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
ACT XIX - Live By The Sword, Die By The Gun


( A corridor between the Flight Deck and the teleport section aboard Liberator. Avon is sprawled on the floor, cradling his arm. Vila is stood over him, aiming a handgun at him. )

Vila: I want you to feel trapped. I want you to know what it means, to be trapped with someone who wants to kill you. Someone you thought you trusted...

Avon: I didn't want to kill you on that shuttle, Vila, you know that.

Vila: No, you were chasing me with a loaded gun for a laugh I suppose.

Avon: Vila, we were both going to die, I thought the best I could do was make sure one of us survived...

Vila: And that one had to be you didn't it, Avon? It HAD to be you.

Avon: If you'd tried to get rid of me, I wouldn't have resented you for it.

Vila: What?! You mean you'd have stood back and let me kill you?

Avon: No, I would have tried to stop you of course. I'm just saying I wouldn't have been bitter.

Vila: Oh give it up, Avon. That's the most stupid thing I've ever heard.

Avon: ( Looking at his injured arm. ) I'm losing blood, Vila.

Vila: And now you'll lose a lot more.

( Avon looks up at Vila and stares deep into his eyes. )

Avon: ( Quietly. ) Well, if that's really what you want to do, you'd better get on with it.

( Vila's expression changes from conviction to nervousness. Suddenly he winces and loses grip on the gun. It drops to the floor, striking the ground firing stud first. There is a loud shriek of power as the gun fires, blasting the jamb between wall and ceiling above Vila's head. Vila grabs hold of the hand that was grasping the gun, and looks at the palm in perplexity. )

Avon: ( Hisses. ) You missed.

Vila: It was hot. White hot.

Avon: The gun you mean? ( Smiles craftily. ) How strange. ( Tends wounded arm. ) I need to get to the medical unit.

Vila: You're not going anywhere, Avon...

Avon: Why? Because you'll shoot me? ( Sneers. ) You won't. If you were capable of that, you would have done it by now. Besides, I don't think Zen would let you anyway.

Vila: ( Stubbornly. ) Well I'm still not helping you.

Avon: I don't recall asking you to.

( Avon dizzily pulls himself to his feet. The sleeve of his injured arm is soaked in blood. Vila sees this and loses all hostility, even looking a little guilty. Avon turns and staggers down the corridor toward the teleport section. )

Vila: Avon?

Avon: ( Pauses, looks over shoulder. ) What?

Vila: ( Reluctantly. ) Be careful. Remember Belhaven's through there.

Avon: It would be a little difficult to forget.

( Avon walks off. Vila turns and walks to the flight deck, blowing on his burned hand. )

Vila: Ow! Zen, what happened? Why did the gun burn my hand?

Zen: Use of Liberator's hand-weapons against Liberator's crew is forbidden aboard Liberator. Such action would run contrary to guidelines against all direct methods of self-destructive conduct.

Vila: Really? You never mentioned that before.

Zen: The issue was never broached.

Vila: ( Sarcastically. ) "Why didn't you say so?" "You didn't ask." Very original, Zen.


( Teleport section. Belhaven is stood in front of the teleport console, studying the controls in complacent curiosity. He hears the quiet tread of someone walking down the steps behind him, but does not turn. )

Lord Belhaven: I'm impressed, Vila. I wasn't sure you'd have the brass to kill him.

( There is the sound of someone clearing his throat. Belhaven turns without urgency, and is sent smashing into the floor by a right hook from Avon. Belhaven lands awkwardly, blood escaping from a split lip. Avon kneels next to him and grasps him by the throat with his good hand. )

Avon: I can forgive the intrusion aboard my ship. I can excuse the shot in the arm. I can even overlook your desire to steal from me. But the one mistake you've made that I will never accept is confusing me with Vila. That's just intolerable.

( Avon punches Belhaven again. Belhaven lies back on the floor, eyes closed. Avon gets back to his feet and staggers out through the aft entrance toward the Medical Unit. The instant he is gone, Belhaven sits up, tending the cut on his lip. )

Lord Belhaven: ( Smiles. ) That... hurt.


( Forest clearing. Soolin, Hailee, and Nij Blake are sat in a circle, backs to each other, hands tied. The soldiers of Belhaven's army are sat in groups around the clearing, cheerfully passing the time in the usual unproductive ways. They appear to pay Soolin et al little mind. Nonetheless, it is quite clear who are the captors and who are the captives. )

Nij Blake: This is embarrassing.

Hailee: Embarrassing? We're cornered, Vila's turned coat, Belhaven's doing Lord-Knows-What aboard our ship, and all you can say is its embarrassing?

Nij Blake: Well yeah. It's bad enough getting caught, but getting caught by these birdbrains?

Hailee: Hmm. ( Raising voice a notch. ) Well yeah, now that you mention it, you've got a point. ( Raises voice a bit further. ) They are pretty thick.

( One or two of the soldiers hear this and look offended. Hailee gestures toward the soldier nearest her and chuckles. )

Hailee: I mean look at that guy! He could get knocked down by a troop transporter that's parked up.

( Blake snickers. Soolin grins. The soldier Hailee is taunting walks over angrily. )

Soldier 1: Why don't you shut up?

Hailee: Well you're the one who's talking.

Soldier 1: I said shut up.

Hailee: I heard you, flatulence-breath. Or were you reminding yourself?

Soldier 1: I...? ( Confused. ) Remindin' myself? What about?

Hailee: Oh you've forgotten what you said already, have you?

Soldier 1: Uh, what?

Hailee: ( Shakes head. ) I take back what I said about you. I should've said you could be OUTWITTED by a troop transporter that's parked up.

( The soldier produces a knife from his jerkin and menaces Hailee with it. )

Soldier 1: If you don't shut up, I'll stick this where the sun don't shine.

Hailee: Yeah? Well don't be afraid to stop and ask directions.

Soldier 1: You're really startin' to get me angry.

Hailee: Oh I'm sorry to hear that.

Soldier 1: I'll make you sorrier...

Hailee: No need. Your breaths doin' a fine job of that for you.

Soldier 1: I'm WARNIN' you!

Hailee: Oh, I heard. You shouldn't stand so close.

Soldier 1: Why not? Because it hurts your ears?

Hailee: No. Because...

( Hailee suddenly holds up the rope that was binding her wrists. Her hands are free. )

Hailee: makes it awful easy for me to do THIS.

( Before the soldier can react, Hailee slips the rope around his neck and yanks hard on it, hauling him to the ground. Hailee scoops up the knife and, with a practiced sweep, cuts through Blake's bonds. The other soldiers are slowly starting to react. Hailee holds the knife at the neck of the first soldier, while Blake tries to untie Soolin. )

Hailee: Take a step nearer and your pal's got the lowest ruby lips in history.

( Most of the soldiers hesitate, but some still advance. Hailee shrugs and throws the knife at the nearest of them. It lands in his chest and he falls. )

Nij Blake: ( Impressed. ) Nice throw.

Hailee: You know what they say. He who lives by the sword dies by the double-barrelled, heavy-impact, semi-automatic, high refire-rate plasma para rifle.

( Blake finishes freeing Soolin who springs to her feet. )

Soolin: It's called a knife actually.

( The soldiers, initially shocked by the precision of Hailees throwing arm, start to close in again. Soolin, Hailee and Blake start to back away. )

Hailee: Well, whatever it's called, I have a suggestion.

