The Weight, part one

Original Airdate: 24 Sep, 2004

"Life is a carnival,
but the tents are folded before dawn."

Beano Tavalis,
the Armedago Caper
CY 727

[Infinity]

(Hunt watches his other self in the jacket walk away, and the door behind him closes.)
WOMAN [OC]: Have you come home from the past? Dream, dear one, dream.
(The door opens again. Hunt runs towards it but is caught in a dust storm. It closes again before he can get there.)
HUNT: No!
(Then he is surrounded by cloaked figures who crowd in on him.)
FIGURES: Intruder. Intruder. Intruder. Intruder. Where did you come from? How did you get here?
HUNT: Where am I?
FIGURES: Why won't you answer us?
HUNT: How did I get here?
FIGURES: Why are you without injury? What pain have you brought us?
HUNT: Pain? What pain? What are you talking about?
FIGURES: Come. Come this way. This way.
(Hunt frees himself from the figures, takes a few steps and falls down a deep shaft that wasn't there before. He lands and passes out.)
TRANCE [OC]: Goodbye, Rommie. Rhade. Beka. Harper. Goodbye.
(We see that Hunt is at the bottom of a deep chasm on a planet in a binary solar system which has the Route of Ages just outside it.)

[Tunnel]

(An underground transport system, by the looks of the background.)
FIGURES [OC]: Pain pain.
(Hunt wakes suddenly. He is wearing his jacket. A man is standing over him.)
FLAVIN: I'm surprised. Very, very, very, very surprised. How many verys was that, do you know? Came through without a scratch. Of course, the fall could've killed you.
HUNT: No, I'm still alive. I er, could use some water.
FLAVIN: Things are starting to make a little sense around here.
HUNT: Tell me where I am.
FLAVIN: I'll give you the bloody details later. Let's get you out of here. They'll find us here.
HUNT: They?
FLAVIN: Everybody.
HUNT: Of course.
FLAVIN: You're on the planet Seefra 1.
HUNT: Never heard of it. What system?
FLAVIN: Your guess is as good as mine. It'll be all right.

[Town]

(Paved streets, huddled plyboard buildings. People in loose robes and turbans or similar hot dry climate clothing.)
FLAVIN: Glamorous Seefra. Hmm.
HUNT: My slipfighter. I need to get back to it.
FLAVIN: Long gone. Probably offered as sacrifice to some ill guided superstition about escape from drought. Water is gold here.
HUNT: Do you have a name?
FLAVIN: Flavin.
HUNT: Dylan.
FLAVIN: I know.
HUNT: How would you know my name?
(Wheeeee!)
FLAVIN: Heads up.
HUNT: Huh?
(Flavin pulls him behind a pile of barrels. Something hits the ground, bursts into flames and sets fire to a nearby building. Then the people resume their business as if nothing had happened.)
FLAVIN: You got to watch your step around here.
HUNT: That was an asteroid.
FLAVIN: We get quite a few, especially with new arrivals.
HUNT: Wait. That mountain.
(A single piece of high ground with many jagged peaks.)
FLAVIN: The Scans. I like to call it the hill of crap. The superstition is, and believe me, we've got absolutely no shortage of superstitions here, those who go up never come back. Now, that's catchy. I got to remember that. Good, solid irony.
(He glances at the two suns.)
FLAVIN: Oh, boy. She's going to blow. This way.
HUNT: What, what's going to blow? What are you doing?

[Saloon]

