WARNING: Do Not Operate Heavy
Machinery or Navigate The Slipstream
While Under the Influence
Of This Beverage.
Sparky – Cola (Label),
and Trance carry boxes into the Maru. Trance's contains pitcher
HARPER: Trance, I'm telling you. That waitress really dug me. We shared
this thing. This pure, special, cosmic connection.
TRANCE: Wasn't that what you said about that stripper you met on
Menicino Drift? The one who had the elbow spikes and threatened to
perforate you, stick a light in your ribcage and turn you into a
HARPER: She was not a stripper. Her name was Dusky and she was a
professional dancer. Besides, Dusky was just an appetizer. Hello, my
name is Kathleen, is an all you can eat buffet.
TRANCE: Harper, you're supposed to be using Tundra flowers to spread
good will for the Commonwealth, not meet pretty girls.
HARPER: Hey, I'm all for spreading good will. And if I'm very lucky,
the good will commence any minute now.
TRANCE: You've invited her on board?
HARPER: No. I chased her away with my gauss gun to avoid violating
HARPER: That would be Kathleen. You ready to see some stars?
(The airlock opens, and a very hairy being enters.)
GERENTEX: Why, thank you, Mister Harper, for such a kind offer.
GERENTEX: Now why do I get the feeling that you were expecting someone
HARPER: Hey, rat face, you owe me eighty four thousand thrones! And
sorry, but we're all full of failed, evil masterminds right now. And
you're full of something else, so try back tomorrow.
GERENTEX: Don't push me, human. I can't say that I'd mind indulging in
a little senseless violence right about now.
HARPER: Funny, I was thinking the same thing.
TRANCE: Harper, be careful. He has two loaded guns. You only have a bad
GERENTEX: Aren't you dead?
TRANCE: I got better.
GERENTEX: Huh. Lucky you. Now, as much as I'm enjoying all this
posturing, I have an appointment with a lovely lady who demands my
punctual arrival. And you are going to take me to her.
HARPER: What? We're not taking you anywhere
GERENTEX: Let me put it this way, monkey brain. Either you take me
where I want to go, or I'll send you back to Captain Valentine in a box.
HARPER: Do you practice those lines in a mirror, because they really
(There is a banging noise from outside.)
GERENTEX: No. He's here.
(The entry phone screen lights up.)
REAPER [on screen]: I'm looking for a Nightsider.
TRANCE: Well, we have one right here.
(Gerentex pulls Trance back by her tail.)
TRANCE: Ow! Ow! Ow!
(Gerentex shoots out the screen.)
GERENTEX: Don't stand there staring like he's the Vedran Empress. Get
us out of here! He'll kill us all!
REAPER [OC]: Give it up, Gerentex. You're coming with me. Dead, alive,
GERENTEX: What part of get us out of here did you not understand?
HARPER: Okay, okay
(The Eureka Maru takes off from the Drift.)
HARPER [OC]: Please secure any loose articles, and keep your hands and
feet inside the vehicle at all times.
GERENTEX [OC]: Oh, shut up.
is picking up pieces of food and other detritus from Harper's
BEKA: Hey, Rommie. I was wondering if you. Ooo, yuck.
ROMMIE: Harper. The amount of garbage he creates and consumes boggles
the mind. Take this disgusting substance, for example.
(Rommie holds up a drinks can.)
ROMMIE: Sparky Cola. It has no nutritional value, rots the teeth, and
slowly dissolves the digestive tract. And yet he imbibes at least three
thousand millilitres of it every single day.
BEKA: Yeah. Harper's twin muses, chaos and caffeine.
ROMMIE: Somehow, I don't think you came here to discuss Harper's
BEKA: No. Actually, it's Dylan. He's been walking around brooding for
the last week. To be honest, it's a little disturbing. I was hoping
you'd know what was bothering him.
ROMMIE: It's personal.
BEKA: Rommie, as long as I'm acting as Dylan's First Officer, it's my
job to look out for him. I need to know what's going on.
ROMMIE: Back in the days of the Commonwealth, High Guard captains were
typically assigned four year tours of duty. In a few days time, Dylan
will have been aboard this ship
BEKA: For four years.
ROMMIE: His final act as Captain would have been to inspect the
Andromeda and turn command over to his Executive officer, Gaheris Rhade.
BEKA: His best friend. The guy who tried to kill him. I guess now would
be a bad time to give him some bad news.
ROMMIE: Bad news?
BEKA: See for yourself.
(Beka gives Rommie a flexi.)
ROMMIE: That is bad.
So, are you going to tell us the name of your girlfriend back there?
