Orbit
Original Airdate: December 7, 1981

[Scorpio approaching Malodar]

SLAVE [OC]: We are now stationary, Master, ten miles above the planet Malodar.

[Flight deck]

AVON: What is the surface analysis, Slave?
SLAVE: Nitrogen, methane, and argon predominate. Also traces of free ammonia and sulphur compounds. It is unsuitable for your illustrious lifeform, Master.
VILA: He thinks it stinks, too.
SOOLIN: I make the surface temperature minus ninety to a hundred.
TARRANT: Cold at night.
AVON: You can tell us when you get back.
TARRANT: The message was for you!
AVON: I get chilblains, Tarrant!
TARRANT: Oh, why not?
DAYNA: Shouldn't he have some kind of backup, Avon? That kind of environment...
AVON: I was hoping you would volunteer.
DAYNA: All right, I'm a volunteer.
(Dayna and Tarrant leave)
AVON: Do I hear three? No, I didn't think I would.
VILA: You know I like to stick with you, Avon, ...where it's safe.

[Malodar surface]

(a snowscape with one large and two smaller biodomes)

[Malodar command room]

(Scorpio appears in orbit on a monitor)
PINDER: Egrorian? ...Egrorian! ...They're here! ...Come and see!
(Egrorian comes in and pushes Pinder away from the monitor. Pinder nervously clears away food dishes. They look at the viewscreen and laugh hysterically)

[Flight deck]

VILA: I still think that message was a phoney. Egrorian hasn't been heard of for ten years.
SOOLIN: I've never heard of him, ever.
AVON: Said to have been a genius. Scientists are still trying to understand the Egrorian theory of parallel matter.
SOOLIN: What happened to him?
VILA: He disappeared, along with a few million credits from the Space Research Institute.
SOOLIN: So ...he's a criminal.
VILA: Aren't we all? Except he pulled off a big one. Which is why he's not sitting on Malodar.
AVON: It is a good hideaway.
VILA: Hideaway? Avon, if I got my hands on that kind of money, I'd have gone somewhere I could enjoy it. What is the point of having money if you have to exist on a lifeless hole like that!
(Vila nods towards the viewscreen which is showing Malodar)
AVON: You are forgetting, there is a big difference between you and Egrorian. He has a brain!
VILA: Oh yeah? Well, if you had one it might have occurred to you this could be a Federation trap.
AVON: Well, of course, it's occurred to me. Why do you think I'm sending Tarrant? ...On the other hand, the message could be genuine, in which case Egrorian may want to do a deal with us, and from a man like that any kind of offer of a deal might be interesting.
SLAVE: Master?
AVON: What is it, Slave?
SLAVE: My humble apologies for interrupting your noble thoughts...
VILA: Just get to the point.
SLAVE: Some inferior person is attempting to communicate on the audio.
EGRORIAN: (on communicator) Calling Scorpio, this is Egrorian ...in Malodar Command, calling Scorpio.
AVON: Egrorian. (into communicator) Egrorian, this is Avon in the privateer Scorpio, calling Egrorian in Malodar Command. We are receiving you, Egrorian, go ahead.
EGRORIAN [OC]: Thank you, Avon. I will now give you your instructions. Listen carefully. Failure to follow them to the letter will, I fear, have fatal consequences.

[Malodar command room]

AVON: (on communicator) Oh, that sounds unpleasantly like a threat.
EGRORIAN: (into communicator) It is a threat. Like you, I have a price on my head. So, having revealed my little sanctuary, I cannot allow you and your colleagues to leave. Not, at any rate, until we've reached an agreement.
AVON: The Federation gave up looking for you a long time ago, Egrorian. You are a forgotten man.
EGRORIAN: ...Possibly, ...but I have not forgotten them. Now, your instructions.

[Flight deck]

(Dayna and Tarrant come in wearing spacesuits)
EGRORIAN: (on communicator) I am dispatching my autoshuttle. It will dock with your ship in six minutes. You will board the shuttle alone. It will bring you to my biodome. You will carry no arms.
AVON: (into communicator) But we don't need the shuttle. This ship is equipped with a teleport system.
EGRORIAN: I'm well aware of your ship's capability, but I insist that you use the shuttle.
AVON: And if I don't agree?
EGRORIAN: You will agree, Avon. I have explained the alternative, I cannot let you go. ...Besides, confess that you are intrigued, otherwise you wouldn't have traversed three star systems to be here.
(Avon ends the transmission)
SOOLIN: He's bluffing.
AVON: Possibly, ...but somehow, I don't think so. And he's quite right, we've come rather a long way to find out what he has to offer. (into communicator) All right, Egrorian, I'll take the shuttle, but I never travel alone.
EGRORIAN: Alone, ...and unarmed, ...those are my conditions.
AVON: Are you alone, Egrorian?

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: (into communicator) Yes, ...apart from my assistant.
AVON: (on communicator) Then I shall bring my assistant to watch yours. That is my condition!
(Pinder followed by Egrorian move towards a futuristic chess game and each make a move while he is talking with Avon)
EGRORIAN: You are in no position to make conditions, Avon.
AVON: Egrorian, you sent me a message asking for this meeting. Therefore you want something from me. I believe that gives me some power.
EGRORIAN: Very well. ...One colleague, ...unarmed, and remember, Avon, ...I designed the weapon detection scan we have here. That means it's infallible.

