Script for Death-Watch by Chris Boucher
(c) 1980 by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Series created by Terry Nation. This is a dialogue transcript for research purposes and is not for sale under any circumstances. Format (c) 1993 by Micky DuPree, Kathryn Andersen, Susan Beth Schnitger and Didi Johnson.
Regular Cast Kerr Avon Paul Darrow Cally Jan Chappell Vila Restal Michael Keating Servalan Jacqueline Pearce Del Tarrant Steven Pacey Dayna Mellanby Josette Simon Zen & Orac Peter Tuddenham Guest Cast Deeta Tarrant Steven Pacey Vinni Mark Elliott Max Stewart Bevan Commentator (Darvid) David Sibley Karla Katherine Iddon Uncredited Male voice (viscast director) Female voice (space liner announcer) Male voice (space liner captain) Male voice (Teal Control) [Space. The liner Teal Star is in motion] VOICE Teal Star, Teal Star. This is Teal Control calling United Planets passenger liner Teal Star, do you copy? (BLEEP) CAPTAIN [V.O] Teal Control, Teal Control, this is passenger liner Teal Star, we do copy, go ahead. (BLEEP)
[Observation gallery of the Teal Star. Deeta Tarrant is standing alone on a catwalk that spans the room beside a large window viewport showing the space outside the ship.] VOICE Teal Star, this is Teal Control. We have a message for one of your passengers, priority code nine. Please instruct your computer to receive and decode. I repeat, priority code nine. Confirm please. (BLEEP) CAPTAIN [V.O] Teal Control, this is Teal Star, confirm priority code nine.
[Space. View of the Teal Star] CAPTAIN Computer shows ready, green on all boards, go ahead. (BLEEP) VOICE Teal Star, Teal Control. Message is running. (BLEEP) CAPTAIN [V.O] Teal Control, message received and decoding. Is that the lot? (BLEEP) VOICE That's the lot. Many thanks Teal Star. And good luck. Teal Control out.
[Observation gallery. Deeta walks down the stairs from the catwalk] FEMALE VOICE The first-class dining salons on levels one through five are now open. Dinner is now being served in the first-class passenger levels one through five. KARLA [approaching Deeta] Excuse me? I'm sorry it's very rude of me... but aren't you Deeta Tarrant? DEETA Yes, I am. KARLA Yes, I thought you were. I've seen you on the viscasts of course -- but you look different somehow -- you're taller than I expected. DEETA I usually stand in a hole. KARLA Oh, forgive me -- I didn't mean to be rude. You must think I'm an awful fool. DEETA Of course not. KARLA Well, it was very nice meeting you. [starts past him then stumbles against him. Deeta catches her arm to steady her.] Stupid shoes. Why is fashion never practical? DEETA [spins about, whips out gun and shoots assassin who falls down from the catwalk, then turns gun on Karla] Tell me. KARLA I had nothing to do with that! [pause] You surely can't think I was involved. DEETA Just a coincidence. [holsters gun] KARLA [losing "silly little me" tone of voice completely] Doesn't seem very likely does it. How did you know? DEETA The stumble. A deliberate fall can look accidental, but it never feels right. Balance is instinctive. KARLA Is he dead? DEETA Yes. How many more are there? KARLA Six hundred and seventy two. You don't really expect a serious answer to that question, do you? DEETA Eventually. What's your name? KARLA Karla. DEETA Well, Karla, [turns away from her and goes to the body] your partner here has used up all the available luck. [examines the body of the dead man] There's no easy way out for you. KARLA [sarcastically] You really think of me as a major threat, don't you? DEETA Why did you break the rules? You must know the penalties. KARLA I can see you don't rate me as a fighter, but do I strike you as a fool as well? DEETA So, you have an answer for the Summons to Justification. Like what? Surely not a Blood Feud? [rises to face her] I can't have killed someone who's close kin to both of you. Particularly not as your friend here is a citizen of the Vandor Confederacy. As I assume you are. [drops a metal ID card at her feet] KARLA [picks it up] There will be no Summons to Justification. As First Champion of the United Planets of Teal you're a valid target until you reach the Combat Grounds. DEETA In time of war. KARLA Exactly. A formal declaration was delivered to your council an hour ago. FEMALE VOICE Will passenger Deeta Tarrant go to the Flight Deck, please. Passenger Deeta Tarrant to the Flight Deck, please. KARLA [speaking over end of previous announcement] And that I imagine will be your notification and call to combat. You'll be transferred to a military cruiser within the hour. A pity. We had hoped you would not be their Champion. Our man is good. [Turns away from him, as if to leave] But you might just be better. [pulls a gun and turns to aim at him] DEETA Don't do it! [whips out his gun and shoots her] FEMALE VOICE Will Deeta Tarrant report immediately to the Flight Deck, please. [Deeta reholsters gun and exits] Deeta Tarrant to the Flight Deck, please.