Soolin: I think I know how it goes.

Hailee: Well, I'll let you say it then.

Soolin: No no, after you.

( Those soldiers armed with bows, nock arrows and prepare to take aim. )

Hailee: Most courteous. ( Clears throat. Top of her voice: ) RRRRUU-UUUN FOR III-IITT!!!!!

( With that, the three of them turn and hurtle away from the approaching soldiers at breakneck pace. They are hampered by the fact that the soldiers have them hemmed in on three sides, so they choose the only other direction available. Arrows start to fly towards them. )

Soolin: Keep your heads down!

Hailee: Thanks, Soolin, I'm glad someone thought of that...


( Liberator Flight Deck. Vila is sat in the central pit. Belhaven enters, giving Vila a look of polite disapproval. Then he surveys the Flight Deck, much impressed. )

Lord Belhaven: Roomy.

Vila: I'm glad you're so pleased.

Lord Belhaven: As a matter of fact, I'm disappointed, Vila. I heard the shot. I was so sure you'd really killed him.

Vila: I'm not a killer, Belhaven.

Lord Belhaven: What? You've never killed anyone? A crusader who's never killed?

Vila: I'm not a crusader either.

Lord Belhaven: Vila, you've been fighting the Federation for - what was it you said - seven years?

Vila: Near enough.

Lord Belhaven: Seven years. I think you pass for a crusader, even if you're not much use at it.

Vila: ( Tired. ) All right, Belhaven! Yes, I'm a crusader. Yes, I've killed. But I'm not a killer.

Lord Belhaven: What's the difference?

Vila: You said it yourself. If you've been in this business as long as I have and killed so few people, you're not a killer.

Lord Belhaven: ( Shakes head. ) You will make a weak king with that attitude.

Vila: Will I?

Lord Belhaven: Why do you think I want you to be the next king, Vila?

Vila: Because my father's some kind of despot, or you say.

Lord Belhaven: No. That's why we want to get rid of HIM. But we need you to provide an alternative leadership. Whatever else he is, Sarlad's strong, and if you can't kill, you won't be strong enough to replace him.

( Belhaven walks toward the weapons panel. Vila gets to his feet and aims his handgun at Belhaven. )

Lord Belhaven: Are these the weap-...?

Vila: I didn't say I CANT kill.

Lord Belhaven: You change loyalties quickly I see.

Vila: Loyalties? I thought I was the Prince.

Lord Belhaven: So?

Vila: So you're the one who's supposed to be loyal to me.

Lord Belhaven: Maybe.

Vila: That whole thing was a test wasn't it? You were trying to find out if I'd be prepared to kill Avon.

Lord Belhaven: Yes.

Vila: I don't like being manipulated.

Lord Belhaven: In that case, I'd say you've chosen the wrong leader seeing the way Avon treats you. Wouldn't you?

Vila: Maybe I have. But if youre trying to convince me to side with you instead, you're going the wrong way about it.

Lord Belhaven: Vila...

Vila: You're not taking anything off this ship.

Lord Belhaven: You'd best be very sure before you fire at me.

Vila: Why?

Lord Belhaven: Because if you're not sure, you won't be able to.

( Vila stares at Belhaven coldly, but the gun wavers in his hand. )

Vila: We'll talk to Avon. He'll decide what we do. And whatever he decides, we stick with.

Lord Belhaven: It sounded to me like he's already made up his mind.

Vila: Then you'd better start being more convincing.


( Liberator Medical Unit. Avon is here, putting his arm in a regen cast. He turns as the door opens and Belhaven steps in, followed by Vila. Vila holsters his gun and holds up his hands. )

Avon: In case you hadn't noticed, Vila, I'm not armed.

Vila: Just letting you know I'm not going to shoot.

Avon: A bit like letting me know that gravity travels downwards. Your foibles are always self-evident.

( Avon sits on one of the couches. )

Avon: I think you've settled that score from Malodaar now, don't you?

( Vila looks pained, but nods. )

Avon: Fine. So, where do we go from here?

Vila: Well...

Lord Belhaven: We still have other matters to settle...

Avon: ( Fiercely. ) I asked you precisely nothing. ( More gently. ) Vila?

Vila: I'm asking you to help me.

Avon: You are asking me to help you? What with? Your claims for Royalist Supremacy perhaps?

Vila: If you like.

Avon: Not a great deal.

Vila: Look, Avon, I'm not just talking about power for me. This'll help you as well.

Avon: What brings you to that conclusion?

Vila: You said when we came to the Outer Planets that we were looking for allies. If we can take control here, we'd have an entire army...

Avon: An army that would have looked obsolete at the Battle of Hastings. I very much doubt that they could be much help to us against Space Command.

Vila: That's why they want the weapons, Avon.

Avon: I am well aware of why they want the weapons. And where exactly would you fit into this, Vila?

Vila: What do you mean?

Avon: You pointed out to me earlier that you would be King on this world, when Sarlad is gone.

Vila: Well... yes.

Avon: So that's what you want.

Vila: It's not that, I just want...

Avon: ( Irritated. ) Don't give me that! I know you far too well. You believe that you will be safer on this world than with Liberator. ( Smiles. ) Don't forget that I admire self-interest above heroism anyway. But you have to recognise that it is not in MY best interests to co-operate with you.

Vila: What do you mean?

Avon: If you became King here, you will deprive myself and my crew of the benefit of your vaunted talents.

Vila: So you'd miss me, would you?

Avon: ( Amused. ) I didn't say that.

Vila: You never would.

( There is a brief, frosty silence. )

Avon: True.

( Avon gets to his feet and gives Belhaven an unfriendly look. )

Avon: All right, Belhaven, we'll help you.

Lord Belhaven: ( Surprised. ) You will?

Avon: I take it that your troops currently hold the rest of my crew captive?

Lord Belhaven: ( Nods, grinning smugly. ) That point had occurred to me.

Avon: Together they are of more use to me than retaining Vila on his own. So, I will help you overthrow Sarlad after you return my crew.

Lord Belhaven: I'll need better guarantees before I do that.

Vila: I'll provide the guarantees. You can trust him.

Lord Belhaven: ( Looks at Vila. ) You're confident.

Vila: ( More firmly. ) I know him better than you ever will, Belhaven. You can trust him.

( Belhaven sees the certainty in Vila's expression then turns back to Avon. )

Lord Belhaven: You won't regret it, Avon.

Avon: Not as much as you will if you double-cross me.

Lord Belhaven: You and I aren't all that different, Avon.

Avon: Oh?

Lord Belhaven: We're both devious. We're both capable of fighting dirty. But Vila seems to believe that you can also keep your word. ( Shrugs. ) Well so can I.

Avon: ( Acidly. ) I don't doubt your ability to keep your word, Belhaven. Only your will.


( Soolin, Hailee and Blake are dodging through the trees of the forest, evading arrows any way they can. The soldiers are not very skilled, and are further hampered by the canopy of the trees and undergrowth, but nonetheless, their numbers are so great that they offer no time to pause for breath. )

Hailee: Don't take this the wrong way, Soolin... ( Pant. ) ...but if that boyfriend of yours weren't already dead, I'd kill 'im!

Soolin: What for?

Hailee: For getting me caught up in all this in the first place...

Soolin: He told me that you knew you were getting involved in something illegal.

