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
DeLiberation
CHOICES

{B7 S5 E6}

[Interior of Liberator's recreation/bar-room. Jain is sitting alone in the pit area. She is wearing a burgundy-coloured evening dress and has a valuable looking gold necklace on. There is a half-filled bottle and two used glasses on the table. She looks depressed and doesn't seem to notice Avon entering the room but looks up, as he is about to speak.]

AVON: Making yourself at home?

JAIN: Your crew has been trying to make me feel comfortable. Mags made me some new clothes, Vila gave me the necklace and Garus made some time to have a drink and a chat with me but you are......

AVON: [smiles wickedly] ...making you feel uncomfortable.

JAIN: Something like that, yes.

[His smile widens and he sits down next to her.]

JAIN: Would you like a drink? I'm sure there'll be a spare glass over there somewhere. [she indicates the bar section]

AVON: I'm not here to make small talk.

JAIN: [sighing] No, I didn't think you were. I presume you've been checking up on me with your strange computer, Orac.

AVON: You presume correctly.

JAIN: So now you know the truth but it's not important is it? You still need me to get that crystal and I'm not infamous enough to be recognised so there's no problem.

AVON: Did you kill Councillor Garaveg?

JAIN: No! Of course not, you can't think that!

AVON: [calmly] Why not? It is logical. One person was murdered and one person subsequently disappeared. It is easy to put the two facts together and conclude that the one who disappeared was the murderer. [watching her closely] But that never occurred to you, did it? So I have to ask 'why not'? Perhaps because you knew you were innocent, you illogically assumed that others would know too. Or, perhaps you knew the identity of the killer and therefore did not need to speculate.

[Jain looks at him nervously and shakes her head but without conviction.]

JAIN: I didn't hear about the murder until much later and by then I was trying not to think about the Dardeeni at all.

AVON: You knew about the murder before you left the ship. You said you hoped that your disappearance wouldn't be a priority because of it.

[Jain fumbles for a suitable denial as he continues.]

AVON: If the body had been found and the details made public, all shuttles would have been cancelled and no one could have managed to leave the ship. Therefore it had not been discovered. Anyone who had 'innocently stumbled upon the body' would have reported it. The fact that you chose to run makes you guilty.

JAIN: No it doesn't.

AVON: But you were involved.

JAIN: [quietly] Yes.

AVON: It's the only logical conclusion. No one suddenly decides to flee because a colleague has killed herself, no matter how.... unpleasantly. There had to be more to it than that. Also, you said that you didn't want to involve your...'friend' Shonap, any more than you had to. If your reason for leaving was merely a change of mind, then why not just accept his proposal? [Pause] Unless of course, it had been rescinded.

[He smiles slightly as though trying to lure her into a confession but this time she refuses to confirm or deny his words. He shrugs and his expression regains its former neutrality.]

AVON: However...if that were the case, it is doubtful that he would have aided your escape, which according to your story, he did. [He pauses] There seem to be a lot of facts missing in your version of events on board the Dardeeni.

JAIN: I've told you all that I'm willing to tell. The rest is none of your business.

AVON: Ah, but I'm afraid it is. You are on board my ship now and that makes it my business.

JAIN: Work it out yourself then if it's all so obvious.

AVON: The fact that you've been lying about your background is obvious. The question is 'why'? [He frowns to himself] I had Orac check the Dardeeni's files, as you knew I would. There was a Jain Elysian contracted to the ship. Listed as a Teklarn native and categorised as a dancer. She was filed as a deserter. The date corresponded with the unsolved murder of Councillor Garaveg - interestingly, no suspects are given in his file. I also had Orac check the public records on Tekla. Again, the information you gave was accurate.

JAIN: Are you saying that you don't believe me or that you do?

AVON: I am saying that the information is correct but that it does not prove your identity. If I was able to obtain the facts openly then so could anyone else. It would be a simple matter for a Federation agent.

JAIN: [rising to her feet rapidly] No! I'm not. I'm no threat to you.

[Avon regards her silently and then continues unperturbed.]

AVON: There is one more fact that I found.... interesting. [Jain watches him warily] You are listed as a runaway, the usual terms are a small reward for capture and return. However, the bounty on you currently stands at fifty thousand credits, with a D/A rating.

JAIN: D/A?

AVON: [smiles menacingly] Dead or Alive.

JAIN: Dead...but why?

AVON: The usual answer to that is that you have made a powerful enemy. Someone with a lot of connections and capital wants you out of the way...permanently.

[She turns white and sits down with her head in her hands. Avon is unmoved.]

AVON: That fact wouldn't make sense if you were a Federation agent but it would certainly fit with you knowing the identity of the murderer, particularly if that person also knew yours.

[Jain lifts her head and looks at him. He continues to watch her calmly. Finally she shudders and lowers her gaze. As she begins to speak, the scene changes;

The Dardeeni - five years previously. A large, dimly lit room with rows of plush seats on each side of a central aisle which leads to a platform at the far end. ]

JAIN: [voice only] Adiehl was my only close friend amongst the girls and I felt that I now had no one to turn to. I needed to be alone, to think about what she had done and what I should do. The conference suite seemed an ideal place to run to.

[A younger version of Jain enters the room and rushes tearfully through it until she reaches the darkened stage area. She climbs the side steps and hunches down behind one of the long curtains. In the semi-shadows her body rocks quietly as tears stream down her face. Suddenly she freezes and the camera pans round to show two men entering the room.]

JAIN: [V.O] Entertainment staff weren't allowed to be on that deck so when I heard voices I was afraid and remained hidden. I recognised one of the voices as belonging to Councillor Garaveg. I'd heard him give a speech once, on Tekla. He was talking very loudly and I got the impression that they were arguing.

