[Liberator is leaving orbit around a planet]
[Liberator Flight Deck. Tarrant is piloting, with Kyben and Soolin at their stations. Vila sits in the pit. Orac is switched on]
TARRANT: Zen, set a course for the frontier, standard by six. I don't want to be in hostile territory any longer than I have to.
[Vila, who has been listening with a grave expression, rises and heads for the exit]
SOOLIN: There's no other space traffic in the system.
TARRANT: At the moment, there isn't. Pursuit ships are faster nowadays, so they can attack from further away.
KYBEN: But the truce should still hold, shouldn't it?
SOOLIN: That was when the universe was about to be destroyed.
TARRANT: Yes, now it's safe, there's nothing to stop the Federation reneging on the deal.
KYBEN: But Johnson gave us his word...
TARRANT: It's amazing how often people give their word when there's a gun at their head. It's whether or not they can keep their word when the gun is taken away that matters.
SOOLIN: And I thought I was cynical.
TARRANT: When was the last time you tricked your comrades into shooting unarmed prisoners?
SOOLIN: About the last time you did.
KYBEN: Vila? Where are you going?
VILA: I want to have a word with Blake.
[The planet Tarl in space. It is a foggy white world, with no moons, further out from the sun. It is snowing over its major city. A large domed building looms on the cliffs overlooking the main settlement - its dome is marked with a swirling infinity-symbol. Inside, three black-clad guards wearing the same symbol on the backs of their uniforms, are dragging a bowed figure in a cowl through a cathedral-style chamber. Eerie music echoes through the halls. A robed man stands looking a huge version of the symbol on the wall. He holds something in his hands.]
GUARD: Lord Boorva, sire, we have Darnel.
[Boorva does not look away from the symbol.]
[Boorva turns to face Darnel as he roughly dragged upwards towards the dais.]
GUARD: He has a communication link direct to Serrus. He was using it when he was caught.
BOORVA: Has he spoken since then?
GUARD: No, sire.
BOORVA: Bring him closer.
BOORVA: Darnel? Darnel, can you hear me? [Darnel nods.] Who were you communicating with? The ruler of Serrus? Were you talking to Sorlai? Were you betraying us to him, Darnel? [Darnel is silent.] I sent you as an emissary to the Federation for one reason, Darnel. Not because you have a gift for diplomacy, or natural cunning but because you are loyal. And when they twisted your mind to obey them, I hoped that you of all people would be able to resist. Your loyalty is not stronger than the Federation. I misjudged you, Darnel. And I ask your forgiveness. I know they will have conditioned you not to confess, to die rather than reveal their plans, even under torture. But you might break beforehand and I must take that chance. [to the Guards] Take him away. Do whatever is necessary. He does not need to survive any longer than it takes him to reveal his secrets.
[Darnel glares at Boorva, but its dragged off by the guards. He struggles to no avail.]
GUARD: Yes, sire. Come on, you scum, move.
BOORVA: It seems it is time for desperate measures to be taken.
[Boorva opens his hands to hold a Scorpio teleport bracelet.]
[Liberator corridor. Vila crosses to a door and presses the comm-button beside it.]
[Vila is silent for a moment.]
BLAKE: [V.O.] What is it?
VILA: It's Vila.
BLAKE: [V.O.] I can hear that, Vila. What's wrong?
VILA: I want to have a word.
BLAKE: [V.O.] You can have two. Go away.
VILA: Fine. That does it. The word I wanted to have, Nij, was 'goodbye'.
[Scowling, Vila turns and heads down the corridor. A second later, the door opens and Blake emerges, clearly not quite awake yet and tugging on a shirt.]
BLAKE: What? Vila! Hey, where are you going?
[Vila stops and looks back at Blake.]
VILA: [doesn't look back] Away.
BLAKE: Very amusing, Vila, now let's be serious...
VILA: I am serious. I'm leaving.
[He turns and walks off. Blake shakes his head to clear it and jogs after him.]
BLAKE: Leaving the Liberator? Why?
VILA: If you don't know, Nij, then I better get going now.
BLAKE: Vila! VILA!
[Liberator flight deck. The others look up as Vila enters the chamber quickly and crosses to the pit area and starts pocketing some of the junk around there. Blake runs in.]
[Vila crosses to the gun rack and takes out a gun and belt and proceeds to don it. The others abandon their stations and cross over to him.]
SOOLIN: What's going on?
BLAKE: Vila's going to desert.
KYBEN: "Desert"? Vila, what are you doing?
VILA: I'm leaving, Kyben. It's what sane, ordinary people do when presented with fatal danger - they head in the opposite direction as fast as they can. It's not safe on the Liberator.
BLAKE: Is this more drunken paranoia? Zen, status of the Liberator?
ZEN: Liberator is on course for the Federation frontier at standard by six. Estimated time of arrival, five hours and twenty three minutes. All systems are functioning normally.
VILA: No, that's why I'm leaving, Nij.
[Blake looks at her, shocked at the criticism.]
BLAKE: Why are you calling me Nij?
VILA: It's your name, isn't it? I'd rather call you that than Blake. After all, you don't exactly take after him, do you? Nij Servalan would be a better name. You take after her, all right. Your little booby-trap was just the sort of thing she'd think up.
BLAKE: That 'little booby-trap' saved your life, Vila, and everyone else here.
SOOLIN: He's right, Vila. Without that transmitter, Smith would have killed us all without a second thought.
VILA: Since when was that a good enough reason to kill people who are unarmed?
TARRANT: We didn't KNOW they were unarmed. [glares at Blake] Our fearless leader saw fit not to tell anyone about his 'little booby-trap'.
BLAKE: We had more important things to worry about at the time.
VILA: And what about now? You were going to execute all those troopers in the hold, just flush them out into space - even when they hadn't broken the deal.
BLAKE: Smith broke it first.
VILA: Oh yeah, that justifies all of it! If you're so superior, stop blaming other people. The fact is, Nij, you were going to slaughter hundreds of people even though you knew it was wrong!
BLAKE: I didn't.
TARRANT: You were going to!
BLAKE: I said I was going to. Thereís a difference.
SOOLIN: It wouldn't be the first time you'd killed a former ally like that.
BLAKE: I'm being lectured to by a professional killer now, am I? I threatened to empty the hold, and as a result we now have an ally on the inside. Between that and saving the universe, I thought I'd done a good dayís work, made a proper account of myself.
[Blake looks at the others. Kyben avoids his gaze, Soolin nods sadly and Vila finishes plugging in his gun and picks up a lockpick hidden behind the dome in front of Zen.]
TARRANT: But you haven't, have you? You're keeping us all in the dark and expecting us to blindly obey you. We are supposed to be trying to defeat a dictatorship, not live with a different one. And let's all be honest, if you had killed the troopers, not one of us would be surprised.
BLAKE: THAT is what made it convincing.
[Blake shakes his head.]
VILA: Well, I'm sick of these games, Nij. I've been on board the Liberator longer than any of the rest of you, even Orac. So, as the senior here I am asking you to tell us the truth from now on.
BLAKE: This is my ship.
VILA: Who says?
BLAKE: Avon left me in charge of it.
VILA: That's another thing. You know what happened to Avon. So tell us.
TARRANT: If you won't tell us the truth, why should we trust you?
[Vila casually draws his gun and points it at Blake.]
BLAKE: Have I let you down so far?
VILA: [Thinks] Yes. Yes you have. Remember Jain? You let her down.
BLAKE: You think I wanted it to end like that?
VILA: You did leave her on that mudball bleeding to death once she got the crystal for you.
SOOLIN: He what?
VILA: Jain told me. He went back for her, but then I notice the next chance he got he let her get choked to death by some barbarians!
BLAKE: Shut up, Vila!
VILA: And then if he'd actually stuck to orders, hadn't followed us down when we were caught by the ESD, Jenna wouldn't got shot! And who was it who caused the wonderful new Federation laws that mean any time we do something, a passer by could be executed for not stopping us?
BLAKE: And just think, Vila, if you'd never been born, things could have been different! And they would have been - but they aren't. I'd have thought that after the last six years you would have understood that.
VILA: Since I met you, Nij, Roj Blake died. And Dayna. And Jenna. And Jain. And now Avon. AVON! Now, can anyone here imagine just what could have killed Avon? Actually killed him? And not destroyed the Liberator and most of the galaxy as well?
KYBEN: It wasn't poison, suffocation, electrocution or any kind of weapons fire.
VILA: You see? Somehow, something got onto the Liberator and killed Avon without leaving a mark on him. It could still be here, just waiting for us.
TARRANT: You're just winding us all up, Vila...
VILA: Am I? Go on then, Nij. [folds arms] Put me straight. Explain what really happened.
BLAKE: What do you want me to say, Vila? That we're all safe and sound on this ship? We're not. Not while every pursuit ship in the galaxy is after us. Not while the Federation exists. Not while we are mortal. Now, I have kept all of you alive, haven't I? But I can't make you invincible. I would do anything if it brought Jenna back, if somehow Jain could survive. And I miss Avon too, believe it or not. But he is dead. We have to accept it. And he left me in charge.
TARRANT: We only have your word for that.
BLAKE: Have I lied to you?
SOOLIN: You are a touch too secretive for our liking.
BLAKE: So was Avon.
TARRANT: And whenever he got secretive, it always ended badly.
BLAKE: Forgive me, but are we living in some kind of fantasy land? The world doesn't just stop because Avon's dead. Nothing can change that, even if I tell you what happened. Yes, I know what happened, and no, I'm not going to tell you. Now you four are going to obey without question.
VILA: No. We're not.
[Furious, Blake lashes out and grabs Vila's gun, twisting the barrel to face Vila. Tarrant and Soolin grab Blake and try to wrestle him free. Vila is unable to simply let go of the gun as it is jabbed in his chin. Kyben looks on helplessly as they struggle.]
BLAKE: Try it, Vila.
VILA: And you'll kill me, too? That's why I'm leaving, Nij. I can't trust you.
BLAKE: You trusted Avon. You trusted Roj Blake.
VILA: And that says more about you than it does about me, doesn't it?
BLAKE: Where do you think you're going to go?
VILA: Why should I tell you?
TARRANT: He's right. You haven't been spectacular as leader and you're not exactly pleasant company to be around. I think I might take my leave as well.
SOOLIN: Tarrant, just calm down...
TARRANT: I am calm.
SOOLIN: You'd seriously abandon being pilot of the most powerful ship in the galaxy?
TARRANT: It's becoming more trouble than itís worth.
BLAKE: You're not going to leave. Either of you.
TARRANT: Don't try and stop us, Blake.
BLAKE: You forget. Remember the Dream Master? I've seen inside your souls! You're not going to abandon the Liberator.
VILA: I am. Because I've seen into YOUR soul, Nij.
VILA: There was nothing there.
KYBEN: What do you think you're doing? You'll get someone killed!
[Blake finally manages to fling Tarrant and Soolin away. He now has the gun aimed at Vila, who swallows but does not back away. Blake moves his finger to the trigger. A pause. As everyone watches, Blake starts to calm down and turns the gun around, offering the handle to Vila.]
BLAKE: Whatever I've said, and whatever I've done, I've never betrayed you. Any of you. And if you can't accept that, if you can't believe I want us all to survive this and not just survive but win... well, maybe you should leave.
[Vila takes the gun, clearly no longer so angry. Everyone is still for a moment, not knowing]
ORAC: If I might interrupt at this point, I have received a coded message for the immediate and exclusive attention of Avon.
[Vila, Soolin and Tarrant exchange a meaningful look, while Blake and Kyben are baffled.]
KYBEN: But... Avon's dead.
ORAC: That is why I am informing the rest of you. Such a conclusion is so patently obvious I would have assumed it not to be worth mentioning, but yet again...
TARRANT: [Interrupts] Who's the message from, Orac?
ORAC: It originates from the planet Tarl and is set on the specific frequency that Avon gave to the Warlord Boorva for further discussion of the Rebel Alliance.