( Soolin has to duck to evade an arrow that gets dangerously close to her right ear. )

Hailee: Not exactly.

( Hailee suddenly spins and, with a scary growl, lands a haymaker punch on the jaw of a soldier who has almost caught up with her. The soldier collapses, deprived of several front teeth. Hailee heads off again. )

Hailee: Don't know what you ever saw in him frankly.

( Soolin does not answer, but just narrows her eyes slightly, as though she is not entirely sure herself. There is then a loud cry of anguish. Soolin and Hailee turn and run toward Blake, who has gone to ground, an arrow lodged in his thigh. )

Soolin: Blake! Are you all right?

Blake: Oh fine, fine. ( Passes out. )

Hailee: Oh good.

( In seconds, all three are surrounded by dozens and dozens of soldiers. )

Soolin: Are you sure that "good" was the word you were looking for?

Hailee: It was an attempt to achieve sarcasm.

( One of the soldiers steps forward, draws a dagger and holds it across Soolin's throat. )

Soolin: Well, I think it worked.

Hailee: ( To soldiers. ) Would it make you feel any better at this point if I said, "we surrender"?

( There is a loud rumble from above the treetops. The fading evening sunlight is eclipsed by a vast object flying overhead. Most of the soldiers look horrified and turn to run. The wind is rising violently. Soolin and Hailee look up to see that the Liberator is flying above them. )

Soolin: I think this is one of the situations that the term "nick of time" was invented for.


( Liberator Flight Deck. Lord Belhaven is sat in the central pit. Avon and Vila are at the controls. )

Vila: There it is.

Avon: Good. Zen, begin landing procedures.

( Some while later, Liberator has landed in a broad clearing in the forest. Gathered outside it is the core of Belhaven's army. Belhaven is stood on a rock, addressing the crowd. Vila, Soolin, Hailee and Blake are all leaning against the hull of the Liberator, looking nervous, irritated, bored and puzzled respectively. Avon is stood off to one side, arms folded, glowering at Belhaven sourly. )

Lord Belhaven: Friends, this alliance will be the turning point. We will finally possess the tools we need to bring down the hated regime of Sarlad.

( Vilas eyes dart nervously from side to side as he realises that he is getting some diapproving looks from his crew mates. )

Soldier 2: ( Gestures at the Liberator crew. ) How can we be sure we can trust these people?

Soldier 3: Yeah, they attacked us just now...

Hailee: ( Scoffs. ) Us? Attacked you? Did I miss something? You tried to steal our ship a couple of hours ago!

Soldier 4: Yeah? Well what about when you punched Tollim's teeth in?

Nij Blake: Yeah, and then you shot me in the leg...!

( Within seconds the gathering degenerates into a loud shouting contest as numerous people on each side begin airing grievances. Avon looks irritated. )

Avon: ( Whispers. ) That it should come to this.

( Belhaven screams at the top of his voice to try and restore order but to no avail. Soon the shouting gives way to pushing and shoving. Seeing how outnumbered his crew are, Avon draws his gun and aims it skywards. Firing once. He then grabs the nearest of Belhaven's troops firmly by the throat and aims the gun in her face. The whole gathering falls silent and turns to look at Avon. )

Avon: Stand down. All of you. Or perhaps you'll find this young lady more attractive with three nostrils?

( The dispute quickly calms as Belhaven's men start to back away. Blake shoves someone who is not backing away very fast. Tempers are about to fray again when Avon interrupts sharply. )

Avon: I said all of you! That includes you, Blake.

( Blake hesitates, then nods and stands back. When he is sure that there will be no more disruptions, Avon releases the girl. She scrambles away from him quickly. Keeping his gun drawn, Avon walks over to rejoin his crew mates. Belhaven's soldiers back away from him fearfully. Once there he puts an unfriendly hand on Blake's shoulder. )

Avon: ( Whispers. ) Don't forget you're on probation. I suggest you think hard about doing as you're told in future. ( Holsters gun. )

Lord Belhaven: ( Sternly. ) There will be no further attacks on the Liberator crew - verbal or otherwise. Any compensation they owe us is amply repaid by the aid they are offering.

Soldier 3: But...

Lord Belhaven: ( Suddenly tired. ) No buts! You will all make camp here for the night. You will receive your orders for the attack on the hill fort. Dismissed.

( The soldiers, most of them looking decidedly unhappy, disperse and start setting up camp. Belhaven turns to Avon. )

Lord Belhaven: We should now talk ab-...

Avon: I think we've heard plenty from you, Belhaven.

Lord Belhaven: But we have to discuss how we should attack the...

Avon: I will decide what my crew will do, Belhaven. I promised you our aid, not our service. You can co-operate or you can sit back and watch, but once we have done our part, you are on your own.

Lord Belhaven: That wasn't the deal...

Avon: The deal was that we would help you overthrow Sarlad. We are going to present you with the opportunity to do that. If you choose to spurn it, that is no concern of mine, but we are not going to do the deed for you.

( Avon turns and gestures to the hatch. One by one the crew start up the ramp. Avon glowers at Belhaven all the time. Once they are all inside he hands Belhaven a teleport bracelet. )

Avon: I'll contact you on this once I've formulated an attack plan.

Lord Belhaven: When will that be?

Avon: Soon.

Lord Belhaven: How soon?

Avon: I don't know. But the sooner we stop this conversation the sooner I can start planning and the sooner I can contact you.

( Avon climbs the ramp and disappears into the ship, closing the hatch behind him. Belhaven looks angry and a little embarrassed. )


( Liberator teleport section. Avon walks in, unclasping his weapon belt. Vila and Soolin are here. )

Soolin: You really despise Belhaven don't you?

Avon: He's a killer.

Soolin: So am I.

Avon: Indeed you are.

Soolin: Do you despise me?

Avon: ( Smiles with sad humour. ) Being a killer is a reason to despise anyone. It doesn't mean you have to.

Soolin: That's just as well. I was about to point out that you're a killer too.

Avon: No.

Vila: ( Without conviction. ) You've killed plenty of people...

Avon: So I have. Now it seems I must kill many more. And once again for a fight that is not even mine. ( Looks at Soolin, eyes hooded by tired anger. ) I despise Belhaven the way I despised Blake. A killer, a manipulator, a liar. And even after all the blood he spilt, all the steadfast courage he displayed with other people's lives, he still tried to pretend that he was a man of honour and principle. I despise Belhaven for being like that.

( They all look up suddenly when they realise that Blake is stood in the doorway, looking at Avon coldly. )

Nij Blake: I despise killers too, Avon. Remind me who you've killed recently.

Avon: ( Sighs. ) Ooh, I don't need this right now...

Nij Blake: ( Bitterly. ) Y'know, if you really hated Blake so much, maybe you should be glad that I might not be his son after all.

( Blake turns and marches away, seething angrily. )

Avon: It doesn't matter who your father was, it won't make you any less of a fool.

( Avon dumps his weapons belt on the teleport console and heads for the aft exit. )

Avon: I'm going to get some rest.

( Avon exits. Soolin stares at the empty door for a moment. )

Vila: What do we do now?

Soolin: ( Annoyed. ) I don't know, Vila. You're supposed to be the wise king in the making, why don't you tell me? I mean you're the one who got us into this mess!

( Soolin suddenly slumps in the seat of the teleport console and holds her head dizzily. )

Soolin: I don't think any of us can cope with much more.