GERENTEX: If you must know, he goes by the name of Reaper. Bounty
hunters. So unimaginative.
HARPER: So there's a price on your head. Oh, good. Maybe I'll get my
money back after all.
GERENTEX: If I were you, I'd spend less time trying to plot my downfall
and more time trying to guess what I'm going to do with the two of you.
TRANCE: Oh, I love playing guessing games.
GERENTEX: Ha, ha. Call me a traditionalist, but when I kill someone, I
really do prefer it when they stay dead. Now, be quiet, the two of you.
I'm trying to think.
HARPER: Don't strain yourself.
GERENTEX: Fine. If you don't want me to come up with a way to integrate
you into my brilliant plans and use you to my advantage, then I'll just
kill you now and be done with it!
TRANCE: No! No! We want you to think. We encourage you to think.
HARPER: Hell, yeah. We'll even help you. Why don't you, uh, tell us
what you're up to, and we'll see if we can make ourselves useful.
GERENTEX: Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you. Let's have old Gerentex
take us into his confidence and reveal his latest scheme for wealth and
success, and then we'll betray him and keep it all for ourselves.
TRANCE: We would never do that.
HARPER: I would.
GERENTEX: Why do I bother?
HARPER: Ah, ah, ah. Not so fast, rat face. If you shoot me, it's
Dosva-bye-bye for you.
GERENTEX: Well, I'm sure you've got some explanation to back up your
pathetic little threats.
HARPER: How's this for a little known, yet highly entertaining fact?
You see, whenever the teacher lets us take the Maru out on these little
class field trips, I key the power generators to my life signs.
TRANCE: You do?
HARPER: See? Little known. The point is, if my life signs should
suddenly, I don't know, expire, the generators overload and explode
like that. In a heartbeat. Er, in my heartbeat.
GERENTEX: You'd blow up this whole ship with your little purple friend
HARPER: Trance has come back from the dead before. She's tricky that
way. What makes you think she can't do it again?
GERENTEX: Well, let's find out, shall we?
TRANCE: Yeah. What he said. No.
HARPER: You hurt her, and I will kill you myself.
GERENTEX: You and which Vedran cavalry, my boy?
HARPER: You don't get it, do you? You harm one hair on her head, and I
will come after you. And then you'll have to kill me, because I
absolutely will not stop until one of us is Magog food.
GERENTEX: You're bluffing.
HARPER: Try me. See if you can wrap your little rat brain around this.
You kill her, I kill you. You lose. You kill her and you kill me, the
ship blows up. You still lose. Either way, you lose.
TRANCE: Er, excuse me? Can we please discuss the killing her part?
GERENTEX: Fine. I was hoping to save this for a more dire emergency,
but I can see you two leave me no choice. I'll have to resort to plan B.
HARPER: Plan B?
GERENTEX: Yes. Plan B.
(Gerentex fires a needle into Harper's arm.)
HARPER: Ow! Son of a
GERENTEX: I've just injected you with a microscopic generator which
produces quite a nasty little shock, all with the press of a button.
This button. But why take my word for it? I believe the expression is
show, don't tell"?
(Harper arches his back as pain goes through his body.)
GERENTEX: Well. Now, who's next?
(Later, Harper is piloting and Gerentex is finishing tying Trance to a
GERENTEX: So, as I was saying, the Andromeda debacle put me into some
serious debt to some rather unsavory characters.
GERENTEX: Tell me, do you have any idea what the monthly interest on
eleven million thrones might be?
HARPER: I know what it is on the eighty four grand you still owe me.
(Harper and Trance get zapped.)
TRANCE: Ow! Ow! Ow! I didn't even say anything.
GERENTEX: Oh, I am sorry, my dear, but I'm afraid I only have one
button, and two hostages. Where was I? Oh, yes. My most brilliant plan
ever. Retrieve the Andromeda, deliver her to the buyer, auction off her
Nova bombs, one by one, to the highest bidder. Oh, beautiful. I
should've been swimming in luxury by now. Instead, I'm drowning in debt.
HARPER: How tragic.
GERENTEX: Oh, dear, my finger must have slipped. Ha, ha, ha. Well, you
know, in this business, you're only as good as your latest scam. My
strip-mining venture on Infinity Atoll, my RobotoCourtesan
manufacturing plant, the religion I founded. All gone. Forgotten. Pfft.
Er, this is the part where you're supposed to say oh, Gerentex, that's
TRANCE: Oh, that's so sad!
HARPER: Oh, you're breaking my freaking heart!
GERENTEX: So, I find myself on that rust-bucket drift with no way off.
