Ahkna: Pennoch. (and Grayza's gloating is cut short as the big Scarran male swings one arm out and hits Braca with a vicious blast of his heat ray. Braca is instantly enveloped in a bright shimmer of heat waves that immobilize him and cause him to choke and shudder with agony. At the same moment he does that, Pennoch brings up the pulse gun in his other hand and kills the attending PK soldier. As Aeryn watches from above, the other 2 PK soldiers rush in - only to be mowed down by with terrifying speed and efficiently. Grayza's head snaps around to look at Ahkna, who raises her chin with the utter calm and confidence of one who's been in control all along)
Grayza: Ahkna you are a fool. This is an act of war.
Ahkna: (bored) I assure you Commandant - you won't be missed. (Aeryn tries to get a target lock on Grayza again - but Pennoch's predatory hovering continues to block the shot)
Grayza: (with quiet fury) You would not dare murder me.
Ahkna: We merely want to speak in much more detailed terms about your wormhole capabilities.
Grayza: You already know that you'll learn nothing.
Ahkna: No. Not here. But our facilities are so much better on Katratzi. (and with that - Pennoch hustles Grayza and Braca away. Up above, Aeryn lowers her weapon)
Aeryn: They'll interrogate her now.
Sikozu: What happens when they learn the truth about wormhole weapons?
Aeryn: They won't. We can't let them.
(cut to Aeryn and Sikozu as they run lightly through the precincts of the dead Leviathan, following the Scarrans and their captives. The Leviathan seem almost deserted - as if word of the fearful events in the old Pilot's Den had spread and its shadowy denizens have scattered. Sikozu pauses to watch the progress of the Scarrans, Chiana and Noranti, still in their genetic disguises, spot her and hurry to her)
Chiana: Sikozu- (the Kalish shushes her softly and Chiana follows her gaze to the Scarrans and their prisoners as they sweep by, silent as a funeral procession) Frell... (after they pass, Aeryn steps out of concealment and gestures for Sikozu to follow them)
Aeryn: Go. (the Kalish reluctantly complies, and Aeryn comes to stand next to Chiana and Noranti. She has no trouble recognizing them) What the frell happened to you two?
Chiana: We needed a camouflage to fool the DNA scans.
Noranti: It isn't permanent.
Aeryn: Have you got the modulator?
Chiana: Not yet. What are the Scarrans doing here?
Aeryn: Doesn't matter. Whatever it takes - get the modulator and meet us back at the pod.
Chiana: Right. (she darts off with a last encouragement from Aeryn)
Aeryn: Go. (to Noranti) Right. We're low on weapons.
Noranti: I didn't bring any guns - I don't have any guns.
Aeryn: (urgently) What can you do? What can you make?
Noranti: Fyang powder. It's a wonderful substance. It'll put anyone to sleep instantly.
Noranti: Except I don't have any.
Aeryn: Not good. (Noranti roots around in her purse)
Noranti: However - this looks like... meela spores. They're very powerful.
Aeryn: Scarrans - Charrids - will it work on them?
Noranti: I've never tried on either.
(cut to elsewhere on the dead Leviathan. The Scarrans have placed Grayza in an organic-looking pod whose interior is roughly the shape of a body. Two bars across its open front secure her there and she is bathed in sickly blue light. Braca is nearby with his wrists cuffed to an overhead pipe. Ahkna doesn't deign to look at them, leaving them instead for Pennoch and the Charrids to handle)
Grayza: Ahkna - this blunder will cost you dearly.
Ahkna: (bored with Grayza's threats) Hm. The blunder was yours, Commandant.
Braca: You've just guaranteed yourselves a war you cannot win. Our wormhole technology will decimate your planet. (for that, he gets a blast of Pennoch's heat ray, which seems to have a particularly nasty kick. Braca is completely obscured by its shimmer and as he writhes within its miasma, even his screams are muffled by it)
Pennoch: You terrify me. (he releases Braca, who sags against his bonds. Pennoch strides over to Ahkna) Do we need this one?
