The Blake's 7 Super Test



Blake's 7 Super Test
Blake's Legacy
Blake's Progress
Naming Blake
"Avon: A Terrible Novel"?
Birth Of The Federation
The Blake's 7 Formula
To Kill Or To Stun
The Blake's 7 Drinking Game
Blake's Chicken
Blake's Parrott
DeLiberation
ACT XVII - England And The Empire

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( A remote planetoid. On its surface, there is a bleak overgrown field where two full armies are lined up facing each other. The armies are clad in medieval plate armour, and armed with longbows, swords and battle-axes. A man in a black cloak on a horse rides forward from one of the armies across the field to the other, carrying a rolled up parchment bound in a royal seal. From the other army another horseman, presumably a commanding officer, his armour covered in a rich velvlet cloak decorated by an elaborate coat of arms, rides forward to meet him near the middle. )

Equerry: Good morrow, m'lord.

( The commander doffs his hat nobly. )

Lord Belhaven: And you, good sir. You are here to offer terms, I surmise.

( With much ceremony, the Equerry unties the seal on the scroll and reads from it loudly, pronouncing consonants and rolling his r's with excessive thoroughness. )

Equerry: His Royal Majesty, King Sarlad demands the surrender of your Lordship and the Barony of your army, in return for which he offers your Lordship continued life and the restoration of your Lordship's former lands to your Lordship. Should your Lordship refuse His Majesty's generous offer, His Majesty swears he will slaughter every one of your Lordship's army of traitors and furthermore, after the battle, to pin your Lordship's genitalia to the highest and grandest tree he can find on the entire moon... whilst your Lordship is still alive to watch it happening.

( The Equerry re-rolls the parchment and hands it to the Lord who scarcely glances at it before stuffing it in one of his over-sized wellington boots. )

Lord Belhaven: Does he? I take it I don't have to tell you exactly where the King can stuff his terms?

Equerry: I am more than familiar with that, m'lord, seeing as thats been your exact response at the beginning of the past four battles.

Lord Belhaven: Good man. My terms are that if I win I take this field and the four surrounding grounds as my own.

( The two men turn their horses back to their respective armies. )

Equerry: It's a fight, lads.

( There is a general murmur of approval from the soldiers. On the other side of the field... )

Lord Belhaven: Game on!

( There is a roar of joy from the Lord's troops. )

 

( Liberator drifts away from the Belquon System. On the flight deck, Hailee is at the controls. Avon walks in and makes himself comfortable in the seating pit. There is an unhappy silence. Eventually Hailee speaks up. )

Hailee: How is she?

Avon: Surprisingly upbeat.

Hailee: Upbeat?

Avon: Yes.

Hailee: Why should she be upbeat?

Avon: Hailee, under the circumstances I regard it as a bonus. Of all the things you can choose to worry about, why choose that?

Hailee: I didn't say I was worried, I'm just confused. ( Mulls it over for a moment. ) Can you keep watch? I'll go and speak to her.

Avon: Marvellous. Here we are travelling through a region of space with a black hole in it, and our best pilot decides that now is the time to finally start mingling with the crew.

Hailee: We're light hours from the black hole, Avon, even an idiot could keep us safe from it.

Avon: Yes, but Vila's sleeping in the medical unit right now, so we depend on you.

Hailee: How are his burns healing?

Avon: Very nicely. He has absolutely no trouble talking now. Why do you think I was in such a hurry to get back to the flight deck?

Hailee: Good. That means I won't have to drop by and tell him to get well soon.

Avon: Oh, I'm sure he would appreciate a visit if it's from you.

Hailee: I'd appreciate spending the rest of my life on the beaches of Nitir-7 being waited on hand and foot by the entire Federation High Council. But we can't have it all can we? ( Avon does not respond. ) Zen, switch to automatics, and maintain optimum escape heading from the Belquon black hole.

Zen: Confirmed, optimum heading calculated. Warning, current heading is in error by point zero-zero-two-zero-seven-two-three degrees. Navigation computers are now compensating.

Hailee: ( Sighs. ) Thank you, Zen, I'm relieved you spotted that in time. ( Turns and heads from the Flight Deck. ) Stupid box of junk... better off with a novelty timekeeper running things...

( Hailee exits. Avon smiles to himself. )

 

( Back on the surface of the moon, the two armies are lined up with weapons at the ready. At the sound of their respective bugles the opposing foot soldiers start to advance on each other. They increase speed the further they advance, shouting vicious curses and battle cries... until they get within ten feet of each other, when they suddenly grind to a halt. Then, from behind each foot soldier come two archers. Half of the archers serving Belhaven carry small wooden boxes, the other half carry boards. Half the archers serving the King carry a small wooden table, the other half each carry two wooden stools. The tables are all set up in a fairly neat line between the two armies, with the stools placed on either side. Then the boards are opened out to reveal that they are chess boards, of which one is laid on top of each table. The boxes are then opened and emptied. From them fall chess pieces, which the archers quickly arrange into the starting positions on the chess boards. Then at each table, one foot soldier from either side seats himself. The opponents at each table shake hands jovially. )

Equerry: My Lord, His Majesty offers your men the privilege of deciding in each match who will play with the white army.

Lord Belhaven: Most gracious. ( To his foot soldiers. ) Your discretion, boys. ( To Equerry. ) Tell the King I'm happy for him to slaughter every one of my army as long as it's composed of chess pieces.

Equerry: I believe he is already aware of that, sir. ( Loudly. ) You know the rules, everyone. At the sound of the next bugle, the first moves will be made. No more than five minutes per move. Whichever side wins the most matches will be declared the winner of the battle.

( The Equerry nods to the hornplayers. In response they raise the bugles to their lips and blow. There is a deafening blast of sound, and the matches begin. )

 

( Soolin's quarters. There is a table and chair in one corner of the room, and a bunk along one wall. Soolin is lying on the bunk, an odd look on her face. She is not crying, her expression is quite neutral. There is a knock on the door. )

Soolin: Who is it?

Hailee: ( Through the door. ) The Lindor Pipers' Choir. Who else'd be stupid enough to go venturing through these corridors of death?

Soolin: ( Sitting up. ) Does that mean "Can I come in?"

Hailee: It can mean anything you want it to, just so long as you open the door.

( Soolin stands up with a heavy sigh, walks to the door and opens it. Hailee smiles at her gently as she steps inside. Soolin sits back on the bunk, and leans back against the wall. Hailee sits on the chair. )

Soolin: You're beginning to talk more and more like Avon every day.

Hailee: He's the only one on the ship who always makes sense, so I'll take that as a compliment.

Soolin: It wasn't meant to be. It was just a statement of fact.

Hailee: How are you feeling now?

( There is a brief silence, during which Soolin looks around herself in some confusion. )

Soolin: I don't know. I mean... I should be in tears shouldn't I?

Hailee: You don't strike me as the sort.

Soolin: You have no idea. When my parents were murdered...

