And watch the fools search forever."
Psalms of Koscs
[OC]: This is Virgil Vox on the box, soothing your Seefran souls as we
2: Wait for the demi-century festival of the darkening, when Methus Two
[OC]: For how long? The usual hour?
HUNT: Long enough for me to get a look inside, I hope.
VIRGIL [OC]: Or this time, as we all fear, will it stay dark forever.
HUNT: Not if I can figure out what makes it blink.
You there, boss? You still in range?
Not for long, Mister Harper. The second that sun goes dark, we are
HARPER: I'll make it fast. Here she is, and she's got it. Plucked
straight from the altar to our altar.
HUNT [OC]: You're referring to the carbon block, I hope?
BEKA: Yeah, and this had better be good. The minute those paranoid
zealots find out that their ceremonial rock is missing
HARPER: It's worth it, it's worth it. You ever hear of an old thief
named Horace Fry?
BEKA: Yeah. Lifted Terma Diamondoids. Did twenty years in stir, ended
up on some backwater drift tending to his tropical fish.
HARPER: Mmm hmm. But, what happened to the diamondoids?
BEKA: Nobody knows for sure. He ditched them in the Chayson Drift just
before he got caught. Bits of them scattered over a hundred light
HARPER: Horace knew. Federales never found the swag.
[OC]: Even put the eels to old Mrs. Fry. Tough lady. She kept her lips
sealed to the last convulsion.
Fry left the swag in orbit before he busted out to the Drift. Twenty
five year decay rate. Terma was waiting for him when he got out.
HARPER: Smart, but he knew the law would be looking for that.
BEKA: So he hid the goods in plain sight. (penny drops) He sewed the
diamondoids into his fish.
HARPER: Precisely. Finger marlins. They live forty years. Much better
HUNT [OC]: Harper, you said this would be fast.
HARPER: I'm going as fast as I can. I'm making sure we're all on the
same page, boss. You figure it out yet?
BEKA: It's black. It's solid. It's carbon.
HARPER: It's a filing cabinet.
BEKA: Yes. I can see that.
HARPER: All right. We've got an artificial star with a terminal case of
the blinks, right?
HUNT [OC]: Beka
Harper thinks the block contains information about Methus Two.
Yeah, but the Vedrans never left any information about the system in
the archives. I checked.
HARPER: Ah, but did you check a dusty old paperweight made of
[OC]: Ultragrade carbon nanofibres?
Beka, behold the Vedran finger marlin.
BEKA: Go fish.
HARPER: The Vedrans bound bits of information to the carbon atoms
inside this block. I figured out how to break those bonds and access
the diagrams. Structural design information for the entire system!
BEKA: I see. You're going to apply heat.
HARPER: Ain't no flies on you, Beka. Boss, do I have your permission to
begin potentially damaging extraction of said information?
It's either now or fifty years from now when Methus Two blinks off
again. That's assuming you're finished with your story.
I thought you'd say that.
(Harper starts attacking the black block with his nanowelder.
2: Light your lanterns, gentle folk. Methus Two's
[OC]: Horn of darkness approaches after a fifty
(There is a big flash of light outside.)
gets up from where she has ducked. Harper's face is caked in thick
black soot, apart from where his welder's goggles had been.)
BEKA: That's a good look for you.
HARPER: Ha, ha.
(There is a new diagram on a monitor.)
HARPER: Oh ho, ho. God bless you, Horace Fry. Ha? Who's laughing now?
BEKA: You've got a little er. Never mind.
I'm going to take that explosion as good news, because we're going in.
Rhade, Trance, ready slipfighter.
(As the Andromeda Ascendant approaches the binary stars, the small one
goes dark and reveals its internal scaffolding. They fly in, then the
slipfighter leaves and goes ahead.)
RHADE [OC: ]We're clear.
HUNT: Be careful, Rhade.
RHADE [OC]: What fun would that be?
(Andromeda stops at the central mass while the slipfighter heads
HUNT: Okay, let's go where the sun doesn't shine.
2: The festival of the darkening. Believers and non-believers, behold.
Dylan, Rhade, and Trance went to Methus Two without seeing this?
