Slipfighter The Dogs Of War

Original Airdate: 4 Nov, 2002

The moth wants a star
The night wants tomorrow
The King wants what's far
Outside his sphere of sorrow.

Tales of Queen Kysella CY 5647

[Observation deck]

(Trance lights a taper. Only Tyr isn't joining in the circle.)
TRANCE: Even a small light dispels the darkness. Shine on, Mesmer. The time has come to say hello and goodbye. I'd just like to thank you all for being here. It's much appreciated.
(She hands the taper to Beka.)
BEKA: Er, I'm sorry for your loss, Trance.
(And on to Hunt.)
HUNT: If Mesmer was anything like you, Trance, I'm sure he was incredible.
TRANCE: Thank you.
HARPER: I've had a lot of cousins. You know, a lot of cousins, and relatives. Just about my whole family. Who knows where they are now. Oh, anyway
ROMMIE: It may be very comforting to you to know that both scientifically and metaphorically, nothing ever truly disappears.
(Harper takes the taper back.)
HARPER: Yeah, I mean, our atoms, they recombine, and er, they make other things, like er, daffodils.
(Rommie takes back the taper, then Tyr turns around.)
TYR: Yes, er, look, as a crew member, I feel somehow obligated to be here. Beyond that, Trance, perhaps an explanation would help.
TRANCE: Mesmer gave life to many. He gave life to everything he touched. He was warm, wonderful. Mesmer, a part of you will be in me always. The way of the universe.
(Trance puts the flame in her mouth to extinguish it.)
HUNT: Trance, how did he die?
(Big whoosh and shake. Alarms go off.)
ROMMIE: Shock waves.
HUNT: Everybody to Command now. Oh, no.

[Command]

ROMMIE: Another incoming shock wave.
(The Andromeda gets tipped upside down and some people go flying through the air. Another one even sends Rommie, Tyr and Hunt reeling. When everything calms down, Harper is upside down.)
HARPER: For once in my life, everything looks just right.
TRANCE: Harper, are you all right?
HARPER: Yeah. Just a little bent, is all. Maybe if you gave me a massage later, and worked out the kinks
(Trance gives his back a chiropractor's shove.)
HARPER: Ow.
HUNT: Rommie, report.
ROMMIE: That was an exploding star. Epicentre in the Kantorek system.
HUNT: Supernova.
BEKA: What are the odds of that?
ROMMIE: It's a statistical impossibility, given the level of residual voltarium.
HUNT: Voltarium?
TYR: Any schoolboy with a knowledge of the elements knows voltarium doesn't occur in nature.
HARPER: And it's only good, make that great, for one thing.
HUNT: Making nova bombs.
HARPER: Yeah.
HUNT: All right. HUNT: Trance, Harper, run a damage report, check for radiation leaks. Meet us in the briefing room afterwards. Beka, Tyr, you're with me.

[Corridor]

HUNT: Andromeda, cross-index planets closest to the blast with planets most likely to make voltarium-based weapons.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Searching.
TYR: I know who it is.
BEKA: Hmm. We're on the outskirts of the Kantorek system? Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the evilest rogue planet of them all?
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Marduk.
TYR + BEKA: Marduk.
HUNT: Yeah, surprise, surprise.

[Conference room]

(Formerly the Officer's mess.)
BEKA: Where would Marduk get the resources to refine voltarium to make nova bombs?
HARPER: You can save a lot of money feeding your workforce chickweed and lint-stuffed sausages.
TRANCE: They're dabbling in the dark side. The Enigma.
TYR: Dylan, I do so hope you're not seriously considering going in there. The same single-minded fanaticism that has allowed Marduk to finally produce this weapon has also given them the most fearsome orbital defence system ever known.
HUNT: Tyr, they will soon be able to kill billions on a whim.
TRANCE: They're using nova bombs to slaughter the very heart of existence. We cannot let this go on.
HUNT: We won't, Trance. Rommie.
HOLO-ROMMIE: Pitted against Marduk's array of orbital defence systems, the Andromeda would be a minor irritant at best, and would be highly ineffectual.
HUNT: Humour me and play it out. Run mission scenario. Penetrate Marduk's known defence system.
ANDROMEDA [on wall monitor]: Positing scenario.
HOLO-ROMMIE: Andromeda entering the (splat)
ANDROMEDA [on wall monitor]: Mission scenario terminated.
HUNT: Try it again. This time give us a chance, please.
HOLO-ROMMIE: Making all other variables most favourable to our endeavour.
HUNT: Thank you.
HOLO-ROMMIE: Blinding the first of the sensor receptor satellites and using them as cover.
HUNT: Run mission.
(The tactical blip makes half an orbit before going splat this time.)
HOLO-ROMMIE: Mission fifty nine percent complete.
TYR: Well, there you are.
BEKA: Game over.
TYR: I'm sure you'll agree we should no further consider this.
(Hunt smiles and leaves.)
HARPER: He's considering it.

