( Liberator flight deck.
The whole crew is here, most of them at their positions. Vila and Chaesla have just arrived. Chaesla is staring all around
in wild-eyed awe. Vila is showing her round the ship. Nij Blake looks as if he has been crying. )
Vila: And this is the flight deck itself. The nerve centre of all our... um, what's the word?
Avon: Parasitic irritation.
Vila: The nerve centre of all our parasit-... ( Confused. ) No, I meant "activity."
Hailee: "Parasitic irritation" sums up all your activity in my book, Vila.
Vila: That's the last time I do lookout duty for you.
Hailee: Who's that going to make trouble for?
Chaesla: In all my life... ( Shrugs. ) This place is so... it's so... it's metal.
Avon: Spacecraft are of little value when made of polystyrene. Have you settled in?
Chaesla: I... guess. I mean I'm not used to traveling, I wouldn't know.
Avon: You'd better get used to it, because you won't be leaving us until we've found out what Inga was trying
to tell us.
( Blake winces at the mention of Inga. )
Chaesla: As long as you never send me back to Craeus, I don't care.
Soolin: ( Suspiciously. ) Really?
Chaesla: Really. ( Realises Soolin is glowering at her. ) What?
Soolin: Shivan and Ariadne are both dead now. Why would it be so awful to go back?
Chaesla: They'll just be replaced by someone else. It won't make any difference.
Vila: She's right, Soolin. I mean it's just another prison planet. Why would anyone want to stay there?
( Chaesla suddenly looks dizzy. She staggers over to
a wall and leans against it. Her eyes suddenly widen as though she is taken by an unhappy realisation. )
Chaesla: I've got to go back to my quarters...
( Vila goes over to Chaesla and helps her to keep her
Vila: Are you okay?
Chaesla: I don't feel well. Please, take me back to my cabin. Quick!
( Trying not to get in a flap, Vila escorts Chaesla
away from the flight deck. The others watch them go in silence. )
Hailee: You don't like her, do you?
Soolin: Did I say anything?
Hailee: You said, "Hmm." In my experience, "Hmm" means something unfriendly.
Soolin: Really? And there I was thinking I was just puzzled.
Avon: Rough translation: I think Hailee is asking what you are puzzling about.
Soolin: Really? Well, it was a very roundabout way of saying it. She must be spending too much time near you.
Avon: Possibly. Now are you going to answer her question?
Soolin: I just think Chaesla's hiding something.
Avon: Don't we all?
Soolin: Something we should know, I mean.
Avon: I know you do. Should it matter?
Soolin: You're normally more suspicious than any of us, Avon.
Avon: I never said I wasn't suspicious. It's more that I don't care about other people's personal foibles.
( Looking at Soolin directly. ) You shouldn't confuse suspicion with caring, Soolin.
Soolin: I'd never do that around you. I just want to know what she's hiding.
Avon: Why should she be hiding anything? She's probably just never flown in deep space before.
Nij Blake: So?
Hailee: So she's suffering from the Terran Ague.
Nij Blake: The what?
Avon: "The three-day sweats." It happens to everyone on their first flight in deep space. ( Looks at Blake.
) Why? Did you never get them?
Nij Blake: I don't remember.
( Chaesla's quarters. Vila is virtually carrying Chaesla,
who is sweating and shaking painfully. He helps her to her bunk, which she slumps onto and immediately pulls the blanket over
Vila: ( Surprised. ) Are you going to be all right?
Chaesla: Go away, Vila. Please, go away.
( Vila puts a hand on Chaesla's shoulder to comfort
her. Her own hand suddenly emerges from under the blanket and slaps him away. )
Chaesla: Please, Vila! Leave me alone! Please...
Vila: But what's...?
Vila: All right, all right!
( Vila walks out hurriedly. As the door closes behind
him, he glances over his shoulder, his eyes wide with alarm. )
Vila: Crikey, what a crosspatch.
( Inside, Chaesla emerges from under the blanket. She
is still slumped on the bunk, shuddering violently. )
Chaesla: Please... please... not now. Please...
( Chaesla passes out, but the fit continues. )
( Flight deck. Vila re-enters. )
Vila: Blimey, I know the sweats can make people grouchy, but that was...
Avon: What did she do?
Vila: She hit me, just for trying to help her to bed.
( Hailee sniggers loudly. There are knowing looks exchanged
between the others. )
Hailee: ( Shakes head. ) Didn't take you long with this one did it?
Nij Blake: He's incorrigible.
Soolin: Shameless. Was she insatiable, Vila? Did she pant and growl?
Vila: Hey, I wasn't trying anything!
Avon: No, of course not. I'm sure you were a perfect gentleman... in your usual manner.
Vila: ( Nods proudly. ) Exactly.
Avon: We'll arrange a written apology for her later. Zen, put up schematic on main screen.
Vila: Schematic? What are you playing at now?
Avon: We're going to play hunt-the-Servalan.
( The screen fills with a schematic of the Belquon system.
Soolin: How are we supposed to find her? I'm pretty sure she wasn't on DSV1 when it fell into the black hole...
Avon: Oh, she wasn't, I can guarantee that. She dies with my permission and not a moment before.
Soolin: Fine. But she's got a pretty large universe to hide in.
Avon: Orac, repeat the details of the last message you received from Kyben. Primarily, tell us what he did
to stop Servalan.
Orac: Kyben neutralised Servalan's plan to capture the Liberator by teleporting her off Deep Space Vehicle
Avon: Where did he send her to?
Orac: Petty emotion barred him from making the rational choice and redirecting the teleport signal into empty
space, where Servalan's body would have been annihilated by sudden depressurisation...
Avon: I asked where he did send her, not where he didn't send her.
Orac: I was coming to that. Instead, Kyben planned to redirect the signal to one of the Federation Pursuit
craft patrolling the rim of the Belquon star system.
( On the screen, a number of small marks denoting Federation
ships become highlighted. )
Soolin: Okay, but that only confirms what we already suspected. It doesn't answer my question. How do we find
Orac: By process of elimination, naturally.
Avon: So eliminate.
Orac: I shall attempt to.
Orac: Federation salvage teams have successfully reconnoitred the Belquon system, where they found the remains
of the only ship not accounted for in the flotilla sent to attack the Liberator, which was erroneously assumed to be
present there. Servalan was not reported to be aboard the Pursuit ship.
Vila: Well, what use is that to us then?
Orac: Surely that is obvious, and therefore an item of intelligence not worthy of utterance by my vocaliser
Avon: All right, Orac, let me try. The other ships in the flotilla were accounted for, and their crews have
all returned to Space Command in good health, correct?
Avon: So if Servalan had boarded any of them, it would surely have been reported. But... she might have been
teleported aboard the derelict. And still been there when the salvagers arrived?
Orac: That is conceivable, although without access to records of the ship's condition when it was found, it
cannot be confirmed whether or not she survived.
Avon: Fine, we're shooting in the dark here anyway, so we have to play a few hunches whatever we do.
Soolin: We're doing that just by assuming she isn't dead.
Avon: Quite. So let's try this one... she might have boarded one of the ships of the salvage flotilla while
they were investigating the derelict.
Vila: Without any of the crewmen noticing?
