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 E7}

[Opens with a view of the Reverence approaching. It looms up to fill the screen and then the shot switches to show the rear of the ship as it moves on to enter hold two of the Liberator. The hold doors close and the view switches to the Liberator flight deck. Mags and Garus turn away from the main screen as it fades to black.]

MAGS: Looks like they found our message pod.

GARUS: Maybe now we can start causing the Feds some trouble instead of sitting around waiting for them to cause us it.

MAGS: Maybe. Actually, I'm getting a bit worried about all these reports.

GARUS: It's just propaganda Mags, ignore it.

MAGS: That's easy to say but if you throw enough mud some of it's bound to stick.

GARUS: Not to us, we're legends!

MAGS: [Smiling] Why do I bother trying to get you to be serious about anything?!

GARUS: Life is just a game, it's not meant to be taken seriously, eh Vila?

[He glances across to the pit area where Vila is slouching silently.]

GARUS: You're not still moping are you?

VILA: Why shouldn't I be?

MAGS: If it's any comfort Vila, I don't think it was your fault she chose to leave.

GARUS: [Darkly] I think we all know whose fault it was.

[Avon suddenly enters the room carrying Orac. He strides across to the table and dumps Orac none too gently onto it before turning to face the others.]

AVON: I thought my instructions were quite clear.

GARUS: [Grinning] They were, we just chose not to follow them.

MAGS: [Swiftly] Reverence has returned Avon. Nial and the others will be here soon.

AVON: You are expecting a show of enthusiasm?

MAGS: I just thought you'd like to know.

[Garus opens his mouth, presumably to goad Avon further but at that moment Nial walks into the room closely followed by Soolin.]

NIAL: Anyone care to tell me what's going on? I thought you'd run out on us when we reached the co-ordinates and there was no sign of the Liberator.

SOOLIN: We almost missed your message pod. It wasn't easy to spot.

AVON: For obvious reasons.

MAGS: We'll explain later. Where are the others?

[Nial walks to the pit and sits down next to Vila. Soolin remains close but standing.]

NIAL: They chose to stay with Warlord Morgon...

VILA: Probably wise.

NIAL: part of my plan for Phenox.

AVON: Does your plan include consulting the rest of us at some point?

NIAL: The planet is under Federation arrest Avon. Communications are a little difficult under those circumstances.

GARUS: Just tell us the plan Nial. [He grins irritatingly] Avon can object to it once we know what it is.

[Mags hides a smile as Avon glares coldly at Garus.]

NIAL: Firstly, we've verified that Morgons people are immune to Pylene 50 and have confirmed the source of that immunity.

MAGS: Is it something we can use?

SOOLIN: If you enjoy a good drink.

VILA: [Perking up slightly] Did you bring some with you?

SOOLIN: Only to use as a test sample.

NIAL: It's the local liquor, they distil it from various native plants.

SOOLIN: [Quietly] And a few other things.

NIAL: Apparently the drink causes permanent chemical changes within the body.

MAGS: Wow that must be strong stuff!

SOOLIN: You're dead kills about six percent of their population every year.

VILA: Perhaps I won't try it after all...just to be on the safe side.

AVON: If it is so potent there will be little use in offering it against the threat of Pylene 50. Most people prefer enslavement to death.

GARUS: Speak for yourself.

AVON: Of course there are exceptions to any rule...however these can largely be ignored.

[He pointedly turns his back on Garus to address Nial once more.]

AVON: Have you found a way to overcome the problem?

NIAL: Not yet but they're working on it...and on the second half of my plan.

AVON: Which is?

NIAL: To form Warlord Morgon and his group into a reliable fighting unit.

SOOLIN: We decided they ought to free themselves instead of waiting for assistance.

NIAL: Hopefully by the time Tegan's finished with them, we'll have a planet full of very useful allies.

AVON: Under Federation arrest.

NIAL: I was getting to that, it's actually the best bit. [He pauses] No one is supposed to get on or off that planet, or have any contact with the rest of the universe.

VILA: I've been arrested enough times, I know what it means.

NIAL: What it means is we now have a base that is being isolated and protected for us by the Federation.

MAGS: Won't it be difficult to get access to?

SOOLIN: Morgon knows plenty of ways to slip in and out without getting caught.

VILA: Why did he need us in the first place then?

SOOLIN: Pride. He doesn't want to skulk about. He hates the thought of his enemies thinking he can't control his own planet.

GARUS: How many enemies does he have?

SOOLIN: [wryly] How many planets are there in that sector?

NIAL: I managed to persuade Morgon that the Federation would be beneficial in keeping his neighbours at bay whilst we helped to mould his forces. [He shrugs] I think we did quite well out of the deal.

SOOLIN: You negotiated skilfully. I'm sure no one else could have done better.

[Nial seems pleased by her praise but the others look disgruntled.]

GARUS: We haven't exactly been sitting idle!

NIAL: I hope not. How did our new weapon perform?

MAGS: [Sheepishly] We haven't used it yet.

SOOLIN: I can see I'll have to redefine my understanding of 'idle'.

NIAL: But you have installed it?

VILA: Oh yes, it's definitely there.

SOOLIN: That's comforting.

NIAL: What went wrong...Avon?

AVON: We needed to replace a damaged component.

NIAL: And it took so long?

AVON: There were...difficulties.

[Vila glances at him darkly and Avon returns his glare. Garus laughs and puts an arm round the shoulders of each of them.]

GARUS: Still, it was fun wasn't it?!

[Mags and Vila stare at him incredulously. Avon moves away from his embrace with a look that clearly conveys his doubts about the man's sanity. Nial is about to speak when suddenly Zen begins a series of strange bleeping sounds.]

