[Sub control room. Hurn and Chebadir watch the display.]
Hurn: [impressed] Jav’s done it – they are trapped.
Chebadir: Get the others, Hurn. Their ship is now for the taking!
[Flight deck. Avon slides a few spare parts into the teleport console on the wall.]
Avon: Orac. Status of the teleport system?
Orac: The bio-energy storage and broadcast mechanisms are currently functioning at 97 per cent effectiveness. The transfer and relocation of living organisms is perfectly achievable with the current capabilities.
Avon: [unimpressed] However?
Orac: However, guidance systems and navigational interface are not available.
[Lora stands in the doorway, wearing a spacesuit and carrying a helmet.]
Lora: So we can teleport people, but we can’t control where they’d end up?
Orac: Precisely. Recalibration of all detector systems is necessary for the teleport to achieve total functionality.
Lora: I still think quantum duality is the way to go.
Avon: You’ve said. Frequently. Orac, I want you create a selector program and upload it into the teleport systems as a secondary storage capacity – we don’t want the teleport to lose any valuable belongings or items of clothing during the process.
Orac: I have strict instructions not to follow your instructions, Avon.
Avon: It was not an instruction. It was a suggestion.
Orac: Which requires ratification from at least two of the remaining crew before it can be considered. As only Lora is present, I see no further purpose in such discussion.
Avon: I’ll let you resume your duties as a mundane flight computer then.
[Avon turns to Lora, picking up the stabilizer.]
Avon: Get this installed into the systems as quickly as possible.
Lora: Aren’t you going to help?
Avon: Why should I? You’re the qualified technician, you have experience is space repair and are already wearing a pressure suit. Starboard airlock. Follow the signs.
Lora: I’m not a bond slave, you know!
Avon: Emancipation is a wonderful thing. Get to work.
[Huffing, Lora puts on her helmet and leaves.]
Avon: Orac. Estimated time to completion of repairs?
Orac: If, by that rather nebulously-phrased request, you refer to the installation of the stabilizer components, it should take Lora five minutes and thirty three seconds – once she is in position.
[Avon thinks for a moment.]
Avon: So we have about half an hour before we can leave.
Orac: Correct. Nevertheless, I would strongly recommend expediting our departure.
Orac: A flotilla of three Federation pursuit ships has just entered this stellar system on routine patrol. Communications traffic between the ships suggests they have been alerted as to the fact this cruiser has gone rogue, though they have not yet detected us.
Avon: The chances are, then, they will continue on patrol without spotting us.
Orac: Incorrect. As space debris, this station has been declared a navigational hazard and all flotillas have authorization to destroy it as such. One volley of plasma bolts would be sufficient to destroy the station completely.
Avon: So you’re saying they’re coming here to demolish that station?
Orac: There is a high probability.
Avon: You didn’t mention this earlier.
Orac: All predictions are that Vila, Gamren and Zanto should have returned by now.
Avon: [frowns] True.
[Avon paces the flight deck and sees Lora has left her clip-gun on the table. He picks it up, weighs it in his hand, then smiles.]
Avon: Perhaps I should see what’s detaining them?
[Command centre. Vila is fiddling with a console.]
Vila: Some kind of lockdown circuit in the computer.
Gamren: Can you override it?
Vila: You want fast or subtle?
Zanto: [wheezes] Fast.
[Vila tugs the cartridge from his clip-gun.]
Vila: Need the ammo clip. Stand back, all of you...
[Outside command centre. Five of the hunbacked savages are scurrying along the tunnel past the doorway when there is the sound of an explosion and the hatch jolts backwards, revealing a cloud of smoke and the three rebels. The savages whirl to face them. They wear ragged space overalls, with long hair and bloodshot eyes. It is hard to tell men from women. They make growling. chattering noises, half-wildmen half-zombies.]
Vila: [bleakly] Out of the frying pan...
[Station tunnel. Avon approaches, clip-gun in hand when a savage lunges out of the shadows and attacks him. Avon kicks him away.]
Avon: Who are you?
[The savage snarls and begins to advance towards Avon. He aims his clipgun at the savage. But he can’t pull the trigger. He tosses the gun to his left hand and punches the savage on the jaw, knocking him back against the wall. Avon runs pasts the savage and into the corridor.]
Avon: [shouts] Vila! Gamren! Zanto!
[Outside command centre. Avon’s voice echoes.]
Vila: See? Our friends are here. And you don’t want to get on the wrong side of him, believe you me! [sotto] What are they?
Gamren: Out of luck. [shouts] If you don’t back off, I open fire.
Zanto: She’s just lost a good friend. I’d take her at her word, if I were you.
[The savages continue to close in. Gamren fires. One of the savages crumples dead to the floor. The others scater. Two remain. Gamren pulls the trigger again. Nothing.]
Gamren: I’m now out of ammo.
Zanto: One shot and two of them.
Gamren: Unless you can get them to stand in a line.
Zanto: Believe it or not. I don’t take life easily.
Vila: They’re cannibals. We’re food and they’re hungry.