Ahkna: Yes - we do. (Pennoch has clearly got a serious hate on for Braca)
Pennoch: (panting a bit) When he no longer has a use - may I be the one to dispose of him?
Ahkna: (indulgently) Yes - you may. Let us prepare the Stryker and summon the Dreadnought to the rendezvous point. (to the prisoners and their Charrid guard) We won't be long. (she exits, and Pennoch throws a surly look and a snarl at the prisoners before following her)
(cut to Aeryn as she hurries to join Noranti in the deserted bar area. The Traskan is in the process of kneading up one of her potions)
Aeryn: How are you going Noranti?
Noranti: Preparing meela spores takes time. (she adds saliva to the wad in her hand) And spit.
Aeryn: We never have enough time.
Noranti: I don't have enough spit. (she adds some more saliva to her hand) But I'm doing what I can. (Sikozu lopes back in, a bit breathless)
Sikozu: Alright - they took Grayza and Braca into bay 9. But their Stryker's still powered down.
Aeryn: So we have enough time to- (but Sikozu cuts her off)
Sikozu: No - 2 Charrids came back out. They're heading this way now.
Aeryn: 2? (and right on cue - the guttural voice of on of the approaching Charrids is heard)
Charrid: You heard Ahkna's orders: If you see a Peacekeeper Commando - shoot to kill. (Aeryn and Sikozu duck for cover and Noranti crouches behind the table she was working at as the pair of masked and helmeted Charrids with their long, filthy-to-the-point-of-being-scaly dreadlocks, enter. Aeryn pulls her gun - but suddenly, Noranti rises and steps out into the open. The Charrids bring their weapons to bear on her) Identify yourself.
Noranti: (smiling) Don't shoot - I know who you are.
Sikozu: (whispering, aghast) What are you doing? (Noranti ignores her, and continues to approach the Charrids)
Noranti: And I know who you're looking for. You don't have to harm me - I can show you where to find the ones you're seeking.
Charrid: Tell me where they are.
Noranti: Just a microt - my nose, I- I need-ah, I need-ah-hah-CHOO! (she brings her hand to her mouth and fakes a sneeze - which sends some of the spores she'd been working on into the Charrids face mask. The Charrid gasps and sneezes as well and Noranti continues) Sneeze. I'm sorry. I said I could help to find the ones you seek and I will - (she speaks slowly as the Charrids snorts and snuffles) - show you... (the Charrid stops snuffling and Noranti makes her suggestion quickly) Right now, there's one behind you. Right there - a Peacekeeper. (the Charrid turns around and instead of his cohort - he sees a PK soldier. He fires, and the other Charrids fires back almost simultaneously. They take each others shots with a couple grunts and go down. Aeryn and Sikozu step out of hiding to inspect the sizzling corpses. Noranti is impressed) Yeah - I must remember to get more meela spores.
Aeryn: Yes. That was good. Thank you. (the Charrids are quickly stripped of their weapons and Aeryn glances at the soldiers black uniforms and then at Sikozu) Now - I know it's not your color but...
Sikozu: (with a smile) It'll get us into bay 9.
(cut to bay 9 where Grayza stands in her pod and Braca stands chained the overhead pipe under the watchful eye of their single Charrid guard. Suddenly, the Charrids two companions enter, herding a big-eared, brown-haired woman in front of them)
Noranti: Oh please! Let me go! I-I'm not a Peacekeeper! I don't even know any Peacekeepers. You've got the wrong young - female! (she drops to her knees before the third Charrid and looks up at him) Oh please! Please - I'm being attacked by one - by two - of you!