[A dingy warehouse, clearly in some state of disrepair and long since abandoned. A Federation trooper steps from behind a heap of crates, carrying a long rifle. The trooper moves silently down an aisle, cautiously looking right and left. On an upper gantry, another trooper steps out of the shadows. The troopers silently acknowledge each other. Three more troopers join the other two. They confer silently and move forward through the warehouse. Suddenly there is a shout. Ten stocky, wild-looking figures in ragged outfits clutching identical rifles suddenly burst out from under cover and open fire on the troopers. There is a blue crackle and one falls, but the remaining troopers raise their rifles and open fire. All bar two of the attackers are immediately felled, and the survivors are gunned down from behind by the last trooper on a gantry. Immediately a siren sounds briefly and bright lights snap on, filling the warehouse with light. A slow, mocking clap begins as Kreel emerges from the shadows accompanied by a stocky, greasy-looking warrior dressed in slightly grander rags than the others.]
KREEL: Well done, all. Your scout party managed to take down a grand total of one aggressor before the entire force was wiped out.
[Kreel grimaces at the smell of Sorlai. The troopers are helping the attackers upright.]
SORLAI: This is a training ground, Space Commander. They are here to learn. If they knew it all already, training would not be needed.
KREEL: I donít dispute that, Sorlai. But your warriors are a bunch of cutthroats. They are not soldiers. They have no discipline or eagerness to learn.
[Hissing with displeasure, Sorlai leads Kreel over to one corner.]
SORLAI: You lost one of your men in this session, Space Commander.
KREEL: Yes, it only took three days of training for you to aim the plasma rifles the right way round.
SORLAI: Your President chose you for this task, Space Commander. It would be best for all concerned if you completed it.
[Sorlai leans close to emphasize this, and Kreel gags.]
KREEL: Your army of violent savages barely numbers fifty. You cannot take over a whole planet with such a force, and that is a fact.
SORLAI: We do not need to take over Tarl, merely its major temple.
KREEL: Even that would be beyond your riff-raff.
SORLAI: At the moment. They are many things and they are not many others. But they are always eager to learn how to kill. And now the Federation lacks its vampires, and its "Ee-hess-dee" are gone with the missiles and your magic potions, we are all you have to work with.
KREEL: That IS a depressing concept.
SORLAI: It is true.
KREEL: Then the mighty HAVE fallen.
SORLAI: We need each other, Commander. The operation will continue.
KREEL: Maybe if ALL of your warriors turned up for training we might get somewhere.
[He moves off. Sorlai frowns.]
SORLAI: I hadnít thought of that. Where are you going?
KREEL: For some fresh air. There must be some on this planet!
[Liberator hangs in space.]
KYBEN: [V.O.] So, let me just get this clear in my mind...
[Liberator Flight Deck. Everyone bar Blake sits in the pit. Orac is switched on.]
KYBEN: Avon convinced the five most powerful non-aligned planets to join forces into an Alliance against the Federation. And because the Federation use Pylene 50 rather than plasma rifles, if the border systems were all immune to Pylene 50, they'd be able to fight off the invasion?
[Blake and Kyben are slightly surprised by the passion in Tarrant's voice.]
VILA: That's right. [counts on fingers] Betafarl, Khom, Hirriel, Lovis and Tarl.
SOOLIN: All the leaders agreed at a cease-fire of hostilities and then focusing their attention against the Federation.
KYBEN: It can't have been easy.
VILA: It wasn't. Turned out the President of Betafarl wanted to take over the galaxy first, so he tricked us and nearly killed us all.
KYBEN: Did you kill him?
SOOLIN: No. His ship exploded before we could do anything.
KYBEN: Well, it must have worked, all the border systems are still free.
BLAKE: It only worked because Avon released the formula to the antitoxin. Pylene 50 is useless, which is why the Federation is changing tactics. The border systems are low priority at the moment.
TARRANT: The Alliance was made and it's still in effect!
TARRANT: It's only thanks to Zeeona that the whole thing didn't collapse - she contacted Betafarl and managed to sort the mess out before she... [calmer] before she died. Betafarl placed itself under the temporary control of Tarl and the Alliance held.
[Vila directs the comment up at Blake, who doesnít react.]
KYBEN: Who's Zeeona?
SOOLIN: [Carefully] Zukan's daughter. She was... she was a great help.
VILA: Tarrant's right, the Alliance only held itself together because she convinced Betafarl to participate without its warlord. Would be nice to assume the Rebel Alliance could cope without us, but obviously that's too much to expect. Nothing lasts any time at all nowadays.
BLAKE: Have you finished decoding the message, Orac?
[Blake opens his mouth to speak.]
ORAC: Of course I have. It is simply a request to go to Tarl and a series of specific ident signals to ensure the Alliance ships do not attack the Liberator. Once the signals are used, we will be escorted to Tarl directly and a meeting with His Lordship Chumran Boorva.
BLAKE: You're sure this isn't a trap?
TARRANT: It won't be.
BLAKE: How can you be so sure?
TARRANT: Never mind that, just take it from me. Boorva has nothing to gain by betraying us! Besides, the Liberator is more than a match for any of Betafarl raiding ships.
KYBEN: Heís right, Tarrant, thereís no reason to...
TARRANT: It is NOT a trap! We made something with that Alliance that lasted! It HAS lasted! Too many people died for it not to!
SOOLIN: [Quickly] Either way, what do you think of it, Orac?
ORAC: All relevant data confirms that there are no Federation ships within six million spacials of the border systems and the area has been clear of Federation involvement for the last three months.
BLAKE: So, if it is a trap, theyíve been lying in wait for weeks.
TARRANT: Why trap us? They could have attacked the ship the moment we finished dropping off the troopers or any moment since then? Itís not a trap. Zen, set course for the planet Tarl, direct flight, speed standard by eight.
TARRANT: No countermands. [Sweetly] You can trust me, canít you, Blake?
[Tarrant looks dangerously annoyed. Kyben raises her voice.]
BLAKE: Of course. Itís not like youíve ever jumped to the wrong conclusion and caused a bloodbath because you didnít think things through, is it?
KYBEN: This is getting us nowhere! Weíre all on this ship together, and itís bad enough weíve got the whole of the Federation against us without you all trying to kill each other in a bloodlust fever. Weíre going to Tarl but if thereís the slightest sign of a pursuit ship when we get there, we turn back as fast as we can. All of us. Agreed? [Beat] Agreed?!
[Slightly shame faced, Tarrant nods. Blake does too. Soolin and Vila both nod. Kyben takes a deep breath.]
KYBEN: Now, if youíll all excuse me, I stopped being on watch three hours ago, and Iíd like a chance to rest for the first time since we saved the entire universe.
[Kyben turns and strides out. The others watch her go.]
ZEN: Information. Course computed. New heading set for the planet Tarl. Estimated time of arrival, one hour thirty two minutes.
[Serrus. The mist hangs over the weed-ridden city. Kreelís pursuit ship can be seen parked at the outskirts.]
[Kreelís ship. Duty Tracer Banks sits at his station, uniform scruffy and unbuttoned, next to an unfinished game of Galactic Monopoly. Data is scrolling down the monitor screen as a mechanical voice intones the information.]
COMPUTER: ...dubbed Serrus by the surviving inhabitants who developed an immunity to the Phobon Plague. Their immunity has been unable to be reproduced by scientific investigation teams, leading to the Federation deciding to allow the plague warning beacon to continue to function. Recent data suggests further mutation in the natives but no further study has been carried out. Topographical notes: mercury swamps have been located at the equator, and unusual orbit has caused seasons lasting no less than twenty-five years with a mean temperature of 86 degrees during winter. Meteor showers are common due to the thinning of the atmosphere, particularly over the major continent...
[Kreel enters the flight deck wreathed in steamy air. He sneezes twice. Banks switches off the computer and rises.]
BANKS: Welcome back, Space Commander. How did the training session go?
[With a sigh, Kreel sits down beside Banks.]
KREEL: Pointless! Like it always is! Whatever is happening to these primitives is clearly removing their brain power Ė half of them forgot to turn up for training!
BANKS: Lack of discipline, there.
KREEL: Discipline? Banks, this planet is supposed to be a dictatorship! They canít even get that right! [Coughs] And the stench! This has to be the least appealing planet Iíve ever been to! None of the natives even understand what hygiene is, let alone practice it...
BANKS: Starting to wish you were back on Zircona, sir?
KREEL: Anywhere would be better than there! ANYWHERE! [Coughs] Banks. Has Space Command responded to the communique yet?
BANKS: Nothing on any channels, Commander. [indicates the board] Another game?
KREEL: Three months weíve been stuck here. Two of the men are already dead from the stench. Three of them are showing signs of plague.
[Banks adjusts the game. Kreel picks up his playing disc and regards it sadly.]
BANKS: All atmospheric tests agree that the plague burned out sixty years ago, sir.
KREEL: Or it mutated. Like everything else on this miserable rock. And what are we doing? Playing Galactic Monopoly! We arenít helping maintain the structure of the Federation by marinating in our own filth down here. [sighs] Whatever information the President had, itís wrong. [pause] Get the game ready, man! Iím on a winning streak.
KREEL: We should be doing this for real. Out there, in the stars. Not forgotten and abandoned...
[A communicator chimes.]
BANKS: Weíre not abandoned here, sir. The Tarl strategy has the twin aims of destroying the Rebel Alliance and capturing the Liberator...
KREEL: The Liberator, Banks, hasnít been sighted in the border systems! Ever!
KREEL: Get that, Banks. Probably more of the men have collapsed.
[Banks picks up a headset and listens to it.]
BANKS: Pursuit One receiving? Yes? Confirmed? Right. [lowers headset] The Liberatorís been sighted entering this border system.
[Kreel nods philosophically.]
KREEL: Mention this conversation again and Iíll have you shot as a deserter. [rises] Right, you know what to do, weíve discussed it enough times. Iíll round up the men, you send the signal to Federation High Command.
[The Liberator moves past a moon.]
[Kybenís room. She sits on her bed, hugging her knees to her chest, looking at nothing in particular. The door chimes. Kyben wearily rises to her feet and opens the door. Soolin is standing there.]
KYBEN: Hello, Soolin. What can I do for you?
[Kyben nods, not quite trusting herself to speak.]
SOOLIN: Weíve entered the border systems. The reception committee is as friendly as promised and weíll be in orbit in the next ten minutes. I thought youíd like to know.
KYBEN: You could have used the intercom for that.
SOOLIN: I had worse excuses to leave the flight deck.
KYBEN: They havenít started arguing again, have they?
SOOLIN: No. Just glaring at each other a lot. Iím not sure if itís an improvement.
KYBEN: You want me to shout at them again?
SOOLIN: No. But you were very good at it.
KYBEN: You get to be when youíre a mother of a family.
SOOLIN: Iíve heard it said.
SOOLIN: I know what itís like, Kyben. To lose everything.
[Soolin shrugs, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation.]
KYBEN: [Wipes eyes] I miss them so much, I... I should have... died with them.
SOOLIN: Avon thought otherwise. And heís... he never was sentimental. You can do a lot more alive than you can dead.
KYBEN: Like you, you mean?
SOOLIN: Yes. Every single creature involved in the death of my family is dead. Every last one. And I killed them all.
KYBEN: Did it make it better? At all?
SOOLIN: I donít know. I canít remember much before my family was killed.
KYBEN: And if I do the same, kill the man who killed my family, what then?
SOOLIN: Worry about it after heís dead. Youíre a medic. Youíve got something else to focus on.
KYBEN: Saving lives rather than taking them.
SOOLIN: You think Space Commander Kreel deserves to live?
KYBEN: Does anyone deserve to die? Really?
SOOLIN: You tell me! Does Kreel deserve to live after what heís done?
KYBEN: Suppose not. So, what are we going to do about Tarl?
[Liberator teleport room. Blake is putting on a teleport bracelet. He, Tarrant, Vila and Soolin wear gun belts. Tarrant is setting coordinates on the console.]
BLAKE: Those escort ships are keeping their distance at the moment but thereís no guarantee theyíll stay that way. All the battle computers are online, the neutron blasters are ready for instant use, as is the force wall. If any of those ships does anything remotely threatening, bring us up immediately. Or get Orac to do it if necessary.
[Tarrant rises to join the others.]
KYBEN: Do you all have to go down there?
SOOLIN: We came to an agreement.
VILA: Yeah, Kyben, we all trust you not to run out on us.
KYBEN: But you donít trust Blake to maroon you down there?
BLAKE: It seems not.
VILA: Fairís fair, Nij, you donít trust us not to maroon you there either.