NIAL: What was that?

[After a brief pause, Zen makes another set of bleeps and seems to be holding some sort of computerised conversation.]

AVON: Zen, respond!

[Zen ignores the command and continues to bleep in an odd pattern for several more seconds.]

NIAL: Could be some sort of malfunction, in the translator circuits.

AVON: I don't think so.

NIAL: Well what is it then?

AVON: My guess would be that Zen is communicating with an external source.

MAGS: Another computer?

AVON: Probably.

NIAL: Can we stop it?

AVON: I'm not sure.

VILA: Perhaps it's friendly. [Avon spares him a patronisingly glance] It might be. I'm just saying maybe we shouldn't try to stop it, maybe we should hear it out.

SOOLIN: You understand computer talk now do you?

VILA: At least I listen, all you understand is warfare.

SOOLIN: If I had a gun in my hand now, you'd soon understand me.

[Zen continues to make strange noises. Avon begins to press buttons on the main console. Suddenly there is the sound of an explosion and the ship rocks violently. Everyone is thrown off balance and Mags hits the floor with a yell of pain. Garus helps her to her feet as Nial rises to his and shouts to Avon.]

NIAL: We're under attack! Try to get a visual, we have to see what's happening out there.

ZEN: Liberator is surrounded. The ship is being called to surrender. Please state your command.

NIAL: Nice of you to finally join us again. What the hell is going on?!

AVON: Visual Zen.

[The main screen flickers and widens to show a Federation war ship slightly to the left ahead of them and another to the right, just visible in the distance.]

ZEN: There are two further Federation ships in Liberator's vicinity. They are ranged at strategic points to form an enclosing triangle with the forward vessel.

AVON: The one keeping out of range must be their leader.

GARUS: How did four ships manage to sneak up on us like that?

MAGS: Maybe that was the problem with Zen. They put some sort of scrambling beam on him, to keep him busy while they approached.

AVON: It's possible. Without investigation we can only conjecture.

SOOLIN: Conjecture later, we have more pressing problems at the moment!

[Nial turns away from the screen and begins to pace.]

NIAL: Zen...with the force wall up can we blast our way clear?

ZEN: Liberator is able to fire through the force wall. However a concentrated attack by three gun-ships is outside tolerance levels. Surrender is advised for the safety of the ship and crew.

VILA: It's a bit late to be concerned about us! Where were you when we needed you?

ZEN: No information.

VILA: Thought not.

SOOLIN: I agree with what Garus said earlier. I'd rather die than surrender.

NIAL: You've got an idea?

SOOLIN: I'd like to try a trick Tegan suggested, with a small adaptation of my own.

ZEN: The call to surrender has been repeated. Liberator has one minute to comply or it will be destroyed.

NIAL: Go ahead Soolin...we've got nothing to lose.

AVON: [Grimly] Except our lives.

[Soolin dashes to the pilot position and begins to activate buttons as she settles herself in the seat and grasps the control handles.]

SOOLIN: Zen, operate the cloaking device...

VILA: What good will that do, at this distance they can use their eyes!

SOOLIN: ...and give me full manual control.

ZEN: Confirmed.

SOOLIN: Strap yourselves in, this may get rough!

[The others scramble for places as Soolin begins to turn the ship tightly on a left lateral course. As she pulls round to face the first Federation ship, she yells to Vila.]

SOOLIN: Get the blasters ranged and stand by to fire. [He does so] Now Vila!

[The beam shoots out and annihilates the ship. The Liberator is still turning and Soolins arms are locked across her body desperately pushing the controls towards her left side. The pressure builds up and her right arm, which is taking most of the strain, begins to shake slightly as the second enemy ship comes into view.]


[The second ship is also destroyed and the Liberator continues to turn but Soolins weaker arm is faltering. The spin starts to slow down as she struggles to keep up her pressure on the controls. As they swing into view on the third ship, it fires. Liberator is hit a resounding blow which throws them off course and they lose sight of their opponent. Soolin drags the controls around to right them and the enemy appears on their screen once more.]

SOOLIN: [Sounding exhausted] Now Vila! Shoot it quickly.

[The Federation ship explodes as the beam hits it and Soolin continues to pull the Liberator round to the left until they are back in their original position. The lead ship has disappeared.]

NIAL: Their leader got away.

GARUS: He'll be running for reinforcements. We'd better get out of here.

SOOLIN: Not yet. Zen, is the forth ship still on our scanners?

ZEN: The ship will be out of extended scanner range in two point four seconds.

NIAL: We've lost him Soolin. Let it go.

SOOLIN: [Coldly] No. Zen plot his course and relay it to my position.

[She studies the screen and then walks across to the weapons console and makes a couple of adjustments by pressing a sequence of buttons.]

SOOLIN: Zen, launch a high-speed missile on my co-ordinates.

ZEN: Confirmed.

SOOLIN: Now follow those co-ordinates, maximum speed, until long range scan picks up what's left of that ship. [Quietly] I need to be absolutely sure we got him.


[View of a medium sized, green and yellow planet. The Liberator approaches it and slips into orbit. Cut to interior, flight deck. Mags, Soolin and Nial are sitting in the pit area. Garus is at the flight console and Avon and Vila are watching a view of the planet on the main screen.]

MAGS: With the power banks as low as they are, we don't have any choice Nial. We'll have to use the planet as cover while we make repairs to the ship.

AVON: [Turning from the screen] We were fortunate that the damage was minor.

SOOLIN: [Coldly] You were fortunate that I got us out of it alive.

AVON: More by luck than judgement, it was a dangerous gamble.