Aeryn: (her voice is tinny from inside the Charrid face mask) Hey gorgeous! (the third Charrid looks - and gets one shot each from Aeryn and Sikozu. He drops dead on top of Noranti)
Sikozu: That leaves us one Charrid, 2 Scarrans-
Aeryn: And 2 Peacekeepers - Commandant. (and restrained in her pod, Grayza's face remains an unmoving, unreadable mask, but for a long, slow, blink of her eyes)
Meanwhile, Chiana, still in her red-haired, blue-skinned genetic disguise - has made her way to Moya's transport pod, which is sitting outside on the surface of the asteroid near the twisted and withered tails of the dead Leviathan. She pauses briefly in the hatch of the craft - it appears empty. Perhaps worried that she's missed the rendezvous with Rekka and the Negotiator, she curses softly as she hops into one of the pods control console chairs and closes the hatch. But the pod isn't empty. The Negotiator is there, crouched on the floor behind the console, and he now grabs her leg and lifts, throwing her off balance. As she sprawls backwards in the chair, Rekka appears and knocks her unconscious with one vicious blow to her head.
The scene then shifts back to bay 9 as Aeryn and Sikozu take off their Charrid masks and uniforms.
Grayza: (smoothly) Aeryn Sun - exceptional work.
Aeryn: And congratulations on your Luxan treaty. (Grayza smiles) For that alone, I shall kill you both. (and she brings her gun up to do so - Braca first)
Braca: Aeryn- (but before he can say anything more, Grayza interrupts)
Grayza: Alive - I can repudiate that treaty.
Aeryn: But you proposed it and you signed it.
Grayza: And if the Scarrans had not betrayed me, I'd have stood by it. We could have lived in peace. (she changes the subject to the matter at hand) Without me - how are you planning to get past the Command Carrier that's orbiting this dead Leviathan? (and Aeryn chokes at the crucial moment. Soon after - Grayza and Braca are freed from their Scarran bonds, but now cuffed together - prisoners of the crew of Moya. Aeryn moves to take a quick look into the corridor outside, where the last Charrid is pacing a sentries beat, unaware of the fate of his comrades. Aeryn ducks back into the bay)
Aeryn: (to Sikozu) If I'm not back at the pod in half an arn, you go without me.
Aeryn: Go. I'll cover. (she heads for the corridor. And Sikozu, with a jerk of her head, shows her captives the way)
Sikozu: Move! (with Noranti in the lead and Sikozu bringing up the rear with a pulse gun, Braca and Grayza move. Ahead of them, Aeryn steps into the corridor and guns down the last Charrid as he turns to face her. But there's a bigger problem behind him - Pennoch. Aeryn fires 3 shots, hitting him squarely in his naked chest each time. This serves only to make the Scarran crabbier than he is already - and he lowers his vast head at Aeryn with a malevolent stare as he growls... Meanwhile - Sikozu directs her charges into a detour) Into the cafe! Into the cafe!
Noranti: (pointing) The pod is that way.
Sikozu: No Noranti - we're gonna to wait here for Aeryn.
Grayza: (annoyed, firmly) Aeryn is dead by now!
Sikozu: (shrill, very anxious) I said keep moving!
Braca: (urgently) She's right-
Sikozu: To the back!
Braca: Killing Charrids is one thing - but 2 Scarrans-
Sikozu: I said shut-UP!
Grayza: (gently coaxing) It was a great sacrifice on her part.
Sikozu: (stubbornly, in her usual arrogant tone) It isn't over - she will survive.
Braca: Alone? She's got no chance.
Noranti: (prudent, to Sikozu) Maybe you should go and help her and I'll take these 2 to the pod.
Sikozu: No Noranti! We have one weapon!
Grayza: The Scarrans will be here any microt.
Braca: (prudent) This area is undefendable. Might I suggest we-
Grayza: If we stay - we die. It would be a great pity if Aeryn's death were for nothing.
Sikozu: She's not - dead! (perhaps Sikozu should have gone for Mental Arts Training too. For her emotions and lack of focus now makes her vulnerable to Braca's free fist - which impacts her face. She goes down and he takes out Noranti efficiently with a smooth backward thrust of his elbow. Sikozu tries to get up - but a kick to her head puts her down again and Grayza snatches her gun)
Braca: This way. (he and Grayza take off at a run)
Grayza: (via comm - her voice harsh with anger and urgency) Prime the Marauder - we must leave immediately!
(cut back to Moya's transport pod as Chiana regains consciousness. She's tied to her chair and looks woozily up at Rekka as he paces near her while the Negotiator keeps a gun on her)
Chiana: Why did you do that?