Hailee: You were a kid at the time, Soolin! Look, there's no such thing as the right way to react to loss.

Soolin: But I should react some way.

Hailee: Not necessarily. It affects different people different ways. If you only feel pain inside, then you dont have to...

Soolin: That's just it, Hailee. I don't. It's the strangest thing in the world. I don't feel hurt, I don't feel empty. I was in pieces before I pulled the trigger but from the moment he fell... ( Shakes herself. ) Kyben's dead and... I'm not sure I even care.

 

( Medical Unit. Vila is snoozing loudly on a rehab couch. )

Slave: Er, sir? Sir?

( Vila's eyes flicker open. )

Vila: What...? ( Looks angry and tired as he wakes. ) Ooh, what is it now?

Slave: Deeply sorry to interrupt you, sir, but may I have your attention please?

Vila: ( Creases brow. ) You woke me up to ask if you can have my attention?

Slave: I'm sorry, sir, but I thought it best to indicate to you that your injuries are now healed sufficiently for you to resume your normal duties and you can be discharged from...

Vila: ( Hurriedly. ) All right, keep it down, keep it down! I don't want Avon to hear that do I?

Slave: Why ever not, sir?

Vila: If I play my cards right, I can string this out for weeks. All I need is to let everyone think that I'm at deaths door, and they wont ask me to do a thing.

Slave: Pardon me, but is that not a little unethical, sir?

Vila: So? What do I want ethics for? As far as I'm concerned, if you need ethics, rent them.

Slave: I'll remember that, sir, although with my limited expertise I have no knowledge of any locations where such commodities might be available for hire.

Vila: No, I meant... ( Sighs and reclines again, closing his eyes. ) Forget it. Just be quiet and let me pretend to be on my last legs.

Slave: Very well, sir, but how will people know the difference, sir?

( Vila's eyes open sharply and he sits up, affronted. )

Vila: Oi!

Slave: Oh dear, I'm sorry if I caused any offence, sir. What I meant was, won't people know that you are simulating illness from the read-outs on the medi-computers? They won't know the difference between when you are ill and when you are well. Please forgive me for any...

Vila: I forgive you.

Slave: Oh, thank you, sir...

Vila: It's a good point actually. I was hoping you could, er, massage the read-outs for me?

Slave: I beg your pardon, sir?

Vila: Fake them!

Slave: Fake the readouts, sir? I could not possibly do anything so deceitful, sir. Such a breach of protocol would require a flexibility of programming far too sophisticated for one with my extreme limitations.

( The door swings open and Avon steps in, glowering at Vila. )

Avon: Don't worry, Slave, you can put whatever you like on the read-outs, because nobody's going to take a blind bit of notice. Vila, seeing that you are once again conducting yourself in a manner of shameful cowardice, rank laziness and crass deceit quite unbecoming to any man possessed of even the smallest degree of self-respect, I shall assume that you have been restored to whatever it is in your paltry existence that passes for fitness.

Vila: Damn.

Avon: You can go to the Flight Deck and keep watch.

Vila: Oh... good.

( Vila, with immense slowness, hauls himself to his feet and wanders to the door. Just as he reaches the threshold of the exit, Avon grabs him by the shoulder and gives him a warning look. At this exact moment the whole ship shakes violently and loudly, hurling Avon and Vila to the floor. NOTE: There is no direct causal relationship between these two events. )

Vila: What the-...?!

 

( Soolins quarters. Soolin and Hailee are lying prostrate on the floor after the jolt. There is a second violent shudder. )

Hailee: Let's move.

( The occasional violent jolt hits the ship at frequent intervals, punctuated by a rhythm of much smaller but unsteadying jolts. )

 

( From the outside the Liberator appears slightly blurry and tinted red. )

 

( Flight Deck. Avon, Vila and Blake run in from the port entrance, Soolin and Hailee arrive a few seconds later from the starboard entrance. More jolts keep them stumbling as they try to take their positions. )

Hailee: Zen, restore manual controls.

Zen: Confirmed.

( Hailee takes up the helm. )

Blake: Report, Zen! Are we under attack?

Zen: Negative.

Avon: Then explain the... ( Another jolt. Avon grunts. ) ...explain the turbulence.

Zen: There is no detectable cause for the turbulence.

Soolin: What? So we're imagining it?

Vila: I always said you can take your fantasies too seriously.

Avon: Clarify, Zen. Are we under attack?

Zen: Negative.

Blake: Asteroid field?

Zen: Negative.

Blake: Then why's the ship shaking so much?

( Another jolt. This one is so violent Hailee is thrown forward over the control panel. There is a small burst of sparks from below the panel as she collides. )

Zen: Attention. Manual guidance controls now dysfunctional. Automatic repair systems are assessing the damage.

Vila: Hailee, are you all right?

Zen: ( While the crew are talking. ) Guidance systems now under automatic control.

( Avon and Blake gently pull Hailee's slumped figure off of the control panel and check her vital signs. )

Avon: Out cold. She'll be all right. Blake, get her to the medical unit. Get Slave to treat her for bruising and electrical shock.

( Blake carefully lifts Hailee and heads for the starboard exit. )

Blake: On my way.

( There is another horrific jolt. Avon, Vila and Soolin manage to hang on to the control panels for dear life. Poor Blake has no hands to spare to cling onto anything secure however. He stumbles on the step, drops Hailee unceremoniously, and crashes to the floor next to her, knocking his head against the wall. He too is out cold. There is a thin trickle of blood rolling down his left cheek. )

Soolin: Blake! Are you al-...?

( Another violent jolt. Again, Avon, Vila and Soolin, only by dint of hanging on for dear life, manage to stay more or less upright. Avon pauses to curse quietly as he sees Blake lying prostrate, then takes position at the helm controls. Vila moves to help Blake and Hailee. )

Avon: Leave them.

Vila: But...

Avon: I said leave them, Vila. They'll have to wait until we've got the ship back under control.

Vila: But Blake's bleeding, he needs...

Avon: Otherwise he'll end up dead anyway, and us with him. Zen, we are still waiting for an explanation for the turbulence.

Zen: The paradox of the non-explanation is still undergoing investigation.

Vila: What-what-what?

Soolin: He means he hasn't got a blithering clue.

Vila: Well why didn't he say so? I would.

Avon: Small minds think alike. Zen! An answer, now.

Zen: Negative information.

Avon: Speculate.

Zen: Speculation is not information.

Avon: Oh don't start...

Soolin: Look, leave the junk-heap alone, if he finds anything he'll tell us. Just try to steer a straight course, Zen.

Vila: That may not be such a good idea. We've already been knocked off course. ( Points at the viewscreen. ) Look!

( On the viewscreen is the pale blue form of a slightly mis-shapen moon. Its dimensions, although generally rounded, are at certain points boxy and angular, as though this is not much more than a very large asteroid. Another jolt. )

Avon: We must be on the outer extremes of its gravitational pull. Zen, could the object on the main screen be the cause of the turbulence, directly or otherwise?