[Command]

(Hunt is consulting with identical twins.)
JANE [on viewscreen]: We can't help, Dylan.
DOROTHY [on viewscreen]: An unprovoked attack on Marduk would be seen as Commonwealth hypocrisy.
JANE [on viewscreen]: No one's happy with the change in power on Marduk. In fact, we don't even know where their new leader is.
DOROTHY [on viewscreen]: Cautious diplomacy is called for.
HUNT: This is beyond politics. I mean, they're making nova bombs. I need a fleet. That reactor has to be destroyed.
JANE [on viewscreen]: No.
DOROTHY [on viewscreen]: Dylan, we can't do it.
HUNT: All right, what do you expect me to do? I can't sit here and do nothing.
JANE [on viewscreen]: I'm sorry, Dylan.
HUNT: All right, what about plausible deniability?
JANE [on viewscreen]: Are you saying we're not having this conversation?
HUNT: what conversation?
JANE [on viewscreen]: We could live with that, Dylan.
DOROTHY [on viewscreen]: Just one thing, Dylan. Be forewarned. We once green-lighted a similar mission out of Delgron Five. Please observe.
PILOT [on viewscreen]: I've been hit. OBD satellite four's got a plasma cannon on it or something. Argh!
(The pilot's spacecraft goes KaBOOM. Transmission ends.)
HARPER: Wait a minute. I know them. Yeah, Jane and Dorothy Rubenfeld. Well, what do you know. They've recently been appointed Joint Ministers of the Exterior and, Dylan, they each hold one fine set of PH double Ds.
BEKA: Not to mention as Joint Secretaries of State for Delgron Five, they managed to get all the signatories to the Treaty of Himmelstoss. Just so you know.
HARPER: Yeah, but man, are they hot.
HUNT: Yeah, so was the radiation corridor after a Nova bomb blast.
HARPER: Well, at least the slip drive's not broken.
HUNT: That's true.

[Hunt's quarters]

(A series of files on the wall screen.)
HUNT: Arman Kroz. He gladly led the Marduks into the Commonwealth. Bernard Renoir. Now in hiding, seized power from Kroz, and led to this. Poverty, starvation, police state. These poor people.
TRANCE: Starved and oppressed, all in the name of power.
HUNT: The aftermath of a nova blast leaves nothing. Absolutely nothing.
TRANCE: I know.
HUNT: No particles, no dust. Just oblivion. We can't let this happen.
TRANCE: No one should be able to wield that kind of power.
HUNT: Let's take that power away.
TRANCE: How?

[Slipfighter bay]

HUNT: Slipfighters. The dogs of war.

[Corridor]

BEKA: Harper says he's reconfigured the VR simulation for you.
TYR: That's right.
BEKA: What's going on?
TYR: I've piloted a slipfighter on many an occasion. The precision, the reflexes. I was bred for this.
BEKA: What's the problem?
TYR: I don't know. I'm preoccupied.
BEKA: With what?
TYR: Beka, this whole slipfighter assault thing, it's just a. It's a bad idea.
BEKA: Tyr, in order for this to work, we're going to need you at the top of your game.
TYR: That's the problem.

[Virtual reality]

ANDROMEDA [OC]: Commencing tactical simulation.
(Tyr in a slipfighter while holo-Hunt and holo-Beka are at virtual control panels either side and just behind his eyeline.)
BEKA [OC]: Attaboy, Tyr. Rip him a new tail pipe.
HUNT [OC]: Stay steady.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Ending tactical simulation.

[Holodeck]

(Well, it is, effectively.)
BEKA: Yes. Tyr, that was great.
TYR: It was all right.
BEKA: All right? Tyr, whatever you're going through, fight through it.
HUNT: Let's suit up and try one for real.
BEKA: Are you kidding? We'll kill him.
TYR: Not if I kill the two of you first. That is the point of all this, isn't it? Let's fight.
HUNT: All right. Let's do it.