Vila: What?

Soolin: Oh for heaven's sake, Vila, are you sleepwalking again? Look at everyone! We're all battered, exhausted... even Avon's on the brink of collapsing, and he can usually stay on his feet for days. Have you really not noticed everything we've been through the last couple of months?

Vila: 'Course I've noticed. I was one of the ones who got shot, remember? I wasn't gonna forget that...

Soolin: ( Now genuinely angry. ) Not just that! Oh, you really don't understand do you?

Vila: What?

( Soolin gets to her feet and walks round the console. )

Soolin: Let me put it this way...

( Soolin stands in front of Vila and, without warning, slaps him hard across the face. Vila is so shocked that he stumbles and lands on his backside. )

Vila: Aaa-...! Oof!!! What was that for?

Soolin: What do you think it was for? All this mess with Belhaven, all because you're so soaked up in self-pity. ( Tears are forming at the sides of her eyes. ) Do you really think it's just you, Vila? Do you really think you're the only one who's scared? The only one whos sick of spending their entire life on the run? The only one who has nightmares about everything that's happened to us?

Vila: I...

Soolin: Of course you do! That's why all this has happened! That's why you let Belhaven talk you round. Because you think that the rest of us enjoy this. That we're waiting for the best opportunity to sell you out and throw you away!

Vila: That's not what...

Soolin: Can it, Vila!

( Soolin suddenly starts crying. Vila looks astonished - he has never seen her crying before, not even during the mental illness she suffered after the neural implant she underwent. )

Soolin: You think you've had it tough? Well catch up! You weren't the only one who got shot on Gauda Prime, you're not the only one who's tired, you're not the only one who's scared. I was shot on GP as well, and it took me a lot longer to recover than you did. I haven't had a proper night's sleep since before we left Xenon. And every day, I'm so scared I have to yell at myself to bother getting out of bed. I've also had my head messed with by an indoctrinator, that hasn't happened to you in a long time. And when's the last time you had Servalan's ghost crawling around in your head? Well? When?

Vila: ( Stammers. ) I... well, I haven't...

Soolin: No, I didn't think you had. Well I do. I think I've got more to feel bitter about than you do, Vila, but it's funny, I don't remember ever trying to sell you out because of it. Or anyone else for that matter. What about Hailee? She's lost her freedom and her own family's trying to kill her now. What about Kyben and Farin? They're both dead. And you think YOU'RE the hard luck story?

( Soolin closes her eyes and sits heavily on the console. She looks very tired. Vila gets up slowly. His eyes are now filled with apology. )

Soolin: Avon's right. We've got plenty of enemies elsewhere without getting dragged into this ridiculous little war. So what do you do? You go leaping in with both feet, then point a gun at us when we don't join in. And then you have the damned nerve to accuse US of betraying you! ( There is real hurt in her eyes. ) After everything we've been through together, have you any idea what it was like having to hear that?

Vila: I'm sorry, Soolin...

Soolin: That's a big help.

Vila: I don't know what else to say.

Soolin: So say nothing, Vila. Say nothing.

( Soolin starts walking to the flight deck. )

Soolin: You usually make more sense like that anyway.

( Vila is left standing alone in the teleport section, looking absolutely distraught. )


( Avon is resting on the bunk in his quarters. The door chime sounds. )

Avon: Who is it?

Vila: ( V.O. ) Can we talk?

Avon: Unfortunately, I've still to devise a method of stopping you. Go on.

Vila: ( V.O. ) Do you want to call off the attack?

Avon: Of course I want to call it off. But I'm not going to, so stop worrying...

Vila: ( V.O. ) I'll call it off.

Avon: ( Sitting up. ) What?

Vila: ( V.O. ) No one wants to do this. I'll tell Belhaven the deal's off.

( Avon hurries to the door and opens it. Vila is heading away along the corridor. )

Avon: Vila, what's going on now?

Vila: I can't ask you all to get involved in this. Belhaven'll have to sort out his own problems.

Avon: What about your "claim to the throne"?

( Vila pauses and glances back over his shoulder. )

Vila: Kings need wisdom. Just being different to my father won't give me that. This planet needs someone, Avon, but it's not me.

( Vila walks off. Avon looks thoughtful. )

Avon: "He who knows that he is without wisdom has taken the first step to attaining it."

( Hailee walks toward Avon from another corridor. )

Hailee: Very deep. You been at the metal polish again, bright eyes?

( Avon gives Hailee a black look. Hailee smiles. )

Avon: I so enjoy your banter. It was a quote actually. Although I can't remember who first said it.

Hailee: Well, he can't have been worth the bother of quoting then.

Avon: Go to the flight deck and tell Blake to meet me in the teleport section. And tell him to make sure he's armed. We may be in for more trouble.

Hailee: ( Flatly. ) Oh. Triffic.


( Teleport section. Avon is sat at the controls, operating the communicator, Vila is stood in the teleport bay. Blake arrives. )

Nij Blake: Whassup?

Avon: Vila has decided to become a source of extreme irritation to a large army.

Nij Blake: Sorry, that's too easy a feeder line. ( Glances at Vila with a tired smile. ) I'm not going to say anything about it being nice of him to do that to someone else for a change.

Avon: Oh, what a shame. I was really looking forward to hearing it too.

Vila: I'm calling off the attack.

Nij Blake: ( Surprised. ) What! Why?

Avon: And he's decided to tell Belhaven in person. If only he could learn how to be brave when it would actually be of use to somebody hed be a formidable ally.

Vila: I want to be honest with him, Avon. There's nothing less direct than giving bad news over the airwaves.

Avon: I'm not trying to argue you out of it, Vila. ( Into comms. ) Belhaven, do you read me?

Lord Belhaven: ( V.O. ) About time.

Avon: Spare me the theatrical impatience, Belhaven.

Lord Belhaven: ( V.O. ) If you'll spare me the bad manners. Is your attack plan finalised?

Avon: I suppose you could say that.

Lord Belhaven: ( V.O. ) What does that mean?

Avon: You have a visitor on his way to see you.

Lord Belhaven: ( V.O. ) A visitor? What do you...?

Avon: Stand by. ( Closes comms. To Vila: ) Ready?

Vila: Ready.

Avon: Remember, Vila, first sign of Belhaven turning nasty, hit the recall button on your bracelet.

( Avon waits briefly but Vila offers no response. Avon operates the controls and Vila dematerialises. )

Avon: Got a gun?

Nij Blake: That's what I was told to do.

Avon: Good. Line up.

( Avon gestures at the teleport bay. Blake shrugs and lines up. )

Nij Blake: Where are you sending me?

Avon: ( Staring at nothing. ) I'm hoping not to. But I've got an unpleasant suspicion...

Nij Blake: That your instincts talking? Not like you to listen to things like that.

Avon: Instincts are dangerous things to listen to, it's true. But then sometimes it can be even more dangerous to ignore them.

Nij Blake: Is that what you did?

Avon: When?

Nij Blake: ( Voice full of teenage irritability. ) Stop playing games, Avon, you know what I'm talking about.

( Avon slowly looks up at Blake. There is a silence. )

Avon: Yes. I ignored them. Look, let's forget the bitter reminiscences. I have an idea.

Nij Blake: Here comes trouble.