Zen: Negative. Object on-screen is an ordinary... ( Jolt. ) ...class two lunar satellite of no fixed orbital path. It has been designated the Moon of Tyrix. Terran scientists have speculated that the planet the... ( Jolt. ) ...Moon was orbiting was destroyed approximately seventy five centuries ago. Tyrix has been partially... ( Jolt. ) ...terraformed, but there is no Federation record to indicate colonization.

( Another jolt. Avon is thrown backwards and smacks his head against the headrest. He feels his crown mildly then returns to trying to re-establish control. )

Avon: We won't be able to avoid a crash-landing if this turbulence... ( Jolt. ) ...gnn... doesnt stop.

Vila: You mean we're already falling?

Avon: Yes. Your legendary fear of heights getting the better of you already?

Vila: I'm not scared of heights... just so long as I can stay at the bottom of them.

Avon: Well if it makes you feel any better, that's where we're heading. Zen, increase power to the maneuvering jets to divert around the moon.

Zen: Confirmed.

( The ship tries to veer to port. Suddenly a fresh series of jolts end the attempt. )

Zen: Maneuvers aborted.

Avon: Keep trying.

Zen: Confirmed.

Vila: Why don't we just switch the engines off?

Avon: We're fighting gravity, Vila. We need the drives on. Zen, time to impact?

Zen: Thirty-four minutes and twenty eight point one zero zero seven zero one seconds.

( Liberator continues to close in on the moon. )

Vila: ( V.O. ) Well, if you can't be more precise...

 

( On the surface of the moon, most of the chess matches have reached their conclusion. The boards on which the King's troops have won have a small black flag standing in the middle of them, those which have been won by Belhaven's men have a small violet one. The King's troops outnumber Belhaven's, and the extra troops on the King's side have therefore won their matches by default. Even so, by now there are more violet flags than black. )

Lord Belhaven: I'm winning!

Equerry: ( With a sigh. ) Looks like it.

( One more of the King's troops looks worried as his opponent moves his queen to a cornering position. )

Soldier 1: ( Belhaven's soldier. ) Checkmate!

Soldier 2: ( Kings soldier. ) What! ( Looks at the board, distraught. ) No, no, wait a minute, this is not checkmate.

( Belhaven's soldier is out of his seat doing a jig of delight. )

Soldier 1: I win again!

Soldier 2: No this is not checkmate. ( Points at his rook. ) You see I can take the Queen with this and... ( Voice tails off as he looks at the board more closely. ) Oh but then that would mean that your bishop would... ( Parks his elbows on the table and props up his cheeks with his fists, pouting. ) Oh bugger.

( Belhaven steps up and slaps a fresh violet flag in the middle of the board. )

Lord Belhaven: Just eight more, and my lead becomes unassailable.

Equerry: ( Looking slightly ill. ) It looks that way. ( Turns and wanders off. ) Oh god, how am I going to tell Sarlad about this one?

 

( Liberator flight deck. Avon, Soolin and Vila are still at the controls. The ship is still shaking about. )

Zen: Nine minutes remaining until impact.

Avon: Zen, have the force wall and the radiation flare shield prepped for auto-activation when the countdown... ( Jolt. ) ...reaches four minutes, to resist atmospheric friction and impact damage.

Zen: Confirmed.

Soolin: Nice to know someone's thinking ahead. ( Jolt. )

Avon: It would be even nicer if someone aboard could think ahead without it having to be me all the time.

Zen: Information. Analysis of available data has revealed possible cause for in-flight turbulence.

Avon: Well?

Zen: Conflicting forces detected by surface sensors would indicate that Liberator is falling through a wormhole.

Avon: Wormhole? ( Jolt.)

Zen: Confirmed.

Soolin: Cause?

Zen: That information is not available. The cause is still under investigation.

Avon: Describe the properties of the wormhole, Zen. Explain why... ( Jolt. ) ...why we still appear to be in normal space.

Zen: The wormhole appears to be a basic physical anomaly, rather than an inter-spatial rift. It has a localised... ( Jolt. ) ...warping effect that appears to be bunching the fabric of space immediately around the Liberator.

Vila: ( Utter bafflement. ) Bunching?!

Soolin: It's like when you... ( Jolt. ) ...aaah... try to move a piece of furniture on a carpet that's not fixed down properly. The fabric rucks up and folds underneath it.

Avon: In this case the Liberator is the furniture. It's crumpling space as it passes through it. ( Jolt. ) And the ship shakes every time it passes over a fold.

Vila: Well that explains what the turbulence is.

Avon: Yes, but not what created the wormhole. Zen, have you an explanation yet?

Zen: Negative.

Avon: So speculate.

Zen: Speculation is n-...

Avon: I'm not asking for information, Zen, just... ( Jolt. ) ...an opinion.

Zen: Confirmed. Theoretical prognosis - recent prolonged exposure to ultra-heavy gravitational fields and x-ray radiation may have corrupted thrust emissions between Liberator's plasma core and propulsion systems.

Avon: Explain.

Zen: Plasma emissions may... ( Jolt. ) ...have become heavily-condensed under said gravitational influence and x-ray exposure.

Vila: The Belquon black hole?

Zen: Confirmed. These emissions, if the energized plasma is unstable enough, can become malignant to the fabric of the space/time continuum.

Soolin: Hence the wormhole. ( Jolt. )

Zen: Confirmed.

Avon: Sounds reasonable. Zen, shut down all drives, now.

Zen: Warning. Such action would be hazardous. Liberator is within the gravity well of the Tyrix moon. Main drive will be required to break the...

Avon: We'll worry about that later. Shut down all drives.

Zen: Confirmed.

( The faint hum of the main drive lowers in pitch until it stops completely. )

Vila: Why did you do that?

Soolin: The wormhole was caused by the Liberator's engines. If we shut down, it may stop.

( The ship gradually comes to a halt. The blurry, reddish distortion slowly fades out. On the flight deck, Vila shapes to move away from his position to help Blake and Hailee. )

Avon: Stay where you are, Vila.

Vila: ( Points in the direction of Hailee and Blake. ) What about...?

Avon: Wait, Vila!

Vila: But you just said...

Avon: Zen was speaking theoretically. If the main drive is not the cause, we'll still get thrown about, so stay where you can grab hold of something that's fixed to the floor.

( Vila resumes his position. )

Vila: ( Gulps. ) Right. But we'd better hurry. Blake and Hailee aren't looking in a good...

Avon: Not yet. Not until we're sure.

( They wait for a few seconds, nervously gripping the sides of the control panels, glancing from side to side anxiously. )

Soolin: It looks like the turbulence has stopped, Avon. We should...

Zen: Attention. Long range detectors indicate Federation Pursuit ships on a bearing of two hundred seventy four degrees, at a distance of nine million spacials.

Vila: What!

Zen: Long range detectors indicate...

