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

{B7  S5  E3}

[View of a large underground cavern. It is well lit and generously furnished with both objects and people. There is a relaxed atmosphere and everyone seems to be happily drinking and socialising. Nial is in one corner loudly sharing a joke with a group of his friends. He turns as Avon approaches.]

NIAL: Avon! Come and meet some more of our group. I bet you could use a little cheering up after the last couple of days. Wait till you hear Zeb's joke, that was a real killer!

AVON: I hate to break up a party but we need to talk.

NIAL: Can't it wait a while?

AVON: Of course...but I would prefer to do this sooner rather than later.

NIAL: All right...let's get it over with. [He slaps the shoulder of one of his friends.] Don't finish all the beer guys! I'll be back soon.

[They walk down a narrow rock tunnel into a smaller cavern which is relatively bare. Nial sits on the edge of a wooden packing crate but Avon remains standing.]

NIAL: What's your problem now?

AVON: The Liberator. I need to know how it came to be intact and in your possession.

NIAL: Actually you have Blake to thank for both of those facts. The memory of that ship must have haunted him a long time and in the end he found a way to exorcise himself.

AVON: Riddles are more Vila's forte than my own.

NIAL: Common rumour had it that the Federation destroyed the Liberator with an alien corrosive...

AVON: That's not the way I remember it...[Nial scowls impatiently]...carry on.

NIAL: Thankyou. It wasn't hard for Blake to find out where it, supposedly, happened. He took a look round and came up with a theory. He believed that if he could remove the substance that caused the death of the Liberator, the ship would handle the rest. Then he came to find me.

[Nial smiles as he remembers his first sight of Blake. Avon waits silently. Nial clears his throat and continues his tale.]

NIAL: Amongst the group I was with initially, was a scientist who had defected from the Federation rather than poison his home planet. Blake sent me to collect a sample of the alien enzyme and then had Dalma mix up an antidote to it. It took a while to create but eventually he had a chemical which could be sprayed directly onto the affected particles.

AVON: And clear of corrosive, the ship rebuilt itself.

NIAL: Yes. It was amazing to watch. It did take several hours to get going but as more of the pieces gathered together, their attraction increased and soon particles were whizzing about like swamp bugs!

AVON: An interesting analogy, if a little lacking in decorum.

NIAL: I've never been accused of standing on ceremony.

AVON: I believe you...but about the Liberator, how did you manage to take control?

NIAL: [He shrugs] Blake had warned me what to expect.

AVON: Even so...[He narrows his eyes] shouldn't have been easy.

NIAL: Maybe not but it was. The defence system took an image from my memory, warped it and tried to confuse me into committing suicide by walking into an energy field. [He shakes his head and laughs.] I told you about my advancement to adulthood. Part of the treatment involved the installation into my brain of a set of false memories, to teach me how to react to life and show me the things I would have experienced as I was growing up. I can tell the difference between the real and the false ones. The computer obviously couldn't. Had it chosen a real one, I might have been in danger. Instead I just found it nauseating.

AVON: And having defeated the system, Zen accepted you.

NIAL: I knew his name, was able to prove my relationship to Blake and had knowledge of the ships previous owners. He accepted me readily.

AVON: Yet I was also accepted.

NIAL: Of course you were, you're still in the memory banks.

AVON: Obviously...and just as obviously, I shouldn't be.

[Nial appears confused. View changes to the equally puzzled expression of a counter clerk in the foyer of a busy Federation building. He shakes his head as he looks up into the stony face of Officer Arlen.]

CLERK: I'm sorry madam but there is definitely no one by that name working in this building. I've checked twice.

ARLEN: Then check again you idiot.

CLERK: I'm afraid you'll have to leave. This is a restricted area.

ARLEN: I know that. I used to work here...long before you left school.

CLERK: [Testily] Really. Let's have your name then, I'll run that through Miss...?


[The clerk immediately straightens up and drops his patronising air. He types something into the computer, stares at it in confusion and then types again. Arlen snarls impatiently and he looks at her with a strange mixture of awe and fear.]

ARLEN: Well, are you satisfied now?

CLERK: I...I'm not armed...I won't alert the guards...just go, please.

ARLEN: What are you babbling about fool?!

[She grabs the monitor and twists it so she can read the information on the screen. Her face turns pale.]

ARLEN: Traitor? Rebel spy? Murderer of my colleagues! Raff, Treelo, Sharken and the others...what is this?!

CLERK: I didn't write it...I'm only a trainee...don't hurt me.

ARLEN: Shut up you snivelling worm! I'm a soldier not a mercenary, whatever it says on that screen. It's a mistake...[Her eyes narrow]...and I bet I know who made it.

[She pivots on her heel and strides angrily from the building. The clerk collapses into his chair breathing raggedly and reaches for a small bottle of something hidden under the counter. He tilts his head back and drinks deeply and gratefully. Cut back to Goma. Nial nods to himself as he begins to speak.]

NIAL: I see your point. Logically the computer would start up from it's initial programming and therefore the memory should be clear. It never occurred to me before. I guess the technology of the Altas must be far superior to ours.

AVON: I'm sure I'd have never worked that out on my own.

NIAL: Computers are supposed to be your field, what's your theory?

AVON: That the Liberator is a fake and all this is some kind of set up.

NIAL: Are you joking?! Surely you don't believe that?

AVON: As a matter of, but it was a possibility I briefly considered.

NIAL: I guess I can understand that. It must have been disorientating to find yourself suddenly aboard a dead ship. Enough to scramble anyone's brain!

AVON: [Coldly] Anyone who isn't me.

NIAL: Right. [Suddenly brightening] Why don't you ask Orac why Zen remembered you?

AVON: I have. It refused to waste time searching for an answer to a question as unimportant as it considered that one to be.

NIAL: Who cares then? Perhaps it was simply due to your unforgettably nice nature and lightness of spirit!

[Avon favours him with a sardonic half smile.]

AVON: Perhaps. One more thing, before you return to lightening your own spirits...I need to know exactly how you managed to bring us all on board the ship.

NIAL: Random pickup. I didn't have any co-ordinates for Blake, he hadn't made contact. All I knew was that he was somewhere on GP. I didn't realise you were there too. The beam was set to pick up anyone wearing a teleport bracelet because I was sure he'd have his on. He usually wore long sleeves to conceal it. I remembered him saying that he hardly ever took it case you decided to contact him. He felt sure that Orac could trace him through it.

AVON: Not unless he was attempting to transmit. Blake never did have a great understanding of technology.

NIAL: That's why he needed you.

AVON: Right from the very beginning.

[His eyes glaze over and he sees the prison ship "London" once again.]


[Blake walks through to where Avon is sitting and takes a seat alongside him.]

BLAKE: If you had access to the computer, could you open the doors?

AVON: Of course. Why?

BLAKE: Just wondered how good you really were.

AVON: Don't try to manipulate me Blake.

BLAKE: Now why should I try and do that?

AVON: You need my help.

BLAKE: Only if you can open the doors.

AVON: I could open every door, blind all the scanners, knock out the security overrides and control the computer. Control the computer and you control the ship.

BLAKE: Then I do need your help. There's a service channel, runs the whole length of the ship. Every other compartment has an inspection hatch. The last one opens onto the computer section.

AVON: Give me one good reason why I should help you.

BLAKE: You're a civilised man Avon. On Cygnus Alpha that will not be a survival characteristic.

AVON: An intelligent man can adapt.

BLAKE: Or recognise an alternative.

AVON: I already have one.

BLAKE: A private deal with the ship's crew to fake the running log? You've had four months to think about that and it didn't take you that long to work out that they would have to kill you afterwards to keep you quiet.

AVON: Whereas you are offering me safety.

BLAKE: I'm offering you the chance of freedom.

AVON: Generous, considering mine will be the most important job.

BLAKE: You'll do it then.

AVON: When?



NIAL: Avon. Are you all right? Avon, snap out of it!

AVON: [Returning with a jolt] I...never had a choice. I only thought I did.

NIAL: Avon?

AVON: [Quietly, to himself] I will not be manipulated again. It is my ship now.

NIAL: Hold on a minute, the Liberator is not your ship. It belongs to us all, as a weapon to continue Blake's fight with.

