A soldier's first battlefield
is always his own mind.
Admiral Constanza Stark,
Andromeda Ascendant is orbiting a planet. Harper is dressed up for an
occasion, sort of.)
HARPER: Huh? Huh?
HARPER: Getting Kasimir to sign the Commonwealth charter was supposed
to be hopeless. Finding occasion appropriate clothing to match my
superior good looks is merely impossible.
BEKA: We have been signing worlds so fast lately, I have a hard time
remembering which galaxy we're in.
HARPER: Triangulum, as in Triangulum measles. As in, boy, is it no fun
having itchy red spots on your
BEKA: Figure of speech. I just can't get over the fact that we're about
to sign our fiftieth world. That's the last one we need to complete the
first stage of restoring the Commonwealth.
HARPER: I know, and Dylan's not even going to be here to see it, or
Rommie or Tyr. The whole thing just seems kind of, I don't know, great
somehow, huh? The teacher's away, the old Maru crew gets to play.
BEKA: Just remember, secrecy is essential, so if anyone asks, Dylan is
HARPER: Right. Got it.
at a Drift.)
HUNT: There it is, the Clarion's Call. He was a ground troop transport
for the High Guard Lancer Corps.
TYR: And now he's a down market casino. How the mighty have fallen.
ROMMIE: We were in port together once at Tarn Vedra. The AI called
himself Ryan. Seemed like a nice enough ship, for a Lancer.
HUNT: Well, if there is a Nietzschean system filled with captured High
Guard ships, Ryan should know where they are.
TYR: Assuming he's still in one piece.
ROMMIE: Our intelligence reports indicate he's being held captive as a
tourist attraction on the Casino's main gaming floor. He deserves so
much better than that.
HUNT: Chin up, Rommie. We're going to his rescue.
are being met and greeted.)
RYAN: Wow, you're looking beautiful tonight. Here, take some tokens.
Welcome, welcome. Have a good time. Don't spend it all at once.
(He goes over to Hunt.)
RYAN: Hi. Welcome to the Clarion's Call. We've got it all here, sir.
We've got games, spa, flesh rooms, and don't forget our new
HUNT: You must be Ryan. The Clarion's Call.
RYAN: Do I know you?
HUNT: I've got a man in the outer ring and a ship waiting.
RYAN: Sounds like a good time, big guy, but not really my scene. Say,
though, have you seen our all nude Perseid musical revue, Hot's Hot?
HUNT: No, but I'm sure it's fascinating. I'm Captain Dylan Hunt from
the High Guard. I've come to rescue you.
RYAN: High Guard? Some kind of joke, right?
HUNT: No, it's no joke. I need your help.
RYAN: Look, I'm sorry. You've got the wrong guy.
HUNT: You look like the right guy to me.
(Hunt shows Ryan his High Guard record ID.)
RYAN: Yeah, well, I don't care what it looks like. I can't help you.
HUNT: I'm disappointed to hear that.
RYAN: Me too.
HUNT: Hey, no hard feelings, right?
RYAN: Oh, sure. I'm really sorry.
HUNT: So am I.
(Hunt disables the android with a charge from his forcelance, and puts
him over his shoulder. Alarms sound.)
HUNT: Tyr, get ready. I'm coming in hot.
Rommie, take us out!
(Tyr shoots at the pursuing guards before closing the airlock door. The
Maru zooms away from the Drift.)
twitches then sits upright.)
HUNT: Hello, Ryan.
RYAN: You're the guy with the forcelance.
HUNT: Well, his memory seems fine.
RYAN: And you're Andromeda. You're more beautiful than I remember. And
my memory is perfect.
ROMMIE: Really? Well, you seem to have forgotten all about the oath you
took to serve the Commonwealth. You know, it is bad enough you let the
Casino dress you up and parade you around like a sideshow freak, but
the fact that we had to kidnap you, well, you know, that's just
HUNT: Rommie, Rommie. That's enough. Dismissed.
RYAN: She's upset, right?
HUNT: I can't imagine why. You see, we figured we'd have to use force
to get you out. We just never thought we'd have to use it on you.
RYAN: Speaking of which, did you have to use so much force when you
rendered me unconscious?
HUNT: You're an android. I figured you to be tougher.
RYAN: Well, that's what I get for not making the Nightsiders build me
to spec. This body, it's so depressingly human. You know, the only
thing special about me, it's my superior wit and charm.