Avon: I think it was a rhetorical question, Zen. Are we in range of their sensors yet?

Vila: Never mind that, lets get out of here.

Avon: No. Until we can make repairs to the main drive, the ship will be impossible to control in flight. Zen, answer my question.

Zen: On Pursuit ships' present course and speed, Liberator will be within their sensor range within seventeen minutes. Warning - speed is increasing. Liberator will reach the upper atmosphere of the Tyrix moon within eleven minutes at present rate of gravitational acceleration.

Vila: We're still falling then?

Avon: Naturally. You think gravity decreases the nearer you get to a planet? Zen, let her go. Keep the force wall on stand by.

Vila: ( Alarmed. ) What do you think...?

Avon: I want deflection commensurate with a surface landing. Understood?

Zen: Confirmed. Information, activation of forward deflection thrusters could still cause further turbulence.

Avon: So you'll have to be careful.

Soolin: We're landing?

Avon: We can't run from those Pursuit ships with the ship in its current state, and Zen said the planet was partially terraformed, so we should be able to hide the ship safely in the atmosphere while we make repairs. ( Gestures toward Blake and Hailee. ) As you're so eager, we'll get those two to the medical unit now.

( Avon, Vila and Soolin gather around Blake and Hailee. Between them, Avon and Vila carry Blake down the starboard corridor. Soolin throws Hailee over her shoulder and follows. )

 

( Tyrix. A large wooden fort on top of a broad hill, overlooking a moat and muddy, overgrown fields of rushes. The fort is essentially a mish-mash of wooden buildings surrounded by a high wall of heavy timbers. At the centre of the fort is a large hall in which over a dozen noblemen are seated at a long table. At the bottom end of the table, nearest the large hearth, sits Lord Belhaven, looking pleased with himself. Along the side of the table to his left are a few of his knights, all dressed in chain-mail and colourful robes. Along the other side of the table are the knights of the aristocracy, among them the King's Equerry, all looking thoroughly cheesed off. At the top of the table sits the mighty figure of the King, Sarlad "the Magnificent", as he calls himself. He is reading a parchment with annoyance. He lets out a sigh, picks up a quill from the table in front of him, and puts his signature at the bottom of the parchment. There is a loud murmur of approval from Belhaven's men. )

Sarlad: ( Waving away the opposition's euphoria. ) All right, all right. Laugh while you can, but the war still goes on.

( Lord Belhaven sips from a goblet of wine. )

Lord Belhaven: And we're winning it.

Sarlad: Don't be so sure...

Lord Belhaven: That's four battles to nil, your Majesty. We've taken over a quarter of your territories. If we're not winning by now, when will we be?

Sarlad: When you have control of the fortress.

Lord Belhaven: ( Raises an eyebrow. ) Oh. Well at this rate, in about ten days then?

Sarlad: In your dreams.

Lord Belhaven: ( Unimpressed. ) May I have the deed now please?

( Sarlad pulls an unfriendly face, then reluctantly hands the parchment to the nearest knight on his right. The parchment is passed along the line until it reaches the hands of Lord Belhaven, who rolls it up and stuffs it up his sleeve. He then raises the goblet again. )

Lord Belhaven: Cheers.

Sarlad: Hmph! ( Lifts his own goblet and takes a long, pain-relieving swig. ) Just remember the laws, Belhaven. One loss for you and your head is forfeit.

Lord Belhaven: That's why I keep winning... ( Sarcastically. ) ...your Majesty.

( The King just glowers, but says nothing, opting to simply resume his drink. The atmosphere gradually dissolves into a quiet hubbub of banter between the gathered warriors. During all this, a messenger runs into the hall and rushes over to the King, where he furtively relays apparently urgent news. Sarlad listens intently, then gets to his feet, tapping a fork against the tabletop. The room falls quiet, and all present turn their attention once more to the King. )

Sarlad: Friends... and enemies. ( Shoots another nasty look in Belhaven's direction. ) I fear we must set aside our petty personal squabbles for the time being. I must call a state of emergency.

( There are looks of serious concern from everyone. One or two of Belhaven's party even look like they are going to object. )

Sarlad: Please, I know what you are going to imply. I can assure you that this has nothing to do with the current course of the war.

Lord Belhaven: Oh really? Well then...

Sarlad: The war is merely suspended, not cancelled. We have a mutual interest to settle first. Code 99 - one of the highest peril.

Lord Belhaven: ( Cautiously. ) I see. What exactly?

Sarlad: A spacecraft has been spotted entering orbit over Tyrix. ( All around the Hall, there is disquiet and many a nervous exchange of looks. ) Until we are able to clearly ascertain who is heading our way, we are forced to suspend all war proceedings and arrange joint-defence of our world. ( Pauses. ) Furthermore it is only sensible to assume, until we have better information, that this spacecraft is Federation.

 

( Liberator descends through the atmosphere of Tyrix. Once again it looks slightly blurred and indistinct, the reddish tinge turned orange by the passage through the atmosphere. There is the occasional jolt, though far less violent than before. It gradually reaches ground level, the lower neutron blasters scraping along the ground, leaving deep furrows in the marshes. It eventually grinds to a less-than-graceful halt. )

 

( Inside the Liberator Medical Unit, Hailee and Blake are unconcious, strapped onto rehab couches. Nobody else is visible. Until, that is, Avon, Vila and Soolin drag themselves away from the wall that they have clearly been thrown against by the force of the landing. They all look rather annoyed. )

Vila: ( Calls out, tersely. ) Nice landing, Zen.

Avon: At least we should be well-hidden from the Pursuit ships' sensors.

( Avon goes to the intercom and switches it on. Zen appears on the monitor. )

Avon: Zen. Shut down all systems except the auto-repair. Prioritise power core and propulsion systems.

Zen: ( On comms. ) Confirmed.

( Avon switches the intercom off. )

Avon: Slave, how are the patients doing?

Slave: Mistress Hailee appears to be recovering well, Master. She should regain conciousness momentarily.

Avon: And Blake?

Slave: I'm sorry, Master. Would you repeat that?

Avon: ( Aggravated. ) I said, how is Blake doing?

Slave: Deeply sorry, Master, but I was led to believe that Blake was dead.

Avon: What?

Soolin: Not Roj Blake, Slave. Nij Blake.

Slave: Which one is Nij Blake, madam?

( Everyone turns and looks up at Slave. )

Vila: Blake. You know? Blake?

Slave: There is no person present in the medical unit by that name, sir.

Avon: What is that supposed to mean? We are referring to the male patient on this rehab couch. ( Points at Blake. )

Slave: With respect, Master, that is not the gentleman in question's name.

( Avon exchanges suspicious looks with Soolin and Vila. )

Avon: Before he died, did Kyben ever program you with this man's voiceprint?

Slave: Yes, Master.

Soolin: And was he identified to you?

Slave: Yes, madam.

Vila: As Nij Blake?

Slave: Yes, sir.

