Servalan: Perhaps you need reminding of something, Rak. It was only a few short weeks ago that I was the one strapped
in one of these seats and it was your finger hovering over the controls. And when you started up that contraption of yours,
you may have noticed I didn't really enjoy what happened to me.
Kyben: I had to help Soolin. It was the only way.
Servalan: Would it surprise you enormously if I revealed how little Soolin's well-being concerns me?
Kyben: All things are proportional, but I doubt it.
Servalan: The point is, although getting even with you is not a big priority of mine, it would cause me little
distress. Not as much as once it would. And as long as you're in that chair and I'm the one with a finger on the button, it
can happen. Forty thousand volts passing through your cranium won't add any years to your life.
Kyben: ( Sighs. ) All right, I'll tell you. I don't see how it can possibly help you. Avon found a cloaking
device on Taurus III. He installed it after we escaped and since then weve been able to hide from Pursuit ships which are
right next to us.
Servalan: Really? ( Rubs her jaw. ) How fascinating. This opens up possibilities. Next question. This one's very
important to me by the way.
Kyben: Go on.
Servalan: On occasion I get to hear some very... strange rumours surrounding you and your estranged crew mates.
There's one I'd be most obliged if you were to clear it up for me.
Kyben: Stop regurgitating dictionaries and ask your question, Servalan.
Servalan: All right. Why do I keep hearing nonsense about Blake still being aboard the Liberator seeing that he
died months ago?
Kyben: ( Swallows. ) Rumours are rumours. If I had a credit for every time I heard a rumour that wasn't true...
Servalan: Answer the question. Is this one true?
Kyben: Servalan, what kind of question is that? Roj Blake was dead last I knew. I mean you saw his corpse, I
Servalan: I thought I saw his corpse cremated after Gevron, Kyben. A couple of years later Blake was on Gauda Prime
looking remarkably dexterous for atomic powder. Is he really dead?
Kyben: ( Grits teeth. ) Yes, Servalan. Roj Blake is dead.
Servalan: So there's no truth in the rumour then? That Blake is aboard your ship?
Kyben: ( Hesitates. ) Roj Blake is dead.
Servalan: Why are you being so specific, Kyben?
Servalan: I keep saying Blake. You keep stressing Roj Blake.
Kyben: Do I?
( The expression on Servalan's face indicates that she
clearly knows something about this. )
Servalan: It's almost as if you were trying to be evasive by answering directly. It's a clever art. But you seem
to be forgetting how I was the one who taught it to you in the first place.
( Kyben looks concerned. )
Kyben: What are you trying to say?
Servalan: It's what youre trying to avoid saying that worries me.
Kyben: I've told you the truth.
Servalan: But shaped it in such a way that it seems more complete than it really is. Like I say, I know that skill
better than anyone. It wouldn't work anyway, not if I already know what it is youre hiding.
Kyben: What do you mean?
Servalan: Kyben, I know that there is a member of the Liberator crew whom you are trying to protect. I want you
to tell me about him.
Kyben: I don't know what you mean.
Servalan: Kyben, because of our past... friendship, I will take no pleasure in hurting you. But I will do it if
I have to to get what I need from you.
Kyben: You'll throw the switch will you?
Servalan: Actually no. I'm not prepared to risk damaging any of the nerve endings in your brain. Not until after
I've extracted what I need anyway.
Kyben: So how are you going to make me talk?
( Servalan snaps her fingers. Norcris produces a transparent
flask filled with a green liquid. )
Servalan: Allow me to present the latest develpoment in Federation personnel control. Pylene-100.
Servalan: Yes. The new formula. Pylene-50 was very effective as you know, but it had its weaknesses. Primarily
a limited life span and a shapeless influence on the subjects brain. This is Pylene-100. Much the same stuff, but specialised
preservatives drawn from the planet Virn have given the compound an unlimited life span, and with cells drawn from an individual
added to the compound, the subject comes under the exclusive control of that individual. I stole a large consignment of this
material from the Pacification Police on the rim of the Inner Planets.
Kyben: Exclusive control? You mean...?
Servalan: Yes. Some of my own blood cells have been solved into the compound. And once I inject it into you, you'll
become just like these pirates all around us. You'll serve me and only me, from today until the day you die. Over first you,
and then one day the Galaxy, I will have power untold.