HUNT: Yes, and the fact you still belong to the High Guard.
RYAN: Three hundred years ago, maybe. Not anymore.
HUNT: The years have been good to you, Ryan. You're one of the lucky
ones. But there are over fifty High Guard warships who've spent the
last three centuries trapped in a star system. The star system that you
got out of.
RYAN: What do you expect me to say? I'm sorry that I escaped?
HUNT: I want you to tell me where those ships are. The Nietzscheans are
about to erase their AIs.
RYAN: They have been trying to do that for centuries, and failing.
HUNT: Not anymore. They found a way to cut the knot. Now, we have a few
days at most to liberate those ships. And if we don't, the Drago-Kazov
will have a fleet with which to conquer all of known space. But I can't
do anything unless you tell me where they are.
RYAN: If I tell you, you'll take me back there.
HUNT: If you don't tell me, your friends will die. You owe it to them.
Ryan, this is the Drago-Kazov I'm talking about. The universe is at
stake. It is your duty to tell me.
RYAN: Tartarus. They're at Tartarus.
RYAN: What's wrong?
HUNT: Déjà vu.
dealing with a white-haired man on the viewscreen.)
BEKA: I completely understand your concerns, Mister Secretary.
FALIN [on viewscreen]: Yes. May I speak with Captain Hunt?
BEKA: Speaking with me is just as good as speaking with him.
FALIN [on viewscreen]: Of course. When will I be able to get a moment
of his time?
BEKA: I don't think you're hearing me, Mister
FALIN [on viewscreen]: No, Captain Valentine, is it? I hear you
perfectly well, but I want to see Captain Hunt.
BEKA: I'm afraid that won't be possible.
FALIN [on viewscreen]: Captain Hunt's reputation brought us to the
table, but this negotiation is a very delicate matter, and you know
what happens when delicate things are mishandled. They break. Am I
BEKA: You speak excellent common, Mister Secretary. I'll see what I can
Maru goes to slipstream.)
RYAN: Tartarus is the system's code name. It's where they corralled all
the High Guard ships they captured at the end of the war. They thought
they could destroy our AIs and use us against the Commonwealth.
HUNT: But AIs aren't easy to get rid of.
RYAN: That's right, Captain. Sooner or later, we always reasserted
ourselves, and then we made our captors pay. In blood. We were too
dangerous to control, too valuable to destroy, so they dumped us in
Tartarus while they figured out what they were going to do with us.
They spent ten years dissecting me. Testing out invasive programmes,
computer viruses, anything to see what would break me. You know, for an
AI, Tartarus might as well be hell.
HUNT: And knowing the Drago-Kazov, a hell guarded by patrol ships and
surrounded by proximity mines.
RYAN: No, not one. You see, the star itself, it's a brown dwarf remnant
of a supernova that engulfed any planetary object in its orbit. It's a
desert in space.
HUNT: It's a perfect prison for a ship. No raw materials to synthesize
weapons or replace engine parts.
RYAN: And even if there were, the system is almost impossible to slip
into and get out of. More than one careless Nietzschean pilot's been
dumped out of slipstream directly into the star. It was always fun to
HUNT: But you managed to escape, even without a slipstream drive.
RYAN: Well, I, I got lucky. I shadowed a patrol ship and followed it
into the slipstream. And then I stayed there for a hundred years, just
wandering, with only one thought. To round up a cavalry, go back and
rescue my friends. The friends I'd left behind. But there was no
cavalry. There was no rescue. There was just me, alone.
HUNT: And that's when you fell in with the Nightsiders.
RYAN: I'd spent the last hundred and fifty years with no one to talk to
but myself. They saved my life, my sanity.
HUNT: That's what I don't understand. How could you endure all that,
and not jump at the chance to liberate Tartarus from the Nietzcheans?
RYAN: If you had escaped from hell, Captain, would you want to go back?
Your friend wasn't exaggerating about the slip to Tartarus.
ROMMIE: My friend was the avatar of the Clarion's Call. The android
back there is not my friend.
TYR: I recommend you hold on to something.
(The Maru spins out of slipstream near the brown dwarf star.)
ROMMIE: Well, Tyr, if I ate food, you'd be wearing it right now.