Zanto: [confused] So? You think saying we’re low in fiber and high in fat could help?
Hurn: Wait... you should surrender...
Vila: [swallows] They talk. That’s... nice.
Hurn: It is hopeless.
Zanot: [firmly] It’s never hopeless.
[Zanto fires at the ceiling. There is an explosion as the electrics short out. The savages scatter and the trio run past them and up the tunnel.]
[Station tunnel. Avon is moving down the tunnel cautiously. Chebadir leaps onto him, slamming him against the wall and biting at his shoulder. Avon points his gun at her, but she snatches it and clubs him over the head with it. He slumps back. Chebadir ducks back as Vila, Gamren and Zanto sprint past them and towards the airlock. She hisses angrily.]
Vila: Look out!
[The savage Avon felled earlier lunges at them at they pass, chasing after them.]
[Corridor on cruiser. The trio run through the airlock and hit the door controls. Gamren runs to a wall locker and pulls out a para-rifle. One of the savages charges through the closing gap and grabs Vila, who cries out. Zanto frees him, and the savage starts to throttle him. Gamren aims and fires. The savage is flung back through the doorway. Chebadir arrives, sees the airlock is almost closed and then leaps onto the corpse of her companion and starts to tear at it with her teeth. The hatch closes.]
Gamren: [shrugs] Well. That was disgusting.
[Flight deck. The trio enter.]
Gamren: Orac! Plot a standby course to get us away from here at maximum speed!
Orac: Very sensible. We have just been detected by a Federation patrol. They will be in firing position within the next nine minutes.
Zanto: Disengage now!
Orac: Lora is currently outside the ship installing the stabilizer. Such an action would send her hurtling off into deep space.
Gamren: Oh great! Tell her to get inside now!
Orac: Not possible.
Vila: Can’t we contact her?
Orac: Negative. To converse power, she has temporarily shut down her space suit transmitters. It is standard Federation practice in non-combat situations.
Vila: What about Avon?
Orac: Avon is not aboard this cruiser.
Orac: All data suggests he is now aboard the station. He went after you when you failed to return and the pursuit ships were first detected.
Vila: We’ve got to go back for him...
[He heads for the door. Gamren gets in his way.]
Gamren: What about all those savages outside the airlock? There could be hundreds of them for all we know, just waiting to attack! Orac, was Avon armed when he left?
Orac: He took the clip-gun issues to Lora, yes.
Zanto: Then he’s not defenseless. He can look after himself – Lora doesn’t know about any danger. She has to be our priority.
Vila: Right. Good point. Um, you two, get the ship ready for a quick getaway. I’ll go and tell her myself.
[Vila hurries out.]
Gamren: I though he hated space walks.
Zanto: [smiles] He does.
[Space. The cruiser is docked to the revolving station. We zoom in. On the underside of the cruiser, a space-suited figure is hanging near a damaged section – an inspection hatch has blown open and taken part of the hull. The suited Lora is connecting wires to the stabilizers, singing tunelessly to herself as she works. Her voice is slightly distorted and muffled by the space helmet.]
Lora: [dist] ...peace is there, only beauty meets the eye, oh my love, that’s where we must fly and let the world go by, just you and I... bom pom da ta-da-tah...
Vila: [dist] Lora!
Lora: [dist] Vila?
[Clambering across the hull down towards her is another space-suited figure.]
Vila: [dist] Thank goodness you can hear me! You turned off the transmitters!
Lora: [dist] But not the inter-suit communicators. I’m not suicidal. Don’t worry, sir, this’ll be finished in another minute or so. Just got to check the connections.
Vila: [dist] Leave them! We’ve got to get inside!
Lora: [dist] What’s wrong?
Vila: [dist] Pursuit ships! We need to get inside quickly!
Lora: [dist-soothing] All right, all right. Just a couple more seconds. There.
[Making a final adjustment, she closes the warped and blackened hatch across the gaping hole in the hull and climbs up towards Vila, moving with much greater speed and confidence. Vila pulls himself along the hull after her.]
Vila: [dist] This is madness. Space madness. Madness in space.
Lora: [dist] Why aren’t you wearing a safety line if you’re new to this?
Vila: [dist] I was in a hurry. We’re on a schedule, Lora!
Lora: [dist] Oh yeah. Come on then. Just remember Newton’s third law and whatever you do, don’t look down.
Vila: [dist] Newton? Oh. Yes. Try to move anything and we move ourselves.
Lora: [dist] And Vila?
Vila: [dist] Yes?
Lora: [dist] Try not to spend too much time admiring the view!
[Through his visor, Vila rolls his eyes, but continues clambering after Lora.]
Lora: [vo] We’re nearly at the airlock. Another thirty seconds or so.
Vila: [vo] Any sign of Avon?
Zanto: None. Orac can’t scan the infrastructure – the internal scanners aren’t working and the hull’s shielded. It’s why he couldn’t warn us about those cannibals.
Vila: [vo] Why is it you never know the answer when it’s important, Orac?