Avon: Then explain your previous statement, Slave. Why do you say that this man is not Nij Blake?

Slave: I apologise for my presumption, Master, but I was instructed to perform a full cranial scan on both patients. The brainwave patterns I detected on the gentlemen indicated that his name is not Nij Blake.

( Avon again looks at Soolin. They both bear furious expressions. )

Slave: Therefore, Master, when you asked me what Blake's condition was, I assumed you must have been referring to someone else. Please forgive me if I...

Avon: Be quiet, Slave. I've had my fill of computer logic in the last couple of days. ( Looks at Blake, fuming. ) I said all along he was a liar.

Soolin: It never quite rang true, did it?

Avon: Blake's son, indeed! What a load of...

Vila: Hang on, Avon. Are you just going to take Slave's word for it? With his track record?

Avon: Computers may occasionally misunderstand questions, Vila, but they don't lie...

Vila: They make mistakes. Especially Slave.

Avon: Your point being?

Vila: We should wait until he wakes up. At least let's hear what he has to say before we make up our minds.

( Avon stares at Vila for a moment. )

Avon: Slave?

Slave: Yes, Master?

Avon: What is the male patient's condition?

Slave: A minor concussion, Master.

Avon: When will he wake?

Slave: An exact projection is beyond my limited means, Master.

Avon: Then wing it.

Slave: My best estimate would be approximately two hours, although he will not be in adequate shape for resuming duties until he has had at least twenty further hours recuperation time.

Avon: ( Darkly. ) If he's been lying to us, when I'm finished with him he'll need a lot more than twenty hours to recover. Slave, when Hailee awakes, release her immediately. As for the one who claims to be called Blake, keep him restrained until I say otherwise.

( Avon storms out, his fury almost tangible. )

Slave: Yes, Master.

( Soolin and Vila look at each other in concern. )

 

( A vast army of horsemen, archers and foot soldiers march across the rushes. On horseback, at the vanguard of this army are King Sarlad and Lord Belhaven. )

Sarlad: According to our scouts, the field the ship landed in is no more than a mile away.

Lord Belhaven: Hmm, interesting. If they really are Federation, we might have a real fight on our hands.

 

( Liberator Flight Deck. Avon walks in and takes his seat in the central pit. )

Avon: Report.

Zen: Automatics have assessed the damage to the power core and propulsion systems and repairs are now proceeding.

Avon: How serious is it?

Zen: Damage is limited but complex. It is well within the capacities of the repair systems.

Avon: So no manual assistance required from the crew?

Zen: Negative.

Avon: Time to completion? Rounded to the nearest minute please.

Zen: Repairs should be completed within approximately two hours and seventeen minutes.

Avon: Do battle computers estimate that the Pursuit ships will be gone by then?

Zen: Confirmed.

Avon: Good.

( Avon looks like he is about to ask something else when Zen interrupts. )

Zen: Information. External sensors indicate humanoid life-forms approaching the Liberator's position at ground level.

( Avon gets to his feet hurriedly. )

Avon: How many?

Zen: Approximately nine hundred. More are entering sensor range.

Avon: Nine hundred?! I thought you said this planet was uninhabited.

Zen: Confirmed. The information appears erroneous.

Avon: Thank you for pointing that out, Zen. ( Rushes over to the nearest intercom. ) Battle stations. Soolin, Vila, get up to the Flight Deck now.

 

( Medical Unit. Hailee is sitting up, cradling a sore head. Soolin and Vila are monitoring the progress of Blake who is still spark out on the rehab couch. )

Avon: ( V.O. ) Battle stations. Soolin, Vila, get up to the Flight Deck now.

Vila: What? Oh now what's wrong?

Soolin: All right Vila, let's move. Hailee, you stay here.

Hailee: My pleasure.

( Hailee slumps back on the couch as Vila and Soolin disappear through the door. )

Hailee: Slave, fix me a soma will you?

Slave: At once, madam.

 

( Hundreds of noisy horsemen, and thousands of archers and foot soldiers are gathered at the edge of the marsh in which lies the Liberator. Sarlad is still at the head of the army. He exchanges frowns with Belhaven. )

Sarlad: Well?

Lord Belhaven: I'm not sure, your Majesty. It certainly doesn't have any Federation markings.

Sarlad: Why would they need any?

Lord Belhaven: Why would they only send one ship?

Sarlad: Look at the size of it, and you'll know. ( Shouts at the top of his voice. ) Come out of there, Federation! We don't care how many you've brought with you, we'll fight you to the last man! Come and face the fury of British courage if you dare.

( With a loud hum, a tiny hatch opens on the side of the Liberator, and swings down to the ground to form a short staircase. The archers all draw arrows from their quivers, nock them to their bows, and pull the strings taut, waiting to fire. Avon walks down the steps, followed by Soolin and Vila. They are all armed. )

Avon: I'm not surprised that you don't care how many we've brought. There's only five of us and thousands of you. In your shoes I wouldn't be too bothered either.

( The soldiers look at him blankly. Sarlad gees his horse and rides over to the Liberator crew cautiously. )

Sarlad: I count only three of you, Federation.

Avon: Damn, I can see there's no fooling you. And we're not Federation.

Sarlad: Anyone can say that.

Avon: ( Gestures to his own apparel. ) Does this look like a Fed uniform?

Sarlad: No, but it's not exactly conclusive proof, is it? ( Looks at Vila oddly. ) Hmm.

( Sarlad dismounts his horse. Avon moves his hand to his gun, but Soolin puts a hand on his shoulder. )

Soolin: Don't bother. It'd be the work of seconds for those bow men to give us the worst case of pins and needles we've ever had.

( Sarlad, although old, is clearly pretty sprightly and very strong. He strides over to Avon, but then pushes past him and confronts Vila. He picks at Vilas tunic rather rudely, and looks him up and down dubiously. Vila looks embarrassed rather than scared. Avon and Soolin watch the following exchange in utter bewilderment. )

Sarlad: Tacky. Most unbecoming. And clearly not washed them for days. Look at us, boy. We don't have any of your technology here at all, but we still have a change of clothes every second day. And what's this? ( Points at the Liberator handgun holstered at Vila's side. ) What is this? ( Grabs the handgun - Vila doesn't try to stop him. ) You call this a weapon? What kind of little girl are you? Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Have you no shame at all, little man? Look at this.

( Sarlad draws his sword. Again Avon motions to draw his gun but decides not to when he realises that Sarlad is not attacking. )

Sarlad: This is a real weapon. I mean, here's you with your little girlie toys, and you never carry one of these. Why don't you use a man's weapon? Eh? Eh, boy, eh?

( Vila looks up at Sarlad and smiles sheepishly at him. )

Vila: Hi Dad.

( Avon and Soolin look at each other, then Vila, then Sarlad. )

Soolin: ( Whispers to Avon. ) Did he say "Dad?"

