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: [presenting a data card
] Orac has just come up with the computation and attack strategy that he asked for. Olag Gan
: What attack strategy? Kerr Avon
: Exactly. Another of Blake's little schemes he hasn't thought fit to tell us about. You are not going to believe the target he has in mind.
[Avon tosses the card down
: [without picking it up
] The Federation Weapons Development Base? Kerr Avon
: That's right. Jenna Stannis
: [inspects the card
] He obviously thought fit to tell *someone* about it. Cally
: Well, not exactly. I suggested it to him. Jenna Stannis
: *You* suggested it to him. That's very keen of you. Vila Restal
: Why didn't you suggest it to us? Cally
: Because I knew how you'd react. Kerr Avon
: Auron may be different, Cally, but on Earth it is considered ill-mannered to kill your friends while committing suicide.
: [entering carrying Orac
] Here we are. He wasn't very happy at being interrupted. Roj Blake
: I'll apologize later. Orac, your information on the Weapons Development Base is unsatisfactory. Orac
: Define "unsatisfactory". Roj Blake
: I was about to. Your strategic computations start from the premise that the base is on maximum security alert. Orac
: Computer communications traffic indicates that it is. Jenna Stannis
: Not permanently? Orac
: It is not a practice drill. Cally
: So what is it? Orac
: Clearly, some occurrence which is a real or apparent threat. Jenna Stannis
: Thank you, Orac. I'm sure we'd have never worked that out for ourselves. Orac
: It is therefore the case that security in the immediate future will be sensitive and alert. Roj Blake
: A fact to be included in strategic computations. Moral: Kerr Avon
: Never argue with a computer. Roj Blake
: We're below horizon now. Olag Gan
: Then she's lost! Kerr Avon
: Only us. She got what she really wanted. Vila Restal
: I thought that *was* us. Roj Blake
: IMIPAK. And she beat us to that all right. She seemed to know every single move we were making. It's almost as if we were on strings and she was the puppeteer. Cally
: What is IMIPAK? Is there a defense against it? Zen
: Detectors report two Federation pursuit ships leaving stationary orbit on intercept course. Roj Blake
: Take us out of here, Jenna. Speed: standard by eight. I want a lot of space between us and that planet. Olag Gan
: [to Avon
] Is there a defense against IMIPAK? Kerr Avon
: Of course there is! It's called slavery!
: Maybe IMIPAK is another Orac. If we captured it, perhaps we could breed from them. Roj Blake
: What a disgusting idea.
: [draws on the main screen by remote
] Zen's best guess is that he's here. Offers? Olag Gan
: Let's go and get him. Kerr Avon
] Gung ho. Vila Restal
: *You* go and get him. We're already too close to the security zone for my taste. Roj Blake
: Jenna? Jenna Stannis
: If we know he's there, chances are Federation Security know it, too. Cally
: Zen may have been wrong. Kerr Avon
: In which case going there would be safe, but pointless. Vila Restal
: Now that I wouldn't object to. Jenna Stannis
: Be quiet, Vila. Vila Restal
: Why ask my opinion in the first place? Cally
: Actually, nobody did. Vila Restal
: [to Cally
] That's the last time I stand up for you.
: I think we should go and get him. Always assuming that he is there, and Federation Security are not. Jenna Stannis
] "Gung ho"?
] Kerr Avon
: [pointedly ignoring having his words thrown back at him
] We do not know what IMIPAK is. Roj Blake
: Exactly. The least we've got to do is find out what it does. Vila Restal
: Why have we? I can live without it. Roj Blake
: It's just conceivable that you can't. Kerr Avon
: Unless of course you want your last words to be, "So *that's* IMIPAK." Vila Restal
] I think my brain must be furring up. Olag Gan
: [from across the bridge
] IMIPAK might be something they can use against *us*, Vila! Vila Restal
: [and back again
] Only if it can run faster than we can!
: Zen, report status. Zen
: Liberator is stationary and is stabilized in an anti-orbital posture. Vila
: Whatever that means. Blake
: It means we got it right. Jenna
: Together we can fly this ship manually. Gan
: I think we make a good team. Avon
] Well hooray for us.
: Together we can fly this ship manually. Olag Gan
: I think we make a good team. Kerr Avon
: Well, hooray for us.
: We've lost them. Vila Restal
: So much for federation pursuit ships. Olag Gan
: At least we know we can outrun them. Vila Restal
: Outrun them? In this we can out stroll them!
