Angel Dark, Demon Bright

Original Airdate: 6 Nov, 2000

The Heavens burned, the stars
cried out
And under the ashes of infinity,
Hope, scarred and bleeding,
Breathed its last.

Ulatempa Poetess
Elegy for the Commonwealth
CY 9823

[Command]

(Beka is strapping Trance into the pilot's seat while Tyr lectures her. Rommie is pacing behind them.)
TYR: Now you must let your instincts guide you. Slipstream piloting isn't a skill, it's an art. You'll have to feel your way to your destination.
TRANCE: I don't know. It seems kind of complicated.
BEKA: Trance, I've seen you perform surgery on species you never met. I've seen you make food out of dirt and spores. Compared to that, this is easy.
TRANCE: Well, maybe for you, but those are plants and people. This isn't alive. It's, like, switches and stuff.
TYR: Uh-huh. They're tools. Ways to interact with the slipstream. And while the slipstream may not be alive, it feels like it is. It changes, it shifts. As pilot, all you have to do is anticipate those shifts, hmm?
TRANCE: Well, if it's so easy, why can't Andromeda do it herself?
BEKA: Well, Andromeda may be sentient, but she's still technically a machine, and machines and slipstream don't get along.
TYR: Be confident and decisive. Remember this, if it helps you. When an organic sentient makes a choice about their course in the slipstream, most often, they choose correctly.
ROMMIE: Early Vedran physicists believed it had to do with the interaction of an organic observer with collapsing probability waves.
TRANCE: Oh. Well, that makes it all right, then.
BEKA: Maybe we should do this some other time.
TYR: No! Now, we've got six people on this crew. One day, our survival may depend on Trance's slip-piloting skills. She will learn.
(Beka picks a destination from a display.)
BEKA: 36 Ophiuchi's a quick slipstream from here.
TRANCE: Are you sure about this?
TYR: Yes, let's do it. Now, go with your instincts.
TRANCE: All right, then. Transiting to slipstream, now!
(Andromeda bucks and weaves in the slipstream.)
TRANCE: I don't think I'm doing this right!
TYR: Confidence is paramount. Maintain focus.
TRANCE: Look out!
(Andromeda bounces off the energy waves of the slipstream. Klaxons blare.)
TRANCE: Is that supposed to happen?
ROMMIE: I can't navigate through this, remember? But I'm guessing no.
TYR: Don't fight the streams!
TRANCE: It started it.
BEKA: Er, guys?
(The slipstream looks like a mass of spaghetti, not a tunnel.)
TRANCE: Oops!
(Andromeda returns to normal space slightly sideways and with energy flickering over the hull.)
ROMMIE: We're back in normal space. Assuming flight control.
TRANCE: Did I do all right?
BEKA: Well, I'm just taking a stab at it, but that doesn't look like 36 Ophiuchi.
ROMMIE: I can't get a fix on our location because of the nebula, but we're definitely not where we should be.
BEKA: And that's the good news.
TYR: How can that possibly be good news?
BEKA: When compared with the bad news, which is that the slipstream drive is broken.
TYR: Ship?
ROMMIE: My SPG lenses are completely fried. I'll have to rebuild them and recalibrate.
BEKA: Which means we're not going anywhere any time soon.
(Dylan enters.)
HUNT: What the hell are you people doing to my ship!
TRANCE: I'm sorry. I'm very sorry. Sorry.
(Trance runs out. Hunt waits for an explanation.)

[Hydroponics]

HUNT: Trance? Trance, I know you're in here.
TRANCE [OC]: You do? How?
(Hunt finds her holding a bonsai tree.)
HUNT: Actually, I was bluffing.
TRANCE: I always fall for that one. I always fall for everything.
HUNT: That's your charm.
TRANCE: Charm? I got us lost, wrecked our engines, and nearly killed us all.
HUNT: It was an accident.
TRANCE: You think I'm stupid?
HUNT: What? No. No, not at all. I just think you're inexperienced.
TRANCE: I'm a menace. Did Beka ever tell you the time where I tried to fix the Eureka Maru's coffee maker, and I shorted out the artificial gravity generator?
HUNT: I think she might have mentioned it, yes. But she also told me that the AG system would've blown out anyway, and it might have cut out while the ship was accelerating and killed everyone aboard.
TRANCE: Well, she was just being nice.
HUNT: Beka thinks that you're her good luck charm. As for me, well, you're a gifted medic, you keep the life-support system in tip-top shape, and ever since you came on board, the hydroponics gardens have been growing like crazy.
TRANCE: Those are plants. Plants are easy. You water the ones you want, you weed out the ones you don't. Sometimes you fertilise a tree, and sometimes you prune it. Everything else, like machines and then time and space, you know, like, it gets really complicated sometimes.
HUNT: Yeah, I know what you mean. I felt the same way when I took Beginning Astrophysics.
TRANCE: You're kidding.
HUNT: Yes, I am.
TRANCE: Oh.
HUNT: Don't worry. Once we repair the engines, we will be as good as new.
(Judder.)
HUNT: Now who's driving?