And to make matters worse, I was on the verge of the big score, Harper.
Something even bigger than the Andromeda deal. A bonanza of
HARPER: Plenitude. As in cash?
GERENTEX: Of course cash, idiot. And then, who should I see but the two
of you, handing out flowers and getting the brush-off from that
HARPER: Hey! Kathleen was not snaggletoothed. And you should talk,
TRANCE: And is that where you came up with the evil plan?
GERENTEX: My dear, those are the best kind.
the Perseids on Sintii Four think humans will screw up the new
Commonwealth just like we did the old one.
BEKA: Not all of them. Just a faction on their High Council. And Hohne
and your other supporters have the motion locked up in committee, but
it might not stay there.
HUNT: I've spent almost an entire year trying to get worlds to sign up
for the new Commonwealth. I've managed to get three, and now one of
them is threatening to back out.
BEKA: That pretty much sums it up, yeah.
HUNT: And now I'm supposed to convince them to stay? I mean, who am I
kidding? I'm a soldier, not a statesman.
BEKA: Oh, don't be so hard on yourself. You're at least as good a
politician as I am a first officer.
HUNT: Yeah. That is a compliment, right?
BEKA: That's right. Yeah.
Maru comes out of slipstream.)
GERENTEX: I don't recall giving you permission to stop. We are on a
HARPER: Look, I'm tired, okay? My butt's asleep and I've got a mother
of a caffeine withdrawal headache. Could you at least grab me a Sparky?
GERENTEX: Oh, you want a Sparky? Here.
HARPER: Okay, listen to me, and listen very carefully. Every time you
press that button, it hurts a little less. Keep it up, pretty soon it's
going to hurt at all. And then I'm going to break free, crack your
skull open, and drink a beer over your fuzzy corpse.
TRANCE: Harper, don't say that!
HARPER: What? You want me to be nice to him?
TRANCE: You're supposed to be the good guy.
HARPER: Correction. Standing next to you, Beka, Rev, Rommie, Dylan, or
er, well, anyway, then I'm one of the good guys. But I didn't survive
twenty years on that hellhole we lovingly call Earth by being Santa's
little helper. I survived by being the nastiest piece of work that ever
clubbed someone over the head in a back alley over a hunk of cheese.
So, please, keep pressing that little button. Get your money's worth.
Because then it's going to be the worst day of the end of your life.
GERENTEX: You know, I've always wanted to see a human glow in the dark.
TRANCE: It must be hard being a Nightsider.
GERENTEX: Excuse me?
TRANCE: Well, once the Commonwealth evacuated Korendar, the Nightsiders
had no planet to call home. Did you know that there are worlds where
they shoot Nightsiders on sight?
GERENTEX: And they call us a threat to aquatic ecosystems. Don't they
realise that our children have to eat?
TRANCE: It's not your fault that Nightsiders have hundreds of babies
that eat everything in sight until they reach dry land and become
sentient. It's just the way you evolved.
GERENTEX: Well, try telling that to a village full of Arswan
fishmongers as they try to run you down and impale you on their
TRANCE: It must be awful.
GERENTEX: Oh, my dear, you don't know the half of it. Do you know, the
only way a Nightsider can survive these days is to be so filthy rich,
so mind-bendingly wealthy, that people can't help but accept you.
HARPER: I'd accept you loosening these ropes.
GERENTEX: Why don't I just tighten them until your limbs pop like a
Than grub under a magnifying glass?
(Harper sets the Maru spinning on her axis. Gerentex goes crashing
around the bridge.)
HARPER: What's the matter, Gerentex? Artificial gravity misbehaving?
Sorry, I'd love to help you, but I'm a little tied up right now.
(Harper sets the Maru spinning the other way. Gerentex is finally
knocked out and Trance has untied herself.)
HARPER: Hey! Why didn't you do that before?
TRANCE: Well, he was talking and I didn't want to interrupt him. And he
had that buzzer thing.
HARPER: Well, it's broken now, so untie me. I got to go see a
Nightsider about an obscenely large pile of money.
TRANCE: You have to promise not to kill him.
HARPER: What? What? All right. I promise.
(Later, Harper has Gerentex tied up and is beating seven bells out of
TRANCE: Harper, you promised.
HARPER: I just promised not to kill him.
GERENTEX: You think this frightens me? I've been tortured by
HARPER: Now, what a coincidence. So was I. You want to see some
TRANCE: Hey! If this is that good cop, bad cop game you were telling me
about, isn't this the point where I'm supposed to play good cop?