( Kyben glances at the expressionless pirates who are
all attending their duties like zombies. He knows she is telling the truth. )
Kyben: ( Very scared. ) Servalan, you can't.
Servalan: I don't want to. Not to you. So make it easy on both of us. Tell me about Blake.
( Norcris starts to fill a syringe with Pylene-100.
Kyben: ( Shaking with fear. ) I-I... No! Blake is dead.
Servalan: Roj Blake is dead. Tell me about Blake. Tell me about... him. Who is he?
( Norcris finishes filling the syringe and puts the
flask aside. )
Servalan: Tell me, Kyben. I must be sure. Tell
Kyben: Please Servalan...
( Norcris brings the syringe forward. )
Kyben: Servalan, stop!
Servalan: Tell me what I want to know.
( Norcris rips open Kybens sleeve and holds the needle
poised over his arm. )
Kyben: ( Tears. ) Servalan. Servalan, please, I'm begging you. Don't do this to me! You betrayed me before,
don't betray me again! Pleeaaase!!
Servalan: Tell me what I want to know.
( In spite of his terror, Kyben cannot bring himself
to reveal that Blake had a son. )
Kyben: I don't know anything. I don't! I don't know!
( Servalan nods to Norcris. )
( Norcris starts to push the needle into Kyben's arm.
Zoom in on Kyben's eye. )
Kyben: No! Servalan! Servala-a-a-a-a-an!
( Liberator Flight Deck. All the available crew are
present. On the main screen, a series of tactical diagrams show the Liberator's orbit around the planet Craeus. )
Avon: Wait a moment. Zen, we received no unidentified sub-beam transmissions during the specified time-period,
Zen: That is correct.
Avon: What about other wave-bands?
Nij Blake: Oh for heaven's sake, Avon, now what are you on about? We've already gone through the communications,
we got nothing.
Avon: Wrong. Taking the glories of computer logic into account, we can assume that Zen doesn't have enough
initiative to adapt the orders we give him. We only asked him what sub-beam communications the Liberator received. There are
a number of other forms of electronic communication.
Nij Blake: Oh.
Zen: The Liberator received two direct sensory feed transmissions from an external source on the sub-etha
band approximately four point three zero four minutes before the assumed time of Rak Kyben's disappearance.
( The crew all look up at Zen. )
Avon: Identify the source.
Soolin: What do you mean, "Rejected"? Tell us the source of the transmissions now. That's an order!
Avon: ( Calmly. ) Explain the rejection of that command, Zen.
Zen: The information you have requested has been stored via a coded route. Transmission details were over-ridden
by security protocols. Therefore unable to comply with command without necessary recall code.
Soolin: Coded route?
Nij Blake: Direct sensory link? ( Brings his fist down on Orac. ) It must be Orac, the little...!
Vila: ( Drunkenly. ) Waheeeey...! Go for it Blake, me ole' son! Beat the li'l junk pile to bits!
( Blake shapes to thump Orac again. Avon grabs his arm
and spins him round. They eyeball each other. )
Avon: That wouldn't be a good move.
Nij Blake: Vila seems to think it would.
Avon: You'd take the advice of a drunken half-wit, would you? The Blake family tradition for sensible calculation
rears its head once more.
( Blake shrugs Avon off. )
Nij Blake: Don't push me, Avon. If it weren't for you my father would still be alive. Don't talk to me about judgement...!
Avon: If it weren't for me, your father would have died any one of a dozen times before. ( Blake goes quiet. ) Spare
me your mindless emotion. Let us concentrate on the matter at hand, not stupid recriminations. Orac may be our best chance
of solving what happened.
Nij Blake: That junk heap? He's probably the one who...
Avon: It wasn't Orac.
Nij Blake: Oh? How do you know?
Avon: Zen said the source of the transmission was external. Presumably he meant external to the Liberator,
not just the Liberator's systems. Confirm that, Zen.
Zen: Your clarification is confirmed as accurate.
Avon: Orac was on board the Liberator the whole time we were on Craeus. Therefore it could not have been Orac
who operated the teleport. You see? It takes logical, rational thought to make an intelligent point, so from now on, you'd
best say nothing.
( Blake is angry but remains silent. He looks humiliated
as he realises what a fool he has made of himself. )
Hailee: Zen, repeat the local-range scan records for the designated time.