[Flight deck]

AVON: (into communicator) Oh, I'm sure it is. One other thing, Egrorian, have you also developed an infallible video transmit?
EGRORIAN: (on communicator) Naturally, yes.
AVON: ...Then switch it on. I want to be certain you are who you say you are.
(Egrorian appears on the viewscreen superimposed on the existing image of Malodar)
EGRORIAN: (on viewscreen) You are a cautious man, Avon.
AVON: Well, that's a habit I'm hoping to live with.
(Egrorian's image disappears from the viewscreen)
EGRORIAN: (on communicator) I, too, am cautious. The Federation monitor video signals from all parts of galaxy. The autoshuttle is leaving now.
(the communication terminates and the autoshuttle is seen leaving Malodar's atmosphere on the viewscreen)
AVON: Pressurise the rest of the ship.
SOOLIN: Right. ...All forward section's pressurised.
AVON: All right. ...Vila, let's get to the airlock.
VILA: Me?
AVON: Well, who else? After all, you always say you feel safe with me.

[Scorpio in orbit with the autoshuttle arriving alongside]

[Airlock]

(Avon and Vila walk towards the docked autoshuttle)
VILA: I'm not the type for this sort of thing, Avon.
AVON: Why not?
VILA: This Egrorian, you said he was some kind of genius.
AVON: They said he was supposed to be some time back.
VILA: Well, that's what I mean. Living alone all these years, you don't know what he's like now. These super brains often go pop, don't they?
AVON: That's true.

[Autoshuttle bridge]

VILA: He could be dangerous, Avon.
AVON: There is a chance, I suppose.
VILA: This guy's gonna need careful handling. You want someone with tact. I mean, you know me.
AVON: Oh yes, I think so.
VILA: Blunt, always speaking my mind, I'm just the sort to upset him.
AVON: Well, you'll just have to try not to, won't you?
VILA: You should take one of the girls, Avon. Hey, why not? A girl might ...you know, ...interest him. He's probably forgotten what they look like.
AVON: Vila, if I didn't know you better, I would think you were trying to get out of this.
VILA: I'm only thinking of what's best. Besides, if I stayed on Scorpio I could keep an eye on Tarrant. You need someone you can trust.
(they hear a beep)
VILA: What's that?
(through the autoshuttle window Scorpio is seen moving off)
AVON: That's Tarrant following orders. Egrorian wants the ship to stand off in deep space.
VILA: He didn't waste much time ditching us, did he? Anyway, I don't see the point of it.
AVON: Well, presumably Egrorian wants the ship out of teleport range. He does not trust us.
VILA: That's mutual.
AVON: Yes of course. But I have brought a little insurance.
(he pulls a small gun out of his boot)
VILA: Get rid of that thing, you heard him say he's got a weapons scan!
AVON: In the biodome, not in here.
(he puts the gun behind a hinged panel in the desk)
AVON: [OC]: Just in case we need it.
VILA: You really think things through, don't you, Avon? If we do need it, we won't have time to get it.
AVON: Well then, let's hope we don't need it.

[Flight deck]

TARRANT: Far enough, I think. Slave, shut down the drive and stabilise on these vectors.
SLAVE: It will be my humble pleasure. I exist only to serve you, illustrious sir.
TARRANT: Thank you.
(she gestures towards Slave)
DAYNA: It doesn't exist, it just functions!
TARRANT: Still holding the shuttle, Soolin?
SOOLIN: Yes. Not too easy, at this range.
TARRANT: Yeah, well don't lose him. We need to get a precise fix on Egrorian's base.
DAYNA: Why? You think we might have to drop in on him?
TARRANT: Heavily. ...I did a course at the Space Institute not long after Egrorian disappeared. The rumour was that he'd been helped in his getaway by someone ...at the very highest level.
DAYNA: ...Servalan? But why should she want to help Egrorian?
TARRANT: Why should Egrorian want to see Avon?
DAYNA: You mean there could be a connection?
TARRANT: When Servalan does anyone a favour, she wants repaying with interest. I'm just wondering if Avon's the interest.
SOOLIN: Shuttle's landed, Tarrant. I've got the coordinates.
TARRANT: Good.

[Autoshuttle docking bay]

EGRORIAN: (on communicator) Stand in the cylinders, please.
(Avon and Vila stand on two pads and are scanned)

[Malodar command room]