[The scene shows the two men standing quite close to the stage. The Councillor, distinguishable by his green robes and ceremonial chain, appears to be becoming agitated. The other man appears unmoved. He is wearing a black outfit with a tiny red fox emblem on the sleeve, just visible underneath his cloak.]

JAIN: [V.O] The Councillor was becoming angry but the stranger's voice was calm, so calm it was frightening. I felt like I couldn't breathe, as though the only thing keeping me alive was the sound of that voice. It was low and menacing and it grated on my ears until I was desperate to get away.

[The young Jain rises to her feet with her hands over her ears as though in pain. As she looks across at the two men, who are still oblivious of her presence, the man in black pulls a short dagger from beneath his cloak. Before Garaveg can react, the man expertly slits his throat. He watches as the Councillor dies and then stoops to wipe the blade on the green robes. With a vampiric grin he straightens and as his head comes back up, he meets Jain's petrified eyes. His smile widens and he slowly tightens his grip on the dagger. The scene cuts back to the Liberator - present day.]

JAIN: [trembling] He murdered him, slaughtered him, it was so sudden, so silent. I couldn't move, couldn't think. I felt.... I felt...

[She is unable to continue and puts her head in her hands again. Avon appears to be about to speak but reconsiders and instead pours a drink and places it on the table in front of her. Lowering her hands she glances at it but doesn't take it.]

JAIN: He was going to kill me too. He moved so slowly, so certainly, as though he thought I wouldn't resist. It was that which finally made me run. He didn't hurry, even then. He probably assumed that I was trapped but there was a door at the back of the stage. It led into a corridor and another part of the suite.

As I fled through the door, I heard him start to run but he was still completely silent and controlled. All I could hear were his footsteps as he followed relentlessly. I was terrified. I could hardly breathe from fear but I kept going somehow. Eventually though, I realised that I couldn't run for much longer and I began to panic. I started to think that if I could just find a place to hide, he would leave.

AVON: Not a very likely occurrence.

JAIN: I know but by then I was too scared to think clearly. I had my hand on a door, about to make a no doubt fatal mistake and suddenly I heard music. It was coming through a ventilation shaft in the wall. I had no time to consider I just prised the cover off and crawled into the duct. I pulled the cover back on behind me and slid further along the pipe as he ran into the corridor. I heard him stop. Everywhere was deathly silent. Then the music began again and it echoed up the shaft. I knew he would realise where I was and I almost blacked out.

[She pauses and closes her eyes, remembering her terror. She takes a deep breath, then opens them again and continues.]

JAIN: When my head stopped spinning, I found that I could see a faint glow further along the pipe but I was so petrified that I couldn't force myself to move. That paralysis actually saved my life. He was still waiting in the corridor, listening. Eventually he decided that I was hidden and he began to search.... the room I had been about to enter. When I realised that, I was able to move again and I made my way along the pipe until I managed to push one of the covers off and get out into an empty corridor. It ran parallel to the one in the conference suite but luckily it wasn't connected, except by the ventilation shaft. [She shrugs lightly] In the end I made it safely back to the staff quarters.

AVON: You seem to be a very fortunate person.

JAIN: Oh very fortunate! So far I've been forced to spend three years as a stripper then, at the age of only twenty-one, to run for my life from a knife-wielding psychopath and become a fugitive. Now, five years later, I find myself mixed up with a bunch of desperate outlaws! I'm sorry but I don't feel very lucky. [She pauses] Have you got any more accusations or is that it?

AVON: For now.

JAIN: Then if it's quite all right with you, I'm going to my cabin. I need to be alone for a while.

AVON: [graciously] Be my guest.

[She flounces out of the room and Avon picks up her untouched glass. He settles back in the seat with a calculating look on his face.]

...................................

[Flight deck. Vila is alone at his console, he looks bored.]

VILA: Anything to report Zen?

ZEN: No activity registered on scanners. Area is clear of traffic.

VILA: Great, the only hostiles around are the ones who populate the place we're about to visit. We'll be perfectly safe while we're in danger.

MAGS: [entering the room] WE won't be in any danger, remember?

VILA: Don't bet on it. Avon's up to something. He's probably planning to send one of us down there too. He doesn't trust her you know.

MAGS: Avon doesn't seem to trust anyone but actually he may be right this time. [She sighs softly] I'm not sure I trust her either.

VILA: Why? I do.

MAGS: [smiling] I can see why you do but I'm a woman remember, her charms don't have the same effect on me. No, there's something missing from her story and I bet Avon knows what it is.

VILA: How would he know?

MAGS: Orac of course. Avon's been closeted up with it for hours. Garus thinks he's wasting his time. I'm afraid he doesn't have a very favourable opinion of Orac.

VILA: I'm sure it's mutual.

MAGS: [Grinning] Probably is. Orac obviously finds humans inferior to machines.

VILA: That's why he gets on so well with Avon, closer origins.

MAGS: There are times I could almost believe that! He certainly knows how to communicate with them.

VILA: Like I said, takes one to know one.

[Mags grins. Garus enters the flight deck followed by Avon who moves to the main console and presses the comm button.]

AVON: Jain. Get ready and report to the flight deck. We are almost at our destination.

GARUS: Are you going to tell us the plan now, or do we have to guess?

AVON: [ignoring him] Vila, put the automatics on line. As soon as our 'guest' arrives, I'll explain to you all what we are going to do.

MAGS: Did you get anything more out of Orac about "our guest"?

AVON: Nothing that is of any consequence to our mission.

VILA: Why is it always you who gets to decide what's important?

GARUS: Never mind whether it's important or not, just spill the gossip. What did you find out?

AVON: [smiles irritatingly] That life is never dull aboard a pleasure-cruiser.

VILA: I'll drink to that! At least, I would if I had one.