HARPER: Aw, geez, do I have to explain everything every time we do
something? All right. By the time they hauled this thing out for the
local fear festival, Dylan had already known for weeks about this once
every fifty year blackout, and that he'd only have an hour from the
second it got dark to get inside and look around, so he went, on pure
BEKA: Pure guts.
DOYLE: That's Dylan.
HARPER: Yeah. However, pure brilliance led me to deduce that there's
more to this carbon block than meets the eye. It contains a maintenance
code I can use to keep the sun down longer.
DOYLE: How long?
HARPER: Three hours. He'll have three hours inside, safe, guaranteed.
DOYLE: Provided there are no surprises.
HARPER: Please don't bite the hand that solders you.
DOYLE: I've wiped way too many of your guarantees off my boots, Harper.
HARPER: Fine. Don't believe me. Believe the Vedrans. It's their
maintenance code, their diagrams. Apparently they wrote the block on
DOYLE: I see. So the furnace is on the fritz because Methus Two hasn't
seen a fix it crew in while.
HARPER: Yes. Transmitting the code, in layman's terms, reduces the
sun's luminosity to absolute blackness, opening a portal which in this
case is already open. Inside, between the mantle and the core, there's
enough free space for a million Andromedas, and you should have more
than enough time to repair the damage.
BEKA: We don't even know the extent of the damage. What if we need more
HARPER: You won't, because there isn't any. Keeping the sun down any
longer could cause catastrophic weather conditions throughout the
That's why they built the three hour failsafe. Besides, how long do you
need? You get in, find Dylan, kick out the boiler, and be home in time
to give me a massage.
BEKA: There is nothing in the Methus diagrams about a maintenance code.
HARPER: The information I'm getting from this rock is solid.
BEKA: It is not this block I have concerns about, Harper.
DOYLE: Actually, Beka, he's right. The Vedrans designed this system as
one immense roadblock to stop the rogue sun and save this planet. If
Methus Two is broken, the mechanism fails
HARPER: Thank you. And we are macrocosmic roadkill.
DOYLE: We have no choice but to follow Dylan.
BEKA: Not yet. Harper's not quite finished feeding out the rope.
HARPER: I was getting to it. There is a catch. There always is. The
Vedrans used the same architecture inside the sun's core that they used
inside all their spaceships, so passages are going to look familiar,
very familiar, over and over again. The whole thing's probably designed
to lure intruders away from their true path to the fusion reactor, so
DOYLE: We could be walking around in circles until the sun ignites.
BEKA: Now, we can go hang ourselves.
HARPER: Ah, ah. Got you something.
(Harper holds out his hand computer. Doyle puts her hand on it and he
presses a button.)
HARPER: Now you can go hang yourselves.
Methus Two, but looking just like the Andromeda - well, Harper did
HARPER [OC]: I uploaded the Methus Two designs into Doyle's neuron net.
RHADE: Did you want us to miss you?
I don't hold false hopes. Just following the boss and Trance's orders.
Besides, don't cry about it. At least this way, you'll be able to know
where you're going.
You wanted Harper to stay behind?
TRANCE: Well, it felt like the right thing to do, You know, in case
there's a problem.
HUNT [OC]: Well, it's in case you need a rescue. Besides
The Seefrans aren't tech savvy. They'll need Harper's help to get some
other plan to save the system.
Not that you will need rescue, by the way. I looked it all over twice.
You're not going to hit any snags or any tangles of any sort. I
promise. You'll be fine.
That's brave talk for a guy whose butt is shining a bar stool.
Communication gets tougher the closer you get to the core, so I'll be
acting as your conduit to Harper.
Okay. We're on our way to find the core.
HARPER: Good, because the one thing you
Do need to worry about is time, so keep your eyes on the minutes.
We'll be doing that, Mister Harper. Just make sure there's free gwaro
when we get back.
HARPER [OC]: Free? Half price.
For the first round.
Yeah, I'll pretend I didn't hear that.
Well, then, let me spell it out for you. I got a bidnes to run, spelled
B I D N E S.
[OC]: The girls in the back, they're giving me a hard time
(Hunt cuts him off.)
HUNT: Now, if I could only make sense of this place.
Rhade? I get this very strong feeling that Dylan has invested all of
our hopes in this mission.
RHADE: He's just like every other exile thrown down this hole. He wants
to survive. If there's still a Commonwealth, I want to find a way back.