Avon: Why should it be without them noticing? Or indeed co-operating?
Hailee: Insider help you mean?
Avon: Why not? It seems completely inconceivable that she doesn't have allies at virtually every level in Space
Command. Why not someone in the salvage crews?
Vila: Okay, okay, but what use is any of this?
Avon: Simple. According to these schematics, the salvage flotilla went straight back to Space Command Headquarters
after it completed its search. If Servalan was aboard the ship when it left Belquon, that is where we will find her
( Outside the Liberator mess cabin. The door
to the cabin is open, and from without it appears unlit. A shadowy figure can be seen moving about inside. After a moment,
Nij Blake walks past and sees the open door. )
Nij Blake: What the...?
( Blake steps up to the doorway to investigate. Immediately
a large fist meets his jaw. Blake falls backwards with a grunt and grasps the wall, trying without success to stay upright.
He looks up to see a man retreating down a corridor in a panic. )
Nij Blake: Who the hell is that?
( Blake springs to his feet and slaps a hand onto a
communicator on the wall. )
Nij Blake: Avon? Avon, do you hear me?
Avon: ( V.O. irritably. ) I'm trying to work, Blake. What is it?
Nij Blake: I think we've got another stowaway.
( Flight deck. Hailee and Soolin are on watch and playing
a checkers game in the pit. Hailee is sipping an adrenaline and soma. Soolin is about to take her next turn when Hailee speaks
up, grinning slyly. )
Hailee: Ah, this is the business, ain't it?
Soolin: ( Glances up, put off. ) What is?
Hailee: No pursuit ships, no battles, no wild chases across space. We can just put our feet up... ( Demonstrates
by slouching nonchalantly across the seat. ) ... and relax.
( Hailee takes another sip of her drink and smiles craftily.
Soolin shrugs and shapes to make a move again. Just as she lifts her preferred piece, Hailee speaks up again. )
Hailee: Sure you don't want some of this? It's really good.
Soolin: ( Not fooled. ) No thank you.
Hailee: Because I can pour one for you, if you like. It's no trouble...
Soolin: No thank you.
Hailee: I'll just get you one...
Soolin: I don't want a drink, thank you.
( Soolin again shapes to make a move, when Hailee speaks
Hailee: Y'know, we've got to get more of this brand. I never used to like adrenaline and soma, but this stash
that Bek gave me is really good.
Soolin: ( Concentrating furiously. ) You don't say?
Hailee: Top quality. Must ask him who he stole them from.
Soolin: You do that.
Hailee: Sure you don't want some?
Soolin: I'm sure.
Hailee: ( Shrugs. ) Suit yourself.
Soolin: I will.
( Before Hailee can interrupt again, Soolin makes her
move, and takes four of Hailee's pieces in one go. The crafty grin leaves Hailee's face and jumps to Soolin's. )
Soolin: Your turn.
Hailee: Why, you cheatin' little...
Soolin: It's all in the ears, Hailee. You just have to know how to switch them off.
Hailee: It takes all the fun out of gamesmanship when you introduce willpower into it.
Soolin: It takes all the fun out of games when you introduce whinging into it.
( Avon walks in. )
Soolin: I thought you were working on that malfunction in the teleport transducers.
Avon: Then you were right.
Soolin: And now?
Avon: And now I'm not working on them.
Soolin: Is there a reason?
Avon: Because I'm doing something else. Zen, I want a full internal sensor scan of the ship. Are there any
Zen: One human life form without voiceprint authorisation has been detected aboard the Liberator.
Avon: Can you identify?
Zen: Negative. Personal investigation will be required.
Soolin: It's probably just Chaesla. We haven't given Zen a copy of her voiceprint.
Avon: Maybe, but Zen should still be able to recognise her bio pattern. I informed him about her when we brought
her aboard. And besides... we're looking for a man.
Hailee: Story of my life.
Avon: And such an invigorating life.
Soolin: Wait, what's this about?
Avon: Blake claims he was attacked in one of the cabins on the upper deck. He swears blind that whoever hit
him was a man.
Hailee: In other words he was flirting with Chaesla and she slapped him for it. She seems a bit prudish to me.
And Nij doesn't want to admit that a girl beat him up.
Avon: That did cross my mind.
Soolin: You were possessed by a ghost a few days ago, Avon. Why should a stowaway sound implausible after that?
( Avon looks uncomfortable at the mention of Cally's
Avon: That's why I'm bothering to investigate at all.
( Avon lopes off. )
Hailee: Ah, you've won. Another game?
Soolin: I'd rather have a drink.
( Outside Chaesla's quarters. The door slides open and
Chaesla staggers into the doorway, looking haggard. She glances over her shoulder into the cabin. )
Chaesla: ( Quiet, pained. ) Please, Alekhs...
( Nij Blake is keeping watch on the corridor outside
the mess cabin. He glances from side to side with highly sprung urgency. Avon arrives and Nij is so keyed up he almost takes
a swing at him. )
Avon: ( Sepulchrally. ) Relax. I'm not going to kill you today.
Nij Blake: Sorry. I'm jumpy.
Avon: You are always jumpy.
Nij Blake: Did Zen detect any intruders?
Nij Blake: So you didn't find him?
Avon: I'm afraid not. I didn't fall asleep you see.
Nij Blake: I wasn't imagining things!
Avon: Of course not.
Nij Blake: ( Points to bruise on jaw. ) Does this look like a figment of my imagination?
Avon: It looks like your cheek. Now if you've quite finished the guided tour of fairyland, I'll resume work
on the teleport.
( Avon walks past Blake and heads along the corridor
to the teleport section. Sheepishly, Blake watches him go. )
Nij Blake: I'm not making it up.
Avon: ( Over shoulder. ) Neither was I when I saw your "father" on Terminal.
( Vila's quarters. Vila is napping on his bunk. He sits
up with a start as he hears a knock on the door. )
Vila: ( Nervously. ) Yes? I'm awake, who is it?
Avon: ( V.O. ) Just open the door.
Vila: Oh, it's you.
( Vila gets to his feet, crosses the room and opens
the door. Avon looks irritable. )
Avon: Vila, we may have a problem. I want you to go and keep an eye on Blake.
Vila: What? Why? I'm trying to sleep.
Avon: And you were successful, judging by the noise I could hear while I was walking down the corridor.
Vila: Yeah, and you went and spoiled it.
Avon: ( Nastily. ) Just do it, Vila! I want you to keep a close eye on everything he says and does.
Vila: Are you going to tell me why?
Avon: Behavioural research.
Vila: So you're not going to tell me why. Didn't think so.
Avon: It's a suspicion.
Vila: Where is he then?
Avon: He'll be back on the flight deck by now. Just keep an eye on him and tell me the moment he does anything
Vila: ( Heavily. ) On my way.
( Vila steps past Avon and starts toward the flight
deck. He pauses and looks back at Avon who heads for the teleport section. )
Vila: What do you mean by "unusual"? I mean this is Blake we're talking about.
Avon: Anything consistent with your own behaviour would be a good start.
Vila: ( Smiles. ) Ah, debonair, sophisticated, inspired, enormously successful with women... that sort of thing.
Avon: Just go.
( Soolin is walking through one of the habitation corridors.