[Liberator flight deck] DAYNA Come on, Tarrant, I could've worked it out on my fingers by now. Move any faster, you'll break into a standstill. TARRANT The best strategy option is timed at fifty hours. AVON Useless. TARRANT Well, there's only one strike point which covers all escape vectors. AVON They'll be long gone before we get anywhere near it. TARRANT Yes, I'm afraid they will. DAYNA The electronic warriors strike again. That'll be four of Servalan's ore ships we've let through without a fight. AVON To FIGHT them we have to catch them. DAYNA To CATCH them we have to chase them, or hadn't that occurred to you? TARRANT Yes, well, it's a little more sophisticated than fighting hairy primitives with a bow and arrow, Dayna. [Vila enters carrying Orac. Avon walks over to them.] DAYNA The machines are more sophisticated, Tarrant, that's all, but the principle isn't, and the people certainly aren't. AVON [looks at Vila] You know, she could be right. VILA They're smiling, Orac. ORAC I fail to see the relevance of that observation. VILA Shouldn't they be tired and getting on each other's nerves? ORAC There is a progressive reduction in their conscious attention span and a growing imbalance in the dynamic structure of the group. VILA Is that yes or no? [Vila sets Orac on the table in the "pit", and all seat themselves about it.] ORAC It is yes. As a result of this, the efficiency rating of the ship as a complete unit is dropping by one point zero two percent per work period. The error quotient bears a delayed inverse relation-- VILA [Pulls Orac's key] They don't write poetry like that anymore. What this electronic pain is trying to say is-- TARRANT --is that unless we get a break, there's going to be a fatal foul-up. VILA Right. AVON Where do you suggest we go, Vila, for this holiday that we all need so badly? VILA Me? Well, I hadn't really given it any thought. AVON Oh, I see. You got all that information from Orac out of a sense of ... duty? TARRANT Dedication? Selfless devotion to the welfare of his comrades. VILA What's so strange about that? DAYNA Where's the party, Vila? TARRANT Oh, come on, Vila. Your sales pitch is a failure. Why not just tell us what it is you want to do? VILA After Orac had told me about the dangerous situation that was developing.... TARRANT Yes? VILA ... I did do some checking... TARRANT Yes? VILA -- and one of the things I discovered was ... that the United Planets of Teal and the Vandor Confederacy are at war! DAYNA Oh, what an interesting piece of news, Vila. There's nothing like someone else's war to take your mind off your own. TARRANT Are you sure about this? VILA Orac picked it up during a routine communication sweep. AVON When was the declaration? VILA A few hours ago. We've plenty of time to get to the combat grounds. TARRANT Zen. [Looks at Avon] Yes? AVON Why not? TARRANT [goes to a control station, passing Cally as she enters] Zen, I want a course for the planet designated as the combat grounds by the Teal-Vandor Convention. ZEN Confirmed. CALLY Have I missed something? DAYNA I think we both have. AVON [replaces Orac's key] Orac, I want you to monitor all transmissions from the Teal-Vandor combat grounds and relay any public viscasts to the main screen. ORAC Am I to understand that you wish me to act as a viscast relay? AVON That is what you are to understand. DAYNA Is someone going to tell us what we're to understand? CALLY Yes, what exactly is going on? VILA You mean you've never heard of the Teal-Vandor Convention? ZEN Course is laid in. Acceptance confirmation is now required. TARRANT Accepted. Run course program. Speed Standard by Four.
[Liberator turning in space] CALLY [V.O.] If someone doesn't tell Dayna and me what all this is about-- DAYNA [V.O.] --we're going to get very irritated! VILA [V.O.] Break out the booze, girls. It's fiesta time. Now, Cally, Dayna, let's not be violent. You know how I hate to see a man cry, especially when it's me.
[Liberator flight deck. Orac has been moved to the floor and the central table is covered with drinks and bowls of snacks. Vila is holding a drink and munching during most of this scene.] DAYNA And that's all it is? A fight to the death between two champions, winner takes all. AVON That's putting it rather crudely. CALLY It's rather a crude idea. TARRANT Look, two men fight for the honor of independent planetary systems of maybe twenty million people each. It's hardly crude, Cally. VILA They don't just step up and beat hell out of each other with big wooden clubs, you know. TARRANT Or bows and arrows. VILA Or bows and arrows. There's ... uh ... rules and honor and chivalry and ... all that sort of thing. CALLY [Rolling her eyes] That makes all the difference, of course. AVON It does to us. Outsiders are welcomed as honored guests and accorded the status of neutral observers. As long as we abide by the rules of the Convention, both sides will protect us. TARRANT From all comers, including the Federation. VILA Which means we can enjoy the festivities in complete confidence and relaxation. Drink anyone? [He waves his free hand at the table, then gestures at one dish in particular. Dayna picks it up and holds it out to him while he scoops up some of its contents.] CALLY What are these festivities Vila keeps drooling about? DAYNA They must be something special. [To Tarrant] I haven't seen you move that positively in weeks. TARRANT It'll be a big occasion. AVON A ritual war is bound to generate a great deal of excitement. VILA Back on Earth they used to say it was the most excitement you can have with your clothes on anywhere in the galaxy. [Tarrant laughs] DAYNA How very witty of them. AVON No, he's right. The Teal-Vandor Convention was famous on Earth. The ultimate excitement. CALLY The "ultimate excitement": watching two men kill each other. AVON Yes. No. On reflection, that would seem to have a somewhat limited appeal [smiles] as ultimate excitements go. VILA Well, there's obviously more to it than that. I mean, wine, women, and song. CALLY That would seem to have an even more limited appeal. TARRANT Oh, I don't know. ORAC I am now picking up a public viscast transmission. AVON Put it on the main screen. ORAC I must point out that this is a gross misuse and an absurd waste of my capabilities. AVON Put it on the main screen. ORAC I will do it only under protest. AVON You can do it any way you like. Just so long as you put it on the main screen. VILA Are you sure you can't redesign him as something useful, like a drinks dispenser? Or an empty space. I think he'd look really good as an empty space.
[The main viewscreen shows the public viscast. Shots of white lights swirling against a blue background, presumably meant to be "space" settings.] DARVID [V.O] ... "space, the final frontier" as it was once called. A weightless, freezing vacuum, here created artificially and maintained by the central computer as one of the hundreds of different environments offered by the combat grounds for the coming battle. [The viewscreen shows shifting scenes of different environments: oceans, rocky shores, tropical beaches, etc.] In giant chambers, exact recreations like these you see are controlled by the combat computer. Environments from other planets, other cultures, other times. The computer will choose which of these environmental chambers will be used for the battle. This choice is what the combat grounds are all about. In the words of the Convention, "Let no man say 'This man chose the ground on which we die.'"