( Vila materialises outside the ship. There are a lot of people laid out on the ground, trying to get some sleep under thin, inadequate blankets made out of harsh fabrics. There are one or two sad little tents dotted about here and there, each one offering about as much protection from the elements to its occupants as a pair of shorts. Belhaven is stood nearby, having an unhappy but quiet argument with one of his soldiers. Vila heads toward him. )

Vila: Belhaven?

( Belhaven glances up at Vila in surprise. )

Lord Belhaven: What's this? Come to escort me aboard in person or something?

Vila: ...No.

Lord Belhaven: ( Suddenly angry. ) He's backing out isn't he? He's going back on our agreement...!

Vila: No, he's not.

Lord Belhaven: ( Calming. ) Oh. Good.

Vila: I am.

Lord Belhaven: What!


( Above the planet Belquon, a damaged Federation pursuit ship is entering the upper atmosphere. As it descends, the surface of the ship begins to overheat. It spins wildly several times over before its pilot manages to right its path. It carries on falling erratically until it scrapes along the barren, dreary ground and comes crashing to a violent halt. )


( Inside the ship, Jaimee Gavisson is flat on his back on the flight deck floor. There is blood seeping from a gash on his temple. He is not moving. )


( Tyrix. Vila is surrounded by Belhaven, several knights and some not-very-pleased soldiers. )

Vila: Well, you see, I sort of... I mean... look, this isn't easy to explain...

Lord Belhaven: Not easy to explain? It's not much fun too listen to either.

Vila: Listen... ( Voice tails off. )

Lord Belhaven: I'm listening.

Vila: I've changed my mind. I don't want to be a king, I'd be no good at it, and I mean it's a big responsibility, and responsibilities aren't good for me, I-I don't do well under pressure...

Lord Belhaven: You mean there's a time when you do?

Vila: Eh?

Lord Belhaven: So they got to you then? Talked you into believing whatever they wanted you to believe?

Vila: No they didn't. I just know that they don't want to get involved and I shouldn't force them to. Look...

( Blake materialises with gun drawn. )

Vila: What th-...?

Nij Blake: Vila!

Vila: Blake! How'd you...? ( Shakes head. ) Haven't we done this before?

Lord Belhaven: Yes. Unwanted interruptions appear to be your forte, Blake.

Nij Blake: We thought you'd have got back by now, Vila. Everything okay?

Vila: Sort of.

Lord Belhaven: No it is not okay! We had a deal, you can't go back on...

Nij Blake: We're not going to make an attack, Belhaven. It doesn't mean were not going to help you. We'll still provide you with those weapons you want but we just won't use them for you. Unless...

Lord Belhaven: Unless what?

Nij Blake: Let's put it this way - your soldiers are inexperienced, untrained, and stupid.

Knight: Hey!

Nij Blake: Even with the weapons we can offer they'll probably lose. You need our help to use the weapons well.

Lord Belhaven: Get to the point.

Nij Blake: We'll provide you with that help if... IF you step down and let us appoint a new commander in your place.

Lord Belhaven: You're not serious.

Nij Blake: That's the compensation we're asking for in return for helping you. We want to decide the order of rank.

Lord Belhaven: You can't do this! We had a deal...

Nij Blake: That's because you took us prisoner. You can't do that now, we've got the guns. Look, we're not backing out on anything, we're just working out the details.

Vila: Can I say something?

Nij Blake: Yes.

Vila: If not Belhaven, who's the leader going to be?

Nij Blake: Well...

Vila: ( Rolls eyes. ) Avon.

Nij Blake: No. Me.

( Vila looks astounded. )


( Liberator teleport section. Avon is still sat behind the controls, looking at nothing, impassive. Soolin and Hailee are stood on the other side of the console, looking completely astonished. )

Soolin: Have you lost your mind altogether, Avon?

Avon: Possibly.

Hailee: Vila's letting us back out! Why do you still want to carry on...?

Avon: Maybe you've forgotten the whole reason we headed beyond the frontier in the first place.

Hailee: To find reinforcements? You seriously think those bumpkins out there are gonna be any help to us? They couldn't win a snowball fight against the Federation pensioners guild.

Avon: Mostly that's true, but I wasn't suggesting we take all of them - after all, even this ship has its limits in terms of resources. We can syphon off the brightest and best of the soldiers and take them with us, and we can then teach them enough to be able to fight effectively.

Hailee: I'll believe that when I see it.

Avon: When I first met her, Cally was a naive telepath fighting a futile one-girl war to free an entire planet from the Federation. She became one of the most effective and senior members of the crew...

Hailee: And now she's dead.

( Hailees tone causes Avon to look up at her sharply. )

Hailee: Sorry. But it's true isn't it? In the end, Cally wasn't up to...

Avon: ( Very darkly. ) You never met her, Hailee. Neither of you did. She was more than capable. ( More fiercely. ) And her death was not her fault - it was mine.

Hailee: Okay. But... looking at it that way, you'd be endangering someone else if you took them w-...

Soolin: ( Hurriedly. ) Hailee!

Hailee: Yeah?

Soolin: Let me do the talking. The way you're going, he'll probably shoot you.

Hailee: Only if he's quicker on the draw than I...

( Hailees voice tails off as she looks down and sees that Avon is holding a gun that is pointed at her. )

Avon: Not that I plan to shoot you, you understand. Just so youre not in any doubt that I could. ( Lowers gun. )

Soolin: Why do you still want to help Belhaven? You want to take some of his soldiers, fine. We don't have to fight his war to do that.

Avon: Two reasons. One, we need to establish which ones would be of most use to us. The only way we can assess them reliably is to observe them in combat. The second reason is a simple test.

Soolin: Test?

Avon: That's right.

Hailee: Test for what?

Avon: A suspicion about Belhaven. What Blake's discussing with him right now should confirm or allay it.


( Outside. )

Nij Blake: That's your final word?

Lord Belhaven: Absolutely. I'm not going to trust command of my army to an outsider. Especially not some boy with no experience whatsoever of military combat.

Nij Blake: I see. And what great military experience have you got to be proud of, Belhaven? A glorious victory in the Custard Pie-slinging Wars of the North Continent? A fruit-throwing skirmish in the depths of the forest. Maybe a chess-match against Sarlad's court jester?

Lord Belhaven: Now look...

Nij Blake: I've got Orac, I've got the Liberator's battle computers...

Lord Belhaven: Out of the question! I will lead the attack. If you won't help us then give us the weapons and leave. We'll sort out Sarlad for ourselves.

Nij Blake: Fine. ( Into bracelet. ) Bring us back, Avon.

( Blake and Vila dematerialise, leaving Belhaven quaking with silent anger. )


( Liberator teleport section. Avon and Soolin are as they were. Hailee is now sat on the steps. Blake and Vila materialise in the teleport bay. )

Avon: Well?

Nij Blake: You were right.

Avon: Good. I'll have a set of Liberator handguns packaged and sent out to them within the hour. It should be enough to make things look convincing. Then we head for the fortress.

Vila: Do you want to tell me what you're playing at now?

Avon: No.

Vila: Didn't think so. Tell me anyway.

Avon: Belhaven's a fraud. We'll give him enough token help to fulfill our bargain, then we go and help your father.

Nij Blake: What?

Vila: What!

Avon: Belhaven puts himself forward as the Roj Blake of this planet's "early modern" era. He's not. He's using the food shortages to manipulate the people, to turn them into his army to overthrow the King. Belhaven will simply install himself as the planet's next dictator if he succeeds.