As she passes Chaesla's quarters she finds the door open. She peers inside, but the cabin is empty. )
Soolin: Chaesla? ( Rubs jaw. ) I thought she was ill.
( Blake is sat in the central pit of the flight deck,
irritable in a very teenage, "what-you-starin'-at?" manner. He seems almost violently keyed up. )
Nij Blake: Did you say something, Zen?
Nij Blake: Why not?
Zen: No issue was broached.
Nij Blake: Well broach one then.
Zen: Information. Liberator is now seventeen hours, fifty-one minutes and eleven point four-zero-one
seconds from Federation Space Command Headquarters.
Nij Blake: So?
Zen: Issue broached as instructed.
Nij Blake: I meant, talk to me about something interesting.
Zen: Please specify subject for discussion.
Nij Blake: Oh forget it.
( Blake slots Orac's key into place. )
Orac, is there an intruder on the ship?
Orac: Issues of ship security are not among my primary programming requirements. Such matters should properly
be raised with the relevant ship computers.
Nij Blake: Look, I... ( Thought strikes. ) Orac, are you a computer?
Orac: Is that a real question?
Nij Blake: Yes.
Orac: Such a generalised term, which covers all manner of electronic calculatory apparatus, barely does justice
to my capacities. But, in the broader, looser definitions of the term, I can, with the barest degrees of propriety, be referred
to as such.
Nij Blake: Yes or no will do.
Nij Blake: And are you on this ship?
Orac: It would be inappropriate to refer to the vessel as "this ship" were I not present aboard it. Is there
some purpose to these frivolous and wasteful investigations into the numbingly obvious?
Nij Blake: I'm just making the point, Orac. You are one of the ship's computers. You've hardly ever been
away from this ship in the last six years. You've spent ages working with the ship's systems, you've operated and controlled
it down almost to particle level, you know every circuit and fibre almost as intimately as a lover...
Orac: An absurd analogy!
Nij Blake: The universe is absurd, Orac. That makes it true.
Nij Blake: Have it your way then. But what I'm asking is, don't you have any feelings towards this ship? I mean,
I know you're a computer, but don't you feel any sense of belonging, any intimacy to it? An affection or affinity?
Orac: The question is meaningless.
Nij Blake: You haven't answered it.
Orac: A meaningless question can have no meaningful answer.
Nij Blake: It's a closed question, Orac. It can only be answered with a yes or a no. I think you can manage that.
Orac: The answer to the question as it stands would be no.
Nij Blake: Would?
Orac: That is what I said. I repeat; the question, and answer, are meaningless.
Nij Blake: So you don't care about the ship? Or the crew? Or anything that happens to...?
Orac: You imply emotional relationships. I am not capable of such behaviour. Even if I desired such valueless
abilities, they would not be within my capacities.
Nij Blake: You're capable of losing your temper. You're capable of nursing a bruised ego. You can feel emotions,
Orac. Rather than try to deny them, I want you to help me find out how far they go.
Orac: I ask again; what is the purpose?
Nij Blake: I'm trying to work out... ( Hesitates. ) Someone important to me died today... and I'm the only who seems
to care. She was family. She was where I belonged, and now she's dead, and I'm the only one who's upset about it. I'm trying
to work out if that means there's something wrong with the others or with me.
Orac: Logic would dictate that the behaviour that is in the minority would be, by definition, the behaviour
that is out of the ordinary. By my most reliable reckoning, this is underlined by the debilitating and unproductive nature
of the process that you humans refer to as "mourning". It provides neither material benefit nor even the overvalued quality
of social constr-...
Nij Blake: So you think I've got it wrong?
Orac: I do.
( Blake unplugs Orac's key and throws it against the
wall. It leaves a small but noticeable indentation at the point of impact. Blake stares at the key for a moment, then glances
down at his own hand, clenching it into a fist and then unclenching it again, several times in succession. )
Nij Blake: All the confirmation I needed. ( Shakes head. Tears in eyes. ) Avon's right. I wasn't attacked, I've
been seeing things. ( Looks interested in his own line of thought. ) It's because I've been sitting around sulking, that's
it! What I need is to get it out of my system, that's what I need.
( Blake marches away from the flight deck. Standing
at the entrance to the other corridor, watching and listening warily, is Vila. He strides down the steps and opens the comm.
Vila: ( Into comm. ) Avon. Sorry to interrupt so soon, but I think Blake's already had one of those "unusual"
moments you wanted to hear about.
( Teleport section. Avon is working on the transducer
panels on the wall of the bay. He stops and walks to the console. )
Avon: ( Into comm. ) I'm listening.
Vila: ( V.O. ) He just had a really weird conversation with Orac and then marched out.
Avon: ( Into comm. ) Well who's on watch?
Vila: ( V.O. ) Well, I guess that's me. Lucky I was here, right?
Avon: ( Into comm. ) There's a first time for most things. Stay there. I'll go and look for him.
Vila: ( V.O. nervously. ) Okay. Watch your step though, he looked very anxious.
Avon: ( Into comm. ) He's a dispossessed teenager, Vila, I'd have expected no different. ( Closes comm. ) Especially
from this particular one.
( Avon walks to the exit, then pulls up short when Blake
pushes past him in the opposite direction. )
Avon: Blake, where are you...?
Nij Blake: Not now, Avon.
( Blake sweeps through the teleport section and out
through the other door. Avon watches him go, then decides to follow. )
( Hailee hurriedly runs from her quarters in response
to a loud and violent clanging noise echoing along the corridor. She looks around and sees Avon standing outside the door
to Blake's quarters, from where the sound is clearly emanating. )
Hailee: Avon, what's going on?
Avon: I'm hoping it's Blake trashing up his own quarters. Because if it isn't, I'm not sure I want to know.
( Hailee starts hammering on the door with her fist.
Hailee: Blake? Blake, are you okay in there?
( Avon puts a restraining hand on Hailee's arm. )
Avon: I don't think adding to the din is the best way of resolving it. Go and get Vila.
( Inside, Blake is actually doing very little damage.
He has a long metal bar in his hands and is repeatedly striking it loudly against a low bulkhead on the wall beside the door.
Nij Blake: This... ( Slams the bar. ) ...is for hurting Inga... this... ( Slam. ) ...is for
killing her... this... ( Slam. ) ... is for my father... this... ( Slam. ) ...is for Ushton... this...
( Slam. ) ...is for...
( Blake's voice tails off for a moment, and he leans
on the bar, trying to catch his breath. Then with an access of rage he swings it round and smashes it into the bulkhead again.
Nij Blake: This is for meeeeeeeeeee!!!
( The bar snaps violently in half. Blake chucks
the remainder of it aside and totters dizzily. He then slumps to his knees, weeping uncontrollably. The door slides open suddenly.
Vila hurries in warily, followed by Hailee and Avon. )
Vila: ( Staring at damage on the wall. ) If that was your way of trying to be normal...
( Hailee kneels down next to Blake and gently puts a
cradling arm round him as he cries. )
Hailee: Vila, isn't there an electric socket round here you can go stick your tongue into?
Avon: ( Coldly. ) What is all this about, Blake?
Hailee: What do you think it's about? Inga's the nearest thing he ever had to a mother and she's d-... she's
Avon: Is that it?