[Darvid stands in front of a combat grounds chamber entrance] DARVID The combatants will each enter the chamber through a door like this. Only the computer will know what awaits them on the other side. Their only clue will lie in this locker, which contains protective clothing and specialized weapons, should the environment behind that door require them. [holds hand against ear for a couple of seconds.] And I've just been told that the combatants are in fact now arriving at the space port, and we are going across to join the thousands of cheering spectators who are waiting to catch a glimpse of the two men on whose skill the outcome of this war depends. [voice changes to ordinary conversational tone] That all right? VOICE [bored] Fine. DARVID Oh, that good,eh? VOICE Well, what do you want me to say? It was your usual delicate mixture of enthusiasm and dignified cliche. DARVID I love you too. What's next? VOICE You mean you've forgotten? I don't know why we bothered to rehearse. DARVID From the way you've been juggling those remotes I didn't think you had. VOICE If the performer won't move then the camera must. DARVID I thought it might confuse you if I moved. VOICE Oh, you've been thinking? Another first. [unintelligible sounds of another voice] What? What d'you mean you've missed them? Oh, wonderful! Congratulations! Crowd scenes we can get anywhere, you idiot! Darvid? DARVID Yes? VOICE We missed them at the spaceport. DARVID It happens. VOICE Only to me! They didn't even wave to the crowd. Their seconds bundled them straight into two V.I.P. shuttles and off. DARVID We'll get some good shots of them when they present their credentials to the Arbiters. VOICE Oh, remembered finally have we? Listen, [sarcastic tone] OUR HEROES should arrive in about thirty minutes. You want to wander down and place the remotes for me? DARVID [mimics the other's tone] "Our heroes"? I suppose you'd change places with them, would you? Step through one of those doors without any idea of what's in there. Without even knowing whether your opponent's been let in first and is all set up and waiting. You'd fancy that would you? VOICE Not a lot. But then I'm not a professional killer. DARVID That's not what the critics say. VOICE You want to position those remotes for me, Darvid? DARVID All right, give me voice control. VOICE You've got it. DARVID Follow me, men. We have one hero and one dead man to meet, and as yet no way to tell which is which. [beckons with one finger, then walks out with three floating remote cameras following]
[Max and Deeta are in a two-seated tube-train] MAX How do you feel? DEETA Fine, Max, fine. For the fourth time. MAX I'm sorry. Right now you are our most important man. I just want to be sure there's nothing bothering you. DEETA You're more nervous than I. MAX Are you nervous? DEETA These sub-surface shuttles are a bit claustrophobic, aren't they? MAX I didn't know you suffered from claustrophobia. DEETA I don't, Max. MAX For a member of the diplomatic corps, I'm not being very diplomatic, am I? DEETA Have you found out any more about their man? MAX Not really. He doesn't seem to have a history. He just turned up about the time the border problem was developing. He killed Rakov in a private challenge and was automatically proclaimed First Champion of the Vandor Confederacy. DEETA Any fights since then? MAX Rakov's son tried to take him. Strictly no contest. DEETA What do you think? MAX It's all been according to the rules. DEETA I don't know, Max. Smells like a set-up. Those two who tried to kill me on the Teal Star: they knew in advance the precise time that Vandor declared war. MAX We lodged a protest, but the Arbiters ruled there was no technical violation. DEETA Any question about them? MAX You should know better than to ask that. DEETA I don't have to be diplomatic, Max. Well? MAX Their Arbiter is a High Council member. So is ours. They're both beyond reproach. DEETA And the neutral? MAX Nearly there. You'll be able to judge for yourself in a few minutes. DEETA Max, in a few hours a man is going to try and kill me. Now, thanks to the skill of the diplomatic corps I know nothing about him. MAX Oh, that's most unfair. DEETA Unfair? I'm not concerned with fairness or diplomacy or good manners. I'm only concerned that my opponent abides by the rules of the Convention, and my only guarantee of that lies with the Arbiters. Now I want to know everything you know about the neutral arbiter.
[Flight deck. The crew is still watching the public viscast, which is now showing Servalan.] VILA [V.O.] Servalan! I don't believe it! Servalan is supposed to make sure everyone sticks to the rules? DARVID [V.O.] And so the three Arbiters await the imminent arrival of the Champions who will identify themselves, and make formal acceptance of the rules of the Convention. This solemn ceremony... AVON [Speaking over the remainder of Darvid's speech] All this breathless solemnity is beginning to irritate me. DARVID [V.O.] ...lies at the very heart of our system of representative war. AVON Give us vision only, Orac. [the commentator's voice is cut off] VILA I was enjoying that. TARRANT Servalan's a logical choice for them if you think about it. After all, she is president of an empire which borders on both systems. AVON [pauses as if struck by this] She is indeed. [Rises and crosses to a control station.] CALLY But she's not exactly an ideal candidate, though. VILA Her idea of chivalry is never to shoot a blind man in the back. DAYNA That's very true, Vila. VILA Wonderful. And for my next trick, I shall swallow my other foot. I completely forgot about your father. DAYNA I expect Servalan has, too. VILA I'm sorry, Dayna. DAYNA One of these days it will be my pleasure to remind her. TARRANT Yes, but not one of THESE days. Our prospective hosts get very sweaty about rules violations. AVON The rule is no hostile act towards anyone. We are strictly neutral observers. Zen, put the battle and strategy computers on line. Direct visual readout to this position. ZEN Confirmed. TARRANT Battle computers? AVON Just something I want to check. VILA This looks like one of the champions. Let's hear it for the man. [Cally looks at the screen a few seconds then turns to look at Tarrant.] Sound, Orac, give us the sound. [Deeta is formally addressing the Arbiters] DEETA [on screen] --and defend the United Planets of Teal with my blood. For we are in the right. VILA I know him, don't I?