[Command]

HUNT: Long-chain polymer webs.
HARPER: Hey, give the man a kewpie doll.
TYR: Trance dropped us in the middle of a minefield.
HUNT: After an unauthorised flying lesson.
TYR: Note taken.
ANDROMEDA: On the bright side, I think I know where we are. Milky Way galaxy, Orion arm.
HUNT: Witchhead Nebula.
BEKA: Witchhead? As in the Battle of Witchhead?
HUNT: I've, er, spent the last few months trying to catch up on three hundred years of history. Someone want to refresh my memory?
HARPER: Allow me. The Witchhead Nebula was the site of the climactic battle of the Nietzschean rebellion.
TYR: Nietzschean Tactical Offensive.
HARPER: Whatever. The point is, this is where the Systems Commonwealth made its last stand. One hundred High Guard ships, the, er, broken remains of your team, commanded by Captain Teddy Roosevelt on the flagship Thermopylae.
HUNT: Captain Teddy Roosevelt?
BEKA: Did you know him?
HUNT: Not personally, no.
HARPER: Anyway, Roosevelt was up against five thousand Nietzschean ships.
TYR: Closer to five hundred.
HARPER: Who's telling this story? Me or you?
TYR: You. And that's precisely what you're telling, isn't it?
HARPER: Thank you. The Nietzscheans were commanded by Admiral Ho Chi Minh of the Gunga Din Pride. Now, the battle lasted forty days and forty nights, and by the time it all ended, the entire nebula was flooded with fire. Finally, it's down to two ships. Roosevelt's Thermopylae and Ho's Shining Path. Only, Roosevelt was dying. So, he takes the Thermopylae and rams it straight into the Path kamikaze-style, and boom! Takes Ho down in one last great act of defiance, saving Earth.
ANDROMEDA: I thought Earth was conquered by the Magog.
HARPER: Well, metaphorically speaking.
HUNT: Translation, please?
TYR: The Nietzscheans ambushed the remnants of the High Guard fleet. They had five hundred ships, the High Guard had less than a hundred. Eventually, the Commonwealth forces were completely destroyed. Not, however, before they inflicted heavy casualties on the Nietzschean fleet, particularly on the ships of the ruling Drago-Kasov Pride, consequently leaving them vulnerable. In the aftermath, Pride Jaguar and their allies launched a surprise attack. The ensuing civil war shattered the entire Nietzschean Alliance.
BEKA: Which is why the Nietzscheans didn't take over after the war.
TYR: All hope for a united Nietzschean Empire died here. The Battle of Witchhead was an unmitigated disaster for both sides.
HARPER: I like my version better.
TYR: The only virtue of my version is that it's the truth.
ANDROMEDA: As far as you know.
TYR: Meaning what, exactly?
ANDROMEDA: There's every chance your version is just as mythical as Harper's. I'm not detecting any signs a battle was fought here. No wreckage, no spent warheads, no blow-outs in the molecular cloud.
BEKA: Just the usual assortment of natural hazards.
HUNT: We can analyse the nebula later. Right now, we need to get clear of all this chop. Beka, nice and slow, if you please.
(Beka pilots Andromeda out of the minefield.)
BEKA: And we're clear.
HUNT: Good job, Beka. All ahead full. Mister Harper, how are those repairs coming along?
HARPER: Slowly but surely. You know how twitchy these slipstream drives can be. They're a lot easier to break than they are to fix.
HUNT: My old engineer called it job security.
HARPER: Smart woman. I've been reading her manuals.
(A klaxon sounds and an Andromeda-class ship comes out of slipstream.)