(Avon and Vila are on the viewscreen being scanned)
EGRORIAN: (to Pinder) Well?
PINDER: It's green.
EGRORIAN: Good.
PINDER: ...I've forgotten.
EGRORIAN: No, you haven't forgotten.
(he pinches Pinder's upper arm part-lifting him out his chair)
EGRORIAN: Red is dead. Green is...?
PINDER: Clean?
EGRORIAN: Ah, there you are, you see, you haven't forgotten. (to viewscreen) Come in please.
(Avon and Vila come in)
EGRORIAN: This is a great honour for us. Don't we feel honoured, Pinder? ...See? Pinder is quite overwhelmed. I fear he's not adept at the social graces. Merely a gauche adolescent when I took him under my wing, weren't you, Pinder?
VILA: Adolescent?
EGRORIAN: Just a callow youth, but with a mind of great promise. Truly original mathematicians, unhappily, soon burn themselves out on the anvil of creation.
PINDER: I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, ma'am.
VILA: (to Avon) I think he's talking to you.
EGRORIAN: Thank you, Pinder, go back to your place. ...I fear language doesn't come easily to him. He thinks mainly in symbols.
VILA: Doesn't he have symbols for men and women?
EGRORIAN: Apparently not. Can I offer you some refreshment? Everything here is reconstituted, of course, but it remains palatable.
AVON: We came here to talk, Egrorian.
EGRORIAN: And so we shall! Do sit down. We'll have to clear a place, I'm afraid.
(Pinder moves a pile of books from a chair)
EGRORIAN: There. Which one of you is Avon?
AVON: I am. That ...is Vila.
EGRORIAN: Surprisingly, you don't look like the ruthless desperados of legend. But you have, of course, killed a great many people.
AVON: Only in the pursuit of liberty.
EGRORIAN: 'O Liberty! O Liberty! What crimes are committed in your name!' Do you know the source?
AVON: No.
EGRORIAN: No, why should you? Natural leaders are rarely encumbered with intelligence. Greed, egotism, animal cunning, and viciousness are the important attributes. ...Qualities I detect in you in admirably full measure.
AVON: I didn't come here to be ...flattered.
EGRORIAN: You came here out of curiosity and because you scented there might be something in it for you. Mm, am I right?
AVON: Close enough.
EGRORIAN: Now, then, Avon. What would you say if I offered you mastery of the galaxy?
AVON: Oh, I would say thank you.
VILA: For a whole galaxy? Oh, come on, Avon, show the man some gratitude.
(Egrorian cackles and points at Vila)
EGRORIAN: Do you think my mind is addled?
VILA: No, no, it's just we don't get offered galaxies every day of the week.
EGRORIAN: Pinder, prepare the demonstration. (to Avon) Do you know anything about ...tachyons?
AVON: Theoretical particles that travel faster than the speed of light.
EGRORIAN: They are not theoretical anymore. Come, I'll show you.
(he takes Avon to an equipment rack which Pinder is fussing around)
EGRORIAN: This is a tachyon funnel. I realised the potential of such a machine during my early research into the behaviour of parallel matter. It's taken me ...half a lifetime to build.
AVON: What does it do?
EGRORIAN: It destroys things, ...instantly and completely and at any range. ...It is the ultimate engine of destruction.
(he points to a monitor on the rack)
EGRORIAN: You are now looking at a lunar satellite of Porthodos, which is in the next constellation to this one, some seventeen light years distant. That is our target, and this is the destruct button.
(Pinder reaches toward the button. Egrorian slaps his hand away and presses the button. The moon disappears)

[Malodar surface]

EGRORIAN [OC]: Now then, Avon, what do you say? ...Perhaps the idea of ruling the galaxy doesn't seem quite so absurd.

[Malodar command room]

AVON: Why are you offering it to us?
EGRORIAN: Because I want to see the Federation crushed, Avon, and you would do it ruthlessly.
AVON: With a weapon like that, you can destroy it yourself.
EGRORIAN: Simply destroying it is not enough.
(he makes Pinder get up and gestures for Vila to sit beside him)
EGRORIAN: Nature abhors a vacuum. It must be replaced by another command structure. As leader of the anti-Federation alliance, you will be in a position to take over the channels of command, something in which I have no interest, let alone ability.
VILA: Then what are you getting out of it?
EGRORIAN: Satisfaction. ...Revenge. ...Do you imagine I wanted to spend the prime of my years in this ...grinding desolation? ...No, it was those jealous parvenus of the Science Board resentful of my success and my achievement who forced me to abscond. They voted against funding my tachyon funnel project, and so I want to see them brought low, I want to see them rot.
VILA: I can fix that. I'll personally nail 'em to posts and send you the pictures.
(Egrorian cackles and pats Vila's cheeks)
EGRORIAN: Thank you, dear Vila. ...But, er, when the Federation is broken, I shall return to Earth to continue my work.
(Pinder turns away towards the chess game)
EGRORIAN: Oh, there's one other thing I'd like from you.
VILA: Yes?
EGRORIAN: Orac.
AVON: Sorry. That computer is a vital part of our defence. It keeps us one step ahead of the Federation.
EGRORIAN: But with the tachyon funnel you won't need a defence. ...Come now. The ultimate computer in exchange for the ultimate weapon.
AVON: Why ...do you want Orac?
EGRORIAN: Because I have other projects under development. It would be an invaluable help. I've no doubt I could design an Orac myself, but duplicating the work of others is a waste of time. I've got much to do.
VILA: Avon! It's got to be a good deal.
AVON: I know.
VILA: Listen, all we have to do is point this thing at somebody's head. We can have anything we want. ...Anything!
(Pinder moves a piece on the chess game)
PINDER: Checkmate, Egrorian!
EGRORIAN: How dare you!
PINDER: Checkmate! Checkmate!
(Egrorian presses a button on the side of the board)
EGRORIAN: Recall the last six moves.
(the moves replay automatically)
PINDER: Oh...
AVON: How can he tell the king from the queen?
EGRORIAN: What?! You miserable little cheat!
(he gets Pinder into an arm lock)
PINDER: Ahrgh, ahrgh...
EGRORIAN: Ha! Can you feel your extensor muscle tearing? Hm. Can you feel your humerus grating against your radius? Hm.? Just a little more, ...a little more. ...Now you're feeling it, aren't you?
PINDER: Ahrgh, ahrgh...
AVON: All right, Egrorian, it's a deal.
(Egrorian gives Pinder's arm one last pull and lets him drop to the floor)
PINDER: Ahrgh!
EGRORIAN: I'm so pleased.