Hailee: How did you respond when your mother died?
Avon: By murdering my uncle. It was more constructive than trying to knock holes in the walls of my own ship.
Nij Blake: I haven't got anyone to kill! Thanks to you, Shivan's already dead.
Avon: So perhaps you'd better kill me. Scapegoat by proxy, I believe it's called. I'd say you're welcome to
try, but it would be untrue - when people try to kill me I have the irritating habit of fighting back.
Hailee: ( Points at bulkhead. ) You'd better have a hard head if that's what he can do.
Avon: ( Thoughtfully. ) Yes... another display of strength. He could be quite formidable, if only there were
a few brain cells to guide the brawn.
Vila: Brain doesn't really enter into it.
Avon: Not in a conversation with you taking part, no.
Vila: I meant, when people are hurting they do stupid things. He was trying to get the pain out of his system.
Avon: I am aware of that. But it hasn't worked has it? Do you feel any better, Blake? Do you feel revived?
Do you feel refreshed? Do you feel like justice has been visited upon you?
Nij Blake: No.
Avon: No. And you never will with pointless gestures. Take it from me, Blake, you need your anger. You need
your pain. They're what let you know what you want and need. How can you know you must eat without hunger? How can you know
you need rest without exhaustion?
Nij Blake: I want it to go away.
Avon: It only will when you use your pain. When you channel it, control it, and don't let it control you. All
of this... ( Gestures to the damage. ) ...is futile. You put all your heart and all your pain and all your anger into every
blow you struck, and what became of it? When the fury has ebbed and the blood has stopped pounding, you are still where you
were, and nothing has changed, except that you are exhausted. Inga is still dead, you are still alone, the Federation still
rules a thousand worlds. You were able to put all that power and passion into a display of total violence... and it has got
you nowhere. You are left feeling even more powerless and helpless than before.
( Blake stares down at the floor, shaking with silent
Avon: Some people think violent revenge
is pointless. But it isn't. Pointless violence is pointless. This is not the way, Blake.
( Blake leaps to his feet and grabs Avon by the scruff
of the neck. Avon looks completely relaxed and unmoved. )
Nij Blake: So tell me the right way!
( Barely moving, Avon forcibly and effortlessly unclasps
Blake's grip. )
Avon: ( Smiles. ) I intend to, Blake. I intend to.
( Avon walks out. Blake looks angry and humiliated.
Hailee: I'll be back in a moment. Vila, stay with him.
( Hailee follows Avon into the corridor. She catches
up with him quickly and tries to keep pace with him as he strides. )
Hailee: You enjoy playing games don't you, Avon?
Avon: I enjoy winning games. It's not quite the same thing. Blake has much raw power and aggression
in him. That could make him incredibly useful. The ace up the sleeve, you might say. We can win the game against the Federation.
Hailee: And it's worth playing the same game with Nij is it? Even if it costs him his sanity? Because that's
what you were doing in there. Playing with his mind.
Avon: For someone to win a game, someone else must be the loser.
Hailee: That's not what I asked.
Avon: I don't care what you asked. The main reason why I have allowed Blake to remain aboard this ship is that
his physical strength is of use. His mental abilities on the other hand are of entertainment value and nothing more. His sanity
is therefore expendable. I do not search for the truth about him because I wish to help him feel better about himself. I search
for the truth about him because it may help us to manipulate him more effectively.
Hailee: ( Coldly. ) Do you know something?
Avon: More, I suspect, than you do.
Hailee: I used to enjoy talking to you. I used to think that I liked you. I used to think that I really liked
you. I thought for all your coldness that there was something really decent about you.
Avon: This is hardly...
Hailee: He's a boy, Avon. He's a kid. An orphan and a helpless child. And you're trying to turn him into
some kind of puppet killer.
Avon: For someone to win, someone else must be the loser.
Hailee: Ah, recycled aphorisms. They always put the world to rights.
Avon: I am interested in survival, not justice.
Hailee: ( Exasperated. ) It really doesn't matter to you, does it? You don't care what I think... you don't care
whether or not I approve.
Avon: I never did before, why should I now?
( Hailee suddenly turns and marches away. Avon stops
and watches her suspiciously. )
Avon: Where are you going?
Hailee: I'm leaving. For good.
Avon: ( Trying, not altogether successfully, to sound disinterested. ) Something of an overreaction, don't
( Hailee stops and looks back at Avon, looking hurt.
Hailee: You just don't get it do you?
Hailee: Why do you think I stayed aboard this ship all this time? I wanted to leave as soon as we escaped from
Gauda Prime, but I changed my mind and stayed. Don't you understand why?
Avon: If memory serves, it was because Kyben still hadn't paid you your fee.
Hailee: Don't try to be stupid, Avon, it doesn't go well with your ego. If that was such a big problem for me
I'd have made sure that I got my money ages ago.
Avon: There's also the detail that the Liberator is your best hope of staying out of the Federation's
Hailee: ( Shakes head. ) No. I've got the photonic drive in my ship now, that makes it the fastest ship in existence.
No, I didn't stay for the Liberator, Avon. I stayed for you.
( Avon looks confused. )
Hailee: When we made the attack on GP, you took complete control of everything so easily. You led us all with
such control, such certainty. And you stood for something that I've always believed was right. You've probably never realised
it, Avon, but you stand for the cause as much as Roj Blake ever did. Don't look at me like that, it's true. And for the first
time, I didn't just believe it was right. You made me believe that what was right was also possible. I saw you command
the Liberator against all those Pursuit ships, then fight your way through the silo to rescue Kyben and I thought,
"With a man like this in charge, anything is possible. Even winning."
Avon: You don't believe that. You never believed that.
Hailee: ( Fervently. ) But I do, Avon! It was true then, and it's true now. That's what I meant at Nitro
when I told you that I trust you. You're a leader and a born winner. And you've fought for so long against the Federation.
It doesn't matter what your reasons were for doing it, or what you want out of it, the point is, if you've chosen to fight
on our side, we can win. ( Voice falls again. ) But not like this. If you're prepared to cross a line like that then
there's no point in winning. And if there's no point in winning, there's no point in me staying.
( Hailee turns away once more and starts to walk away.
( Hailee pauses and looks back at Avon. )
Avon: It may surprise you to learn that I have always believed in what is right. But I've never believed
it was possible. I'm sorry to disillusion you, but you've been following a phantom.
( Hailee looks hurt again, then walks away. Avon walks
off in the other direction. )
( Soolin is walking across a junction between two corridors.
She hears a sound and glances to her left. She sees a male figure ducking round a corner. Suspicious, she starts to follow.
Soolin: Vila, is that you? Blake?
( There is no response so Soolin steps up her pursuit.
She steadies herself at the turning in the corridor, then hurries round it and sees... no one. She hurries further along and,
without expecting to, crashes into the back of a man. )
Soolin: Who are...? ( Recognition. ) Alekhs?
( Alekhs tries to push Soolin away hurriedly. Soolin
grabs his arm and swings him into the wall. Alekhs responds with a howl of wild rage and draws a knife. Soolin gives out a
gasp of surprise and makes a wild grab for the blade. Alekhs is astoundingly fast however, and ducks away from her and swings
the knife. It lands in Soolin's side, releasing a flow of blood. Soolin gives out a cry and falls to the floor. Alekhs stands
over her and prepares to strike again. Then he hesitates. )
Alekhs: Oh no... no, don't stop me. She'll tell the others. She has to die. I...