 

( Some while later, in the grand hall of the hill fort, Avon, Vila and Soolin are seated at the Kings table. They are apparently honoured guests of some kind. King Sarlad, Lord Belhaven and several knights are also at the table. There are several whole pigs on a giant spit over the hearth. There is also plenty of other food on the table. The King appears to be eating an entire pig and half the years apple harvest. Not very tidily either. )

Sarlad: Ah, they didnt terraform much land on this moon, but there's still plenty of food for us every year. Right Belhaven?

Lord Belhaven: ( Without conviction. ) Mm.

Sarlad: Tell me then, Vila, what have you and your sister been getting up to since I left Earth?

Vila: ( Sipping wine. ) Eh? Oh. I haven't heard from Bela in a long while. But me? Theft.

Sarlad: Theft?

Vila: Yeah. Why do you think I'm on the run?

Sarlad: Oh. And there was me hoping you'd seen the light as I did.

Soolin: What does that mean?

Vila: ( To Avon and Soolin. ) He left Earth when I was still quite young. ( Gives Sarlad a slightly cold look, which seems to go unnoticed. ) He joined a group of activists who wanted to defect from the Federation. They knew the Feds wouldn't just let them go, so they had to go in secret.

Sarlad: Exactly. With help from Outsiders we were taken off-world. They've smuggled out hundreds of us over the years.

Avon: How did you find this planet?

Sarlad: Ah well, the Federation abandoned it after they found that they could only terraform about half of it. Resisters found records of it and these were leaked to the Outsiders.

Soolin: ( Looks around the room with distaste. ) You can't have brought very much with you.

Sarlad: No, not much at all. We essentially had to start most things from scratch. But don't let our primitive appearance fool you, were not just scrubs here.

Avon: Your Majesty, you said when you confronted us that we would face "the fury of British courage." I was wondering what you meant by that.

Sarlad: Were you?

( Sarlad looks surprised. He points to above the door. There, draped between ceiling and door frame is an old, battered Union Jack flag. )

Sarlad: This is the last colony of the British Empire, my friends.

( Sarlad raises his goblet of wine in tribute to the flag. When he's sure no one else is looking, Vila catches Soolins eye and taps the side of his head, mouthing the words "always was a loony." )

Sarlad: God save the King!

Lord Belhaven: ( Quietly. ) You'd better hope so.

( The knights all stand and raise their goblets. )

Knights: God save the King!

( The knights all take a swig of wine, then resume their seats. )

Avon: With respect, sir, this cannot be a British colony.

Sarlad: ( Sniffs. ) Oh? And why not?

Avon: ( Carefully. ) The British Empire was never a space-going concern. It collapsed in the twentieth century of the Old Calendar.

Sarlad: And I've re-established it.

( The King snaps his fingers. His Equerry rushes up, carrying a giant scroll tied with red, white and blue ribbons. The King takes the scroll, unties the ribbons and opens the scroll. He shows it to his guests, wiping a small tear from the corner of his eye. )

Sarlad: Behold, the eighth Magna Carta.

Soolin: Magna Carta? What's that?

Avon: A treaty from medieval England. It was the very first building block upon which the Earth's first democracy was eventually built.

( Sarlad slams his goblet down on the table noisily. )

Sarlad: That half-hearted scrap of paper was no stepping stone to freedom. Our ancestors' masters were still as much the barbarians they had been before. It took certain powers from the despotic Kings and gave it to the aristocracy, but slavery of the masses continued. This... ( Shakes the scroll. ) ...is the first true Magna Carta.

Soolin: May I ask something?

Sarlad: ( Slightly thrown at having his story interrupted. ) Mm? What?

Soolin: If Kings are despotic, why are you one of them?

Sarlad: No no no. I meant those Kings were despotic. The accursed Normans. The Tudors, the Stewarts. ( Looks distraught. ) They enslaved our poor English brethren in the eleventh century and invented the Magna Carta to try and hide their captivity. It wasnt until the seventeenth century - six hundred YEARS later - that they were finally given their freedom.

( Sarlad turns and points to a worn and faded portrait on the wall behind him. It shows a stern, warty face with intense cobalt-blue eyes, a man with long, well-groomed hair, dressed in heavy plate armour. )

Sarlad: ( Voice breaking with emotion. ) Cromwell. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of Great Britain. The first commoner to be Head of the British State. The first man to free Britain from the rule of despotism and establish Republican freedom and Parliamentary democracy...

Avon: Interesting viewpoint. I understood that he was seen by contemporaries as a religious bigot and even more dictatorial than the King he overthrew.

Sarlad: ( Angered. ) That's what the Federation will tell you. Cromwell was a devout Puritan, a God-fearing lover of freedom. Religion and freedom are the very antithesis of the Federation. ( Almost spits the word "Federation." ) The greatest Champions of such causes will always be reviled by loathsome oppressors.

Avon: ( Nods, but looks unmoved. ) A valid point, your Majesty.

Sarlad: ( Gazes upon the portrait with reverence and emotion. ) Without Cromwell, Mankind would never have known freedom. Without Cromwell Mankind would never have known true democracy. Without Cromwell Mankind would never have known harmony or peace. ( Turns to look at Avon and Soolin directly. ) As master of the Royal House of Restal, I drew up the tenth Magna Carta with my own hand on the day that I became King. And when I wrote it I adhered, right down to the very last letter, to the principles that Cromwell held so dear. This is a constitutional monarchy, and I rule it by consent, not some primitive myth of divine right.

Soolin: ( Coolly. ) I apologise, your Majesty, it was wrong of me to equate you with despots.

Sarlad: ( Looks at her sadly. ) You betcha'. I've spared my subjects the agonies of slavery, hunger, even warfare.

( Lord Belhaven makes a slight coughing noise. A few people look at him. )

Lord Belhaven: Bit of food went down the wrong way, sorry. ( Clears throat one more time. )

Sarlad: ( Looks at Vila through drunken eyes. ) See, lad? You may not be happy that I left, but see what I've achieved. Your old man's made good.

( Vila avoids his eyes fiercely. )

Sarlad: Don't be like that, son. I did all this because I'm a responsible man, not a coward.

( Vila turns to him and fixes him with a very angry glare. )

Vila: Really? Responsible?

Sarlad: Of course. It's my responsibility that my people should prosper. I take that very seriously. I've worked hard for all these years to prot-..

Vila: Your granddaughter is dead.

( The finality of these words stun the whole room into silence. Sarlad stares at his son for a lingering moment. )

Sarlad: ( Finally. ) Stella...?

Vila: Dead. Murdered by Federation agents on Gauda Prime. ( Grits teeth. ) You took responsibility for hundreds of strangers, but you left your own granddaughter to die.

( Vila gets to his feet and walks out. There is a lengthy, awkward silence. Sarlad stares at his wine goblet. )

Sarlad: ( To Avon. ) How did it happen?

Avon: As he says. Stella was killed on Gauda...

Sarlad: NO! I mean what was she doing there? Gauda Prime? The law isn't even in effect there.