NIAL: No, it was a good trick. Though I'm not quite sure how it worked.

VILA: Me neither.

GARUS: I understand the manoeuvre, swinging round in a circle like that. You were able to line up and destroy them at the same time as moving our vital points out of their sights. [He smiles at her admiringly.] Very neat. What I don't understand, is why they sat there and let you do it.

AVON: The cloaking device.

SOOLIN: Exactly and though I hate to admit it, Vila showed more sense than those Federation Troopers.

VILA: I did?!

SOOLIN: If they'd trusted their eyes they could have over-ridden the system and fired on us manually. We hadn't actually moved out of range.

AVON: You were trusting in their reliance on technology.

SOOLIN: [She nods] The cloak made us invisible to their instruments. As far as their computers were concerned, we'd vanished.

GARUS: Now I see! They wasted time trying to recalculate our position instead of responding to the ships actual movements. Clever, I'm glad you're on our side.

AVON: One of them wasn't fooled.

SOOLIN: [Angrily] All right, I admit it! I lost the momentum, our spin slowed and the last ship had time to panic and shoot at us. I couldn't keep the pressure on. Obviously I'm still a cripple. Are you happy now Avon?

[She stands up and stamps loudly from the room. Avon appears unconcerned and Nial frowns at him in annoyance.]

NIAL: There was no need for that. She did a good job.

MAGS: And she did test the new weapon too.

GARUS: She certainly did! There wasn't much left of that lead ship.

MAGS: I only pray that he didn't put out any communications before she got him.

NIAL: I doubt he had time but we'll play it safe and stay on the far side of this planet while we recharge the Liberator.

GARUS: If the Feds do come to investigate, they'll expect us to be miles away by now. People never look at what's right under their noses.

MAGS: [Grinning at him] If they did, they'd discover they had mouths and they might keep them closed a bit more often.

GARUS: [Pouting] Mags that's hurtful! I only talk when I'm awake and then only when there are other people there to appreciate it.

VILA: Like the Federation?

[They turn to look at him but he is watching the screen. A tiny spot has appeared in the distance and is fast approaching their position.]

ZEN: Information. A Federation patrol ship is registering on long range scan. Depleted condition of power banks makes evasion a priority.

NIAL: Activate cloaking device then take the Liberator into orbit on the dark side of the planet.

ZEN: Confirmed.

[There is a subtle shift in power as the ship moves into position.]

VILA: There's something wrong with the ship.

AVON: We know. That is why we are hanging around here.

VILA: No, I mean with Zen.

MAGS: What makes you think that Vila?

VILA: I saw that patrol before he did.

NIAL: We are short on power, maybe Zen was concentrating on other things.

GARUS: Like life-support!

AVON: Vila is right...

VILA: He agrees with me!

AVON: ...Zen is behaving oddly.

VILA: I must be dreaming.

AVON: I'd better take a look at the main computer circuits.

VILA: Or having a nightmare.

AVON: There may be a malfunction in the system.

VILA: Yes that's what it is. [They stare at him in surprise] A nightmare.

NIAL: Vila.

VILA: Yes?

NIAL AND AVON: [In unison] Shut up!


[Liberator recreation room. It is dimly lit and it seems to be 'ships-night'. Nial is leaning on the wall gazing out at the stars through a small hexagonal window. Soolin enters the room. She has got changed and looks to have calmed down considerably. Nial acknowledges her presence and she wanders across to join him.]

SOOLIN: Are we going to land?

NIAL: No. The ship is completing its own repairs and Avon is making an extensive check on Zen, with the assistance of Orac. All we have to do is wait twenty-four hours or so for the banks to be fully recharged, then we can leave.

SOOLIN: It has a breathable atmosphere and compatible gravity levels...I checked.

NIAL: Just out of curiosity?

SOOLIN: It would be nice to have a break.

NIAL: A change of atmosphere.

SOOLIN: The one around here isn't exactly welcoming.

NIAL: [Turning to the window] Why not. We might even be able to restock our supplies. The natives seem friendly...I checked.

[They smile at each other in perfect agreement, then Soolin moves away from the window and sits down. Nial remains at the window, his face unreadable.]

NIAL: Can I ask you a question?

SOOLIN: That sounds ominous.

NIAL: Did you ever find the person who murdered your family?

SOOLIN: [Darkly] Yes.

NIAL: What happened?

SOOLIN: He thought he could out-shoot me. He was wrong.

NIAL: But did it help...I mean, did it make a difference to your life, to know that he was dead?

SOOLIN: [Venomously] Oh yes. It did.

[Nial is silent for a minute then he looks up with a tortured expression.]

NIAL: I still don't know the name of the man who killed my father. I barely remember his face. I could have passed him on any of a dozen different worlds and not have known him.

SOOLIN: There must be some way of finding out who he was.

NIAL: I had one lead but it turned into a dead end, literally.

SOOLIN: Are you sure? Maybe there was something you missed. We could use Orac to recheck it.

NIAL: I doubt even Orac can speak with the departed! The only information I have is from a conversation I overheard as I watched the funeral pyre.

[His eyes reflect the flames as he gazes back into his past. The image of a large funeral pyre fills the screen then the camera pans back to show the townsfolk in attendance. The crowd is sizeable yet oddly restrained in their grief, except for a solitary dark-haired woman who is on her knees sobbing inconsolably. Nial's voice begins to narrate.]

NIAL: My mother was insensible with grief. She hardly seemed to realise I was there so I wandered away, looking for attention elsewhere. One of the townspeople, a neighbour of ours, took my hand and led me to stand with her children at the edge of the crowd. A stranger was standing there too.