Orac: I can only give information where facts exist. You should phrase your questions more precisely.
[Gamren takes a deep breath.]
Gamren: Look, we can’t wait any more. Hanging around is just going to get us all killed. We can come back for Avon if he’s important.
Zanto: [disgusted] If he’s important?
Gamren: All right. He’s a human being, intrinsically valuable. He’s also the man who murdered Blake and only slightly less of a psychopath than Servalan. Frankly, I feel safer with him trapped on that station with the cannibals.
Zanto: [sighs] You have a point, Gamren.
Gamren: Don’t I always? And if he had done what he was told he’d still be aboard!
Zanto: Yes. He can hold off those savages for a while anyway. Orac, is the escape course plotted into the navigational computers?
Orac: [groans wearily] Of course it is.
Zanto: Then disengage! We’re running out of time!
Orac: Detaching from a rotating space platform requires pin-point accuracy...
Gamren: Forget that! Emergency release!
[Space. The cruiser suddenly jerks away from the space station. The space-suited Vila and Lora are jolted back out of the open airlock. Lora grabs the doorway but Vila is jolted out the doorway and into space.]
Lora: [dist] Vila!
[She reaches out and tries to grab his gloved hand, but cannot.]
Lora: [dist] I can’t reach you...
Vila: [dist] Don’t worry... I can...
[Vila kicks out his legs and grabs at the airlock, but he’s just out of reach.]
Lora: [dist] Vila! Don’t! Any additional motion and you’ll...
[He begins to drift away from the airlock, slowly at first but with gathering speed.]
Lora: [dist-lamely] ...accelerate away.
Gamren: [vo] Lora? Vila? Are you on board?
Vila: [dist] Very much not!
Gamren: [vo] What do you mean?
Lora: [dist] I’m in the airlock, but that jolt sent Vila overboard!
Zanto: [vo] Vila? How are you doing?
Vila: [dist-vo] For someone tumbling through blackness all alone, I’m doing pretty well.
Lora: [dist] I can’t even see him any more.
[Flight Deck. Gamren punches up displays.]
Gamren: Don’t panic. I’m plotting an interception course. We’ll pick him up.
Orac: I’m afraid that is not possible. The maneuver would require fifteen minutes and seven seconds to complete and the pursuit ships will be in attack range in two minutes and fifty-seven seconds. Furthermore, our flank would be exposed throughout.
Zanto: Our only chance is run.
Orac: Correct, Zanto.
Gamren: [horrified] You’re joking!
Zanto: We’re coming back for Avon. We can come back for Vila at the same time.
Gamren: Always assuming we actually escape these pursuit ships...
Zanto: [cuts her off] Either way, we have to let him go.
Gamren: Zanto! Don’t be ridiculous!
Zanto: I’m right and you know it – it’s too late for him now. We have to look after ourselves. He’s got enough oxygen to last for a while yet.
Gamren: [fuming] We’re never going to get back in time.
Zanto: At least we’re coming back. It’s the best offer he’s going to get. [into comm.] Lora, get back inside. We’re about to activate the main drives. Vila? Do you receive me?
[Vila’s distorted voice, muffled and distant is heard.]
Vila: [vo] It’s hard to judge distance and scale in the void, but I’m fairly certain I’m too far out to get back aboard before those pursuit ships arrive.
Zanto: Yes. I’m sorry.
[Space. Vila is drifting further and further away from the space cruiser.]
Zanto: [vo] Once we lose this patrol, we can double back and rescue you.
Vila: [dist] Yeah. Sure. Course you can.
Zanto: [vo] Look. Conserve your oxygen for as long as you can, turn the supply to the lowest possible and take small, shallow breaths. Relax as much as you can and whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.
Vila: [dist] Even if you lose them, you won’t get back in time.
Gamren: [vo] We can try.
Vila: [dist] I appreciate that. Honestly, I do.
[Flight deck. Lora enters, wearing suit without helmet.]
Zanto: You’ve been in tighter scrapes, I’m sure, Vila. Vila?
Gamren: [worried] Vila?
Vila: [vo] You know clocks used to tick? I saw one a long time ago, an antique. All these metal gears turning and interlocking. Counting down the seconds. The suit’s chronometer’s broken, so the only clock I’ve got now is my own heartbeat. Counting down the seconds until I run out of air. Still, at least I’ll have a bit of warning, when the noise of the oxygen pumps stop...
[Lora grows upset, listening to him getting fainter and fainter. She shouts at the microphone.]
Lora: Vila. We’re coming back for you. You hear? We’ll find you and...
Vila: [vo] Look, get going. It’s not your fault. Bye then.
Lora: Vila... Vila!
Zanto: You heard the man. Orac – get us moving.
[Space. The cruiser curves away from the space station and flies off into space, speeding away. Vila watches it go emotionlessly.]
Vila: [dist] Drifting slowly through an empty sky... worse ways to go, I guess. Better than having half-a-ton of wall on you, like poor old Gan. Or blown up like Cally. Or executed by firing squad...
- to be continued