So does he.
TRANCE: When hope fills us up, we're easy to deceive. I'm afraid we
might miss what's obvious.
RHADE: I don't miss much. That's how I've survived this long.
TRANCE: No. You've already missed something. I don't think that this
star is some broken machine. Something alive is inside the core. Or
it's at least an expression of some entity's life force.
Maru arrives alongside the Andromeda.)
BEKA: Couldn't wait for us, huh?
Well, I had to get the party started. There's still two hours and five
minutes to burn.
What route did Rhade and Trance take?
HUNT [OC]: Through a portal at the core's south pole.
You guys take the north.
Splitting up doubles the risk.
HUNT [OC]: Yeah, but it also doubles our chances of finding the
Look, whoever gets there first will make repairs. Other team will
harvest deuterium fuel for Andromeda.
DOYLE [OC]: Seems counterproductive to steal fuel from a dying star.
HUNT: If no one can make repairs, at least we'll get out with the ship
at full power. Oh, er, when I say it's time to get out
[OC]: Get out. I'll be coming fast.
BEKA: You won't have to say that twice. Going in.
HUNT [OC]: Good luck.
Rhade, Beka and Doyle are inside the core at the north portal.
transmission is poor.)
RHADE: Dylan, change frequencies.
TRANCE: He'll come through again. It's this place. Some spots are more
open than others.
RHADE: And I suppose that's determined by the life force you sensed in
here? Can't tell yet if it's friend or foe?
TRANCE: Well, maybe it's both in the same body.
(Then a bulkhead closes in front of them.)
RHADE: Hey! I'm leaning towards foe.
bulkhead closes behind Doyle and Beka.)
BEKA: Dylan? We've got problems. Suddenly, the doors have legs.
Doyle, dig through the diagrams for a pattern. See if there's any part
of the configuration that leads to the fusion chamber.
The core's designs refer to its ability to change its internal
Which means our map is useless. Rhade? Trance? Rhade? Damn it!
(Beka and Doyle get trapped between two bulkheads.)
TRANCE: Clock is ticking.
RHADE: One hour and fifty three minutes.
(A bulkhead opens to let them continue.)
TRANCE: Time for intuition to lead the way. Rhade? I have a feeling
something bad is coming.
RHADE: I could use a hint.
(A very bright light.)
Two reignites. The extra sunlight awakens Harper, who was dozing on his
HARPER: Dylan? Andromeda? No. This can't be happening.
No, no, no. No! No, no no, no, no! This can't be happening! No! I
promised them. I promised them.
(Then Methus Two goes dark again. Harper grabs a bottle from a bemused
reveller, who restarts his 'light the sun' dance.)
Seefra to Dylan? Seefra to Dylan. Come in, Dylan. I never asked for any
of you to come back, you know. Maybe I did a little at first, but I got
by. I got by.
I made me a beauty. Fabricated some freaks. I did what I had to do to
stay alive in this sinkhole. Stinkhole. Three years. But I was going to
find my own way out. No Andromeda, no Rommie, no promises. I didn't ask
for any of you. I didn't need any of you, and even if I did, I never
expected an answer. (to the carbon block) You. You lied to me. You made
me believe they'd be safe. What's that? You want a little drinky? Okay.
(He smashes the bottle over the block, and the alcohol bursts into
flames. He puts it out then sees the Andromeda's shape on the diagram
on the monitor.)
HARPER: It's the Andromeda. This is real time. But, but how? Wait a
minute. What if the mantle were strong enough to protect the core from
a short burst, then they wouldn't fry. They'd be okay. They'd be alive!
They're alive? They're alive! They're alive! Ha ha ha! For now, anyway.
(He kisses the carbon block.)
TRANCE: The sun flashed. Just not enough to vaporise you.
RHADE: Gear's fried. Without the hand comm, we can't tell how much time
we have left.
TRANCE: Roughly seventy two minutes forty two seconds?
RHADE: Roughly. Here's the next question. Our location. How far we are
from the chamber?
TRANCE: I got nothing.
RHADE: I'm sure you have a feeling.
TRANCE: This is going to sound strange. Sometimes I'm not where I am,
and sometimes I am where I'm not.
RHADE: Here's the only thing that scares me.