SOOLIN: Besides which, Boorva will be more reasonable if heís talking to people he knows. Since Dayna and Avon are dead, it has to be Tarrant, Vila or me.
TARRANT: We decided to go all together. Strength in numbers.
KYBEN: Why not use the Sevener?
BLAKE: Boorva already knows about the teleport and will probably be expecting it. This way we have the Sevener as a back up plan. He might not know about us having access two spacecraft.
KYBEN: What actually does Boorva want? Do any of us know yet?
BLAKE: No idea. Whatever it is, itís hampering an Alliance thatís run itself fine for the last year and doesnít involve the Federation, at least not directly.
TARRANT: Itís best you let me do the talking down there.
BLAKE: And why, might I ask, is that?
TARRANT: Avon and I were the ones that contacted each Warlord. Out of the four of us, Iím the one he knows best and the one heís most likely to trust. Right. Coordinates set according to Oracís sums.
BLAKE: Meaning we will be exactly where theyíre expecting us. Perfect if itís a trap.
[Vila, Soolin, Blake and Tarrant move into the transmission area. Kyben sits behind the console.]
TARRANT: [Angry] Blake, try using your intelligence. Itís NOT a trap!
BLAKE: Then you wonít mind me using you as a human shield, since weíre all in such perfect safety?
KYBEN: Donít start, you two!
KYBEN: Good luck.
[Tarrant glares at him.]
BLAKE: Weíll probably need it.
KYBEN: Play nicely today.
[Kyben activates the teleport and the others dematerialize.]
[Liberator hangs above Tarl.]
[Cathedral. Vila, Soolin, Blake and Tarrant teleport in. Five armed guards are waiting. Immediately Soolin and Blake draw their guns. The guards exchange looks of mild surprise.]
GUARD: We mean you no harm, strangers. We are to take you to Lord Boorva.
[Soolin studies the guards, then nods and holsters her gun. The others relax.]
BLAKE: Just a moment. [into bracelet] Kyben? Down and safe.
[They move off through the cathedral.]
KYBEN: [V.O.] Not a trap then?
BLAKE: [Sighs] No. Not a trap. [to Tarrant] So far, it looks like I was wrong.
TARRANT: Must be a novel experience for you, then.
BLAKE: I try not to make a habit of them.
VILA: Havenít done very well so far.
SOOLIN: Not in front of strangers, you three.
GUARD: Please. Accompany us.
[Earth. Residence One. President Anders enters his office followed by his aide.]
ANDERS: The report on Avon is unsatisfactory. The head of forensic sciences should be able to give me more than the word Ďunknowní eleven times. Have him replaced. And shot. I want a full analysis and the cause of death by tonight.
[Anders sits down behind his desk, still talking.]
ANDERS: Since the universe is still in one piece I assume Quantum Force was successful.
[Another aide enters.]
AIDE: Sir. Theyíve called in from Stardust.
ANDERS: Partially successful, then. Their secondary mission was to seize the Liberator, was it not?
AIDE: According to Captain Johnsonís report, Agent Smith and Section Leader Abel were killed in the fighting of YU8, sir. It seems none of the surviving force knew about the secondary mission, and were returned as arranged.
ANDERS: And no doubt this message was only received AFTER the Liberator left the system?
AIDE: [Shrugs helplessly] Sorry sir.
ANDERS: Yes, well, I suppose as there will be another tomorrow, we shall have to settle for stopping Blake then. It also means weíll have to rely on Kreel and his ilk for the moment. Using the same tactics that have failed continually for last six years...
ANDERS: Nothing. Any further news?
AIDE: Another sixteen demonstrations on the inner worlds. Protests over the new legislation.
ANDERS: Fine. Give the demonstrators five standard time units to disband totally or they will be deemed rebel insurgents by that same legislation and executed immediately.
AIDE: If youíre certain, Mister President.
ANDERS: It worked on the outer worlds, didnít it?
AIDE: More and more protests are being made every day, sir.
ANDERS: Then double the doses of suppressants in the planetary food rations.
AIDE: Supplies on the outer colonies are running low, sir, it wonít be anything more than a stopgap.
ANDERS: It will be enough.
ANDERS: What is it now, Rence?
[Anders looks up, surprised.]
AIDE 2: A new communication from Space Commander Kreel, Mister President.
ANDERS: Ignore it. Heís to remain out there until he breaks down the Alliance.
AIDE 2: Sir, he reports the Liberator is en route to Tarl.
ANDERS: Well, now. That IS interesting.
[Cathedral. Boorva stands at a lectern, studying a display screen built into it. The guards escort the crew into the chamber and stand to one side. Boorva does not look up from the screen.]
BOORVA: Back before the beginning of all calendars, when history was naught but a dream, the Gods fought the most terrible and bloody of wars, from which all conflict and violence is merely a dim echo. Their weapons tore holes in the fabric of what is, loosing onto creation a tide of total corruption. The Gods realized their war was not worth such damage, and immediately blocked the breaches they had made in the universe, forming whole worlds of the righteous to stand guard against the horror that lie beyond, waiting to be released. And Tarl, the most powerful and important of the Godís structures, will never sway to any power from this universe or any other.
[Blake starts clapping slowly, unimpressed.]
BLAKE: Utter nonsense.
[Boorva lazily crosses to them.]
BOORVA: Indeed it is. One step from superstitions laid down before the New Calendar, kept only out of tradition and nostalgia for the good old days rather than any genuine belief. It is patently absurd. Just as your arrival here on this planet. I requested Avon and Avon alone.
[Vila, Tarrant and Soolin look at Blake, who is focussed on Boorva.]
BLAKE: Avon is unavailable.
BOORVA: Then leave.
TARRANT: Avon is unavailable, Lord Boorva, because he is dead.
BOORVA: And how exactly did the renegade die?
[Boorva from now own focuses his attention onto Tarrant rather than the others. Blake folds his arms, trying not to show how annoyed he is.]
BOORVA: I donít believe you. The Avon I knew valued his own life above all else. That he died and any of you survived is a true paradox. Is he really dead? Or has he faked his death merely to escape the rest of you?
VILA: Why would he do that?
BOORVA: From what is heard, you have the Liberator, the most powerful craft in the universe. With your teleports and neutron blasters, cloaking devices and the most deadly missiles created by humanity, all you have done is dwindle your numbers since we last encountered each other.
BLAKE: Youíll notice that there is a sudden drought of Mutoids throughout the Federation.
BOORVA: And the deaths that have been caused because of that? Do you count that a success, outlaw?
BLAKE: My name is Blake.
BOORVA: I know who you are. The son of the great rebel, a boy who is clearly held in more respect by me than your own followers.
TARRANT: Lord Boorva, you requested Avonís help. In the interests of the Alliance, weíre here to help in any way that we can. So what exactly can we do for you?
BOORVA: Tarrant, is it not?
TARRANT: Yes, Lord Boorva. Del Tarrant.
BOORVA: Well, Tarrant...
BOORVA: As you may or may not be aware, Tarl is the organizing principal of the Rebel Alliance. Hirrial, Khom and Lovis still maintain themselves but their space fleets are unified with that of Tarl and Betafarl.
BLAKE: You run Betafarl now?
BOORVA: My planet is the strongest one of the Alliance, and with Zukan dead its people were leaderless.
TARRANT: Zeeona authorized Boorvaís takeover. It was the first thing we got Orac to do once he was working again. [deep breath] The Alliance has gone well then, Lord Boorva?
BOORVA: It has. Avonís decision to broadcast the antitoxin formula rendered the Federationís pacification program useless. They have not the resources for full scale war and so their interests turned inwards to maintain their territory. With you and your comrades distracting them and reducing their forces further, there is a chance of freedom in the galaxy.
VILA: Nice to know itís all been worth it.
BOORVA: [Ignores Vila] The Federation would require all their might to attack the border systems, and to do that would leave their own world unguarded. Thus, they have left us be. But if the Alliance was broken by a third party, they would be able to send the bare minimum of ships and troopers and seize control of the border systems.
BLAKE: Obviously. Have you done anything about it?
BOORVA: I have done enough. The warlords have all spoken with me. Told me their secrets. Should Khom or Lovis be attacked, I will know how to defend them, the best strategies and the codes necessary to take over the planet should the leaders perish.
SOOLIN: They trust YOU with that information?
BOORVA: Why should they not? Your Ďcivilizedí society runs on mistrust. We Ďprimitivesí stay true to our words. Besides, I have neither the means nor the inclination to take over the other worlds. Should I try, I know the other worlds would unite against me. However, it seems I have made a flaw.
VILA: You donít say.
BOORVA: Whatís the problem?
BLAKE: He is. [Boorva glares at him] Youíve made yourself, your planet, so important to the Alliance. If you fell there would be real anarchy.
BOORVA: It is a truth that no man can ever plan for his own death.
SOOLIN: So, whoís trying to kill you?
BOORVA: This is no mere assassination attempt. A full scale attack on Tarl is being prepared as we speak.
VILA: I thought the Alliance could fight off an attack?
BOORVA: From outside the border systems, yes. But this is a threat from within. One of the planets is being used as a base for an attack force. I have evidence that a small Federation force is present, using the native population as fighting force. They intend to destroy us if they cannot defeat us and that leaves the other planets in disarray, ripe for the Federation to attack individually.
TARRANT: Which planet is it?
[Kreelís ship. He and Banks are standing by the command chair, where the console monitor shows President Andersís face.]
KREEL: With respect, sir, this opportunity is slipping out of our fingers.
[Kreel visibly bites down a retort.]
ANDERS: All that can be done is being done, Kreel, and Iíd like you not to take that tone with me. The recent Quantum Force Operation took total priority over the run of the mill pursuit ship patrols. All flotillas have been directed to the border systems, but it will be at least two hours before any of them are in range.
KREEL: Well, unless you want us to attack the Liberator directly, there is nothing that can be done.
ANDERS: You have had three months to make an effective fighting force out of the natives, Space Commander Ė natives whose thirst for blood is apparently insatiable. If they are not yet prepared for combat, then your progress in this is frankly embarrassing.
KREEL: It doesnít matter how effective or ineffective the troopers are, Mister President. They cannot leave this planet without space craft. My cruiser cannot hold even one battalion and as for the planet hopper...
ANDERS: Why havenít you got those industrial factories working yet? You have the technicians and should have produced three pursuit ships by now.
KREEL: I cannot do that without the raw materials, sir, as I have already pointed out.
ANDERS: And as I pointed out, Serrus is rich in minerals and there is adequate mining machinery in the central city. If you had been thinking, Space Commander, you could have resolved this matter on your own.
BANKS: Mister President, with all due respect, the important fact is the Liberator could leave the system at any time. What are we to do?
[The screen goes blank.]
ANDERS: Well, as youíve managed to let our agent on Tarl be tortured to death, I donít have enough information to propose an adequate strategy. Monitor any and all communications and if they use their courier ship, blast it out of the sky. I expect the Liberator to still be in the system by the time the first flotilla arrives. Do what is necessary to ensure that. And donít fail me this time, Kreel. You donít have much further to fall.
KREEL: You know, Banks, I never thought Iíd start to miss Servalan.
[Kreel thinks for a moment.]
BANKS: What are we going to do, sir?
KREEL: Weíre going to use the one other working ship there is. Weíre going to load Sorlai and his best and bravest, put it in that ship and program it to ram the Liberator.
BANKS: You really think that will destroy the craft?
KREEL: Yes. As far as we can tell, the Liberatorís force walls only work against energy. Thereís a chance an object of the right mass could penetrate the field and, if aimed correctly should cripple the Liberator. Perhaps even destroy it.
BANKS: But it might still cause the ship to bounce off out of control!
KREEL: So? Either way, the Tarl Strategy collapses. Without Sorlai, these mutants wonít obey anyone. The Federation will have to change tactics and we can get out of here. The only question is whether the Liberator and all aboard survive this encounter.
BANKS: And then what, sir? We could be executed on the spot right now for treason. Or the latest definition of it anyway.
KREEL: Yes. How many have been executed for treason since the new legislation was passed?
BANKS: No idea, sir. Thousands.
KREEL: Yes. And sooner or later Ė probably sooner the way the Liberator is going Ė the President is going to run out of people he can afford to kill.
BANKS: You think heíll reach that point before he gets to us?