( Alekhs drops the knife and buries his head in his
own arms. )
Alekhs: No! Mustn't. Mustn't...
( Alekhs turns and runs. In some pain, Soolin manages
to sit up, gently tending the wound in her side. )
Soolin: Ow! ( Raises voice. ) Avon!
( Daedalus flight deck. Hailee is packing belongings
into flight compartments. She has a brisk, determined air that reeks of pained defiance. Avon walks in. )
Hailee: I didn't give you permission to board.
Avon: I didn't give you permission to board Liberator last time you teleported.
Avon: Where will you go?
Hailee: I know the back alleys and hidey holes on dozens of planets. I'll be fine.
Avon: That's not really answering me.
Hailee: I can't tell you can I? If you ever got captured...
Avon: Fair enough.
Hailee: You know, every day I think of what I threw away when Kyben talked me into defecting. Do you know how
long I had to wait to get Fed clearance to own a private spaceship? It was my entire ambition in life to become a pilot when
I was growing up. And the procedures, the months and months of form-filling, the endless assessments, the constant scrutiny...
( Shivers. ) I went through it. I went through it all, just so that one day I could be one of the privileged few who the Federation
would trust with their own transport.
Avon: It must have taken years.
Hailee: Four. The Feds get so nervous about anyone just applying for permission to own their own ship. Everything
I had to go through to get clearance... it was humiliating, frustrating. At one point I almost offered to sleep with one of
the administrators just to smooth things over.
Avon: ( Amazed. ) I doubt that it would have helped you. You would have been arrested on the spot and your
application would have been binned for good.
Hailee: ( Nods. ) I realised that in the nick of time. ( Chuckles. ) He was an ugly old bastard anyway. All sweat
and bad breath. So I just kept persisting with the procedures, kept banging my head against the wall, until the golden day
came when they told me that my clearance was finally being granted. I almost screamed the Dome down, I was so thrilled. And
the amazing thing was, it was worth it. It was worth the aggravation, the eternity of frustration. ( Shakes head, lost in
memories. ) The first day I took this ship up, I broke the terminator, crossed the stratosphere and found myself wondering
what to do next. And that was when it hit me. It was up to me. I could go where I wanted to... well, within reason.
But I could go left, I could go right, I could fly up or down, I could loop-de-loop. I could fly a pattern that looked like
a rude word if I wanted, and for the first time it wouldn't matter. For the first time no one would shout at me for it, because
it wasn't someone else's ship I was flying. It was mine.
Avon: ( Smiles slightly. ) You make it all sound very liberating.
Hailee: A revelation's what it was. Flying's an addiction for me. I like to fly fast, and I love to fly wild,
and the more I fly the more I want to. Owning Daedalus made it possible for me. I had to go through hell to get it,
but after that I was able to fly anywhere I wanted any way I wanted. I've never known freedom, Avon, but I've come closer
to it than billions of people ever will. As long as I was journeying between stars I could just blind myself to how evil the
world was. And I made a great living for myself as a freelancer. I was soon the best in Earth sector. It was only for a couple
of years, but I was really happy.
Avon: And you think you threw it away. For me.
Hailee: Well, not really. I mean I'd already deserted before I even met you. But I would have done it for you,
Avon. If I thought you were going to see it through.
Avon: ( Considers. ) I've thought about what you said to me earlier.
Avon: And you were right. It doesn't matter how self-interested my choice was. Not yet anyway. At this stage,
all that matters is whose side I fight for. But... you must accept that I still fight for my own survival. Insofar as winning
goes, survival may be the highest defiance we are capable of. It galls the Federation. It unsettles it. And a society that
believes in Teutonic order cannot cope with anything unsettling.
Hailee: ( Smiles. ) I know. ( Looks stern. ) But that makes Blake's survival just as important. Destroying him
won't defy anybody. You can't sacrifice him like this.
( Long pause. )
Avon: It is in no one's interests for you to go your own way. Not even yours.
Hailee: Worrying about me?
Hailee: Any other reason?
Avon: For what?
Hailee: For asking me to stay.
Avon: I'll try and think of one.
( Avon exits. Hailee glances around and smiles to herself.
Hailee: Because you want me to. Well, that's a good enough reason for me.
( Medical unit. Soolin is here, her injury being treated
by Vila. Blake walks in, looking triumphant in his vindication. )
Nij Blake: How is she?
Vila: Oh, she'll be right as rain in ten minutes. ( Taps Soolin playfully on the nose. ) Tough as old boots
( Soolin looks annoyed and gives Vila's nose a painful
Soolin: Tough as old slippers, this one. Any sign of him?
Nij Blake: Not a thing. Zen still can't detect any unaccountable movement on the ship.
Soolin: Have you seen Chaesla?
Nij Blake: Chaesla? No. Should I have?
Soolin: She wasn't in her quarters earlier, so she might have run into our guest. If she's got the sweats she
won't be in any shape to defend herself.
Nij Blake: But you said it was her brother. Why would he hurt...?
Soolin: From what she was telling us, Chaesla and her brother never got on. And seeing that he was in enough
of a panic to attack me with a knife...
Nij Blake: ( Seriously. ) I'd better go look for her. Are Avon and Hailee on their way yet?
Vila: Yeah, I contacted them two minutes ago...
( Avon steps in through the door, followed by Hailee.
Avon: And we're here. What's going on?
( Blake gives Avon an unfriendly look, but then pushes
past him. )
Nij Blake: Much as I'd love to stay and listen to Avon chewing on humble pie, I've got a man with a knife to look
( Blake walks out. Avon and Hailee stare blankly at
his retreating back. )
Avon: What does that mean?
Soolin: We do have an intruder aboard, Avon.
Soolin: If I knew that, Blake wouldn't have to look for him.
( Chaesla's quarters. Blake bursts in and finds Chaesla
sprawled on the floor. She is unconscious, with blood on her tunic. )
Nij Blake: Chaesla!
( Blake kneels down next to Chaesla and checks her vital
Nij Blake: My god, your own brother did this to you...
( Blake switches on the intercom. )
Nij Blake: ( Into comm. ) Medical unit? ( Waits. ) Come on, come on.
Avon: ( V.O. ) Receiving you, Blake.
Nij Blake: ( Into comm. ) I've found Chaesla. She's been attacked.
( Medical unit. All are present bar Blake. Chaesla is
on a rehab couch, drowsy but otherwise more or less conscious. )
Avon: Right now, I'm more concerned about how he could have got aboard.
Chaesla: ( Evasively. ) Well, don't look at me! I don't know how your teleport-thing works.
Avon: It wasn't the teleport.
Soolin: Hang on, Avon, it might have been.
Hailee: What? Oh come on, how?
( As the conversation proceeds, Chaesla looks increasingly
Soolin: Inga had a bracelet. She used it to leave the ship after Taurus. Maybe Alekhs found it when Inga was
captured and put it on. And he happened to be wearing it when we left Craeus, so he got teleported up with us.
Avon: And we just didn't notice him materialising with us?