[The people are hazy and distorted in the memory of the child that he was. However, one image stands out more clearly. It is of a tall woman dressed in fine black satin. Her well-fitted dress is studded with a trail of diamonds down each side. A thin silken scarf covers her head and is draped over her shoulders. Her back is to the camera but her regal poise is still evident.]

NIAL: She was so beautiful and her presence so commanding that I kept watching her, when I couldn't stand to look at the flames any longer. A man came to talk to her but I didn't look at him, she was too fascinating. Like a queen out of one of the old stories my mother used to tell. I heard the man boasting that he'd 'done it all for her'. She laughed lightly and promised him rich rewards.

[The sound of her laughter, inappropriate considering the location, causes several heads to turn and the woman takes her companions arm and leans closer to him as they converse. Nial's voice becomes strained.]

NIAL: Then I heard my father's name and coming from those lips, it suddenly sounded like a curse. In a panic I stared at them both and I knew him then. [The camera focuses on the man but his face is still obscured.] It was the man who had butchered my father in front of my eyes as we'd walked into town that morning.

[The couple begin to turn and the scene switches abruptly back to the Liberator.]

NIAL: Finally they'd noticed me and I waited dumbly for the attack which somehow I knew would come. It didn't. I stood transfixed by the deathly coldness of her dark eyes and I heard him call me...[bitterly]..."a nosy town brat". He didn't recognise me. I wasn't even important enough to remember.

[He shakes his head as though appalled by his own thoughts.]

NIAL: They moved away then, to finish discussing their business and I let them go. I did nothing. I didn't even think to tell my mother that I knew who had murdered the man she loved more than life.

SOOLIN: [Gently] You were a child. It wasn't your responsibility.

NIAL: No? I was the only one who knew the truth.

SOOLIN: Did you hear the woman's name?

NIAL: Oh yes. Everyone knew who she was. Even now, people still fear HER name. It was Servalan, supreme Empress of the galaxy.

SOOLIN: And she's the only one who knows the identity of the man you seek?

NIAL: Was. She's dead.

SOOLIN: [Quietly] No. She's not.

[His head whips up sharply and he stares at her. Soolin seems to recoil slightly from the intensity in his eyes.]

NIAL: Are you sure?

SOOLIN: We've had dealings with her, on more than enough occasions. [She pauses, her face grim.] Have you ever heard of Commissioner Sleer?

NIAL: Of the Pacification Police?! Of course I have, though I never met the woman.

SOOLIN: Obviously. [Smiling wryly] If you had, you would know...she is Servalan.

NIAL: Sleer. [He shakes his head incredulously] Well you know what they say, "A slimewort by any other name..."

SOOLIN: "...would smell as vile."


[Scene changes to show the exterior of a small castle-like building at twilight. A black ship takes off from the rear of the building and speeds away into the oncoming night. Silently a shadow detaches itself from the deeper blackness around it and slinks towards the palace wall. It becomes the barely discernible silhouette of a human as it begins to scale the stonework. View switches to the interior. A carpeted corridor leading to a grandly furnished suite of rooms. A servant is exiting the suite. He pulls the double doors firmly closed behind him as he marches pompously down the corridor. Suddenly an arm shoots out from behind an ornamental sculpture. The servant is gripped by his neck before he can do more than squeak in surprise.]

ARLEN: [Menacingly] Not a sound. All I want is information, provide it and I'll let you live.

[He nods as emphatically as he can whilst trying to breathe. She relaxes her grip a little.]

ARLEN: All you have to do is tell me where she is.


ARLEN: Sleer you idiot! The exalted mistress of this tacky pile of bad taste you dare to call a palace.

SERVANT: She's not here. [Her grip retightens and he gasps] You missed her. She's just left.

[Releasing her hold and drawing her gun to aim full in his face.]

ARLEN: I know that! I want you to tell me where she's gone.

SERVANT: I can't. She'd kill me...and my family...for disloyalty.

ARLEN: You're so afraid of her that you'd rather die now?!

SERVANT: [Sullenly] You don't know where my family are, she does.

ARLEN: [Lowering the gun] She knew where mine were.

SERVANT: I'm sorry. I wish I could help you but...[He shivers]

ARLEN: Arlen understands fear. It is more powerful than money.

SERVANT: Madame Sleer is very powerful.

ARLEN: I know. I've spent a week watching for a chance to reach her. Waiting for an unguarded moment or a weak point in her stronghold. [With grudging admiration] There was nothing.

SERVANT: But you got in. You're here now.

ARLEN: [With contempt] No one guards an empty fortress.

SERVANT: You've been here for a week! How did you survive? There's nothing out there.

ARLEN: Arlen is a soldier. A fully trained soldier. They can always find something to eat, as long as they aren't fussy.

SERVANT: I hope your determination is rewarded one day.

ARLEN: [Coldly] I'm sure your loyalty will be.

SERVANT: If she finds out I spoke to you...[shuddering] will be.

ARLEN: Go on. Get out of here. I'll find another way.

[He turns to leave but then looks back over his shoulder with a half-smile.]

SERVANT: Please don't make a mess in the computer room will you? No doubt you already knew it was the forth door on the right. I didn't tell you anything, we've never met. Good luck.

[Arlen smiles briefly but then almost as quickly she stops, as though afraid to let herself relax even for a moment. The camera lingers on her face then cuts to show the familiar cruel smile of Commissioner Sleer. She is aboard the black ship, on the flight deck, surrounded by several mutoid servants. The door slides open and a rotund man in a flashy uniform enters, followed by two Troopers.]