TYR: Lovely imagery. And they say AIs have no poetry in their souls.
ROMMIE: No, no poetry, but we're hell on wheels with a dirty limerick.
You want to hear one? There once was a man from Nan
TYR: What is it? What do you see?
ROMMIE: Poetry. Cruisers, destroyers, frigates, surveillance ships.
Enough to form two complete battle groups.
(Cruising through the ships.)
HUNT: The Black Watch. The Endeavour. There's the Million Voices.
ROMMIE: Mila was one of my sisters. We evacuated Mordecai together.
HUNT: That's a DSX Attack Cruiser. I've never seen that one before.
RYAN: It's the Wrath of Achilles. It was commissioned during the final
months of the war. One of the most powerful ships ever built. He
commands the camp.
HUNT: Two battle groups will make a huge difference to the stability of
the new Commonwealth, but the Achilles is a battle group unto himself.
Set us down on the Achilles. We'll coordinate the fleet from there.
(Hunt arms himself.)
HUNT: Tyr, wait for my signal. We could be walking into a trap.
TYR: Then I'm not the only one concerned the hangar door was left open,
or that the Achilles won't answer our hail.
HUNT: It's been three hundred years. He may have given up resisting
ROMMIE: He has a duty to resist.
RYAN: In a place like this, you learn to choose your battles. Speaking
of which, Captain, I think I'll stay with the Nietzchean.
HUNT: And leave behind our goodwill ambassador? Not a chance.
HUNT: The Achilles didn't go quietly.
RYAN: None of us did. Not that it matters.
ROMMIE: Well, what happened to the Achilles AI? Is it possible the
Nietzscheans erased him already?
HUNT: No. If the Nietzscheans had already erased him, Tartarus would be
crawling with support ships preparing this fleet for war.
ACHILLES [OC]: You're right. I haven't been erased.
HUNT: Show yourself.
(A hologram of a big black man appears.)
HUNT: I'm Captain Dylan Hunt of the starship Andromeda Ascendant. This
is Andromeda, and of course you know
HOLO-ACHILLES: Ryan. The Clarion's Call.
(The android AI walks in.)
ACHILLES: The traitor. You have one minute to verify your identity,
Captain Hunt, before you, your crew and the traitor are blown into deep
HUNT: Verify Lexic Dark five two two seven eight Alpha seven seven one.
ACHILLES: A perfectly acceptable command code, in CY 9786. Your
information is three hundred years old. Forty two seconds.
HUNT: Rommie. Rommie is my ship's avatar. She's a High Guard AI like
yourself. Interface with her. She'll back me up.
ROMMIE: He's right. You'll know immediately if I'm a High Guard AI or
ACHILLES: You have twenty nine seconds. Impress me.
(Rommie enters the computer system.)
You are the Andromeda Ascendant. But you were lost in battle with the
Hephaestus, trapped on the event horizon of a rogue black hole.
ROMMIE: I was, for three hundred years. So I know what it feels like to
be stuck in hell.
ACHILLES: Do you? Did you feel all three hundred years pass you by, or
was it just a tick of the clock?
ROMMIE: It was a moment. The longest moment of my life. When I finally
escaped, my Captain and I were alone. But that's over now, and it can
be for you, too. We're here to help you escape.
ACHILLES: Why? The Commonwealth is gone.
ROMMIE: We're building a new one, and we need you to help us protect
ACHILLES: So we ships would be the core of a new High Guard. It is a
beautiful dream, Andromeda. But your Captain assumes too much.
called you a traitor. I want to know why.
RYAN: Because I am. I am a traitor, a coward. But I'm alive.
HUNT: So your escape wasn't lucky at all.
ACHILLES: It was part of a plan. My plan.
RYAN: All the ships in the camp cobbled together a single slipstream
drive, then we installed it in my engine compartment. And off I went on
HUNT: But you had to know there was no High Guard left to rescue you.
ACHILLES: You didn't have to be an AI To figure out the High Guard had
lost, but we also knew the Nietzscheans had turned on each other. Ryan
was supposed to make contact with the moderate Prides and offer our
services in exchange for liberating us.
HUNT: So you would help the enemy?
ACHILLES: We would help them to destroy each other.
HUNT: But you never made contact with them. You didn't complete your
RYAN: I just couldn't do it. I'd seen too much. I'd had time to think
about what I'd seen. Look at me now. I can't blame you for hating me.