Rekka: We don't like trespassers.
Chiana: This is my pod. OK? I got transformed. Look! Look at me! It's me!
Rekka: (with a long, disparaging laugh) Seriously now - we do have a strict policy: Nobody steals our clients ships!
(cut back to the bar in the dead Leviathan as Sikozu regains consciousness with a start. The first thing she sees is Noranti laying nearby - and she crawls over to her)
Sikozu: Noranti? (she shakes the Traskan's shoulder) Noranti! (the Traskan silently raises her hand to her face where Braca so unchivalrously elbowed her) You all right? Up you get! (and she begins to pull the old woman to her feet)
(cut back to Moya's transport pod)
Chiana: (slowly, desperately) I swear to you - I've been - genetically transformed - to fool the Peacekeepers. (to the Negotiator) You gave me the frelling tokens! (the Negotiator eyes her - and then leans forward with a beckoning gesture. Chiana gets his drift at once and leans over to touch her tongue and lips to his. He pulls sharply away)
Negotiator: It's her!
Rekka: Are you sure?
Negotiator: They didn't transform her tongue.
Rekka: (instantly, perversely, jovial) In that case - here's your modulator! With the sensor distorter installed. You do still want this? (he produces the modulator and holds it in front of Chiana. The Negotiator takes it, and leaning very close - shows her)
Negotiator: Plug it into the neela trunk. Your Pilot will feel his options. (Chiana feels his other hand on her thigh - either groping her or picking her pocket - it's hard to tell - she jerks away from him)
Chiana: Hey - do I get a discount for being knocked out?
Negotiator: (with a laugh) We should charge you more for guarding your pod. (Chiana pulls angrily at her restraints and grunts furiously- but just then, Sikozu and Noranti enter)
Sikozu: What's going on? (the Negotiator turns and hands her the modulator before walking out, followed by Rekka)
Rekka: Thanks for your patronage.
Sikozu: (to Chiana) Are you all right?
Chiana: (subdued) Yeah. (Sikozu moves to untie her)
Sikozu: Let's get this pod started.
Noranti: Should we wait for Aeryn?
Sikozu: We'll wait half an arn, like she said.
Chiana: So where is she? (she fretfully throws off the last of her bonds so she can run to the pod hatch and look out)
Noranti: Are you all right? (Chiana ignores her)
Chiana: (her voice thick with anxiety ) Where are the Scarrans? What if they get here first? (but as troubled as Chiana is - Sikozu seems to have taken her experience with Braca and Grayza to heart)
Sikozu: If the Scarrans get here first, then we leave immediately because Aeryn is - as good as dead. (time passes - the tense minutes tick by while the 3 women wait in silence for Aeryn. Chiana sits slumped at one console while Sikozu hugs herself and paces fretfully) It's almost time.
Chiana: No - we need to find Aeryn. (she rises to leave)
Sikozu: (snapping) Wait! Chiana - please! For once in your life, exercise some self-control!
Chiana: (calmly) I am exercising self-control - I'm not blasting off your head. (but then Noranti runs into the main cabin from where she'd been keeping watch out the hatch window)
Noranti: Stop! Stop! She's coming! (the sound of the hatch opening and closing is heard and Aeryn stumbles breathlessly into the pod)
Sikozu: Oh thank Jonyah! (she dives for the Pilot's console and hits the lift-off sequence as Aeryn throws herself down into a chair, panting)
Chiana: (to Aeryn) Are you all right?
Aeryn: (gasping for air) Yes - I'm fine.
Sikozu: (murmuring) All right... (louder) Sit down and hold on! (and with that - the pod rises and rockets away from the dead Leviathan and its asteroid tomb)
(cut back to Moya where the men are still hanging around together and anxiously awaiting the return of the women)
D'Argo: (via comm) Pilot - any word?
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks) Yes Ka D'Argo. As you speak - a transport pod is approaching at high speed.
Scorpius: Have they signaled distress?