KREEL: It would help. In the meantime, weíll carry on as arranged. Iím going to have to talk to Sorlai. [Coughs] Maybe I should take a space suit this time...
BANKS: You really think weíll be able to stop the Liberator?
KREEL: [Coldly] What I think, Duty Tracer, is that now we have a mission it is time to return to a more strict regime. Now get out.
BANKS: Sir. Would this be another conversation not to mention?
KREEL: Yes. Yes, it is.
[Cathedral. Boorva and the Liberator crew stand before a circular screen showing the foggy brown planet in space.]
BOORVA: Tarlís twin world, sharing the same orbit. Serrus was the first planet of the border systems colonized by the Empire. It was then struck by an epidemic, the Phobon Plague, and the colonists fled to the other planets. Many were unable to leave and most of them died from the plague.
[Boorva presses a control and the swirling symbol lowers, covering the circular screen.]
SOOLIN: "Most of them"? You mean, some survived?
VILA: Thereís no cure to the Phobon plague, everyone knows that.
SOOLIN: Everyone knows the Phobon plague has nothing whatsoever to do with Phobos but they still use the name.
BOORVA: The Serrunites have somehow developed total immunity to the virus. Later, some of the colonists returned to Serrus in the belief the plague had died out. It hadnít, and they were the ones who died instead. By now, we strongly believe the plague to have died out, but the Serrunites have... changed. Mutated, adapted, whatever word you care to use. They are unpleasant company.
SOOLIN: Define unpleasant.
BOORVA: Their forms would frighten crimos in their sleep, their love of violence would be disturbing to Space Rats.
SOOLIN: [Shrugs] Thatís unpleasant.
BOORVA: The plague had no effect on the technology on the planet, and that is how the Serrunites have managed to survive so long. They worked out how to use the communications relay and have been sending threats of death to anyone that picks their signal up. They are jealous of all our food and resources, and would happily slaughter anyone to get it.
BLAKE: But theyíre still intelligent enough to realize that the Alliance would eat them for breakfast, so they are targeting Tarl.
BOORVA: Yes. They have been declaring war on us since before I was born, but they have no space craft with which to leave Serrus and the Serrunites acted as a natural deterrent to them getting access to one. No invader would be willing to risk the plague or those creatures to set up a base there. But I believe the Federation has somehow managed it. Too small a force to be detected by our orbital scans but a force nonetheless.
VILA: Youíre jumping to conclusions, surely?
BOORVA: The Federationís major spy on Tarl was caught communicating directly with Sorlai, the potentate of those hybrid creatures. I am certain the Federation intend to use the Serrunites to attack us and destroy the unity of the Alliance. The Serrunites will probably be all wiped out in the fighting, but I donít need to tell any of you how much that matters to the Federation.
BLAKE: What exactly do you want us to do?
[A pause as it sinks in. Vila looks ill.]
BOORVA: The Serrunites have focussed their excuse of civilization on Serrusí single major continent. You have access to high-speed interplanetary missiles. Need I explain further.
VILA: Bomb the planet? From orbit?
[The others look at Blake, scandalized.]
BOORVA: Yes. The Federation must be working directly with Sorlai. Destroy Sorlai, and the Serrunites will be helpless. There will be no invasion.
TARRANT: Lord Boorva, you underestimate how powerful those missiles are...
SOOLIN: Thereís a chance just one of them could crack Serrus apart.
BOORVA: You must be able to control the strength of the attack.
SOOLIN: Even so, itíd wipe out all life on the planet!
BOORVA: As long as Tarl survives intact, I am quite happy for that to occur.
VILA: You sure you havenít mixed us up with the Federation? Theyíre the ones that blow up planets for political reasons, you know!
BOORVA: You CAN do it, though, can you not?
BLAKE: Yes. We can do it all right.
VILA: [Cautious] Blake, letís not be hasty now...
[Boorva now turns his attention to Blake, ignoring Tarrant.]
TARRANT: Blake, you canít be serious!
SOOLIN: Think of all the people that will die!
BOORVA: You have killed far more people than there could possibly be on Serrus. All of you outlaws, renegades. How many troopers have you murdered? Your destruction of the Modificiation factories would have killed millions alive and undead. And the new legislation has killed many, many more. Why should another twenty million lives matter? There are over six billion on Tarl alone.
BLAKE: He has a point.
TARRANT: Lord Boorva...
BOORVA: You understand the nature of war, do you not... Blake?
[Boorva, suddenly bored, returns to the lectern.]
BLAKE: Iíve learned something of it.
BOORVA: Yes. The first rule of war is that there will be casualties. Try to save everyone, and you will LOSE everyone. Sacrifices must be made, in this case twenty million mutant cannibals and a Federation death squad. Either they die or the Alliance does.
BLAKE: It will take time to prepare a missile and ensure the aftershocks wonít damage Tarl.
BOORVA: [Smiles] I like you, Blake.
TARRANT: Lord Boorva!
BOORVA: Tarrant, if you are not interested in saving this Alliance then you may go. I was speaking to the man I understood to be your leader.
TARRANT: [Furious] He ISNíT my leader!
BOORVA: Yet you believe he will not obey you? If he is not your follower, you must be his.
BOORVA: I suggest you return to your ship. Contact me when this... internal dispute is resolved.
[The quartet dematerialize.]
SOOLIN: Yes. We should.
BLAKE: [Into bracelet] Kyben? Teleport.
[Liberator teleport room. Kyben is at the console as the others teleport in.]
KYBEN: I take it, it wasnít a trap?
[Tarrant runs out after Blake.]
BLAKE: [heads for exit] No. Not at all. If youíll excuse me.
TARRANT: Blake, what are you doing?
[They hurry out.]
KYBEN: [Sighs] Now whatíre the arguing about?
VILA: Itís Boorva, he wants us to...
SOOLIN: You can explain it to Kyben on the way, Vila.
SOOLIN: Come on. Quick.
[Liberator flight deck. Blake enters at a run and crosses over to Orac, switching him on.]
[Blake frowns at Orac, then laughs.]
ORAC: What is it now?
BLAKE: I need some information about the prototype missiles, specifically how to adapt individual missiles for planetary assault without triggering an earthshock level detonation.
ORAC: Such information can easily be ascertained from the schematics and blueprints already held by Zen and the other computer systems aboard the Liberator.
BLAKE: I donít care if this is beneath your dignity, Orac, just do it. I am first authority aboard the Liberator now.
ORAC: That is of no concern to me, Blake.
BLAKE: [Rolls his eyes] Why is it with everyone on this ship so stubborn?
ORAC: There is a noted rebellious element aboard.
[Kreel and Sorlai are walking through a smoggy alleyway outside the warehouse. Moss and weeds are everywhere. Sorlai is the more relaxed and cheerful of the two.]
SORLAI: Your memory does not seem very good, Space Commander. You wanted our help to destroy the cultists of Tarl and overthrow their Alliance, did you not?
[Sorlai stops and turns to face Kreel.]
KREEL: Of course. Thatís what Iím asking you to do.
SORLAI: Yet, in return you were to teach us the secrets of your army the better for us to succeed.
KREEL: Itís what I have been trying to do for the last seventy-eight days!
SORLAI: You were also to restore all the factories by the sea. The ones that would allow us to build our own spaceships so we can go to Tarl. Believe it or not, Space Commander, it is a very long way away from here. To attack Tarl on foot would be very difficult.
KREEL: Iím aware of that. My men have got one of your hulks working again, you can use that.
SORLAI: A planet hopper with no armaments? You really think we can take the Temples of Chumran with that? Boorvaís stronghold will not be undefended...
KREEL: Iím not asking you to attack Boorvaís temple!
SORLAI: Then what exactly ARE you asking us to do, Space Commander?
[A long pause. Sorlai stares at Kreel in silence.]
KREEL: Priorities have changed. Your new target is another space craft, currently in orbit above Tarl.
SORLAI: A space craft? Your own ship is better equipped for that.
KREEL: I donít need you to destroy the ship. Merely board it and kill those aboard.
SORLAI: What is this "ship"?
KREEL: Itís called the Liberator.
SORLAI: Stupid name. Right. So we take over this "Leebrayta" for you. How does that help us conquer Tarl?
[Kreel sighs and gags abruptly. Sorlai watches as he coughs again.]
KREEL: Itís called the Odysseus Strategem...
SORLAI: You said it was called "Leebrayta".
KREEL: Right. Let me explain this in as fewer syllables as possible...
[Liberator hangs in space above.]
[Liberator flight deck. All are present, but Blake sits alone in the pit.]
KYBEN: [Aghast] You are joking, arenít you?
[Blake frowns, clearly hurt.]
BLAKE: Do I look like Iím joking, Kyben?
SOOLIN: Youíre seriously going to carpet bomb that planet?
BLAKE: I said we were capable of doing it Ė which we are.
VILA: But youíre going to go ahead, arenít you?
BLAKE: I had Orac check out Boorvaís story... [Tarrant starts to speak] EVEN though I was sure he wasnít lying to us. The population of Serrus is barely nineteen million, and those are all devolved psychotic cannibals. Whatever their biology did to adapt to Phobon Plague removed their sanity. Theyíre held in check more by pheromones than reason. Most of the native fauna have gone the same way. You really want to spare a planet of insane mutants?
KYBEN: Whoís to say theyíre mutants? Maybe theyíre just evolving like everything is supposed to!
TARRANT: That IS an unpleasant thought.
KYBEN: You canít go round deciding who gets to live and who gets to die! We didnít just save the universe so you could annihilate all the bits of it you donít like!
BLAKE: We have the only source of missiles in the galaxy, Kyben. Did you really think we went to all that trouble with the crystal if we DIDNíT intend to use them?
KYBEN: If you start blowing up planets to solve problems, youíre no better than the Federation!.
BLAKE: As Boorva made quite clear, either we solve the problem or lose the Alliance. Do you want that?
KYBEN: It canít be worse than outright slaughter!
BLAKE: What about you, Tarrant? Youíre so desperate for the Alliance to succeed.
TARRANT: There must be some other way.
BLAKE: Boorvaís intelligent, if he could have handled this problem on his own, he wouldnít have called for us. The choice is ours. Well?
KYBEN: Fine, Blake, do whatever you want. Iím with Vila.
VILA: [Brightens] Are you?
KYBEN: In leaving this ship at the earliest opportunity! You canít be trusted with ANY of this technology!
BLAKE: Iíve asked Orac and he agrees with the strategy I suggested.
[Soolin rips out the key and Orac falls silent.]
SOOLIN: This will be the same strategy you didnít discuss with us? Again?
VILA: Come on, Nij, we donít even know the Federation is even on Serrus! Blowing up a planet when it could just be some deserters, itís a bit extreme.
TARRANT: Vilaís right. Desertion rateís increased dramatically.
VILA: How dramatically?
TARRANT: There IS a desertion rate. Before the new legislation, there wasnít one Ė at least not to speak of.
KYBEN: So there could be civilians down on Serrus as well?
BLAKE: If so, theyíd be eaten by the Serrunites. Theyíre cannibals, arenít they, Orac?
ORAC: Incorrect. A cannibal is defined as a living being who is capable of eating members of his or her own species through either cultural imperative, prolonged famine or mental instability. As the Serrunites have manifestly developed into a different humanoid form of life, their consumption of human beings is clearly simple carnivorous tendencies rather than outright cannibalism...
SOOLIN: The point is, we canít do something this big without checking first.
[Tarrant lowers his eyes. Quietly, he joins the others. Blake is pensive.]
BLAKE: I say we can.
SOOLIN: Say it louder and maybe someone will listen. Iím with the others on this. If you start the missile run without checking, then Iíll leave as well. What about you, Tarrant?
TARRANT: We canít let the Alliance fall apart. People have died to keep it together.
KYBEN: And many more people have to die before the price becomes too high?
BLAKE: Youíre all serious, I take it?
[Blake rises angrily.]
BLAKE: All right. And if I check Serrus? Find absolute proof of Federation presence which will destroy this Alliance? If I can prove that this is right thing to do? Will you stay?
VILA: You really need us, Nij? Donít all those implanted skills make us all redundant?
BLAKE: If it did, surely I would have murdered each and every one of you in your beds by now! Yet I seem to be spending a lot of time keeping you all alive and safe AND fighting a war against the Federation without our resident computer genius and moral absolute! I ask you all to just trust me. And after all weíve been through, youíre acting like Iím really Kreel in disguise!