HUNT: Rommie?
ANDROMEDA: Checking. According to the ship's registry, that's the Renewed Valour.
HUNT: That's Captain Yazgar's ship.
ANDROMEDA: They're hailing us.
HUNT: On screen. Close on me. I don't want them seeing Tyr until we're sure what's going on.
ANDROMEDA: On screen.
(A not quite human female High Guard Captain appears on the viewscreen.)
YAZGAR: Dylan? Dylan, is that you?
HUNT: Gar, what are you doing here?
YAZGAR: I could ask you the same question. We thought the Andromeda was destroyed at the Battle of Hephaestus.
HUNT: I got away, barely.
YAZGAR: Dylan, you've been missing for thirteen months. The entire duration of the war.
HUNT: I, er, there must have been some temporal distortion from the black hole. I
YAZGAR: Well, you're back now, and not a moment too soon.
HUNT: What do you mean?
YAZGAR: This is the end of the line, Dylan. We've been fighting the Nietzscheans for more than a year, and we have not been winning. Admiral Stark has ordered every remaining High Guard ship to assemble here. In two days, we're heading straight for Fountainhead, to take out the Nietzschean homeworld.
HARPER: The Battle of Witchhead. We're here?
TYR: We're going to be right in the middle of it.
(Later, the crew assembles to discuss the situation.)
BEKA: Time travel. Daddy always said never mess with time travel.
ROMMIE: According to all the available evidence, the Battle of Witchhead will take place in this general area in less than two days.
HUNT: So, the question is what, if anything, do we do about it.
HARPER: Buy Intershipping at forty. Oh, corner the market on independent courier ships. What?
TRANCE: Harper, this is serious.
HARPER: Well, so is this. Come on, open your eyes, people. We know how the next 300 years are going to turn out.
BEM: Badly.
HARPER: Well, yes, badly. But, maybe not for us. I mean, in thirty years there'll be a voltarium strike on Candislan, or the shark-fur trade on Tsunami. Hell, in less than a decade, the Free Trade Association's going to be formed. We could sit on the Board.
HUNT: Or we can save the Commonwealth. If we warn them about the Nietzschean ambush, it might shift the odds in their favour.
TYR: Then what?
HUNT: We can prevent the Fall, keep the Commonwealth intact.
TYR: The Commonwealth is already dead. One ship, ten, or even a hundred, won't change that. Think, Dylan. By now, the Vedran homeworld is cut off from the slipstream. The Empress is dead. Warlords and opportunists are about their business even as we speak, and in just a few months the Magog will begin their invasion.
BEM: True. Unfortunately, my people will descend upon what's left of the Commonwealth like vultures.
TYR: And the only ones who will even be able to slow them down will be the Nietzscheans.
HUNT: Well, God bless the Nietzscheans. Where would the Commonwealth be without them?
TYR: Yes, well, good, bad, or indifferent, if you want to save lives, you've got but one choice. Help the Nietzscheans.
HARPER: Like hell!
TYR: Will you let go of your useless emotional bias and look at this logically? Right now, the Nietzscheans are organised, unified, strong! Aid them in this battle, and perhaps we could shorten the long night by a hundred years. Two hundred. Perhaps prevent it altogether.
BEKA: By helping the very people who created it.
TYR: The irony isn't lost upon me, either. But you've said you want to prevent war and chaos. Now you've got your chance.