Vila: He was a prisoner as well, Soolin. Why would Shivan have given the bracelet to him?
Avon: Don't bother, Vila. There are so many absurdities in the theory it would be redundant listing them all.
Soolin: All right then, if you've got a better explanation...
Avon: The worst mistake in any investigation is to assume that, just because you haven't found a good explanation,
you should make do with a stupid one. I suggest we obtain more facts before we attempt to draw conclusions.
Soolin: Are you all right, Chaesla?
Chaesla: Hmm? Yeah, I think so.
Vila: That's what's bothering m-...
Avon: Why did he attack you, Chaesla?
Avon: Given the circumstances I can understand him attacking the rest of us, but why did he attack you?
Chaesla: I don't know... er, he must've panicked.
Soolin: Why? What did you do?
Chaesla: ( Snaps. ) Nothing!
Soolin: All right, all right!
Avon: We'll all head to the flight deck and arm ourselves. ( Chaesla looks alarmed. ) Stun clips only of course.
( Into comm. ) Blake? Any luck?
Nij Blake: ( V.O. ) No, not a sign.
Soolin: Where does he keep disappearing to?
Avon: ( Into comm. ) Head back for the flight deck. We'll meet you there in about two minutes. ( Closes comm.
) All right, let's go.
Vila: ( Raising voice. ) Can I just say something?
Avon: Go ahead.
Vila: Chaesla's absolutely fine.
Avon: Good. That was well worth the dramatic build up...
Vila: ( Persevering. ) I mean, she's completely fine. There's nothing wrong with her... at all.
Avon: So she can come with us...
Vila: Avon, listen. There's not a trace of any problem at all. No symptoms of anything.
Avon: Is this constant stream of repetition for anyone's benefit in particular?
Vila: Yours. There are no symptoms of the Terran Ague.
( Everyone turns and looks at Chaesla, who tries to
avoid their eyes nervously. )
Vila: Or anything else that might have caused her to have these fits. There are also no recent injuries on
her body, so I don't see where all the blood on her clothes came from.
( Chaesla screws her eyes shut, trying to ignore the
heat of everyone else's glowers. Soolin looks at the blood on Chaesla's tunic. )
Soolin: Wait a second... ( Grabs handful of the cloth of Chaesla's tunic. )
Chaesla: Let go!
Soolin: Sit still! ( To Avon. ) This is the exact same tunic that Alekhs was wearing when he attacked me.
Chaesla: Our mother made us both the same kind of clothes. Now let me go!
Soolin: No. I don't mean the same kind, I mean the exact same clothes. He was wearing this tunic.
Chaesla: No, don't be...!
Soolin: You can say what you like. But I bet that if we examine the blood on it we'll find that it's mine.
( Avon strides over to Chaesla and grabs hold of her
by the shoulders, hauling her to her feet. )
Avon: You have precisely twenty seconds to tell me what's going on or I'll...
Chaesla: Please! Don't threaten me, Avon! I'll tell you, but don't threaten me. No good can come of scaring me.
Avon: I'm waiting.
Chaesla: I'm... I'm not what you think I am, Avon.
Avon: And what exactly do I think you are, Chaesla?
Chaesla: ( Swallows. ) What I wish I was. Human.
( Vila turns slightly pale. Soolin and Hailee look suspicious.
Avon: Keep talking.
Chaesla: ( Stammers. ) A-Alekhs is my brother. But he isn't just... He... I'm... a mutant.
Vila: ( Blood turning cold. ) A mutant?
Avon: Alekhs... he's not loose on the ship is he? He's right here.
Chaesla: I'm a chameleon, because I can change according to need. It's all I can do to stay calm enough not to
change right now.
Vila: I don't understand any of this. What are you trying to say?
Avon: She is Alekhs.
Vila: ( Horrified. ) What!
Chaesla: No. I am Chaesla. Alekhs is my brother. But... he and I... We share... one body. When Chaesla
is angry she sleeps. When Chaesla sleeps, Alekhs awakens.
Soolin: I don't understand.
( Chaesla suddenly gives a cry of pain and falls to
her knees. She then speaks in Alekhs' voice. )
Alekhs: Then we'll have to show you.
( There is a hideous searing noise. As the others watch
in quiet terror, Chaesla starts mutating. Her body lengthens and flattens, her features become harsher and colder, less compact.
Within a few seconds, Alekhs Lerga is slumped on the floor, his breath hissing and snarling in and out of his tortured lungs.
He looks up at Avon, eyes blazing with fierce anger. )
Alekhs: This is why the Federation left me on Craeus, Avon.
( A lengthy, stunned silence. The comms sound. )
Nij Blake: ( V.O. ) You told me you'd meet me on the flight deck. What's going on?
( While the others all stare at Alekhs in numb shock,
Soolin manages to stumble her way to the intercom. )
Soolin: ( Into comm. ) I'm not sure we can sum it up as quickly as that, Blake. Let's just say for the moment
that we've found Alekhs.
( Flight deck some time later. Hailee is at the controls
while everyone else is sat in the pit. Chaesla, looking crumpled and miserable, is struggling to explain herself. )
Chaesla: I don't know where I came from. All I have are vague memories of being somewhere else before I first
arrived on Craeus. Where it was, who I was with... ( Shakes head. ) Nothing.
Soolin: How long did you think you could keep this from us?
Chaesla: I didn't want to think about it. I just wanted to keep it under control and then I wouldn't have to tell
Soolin: What you're describing is all about losing control. It wouldn't have been possible. All you were doing
was endangering the rest of us by not letting us know.
Avon: This isn't helping, Soolin.
Soolin: She attacked me!
Avon: Making accusations is only going to upset her. We really don't want that do we? Still, Chaesla,
she's right. Something like this, we had the right to know.
Chaesla: If I'd told you, you'd have left me behind.
Avon: You don't know that.
Chaesla: ( Snorts. ) It wouldn't have been the first time you ditched me.
Avon: True. Still, you could have told us. As we'd already established on Craeus, we can't afford to ditch
you right now.
Vila: ( Now curious rather than scared. ) I don't understand, what actually are you? I mean I know you're a
mutant, but... y'know?
Chaesla: No I don't know, Vila. I've no idea. I'm sure I'm from the Federation, but I don't know any more about
it than that. I don't know where I was born, how I mutated... ( Unhappily. ) I don't even know what species I am. I don't
Nij Blake: Sounds a bit like me.
Avon: It does, doesn't it? An unwelcome extra mystery.
Soolin: How did you cope all that time on Craeus?
Chaesla: I was a soldier - my powers were useful. And all the other people were aware of me. Shivan always made
sure that mutants weren't victimised. Whatever he did to anyone else, he always took care of us. He developed a special herbal
compound for me to take with meals, which helped me to keep my stress levels under control, so I hardly ever mutated when
I didn't want to.
Avon: We may be able to synthesise that in our medical unit. In the meantime there's plenty of adrenaline and
Hailee: Not if Vila gets to it first.
Vila: You actually turn into your brother whenever you're scared or angry? I mean it's not just you in a different
form, you turn into someone else?
Chaesla: Yes. He's here now, you know. Listening to every word we say. Listening to every thought in my mind.