HARPER: Sorry, mon cheri. Welcome to a new game. Bad cop, worse cop.
And guess which one I am.
(Harper fires up a welding torch.)
TRANCE: Gerentex, why don't you just tell us what we want to know? What
do we want to know?
HARPER: Oh, the usual. What's the scam, how do I get in on it, what's
it worth, and where do I get my eighty four thousand thrones!
GERENTEX: I'm not telling you anything.
HARPER: Gerentex, this is my nanowelder. It can cut through a starship
like a Magog at a puppy farm. Maybe it can jog your memory, huh?
GERENTEX: Hasturi's diary.
HARPER: You're full of it.
GERENTEX: No, no, no, no, no. I hired one of my more reliable
acquisition specialists to contact certain parties. They know where it
HARPER: The original? The real one, not some bogus cack.
TRANCE: Okay. What is Hasturi's diary, please?
HARPER: The journal of Hasturi, the mad Perseid? About a hundred years
ago, he wandered the galaxy claiming he found a way through slipstream
GERENTEX: The diary is the documentation of his journey to the long
lost capital of the Systems Commonwealth and all its wealth and
splendour. Whoever finds the diary and retraces his path to Tarn-Vedra
could command the galaxy.
TRANCE: Or get a Nightsider out of debt?
GERENTEX: Oh, exactly. And it's all
HARPER: Ours. You're going to show us how to find that diary, and we're
So what do we offer the Perseids this time?
HUNT: Protection. Peace of mind. Mints on their pillows?
ROMMIE: Just don't let them dissect me.
HUNT: Relax. I'm not going to offer the Perseids anything. If I did,
I'd be making the opposition's case for them. They say that we're no
better than the
Nietzscheans, and they'd be right. We have to make the Perseids see
that not all humans are consumed by greed for money, power, and control.
ROMMIE: And how do we do that?
HUNT: Give them clean towels?
Okay, we use Gerentex's money to buy the diary's location. Then we go
back to the Andromeda, we tell Dylan. Or maybe we don't have to tell
Dylan. Either way, we are going to Tarn-Vedra where the livin' is easy
and the women have four legs.
TRANCE: Aren't you forgetting something?
HARPER: Ah, well, let me see. We get fame and fortune. Gerentex gets
nothing. We make the biggest discovery in the history of the known
worlds. Gerentex gets nothing. What am I forgetting? Nothing!
COMPUTER: Hostile weapons fire. PDL's activated.
HARPER: Except him.
(A little later, Harper is trying to enter a slipstream portal.)
TRANCE: Harper, slipstream?
HARPER: I'm working on it, but every time we're almost out of the
star's gravity well, Chuckles out there cuts us off and starts shooting
GERENTEX [OC]: May I make a suggestion?
HARPER: Er, let me think. No!
(Gerentex shouts from where he is still tied up.)
GERENTEX: Oh, you're right. Your plan is working so well, you certainly
don't need my help!
HARPER: Make it quick.
GERENTEX [on screen]: I'll put this in a way your tiny mind can grasp.
Our pursuer wants to kill me, but he won't risk his life for it. That's
his weakness. So think of the problem in terms of psychology and
mathematics. Our ship has fifty times the mass of his little fighter.
HARPER: Fat lot of good it does us. His ship is faster, better armed,
and more manoeuvrable. We can't out-shoot or out-flank him.
GERENTEX: So don't. Turn this whale around and aim straight at him. If
he gets out of our way, we escape. If he doesn't, we run him down.
HARPER: What? At that velocity, it would vaporise both of us.
GERENTEX: Yes, yes, yes. But he's a bounty hunter, not a physicist.
(Harper turns off the screen.)
HARPER: Any thoughts, your purpleness?
TRANCE: Signs are hazy. Ask again later. But we're leaking pions and AG
fields are barely holding.
HARPER: Fine. A game of chicken. Let's bring it.
(Harper can't bear to watch as the Maru wins the game.)
HARPER: Entering slipstream. Whoo hoo! Damn, I'm god!
GERENTEX [OC]: Hello? Does anyone remember whose idea it was?
HARPER: Shut up, rat. Just tell me where to go.
GERENTEX [OC]: I have several suggestions.
Tell me we're nearing an end to this tedium.
BEKA: Dylan's still planetside, trying to talk sense into the Perseids.
TYR: He might as well appeal to a Nightsider's generosity.
BEKA: Blind idealism on overdrive. So, he talks, and we sit. Unless
you've got any bright ideas.
TYR: Sadly, I doubt our beneficent commander would appreciate it if we
were to nuke the planet from orbit. Though I can hardly say I'd mind
BEKA: Threats won't work. And apparently, neither will diplomacy.