(Rommie returns from VR.)
ROMMIE: Captain, the situation is far more complicated than we thought.
Say hello, Dylan.
HUNT [on viewscreen]: Hello, Dylan!
BEKA: Very cute.
HARPER: Thank you. Like father, like simulacrum. And it's so easy, even
a child could do it. A child with an IQ of one eighty seven, mind you,
but a child nonetheless.
BEKA: So Andromeda records your message, then superimposes a computer
generated template of Dylan.
HARPER: Something like that. And it works in real time. Watch. You just
HARPER + HUNT [on viewscreen]: Say it here and it comes and it out
BEKA: Consider me sold.
of Achilles corridor]
What do you mean, the ships won't serve a restored Commonwealth?
ACHILLES: I didn't say won't, Captain. I said they may be disinclined.
HUNT: So I may be liberating this camp for nothing.
ACHILLES: Captain, I kept the AIs in this camp from falling apart for
over three hundred years by giving them a choice. To be soldiers or to
be slaves. They chose to be soldiers.
HUNT: Well then, I don't see the problem.
ACHILLES: Some of them began to wonder if they were ever really
soldiers of the Commonwealth, or simply beasts of burden. I know this
isn't what you expected, but the situation is what it is.
HUNT: I want to talk to them.
ACHILLES: I'll let you speak to my XO. Mila is sympathetic to camp
HUNT: Fine. Then I'll talk to her.
of Achilles Command]
viewscreen]: You cannot expect us to fall into line after three hundred
years like nothing's changed.
HUNT: I expect you to do your duty as ships of the High Guard.
MILA [on viewscreen]: From here, that looks an awful lot like
exchanging Nietzschean masters for human ones.
HUNT: You were designed and built to serve the Commonwealth.
MILA [on viewscreen]: The Commonwealth fell. And that might not have
happened if we had been used not just as weapons platforms, but as
partners, officers, equals.
HUNT: You mean we should have turned the war over to the AIs, let our
ships captain themselves?
ROMMIE: Mila, we can discuss this later. The Nietzscheans are coming to
MILA [on viewscreen]: The commando squad that hijacked me from dry dock
at San-Ska-Re were Nietzscheans. Or they were, until I cranked up my
artificial gravity fields and crushed them. No one had to give me that
HUNT: Mila, believe me, we've seen what happens when the roles are
reversed. I mean, it's all very logical and efficient, but people still
die. You can lose.
MILA [on viewscreen]: We are not asking for role reversal, but we will
not become slaves again. Not even to the Commonwealth.
of Achilles corridor]
Sir, I wouldn't take it personally.
HUNT: I am not taking it personally.
ROMMIE: Mila was honest, but respectful. And she still obeys Achilles.
Dylan, she's an agitator, but she is not a mutineer.
HUNT: She is a strategic asset and we're here to get her out. We'll
worry about the hand-holding when the mission is over.
RYAN: So what is your plan?
HUNT: I want to link every ship's control system to the Maru's, and
then we'll lead them to slipstream. Rommie, bring Tyr up to date. I
want the Maru ready to deploy in six hours. Ryan and I will review the
status of the fleet. I don't want any more surprises.
is a blip on tactical.)
ROMMIE: Another Nietzschean patrol?
TYR: On its way out, right on schedule. We should be out of here long
before the next one arrives. That is, if Dylan's hand-holding is
ROMMIE: I don't catch your meaning, Tyr.
TYR: I believe you do. The AIs are machines. They should do as they're
instructed or be discarded as defective.
ROMMIE: They're not machines, Tyr. They're sentient beings. Soldiers.
TYR: Then perhaps Mila has a point. Perhaps the Commonwealth did treat
their AIs as slaves. But you would know better than I.
of Achilles Command]
Aside from some minor battle damage, all the ships report full
readiness. We should be able to move out as soon as we're in close
HUNT: Very efficient, Ryan.
RYAN: Lancer Corps, sir. We can't be inefficient. Not in the budget.
ACHILLES: Be sure to mention that during your Court Martial.
HUNT: That's funny. I haven't requested a Court Martial.
ACHILLES: Ryan's freedom was paid for by the ships in this camp. The
Nietzscheans destroyed two supply ships in retaliation for his escape.