AVON: HIS fight! He even laid claim to that did he? Blake always did have delusions about his importance.

NIAL: [Coldly] I don't think HE did but someone obviously has. [He sighs] Look Avon, I'm not a psychologist. I don't know where all this anger is coming from but I hoped we could sort things out in a more reasonable manner. I don't want this to come down to a battle for possession of the ship.

AVON: Then stand aside.

NIAL: No. However if you wish to leave the Liberator, I won't stop you.

AVON: You really think YOU could stop me doing anything?

NIAL: [Quietly] Just try me.

AVON: Oh I will...sooner or later.

[Nial and Avon face off' for a moment, then Nial turns and stamps away leaving Avon alone with his thoughts. View changes to show the exterior of the caves. Phasia is sitting alone on a ledge in the rock as Nial exits the tunnel. She leaps up eagerly to greet him.]


NIAL: Not now Phasia, I need to think.

[She is visibly upset by his brusqueness but still follows him as he moves away.]

PHASIA: I'm sorry Nial but I've hardly seen you since we got here and...

NIAL: Phasia! I said I needed to think. I meant privately.

PHASIA: Are you all right? You seem agitated. Can I help?

NIAL: Only by leaving me alone.

PHASIA: [In a shaky voice] If that's what you want...maybe I'll stay here, on Goma, where I'm needed.

NIAL: [Hardly listening to her] Fine. I'll talk to you later.

[He wanders away without a backward glance as tears begin to glisten in her eyes. The camera lingers on her distressed face then the view abruptly switches to a misty green planet. The image draws slowly into focus as a large flotilla of Federation warships approach. An anonymous ship attempts to reach the safety of the planet but is swiftly destroyed by the Federation fleet who advance ominously through the particles as the atoms of the hapless craft disperse.]


[Back on Goma a meeting is underway, the atmosphere raucous as the participants are mostly inebriated. Nial is trying unsuccessfully to regain control. Finally Tam steps in.]

TAM: Settle down friends. It's time to toast our new leader, not roast him! Raise your glasses and salute the man. [He lifts his glass] To the new regime and the ageless dream...Freedom!

[The echoed shout of Freedom' reverberates loudly within the cavern as everyone joins in. When the voices die down, Nial takes the floor.]

NIAL: As I was saying...we have the Liberator now and I propose that we use it to strike at the Federation in as many places as possible. If we can cause enough weak spots in their defences we might be able to topple their organisation completely. This is a war of attrition. Little by little we can erode them!

[There are cheers from the crowd and several shouts of approval.]

NIAL: I'd like this base to remain open and act as our new HQ. Anyone who wishes is welcome to join me on the Liberator.

[Tam and Mags nod to each other]

NIAL: Phasia has said that she'll stay so I'd like to elect her as base leader, if there are no objections? [No one speaks] Good. Now where's Zeb? He's supposed to be saving me a beer!

[Zeb waves and everyone resumes their socialising. Unnoticed by most people, Phasia hurries from the room. Mags follows her and catches up as she is about to enter her sleeping quarters.]

MAGS: Phasia! [She turns, in tears.] Fas, what is it?

PHASIA: Oh Mags, I'm so stupid.

[Mags sighs and gestures her into the room.]

MAGS: I think we'd better have a quiet chat. It's about Nial isn't it?

PHASIA: Is it so obvious? Does everyone know?!

MAGS: Only to me and definitely not.

PHASIA: What am I doing wrong Mags, why doesn't he like me? I didn't really want to stay here. I only said it because I was upset. I wanted him to ask me to reconsider but instead he seemed glad to get rid of me.

MAGS: That's not true, don't ever think that Fas. I know Nial, he cares about you as he cares about us a friend. If you said you wanted to stay he wouldn't consider arguing with you. He would accept your right to choose and respect your decision.

PHASIA: As he did.

MAGS: [She nods] As he did. Perhaps you ought to tell him how you really feel?

PHASIA: I couldn't!

MAGS: Fair enough but don't expect him to suddenly realise the truth. Men aren't much good at understanding how women think. [She smiles fondly] Except for my Dom but he was special.


MAGS: Dominic Magellan, my third husband. The only one whose name I took.

PHASIA: Mags Magellan?

MAGS: Sariyah Magellan. Dom was so thrilled that I wanted to share his name that he began calling me by it. Every time we joined a new resistance group, I was introduced as "my Maggie". In time it got shortened to Mags' and I stopped bothering to explain that it was only a nickname. [Her face suddenly fills with pain] After he was killed, I found that for the first time in my life, I couldn't let go. Dom had been taken from me but I could cling to his memory...and his name.

PHASIA: I'm sorry.

MAGS: It's okay, that's all in the past...I've been married twice more since then and lost them both to this endless war.

PHASIA: How do you carry on? I could never love again.

MAGS: Then I pity you Phasia. I wouldn't ever let the chance for love pass me by. Life is too short. [She smiles] Tell him. You'll regret it if you don't.

Maybe you'll regret it either way...sometimes when we get what we hoped for, we find it isn't what we wanted after all.

[Phasia seems thoughtful. The scene changes to show a very untidy public house. There are men cowering in corners and upturned tables and chairs. The Innkeeper's head is pressed against the bar and Arlen is holding a large knife tightly to his throat.]

ARLEN: ...and when I want your advice scum, I'll ask for it. Now, without any more of your jokes'...where is he?

INNKEEPER: [In a muffled croak] In the back...second door...on left.

ARLEN: Alone?

INNKEEPER: [Hesitates briefly] Yes.

ARLEN: You still haven't learnt anything have you?

[She tightens her hold on his hair and forces his head harder against the bar as she draws the knife slowly across his skin. A thin line of blood appears and he whimpers.]

INNKEEPER: Two of them...there's two more with him. I swear, that's all.

ARLEN: Luckily I believe you this time punk. [She removes the knife] No matter what you've heard, Arlen does not kill for pleasure. Oh and here's some advice for you...I suggest you clean up this rat hole and then forget that you ever saw me, understand?

[He lifts his head and nods gingerly. She scowls at him then walks through an archway into the back corridor. At the second door on the left, she pauses to listen. There is an unnatural silence and she grins before removing a small device from her pocket. She activates it, pauses for a few seconds and then, as smoke starts to issue from it, opens the door and tosses it into the room. She hurriedly slams the door and holds it closed as a shout from within is heard. This is followed by choking noises and several loud thuds before there is a return to silence. Arlen grins again and begins to open the door.

Scene cuts back to rebel HQ, Goma. All is quiet. Suddenly an alarm sounds. People begin to rush out of the tunnels and converge in the main cavern. A tall man grabs Nial by the arm as he enters.]

MAN: Nial, one of our sister bases is under attack!

NIAL: Which one?

MAN: [Listening on a set of headphones] I can't tell, it's gone crazy out there. All I can hear are distress calls, they're overloading the equipment. No,'s Yethanol!

FEMALE REBEL: Yethanol? Are you sure Trill? That's where the new weapon was being developed!

MALE REBEL: I told you the Feds would want to get their hands on it, as soon as the hard work was done anyway.

NIAL: The project was complete?

TRILL: Unfortunately for us, yes. We got a report a few days ago that the weapon was ready for testing. We did pass word on to Blake but...I guess he forgot to tell you.

NIAL: He had a lot on his mind.

TRILL: We can't let the Federation get away with it Nial. If they use that against us no one will have a chance, not even the Liberator.

NIAL: I know. We have to steal it back...or destroy it. Gather up your belongings people, it's time to go.

[They begin to disperse as Nial scans the crowd with an impatient expression.]

NIAL: Phasia, there you are! We need to discuss a couple of things.

PHASIA: [Smiling brightly] Shall we talk in my room? It's a bit noisy in here.

[He nods and they exit. The scene cuts back to Arlen. She is standing in front of a chair containing a large man. He is unconscious and is held in place with a number of strange looking buckle devices. Two more men are lying on the ground behind the chair. Arlen approaches the man and waves an open bottle of green liquid under his nose. He instantly begins to cough and his eyes flicker open.]

ARLEN: Hello Artiger, remember me?

ARTIGER: [Sneeringly] Yes marm.