[A pause. Soolin and Kyben look doubtful. Vila folds his arms. Tarrant is still looking at the floor.]
VILA: You canít ask us to trust you if you donít trust us!
BLAKE: We cannot be split up now! The Federation is weaker than it has been for centuries. Its replacement central control is strained to breaking point, there is no more Mutoid modification, pylene fifty is useless and not even the great masses are prepared to put up with Andersí rule! This is a time
where unity and loyalty are absolutely paramount Ė because if we miss this chance, like you did when Star One was destroyed, then we will never win. Not in this life time, not in any other. And if I canít convince you with that, then you simply canít be convinced at all!
BLAKE: I swear to you, I give you my word: if we do not NEED to destroy Serrus, if there is another option, then I will take it. The question is, can YOU give me your word that if there is no other way, you will stay with me for the missile run? Soolin?
SOOLIN: All right.
BLAKE: Tarrant? [Tarrant nods] Kyben? [Kyben nods] Vila?
VILA: How exactly are we going to check Boorvaís story?
BLAKE: Simple. Weíll go to Serrus for ourselves.
[Cathedral. Blake, Vila and Tarrant stand before Boorva.]
BOORVA: Youíre insane, Blake! You actually intend to go to that rathole! I forbid it!
[Blake glances at the others.]
TARRANT: Iím sorry, Lord Boorva, but you have no control over us or our actions.
BOORVA: If you were even remotely sensible you would not need me to tell you not to go. [to Tarrant and Vila] Surely your computers will have told you all about the plagues? About the Serrunites? How they treat humans as walking flesh to feed their hunger?
BLAKE: Weíre not going to destroy a planet and its people on hearsay, Boorva.
BOORVA: My word should be enough.
VILA: I thought you said Ďwords were nothing more than wordsí.
BOORVA: No, that was Chalsa. And even that mental defective would still be intelligent enough to stay away from Serrus. No expedition, not one person who has gone there has ever returned Ė or survived more than a few hours on its surface.
BLAKE: No expedition, not one person who has gone there had access to a teleport and the most advanced medical technology in the galaxy.
VILA: [Doubtful] Boorva DOES seem to know what heís talking about...
TARRANT: Shut up, Vila. Lord Boorva, you have no evidence of Federation presence on Serrus...
BOORVA: Does it matter? No excuse is needed to destroy that hell-planet!
BLAKE: Wrong. An excuse is very much needed. Besides, it strikes me that Serrus, the planet of no return, is a very good defensive barrier for Tarl. Youíd lose more than you gained.
BOORVA: If you are killed on the surface, I will lose everything. I have no doubt your ship will not function for any except your crew. I will not be able to destroy the Federation presence, or use the ship to defend the border systems when the Federation strike in force.
BLAKE: Weíre not giving you access to the Liberator, Boorva.
BOORVA: You underestimate me to that extent, Blake? I do not wish control of your ship. But I demand you leave some of your crew here. When you die on the surface, the others will see your folly and do what is necessary.
VILA: As prisoners?
BOORVA: Of course not. Guests. On Tarl you have no enemies, only allies. It is in our best interests to keep you safe. And if you are right, Blake, then no harm will be done.
[Blake opens his mouth to snap, but teleports before he can speak.]
TARRANT: Lord Boorva wonít betray us.
BLAKE: All right. Vila?
VILA: He who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken. Old Auron saying.
BLAKE: Soolin will mind the Liberator, and Kyben can keep an eye on me. Satisfied?
VILA: You see how easy it is, Nij?
BLAKE: Must you call me that?
VILA: All the other names I can think of are rude.
BLAKE: [Sweetly] Has anyone told you youíre a charming gentlemen, Vila?
VILA: Yes, actually.
BLAKE: Then they were lying. [into bracelet] Soolin, Vila and Tarrant are going to be staying on Tarl for while Iím gone. Bring me up alone, please.
TARRANT: Good luck, Blake.
VILA: Hope the cannibals donít bite.
BOORVA: Well. You now have the free run of this planet, my friends. I would advise, however, you not leave the Chumran temple Ė at least until Iíve arranged suitable clothes.
[Boorva smiles at them and leaves.]
VILA: It does look a bit cold out there.
TARRANT: Itís because Tarl and Serrus are twin planets, they have extreme climates.
BOORVA: Yes. Summer and winter here last twenty five years here. But Iím sure you will glad to know that we have a few months before Spring occurs. Then Tarl will become a tropical paradise one more.
TARRANT: Sunshine for a quarter of a century. Not all planets are so lucky.
BOORVA: Not all planets are Tarl. You are welcome to stay here permanently, Tarrant.
TARRANT: Am I?
BOORVA: I apologize for my rudeness earlier, but my people must always be my priority.
VILA: Youíd let us stay here? For free?
BOORVA: Of course. Your... companion will not return from Serrus.
VILA: So it IS a trap.
BOORVA: A trap? A trap where I almost begged him not to go into danger? Where I gave him every reason not to go? Where he went into danger of his own free will? Did I threaten him? Blackmail him? No, your companionís stubborn lack of cautious will lead him to death with no help from me. However, it is plainly clear that his death would not greatly distress the two of you.
VILA: [Sighs] After a while you lose enough people that you just stop caring. But who said we cared about Nij? If he does die on Serrus, weíll have full control of the Liberator.
BOORVA: Then perhaps I should try to convince the two of you of the necessity of destroying Serrus.
VILA: Knew there would be a price.
BOORVA: A small price. Of course, you can leave in your ship and never return. But that ship is a viable target for every Federation ship. The galaxy is becoming a smaller place as the Federation expands. There are fewer choices of where to hide. But if you were not on Liberator, but living in luxury on the seat of the Rebel Alliance...
TARRANT: The Federation will still attempt to attack.
BOORVA: And if the Liberator stays in the border systems, as part of the fleet? The Federation will abandon their plans and concentrate on controlling their own territories. Stability is what they desire. [Smiles] As do we all, to an extent. But I am wasting your valuable time. I shall arrange some attire for you, and then you may go where you wish and do what you want. Should you require anything, the guard will obey your every request.
VILA: I think heís trying to sell us something.
[He teleports out.]
TARRANT: Or maybe get us to sell something. Like our souls.
VILA: He did make it sound nice here.
TARRANT: "Fine words butter no parsnips".
VILA: What does that mean?
TARRANT: Not sure. Probably something about gardening. Just sounded cynical enough.
VILA: You? Cynical? You're more passionate about this Alliance than I am for soma.
TARRANT: The Alliance, yes. Iím just not sure I trust Boorva.
VILA: Youíve changed your tune.
TARRANT: I hadnít seen him act like that. Heís being more generous to us than he has to be.
VILA: Wouldnít be too bad settling down here. If it was warmer. And it soon will be. I was planning to go anyway. You could too. Eh? You could settle down on Betafarl like you were going to.
TARRANT: Not much point now.
VILA: None of us are getting younger, Tarrant. And itís becoming a choice of spending our autumn years dodging plasma bolts or a grave on an artificial planet. [into bracelet] Soolin? Can you teleport me up, please?
SOOLIN: [V.O.] Is there a problem?
VILA: No. Iíve just decided to pack my things. You should come down here again, it seems like we might actually be welcome here for a change.
SOOLIN: [V.O.] Vila, be sensible about this...
VILA: I asked for teleport, Soolin! [to Tarrant] See you round, Tarrant.
[Liberator flight deck. It is deserted bar Orac.]
ZEN: Cargo bay doors open. Sevener is now launched en route for Serrus.
[Soolin and Vila enter.]
SOOLIN: ... I thought we agreed not to do anything until after this was resolved?
VILA: Ah, but I didnít agree, did I? Old trick I learned from Avon Ė he learned most of the good ones from me. Well, the ones I think are good.
SOOLIN: You really think Boorva will make you an honoured guest there for the next twenty five years?
VILA: He could do it if he wants to, and he wants to. The border systems are about the safest place there is in the galaxy now. He said we were all welcome to live on Tarl if we want.
SOOLIN: And presumably the price will be the Liberator joining the Alliance fleet?
VILA: Well, it is already, in a way, isnít it?
SOOLIN: Weíd be effectively giving Boorva control of the most powerful ship in space.
SOOLIN: Vila, heís a warlord!
VILA: You speak to him, then. Heís welcome to the thing if you ask me. More trouble that itís been worth, all things considered. No offence, Zen.
VILA: Besides, he wonít have total control of the Liberator. Thereíll be you and Tarrant running things. Unless Tarrant throws the towel in, too.
SOOLIN: This is a bit sudden, isnít it, Vila? Blake isnít even dead yet.
VILA: I donít care if he survives. Iím still leaving. I thought you were, too?
SOOLIN: Well, like you said, Vila. You outlived all the others. Your opinion might be worth listening to this time. And Iím going to do what you said.
VILA: [Confused] Whatís that?
SOOLIN: Iím going to speak to Boorva in person. You can work the teleport one last time.
VILA: Oh yes, teleport duty. How will my life go on without it?
[Space. Sevener moves away from the Liberator down towards Serrus.]
[Sevener flight deck. Blake is at the controls. Kyben sits beside him.]
KYBEN: Donít you ever get tired of travelling in this ship?
[The forward screen shows a map of the continent with two bulls eye graphics close together.]
BLAKE: It was my home for the best part of my life... my real life, anyway. I like it. Gan, commit full automatics and activate the cloaking device.
GAN: Automatic controls activated. Cloaking device engaged. Arrival at Serrus in eighteen minutes.
BLAKE: If there is any detectors still working down there, theyíll have picked up the Liberator but possibly not us Ė their technology would be decades behind ours. Letís keep it that way.
KYBEN: If there is a Federation force on Serrus, what are we going to do?
BLAKE: It depends. It can only be a small force, so unless theyíre trying to recruit the natives, it should be simple enough to deal with.
KYBEN: What if they are trying to recruit the natives?
BLAKE: Then there has to be some kind of training camp where the Federation are training the warriors. A few explosives there will remove the problem and the Federation presence as effectively as an orbital strike.
KYBEN: That sounds reasonable.
BLAKE: People will still be killed, Kyben.
KYBEN: I know. I should be disgusted by this. By us even talking about it.
BLAKE: Boorva was right, though. If you try to fight a war with no casualties you will lose.
KYBEN: That doesnít make me feel any better about it.
BLAKE: It wasnít supposed to. Gan, I want a surface scan over the main continent and report any functioning space craft detected.
KYBEN: What if theyíre using a cloaking device as well?
BLAKE: Then weíll know theyíre doing it when Gan detects a blind spot large enough to cover a pursuit ship.
KYBEN: Vila was right, you really are better at this without us. You wouldnít have to explain so much, for one thing.
BLAKE: If it werenít for the rest of you, Iíd have been killed any number of occasions by now. And even if you werenít "useful", I wouldnít get rid of you. Believe it or not, I am still a human being, Kyben. Theyíre my friends. And if they really donít trust me, Iíve been doing something wrong.
KYBEN: Youíve changed so much, though, even since Iíve met you. Itís aged you.
BLAKE: [Quietly] You have to adapt or die in this universe. And I donít intend to die any time soon.
GAN: Detectors registering two functional space craft on the surface of Serrus. One is a modified planet hopper, Wanderer Class Mk 1. The other is a high speed Federation Command pursuit ship. Both craft are located in the area designated central city.
KYBEN: Any blind spots on the detectors?
BLAKE: Can we land inside the city without being detected?
GAN: Negative. Architectural layout allows only one suitable landing position...
KYBEN: And the Federation shipís the one using it?
BLAKE: This isnít going to be as easy as weíd like is it?
KYBEN: It never is.
[Warehouse. Kreel, Banks and the troopers stand to one side of the warehouse while, on a gantry, Sorlai screams to a gathered mass of Serrunites.]
SORLAI: When we inside Leebrayta, we KILL! All them, we KILL! STRIKE FAST! AND DEEP!
[The Serrunites roar and grunt in cheer.]
SORLAI: TO THE SHIP!
[Roaring, the Serrunites run out of the warehouse. Sorlai grins and troops down some metal steps to where Kreelís group is waiting.]
