( Agro 34, a chain of tiny desert islands in the heart
of the ocean. The site of the Terran/Vandor conference is floating on the horizon. On one island a Federation shuttle is hidden
away in the trees. On a beach facing the mini-base are Hailee and Farin, keeping their heads down. Hailee is watching the
Conference site through electro-binoculars. )
Hailee: No. And the next changeover can't be for another two hours. Looks like we'll have to wait.
Farin: We may not have two hours.
Hailee: You think I want to spend the next two hours with you and Long John Silver for company? Say something
helpful for a change or say nothing.
( Through the binoculars Hailee views the mini-base.
It is a large dome that floats on vast foils. At sea-level there is a broad platform encircling the entire perimeter of the
base. Federation Security troopers stand guard on the platform on one side of the base, Confederacy Militiamen stand guard
on the other side. Fortifications including gun-batteries line the walls of the fortress. )
Farin: Anything up near the top?
Hailee: More guns. And a few seagulls. At least I think that's what they are.
Farin: No way in?
Hailee: You could try climbing in through one of the gun barrels if you like. You'd be braver than I gave you
Farin: I never said I was brave.
Hailee: No one could accuse you of being a habitual liar then.
( There is a buzzing noise from behind them and a white
outline appears. Kyben materialises. )
Kyben: ( Into bracelet. ) Thank you Orac. Take the Liberator back to its remote station and remain on standby.
Orac: ( V.O. ) Of course.
( Farin beckons to Kyben. )
Farin: Down here.
( Kyben lowers his head and joins them. )
Kyben: Yes, thank you, Farin. I'm only blind in one eye. Any luck?
Hailee: Depends. Do you mean good luck?
Kyben: Ah, this must be the famous mercenary wit I've heard so much about.
Hailee: The way I see it, if we can't teleport in...
Kyben: Which we can't. There's another force field.
Hailee: ...then we can't get in, period. The whole perimeter's tighter than Vila on a budget.
Farin: Colourfully put.
Kyben: What about going underneath? There must be a way in under the surface.
Hailee: These binoculars don't X-Ray the water y'know. Itll take ages just finding an entrance down there.
Kyben: ( Shrugs. ) But in the absence of a sane alternative...
Hailee: ( Sighs. ) I had a feeling you'd say that.
Kyben: The Confederacy have to be warned about the Syndeton.
Hailee: So you say but abandoning the rendezvous with the others is a bit much. Have you managed to contact Avon,
Kyben: No. Orac's listening out for him. ( Suddenly smiles. ) Syndeton... Orac. Hey, I have an idea...
Farin: Here comes trouble.
Kyben: How good are you at holding your breath?
Hailee: I'm excellent. I have to practice every time Farin breathes out, why?
( Earth, Residence One. The President bursts into his
office. Demwuhl is there waiting for him. )
Demwuhl: Mr President, we've received word from Agro 34.
Demwuhl: Agro 34, sir?
President: Hmm? Oh yes. Our dear allies from the Vandor Confederacy. I take it this Brekim friend of yours has managed
to reach a settlement?
Demwuhl: No sir.
President: Well why are you bothering me then? What can possibly be so urgent...?
Demwuhl: A security alert, Mr President, at Base 5.
President: You interrupted me for this? Its no concern of mine.
Demwuhl: Your pardon, sir, but I think you'll understand if you allow me to explain.
Demwuhl: We require a maximum security detachment to be sent to Agro 34 immediately.
President: What for?
Demwuhl: Our new security system is already paying dividends, sir. They've already provided their first two prisoners.
President: Gratifying to know. Why do we need a security detachment?
Demwuhl: One of the prisoners, Mr President. You... have heard of him.
( Agro 34, Base 5. Avon and Nij Blake are sat in a cell,
unarmed and without their bracelets. Blake is glaring at Avon accusingly. Avon is avoiding Blakes eyes. )
Nij Blake: What did it mean, Avon? How did it know your name, what did it mean?
Avon: It was him.
Nij Blake: What did it mean when it said it was waiting for you?
Avon: It was him.
Nij Blake: What did it mean when it said you killed it?
Avon: It was him.
Nij Blake: ( Leaps to his feet. ) Who?
Avon: Blake... it was Blake...
( Black and white image of Base 5 Control room. Avon
and Blake are here. )
Nij Blake: ( Twitching nervously. ) Get on with it, Avon.
Avon: You just keep an eye out while I do my work. There's nothing left around here to delay me...
( There is a thunderous clanging sound. They turn and
see one of the metal walls has dented inwards. Another loud clang and the wall begins to tear. Another clang and the wall
rips open like papier mache. Behind it, three vast machines, like giant electronic octopoids, edge towards Blake and Avon
on seven thin but long and powerful legs. Each footstep echoes vibrantly. The machines are at least fifteen feet high and
forty feet across, and coated in armour. Guns set at strategic intervals along the machines surfaces are all aimed at Blake
and Avon. )
Except maybe those.