TYR: Which leaves?
HARPER [OC]: Albuquerque Drift. Land of the expensive and home of the
TRANCE: Oh, this is so neat. You can win money, go to the all you can
eat buffet, and even enjoy the comedy stylings of the Supreme Mirth
HARPER: I don't know. Perseid stand up comedy? Some things are just so
wrong. All right, let's get this over with.
(Trance uses her wrist-comm.)
TRANCE: Gerentex, are you there?
GERENTEX [on screen]: Where else would I be? Oh, the injustice of it
all. The inherent brutality. It's the system that keeps us Nightsiders
HARPER: Yeah, yeah. Cry me a river and drown in it. Just identify your
friend so we can get out of Loser's Palace here, will
GERENTEX: Look, at the bar. Metal hair, nose-ring.
(Bored and sipping a long green drink.)
HARPER: Er, Miss Andulasia, I presume?
ANDULASIA: And who wants to know?
TRANCE: We're friends of Gerentex.
HARPER: I prefer associates.
ANDULASIA: Oh, I don't think you can ever have enough friends, wouldn't
HARPER: Er, yeah.
ANDULASIA: Shush. I prefer my men strong and silent.
TRANCE: Well then, you won't like Harper.
HARPER: Trance, would you? I
ANDULASIA: Much better. So, I assume you're here about the data he
TRANCE: Do you have it?
ANDULASIA: Oh, I've got it. I lifted it off of that wildcatter he told
me about, not long before that unfortunate run in with a faulty airlock.
TRANCE: That's great. It's not great for him, but it is for us. Harper,
give her the flexi. I think that's the amount you two agreed on.
ANDULASIA: Oh, it was. But now it's a zero short.
TRANCE: But, you had a deal.
ANDULASIA: Did you really think that I was going to stick to that deal?
That is so sweet. When you get serious, you know where to find me. And
so do you.
(Andalusia leaves after inhaling Harpers scent.)
HARPER: She wants me. She really wants me.
GERENTEX [on screen]: She wants to get you alone, slit your throat, and
rifle your pockets. But go ahead, see for yourself.
HARPER: I will.
TRANCE: Harper, stay.
HARPER: And do what? We can't raise that kind of cash, even if we sold
TRANCE: Sure we can.
(Later at the gambling tables, guess which professional guesser is
TRANCE: Yoshidono! Yoshidono!
HARPER: All hail the conquering Trance.
CROUPIER: Place your bets, please, ladies and gentleman.
TRANCE: Let it ride.
CROUPIER: Bets please and, no more bets, please. Le jeu est fait.
(Casino security are taking an interest.)
HARPER: Er, Trance, I think we have enough.
TRANCE: But I'm just starting to have fun.
HARPER: Trance, now!
TRANCE: I win again!
(Harper shovels the winnings into Trance's bag.)
TRANCE: Okay, okay, okay!
(They go to Andalusia at another table.)
TRANCE: This enough?
ANDULASIA: Definitely. Pleasure doing business with you.
HARPER: If you want pleasure, you're talking to the right guy.
ANDULASIA: Thanks, but I prefer my men alive.
TRANCE: My purse? She just took my purse?
(Harper notices the security men.)
HARPER: Hey, fellas. Er, nice place you got here.
SECURITY: You cheated us out of half a million thrones.
HARPER: Okay, look, you want your money back, you got to talk to the
nice lady who just ran out that door.
REAPER: You two, where's Gerentex? I'm going to turn him into a rug.
(Harper fires at Reaper. Reaper opens up with two guns. Harper and
Trance run while Reaper and security shoot up the casino.)
Well, that went quite well.
(Gerentex attacks Harper and takes his weapon.)
GERENTEX: I think it went swimmingly.
HARPER: This is why you kill him.
(Later, Harper is piloting.)
HARPER: Aren't you forgetting the math, here? Dead Harper plus reactor
overload equals sayonara, Nightsider.
GERENTEX: Yes, but it occurs to me you don't have any vital organs in
your kneecaps. Do you?
GERENTEX: That's better. You know, now that the moment is upon me, I
must admit to feeling a tad misty. Once I find
Tarn-Vedra, all the painful struggle, the years of yearning will
finally be behind me. I'll buy a lake, or maybe a small sea. Start a
harem of fecund Nightsider females who'll fill the water with furry
tadpoles and watch as the strongest of our young devour the weak in the
ancient dance of life.
TRANCE: Oh, that is so beautiful.