KREEL: Your battle tactics are refreshingly simple, Sorlai.
[Sorlai steps closer, menacingly. At that moment, the blocky handheld communicator beside Banks squawks. He picks it up and listens to it.]
SORLAI: The plan is complicated enough.
KREEL: Should I explain it to you again?
SORLAI: Hah! You think that because I did not attend your "Eff-hess-say" that I am a fool?
KREEL: [Shrugs] Yes, actually, I do.
SORLAI: Our ship heads for Leebrayta. Your machine tells the computers of Leebrayta our ship is empty and make them let us dock. Then they open the hatches, we kill them all and use the Leebrayta to attack Tarl and Boorva, who thinks the Leebrayta is still on their side.
KREEL: Of course. Iím pleased you trusted me to program the flight computer.
SORLAI: Of course I trust you, Space Commander. Because you will come with us for the mission.
KREEL: Iíd rather not. Our chats have given me something of a lung infection.
SORLAI: But, Space Commander, you are so much cleverer than us. Surely you should be on the ship. You will know how to deal with the Leebrayta and the renegades aboard. It would be... foolish for you to be left behind.
KREEL: I will be aboard my ship during the maneuver.
SORLAI: No. You will be aboard my ship. In case I forget anything about this ĎOdysseus Horseí trick of yours.
BANKS: Commander, itís the ship. Computerís detected a sub-ether communication from low orbit. All scanners indicate theyíre nothing up there.
KREEL: Then all scanners are wrong, Banks! Is the Liberator still in orbit over Tarl?
BANKS: Yes, sir.
KREEL: Then itís their courier ship with its cloaking device. They must suspect weíre down here.
SORLAI: But how?
KREEL: Darnelís been caught. Boorva must have contacted the Liberator to take us out. Obviously the rebels have decided to check the facts for themselves. [to Sorlai] Is there anywhere a ship could land in central city?
SORLAI: Only the grass lands Ė and your ship is already there, crushing the fire plants!
KREEL: Perfect. Do you know what that means?
SORLAI: The fire plant harvest is ruined and winter starts in the next few months?
KREEL: No, it means they must be using their teleport. Excellent.
SORLAI: How is this good if the enemy are going attack now?
KREEL: Because we can set a trap. Get your posse of cannibals out of the planet hopper and surround this building. Banks Ė I want the flight computer to relay a full scale status report.
BANKS: That will take fifteen minutes, sir, at least. Thereís no other communications on this planet, weíll stand out like a beacon if we transmit that long!
KREEL: Exactly. Get on with it!
[Sevener in orbit over Serrus.]
[Sevener cargo bay. Blake and Kyben enter. Blake crosses to the console.]
BLAKE: Still no answer. [Into bracelet] Liberator, do you receive me? Soolin?
[Blake lets out a controlled sigh.]
VILA: [V.O.] This is Vila. Soolinís popped out for a moment.
KYBEN: [Into bracelet] Popped out? Where?
VILA: [V.O.] Down on Tarl. Seems to be a nice place to retire, all told.
BLAKE: [Into bracelet] Weíve detected a pursuit ship landed on the surface, so weíre leaving Sevener cloaked, in orbit, while we teleport down.
[Liberator flight deck. Vila is using the pit console. He has a hamper-box which he is storing bottles of adrenaline and soma into.]
VILA: Not sensible, Nij. Thereís no one there to teleport you up.
BLAKE: [V.O.] Switch on Orac. He can use the interface with Gan to activate the teleport.
VILA: I thought Orac couldnít control Gan.
BLAKE: [V.O.] The interface overrides that.
VILA: Well, you could have told us all sooner, Nij.
[Sevener cargo bay. Blake snaps.]
BLAKE: [Into bracelet] Maybe I didnít think youíd listen!
[Blake breaks contact.]
KYBEN: [firmly] Blake. Vila, just switch on Orac, please.
VILA: [V.O.] All right, Iím doing it. Say hello to the Serrunites for me.
BLAKE: To think. We used to be drinking buddies.
[Blake presses a control and hurries over to stand with Kyben in the teleport bay. The control depresses and they teleport.]
KYBEN: Back when they trusted you.
BLAKE: Yes, it HAS been mentioned, Kyben. Iíve treated them no worse than Avon ever did.
KYBEN: Maybe you should stop trying to be Avon and be yourself.
BLAKE: Maybe youíre right. Howís the bracelet?
KYBEN: Tighter than the ordinary ones. Why I have to use this one?
BLAKE: Itís coded specifically to your genetic body print. If anyone except you tries to use that bracelet, it will automatically teleport them into deep space and vaporize them.
KYBEN: Thatís disgusting.
BLAKE: It means whoever is on teleport duty isnít killed in a surprise attack. You ready?
KYBEN: As Iíll ever be.
[Alleyway. Blake and Kyben teleport in.]
BLAKE: [Winces] Oh, that stench!
[They pause by a pair of doors in the warehouse that are open. Blake frowns.]
KYBEN: Methane, sulphor and... something Iíd rather not think about. Are we going to stay down here long?
BLAKE: Just a quick check. Gan detected a communication to this building. Some kind of status check with the pursuit ship. So obviously the officer in charge is here. Once we confirm that, we get out of here and have the Liberator fire a missile at this city.
KYBEN: Youíre sure about this plan? If youíre wrong, thereíll be massive destruction! This whole city could be flattened...
BLAKE: I thought weíd agreed to trust me on this? Iíve worked out how to... wait.
BLAKE: Whereís your gun?
[He creeps inside, drawing his Liberator gun.]
KYBEN: I didnít bring one.
KYBEN: Hippocratic oath. I am a doctor, remember.
BLAKE: Oh, brilliant. Stay out here then.
[Warehouse. Blake moves through the crates and sees Kreel and a trooper standing nearby, listening to the communicator as it recites another report.]
COMPUTER: [V.O.] ...data suggests further mutation in the natives but no further study has been carried out. Topographical notes: mercury swamps have been located at the equator, and unusual orbit has caused seasons lasting no less than twenty-five years with a mean temperature...
[Blake sees it is Kreel and his face twists with anger briefly. He calms, steps forward and raises his gun. He fires. The communicator crumples and explodes spectacularly. Kreel and the trooper whirl around. The trooper raises his gun.]
BLAKE: Drop it! Or I kill you!
[Kreel nods. The trooper drops the gun and puts his hands behind his head, as does Kreel.]
BLAKE: Space Commander Kreel. How the mighty have fallen.
KREEL: [Shrugs] The Federation is undergoing something of a difficult period, yes.
BLAKE: I was speaking more... specifically, Kreel. Look at you. [Tutts] One of the most senior officers in the empire. Reduced to deep cover in a swamp like this, abandoned and forgotten. I canít imagine how low a priority this operation is to President Anders. Does he even remember starting it? Just what exactly happens to career soldiers when they have no careers left?
[Alleyway. Kyben is keeping watch. Banks steps from the shadows and grabs her, attacking from her blind side. She struggles but Banks clamps a hand over her mouth to stop her from crying out.]
[Warehouse. Blake covers Kreel and the trooper.]
KREEL: I suppose youíre going to kill me in mindless revenge?
[Blakeís eyes widen and he aims the gun at Kreel.]
BLAKE: Iíve not decided yet. Someone else has request the honor of killing you.
KREEL: More cowardice. Still, what can I expect? Your father was deeply disappointing in that regard. He wept and begged for his life. It was embarrassing, frankly.
[Serrunites start screaming from all sides, surprising Blake who spins around. A Serrunite jumps from an overhead gantry, clutching a scimitar. Blake spots the attacker and shoots him, and the Serrunite crashes dead to the ground, but the distraction allows the other Serrunites to attack. One tackles Blake, who grabs his arm, spins and sends the attacker crashing into two other Serrunites. Blake smoothly fires his gun rapidly, killing all three. Another savage charges him, crashing into Blake before he can fire. The gun goes off and another Serrunite collapses. Another slashes at Blake with the sword, slicing the cable to his gun and jolting it out from his grasp. Blake reaches behind him and flips a Serrunite over his head, snatches up a sword from the first, dead attacker and skewers the Serrunite that cut his gun cord. Four Serrunites charge him from all sides.]
[Cathedral. Tarrant and Soolin are now dressed in fur-lined purple robes as Boorva wears.]
SOOLIN: Youíre not really planning to give up the Liberator, are you?
[Soolin is silent.]
TARRANT: Vilaís right. Weíve got more reason to leave than stay.
SOOLIN: The Federation still exists. I thought we were going to destroy it.
TARRANT: Before it destroyed us? I wonder if it already has. How much do we have to lose before it gets too much? Avonís dead. Blakeís dead. Jenna, Cally, Jain, Dayna... even Servalan. The fight goes on when we donít. I really donít think weíll live long enough to destroy the Federation.
SOOLIN: I never thought youíd give in.
TARRANT: You think I crash landed Scorpio to prove something?
TARRANT: I didnít intend to survive, Soolin. But staying alive was easier. Less trouble.
[Tarrant turns and walks off. Soolin follows.]
TARRANT: Zeeona wanted this Alliance to work. She made sure of that before she died.
SOOLIN: Tarrant, she killed herself.
TARRANT: We donít know that.
SOOLIN: You think she removed her radiation suit by mistake?
TARRANT: Her father was dead, her honour ruined. She discharged her responsibilities and then ended it all cleanly. She was right. We should have spared ourselves all this. Maybe thatís how Avon died? He realized it was pointless and switched off the oxygen supply. Maybe weíre the unlucky ones, the ones who havenít made sense of it.
SOOLIN: Zeeona was weak, Tarrant. Iím sorry to tell you this but she was. She ended her life when she didnít have to, and no one gained by it. You loved her, I know you loved her. But if she loved you she wouldnít have killed herself, would she? And if life is so pointless, why didnít she let you go with her, die with her, in one grand gesture?
SOOLIN: And if Zeeona thought it was all pointless, what about Dayna? She died fighting. She wanted to stay alive, to change things. So did Jenna. And did Cally just give up? If you had died on GP, would you have wanted us all to just give up? Forget the whole thing and hide away. We make a difference, Tarrant. Just the few of us. You know things are changing. And if we give up now... Blakeís right, weíll have wasted the last few years of our lives for nothing.
[Tarrant doesnít answer but keeps walking.]
TARRANT: Iíve almost run out of people to lose, Soolin. My parents. My brother. You know, you and Vila are all I have left now.
SOOLIN: If I matter that much to you, listen to me...
TARRANT: And what? Put up with Blakeís secrecy? Get used as canon fodder so the Federation can become even harsher and more dangerous? Count the days till I join the glorious ranks of the dead followers of Roj Blake?
SOOLIN: Itís your choice, Tarrant. It doesnít have to be like that.
TARRANT: And thatís why I want to leave.
SOOLIN: Then why arenít you packing your bags like Vila?
[Kreel, Banks and the troopers stand to one side. Kyben is held by one trooper. Before them, Serrunite bodies are scattered in a heap. Blake is still fighting the surviving ones. He drop kicks one, backhands another, kicks the first one again and decks a third.]
BANKS: Weíre running out of trainees, Commander.
[Blake grabs the second Serrunite and snaps his neck. He returns to fending off each Serrunite and killing the one that sags first. Sorlai is watching from the gantry above. He jumps from it, landing on top of Blake and flooring him. Sorlai grabs the back of Blakeís head and slams it against the floor. Kreel leans forward, interested. Blake manages to roll over, only to be punched in the face twice by Sorlai. He blocks the third blow and hurls Sorlai back but the other Serrunites charge him. He manages to hurl one Serrunite into Sorlai, but another grabs his arm and refuses to let go, holding him in place as the others attack. Blake snatches the sword from the belt of the Serrunite restraining him and kills the three remaining Serrunites, before ramming it backwards into the one behind him. Kreel applauds.]
KREEL: We can afford to.
KREEL: Well done, Blake. Now surrender, or your pitiful companion dies.
[Banks aims his gun at Kybenís head.]
KREEL: Of course, you can replace a medic on your crew easily. Very well, keep fighting. Banks...
[Eyes locked on Kreel, Blake does so. As he removes it, he presses the signal button, before throwing it at Kreelís feet.]
BLAKE: [cutting across him] I surrender.
KREEL: Take off your bracelet.
KREEL: How many of the others are here on Serrus?