(Flavin gets him into a building just as the sunlight flares to unbearable white, and the doors close. There are a few people at tables, some women standing around looking for trade, and a surly bartender who is apparently called Sembler.)
VIRGIL [OC]: Good afternoon, denizens of Seefra, or good night, depending on the rotation of your location. This is the voice of Virgil, sending the dreams
HUNT: Huh?
FLAVIN: Only a few thrive here. The rest end up dead or broken.
HUNT: Thanks for bringing me in here.
(They walk up to the bar. The patrons stand and approach menacingly.)
MAN: Get out of here, Flavin, and take the intruder with you.
ALL: Intruder!
FLAVIN: Welcome to the carnivale, the hall of mirrors, the convention of myopic ignoramuses.
ALL: Intruder! Intruder! Intruder! Intruder!
(The man strides up and punches Flavin in the stomach, then laughs and backs away.)
HUNT: Nice place.
MAN 2: Get him out of here.
HUNT: Look, fellas, I got nowhere to go.
(A third man takes a swing at Hunt and misses. There is a fight, of course, during which Flavin rescues a glass of drink from being knocked over.)
ALL: Intruder! Intruder! Intruder! Intruder! Intruder! Intruder!
HUNT: Well, at least I'm making new friends.
FLAVIN: Welcome to Seefra, where they've never met a visitor they didn't like, or in some cases, want to eat.
(Another man gets thrown over the counter, and a third gets hit on the kneecap with a barstool.)
HUNT: It hurts, doesn't it?
(Flavin uses trays as discuses to deal with another man. Then Hunt comes up against a man who doesn't mind having a stool smashed across his face. That foe gets taken out by an iron rod wielded by another patron who was aiming at Hunt. It goes quiet so Hunt turns his back. The two men draw a gun and a knife respectively. Hunt turns and shoots them with a pair of forcelances. Sembler deals with another gunman, using a frying pan.)
HUNT: Thanks. Okay, I guess I met everybody.
(Hunt finishes a drink. The white light outside dissipates.)
FLAVIN: Sun's gone out. Let's roll.
HUNT: Sun's gone out? I'll need an explanation for that one, too.
ALL: Intruder. Intruder. Intruder. Intruder. Intruder.

[Flavin's laboratory]

(Across a scorched surface out of the town to where Flavin lives. Meteorites are burning up in the sky.)
HUNT: They're not so crazy about you here on Seefra.
FLAVIN: True, but you? You're new. They'll want you dead.
HUNT: That's just because they haven't seen my sunny side yet.
FLAVIN: You've definitely got an expiration date. Thomas has got a guy to do his real dirty work.
HUNT: Thomas? So there's somebody running the show here.
FLAVIN: Check. He's the head spook.
HUNT: This room.
FLAVIN: I know. I know. It's familiar. The eccentricities of Seefra. Everything looks familiar. Hallucinations, fatigue, drunken stupor, superstition, or just run of the mill weirdness. You choose.
HUNT: Like the mountain, the Scans?
FLAVIN: Whoever made this place went over that big hill and never came back. You can't get there from here.
HUNT: Can't get there from here. That should be this place's motto.

[Saloon]

THOMAS: You have. You have.
ALL: The book. The book.
THOMAS: I am. I am!
ALL: Our friend. Our friend.
THOMAS: Until? Until?
ALL: The end. The end.
THOMAS: Are you feeling wilful?
MAN 2: Who could defeat such a man? You saw his weapons.
MAN 3: Help us.
THOMAS: Why not help yourselves? Get off your fat pelvic bones and save yourselves. Go! Go! Take care of the intruder.
(No one moves.)
THOMAS: Exactly. Exactly! I will query this man. Perhaps he will be useful to us.
MAN 3: And his machinery. He came in a ship.
THOMAS: Yes, I know. He was thrown through.
MAN 2: What if he charted his route?
(Thomas holds out his hand.)
THOMAS: I am dry.
(The bartender puts a glass of water into his hand.)
THOMAS: You forgot the ice.
SEMBLER: Rocks. Of course.
(The patrons gasp as he puts ice cubes into the water and Thomas takes a drink.)
THOMAS: All blood and treasure on the planet Seefra 1 must be ours. You hear me? Must be ours! As leader of this community, give me what's right, not what's left.
(The patrons kiss a large amulet on his wrist.)
THOMAS: I dominate. I need not lead.

[Flavin's laboratory]