SERVALAN [on screen] Will you abide by the Convention? DEETA [on screen] I will.
SERVALAN [on screen] You are welcome here. VILA I'm sure I know him. TARRANT I doubt that. He left Earth a long time ago. AVON Who is he? TARRANT His name is Deeta. He's my brother.
[Actual room where the ceremony is taking place. Deeta faces Servalan across a table on which two guns are lying.]
SERVALAN The ancient weapons of combat. Use your choice with honor. [Deeta takes both guns and checks them over.] They've already been checked. Don't you trust us? I assure you they're exactly the same. DEETA No two guns are ever exactly the same.
SERVALAN You have a brother, do you not? DEETA I left Earth a long time ago.
SERVALAN He left more recently. Following your example, perhaps. DEETA I hope not. [sets down one of the guns] With your permission, madam, I have preparation to make.
SERVALAN By all means. [Deeta bows, then turns and walks to the entrance where his way is blocked by Vinni. He steps to the side but Vinni moves to stay in front of him. They do this twice more.] VINNI You're not good enough to get past me, Tarrant. DEETA You're going to look pretty silly flat on your back with a face full of footprints. VINNI [laughs] My name is Vinni. I've come to kill you. [moves aside to allow Deeta to pass] You're a dead man, Tarrant. DEETA They're the worst kind. [exits] [Vinni crosses to bow to the Arbiters.]
[Deeta's ready room. Max is waiting when Deeta enters.] DEETA I've just met their man. I don't like him. [sits in a chair with a control panel attached to the right arm and an electronic, helmet-like device atop the back.] MAX Did you expect to? DEETA I don't mean personally. I mean there's something strange about him, something wrong. MAX He's a professional killer. That's not exactly the way a normal person would.... [Breaks off as he realizes what he's saying] DEETA Have you ever thought you might be in the wrong business, Max? MAX I'm not usually this inept. DEETA Professional killers make you nervous. MAX Maybe. DEETA Yes, well NON-professional killers make me nervous. And Vinni is not a professional. So what the hell is he, Max? MAX A dead man, obviously. Coming up against a top professional like you, I mean. He has no chance, right? DEETA Rakov was a top professional. MAX You're better than Rakov. DEETA Yes, well, so is he. [Begins adjusting the control panel, keeps fiddling with the controls throughout the next few lines.] Right, I'm ready to charge up the sensors. MAX I've a couple of messages for you here. [consults handheld device] The viscast people would like to record an interview-- DEETA No. They can use archive material for the obituary. MAX Do you want me to tell them that? DEETA Just tell them no. MAX Del Tarrant, claims to be your brother. His ship is due in about thirty minutes, wants to see you. DEETA No. Afterwards, maybe. Is that it? MAX That's it. DEETA Right. Time to charge up the sensor net. [Lowers helmet- like electronic rig over his head.] MAX Something wrong? DEETA It's just the thought of all that stuff they put inside my head ... frightens the hell out of me. MAX It's quite safe, Deeta. [Whirring noises as the sensor net is charged. Deeta's eyes fill with sparkling white light for a few seconds] MAX All right? DEETA Fine. [raises the helmet, then hands a green disk to Max] Right, let's see if it still works. [Max sticks the disk on his forehead] Ready? [Max nods and closes his eyes. The disk changes to silver sparkles.] What do you see? MAX A gun. DEETA [looking at the gun he is holding] How does it feel? MAX Natural, almost part of me. DEETA [raising gun and pointing it at Max] And now? MAX I am pointing the gun at a man sitting in a chair. Is that really how I look? DEETA [Closes his eyes] And now? MAX Nothing. But I feel ... a little anger, little sadness, some small fear. DEETA [Eyes fly open] Welcome to my head. MAX [Opens his] It works. DEETA So you and millions of other taxpaying citizens can kill or die almost for real. Just pick a champion, join the fun. MAX You resent this part of it, don't you? DEETA You only have to close your eyes to find out. [Max removes the disk. Deeta smiles] Maybe you are in the right business after all, Max. [holsters the gun] MAX You going to get some rest now? DEETA Well, I'm certainly going to try. MAX [rises] I'll see you before it starts. DEETA Oh, don't you want to eavesdrop on a dream or two? MAX No thanks, Deeta. DEETA Very sensible, Max. Very sensible. [It seems for a second that Max is going to speak but he changes his mind and exits.]
[Flight deck] ZEN Orbit is now established. All systems are functioning normally. Status is firm. TARRANT Thank you, Zen. DARVID [on screen] And so everything is ready. The formalities are complete. The Champions are prepared. The Arbiters have activated the combat computer which will control the conditions of battle. Only the computer knows when it will begin and where. [the screen fades to black. A computer display prints up:
COMBAT COMPUTER: READY COMMAND SEQUENCE: RUNNING
INSTRUCTIONS: COMMENCE 1. WAIT
VILA Come on, then. Let's go mingle with the joyous multitude. [stands] AVON [to Tarrant] Are you going to see this diplomat? TARRANT Why not? DAYNA Do you want us to wait? TARRANT No. I'll find you. [exits] VILA Don't forget Orac. [Avon exits] CALLY No need. I'll operate the teleport. DAYNA Aren't you coming with us? CALLY I don't think so. VILA But we've come to enjoy ourselves, Cally. CALLY I know. VILA Well, how can you enjoy yourself staying here? [Dayna exits] CALLY Well, maybe it's got something to do with the fact that you won't be. VILA Oh, thank you! [chases Cally out] [On the screen the computer graphic changes. The word 'wait' winks out and is replaced by:
1. COMBAT CHAMBER SELECTED 2. WAIT
[Max's room. Max is standing watching a screen with the same display.] TARRANT [materializing behind Max] Are you Max? MAX Oh. Oh, you startled me. TARRANT [offering his hand] I'm Del Tarrant. MAX [shakes his hand] I can see you're Deeta's brother.