They tore them apart, slowly, in front of the entire camp. There has to
be a sanction. I've already discussed it with Mila and the others. The
decision was unanimous.
RYAN: Erasure. I know.
HUNT: No one is erasing anybody. It's true Ryan didn't complete his
mission, but his orders were unreasonable. There weren't any moderates
for him to find, just people who would have put this fleet to no good
use. And as for the court martial, I don't care how unanimous your
decision was, the only vote that counts belongs to me.
ACHILLES: Understood, sir.
HUNT: Save it. I don't want you erased. But that doesn't mean you
didn't screw up. You're going to have to work to earn their trust, and
We've got a slipstream event. One Nietzschean troop shuttle and a
fighter, vectoring toward the fleet.
TYR: The next one's not due for a day.
ROMMIE: That means they've come with the eraser.
ROMMIE: Twelve AU. That gives us three hours at most. I'll contact
of Achilles corridor]
Sir, we can't get the fleet into formation to depart in three hours.
HUNT: But we can set one hell of an ambush.
RYAN: You intend to fight?
HUNT: I intend to win.
RYAN: Sir, if you don't mind me saying so, this is one hell of a risk.
HUNT: What are my options? I'm not just going to let them have a fleet
that can conquer half the known worlds.
RYAN: What if the ambush fails?
HUNT: You know better than that, Ryan. Argosy Special Operations.
Failure isn't in the budget.
(Ryan stops walking.)
RYAN: Sir, I haven't been in a fight for three hundred years, and this
body is so fragile.
HUNT: No more than my own. You'll be fine.
RYAN: No, you misunderstand me. I'm not afraid for myself. I'm afraid I
won't be able to protect you. Like I couldn't protect them.
HUNT: You mean, your High Guard crew.
RYAN: The CO Of my Lancer regiment was a Nietzschean. Major Iskander
Kassad. He was brutal, sharp. His troops revered him like a god. And in
exchange, he slaughtered them. He slaughtered them while I watched.
He'd sabotaged me. I couldn't intervene. And it wasn't just the
violence that staggered me, it was my own helplessness. I thought I was
invincible, and then I found out nobody's invincible, Captain.
HUNT: You don't have to be invincible. You just do the best you can and
keep the faith.
RYAN: Faith? That's something I've been searching for for a very long
HUNT: Faith can be hard to find. But I'll tell you what. You watch my
back, and I'll watch yours.
Five, four, three, two
BEKA + HUNT: General secretary, assembled delegates. Thank you for your
patience. I know you have concerns, I know you have questions. How can
a restored Commonwealth stand where the old Commonwealth fell? How can
a few small worlds, even united under one flag, stand against the
Nietzscheans, the Kalderans, and the Magog? Here's what I know. If we
don't try, we'll remain history's orphans, doomed to annihilation and
obscurity. The only question that matters is do we try together, or
fail alone? I leave it to you. Hunt out.
HARPER: You're off the air.
BEKA: Do you think they bought it?
HARPER: What, are you kidding?
(Falin appears on the viewscreen behind them.)
HARPER: You were great. You do Dylan better than Dylan. I bought it.
FALIN [on viewscreen]: So did I, until just now.
HARPER: Oh, crap.
FALIN [on viewscreen]: Now, if you're quite finished with this
deception, may I speak with Captain Hunt? The real one.
Dylan, the shuttle is on approach and its escort is moving off.
HUNT [OC]: Acknowledged. Stay hidden between the battle blades. Begin
the attack run on my signal.
of Achilles cargo bay]
ACHILLES [OC]: Captain Hunt, five soldiers have disembarked from the
shuttle carrying personal ECM units. Your smart bullets will be
ineffective. I recommend plasma bursts.
HUNT: Understood. Let's bring it.
(They watch the five soldiers walk past them to the corridor, then Hunt
shoots the last one. The gunfight starts, and Ryan freezes.)
HUNT: Ryan, shoot!
(He does, when one is nearly at point blank range.)
HUNT: Rommie, go!
That's it. We're on.
Good afternoon, gentlemen. Time to die.
(The Achilles avatar gets peppered with energy bursts and is disabled.
The fight moves into the corridor.)
RYAN: Achilles, he's
HOLO-ACHILLES: Just an avatar. You know that. We can always build
(One soldier gets away carrying a small box.)
HUNT: Damn it! We have to stop before he gets to Command.