GERENTEX: Isn't it? You know, all I've really wanted was a home and a
family of my own. To change myself for the better.
HARPER: You want to change your life for the better? Put a bullet in
TRANCE: Oh! Seamus Zelazney Harper, you take that back this instant.
HARPER: Trance, that is the bad guy. Habla es bad guy? Villain?
Antagonist? Thug? Pain in the
TRANCE: Just because he comes from a different culture with different
drives and values doesn't make him a bad person.
HARPER: Hmm. That's strange. Aren't we forgetting something? Yes, I
think we are. Something important. Oh yeah. He killed you!
GERENTEX: Not permanently! And after I saw what happened at the Casino,
I truly regret my harsh actions. To think that I almost hurt such a
sweet, understanding, profitable young lady. I promise I'll never do it
TRANCE: Oh, you don't have to explain. I completely understand. If you
hadn't shot me then, you could have lost control completely, and then
where would you have been. He was just trying to protect himself.
GERENTEX: Exactly. I couldn't let you play me for a fool then, and
(Gerentex grabs Trance's tail as it goes for his gun.)
GERENTEX: Not now!
(Harper tries to come to Trance's aid. Gerentex pushes him back.)
GERENTEX: Et tu, Trance? You know, I rally hoped I wouldn't have to
TRANCE: Why do you do this?
TRANCE: Why do you point guns at people and threaten them?
GERENTEX: I find it very efficacious.
TRANCE: Well, I don't. In fact, I think it makes you look like a
complete butt head. And if you think you can try and kill me, well,
think again. No, in fact, I dare you. Come on. What's the matter? You
afraid of a little purple girl? Yes, you are. Because you're a
criminal, and all criminals are stupid, short sighted, self centred
GERENTEX: You know, hurtful stereotypes like that give people like me a
TRANCE: No. People like you give people like you a bad name. If you had
half the brain that you claim to have, you would know that if we had
worked together, we would come out on top. But no, instead you decide
to play stupid power games about who gets to have control and who gives
the orders. If you keep walking down this path, you're going to end up
a very unhappy person.
GERENTEX: You really do care, don't you?
(Gerentex points his gun at Trance.)
GERENTEX: Well, I don't care! I've got the gun, I'm in control, and
everything is right with my world.
COMPUTER: Hostile weapons fire. PDL's activated.
HARPER: Oh, yeah, you got the world on a string, baby.
viewscreen]: And furthermore, if you can't see what you're getting out
of this deal, then you are not just the most petty, self-righteous
technocrats in three galaxies. Then, you're even stupider than you look!
BEKA: Yeah. I can explain this
HUNT: Walk with me.
BEKA: Oh, boy.
wasn't just that you insulted the Perseids. It's the way that you did
it over, and over, and over again. And Beka, the language, it was
BEKA: Dylan, when you recruited us to join your little quest, you
didn't just appeal to the better angels in our natures. You told us how
it would be good for us.
HUNT: Yeah, that's funny. I remember that speech, and at no point do I
recall suggesting that you get your chins screwed on straight.
BEKA: Yeah, well, I got the Perseids' attention, didn't I? And now that
I have it, we can remind them why the Commonwealth deal works for them.
HUNT: Assuming they ever talk to us again.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Dylan, sorry to interrupt, but I have an incoming
transmission from one of the Sintii Directors.
HUNT: Probably Hohne calling. Pipe it to my quarters. I'll calm him
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Actually, it's one of Hohne's opponents, and he's
asking for Beka.
Faster, Harper. Faster.
HARPER: I'm doing the best I can. Trance, any word from our adoring
TRANCE: They've just popped out of slipstream. They're two light
minutes behind us. Out of weapons range, but just barely.
GERENTEX: As long as they can't catch us. Best speed to Hasturi's
asteroid. This will have to be an in and out operation.
HARPER: Hey! My favourite kind. Ladies and germ, on your left,
Hasturi's World. Right next to the galaxy's biggest ball of twine.
Perfect. Hasturi left the power on, and everything's still pressurised.
HARPER: Wow. The lights are on, and nobody's been home for over a
hundred years. The guy must've been brilliant. I don't get it, though.
There must be kilometers of tunnels in this rock. I mean, why go to all
TRANCE: Maybe he was afraid of the dark.
(A closed door, and a picture painted on the wall of a black six-armed
creature with red eyes.)
HARPER: Must've been a rough trip to Tarn-Vedra.
GERENTEX: Look, we can gape at the scenery later. Right now, we have to
find the mad Perseid's sanctum sanctorum. Our pursuers can't be far
behind, and we all know what that means.