: Up until now we've only been a minor irritation to the Federation. I think it's about time we hurt them. Jenna Stannis
: I don't like the sound of that. Kerr Avon
: Neither do I. I thought it was agreed we wouldn't do anything without discussing it thoroughly. Roj Blake
: True. It was also agreed that anybody could opt out at any time. Just tell me when you want to leave. Kerr Avon
: Oh, I will. But in the meantime I think we have a right to know what it is you're planning. Roj Blake
: Zen, set a course for Saurian Major, speed standard by two. Zen
: Speed and course confirmed. Kerr Avon
: That falls a little short of my idea of a thorough discussion.
: Getting nervous? Vila
: No, I've been nervous all along.
: I keep wondering whether it wouldn't be better to opt out of all this. Find a safe planet. Hide. Gan
: They'd still find you. Jenna
: I suppose. Gan
: But if you wanted to leave, you know Blake wouldn't try to stop you. Jenna
: No, I know. What about you? Are going to stick with him? Gan
: I have to. I want to stay alive. And to do that I need people I can rely on. I can't be on my own. Jenna
: What do you mean?
: Gan? Gan
: I killed a security guard. They said it was murder. But he had a gun. I was unarmed. You see, he killed my woman.
: [into comm
] Hold on, just checking.
] Jenna Stannis
: Are you ready? Vila Restal
: Tell him I've just worked out a completely new strategy. It's called running away.
: [Jenna is at the teleport controls
] It had better be right. A fraction out and you could put us down in the middle of the security barracks. Jenna Stannis
: Don't tempt me.
: [lays device on control panel
] So you got it. Roj Blake
: It was close though. Kerr Avon
: Too close. Another few seconds we'd have all been blown up. Vila Restal
: Well, it wasn't my fault. Kerr Avon
: Well, whose fault was it? I thought you were supposed to guard the corridor. Vila Restal
: You were supposed to disconnect that thing, not rely on Gan to tear it loose with his teeth. Jenna Stannis
: All right, all right, now calm down.
: If it ever comes to a showdown, my money's on Blake. Well, half of it. I'll put the other half on Avon. Jenna Stannis
] That's a safe bet.
] Jenna Stannis
: But if Avon is right, we'll probably all be dead anyway. Vila
: Dead? Is that your idea of a safe bet?
: No one is to attempt to repair any equipment 'til the computers are back under our control. Jenna Stannis
: What is it, Blake? What's going on? Roj Blake
: Well, the computers seem to be making decisions for themselves. They're resisting all interference. Jenna Stannis
: But that's not possible. Roj Blake
: [Motions to Avon
] Avon. Avon
: It is if you think of the ship as a living entity with massive networks of electronics acting as a nervous system. Jenna Stannis
: All linked into a central computer. Roj Blake
: The brain. Avon
: Carry the analogy a stage further: when a living creature is hurt - a cut or a wound - antibodies gather around the injury to repair it and to fight infection. Vila
: You mean the computers are treating us like *germs*! Avon
: [Smiles briefly at Blake:
] Crude, but accurate. Cally
: But antibodies kill infection. Why are we still alive? Roj Blake
: We're not sure. There are dozens of ways the ship could destroy us: cut off the air supply, drop the temperature so we freeze to death - Vila
: Stop putting ideas into its head! Roj Blake
: [to Avon:
] Actually, one touch of that cable would have done it. No, I don't think it wants to kill us. Avon
: Well, not yet, anyway. It's saving us for something. Vila
[Avon and Jenna are sitting on the bench. They hear a noise at the door. Avon signals Jenna to stand by the window while he moves behind the door to attack whoever enters. Avon lets fly before he realizes it's Vila
: [Doubling over
] Oh! Avon
: I'm... sorry, Vila. Vila
: Been looking all over for you two. Jenna Stannis
: How did you get here? Vila
: I was just passing - thought I'd drop in and see you. Avon
: Where are Gan and Cally? Vila
: They're in a cell along the corridor. Avon
: Well, what kept you? Vila
: Magno-locks aren't *that* easy to open, even for *me*. Avon
: Practice. Let's go. Vila
: Just a minute. Where's Blake? Jenna Stannis
: They took him away for questioning. Vila
: Questioning? Avon
: I don't think we should hang around.
: No, neither do I. Jenna Stannis
: [Checking wound
] What did you do to your head? Vila
: One of the guards didn't like me. Avon
: [From outside
] Come on!
: Where are we? Vila Restal
: In a transit cell. Roj Blake
: I don't understand. Vila Restal
: You're on your way to the penal colony on Cygnus Alpha. Or you will be when the prison ship's refueled. Try to look on the bright side. It must have something. None of the guests have ever left early. In fact, none of them have ever left at all. Roj Blake
: Why are you going there? Vila Restal
: They didn't give me a choice. I steal things. Compulsive, I'm afraid. I've had my head adjusted by some of the best in the business. But it just won't stay adjusted. Roj Blake
: A professional thief. Vila Restal
: More a vocation than a profession. Other people's property comes naturally to me.