Vila: What's all that supposed to be? A lucky guess?

Avon: Call it what you like. Soolin, go to the flight deck and tell Zen to start the scan.

Soolin: What scan?

Avon: I pre-programmed a local surveillance scan into the detector units before Belhaven sneaked aboard, but I didn't get around to starting it. Go and tell Zen to get it under way.

Soolin: Right.

( Soolin exits. Vila removes his gun-belt and dumps it on the console. )

Vila: What's going on?

Avon: He refused to accept Blake as the new commander?

Vila: Of course he did. He was never going to accept him...

Avon: So it would appear. And he didn't suggest me as an alternative?

Vila: No.

Avon: Or even one of his own troops?

Vila: No.

Avon: That's all you need to know, Vila. He's playing you for a fool.

Vila: I dont underst-...

Avon: No you dont. And that's how he's playing you for a fool. If he were half the idealist he makes himself out to be, he wouldn't refuse our terms, not with the help we're offering. A man of passionate ideals does not let personal glory get in the way of his cherished goals. Even Roj Blake was never guilty of that. If Belhaven were a real freedom fighter he would have no problem accepting our demand for a change of leadership. He's afraid that if anyone else has control of his army during the battle, he won't be in a position to assume power when Sarlad falls. ( Smiles. ) In his position, I'd feel the same. ( Gets to his feet. ) All right, everyone, back to the flight deck. We'll get those guns ready to hand over now.

( Everyone shuffles out. )


( Outside the Liberator, Avon presents a small metallic case to Belhaven. Soolin and Hailee stand behind Avon, guns at the standby in case of trouble. )

Avon: There's a dozen of Liberator's native hand weapons in here.

( Avon draws his own gun and indicates its various features. )

Avon: The power cable plugs into this position on the centre of the utility built, and here on the handle of the gun - so. The firing stud can be deceptive to inexperienced hands. To fire you should not press straight down on it, but slide it slightly forwards in the same motion.

( Avon aims the gun upwards and presses the firing stud. There is a loud shriek that wakes a number of the soldiers with a terrified start. )

Avon: As you can tell, the radiation discharge is very explosive and direct, so these weapons should be handled with great care. I recommend you give them to only your most promising troops and give them sufficient time to learn to use them before beginning your attack.

( Belhaven reaches out to take the case. Avon drops it to the floor. )

Avon: That's all. I'm sure I'd wish you luck... if I had the slightest interest whatsoever in your war. ( Into bracelet. ) Bring us back, Blake.

( Avon, Soolin and Hailee disappear. Belhaven unfastens the case and a few weapons and their belts fall out. He looks at them without confidence. )

Lord Belhaven: Oh well, let's make the best of them.


( Liberator flight deck. Vila is on watch. Orac is on the table of the central pit, presently switched off. Avon walks in, followed by Soolin, Blake and Hailee. )

Nij Blake: But I don't understand why you want to head for...

Avon: To warn Sarlad, and equip him.

Soolin: What!

Avon: Don't worry, Soolin, there won't be much combat, so any irrational consciences among our number will not be injured.

Soolin: I've only got your word for that.

Avon: Have you ever needed more?

( Soolin and Hailee exchange smiles and take their positions. Avon heads for the central pit. )

Avon: Zen, prepare for take off.

Zen: Confirmed.

Avon: ( Slotting in Orac's key. ) Orac?

Orac: Come on, spit it out.

Avon: ( Blinks. ) That's an unusual pleasantry even for you, Orac.

Orac: I am merely paraphrasing Hailee Gavisson's terminology on previous occasions in which she has required greater brevity of expression. It was a curious manner of verbiage that quite intrigued the flexibility of my logic circ-...

Avon: We need greater brevity now, Orac.

Orac: Very well, spit it out.

Avon: ( Unable to resist a slight grin. ) Patch yourself into Liberator's detector grid and select all relevant data from the most recent ground-level search.

Orac: Define "relevant".

Avon: You'll know it when you see it. Transfer the important details to the main screen.

Orac: Very well.

Zen: Liberator is now ready for launch.

Avon: Begin.

Zen: Confirmed.

( The soldiers begin running for cover as, with a violent surge of thrust, the Liberator begins to take off. )


( Back on the flight deck, the main screen starts to become cluttered with information. )

Avon: ( Reading with impressive speed. ) As I thought.

Vila: What is all that?

Avon: There are blockades on all the main roadways we can detect heading from the fortress. The battle computers indicate a seventy two per cent probability that the blockades have been raised by the rebel army.

Vila: So?

Avon: Isn't it obvious? Look at their locations. They're running between the farming territories and the villages.

Soolin: What! But that means that Belhaven's...

Avon: It means that he is, and I apologise if my language is excessively technical on this point, a dirty swine. ( Smiles. ) I could almost grow to like him.

Nij Blake: I don't understand.

Avon: The famine is not Sarlad's fault at all.

( Vila's eyes light up as he hears this. Avon turns to look at him. )

Avon: Belhaven has been blockading the only usable roads into the villages in order to starve their inhabitants, then blaming Sarlad for their troubles. It makes them prime candidates for recruitment.

Vila: So my father...?

Avon: ( Gently. ) That's right, Vila. While your father may be an autocrat, he does basically take care of his people as far as he can. He hasn't been hoarding at all. He has plenty of food because there IS plenty of food to go around. Hopefully that will make you feel a bit better about things. ( Thoughtfully. ) Sarlad should be told about all this.

Soolin: Sure, why not?

Hailee: Fine, but that still doesn't explain about the war we've just set in motion.

Avon: ( Cunning smile. ) What war would that be?


( Dawn. Hundreds of Belhaven's troops run up the hill toward the outer wall of Sarlad's fortress, shouting and hollering as they go. They are divided into twelve columns, at the front of each of which is a knight armed with a handgun. When they reach the wall, they find to their surprise that the front gate is wide open. They glance up toward the watchtower and see that it is unoccupied. Belhaven strides to the front. )

Lord Belhaven:  You! You! ( Points to two of the knights. ) With me. The rest of you, remain at the ready.

( Belhaven gestures to his two accomplices to remain silent and beckons them to follow. They carefully pick their way through the gateway and peer inside. They glance from right to left, all about, but see no one. All the buildings of the fortress remain where they have always been, and perfectly intact. Nothing stirs. )

Lord Belhaven: I don't get it. I mean I know security here is always lax, but Sarlad never leaves the place completely unguarded. It's like everyone's just upped and left.

( They haven't. Above Belhaven's head - in the one place he hasn't looked - Avon, Blake, Soolin and Hailee are all clinging to the pinnacles of the timbers that form the gate. Soolin and Hailee quietly release their grip and drop onto the heads of the two knights. Avon and Blake then drop onto Belhaven. There ensues a brief scuffle, at the end of which, Belhaven and his two accomplices are out cold. Avon then pulls out a small device from his pocket. It has several lights that are flickering away on its surface. )

Avon: ( Into bracelet. ) Orac, program Zen to set the jamming field to two hundred square metres.

Orac: ( V.O. ) Operating such a broad range, the jammer will only be effective for two hours.

Avon: ( Into bracelet. ) That will be enough.