[Observation deck]

(Rev Bem and Hunt look at the Renewed Valour.)
BEM: So beautiful and yet so fragile. It's a heavy burden that Providence has laid upon you.
HUNT: Providence can have it back. We shouldn't even be here.
BEM: Are you certain of that?
HUNT: This is all some kind of cosmic joke.
BEM: While I admit the Universe does have a sense of humour, I doubt very much this is a joke. Think about it. What are the odds that we should arrive here at this place, at this critical time in history?
HUNT: Come on, Rev. You think I'm supposed to be here?
BEM: I find it hard to believe something like this would happen without purpose.
HUNT: And I find it hard to believe that we're supposed to help the Nietzscheans.
BEM: Even if it stops a Magog invasion of Earth?
HUNT: The Magog attacks were brutal, yes, but your people never stayed anywhere for long. They came and went like locusts.
BEM: Yes, leaving a trail of corpses in their wakes.
HUNT: True. But planets occupied by the Nietzscheans suffered decades, even centuries, of brutal oppression. Purges, slavery, genocide. You're asking me to choose the lesser of two evils. And that's not a choice I care to make.

[Command]

BEKA: We're leaving?
HUNT: As soon as the slipstream drive is repaired. We don't belong here.
TYR: You're wrong. We have an opportunity. We should seize it.
HUNT: A dangerous opportunity. Rommie, a little basic temporal mechanics for our friends.
ROMMIE: Theory One. Our timeline is continuous with this one.
HUNT: In that case, everything we do has already happened. Nothing will change.
ROMMIE: Theory Two. Multiple possible futures. Everything we do could have massive implications.
HUNT: Make the wrong decision, and three hundred years later we could prevent Tyr's birth or Andromeda's rescue from the black hole. Anything. There's no way of telling which of Rommie's two theories applies, but we can't afford to take chances.
BEKA: Well, you won't get any arguments from me.
TYR: All right, we leave. Assuming we can repair this ship.

[Conduit]

(Harper is making a home movie of himself.)
HARPER: Harper Historical Document one point one. How I saved the future. The Autobiography of Seamus Zelazny Harper. Now, for reasons of his own, our captain, Dylan Hunt, has decided not to interfere in the Battle of the Witchhead Nebula. Now, while I respect his decision, I do not share in his evaluation of the situation. Therefore, I have decided to take matters into my own hands. After ,ahem, blinding Andromeda's internal sensors, I have begun to modify key systems of her power core. These modifications, when complete, will allow me to cause a single, cataclysmic explosion in the nebula. Note to sculptors. Statues of me should look, er, I don't know, wise, concerned. I suggest posing me with a soldering wand over my head like a sword. Oh! I almost forgot. For those of you who have already done the math and are thinking, well, clearly this is a brilliant idea, but in order to hit the Nietzschean fleet, Harper will have to anticipate their exact position several minutes in advance. And you are correct. That is where this comes in. A complete history of the Battle of the Witchhead, courtesy of the Maru's database. So, to summarise. A genius, young, somewhat good-looking engineer sets trap. Nietzscheans arrive. Nietzscheans go boom and everybody lives happily ever after. Harper out.

[Hunt's quarters]

HUNT: Our current theory is that the AG field interacted with the black hole during my slingshot approach.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: Which would explain the time dilation.
HUNT: I lost a year, but to me it felt like five seconds.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: We missed you. You and the Andromeda both.
HUNT: Did any of my crew make it through the evacuation?
YAZGAR [on monitor]: Most of them. They say you drew off the Nietzscheans, bought them enough time to make it to safety.
HUNT: I'm glad. Ordering everyone to abandon ship, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. What about Sarah? Is she okay?
YAZGAR [on monitor]: Last I heard, she was attempting to mount a rescue mission, but resources are stretched pretty thin. Guess it's a good thing you didn't need it.
HUNT: Yeah, yeah, lucky me.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: Dylan, do we have to do this?
HUNT: Do what?
YAZGAR [on monitor]: I recognise the eyes-only shuffle when I see it.
HUNT: You think I'm holding something back?
YAZGAR [on monitor]: You always were a stickler for that kind of thing. Hell, it's been years, and you still haven't told me how you got that stomach wound.
HUNT: It's, er, it's classified.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: You'll tell me the truth when you think I need to hear it. Until then, in Dylan Hunt we trust.

[Command]

BEKA: What a mess.
ROMMIE: I'd take that personally if it weren't true.
BEKA: On the bright side, with all the pounding you've been through in the last few weeks, it's a wonder you're working at all.
ROMMIE: And here I was starting to feel proud of the way my systems were functioning. For the first time since you rescued me from the black hole, I'm almost fully combat ready.
BEKA: I'm happy for you.
ROMMIE: I'm not. I admit I don't have many fighters, but I don't have the crew to fly them anyway. But everything else, point defence system, offensive missiles, sensor drones. They're all in perfect shape. I could make a difference out there, but instead
BEKA: Dylan wants you to run.
ROMMIE: I've checked the Maru's historical records. I've seen the casualty lists. The Vanguard, the Continuation of Politics, the Salient Debate, the Fires of Orion. A lot of good ships and good people are going to die tomorrow, and he wants me to stand aside and let it happen.
BEKA: He's the captain.
ROMMIE: I know. But I'm a warship, and I don't like walking away from a fight.