GARUS: Great idea Vila. I've still got a drop of Parthian rum left.

VILA: [Reproachfully] You told me you'd finished it all.

GARUS: I was saving it for a special occasion but we might as well drink it now...[cheerfully]...who knows how long any of us have got left to live!

AVON: [Dryly] I admire your optimism.

[Garus grins and leaves to fetch refreshments.]

MAGS: Are you going to tell us what you found out?

AVON: Perhaps.

MAGS: But not now.

AVON: Now, we have more important things to discuss.

[Garus returns with a tray of drinks and snacks and places it on the table. As the others are getting seated and he begins to pass the drinks around, Jain arrives. She is wearing the blue dress of a Bartoc 4 Priestess. It is long and flowing but the material is silken and fine, making it seem quite revealing on her. Vila catches his breath and Garus whistles appreciatively. Even Avon seems disconcerted.]

MAGS: [moving to make room on the seat] Come and have a drink. I see you've made your choice.

[Avon looks sharply at her, then at Jain, who returns his gaze with a steadfast one of her own as she replies.]

JAIN: Yes I have. I thought it over and decided to co-operate. I'll fetch you your crystal, you can take me back to Cellastra and that will be the end of it.

VILA: Back to Cellastra? Won't P.S.D want to know where you've been since you disappeared?

JAIN: They won't know that I have. I had a travel visa on standby for a research trip. I was supposed to be working on the other side of the planet for about a week and then taking a break. The visa is an open one. I can go anywhere in this sector for a holiday, why not Bartoc 4?

VILA: I can think of lots of reasons.

JAIN: Well, maybe I won't say where I went but it doesn't matter. What's important is that no one at the company has any reason to suspect that I'm missing.

GARUS: Won't they wonder why you played truant from work?

MAGS: And didn't use your visa?

JAIN: I'll sort that out once I'm on Cellastra. I can say that I was ill or that I decided to have my break at home. I should have time to use the visa and get the work done before I'm due back at base.

AVON: [in a suspicious tone] You seem to have got it all worked out very neatly.

GARUS: Let's hope your plan is as thorough Avon.

[Avon and Jain stare at one another for a few seconds and it is Avon who looks away first. Jain smiles slightly.]

AVON: The plan is simple enough, if a little...problematic.

JAIN: For whom?

AVON: You.

JAIN: How did I know you were going to say that?

MAGS: Wait a minute Avon. She's not one of us, you can't expect her to take the same risks we would.

AVON: I said there were difficulties not dangers. You saw the information on Bartoc 4. It is hot, barren and irradiated. The inhabitants live in a small number of climate controlled, underground cities.

GARUS: Now that sounds like the Federation I've come to know and love...live in our controlled environment or die in the desert.

MAGS: It's never easy to break away if you've nowhere to go.

[Her voice is suddenly sombre and Garus looks at her curiously. He appears about to speak but Avon notices and immediately cuts in.]

AVON: As I was saying, the cities are underground, built from some type of wave deflectant material and the atmosphere on the surface is radiation charged. Not a good combination for a teleport beam.

VILA: We'll have to land a shuttle?

AVON: No. The beam will operate normally for a surface landing but neither it nor the communicators will function within the city. Jain will have to go in alone, locate and secure the crystal, then return to the surface where one of us will be waiting with a teleport bracelet to bring her back to the Liberator.

JAIN: Is that all! What shall I do for an encore? [Looking at Vila] Don't answer that.

MAGS: Won't the 'cyan stone' be guarded?

AVON: No, it is a sacred artefact to the rulers of the planet. Only members of the Priesthood are allowed access to it and they are above suspicion.

GARUS: This may sound like a stupid question but where's she going to put the stone? Much as I admire it, that outfit certainly wasn't intended for concealment. In fact I think that's why I admire it.

VILA: [smugly] Just for once you're wrong friend. Concealment is exactly what it was intended for...with a little help from the expert.

MAGS: Vila designed a secret pocket. It's in the left seam.

[Garus watches in amazement as Jain puts her hand to her left side and produces a red, fist-sized gemstone apparently from mid air.]

AVON: It has a coded magnetic lock, which can only be opened by a unique key, in this case a seemingly innocent dress-ring... [Jain waves her left hand to display a pewter coloured ring] ...and as you saw from the trial, once in place the concealed object can be detected only by a detailed computer scan.

VILA: Old pickpocket trick. Very useful when you have to submit to a spot-search, what they can't find, they can't arrest you for!

GARUS: Very entertaining but what if something goes wrong? If the cities are impervious to communication waves, how can she contact us?

AVON: She can't. One of us will remain on standby on the surface. Jain will make an initial foray into the city and report back with an estimated time scale for her mission.

MAGS: And if her mission over- runs?

AVON: We pull out at the first sign of trouble.

GARUS: Leaving her there? You can't be serious! [To Jain] You agreed to this?

JAIN: Not exactly. This is the first time I've heard all the details but it seems straightforward enough. No one in the city has any reason to be suspicious, I should be able to move about quite freely. The religious leaders are apparently revered by the rest of the population so I'm sure there'll be no danger.

AVON: [looking meaningfully at Garus] Do I hear a volunteer for back-up duty?

GARUS: I'll go. I never turn down a chance to volunteer.

AVON: I didn't think you would.

[Everyone turns to look at the main screen as Zen bleeps.]

ZEN: Information. Liberator is now in stationary orbit above the specified planet.

[Vila takes a drink from his almost empty glass and frowns deeply.]

VILA: I've got a bad feeling about this.

AVON: You say that every time.

VILA: Sooner or later I'm bound to be right then, aren't I? [He raises his glass again]

JAIN: Later, I hope! Relax Vila, you worry too much. It'll drive you to drink in the end you know!