[Jenna sits down next to them
] Jenna Stannis
: [to Blake
] What's the time? Vila Restal
: [returning Blake's watch
] Just taking care of it while you were unconscious. The place is full of criminals.
: What's your story? Roj Blake
: I'm innocent. Of what I was charged with, anyway. Vila Restal
: We have something in common then: we're all victims of a miscarriage of justice. Roj Blake
] But it's true! Jenna Stannis
: Of course it is. Roj Blake
: [gets the message
] What about the others? Vila Restal
: Oh, a very antisocial bunch: murderers, liars, cheats... Vila Restal
: [pauses, looks at Jenna
] ... smugglers... Jenna Stannis
: Thieves. Vila Restal
: ...and they're the *nice* people!
: It's exactly as though Ensor were speaking. Orac
: Surely it is obvious even to the meanest intelligence that during my development I would naturally become endowed with aspects of my creator's personality. Kerr Avon
: The more endearing aspects by the sound of it. Orac
: Possibly. However similarities between myself and Ensor are entirely superficial. My mental capacity is infinitely greater. Jenna Stannis
: Modest, isn't he? Orac
: Modesty would be dishonesty. Vila Restal
: What's wrong with being dishonest? Orac
: Is that a question? Vila Restal
: Yes. Orac
: The question is futile. Were I to say that I am incapable of dishonesty how would you know if I was being dishonest or not? Roj Blake
: A question for a question. Well, you're capable of evasion, anyway. Vila Restal
: I think I've heard enough. I don't like him. Orac, be a good junk heap - shut up.
: I don't believe it. Jenna Stannis
: Zen, system status. Zen
: All systems are functioning normally. Vila Restal
: Yes, but Zen's only a machine. Kerr Avon
: So is Orac.
[He removes the activator and throws it across the flight deck
] Vila Restal
: That's all right, that's fixed Orac. Roj Blake
: No, it hasn't. Jenna Stannis
: What do you mean? Roj Blake
: We've forgotten something. The prediction has still been made. Jenna Stannis
[the on-screen ship explodes
: What would you know about guilt? Avon
] Only what I've read.
: What are you doing? Avon
: It's a detector shield. I've been working on it for some time. Vila Restal
: Everyone should have a hobby. What's it do? Avon
: It should keep us off everything but the Federation's close range visual scanners. Vila Restal
: You mean their long-range detectors won't pick us up at all? But that's brilliant, Avon, absolutely brilliant! It'll never work. Avon
: There's only one way to find out.
[regarding the heat of the planet to which they've teleported
] Jenna Stannis
: It's enough to fry your eyeballs. Kerr Avon
: Daintily put. Jenna Stannis
: Must be the company I keep.
: I think we've outstayed our welcome. Roj Blake
: [into bracelet
] All right, Cally. We're ready to come across.
[Gan and Avon join Blake and Jenna in a cluster for teleportation. Avon still holds a gun on Bek and Hanna
: We'll come with you. Roj Blake
] I'm sorry. Bek
: "Sorry"? Polite but inadequate. Bek
: [raises his gun
] We can't stay here, so you're not going to leave without us.
[Bek and Hanna are stunned as Blake, Avon, Jenna, and Gan are teleported away
: I think they went without us. Bek
: There's gratitude for you. Hanna
: "Gratitude"! You point a gun at them and expect gratitude? Hanna
: [indicates Largo on the floor
] Maybe we could use him as a hostage? Bek
: Him? After his foul-up you won't get a drink of water in exchange for him.
[Bek aims gun at Largo
] Roj Blake
: [rematerializes with two extra bracelets
] I changed my mind. Bek
: Why? Hanna
: Do we care? Roj Blake
: [hands them the bracelets
] Put these on. Bek
: What's in it for you? Roj Blake
: You can help me with one of my crew. His name's Vila and he's suffering from a bad attack of alcoholic remorse. Roj Blake
: [into bracelet
] All right, Cally. Roj Blake
: [to Bek and Hanna
] He wants to make a necklace of his teeth.
[they are teleported away
: First sign of trouble, we get out, right? Jenna
: Goes without saying. Avon
: I only wish it did.
: [removes Jenna's neckband and tosses it aside
] Good to have you back with us, Jenna.
[he touches her
: [walks away
] This is purely a business arrangement, Tarvin. Tarvin
: You weren't always so cold. Jenna
: You weren't always a bounty hunter. Tarvin
: Have you forgotten Zolaf Four? Jenna
: Is it worth remembering? Tarvin
: Just the two of us in the mountains. Jenna
: And three hundred customs guards. Tarvin
: You saved my life. Jenna
: We all make mistakes. Tarvin
: I thought you liked me. Jenna
: Oh, I did. Then. Tarvin
: Have I changed so much? Jenna
: One of us has.