MAN: Commissioner, I have the reports you requested. [Gesturing to one of his men] Hurry up Kendrik, don't keep us waiting!

MAN: [To Sleer] I won't tolerate tardiness within my troops.

SLEER: An admirable policy Captain Felimid.

[She studies the coded symbols printed on the clear plastic reports and appears to be enjoying what she reads. Finally she looks up and a savage smile breaks across her face.]

SLEER: [To herself] What game are you playing this time Avon?

FELIMID: The information has all been verified Commissioner. We have eyewitness reports of the terrorists attack on Space City.

SLEER: There can be no doubt?

FELIMID: None at all. The Liberator has changed sides.

[Sleer removes a star shaped brooch from the collar of her jacket and toys with it almost absently as she speaks.]

SLEER: Not necessarily.

FELIMID: Commissioner?

SLEER: [Moving unhurriedly towards him] They may have turned against their former allies but that does not mean they are now on my side.

FELIMID: You mean 'our' side.

SLEER: No. I mean my side...

[She slides the point of the star brooch almost gently into his neck and watches as the poison takes effect and he crumples to the floor at her feet.]

SLEER: ...and I won't tolerate treachery within my troops.

[One of the men steps forward to salute her and she smiles chillingly.]

SLEER: You did well in reporting your suspicions. Dispose of the body of this traitor...Captain Kendrik.

[He salutes once more, gestures to the other Trooper and they drag the body from the room. Sleer turns towards a viewing window and stares out at the stars with an odd expression.]

SLEER: [Quietly] Kerr Avon. Perhaps the next time we meet, we will no longer be on opposite sides.


[Secondary hold of the Liberator. Nial is climbing the access ramp to enter Reverence. Avon is standing at the foot of the ramp, glowering at him. Nial pauses and turns.]

NIAL: Are you sure you won't come with us?

AVON: I have work to do.

NIAL: You already checked all the circuits and found nothing.

AVON: Then I'll check again.

NIAL: You still won't find anything if there's nothing there to find.

AVON: Perhaps it is what isn't there that I have to find.

NIAL: [Rolling his eyes in exasperation] I give in!

[He continues up the ramp and through the entry hatch then turns to close it.]

NIAL: We'll be back in about twenty hours. Don't wait up!

[The hatch clangs shut and Avon leaves the hold. Cut to palace on Delios. Arlen emerges from the computer room with a satisfied gleam in her eyes. She stuffs a handful of printouts into her pocket before readying her gun and moving off down the corridor. Cut to surface of the green and yellow planet. The Reverence is standing on a wide plain outlined dimly against the dark sky. Nial, Soolin, Garus and Vila are standing in front of the ship.]

GARUS: So my fearless leader, which way do we walk?

NIAL: The readings suggested there was a large concentration of people within this area, perhaps a village or something similar. So, mountains or river...what do you think Soolin?

SOOLIN: If I were living here I'd want to stay close to the water. Temperatures seem to rise quite steeply during the summer months.

NIAL: Good point. River it is then. If we follow it downstream we should see some signs of life eventually.

VILA: Hadn't we better wait till dawn?

GARUS: Why? It'll only look further once you can see where you're going!

NIAL: [Laughing] That's true enough. A settlement may be easier to spot while it's dark anyway. They'll probably have some form of lighting, hopefully visible from a distance.

VILA: Why couldn't we land nearer?

NIAL: Nearer to what? The readings were fairly vague. Zen said it was caused by the proximity of those mountains.

VILA: Zen isn't himself these days.

SOOLIN: Well at least he isn't you. [She shuffles her feet impatiently] Come on Nial, the sooner we start moving, the sooner we arrive.

[The others follow her unsubtle advice and begin to move in the direction of the river, visible as a dark strip to their far left. Cut back to the Liberator, flight deck. Avon is standing in the pit area firing questions at Orac.]

AVON: The audio circuits?

ORAC: Negative.

AVON: The translator circuits?

ORAC: Negative. Why do you persist with these questions when you already know the answers? All circuit checks were negative. The ships computer is functioning normally.

AVON: Then what happened earlier?

[There is an abnormal silence and in frustration Avon slams his hand on the table.]

AVON: Well Orac? Come on!

ORAC: [Petulantly] It is a matter of organics, Zen is not simply a computer. I am unable to communicate at 100% compatibility with a sub-level machine.

AVON: You mean you don't know. [In sudden comprehension] You mean Zen won't tell you.

[There is a noise and he turns round as he becomes aware of Mags presence.]

MAGS: Sorry, did I disturb you?

AVON: Checking up on me?

MAGS: No. You just seemed so engrossed with Orac that I hated to interrupt.

AVON: [Relaxing slightly] I haven't found the answer yet.


AVON: Zen is being...uncooperative.

MAGS: Is that unusual? Roj did mention that the ship could be evasive now and then.

AVON: Zen has withheld information before. Perhaps it is finally time we tried to find out how and why.

MAGS: Perhaps it is. We had a close call today and I'm not sure I like being subject to the whims of a computer.

ORAC: Your statement is inaccurate and illogical! Whims are a weakness present in humans only. Computers are incapable of making conscious decisions.

MAGS: [Dryly] They don't interrupt people or voice their own opinions either.

[Avon smiles as Orac makes a loud whirring noise.]

AVON: I think I'll start with the main memory banks.

MAGS: What are you looking for?

AVON: [Enigmatically] Anything that isn't there.


[Dawn is breaking as Nial and his team arrive at the outskirts of a village. Wild animals flee back into the jungle as the natives start to emerge from their homes.]

VILA: [In a loud whisper] Are we sure they're friendly?