[She grins and the others, with the exception of Vila, laugh. In the background, the main screen shows a close-up of a clay-coloured planet.]

.................................

[Teleport section. Avon is busy checking and setting the co-ordinates. Jain enters and he studiously ignores her.]

JAIN: You didn't tell the others about our conversation did you?

AVON: [not looking up] No.

JAIN: Why not? Afraid they might believe me?

[Avon finally looks at her.]

JAIN: You think I'm lying about my past, why?

AVON: Orac chose you to collect the 'cyan stone', on the face of it that would make it hard for you to be a planted Federation spy. How could you have been sure that we'd make contact? An agent usually has to initiate an 'accidental' meeting.

[He pauses and she waits non-committally for him to continue. He shrugs slightly.]

AVON: Then it occurred to me that the weapon we need to repair came from a base that is currently in the hands of the Federation. Perhaps it was actually being used to bait a very skilfully prepared trap.

[He begins to pace and Jain watches him warily.]

AVON: Suppose that we were meant to take the missile. Suppose also that the crystal was already flawed and a replacement needed. The only existing one happens to be on Bartoc 4 and only accessible to the Priesthood. Logically we would need someone to infiltrate them. Conveniently, the physical guidelines for Priestesses are very strict and that narrowed our choice of assistants to one...you.

JAIN: [Neutrally] It sounds very elaborate. Surely you don't believe any of that?

AVON: I'm really not sure what I believe but that's largely academic. I need the crystal and I'm prepared to use you to get it. I do not have to trust you.

JAIN: No, I don't suppose you do.

[She looks at him almost pityingly as Garus enters the room.]

GARUS: Right, I'm ready but I don't see why I had to put on a thermal suit, it's a desert down there!

AVON: It is no longer a thermal suit, I've made some adjustments. By turning this dial... [He indicates a small dial on the shoulder of the suit]...the system will now draw air in and cool it to pass around the network of veins within the suit.

GARUS: Sounds fantastic but will it work?

AVON: It should be sufficient for you to last up to two hours on the surface, not long but it is the best that I could manage at short notice. We are on a tight schedule.

GARUS: Okay, okay, I take the hint.

[He steps into the teleport bay where Jain is already waiting. Avon hands him a bracelet.]

AVON: [to Garus] Remember, at the first sign of trouble....

GARUS: ...pull out. I know. Are you sure you're not expecting any?

AVON: [glancing at Jain] I always expect trouble.

JAIN: [sweetly] And I'm sure you're rarely disappointed.

[Avon looks down at the console and moves the levers, teleporting Jain and Garus to the surface. Then he smiles. Cut to flight deck. Mags and Vila are monitoring the consoles.]

MAGS: I'm glad Garus volunteered. Have you seen these temperature readings? Not to mention the radiation levels!

VILA: He didn't really volunteer, Avon manipulated him into it.

MAGS: Cray always volunteers. You can't stop him! Anyway, why would Avon want to push him into it?

VILA: I don't think he cares overly much for Garus. Maybe he's planning to get rid of him, you know, pick us off one by one then take the ship.

MAGS: [In shock] Do you realise how paranoid you sound? Avon may be a bit harsh at times but he wouldn't just kill us all in cold blood!

VILA: You weren't here when we took a trip to Malodar, to visit Egrorian...

[His voice trails off as he remembers and sweat begins to bead on his forehead.]

MAGS: It certainly looks like that's a story I ought to hear! You're wrong about Cray though. Avon adjusted one of the thermal suits especially for him.

VILA: I know, probably set it to 'fry'.

AVON: Now there's an interesting idea.

[He has entered the room unnoticed at some point during their conversation. Mags and Vila look sheepish and return to checking their consoles quietly. Cut to surface of Bartoc 4. Garus and Jain materialise in an area of rocky cliffs. They step into the shade and Jain removes her bracelet and hands it to Garus.]

GARUS: Good luck. Shout if you need anything.

JAIN: Thanks, I'll let you know!

[She walks away round the side of the cliff and Garus raises his communicator.]

GARUS: Garus to Liberator.

MAGS: [on comm] Go ahead Cray.

GARUS: All clear Mags, reconnaissance has begun.

MAGS: [V.O] Right. Avon wants you to report your status every thirty minutes and let us know as soon as you have any further information. Okay?

GARUS: Might as well, I've got nothing better to do. Out.

[Garus looks round at the barren landscape, wipes his already glistening forehead and sighs. Scene cuts to show a long low building of red stone. Jain walks slowly along the side until she reaches the entrance and then pauses to listen. All is quiet and she enters the building. She passes along a series of walkways and down several flights of stairs before emerging into a large, open area.

It is alive with people and is obviously part of a vast city. Dominating the scene is a tall, sinister looking temple. No one seems to pay any attention to Jain as she studies the city. However, as she makes her way across to the temple, the people constantly clear a wide path and avoid all contact with her. Her expression becomes fearful and when she reaches the temple doors, she twists the grey ring nervously around her finger before stepping inside. Scene cuts back to Garus.]

GARUS: Garus to Liberator. Nothing to report, I'll make contact again in another thirty minutes...if I haven't died of boredom.

MAGS: [V.O] Hang in there Cray. What would the universe do without you?! Not to mention all those heartbroken women you've left behind.

GARUS: Good point! Maybe I'll manage to cope a little longer. Talk to you later. Out.

[He takes a flask from his pocket and has a long drink.]

GARUS: [Wistfully] I wish a few of those 'heartbroken women' were here now. I could use some company. [He sighs] How long can it take to steal a chunk of rock anyway?!