(Flavin calls up a hologram of the system.)
FLAVIN: So, here's the layout. Seefra 1 is in a system of nine planets and two suns. Nine planets, each identical to the other. Hall of mirrors. Here's where we are. And here's the hilarity. This sun on the right gets pretty wacky when someone arrives. Boom, pop. And with the exception of you, a pile of fast arriving smithereens.
HUNT: How often do you get new arrivals?
FLAVIN: Some days we get four or five, then some months, not a soul. Most of it isn't pretty. It's been quiet lately, though we had a nice batch last month.
HUNT: Describe them.
FLAVIN: No one like you, if that's what you're asking.
HUNT: But you said people come and go.
FLAVIN: They come and go. They don't come and go and come back. Paranoia and above all, superstition run this town. Hence your warm reception. If you're looking for a grid, a chart, some recognisable constellation, the Peaks of Monjo, the Belt of Thesaurus, forget it.
(Hunt picks up a model.)
HUNT: What's with the slipfighter?
FLAVIN: This kind of technology is strictly forbidden on Seefra.
HUNT: Why would it be forbidden?
FLAVIN: Thomas never gives the details, and the puppets on this planet never ask questions. You'll catch on to it after a while.
HUNT: I don't have a while.
FLAVIN: Me neither. It's my one shot at getting out of this lovely corner of the universe.
HUNT: So you know how to get out?
FLAVIN: If the fine citizens of this place see this, I'm dead meat. They think the lack of technology keeps them safe. They kill you for embracing it.
HUNT: Speaking of getting killed, this plan of yours doesn't stand a chance.
FLAVIN: I'll take those odds. You stay here a while, you'll feel the same.
HUNT: Well, I'm not planning on spending too much time here.
FLAVIN: Going up the Scans, are you? Leaders tumble, legends fall, the crowd jumps to its feet with a roar. Then we start over.
HUNT: I'm pretty good at that.
FLAVIN: Good at what?
HUNT: Starting over.
FLAVIN: You're one that'll make it back, but you'll come back different.
HUNT: After what I've been through the last two days, what could possibly make it worse? Exactly.

[Thomas's home]

(Two women scuttle out as he enters. Thomas takes a bottle of champagne from a crate and speaks to a figure in the shadows.)
THOMAS: I have an intruder for you to take care of.
VOICE [OC]: You want me to kill now? Is that part of our deal?
THOMAS: Modify your behaviour or I will let loose. Remember, I can make superstition turn very ugly. Crowds can do very ugly things. Committees gone wild. Assemblies jump into panic. I can whip that up.
VOICE [OC]: You're the boss.
THOMAS: Yes, I am.
(Thomas leaves. The figure steps forward. Longer hair, a trimmed beard, but it is -)
RHADE: Leaders tumble, legends fall, the crowd jumps to its feet with a roar.

[The Scans]

(Hunt dives for cover as another meteorite crashes nearby.)
HUNT: This place is nuts.
(He finds a piece of shaggy cloth with goggles on the ground, then looks up to see a glittering glass city nearby.)
HUNT: That's impossible.

[Flavin's home]

FLAVIN: Hello, Rhade.
RHADE: Interesting new arrival, I'm told.
FLAVIN: So I hear.
RHADE: And I'm listening.
FLAVIN: He came through smooth, like you.
RHADE: And you. Who is he?
FLAVIN: Someone who needs help, like you.
RHADE: And you.
FLAVIN: No, I'm happy as a clam, not like you.
RHADE: Thomas wants him dead.
FLAVIN: Is that a problem for you? Haven't you already sunk as low as you can?
RHADE: Maybe, but I wear my sorrow like a badge.
FLAVIN: A badge? Indeed. I take it as a sign. A symbol that you could be happier. You know you will be. This arrival is good news for you.
RHADE: Good news. Good tidings, sunny days, merry music. They're all gone. Blown away like the dust that covers this pleasant little hellhole.
FLAVIN: Pleasant little hellhole. Sorry, that's a little too Nietzschean on the verge of the apocalypse kind of thing for me to get truly behind it.
RHADE: I protect you because you make me laugh. Come on. Who is he?
FLAVIN: He is a walking seminar on the bright side of life.
RHADE: I only know moonlight.
FLAVIN: All right. Full moon, then.
RHADE: A silvery moon to dance by?
FLAVIN: I don't know about dancing, but you've certainly got that beat of your own drum thing going.
RHADE: You have no idea.

[The Scans]