NIAL: Almost sure.

VILA: How sure is that...'wave and walk in' sure or 'smile and keep hold of your gun' sure?

NIAL: I'll let you know. Wait here.

[He advances slowly towards the village and calls out to gain attention. He is instantly surrounded by a crowd of yelling and cheering people as they all try to welcome him at once! He turns and waves to the others.]

NIAL: I think it's safe!

GARUS: [To Vila] Is that friendly enough for you? Come on.

[They walk into the village and are greeted effusively by the natives who are all chattering at once, unfortunately, not in Terran.]

SOOLIN: I never thought to do a language check.

NIAL: Neither did I. Does anyone understand what they're saying?

GARUS: Bits of it. It seems to have close origins with Taelic.

NIAL: I didn't know you spoke Taelic, where did you pick that up?

GARUS: [Wistfully] I knew a native girl once. Kerrienne. She had the most beautiful eyes and smile and legs and...

SOOLIN: I think we get the picture. She taught you her language.

GARUS: In among.

NIAL: How much of it did you learn?

GARUS: Not much.

[He grins boyishly and the other men smile. Soolin appears unamused. The crowd suddenly parts to let a middle-aged woman through. She is wearing an elaborate robe and seems to carry a great deal of authority. There are awed whispers then silence.]

NIAL: Their leader?

GARUS: Some sort of Mystic I think. [He shrugs] I caught the word 'magic'.

[The woman addresses Nial in a gabble of strange sounds. He looks uncomfortable as he attempts to communicate in Terran. She shakes her head and tries again.]

GARUS: She seems to be offering us refreshments...or hospitality...or friendship.

VILA: Or internment for life! You don't understand her at all do you?

GARUS: [Unrepentant] An odd word, here and there.

SOOLIN: That's more than I do but I don't need a crash course in Taelic to see that these people are friendly.

NIAL: Soolin's right. We'll just have to get by as best we can and try not to upset or offend them...Vila.

VILA: Why does everyone always pick on me?

SOOLIN: Because you're always there.

GARUS: I'd take that as a compliment to your reliability if I were you Vila.

SOOLIN: [Coldly] I wouldn't.

[Nial smiles and nods at the Mystic and she beams happily at him then leads them through the village to the largest hut. It is decorated with exotic flowers and intricate items of craftwork and is of obvious importance to the settlement. Inside it is light and spacious. A large mat covers the earthen floor and exquisite treasures brighten the walls and line the tables. Vila moves eagerly to examine one but Nial frowns at him and he puts his hands in his pockets and reluctantly steps back. Their host sits cross-legged on the floor and indicates for them to also be seated as a feast is prepared. It is served by a constant stream of village girls who enter with bowls of fruit and trays of the local foods and wines.]

VILA: [To Garus] Perhaps we could try and learn the language later.

GARUS: [Smiling at one of the girls] In among.

[Soolin glares at them both and Garus grins at her.]

GARUS: Enjoying your sightseeing honey?

[He tilts his head pointedly in the direction of Nial who is oblivious to their conversation. He is instead concentrating on an attempt to communicate with their host by the use of exaggerated sign language! The others sigh and begin to eat. Cut back to the Liberator, flightdeck. Avon is pacing in a distracted manner. Mags enters the room and watches him for a minute before speaking.]

MAGS: Avon. [He stops pacing] Did you make any progress?

AVON: That depends on your definition of progress.

MAGS: You found something?

AVON: I found a lot of gaps, now I have to find a pattern.

MAGS: Can I help? I enjoy puzzles.

AVON: I've noticed. [He pauses] You have spent a great deal of time reviewing the false reports of the Liberator's misdeeds. Why?

MAGS: Because I don't think they are false.

AVON: We did not commit them.

MAGS: I know that Avon but I still don't believe the Federation is making them up.

AVON: Why wouldn't they be?

MAGS: Too many people have witnessed the attacks.

AVON: Then the Federation is staging them, not inventing them.

MAGS: Maybe.

AVON: But you are not convinced.

MAGS: No. Call it gut instinct if you like but I don't think the Feds are behind it.

[She sighs deeply and shakes her head.]

MAGS: I don't know, it just feels more personal than that.

AVON: It always does when somebody tries to frame you.

MAGS: [Laughing] Can't argue with that! Okay, you win.

AVON: I usually do.

MAGS: Really. [In a sly tone] Do you play Pyramids?

AVON: Occasionally but I don't...

MAGS: Have time? Of course you do, even you need a break now and again Avon.

Besides, it'll clear your mind and help you concentrate. Humour me...please?

AVON: One game, standard rules.

MAGS: Shall we make it interesting then, maybe put a small wager on?

AVON: [Dryly] You've been spending too much time with Vila.

[Scene cuts back to the native settlement. Nial and the head-woman are carrying on a patchy conversation with the aid of Garus as interpreter. Soolin is frustratedly trying to follow it. Vila, left to his own devices, is fiddling with one of the carvings on the wall. It appears to be a type of labyrinth puzzle with small gemstones held fast within. Vila slides a final section of the maze to one side and all the jewels tumble into his outstretched hand. The Mystic lets out a high pitched squeal and rushes across.]

NIAL: Vila!

SOOLIN: [Groaning to herself] What has he broken this time?

VILA: I wasn't going to keep them, honestly. I was only looking. I couldn't help it.

GARUS: Don't panic buddy, I think she's pleased.

[Their host is gesturing excitedly towards; the gems, Vila and the carving and is indeed smiling. She gabbles a string of sentences and Garus chokes in disbelief.]

NIAL: What is it?