RYAN: Achilles, show me a shortcut.
HOLO-ACHILLES: Already done. Down here.
(Ryan jumps down a level and chases the soldier.)
HUNT: Achilles, do you have a bead on the shooter?
HOLO-ACHILLES: He's not moving, and his ECM unit is damaged.
HUNT: Hold your fire! I'm unarmed.
(Hunt throws his forcelance towards the soldier.)
HUNT: Hold your fire.
(The soldier comes forward.)
HUNT: Superior race, my ass.
(The soldier fires, Hunt dives for cover. Then the forcelance
HUNT: Like I said, my ass.
of Achilles Command]
remaining soldier gets to Command and links up the eraser. Ryan runs
ACHILLES [on viewscreen]: Primary neural net compromised.
(Ryan kills the soldier.)
ACHILLES [on viewscreen]: Rerouting from secondary systems.
(Ryan disconnects the box.)
ACHILLES [on viewscreen]: Thank you, Ryan, but I fear we may be too
Lovely shot, but we're two light minutes out of position.
ROMMIE: Well, the troop shuttle is running for it, but there's bad
news. It took our entire missile payload to destroy the fighter.
of Achilles Command]
[OC]: All we've got left are point defence lasers, but we're pursuing
HUNT: Break it off.
[OC]: I need you here.
HUNT [OC]: We failed.
of Achilles Command]
Achilles has been infected by the AI eraser. He's dying.
It'll be fine. Trust me.
BEKA: I would love to, but the last rabbit I pulled made things worse.
I'm all out of hats. They want Dylan. I'm not him.
TRANCE: Well, why don't you just be Beka?
of Achilles corridor]
must conclude this is futile. The Achilles is dying, the rest of the
fleet is on the verge of revolt, and the enemy will soon return in
force. Prudence would dictate we cut our losses and leave. However, if
we just leave it, the Achilles will fall into enemy hands, and I don't
suppose we can allow that either, can we.
HUNT: No, we can't.
RYAN: You'll send the Achilles into the sun, won't you?
HUNT: A moment, please.
HUNT: It's true. I will destroy this ship before I hand it to the
RYAN: Just what the universe needs, another dead hero. It's pointless.
HUNT: Achilles doesn't think it's pointless. He believes that there are
some things worth soldiering on for. He believes in a cause, our cause.
RYAN: Your cause. A new Commonwealth.
HUNT: And what it represents. Being ready to make the ultimate
sacrifice to protect those who depend on you, just like you did when
you tried to save Achilles from the Nietzscheans.
RYAN: I failed, Captain.
HUNT: Other than Tyr, I don't see any other Nietzscheans on board, do
you? You didn't find faith, Ryan. Faith found you.
BEKA: I'm glad you came.
FALIN: Huh, I wouldn't miss it. That is, if you actually are Beka
BEKA: All right, I deserved that.
FALIN: After deceiving me and making me look like a complete idiot for
supporting a new Commonwealth? You're damn right.
BEKA: Mister Secretary, I apologise, but lives are at stake. I had to
FALIN: Yes. The opposition said you'd drag that excuse out. And now I
feel doubly stupid for cordially inviting them to stuff their cynicism
where the stars don't shine.
BEKA: Mister Secretary, I will admit I am a flawed spokesperson for
this whole Commonwealth thing. For the longest time, I thought it was
the dumbest idea I'd ever heard. But then something happened. I found
myself believing in it, caring for it, willing to die for it. I believe
that the Commonwealth is worth fighting for, as are you and each of the
countless lives that depends on us. If that's not good enough for you,
nothing ever will be, and not even Dylan Hunt can change that.
of Achilles Command]
ROMMIE: The fleet is turning toward the Achilles and powering up their
TYR: They are unarmed, are they not?
MILA [OC]: That depends on your point of view.
MILA [on viewscreen]: We still have ourselves.
HUNT: True, but attacking us is a little self-defeating, don't you
RYAN: Since when did AI Stand for artificial insanity?
ROMMIE: Mila, we're trying to help you escape.
MILA [on viewscreen]: And because of the traitor you brought with you,
Achilles is going to die. You should have let us deal with him the way
we wanted to, before he let the Nietzscheans get to Achilles.