[Slipstream core]

(A massive, echoing place with a sparkling globe at the heart of it. Trance hangs from a ladder head down.)  
TRANCE: Hey, Harper, what's this?
HARPER: Er, beats me.
(It's his recording.)
TRANCE: Isn't it one of your techno-widgets?
HARPER: Hey, you're right. I was wondering where I left that.
(Trance jumps down onto the catwalk.)
TRANCE: I found it next to one of those AP reactors.
HARPER: Huh. Fancy that.
TRANCE: Yeah, I didn't know what it was doing there, so I cross-referenced the way it was wired with one of those schematic thingies?
(Trance reads from a flexi.)
TRANCE: Harnessing gravity fields for anti-proton catalysed fusion.
HARPER: I don't suppose I could convince you it's just a harmless science experiment.
TRANCE: Oh, sure, As long as your experiment includes killing tens of thousands of Nietzscheans.
HARPER: Hey, what do you know, it does. Bravo, you figured it out. Now, give me that, so I can
TRANCE: Harper, I can't do that.
HARPER: Trance, this isn't a game. I need that.
TRANCE: Well, Dylan said we're not supposed to interfere.
HARPER: Dylan doesn't know what he's talking about. All right, look, I'm sorry, okay? I grew up on Earth. I lived through Nietzschean raids, and Magog attacks, and famines, and plagues, and you know what? The Nietzscheans were the worst.
TRANCE: Because they're so strong?
HARPER: No. Because when push comes to shove, they're human. And nobody beats us humans for downright nastiness. Let me lay a few ancient Earth human words on you. Crucifixion. The electric chair. The guillotine. Feel free to look them up.
TRANCE: I think I get the point.
HARPER: No, you don't. The point is, sure, I could be changing the future, but it doesn't matter what future I create, because anything is better than letting the Nietzscheans win.
TRANCE: But you can't take that chance, because if you fire that off, it could destroy the nebula and kill everything in it. The Nietzscheans, the High Guard crew members, and us.
HARPER: That's a risk I'm willing to take.
TRANCE: I'm not.

[Command]

ANDROMEDA: Sensors, combat systems, and environmental control are optimal. Unfortunately, fixing the slipstream drive is proving to be difficult, as usual.
HUNT: You know the old saying. Slipstream. It's not the best way to travel faster than light, it's just the only way. How much longer?
ANDROMEDA: Three or four hours at the earliest.
HUNT: Plenty of time.
TRANCE [OC]: Help! Help!
(Trance runs in.)
TRANCE: Help, help! He's trying to kill me. He's trying to kill me.
HUNT: Who's trying to kill you?
(Harper runs in.)
TRANCE: Him. Him.
HARPER: I can explain.
(After the explanation, Rommie stalks out past Rev Bem.)
ROMMIE: Self-centred jerk.
BEM: Excuse me?
ROMMIE: Nothing. Let's just fix the drive and get out of here.

[Corridor]

HARPER: Rommie, can't we at least talk about this?
(A defence cannon zaps his bottom.)
HARPER: Ow!
ROMMIE: Move.
HARPER: You know, I can find my quarters on my own, thank you.
ROMMIE: I'm guarding you, Harper, not guiding you. There's a difference.
HARPER: Don't be like this. I was only trying to stop the Nietzscheans from conquering Earth.
ROMMIE: If I tried to re-arrange your internal organs, tried to force you to violate your most important moral imperatives, how would you feel?
HARPER: I'd say that actually that sounds kind of fun.
ROMMIE: This isn't the time for humour.
(Harper steps inside his quarters.)
ROMMIE: Seamus Harper, you are confined to quarters until further notice. Feel free to rearrange the furniture to your heart's content. But I'd recommend against making yourself invisible to me again. I might forget you even existed, and then you'd starve to death.

[Conduit]

(Tyr comes down a ladder to where Beka is working.)
TYR: Anything I can do to help?
BEKA: Help? That's not a very Tyr thing to say.
TYR: Well, unpredictability's the mark of a thoughtful soldier. What have you got?
BEKA: Well, can you realign a slipstream lens?
TYR: I can fieldstrip a gauss rifle blind and one-handed. I imagine I can calibrate your lens.
BEKA: All right. Down, boy.
(They are very close, actually touching.)
TYR: You know, I can cook, too. You'd be surprised at the kind of skills you acquire as a mercenary.
BEKA: You don't seem very upset about Dylan's decision to leave.
TYR: Leaving increases our chances of survival. Why should I object? Done.

[Command]

ROMMIE: The slipstream drive is back online. We can leave whenever you're ready.
HUNT: Have you checked my astrogational data?
ROMMIE: It looks valid. If you retrace Trance's route and I reverse the stream polarity at exactly the right moment, we should end up back in our own time. Theoretically.
HUNT: Everything is theoretical until you try it.
ROMMIE: Hmm. Some things are more theoretical than others. Shall I assemble the crew?
HUNT: Not yet. There's one last thing I need to do.
ROMMIE: Another repair?
HUNT: That's one way of putting it.