[Space]

(Three slipfighters launch. I cannot be bothered to do the multiple switches between the three craft.)
HUNT [OC]: Stand by for simulated attack run. Stay alert and focused. That's everything.
HUNT: Let the games begin.
BEKA: Got to go faster.
HUNT: Here we go. Stay with me, Tyr.
TYR: Got it. Following your lead.
(Tyr follows very closely indeed.)
HUNT: All right, follow me around the drain.
(Spiraling.)
HUNT: That was all around a lateral axis, Tyr. Nice and easy. All right, am I dead yet? Follow me down.
(The game of chase continues.)
HUNT: Sometimes the baddies play dead. Sometimes you'll want to, so stay with me. It's called a lumshovok. Flyers from the Primortan galaxy coined it. It means headache.
TYR: Lumshovok.
(Hunt pulls out of the spin, Tyr continues.)
HUNT: All right, Tyr. Kick out. Tyr, I said kick out. Damn it. Full right, Tyr.
(Tyr finally comes out of the spin. Beka fires at him.)
TYR: Real ammunition?
BEKA: Concentrate, Tyr. Just stay focused. Catch me if you can.
(Now Hunt joins them and shoots.)
HUNT: Gotcha. Let's go back.

[Corridor]

TYR: Lumshovok.
BEKA: It's just an expression, Tyr.
TYR: Yes, headache. I know, yes. I had no trouble flying. I knew what you both were doing. It's just I. Understand, I need to be confident of my own ability to win the day.
HUNT: I understand, Tyr, but if you stay here then you'll never know, will you?
TYR: I'm going back out in a slipfighter, to fight the only enemy I ever worry about.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Dylan, come to Command. There's something you want to see.

[Command]

HUNT: Rommie, status.
ROMMIE: A sector in the vicinity of Marduk. Sensors indicate that gravity has reversed itself.
HUNT: On screen.
(A bright flare.)
HUNT: I don't believe it. Marduk has tested another nova bomb.
TRANCE: I can't take this any more. This can't go on.
HUNT: Where's Tyr? Bring him up on display.
(Tyr's slipfighter is tumbling.)
ROMMIE: Comm. link opened.
HUNT: Tyr, get back in here.
BEKA: He's going too hard. He's going to have an anti-proton problem.
(One of the slipfighter's arms breaks off.)
HUNT: Tyr, eject. I said eject!
(The other arm breaks off and explodes, leaving the cockpit alone.)
HUNT: Always pushing the boundaries and testing my patience. Rommie, bring him in.
HOLO-ROMMIE: Two novas is a standard run of weapons tests. As soon as Marduk can refine more voltarium, they'll be ready to attack more helpless solar systems.
HUNT: It's time.

[Conference room]

ROMMIE: As you might expect for Marduk's capital city, Baal is heavily defended. The intel forwarded to us by the Exterior Ministers places the reactor here. However, I would recommend that on approach, just four clicks north of Baal, you activate your sensors to confirm the location of any residual voltarium emissions.
TYR: You haven't the slightest idea where the refinery is located, do you?
ROMMIE: Not really, no.
BEKA: Look at the bright side, Tyr. By the time we get there, you'll have the satisfaction of having penetrated five impenetrable orbital and planet-based defence systems.
(Tyr leaves.)
HUNT: He doesn't appear to be satisfied.

[Eureka Maru]

(Trance is tending her bonsai.)
BEKA: Have you guys noticed how cold it is lately?
ROMMIE: No. Android.
BEKA: Right. Must be some kind of crazy space weather thing.
TRANCE: Could it be that maybe you're scared about the mission and you'd like to talk about it?
BEKA: What makes you think that?
ROMMIE: No weather in space.
BEKA: You know, ever since we re-established the Commonwealth, I've been wondering is it really necessary to risk life and limb every time someone, somewhere has a problem?
ROMMIE: We're the good guys, Beka. We fight the bad guys.
BEKA: I mean, so some stars blew up. There are more stars than one person could count in a lifetime.
TRANCE: The lifetime of a human is infinitely smaller compared to that of a star, but a star is born created from dust, just like a human, with life and fire breathed into it. It shines. But eventually the star grows old, and it hunches and winks out. Maybe it even goes out with a bang, and that is life. But just because there are so many of them, Beka, don't think that it's not valuable or that it doesn't make a difference. It does.
BEKA: You two are no help. You know that, right?
ROMMIE: Help is our mission.
TRANCE: It's what we do.