ARLEN: Do I look like one of theirs?

ARTIGER: Not anymore.

ARLEN: That's right, not anymore. Thanks to you.

ARTIGER: So now you're going to kill me?

ARLEN: You tried to kill me.

ARTIGER: Only following orders, surely you can understand that. It was nothing personal. Personally I always thought you'd be quite a catch. [He leers at her] I heard an interesting tale about festival week from one of the young medics, it seems you enjoy using restraints. [He flexes his wrists and the buckles rattle against the chair] Why don't you release me and I'll let you have a turn.

ARLEN: Shut up!

ARTIGER: Just making conversation...marm.

ARLEN: [Forcing herself to remain calm] Conversation is all I want from you, scum.

ARTIGER: No need for unpleasantness. Relax, pull up a chair. Can I offer you mine?

ARLEN: No and it's no use wasting time hoping your associates will wake up, they'll be out cold for hours.

[Artiger shrugs and smiles but his eyes narrow in calculation.]

ARLEN: This time I am in control of the situation.

ARTIGER: Pity you couldn't say the same on Gauda Prime. Then you wouldn't be in this mess would you?

ARLEN: You had orders to shoot me whatever the outcome!

ARTIGER: [In delight] Ah, you're not as naïve as I thought! Perhaps we could do business together after all. I can always find work for a good mercenary.

ARLEN: Arlen works for no one but herself.

[Artiger opens his mouth but she silences him with a sharp slap in the face.]

ARLEN: You talk too much. Try listening for a change. [She moves closer, threateningly] My whole troop was slaughtered and everyone seems to think I did it. [He shrugs moodily] They were MY friends.

ARTIGER: [Finally uneasy] It wasn't me. I knew nothing about that before it happened.

ARLEN: You know who did though.


ARLEN: [Menacingly] You know where to find her, don't you?

ARTIGER: have heard a rumour. I believe she's on Delios, in her guest palace...just a rumour you understand.

ARLEN: You'd better hope it's a good one, or I'll be back to talk to you again and I won't be so nice the next time.

ARTIGER: You're too soft for this game. You should've killed me, I would have.

ARLEN: Arlen only kills when necessary, unlike Sleer who finds it necessary to kill. I'm sure when she learns I'm still alive, she'll come looking for you. She doesn't tolerate failure. I pity you scum, it won't be a quick death.

[She smiles cruelly and leaves. Artiger strains against his bonds then gives in and slumps back in the chair with a worried frown. The scene cuts back to Goma, rebel HQ sleeping quarters. Phasia is sitting silently in a chair. Nial is pacing the room whilst he talks.]

NIAL: case we need emergency assistance. What do you think?

PHASIA: [Quietly] Is that all you wanted to discuss?

NIAL: Have I forgotten something?

PHASIA: There's nothing else you'd like to say before you leave?

NIAL: Well, goodbye I suppose and good luck with running HQ. I'm sure you'll do a great job, I wouldn't have chosen you otherwise! I have faith in you Phasia.

[He claps her on the shoulder and she stifles a sob as she rises to her feet.]

NIAL: Is something wrong? We're friends aren't we, you can tell me.

PHASIA: Mags was right. You just can't see it can you? Nial...I love you. I have always loved you, from the moment we met.

NIAL: But that was...

PHASIA: Years ago. I know. I hoped you'd realise it one day but you never did. Instead you treated me as one of the guys'. After a while you even stopped noticing me. I became just a figure in the background, a name you could rely on.

NIAL: I never treated you badly, not on purpose anyway.

PHASIA: You still don't understand, do you? I didn't want to stay here but I see now why I have to. [She sighs] I will wait for you though, all my life if that's how long it takes. Don't say anything, please. Just go but remember that I'll always be here...if you do ever find that you need me.

[She lowers her eyes and he leaves with an agonised expression. Slowly she raises her head and stares miserably at the empty doorway. View switches to exterior of base.

The rebels are busy loading Reverence. A large crate is being carried by four men. As it is passed up through the cargo hatch, one of the men spots Mags approaching.]

MAN: Hey Mags! What've you got in that crate? It weighs a ton!

MAGS: Just a few odds and ends I picked up on my travels. You ought to get yourself some muscles Vohn.

[The others laugh and Vohn grins good-naturedly.]

VOHN: Not enough exercise and too much of your homebrew Mags. I hope you left us a decent supply this time...I had to resort to drinking water when the last lot ran out!

MAGS: Relax, I left the recipe with Phasia. It may be a while before I see any of you again. Look after yourselves my friends. [She raises an imaginary glass] To Freedom!

ALL: To Freedom!

AVON: Most inspiring. Now can we leave? I would like to find the new weapon before we become the target for it.

MAGS: Nial isn't here yet.

AVON: Then we'll leave without him.

VOHN: It's his ship!

VILA: That never stopped Avon. He's almost as good as I am at helping himself to other people's property.

AVON: I'm flattered.

VILA: I did say almost''ll never have my touch of genius.

AVON: Or your ego.

VOHN: He's on his way, I can see him.

[They all turn to watch as he approaches the ship.]

NIAL: What's everyone standing about for? Come on, we've got a job to do. The Federation won't wait for us you know! [He stamps up the boarding ramp.]

VILA: What's eating him?

MAGS: [Smiling oddly] Who knows? I think it's time to go, come on.

[They board the ship and secure the hatch. Cut to flight deck. Nial is sitting in the pilot seat impatiently drumming his fingers. As Avon, Vila and Mags enter, he waves them into the three remaining vacant places. The other seats are occupied by Tam, Soolin, a stout grey haired woman and a young brunette lady.]

NIAL: [Turning to the console] Tristan, are all the hatches sealed?

TRISTAN: [The computer] All hatches are secure. The ship is ready for take-off.

NIAL: Manual control please Tris.

TRISTAN: Manual control confirmed. Have a good trip!

[Avon and Vila look at each other in surprise at the comment. Soolin smiles. The Reverence lifts off and through the viewing window Goma can be seen receding steadily. View switches to the planet Yethanol.

A squadron of Federation guards is rounding up the rebels within their HQ. One man tries to hang back and conceal himself behind an open door but he is spotted and dragged forwards.]

GUARD: [Shaking the prisoner] Thought you'd hide did you? What was your job here?

MAN: [Flippantly] I did the catering.

[The guard slams him against the doorframe, breaking his nose in the progress. A thin trail of blood trickles down the metal. The man wipes his face with his sleeve as he glares at the soldier.]

GUARD: I don't like your attitude. We're running this base now. You lost. [Grinning nastily] Tell you what rebel, you can have the first seat on our shuttle out of here.

MAN: Suits me.

GUARD: It will's a one-way trip straight to hell.

MAN: [Spitting out his own blood] Too bad, I'm an atheist.

GUARD: Who cares? You'll disintegrate just as fast no matter what you are.

[He laughs viciously and pushes the man towards the corridor. Cut to Liberator flight deck. It is crowded but Nial is still managing to pace as he talks.]

NIAL: So according to Orac's information, the Feds decided not to risk moving it. Good, that makes it a little easier for us. At least we know where the weapon is.

OREN: Yes, under heavy guard in a place built to confound intruders.

AVON: A place built by yourselves.

NIAL: Not exactly. I mean, yes, it was one of our bases but a different group constructed it. I've only been there twice. Mags knows it better than I do.

MAGS: I know the layout of the building but it's full of traps. If our people had any warning of the attack they'll have operated as many security measures as possible.

AVON: Obviously not enough to stop the Federation.

MAGS: No but we'll be using subterfuge not force. I doubt they were trying to sneak in.

GREY HAIRED WOMAN: [Brusquely] We need Garus.

NIAL: Very probably. Avon, Vila, this is Tegan Tyler. She volunteered to come with us.

SOOLIN: Actually...I asked her to. She offered to teach me to fly. I accepted.

[Mags and Tegan exchange a small nod behind Soolin's back. Avon notices but remains silent and turns his attention back to Nial.]

NIAL: Cray Garus designed most of the pitfalls at the base but that won't help us, I don't know where he is.

TEGAN: He went to Lyriall, to set up an alliance.