HARPER: That you're going to get down on your knees and beg for mercy
like a little girl?
GERENTEX: There are two kinds of people in this universe, Mister
Harper. The kind with loaded guns, and the kind who open doors. You
HARPER: Fine. Fine. Allow me to work the old Harper magic.
(Harper plugs himself into the door control. Sparks fly.)
HARPER: Open sez me.
(The door opens.)
TRANCE: Good for you. I think it's this way.
HARPER: Now, if I remember correctly, wasn't Hasturi a paranoid?
GERENTEX: Yes. Like the purple girl in a room full of rocking chairs.
HARPER: So, shouldn't he have set some traps?
(Bright red weapons fire ahead. Gerentex hides behind Trance.)
GERENTEX: I am sorry, my dear. Old habits die hard.
TRANCE: It's all right.
HARPER: Okay, this way.
(Flames shoot across the alternative tunnel.)
HARPER: Screw this. I'm not going to be killed by some stupid trap to
help you find my diary.
GERENTEX: Mister Harper.
HARPER: Oh, for crying out loud, go ahead and shoot. If I've got to be
going to be over my fame and fortune, not your. So, excuse me, I got a
diary to go find. Trance?
TRANCE: But, Harper, we need you.
HARPER: Yeah, to step on a plasma mine. Set off your own traps.
(Harper starts down another passage and runs back with gunfire going
off behind him.)
HARPER: On the other hand, maybe we should stick together!
(They run. Reaper enters and follows. A little later, our heroes are
fleeing weapons fire.)
GERENTEX: Run for your lives, but let me go first!
(They run around a corner.)
HARPER [OC]: Hey, guys. Aren't you a long way from the casino?
GERENTEX [OC]: Are you here to enquire after money?
(Reaper listens, then approaches.)
GERENTEX [OC]: Well, allow me to supply you with a small down payment
of hot lead.
(Trance, Harper and Gerentex run back into view. Reaper fires at their
retreating backs. A little further on, to the sound of two groups
shooting at each other, they reach another substantial door.)
GERENTEX: I don't understand. Why am I the only one who attracts
TRANCE: Oh, that's our High Guard ECM generators. They mess up smart
bullets really bad.
HARPER: Trance! Are you out of your freaking mind?
GERENTEX: I presume you mean that?
(The arm guard with the wrist comm. in it.)
TRANCE: Yeah. We both have one.
GERENTEX: How nice for me. Gimme.
(Gerentex threatens Harper.)
GERENTEX: Make my happy thought come true.
HARPER: You dead. That's my happy thought.
(Harper hands over his armguard.)
GERENTEX: You are the one vulnerable to weapons fire. I would suggest
you save your own life before you try to deprive me of mine. Now move.
TRANCE: Well they've stopped shooting at us. I think they're dead.
HARPER: Maybe they finally decided to cooperate.
(Harper plugs himself into the door controls.)
GERENTEX: Keep working.
HARPER: Fine, fine, fine.
The door swings open outwards, hitting Gerentex.)
(They go through.)
HARPER: Now, sometimes it's more important to understand why things
work instead of how. You see, these doors are
(Reaper is coming.)
HARPER: And why is this important, class? Because power pressurises the
GERENTEX: Faster, genius, faster.
(The door swings shut. Did I mention it has a window in it?)
HARPER: This door's solid fluorian mesh. They're not getting through it
unless they're packing nukes. Now, as I was saying
(Reaper comes round the corner.)
HARPER: Hey, how you doing? The thing is, what's been pressurised can
(Reaper starts shooting Harper concentrates, and a vacuum forms on the
HARPER: That giant sucking sound you hear is Reaper and company leaving
GERENTEX: You are a very bad person.
HARPER: You're welcome. Now, let's move on to the main course so we can
get off this rock.
with mummified occupant holding a gun and tables covered in books and
TRANCE: This is it. Hasturi's lair.
HARPER: Yeah, judging by the dead Perseid with the hole in his head,
I'd say you're right.
GERENTEX: Yes, Hasturi's story seems to have an unhappy ending.
TRANCE: Whoa, I guess paranoid people really do have enemies. A dead
(A very new corpse.)
HARPER: I'm going to go look for that diary.
GERENTEX: Trance will find it. You, stay there.
TRANCE: You know, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Although I don't know why you'd want to catch flies. They're actually
quite dirty little things.
GERENTEX: Just find the diary.
TRANCE: Right. Finding it. If I was a diary of a mad Perseid explorer,
where would I hide?
GERENTEX: Take your time. My trigger finger never gets tired. And if it
does, well, I won't shed any tears.