John: Have we signaled Rygel's distress? (referring to the Hynerians need for a cook. If Pilot gets the joke - he ignores it)
Pilot: Inadvisable - as that would confirm our position to the Scarran warship pursuing them. (D'Argo rises urgently and heads for the door)
D'Argo: Pilot - starburst as soon as they're aboard!
Pilot: I am already preparing, Captain. (outside, the pod slows and dives into Moya's hangar portal. In his Den, Pilot's hits the sequence for starburst and sounds his warning) Stand by for starburst - now! (and with that - the blue energy of Moya's hyperdrive advances forward over her body to her nose where it forms its portal - and she disappears into it. And in the blackness of the space that she just vacated - a massive Scarran Dreadnought rumbles slowly past, visible only by its dull red running lights)
(cut to soon after, on Moya's Command. D'Argo sniffs curiously at the red-haired, blue-skinned Chiana)
Chiana: Do you really - need to do that?
D'Argo: (murmuring) Remarkable.
Chiana: Well changing my genetics changes my scent.
D'Argo: Is it permanent?
Chiana: Do you want it to be?
D'Argo: (softly) I prefer the elegant gray.
(cut to Rygel, who's giving his critique of Noranti's' performance in overseeing the purchase of the work on Moya's modulator)
Rygel: You paid too much!
Noranti: (with a coquettish twirl of her brown hair) Ahh - you don't even know if I paid. (she sashays off)
Rygel: (muttering) It was still too much. (pleading as he sails off in pursuit of her) I'll reimburse you double if you can cook for me!
Noranti: I may never cook again.
Rygel: Noranti please! (as they disappear down the corridor - and Aeryn and John come into view)
John: It's not your fault.
Aeryn: We had her. We let her go.
John: Well you're here. She's not. I'll take that trade.
Aeryn: She tried to strike a deal - Ahkna wouldn't go for it. The Scarrans must be dead set on war.
John: That's Scorpy's line. Let someone else lose sleep over it tonight.
Aeryn: (with a smile) What should we lose sleep over? (John smiles back)
John: Careful. (they lean toward each other for a kiss - but just as their lips touch, Moya lurches violently as she exits starburst and they must stagger to keep their footing)
Pilot: (cut to him in his Den as he speaks urgently over general comms) Everyone - despite our starburst, the Scarran warship is still in pursuit at the extreme edge of Moya's senses.
(cut to soon after as Aeryn and John join D'Argo and Sikozu on Moya's Command. The search is already on for how the Dreadnought is managing to track them. The scene shifts between the crew in various locations as they speak via comm)
D'Argo: How'd they find us so fast?
John: Try a homing beacon.
Pilot: I'm not detecting any signals.
D'Argo: John's right - must be a beacon. Chiana? (cut briefly to Chiana, Rygel and a DRD in the pod they had traveled to the dead Leviathan in. Chiana's sweeping a scanner over its interior)
Chiana: Nope - nothing in the pod. Still looking. (cut to Noranti and Scorpius in the neural clusters where, with the help of another DRD, they're inspecting the altered modulator)
Scorpius: I am certain - the sensor distorter contains no transmitter or homing beacon. Of any sort.
John: (tense) Alright - it's not the hardware. Try the software - Pilot?
Pilot: Adjusting now.
D'Argo: (under his breath) Anything from that planet - anything. (John, who's standing with Aeryn, glances over his shoulder at Sikozu, who's watching them)
Aeryn: (quietly) You know it could be her - we were separated. (they both turn and look at the Kalish, who stares back resentfully)
Sikozu: (with quiet anger) I did not - betray - you. (but Pilot sends a DRD rolling over to scan her anyway and in the pod, the red-haired Chiana gets the same treatment from the DRD there)
Chiana: (to the chittering DRD) What? You want me to undress?
Pilot: The DRDs detect nothing from either Sikozu, Chiana or Noranti. Nothing from Aeryn either.
Scorpius: A tier-by-tier search of this vessel would be the unavoidable next step!