NIAL: Garus, an ambassador? This I have to see! Zen, how close are we to Lyriall?

ZEN: It can be reached in two hours. Do you wish to reroute?

NIAL: Yes.

ZEN: Liberator now on course for the planet Lyriall.

NIAL: With Garus on board this operation should be a walkover. The Feds will never know what hit them!

[He grins and the others look either enthusiastic or doubtful according to their natures!]


[A small darkened room. Flashes of light and loud explosions echo constantly. A figure can be seen leaping about. Suddenly the image of a group of aquatic creatures appears on one wall. They have large fangs and are moving to attack. The lone figure whirls round and a gun flares. The image shatters. Another one appears on the opposite wall but this time the fighter is too slow and an alarm sounds. The room is suddenly flooded with light to reveal Soolin, out of breath and obviously rattled. She flings her gun to the floor in disgust as the door opens and Nial enters.]

NIAL: Sorry. I didn't realise you were in here.

SOOLIN: Don't worry. I'm finished.

[Something in her tone catches his attention.]

NIAL: That bad is it? Reims did say it would take a while for your tendons to loosen.

SOOLIN: Reims?

NIAL: The doctor who operated on you. You're lucky you've still got the use of both arms...and your life.

SOOLIN: I suppose I should thank you for that.

NIAL: [Quickly] Not necessary, really. I couldn't just let you die.

SOOLIN: Thanks anyway. I don't want to seem ungrateful, it's just that I'm now a professional gunslinger who couldn't even defeat a Phibian!


SOOLIN: It's not your problem. I'm sure with practise I could just about out-shoot Vila...if I live long enough.

NIAL: Actually, I think I've got an idea that might help.

SOOLIN: Anything's better than this...go ahead, I'm listening.

NIAL: It's something that occurred to me when Reims asked if you were right-handed. An obvious question seeing as the damage to your body was concentrated on your right side but it did start me thinking.

[She seems intrigued and he smiles to himself as he continues.]

NIAL: I'm actually left-handed and I'm not a bad marksman but I doubt if I could hit the side of a spaceship with the gun in my other hand.

SOOLIN: You want me to learn to shoot left-handed. [she frowns in concentration] It might work, I suppose.

NIAL: I'd like to become ambidextrous too, that is if you don't mind a sparring partner?

SOOLIN: [Smiles suddenly] Why not? It might even be fun.

NIAL: [Returning the smile] You got any plans for the next couple of hours?

SOOLIN: I have now.

[View switches to show a recreation room. Orac is on the table and Avon is seated.]

AVON: I need to know if it's feasible. Well Orac, come on! Is it possible or not?

ORAC: [In a sulky tone] The idea is conceivable however to gather all the elements would require extensive output that would far outweigh the benefits of the end product.

AVON: I will decide whether it's worth the effort.

ORAC: Why do you persist in asking for my advice if you will not heed it?

AVON: I do not recall asking for it.

[Orac makes a series of noises and Avon opens his mouth with a further question but stops as Mags enters the room.]

MAGS: That's certainly an amazing computer, even if it does have an attitude problem!

AVON: [Removing Orac's key] Are you looking for someone?

MAGS: Yes, you actually. [She sits down opposite him] I hope you don't mind but I wanted to ask you a few questions, about Blake.

AVON: Why?

MAGS: [Smiling] It's not a test Avon. Roj and I were very close, he talked a lot about you. I just wanted to hear your memories of him.

AVON: My memories of HIM. Are you sure that's what you want?

MAGS: Please would mean a great deal to me.

[She gazes at him hopefully and his stern expression fades.]

AVON: If you insist but I warn you, you may find some of it unpleasant.

MAGS: The truth often is. Don't worry, I can cope.

[Cut back to firing range. A chime rings out as an image of a multi-tentacled beast is shattered by a laser beam. The lights come on and the combatants lower their guns.]

SOOLIN: Not bad for a first attempt.

NIAL: You were pretty good yourself.

SOOLIN: I was talking about me you were a lousy shot!

NIAL: Thanks!

[They both laugh and make their way to the bench for a well-earned rest.]

NIAL: What turned a nice girl like you into a gun-toting rebel outlaw?

SOOLIN: Who said I was a nice girl? Give me his name and I'll be sure to put a bullet through him the next time we meet.

NIAL: I hope that's a joke!

SOOLIN: [She nods] It's strange but somehow after all that's happened lately, I suddenly feel able to relax.

NIAL: Perhaps I'm a good influence on you.

SOOLIN: Perhaps...and I suppose the answer to your question is circumstances beyond my control'.

NIAL: You don't want to talk about it, fine, I shouldn't have asked.

SOOLIN: I'm sorry. Being secretive is a difficult habit to break. [She stares at the floor] My family was murdered, my childhood ended. I grew up hard and fast.

NIAL: I know that feeling.

SOOLIN: Your family were murdered too?

NIAL: My father was. My mother died of a broken heart...and a nasty wasting disease.

SOOLIN: I'm sorry. How old were you?

NIAL: Two when my father was killed, almost twenty-three when my mother died...three months after my father.

SOOLIN: It seems we have a lot in common, I was never much good at maths either.

NIAL: [He laughs] I know it sounds odd but I can explain.

SOOLIN: [Non-committally] Might be interesting.

NIAL: My mother had known for a long time that she was dying. Whilst my father was alive it didn't seem to matter to her. When he was murdered she went crazy with grief. She turned to an old friend for help, an ex-clonemaster.


[The scene fades to show a sparsely furnished living room. A young brunette woman is crying on the shoulder of a distraught looking grey-haired man. He shakes his head slightly but as her tears increase, reconsiders and moves away from her to the open doorway. He calls out to a group of children playing in the street and a dark-haired toddler rushes to him excitedly. They enter the house and the door closes behind them. The scene is replaced by an optical nightmare of shifting colours and geometric patterns; constantly building and reforming as weird and discordant sounds assault the air. It ceases abruptly, changing to an unnerving silence filled with snatches of half-seen images, dream-like in their lack of clarity. Finally even that gives way to the relief of blackness. The door reopens. It is Nial who steps through into the sunlight, his face dazed with pain and confusion. Cut back to Liberator, present day.]


NIAL: [Quietly] I was never given a choice.

SOOLIN: That's barbaric.

NIAL: She believed it was the right thing to do. She said she couldn't stand to die knowing she'd left any child to fend for itself.

SOOLIN: Even so, it was a harsh measure.

NIAL: You're telling me! It did give me the chance to get to know her as a person though and to learn about and understand the man my father had been.

SOOLIN: At the expense of your childhood.

NIAL: The cost was high, I have my regrets, mainly the loss of my friend Tristan.

SOOLIN: Tristan. Isn't that the name of your computer?

NIAL: You have a good attention to detail. I tried to program it as a facsimile of the man I think Tris will one day become. I suppose it was my way of advancing him to my level.

SOOLIN: A less harmful way.

NIAL: [Nodding] The real Tristan is still a child. He accepted the new me, easier than I did but I felt we'd lost something. How could I fit into his world? I didn't fit in anywhere anymore.

SOOLIN: That must have been very distressing.

NIAL: [He shrugs] I learned to adapt.

SOOLIN: [She smiles] Isn't that what we always do?

NIAL: Right now I could certainly adapt to a change of clothes and a strong drink.

SOOLIN: I thought you'd never ask! [They stand up and start to leave the room] I'll meet you in the recreation room nearest the flightdeck in about thirty minutes.

[As they enter the corridor, Mags appears from an adjoining one.]

MAGS: Hi Soolin. Nial, can I have a word please?

NIAL: [Turning to Soolin] Make it forty five minutes, okay?

[She nods to them both and walks away. Mags ushers Nial into an empty room. Scene changes to one of mass panic as lumps of stone and metal crash to the ground in the centre of a commercial district. Screams can be heard as part of the tallest building collapses onto the fleeing crowd and flames spring up from nearby. A siren wails in the background as rescue forces arrive. They start to tackle the fires but are hampered by the chaos as people attempt to re-enter the buildings, searching desperately for their companions. The extent of the damage is overwhelming. In the silence of space, far above the planet, a blurred, ghostly-white shape streaks away from the scene of the disaster. View cuts back to Nial and Mags.]