Avon: As a matter of fact, the law code was re-established there a few months ago. Stella was killed in one of the Federation's clean-up operations.

Sarlad: But why was she there?

Avon: She'd joined a resistance group.

( Sarlad shakes his head. He looks broken. )

Sarlad: In other words, she did what I did. She deserted the Federation.

Avon: Essentially, sir, yes.

( Soolin gets to her feet. )

Soolin: I'll go and find Vila. Make sure he's okay. ( Exits. )

Sarlad: Stella. My poor Stella. I haven't seen her since she was a toddler. She must be all grown up now. I mean she must have been... I mean... Oh God, what have I done?

( Lord Belhaven gets to his feet, at which his knights do the same. )

Lord Belhaven: Your Majesty, this is clearly a deeply personal matter. I have no wish to intrude on your private grief, so I and my men shall take our leave. We shall await your word on when you are ready to resume the war. Our deepest condolences, sir.

( Belhaven bows to the King, and he and his men shuffle out. )

Avon: War? What war?

Sarlad: What? Oh. Belhaven's army and my own are at war. We've declared a truce for your arrival out of our mutual need to defend our planet but...

Avon: Forgive me, your Majesty, but you claimed that you had spared your people the miseries of warfare.

( Sarlad looks flustered but points to the document of the Magna Carta. )

Sarlad: This is one of the principles of Magna Carta, Avon. We still have wars, sometimes differences of opinion can be too extreme to avoid it, but these are not the kind that most people are used to.

Avon: Interesting. Have you heard of the Teal/Vandor Convention?

Sarlad: Oh yes. That's where I got the idea from. Like them, I found a more reasonable way of settling the most violent disputes. Our armies are all extremely well-tutored chess players.

( Avon gives Sarlad the kind of look one normally reserves for meeting someone with a perfectly pruned elderberry bush growing out of the tip of their nose. If "normally" is a word that can truly apply to such a scenario of course... )

Avon: Chess players?

Sarlad: Oh yes. Well chess is just a simulation of war isn't it? It makes sense. My army plays chess matches against my enemy's army. Whichever side wins the most matches wins the battle for the territory being fought over. If he wins the battle, the occupants of the territory become members of his army, and the lands become his. If I win, I'm entitled to chop my opponent's head off, and his lands are redistributed among my people. Thus, by the sixth law of Magna Carta, no innocents will ever be made to suffer from the wars of their rulers. Why, they even benefit from it.

Avon: ( Nods unconvincingly. ) I see. Yes, most inventive, sir. Even less violent than the Convention.

Sarlad: Quite. Would you excuse me now, Avon? Vila's revelation has been something of a shock.

Avon: Yes, of course.

( Avon gets to his feet, bows once to the King, and takes his leave. The remaining knights then follow suit. )

 

( Vila sits with his back to the outer wall of the hill fort, looking angry and upset. Soolin sits next to him, studying his face sympathetically. )

Soolin: It was a bit harsh what you said.

Vila: Was it?

Soolin: You left your family behind as well.

Vila: What, you think I was going to Cygnus Alpha for my health? They didn't give me a choice, remember?

Soolin: You knew full well what would happen to you if you were caught stealing again, Vila. You still carried on.

Vila: ( Looks thoughtful. ) Yeah. I guess deep down I've been feeling guilty ever since... y'know...

Soolin: Yes. Yes I know. You've never mentioned your family before, Vila.

Vila: No.

Soolin: ( Realising that Vila has nothing to add. ) Well?

Vila: Well what? You expect me to start now?

Soolin: You really don't trust anyone, do you? You think if any of us got caught we'd draw attention to your family...

Vila: Trust has its limits.

Soolin: No it doesn't, Vila. You either trust someone or you don't.

Vila: It's not a question of that though is it? A couple of hours of Federation interrogators and you'll tell them anything, you won't even notice it while you're doing it.

( Lord Belhaven walks up. )

Lord Belhaven: Ah Vila. May I have a word? ( Shoots a look at Soolin. ) In private?

( Soolin gets up and walks away. )

Soolin: Pardon me for existing...

Lord Belhaven: Thank you, ma'am. ( Once Soolin is far enough away. ) Tell me, Vila. You strike me as a man who is less than pleased with his father. Is that not so?

Vila: What of it?

( A short distance away, Soolin finds Avon. )

Avon: That King is even more naive than I thought.

Soolin: Why?

Avon: His ideals about Merrie Olde England are compounded by his military ideas.

Soolin: Really? Got plans to invade Earth with this lot has he?

Avon: No, even more ridiculous. His replication of ancient England includes replacement of the ancient feudal system with a bizarre non-warfare ritual. Chess.

Soolin: Chess?

Avon: He and Lord Belhaven are at war, but they fight using chess pieces instead of real armies. ( Soolin looks alarmed. ) God knows what would happen to this planet if the Federation did invade. Even if their weapons weren't as primitive as muck, I don't think any of these soldiers have any real experience in how to use them.

Soolin: Vila!

Avon: What?

Soolin: You're saying Sarlad and Belhaven are at war, right?

Avon: Yes.

Soolin: Belhaven was talking to Vila just now.

Avon: ( Urgently. ) Where are they?

Soolin: ( Points to the outer wall. ) Over there.

Avon: No they're not.

( Soolin turns and looks. Where Vila and Belhaven were talking just now, there is now nobody. Avon and Soolin rush over. )

Soolin: ( Worried. ) Vila? Vila!

Avon: Vila, where are you?

( They both run along the outer wall to the main gate, which is closed. )

Soolin: Vila!

Avon: Where is he?

( From a sentry lookout just above the gate, a guard calls down to them. )

Guard: Are you two looking for your friend?

Avon: That's right.

Guard: He just left.

Soolin: What? Where'd he go?

Guard: Out the gate. He left with Lord Belhaven.

Avon: ( Incredulous. ) With Belhaven? Didn't you try and stop him?

Guard: Of course not. There's a truce, no harm in letting him visit the Belhaven camp is there?

( The guard smiles amenably and returns to his duties. )

Avon: I'm beginning to think everyone living in this fort is a complete idiot.

Soolin: Vila's gone with Belhaven, and he's angry with his father. Three guesses what that means.

Avon: And the first two don't count.

( Avon pulls open the gate and steps through. On the horizon, retreating into the distance is the tail of Belhaven's army. )

Avon: Belhaven must want access to the Liberator. With the weapons on board he could declare a real war and be sure of winning it in minutes.

Soolin: And Vila's going to help him.

Avon: ( Nods. ) If there's one thing worse than a phoney war...

Soolin: ...It's getting caught up in someone else's.

Credits

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ABOUT THE EPISODE

Season two (or six, if you prefer) begins...

Re-reading the last couple of episodes of season one, I noticed that the dark overtones in it were getting pretty heavy going, so I've lightened things up a bit at the start of the new season. This episode is therefore more eccentric, with plenty of (hopefully) funnier moments.