[Flight deck]

SOOLIN: Tarrant, we've got a heat flare on the ground observation screen. It could be the shuttle.
TARRANT: Or a missile! ...Here, keep a scan on.
SLAVE: Sir, your most illustrious colleague Avon wishes to communicate.
TARRANT: (into communicator) Yes, Avon.
AVON: (on communicator) Tarrant, we're coming up. Bring the ship down to rendezvous with us at three hundred miles.
TARRANT: On our way.

[Autoshuttle leaving docking bay in one of the smaller biodomes]

[Autoshuttle bridge]

VILA: It certainly takes some getting used to.
AVON: What does?
VILA: Knowing we've finally cracked it. All I want now is to find a way of living forever.
AVON: Hm.
VILA: All we have to do is knock out a few planets for target practice, then name our own terms. We can have whatever we want! Think of it.
AVON: Yes.
VILA: I'll have an imperial palace with solid diamond floors, and a bodyguard of a thousand handpicked virgins in red fur uniforms. Vila's Royal Mounties.
AVON: You're dreaming again.
VILA: A man has a right to dream. Anyway, what's to stop us? ...I suppose it will get boring after the first fifty years, eh? ...What's the matter with you?
AVON: I was thinking about Pinder, and the way he said 'pleased to make your acquaintance, ...ma'am'.
VILA: Is that worrying you? Listen, if it'll set your mind at rest, I never thought you were a woman.
AVON: He said it as though it were a phrase he had been taught.
VILA: Maybe Egrorian gives him lessons in etiquette as well as judo.
AVON: Or perhaps he has been taught that that was the way to addressing a stranger! ...Servalan, for instance!
VILA: Servalan? She wouldn't do any deals with Egrorian. He's like us, outside the Federation.
AVON: We know how much she would like to get her hands on Orac.
VILA: Not enough to hand us a weapon like the tachyon funnel.
AVON: No. That's why this time, Vila, I think we have to play this one very cagily!

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: It went well, Highness.
SERVALAN: It did not! That fool of yours made Avon suspicious.
EGRORIAN: He accepted it as a simple slip of the tongue.
SERVALAN: Any slip is dangerous when one is dealing with Avon.
EGRORIAN: But he took the bait! He's bringing Orac here. After that, my plan is infallible.
SERVALAN: I hope so, Egrorian. I've waited a long time for this.
EGRORIAN: His death is a mathematical certainty. The product of a simple equation.
SERVALAN: It would be so easy now to train the tachyon funnel on Scorpio. They'd be dead in a millisecond.
EGRORIAN: But Orac would be destroyed, too. My scheme gives you possession of both the computer and the tachyon funnel.
SERVALAN: With both, no dream is impossible.
EGRORIAN: Supreme ruler again, Highness, ...with me ...constantly by your side. ...Your most loyal and dare I say it ...loving consort!
SERVALAN: ...When I regain power, you will be well rewarded. I shall appoint you my Chief Minister for Science.
EGRORIAN: Servalan, my steel queen, my empress, the only reward I crave is a place in your affections.
SERVALAN: But you already have that, Egrorian! Ten years ago I risked my position to help you continue your work.
EGRORIAN: And not a day has passed since then that I have not yearned for the time, when I would be able to repay your trust by laying all the world and the galaxy at your feet.
SERVALAN: Oh, get up!
EGRORIAN: All I wanted in return ...was a little ...kindness.
SERVALAN: So you wish to barter the tachyon funnel for a partnership.
EGRORIAN: A connubial partnership, Servalan. Why not? Alone you are formidable enough, but together we would stand like mountains!
SERVALAN: I have never shared power with anyone.
EGRORIAN: The tachyon funnel is power, and I don't have to share it with anyone, not even you. But I am a man of generous nature, especially in matters of the heart.
SERVALAN: It will be time enough to discuss the future, Egrorian, when you deliver both Orac and the tachyon funnel. ...I, too, can be generous. But just remember, ...I punish failure ...as quickly as I reward success.

[Flight deck]