Pilot: There's no time for that! The Scarran warship is now on the edge of Moya's sense horizon. (indeed it is. Far - but nor far enough - away, the massive bulk of the Dreadnought advances slowly and very deliberately to the basso thrum of its vast engines. Back on Moya, the crew is at a loss, almost paralyzed as they cast about for what to do next. The scene continues to shift between the crew in their various locations )
Chiana: (with dread) Have they found us again? (murmuring) Frell me.
Rygel: (sounding sick) Soon enough.
D'Argo: (with hope) Can Moya starburst?
Pilot: Not for some time.
Sikozu: (frantic) Activate the sensor distorter.
Scorpius: (sharply responding to her) It is not ready yet!
Aeryn: How long until the warship identifies us?
Pilot: Perhaps 200 microts.
Rygel: I hate to say it, but-
D'Argo: (snapping) Then don't!
Noranti: No one is chasing Moya and Pilot. It might be better just to leave them.
John: (to Aeryn) Are we gonna do this? Bail?
Aeryn: Safest for Moya.
John: What about the - ((he makes a rocking motion with his arms. Aeryn looks at him uncomprehendingly and John whispers, lest Scorpius hear) - baby. What about the baby?
Aeryn: (uncertainly) What? (there's a very long pause as they stand there, looking at each other. Aeryn seems not to have any memory of her pregnancy - and John studies her closely. Is she kidding around? Sick? or is it something else? His paranoia triumphs)
John: (quietly) Where's the beacon - Aeryn?
Aeryn: (unsure of the correct response) We - don't know.
John: (louder) Where's the beacon Aeryn? (and he moves suddenly away from her as he whips out his pulse gun and trains it on her. D'Argo and Sikozu jump - aghast)
Aeryn: We don't know.
Sikozu: CRICHTON! WHAT-? (she starts toward them but John warns her away with his gun)
D'Argo: WAIT! (John levels his gun back at Aeryn)
John: Where's the beacon?
Chiana: (from the pod, via comm) Crichton? What're you doing?
John: (loudly) Where's the beacon? It's a simple question - where's the beacon?
Aeryn: (her voice quavers a bit with fright and confusion) We don't know - where the beacon is.
Noranti: (from the neural clusters via comm) Crichton, what are you doing? (Scorpius says nothing, but listens thoughtfully as the confrontation on the Command continues)
John: Where's the beacon? Where's the baby? (Aeryn shakes her head and her lips move, but no sound comes out, as John watches her) Where's the baby? Where's the beacon? Beacon, baby, beacon, baby? (Aeryn looks to Sikozu for help, but the Kalish has none) Whose beacon? Whose baby? (in the pod, Chiana and Rygel listen and understand what's going on. Rygel gasps a little) Who's the beacon? Who's the baby? Whose baby is it? Who's the daddy, Aeryn? Aeryn, who's the daddy? (but Aeryn can only shake her head and look beseechingly at D'Argo and Sikozu) D'Argo tell her who the daddy is!
D'Argo: (quietly) We don't know who the daddy is. (Aeryn blinks rapidly, confused. Her breathing is shaky)
John: Right - we don't know - who. (he moves closer to Aeryn. Sikozu seems as confused as she does when John asks her to say a word in English) Say 'baby' Aeryn. Aeryn, say 'baby.' Say 'baby.' (Aeryn's lips move - but she can't even sound the first letter of the word) Spell it. (but of course she cannot - and John starts to sing softly) A-B-C-D-E-F-G... H-I-J... (but it is clear to all - she has never heard the alphabet of Earth. And John stops singing and asks a question that seems more pertinent now) Where's Aeryn - Aeryn? (exposed, 'Aeryn' - has no choice. Without taking her eyes off John, she makes a move for her gun. But John is certain now - and he shoots her in face. D'Argo jumps and hisses - as Aeryn just stands there. A few tiny circuits buzz and spark in the charred ruin of the right side of her head)
Sikozu: A bioloid.
D'Argo: What's a bioloid?
Sikozu: That. (the semi-organic side of the Aeryn bioloid's face bubbles and drips as lights blink within the mangled flesh and electrical charges creep over it. As they watch, she stopples backward - stiff as a falling tree - onto the floor)
Pilot: (urgently on comm) 30 microts everyone - until a Scarran warship is close enough to identify us.