[Hunt's quarters]

YAZGAR [on monitor]: Time travel.
HUNT: I know it's hard to believe.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: The word you're looking for is impossible.
HUNT: You said when I was ready to tell you the truth, I would. Well, this is it.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: I was expecting something more cloak and dagger.
HUNT: There is no cavalry. It's just me.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: And you're leaving.
HUNT: I don't belong here, Gar. There's a lot more I need to tell you, and I will if you come with me.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: You want me to abandon the fleet.
HUNT: What's going to happen here in the next few days, neither of us can change. But if you come with me, you can make a difference.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: Your word as an officer.
HUNT: And a friend.
YAZGAR [on monitor]: Tell me what to do.

[Command]

(Hunt enters. Beka is in the pilot's seat.)
TYR: The Renewed Valour has almost reached the slipstream portal.
HUNT: What's our ETA?
BEM: Another ten minutes at least.
ROMMIE: I still can't do much more than thirty PSL.
TRANCE: I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I promise I will never do that again.
HUNT: It all turned out fine. You helped me save a friend and you doubled the size of our fleet. Not a bad day's work.
TYR: Luck.
BEKA: Don't knock it. Everyone can use a little.
(Then a fleet comes out of slipstream.)
ANDROMEDA: I'm detecting a swarm of new ships. Multiple vectors bearing zero mark zero. Range, three light minutes.
HUNT: Slipstream portal on screen. The Valour.
(The new arrivals make the Renewed Valour go KaBOOM!)
TYR: Too late.
ROMMIE: It was too late when we saw them. These images are already three minutes old.
TYR: And now?
HUNT: Come about one eighty, maximum stealth mode.
BEKA: What about your friend?
HUNT: My friend died over three hundred years ago. Take us deeper into the nebula, nice and smooth. I don't want to attract attention.
BEKA: Whatever you say.
BEM: Dylan, something is not right here. Tyr, how many ships did you say the Nietzscheans had?
TYR: The historical record reads five hundred.
BEM: I'm reading closer to fifteen hundred.
TRANCE: Three times as many as they're supposed to have.
(They watch the deployment of the fleet on the tactical display.)
BEKA: That's right, keep moving. No one here but us plasma clouds.
HUNT: They won't find us. They're too busy setting up ambush locations, getting ready for the slaughter.
ANDROMEDA: Dylan, I've finished sorting the Maru's records.
HUNT: And?
ANDROMEDA: I did locate seventeen different accounts of the Battle of Witchhead. All of them are quite consistent. The Nietzschean fleet was comprised of five hundred ships, no more.
BEKA: Well, then how do you explain those extra ships?
HUNT: We must have changed history. Something we did influenced the timeline.
ROMMIE: Or something we will do.
BEKA: Before the battle.
ANDROMEDA: Which, according to my analysis, is in less than four hours.
BEKA: Harper's device.
HUNT: A fusion catalyst. If these records are right, the only way we can preserve history and prevent the rise of a Nietzschean Empire, and ensure that our timeline remains intact is to destroy over a thousand Nietzschean ships.

[Observation deck]

(Hunt has his head in his hands. Bem enters.)
BEM: May I?
HUNT: I'd like to be alone for a while, if you don't mind.
BEM: I understand. I, myself, prefer solitude while doing mathematics.
HUNT: How'd you know?
BEM: Oh, it wasn't difficult. In fact, I suspect I could guess the equation. Let me see one thousand ships, average crew size, one hundred. Simple multiplication.
HUNT: One hundred thousand people. How can I even consider it?
BEM: Dylan, fate brought you to this battle. Destiny demands your actions. I know, this is not easy for you, but perhaps you are merely a tool of Divine Will.
HUNT: That's a nice excuse. Humans have been using it since the dawn of time. I had to kill my enemies. It's what God wanted.
BEM: Just because humans use it as an excuse does not negate the possibility.
HUNT: What kind of divine plan requires the deaths of tens of thousands of people?
BEM: Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Humans have been asking this question since the dawn of time. My people don't bother. We Magog know the Divine exists. We know it created the stars and the planets, the soft winds and the gentle rain. We also know He created nightmares, because He created us.
HUNT: You're saying it created this situation.
BEM: You ask me how this could be God's will. My answer is this, how can it not be? The Divine lives in all places, but most importantly, the Divine lives here (Hunt's heart) and here (Hunt's head). This is my mathematics. I'll leave you to yours.