GARUS: Maybe I've got my pronouns and prepositions all mixed up again but I could've sworn she just asked him to be their King.

NIAL: King?

GARUS: Leader, Chief, head-honcho...whatever you want to call it.

[Soolin laughs scornfully.]

SOOLIN: Him? They'd have to be desperate, or insane.

GARUS: The gist of it seems to be that no one has ever freed the stones, or that they were waiting for a destined person to free them, or something like that.

SOOLIN: You're winging it aren't you.

NIAL: Come on Cray, how much of that did you actually understand?

GARUS: [Smiling sheepishly] One word...but it was an important one. Rtiki. The way she kept repeating it I think it must be the name of their village, or even this planet...[he pauses and his eyes take on a faraway look]...literally, it refers to the concept of Destiny. Kerrienne explained it as "the twisting trail" that led her straight to me.

SOOLIN: Straight?

GARUS: Actually, I think both our paths, um, deviated slightly on route but it was a nice idea. [Appreciatively] She had some amazing ideas.

NIAL: Can we get back to the original conversation please?

GARUS: Sorry, you know what memories are like. They just sneak up and grab you.

[Nial shudders and Garus hurriedly continues.]

GARUS: Anyway, I'm almost definitely sure I heard the word 'King' too.

SOOLIN: He's probably a ten-ton monster and they're about to feed us to him for breaking their favourite toy!

[They glance nervously at the Mystic but she is now kneeling before Vila, ecstatically kissing his boots. He is beginning to look smug.]

VILA: King Restal of Rtiki. Yes, I like that.

GARUS: How are you going to rule? You don't even speak their language.

VILA: I'll teach them mine.

NIAL: Don't be ridiculous Vila. You can't stay here.

VILA: Why not? I'm sick of being treated like an idiot.

SOOLIN: So stop behaving like one.

NIAL: [Sharply] Soolin.

[Peeved by his tone she scowls at Vila as Nial tries to sweet-talk him.]

NIAL: Vila, you know she's only teasing. We'd be lost without you.

VILA: Without my skills you mean. I'm not stupid, I know what you all think of me. I'm only good for opening security doors or defusing traps.

GARUS: [Sorrowfully] I thought we were friends Vila.

VILA: were a decent drinking pal...and Mags, I liked Mags but the rest of them...they don't deserve me.

NIAL: We'll change.

VILA: When Martians rule the galaxy! I've heard that one before. No, I'm staying and nothing you can say will change my mind.

GARUS: [Quietly to Soolin] I think he means it.

SOOLIN: [Sotto voce] Let's hope so.


[Back at the Reverence. Garus, Soolin and Nial are seated on the flightdeck.]

TRISTAN: All hatches are secure Nial. Do you wish me to pilot the ship?

NIAL: [Glumly] Yes, thank you Tristan. Contact the Liberator and tell Zen we are on our way back. [Suddenly thoughtful] No, wait. Open a voice channel to the Liberator.

GARUS: What are you doing?

NIAL: Giving Vila time to come to his senses.

SOOLIN: That could take a while.

GARUS: Don't be so hard on the poor guy. I sometimes get the feeling that he's not as dumb as he pretends to be.

[Soolin's expression softens and her eyes unfocus as she recalls a past occasion when the previous statement proved to be extremely apt.]


[Shot of the Scorpio unmoving in space, cut to the flight deck. Tarrant, Dayna and Soolin are checking consoles. Avon is lost in thought. Vila enters, stumbling.]

VILA: Hello there! Anyone for a party? I'm afraid you'll have to bring your own booze cause I've already drunk mine. Anyone got any booze, huh? [Approaching Soolin] And how about my cold, calculating Soolin? I'd like to see you unbend...[she moves rapidly away]...just a little before we're all...all...

DAYNA: Sometimes Vila, you can be quite disgusting.

VILA: Not so, my lovely. I can be disgusting all the time. It's easy. Easy as colliding with an asteroid, eh Avon? [Avon looks up sharply] You know, they say all your life passes in front of you when you're about to...about to...y'know. It's what's happening to me now. All my past life.

AVON: That's one misfortune we don't have to share.

VILA: Fourteen I was, when I was first sent to a penal colony. Ship was hit in the main drive by a meteoroid, bang! Y'know what they did to repair it? [Avon and Tarrant begin to listen to him carefully.] Activated the force wall and generated an atmosphere inside the force wall so the repair team could work in a vacuum without spacesuits...cause it wasn't a vacuum any more, if you see what I mean. Very clever those old prison hulk Skippers.

AVON: Slave, activate force wall. Pressurise it with our air reserve.

SLAVE: That would be most inadvisable Master. I'm terribly sorry but our force wall generator is in a poor condition...

TARRANT: Slave's right. We'd lose the lot.

AVON: It's a great pity we didn't bring Orac.

SLAVE: ...but I could manage a small force wall, a blister force wall, around the damaged part of the hull.

AVON: Then do it!

TARRANT: Let's go.

[Avon and Tarrant rush out and Vila applauds them as they go.]

VILA: Hooray!

SOOLIN: Out of the mouths of drunks...

VILA: [Instantly sober] Drunk. Who's drunk?

DAYNA: You are.

VILA: [Waving the bottle in his hand] Show me how to get drunk on plain water and I won't waste time.

DAYNA: Well then, why pretend?

VILA: Because, my lovely Dayna and Soolin, no one ever tells someone who's drunk to volunteer. [Dayna and Soolin laugh] I don't like to work in main drive chambers, especially main drive chambers that are separated from space by one of Slave's force walls.


[Soolin returns to the present and the sound of Nial speaking into the comm.]