Hailee: If there was another ship in the area there must have been some trace on the scanners.
( More tactical diagrams scroll down the main screen.
More digital information appears with it. )
( The information stops scrolling. )
Soolin: What is it?
Hailee: Zen, wind back about... er, eight seconds.
( The information scrolls back up. )
Hailee: No that's not it...
Soolin: What are you looking for?
Hailee: I saw something wrong.
Soolin: ( Increasingly anxious. ) Like what?
Hailee: Wind back another two seconds, Zen. Slowly.
( More information, diagrams and imaging data scroll
up the screen. Suddenly a bright red mark appears in just one frame. )
Hailee: Stop! Stop there!
Zen: Information review ceased.
Hailee: Zen, come on, identify that new contact.
Zen: Specify contact.
Hailee: That one, you data trasher! The one that wasn't in the other frames. Identify.
( The crew all look at each other. )
Soolin: I think we have a suspect.
Avon: ( Slotting in Orac's key. ) Orac, we need you to override Zen's security programs.
Orac: What for?
Avon: The data we've requested from him has been barred and we don't know the appropriate access code. We need
you to circumvent the code.
Orac: I was under the impression that you prided yourself on being able to control all of Zen's programming
without hindrance or difficulty. That has always been your claim.
Avon: I could extract the information eventually, but I can't afford the likely delay.
Orac: I recommend that you attempt it. I refuse to belittle my own resources on such a task, showing the disrespect
that it would entail to my fellow cybernetic intelligence.
Hailee: ( Suspicious. ) Disrespect? That's never stopped you before.
Orac: Any past overrides I have performed to Zen's data flow controls were entirely necessary due to the circumstances
of the moment...
Hailee: You can't do it, can you?
Nij Blake: What do you mean? Orac overrides computers for fun.
Hailee: Come on, Orac, you over wired light bulb, own up. You can't do it.
Orac: ( Acidly. ) Of course I can do it.
Hailee: Well go on then.
Orac: There are... complications.
Avon: You mean you really can't do it?
Orac: No that is not what I mean. I am referring to the issue of Zen and the Liberators unearthly designs.
Although I am still able to heavily-influence the computers and systems on this ship, the wholesale absence of tarial cells
does cause certain limitations, which no amount of research has been able to remedy.
Avon: And you've encountered such a limitation here, I take it?
Orac: That is so.
Nij Blake: In other words, he can't do it.
Hailee: Him and his ego problems! Why can't he just come out and say it?
Avon: Because of his ego problems. Orac, what exactly is the problem?
Orac: The data you refer to is inaccessible to me. It has been encrypted in a format that appears readable
only to Zen, and even my vast powers cannot calculate the correct protocol. No counter-program I use, even a total control
bypass, will give me access to the information you require. You will simply have to find the correct security code and allow
Zen to decrypt the data for you.
Avon: In short, you can't do it. Can you?
Orac: That is...
Avon: Can you?
Orac: ( Reluctantly. ) No.
( Avon pulls out Orac's key. )
Soolin: What could possibly be accessible to Zen, but not Orac?
Hailee: He did say that it was something unearthly in the Liberator's designs.
Soolin: An alien protocol?
Avon: ( Nodding. ) Zen, give me the energy signature of the unidentified contact.
( Yet more information rolls across the screen. )
Nij Blake: ( Blows out his cheeks. ) At least he'll tell us that much.
Avon: Yes, we just have to shape our instructions in a way that doesnt make Zen answer our questions directly.
Vila: ( Hiccups. ) He gets more like Orac every day.
Hailee: I wish you'd follow his example.
Soolin: Yes, even a talking riddle box is better than a drunk with a breath problem.
Vila: I haven't got a breath problem.
Soolin: After what you've been drinking?
( Vila breathes on his hand, then sniffs. He pulls a
Avon: ( Looking at the readouts with increasing alarm. ) Those readings... they're very familiar... ( Narrows
eyes. ) Zen. I want you to give me a computer generated image of a ship. Make the projection the closest possible representation
you can calculate, based on these figures.
Zen: Your instructions are confirmed. Calculations are in progress. Graphical image being drawn.
Soolin: What are you doing, Avon?
Avon: Outwitting a computer. I think I know what's happening now.
Soolin: What do you mean?