(Hunt arrives at a wrecked building. He moves a piece of wood and picks up a hologram projector. Then he powers it up with his forcelance and watches the last recording.)
MAN [OC]: Excellent.
WOMAN [OC]: Okay, gentlemen. 
MAN [OC]: See your mom? Look at your mom. Careful.
WOMAN [OC]: Now give me a wave.
MAN [on screen]: Hi.
(The picture resolves into a man and a young boy sitting at a table with a teddy bear which is wearing goggles.)
WOMAN [OC]: Now, be careful.
(The equipment they are working on shorts out with a puff of smoke.)
MAN [on screen} Okay, now, we have to. That didn't work out, did it?
MAN + HUNT: Never, never never, never give up.
MAN [on screen]: Remember that, Dylan. Never give up.
HUNT: I'm on Tarn Vedra.
(Hunt is walking back when he meets -)
HUNT: Rhade.
RHADE: Dylan.
HUNT: Rhade, my god. I can't believe it.
RHADE: How did you get here?
HUNT: I went through the Route of Ages. How did you get here?
RHADE: I have no idea. I was fighting on Arkology, and there was a flash of white light, and I was here.
HUNT: What about Beka? Harper?
RHADE: Come with me if you want. I could offer you wine, nourishment. We can talk about our sorrows.
HUNT: You have quarters here?
RHADE: I live in the Hallway of Broken Dreams, where lost love found me and threw her chilly arms around me.
HUNT: What's the matter with you?
RHADE: With me? I was just wondering. Er, the Commonwealth, what was it? Was it love or lies? Just like Louisa. Love or lies. Nothing means anything. I feel nothing but loss.
HUNT: We both feel the loss of what happened, Rhade.
RHADE: I held the dying Louisa in my arms. Tears clouded my vision. I turned to the doorway. That was nine months ago.
HUNT: That can't be. I've been here two days.
RHADE: A day, a lifetime. What does it matter in a world we are all lost in?
HUNT: Oh come on, you can't accept that.
RHADE: Let me know when you do. Maybe it's best if you don't come with me. We'll see each other again. It's a small world. I'll buy you a drink at the saloon tomorrow. Talk about old times, if that's what they were. It'll be like graduation day. Remember?
(Rhade walks away, muttering to himself.)
RHADE: All I want now is vengeance to wrap around your stinking hope.

[Town]

ALL: Intruder! Intruder. Intruder.
HUNT: You know, I'm not in the mood, okay?
THOMAS: Life will forever be a deadly enterprise with only one sad end, and there is only one solution. Deny exploration and embrace exploitation. To be milked is to be free.
HUNT: Okay. Have a nice day.
THOMAS: Does dying alone frighten you? Do you fear the sudden stop at the house of mortality? What do you do at death's door?
HUNT: Well, you know, I never knock, because it drives him crazy.
THOMAS: The book instructs me on how to deal with intruders.
HUNT: Get a rewrite.

[Flavin's laboratory]

HUNT: This is Tarn Vedra.
FLAVIN: Is it?
HUNT: I know what I saw.
FLAVIN: The more vivid the memory, the more it seems like it was just yesterday.
HUNT: Get to the point.
FLAVIN: The Route of Ages. A whimsical term from Vedran mythology, the Route of Ages originally referred to the mystical road which linked the houses of the various Vedran gods in the celestial city Etashi. Etashi Tarn, the capital of Tarn Vedra, takes its name from that same root Vedran word.
HUNT: So you know that this is Tarn Vedra.
FLAVIN: I know that you are Paradine. Takes one to know one.

[Saloon]

(The place empties as Rhade enters.)
THOMAS: Are you here for thirst or business?
RHADE: What difference does it make? Always concede to the obvious, bow to the inevitable.
(Rhade looks at two saloon girls, who hurry away. The bartender leaves, too.)
RHADE: Which brings me back to you. You, who are here all alone.
THOMAS: Careful. You're talking to me now. I am Thomas.
(Rhade grabs Thomas by the throat.)
THOMAS: Help! Help!
RHADE: Help! That's what I do, remember?
THOMAS: No, think of who I am. No! Think what you are doing, man!
RHADE: You are of use to me, so today it's good to be you.
(Rhade releases Thomas.)
RHADE: I use you to find out what is despicable in myself. What are my lows? To where I have sunk? To what are my dwindling joys? I will kill him.

[Flavin's laboratory]

HUNT: Why are you using the Route of Ages? If you truly are Paradine, you don't need it. I've seen it. It's, like, poof! and you're out of here.
FLAVIN: Doesn't work that way here. Believe me, I've tried. I'm all poofed out. No one comes or goes that easily here, except maybe you.
HUNT: Me?
FLAVIN: Yes, you. I think all answers lie through you.
HUNT: I'll tell you what I believe. I believe that this whole system was manufactured around Tarn Vedra. It's engineered. It's why all the planets look the same. Suns don't blink on and off. And this town, this place, it's a debris field from a crashed starship.
FLAVIN: You think it might be yours?
HUNT: Why not?
FLAVIN: No place like home.
HUNT: Yeah, no place like home.