( Avon throws Belhaven over his shoulder. Soolin, Blake and Hailee pick up the two knights between them. Sarlad's soldiers furtively emerge from hiding places all around the fort. )

Avon: Get that gate shut, quickly! Be ready to hold off a few attacks for a while. ( To rest of crew. ) Let's get these overweight aristocrats inside.

( As the soldiers start to swing the heavy gate closed, some of their adversaries on the other side start pushing into the entrance as they realise what is happening. More soldiers start to push forward on the gate and try to get through the gap in the gateway. Before long, a farcical and aimless heaving scrummage develops as hundreds on either side try to swing the gate in their preferred direction. Some of the knights in Belhaven's army try to fire their handguns, but immediately drop the weapons unfired, and hiss with pain as their hands burn. Sarlad's archers take position on the walls of the fort and begin attempting to pick off attackers with their arrows. Archers on Belhaven's side fire back. The skills and tactics on both sides are laughable, and most arrows miss wildly. On the few occasions that any of them do hit the target, the archers who fired are horrified by the effects of their handiwork - they've never seen blood spilt in combat before. )


( The grand hall. Sarlad the Magnificent sits on his throne. Vila is stood at his side. Avon, Soolin, Hailee and Blake stand, guns drawn, around Belhaven and his knights, who are knelt on the ground hands behind their heads. Various dignitaries are present. )

Sarlad: Disappointed in you, Belhaven. Where's your sense of sportsmanship, yus? We had an honourable contest going. Hell, you were winning. And what do you do? You try to cheat! Try to break the rules and declare a real war! And what's happening now? There's real fighting. Our people are out there right now, suffering and dying. All because you can't obey the rules...

Lord Belhaven: Rules! They're YOUR rules, Sarlad! I'm not going to play a game against you when you make the rules, especially if you make yourself the referee as well! I always knew that it didn't matter what I did. In the end, even if I won the whole thing, you'd find an excuse and declare yourself the winner.

Sarlad: ( Flushed with anger. ) Nonsense! I never strayed from the rules. Not once, even when you were beating me. As for me making myself the referee... I may make the rules, but the Witan always has, and always will, adjudicate on all matters of enforcement of law on Tyrix. That includes warfare. The law is the law, Belhaven. It is an independent power working with a king, not answering to him. That, Belhaven, is the cardinal concept of Magna Carta, something you have always had great trouble recognising. Everyone, even the King, must be held to account for violating the law! If ever the Witan were to judge that I had strayed from it I would willingly abdicate like THAT! ( Slams hand on the arm of his throne. ) Tell me, if your little treachery had succeeded and you had become King, would you have been so quick to accept the sovereignty of the law?

( Belhaven does not answer. He is attracting looks of contempt now, even from his own knights. )

Sarlad: No. Power over the law was all you wanted. It was all you ever wanted. Why else would you choose to starve so many of my people? Well no more. You are going to order your troops to stand down, and then, when we have got the harvest moving again, we are going to make an example of you. An example of what will happen to anyone, King or subject, who defies the law!

( Sarlad gestures to several of his soldiers, who drag Belhaven and his men outside. Sarlad sits quietly for a moment and then looks at Vila sadly. )

Sarlad: You've shown your old man up again, lad. ( Pats Vila's cheek. ) I've been foolish. I recognised the problems of the Magna Carta of old Earth and corrected them but I missed something - I forgot that a picture can change. I've been complacent, never realised that my laws need to be reassessed constantly, to address newer situations that might develop.

Avon: With respect, Majesty, your laws need scrapping and restarting from scratch.

Sarlad: That's going a bit far...

Avon: Is it? You said when we first met that you and your people are not scrubs. I'm afraid you were wrong. I recognise that the whole system you have put in place was designed to maintain order by taking the forcefulness out of your people. To this end you have even turned war into something gentle and peaceful. Perhaps it was well-intended, I don't know. The problem, Sarlad, is that sometimes law and order need to be enforced - they depend on the forcefulness of their defenders to sustain them - and your people have so little edge left in them that they no longer know how to manage it. Belhaven was able to cut off food supplies without effort because your army had no skills to open the blockades. Or even to detect them!

Sarlad: I'm beginning to see that, Avon.

Avon: Good. Because there are plenty of other things that they can't do. WE weren't a Federation ship, but if the next one that arrives is, can you imagine what would happen?

Sarlad: ( Swallows. ) I've always been too scared to think about it.

Soolin: That's understandable, but you're not going to protect your people with your head in the sand.

( Sarlad looks pained. )

Avon: We're going to return to our ship now. I am going to make a dangerous assumption that you will change things for the better. We need allies, and my intention is that your world will provide them. Until you are ready, we will head elsewhere and hopefully keep Federation eyes away from this system. You and your people will be of no use to me if the Federation finds you right now.

Sarlad: Thank you, Avon. You have my word that we will support you in any way that we can.

( Avon shakes Sarlad's hand. )


( Several hours later, Sarlad and Vila are stood outside the grand hall, avoiding each other's eyes. The sun is out, but a breeze keeps Vila huddled up slightly. People rush past to and fro, attending to their individual pursuits. All is quiet, apart from the sound of laughter from the far edge of the fort where people are throwing wet sponges at Belhaven, who is sealed in the stocks. )

Sarlad: She didn't suffer then?

Vila: No. Kyben told me that she was probably gone before she hit the ground.

Sarlad: Kyben?

Vila: Ship's doctor. ( Bleak chuckle. ) He's dead now as well.

Sarlad: ( Wobbly smile. ) You've been keeping dangerous company, lad.

Vila: For longer than I care to remember. ( Paws ground with foot. ) Dad, I'm sorry.

Sarlad: Sorry? What for?

Vila: I let Belhaven talk me round so easily. I've been... I used to have another friend called Cally... ever since she died... it's not just me actually, Avon's been different since then too, but... ( Shakes head. ) ... ever since she was killed I've been feeling... I don't know. I've just been so desperate to hit out at someone, and then when Stella died too... it left me feeling like.. like...

Sarlad: Like you can't finish a coherent sentence?

( Vila looks at his father, puzzled. Sarlad laughs gently. )

Sarlad: ( Pats Vila on the shoulder. ) You've nothing to apologise for, my boy. You were right. I can gorge on all the glory and majesty that being father to an entire world entails, but first of all I was father to you and Bela... and grandfather to Stella. You are my family, and that means that I should have put you first. I let YOU down, Vila. All of you. I daren't ask you to forgive me, my son. All I can do is battle on here to give you and your friends the help you need to destroy the tyrants who've taken so much from you. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me after that...

Vila: ( Tearfully. ) I love you, Dad.

( Vila and Sarlad hug each other for a long moment, then clap each other on the back. Vila then steps back, sniffs gently and speaks into his bracelet. )

Vila: ( Into bracelet. ) Stand by to bring me up.

Nij Blake: ( V.O. ) In two minutes and counting, Vila.

Sarlad: ( Trying to lighten the atmosphere a little. ) So, er, where are you headed next in that great ship of yours?

Vila: Oh who knows? I gave up trying to second-guess Avon ages ago.

Sarlad: ( Chuckles, then looks more serious again. ) That reminds me, Vila. According to what Avon tells me, you changed your mind about helping Belhaven before you found out what he was really doing. Why was that?