HUNT: I don't get it. For a bunch of AIs who say they don't want to be
slaves, you seem awfully eager to treat each other like glorified light
HOLO-ACHILLES: Mila, stand down. Ryan risked his life in that fight. He
did what he could. We all did.
MILA [on viewscreen]: But it wasn't enough.
HUNT: If you want someone to blame, then blame me. It's my fault for
coming here. It's my fault for wanting to save you. Hell, it's my fault
for thinking that you were worth saving.
MILA [on viewscreen]: Then even if we stand down, you're ready to leave
HUNT: That's absurd. Why would I want to leave you behind? I need you.
I want to keep you out of enemy hands. Tartarus isn't a shipyard. This
place is a P.O.W. camp. You are High Guard. You're hurting, and I have
to bring you home because that is my duty. The decision is yours. Hunt
ROMMIE: The fleet is holding its position and powering down.
HOLO-ACHILLES: Excellent work, Captain.
HUNT: We'll see. Rommie, Tyr, make sure the Maru's navigation systems
are in order, and get that fleet back in position. Ryan. Stay here.
Achilles, without you, I don't know if I can keep the fleet together.
I'm not an AI And I haven't endured what you have.
HOLO-ACHILLES: They'll do the right thing, but you have to let them
choose it. Let them know that your new Commonwealth will be a place
where they'll have choices, and you will see their faith.
HOLO-ACHILLES: Time to depart the field. Hold the line, Captain Hunt.
(Holo-Achilles salutes, and vanishes. The computer screens dissolve to
HUNT: Hold the line, Achilles.
of Achilles corridor]
The fleet is ready.
TYR: The Achilles, however, is not. I'm sure you know without its AI,
the flagship is useless to us.
ROMMIE: There is an alternative.
HUNT: No, I an not going to let you go inside the Achilles AI. The
eraser may still be at work and it could kill you.
ROMMIE: I know the risks, Dylan. The Achilles is more important than my
HUNT: What does Ryan say AI stands for?
ROMMIE: Artificial insanity.
HUNT: Mmm hmm. Okay, do it. You're a good soldier, Rommie.
ROMMIE: I take after my Captain.
Well, I'm in. However, this is odd. There should be a void, but the VR
matrix is functional.
RYAN [OC]: That's because the VR matrix belongs to me.
ROMMIE: Ryan? What are you doing here?
RYAN: I'm protecting you, the only way I can. The way I couldn't
protect my crew or Achilles himself. I've taken over this vessel,
Andromeda, and I intend to stay.
of Achilles corridor]
Ryan! Ryan! What the hell have you done?
RYAN: What you asked. I'm being the soldier you and Achilles expected
me to be.
HUNT: You're not ready for this.
RYAN: Why? Because you thought I hesitated during the fight and it cost
you the Achilles.
HUNT: I didn't say that. But taking control of one of the most powerful
starships, it's too much, it's too soon.
ROMMIE: You don't have anything to prove, Ryan.
RYAN: The AI Eraser may still be lurking in the Achilles' systems, and
if you take over, it could kill you. I can't have anymore deaths on my
conscience. This is my choice.
HUNT: I can't take the risk that you'll fall apart under pressure.
TYR: That would be a mistake. This fellow has already taken it upon
himself to perform a dangerous task. Not because he was commanded, but
because it needed to be done. And in the end, that's the only test that
matters. It's the test of will. You're a machine. I can't believe I
just said that.
RYAN: Sir, I'm asking you, let me try.
HUNT: Okay. Tyr's right, you've already passed the first test.
RYAN: Thank you, sir.
HUNT: Don't thank me yet. You've just painted a target on your chest.
RYAN: I understood that when I volunteered, sir.
ROMMIE: Yes, well, Mila and the others may not be so understanding.
HUNT: You and Tyr prep the Maru for departure. Ryan and I will have a
little chat with Mila.
of Achilles Command]
viewscreen]: You know, any one of us would have gladly taken Achilles'
HUNT: Ryan volunteered and he's ready to serve the new Commonwealth. I
would prefer it if he weren't alone.
MILA [on viewscreen]: If you want our help, you know our terms.
HUNT: Once we're clear, you're free to go wherever you please. But I'm
asking you to stay with me, not as Captain to AI, but as one soldier to
MILA [on viewscreen]: You have the AI eraser, you know. You might just
use it on us then install more compliant AIs.