NIAL: Most of what you've learnt doesn't surprise me. It fits with the things Blake said.

MAGS: Well you were definitely right about Avon, he is bottling up a lot of anger. I don't think it's actually directed at you but if you're not careful you could trigger it. I get the feeling that if he loses control we'll all be in danger.

NIAL: What I can't understand is how he's managing to keep control now! When the Liberator picked him up he was almost delirious, yet within hours he was beginning to sound like the Avon I'd been expecting to meet. The Avon I'd heard so many tales about.

MAGS: I've heard some rather different versions of those tales during the last hour. He's a hard man to gauge but I did find out one thing that may be of use to you.

NIAL: ...and that is?

MAGS: He has Orac working on an idea. I heard him asking about the feasibility of it.

NIAL: Go on.

MAGS: That's all I know. He switched the machine off as soon as he realised he had company.

NIAL: I suppose he's plotting something underhand, no doubt to gain possession of the ship...I should have expected that.

MAGS: It may not be treachery and at least it's keeping him focussed and helping him to cope with his emotions.

NIAL: For the time being.

MAGS: Are the rest of us any more reliable? We're only human Nial, we all break down from time to time. Avon is coping in his own fashion. At the moment he's closing up and concentrating his energy selfishly. I think that eventually he'll begin to trust and work with us but it may take a while.

NIAL: I think that's a conservative estimate.

MAGS: [She smiles] Wait and see. I gained some ground today, it may not take that long after all.

[Cut to flight deck. Oren and the young, dark-haired lady are chatting with Vila.]

VILA: ...and I cracked the code for them and opened up a terminal to a new world. It was easy for a pro with my abilities.

OREN: You must indeed be a clever man Vila.

WOMAN: What about your lady, did she stay with you?

VILA: Um, no...she chose to leave. It would never have lasted. Kerril was a lot like you Nemonie. She'd have wanted me to stick to the straight and narrow but it's in my blood. I come from a long line of thieves. I used to steal to live and now I live to steal. It's logical progression, right Zen?

ZEN: Information. A transmission is being relayed that relates to the Liberator.

VILA: Well if it's about us let's hear it! Come on Zen, be a good computer and put it on audio.

ZEN: Confirmed.

[A man's voice cuts in.]

AUDIO: another blatant example of their disregard for the lives of Federated citizens. Are we not human too? These terrorist attacks have to cease. It seems that only the rights of neutral civilians count to the crew of the fabled Liberator these days.

VILA: What are we supposed to have done now?!

AUDIO: The callous bombing of our own capital city, the fair and bountiful Suma, was only a small step from their latest all out attack on the Unified Trade Centre, the heart of commerce on Kyotho and it's chain of inter-dependant planets.

VILA: I've never even heard of the place!

OREN: Shush Vila, let us hear the rest of it.

AUDIO: It seems that the rebels have finally turned on the people they always claimed to be fighting for. They are using their power to punish us all. Can we allow them to hold us to ransom like this? Things that are simply isolated incidents today, could be full-scale battles tomorrow. The Liberator must be stopped before it strikes again. Citizens do your duty! Report any sightings of the ship or it's crew to your local law enforcement station. Their next target could be you! This is Kev Jarron for channel 5 news, live from Kyotho.

[The report ends and the crew look at each other in bafflement.]

OREN: Maybe it is a hoax of some kind. Zen, was the transmission actually live?

ZEN: The status and origin of the report have been verified.

NEMONIE: It must be a mistake. No rebel would do such a thing in the name of peace!

VILA: Well I know I didn't. I wasn't even here so I couldn't have been there. I've been on Goma for most of the day.

NEMONIE: Surely you are not accusing Oren?!

VILA: Oh no...I mean, well, even if he was the only one left on board, I'm sure he wouldn't...though he could have, it is possible...[His voice tails off]

OREN: [Sadly] Vila, you haven't known me for long so I will forgive you for your thought. Even if I could command this ship to do so, I could never command myself to rain destruction down on innocent civilians. I hope, in time, you will grow to realise this.

AVON: [Entering room] Poetically put but it doesn't really prove anything.

OREN: I am aware of that Avon.

AVON: However, I believe you. Orac relayed the transmission to me in its entirety. The incidents referred to have been taking place over the period following our escape from Gauda Prime.

VILA: So it couldn't have been us.

OREN: I think we knew that Vila, thankyou. Do you have a reasonable explanation for this paradox Avon?

AVON: As it happens, I do.

VILA: I'm glad someone does. I'd hate to think I was somewhere I wasn't when I knew I couldn't have been.

ALL: Be quiet Vila!

AVON: It is an obvious ploy to discredit us. Possibly in retaliation for the destruction of their squad-carrier as it left Gauda Prime.

OREN: Which was none of our doing.

AVON: I doubt the Federation would believe that, or even care. The Liberator must have been sighted. A smear campaign is a logical tactic. Actually, I'm rather surprised it took them so long to consider it.

NEMONIE: It is a vile tactic and completely unreasonable.

[Avon rolls his eyes.]

AVON: We are not playing games. War is vile and unreasonable. If you do not understand that then you are in the wrong business.

[He turns and strides out of the room as Nial and Soolin enter it.]

NIAL: Avon, hey! [He watches Avon depart then turns to Oren] Where's he going? You'll never believe what we've just seen on a news viscast.

OREN: If you mean our unwelcome notoriety, Zen already informed us.

NEMONIE: Avon thinks it is a deliberate attempt to blacken our names.

NIAL: He could be right...he usually is.

VILA: Except when he's wrong.

NIAL: Very insightful Vila.

VILA: You rely on his opinion so much yet you never ask me what I think.

SOOLIN: [Scathingly] I can't imagine why not.

VILA: Well I think we'd never be in this mess if he hadn't killed Blake.

NIAL: Avon killed Blake?!

VILA: That's right. He made a mistake, or Blake did...maybe they both did. They never had much time for each other but they understood the value in sticking together.

NIAL: [In shock] Why didn't you tell me this earlier?

SOOLIN: A more appropriate question might be; why are you telling them now?

VILA: I've been watching him, he's up to something. If it comes to a showdown I want to be on the winning side. There's more of them than there is of him.

NEMONIE: He was one of your crew, we are strangers.

VILA: Better the devil I don't know. Look, I don't owe him anything. He tried to kill me once and he's threatened it more than once. A man can only take so much.

SOOLIN: It's nice to see where your loyalties lie.

VILA: Think about it Soolin...[sombrely] saw what he did but I saw him fight an intergalactic war because he'd given his word to that same man. [He pauses] Avon is out of control and if he could do that to Blake, why should he spare me...or you?

[Soolin stares at him, surprised by the unexpected concern in his voice. Still in shock, Nial begins to walk away. Soolin moves to follow but Nemonie stops her.]

NEMONIE: Let him go. He'll want to be alone, I know I would.

[Soolin nods and they stand together in a strained silence. Cut to Avon's cabin. He is pacing the room with Orac's key in his hand. Suddenly he stops and places it in the activator slot.]

AVON: I think I may have the solution Orac but I need your opinion.

ORAC: Very well but I fail to see the logic in pursuing this matter further.

[There is a noise in the corridor and Avon quickly removes Orac's key. He waits in silence until, to his obvious surprise, there is a knock at the door.]

NIAL: Avon. I need to talk to you.

AVON: I'm busy.

NIAL: [Deathly quiet] No, you're not. Open this

[Avon frowns but activates the control and the door slides open. View cuts to a shot of Liberator as it flies steadily onwards. Gradually a vari-coloured planet appears on the horizon and the ship approaches until it is within teleport distance. Cut to interior corridor. A door opens and Nial rushes out, he looks furious. He hurries round the corner and almost knocks over Tam who is coming towards it from the other side.]

TAM: I was looking for you. We've arrived at Lyriall.

NIAL: Not now Tam. [He tries to push past.]

TAM: Priorities can be a difficult burden. I think we need to talk my friend.

[Nial tenses as though to argue but a glance at Tam stops him and he nods instead. They walk up the corridor and into a conference room. Tam closes the door before speaking.]

TAM: You have a problem?

NIAL: Haven't you heard what really happened to Blake?