VILA: I could see Avon was out of his depth, so I said, tachyons are particles that travel faster than light. That shook him.
DAYNA: Oh, I can imagine. Ha!
VILA: Oh yes, once he realised he was dealing with someone who knew a bit about the subject his manner changed completely.
SOOLIN: How does this, um, tachyon funnel actually work, Vila?
VILA: How does it work?
DAYNA: Ha!
SOOLIN: Yes.
VILA: Well, unless you can grasp the laws of parallel physics, it's not easy to explain.
SOOLIN: I see. ...Tell us about the laws of parallel physics, Vila.
VILA: Soolin, the only thing you ever grasped was a gun. Do you want to get brain damage?
DAYNA: Oh...
SOOLIN: The way I see it, if you can understand parallel physics, anyone can.
VILA: Unlike some people around here, I don't boast about my abilities, I keep them hidden.
DAYNA: Oh, you certainly do.
(Avon and Tarrant come in)
AVON: Orac is loaded, Vila, and we're ready to go.
DAYNA: Oh, Avon, is it really worth losing Orac for this new weapon?
AVON: I don't see that we have a lot of choice. If we say no deal, Egrorian can destroy this ship faster than you can snap your fingers.
SOOLIN: And how do you guarantee he won't anyway once you've delivered Orac?
AVON: We have no guarantee. But if he tried that he must know that we would kill them.
DAYNA: But you've no guns.
AVON: You haven't seen those two. They are old and they are decrepit, especially Pinder. Vila could handle him on his own.
TARRANT: Pinder's old?
VILA: Late seventies. Why?
TARRANT: After you'd gone, I got Orac ...to do us one last service. This is a printout from Central Records, all that's known about Egrorian.
AVON: Interesting reading?
TARRANT: Yeah, very interesting. After he vanished, they started finding the bodies. He was never a simple scientist, Avon.
VILA: What was he?
TARRANT: Power mad from his earliest days. He was at the centre of a conspiracy to take over the Federation.
AVON: This is the man who says he wants to spend the rest of his life in the advancement of science!
TARRANT: The other interesting thing ...is Pinder.
VILA: What about him?
TARRANT: He was a mathematical prodigy apparently. He was eighteen when he disappeared with Egrorian ...ten years ago. Now I'm not a mathematical prodigy, but it seems to me that makes him twenty-eight.

[Malodar surface]

[Servalan's cruiser]

(communicator pings)
SERVALAN: (into communicator) Yes?
EGRORIAN: (on communicator) All is well, Highness. The shuttle has just separated from Scorpio.
SERVALAN: Good. I'll be watching on the monitor when they arrive.
(she activates a monitor showing the command room)

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: Is everything prepared?
PINDER: Everything.
EGRORIAN: ...Including the loading bay program? Has that been checked?
PINDER: Yes, Egrorian.
EGRORIAN: You're sure, Pinder?! The automatics must work perfectly! Once they've arrived we shall have no opportunity to make corrections.
PINDER: I am sure, Egrorian. Nothing could go wrong.
EGRORIAN: Nothing can go wrong. Everything is planned to the last decimal place! ...Then why, suddenly, do I feel uneasy?

[Autoshuttle bridge]

AVON: Somehow, some way, he is going to double-cross us. His whole history proves it.
VILA: Then let's not give him the chance.
AVON: What's in your mind?
VILA: Hit first. We carry Orac in, then jump them. We break their necks, grab the tachyon funnel, and out.
AVON: He will have thought of that. We touch that thing before it's disconnected, it is liable to blow up in our faces.
VILA: Do you have any better ideas?
AVON: Not at the moment.
VILA: Then start thinking. We touch down in four minutes.
AVON: The last time we landed, we came in on the ancillary pad. The main pad is on the other side of the dome.
VILA: So? Nearly all these survival stations were designed with two pads.
AVON: But the main pad is more convenient. Especially when handling cargo.
VILA: What are you getting at?
AVON: I'm just wondering if the main pad is already occupied. That could account for the fact that we were directed to the ancillary.
VILA: Well, if it is, you won't see much. These things kick up far too much dust. You're thinking of Servalan again.
AVON: She ...is never far from my thoughts.

[Flight deck]

DAYNA: Tarrant! There's a second ship down there!
TARRANT: What! ...Are you sure?
DAYNA: Yes, I just picked up a latent heat trace, and it wasn't from the shuttle.
TARRANT: Then Egrorian's got company.
DAYNA: Company that arrived before we did.
SOOLIN: The Federation?
TARRANT: Somehow I don't feel that's likely, not after reading his record.
DAYNA: Look, was his connection with Servalan mentioned in there?
TARRANT: Well, it was just a rumour at the time. If it ever got on the record, it's been erased since, she'd have seen to that.
SOOLIN: But you still think she could be behind Egrorian.
TARRANT: If she is, Avon's walking into more trouble than he's bargained for.

[Servalan's cruiser]

PINDER: (on monitor) Unarmed, Egrorian.
EGRORIAN: (on monitor) Admit them.
VILA: (on monitor) Hello, Pinder. How's the arm?

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: Come in, my friends! ..Pinder, ...answer the question.
PINDER: Ah, ...well, thank you for asking.
EGRORIAN: Very good! Splendid! Yes, his arm knitted perfectly after a few minutes in the therapy chamber.
VILA: Goes in there regularly, I suppose.
EGRORIAN: Naughty boys must be punished, mustn't they, Vila! Is that Orac?
AVON: It is.
EGRORIAN: Oh! Smaller than I imagined, nevertheless you should have put it on a cargo loader. Ha, ha. Come and put it over here.
(he clears a space on a table, throwing files on the floor and a container which Pinder just manages to catch)
EGRORIAN: Now you realise, I must satisfy myself that it is the genuine machine.
AVON: Before we do that, I should like to see the tachyon funnel disconnected.
EGRORIAN: You really are an excessively cautious person, and so mistrustful.
AVON: That is because Orac has read your security file on Central Records.
(he draws himself up to his full height and takes the file from Vila)
EGRORIAN: Disconnect the funnel, Pinder.
(he looks at the file)
EGRORIAN: Lies! ...All lies! Base and perfidious slander!