[gestures to the nearby chairs and both men sit down] TARRANT How is Deeta? MAX He's resting at the moment. How long is it since you've seen him? TARRANT Oh, seven, maybe eight years. MAX I expect he's changed a bit. TARRANT I expect we both have. Why doesn't he want to see me? MAX Oh, he does, but afterwards. TARRANT There may not be an afterwards. MAX Oh, he stands a very good chance. He's been our First Champion for nearly four years. He's fought a lot of challenges. No one's come near to beating him. TARRANT Were all his fights like this? MAX Well, uh, no, not exactly. [Offers Tarrant a small tray of snacks] TARRANT No, thank you. MAX These combat grounds are only used for officially declared wars, and we haven't had one of those for twenty years. TARRANT So what brought this one on? MAX Border incursions, retaliation, escalation: routine enough pattern. TARRANT Once every twenty years is routine? MAX Our border squabbles don't usually lead to war. Actually this one did take us a little by surprise. Our computers missed the trend completely. TARRANT What's at stake? What happens to you if Deeta loses? MAX The Convention will require us to surrender two-thirds of our fleet and three of our planets. TARRANT And you're willing to do that? MAX Well, of course. So are they. You see, Del, for us, this is not a game. We really are at war.
[Flight deck. Cally is alone, holding a drink and using the bookscreen.] VILA [V.O., over comm] Cally? Are you there, Cally? CALLY What is it, Vila? VILA [V.O., over comm] Dayna and I are ready to come up. CALLY So soon? VILA [V.O., over comm] There's nothing here. Everyone's gone home. Everything's closed. CALLY No joyous multitude? VILA [V.O., over comm] No joyous anybody. I've seen more life in a prison blanket. CALLY What about Avon? VILA [V.O., over comm] Gone to visit a sick friend. CALLY A sick friend? VILA [V.O., over comm] That's what he said. And let's face it: any friend of Avon's got to be sick, right? Are you going to bring us up, Cally? CALLY Have a little patience, Vila. VILA [V.O., over comm] What for? All that ever gets you is older.
[Arbiters' room. Servalan is pacing.]
SERVALAN I am not in the habit of waiting for couriers-- [Turns and breaks off as she recognizes Avon] AVON Madam President.
SERVALAN I see the Orac computer has broken our latest security code. AVON A useful gadget. Worth every penny you ALMOST paid for it.
SERVALAN Wasteful of you to let me know the code was broken, surely? AVON I thought you'd see me more readily if you thought I was part of the conspiracy.
SERVALAN Conspiracy? Oh, Avon. I haven't gone and given myself away again, have I? AVON I've been doing a little strategic analysis.
SERVALAN Bravo. AVON Somewhere along the line there is going to be a major violation of the Convention.
SERVALAN Really? Well, I'm glad you warned me. Because as Neutral Arbiter such violations are my concern. AVON The result will be total war between these two systems. Real war, not children's games like all this. You will let them fight it out for a little while and then your battle fleet will move in to mop up the remnants. For their own good, of course, to prevent further bloodshed and destruction. The civilian populations may even welcome you.
SERVALAN What form will this major violation take? AVON Do they know that your battle fleet is massed on their borders?
SERVALAN Routine maneuvers. And a small demonstration of concern for my personal safety, which both sides understand and accept. AVON Thank you.
SERVALAN For what? AVON Answering my question. [starts to leave]
SERVALAN I have nothing to hide. AVON [Turns back] Is that why you answered?
SERVALAN Naturally. AVON Oh, no, not "naturally," Madam President. You do not NATURALLY answer a question from an enemy who has no NATURAL right to ask it.
SERVALAN But I don't think of YOU as an enemy, Avon. I think of YOU as a future friend. AVON [puts his arm about Servalan and pulls her against him] Your plan had better be fireproof, Servalan, or I'll see you burn with it. [Kisses her. While continuing to hold Servalan he activates com in bracelet behind her back.] Cally? CALLY [V.O., over comm] Yes, Avon? AVON I'm ready to come up now. CALLY [V.O., over comm] Stand by.
SERVALAN [strokes finger across Avon's lips] Threatening an arbiter is a violation of the Convention, you know. AVON So report me. [releases her]
SERVALAN I'll overlook it this time. [Avon teleports out] After all, [smiles] it's not a major violation. [seats herself at the table turns on the viewscreen which displays:
1. COMBAT CHAMBER SELECTED 2. WAIT
then the last line changes to:
2. ARBITERS TAKE POSITION AND INDICATE READINESS 3. WAIT
Servalan presses a button. The screen changes to:
INDICATE READINESS NEUTRAL ARBITER READY
[Flight deck. Dayna and Vila are watching the view screen. Avon enters]
DAYNA How was your friend? AVON Sick as ever. Orac, I want you to tap into the records computer down there and get me all the rules relating to the Teal-Vandor Convention. ORAC It will take a few moments to identify the appropriate data store. AVON Then I want you to assimilate them and program one of your systems as an analog of a hostile arbiter. ORAC In what way, "hostile"? AVON One who is expecting a violation. ORAC Do you wish me to continue relaying the viscast? VILA Yes, we do. It's not exactly thrilling, but it's all there is. DAYNA And you came a long way to be thrilled, didn't you, Vila? VILA Damn right I did. And I'm going to be thrilled one way or another. [Furtive glances at Dayna] Have a drink, Dayna. DAYNA Do you know your most attractive quality, Vila? VILA [Eagerly] No. What? DAYNA Your subtlety. [His face falls.]