TAM: It was a pointless tragedy.

NIAL: It was a mistake, a stupid, murderous mistake. He got his facts wrong and he killed a man for it. Don't you understand?

TAM: I do now. I wonder if you also do.

NIAL: What's that supposed to mean?

TAM: [Sighing] Blake was not your matter how much you wanted him to be.

NIAL: He was though, that's what no one seems to realise. My father was Blake. He was a clone of Roj Blake and he was murdered in error because of it. My mother explained everything to me before she died.

TAM: Avon did not kill your father.

NIAL: He may as well have. He behaved in exactly the same way as the man who did.

TAM: No, you're wrong about that Nial. He made a mistake and he took a life but he did not seek to kill Blake and he regrets his action.

NIAL: How can you tell? He's never even mentioned it!

TAM: [Softly] That is how I can tell.

NIAL: [Calming slightly] Maybe you're right but it doesn't matter now. I can't trust him anymore. I'm not even sure if I can work with him.

[Tam frowns his admonishment and continues in a firmer tone than previously.]

TAM: I'm afraid you have no choice Nial. He is here and he has a right to be here, until he chooses otherwise. For the sake of your crew, you will have to find a way to deal with that fact. Disharmony has a bad habit of becoming disunity. If we do not work as a team we are working for our enemies...we divide, they conquer.

NIAL: [Moodily] I'll bear that in mind. Let's go get Garus.

[Surface of Lyriall. Forecourt of royal palace. The Reverence touches down and a procession of dignitaries advance to meet it. Nial, Tam, Oren, Nemonie and Avon disembark. A dark-skinned stately woman approaches and Oren steps forward.]

OREN: Councillor Symell. It is a pleasure to greet you once again.

SYMELL: The pleasure is mine my Lord. [Nial mouths the word Lord?'] It has been many years since we last met. May I extend the hope that your visit will be a long one?

OREN: I thank you for your gracious words. Were my time my own I could wish for nothing more than to spend it here in the splendour of your beautiful city, however it is most urgent that we speak with the king.

SYMELL: Of course my Lord. I will inform him at once of your presence. [She beckons to one of her group] Cynakell, please conduct Lord Oren and his party to the main guest suite. [She turns back to Oren] Cynakell will provide you with anything you desire for your comfort. I will return shortly my Lord. [She bows]

OREN: [Returning the bow] We thank you for your hospitality Councillor Symell.

[The councillor hurries away and they are led into the palace, up a flight of stairs and into a luxurious guest suite. Oren dismisses Cynakell. Avon begins to wander the room examining the precious artefacts and jewelled ornaments.]

AVON: [In awe] It's lucky Vila isn't here, he'd be sending us insane trying to decide what to steal.

NIAL: [coldly] You are not here because I want your input. You are here because I couldn't risk leaving you up there.

[Avon glares at him. Tam moves across to place a warning hand on Nial's shoulder. He shakes it off and strides to the other end of the room. Suddenly the door is flung open and a large dark-skinned man wearing an elaborate robe enters.]

OREN: Your majesty!

KING: Oren, my old friend. I could not contain myself! I had to come greet you immediately. Besides which, I was in the middle of a terribly boring meeting.

OREN: You have not changed much sire...a little broader at the waist perhaps?

KING: [Chuckling] Banquets are such fun. We must have another, to celebrate your return to Lyriall.

OREN: I'm afraid our time is short my liege. We have returned only to collect our friend, Cray Garus, I believe he was assisting with the alliance?

KING: [Appearing uneasy] He was. We've been having tribal problems. Oh nothing to worry about, border skirmishes, village raids that sort of thing. All terribly boring I assure you. Unfortunately during the last attack, Garus was, regrettably abducted by our neighbouring tribe.

NIAL: And you haven't managed to get him back yet?

KING: [Uncomfortably] We would, of course, have liked to organise a rescue mission for the dashing Garus however, aggressive retaliation is...

AVON: We know, terribly boring'.

KING: [Apologetically] I did try Oren but your friend had caused much trouble of his own. Many men were happy to see him taken...many women were not so happy.

[Tam smiles but Nial looks angry.]

NIAL: Where is he? We'll fetch him ourselves.

NEMONIE: We'll need to work out a plan.

NIAL: Simple. We'll blast our way in and then blast our way back out with Garus.

AVON: Gung ho.

TAM: Hadn't we better discuss this first?

NIAL: No. Oren and Nemonie will stay here in case anything goes wrong. You, Avon and I will attack simultaneously. They will not be expecting us it will be easy.

NEMONIE: But Nial...

NIAL: We are wasting time. Your majesty, can you show us the exact location of the place they're holding him?

[The king nods and gestures to them to follow him. Oren and Nemonie remain in the room. She looks upset and he holds out his arms to her. She moves into his embrace.]


[Behind a sand dune somewhere in the nearby desert. Nial, Tam and Avon are spying out a collection of tents.]

TAM: I don't like it, you are rushing things Nial. Give yourself time to think my friend.

NIAL: There is no time and I don't need to think. These people are primitives, they'll probably surrender anyway when they see our guns.

AVON: And if they don't?

NIAL: We are going to find Cray and then shoot our way out if we have to. Once we reach the jungle, we can retrieve our vehicle and be back at the palace before they've even loaded their bows.

[Tam and Avon exchange doubtful glances but Nial is already climbing over the dune. They follow him and meet up at the back of the largest tent. Nial motions for them to spread out and search. He then slips round to the front of the tent and peeps inside. Shaking his head he lets the flap drop and moves across to another tent. Tam and Avon begin to check theirs. There is a sudden enraged shout and a native rushes to attack. Nial grapples with him as Avon runs to help. Tam reappears with a tall, blond man in tow.]

TAM: I've got him Nial let's go!

[Avon hits the native over the head with his gun and they flee as more of the tribe pour out of their homes, most of them brandishing huge scimitars. As the crew scramble down the other side of the dune, several spears are thrown but these fall short. The men pick up speed and are more than halfway across the plain when the noise of gunfire is heard.]

AVON: [Short of breath] It sounds like they've loaded their bows.

NIAL: [Composure slipping] Hurry! We're almost clear.

[They reach the edge of the jungle and make a dash for cover. Suddenly a loud shot rings out and Tam drops to the ground. Nial goes back for him as the others pass the treeline. Coughing in exertion, they turn to see Nial rise to his feet and stumble towards them, white faced and shaking. No one speaks. He pushes past and makes his way to the ground-car parked just beyond. The other two join him and the car then speeds away down a narrow path. The natives reach the edge of the plain and their leader stares down in silence at Tam's body. He then calls off the pursuit and waves his people back to their settlement.]


[The palace forecourt. Reverence is waiting to depart. Oren and Nemonie are standing with Councillor Symell. Garus hugs them both then gives the councillor a kiss.]

GARUS: So long Sym, maybe I'll come back and see you sometime.

NEMONIE: How many girls have you said that to Cray?

GARUS: Hundreds Nem, but I always meant it. Goodbye Oren, good luck with your alliance.

OREN: I'm sure we'll do better than you...Lyriall and Goma will be fine.

GARUS: I meant yours and Nemonie's.

[Nemonie blushes and Oren puts his arm around her. They watch as he boards the ship.]

OREN: [Softly] And goodbye Nial. Be at peace with yourself. It was not your fault.

NEMONIE: How can you say that? Tam is dead because of him.

OREN: It is what Tam would have told him. It is advice he will need to hear from someone if he is to survive, if any of them are to survive.

[They watch the ship until it is out of sight. Nemonie begins to cry and he holds her gently in his embrace.]

OREN: And all we can ever hope to do in this world is survive.

[End credits.]

*Following comments from everyone involved (see below), I've altered the dialogue in this episode to paint Vila in a better light!

I liked Arlen more originally than I do now. She always had a healthy share of pride, but she seems to be getting very egotistical. The "speaking-in-the-third-person" bit is a nice hallmark for her, but it sounds pretentious when done this frequently.