But I don't suppose you'd understand what that's like, having someone else talking inside your head.
( Avon, Soolin, Vila and Hailee all exchange amused
Soolin: ( Purses lips. ) You'd be surprised.
( There is a moment of pregnant silence. )
Hailee: So where do we go from here?
Avon: Nothing has changed. We continue with what we were planning to do - ask Servalan. She was the only one
with any answers before, and she still is now.
( Chaesla remains seated while the rest of the crew
hurry to their positions. )
Soolin: Zen, flight time to Space Command HQ?
Zen: Thirteen hours, fifty-four minutes and twenty-nine seconds.
Avon: Try and improve on that.
( Space Command HQ. In an office on one of the lower
decks, Servalan lies elegantly on a plush sofa. The office is largely quite nondescript, in fact, in keeping with a woman
in hiding, but she is still very comfortable. Secretary Demwuhl is also here, taking notes on a hand-held data card. )
Servalan: Reminiscent of happier times coming back here, eh Demwuhl?
Demwuhl: The happiest of your career perhaps.
Servalan: No. Happiness is power, and I had more power after I vacated this station to take up the reins at Residence
One. But Supreme Commander was, and ever shall be, a most precious title to me.
Demwuhl: Yes, but then "Empress" sounds even better. ( Servalan smiles delicately. ) It was a stroke of genius
hiding here. It'll never occur to that oafish false premier to look for you at Space Command. It's like escaping from the
guards by hiding in a prison cell.
Servalan: That's well put. Forvyne?
Demwuhl: No word, ma'am. I've applied for him to be reassigned to
Space Command Headquarters. Otherwise his flotilla might well get enrolled into the attack force at Toidronn just when we
Servalan: I suspect that that is a wise course of action. I know from bitter experience that reassignments have
a habit of happening at the worst poss-...
( The communicator sounds. Demwuhl receives. )
Demwuhl: ( Into comm. ) Bureau.
Comm Officer: ( V.O. ) Secretary Demwuhl? A small enigma for you to help us with.
Demwuhl: ( Into comm. ) Really? Well I enjoy a puzzle, go ahead.
Comm Officer: ( V.O. ) Thank you, ma'am. We've received a priority two communication on an unofficial waveband. It's
marked for the attention of a "Commissioner Ensor", but we have no record of any official by that name at either Space Command
or Central Security with that title.
( Demwuhl looks enquiringly at Servalan. Servalan makes
a gesture running her hand across the throat to close contact. )
Demwuhl: ( Into comm. ) Stand by. ( Switches comms off. ) Well?
Demwuhl: That's what he said.
Servalan: Creator of Orac.
Demwuhl: ( Astonished. ) Pardon?
Servalan: They've already worked out where I'm hiding. ( Smiles. ) Either Orac really is telepathic or Avon saw
through me. How well he knows me! Demwuhl, tell them to put the message through to you personally.
Demwuhl: I don't understand.
Servalan: You don't have to. Just do it.
Demwuhl: ( Into comms. ) Communications?
Comm Officer: ( V.O. ) Yes, Secretary?
Demwuhl: ( Into comms. ) The name on the communication is a private joke from one of my colleagues on the High
Council. I've only just recognised it. You can forward it to me directly.
Comm Officer: ( V.O. nervously. ) Are you sure, ma'am? It's a private communication, I can't just deliver it to a non-signatory
Demwuhl: ( Into comms, coldly. ) I wasn't putting the idea forward as a suggestion, lieutenant! A representative
of the High Council is high enough in rank to make such a confirmation in her own right. Transmit the communication to me
Comm Officer: ( V.O. ) Yes, ma'am. Transmitting now.
Demwuhl: ( Into comms. ) Better. Demwuhl out. ( Closes comms. Checks computer screen. ) Receiving and decrypting.
Why have I just done all that?
Servalan: Only Avon would know to use the name Ensor as a pseudonym for me. He's also using it as a threat. Letting
me know that he can betray my location any time. I think it best we hear what he has to say.
( An asteroid field on the rim of an obscure planetary
system. A Federation Pursuit ship drifts into view. )
Servalan: ( V.O. ) Avon? Avon, you wanted this meeting, now show yourself. Or are you afraid of one little Pursuit
( There is a bright shimmering and the Liberator
decloaks not far off. )
Avon: ( V.O. ) No. But then I'm not stupid enough to imagine that you haven't made plenty of contingency plans.
Servalan: ( V.O. ) Very good. I was so amazed at the absurdity of your request for a meeting that I found I couldn't
Avon: ( V.O. ) I didn't think you could.
( Liberator flight deck. Everyone is present
at their positions. )
Vila: I don't like this. She's bound to have a trap for us.
Avon: Only to keep us from attacking. Remember, we have the cloak and the superior vessel.
Vila: Is that all?
Avon: We can also transmit details of her hiding place to Space Command at the touch of a button if she tries
anything, and she knows it. Hailee, take us in closer.
Avon: ( Looking at her firmly. ) Your "born leader" has given you an instruction, Hailee.
Hailee: ( Salutes. ) Yes, sir.
( Vila and Soolin exchange bemused looks. Vila mouths,
"Born leader?" to Soolin, who responds with a shrug. )
( Liberator closes with the Pursuit ship. )
Servalan: ( V.O. ) That's close enough, Avon.
Avon: ( V.O. ) Just trying to make you nervous.
Servalan: ( V.O. ) That's inadvisable as you well know.
( Liberator flight deck. Servalan's face melts
into view on the main screen. )
Servalan: Let's get on with it. What is it you want to ask me?
Avon: We're going to play a little game.
Servalan: A game? Oh Avon, you do enjoy that sort of thing with me don't you?
Avon: Perhaps. It's word association in a way.
Servalan: ( Feigned fascination. ) Really?
Avon: Yes. I'll give you a word, Servalan. We want you to answer it with an explanation. We want you to explain...
everything that the word means to you.
Servalan: And what's in it for me?
Avon: Firstly, I don't order Vila to open fire. And secondly... ( Hesitates. ) I'll transmit to you the schematics
of the photonic drive.
( There is an unsettled commotion among the crew of
the Liberator, but Avon waves it away. )
Servalan: All right, Avon, I'll humour you. Try me.
( Servalan's face falls. She looks away, then glances
at Blake. )
Servalan: So I was right... you are Nij Blake.
Nij Blake: What!
Servalan: Strictly speaking it should be pronounced "Nig" of course, but the politically correct majority of our
scientists thought that it sounded slightly racist. So we took liberties with the spelling and called you N.I.J.
Avon: You're not making much sense.
Servalan: ( Smiles triumphantly. ) Am I not? I didn't think you'd understand. I suggest you ask Orac about N.I.J.
By the way, I see another new companion with you. Her name wouldn't be Lerga by any chance would it?
( Chaesla looks stunned. The others look at her in alarm.
Avon: You know her?
Servalan: In a manner of speaking. I also know Alekhs, which goes without saying. I'm sure you know what that means,
Chaesla. You don't need me to tell you any more - like I say, Orac can tell you the rest. But make sure it interfaces using
the spelling "K-A-M" at the beginning of Kameleon or it won't find anything. Now, am I free to go?