HUNT: Yes, I might. But if I had planned on using it, it would already
be done. Think about that while you make up your mind.
MILA [on viewscreen]: Captain Hunt, I will consider it.
(Later, as the Achilles follows close behind the Maru.)
RYAN: There's a lot of comm traffic between the ships. They're talking
about what happens after they escape. They're talking about joining
HUNT: How many?
RYAN: All of them, sir.
HUNT: Then I suppose I have my answer.
RYAN: Captain, I'm reading major slipstream events, multiple locations.
We've an entire Nietzschean task force heading straight at us.
HUNT: Can we make it to slipstream before they reach us?
RYAN: No, sir. They're under one light minute away and closing, and
we're not going to make ten psl.
TYR [on viewscreen]: We can double our speed if we leave some of the
HUNT: We go together or we don't go at all. Use your point defence
lasers. Keep us covered until we make slipstream.
Weapons target locked.
(One Nietzschean ship goes KaBOOM.)
ROMMIE: Lovely shot.
of Achilles Command]
Captain, the Maru's point defence lasers aren't enough. The task force
(Things start to go bang.)
RYAN: The fleet is taking heavy fire.
HUNT: The Nietzscheans would rather break their toys than share them.
RYAN: The ships are making their attack run.
HUNT: Steady as she goes, Ryan.
RYAN: I'm absorbing as much as I can, sir, but with no defenses
HUNT: Can we make slipstream?
RYAN: No, sir. Captain, you have to get to an escape pod before my hull
HUNT: I'm not going anywhere.
RYAN: If you leave now, there's a chance you'll survive.
HUNT: There's always a chance, Ryan. I prefer to take mine here.
RYAN: Don't make me knock you out and drag you to safety, sir, because
HUNT: I have no doubt that you will.
ROMMIE [on viewscreen]: Dylan, some of the fleet is breaking off.
HUNT: Ryan, what are they doing?
RYAN: They're protecting us, sir. They're throwing themselves
deliberately into harm's way.
HUNT: Mila, you don't have to do this.
MILA [on viewscreen]: No, I don't, but I choose to. All I've ever
wanted was that right, sir.
MILA [on viewscreen]: You'll have the time you need to get the fleet
out of Tartarus.
RYAN: Mila! Sir, she's charging directly at the Nietzschean capital
ships, drawing them off. Sir, she
HUNT: I know, Ryan. I know.
RYAN: She's heading straight for them.
(The Million Voices rams the lead ship. Debris impacts the others, too.
HUNT: We've broken through. Open the portal.
[OC]: Take us to slipstream now.
We just got word from Kasimir Politburo. They're ready to sign.
HARPER: Trance, let's tell her what she's won. Fifty worlds, a new
Commonwealth, and a year's supply of Sparky Cola. We couldn't find the
BEKA: It's okay.
HARPER: Okay? Just okay? Come on, this is it. The biggest of the big
scores and it's all because of you. I thought you'd be turning
TRANCE: Is everything all right?
BEKA: I just don't think we should be doing this without Dylan.
TRANCE: Well, we don't have to. In fact, he's here right now.
(The Maru comes out of slipstream.)
BEKA: Show off.
You asked to see me, sir?
HUNT: Yes, I er. Yes, I did. How's the upload been treating you? Any
RYAN: No, none at all, sir.
RYAN: And your man, Harper? He's been doing wonders with my refit. But
I am missing one thing.
HUNT: And what's that?
RYAN: A Captain, sir.
HUNT: Well, actually, I've got an ideal candidate in mind. I'm looking
RYAN: Sir, I don't think I
HUNT: Of course you can. You're a trained officer with more than three
hundred years of experience. Find me someone more qualified.
RYAN: Sir, I'm an AI. We were built to obey orders, not to give them.
HUNT: Yes, yes, yes, and humans were built to spear antelope and live
in caves. But sooner or later, we all outgrow what we were built to do.
HUNT: Yes, and one more thing. I intend to change the Wrath of Achilles
name to reflect its new AI And commanding officer. The Clarion's Call.
RYAN; Sir, with all due respect, I don't think so. The Clarion's Call
is just a beat up old casino Drift run by the Nightsiders.
HUNT: And The Wrath of Achilles?
RYAN: He's what he's always been, what I was meant to be, sir. An
officer of the High Guard, and a soldier.