[Outside the Slipfighter bay]

TYR: I'm staying behind.
BEKA: Oh, no, you're not.
ROMMIE: Two pilots are required for protective air cover, while the third focuses on the bombing run.
TYR: Shut up. Sir, I must tell you now. This fight is unwinnable. We should not go.
BEKA: You heard Rommie. We need three pilots. You're going.
TRANCE: I'll volunteer. I'll be the third.
HARPER: Trance. No offence, but I think we all remember what happened the last time you tried to pilot the slipstream. You took us back three hundred years in time, into the middle of a humongous space battle, where we er, fixed the course of history.
TRANCE: Lucky for us.
HARPER: That's not the point.
BEKA: Tyr, we've gone on more dangerous missions.
TYR: They were winnable missions.
HUNT: I have seen you go up against hundreds of Magog and not even blink, Tyr.
TYR: How many generations of Nietzscheans would marvel at the idiocy of this?
HUNT: I can't make you go, but we need your help.
(Tyr takes his mini-player from Harper, and the three flyers go into the bay.)

[Hunt's slipfighter]

HUNT: Hello, Trance.
TRANCE: You're not mad at me?
HUNT: I knew you wanted to come along. Besides, how could I ever be mad at you?
TRANCE: You know you need me.
HUNT: I have no doubt. What is it that Mister Harper always says? Buckle your seatbelt and hold your mud.
(The slipfighters launch through their tubes.)

[Space]

BEKA: The ODSs look like moons.
HUNT: Activate stealth mode. Trance, will you do me the honours, please?
TRANCE: Stealth we are.
HUNT: Thank you. All right, ready to thread the laser sweeps. Break on my mark. Three, two, one, mark.
BEKA: Anyone jump rope as a kid?
(They weave their way through the moving interlaced laser beams.)
TRANCE: Is there an official word for phew?
HUNT: I think you just said it. Prepare to enter Marduk's atmosphere.
BEKA: We have to skim the terrain to avoid radar contact.
TYR: Let's hope the topography hasn't evolved since our maps were last updated.
(They enter the cloud layer.)

[Planetary atmosphere]

BEKA: Fell into some cotton here.
TYR: Visuals gone.
HUNT: People, use your heads-up. It's all instruments now.
TRANCE: There's always light to fly to.
HUNT: From here on out, we are playing everything by ear.
TRANCE: All the lights. It's truly a wonder.
BEKA: Never thought I'd be so happy to see a place so evil.
HUNT: We've been detected. Ladies and gentlemen, the stealth portion of our flight has officially ended.
(Incoming AkAk weapons fire.)
HUNT: Split formation.
BEKA: Dodging the hairballs.
TYR: That last burst washed right over me.
HUNT: Well, try not to be there next time. Get plasma in your intake and you'll catch fire. Watch out for fighters. How are you holding up, Trance?
TRANCE: I'm okay.
HUNT: Any words of wisdom?
TRANCE: Er, always be nice to your parents.
HUNT: Sound advice. Marduk fighters on our back.
BEKA: Eight o'clock high.
TRANCE: There are six of them.
HUNT: Regroup. Leader three formation. Tyr, cover my left.
TYR: Assembling.
BEKA: Roger that. Assembling.
HUNT: Climb and turn to meet the enemy.
BEKA: Dylan? Dylan, swerve. They've got a bead on you.
(KaBOOM.)
HUNT: They did have a bead on me.
(That's two.)
BEKA: Yes! Flamed one. where's my second pigeon?
HUNT: Tyr, on your six.
BEKA: Triples, Tyr. Wing over.
HUNT: Round the drain. We're almost there.
(Tyr lets a fighter overshoot him.)
TRANCE: Tyr, let him go.
(Tyr destroys the fighter then gets hit.)
BEKA: Tyr! They got Tyr. He's going down.
(Hunt and Beka chase down the last two fighters.)
HUNT: All right, Tyr, kick out.
TRANCE: He's losing control.
BEKA: Tyr? Tyr, eject.
HUNT: Damn it. No response. Mark where he hits.
BEKA: Impact. I didn't see a chute.
HUNT: Trance.
TRANCE: I've got a fix on his location.

[Command]

ROMMIE: They need hostile terrain S and R from the Commonwealth.
HARPER: Search and rescue? Tell them not to hold their breath. I just picked this up a few minutes ago.
(An impromptu press conference.)
JANE [on viewscreen]: We are just as bewildered as everyone else. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families Of the victims.
DOROTHY [on viewscreen]: Captain Hunt has a long history of recklessness, but we never expected
HARPER: They're good. The very effective seamless duck and cover.
ROMMIE: Classic non-denial denial.