Tyrix, the world ruled by Sarlad the Magnificent, was invented by my brother Russell in A Federation Officer, which is a spin-off series to Neil Blissett's version of the Sequel Project (check his site for details). Remember that Blake's Legacy is not part of the same continuity as A/F/O however, and this story therefore contradicts most of what happens in that.

Sarlad is slightly different in this, although still pretty eccentric. He is a devoted anglophile, with a great passion for the traditions of Olde England and the British Empire. NOTE: His sycophantic opinions of the "great" Oliver Cromwell are not necessarily my own.

This episode sets up a big Vila story, which is rounded off in the next episode.

Also, Nij Blake will soon move more to the centre of things because of the nasty revelation from Slave in this episode.

 

READER'S REMARKS

Jane Walton:

 Somehow England and the Empire didn't seem quite up to your usual standards. I know you tried to aim for a lighter approach with this one but for me it lacked your usual sense of style. Maybe it's just that you do the 'darker' stuff too well?! I don't know.  

Neither do I - you should see how badly I dress before you acclaim my sense of style! The dark tones in the closing episodes of season one were getting, not just oppressive, but even monotonous, so I felt I HAD to lighten things up a bit. Unfortunately, there were one or two times when this episode got a little bit slapsticky as a result, but for the most part it was still a welcome relief for me to write it (hey, I've got to lighten up for my own sake as well as the story's y'know). That said, in the next episode things turn bleaker again, especially for Avon (blatant plug).

How can Avon be so sure that Belhaven wants access to the Liberator? He could be planning to use Vila as a hostage against his father. Or perhaps he hopes to learn information that will help him against Sarlad. Avon doesn't usually make rash assumptions.

What Avon said was a calculation, not an assumption. Belhaven couldn't use Vila for information against Sarlad, after all what would Vila know that could possibly be of any use, given the circumstances? He only arrived on the planet a couple of hours earlier, it's completely unknown turf for him, while any personal information about Sarlad will be of little value outside the Federation (think about it - Belhaven probably knows Sarlad a lot better than Vila does). As for using him as a hostage, considering the pacified feudal system and weak technology it's unlikely i.e. Vila's armed with a blaster, Belhaven's armed with a sword. WE may know that Vila's always weak-willed enough to be bullied, even under those circumstances, but Belhaven doesn't. Okay, he might take him hostage after he's got what he wants, but first things first, the Liberator is clearly a far bigger prize. The way Avon's mind works, he'd have figured all that out in no time.

NOTE: The argument about this particular point didn't actually finish here. For some reason Jane and I argued over it for ages, however I've decided not to weary readers with any more details, except to say that if the debate ever resumes, I will be forced to settle it with hand-held nuclear weapons at a dozen paces. If anyone wants a transcript of the rest of the e-mails in this moderate flamewar, please write to the usual address.

SUB-NOTE: That is, if you enjoy a refusal generously laced with vitriolic swearwords.

Apart from that it was fine...

 

Brian McLennan:

I know it's probably a bit harsh to post this question, but... well, I'm a bit concerned that anyone felt the need to ask me this.

Why does Vila complain that Zen's not being precise?!? He gave a time in microseconds!

It was a joke! Y'know, it's just Vila getting sarky about Zen being so... >sigh<. Maybe I just shouldn't have written this episode, it's causing nothing but trouble! By the way, for what it's worth I think they were more like nanoseconds.

I recently received a supplementary mail from Brian...

All right, so I missed the joke, no need to take the mickey!

Sorry. It was just, well, nobody else missed it, let's put it that way.

And actually I did like the episode. But don't you think after Zealots that it was a bit too soon to do another war story set in a backward society?

Fair point, and it did occur to me when I was writing it. It was a bit close, and it won't help that the Liberator will be returning to Craeus soon as well. I did my best to emphasise the differences in the scenario - Sarlad's point about "We're not scrubs" for instance. We'll just have to grin and bear it.

The idea itself of a "British colony" is a good one though. Where did you get it from?

Well, I'm something of a history buff for one thing. I'm also a fan of an old game show called Knightmare, which is set in the thirteenth century (in a manner of speaking, one that it would take too long to explain here  -  check the sister site

http://havetstorm.tripod.com/knightmare

or

www.knightmare.com

for details), around the time that Magna Carta was signed by King John. It's also the time of Robin Hood, and Blake's 7 is sometimes called, rather simplistically, Robin Hood In Space. It occurred to me that if the idea of Robin Hood could be transplanted into space, so could the idea of the Great Charter that emerged to (it was hoped) stem the evils that Robin fought against.

 

Nico Mody-Nikoloff:

 I just read England and the Empire  -  very funny.

Hallelujah! I've found someone who actually liked it! We'll probably find someone who liked El Dorado next. Or maybe even someone who thought that Ringo Starr was a good drummer! 

And I didn't mind it being England given that the B7 crew seem to be English themselves. In my stories, I call the dome most of them come from 'Londondome'.

(Just for the other readers' sake, I thought I should make it clear that Nico lives in New Zealand, and that I'd warned her before she read the episode that it was a bit anglocentric.)

Londondome? That's a good name. I might use that in future, it's certainly a lot snazzier than just "Dome City" as I've usually made do with  -  the city's official full name is the revoltingly-prosaic "West Europ Dome City" in case you're interested, and there are eight such cities across Federation Earth, presumably named just as unpoetically. Mind you with such unimaginative names as "Space City", "Spaceworld" and "Ultraworld" elsewhere in the B7 Universe, Dome City ain't all that bad! But yes, Londondome sounds pretty neat, I like that.

As for the crew being English, well that's a wild anachronism, but I know what you mean  -  the cast was dominated by Middle England. Although when we say that we shouldn't forget that Gareth Thomas is from Wales!

Sarlad reminded me a bit of Gheblakon from The Sevenfold Crown. Well, Gheblakon was a violent old bugger, but he was an eccentric, and somehow I heard his voice for Sarlad. 

Uncanny  -  again I know exactly what you mean. I heard Ghaeblakon's voice ringing through a lot of Sarlad's lines even as I was writing them. Doesn't do any harm though, as I did kind of like ol' Gebbles in a sick way!

Admittedly I haven't given it much thought, but I think Sarlad's voice would be less nasal and loud, but also a little gruffer and sharper, and not quite so slurred. So if you imagine Ghaeblakon's voice with a raspy and slightly more urgent quality, you'd be pretty near the mark.

I look forward to more. I'm intrigued about Blake.

Well, sorry to be a wet blanket, but you'll be waiting a few episodes before you find out about that. Look out for episodes 21 and 22, or thereabouts. What I will reveal for now is that if you've been following Neil Blissett's version of the Sequel Project, you should have an idea of what's going on  -  but only a rough idea. Let me stress that while there will be parallels, things are by no means the same in this version.

 

My replies are in ORANGE ITALICS

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Season Two Scripts