[Kreel turns and approaches Blake.]
BLAKE: Itís just us.
KREEL: I donít believe him. Banks...
BLAKE: Itís just us! Vila is on the Liberator, Soolin and Tarrant are on Tarl!
KREEL: And what about Avon?
KYBEN: Avonís dead!
BLAKE: Sheís telling the truth.
KREEL: You can do better than that.
BLAKE: He is. I swear. He is dead.
KREEL: Then you will soon be joining him, wonít you, Blake?
[Sevener flight deck.]
ORAC/GAN: [V.O.] Alert signal detected. Activating teleport.
[Sevener cargo bay. The teleport bay lights up, and a shimmering sphere of white lines appears and vanishes twice before it dies down.]
[Liberator flight deck. Vila is stuffing a shirt into his tool box.]
ORAC: Attention. Blake has used his emergency communication signal, but teleport is not possible as his bracelet and the one coded for Rela Kyben are not operable.
VILA: So theyíre not wearing them?
VILA: Whatís happened to them, can you tell?
ORAC: There is a high probability they have been attacked by a hostile agency. In order to defeat Blake, they would have to be talented in combat and many in number.
VILA: Chances of survival?
ORAC: Federation presence on the planet indicates there is a one in three chance of them being taken alive for public execution.
VILA: But a two in three chance of them being hacked to pieces by mutant madmen, right?
ORAC: It would seem so.
VILA: Fine. Nijís not going to get the moral high ground on me. Zen, set a course for the planet Serrus, speed standard by twelve. Get us going on my order.
ZEN: Confirmed. Course laid in.
[Cathedral. Boorva watches from the lectern as Tarrant and Soolin approach.]
BOORVA: Ah, my friends, there you are.
[Their bracelets beep.]
TARRANT: Lord Boorva...
SOOLIN: Tarrant, donít!
TARRANT: Itís about your offer to stay on Tarl.
VILA: [V.O.] Sorry about this.
[They teleport out, leaving Boorva startled.]
[Liberator flight deck.]
VILA: Are they aboard?
[Tarrant and Soolin enter.]
ORAC: Of course they are!
VILA: Zen, get us moving. And contact Gan and the Sevener, make sure we donít crash into them.
ZEN: Confirmed. Moving onto new course now.
VILA: How long to arrival time?
ZEN: Two minutes and counting.
TARRANT: Vila, what the hell are you up to?
VILA: Blakeís in trouble. Soís Kyben. One last rescue mission, for old timeís sake?
SOOLIN: How long ago were they captured?
VILA: Er, dunno. Orac?
ORAC: Blake triggered the emergency pulse one minute and seven seconds ago.
VILA: Well, normally this is when Avon would tell us what to do. [Beat.] All right. Who wants to be leader now?
[Liberator flies through space.]
[Warehouse. Blake lies on the floor. Troopers kneel on his arms and legs and have their guns trained at his head. Banks stands behind the group, holding Kyben with one hand and aiming a gun at Blake with another. Kreel is pacing, hands behind his back. Sorlai is sitting on a crate, rubbing his face.]
KREEL: I first went up against the Liberator before the Intergalactic War, under the command of Supreme Commander Servalan. After that fiasco, I was unjustly demoted, arrested and imprisoned. It was the war that saved me. I was released and helped the battle against the aliens. When Servalan made her coup, I kept my head down and survived the civil wars. But Iíve worked my way back to Space Commander, only for Blake and the Liberator to return.
[Everyone is now so focussed on Blake and Kreel, Kyben is no longer being held tightly. She gently starts to reach round behind Banks.]
BLAKE: And what a wonderful job youíve done. No wonder youíve been left to rot here.
KREEL: Perhaps I have been abandoned. But this assignment, if it succeeds, if the Rebel Alliance is destroyed, then the Federation will have expanded its outer limits for the first time since the New Calendar began.
BLAKE: You wonít succeed. You never do. Youíre incompetent. How many ships did you lose at Freedom City? Then you let us escape with all the missiles from Agro 34. And IMIPAK, you made a real mess of that. The ultimate weapon destroyed, the ESD wiped out. You were given the perfect opportunity to stop us on Demos V and you not only missed us, you showed the planet you couldnít stop us from saving our allies from under your very noses. Servalan achieved more in a week than you ever have. No wonder the President sent you out here. A situation that could only be improved Ė either you succeeded or you got eaten. Youíre nothing Kreel.
KREEL: Oh, Iím not nothing Blake. Iím incredibly important. To you.
BLAKE: You flatter yourself.
KREEL: Do I? Iíve achieved quite a lot in a sense. Your father, the late lamented clone. That mutoid you somehow brainwashed. And thanks to me your friend Jenna is now a severed head at Residence One. It was your petty blood vendettas, your useless emotions about a soldier simply following his orders, that let me set up this trap.
BLAKE: Yes. And thanks to you, I went and destroyed the Mutoid Factories. Thanks to you, the new legislation is tugging the Federation apart from within. Thanks to you I have every intention of destroying you and everything you ever stood for.
KREEL: But you wonít, Blake. Instead, your capture has allowed me to take control of the Liberator. With that, and your missiles, I can destroy Tarl. The Liberator crew prisoner, access to the Liberator, to Orac, and the border systems defenseless. All in one dayís work. President Anders will realize his mistake in underestimating me.
[Sorlai sniffs the bracelet Kreel hands him, then clips it round his wrist.]
BLAKE: If you were that efficient, youíd be a danger. Youíd be killed before the rest of us.
KREEL: That, Blake, remains to be seen.
SORLAI: Enough of this talk! You have him! Donít waste words. Take this Leebrayta, and let me feast on this creature that has dared killed my best brood!
KREEL: Out of the mouths of barbarians. Very well, Sorlai. Put on the womanís bracelet.
KREEL: Just do it, you stinking mutant! And you can feast on the rest of this criminalís gang!
SORLAI: I might do the same to you, Space Commander.
[Kreel crosses over to Blake and holds the bracelet above Blakeís head.]
KREEL: You and what army? The one this single criminal just wiped out? Shut up, Sorlai. Blake.
KREEL: Unless you want Miss Kyben to be shot here, you will contact your ship and tell them to teleport you both up to the Liberator. No tricks or she will lose her other eye.
[Blake scowls, then nods.]
[Kreel holds the bracelet closer to Blake for him to speak. At that moment, Kyben jabs a sharp punch into Banksí spine. Banks moans, gasps and falls onto the group around Blake. Kreel leaps back with surprise as Kyben snatches a Serrunite blade and charges Kreel, knocking him to the floor and scattering the troopers. Blake, freed, snatches up the bracelet. Sorlai whirls to face Kyben and charges towards her.]
BLAKE: I need teleport now!
[Immediately, Blake and Sorlai vanish as Kyben holds the blade to Kreelís neck.]
[Space. Sorlai snaps into existence to explode into nothingness. Above it is the Liberator.]
[Liberator teleport room. Vila and Soolin are present. Orac sits on the desk, working. Blake materializes and runs over to the console.]
VILA: Blake, whereís Kyben?
[He snatches two teleport bracelets from the trolley.]
BLAKE: Are the missiles prepared?
ZEN: [V.O.] Confirmed. Missiles are ready for immediate launch.
SOOLIN: Blake, where is Kyben?
BLAKE: Zen, I want a scan made of the planetís surface...
VILA: Heís left her to die! [Angry] Hasnít he?
BLAKE: What?! Of course I havenít!
[Blake runs into the bay, but Vila dematerializes. Blake remains in the teleport bay.]
SOOLIN: Vila, what are you doing?
VILA: Orac, teleport!
[Warehouse. Vila arrives on the other side of the warehouse. Meanwhile, the troopers surround Kyben, who is crouched over Kreel with the scimitar at his throat.]
KYBEN: If any of you... ANY of you... move. He dies.
[Kyben stares at him, suddenly calm.]
KREEL: Stay back. All of you.
KYBEN: Thought so. Youíre not going to die for the Federation, are you?
KREEL: Not like this.
KYBEN: Youíre better than this, I suppose? You deserve to live?
KREEL: I think so.
KYBEN: And what about Poul?
KYBEN: My son. He would have been seven by now.
KREEL: I didnít kill him.
KYBEN: No, you just had your men kill him! And Renna... and Senna... and Rak. My Rak. They didnít harm anyone. They didnít threaten the Federation, they didnít threaten anything. But you decided they had to die. So, why EXACTLY do YOU deserve to live, after all the lives youíve ruined? If you hadnít killed that mutoid, Blake wouldnít have destroyed them, and those laws wouldnít have been introduced. Youíre the one who caused all this. All of it. So why do you deserve to live when they didnít?
KREEL: Because unlike you, Rela Kyben, I matter. You, your career, your alliterative family, are nothing. Kill me and you die here and now. Release me, youíll be executed as an example to traitors everywhere. No matter what you do, you arenít important. I am. And I donít care at all about your shattered life. Unlike you, I have a purpose that canít be stripped away by a simple death squad.
KYBEN: You sad little soldier. Youíve got two eyes, and you canít see anything, can you? You donít have anything at all. The Federation couldnít care less about you. Youíre nothing to it. And Iím nothing to it either. But I had a family. I had a life. You donít. Youíve got nothing.
[The knife at his throat draws blood.]
KREEL: Shut up.
KYBEN: [Not listening] Nothing at all.
KREEL: Shut up! Just shut up!
KYBEN: Is there anything even inside that body?
KREEL: Shut up, you stupid little bitch!
KYBEN: If I cut you, do you bleed?
KREEL: [Terrified] KILL HER!
[There is a volley of gunfire Ė from a Liberator sidearm. The troopers collapse, crying out in pain as Vila emerges from hiding, wielding his gun.]
[Taking the moment of surprise, Kreel headbutts Kyben and knocks her off him. Banks, who has finally recovered, grabs a knife from a dead Serrunite and flings it at Vila. It buries itself in the thiefís leg and he screams and collapses. Kreel darts forward, snatches up a fallen trooperís sidearm and aims it at the two rebels. There is blood on his throat.]
KREEL: Restal. Fine. It doesnít matter if I have to get all of you down here by rota. The Liberator is mine. Banks?
[He reaches out with his free hand and snatches up the bracelet.]
BANKS: [Weak] Sir?
KREEL: Keep an eye on them. Execute them if you think it necessary.
KREEL: Liberator. This is Space Commander Kreel. Can you hear me, Blake?
[Liberator flight deck. Blake, Tarrant and Soolin stand by the pit console.]
BLAKE: I hear you, Kreel.
KREEL: Then you will be pleased to know that I am in a no-lose situation. Even if I donít get you, the Liberator and the Alliance, I can reduce your manpower by two.
BLAKE: [V.O.] You might already have done so. Prove theyíre still alive.
KREEL: How? Kill them now over the audio link?
[Liberator flight deck]
BLAKE: That wonít be necessary. Let them speak. I want to be sure.
[Warehouse. Kreel jabs the bracelet at Vila.]
KREEL: Go on then, Restal. Talk?
VILA: [Dazed] Oh. Help. Someone. Please. Oh God... I think Iím going to faint...
KREEL: And our friend Kyben.
KYBEN: [rubs head] Blake, Vilaís injured. Very badly...
KREEL: And heíll get worse. Now, Blake, I want you to land both your ships on Serrus and then have Orac teleport all three of you to my location.
[Liberator flight deck. Blake is calmer.]
BLAKE: That would require us to have a precise locator fix on your signal.
[Warehouse. Kreel is angrier.]
KREEL: Then get one!
[Liberator flight deck]
BLAKE: I have one already, Kreel. I know precisely where you are. Vila? Kyben?
KYBEN: Yes, Blake?
BLAKE: [V.O.] Iím sorry.
[Liberator flight deck]
BLAKE: Zen, fire the missiles!
SOOLIN: No, Blake, you canít!
ZEN: Missiles launched.
[Space. Two missiles shoot down from the underside of the Liberator and hurtle towards Serrus.]
KREEL: Youíre bluffing, Blake!
BLAKE: [V.O.] Am I? Ask them about Jain.
VILA: Heís doing it. My god. Heís going to kill us. Actually going to kill us!
[Liberator flight deck]
TARRANT: Zen! Abort the missiles!
ZEN: Modification of missiles means the abort function is no longer available.