[Max's room. He and Tarrant have been watching the same display.] TARRANT Right, I'll get back to my ship. MAX It'll start very soon now. TARRANT When it's over let me know. I'll come back. MAX Aren't you going to share it? TARRANT I'm sorry? MAX The sensor net. You don't know about it? [A line is added to the display: TEAL ARBITER: READY] Both men have had microsensors implanted in the brain. These are connected to a conductive mesh which is actually etched into the bone of the skull. When this mesh gets charged up it becomes a sort of transmitter. TARRANT Transmitting signals from the microsensors? MAX Right. The signals are boosted through the combat computer and are picked up by these receivers. [Picks up one of the green disks and hands it to Tarrant] You put it on your forehead. It's activated through the optic nerves. Close your eyes and it feeds the signal directly into the brain, open them and it cuts out. TARRANT How effective is it? MAX With that, you can see what Deeta sees and feel a lot of what he feels, physically and emotionally. These [picks up and hands Tarrant a blue disk] are a slightly different frequency. TARRANT Keyed to the other man? MAX You choose which one you want to go with. TARRANT How many people use these? MAX Oh, almost everyone in the two systems. It's a release that we all share. A catharsis. We all fight the war, but only one MAN actually dies. TARRANT My brother. MAX Or his opponent. TARRANT So that's the ultimate excitement. Murder without guilt, death without loss. MAX War without destruction. [Another line is added to the display: VANDOR ARBITER: READY] I must go. TARRANT Wish Deeta luck for me. MAX Yes. [exits] TARRANT [into bracelet] I'm ready to come up, Cally. [grabs a few of each color of disks from the boxes on a table.]
[Deeta's room. He is looking at the viewscreen which displays:
CHAMPIONS GO TO BATTLE CHAMBER ENTRANCES. TEAL: BLACK VANDOR: RED INDICATE READINESS
MAX [rushing in] I was afraid I'd miss you. DEETA It's all right, Max. There's plenty of time. MAX How do you feel? DEETA Fine. MAX For the hundreth time. I'm sorry, I haven't been much help, have I? DEETA The Death-Watch is never easy, Max. You did well, I'm grateful to you. [offers his hand and they shake] MAX We wish you luck. DEETA The people of Teal? MAX Your brother and I. DEETA Have the drinks set up, Max. We'll celebrate, eh, the three of us? [exits. Max takes a green disk, sits down and puts it on his forehead.]
[Red door to battle chamber. Vinni presses a panel. The door to his locker opens to reveal it is empty. He draws his gun and stands before the entrance.]
[Arbiters' room. Another line has been added to the display:
VANDOR CHAMPION: READY
The Vandor arbiter affixes a blue disk and activates it by closing his eyes.]
[Black door to battle chamber. Deeta presses his panel, the empty locker opens. He draws his gun, checks it, then reholsters it and moves to wait before the door.]
[Arbiters' room. Another line has been added to the display:
TEAL CHAMPION: READY
The Teal arbiter dons a green disk and activates it. Servalan simply waits.]
[Flight deck. The viewscreen is showing the same display. Tarrant and Vila each have an activated green disk on their foreheads. Dayna is holding a blue one.] DAYNA I, I don't want to do this, Avon. I'll be fighting Tarrant's brother. AVON You will be judging the MAN who is fighting him. DAYNA But you can't be objective with something like this. AVON You don't have to be. It's your instinct as a fighter that we need. CALLY And Tarrant will be an instinctive judge of his brother's actions. AVON You're a natural fighter, Dayna. You will be an instinctive judge of the other man. DAYNA Well, even if one of them breaks the rules, what can we do about it? AVON That is what Orac is going to tell us. [Dayna affixes the disk to her forehead and shuts her eyes.]
[Max's room. He waits with disk activated.]
[Arbiter's room. Servalan smiles. The display changes to read:
[Red door. It opens and Vinni enters the combat ground.]
[Black door. Deeta still waits.]
[Combat grounds, what looks like the bombed or burned out ruins of a large building. Vinni moves about, searching.] VINNI [holds up hands with his gun pointing off uselessly in the air and shouts] Tarrant! You get one free shot, Tarrant! [pause, then holsters his gun, runs across the main open area of the building into a more enclosed area and climbs up a ladder.]
[Black door. Deeta clenches his fist as he waits.]
[Flight deck. Tarrant mimics Deeta's gesture.]
[Black door. It opens and Deeta enters the combat ground at some distance from Vinni's point of entry. He moves about, scanning and pointing his gun in various directions.]
[Combat grounds. Deeta shoots at Vinni and misses. Vinni fires back, also missing. They move about continuously. Vinni searches for Deeta. Deeta fires again, Vinni fires back twice, then advances again searching in vain for Deeta.]
[Flight deck: through Dayna's mind's eye we see what Vinni is seeing as he scans about. Through Tarrant's mind's eye we see Deeta's hands and gun as he fires at Vinni, who fires back.]
[Combat grounds. Deeta is sheltering in a doorway.] VINNI [shouting from o.o.s.] Tarrant! Tarrant! We're wasting time, Tarrant. We could die of old age chasing each other around here. DEETA What do you suggest we do? Draw straws?