[Saloon]

HUNT: Yeah, and a merry good day to you folks too.
SEMBLER: Can I buy you a drink?
HUNT: Sure. As long as you're buying, I'll take a double.
THOMAS: Dylan Hunt. Rhade, escort this man to his end.
RHADE: You can't stay here.
HUNT: Well, I er, I can't go anywhere either.
RHADE: So, it has come to this.
(Rhade punches Hunt on the nose.)
HUNT: Rhade, you er, you seem a bit confused lately. (another punch) Check that. Angry and confused.
RHADE: I want payment for the pain you've caused. I want to kill your eternal hope, the hope that led me to this damnation.
HUNT: Rhade
(Another punch, and a broken table.)
THOMAS: Get him out. Finish him off.
HUNT: Careful, Rhade. It just might be that I am out of hope as well.
RHADE: Tell me why.
(Rhade keeps hitting Hunt between speeches.)
HUNT: I think I left why in the other universe.
RHADE: Why? Why? Why was hope so important?
HUNT: Hope is everything, Rhade. Without it, there is no reason to live.
RHADE: Well then, today is your lucky day. I hate the hope that you brought me.
HUNT: You give me too much credit.
RHADE: It's always been about you.
HUNT: Okay, let's play.
(Hunt fights back.)
HUNT: You can't hate hope. You can hate me, but you hate yourself more. And do you know why? Because you failed.
(Flavin enters.)
HUNT: We all did. Failed. Four years. Four years of my life!
(Hunt finally punches the fight out of Rhade and advances on Thomas, who tries to shield himself with his book. A patron slides a gun across the floor to Rhade, who powers it up. Hunt hears, and turns.)
HUNT: Go ahead, Rhade. Throw yourself away.
(Rhade rests the muzzle of the gun on Hunt's throat for a few seconds, then powers it down. Hunt turns to Thomas.)
HUNT: It's time for you to leave these people alone.
FLAVIN: May I?
(Flavin knocks Thomas down.)
HUNT: Thomas, I think you're out of a job.
(Hunt picks up the book.)
THOMAS: Not the book!
HUNT: Well, would you look at this?
(Hunt flicks through the pages. They are all blank. Thomas runs.)
MAN: Thomas, wait.
THOMAS: Follow me!

[Flavin's laboratory]

(Flavin is packing a bag.)
HUNT: Flavin, this is suicide.
FLAVIN: No, this is a hall of mirrors, dear one.
HUNT: Call it what you want, it's still suicide.
FLAVIN: I have to leave. You have to let me go. This is your time now.
HUNT: You know, if I had a drink for every time I heard that, I would be dead by now.
FLAVIN: Hold on to what is timeless, and in the end you will arrive where you started. That is where hope is.
HUNT: Yeah, well, you know, maybe hope is a blunder that you dream about.
FLAVIN: Now you're starting to talk like me.
HUNT: If you can't beat them.
FLAVIN: Almost got everything figured out.
HUNT: You won't make it.
FLAVIN: Like I have a choice. Like you do. Everyone by now knows I've dabbled with the devil and his friend. You can't protect me.
HUNT: Who said anything about protecting you?
FLAVIN: Dylan Hunt, there are three kinds of people in the universe. Those who can count, and those who can't.
HUNT: Fine. See you on the other side.

[Outside the saloon]

(Hunt watches Flavin's slipfighter take off and head to the blinking star in the sky. Rhade joins him.)
RHADE: It doesn't look like he made it.
MAN 2: Thomas warned us you would try to mislead us. Thomas kept Seefra safe.
MAN 3: So now it is you who must lead us out. The intruder. The one who has suffered the least.
HUNT: Boy, you sure don't know my past. Look, I'm not your leader. You don't have to be held captives to all of this.
RHADE: It's all they know.
HUNT: Well, good. Then they've got something to build on.

[Saloon]

(Rhade joins Hunt at the bar.)
RHADE: So what do you think? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
HUNT: My fear is that the light at the end of the tunnel is a missile.
RHADE: Well then, it'll probably get both of us. I can't hold a grudge against you. It's too much effort.
HUNT: So what you're saying is you're too lazy to hate me?
RHADE: If you want to call it that.
HUNT: Yeah. Lazy works for me.
RHADE: I can't help you. I can't help myself.
HUNT: You'll find yourself, Rhade, probably in the last place you look.
(Hunt takes off his Commonwealth insignia and drops it into his glass. Rhade does the same, then they chink glasses and drink them down.)

[Flavin's laboratory]

(Hunt is browsing through Flavin's blueprints when he suddenly sweeps everything off a table to reveal a shallow box containing High Guard medals. He picks up another spaceship model.)
HUNT: Andromeda. Okay. Home sweet home.

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