TRANCE: I would, for both of you.
HARPER: You know, as much as I enjoy these long, lingering looks into
your beady little eyes, I don't think I'm ready for a relationship.
TRANCE: Oh. I found it.
(Gerentex turns to see. Harper dives for the Nietzschean's gun and uses
the body as a shield. Trance goes for cover as the two trade shots.
They both dive for clear space and end up with their guns inches from
each other's forehead.)
GERENTEX: I have your ECM generator.
HARPER: At this range, my aim's pretty good.
just got word from the Council.
HUNT: Nice work. The Perseid's are back on board. You know, they may
not understand appeals to their better natures, but insults? Insults
they take to heart.
BEKA: Well, it was a team effort. Captain and first officer. You set
'em up and I knocked 'em down. Chinheads didn't stand a chance.
HUNT: The Commonwealth thanks you.
BEKA: I didn't do it for the Commonwealth. I did it because you're my
friend and you needed me.
HUNT: Is that right?
HUNT: Well, what do you have without friendship?
Er, guys? It's been like twenty minutes now, and I'm really getting
bored. How 'bout this? I'm going to count to three, and on three,
you're going to get up, put your guns down, and we're going to talk
about this like adults.
(Gerentex and Harper nod.)
TRANCE: Great. This'll be much better than yoshidono. Okay. One, two.
(Gerentex and Harper both roll, get up and start shooting. Trance
screams and doubles over.)
(Harper goes to Trance, Gerentex aims at Harper. Trance has two guns
jabbing into their throats.)
GERENTEX: She's quick.
TRANCE: I am so sick of this, you two. With your violence and your
threats and your shooting stuff. Neither of you gets it, do you? There
isn't enough love in the universe as it is, and you're both just
helping to kill off what's left. So shape up! Because if you don't show
each other a little peace, love, and understanding, I am going to kill
HARPER: Trance, you don't mean that.
TRANCE: I do. You know why? 'Cause I could get away with it because I'm
GERENTEX: You wouldn't.
TRANCE: Oh, Dylan, it was so horrible. They just they killed each other
right in front of me. And I tried to stop them, really I tried, but I
GERENTEX: By the sacred lake, she's right. I can just see that High
Guard fossil now, hugging her and saying Trance, it'll be okay while we
lay here dead.
TRANCE: Drop your guns now! Or in a few days, Rev Bem's going to find
me on the Obs Deck and counsel me on my tragic loss.
HARPER: Drop our guns?
TRANCE: Good. Very good. Now, move.
Maru docks at a Drift.)
GERENTEX: So, you get the diary and I get nothing once again. Am I
wrong to feel vaguely disappointed?
TRANCE: No, you get something. The warm feeling of knowing that you did
HARPER: We're docked. Thought you might like to know.
GERENTEX: This is it, then. The big goodbye. Are you sure you won't
come with me? We could tour all the casinos in the known worlds.
Croupiers everywhere would tremble at the sound of our names.
TRANCE: Mmm. Maybe another time.
GERENTEX: You know, I really am sorry I shot you. I know you don't
believe me, but it's true.
TRANCE: Wait. I want to give you something. Here.
(Trance gives Gerentex the pitcher plants.)
GERENTEX: Anesterian Tundra flowers? The most efficient oxygen producer
ever discovered? I thought they were extinct! If I could get these
three to reproduce, I can repay my debts. I might even. You know, this
is, er, the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Thank you.
TRANCE: You're welcome. Everyone deserves a second chance.
HARPER: But only one.
(Harper throws his Sparky cola can at a bin, and misses.)
TRANCE: Or as many as they need.
Move. There's another crisis on Sintii. We've got five minutes.
BEKA: Again? What now?
HUNT: Segraria beach. Celebration for a job well done. But we need to
get our butts planetside before the sun goes down. Come on. Move! Go,
go, go! Come on!
Hey, Trance, I know I got a little carried away back there, and I'm
glad you talked some sense into me. But you weren't really
going to shoot me, were you?
TRANCE: Absolutely not. Not any more than you were going to really
shoot Gerentex, right?
HARPER: Right. So. Still friends?
TRANCE: Best friends.
HARPER: Good. You know what you've done, don't you? You've kissed off
our entire tundra flower monopoly. Our best commodity.
TRANCE: No, I haven't. I gave Gerentex a beautiful thing to call his
own. Beautiful things can make sad people happy, and bad people good.
When you think about it, beautiful things can change the universe.
(Hunt and Beka sit at a table on the beach, drinking wine and watching
a lovely sunset.)