[Scene cuts back to temple. Jain is standing behind a pillar in an inner room. The 'cyan stone' is on a pedestal on a low platform in the centre of the room. High up in the far wall, is what appears to be a darkened window. It is small and round with ornate decoration. Two Priests enter the room, followed shortly by a third man who is escorting a Priestess. She is dressed in blue and looks strikingly similar to Jain. She kneels in front of the pedestal and the third man leaves.

One of the Priests talks softly to her as the other turns a wheel mounted on the wall. There is a rumble of distant machinery and a shaft of sunlight angles through the window. It strikes the stone and passes through it to illuminate the Priestess in an ethereal blue light. Her body begins to shake.

The shot cuts to Jain. Her face is taut as she watches the proceedings. Suddenly her eyes grow wide and she appears about to scream but covers her mouth with her hand and then begins to shiver uncontrollably. Scene cuts back to Liberator, flight deck. Mags is at the pilot console. Vila and Avon are seated in the pit area. Orac is on the table and Avon is tinkering with some of the wires. He finishes and inserts the key.]

AVON: Better Orac?

ORAC: Excellent. I could have performed the repairs myself of course but that would have been a task unworthy of my attention.

AVON: Yes, dealing with circuit burnouts is hardly stimulating work.

VILA: It's an improvement on slow roasting in the desert.

AVON: I suppose you would prefer to be in the city stealing the crystal, or are you merely afraid that Jain will do a better job? Perhaps you too are no longer indispensable.

VILA: [coughs nervously] I just don't like relying on amateurs.

MAGS: [Grinning] I'll tell Garus you said that.

[He pulls a face at her.]

VILA: Very funny. [To Avon] Look, I know the fact that she's an Empath is...

AVON: She's what?!

VILA: An Empath. She can read other peoples emotions and share their experiences.

AVON: I know what it means.

MAGS: How do you know she is Vila?

VILA: She told me all about it.

AVON: When?

VILA: [thinks for a minute] Before we were attacked by that hostile ship.

MAGS: Why didn't you tell the rest of us?

VILA: I forgot.

AVON: Wonderful. You forgot.

VILA: I was in mortal agony from the shock waves, the ship was engaged in a desperate battle with pirates...[Avon appears dangerously unamused]...then you came in with the gun and demanded to know her life story. In all the excitement, I just got distracted.

MAGS: Fair enough but I'm not sure I fully understand what an Empath is.

AVON: A very useful diplomatic tool. It is far easier to influence a group of people if you can tailor your approach to suit their mood.

VILA: She's a human being, though I wouldn't expect you to understand that and she's my friend.

MAGS: It would certainly explain a few things. That's why she wasn't afraid of us, when we approached her on Cellastra. She must have known that we didn't intend her any harm.

VILA: If she'd known our intentions she'd have been better off running.

AVON: If she'd known yours she probably would have.

[Vila affects an air of wounded innocence and Avon gives him a disbelieving glance as he turns back to Mags.]

MAGS: Well she'd definitely make a good addition to our group. There's been plenty of times when I could have used a colleague who knew who to trust or, more importantly, who NOT to trust.

AVON: It explains a lot of things but it does not automatically make HER trustworthy.

VILA: [Bitterly] What does she have to do to convince you, die down there?

................................

[Cut to surface of planet. Garus hears a noise and raises his gun but lowers it again when he realises it is only Jain returning. She makes her way to the shade and sits down wearily on a rock.]

GARUS: Have you found the stone?

JAIN: Yes but I can't take it yet. They are conducting a ceremony in its honour.

GARUS: [laughing] They sound like interesting people.

JAIN: They are. I found out quite a lot about them as I was exploring the temple. I now know why they have a blueprint for their Priestesses.

GARUS: Care to enlighten me?

JAIN: It's not pleasant.

GARUS: Neither is this planet!

JAIN: True. [She pauses] It dates back to the original cult members, a small group of men and women who decided to build their city here, on a deserted and inhospitable planet so that they could concentrate on their religion in peace. While they were excavating this area they found the "Azure sun stone".

GARUS: The cyan stone.

JAIN: [Nodding] The cyan stone...it was unknown to them and had no obvious value on an unpopulated planet so they discarded it. Then a miracle occurred. A beam of sunlight passed through the stone and chanced to fall on the face of one of the women. She was enthralled in holy rapture and became an oracle for a brief time.

GARUS: Sounds useful, like a more reasonable version of Orac.

JAIN: Exactly. A sort of living computer but with human insight and a vast collection of race memories. She was given the title of "Primary Soothsayer" or "The Primary" and her likeness became the mould for all subsequent Priestesses.

[Jain looks tired and unhappy. Garus appears overwhelmed.]

GARUS: How did you find all that out?

JAIN: From one of their ancient tomes.

GARUS: Their what?!

JAIN: Books. They are a kind of database of paper and ink.

GARUS: Books...wow, I've seen them in museums but I've never read one.

JAIN: I've read a few. My father is an Historian and I am a Researcher, gathering information has always been second nature to me.

GARUS: I prefer to gather glory, though wealth is high on my list too...and women, of course.

[He grins rakishly and she laughs.]

JAIN: I can't say I agree with the other two but I'm not averse to money. It's certainly easier to live with than without.

GARUS: [He nods] And so the priceless cyan stone became a religious relic. That seems a terrible waste.

JAIN: It's worse than that. Twice each year, a Priestess is chosen to take part in the "ceremony of the sun stone". It is a great honour to be picked and the fact that none ever survive the ceremony is merely viewed as a reaction to "the glory of the god's presence". [She shudders] Well I've seen that reaction and it's anything but glorious.

GARUS: You actually witnessed the ceremony?

JAIN: Secretly, yes. I saw the chosen one. She was thrilled to be taking part. She actually believed that sacrificing herself was worthwhile.

GARUS: [Suddenly serious] Haven't we all at some time in our lives?

[Jain looks at him in surprise but then bites her lip and turns her head away.]