[Servalan's cruiser]

EGRORIAN: (on monitor) I never conspired I... I swear this is nothing but a tissue of falsehood and calumny designed by my enemies to blacken my reputation. ...If Servalan has read this, I hope she...
AVON: (on monitor) Why do you mention Servalan?
EGRORIAN: ...What?

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: Well, she was the ...head of Federation when these ...fabrications were compiled.
AVON: Didn't you hear she was dead?
EGRORIAN: Ah, yes. But then I was told she had assumed a new identity. One never knows what to believe these days! Anyway, this is, this... this is a load of distortion and rubbish, and when I return to Earth, I will hound down those responsible, and...
VILA: Break their arms?
EGRORIAN: Ha, ha, ha.... I suggest we get on. ...The tachyon funnel is disconnected. Place Orac here.
(Avon puts Orac on the table and surreptitiously operates a switch at the back)
EGRORIAN: Orac, ...what was the subject of my degree thesis at Belhangria University?
(after a few moments when there is no response Avon holds up the activator and plugs it in)
EGRORIAN: Orac, what was the subject of my degree thesis at Belhangria University?
ORAC: Your paper E stroke nine stroke six-zero-four-four was on particle physics and dealt specifically with the properties of rissions. It was marked Beta plus, Egrorian.
PINDER: Only beta plus, Egrorian?
EGRORIAN: Pinder, you're to be seen and not heard, remember?
AVON: If Orac has a fault, it is a tendency to give more information than is requested.
VILA: Or less information than requested.
AVON: But seldom just the information that is requested.
ORAC: That degree was subsequently rescinded for gross misconduct.
EGRORIAN: That's enough, Orac!
(Avon unplugs the activator)
AVON: Have you heard enough, or do you want to run another test?
EGRORIAN: No. ...No, I'm... I'm satisfied ...that the computer does all that is claimed for it. Pinder, take the funnel down to the cargo loader.
AVON: Give him a hand, Vila.
EGRORIAN: Are you still suspicious, Avon? ...A lesser man than myself might find that offensive.
AVON: Pinder doesn't look very strong. Is he really only twenty-eight?
EGRORIAN: Alas, yes.
AVON: What happened?
EGRORIAN: An unfortunate accident. You've heard of Hoffal's radiation?
AVON: No.
EGRORIAN: Ah! ...Hoffal had a unique mind. Over a century ago he predicted most of the properties that would be found in neutron material.
AVON: Neutron material?
EGRORIAN: Material from a neutron star. That is a ...a giant sun which has ...collapsed and become so tightly compressed that its electrons and protons combine, making neutrons.
AVON: I don't need a lecture in astrophysics.
EGRORIAN: When neutrons ...are subjected to intense magnetic force, ...they form Hoffal's radiation. ...Poor Pinder was subjected for ...less than a millionth of a second. He aged ...fifty years in as many seconds, and my golden-haired stripling became a silver-haired dotard. ...Sad, isn't it? But then one ...one has to face ...such hazards when exploring new frontiers!
AVON: So neutrons are part of the tachyon funnel.
EGRORIAN: ...Er, eight of them ...form the core of the accelerator. Your shuttle should be ready by now. Shall we see? (into communicator) Pinder?
VILA: (on communicator) He's gone for a lie down. All that walking exhausted him.
EGRORIAN: Is everything to your satisfaction, Vila?
VILA: Everything's ready to go ...including me.
EGRORIAN: Ha, ha, ha... There you are, Avon. Everything is safely stowed aboard and under the guard of the estimable Vila. ...Little morbid sense of humour, hasn't he? One could become very fond of that young man.
AVON: Oh, I'll tell him that.
EGRORIAN: Please do.
(Avon operates the switch at the back and gives the activator to Egrorian)
AVON/EGRORIAN: Ha, ha, ha.
EGRORIAN: When the Federation...

[Servalan's cruiser]

EGRORIAN: (on monitor) ...is broken, tell him I'd like to renew our acquaintance in more pleasant surroundings.

[Flight deck]

DAYNA: The shuttle's leaving!
TARRANT: Already? Well, I'll be damned! That means he's got away with it.
SOOLIN: Got away with what? You mean the tachyon funnel?
TARRANT: Not just the tachyon funnel.

[Autoshuttle bridge]

VILA: Mach six and rising. Damn it, Avon, we've done it, we've done it!
AVON: Yes, I really think we have!
VILA: I'd have given odds Egrorian'd try to pull something! What's the escape velocity of this thing?
AVON: I don't know. Why don't you ask Orac?
VILA: Eh?
(Avon opens the panel in the desk. Orac can be heard)

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: Orac, ...I want the names ...of all those who compiled Central Records file number fifteen stroke nine stroke eight hundred and thirty-four.
(Servalan comes in with Pinder)
EGRORIAN: That report was baseless, Highness. I've asked Orac to identify my traducers.
SERVALAN: Don't concern yourself, Egrorian. I encourage ambition.
EGRORIAN: I never conspired against you, I swear it! Orac, acknowledge my instructions. (Orac buzzes, but says nothing) I don't understand.
SERVALAN: Remove the key.
(he unplugs the activator. 'Orac' stays switched on)
SERVALAN: You pathetic fool. That isn't Orac!
EGRORIAN: Highness...
SERVALAN: Look at it!
EGRORIAN: I asked...
SERVALAN: It's just a box...
EGRORIAN: But I...
SERVALAN: ...of flashing lights! I warned you about Avon, and he still tricked you. I will kill you for this.