NIAL: ...sudden megalomania. He did shower us with leaving gifts though. The Rev's hold is crammed with precious stones and jewellery, enough to ransom a planet!

AVON: [V.O] What do you want to do?

NIAL: We'll give him an hour.

AVON: [V.O] And then?

NIAL: [Sighing] We'll probably give him another hour.

AVON: [V.O] The Liberator can not remain in orbit indefinitely.

NIAL: I know. Out.

[Cut to flightdeck, Liberator. Avon releases the comm button and turns to face Mags.]

AVON: You heard?

MAGS: Yes but I'm hoping I heard wrongly. Surely Vila wouldn't choose to stay?

AVON: [Distractedly] It seems he already has.

MAGS: It'll certainly be quiet without Vila. He may have had plenty of faults but he knew how to have a good time. I am really going to miss him.

[Avon hardly hears her. He is staring vacantly across the room as his mind goes back to a day when Vila proved he did know how to have a good time.]


[The Big Wheel Casino, Freedom City. Krantor enters with a drunken Vila in tow.]

KRANTOR: Friends and patrons, your attention please! I have an important announcement. Vila, this gallant sporting gentleman, has agreed to end the evening with one final wager. Friends, he has agreed to challenge the Klute at speed chess!

[Avon spits out his mouthful of food in shock.]

KRANTOR: The terms of the game are; if Vila loses he pays the usual penalty but if he wins or draws, then I have promised to double his winnings. Yes friends, he will leave here with ten million credits!

AVON: [In a side whisper to Vila] Are you out of your skull?!

VILA: [Drunkenly] Ah Avon, good ol' Avon. And good ol' Krantor. We're gonna have another game.

[They move to the speed chess console and Vila sits in the chair.]

AVON: Vila, what happened?

VILA: [Sobering as he is restrained.] What's going on? What am I doing here?

KRANTOR: Vila. The Klute offers you the white pieces and the advantage of the first move.

VILA: That drink...I've been tricked!

KRANTOR: Did you say something?

VILA: I don't want to play.

KRANTOR: My friend, it is too late, the stakes have been laid. If you withdraw now, I shall have no alternative but to declare your five million credits forfeit.

AVON: Play Vila.

VILA: What?!

AVON: Orac'll give you the moves.

VILA: But the Klute isn't a computer.

AVON: Play.

KRANTOR: [To Avon] Stand aside from your friends chair sir. If he loses the game, you might share his shock.

CROUPIER: Les jeux sont fait.

[Avon holds his bracelet next to a box containing the reduced in size Orac. The game has already begun and is progressing rapidly.]

ORAC: Bishop takes pawn. Check.

[Vila and the Klute continue to play. The Klute appears perplexed, Vila smiles.]

CROUPIER: Ze Klute offers a draw!

[Vila is released from the chair and runs to grab their earlier winnings, which have now been doubled to ten million credits! Avon speedily draws his gun and they begin to back away.]

AVON: Let's get out of here.


MAGS: Avon? Are you all right?

[He suddenly becomes aware of his present surroundings and shakes his head slightly as though to clear it. Then he assumes once more an air of indifference.]

AVON: I have calculations to complete.

MAGS: Anything I can do?

AVON: Yes. You can take the next watch. [He exits swiftly]

MAGS: [Unenthusiastically] Cheers.


[Liberator flight deck. Mags is leaning on the pilot console staring across the empty room. The silence is unnatural and she seems relieved when the comm unit chimes.]

NIAL: [V.O] Liberator this is Reverence.

MAGS: [Into comm] Go ahead Nial.

NIAL: [V.O] We can't wait about any longer, it's getting too hot down here. A planet-hopper is not the ideal ship to be in when the temperature rises!

MAGS: [I.C] Is there any sign of him?

[There is a long pause followed by a weary sigh from Nial.]

NIAL: [V.O] No. See you soon. Out.

[Mags leans back away from the console and stares at the floor miserably.]

MAGS: The Reverence is on its way back. Open the doors on the secondary hold please Zen.

ZEN: Confirmed.

AVON: [Entering the room] They are returning.

MAGS: Yes...but Vila isn't with them.

AVON: Did I ask?

MAGS: No and I'm sure you wouldn't matter how much you wanted to.

[He gives her a wry look as he paces across to Zen.]

AVON: Zen, is the Reverence in range yet?

ZEN: It is registering on the Liberator's scanners.

AVON: Put it on the main screen.

ZEN: Confirmed.

AVON: Any other activity in the area?

ZEN: Scanners are clear of all ships excluding the Reverence.

[Avon turns towards the screen and he and Mags watch in silence as the ship approaches. It then disappears from view as it moves round to enter the hold.]

ZEN: Reverence is stationary within the hold and outer doors are sealed.

AVON: Pressurise the hold.

ZEN: Hold is now pressurised and inner doors have been released.

[Avon drops silent and they wait. Soon voices can be heard in the corridor. Nial enters with Soolin and Garus...followed by Vila! Mags rushes to welcome him back.]

MAGS: Vila, I thought you'd deserted us! What made you change your mind?

VILA: [He shrugs noncommittally] I missed this place.

AVON: [Raising an eyebrow] Really?

VILA: Oh all right then, if you want the truth...[he sighs heavily]...King Restal. Who was I trying to fool?!

NIAL: I don't know you actually looked quite regal, for a while anyway.

GARUS: I thought you were enjoying all that wealth and attention!

VILA: I was but it would never have worked.

MAGS: Why not?

VILA: They wanted to give me the moon. All I ever wanted was to steal it!

[Avon begins to laugh and the others join in. Vila manages a small smile of regret.]

[End Credits]