Vila: ( Thinks for a moment. ) Partly because I realised that I was only angry with you, I didn't hate you. Partly because what I was doing wasnt fair on the rest of the crew. ( Shrugs. ) But mostly, I think, because I'd rather try what I want to do and fail than succeed at what someone else wants me to do. As a king here, I'd have less freedom than I'd have out there. ( Points to the sky. ) I mean, even when I'm running from the Federation and fighting for my life, I'm still a thief. And that means I'm still who I want to be. If I stayed here as the King, I'd be something Belhaven wants to be. I wasn't going to let you live your life through me, so I'm damned if I'm going to let that weasel do it.

Sarlad: ( Nods. ) I'm very proud of you. And I wish I'd said that to you before.

( Suddenly the white outline engulfs Vila and he dematerialises. )

Sarlad: So very proud indeed...


( Liberator flight deck. Vila walks in, a strange expression on his face. He looks more settled than he has in a very long time. Blake soon arrives as well and takes his place at the navigation console. )

Hailee: You okay, Vila?

Vila: Yeah. I am actually.

Hailee: Good. Then you can get back to your position.

( Hailee points to the weapons console. Without hesitation Vila marches over to take his place. )

Vila: Right.

( Vila settles into his position, then looks at the others expectantly. )

Vila: Well let's get going then.

Avon: ( Suspiciously. ) Aren't you going to hit us with a fresh storm of complaints about a recurrence of your burns, and your state of general exhaustion?

Vila: What?

Avon: Upon instruction, you go straight to your position, ready to work, without offering a single excuse or complaint? Are you ill?

Hailee: ( Smiles. ) Zen, engage standby course out of the system, standard by six.

Zen: Confirmed.

( Avon is about to speak to Vila again, when Hailee leans forward and nudges him. )

Hailee: ( Winks. ) Let's just get out of here.

( Avon looks at Hailee for a moment, then nods and settles back. )

Avon: Engage cloak once we're clear of the planet's gravity well, Zen.

Zen: Confirmed.

Avon: Steady as she goes.

( Liberator withdraws from Tyrix orbit into the inky wastes of space, shimmers and vanishes from view. )




This was quite a difficult episode for me to write, particularly the closing scenes that dealt with Vila coming to a reconciliation with his father, but I'm very pleased with the way that I wrote it, and also with the timing of its posting.

This is because my own father died a year ago this very month, and so the subject matter is particularly sensitive to me. That's not to say that my father and I were estranged at the time of his death (or ever), but the bottom line is that he is no longer with me, and so it was very poignant finding a way to shape the words, "Dad, I love you" without getting that aching realisation that there was no one there to hear it. Even if it was Vila saying it, and to Sarlad, it still allowed me to express the words TO someone, which did me a power of good.

In all of these "deep-and-meaningful" reflections, it's easy to miss the impact of the rest of the story. For instance, Vila also reconciles his long-standing bitterness toward Avon over that Malodaar business in Orbit. At the other end of the scale, he also hears a few unpleasant home truths from Soolin.

The resolution of the Sarlad/Belhaven feud leaves open a key plot thread that will be tied up right at the end of the series. Interestingly, when I started plotting out the story, I'd envisaged Sarlad dying at Vila's hands  -  a fresh trauma for Vila to handle  -  with Belhaven taking the throne and only then revealing his true nature. But I decided that slaying his father was just asking for too much of a leap in behaviour from Vila, and that in any case, this ending was far more rounded and therefore gives far more room for the next episode to move the story in the different direction I want. It also makes a nice change for a story arc to end on a completely happy note for once.



Nico Mody-Nikoloff:

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the last three episodes with Vila and his father. Hey, I enjoy all your eps, but it was nice to see Vila being rounded out and show there's more to him than whining comic-relief.

Oh yes, I had a suspicion you'd like this story. I was
actually toying with the general idea since the time I wrote Stella out of the series, some four years ago now (
Kerr-rikey! Has it really been that long? I feel old). But seeing how fond you are of Vila, that was kind of what confirmed to me that I should go for it.
I hope it shows that my view of baldie-sulk-boy (just kiddin'!) is far more in accord with yours than you originally thought. I do like him really!

I just loved the witty interplay between Soolin and Hailee during the fight with Bellhaven's soldiers. Go, girls!

Up to a point maybe. To be honest, it was slightly cheap writing. Just that sort of grainy, verbally-incontinent, commentating sarcasm that they go in for in Buffy The Vampire Slayer really, which is not a show that I'm terribly fond of. It was the right sort of exchange to slot in here, but I'm not going to do that kind of thing too often. It's just, well, Hailee's proving to be such fun to write for, I couldn't resist it. By the way, if anyone wants to use Hailee in one of their own fanfics, just drop me a line and then go for it. She'll do you a power of good, trust me. I'm quite proud of her...

I also liked the twists in the plot as our perceptions of Sarlad and Belhaven were played with.

Anyone who's seen Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (Oh God, I can never get over how cheesy that title sounds!) may recognise the parallels with Count Dooku. George Lucas deliberately kept the audience's perception of Dooku ambiguous throughout the film  -  was he one of the good guys or one of the bad guys  -  and I decided to do the same sort of thing here, only have the issue revolving around two people instead of one. The only thing I left certain was that one of them had to be good, the other had to be evil, and no point in between was possible. Although it must be acknowledged that at one stage it appeared possible that they might both have been evil.

I assume we get to see more of Sarlad with Jaimee crashed on his planet?

Not quite. Yes, we will see more from Sarlad eventually, although not 'till near the end of the series  -  it'll be a long time before the Tyricians will be in any kind of shape to help Avon, so Liberator won't be heading back there just yet. As for Jaimee, he didn't land on Tyrix, he landed on Belquon, the planet orbiting the black hole that the Subjugator fell into, so no he won't have anything to do with Sarlad either. You'll see what he finds there over the next couple of episodes. As a loose hint, re-read the end of A Matter Of Gravity to see if you can spot any possibilities!


Brian McLennan:

Nice way of bringing back Zen's stubbornness about prime directives.

I wasn't aware that it had gone away.

It was clever the way you kept the Sarlad/Belhaven feud so ambiguous. But I had my doubts about everything Belhaven was saying all the way through, especially [back in Eng And Emp] when he whispered "You'd better hope so!" after Sarlad said, "God save the King."

Well spotted. I was largely trying to get the readers guessing and second-guessing. In the first part Sarlad generally appears to be honest, if not exactly pleasant, and Belhaven slightly shifty and smarmy. In the second and most of the third I had Sarlad portrayed as a despot and Belhaven as a freedom fighter. Even if Belhaven came across as a little unscrupulous, well, that was just going to remind everyone of Roj Blake, so the readers had to keep on their toes to spot where the truth lay.

I liked Vila's role in the story. Definitely the best outing he's had so far in Blake's Legacy.

It rounded off a number of very unhappy issues for him, all of them longstanding. From now on his behaviour should be a little more like it was in season three of Blake's 7.


Jane Walton:

P3 was really enjoyable with its twists and turns, though I never believed much of what Belhaven said, he seemed too quick to keep changing his story!

One minor gripe...when are you going to get rid of Soolin?! She's losing her individuality and becoming little more than a foil for the others to play off.

I don't plan to write her out, at least not yet, but she will be more pro-active in the near future.

Aside from that, it was a thought provoking and moving trilogy and I agree with Nico that it's nice to see Vila portrayed in a better light than you usually allow him.

Oh I wouldn't say he does that badly out of me! Not quite...


My replies are in ORANGE ITALICS


Season Two Scripts