( One of the guns on the first machine lights up and
a bolt of energy propels towards Avon and Blake. They dodge the bolt which slams into the wall behind them. The concussion
of the blast hurls them forward at the machines feet. Large metal tentacles stretch out from orifices on the machines body.
These entangle Avon and Blake, lifting them off the ground. The other two machines slowly stumble forward until they have
surrounded Avon and Blake, who struggle groggily in the grasp of the tentacles. It is futile. Another tentacle stretches out
from the first machine. It has a scanner on the end of it, and it examines the two prisoners closely. )
Machines: Av - on? Av - on? I... was... waiting for... you...
( Avon looks up at the machines in horror as he
recognises the words. )
Machines: Av - on? Av - on? I set... all...
this up. Av -on? Why... Av - on? Why... did... you... kill... me? Zeeona. Why... did... you... let... her die? Av - on...?
( Avon's eyes slowly roll shut. He has passed out. )
Nij Blake: Avon! Avon, help me, we can't let them...
( The tentacle holding Blake suddenly hurls him to the
wall. Blake is knocked out. )
Machine 1: Restrain prisoners. Hold in detention bay. Await further instructions.
( Prison cell, back in glorious colour. )
Nij Blake: What do you mean it's my father? How can...? ( Can't find the words. )
Avon: His exact words... it was what he said when I sh-... when he died.
( Avon suddenly looks up at Blake in horror as he realises
what he almost let slip. )
Nij Blake: ( Points outside the door. ) That... thing! That monster... it said... it asked you why...
( The cell door slowly slides open. A Federation Officer
steps inside. Avon and Blake turn and look at him in fear. He is accompanied by two heavily-armed troopers. )
Officer: Well well, it seems our pet colossi were right. The records read an exact match. ( Walks over to Avon and towers over him. ) An honour, sir. It's not every day I get to torture a living
Avon: Don't let me ruin your perfect record. How did it know? What are those machines of yours?
Officer: I'm disappointed, Avon. You have a reputation for great powers of deduction.
Avon: I apologise for letting you down. Now answer me.
Officer: Why, Avon, aren't you confusing our respective roles?
Avon: Confusion is understandable. I've had quite a shock.
Officer: I'll bet. ( Smiles patronisingly. ) What you've just met is the local Police Force, Avon. The President
has decided to try a change of approach for the defence of the Empire, you see. Ever since the War our fleet has been stretched
beyond its limits trying to rebuild the Federation AND hold on to what we already have. So instead of wasting precious
ships on Defence assignments the President's decided to build up a new kind of Army. Herculania-class battle drones, they're
called. Virtually indestructible, a power core of pure plasma energy, armed with six neutron blasters, and limitless strength.
Avon: They must have taken years to build.
Officer: How right you are. Ever since the Empress died in fact. Only the first line in the defence grid has been
built so far. But when they're all complete, every major Federation World will be impregnable against a ground assault.
Avon: I'm impressed. If a few lumps of tin are meant to be impressive.
Officer: They are. I'd stake your life on it. No one will dare to rise up against the Federation now. Not only
are they powerful, the co-ordination between them - ALL of them - has been honed to perfection. Every single one
in the Galaxy operates in a Hyperspatial network with all the others.
( Avon's eyes widen as he hears this. )
Avon: How? It's been tried with all sorts of systems before and was never perfected. Even Central Control made
Officer: Central Control was a computer. The core of this network is not.
Avon: What do you mean?
Officer: The great lie of Cybernetic history, Avon. The belief that the brain of a computer is more powerful than
the human brain.
( Avon silently mouths the word "Human?")
Officer: A human never uses more than ten per
cent of his brain power, which is why the thought processes are so inefficient. But using all of the brain... ( Playful look.
) ...oh it's capable of a thousand times more than a computer.
Avon: Are you telling me that the core of this defence network is a human brain?
Officer: Four human brains to be precise. Four dead people have had a cerebrectomy, and the brains have been interfaced
into a mechanical accelerator. They now operate the defence of the Galaxy.
Nij Blake: That's... sick.
Officer: Ironic, surely.
Nij Blake: Why ironic?
Officer: The man who defends the Federation with every fibre of his mind is the one who fought so hard to destroy
Avon: No. That can't be...
Officer: How do you think the Drones recognised you, Avon?
( Avon looks ill. Blake is aghast. The Officer and the
troopers exit, the door closing behind them. )
Avon: Blake? They used Blake's mind...?
Nij Blake: ( Eyes blaze with fury. ) YOU! It was you, wasn't it, Avon?! This is what you were hiding all
this time. You killed my father!
( Blake grabs Avon by the scruff of the neck and hauls
him to his feet. )
Nij Blake: Don't lie to me! I heard that machine! It said "Why did you kill me?" You killed him didn't you? Didn't
( Avon pushes him away, shapes to hit him, but then
drops to his knees. )
( Crawlway elsewhere in the factory. Vila and Soolin
are sitting on the floor waiting. Vila is speaking into his bracelet. )
Vila: Avon. Come in, Avon. Are you there? ( To Soolin. ) Nothing. It's dead.