As far as I am aware, 'speaking-in -the-third-person' is a mental aberration. (Though I may be wrong, I'm not a shrink!) I concluded that Arlen would fall into this speech pattern more often if she was under stress and therefore, as her world falls apart around her, the problem becomes more pronounced.
I'm beginning to enjoy the character of Artiger rather more  than Arlen. He has in him a mix of craftiness and cynicism that is reminiscent of Provine from Countdown (one of my all-time favourite guest villains, and one who I thought would have made a much better regular bad guy than Travis), so I hope you don't write him out yet. You may have uncovered a gem without realising it.
Personally, I think he's a second- class criminal and hasn't the intelligence to survive for very long now he's mixed up with the likes of Servalan. I wouldn't offer to sell him life insurance!
Oh dear, how very Mills And Boon Phasia's turning out to be. She's so vulnerable that it's very hard not to like her, but that "I have always loved you, from the moment we met" line was just too much of a soppy cliché. It's only one short step from that to, "I loved you from the moment our eyes met across a crowded room," at which point I would've brought out the anti-McLennan shotgunTM... and aimed it at my own head! It's just too melodramatic for Blake's 7. Even the end of Rumours Of Death never got quite like that.
I hate to tell you this but you have actually justified her whole existence with your second sentence! Due to a number of future plot twists, it is essential that everyone sees and understands what a 'fragile and fluffy little kitten' Phasia is at the moment. Maybe you don't believe in 'love at first sight' (neither do I for that matter) but some people do and unfortunately, Phasia is one of them. Too melodramatic for B7?! How can you say that? There were loads of soppy, undying-love etc moments in B7. Not that I'm claiming it to be a good thing, in fact it's probably a bad thing, hence some of my remarks to you about [Last Spectre Of Auron]!
The only time I can think of when Blake's 7 got really melodramatic was the end of the otherwise-excellent Rumours. Other than that it was careful not to get too carried away. In any case, my complaint's about the soppy, worn-out bit of dialogue. It could've been written a lot better, that's all.
The closing battle was a bit hurried and simplistic, although I still loved it because at least it rid us of one of those sloganising jerk!
It was supposed to be hurried, to underline the fact that Nial was rushing things and to show how quickly situations can deteriorate. Also, I wanted the death to have an impact on him by being an event that happened so fast that there was no way to prevent or even assimilate it. Tam was a nice chap. So what if he liked to throw around the odd cliché, he didn't deserve to die for it!
Yes he did!
The atmosphere between Nial and Avon is working really well. I sense that Avon feels highly ambivalent about the younger man. On the one hand he is wary because of Nial's putative parentage, and contemptuous of his naive values. On the other hand, he is unavoidably curious, and also may see his youth and inexperience as making him malleable or even controllable. He's probably wrong to think that, but it's understandable.
Avon has lots of reasons for enduring the presence of Nial Blake and you're right about his ambivalence. I'm sure Avon does see him as 'malleable', it's the way he views most people he meets. Maybe he is wrong, maybe not, time will tell.
I'm beginning to develop a liking for Mags. She seemed as dull and hackneyed as the other new characters at first, but she has a reserved wisdom that makes her less obstreperous or obtrusive than the others, like an all-seeing eye, and that's beginning to show far more in her behaviour now. The explanation for her name is amusing (did you by any chance get the idea from the on-site review of Avon: A Terrible Aspect, with its other amusing story about things called Magellan?), while her history of five husbands is slightly scary - although whether it's how she lost them, or the fact that she'd choose to get married five times in the first place, that's so frightening I haven't yet decided.
I'm glad you like Mags, I'm very fond of her myself. (No I didn't get the name from the review of Avon: A Terrible Aspect, as I hadn't read it at that point! It was just a name I felt comfortable with and it seemed to fit the person she is.) What's so frightening about her getting married five times? I'm sure by that time in the future that the process has been so simplified as to mean absolutely nothing at all, except to the couple involved. I think of her 'marriages' as more symbolic than legally binding and an indication of the 'big-hearted' woman she is. (And personally, though very happily married, I would never consider going through it all again if anything happened to Stephen so I think Mags is an extremely brave lady.)
Don't worry, I'm just being male. The thought of getting married even once gives me the willies!
I do question Vila's portrayal here. He seems to be a bit of a clever dick during the scene when he's talking about his duel with Bayban, then he seems thoroughly vindictive when he reveals how Roj Blake died. Even taking into account everything that had happened to him recently and the dismissive way that the others were speaking to him, it seemed too spiteful for Vila, as though he were actually trying to use it to hurt Nial for not taking him seriously. While he can be bitter or sharp-tongued at times, Vila is not spiteful... oh God, I'm beginning to sound like Nico!
Vila was boasting about opening the travel terminal. He likes to feel important and he never mentioned Bayban, I imagine he skated over that aspect of the tale. I wouldn't say he was being vindictive later. If that's how it came across then I owe poor Vila an apology! I think he was hurt by the fact that even though Avon caused the terrible mess on GP, it was still his opinion that counted to everyone else. He wasn't specifically trying to get at Nial, he was venting his anger at Avon. Under normal circumstances I doubt he'd have made the comment about their 'cosy chats' but Nial had just voiced a put down and to date his treatment of Vila had been neither respectful nor fair. Why shouldn't Vila lash out now and again? He'll feel guilty enough later I'm sure. No, Vila isn't spiteful but then was it spiteful to finally tell the truth about Blake's death? Maybe he got sick of waiting for 'the right moment'. (And yes, you are starting to sound like Nico!)
No, telling him the truth was fine, it's just the way it reads it feels like he's saying it in a nasty tone, like he's trying to be hurtful. A truth like that can be a very painful weapon if not broken gently.
I have to say that I share [Nico's] opinion of Vila in most respects. Perhaps I'm a little more able to see his faults but on the whole I'm as much a fan of his as she is! Watch out for a lot of Vila-related stories during the course of Blake's Progress.
This is good stuff, Isolated Incidents  -  the best episode so far. That's because Oren and Tam hardly get a look in, and one of them dies, thank doo-dah! Now if you can just get rid of the other one as painfully...

Oren got left behind on Lyriall, what more do you want?!

I doubt I'll be using him again so that's probably the last you'll see, or hear, of him.

It's still no classic, but the story seems a lot more coherent than the first two episodes, without the same air of wasted space.

Hopefully as my series progresses, you'll like each one more than the last... but I won't hold my breath!

I'm growing to like Phasia but her dialogue's still pretty crummy. It seems like an adolescent case of history repeating itself... Blake/Jenna round 2. Should be careful not to make things too similar though, or to be too harsh on Nial. Remember that he's only a kid and isn't really ready for handling those sorts of feelings yet. Roj Blake was a thoughtless bastard and the way he neglected Jenna was just crude. But Nial still has a lot to learn so he should be forgiven for not knowing what to do. Having said that, I could still whack him one for making Phasia cry.

Hold that thought because when next we meet Phasia she's really going to need your sympathy.

I suppose comparisons to Roj/Jenna are inevitable but it isn't going to be like that, I promise. Yes, Nial is still young and he does have a lot to learn, unfortunately he's mostly going to learn it the hard way. I'm afraid that I'm not over keen on him at times, though I have tried to let him shine on occasion... not in episode 3 obviously!

One question, why did Nial choose Phasia, of all people, as Goma's Base Commander? She's very sweet but she couldn't lead a chorus!

She could too! Phasia was a capable girl until she became fixated with Nial. Mags actually said to her (in The Way Forward), "You've never spoken of anything but war until now"...just a small comment however it illustrated a side to her that hasn't been shown within the series, yet. Nial has known her a long time, if he thinks she's up to the task you'll have to trust his judgement.

The jury's out on the beer-drinking scenes. I know women seem unshakably convinced that bachelors are all sloshy lager louts, but this here seemed like either half-hearted female speculation on what a lads' night out would be or just a cheap caricature of it. Also, since when did people in Blake's 7 use the word "guys"? Too American. "Lads" you could just about get away with, but not "guys".

So when you have a 'lads night out' you sit around quietly discussing cars and drinking tea do you?

Perhaps I was basing it on a 'girls night out' and assuming men behave just as badly?! Apologies if you don't. (They didn't actually do much wrong though did they? No swearing, no violence, no sexist remarks or crude jokes. Too tame?)