TRANCE: Is that you understand me? Kind of?
RHADE: Kind of.
TRANCE: Wish I did.
RHADE: You do. Trance, would you like some company?
TRANCE: What's up ahead, what we're all looking for? I'm the only one
who knows the way. No matter what, you must follow me.
(Rhade lights up a glowstick.)
RHADE: I'm your shadow.
BEKA: Doyle? Doyle! Crap.
(With the power torch out of action, Beka uses a glowstick as well.)
BEKA: Hey. Doyle, spark it up. I don't want to leave you here.
TRANCE [OC]: I'm sorry, Beka.
BEKA: Trance, is that you? Are you okay?
TRANCE [OC]: I brought us to Seefra.
BEKA: Hey, are you with Dylan? I need help. Doyle's shut down.
TRANCE [OC]: All those months you spent alone, drifting, starving.
BEKA: Hey, look. You've got to tell Dylan we couldn't find any fuel
TRANCE [OC]: Where would you be without me? Where would you be if I
were someone else?
BEKA: Trance, without you, the rest of us would be dead.
TRANCE [OC]: Death is just a matter of time.
(A bulkhead door opens and Cloaked Trance walks across a junction.)
BEKA: Trance? Where the hell are you going? I need help with Doyle.
(Beka runs after her.)
BEKA: Wait! How much time do we have left? Trance? Trance?
(Two bulkheads trap Beka.)
Your hand comm is working.
Rhade, we've had no luck reaching Harper.
Well, I guess we found a safe spot.
TRANCE: For now.
RHADE: Dylan, we've lost contact with Beka and Doyle. Did the Andromeda
sustain any damage?
None. About the only good news on a really bad day.
RHADE [OC]: I hate to admit it, but I was actually looking forward to
HUNT: What, burning to a cinder?
concrete objective, like the old days. Shooting up bipedal lizards,
rescuing exotic women, accepting their sighs as gratitude. No riddles
or Paradine puzzles. And look what we get. Trapped in a maze.
HUNT: Well, the only thing we know is that
We're running out of time.
TRANCE [OC]: There's no hard time on Seefra.
There is in here.
TRANCE: Maybe. For one of us. Promise you'll remember what I said?
RHADE: I fail without you.
(Trance looks over his shoulder. Rhade turns and a bulkhead closes
RHADE: Damn it! Trance! Dylan, I've been cut off from Trance.
HUNT [OC]: Understood.
Andromeda, run the Methus Two diagram.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Aye.
HUNT: Cross-reference it with all Vedran ship designs from Commonwealth
years CY 4279 to CY 9785.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Captain, what are we looking for?
HUNT: Initial operating systems. And luck.
2: The festival of the darkening. Dance, you fools, dance.
Trance! Dylan, I'm going to need something to break through. Damn it!
(Rhade kicks the bulkhead and a piece breaks off.)
That sounded promising.
piece of the wall just broke and shattered. It's a strange metal.
Yeah, it's er, it's not metal.
piece of wall leaves soot on Rhade's hand.)
RHADE: The core.
HUNT [OC]: This whole structure
made from carbon. Keep moving, Rhade. You're close.
meets her duplicate.)
TRANCE: The flash. You used the star's energy to appear. But you're the
only one I sense. Where are the rest of us?
TRANCE 2: Where we are, when we are, nothing but lies told by the
TRANCE: I prefer the lies of living senses to your idea of the truth.
TRANCE 2: There is no room for dissension within the nebula. All must
be one. That is not an arbitrary law, Trance Gemini. It is the state of
existence. No bodies, no borders, only eternal, undivided essence.
TRANCE: Don't you hear how foolish you sound? If all of us are one, yet
I can reject the will of the nebula, then your belief is the lie.
TRANCE 2: For every choice, there is a consequence. Yours is waiting.
The only path still open to you.
TRANCE: Then I'm already trapped.
Doyle, can you hear me? Doyle!
(She tries her hand comp. Just static so she thumps it against the
bulkhead. It leaves a dent.)
BEKA: Aw, crap. Dylan? Dylan, come in. Rhade?
(Then she notices the dent, and gets soot on her fingers.)
BEKA: It breaks.
(She draws her gun.)