[Autoshuttle bridge]

VILA: So what was that we gave to Egrorian?
AVON: Orac mark two. Just a replica I made a few months back. Contingency planning, Vila, and the contingency arose.
VILA: But the thing worked!
AVON: Well enough to fool Egrorian, anyway. It was fitted with a voice box and a relay station, so that the real Orac could run it.
VILA: You could have got us killed! Why didn't you tell me?
AVON: Well, I didn't want to make you nervous, Vila. I was nervous enough for the both of us.
ORAC: The escape velocity of this vehicle is now confirmed at Mach fifteen, ...and unattainable.
AVON: What do you mean, 'Unattainable'?
ORAC: Mach fifteen is unattainable on the present flight configuration.

[Flight deck]

SOOLIN: There seems to be some problem with the shuttle!
TARRANT: What kind of problem?
SOOLIN: Well, the ellipse of the flight path is three degrees lower than it should be. That's something like a mile!
TARRANT: Damn!
DAYNA: ...Something's gone wrong. ...That shuttle's not going to make it.

[Malodar command room]

(Egrorian is taking 'Orac' to pieces)
EGRORIAN: Ha, a short-range relay. Now I see how they worked it.
SERVALAN: A bit late in the day, Egrorian!
EGRORIAN: Not so! It means that Orac is still on board the shuttle. We'll be able to recover it after the crash.
SERVALAN: Damaged beyond repair, no doubt.
EGRORIAN: Dented possibly. But the lykenic plaques and tarriel cells are virtually indestructible. Fire is the only danger, ...and we've assured that that won't happen.
SERVALAN: How?
EGRORIAN: ...The shuttle will run out of fuel in twenty minutes from now. It will hit the ground in a marshy area some ...two hundred and seven miles west of here. At the calculated impact speed of three hundred and ninety knots it will bury itself completely. There won't be a fire.
SERVALAN: And you say both Orac and the tachyon funnel can survive such a crash?
EGRORIAN: Yes, even the shuttle will be reusable after a few repairs. ...Avon and Vila won't survive, of course. ...They'll be jellified.
EGRORIAN/PINDER: Ha, ha, ha...

[Autoshuttle bridge]

(Vila removes two boards of electronics from a control console, makes an adjustment to the second and replaces it)
VILA: This had better work.
AVON: Have you cleared the governors?
VILA: I think so. ...Try it now.
AVON: Switching to manual. Maximum power on all drives.

[Autoshuttle beginning to ascend]

[Malodar command room]

PINDER: Egrorian.
EGRORIAN: They've broken the auto control and switched to manual. We've allowed for that.
SERVALAN: So ...they realise the danger they're in.
EGRORIAN: They'd be poor space pilots if they hadn't realised something was wrong by now.
SERVALAN: What a pity we haven't a link with the shuttle.
EGRORIAN: Yes, it is unfortunate. Still, it is necessary?
PINDER: Twelve and a half minutes, Egrorian.
SERVALAN: I should like to be able to see Avon.

[Autoshuttle bridge]

AVON: What's the position now, Orac?
ORAC: Escape velocity still unattainable. Elapsed flight time, nine minutes. Remaining flight time, twelve minutes.
VILA: Twelve minutes?
AVON: Fuel!
(he operates some switches)
VILA: It's no good. We're not going to get out of this one! Egrorian set us up!
AVON: Yes, but how? How did he do it?!
VILA: Avon, we're going to die.

[Flight deck]

DAYNA: Look, we've got to help them Tarrant. We... We must do something!
TARRANT: There's nothing we can do, Dayna, nothing at all.
SOOLIN: Couldn't we make an intercept?
TARRANT: In the atmosphere, with a shuttle at full drive? We have to be stationary for a docking.
DAYNA: Look, I'll go down with the bracelets and we can teleport back.
TARRANT: Between two fast moving points? It's not possible. You'd slip out of the beam and be vaporised. Even assuming we could set up first line coordinate, which we couldn't.
DAYNA: But there must be something we can do some...
TARRANT: Suggest something.
DAYNA: Some way we can help them.
SOOLIN: Go back to close orbit.
TARRANT: What will that achieve?
SOOLIN: I don't know, but it can't be any less than we'll achieve by sitting here.

[Autoshuttle bridge]

ORAC: Remaining flight time, ten minutes.
VILA: And another five minutes before we hit. How do you spend your last fifteen minutes?
AVON: Working. Working like we have never worked before, Vila!
VILA: Eh?
AVON: It's gravity that is holding us, right? We haven't enough engine power to lift us free. We must lighten the load somehow. We'll have to strip this shuttle down to its frame. Come on!
VILA: Where do we start?
AVON: You start in the cargo hold, I'll start up here. We have to jettison every last nut and bolt. Now, Vila!