Soolin: It's more than five minutes after the check-in time.
Vila: Great. That means he's been captured. Which means the Federation'll know we're here as well. Which means
theyll be after us. Which means we've got to get out of here. Look the teleport shielding only extends about a mile from the
base. If we go now we can get out and be ready when Kyben arrives.
Soolin: No, we'll help them. Try and contact Blake.
Vila: ( Rolls his eyes. ) If you insist. ( Into bracelet. ) Blake. Can you hear me, Blake?
( Control room. Seated at the main controls is the Planetary
Governor, looking unamused. The Officer stands here holding Blakes teleport bracelet, through which Vila's voice is audible.
Also present are two troopers. )
Vila: ( V.O. ) Come in, Blake. Has anything happened to you? Blake? Blake, come in.
Governor: "Blake," did he say?
Officer: So it would appear. ( Switches off the communicator. )
Governor: Well is he trying to contact one of the brains in the defence grid? How could he even know about it?
Officer: I doubt it, sir. It leads me to wonder exactly who he is trying to contact. It can't possibly be Roj
Blake. Could it?
( The main screen lights up with a stream of digital
Officer: Ah. Voice print confirms. It IS
( The Governor gestures to the troopers. )
Governor: The Liberator is the last thing we can afford with the Conference at such a delicate stage. I want him
found. Get out there and bring Vila to me. And any other rebels you find. I want them captured yesterday, understood?
( The troopers salute and shuffle out. )
Governor: What about that ship we detected moving
in the atmosphere? Have we identified it?
Officer: It is Federation design, but records register it as stolen.
Governor: A stolen Courier shuttle AND the Liberator. We need reinforcements.
Officer: The President has despatched three Starbust-Class Pursuit Ships to this location. They should be arriving
in the next three hours. If the Liberator is anywhere in the system, it won't be leaving.
Governor: I'm aware of that, Major. It won't stop any rebels causing damage while they're here though will it?
Officer: I doubt there's reason to panic...
Governor: If this Conference is sabotaged, the President will have our guts on toast. I think that's a very good
reason to panic.
Governor: A superficial Terran recipe, Major. Trust me, being part of that will be an inglorious way to die.
( Hailee, Kyben and Farin materialise in the Teleport
Bay of the Liberator. Orac is on the Control Panel, switched on. )
Hailee: The long-range beacon worked then?
Orac: Surely that fact is self-evident as you are all aboard the Liberator.
Hailee: Take us out of detector range of Agro 34.
Orac: That task is already in progress.
Hailee: Of course it is, you're too clever to forget the proc-...
Orac: I am incapable of memory loss!
Farin: I believe him. Any sign of the agreement being reached yet, Orac?
Kyben: Orac, we need you to retrieve some information for us. And we need it quickly.
Orac: Very well. State your requirements.
Kyben: We need you to locate the exact co-ordinates of the excavation site on Agro 34 used by the Federation
prospectors. We then need you to detect whether any of the mining vehicles they used for the process are still there. If so,
set the teleport to those co-ordinates.
Orac: As you wish. Stand by.
Hailee: Farin, go and find us some underwater gear. We have some swimming to do.
( Farin nods and exits. )
Orac: The co-ordinates of the excavation site have been procured. According to records two drilling units appear
to have been left on the seabed at that location by Federation prospectors. If the Federation secure control of the disputed
area, the units will be used to initiate mining...
Hailee: Thank you, Orac, we know what they'll do.
Orac: Setting teleport co-ordinates.
( The teleport controls manoeuvre into new positions.
( The seabed of Agro 34. There is a lot of rubble and
sand over a large area, signs of drilling. There are two fairly small vehicles here. They are compact, water-tight and have
drill-cones on their sterns and caterpillar treads on their bases. Three white outlines appear on the seabed and materialise
into the forms of three figures in watertight space-suits. The suits have special rotored backpacks. )
Hailee: ( V.O. ) Did it work? We've never teleported into water before.
Farin: ( V.O. ) You're still speaking aren't you?
Hailee: ( V.O. ) You'd think so. But it might have been your imagination.
Farin: ( V.O. ) Are you suggesting I'm going mad?
Hailee: ( V.O. ) What do you mean "going"?
Farin: ( V.O. ) Well, at least we didn't have to hold our breath after all.
( One of the figures points at the vehicles. )
Kyben: ( V.O. ) There they are. C'mon.
( The rotors on the backpacks start spinning and the
three figures are propelled gently towards the vehicles. They come to a halt outside the hatch on the back of the first vehicle.
Hailee pulls out a sonal key. )
Hailee: ( V.O. ) I'd be more confident if Vila was here.
Farin: ( V.O. ) I never thought I'd hear you say that.