[The missiles slice through the atmosphere]
[Liberator flight deck]
SOOLIN: Blake, what have you done?
BLAKE: What I have to!
[Warehouse. Banks and Kreel exchange worried looks, but Kreel is still firm.]
KREEL: I donít believe you!
[Liberator flight deck]
BLAKE: You wonít have long to find out. Zen? Time to impact?
ZEN: Twenty three seconds. Twenty two. Twenty-one.
[Warehouse. Zenís countdown can be heard clearly.]
BLAKE: [V.O.] Goodbye, Kreel.
[The bracelet bleeps]
KREEL: Blake? ... BLAKE!
[The duo sprint for the exit. Kyben moves to follow, but canít leave Vila, who is now unconscious. She snatches up the uncoded bracelet.]
[The missiles split up as they head towards the ground.]
BLAKE: [V.O.] Kyben? Has he run yet?
KYBEN: I think so!
[Liberator flight deck]
BLAKE: Prepare for teleport!
[Blake looks up at Soolin and Tarrant, who run from the room]
[Outside the warehouse, Kreel and Banks run down the alleyway. In the distance, their ship is visible]
[Inside the warehouse, Kyben and Vila teleport out, leaving the corpses alone.]
[One missile skewers Kreelís pursuit ship and it is gutted in an explosion, before a second fireball consumes the craft. In the alleyway, the blast of heat and light floors Kreel and Banks. The other missile causes a massive explosion on the other side of the city. As the shockwaves disperse, Kreel and Banks cling to the ground of the alleyway. Another explosion behind them. Debris fall down on their heads.]
[Liberator teleport room. Kyben is supporting Vila with Tarrantís help.]
KYBEN: Weíve got to get him to the medical unit, quickly.
[Blake takes up Kybenís role supporting Vila as she stumbles away.]
BLAKE: Fine. Ganís bringing the Sevener on board the Liberator, then we can be on our way.
TARRANT: What the hell did you think you were doing, Blake?
BLAKE: I said if I found another way, Iíd take it. I said we had a locator fix on Kreelís position and I fired the missiles. I never said I was aiming them at the locator fix. Vila and Kyben werenít in any real danger, from the missiles, anyway. Serrus is still in one piece Ė even most of the central city is intact.
TARRANT: Why didnít you tell us?
BLAKE: Oddly enough, you didnít give me a chance. Besides, your reactions convinced Kreel. If you lot refuse to trust me, I can at least make that something useful. [Sighs] I saved the Alliance, the planet and these two. Are any of you satisfied yet?
SOOLIN: Not quite. We should have words with Boorva.
[The Liberator turns on its axis and accelerates away from Serrus.]
[Serrus. Banks and Kreel stand at the end of the alleyway, both grubby and singed but otherwise unharmed. The wreckage of their ship is still burning.]
BANKS: Is this something else I shouldnít mention, sir?
KREEL: Shut up, Banks.
[Liberator is in orbit over Tarl.]
BOORVA: [V.O.] But I understood these missiles were all-powerful...
[Cathedral. Blake, Soolin and Tarrant stand before Boorva.]
BOORVA: ...surely two of them should have flattened the entire continent!
[Soolin draws her Scorpio handgun.]
TARRANT: Thatís what Iíd like explained, too.
BLAKE: Simple. I removed the warheads from several of the missiles. I had Zen target two of them to destroy Kreelís ship and the planet hopper. Anyone on Serrus isnít going anywhere now.
SOOLIN: But the missiles would be useless!
BLAKE: At the speed they were going, the kinetic energy did the job of the warhead. Both ships are gone, so Serrus is no longer a threat, and we didnít slaughter innocents, so weíre happy.
BOORVA: Those monsters are not innocents.
SOOLIN: Theyíre wild animals, Boorva. Until they develop their own civilization again, they should be left alone. Kyben was right. And this way weíre both satisfied.
BLAKE: Well, not both satisfied. Your plan didnít work out exactly as you expected.
BOORVA: What plan would that be?
SOOLIN: I worked it out. You could have struck Serrus on your own. Certainly you could have found out what we did with a simple reconnaissance mission. Instead you called us in to do it for you. And if we had destroyed Serrus, you would have demonstrated that the Alliance has access to the most powerful weapons there are.
TARRANT: But you decided to go one better. Offer us all retirement here, so weíd allow you continued access to the Liberator. Or maybe youíd just hand us over to the Federation, and get them to forget about the border systems for the meantime.
BOORVA: The other planets have given me full authority to do whatever is necessary to protect the Alliance. And you have done that. I win in any eventuality. Because, unlike you Blake, I am no dictator. The Federation is destroying itself by making one man more important than its people. If the President dies, the Federation will go on. If I die, however, the Alliance ends. They are all dependant on me, and the beauty is, they donít even notice. I am like oxygen. Or electricity.
SOOLIN: Oxygen can run out. As can electricity.
[Blake and Tarrant teleport. Soolin trains her gun on Boorva.]
TARRANT: Lord Boorva, I reject your offer to live on Tarl.
BOORVA: Itís your loss, Tarrant.
TARRANT: I donít think so. [into bracelet] Teleport, please, Orac.
BLAKE: Bring me up as well. I think Soolin can take care of this.
SOOLIN: I can pull the trigger before you call for help.
[Boorva unfolds his arms and opens them wide. Soolin doesnít fire.]
BOORVA: Go ahead, then.
BOORVA: Iím safe. No one in the border systems would even consider an assassination attempt on me, any more than they would kill themselves. I am indispensable. That is why I am still alive. Not Mida, not Chalsa, not Lod or even you can kill me. Not without destroying everything you came here to save.
[She fires her gun, which fires a red laser instead of a plasma bullet. Boorva screams out of view.]
SOOLIN: Who said I was going to kill you?
[Liberator moves through space.]
[Blake is at the pilotís position. Kyben and Soolin stand before the screen as Tarl shrinks into the distance.]
KYBEN: You set fire to his beard?
[Blake points to the screen. They are passing Serrus.]
SOOLIN: And his hair. He wonít be needing it when Tarlís summer starts, though he wonít be making any personal appearances before the burns heal. Considering what he put us through, he got off rather lightly.
KYBEN: At least we made some kind of moral victory.
SOOLIN: Blake let you in on the plan, then?
BLAKE: I told her about what I did to the missiles. Then I had to adapt the plan.
KYBEN: I guessed something like that.
SOOLIN: [to Blake] So you really would have told us, given the chance?
BLAKE: Yes. There you go, Kyben.
BLAKE: Kreelís stuck on that planet for the foreseeable future. And we have at least ten minutes before the Federation arrives. Enough time for us to find him and kill him.
[Kyben looks at the screen. Then she shakes her head.]
KYBEN: I though you wanted to do that.
BLAKE: I do. But at the end of the day, itíd probably give him too much satisfaction. Heís yours.
KYBEN: Let him go. Weíve got better things to do than worry about revenge.
[The screen closes and Tarrant enters.]
SOOLIN: Youíre not going to forgive him for what heís done?
KYBEN: Oh, Soolin. I never said that. I might not kill him, but Iím not going to let him get away with what heís done.
BLAKE: Iíll settle for anything left after youíve finished with him.
KYBEN: [Smiles] Assuming you donít get him first.
BLAKE: Naturally. Zen, set a course for the United Planets of Teal, standard by four.
ZEN: Confirmed. Course computed. Speed at standard by four.
TARRANT: Sevenerís docked successfully. Are you going to tell us why weíre heading for Teal?
BLAKE: Why not? Itís as good a place as any for us to part company. I assume you still want to?
SOOLIN: What is it, Orac?
ORAC: I have pre-programmed instructions to carry out in a scenario such as this. Therefore, all the crew members should be present for necessary instructions to be carried out.
BLAKE: Instructions? From whom?
ORAC: Kerr Avon.
KYBEN: But heís dead. Did he instruct you before that?
ORAC: It is obvious that he did! How could a dead human being instruct me?
KYBEN: Iíll go and get Vila.
SOOLIN: He should be recovered by now.
[Kyben enters with Vila, who is limping and has a regeneration cast around his leg.]
BLAKE: I canít believe he was so reckless. He was lucky to survive.
TARRANT: Like I said. Weíve all lost people. Maybe now Avonís gone, Vilaís going to stand up for himself from now on.
SOOLIN: If we hadnít just saved the universe, Iím sure that would be a sign it was about to end.
VILA: Whatís wrong? Why canít I just die in peace?
[They sit down in the pit.]
TARRANT: Orac wants to talk to us.
VILA: He can talk to me separately, canít he? Or are you planning to ditch me in the next crisis?
BLAKE: I didnít ditch Kyben. She was about to be attacked by the Serrunite leader who was wearing her teleport bracelet.
KYBEN: I did tell him.
VILA: You should have gone back for her, Nij.
BLAKE: I intended to...
ORAC: If I might be allowed to interrupt this truly pointless bickering and recrimination, I do have a task to perform.
BLAKE: Go ahead, Orac.
[The crew exchange surprised looks. The screen opens to show Avon sitting at the teleport.]
ORAC: Avon gave me instructions to be carried out in the event of his death and various other facts of no immediate concern. However, the lack of trust and cooperation with the Liberator crew, combined with the imminent disintegration of said crew were predicted. Thus I shall replay a viscast recorded by Avon on the main screen. Please remain silent until the viscast is concluded.
AVON: If this recording is being replayed by Orac, then I am now dead. I have just seen the rest of you off in Sevener to collect the guidance crystal we need for the missiles Ė a malfunction so perfect I am wondering if it might be some kind of trap. In either case, if you are watching this it means you survived the trip to Bartoc 4, if not succeeded in getting the crystal. The reason you have used Sevener is that for my mission I need the Liberator, I need Zen and I need Orac. It is a dangerous mission with a fifty per cent chance of survival. Equal odds to live or die. I do not intend this to be a suicide mission, but Iím not so stupid as to miss the dangers. [We pan across the crewís faces as they watch.] The Federation boasts the finest interrogation techniques known. If any of you are captured, you will tell them everything. Itís a fact. They will make you talk and you will not be able to stop them. Normally, this would be an acceptable risk, as so I would ensure you all knew what I am attempting to do. But not this time. If the Federation so much as suspects what I am doing, the consequences will be catastrophic. I use the word with precision. Catastrophic. That is why I have made Blake give me his word that he will not allow any of you to know what my mission is... [Smiles] Was. I trust Blake will keep his word, as I keep mine. However, I can imagine his sudden reticence may, when coupled with his total lack of subtlety, lead to friction on the crew. Tarrant, you Iím sure can be relied upon to complain. Perhaps Blake will already have convinced you of the reasons for his silence. But if not, I am leaving this message in case I am not alive to do so in person. [Avon pauses, thinking.] Vila, you and I were there at the very beginning. Tarrant and Soolin, we have been together for several years. I was designated the leader of this group and with a few notable mistakes, I believe I was a good one. Certainly good enough to command loyalty from the three of you. It is because of that loyalty I make one final order Ė stay with the Liberator, trust Blake, and if necessary obey without question. Because by doing so, we might actually win this once and for all. I wonít be there to see it, of course. But after seven years living on the run, with all the others dead... even Servalan at the end. Perhaps it is time. If this message is playing, I trust that Blake will have at least confirmed if I succeeded in my mission. And perhaps, that will be enough. I may never see any of you ever again, and that will certainly be one compensation. For what itís worth, I hope you survive what is to come. And I trust you Vila, and you, Soolin, and you Tarrant, not to let me down. [Beat] Good luck.
[On the screen, Avon gets to his feet and moves out of sight. The screen shuts down. Silence.]
TARRANT: Well. Thatís it then. Iím going to remove the cloaking device from Sevener and reinstall it into the Liberator.
SOOLIN: Iíll help you carry it.
[Tarrant and Soolin leave.]
KYBEN: Vila ought to get back to the medical unit.
[Kyben helps him up.]
VILA: All right. Iím coming.
BLAKE: Do you need any help?
[Kyben and Vila head for the exit.]
KYBEN: Iíll manage.
BLAKE: Vila? I hope you feel better soon.
[They leave. Blake sits alone in the pit for a moment. He smiles to himself and closes his eyes.]
VILA: [Nods] Thanks, Blake.
[The Liberator flies off into the distance.]