JAIN: You're right. I shouldn't judge her. She held true to what she believed in and that's all that matters in the end. We all have our own choices to make.

GARUS: The ceremony killed her then?

JAIN: [She nods] The crystal is a catalyst, Zen told me that. Somehow, the focus of the suns energy through the crystal must form a catalytic beam. When this comes into contact with a human brain, perhaps through the optic nerves, it causes a reaction which massively speeds up the thought processes and unlocks access to every area of the mind instantly.

GARUS: A sort of information over-load.

[Jain stands up and gazes into the distance as her mind returns to the earlier events within the chamber of the sun stone.]

............................

[The young priestess is standing silent and transfixed before the altar as the priests ask yet another question. Suddenly the blue corona surrounding her body appears to intensify. She screams in a thin ululating expression of terror and collapses, writhing in agony and tearing at her face. The priests try to restrain her but she fights with a desperate mania and manages to throw one of them off. Then, instead of turning on the other, she uses her free arm to grab the edge of the altar and drag herself violently against it. She impacts with a sickening noise. Then slowly, the woman sags to the floor, her skull smashed open. Instantly, the azure light dies.]

............................

[Shuddering at the memory, Jain turns to face Garus but seems unable to bring herself to share the more gory details.]

JAIN: It burnt out the circuits in her brain. Drove her over the edge of her sanity. [Her voice breaks] She suffered so much before she died.

GARUS: Poor kid, what an ending. I plan to go quickly, in some famous battle. Nothing but an honourable death for me.

JAIN: How can any death be honourable?

[He shrugs then his thoughts change direction.]

GARUS: What happened to the crystal is it all right?

JAIN: [In a bitter tone] The crystal is fine. I'll go back to the temple and as soon as the celebrations are over I should be able to steal the damn thing easily enough. At least that will put a stop to the sacrifices.

GARUS: I doubt it. Still, we can but try! How long do you think it'll take you to complete the mission?

JAIN: An hour, perhaps two. It depends how favourable to the community the oracles answers were. I shouldn't have any problems while I'm waiting. The city seems safe enough. Although...[she looks suddenly uneasy] ...I get the feeling that the population doesn't actually respect the Priesthood, it's more like they...detest them.

GARUS: Not all atheists hate religion, it's probably just your imagination.

JAIN: I hope! [She grins and starts to leave] Don't go away, I'll be right back!

[As soon as she is out of sight Garus begins to make his report. The camera pans away across the arid landscape. A heat haze shimmers above the rocks and in the distance, a small and solitary reptile darts for cover.

Cut to the cool darkness of space and the silently waiting Liberator. View switches to interior of the ship, the flight deck.]

GARUS: [V.O]...so that's about it. Any chance of a break? The heat down here is starting to get to me, not that I'm complaining or anything, it's just...

MAGS: [Into comm] I know, you're bored! We'll sort something out. [To Avon] I suppose you want me to go next?

AVON: No, Vila...

VILA: [interrupting immediately] Oh no! If it's too hot for Garus it'll be far too hot for me! I'll fall asleep. I'm no good on watch, you know that and there's radiation down there. I'm too young to be irradiated.

MAGS: I thought you said Jain was your friend.

VILA: Not a close friend. Not on those terms.

AVON: [coldly] I want you to operate the teleport.

MAGS & VILA: [in unison] You're going?!

AVON: [I.C] Garus. Stand by we will be bringing you up shortly.

[He walks towards the exit, the others are still staring at him in disbelief.]

AVON: Vila, come on!

[Vila jumps and then follows him. Mags moves across to Zen.]

MAGS: I wonder what brought that on.

ZEN: No information.

MAGS: Never mind Zen, just give me a status report on all systems please.

ZEN: Confirmed.

[Cut to main city on Bartoc 4. The courtyard is alive with a festival atmosphere. Most of the revellers are in costume and masks. There are musicians playing and food vendors plying the crowd. Jain is hovering in the temple doorway with a distracted expression. She turns to watch the performance of a carnival artiste and fails to notice that amongst the crowd are several small groups of people who seem out of place. They are wearing expressions of forced gaiety and are holding whispered conversations as their numbers swell. A bell begins to toll and Jain re-enters the temple. The scene cuts back to the teleport bay of the Liberator. Vila is at the controls as Garus materialises.]

VILA: Welcome home.

GARUS: I wasn't expecting Avon to take over. What happened, you refuse to go?

VILA: You know me; brave, reliable, always the first to volunteer.

GARUS: That's me you're thinking of. You're the one who keeps trying to get out of everything!

[He raises his eyebrows enquiringly.]

GARUS: Well?

VILA: He didn't ask me.

GARUS: Strange, I wonder what he's up to?

VILA: Probably wants to enrol Jain in the diplomatic corps.

GARUS: Now you're making even less sense than usual Vila.

VILA: It's a long story.

GARUS: In that case it had better wait, I need a shower and a change of clothes first.

VILA: I was too polite to say.

GARUS: Since when? [In sudden realisation] Avon's gone down without the suit.

VILA: No, he'd adapted two of them, just in case.

GARUS: Of what?

VILA: With Avon, who knows?

......................................

[Bartoc 4, inside the temple. Jain is hiding behind the same pillar as earlier. The Priests return the sacred stone to its altar pedestal and kneel before it in prayer.

They are extremely long-winded and she rolls her eyes upward in an attitude of impatience. Eventually, they leave and as soon as the echo of their footsteps has abated, she moves out into the room and approaches the cyan stone. She pauses for a second almost as though in prayer, or remembrance, then picks up the stone and swiftly conceals it in her robes. Turning round, she prepares to leave the room.]

.....................................

[Interior of the Liberator. Mags is in one of the recreation rooms playing some type of solitaire game. She removes a peg from the board as the comm buzzes.]