Scorpius: Pilot! I've temporarily patched - the sensor distorter - to your neural pathway.
Pilot: I - feel it. There is a choice of signatures. (on the Command, Sikozu quickly moves to put in her order for a false running signature)
Sikozu: A Scarran ore freighter - and mimic its movements.
Pilot: Engaging - now. (the sound of the device powering up is heard and Moya's decks heave a little as pilot imitates the heavy roll of a laden freighter. But on the Command, John has eyes only for the oozing, bubbling bioloid on the floor) The Scarran warship is signaling.
D'Argo: Okay let's hear it. (and with a little squeal - a harsh male voice from the Dreadnought fills Moya's Command)
Dreadnought: Koh-nahck! Koh-nahck! Prehzni koh-nahck! Prehzni koh-nahck! (in the neural clusters, Scorpius raises his head at the sound of a Scarran voice, speaking Scarran - for him a sound of dread from his earliest consciousness)
Scorpius: (murmuring) The mother-tongue. (and on the Command, D'Argo leans down to Sikozu and gives her cue)
Sikozu: Netko frehza kalisha.
Dreadnought: Nah-forla Leviathan.
Sikozu: Li! ildurstabek. Baockk-du karko ohnahlin tramahdan. Ska bahkarro. Bellotin.
Dreadnought: Oss-konick. (and with that, the Dreadnought slides on past, towards a lavender dust cloud in the distance)
Pilot: The - warship is breaking off, and accelerating away. (Sikozu lets out her breath. As for John - it is as if he never heard a thing - he remains frozen in place next to the dead bioloid, riveted by it. There's a long moment of silence while D'Argo paces slowly over to Sikozu)
D'Argo: (quietly, with just a touch of suspicion) What did you say to them?
Sikozu: I told them that we saw - a Leviathan starburst a moment ago. That we were afraid it was going to board us and I thanked them for scaring it away. (D'Argo snorts, and strides off the Command. Sikozu heaves another sigh of relief as she sags against the communications console. And John finally holsters his gun - and slowly squats down to stare at the Aeryn bioloid, whose viscera still trembles and circuitry still glows fitfully)
(cut to soon after, D'Argo has returned to the Command with Chiana. John is still crouched by the replica of Aeryn as Sikozu reaches into the gory mass where the side of its head is blown away and extracts a small device. The bioloid's lights fade out at last. Chiana has joined Sikozu and John on the Command)
Sikozu: Homing device. Found in what's left of its neural processor. That device confining Grayza was not meant to transport her.
Scorpius: (responding via comm from the neural clusters) No. It replicates living flesh. We've known about it for some time - but never encountered the result.
D'Argo: Effective technique. No rescue attempt, while they're at their leisure to torture Grayza.
Chiana: And now - her duplicate spies on the Peacekeepers. (she exits)
Noranti: (from the neural cluster) Then why did they take Aeryn?
Sikozu: (pensively) I got away - she - got caught.
Noranti: Maybe they thought this - creature - would bring back Grayza.
Scorpius : Or Crichton.
D'Argo: Sikozu. (she looks ant him, and catches what he wants. With a last glance at John and the bioloid, she leaves the two men alone. D'Argo sighs as he comes to stand near John) You okay?
John: (dully) No.
D'Argo: You know - it's not Aeryn.
John: It was never Aeryn. (but he doesn't take his eyes from the dead bioloid)
D'Argo: (quietly) We're not gonna give up on her John. Sikozu said the Scarrans are taking Grayza to a place called Katratzi. Maybe that's where Aeryn is now. (John raises his eyes to the stars and the golden nebula visible out Moya's broad main viewport)
John: She could be anywhere out there.
D'Argo: But we're not going to let her go. I give you my word.
John looks up at D'Argo, desolate, and wanting to take the Luxans words of courage - but too broken now to respond. D'Argo's eyes are hard with determination - but also alight with compassion as he gives John a very small smile - and leaves. John's eyes drop to the bioloid for a moment - and then back to the vast universe outside.