BEKA: Okay, wait. That'd be a very bad idea. No sense incinerating
myself before my time.
(So she uses its butt to break down the bulkhead.)
opens for Rhade, and he sees Trance crossing the corridor ahead of
RHADE: Dylan! I've found Trance.
Rhade, say again. Comm link is breaking.
Trance! She said to follow.
Andromeda, show the last locations of the crew.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: Searching. I have them, Captain.
HUNT: Time to go.
reboots and runs towards the thumping noise. They talk through the
DOYLE: Beka, is that you making all that racket?
BEKA: Hell, yes!
DOYLE: Are you hurt?
BEKA: No, but I have discovered I'm a girl who does not like to be
DOYLE: So you left me here, out of juice, defenceless. Serves you right
you got trapped.
RHADE: Left you behind? I was chasing Trance. She abandoned us both.
DOYLE: Sure, the synthetic's not worth a believable lie.
RHADE: I am not lying, damn it! How much time do we have?
DOYLE: Not much. Stand back.
(Beka retreats as far as she can and covers her head. Doyle punches
BEKA: Wow. Thanks.
DOYLE: You're welcome. This is carbon.
BEKA: I know. It's a gas can. Let's go.
HUNT [OC]: Rhade? Beka? If anyone can read me, I am on my way in.
(A slipfighter is heading to the core.)
BEKA: The Vedrans used an ancient technology called hydride
DOYLE: They made the walls with carbon nanofibres. All the deuterium is
bound to the carbon atoms.
BEKA: Highly stable, and given the size of the core, there's enough
heavy hydrogen here to power a dozen Methus Twos.
DOYLE: Well, what now?
BEKA: Contact the others.
RHADE: Where are you, Beka?
Inside a gas tank, and so are you.
HUNT [OC]: And so am I.
I'm way ahead of you. Get to the Maru. Use the engines to heat a
section of the core and release the deuterium we need for Andromeda.
But Dylan, we won't have time to search for the fusion chamber.
Look, I want you and Doyle on board Andromeda and ready to bolt with
ten minutes left on the clock.
BEKA [OC]: On our way.
HUNT: Hey, Rhade.
RHADE: Dylan? How the hell'd you get here?
HUNT: Yeah. I guessed that the defence mechanism in the maze would
employ the same pattern as other Vedran operating systems.
RHADE: You guessed?
Didn't I tell you we were going to get lucky?
RHADE: You did.
HUNT: The fusion chamber. Here's the problem. We're screwed. Diagnostic
says the lines running to and from the chamber are clear. There's no
blockages to the fuel or heat transfer. That can't be.
RHADE: Adventures were much more fun when it was just bad guys lining
up, letting us shoot them.
HUNT: Yeah. No glory in having to think for a living. All right, let's
figure this thing out. Heat goes out to free deuterium. Fuel flows back
here to feed the fusion reaction. Vedrans like to play hide in plain
sight. That fish tank is the furnace.
RHADE: And it's in real bad need of a cleaning.
Once we're out, divert all fuel to the main engines. Run them in the
DOYLE: There's a pop-off vent in the core's surface thirty degrees from
BEKA: Great. Plot the location into the nav net. How are we doing on
DOYLE: You really want to know?
BEKA: What I really want is a nap.
You said on the ship and ready to ride with ten minutes to burn.
Fourteen minutes. Window's closing.
HUNT: Let's see what you and I can do in four minutes.
Maru lands on part of the core.)
DOYLE: Sealed the cargo hold and purged the interior. Storage available
for seven hundred cubic litres of compressed deuterium.
BEKA: Firing thrusters and counter-thrusters. Let's get hot. That's
right, drink it up.
DOYLE: We're already at thirty percent capacity. This is great.
(Bang! And the engines shut down.)
DOYLE: I spoke too soon, didn't I?
BEKA: Yeah. The engines have locked up.
DOYLE Can you unlock them?
BEKA: No, I don't think so, but we can continue collecting the gas.
DOYLE: Comm's fried.
BEKA: Don't worry. Dylan will be here. He said he would be.
No, this says the lines are clear. So why would the heat source run so
far below ideal capacity?
RHADE: Radiant outflow must be blocked.
HUNT: Then let's run a snake through the drains.