GARUS: [on comm] Mags, can you make your way to the flight deck please?

[Mags replaces the game peg and crosses to the wall comm to reply.]

MAGS: What's wrong?

GARUS: [V.O] Zen has picked up a Federation ship on the scanner.

MAGS: I'm on my way.

[Cut to flight deck. Vila and Garus are watching the main screen. It shows a Federation symbol in the top right-hand corner and the Liberator symbol in the bottom left corner. The planet symbol is on the left-hand side approximately half way up the screen. Mags enters the room.]

MAGS: Have they spotted us?

VILA: Not yet, we've moved back to use the planet as cover.

GARUS: There's no probe activity so they're not actually looking for us. It must be a routine visit. As long as we stay out of their way we should be safe.

VILA: But what about Avon...and Jain?

MAGS: [rushing to comm unit] Avon, this is Liberator, come in please.

AVON: [V.O] Avon. What is it Mags?

MAGS: There's a Federation ship about to land. It's alone, as far as we can tell and from the readings it looks to be coming down close to your position.

[Cut to Avon on surface of planet. He glances upwards. A tiny silhouette can be seen against the huge sun. It gains in size rapidly. He turns his head to plot its projected course as he lifts his bracelet to reply.]

AVON: They're probably headed for the city.

MAGS: [V.O] That's what we thought. Can you warn Jain?

AVON: Not without going in there. [He frowns] If she hasn't taken the crystal yet, she is in no immediate danger.

MAGS: [V.O] And if she has?

AVON: [He frowns again] Stand by on teleport. I may need to leave in a hurry. Out.

[He removes his gun from its holster then begins to make his way purposefully towards the city. Scene switches to show a Federation ship landing on the planet. Several officials and a small group of troopers with one superior disembark. There is a sizable party of Bartoc ambassadors waiting to greet them.

Scene switches back to Avon. He is amongst the carnival crowd and is making his way to a vantage point opposite the temple doorway. He reaches it unhindered and melts into the shadows of a building as the Federation are conducted into the courtyard area. They march arrogantly through the festival, ignoring the civilian population and enter the temple. Suddenly a riot breaks out as the rebels who had been hiding amongst the crowd, pull out their weapons and storm the building. Scene cuts back to Liberator flight deck.]

ZEN: Information. An emergency transmission is being broadcast on open band frequency.

GARUS: From where?

ZEN: Relayed from nearest Federation base to all ships in this sector.

VILA: [miserably] Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this?

MAGS: Put it on the audio channel Zen.

ZEN: Confirmed.

AUDIO: This is Captain Ren, Federation base Gamma One Zero. To all ships in sector three. A rebel group is believed to be carrying out an assault on city Alpha, planet Bartoc 4. A vis-tape of their demands has been received and attack is threatened to be already underway. Commander Vamitas and a party of senior officials were en route for the planet and are presumed to be currently on surface. Communications are unable to be established due to adverse conditions. Code red, all available units to assist.

This is a priority command, over-riding all previous instructions. Repeat all available units are to re-route to Bartoc 4, maximum speed. Message ends.

[The crew stare at each other in stunned silence until Vila finds his voice.]

VILA: [Bleakly] The rebels are revolting.

GARUS: I can think of several replies to that statement but now is not the time.

MAGS: [repeatedly pressing and releasing the comm button] No it's not. We are going to be surrounded by Federation ships within the hour and I can't make contact with Avon. He must have gone into the city.

GARUS: Don't worry Mags, with the rebels keeping the city security forces busy he stands less chance of being recognised. Besides which, it'll give them an excellent diversion while they steal the crystal. The Priests will have their hands full defending themselves against their own people.

VILA: What about Jain?

[The others turn to look at him questioningly.]

VILA: She's dressed as a Priestess. The rebels will kill her.

[Within the temple on Bartoc 4. All is noise and confusion. Groups of natives are fighting both the Federation troops and the Priests. Rioters have taken advantage of the panic to begin looting temple treasures and destroying the architecture. People are constantly shooting at each other and the area is already littered with bodies. Avon can be seen in the background, trying to make his way through the temple. He swings back from an open doorway as a man in the robes of the priesthood runs in.]

PRIEST: [Wildly] Infidel...you dare to molest the Temple?!

[He makes a sudden lunge but is unarmed and Avon seems hesitant to shoot. Instead he sidesteps and hits the priest across his head with the butt of the gun. The man cries out in pain but manages to stay on his feet and grabs at Avon as he staggers. Thrown off balance, Avon brings his arms down to fend off his attacker and the gun fires. Without a sound, the priest drops to the floor. Avon straightens and steps back slightly as another man rushes through the doorway. This one is in civilian attire. He looks at the dead priest then signals to Avon.]

MAN: We're needed outside. Some of them tried to escape into the city.

[He dashes onwards in the assumption that he'll be followed and Avon turns swiftly in the opposite direction. He runs through the doorway and down a corridor lined with more dead bodies. Finally reaching an open area with several doors, he chooses the one that is decorated with bizarre sun symbols. It leads down another corridor and into a quiet room with one body in the middle of the floor. As he hurries past, the Priestess moans and tries to rise. He stops. It is Jain and she's been shot. Blood is spreading across her robes but she struggles to speak. Avon crouches close to her.]

AVON: [impatiently] Did you get the crystal?

JAIN: [with difficulty] Yes...something's happening...tried to get out...they fired.

AVON: We're in the middle of a revolution. We have to leave, now.

JAIN: Can't make it...I need help.

[Shouts are heard, followed by the sound of people running. Avon reaches for her left hand and un-gently drags the grey ring from her finger. He uses it to release the concealed pocket and then takes the crystal from her and places it inside his tunic. The shouts grow louder and he rises to his feet.]