[Combat grounds. Vinni is standing in the more enclosed area.] VINNI We draw guns, Tarrant. Isn't that what you're best at? Only I'm better and I'm going to prove it. Holster your gun -- I'll meet you out in the open, face to face. Fast man wins. What do you say? [Deeta walks up behind him, unnoticed.] Well, have you got the stomach for it? [Deeta aims his gun at Vinni's back then holsters it] What do you say, Tarrant? DEETA All right. [Vinni spins around at the sound of his voice.] Let's see if you're as fast with your gun as you are with your mouth. [Vinni grins and leads the way into the larger, open-to- the-sky, area of the building. He turns to face Deeta, who has his hand on his holstered gun. Vinni holds up his empty hands.] VINNI After you, Tarrant. [Deeta starts to draw his gun. Change to slow motion as we see the smoke from Vinni's shot and that Deeta's gun isn't even fully aimed yet. Deeta is blown back by the impact.]
[Intercuts shots as Max and the others react and we see Deeta falling in slow motion. Another shot is heard, possibly meant to be an echo from the first.]
[Flight deck] VILA No!
[Combat grounds. Deeta falls to the ground, one hand clutching his bloody chest, then his hand slips slowly to the ground.]
[Flight deck. Tarrant grimaces in pain and sorrow.]
[Combat grounds. The skeletal roof of the building against the sky, apparently Deeta's point of view.] DEETA [V.O.] Stupid. Stupid of me. He's fast. He's really fast, Del. Del, I'm sorry. I'm afraid the eavesdroppers have to listen after all. Didn't want a million people in my head when we met-- [Vinni is approaching] Damn, it hurts. I never should have left you. I missed you, little brother. [Vinni takes aim and fires one last time. The screen goes black.]
[Flight deck] DAYNA Tarrant. Tarrant! [shakes him] Tarrant! Tarrant! [she rips his patch off and he gasps] I'm sorry, Tarrant. TARRANT He should have killed him when he had the chance. [Smiles a sickly smile] Deeta never was very practical.
[Combat grounds. Vinni stands over Deeta's body] VINNI [to Deeta] I told you I was faster. [looking up as if to the audience, shouts] Deeta Tarrant is dead! [Walks off a few steps] I claim victory for the Vandor Confederacy of Planets.
SERVALAN [switches off screen] Well, gentlemen, before we confirm this victory there are some checks I should like carried out, formalities only. But I fear scrupulous fairness is one of my small personal obsessions. I'm sure you'll bear with me.
[Flight deck] AVON Did they behave as you expected? Come on, we haven't got much time. TARRANT Deeta didn't break any rules. In fact, he kept an extra one of his own. A costly one. AVON You felt nothing abnormal in his behavior? TARRANT Nothing. DAYNA I felt something. At least, I think I did. AVON Yes? DAYNA It's difficult to pin down. It's as though we were waiting. VILA Not from where I was standing. I couldn't understand how I missed him. And I couldn't believe how fast he pulled that gun. CALLY And yet watching them on the screen, I felt it was Deeta who had the real talent, the real instinct for it. DAYNA That's it. There was no instinct. No anticipation. I wai-- HE waited for things to happen and then reacted to them. But when he did react it was so fast it was exhilarating. I began to feel the other man couldn't shoot me because I could move before any shot could reach me. AVON Well, Orac? ORAC It is my conclusion that the one called Vinni is not human, but is in fact a highly sophisticated android exquisitely programed as a gunfighter. TARRANT Deeta was fighting a machine? AVON And when that is revealed, all hell breaks loose. CALLY How will they find out? ORAC There is a little used regulation which allows any of the arbiters to call for a medical examination of the winning combatant. CALLY Won't it resist? ORAC The Vinni android will regard itself as human. It will have no reason to resist such an examination. AVON Orac, how can we destroy the android without violating the Convention? ORAC By challenge, under the rules of blood feud. Since Vinni has killed his brother, Tarrant has the right of combat. [Avon looks at Tarrant who stands up.] TARRANT That sounds promising. VILA You wouldn't stand a chance. TARRANT I'll risk that. AVON He could use the new gun. Dayna? DAYNA It's ready. [starts to go but Avon stops her] AVON Vila can get it. DAYNA It's in the test room, Vila. VILA What did your last slave die of? [He leaves the flight deck. Tarrant moves off to stand alone, with his back to the others.] AVON Dayna, I want you to stop Servalan. DAYNA [with grim anticipation] My pleasure. AVON Do everything you have to to prevent that medical examination and delay things until we get there, but do not kill Servalan. Cally. Will you operate the teleport? [Cally exits.] I mean this, Dayna. You kill Servalan now, you blow everything wide open, including us. [Dayna exits. Avon crosses to Tarrant and takes him by the arm.] Tarrant. I presume you have no tedious scruples about cheating and lying? TARRANT None at all. AVON Oh, good. [Smiles. They exit]
[Arbiter's room. Two technicians are about to scan Vinni. Dayna enters and shoots the computer they were about to use.] DAYNA Still! Silent, all of you. [aims her gun at Servalan] Or I'll kill her now. [Vinni starts to move] She's dead, Vinni, not even you could reach your gun in time.
SERVALAN Do as she says. DAYNA That's right, Servalan. [moves to kneel at her side] Now, I want you to close your eyes.
SERVALAN Close my eyes? DAYNA We're going to play a little game. [holds her gun beneath Servalan's chin] Close your eyes. [Servalan does so.] I want you to imagine how my father felt, just before you killed him. [Servalan's eyes fly open.]
[Max's room. Max and Tarrant enter] MAX I understand your feelings, believe me, I do. But Deeta was a professional, he knew the risks-- TARRANT The challenge has already been made. MAX He might not accept it. TARRANT He has to accept it, you know that. Will you act for me or not? MAX There's still time to withdraw-- TARRANT Yes or no? MAX Vinni's the best I've ever seen -- you don't stand a chance against him-- TARRANT [forcefully] Yes or no? MAX Very well. I'll negotiate the arrangements. [starts to leave] TARRANT And the combat computer, remember, I want it to choose the battle chamber and run the contest. MAX I see no reason they shouldn't agree to that. [pause] You're a fool, Del. TARRANT [smiles] It's a family trait, Max.