You're absolutely right, people in B7 never used the expression 'Guys' but then it was written in the 70's and most British people hadn't even heard of America back then. Nial isn't Terran and so doesn't have to conform to 'the very British way of speaking Terran' guidebook by the Federation. I prefer 'guys' as it encompasses both men and women and is acceptable to say to a mixed group, whereas 'Lads' isn't.

Interesting that Mags was able to break through Avon's emotional barriers. She could be an invaluable tool in future stories for lynchpinning the crew together, especially with the friction that is starting to grow between Avon and Nial.

Mags is a special lady and she has a large part to play in my series. She's the sort of person that truly listens to others and she is an anchor to every group she joins.

Perhaps the best thing to do is avoid introducing too many newbies at once. But it's noticeable that only one of the characters that I found interesting was male.

Introducing new characters is always a problem. No one likes change, it's unsettling. Bringing in a clump of people at once is a faster method than one at a time here and there and starting from the chaos of GP I thought I could get away with a little bit more 'unsettlement'. As the series continues I do usually stick with the 'tried and tested' rule of 'one at once'. Perhaps you'll like Cray Garus, I think he's my most interesting male character. Although, you might just as easily hate him!

I was a little shocked at the cold way that Vila spilled the beans about Blake's death. I know Vila's been feeling very victimised recently but it's not really Nial's fault, and the way Vila announced it must have hurt him a great deal. A new, spikier side to Vila emerging perhaps?

Interestingly Martin made the same point and following his comments, I sat and thought deeply about Vila's motivation and found a new slant to it that I'd missed. My theory now is; that Vila was using his well-developed sense of self-preservation. Yes, he was miffed with Nial and angry enough at Avon to warrant 'dropping him in it' however I believe it went far deeper than that. Vila underestimated Avon badly during Orbit and it shook him. He then watched Avon kill Roj Blake, face to face. Okay, Avon thought he'd been betrayed but even so it was an extreme response against an unarmed man who had at one time been a colleague. I think that in his heart, Vila wouldn't have believed him capable of it until he saw it happen because he himself could never do that. Therefore, Vila is justifiably afraid of what Avon might do if he decides Vila knows too much. His safest course of action is to ensure that everyone else on board the ship understands how dangerous Avon really is. Perhaps he even hopes to protect Nial by showing him exactly what type of man he is looking to for advice?

The early quality of the episode is cheapened terribly by the fight-and-rescue plot at the end. Great though it was seeing Tam pop his clogs... oh, to be the guy who shot 'im! all seemed very unimaginative. They went running in, they freed the prisoner, they ran out again. That can't have taken much thinking up.

The point I wanted to make with the ending was that Nial was rushing things and it was totally his fault that it all went wrong. He wasn't prepared to stop and think up a plan, to discuss options, or even to find out about the defences of his enemies. He was 'an accident waiting to happen' and he caused Tam's death. Now he has to live with that.
I liked hearing more about Nial's past and some detail about how he was aged so many years in a few months by being given false memories of a non-existent childhood and youth. Will any of this come back to haunt him? I like Mags a lot; she seems a sensible type, and of all of the rebels I've met so far, I'd most like to see her stay with the crew.
With regard to Nial's memory treatment; he does find things difficult to cope with in the future due to the instability of his mind and the ways in which the advancement affected him. At times he is almost schizophrenic in his behaviour and I think a lot of that can be blamed on his lost youth although some of it is due to his nature. In the case of Mags, yes, she's an eminently sensible woman and she'll be sticking around a while. I'm glad you like her, I'm very fond of her.

I found the introduction of the grey-haired woman Tegan Soolin invited on board to teach her to fly, and the girl Nemonie a bit abrupt--suddenly they were just there with very little explanation. Would Nial or Avon allow any other of the crew to invite extra people? 

Nial did say anyone who wishes is welcome to join me on the Liberator so in theory the entire base could have upped sticks and followed him but that would have been plain ridiculous! Avon has no say in it whatsoever at the moment, much to his annoyance I'm sure. Personally, I feel that the ship is his by right and I know he sees it the same way, however... Roj sent Nial to rescue and return the Liberator. Nial was the one who watched it rebuild and then brought it back to join the fight. I'm sure that in his heart he believes Roj intended him to captain the Liberator from now on. Probably he did... Roj Blake no doubt realised that his days of speeding recklessly round the universe were long gone and was going to train Nial to replace him at the helm. We'll never know. The point is though that Nial thinks he's in charge and therefore assumes the right to bring whomever he wants aboard.

(Nemonie was going to be more of a preachy pain but in the end I had to cut most of her comments to make room for the important speeches and info. Sadly this left her as a bit of a spare wheel and I did think of cutting her completely but decided I might use her again at a later date.)

I suppose you left Phasia on Goma, and Oren and Nemonie on Lyriall so you can go back to those planets later. Poor, slightly wet Phasia--it looks as if Nial and Soolin are enjoying each other's company a lot. Nice touch, having them both practise shooting with their other hands.

Not necessarily back to those planets but certainly so that I can reuse those characters in other episodes if and when required.

Yes, Nial and Soolin are getting along well and the ambidextrous shooting does come in very handy at a later date.

Why did Vila shop Avon at that point? I know he said he was looking out for himself (and though that's fair enough given how Avon treated him in S4, I still winced at his selfishness) but it seems a flawed strategy: dividing the crew so factions are opposed and don't trust each other isn't a good way to feel very safe, I'd have thought. And neither did it win Vila any friends.

Funnily enough, all three of my feedbackers agreed on this. Bet that never happens again! I've already typed up loads of explanation to Martin and to Brian so I feel as though I could recite this in my sleep...

I believe that Vila is extremely clever at protecting himself. He has had to be just to survive this long. He has thought carefully about what happened on GP and it has frightened him deeply. I think that if he had been asked beforehand if Avon would shoot Blake without giving him chance to explain, his answer would have been "No." Avon always wants to hear the facts first. He'll interrogate the truth out of him, then kill him when he doesn't like what he hears. Vila could never shoot an ex-crewmate at point blank range like that and I think he was appalled at how quickly Avon did.

Afterwards he must have considered the fact that "if he could do that to Blake then he could do that to me." (I doubt he ever forgave Avon for his behaviour in Orbit but at least he seemed to accept that it was due to a no-win situation and that Avon was desperate to save his own life at the time.)

Vila knows that Avon will not tell Nial the truth about Roj's death. He also realises that Soolin is unlikely to risk her relationship with Nial by releasing the information. That leaves him as prime candidate. If he has worked that out then he knows that Avon has too. He therefore has two options; to keep quiet and hope that Avon trusts him to do so or to get the truth out in the open and prevent Avon from deciding to permanently silence him. In his situation I would be telling as many people as possible. Maybe he hoped to warn Nial by proving to him how dangerous Avon is, maybe he was just irritated by Nial's assumption that Avon was worth listening to and he was not. Maybe a bit of both Vila was as imperfect as the rest of us.

Yes, he was tactless in the way that he actually said it and if it came across as spite then I'm sorry but I didn't see any nice way to drop it into the conversation. Vila isn't the most thoughtful person and he wouldn't have bothered with any "are you sitting down because I've got some bad news" kind of talk. I don't think he would have worried about how to reveal it, only whether he should do so or not.

It probably didn't win him any friends but then who can he really trust on board the Liberator anyway? Soolin has always looked down on him. Nial began by treating him as though he was there to be used. He doesn't know the new rebels but they are friends of Nial so why should he expect better from them? Avon was perhaps his closest companion and he has threatened to kill him and proved he is perfectly capable of doing so! All in all, Vila is safest if he looks out for himself and leaves them to fight amongst themselves. At least that way, they might ignore him.

Nice to see more of Arlen too, esp. as an antidote to Phasia's sentiment. I thought your title was very appropriate though--I wanted more of each scene, but I suppose you'll fill us in later. I'm looking forward to more: what is this weapon the rebels have, and what can they do about the blackening of their names, and what is Arlen up to?

There was more of each scene I spent ages cutting it down to size when I'd finished!!! The following episode deals with the new weapon. The smear campaign features highly during the rest of the series and Arlen will be popping up a few times along the way until her problems are resolved.

Jane's replies are in blue italics.