JAIN: [weakly] Avon, please...help me.

[He looks down at her without emotion and then walks quickly across the room and out through a door. She stares after him in horrified disbelief and then loses consciousness just as a rebel bursts into the room followed by a Federation trooper. The fight is brief and the trooper wins then dashes out of the room. The place falls silent and Avon cautiously re-enters. He checks Jain's pulse and then puts a teleport bracelet on her wrist. Carefully he lifts her and begins to carry her out of the temple.]

..............................................

[Shot of Liberator zooming through space. Cut to interior, medical bay. Jain is lying on a type of trolley bed, pale but obviously alive and recovering. She is wearing a white gown and is peacefully asleep. Mags is adjusting some dials on the wall as Vila enters.]

VILA: How is she? Aw, she looks like an angel.

MAGS: She almost was! If you hadn't been a match for her blood type we'd have lost her for certain.

VILA: [rubs his arm] Don't remind me. I hate the sight of blood, especially when it's mine. I feel faint just thinking about it, I'm not very good with pain.

MAGS: So I've noticed. You did well though and I'm sure she'll be grateful.

[Jain's eyelids flicker. She begins to cough and tries to sit up.]

MAGS: [Gently] Don't try to move you'll re-open the wound.

[Jain complies automatically but gazes at them both in bewilderment.]

JAIN: I'm alive? Am I back on the Liberator?

MAGS: Of course, where else would you be?

JAIN: [frowns worriedly] Nowhere. It doesn't matter. [In a confused tone] What happened to me?

VILA: You were unconscious for more than two days and you almost died.

MAGS: Tactfully put Vila.

JAIN: But I'm all right now?

VILA: Thanks to me...and Mags of course, who fixed you up with Orac's expert advice.

JAIN: Thank you, both of you. [She coughs weakly] Was the mission a success? How long before we get back to Cellastra?

[Mags and Vila look at each other nervously.]

MAGS: [Avoiding her eyes] The cyan stone is flawless and the missile guidance system is functioning normally now. I suppose you could call it a success.

[Her tone is suspiciously neutral and Jain stares at her with unease.]

JAIN: Good...how long before I get home?

VILA: There's a slight problem.

MAGS: The Federation called in reinforcements to put down the rebellion. We had to leave the sector. I'm sorry but it won't be safe for us to go back there yet. Avon left a coded message pod on the edge of the sector, to warn Nial and give him alternative co-ordinates in case things haven't cooled down by the time we need to rendezvous.

JAIN: [Quietly] So you'll take me back after you meet up with the rest of the group?

MAGS: Hopefully.

JAIN: Hopefully?

MAGS: It's a bit complicated. The Liberator is quite well known. We can't just hang around waiting for the Feds to leave. I'll do my best to get you home but circumstances being as they are...

[She tails off and there is an uncomfortable silence. Jain studies them both. Mags appears apologetic and Vila looks mortified. She suddenly sighs in resignation.]

JAIN: Ok, you can drop me off on the nearest suitable planet. I've started from scratch before, I'm sure I can do it again. [She sighs] I was only ever a temporary citizen of Cellastra anyway.

VILA: I wondered about that, why you had 'Emigrate' status instead of 'Immigrant'.

JAIN: Emigrates are only regarded as visitors...long or short term. [She pauses to catch her breath] They can be deported at any time or held as prisoners in the event of an interplanetary war.

VILA: And treated like dirt, I know that, so why not register as an Immigrant?

JAIN: That should be obvious Vila. [She is beginning to look weary] Apply for residency and have them officially check my records instead of just logging the information I gave them? [Softly] I may have been na´ve but I wasn't stupid.

VILA: [in sudden comprehension] They'd have found out...

MAGS: ...exactly what Avon did, when Orac ran a check.

JAIN: [Quietly] Avon.

[They both look at her quizzically.]

JAIN: I need to talk to Avon.

MAGS: Yes...I think I understand. I'll find him. [Vila seems ready to stay] Vila, you can help me look.

VILA: Me?

[He glances at Jain who is very pale and looks on the verge of passing out.]

VILA: Oh, all right. I'll visit you later, shall I? I've got some amazing stories about my heroic deeds. You wouldn't believe the amount of times I've been responsible for saving someone's life!

MAGS: [Wryly] No, she probably wouldn't.

JAIN: [smiling at him] Yes. That would be nice of you. I don't think I'll be going anywhere for a while! [She coughs raggedly] Or doing anything heroic.

[Vila nods and they leave. Jain gratefully closes her eyes to rest.]

.......................................

[Shot of Liberator flying slowly through space. Cut back to medi-bay. Jain still has her eyes closed but opens them as Avon enters the room.]

AVON: You wanted to talk to me?

JAIN: I wanted to apologise to you.

AVON: For?

JAIN: [wearily] You won't make it easy will you. [Pause] For the things I thought about you, in the temple, when you walked away.

AVON: Ah. You thought I was leaving you to die.

JAIN: [blushes slightly] Yes. I don't understand what happened. I must have been confused. I was so sure that you were deserting me.

AVON: I was.

[She stares at him in shock and he smiles enigmatically. Her gaze becomes intent.]

JAIN: Well, whatever your reasons, you came back for me. Thank you...though it's an inadequate word for how I feel. If you ever need my co-operation again, I promise I will give it gladly next time. [She smiles tiredly] There is just one more thing I don't understand.

AVON: [dryly] Only one?

JAIN: Earlier, before I went down to Bartoc 4, you told me that you didn't trust me. What made you change your mind?

AVON: [staring straight into her eyes] Did I say that I had?

[She holds his stare briefly, her face tense. Then she relaxes, smiles strangely and closes her eyes.]

JAIN: No, you never did.

 

[End Credits]

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