[Malodar command room]

EGRORIAN: Where are you going, Pinder?
PINDER: Er, er. To check the main.. main computer, Egrorian.
EGRORIAN: Well? What do you say?
PINDER: Oh, please... please may I be excused?
EGRORIAN: Very well, run along. (to Servalan) Pinder worries too much. He's always checking and re-checking the figures. They're now sixty-four miles high and eight minutes flight left. Exactly as calculated.
SERVALAN: Egrorian, ...I have been doing some calculations of my own. Now, I came in a small L-type cruiser, which has a low fuel margin, and is designed only for a crew of two.
EGRORIAN: Two. I know the specification.
SERVALAN: There will be no room for Pinder.
(Pinder walks in behind them, but they do not notice)
EGRORIAN: You mean Pinder must be abandoned.
SERVALAN: Exactly.
EGRORIAN: So be it. After ten years, quel dommage.
PINDER: Egrorian. ...The shuttle has deviated from your predicted course by five degrees.
EGRORIAN: What! That's impossible!
PINDER: The main computer confirms the figures.
(the trajectory is shown on a monitor)

[Autoshuttle cargo hold]

(Avon is pushing the tachyon funnel into the airlock)
VILA: Do you have to get rid of that?
AVON: What use is it to us now?
(he closes the airlock door)
AVON: Stand back!
(he operates the airlock control)
VILA: Now what? There's nothing left to throw out!
AVON: Let's check with Orac. ...Come on!

[Autoshuttle bridge]

AVON: What's the position now, Orac?
ORAC: Remaining flight time, five minutes and forty seconds.
AVON: How much more weight must we lose before we can achieve escape velocity?
ORAC: Seventy kilos, Avon.
AVON: Only seventy kilos ...Vila, strip off the insulation material in the cargo hold. ...Vila!
(Avon takes an object from behind the panel in the desk and gives it to Vila)
VILA: But that's plastic. It weighs nothing.
AVON: Get rid of it anyway.
VILA: A kilo and a half if we're lucky.
AVON: Do it! We've got five minutes. ...Not enough! Not nearly enough! Damn it, what weighs seventy kilos?
ORAC: Vila weighs seventy-three kilos, Avon.
(the door just closes with Vila outside)
(Avon takes the gun from the desk)
AVON: Vila. ...Vila?

[Autoshuttle access well down to cargo hold cargo hold]

AVON: Vila? ...Vila? ...Vila?

[Autoshuttle cargo hold]

AVON: Vila, are you here? ...I need your help.
(Vila is curled up, hiding in a small compartment. The plastic object which Avon had given Vila is on the floor. It has four wheels)
AVON: ...Vila, I know you're here, come out. ...Vila, ...I know how they did it, but I need your help. ...Please help me.
(his foot touches a cube of material on the floor. He kneels to examine it)
AVON: Plastic. High tensile plastic.
(he gets up)
AVON: ...Vila?
(he kneels down again and tries to move the cube)
AVON: Couldn't possibly be that heavy. Unless there's something imbedded in it, and there isn't. Unless it's very tiny, in which case it wouldn't have ...the weight!
(he gets up and puts the gun in his belt)
AVON: Vila, I really do know how they did it! It's a speck of neutron material, but I need your help to shift it.
(he picks up the plastic object and puts it by the cube)
AVON: Vila, help me! Vila, you have got to help me! Come on!
(Avon is pushing the cube with the wheeled object with great difficulty)
AVON: Vila! Vila, Where are you?!
(Avon collapses to the floor but continues to push the cube towards the airlock. He reaches up and opens the airlock door and pushes the cube into the airlock. He jumps up, closes the door and operates the airlock control. Avon returns to the bridge as Vila comes out of the compartment)

[Autoshuttle bridge]

ORAC: Remaining flight time, two minutes and thirty seconds.
AVON: I know. ...I know!
(Avon grabs the controls and the mach figures on a monitor begin to rise as the autoshuttle ascends out of Malador's atmosphere)

[Malodar command room]

(Egrorian is watching the trajectory on the monitor)
EGRORIAN: How? How?! There's no way for them to escape!
SERVALAN: But they have, Egrorian! ...You and your foolproof plan!
EGRORIAN: Highness...
SERVALAN: You have failed me, Egrorian. I told you I punish failure.
EGRORIAN: Highness, no, ...no...
SERVALAN: No, I'll leave you to remember ...what might have been.
(Servalan leaves)
EGRORIAN: No, no, no, no, no ...Servalan, you can't leave me. I served you well! ...You can't abandon me!
PINDER: You were ready to abandon me, Egrorian. You and Servalan ...planning to leave me ...after ten years, ...sixty of mine!
EGRORIAN: Pinder?
PINDER: Red ...is dead. ...Remember?
(Pinder operates some controls)
EGRORIAN: What are you doing?
PINDER: I've reversed the fields!
EGRORIAN: No, don't be a fool!
(Pinder presses a button)
PINDER: Hoffal's radiation, Egrorian! Hoffal's... Ahrgh...
(they age and die. Pinder to a skeleton. Egrorian to an old white-haired and bearded man)

[Scorpio leaving Malodar]

[Scorpio in flight]

[Flight deck]

TARRANT: A neutron star?
AVON: A microscopic fragment of one. It's the only possible explanation. It was unbelievably heavy.
DAYNA: So how could Egrorian have planted it aboard?
AVON: He must have reprogrammed that automatic landing bay of his.
SOOLIN: And you moved it on your own?
AVON: I couldn't find Vila.
VILA: I'm glad about that.
TARRANT: Pity about the tachyon funnel, though.
AVON: We had no choice.
VILA: It's a trip I won't forget, Avon.
AVON: Well, as you always say, Vila, you know you are safe ...with me.

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