: Do you believe what they told us? About themselves, I mean. Roj Blake
: With that much power why bother to lie? Jenna Stannis
: That's one way to become a hunted man: trust the powerful. Roj Blake
: If any of our control systems are damaged by the impact, we will be helpless. Roj Blake
: We're not exactly in a commanding position now. Jenna Stannis
: Activating! Roj Blake
: Have you got any better ideas?
[violent impact. As Blake and Avon reel back, Avon clutches Blake protectively
: As a matter of fact, no I haven't. Roj Blake
: Does that mean you agree? Avon
: Do I have a choice? Roj Blake
: Yes. Avon
: Then I agree.
[lets go of Blake
[after meeting Zen for the first time
: It didn't answer any of your questions. More than that it deliberately ignored them. A computer can't have a will of it's own. Jenna
: You'd better tell Zen that.
: Before I decided to put my talents to more profitable use - Jenna
: And got arrested. Avon
: I handled the computer analysis for a research project into matter transmission. It was based on a new alloy - Blake
: Aquatar. Avon
] That's right. Blake
: Yes, I worked on that project too. Avon
: Small world. Blake
: Large project. Jenna
: I didn't work on it.
[Regarding mined-out asteroid PK 118 on the screen
] Kerr Avon
: Predictably barren. Jenna Stannis
: Wretched mining companies. No sense of aesthetics. Kerr Avon
: What do you want them to do, landscape? Jenna Stannis
: Well, they could make an effort.
: Why exactly are we going down? Blake
: The Resistance needs a base, Jenna.
[Blake accepts teleport bracelet from Jenna
: Thank you. Somewhere to operate from. Jenna Stannis
: And this could be it? Blake
: Well, it's as good as any other. We know the Federation only visit it once a year; it's on the edge of the spiral rim... Oh, hell, I'm tired of running, Jenna. We must get at least *one* planet behind us. Jenna Stannis
: And why are you taking me with you? Blake
] I trust you to back me. Jenna Stannis
: Thanks. But there's more to it than that: you were very deliberate. Blake
: Covering the angles? Jenna Stannis
: Well, how do you mean? Blake
: Avon might run.
[Avon enters the teleport bay quietly behind Blake and Jenna, overhearing
: But he probably won't without a first-class pilot. He, um, plays the percentages. Jenna Stannis
: Unlike you. Avon
: I am ready if you are.
: I think they should be warned. Jenna Stannis
: What about? Blake
: There's life aboard. Jenna Stannis
: Blake, that is a Federation base down there. The salvagers are manned by Federation personnel. Blake
: They're human. Jenna Stannis
: I need proof of that.
: Repair monitors report explosive device attached to primary power channel. Blake
: Where? Zen
: Hold three, access duct seven. Blake
: Well can the automatics neutralize it? Zen
: No. Blake
: Why not? Zen
: There is no damage. Avon
: Computer logic. Until the bomb explodes there is nothing for the repair system to repair. Zen, can you reprogram the automatics? Zen
: Preemptive interference in crew activity is forbidden. Blake
: [running for passageway
] Oh, he'll clear up after us, but he won't stop us making a mess. Avon
: [moves to follow him
] *You* made *this* mess. Jenna Stannis
: We're all in it, Avon. Avon
: [over his shoulder from the passageway
] Yes, aren't we!
: Goodbye, Jenna. Jenna Stannis
: Goodbye. Del Grant
: Goodbye Cally, goodbye Vila. And thank you. Vila Restal
] Any time. Del Grant
: I'll remember that! Vila Restal
] Oh, will you?
: In one point zero three minutes, it will no longer be possible to operate force wall and main drive simultaneously. Please decide which to close down. Jenna Stannis
: Without main drive we'll never get out of this. Vila Restal
: Without the force wall we'll be smashed to pieces! Roj Blake
: Have the locators detected the outer edge of the storm yet? Vila Restal
: [looks at his panel
] No. Yes! No... Maybe. Roj Blake
: Which is it, Vila? Vila Restal
: [looks again
] It's "Maybe." Zen
: Directive is now required.
: My preliminary examination of the defense zone indicates that it is made up of a network of satellite generators. Vila
: We could have told you that. Orac
: Each of which performs a dual function: namely, to indicate the approach of an intruder and then to destroy that intruder by a powerful anti-matter implosion. Jenna
: So it's a combined alarm system and minefield. Orac
: Correct. If I may continue. Vila
: He always makes me feel as if I should be taking notes. Orac
] *If* I may continue.