[Flight deck. Avon, Vila, Dayna and Cally enter, Orac is on the table in the pit.] VILA And they accepted what Dayna did? AVON They ruled it as a minor technical violation, banned her from the planet just as I expected. VILA Well, are you going to tell us why, or are you just going to gloat quietly to yourself? [all seat themselves in the pit.] AVON There is a blood feud between Dayna and Servalan. But Dayna did not declare a challenge and she did not kill Servalan, either. DAYNA A purely temporary oversight on my part. [Avon smiles] [Screen shows: COMBAT COMPUTER: READY] AVON Any time now. VILA Are you sure you can reach him, Cally? CALLY No, I'm not sure. It's a long way, I warned you of that. But I know Tarrant well now and I know where he is. VILA Well, why not have a trial run? CALLY There's no point, Vila. Either it works at the time or it doesn't. DAYNA And if it doesn't, he's dead. CALLY You think I don't know that? [These lines are added to the screen during Vila's next speech:
COMMAND SEQUENCE: RUNNING INSTRUCTIONS: COMMENCE 1. WAIT
VILA They agreed on the conditions. We're on. AVON Get on with it, Orac, tap into that computer. I want to know which chamber it chooses.
[Screen display changes to continue:
1. COMBAT GROUND SELECTED 2. WAIT
Well? Which is it? ORAC I am checking. Kindly wait. AVON We are short of time, Orac. VILA I'll say we are. It's not hanging about this time. [Screen display: 2. WAIT blinks out and is replaced by:
2. ARBITERS TAKE POSITION AND INDICATE READINESS
[Arbiters' room. Screen displays reads:
INDICATE READINESS All three press buttons. The display changes to:
TEAL ARBITER: READY VANDOR ARBITER: READY NEUTRAL ARBITER: READY
COMBATANTS GO TO BATTLE CHAMBER ENTRANCES
[Max's room. Max and Tarrant are shaking hands.] MAX I won't wish you good luck. That's what I wished your brother. TARRANT Thanks for your help, Max. [Removes his transporter bracelet and hands it to Max.] MAX There's nothing for you to prove, Del. You just kill that man, any way you can. TARRANT Oh, don't worry. I wasn't planning to be a hero.
[Flight deck. Display screen adds:
AVON Come on, Orac. Come on.
[Red door. Vinni waits]
[Black door. Tarrant turns away from the empty locker as its door closes.]
[Flight deck] ORAC I have the information you required. AVON Cally. CALLY [V.O., telepaths] Tarrant. Tarrant, listen to me. Concentrate.
[Black door] CALLY [V.O., telepaths] The chamber contains the observation gallery of a deep space liner. Your door will open first, but only by sixty seconds. In that time you must reach the center of the gallery.
[Max's room. The display screen adds:
[Arbiters' room. Display screen:
[Black door. The door is just closing.]
[Red door. The door opens and Vinni enters.]
[The observation gallery. Vinni enters at one end of the catwalk, scans about for Tarrant. When he sees no one he smiles and holsters his gun. He crosses to the other end. After he passes Tarrant moves from where he was hidden beneath the catwalk, and silently boosts himself up onto the catwalk. He lies there on his stomach and uses both hands to brace his gun, aimed at Vinni's back.]
[Max's room] MAX Kill him, Del. Kill him now!
[Flight deck] VILA What's he waiting for? DAYNA He can't shoot it in the back! AVON [matter of fact tone] It's a machine -- pull the trigger.
[Observation gallery] TARRANT Vinni. [Vinni spins at his voice and goes for his gun but Tarrant fires first. Vinni staggers at the shot, starts to bring his gun to bear, but Tarrant fires twice more and Vinni evaporates into a blue haze that dissipates swiftly. Tarrant rises and walks to where Vinni had been.] As ever, Dayna, gaudy, but effective. [exits]
[Deeta's room] AVON Having vaporized the evidence, there is no proof now, of course. MAX How could they have done it? It's a betrayal of everything -- every civilized -- How could they have done such a thing? AVON Well, if it's any consolation, I don't think THEY did. Servalan is undoubtedly behind it. TARRANT She'll have had some help, of course, but not from the High Council of Vandor itself, or not deliberately. AVON There's an arms manufacturing cartel that looks highly promising as a candidate for co-conspirator. TARRANT Yes, particularly since one of its directors happens to be a member of the High Council. MAX But there is nothing we can do, short of outright war. AVON Well, as a matter of fact, our legal advisor [Avon and Tarrant exchange looks], Orac, suggests that as Servalan called for a medical examination that never in fact took place, the result of the contest between Vinni and Deeta is technically void. If you lodge an objection, that contest will have to be fought again. MAX Of course! I'll get on to it right away. AVON [rises] Orac has two other suggestions to make. First, you use your veto to get a change of neutral arbiter. Second, you make it clear from the outset that Teal will require a medical examination of both contestants [points in emphasis] BEFORE the fight. MAX Right. I'll do that. [Grabs Avon's pointing hand and shakes it then turns away to pat Tarrant on the shoulder, leaving Avon to stare down at his hand in disbelief.] I'll be back in a minute. [Exits] AVON I think we should leave now. TARRANT Max just said that he'd be back-- AVON Orac had another interesting legal point to make. According to the rules of the Teal-Vandor Convention, YOU are now the new First Champion of Teal. TARRANT I think we should leave now. AVON & TARRANT [in perfect unison] Bring us up, Cally.
Back to B7 Top