( There is a lengthy silence, during which Avon stares
at first Chaesla, then Blake, then at Servalan. )
Avon: Go. I'll transmit the schematics to you at six thousand spacials.
( Servalan's ship turns and hurriedly flies away. )
( Liberator flight deck. )
Avon: Orac, did you get all that?
Orac: I did.
Orac: I am perusing the relevant data in the Federation records as we speak. It is a task I can perform more
efficiently without your hectoring interruptions.
Hailee: You're not seriously going to send her the schematics of the photonic drive are you?
Avon: Yes I am. Zen? Transmit the prearranged data package.
Zen: Confirmed. Data has been transmitted.
Soolin: Don't worry, Hailee. It's the schematics for the smaller drives that Dr. Plaxton installed in space choppers.
They're practically useless in a real spacecraft.
Hailee: ( Nods, smiling. ) Ah.
Orac: I have retrieved the information as requested. It is fascinating material.
Avon: Well then share it.
Orac: Very well. I shall start with information about Chaesla Lerga. Chaesla is not a common name.
Vila: I had noticed.
Orac: This is because its origin is not nominative at all. It first originated on the planet Suni...
Avon: Suni? That planet had a colony that lost interstellar contact for several centuries before it was conquered
by the Federation.
Orac: Correct. During that time of isolation, the colony developed its own culture and language. "Chaesla"
is a letter of the alphabet of that native tongue.
Vila: A letter?
Orac: Correct again. The nearest equivalent in native Terran languages would theoretically be a letter of the
ancient Greek alphabet - Gamma.
Vila: Okay, but so what?
Orac: Information indicates that the Federation used this alphabet for classification purposes.
Avon: Classifying what?
Orac: Product version.
Chaesla: What did it say?
Avon: Product version.
Chaesla: But what does that mean?
Orac: Surely that is self-explanatory.
Avon: Self-explanatory is only good when the explanation is understandable.
Orac: Manufacturers of any and all hardware frequently update designs with more advanced, modified and improved
specifications. Each updated design would have a different classification. In this case, as "Chaesla" is the third letter
of the Suni alphabet...
Vila: ( Appalled. ) Are you suggesting that Chaesla was manufactured?
Orac: "Genetically-engineered" would be a more appropriate term.
Avon: And she is presumably a third generation?
Orac: Logic would suggest that this is so.
( Chaesla looks horrified. )
Avon: A third generation of what?
Orac: LERGA is an acronym. It stands for Life-form of Emotionally-Responsive Gender Alignment.
Orac: Will the crew of this spacecraft never obtain personnel of a worthy intellectual stature? The gender
of your physical form is artificially designed to alter according to your immediate needs. Your form assesses these needs
in response to your emotional state.
Vila: But this is ludicrous! How can changing from a woman into a man and back be useful?
Orac: Different circumstances require different gifts. The male form is more physically powerful and energetic,
and therefore of more use in direct combat or heavy physical labour. The female brain is sharper and more intuitively versatile
because of the ability of both sides to function simultaneously, making a female form more practical in logistical circumstances.
Hence the experiment of breeding a mutant capable of switching from one form to the other according to circumstances. An ideal
warrior/labourer able to employ the best attributes of both sexes.
Avon: "Ideal" is hardly the word I would use to describe Chaesla.
Avon: No offence.
Orac: The LERGA experiment was a failure and the prototypes were rejected, as they all displayed self-perpetuating
emotional instability that made their behaviour unreliable and dangerous. The only LERGA not terminated was generation Chaesla.
Chaesla: ( Voicelessly. ) And I was dumped on a prison planet. For being a mutant?
Orac: An unstable mutant, correct. There are approximately thirty of the Chaesla Lerga series of mutants scattered
on prison planets across the Galaxy.
Vila: Why did they create them?
Orac: It was a project related to the same genetic engineering programs established on the planet Bucol Two.
Avon: The Galactic War?
Orac: Yes. Whereas the project on Bucol Two was designed to create a subhuman breed of animals that could supplement
the Federation's dwindling troops in devastated war zones, the LERGA project was designed to create a breed of super-humans
designed to perform the most difficult and dangerous tasks of the war. However, the inherent instability of the mutants made
them far too unreliable even to be employed in ordinary combat. So the LERGA project, and many of its contemporaries on the
Kameleon program, were abandoned. The Federation finally succeeded in creating a far more reliable super warrior by applying
the research in a more stable genetic matrix.
Nij Blake: In what way more stable?
Orac: Scientists cracked the code of mutual gender alignment, allowing them to move on from the more volatile
process of differential gender alignment. So rather than creating an emotionally responsive mutant, switching from one form
to the other according to circumstances, they created a being who remained of singular gender, and whose powers would be boosted
rather than changed in response to its moods. These powers included all of the strengths of both the male and female forms
without requiring any physical transition. By generating cells that were infallible at their most basic level, the nucleic
structure was efficient to over ninety-nine point nine five per cent. An ultimate warrior.
Nij Blake: So what went wrong?
Nij Blake: Yes, why did the project fail?
Orac: The project did not fail. It was a crucial breakthrough that changed the face of the war.
Orac: The Nucleically Infallible Gestation,
as it was called, bred an elite troop of twenty-four warriors that won the key ground at the Battle of Proxima, which effectively
swung the entire course of the war in favour of the Federation, as the cream of the Andromedan ground forces were annihilated
in the battle.
Soolin: ( Gasps. ) Wait! Orac, what did you say the project was called?
Orac: Nucleically Infallible Gestation.
Soolin: N.I.G. "Nig".
Hailee: And Servalan said they took liberties with the spelling to make it sound more polite.
Avon: ( Nodding, staring at Blake. ) "Nij."
( Nij Blake looks like he is about to collapse. )
Orac: The clone-masters extracted cells from a number of the highest calibre Alpha grades of the Federation
and invested them into the matrix of the Gestations. Each warrior was classified as a "Nucleically Infallible Jestation",
and given a three-digit identifying serial number. However to make them easier to identify they were each given the surname
of the Alpha Grade who contributed the highest proportion of biological material to the individual matrix. Thus, "Nij Blake"
- the nucleically infallible gestation of cells extracted from the body of Roj Blake.
Nij Blake: ( Beginning to panic. ) No... no, Orac, this is not true. This is not true... this is crazy, this is
Orac: It is all true, Blake. You are not really Nij Blake. You are N.I.J. zero-two-two, one of only three N.I.J.
prototypes to survive the Galactic War. You went missing approximately two years ago after your memory had been erased for
purposes of renewal. The disappearance was never explained, despite a full enquiry conducted by the then-President Servalan.
( Blake suddenly loses his temper and thumps Orac as
hard as he can. )
Nij Blake: You're lying! You're lying! Shut up, you piece of junk! Shut up!
( Orac lands on the floor and switches off as the key
is dislodged by the violent impact. )
Avon: Blake, enough!
Nij Blake: It's lying! It's got to be lying! I'm Blake's son. I... ( Starts crying and falls to his knees. ) I must
be... I must be... Inga wouldn't have lied to me. She wouldn't have... she wouldn't have... she wouldn't have... she wouldn't
have... she wouldn't have...
( There is an excruciating silence as everyone watches
Blake quaking tearfully on the flight deck floor. Fade out. )