RHADE: Hey, even pulsing at half capacity, this boiler is pumping
billions of lumens. If it hasn't cleared the blockage, what will?
HUNT: Maybe a burst at ten times normal output will.
RHADE: Have you ever heard of overkill?
HUNT: Ever hear of last resorts? Look, we survived one flare. I'll take
RHADE: Once you've primed the pump, We'd better duck, tuck, and roll.
HUNT: Get ready to duck, tuck, and roll.
(They run. Trance enters, then Trance 2.)
TRANCE 2: Why do you worry?
TRANCE: Not for myself.
TRANCE 2: Your friends will be saved. Tarn Vedra will remain outside of
the cataclysm, a paradise for the millions fortunate enough to live in
TRANCE: What about the trillions of lives that will end when the Abyss
dissolves the three galaxies? Why does the nebula turn its back on
them? And why should I?
TRANCE 2: There are no beings. No such thing as lives for them to lead.
The only real thing is the energy that fuels them, and energy can never
TRANCE: Then I will live to stop you.
(The two Trances dissolve into particles and cause a big flare. Hunt
and Rhade run back in to see Trance with her hand on the reactor.)
HUNT: Trance? Trance.
TRANCE: When the clock starts winding down, it's going to get very hot
in here, permanently.
HUNT: Well, then, we'd better outrun our shadows.
(All three run as alarms sound.)
slipfighters return to Andromeda.)
RHADE: Beka and Doyle are stalled on the core's surface.
HUNT: Open a channel.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: The Maru's communications are down.
HUNT: All right. Let's go get them.
(The Andromeda glides over the Maru.)
HUNT: They're still gathering fuel.
TRANCE: Readings indicate that Doyle and Beka are still on board.
HUNT: The Maru's engines must have seized.
ANDROMEDA [OC]: T minus one minute forty seconds to solar ignition.
RHADE: My priority is the Matriarch, but there's barely enough time to
make the portal and save ourselves, let alone anyone else.
HUNT: I'm not leaving anyone behind.
RHADE: Now what?
HUNT: Well, we're going to give them a tow, and we're going to make it
TRANCE: But we don't have
(Hunt gives her a Look.)
TRANCE: Time is relative.
HUNT: Andromeda, bucky cables, now.
HUNT: Bring them in.
gentle with us, guys. Right now, we're a hydrogen hand grenade.
[OC]: T minus ten seconds to solar ignition.
HUNT: All right. Get us out of here. Feel free to get a push from the
solar wind if you have to.
(The Andromeda races on the edge of the fireball.)
timer runs down to zero.)
HARPER: Guys? Guys? Talk to me. Let me know you're alive. Insult me,
for crying out loud.
RHADE [OC]: You're short, and you throw like a girl.
HARPER: Yes! Thank you.
Methus Two is at full capacity for the first time since we don't know
HUNT: Tap a keg, Mister Harper.
RHADE: Make it a dozen, and invite some ladies. The friendly kind.
The friendly kind? Rhade, I thought you only liked the kind with
mustaches. Throw like a girl.
(He tosses his goggles away and discovers that it is true.)
You saved million of lives today. And you've given us a fighting chance
to escape this system.
TRANCE: It feels like we're free already.
HUNT: Trance, in matters of time and place, and, of course, life and
death, I'll never doubt your intuition.
TRANCE: I already knew that.
HUNT: I had a feeling it was obvious.
(Beka and Doyle enter.)
HUNT: Welcome back, ladies.
DOYLE: It's good to be back.
BEKA: Hey, thanks for the lift. Dylan.
HUNT: Beka. Hey, thanks for getting that fuel.
BEKA: Dylan, I think you should know about something that happened on
Methus Two, just after it flashed? I saw Trance. She spoke to me, but
she definitely wasn't herself. I mean, Doyle was damaged, I needed
help, and suddenly Trance becomes this mysterious cloaked figure who
shuts up and walks away.
HUNT: She was wearing a cloak.
BEKA: Yeah, and, Dylan I think she deliberately lured me into a trap. I
mean, if Doyle hadn't rebooted, I'd be a cloud of gas right now.
HUNT: Come on, Beka. We both know Trance isn't capable of betrayal.
BEKA: Really? Then who was with me inside the sun?
(A cloak is lying on the floor of the fusion chamber.)