[Planetary atmosphere]

BEKA: Dylan, we've got to go back for him.
HUNT: Let's finish the mission. We'll double back for Tyr later.
(More anti-aircraft fire.)
HUNT: Damn, we've been hit! Beka, we're ejecting. We're going down.
BEKA: Dylan?

[Ghetto]

(Tyr makes his way through a shanty town full of beggars, with his honking big gun ready powered up.)
TYR: Solid ground. All bets are off.
(Trance and Hunt are in a similar area.)
BEKA [OC]: Dylan?
HUNT: Beka, we're down and we're safe. Make your way to the voltarium site. We're going after Tyr. Dylan out.
(They make their way through the poor people.)
HUNT: It's okay. It's okay. We're here as friends. We're friends. Trance, you all right?
TRANCE: Yes.
(They get surrounded.)
HUNT: Er, Trance, give me your food. Here you go. This is all we have. I'm sorry, but we don't have that much. I'm sorry.
TRANCE: Please share.
(Soldiers run in and start shooting.)
HUNT: Run!
(The people scatter. Hunt and Trance shoot back. It's a short fight.)
HUNT: Trance, check the casualties. Trance, how are they?
TRANCE: Dead.
HUNT: Come on.

[Beka's slipfighter]

BEKA: Dylan, the voltarium reactor site is now a children's hospital.

[Ghetto]

BEKA [OC]: Talk about winning the PR war.
HUNT: Great. Find Tyr. Track him

[Beka's slipfighter]

HUNT [OC]: On his emergency locator transponder.
BEKA: Yeah? Then what? I've got a big bomb, no place to drop it.

[Ghetto]

HUNT: No worries. We'll find a place to drop your bomb.
(More soldiers.)
TRANCE: If they don't shoot us first.
HUNT: They're not going to shoot us. We have a mission to finish.
TRANCE: Behind us.
HUNT: Oh, great.
(The shooting suddenly stops and a voice shouts. Then Wagner's theme for Lohengrin starts up.)
HUNT: Tyr.
(It's a massacre.)
TYR: Hello.
HUNT: Hello. Tyr, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but it just could be the music that attracts the enemy.
(Tyr turns it off.)
TYR: Don't you love it? How are you?
TRANCE: I've been better.
HUNT: This way.
TRANCE: No. Follow me.
HUNT: Follow her.

[Beka's slipfighter]

BEKA: Dylan, hurry up. My fuel's gauging down.

[Ghetto]

HUNT: Roger that, Beka.
TRANCE: The voltarium reactor's right ahead.
HUNT: Right ahead? Sorry, Trance, you're going to have to do a little better than that.
TRANCE: That place. It makes me ill just looking at it.
HUNT: It's always curious to me that I know what you're talking about when I have no idea what you're talking about.

[Beka's slipfighter]

HUNT [OC]: Beka, we have your building. I'm going to paint it with the laser pointer. You do the rest.
BEKA: If you're close enough to paint it, the blast will likely kill you.

[Ghetto]

HUNT: No, it won't. I'm indestructible. Besides, I've got your favourite little lucky charm standing next to me.
TRANCE: The plant is there.
HUNT: I hope you're sure, Trance. We've only got one shot at this.
TRANCE: You have to be sure too.
HUNT: Say no more.
(Trance seems very ill.)
HUNT: You okay?
TRANCE: The darkness.
HUNT: It's the voltarium, isn't it?
TRANCE: Yeah.
HUNT: Don't worry. You'll feel better in about ten seconds. All right, Beka. Target is painted.
BEKA [OC]: Target locked. Commencing bomb run.

[Beka's slipfighter]

BEKA: Smart bomb away.

[Ghetto]

HUNT: Here she comes.
(Whoosh, KaBOOM! No more building.)
HUNT: Good work

[Beka's slipfighter]

HUNT [OC]: Beka. We're heading for the pick-up point.

[Ghetto]

HUNT: Bring us home.

[Command]

BEKA: So, we take out the reactor. What about inhabitants of Marduk? Where does that leave them?
HARPER: You mean, did we do enough?
HUNT: We did what had to be done.
TRANCE: It's what didn't happen that's important. No one should have the capability of destroying a sun.
ROMMIE: It is a big responsibility.
HARPER: All right, come on, you guys. You did a lot of good down there. I mean, you took out a major threat. If you hadn't, their lives would probably get even worse.
BEKA: Yeah, but did we make their life better? I mean, there's always going to be another guy who comes along and builds another reactor.
HUNT: And we'll be there to destroy that one as well. It's our job. It's what we do.

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