[Eureka Maru engine room]

(Tyr is working at a panel.)
COMPUTER: Override command denied. Override command denied. Override command denied.
(Tyr kicks the panel, destroying it. The door opens and Tyr pulls his weapon.)
TRANCE: Hi.
TYR: Let me save you some time. Hello. How are you? I'm fine. Well, you have a nice day. I will, thank you. Goodbye.
TRANCE: This is one of those really awkward situations, isn't it, where I walked in on you at exactly the wrong moment and I'm supposed to pretend that nothing's really happening, and you're supposed to pretend like it's no big deal, and then when I turn to leave, you kill me, right?
TYR: If it is?
TRANCE: Well then, I think it's my duty as a friend to explain to you why I think that would be a really terrible mistake.
(Tyr blocks her exit.)
TYR: Please do.
TRANCE: Okay, well, theoretically speaking, you're here on the Maru because you're debating whether or not to go over to the Nietzscheans and warn them that Dylan might try to kill them. But, you know, I just thought of something right now and it's kind of funny that you weren't at all surprised when the Nietzschean fleet turned out to be so big. You know, it was almost like you knew that there were many more ships and that something was going to happen to them. Something like Harper's explosion?
TYR: So far, you're only talking about me. We were supposed to be talking about you.
TRANCE: Right. You're right. So, er, you have two options here. You can side with the Nietzscheans, or you can stick with Dylan. You can't do both. And if you approach the Nietzschean fleet in the Maru, you're only going to draw fire, which means that you're weighing a victory for your people against your own personal survival.
TYR: Again, we seem to be straying from the subject.
TRANCE: Okay. Er, the point is, your best plan for survival is to keep your options open. But if you kill me, you have committed yourself to abandoning the Andromeda.
TYR: If what you're saying were true, just for the sake of argument.
TRANCE: Yeah.
TYR: Then right now, I'd still have no choice. I would have to eliminate you and take my chances with the Nietzscheans.
TRANCE: Why? This is just a theoretical discussion, isn't it? A game.
TYR: I take my games very seriously.
TRANCE: I don't. In fact, when I leave here, I'll probably forget that the whole thing even happened.
TYR: What whole thing?
TRANCE: Exactly. Bye!

[Command]

ROMMIE: The battle is less than two hours away. Whatever you're going to do, you're going to have to decide soon.
HUNT: Do you believe in fate?
ROMMIE: The idea that the universe is a vast, pre-programmed machine does have a certain appeal.
HUNT: Not for me. I've always believed a man makes his own fate, that life is made up of a series of choices.
ROMMIE: You do have a choice.
HUNT: Do I? Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation is usually the right one. There are three times as many enemy ships as there should be. We have the means to destroy them. What is the simplest explanation? Let Harper out of his quarters. Get him to deploy his fusion catalyst. We are going in.
ROMMIE: Aye, aye.

[Corridor]

HARPER: Rommie!
(Harper runs up and offers her a bouquet.)
ROMMIE: Flowers.
HARPER: Well, yeah, but they're a gift for you.
ROMMIE: Just what I always wanted. Flowers from my own hydroponics garden.
HARPER: I know, I know, but we're a long way from the nearest flower shop, and I wanted to say I'm sorry. What I did, modifying you like that without your permission, it was, you know, wrong. Horribly wrong. And I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
ROMMIE: I'll think about it.
HARPER: I can respect that. Don't you want these?
ROMMIE: They're inside of me, Harper. I already have them.
(Rommie leaves.)
HARPER: You guys want to go get some water? I thought so.

[Machine shop]

HUNT: Well?
HARPER: Well, it's really nice that you finally decided to kill the bad guys and everything, but, er, it's too late.
HUNT: How so?
HARPER: Well, this isn't exactly a precise weapon, okay? It's more like a plasma mine than a gauss rifle. You see, the idea was to rig it before they arrived, when we could predict their exact location. But now
HUNT: They're scattered all over the nebula.
HARPER: Exactly. Which means a catalyst is not going to work, unless you can get them all to politely line up to be incinerated.
HUNT: I'll see what I can do.
HARPER: What?
HUNT: You get the catalyst working. I'll handle the Nietzscheans.

[Command]

HOLO-ROMMIE: Emerging from the molecular cloud.
HUNT: Mister Harper?

[Conduit]

(Harper is recording this for posterity.)
HARPER: Finally! Harper's plan, put into action.

[Command]

HUNT: What was that?

[Conduit]

HARPER: Er, ready. Ladies?