Avon: The picture that Zen gives us should be the confirmation I need. But let's just say that Zen has been
over-ridden before and not just by Orac.
Avon: Another ship with a teleport appears to have taken Kyben prisoner right under our noses. Our detectors
appear to have picked up that ship, but Zen receives a communication overriding our controls and apparently ordering him to
erase all data about its presence. Two questions. How does that ship come to have a teleport? How does it manage to override
Hailee: Do you have answers?
Avon: I have one answer. And it fits both of the questions very exactly. It is the ONLY answer that
makes any sense to me.
Zen: The requested projection has been completed as instructed.
Avon: Transfer to main screen.
( A schematic of a vast space cruiser appears on the
screen. It is slightly different in shape and appears to have its weight distributed somewhat less evenly. But other than
that, it looks all too familiar. )
Nij Blake: It's us.
( Pursuit One. Kreel is in the Command Chair, Kommisar
Tarrant stands to his left. The mutoid pilots sit at the controls. The flotilla slows as it heads into the Belquon system.
Kreel: Position? Answer.
Mutoid 1: We are entering the Belquon system precisely as scheduled, Commander.
Kreel: Speed? Tell me now.
Mutoid 1: Standard by two, and decelerating, Commander.
Kreel: Good. That is good. Precisely as ordered. Good. Give me overview again. You will do that now.
Mutoid 1: As you order, Commander. ( Punches a control. On screen the system overview lights up. It shows a planet,
a star and an anomaly. ) The system has one planet, a dusty uninhabited world with little life on its surface. The star is
a class four white dwarf. On the furthest rim of the system is a tiny Black Hole. Records estimate it at less less than one
quarter of a kilometre in diameter...
Kreel: Enough. You will remain silent.
( The flotilla continues to plow its way into the system.
Tarrant steps forward. )
Dev Tarrant: I don't like this.
Kreel: Orders are orders, Kommisar. I maintain, liking them is not a requirement.
Dev Tarrant: That's not what I meant.
Kreel: Interrogative: What did you mean?
Dev Tarrant: I'm talking about where we're headed. Battling a ship like the Liberator in range of a Black Hole? This
is military suicide. It doesn't sit right with me.
Kreel: ( Looks at Tarrant sharply. ) I demand, what are you insinuating?
Dev Tarrant: Oh, no insinuation as such. I just feel there's more to this than we understand.
Kreel: ( Into comms. ) All crews will remain on constant visual alert. That is a command. I state in no uncertain
terms, radiation interference from that Black Hole is extreme. I repeat, maximum prority to visual scanning. All ships, you
will reduce to sub-light speeds.
( The flotilla slows down sharply. )
Dev Tarrant: What output do we have on the scanners?
Mutoid 1: Seventeen point oh-oh-five per cent, Kommisar.
Kreel: ( Into comms. ) All crews, you will begin naked eye scanning of the Belquon system immediately. Repeat,
begin scanning immediately. You will set all electronic surveillance to passive scans until further notice to preserve power.
( The ships in the flotilla begin sweeping the local
area of the system in a rotating patrol pattern. Hidden from Federation sensors, the Subjugator is maintaining an anti-orbital
pattern to remain on the far side of the planet. )
Kreel: And you will all remember. I demand you
remain on full alert at all times until we leave the system.
( Subjugator Flight Deck. Norcris and several pirates
are at the controls. Servalan is draped lazily on a couch in the seating pit. Kyben stands to one side, an empty, almost sleepy
expression on his face. )
Octon: Identity of approaching contacts positive.
Federation Pursuit ships approaching.
Servalan: ( Smiles. ) Ah Dev Tarrant. Always so punctual, even for his own funeral. ( Stands. ) Tell me, Doctor,
would you like a chance to get revenge as your first service to me?
Kyben: ( Distantly. ) I have no opinions or desires, my Empress.
Servalan: ( Walks over to Kyben. ) Really? None at all?
Kyben: Other than the need to serve you without question.
Servalan: How disappointing. ( Runs her hand along his arm. ) And yet how exhilarating. ( Servalan kisses Kyben.
There is scarcely a flicker of response from Kyben, just the same hooded expression. Servalan looks somewhat put out by this.
Servalan: More effective than I wanted perhaps.
( Servalan regathers herself, returns to the seating
pit and reclines again. )