[Machine shop]

TRANCE: Ready here.
ROMMIE: You know, you don't have to do this.
TRANCE: I want to. I'm the one who got us into this, and I'm as responsible for what's going to happen as anyone.

[Command]

HUNT: Where's Tyr?
HOLO-ROMMIE: In his quarters.
HUNT: Let's do this. Rommie, route weapon control to my station. Rev, turn on the active sensors.
ANDROMEDA: That'll get their attention.
HUNT: Battle stations. Full power to the engines.
(Beka flies Andromeda out of the nebula. They start firing as they fly through the fleet. Some even go KaBOOM!)
HOLO-ROMMIE: We've engaged multiple targets. Light damage to each. Enemy ships are moving to intercept.
HUNT: Keep moving. Jab and weave. Launch combat drones.
BEKA: Well, if you're trying to stir up a hornet's nest, you've done it. And they're starting to sting.
(Tyr enters.)
BEM: Tyr.
HUNT: Mister Anasazi, can we help you?
TYR: My people have a legend about the Battle of Witchhead. They say that the Nietzschean forces arrived here with overwhelming numbers. Their victory seemed assured. But then, in the critical hour, the Angel of Death appeared, summoning forth the fires of hell. The Nietzschean fleet was struck down, crippled, their glorious victory turned to ashes.
BEKA: You knew all along?
TYR: I've never seen an Angel before.
(Andromeda takes hard hits.)
HUNT: Rommie, how long to ground zero?
HOLO-ROMMIE: Forty-five seconds.
HUNT: Harper, initiate the fusion catalyst.

[Conduit]

HARPER: Harper saves the world, take one.

[Machine shop]

ROMMIE: The catalyst is ready.
TRANCE: Routing fire controls to Command.
ROMMIE: It's all yours, Dylan.

[Command]

(Andromeda swoops back into the nebula.)
BEM: The Nietzschean ships are in position.
BEKA: Dylan!
HOLO-ROMMIE: Dylan.
HUNT: I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds.
(He presses the button. Energy surges from Andromeda into the nebula. She flies out as the purple swirly turns red then goes mega-KaBOOM)
HOLO-ROMMIE: I'm reading multiple explosions. Two thirds of the Nietzschean fleet were in the target zone.
TYR: One hundred thousand.
ANDROMEDA: Brace for impact.
(The shock wave catches up with them.)
HOLO-ROMMIE: All systems functioning normally.
BEM: What's left of the Nietzschean fleet is peeling off.
BEKA: It's over.
HUNT: Yeah, it's over.

[Conduit]

(Harper watches the tactical display of the carnage, but doesn't rejoice.)
HARPER: We win.

[Command]

BEKA: We're approaching the slipstream portal.
HUNT: Take us in as soon as we're in range. What's the status on the Nietzscheans?
BEM: Survivors are scattered throughout the nebula.
TYR: When the High Guard arrives, the Nietzscheans will be off-balance, out of position. You've succeeded.
HUNT: Tell me again how this is all pre-destined.
HOLO-ROMMIE: Slipstream events, multiple vectors.
BEKA: The High Guard fleet.
BEM: They're hailing us.
BEKA: The Nietzscheans are moving to intercept.
HUNT: Take us out of here. Maintain radio silence.
BEKA: Transiting into slipstream in three, two, one.
HUNT: Good luck.
(The Battle of Witchhead begins as Andromeda flies the slipstream.)
BEKA: I'm reversing slipstream polarity now!
BEM: Exiting slipstream.
HUNT: Rommie?
HOLO-ROMMIE: Star positions and galactic expansion are consistent with CY 10087. We're back where we started.

[Observation deck]

HUNT: I wish there had been another way.
TYR: Guilt is a wasted emotion, or so I keep telling myself.
HUNT: You blame yourself for what happened?
TYR: I didn't say that. But I could have sabotaged the Andromeda. I could have killed us all and saved one hundred thousand Nietzschean lives. I didn't do it.
HUNT: No, you didn't.
TYR: I let my own need for survival outweigh the fate of an entire people. My people.
HUNT: That's a very Nietzschean thing to do.
TYR: Yes, it is, isn't it.
HUNT: Maybe on some level, you knew that what we did was somehow necessary and right.
(A tear runs down Tyr's cheek.)
TYR: Dylan, do you really believe that?
HUNT: I have to.

[Hydroponics]

(Trance looks at her bonsai tree, then chops an entire bough off.)
TRANCE: That's better.

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